December Writing Cave – Day 26

I’m stuck in a story.

The underlying theme is clear, my reason for writing it is clear, but the actual story eludes me, and I’m trying not to stop writing and turn on the TV, so I figured I’d come chat with you for a minute.

I was on “vacation” last week. Really, I spent the week watching Christmas movies during the day and Living Single at night and making time for long moments of silence and reflection. I did not work or write and only entered my office to make sure my Fittonia wasn’t pretending to be dead.

It was nice.

Also, Christmas hasn’t been feeling very good the last few years. I used to love Christmas to the deepest part of my bones. I’d start listening to Christmas music November 1st and not stop until the end of January, I’d constantly have a Christmas movie on, be immersed in decorating every inch of the house, wrapping gifts, and planning our annual Christmas party. It was truly the most wonderful time.

The past few years, though, I may have listened to ten hours of Christmas music, and most of that was as background noise while I was cooking or cleaning. And even then, a lot of that was during the week between Christmas and New Year’s. I don’t think it’s because we stopped having the party—I actually prefer not having cook for, entertain, and clean up after fifty people.

I don’t know, it’s just been weird lately.

Speaking of New Year’s… For a while, I’ve battled the idea of celebrating multiple new years’ versus just one, but I’ve finally come to clarity on that front. I enjoy the personal focus that comes with my birthday, and I’ve been sort of using my birthday as a benchmark anyway, but then January 1st rolls around a few months later and I feel like I have to set an additional set of goals along with everyone else even though I’ve already set goals for my personal new year. So, upon further reflection, I’ve decided to skip the “new year, new me” madness that happens at the 1st of the year.

I’ve also decided I want to lean in more to my personal new year. And while I’ve always (since I was a kid) been one to extend my birthday celebration through the entire month of September—and once until October (covers face in shame)—I think I want to really dedicate Septembers to myself. No work; just play, reflection, planning, relaxation, and starting my new year well.

Last week’s reflection helped me solidify some Q2 goals—because I also want to try quarterly goal setting—as well as specifying rewards for reaching certain milestones along my writing and VA business journeys—because, like I’ve said before, I don’t celebrate myself well.

Now, a lot of those rewards involve allowing myself to buy coffee rather than making it at home, but they also include new outfits, celebratory dinners with friends, and a big ol’ party for at least one of the major milestones I’m trying to reach in a few years.

I’m trying to get better at making life good for myself.

For Q2, I’m focusing on getting at least 5 stories done for Book 2 as well as some sample journals. I’ll also be officially launching my VA services and looking to gain some really awesome additional clients. I have one client now who I’ve been beta testing my services with in exchange for coaching, and she’s really fun. Even though I’m a baby business owner at this point, I love being able to choose who I work with.

I’m also experiencing some conflict regarding one of my other projects that I have not yet come to clarity on. I was all in at the beginning, but now I’m not sure where I stand. The thing about tuning out all the other voices—friends, family, social media, TV, etc.—and sitting with myself in silence, is that it allows me to point out the things I’m doing because I want to do them and the things I’m doing because someone else thinks it’s a good idea.

At this point in my life, I’m trying to be very intentional about the decisions I make and the activities/environments/situations/relationships I engage in. I enjoy certain aspects of this project, but I’m wondering if it’s the project itself that I want to participate in or if I’m gaining something from the specific aspects I enjoy that I’m lacking in my everyday life.

Does that make sense?

It’s like, do you enjoy the job, or do you just crave the social interaction at lunchtime because you don’t have much of a community outside of work? The answer isn’t to stay in the job if you don’t like it, it’s to cultivate healthy community in your daily life. See what I’m saying?

I’m still stuck on this one. And I want to make sure my thoughts are clear before I go ripping up foundations.

As for this story I’m stuck at the beginning of, may grace and mercy follow me all the days of my life.

I’ll talk to you soon.

Creating Space for Writing

I was exhausted after I self-published my first book last year. At the time, I didn’t think it was taking a lot out of me, but there was a lot of other intense things happening in my personal life and all of it just kind of wore me out.

I thought I would spend a lot of time working on my second book this year, but I just haven’t been able to make space for writing in that way. First, I was tired, then I was distracted, then I got busy, and my short stories got placed on the shelf while I dealt with the constantly changing emotions.

For a little while, I did work on chopping up a novel I started in 2016 and turning it into a short story. I’ve read it so many times in so many different versions that I don’t even know if it makes sense anymore. I hope it does, and I will eventually give it to someone else to read through.

There are a lot of things I want to write about. More importantly, there is still a lot of healing that needs to take place in me, and I feel very strongly that some of this healing can only take place through writing this second book. I was getting ready for bed last night and thought I should just check out during December and do nothing but write. Of course, I have some obligations I can’t neglect completely, and I won’t be writing 24/7, but I’m noticing this internal ache that requires disconnection.

Social media breaks are not foreign to me. I usually take a long break from socials around my birthday (September) and return around Thanksgiving or Christmas. Sometimes I take a long break during the summer and return around my birthday. This year, however, I’ve only taken short breaks from socials, and I’ve recently found myself starting a lot of conversations with “So, I saw this video the other day” and it’s bugging me now.

So, I’ve decided a writing break is incredibly necessary and I will be putting business-related things on hold and spending the month of December focused on writing.

This break is also for reading and sitting by the pool and enjoying the weather once it cools down enough to enjoy and maybe even going back to church. This break is for me to disconnect from false interactions and a constant barrage of content and other people’s voices. This break is for tuning in and reconnecting with me. For remembering what my voice sounds like outside of the influence of other people—louder people—around me.

I breathe deeper just thinking about this break.

And I really wish I could completely ditch socials during this month, but I am solely responsible for posting to the podcast’s IG page because it’s not a business page yet and we can’t auto schedule those posts until it is. I also have a client with whom I’m testing my VA services and that is important to me as well. So, these things will remain.

I don’t know if this writing break will result in me being in your inbox more. But maybe it will. I kinda hope it will.

Please send me positive writing vibes!

Unhiding and Digging In

I have a habit of keeping to the background in life. I like to be behind the scenes. I’m also good at being non-committal. When I have a job, I do good work, but I never let myself commit to the place or the people. I keep my interest surface-level because I know well how an employer can (and will) let me go when it no longer suits their budget to keep me on.

However, I have also been taking this nonchalant approach to my business, which, by the way, I keep referring to as “personal projects” to avoid committing to becoming a small business owner. I have not put on the hat of “authorpreneur” as of yet. Honestly, I feel a lot of apprehension regarding business ownership. There’s so much to do and learn and so much trial and error… but even as I say that, I am reminded that that’s life. So, I’m just around here afraid to live.

I was telling someone over the weekend that I used to not be afraid to take risks or pivot. I dropped out of my first semester of university (after two years of community college) because I was on a teaching track and absolutely did not want to be a teacher. When I worked at the school, I was let go and rehired on and off for five years based on the decisions of the board and their budget/priorities and didn’t have a concern in the world. I bought a ticket to New York the same day my friend told me she and her sister were going to a wedding because she said I should come. It wasn’t until I finished grad school and spent years trying to get a library job (unsuccessfully, might I add) that I stopped trusting myself to make the right decisions.

I’ve been working through the issue of not trusting myself in therapy for a while, and I realize that I have not been digging in to my relationships, jobs, or business and I need to start doing so. The first step was to stop running from the man I wanted to be in a relationship with just because I was scared. I’ve also decided recently to commit to the job I have as a designer with Mussio Designs. Making it an important part of my life and putting effort into bringing in more clients will positively impact my current and future goals. I had no idea that website design would be something I enjoy, but lo and behold I’m loving it, and I realize the better the company does, the better I will do (and be).

Most importantly, though, I have to stop hiding and start digging in to small business ownership. I have to. NINE & TWO has to be more than it is or I am not honoring the gifts and vision God has loaned me. Sometimes I cringe at that level of responsibility because something has me convinced that it’s going to be too difficult for me, and I’ve been believing that something for a very long time. I’ve got really good people in my corner right now. People I didn’t have before but with whom I have so easily connected and placed trust in to share my dreams. These people will push me in uncomfortable ways and I will push back because I’m scared. Ultimately, though, the push truly is something I need.

So, I’m figuring out ways to make NINE & TWO more than just the place I rant about books and writing woes. NINE & TWO Press will continue to publish my books and we’ll add merch as soon as I figure out where to get exactly what I want at a price that makes sense for me. Because, let’s be honest, I would never sell something I wouldn’t buy or at a price I wouldn’t spend. So, it has to be right. You mean way more to me than a quick buck. Especially those of you who have been here a while and continue to indulge me. Truly, I appreciate you.

So, that’s it. I’m going to stop hiding and figure out how to be more present for myself and for the brand, put myself out there, and build something. The vision is big-big, yall. I have no clue what the road looks like, but I’m going to stop trying to see every twist and turn ahead and just take a step at a time.

Thanks for being here, and thanks for nurturing this space with your presence.