How has your year been going so far? Terrible? Well, at least we're all in the same boat.
I should count my blessings—I still have a job, and a house, and two new kittens—but that doesn't necessarily make things easier. Aspects of the first one actually make it harder. And then there is COVID, which is a non-stop, slow-burn agony of annoyance that isn't going away anytime soon.
See, the town where I am currently living (let's call it TWIACL for short) does not require masks, despite the entire rest of the county doing so; we are a donut hole of nonsense in an otherwise rational world. Only about half of our library patrons wear them (did I mention we're open to the public? Yeah...), so I'm expecting to catch the 'rona any day now. Actually, I've already been tested, though it was thankfully just a cold. I did, however, have to stay in my house for 10 days. I ran out of butter, I ran out of protein, and then, as a last straw, I ran out of milk, which meant sub-par tea. Need I go on?
I've also been intensely, mind-bendingly homesick.
For one thing, there is far too much sky here. No, really. My hometown is in a forest, so in any direction you look, there is either a tree, hills covered in trees, a mountain behind some trees, or a building. It's cozy. The town I am currently living in is next to the forest, with low hills on only two sides, and a long stretch of horizon up north. The streets are very wide, and the trees short and sparse. At any given time, roughly 60 to 70 percent of your vision is taken up by sky. I'm not a fan.
My hometown has all sorts of shops to appeal to tourists and interloping college students: tea shops and cafes, hippy shops, hiking shops, western wear, more hippie shops, and stores with cute knick-knacks of all varieties. TWIACL is also a tourist town, but I hope you like 1950s Route 66 or cowboys, because that is all you are going to get. There are no thrift stores here. There are no real, everythings-a-dollar dollar stores. Though the houses are affordable, unlike my hyper-inflated, college-student-riddled hometown, everything else in TWIACL is expensive.
Then there is the culture. Though everyone in Northern Arizona is nice, and the residents of TWIACL are no exception (and they are crazy generous with donations to and support of the library!), there's a different atmosphere. I would describe my hometown as being on the hippy-cottagecore-morikei side of things, while TWIACL is rustic. I'm a forest person, through and through, but I'm not rustic. Also, though we have the odd woo-woo patron at the library here, I miss the dozens of looneys I would encounter every day in my hometown library. And, as a nail in the coffin, it seems there are no nerds. Hundreds of bookworms, but no nerds.
I know I'm kind of going off in a tangent, but I feel like I need to get this off my chest. Goodness knows I can't tell anyone here about it. People love their hometowns, as they should, but this isn't mine, and I don't love it. I guess, in a word, I'm lonely. And not just IRL.
I've felt increasingly isolated online, despite finally figuring out Twitter and having my recent batch of book photos explode on Tumblr. What do I mean? Well...
Let's take Twitter. I've followed a lot of writers and it seems that everyone is either pumping out 5000 words a day, sending out queries, or participating in pitch contests, or constantly marketing their self-published books. I feel... adrift. For one thing, I'm at that awkward stage of just beginning a WIP after having finished three books (soon to be four, stay tuned!). I'm not a newbie writer, and most advice for starting a WIP is old news to me. But I'm also not the kind of person who pumps out 2000 words a day. Or, like, any words a day. Writing is still hard for me, and it doesn't seem to be hard for anyone else (on Twitter; we'll get to Tumblr's opposite problem in a bit).
And then there is the marketing. Yes, we should all be trying to sell our books, but, like... lay off sometimes, guys. I've seen one person retweet her same book promo every day; I ended up muting her because I was sick of seeing it. And then there are animated book covers, which means adding some particle effect to the still image of your cover, like glowy sparkles, or snowflake falling, or other fluff. I don't get the point of them, and find them off-putting.
But what's off-putting about the whole of the Twitter write-o-sphere is that it feels like a rat race. Everyone is trying as hard as they possibly can to get their book noticed. And that's just not for me. Don't get me wrong, I want to sell books, and have them out there, but not at the expense of turning writing into a product rather than art. Maybe that means I'll sell fewer books. Ok. Whatever. I'm... weirdly ok with that? Still, it makes me feel odd when I'm on Twitter.
Tumblr is something of the opposite problem. Most people on Tumblr, like me, find writing difficult, but unlike me, actively hate their own work. I get that a lot of the "my writing is garbage; I like to make characters suffer; first drafts suck" stuff is tongue and cheek, but that’s a lot of tongue in a lot of cheeks. It gets depressing after a while. I love my writing, including my first drafts. I can't relate to the incessant negativity (this particular blog post aside). I will say that in recent months, Tumblr has gotten much less woke, and thus more bearable, but that might be because a lot of those writers moved to Twitter.
The point is, I feel very depressed and lonely, online and in real life, and it's very, very annoying.
But you all came here for a writing update, right?
As of today, I have researched 21 topics for my Alternate-History/Fantasy/Mystery WIP, including auras, Arthurian legends, the Vietnam War, 1960s radicals, Duck & Cover procedures, and mystery fiction (yes, all for one book!).
I have taken 33 book photos, in an effort to make my social media appeal to bookworms as well as writers (because the former are the ones who buy the books).
I have outlined 7 things for my AHFM WIP, mostly in the form of overarching plot lines. It's looking like this is going to be another trilogy.
I've done 9 other miscellaneous things for booking and blogging and vlogging and such.
And, finally, I've written 10 blog posts, 5 poems, and 4 bits and pieces of books, including a prologue for the AHFM WIP! That's right, I've officially started writing my WIP! I will say, as much flack as I give TWIACL, I have found a nice little writing group that’s helped my motivation. It has around 5 members, give or take depending on the week, and we're all kinda throwing writing at the wall and seeing what sticks. It's made me feel a lot less stressed out about my own writing.
That being said, I think I'm going to be frequenting Twitter and Tumblr a lot less often for the time being. Back when I wrote the Styx Trilogy, I was much less connected online, and I think that helped. Will this ultimately mean fewer followers and perhaps fewer book sales? Maybe. But I think it will also mean being happier about writing and getting more of it done, and that's what I want.