living minimalist

Full tilt into 2016 (and the dilemma of ego and resistance)

Two new contracts. Since I’ve taken up the Ray Bradbury short-story challenge, I took a contract writing short stories. I’m contracted to do one a week, so that should get me in the habit early-on.

Second contract was a feather in my Upwork cap. They’ve established a new policy where Upwork assigns an assistant to a new client. The assistant then helps them to find a contractor whom they believe will give the client a positive first-time experience. I was recently chosen as “that contractor,” and garnered a $3000 contract from it. Considering my total expenses for the month are under $500, you can see how this contract is a real boon. I will be ghostwriting a biography.

I finished my 22nd novella two nights ago, and as I said in my last post, that’s my last novella for hire. No more romances, no more cozy mysteries. If I return to those genres it will be because I have my own ideas for my own stories written under my own name.

New inspiration. After spending the last year and a half writing 30 – 40,000 word novellas, I realized I was quite unprepared to try to cram a story into 7000 words. So, I’ve begun reading short story collections in order to remind myself just how that’s done. I discovered eastoftheweb.com and was richly rewarded with stories which drew me in immediately.

I also bought the book, The Plot Machine: Design Better Stories Faster by Dale Kutzera yesterday. I haven’t delved into it yet, but the reviews convinced me it was just what I need.

The dilemma of ego and resistance. One of my writing dilemmas is that it is difficult for me to come up with ideas. Yet when I was writing for hire, I rarely liked ideas I was provided with. That can make it difficult. It could take me weeks to incubate a story, especially if it was something I was resisting.

My motto for several years now has been something Krishna said to Arjuna: “Resist what resists in you; become yourself.” I try to recognize when I’m resisting something and work to break that resistance. This last novella I did for hire was like that. It was one of those Billionaire Bride romances (my first and last), and I had such contempt for the subject matter. I finally was able to negotiate a plot I could live with, but I still procrastinated forever. I wrote the first 10,000 words haltingly. The second 10,000 came easier because I began to inhabit the story. I became those characters as I wrote.

I swear my ego can make things really difficult for me. I was so condescending about the story, that I realized I was subconsciously telling myself I couldn’t “lower myself” to write it. Once I realized that was what I was doing, I was able to overcome it.

I could barely believe it myself when I turned out the third 10K just a day and a half after the second. It took me about ten days to finish writing the remainder because I had character dilemmas to work out.

It’s done, and I think I learned more about myself as a writer during that last experience than ever before.

Resist what resists in you; become yourself.     Krishna

Little Known Factors that Can Affect Your Motivation

This has been a revolutionary year for me in terms of “writing my way out,” and 2015 will be a banner year. I want to speak to those of you who desperately want to write your way out, but you are so full of feelings of failure, remorse, self-recrimination, comparison to others, etc. that you are terrified that you won’t do it, and even more terrified that you will.

These “little known factors” are actually quite prevalent factors in modern society, but too often go personally unrecognized. We feel justified in our self-recrimination and self-flagellation, so we stay where we are, bound and unable to move forward.

This is NOT A PEP TALKI’m not going to give you 10 ways to motivate yourself or 14 ways to start over in the New Year, or even how New Year’s Resolutions don’t work. David Cain already did the latter in his Raptitude article, The Myth of New Years:
http://www.raptitude.com/2014/12/the-myth-of-new-years/
(P.S. He gives you a better solution than resolutions.)

Nope, this is going to be ripped from today’s headlines of my own life.

I began January 2014 with one desperate goal–to do something about my lifelong depression that had paralyzed me for far too many years. I was so psychologically crippled by it that I even applied for disability. Luckily, I was refused.

I went to my care provider and requested a mental-health appointment. My primary care provider had simply been giving me the same solution for over 20 years, and it just didn’t work for me. It took months–getting appointments, testing, evaluations, but, at last I had found someone who would listen to me. My first discovery was that the medicine I had been on and off of for more than 20 years was exactly the wrong medication, and that it actually exacerbated the problem instead of fixing it.

I have long been an alternative medicine person; I eat right, I take care of myself, but no matter what, or how many herbal alternatives I tried, nothing worked for my depression for very long. I tried so many therapies–positive thinking, positive affirmations, talk therapy. I was adamantly opposed to psychoactive meds, but my doctor finally got through to me and asked me to just try what he prescribed.

The diagnosis was ADHD and atypical bipolar (instead of huge highs and lows that would last for months on end, I cycled between high and low every few days, sometimes even every few hours). It was crippling me to the point where I couldn’t write. I couldn’t take on new clients or contracts because there would be days at a time where I was completely unable to work.

They were able to show evidence of my having had ADHD as a child. Since I grew up in the 60s, doctors weren’t diagnosing kids with ADHD then. Because of the way school was structured, and because I had an innate thirst for knowledge, I did pretty well in school, but there were other telltale signs of my childhood ADHD in my actions and lack thereof. This year they started me out on Wellbutrin which quickly helped concentration issues, but I was still my same irritable, anxious, completely unmotivated person. Well, I shouldn’t say completely unmotivated — I was typically motivated to begin several projects and then immediately would become totally overwhelmed and unable to do anything. That’s not a good thing when one’s livelihood depends on handling multiple projects at once.

By the time I went to the doctor last January, I was nearly in despair. Things got so low that by May I was no longer able to pay rent on my apartment, and I moved out in July, two months in arrears. Luckily, that’s just as the meds were kicking in. By July, the clouds lifted, the cobwebs blew away, and I felt “normal,” for perhaps the first time — well, maybe in my entire adult life.

The happy outcome of the mitigated depression this year was that I was able to fulfill a goal I had created when graduating from high school 40 years earlier — to write my first novel. My concentration and daily motivation soared, and in the last 6 months of 2014, I wrote 13 novellas: two romance trilogies, one five-volume set of mysteries, and two other romance novellas.

My writing goals for 2015 are to try out various genres. I have committed to writing a sci-fi story a week for a year (that’s right–52 stories). I also have some serious novels in my head, one historical, one literary, and one mystical, along with several novella series.

I have garnered better paying contracts as a result of my new-found wave of productivity, and my life circumstances have radically improved. With these contracts, I actually have time to do the paid work for living expenses, etc., yet I also have the time to work on my own stuff which I will market on Amazon.

I feel like I have it all: I’m living the minimalist, location-independent life I desire, following my bliss, and I’m healthy and happy.

Tell me of your own similar struggles and how you approached them, or how you think you might.

The Value of an Unencumbered Life

tevna

This is my friend, Dr. Tevna Tayler. She and I share similar outlooks on life. Her article that I am posting here is a great segueway to a new aim for my blog — not only to teach you how to make that shift in income when crisis strikes, but to share the wisdom of living an unencumbered life. Words for contemplation.

Dr. Tayler’s words:

The fabulous thing about having no steady job, no savings or assets, no home or car unless the money appears to pay the rent or next month’s payment, no primary relationship or partner to take care of me, no real understanding of my life’s purpose or passion, even, no sense of “community” where I feel that I really belong, and living in a country where I may not have access to basic food, shelter, or health care for me or my children even if it is a matter of life or death – the fabulous thing about “lacking” all of these is that I get the chance to really feel the truth that “security”, if there is such a thing as that in this life really, has nothing to do with any of those.

In the absence of a “safety net”, or even a “purpose”, or solid community, or plan, or goal of any sort, there is still life, hope, happiness, and even joy and a sense of internal security. If you are fortunate enough to lose “everything”, you may discover that “you” are still left, and it is a fabulously unencumbered “you” that is free to move at will towards what draws you, free to welcome into your space what delights you, free to spend the time that makes up your life as you please, free to love in the very specific way that is your creative expression of your unique self here.

It is no wonder that I have not yet won the lottery, because I am still lost in the miracle, the wonder of the miracle of the abundance of all that is–that has nothing to do with whether or not the resources at my disposal are visible to me. Regardless of how things appear, I always end up somehow having what I need, and often what i want, as well. I wonder, if I were currently abundant in the visible and obvious financial sense, or marriage sense, or job sense, etc., would the abounding abundance of the universe still be so visible to me? Would I be able to feel this sense of faith and trust in the great unknown? Would I start to believe in money instead of God? Would the presence of the safety net instill in me a fear of flying?”