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bear by san

March 2017



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bear by san

But here you are in the ninth, two men out and three men on, nowhere to look but inside--

I contemplated for a long while posting this under a lock, because it's more personal than I usually get online, but I figured it's pretty decent insight into the stresses of your average writer's life, and it might be helpful to somebody.

I made myself a little list tonight, in the midst of my three-day anxiety attack, about why I might in fact be justified in being stressed out (although I never seem to actually think I'm under much stress), which include good things and very good things and slightly annoying things. Most of which I have not been taking seriously as sources of stress. But.

Perhaps I should have been.
  1. Cross-country relocation probable for some unspecified date this fall or winter, but still very much up in the air
  2. Working a 20-hour-a-week job on top of the writing gig, which is something like 70 hours a week
  3. Currently fretting about a minor cash-flow crisis that involves waiting for money I am owed to arrive, hopefully in time to cover the large chunk of bills due at the end of the month, which must be paid, and all very much up in the air
  4. Major personal upheavals, most of them not particularly interesting, but related to (1), and all very much up in the air
  5. Various other major and minor expenses expected in the next six months, which I can afford, if the checks come at the right time, always a burning question in the gig.
  6. Second novel deathwatch. T-20 days. Will they hate it? Did I mention, very much up in the air.
  7. Whiskey & Water deadline Oct. 1 (firm)
  8. Carnival deadline Nov. 15 (firm)
  9. Blood & Iron rewrite on hold pending Liz's comments, air
  10. Stratford Man rewrite on hold pending Jenn's comments, air
  11. Judging the CHIZINE fiction contest. Which is fun, but it's also something that takes time and mental power. Likewise my slush duties at IDEO. Not that I am complaining about either: it's volunteer work, and I really do love it. But it's a ticky box.
  12. Campbell Award deathwatch. I'm reasonably certain that I'm not going to win, mind you. But the miniscule but real potential that I could win keeps me from dismissing the entire thing as silliness and not thinking about it at all. Thank the deity of your choice that it's August this year, instead of September. But that's still two more months that it's up in the air. Did I mention that I am, generally speaking, the sort who prefers a single exquisitely painful rip to a series of agonizing jerks?
  13. SFRA (firm)
  14. ComiCon (if I can afford it) (air)
  15. Book signing thing in Minneapolis and Toronto first two weeks of July, assuming that I'm not too broke to afford the plane tickets. (should be firm, but is sliding into air, and I do not want to cancel those dates, dammit.)

The funny thing was, I was actually doing all right until I got back from WisCon and the check I was hoping for wasn't here yet. Which money I rather need in about a week. And I suspect that was the tipping point, along with the ugly Hot Dog Incident, that sent me into a full blown anxiety attack.

So if I've been a twit to anybody in the last three days, I am terribly sorry. It wasn't intended. And it certainly wasn't personal.

The good news is that between making the list, thus justifying myself that it's not unreasonable to be a little freaked, as I really do have a lot of things going on this month, and an email from the editor in charge of the publication that I was hoping would send me money soon, very politely inquiring as to whether I had been paid, and my own spiritual maintenance routine, I may have convinced my limbic system that the sabertooth cats are not about to eat us. Just this second. Yet.

We'll see how I feel in the morning.

In other news, truepenny tears August Derleth a new one.

In other other news, thank God that writing is not a performance art.


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I would say you're more than justified in feeling stressed. I wish you good luck with the money timing (and relate on too many points to count), and all of the other general in-the-air stuff.

And as a total, non-stress-related aside, I think your icon is gorgeous.
Thank you. The good luck and warm fuzzies are helpful.

The icon is the work of notorious elf Brian Froud, in his pre-pressed-Faeries phase. It's a detail from a painting called "The Wild Wood," which was also the cover of a Charles de Lint novel of the same name. He is, hands down, my favorite artist.
If there's one thing breeds stress, it's uncertainty, I think.

If you weren't cpolk's evil twin, you would have to be mine, because this could not be more true.

If I were a Victorian, I think I would take to my bed with a brain fever.

I really do prefer the shoe dropping to the wait before.
I *loathe* the floating things that may or may not land. I threw that chainsaw up - when will it come down? Will my hands be too full to catch? One of the worst months of childhood I can recall was not the one when Dad briefly went missing in hostile territory, wasn't the tonsillitis, but the month I spent wondering if we would, or would not, get transferred to Haiti, which would or would not still be having a revolt, and whether I would or would not be 'allowed' to go to Haiti with my parents, or sent to boarding school in New Jersey. (To this day I'm not sure which would have been worse, but we didn't go to Haiti.)

I'm just back from effectively two short vacations in a row, and all my chainsaws are hovering and about to strike, like an angry buzzing cloud of mixed metaphors. And I'm really exhausted.

My old employer once sent me to a work-required course on "Better Time Management with Outlook Software". My inner ADD Filofax-hating self cringed mightily. It was, however, two hours of paid time not actually having to work.

The first thing we did was to simply write down all the nagging little thoughts. No order to them, nothing like that; just pick up your brain and shake until *everything* falls out, and write it down. Not just work-related; grocery list, dog flea shots, what color shirt did I want, Grandma's birthday, that word I've been meaning to look up on Wikipedia... all of it.

Then, when you've taken ten minutes to do that and your head feels lighter, you can put all those stupid little things in order. Work project looming in two months, but nobody's sure for another two weeks? Make a note on the calendar to check on it in a week and a half, then forget it. Put "Wikipedia entry for 'thingammie'" on the to-do list. Then forget about it. Check the to-do list once or twice a day and whenever you've got spare time.

I have, of course, not followed a lot of these recommendations, and I don't use Outlook any more, although I do some of this in my Palm software. But I will always remember going out during smoke break in that class, and the dazed, oddly *peaceful* looks on the faces of my peers - many of them in very high-pressure jobs, people whose cellphones were on the FBI's direct-dial, people who worked 12-hour shifts in NOCs that could take out a quarter of the Internet if they really wanted, things like that. We all agreed that the ten-minute head-dump had astonishingly relaxed us; and some of us couldn't quite remember what the feeling was.

When in doubt, make a list of all the little things. When ten things loom somewhere in your future - somewhere - make calendar notes to check back on them when they're more likely to be solid, then ignore them until that alarm comes off or until you get new information. Having a "set date" to check on the "floating thing" sometimes relieves a ton of anxiety about it, I've found.

That said, being forgetful and ADD and currently on anti-anxiety medication makes it a lot easier for me to say "Oh, heck, I'm not worried about that very expensive medical bill processing problem, it's not something I can fix right now!" and hide in the bathtub with a Heyer novel. And while I'm all but packed for an occasion in August, I'm totally unprepared for June, and September is looming like Godzilla over the skyline of my future. But he can't get to me in the bathtub, I'm quite sure.

Recognize your right to stress, then go hide from it in the bathtub or a pint of beer or wherever you like to sneak off from stress. You've earned it, if nothing else, for reminding *me* to put my floating chainsaw things on the calendar where they belong so my head's not so heavy.
Having a "set date" to check on the "floating thing" sometimes relieves a ton of anxiety about it, I've found.

Normally, I deal with stress pretty well. I'm a stress-adapted life form. And you know, the calendar thing helps with some stuff, and I use it--but those are, as you noted, the things that stress me the least.

The chainsaws that won't nail down (like the money stuff) are the ones that kick my ass.
Oh thank god, you're human after all.

(not being snide -- living in much the same situation [multiple deadlines, part-time job, changing emotional situation, cash flow instability, second novel deathwatch...]

of course, my Campbell status came and went without me noticing it, years ago, so that's one stress I don't have to worry about, but I also have that dental surgery thing happening.

Anyway, roundabout way of saying that I feel much better about my ongoing wibblies, knowing that you're having them, too, rather than being Super!Author)
Where is Super!Author? Maybe if we find her, we can kick her ass, and we'll feel better....

LOL! I am more human that I prefer to be. Alas.

It's the money thing that's currently doing me, I think, because it's important and I'm not in control of it. Sabertooths! Aieeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!


We'll make it.
I think you have a great shot at the Campbell. And that you deserve it! But the vagaries of voting, and the fact that WorldCon will be heavily attended by Europeans, make it a crapshoot.

I could not deal with money flow irregularities.

And moving cross country (back to CT?) is always a big deal. So who wouldn't be anxious, with all that going on? Deep breaths. Regular exercise. Day by day. Those (usually) help...
I think you have a great shot at the Campbell. And that you deserve it!

*g* I'll just stick to thinking it's a glaring impossibility, lest I get even *more* award stress. (There is no Campbell. Omm.) I've learned to forget submissions; I can learn to forget awards, right?

Moving to Michigan, if everything goes well. Trees! Snow!

I could not deal with money flow irregularities.

*g* Alas, it is the nature of the business. That's why I have the day job. But the balancing act is a little fine right now.

Re: Know when and how to say no.

This is good advice. Thank you. A lot.

My husband's a school teacher, and we have rather a lot of debt currently from the two years he was unemployed, and the eighteen months when I was only spottily employed immediately after that. So the dayjob is a necessary thing right now, until that debt is cleared up. Also, it gets me out of the house, and keeps me immersed in the media, which keeps my brain active. Otherwise I'd probably be a mad shut-in. :-P Although I am trying to cut my hours when I get paid for the book contracts, to sixteen hours a week or so.

And credit card companies, rent, and insurance companies are less forgiving about the bill thing, alas.

It's a bad month, but it will be better very soon. I just have to survive until July. I have a mantra.

Of course, by the end of the summer, I'll be doing well, dammit. It's just now.
Good heavens. *winces at list*

You certainly have every reason for anxiety - although that said, I hope the anxiety withers and dies an untimely death.
Thank you. *g*

I just have to survive the end of the month. *clings*
I hope this won't stress you out further, but
Cross-country relocation probable for some unspecified date this fall or winter, but still very much up in the air

I've been meaning to ask whether you'd still be interested in an apartment from us, because I think we're going to try very hard to get rid of our downstairs tenant. [Ian commented that it's a really sad statement about our current tenants that we think a writer would be more reliable.]

Also, how large a space were you interested in renting?
Drat. Unfortunately, I think the vagaries of timing are going to keep us apart, because I've made a commitment to a friend near Ann Arbor to a room-mate deal, which I'm committed to for at least a year and probably more like three.

I might know somebody else who is interested, though, if you'd like to email me and let me know how big the apt is and what you need to rent it for, etc--and what the restrictions are.
Good gravy! - I'd be stressing all over the place too! Hang in there, lady.
Thank you! I will do my best.
I adore you.

And I know you are *right there with me* gnawing on the same stress cookie. Which probably shouldn't help.

But does. *g*

Oatmeal cranberry okay with you?
#3 speaks to me in loud, frightening and somber voices as well.

Good luck with everything.
We'll make it. Yes we will. Just cling like a limpet until the tide washes out again.
It's always enlightening to see the stresses in another writer's life. Hang in there...

(Let's see...if shared pain is lessened, and shared joy increased, what about shared stress? Hmm...)
Shared stress is... funny, I think.

At least, when I get past my Yankee guilt over (a) admitting I am not in control of this situation and (b) feeling like I'm whining in public, I can look at the pile on my desk and start to giggle.

Which is better than feeling vaguely nauseated all the time.
Thank you!

I'll take the vibes. *g* For sure.
This did not show up as friends-locked to me, fyi.
It's no flocked. I contemplated flocking, and went, "Nah, this might be useful to somebody."

And it's not that personal.

I mean, writers have cash flow stress? What else is news. *g*

My inner Yankee is just embarrassed to admit she's overwhelmed.
Well, the editor in question actually emailed to ask if I had been paid, so I have hopes that something will break soon.

Otherwise, I'm in borrowing-money-from-my-dad territory. Which is not so good for the maintaining of a grownup facade. *g* Although I emailed him to ask, so hopefully when I hear back from him I will be able to breathe a little bit again.

Thank you for the moral support, by the way. It's helpful, and it's so good to hear from friends. Makes me feel more like I'm coping and less like I'm loosing my freaking mind.
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