in the woods, late at night

Dear Internet,

Everything is delightful at the cabin.

The tree guy came out and 10 trees need to be removed either for some tree disease, growth problems, or were hit by the storm. TheExHusband (TEH) is here to chainsaw and chip away at the pieces that are easily chippable and chainsawed. He brought up a TV, the argument being if he wants to rent this place, there are things that renters are going to expect: Like a TV with some kind of DVD appliance and a working upstairs bathroom. I think TEH’s goal is to get most of the reno and repair work completed by the end of 2016 with renting beginning 2017. So if anyone wants to rent a cabin in Leelanau Peninsula, mere minutes from Lake Michigan and cute as balls towns, just let me know.

I’ve been doing all kinds of writing while I’m up here. I woke up the other night with two lines stuck in my head, ending with writing 1K words on paper before falling back to sleep. When I transcribed it the following day, it wasn’t half-bad. Not awesome, but not too shabby for half-asleep notes.

One of my problems is organizing the ideas. I get it, I’m a librarian. I’ve been known to organize my underwear. But this is a hot mess. Here is what I’ve been doing AND is working for me: I’ve created a project in Scrivener that tracks stories in progress, stories completed, pieces I’ve sold, and so forth. I use a Google spreadsheet to track markets/submissions/payments. But ideas themselves, fiction and non, live everywhere. I originally bought my Filofax as a proper planner, finding I could not keep track of things digital (strange, no?). But the calendaring was insane (putting the same event on paper and digital), so I ripped out the calendaring pages and turned it into a one stop project/writing book.1 Once I organized the beast, trascribed the ideas and notes from all the other places into the appropriate sections, my writing life is much more manageable and easier to transport.

My non-fiction work has been selling, which has been awesome, but to non-paying/token markets, which has been frustrating. I am keeping to my guns and not submitting to markets I would not personally read. It’s a weird balancing act: One group proclaims: “Get your name out there, submit everywhere and everything” and there is my side which is to submit to only places you would read or want to read. I’ve been told it’s about building a  personal “brand,” which makes me squeamish. Dude, all I ever wanted to do was write not worry about this “branding” bullshit. I am tenacious but also stubborn as hell about such matters.

My fiction has been a struggle. A big struggle. It’s not for lack of ideas or writing the beginning but for getting past the beginning and finishing the damned thing. My novel is so stalled right now, I can’t even joke about it anymore.

I can create pretty great flash fiction, but anything beyond 2K words is eluding me and it, unsurprisingly, frustrates me.  Because I’m broke as fuck, I’ve signed up for the free MOOC from U of Iowa, How Writers Write Fiction. The two big writing cabals to hone your chops are the U of Iowa’s MFA program for fiction and Clarion SFF, both of which I cannot afford, so this MOOC has been a benediction from the gods. (There is a whole argument on whether to get a MFA. Or not. I wobble back and forth on what to do but for now the idea is just shelved.)

Other MOOCs of similar ilk are more generated, I found, on teaching people the inner workings of writing, such as how to construct a sentence and so forth. Stuff you find in high school composition class. I was/am not opposed to heading to a community college (cheap, local) but I’m not in a place long enough to actually attend the classes. Internets for the win.

I’m traveling again at the end of the month and as I said to TEH this morning, what I am taking with me keeps getting smaller and smaller. When this whole journey began, Jeeves was so jammed there was barely room for TheBassist: And he was driving. Now the amount of shit I’m carting around is 1/3rd of that. In fact, for the last two weeksish, I’ve been living out of two, medium-sized, bags for clothes, two baskets carrying my books to read and other writing miscellany and lastly messenger bag which holds my laptop, cords, and Filofax (see above). Teddy is always in the house with me; what more do I need?

I can easily answer this question: A home, a place for my books, and a world to call my own.

I am exhausted.

xoxo,
Lisa

1. How I organize my writing/projects: Front matter is that week’s-ish TODO list, the tabs (stories, books/freelance, jobs/classes, misc) bought from Etsy, extra paper also from Etsy, and last but not least, my beloved erasable gel pens.

P.S. Don’t want near daily emails or can’t make it here everyday but want to keep up with what’s going in my world? Subscribe to A Most Unreliable Narrator, a monthly-ish newsletter roundup of what’s happening. Bonus! Comes with GIFs!

This day in Lisa-Universe: 2000

i’ll do anything to write, but, I won’t do that

Dear Internet,

I’ve been on a massive pitching frenzy in the last few weeks. I “sold” (no payment) a flash piece to 101words.org and I have an interview and another review on No Flying No Tights, also upcoming. Currently, I have 12 pieces outstanding, including pitches to big name websites. Anything interesting showing up on freelancewriting.com, I snare ferociously. Everyday I find at least one job to apply for, one more pitch to write, and several fingers to cross.

(A magazine I queried, who seemed to love me, reneged when I submitted my pitches. My followup went unanswered. A small note, “Sorry, these aren’t right for our site” would have been appreciated.)

(I know this frenzy of finding freelance work is what I should have done last year when I officially left my job to write full time, but, hindsight and etc.)

Rejection, I know, is all the name of the game.

Here is what I also know: Non-fiction is my strength. Based on what I’ve done so as much as writing fake articles for the applications, I’m good at what I do. It’s not Pulitzer (yet) but it’s pretty decent.

My love, what I want to do, is write fiction. Again, my strength seems to be in short (flash sized) pieces. 1000 words or less, I’m your girl. It’s the bigger chunks of text that perplex and make me nervous. I can do stream of consciousness on Twitter to the tune of 70,000 tweets at 140 characters per tweet is, well, a lot of characters. (Last count approximated about 10 books based on what I’ve tweeted. Holy. Shit.)

So I work hard everyday writing something, no matter how minute, in the fiction world. I have a project I’m challenging myself with by writing 100 stories that are only 100 words a piece. I’ve got 10 so far. It’s a start.

Also in the writing mix, I’ve not worked on any Freyja Thomas stories in quite some time. That’s another thing in my todo pile that seems to get bigger and bigger.


The thing about being a burgeoning paid author is we’re willing to take just about any opportunity thrown at us to get our name out there. freelancewriting.com is a great resource, along with my trusty Google alert which looks for “fiction” and “call for submissions”, ProBlogger, and Writing Career have been great sites for fiction AND non-fiction. Also, I cannot forget my favorite site of all, Duotrope. There is a lot out there and it’s a matter of finding the right niches for me.

I am specifically thinking of sites like UpWork, which is where you barter work for pennies on the dollar. Literally. Lots of the employers have small budgets, want content created with no byline, and created on the super cheap. By cheap I mean $1 for a 300 word piece. Not $1 a word or $1 per sentence, but $1 for 300 words. Fuck. That. I tried it for a week and the amount of work vs the payoff was worthless. Fiverr is another example of this great American capitalism.

There are a lot of other sites out there that prey on the same ideology: Starving writers need to eat, write for pennies, do not receive bylines or able to show their clips. The more you work, obviously the more money you make, but to what cost? Why spend your time giving other people credit for your work when you can use that time to create (and sell) your own?

That, my friends, is the million dollar question. Not pennies, but million dollars.


In other news and world reports, I bought lisa.wtf sometime back and I’m using it as my portal to all of my sites. It was getting confusing on what sites to put on what signature file, hand out, and other tides and greetings. This solves the problem. (For those wondering, no, I do not use this URL for profesh stuff. Let’s be real here.)

Go check out lisarabey.com with its brand spanking new front page and some updating. I’ve been writing so many damned author bios (each site has a different word count), that it seemed easier to have them all in one place.

xoxo,
Lisa

P.S. Don’t want near daily emails or can’t make it here everyday but want to keep up with what’s going in my world? Subscribe to A Most Unreliable Narrator, a monthly-ish newsletter roundup of what’s happening. Bonus! Comes with GIFs!

This Day in Lisa Universe: 2014, 2000