Entries in social media (7)


Depression, Life and Art

I have neglected this blog right along with almost everything else in my life for a couple of months now, in large part due to being utterly busy and also because of depression. I'm sure people who don't have to muddle through the dark cloud of depression would have been able to get through my days with more time for a blog (and a lot of other things). But this is my reality, and I have to cope with it in what ever way works.

I've learned over the years that when depression starts to weigh me down, I have to cut away obligations until I can get my head above the surface again. And this blog is definitely expendable.

It didn't help that I just didn't have anything to say. The books I've read the last little while have all been the children's books I read to my daughter, or an epic re-read of the Murderbot diaries, which helped me through last week's epic low point.

In the last two months, I've mostly just struggled to exist, to pass the time until the seasons warm up again and the days get longer and I know I'll feel better. I bought a SAD lamp, though so far it doesn't seem to be doing much. I'm going to therapy regularly. I'm trying to engage in only the things that bring me joy.

I did NaNoWriMo again, as an ML again, and it's one of the things that brings me joy, even if it was a little stressful this year trying to keep on top of all the events plus my writing when I was struggling through physical and mental illness. I had this low-grade but draining cold for most of a month. By the time I shook it, the SAD had settled in for the long haul.

It's still hard most days, even days like today where the sun is shining and it's a little warmer. I haven't done any writing since NaNoWriMo ended. I've been doing some research for my current project. I've done some revisions and sent more of my writing to publishers and agents. But no actual writing yet. I just don't have the spoons for it right now.

I've weathered this before. I just need to do my best to hibernate. To surround myself with the people and things that bring me joy and fulfillment. Sometimes that means writing difficult letters to politicians. Sometimes that means binge-reading my favourite series. Sometimes it means going back to bed.

I fight the good fight when I have the energy, and I do my best to recover when I don't. This is winter for me and I've learned to accept it.

One thing that absolutely does not bring me a single ounce of joy is my continued presence on Facebook. That website is evil. There is real and actual evidence to show the role it has played in the radicalization of good people and the degradation of democracy. I have never liked that website or how people tend to interact on it, and it's long past time for me to delete my account.

I have tried to curate a better experience on FB. I've blocked shitty people. I've used software extensions to block out shitty content. But none of it helps, and as the Cambridge Analytica investigation continues, it becomes clearer and clearer that I cannot, in good conscience, continue to use that site. So I'm working on an exit strategy.

Twitter is not much better, but I have at least been able to curate that experience more deeply. But as I (and many others) pull away from social media and the devastating effects it's had on society, I expect this blog to get more active again. I might even resurrect my newsletter.

So this blog will probably start seeing more activity again. It will also likely get more political. I got a lot of bad advice early in my writing/editing career that I should refrain from politics in regards to my business. But to be frank, I do not want to be associated with clients or bosses I find politically adverse. I'm not going to work for fascists. If you don't like my politics, I'm perfectly happy for you to take your business elsewhere.


Siblinghood of the World Blogger Award

Despite the cringe-worthy name of this blog hop thing, I've decided to take part now that NaNo is over. Guess I'm making up for lost time here on the Thodestool blog.

Anyway, I was nominated by Madeleine D'Este to take part in Siblinghood of the World Blogger. Okay, yeah, it's one of those chain-letter in blog-format deals, but I like answering questions so I'll do that much. Basically, you answer 10 questions, ask 10 more, tag 10 bloggers.

The questions and my answers:

When did you feel like a “real” writer?

I'm plagued by moments of imposter syndrome just like everyone else who writes, but I've considered myself a real writer since I was a teenager and became serious about it. I was about 13 when I realized I had a talent for word sorcery and I've mostly felt like a "real" writer since then.

How do you overcome resistance?

I'm not entirely sure what kind of resistance we're talking about here... Writers block? I don't really get that. Any other kind of resistance I get through with spite and stubbornness. Sometimes I get shouty.

What advice would you give yourself as a wannabe writer?

I would tell myself that I'm doing okay, but I still don't know shit about writing. I would tell myself to seek out other writers and writing groups sooner, to take more classes on writing and story craft sooner.

Do you prefer writing or editing?


Okay, okay. Real answer: Until it's time to get down to copy edits, writing and editing are really just the same thing for me. The only time I'm strictly writing is during the creation of a first draft. Everything else after that is rewriting and revision, which is just a mash-up of writing and editing. And I love every step of it equally, but for different reasons. I do not really like strict editing even if I'm reasonably good at it.

What part of the writing process do you struggle with the most?

Probably making the time for it or having enough energy for it. Sometimes I push myself even when I don't have the energy, but then I just end up burned out like I am right now.

Do you Nanowrimo?


*cough* Okay, maybe there are people reading this who know nothing about me. ...Yes. I NaNo. I have NaNo'd since 2006, with a maternity leave exception of 2012. I have won every time. Last year I wrote over 150,000 words. This year I wrote over 100,000. I have been the ML in my region (the person who organizes writing events for local participants) for 4 years now.

Even though NaNo took way too much out of me this year, it wasn't the event's fault itself and I will do it again next year. I will apply to ML again too. I do probably half of my year's writing during NaNo and spend the rest of the year doing more editing than anything else. It's a productive and useful time for me.

What authors do you follow on social media?

I follow a lot of authors on Twitter, it's the primary reason I'm even on Twitter at all. I would be here a while if I were to list them individually, but you can peruse the list of authors I follow on Twitter. Chuck Wendig is likely my favourite Twitterer author. I started following him long before I read any of his books. I like his crass humour and I've always found his writing advice helpful. Kameron Hurley is also a great author to follow for info on the business side of being an author.

What’s more important to you; a good plot or beautiful writing?

A year ago it would have been good plot hands down. But then I read The Slow Regard of Silent Things by Patrick Rothfuss and now I question everything I thought I knew about my reading preferences. Generally, I still like books with a good, fast moving plot, but characters are important to me above all. And I think that's why I love Slow Regard so much. It's 50% character and 50% beautiful writing.

Do you take yourself on artist’s dates? What do you do?

Even with the link provided I'm not entirely clear on what exactly this means. It seems like it's more about the culture of writing than actual writing and I'm really not interested in that sort of thing. I refill my creative well by consuming other people's art (across many formats from film to comics to other novels to traditional fine art), by going on walks, by being immersed in nature, by playing with my daughter and by travelling as often as time/budget allows. I hope that helps?

When friends and family ask “can I read your book?” What do you say?

Yes, when it's finished/published. The friends who I trust as good beta readers can read my work before it's out in the world. I prefer to get some good, constructive feedback once I feel I've done all I can to make it shiny and chrome on my own. Everyone else can buy a copy. ;)

That being said, reading over my shoulder while I'm working on something is a good way to be eviscerated.

Okay now this is the point where I'm supposed to ask 10 questions and tag 10 authors to take part in this. But I don't think I actually know 10 authors with a blog. I definitely don't know 10 who would actually participate. Yeah, I'm that person. But you're welcome to answer these 10 questions:

1. When is your peak writing time?
2. Who are your top 5 favourite authors and why?
3. What are your top 5 favourite books/series and why?
4. Who are your top 5 favourite fictional characters and why?
5. Have you published anything? What is the biggest challenge you've encountered so far?
6. Do you think comics are real books? Why?
7. If you could invite 3 authors to dinner, who and why?
8. What is your biggest distraction from writing?
9. What's your go-to procrastination method?
10. Who's your favourite Doctor? And companion? (Yes, it's a Doctor Who question. Pfft)



Make Good Art

Some time ago, a good friend of mine pointed me in the direction of Neil Gaiman's 2012 Keynote Address (it's a wee bit long, but thoroughly worthwhile) and today I finally had a bit of breathing room where I could sit and listen to the whole thing. I really like Neil Gaiman, though I've read little of what he's written (I'm working to rectify that situation). His Doctor Who episode is one of my all-time favourites.

Anyway, as I was listening to him speak, I found myself often nodding in agreement with what he had to say (along with chortling frequently). There were two things that resonated with me, especially in light of current events in my "career".

There's the bit of advice he received from Stephen King, another author whose works I enjoy and whose wisdom I admire. King told Gaiman to enjoy his success, and Gaiman regrets not having done so. I find myself, more often than not, NOT enjoying the process of being a published author. I'm not even a "somebody" in the literary world, and there are many days when I feel like publishing books is something I don't want to do anymore.

Gaiman talks about how he sees success making some of his colleagues miserable, and I can certainly see how easy it is to happen. It takes work to resist the things that make me miserable because they come attached to an often misguided sense of obligation.

But then there are things like Ad Astra, where I get to hang out with other geeks and authors and book aficionados and just be me and have a lot of fun with it. And then, of course, there's the writing itself, which I don't know I can go without. While I am often tempted to quit being an author, I could no sooner quit writing than I could quit sleeping.

The other part of his talk that resonated with me the most was the following:
There was a day when I looked up and realised that I had become someone who professionally replied to email, and who wrote as a hobby.  I started answering fewer emails, and was relieved to find I was writing much more.

For me, I feel like I've become someone who professionally plays on social media, and who writes as a hobby. Shortly after signing up for Twitter, I was spending somewhere in the ballpark of 3 or 4 hours a day on social media sites. By contrast, I can write around 5000 words in that amount of time.

Let that sink in for a minute.

So around Easter I got busy with other things. Let's just say that it was Life. I wasn't even near my computer, let alone on social media, and I was happy with the freedom. Once Life calmed down after Easter, I mostly stayed away from social media and have barely so much as glanced at Twitter for nearly two weeks, and I have completed SO MUCH more work on my novel. In one week, I did more writing and revising than I had in a month before that.

And while part of me does miss some of the goofy interaction with other authors online, mostly I'm just relieved to have more time to write. So if you're someone who tends to follow me on Facebook or Twitter, I hope you will accept my apology for being absent lately. I also hope you understand why.

And now I'm going to get back to making good art. ;)


Reading Pledge and the Wizard Dresden

I lost count of the number of magazines read, but I'm pretty sure I got through them all for my reading pledge of nine magazines and one novel. There is still a backlog (only three now though) since more arrived after I set the challenge for myself.

I plan to clear the last of my magazine backlog before anymore magazines come in. We'll see how that goes.

Taking time away from social media, and restricting its use when I was on it, definitely contributed to an increase in free time. I highly recommend curbing social media use if you're strapped for time.

The book I read was Death Masks by Jim Butcher, another book in the Harry Dresden Files. As with previous Dresden books, I had the same complaints and enjoyments. I think I this particular book might be my favourite in the series though.

So, in this book we have duels with vampires, run-ins with the mafia, teaming up with three Knights of the Cross, the appearance of new enemies, and someone has stolen the Shroud of Turin and Harry has been hired to find it. This book made me like both Harry's character and the character of Johnny Marcone even more. The level of respect these two enemies have for each other is phenomenal and adds more depth to their characters. New layers were added to a few characters, actually.

I just loved the bit about the satellite at the end! This book was also free of the annoying politics of the faery world and the wizarding world that had really tried my patience in previous books. It's definitely a recommended read for anyone who's started the Dresden series. And I still recommend the series to horror/fantasy/mystery fans.


The Forest for the Trees

I just finished reading The Forest for the Trees by Betsy Lerner and it's an editor's advice to writers, though I first rifled through it for the substantive editing course I took a couple of years ago. I think it's an excellent insight into the publishing process for anyone curious, especially aspiring writers or editors who haven't had the opportunity to work in house.

As insightful as it is, there is also a lot of romanticizing bygone days that most new writers aren't old enough to even know existed. There is a tone of nervousness about the future of publishing as technology continues to play its part that I didn't find helpful, since technology is here but Lerner only speculated about its effects on publishing.

The book was published over a decade ago and technology and e-books are firmly here to stay, so I would be curious to see what Lerner has to say on the subject. If she were to rewrite the book for the current (and still-changing) landscape of publishing, I wonder what new insights she would have.

Writers have ever-increasing options in publishing now, not just the "big six" as Lerner calls them. There are almost as many small presses as there are books, and let's not forget self-publishing. The rise of social media has completely changed the way people find, review and read books.

In my opinion, none of these things are bad. I don't believe that e-books will outright replace books anymore than digital music has replaced records. I like e-readers and I like real books. I feel that each has a place, and the rise of e-readers has a whole new generation of readers interested in books.

To me, I don't care where or how people read, it's the fact that they are reading that's important to me.

ETA: as result of discussions this post has inspired, I'd like to add that the reason I don't have a preference in the book vs e-book debate is that to me a book is an idea. I don't care how the words are delivered; the important thing is that they arrive. For me, it is and always has been about the story, not how the words appear.