Apprenticeship Week 9

A snapshot of some mental health from the last couple weeks as well as some project updates and announcements.

This is late. I should not be writing this on Monday, but here I am.Not a lot happened last week. I don’t know if that’s a skewed look at the week, but I think it is. I’m going to do something I haven’t done in these posts so far. And that’s discuss some of the more mental side of things. I don’t have a lot to say for how I tangibly spent the week, but I do know that I spent it.

Work and Mental Health

I’ve talked about struggling with mental health here and on Over the Invisible Wall (which has sadly died). What I haven’t done is give a glimpse into its affectations in the present. Everything I’ve previously discussed wasn’t so now.

For the first month, I was on an emotional “I’m getting my life together!” high, and it was fantastic. I was sad to leave Panera because of the friends I’d made, but I was also moving forward.The last couple weeks have blurred and have felt the same. I feel disjointed, almost, seeing the positives of the steps forward but also feeling like I’m standing still. I see the work I’m doing at Original One Parts, but then a cloud obscured my motivation. It doesn’t feel like drudgery, exactly, but it appears like a huge, monstrous project to slog through. I see the paradox of what I’m writing. That it isn’t what it is. And maybe that’s me trying to stay optimistic. Because there’s definitely trends to suggest that’s been a struggle of mine.

And these last couple weeks have been new instances of the same old winds.

Personal Projects

This weekend I decided to start my next poetry collection. Coincidentally it is one presenting a lot of the darkness I went through, mostly not super recent. The darkness lately hasn’t been as dark or as long lasting, for which I’m thankful. It’s going to be a sensitive, difficult collection both for me to make and for people to read. I think it will be good, though, to publish it, because it could help shed light on what it’s like to be depressed and even suicidal. It’s not pleasant, like Inside a Writer’s Head, but by being able to see and start to understand the darkness, it could make it easier to help people who are struggling with it.

The second project I only just settled on last night. It was a difficult decision, but I’m putting Mystical Warriors on hold. I’m going to start a new novel. I am not going to share what it’s about yet, though. This one will be a surprise.

The main worry I have in starting a new novel is that I will run into the same problem I’ve always had, which is that I get tired of the idea. I managed to fall in love with Mystical Warriors, become “obsessed” with my own world and story enough to spend time writing. I got over 30k words. But then I didn’t write for a long time, and I feel disconnected from the story. I’m going to combat this by writing every day in Blurt. I’m not going to write the story in order, because that has proved difficult. Rather, I’m going to write short bits and pieces and scenes as I desire to and sort of cut and paste them together later. Almost like a collage. If it works, I plan to take this approach with Mystical Warriors when I return to it, too.

Apprenticeship Week 7!

This was not supposed to come out before the post I’m writing about week 6/FEEcon. But here we are.Last week I only worked two days and the rest of the week was spent at or preparing for FEEcon. This week I worked about 8:40 or 8:45-5 and today I worked 8:40ish to 6.

Projects:

I have some work and “personal” projects happening this week and going forward.

Work:

Before I went to Atlanta I was assigned a project inputting old customer feedback into the Salespad CRM tab. There were probably close to 300 lines in the spreadsheet. Now there are about 10, all instances that I couldn’t find the account it went to. I searched using the name of the body shop first, but some, like Fender Mender, Caliber, Service King, and ABRA have too many shops to find with the main part of their name. Then I tried searching the invoices using the shop name and looking at the invoices from around the time of the feedback. Nothing matched. Everything that did match is up to date and recorded.

Today the main manager, Josh, showed me a new project he needs me to do. It’s massive and will take me quite a while to get through. He connected me to a folder in his inbox containing lists of shops that APS representatives visit in the various city-specific markets we’re targeting. I have to record the number of shops visited in the market on the specific day and update the information we have about each shop in the APS spreadsheet, Salespad, and Hubspot.

I’ve decided to tackle the project in what is hopefully as efficient a manner as possible.

  1. I sorted the emails by sender so I’m only dealing with a certain set of markets at a time. I check if it’s a days list or a weeks list of visits. I count the number of shops and divide by the days if necessary. I put the number(s) in the correct box(es) on the APS visit count sheet.
  2. Then I go to the sheet with the market’s shop list, find each of the shops from that email and check them against Salespad for information. I’m not creating the missing accounts yet.
  3. I categorize the email in Outlook with the green “Complete” I created as well as the market label. If/when someone else becomes the owner of this project in the future, it will be easier for them to see what was put in the sheet and which market the information belongs to. The Complete label also prevents me from forgetting which emails I’ve already processed the information for.
  4. When I finish the emails about APS visits and possibly the other emails that I need to ask about Monday, this will be the next or last step: Go through each of the market shop lists and make sure there are matching, up to date Hubspot and Salespad accounts for them.

Personal:

I realized the other week when the creator of Blurt, Corey Gwin, was the guest speaker for the Praxis Wednesday call that I needed to get back to writing regularly.

Then at FEEcon, I lamented the fact that I had not been working toward my writing goals while taking notes in the Creative Track breakout sessions I attended. (More on that to come in my post specifically about FEEcon.) I also got an idea for a new blog. I haven’t talked about my idea for that blog with anyone yet, so while I definitely plan on starting it, I want to get some feedback first.

I’ve also decided to take a different approach to writing my novel — I want to try writing a bunch of short stories that take place at various points of the story and then stitch them together. With this I could either publish it as a sort-of-disjointed-but-connected set of short stories or use this to circumvent the problems I’m having with what comes next. I have some idea what needs to happen, but I’m struggling with the immediate next steps for the characters. This would allow me to skip to wherever I want to write and come back.Basically, I will be getting back into writing.I’m probably going to do some design work for a media business my dad and cousin are trying to start. They have a flier my cousin paid someone on Fiver to make, and I told my dad about Easil. Once I get a hold of making writing a habit and becoming more productive, I want to practice design again by making my own blog post images.

Other Updates:

I found out on Friday that my car totaled so I’ve been taking the MetroLink to get from IL into St. Louis almost right next to where I work. I learned today that it’s more dangerous than I realized. I knew there were some questionable stops, but at the station nearest my work, someone was shot recently. So I will definitely not be taking the Metro any longer than I need to. Because I was rear ended a couple weeks ago, I’ve had to learn a lot. I interacted with insurance, an ABRA from a customer side, applied for a loan, looked for a car, and tomorrow I’m going to look at some cars I found.

Conclusion:

It’s been a really crazy week, but it’s been good. A lot is happening, and while it can be a mixed bag sometimes, I’m enjoying the ride and looking forward to the adventures that await.

New Years Resolutions Faltering Already?

I started out the year strong, eager to jump into my goals. I felt a bit worn from constant work and pushing myself a lot these last few months, but I was excited to start the new year. It wasn’t going to be a “new year, new me” type of deal, but more “I’m going to get to work finishing what I started.” I want to do a lot this year.

Already I’ve slipped off. I started forming a habit, writing in my novel every day and reading every day in addition to blogging every day, but I slipped. I have an excuse, my mom’s friend was visiting and took over my room and I didn’t sleep well on the couch. But it’s still an excuse. I could have hoarded my time a bit more and written or read. Could have but didn’t.

I have the rest of today and all of tomorrow to get back on it. If I write and read extra the next few days I’ll catch back up to where I wanted to be. Heck, it’s my day off so I should get ahead. I only have one other thing I have to do tomorrow, so I’ll have time. No excuses!

The Mingling of Inspiration and Goals

This whole blog has a lot of unplanned content written when I sat down to write. I’ll readily acknowledge that this is one of them. But I had some great ideas while driving home, and that inspiration led to the idea for this post.

Earlier this month, I wrote about how I experience inspiration. This idea is similar but is specifically on the intersection of inspiration and goals.

On the drive home I suddenly realized I wanted to write a sequel to The Diary of Kaashif Sarwan. I recognized despite my excitement, though, that if I want to finish my novel, I need to focus on that first. This idea is thrilling and has more appeal because it’s shiny and brand spanking new. But I committed to myself that I would finish my novel.

My approach to this dilemma is two-fold. On one hand, I won’t be giving up my goal of finishing my novel in 2019. On the other, I may allow myself to start the new stories after I finish the short story I started and in addition to any daily work on my novel I’m doing. Because I have a big goal and I’m sticking to it, I have to be strict with myself. I want to do both, but I have prioritized one over the other.

Inspiration has at least initially fueled all my story ideas, but it doesn’t decide what I do when. I wrote down the ideas I had, so I will more easily recall inspiration when I’m ready.

My Plans and Goals for 2019

I’ve done a lot in 2018, and there’s still a few days to do more.

I created and published a poetry collection. I started two blogs, Insanity’s Hiding Place (this blog) and Over the Invisible Wall. I took my novel-in-progress over 30k words. I finished my novella The Diary of Kaashif Sarwan.

Next year I want to do as much as I can.

I’ve made a habit of daily blogging and that will be continuing. Writing every day is important to me, so I will not quit.

In April I’ll be moving to apprentice with one of the business partners with Praxis. That’ll be at least six months, maybe longer. I’m going to do great work, push myself, and grow a lot personally and professionally through this experience.

January is the philosophy module at Praxis, which has a lot of reading, but it will be an adventure. That’ll kick off the new year with some hardcore thinking.

inish my novel-in-progress, Mystical Warriors. I don’t know how long it will be, I don’t know how much work it will take. But it’s taken long enough so far. I need to finish it. I’m not sure when I want my target to be for the first draft’s completion, but I want to push myself to finish it.

Make the manuscript for my next poetry collection. I don’t want to release another poetry collection for a while, but I have the start of another poetry collection. I’m going to scrap what I have and start over, though. Now that I know the basics of making a collection, this one should be a breeze. It will be much longer, though, so that might present its own troubles.

Develop Gràďlutut to a point where it’s possible to have conversations. I’d like to make short video lessons about/for the language, but there’s not enough to it yet for that to even be possible.

Develope N’Zembe, write more stories, develop more species, write more history. I have so little knowledge of the system, I’d like to change that. The worldbuilding is still so lacking, and that’s the whole point of the project. I’m creating a whole star system to host stories, and the process is fascinating to me. I already know I will never stop working on this, and I made it vast purposefully. There’s 10 inhabited planets out of 18, and a ton of moons, which may or may not be habitable or inhabited. The base language is the same, but the derivations and evolution of that on different planets will be drastically different.

These are my main writing and career goals for 2019.

Maintaining Dedication

I’ve been working on and off on my novel-in-progress for three years. Even for such a long time and spread out work, I haven’t quit.

I decided that I would finish this novel. Even if I decide it is terrible and I hate it, I will finish it. I will take it from an empty page to a published novel.

I committed to finishing it.

Not for my friends or my family or anyone else. For myself.

I’ve had a lot of trouble finishing large projects.

Four years ago I started crocheting a baby blanket for my cousin’s daughter. I never finished it.

Between the ages of twelve and fifteen I started countless stories that were intended to be novels. I have finished none of them.

I realized I had a problem. I start projects but don’t finish them.

So I went through all my novel projects and ranked them from highest to lowest current priority. I decided I would focus my efforts on the first project on the list, then the second, and on.

That was two and a half years ago, and I’ve made great progress. Mystical Warriors, my novel-in-progress, is over 30,000 words. That’s the longest of any writing project I’ve ever had.

What made the difference was a commitment to myself.

I decided that I had to do this, that it was going to happen. I am not willing to give up no matter the obstacles. I will finish this novel. Even with it on the backburner, I know I will be coming back to it.

I prioritized my projects such that I have no excuse for working on a new novel that would prevent me from finishing this one.

For a long time, I had a daily writing habit that included my novel. I wrote at least one sentence in my novel every day. That has fallen off, but I will be reviving that practice. I keep making excuses for why I haven’t done that yet, and I need to stop.

I stayed dedicated to this project over the last three years because I committed to it for myself. I maintained my commitment by focusing my time and energy on the project. I remind myself of my obligation to myself by writing blog posts about it and talking about it. I also take my novel with me on vacation to write in the car or during down time.

I need to reprioritize my projects, not just my novels, but my short stories and worldbuilding too. I will be incorporating progress on my novel into my daily habits. I want to say “after I finish x,” but I should start tomorrow. No more excuses, I need to deliver on this commitment.

The Journal: 22 May 2017

This is a new series comprised of past journal entries I wrote followed by some current thoughts about it, if I have any. The reason for sharing a particular entry will vary. Some may be recorded story ideas, interesting events from my past, or some weird or fun thought I had that I wrote down.

There is an extent to which the way you write tells the world a little something about how you read. I, for example, write very much as though the events are happening and I’m recording them as they do — almost like writing a book based on a movie, only better. The words are meant to be very visual, the reader should see in their mind the events as they unfold, watch as the characters move around, listen as they speak. It’s almost as though Mystical Warriors was meant to be a movie script but I wrote it in plain prose.


I think this was inspired at least partially by my friends telling me the opening scene for my novel-in-progress felt very much like a movie scene.