Saturday, February 22, 2014

The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Apartment Hunter

Rob is away in Portland looking at apartments, which means I am home alone for the next week at least (since he has to find the apartment, then arrange for a flight back). Should be a perfect time to work on writing, right? But as it turns out, an upcoming cross-country move is one of those things that is so brain-destroying that it eclipses anything else you might want/need to work on. This includes not just writing but also reading, sleeping well, basic hygiene, and ironically enough, packing for the move. It's just this omnipresent thing hanging over you all the time. If moving anxiety was this bad when we moved from Pittsburgh to Baltimore, I surely do not remember it. But then, that's only 400 miles. (And I also wasn't writing then, so I can't gauge if it affected my writing or not.)

Somehow we missed this statue in September.

The thing about moving to Portland that makes it tough is that a LOT of people want to move there, and there aren't enough apartments for everyone. Supply and demand. We heard from multiple sources that the best way to get an apartment in Portland is to fly out here and walk the streets. Unfortunately, the For Rent signs weren't exactly thick on the ground in our preferred area (North Portland), and even though I knew it wouldn't work out this way, we did not secure an apartment on his first day out there. It's almost enough to make someone utter the b-word, although I'm not certain we're at that point yet.

Anyway, in publishing-if-not-writing news, the Strange Bedfellows anthology (which includes my story "The Afternoon Revolution") is available for pre-order at Amazon and elsewhere. Check it out!

P.S. Props to our friend Alex Wrekk for hosting his stay in Portland! Go buy some buttons and zines from her.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

On Not Writing

Confession: aside from a few pieces of flash for a contest, I haven't been able to write or revise anything for the past few weeks.

This is moderately concerning, because in the past when I haven't written consistently I wind up basically quitting for years. While I don't think that will happen this time, because I'm not as much of a moron anymore, it still feels dangerous not to write. It's so easy to fall into the "not writing" trap, and quite difficult to climb your way out of it once you're in.

Comic books awaiting their epic journey.
A lot of the reason I can't write, maybe even all of it, is due to the upcoming move to Portland, which is now precipitously close. Less than two months away close. And while I am totally committed to this move and can't wait for it to happen, even good things cause a ton of stress and anxiety. Moving is right up there with divorce and job loss as a stressor, and this move will come packaged with job loss (with nothing waiting for me) and is clear across the friggin' country. We are literally moving as far away as one can from our current location without leaving the continental US. It's not a coincidence that this "writer's block" coincided almost perfectly with the finalizing of our timetable. There's just so much to do, and I feel like I can't carve out some writing time since I should be packing boxes or sorting out stuff to give away. Although I'm falling down on those tasks as well, truth be told.

People, including Rob, say to be kind to myself, to let the writing flow at its own pace and give myself some breathing space, but honestly? Fuck that. I need to be harder on myself, because when it comes right down to it, the only person hurt if I don't write is me (and maybe Rob, a little). There's nobody out there salivating for my precious words. Sure, it's "only" two months, but that's a hell of a lot of writing time to waste, and I was going at a pretty serious pace up until two weeks ago. (And there's always the possibility that it's not because of the move. I'd rather not think about that possibility.)

I'm sure it will come back in time. I signed myself up for another crazy challenge to write several full-length short stories at the pace of one per week over the next several weeks, and I'm still sticking to my deadline of having my novel reader-ready (if not agent-ready) by April 1, although I probably won't be able to deliver it to beta readers on that date since we'll probably be driving through Montana or some shit.

There's just nothing worse than having a huge block of writing time and not being able to do anything but stare at a blank screen because you're filled with existential dread. Well, maybe those big-ass spiders they have in the Pacific Northwest. I'd rather not think about those either.


To pull a total 180, my contributor copy of Spark: A Creative Anthology (which includes my story "Real Plastic Trees") came in the mail a few days ago. It's an astonishing 400+ pages long, and includes speculative fiction pieces from both established and new writers. The paperback book is gorgeous, but there's also an e-version if you prefer that. Pick it up!