Author Archives: quix689

Goals for 2017

This is my first blog post of 2016. I didn’t mean to skip a whole year. I remember sitting down to write up my goals last December, but then I decided to wait another day because I wasn’t quite sure what to say. And then January 1, I woke up to find that my mom was in the hospital. She’s fine now, but she was there for a few days, and I didn’t really think of much else during that time.

And then 2016 happened. I don’t need to go through the list. Let’s just say it started with Alan Rickman dying and now we have Trump as president, so pretty much everything is horrible, including the fact that I once again have no job. The one good thing that happened this year was that we moved back to Georgia, where my family is. I miss the Virginia weather and the lack of traffic in Charlottesville, and it would have been nice to live in a state that went blue this year, but overall it’s better being back here.

2016 Accomplishments

This will be a very short list.

  • Read 57 books (goal was 75)
  • Wrote 350,053 words for NaNo (mostly Harry Potter fan fiction)
  • Got a few critiques from friends for one of my novels (Degeneration)
  • Kept a bullet journal going for about 2-3 months
  • Started learning Spanish
  • Gained 0 pounds between Thanksgiving and Christmas

And, yeah, that’s about it. This wasn’t really a great year for me personally. I don’t generally reach my yearly goals anyway, but I hate that I didn’t really have any for this year. I never really felt like I was working toward anything. But that’s going to change this year.

2017 Goals

  • Read 50 books, at least 20 of which should be non-fiction. I hate that I am so out of the loop when it comes to the world around me. I got two new non-fiction books for Christmas, and I have a ton more on my shelf that I have been meaning to read. This is the year for that.
  • Read at least 2 news articles every day. This goes back to not being informed. I’m sure I should be reading more than this, but I figure small changes are easier to maintain.
  • Stop being such a coward and actually speak up about things. I have strong opinions about many things, but I generally keep them to myself unless I know the people around me agree because I hate confrontation and don’t want people to hate me. However, that leads to people thinking I agree with things I don’t. It also lead my boyfriend’s mother to think there was a chance I was going to vote for anyone other than Hillary Clinton, and she has known me for over seven years. If there was one moment that made me feel like a super failure this year, it wasn’t when I lost my job; it was when I said, “It can’t really be surprising who I’m voting for, can it?” and she said that she wasn’t sure. This is also why keeping up with the news is important.
  • Do something to better my writing every day. If I want to be a published author, I need to stop making excuses for why I don’t make it happen. This goal can be anything from writing to editing to brainstorming to reading articles about the craft.
  • Update this blog at least twice a month. At the moment I’m thinking of a “these are the books I’ve read” post and a “this is what I’ve been working on as far as my writing is concerned” post, but we’ll see.
  • Write 3 new drafts this year. These can be brand new novels or rewrites, but this does not count novels where I am mostly editing. My plan at the moment is to write one for each camp and one for NaNo, but that might change later.
  • Improve my Spanish. I would like to be able to hold a decent conversation with someone who speaks Spanish, maybe even be able to read the Harry Potter book I have in Spanish. It’s the third book, which I mostly already know, so I’m hoping this goal isn’t too ridiculous. I’m currently using Duolingo, so I guess really I just want to continue my streak of getting at least 50 XP every day.
  • Show enthusiasm for things. I had a job interview yesterday, and if I end up not getting it, I am almost positive it will be because I held back and didn’t show just how much I wanted the job. I have a horrible time admitting to liking things other people might not, and I’m even worse at admitting to wanting something I might not get. I don’t want to ask someone in a store if they have something because if the answer is no, I’ll feel like an idiot – which makes absolutely no sense, but that’s who I am, and it really does affect a lot of aspects of my life. It’s also a self-fulfilling prophesy because I don’t want to show that I’m exciting about something that might not happen, but my lack of excitement might be part of the reason why something doesn’t happen. This will be the year that I change that.
  • Improve my health. There are so many parts to this.
    • I need to get back to walking at least 5k steps a day and then, once I manage that, work my way back up to 10k steps. I walked one 5k this year (61 minutes walking with a friend). In 2017, I would like to do another one and see if I can get my time closer to 50 minutes.
    • I need to lose weight (preferably 50 pounds to get back to what I was in college).
    • I need to eat more fruits and vegetables – at least 2 a day for now and then I will work my way up to more.

So those are my goals for 2017. Do you set goals at the end of the year? If so, what are they? If not, do you set goals at a different time, or do you prefer not to set any at all?

NaNo 2015 Wrap Up

So NaNo ended a couple of days ago. For anyone curious, I did not end up hitting a million words. I didn’t even get close. I ended with 503,305 words, though, which still makes this my best NaNo as far as word count is concerned. I also broke some other records this month: I wrote 58k on day one (previous best was 50k) and I managed a 6k hour (previous best was 5k). That’s pretty exciting, even if I don’t think I’ll be breaking those records anytime soon, if ever.

A big part of why I did not write a million words last month was because of my hands. They started really hurting after the first few days, so much so that they didn’t feel better the next morning. I realized that there was no way that I could maintain the 33k a day that I would need to reach my goal. I had a really hard time admitting that I was giving up so soon, but I was much happier  once I accepted it.

The other part of why I didn’t hit my goal, the part that was harder to admit,  was that I just didn’t have the mental strength or will or determination on whatever you want to call it to keep writing. Even if my hands had held up, I wouldn’t have made the million. I would write 15-20k most days, and that was only half of what I needed for the million. I hated feeling like I was always behind, like I could never catch up. Even 500k was too stressful to think about. I had no goal for a while and then when I hit 300k I felt like I could safely go for 400k, and then when I hit that with over a week left in the month, that was when I finally set my goal to 500k – well, 501,105 so I could end on a palindrome and beat my previous best. And then I hit that with 2 hours to spare and kept going.

I realized this year that aiming for ridiculous numbers isn’t that fun for me anymore. Of course, I still think of 300k as “easy,” so my definition of ridiculous might be ridiculous on its own, but that’s okay. I think I will be sticking to the 250-300k range in the future, assuming that my typing speed has increased by then. The reason it is so slow right now is because I have decided that it is finally time for me to learn the Dvorak layout. I said I’d do this years ago and didn’t, but the pain this year made me realize it was probably time. My hope is that this will allow me to still do over 50k for NaNo without pain. If it doesn’t help, I’ll have to lower my future NaNo goals even more, which I don’t want to have to do.

What about you? If you participated in NaNo, did you hit your goal? If you’ve switched to a keyboard layout other than Qwerty, let me know about it! How long did it take you to get back to a normal speed? Was it worth it?

It’s the most wonderful time of the year – NaNoWriMo season!

National Novel Writing Month starts in just under three weeks. This will be my ninth year participating and (hopefully) my seventh win. It will also be my fifth year aiming for something more than the traditional 50k. Last year, I wrote 151k while working full-time as a teacher. The year before that, I wrote 500k while unemployed and going to school a few times a week.

This year I’m going for 1,000,000. Yes, you read that right. I’m going for a million words.

This is the craziest thing I’ve ever attempted in my life, and I’m including my year teaching. Other people have succeeded in writing a million words in a month, but I’ve never thought that I would try to be one of them. When I did 500k, I swore I would never try to write more than that. But then some other people on the forums – people I raced back in 2013 – decided they were going for the million, and I realized I had enough novel material to get me there, and I’m working from home and set my own hours, so I can basically have as much time as I want to write. Somehow, the idea wasn’t sounding so crazy anymore.

What does a million words look like? For most people, that breaks down to 33,333 words a day. For me, it’s a little more complicated because I’m going to be driving down to Georgia for five days over Thanksgiving break (Nov. 24-29), and I want to be able to spend that time with the family I rarely get to see, not spending 12+ hours a day writing. I also have a wedding to go to (also in Georgia) that will put me out of town from Nov. 6-9, though it’s for my boyfriend’s relative, so I anticipate writing on the way down and while there, breaking only for the actual wedding and reception.

This means that I’ll need to write more than average the other days if I’m going to reach my goal. I have 14 novels planned and another 80k worth of short stories that should get me to a million. I plan on writing one novel every two days, with the exception of the four novels that are 50k-55k each, which I hope to be able to write in a day. I’m looking at 30k-40k a day most days, which is 8-10 hours of writing a day – not counting breaks, which will definitely be needed.

The closer we get to November, the more nervous I am about my goal. The math makes it look relatively easy, especially since I can do 1k in about 10 minutes. That means 4k an hour is definitely sustainable, and I should be able to get a few 5k hours in there (I’ve already done that at least once and hope to get at least one 6k hour in by the end of the month). What the math doesn’t take into consideration is the strain this will put on my hands, the boredom I’m sure to feel with the novels that currently sound like a lot of fun, my puppy who is not going to like being ignored for hours a time – no matter how many treats and toys I give her in the meantime.

I’m not going to put my health at risk for this – if my hands start hurting more than normal, I’ll take a break. If I start hating myself and everyone and everything around me, I’ll dial it back a bit. That said, I really want to see if I can do this. I don’t know what I’ll be doing next year, so this might be my only year to try this. If nothing else, it’s the only year that so many other awesome people are also going for a million, so this is my only chance to see if I can keep up with them.

Just under three weeks. I can’t decide whether that’s too long to wait or not enough time to finish prepping everything, but I’m excited nonetheless. 🙂

Pitch Wars Mentee Bio

Hi, everyone.

For those who don’t know me, I’m Katie. I’m participating in Pitch Wars, which is a contest where mentors each pick a mentee and help them polish their manuscript, and then they submit it to agents. More information can be found here.

All the mentors had to write a bio for this, and many of the mentees have decided to do the same. Instead of just talking about myself (because I don’t like doing that), I’ve decided to let Madison, the main character of my submission – DEGENERATION – interview me. Madison, say hi to everyone.

Um, hi, everyone. *waves*

So, Madison, if you could please get this interview started.

I’m one of your least talkative main characters. Why would you pick me to do this interview?

Um, because your novel is the one I’m submitting for Pitch Wars, and I thought it would be a nice way for everyone to get to know you, as well.

Fine. *sighs* You sure you don’t want Shawna to do this? She’d love the attention.

Your sister isn’t the main character. You are. And you need to get better at dealing with attention. How are you going to be a famous photographer if you can’t stand a little attention?

Yeah, because people are constantly chasing down photographers for their autographs. But fine! Fine! I’ll do it. Um… What am I supposed to ask you?

I don’t know. Questions you think the mentors might like to know.

Okay. Why would a mentor want to work with you?

Because I’m a hard worker. I’ll consider every suggestion, even the ones that are hardest to hear. In fact, I’ve often found that the suggestions I’m most averse to in the beginning end up being the most helpful in the end. I’m not afraid to throw out the entire draft and start all over again if I have to – although I certainly hope that wouldn’t be anyone’s suggestion!

How would you describe your sense of humor?

I’m the sort of person who generally does well in Cards Against Humanity because I’m a terrible, terrible person. Humor helps me deal with things. I also like puns, even though they’re lame. I blame my boyfriend for that.

How long have you been writing?

Since second grade when my teacher gave us all these blank little books, and we got to draw a cover and write our stories in them. I mostly wrote short stories in elementary school, and in middle school I was obsessed with writing screenplays. After that, I moved on to Harry Potter fan fiction. It wasn’t until I discovered NaNoWriMo my first year of college that I started focusing on writing my own original novels.

What’s NaNoWriMo, and how has it helped you as a writer?

National Novel Writing Month is where you write a 50,000 word novel in the month of November. I’ve been participating since 2007. Writing fast helps me get stories finished. For the longest time I didn’t write because I was sure I would mess them up when I tried to put them down on paper. NaNo helped me realize that anything is better than nothing. Anything can be edited to become something halfway decent. Nothing is always going to be nothing.

What’s the most impressive thing you’ve ever done?

During NaNo 2013, I wrote 500,000 words – 4 novels and a bunch of short stories and “deleted scenes” from other novels.

What’s the stupidest thing you’ve ever done?

Tried to be a teacher. I made it through one year, and it was the worst experience of my life. I have so much respect for anyone who can do that job. I just wish I had taken everyone’s advice and not wasted all that money on a master’s degree!

I’m a great photographer – or at least I’m getting there. Other than writing, what do you do for fun?

Most of my free time is spent reading. I also listen to music and watch TV with my boyfriend and play with my new puppy, Tali. She’s a dachshund, and she’s absolutely adorable!


What sort of TV shows do you watch?

My absolutely favorites are Arrested Development and Veronica Mars – though I missed both shows while they were on-air. Same with Firefly, another great show. I also love Gilmore Girls and Buffy the Vampire Slayer, though for some reason I still haven’t seen the last season of either show, and The West Wing, though the first three seasons are the best.

Okay, I’m officially out of questions. If anyone can think of anything I should have asked, please leave a comment below and Katie will answer you as soon as she can – which should be pretty soon since she has, like, no life.

Thanks, Madison. And thank everyone for reading! If you’d like to check out some other awesome mentee bios, please check out the list here.

Falling back in love with your novel

I mentioned in my last post that I was working on yet another draft of DEGENERATION. It’s my oldest story, the one that’s closest to my heart, and the one that I was seriously starting to hate. The plot seemed non-existent. The characters were boring and whiny. It seemed like a bunch of rambling that no one – not even me – wanted to read.

Suddenly every dream I had ever had of my becoming a published author came crashing down around me. I know this story better than any of my others. I’ve been working on it on and off for over seven years. If this novel was shit, surely everything else I had ever written was bound to be shit, too, and I was doomed to spend the rest of my life staring at binders full of abandoned stories that failed to live up to their potential.

And then I realized that Pitch Wars was coming up, and a tiny bit of hope flared up inside me. I knew what was was wrong with the previous drafts. I just hadn’t changed them because it seemed like a lot of work and I was half-hoping someone would read my novel and declare it perfect as-is, and I wouldn’t have to do any more work on it.

I realize now how stupid that was. Being a writer, at least a published one, is nothing but hard work, writing and rewriting until you’re sure you’ve made it the very best it can be. I thought I had already proven that I could do that, but I hadn’t. I was taking the easy way out. I needed to start over again.

Not completely over again. I don’t want to make it sound like I’m trying to rewrite an entire book from scratch in the two weeks before this contest starts. I’m keeping all the major plot points and even most of the actual content – I’m just tightening up the writing and showing more of Madison’s personality. It’s hard to write an entertaining book when your main character is afraid of speaking to people. If I have any chance of getting other people to read this, I have to make sure that Madison’s personality shines through in her thoughts, and I have to find ways for her to grow as a person.

That’s what this draft is all about. I’ve sent the first few chapters to a couple people for feedback, and so far everyone who’s read it has agreed that this version is so much better than any version that came before. To be fair, I’ve only shared one other draft with people, but still. I’m excited about my novel again because I finally faced the tough edits I knew I had to make.

Is this draft perfect? Of course not. I know I’m going to have to change other things down the road. And that’s fine with me. I’ve thrown out practically every draft I’ve ever written, but I’ve learned something from it each time. This time, I think I’ve finally figured out a way to make my character’s voice more apparent. I know I have a long way to go still, and I look forward to making more changes on this story, but so far I’m just so excited with what I have so far. I’m just over a third of the way through this most recent edit, and I’m looking forward to finishing it.

Some people might think that two weeks isn’t enough time to do a serious edit, but I think it is, at least for this novel. Like I’ve probably mentioned before, this is my fourth draft (not including the two times I wrote it as a screenplay), and I’m keeping most of it the same. I’m just adding a few scenes, removing others, and making sure to show more of Madison’s personality when I can.

Even if I don’t get chosen for Pitch Wars, I’m super happy with the novel I have now, and I’m looking forward to taking what I’ve learned while writing this one and applying it to all my other manuscripts (though those will take a lot longer to finish).

What about you guys? Anyone else entering Pitch Wars?

Yet another “wow, I haven’t updated in forever!” post

The last time I posted on here was to say that it had been four months since I blogged anything and to explain why.

This time, I’m posting to say that it’s been four months since I blogged and to explain why.

The school year ended the second week of June, meaning I am officially free of my horrible teaching job. Saying goodbye was actually a lot harder than I expected. I got a nice set of pens as a thank you for teaching there, and I ended up hiding out in the bathroom for a bit so no one would see me crying. I didn’t expect that. I knew I would miss the people I was working with, but I didn’t think I’d cry about it. Given how much I hate goodbyes, I guess I should have known better. Now that I’m away, though, I’m really glad to be done with that job. Saying goodbye to the paycheck was really hard, but it’s worth it not to be miserable every day.

Most of the rest of June was spent packing or watching Netflix to avoid having to pack. Since I’m no longer a teacher, my boyfriend and I couldn’t afford to stay in out apartment (plus we just didn’t like it). We ended up moving about 15 minutes to the cheaper side of Charlottesville. We like our new apartment a lot better. It’s smaller but cozier, and the outside feels like you’re walking through a park. We have a little stream and a fenced in patio with several trees. It’s mostly quiet and just really nice.

Most of July was spent back in Georgia visiting our parents. We also got a puppy! Her name is Tali, and she’s 3/4 Dachshund, 1/4 chihuahua. She’s adorable, especially when she’s sleeping. We’re still working on potty training and biting, but overall she’s really sweet. She eats up a lot of our time, but we don’t mind too much because she’s really cute. She’s currently curled up in her little doggy bed near my feet.

Here are some pictures of her:

Now we’re back in our apartment, and I’m doing my best to focus on work and writing. So far I’ve been doing a pretty good job of avoiding both. Partly it’s because of Tali – I’ve been waking up super early with her, which leaves me groggy and not wanting to do anything and taking naps in the middle of the day. Plus I have to spend a lot of time trying to get her not to eat all our furniture.

My first writing project is Degeneration. I’ve shared the current draft with some people, but I wasn’t really feeling it. A big part of the novel is supposed to be when she realizes she can’t keep avoiding making decisions and sharing her opinions, but we never actually see her doing that. I’m going back and adding in some more scenes – really, I’m rewriting most of the first half of the book. The second half should only need tweaking.

I’ve been putting off writing this blog post for a while, but now that I’ve actually done it, I think I can keep this up. Part of taking writing seriously is taking this blog seriously and doing my best to connect with other writers. So if you have a blog that you think I’m not following but think I should, please leave a link below!

A bit of an update

I knew it had been a while since I updated this blog, but I hadn’t realized it had been four months. Sorry, everyone. I’ve been meaning to write for a while now, but every time I tried, something else would come up, or I’d realize I didn’t really have anything interesting to say, or I would have a great goal for the next day, so I would want to wait and write about whatever marvelous thing it was that I was sure to do.

Now I’m forcing myself to write something because four months is way too long to go without writing something.

So far, I’ve failed almost every one of my goals for the year. I haven’t been writing every day. I haven’t even thought about writing every day. I haven’t added any fruits/veggies to my meals, at least not on a regular basis. I haven’t started exercising, at least not for more than a week at a time, and that only happened one week. I’ve technically lost 2 pounds since the start of the year, so I guess that sort of counts as a step in the right direction.

Really, the only goal I’m actually making progress with is my reading goal, which is 30 books this year. So far I’ve read 11. Three have been New Adult books, which means I’m ⅗ of the way to that goal. I’m reading my first of what I hope to be five non-fiction books. I actually bought 25 books at a library book sale this past weekend (and it only cost me $11!), 5 of which are non-fiction. I’m reading the first one now, a book called “Quarterlife Crisis.” It’s not as helpful as I was hoping it would be, but it’s nice to read about other people’s problems and know I’m not alone in thinking my twenties aren’t the best time of my life.

I also got four books on depression. This isn’t the same as getting help, which was another one of my goals, but I’m hoping they will still help a little bit. One of the reasons I’m hesitant to get actual help is because I’m not going to have this job (or therefore the insurance) after, like, June (maybe September since I think I’m covered through the year), and I’m hesitant to start something I won’t be able to continue.

As you all can probably tell from that last paragraph, I haven’t been feeling much better lately. In fact, this was a hard weekend for me. I did my taxes (first time on my own! Well, with only a program and my boyfriend, but still – progress!), and I was looking through old credit card statements and found a charge for the Kroger down the street from my parents’ house. And I started to cry. And I was sad all day over that fact, and I got teary and choked up when I was trying to tell my mom about how silly I was being.

I really hate living in Virginia. I love the area, but I hate being this far away from my parents. My parents are my best friends, and I hate that I can’t see them all the time. I knew moving out would be hard, and part of why I wanted to move to Virginia in the first place was because I was afraid if I didn’ get a job far away I would just live with my parents forever, but I didn’t expect it to be this hard. I thought it would be like when I went away to college – that saying goodbye would suck but then I would be happy the rest of the time.

But it’s not. I hate my job, which is a huge part of it. I never should have gone into teaching. Everyone who knows me said this was a stupid decision. I hate kids. I mumble when I speak because I don’t have the confidence to speak slowly and clearly. I don’t have the confidence to tell kids to shut up at and listen to me, at least not in a way that would have them actually listen. And worst of all – I can’t teach. I have no idea how to teach people anything. I thought college would help with that, but it didn’t, and now I feel even worse than last semester because now I have kids who are actually trying, and they deserve so much better than what I’m able to give them.

The good news is that there are only 9.5 weeks of school left until the end of the semester. I’m just about ¾ of the way through with this nightmare. I’ll still probably be trapped in Virginia for another year, maybe more (until my boyfriend finds a Latin teaching job in Georgia), and I’m not sure how we’ll make it work without my salary. I don’t want to find another job because then I wouldn’t have the vacation time to go and visit my parents like I can now, which still isn’t enough, but I’m afraid if I don’t find a job then we won’t be able to afford living here.

Every time I try to think about the past or the future, I get sad and my head hurts, and I feel like my brain is running in circles through a dense fog. But I can’t even really think about the present, either, because that is so upsetting, as well. My hope is that Camp NaNo, which starts in about five hours, will help me focus my mind on something else. So far I haven’t had the greatest success planning for this, but maybe something will come of it.

How have the rest of you been? Anyone doing Camp NaNo?

2015 Goals

Okay, so this post is slightly later than I intended, but at least it’s not too late to be relevant.

I’ve been thinking a lot about what I want to do differently this year and what I wish I had done differently in the past. It’s been almost five years since I graduated college, which means it’s been almost five years since I felt I really knew what I was doing with my life. Even back in college, though, I didn’t really have a set plan, or at least not one that I worked hard to make sure happened. My whole life, I’ve done the least amount of work possible, looking for the safest, easiest options. I thought that would lead to a decent life.

Turns out I was wrong. I tried to take the easy way out and ended up more miserable than I’ve ever been before. This is the year that I fix that, or at least start fixing that. That’s why I’m not going to have quite as many goals as previous years. I’m also splitting those goals into three main categories.

Reading Goals

• Read 30 Books
○ Read 5 non-fiction books
○ Read 5 New Adult books

I don’t expect to read as much this year as I have in past years, mostly because I can’t read as much when I’m teaching.

• Spend at least 10 minutes each day reading the news.

Writing Goals

• Write 500 words every day.

This should take me 5-10 minutes a day, so it shouldn’t be that difficult. These words can either be a random prompt or part of a longer work that I’m working on. I just want to get in the habit of writing something every single day.

• Write at least 100k for NaNo this year.

• Get one of my books ready for publication.

I have some manuscripts that I feel would be best for traditional publishing and some that I feel would be best self-published. I’m fairly positive I want to focus on traditional publishing first, but I’m leaving it open for now. By the end of the year, I either want to have one novel self-published, or I want to be submitting one of my novels for publication. This means I will need to find CPs, so if you write mostly contemporary novels and will be looking for a CP in a few months, keep me in mind!

Personal Goals

• Get healthy.
○ Lose 50 pounds.
○ Exercise 1x per week to start.
○ Eat 3 fruits/veggies a day to start.

This is a general goal, but there are a smaller subset of goals within this one. I need to eat more fruits and vegetables. I need to exercise. I need to stop eating so much processed junk. The old me would have tried to cut everything out at once, but I’ve learned that doesn’t work for me, especially now that I’m so out of it most of the time (more on that in a minute). That’s why I’m starting with small goals at first. I want to lose 15 pounds by my sister’s wedding in March and another 35 pounds over the course of the year. I wasn’t successful with this in the past, but I’m hoping I’ll be able to do that if I slowly focus on adding more healthy foods and more exercise.

• Get therapy.

This one’s a lot harder for me to admit that I need, and it’s going to be one of the hardest for me to accomplish because it will involve reaching out and asking someone else for help. I really do think it’s necessary, though. I cry constantly. I can’t understand why anyone would ever look around and think this is a great world. I have no self-esteem. I do everything possible to avoid confrontation and having to make decisions. I have so many problems, and I’ve been trying to deal with them myself, but I don’t think I can anymore.

• Figure out what I’m supposed to be doing with my life.

I was reading Miriam Joy’s blog post earlier, and she will be asking herself the following questions: “Am I who, what and where I want to be? If not, why? How can I change things so that I am?” I’ve decided to steal those questions and ask them of myself. I’ve spent a lot of time trying to be who I think other people want me to be, and the problem is that I no longer really know who I want myself to be. I’d hoped I would have figured this out before I was 25-almost-26, but it would be better to do that now than later. I know I want to write, but I’m not sure what I want to do to make money. I thought it was teaching but now I think that’s not the greatest idea. I’ll be figuring out what that idea is at some point this year.

So those are my goals for this year. What are your goals?

NaNo 2014 – Complete

I’ve been horrible about updating this blog. I’m going to try to do better in the new year, but in order for that to happen, I actually have to have something interesting to write about. (Hopefully my life will be more interesting in January.)

The interesting news I have now is that I have won my first NaNo with a full-time job. And I didn’t only win – I also wrote 150,000 words! I hit 150k yesterday, and my total so far is 151, 713. My plan is finish this novel and then probably stop, as I’m really close to being done, but we’ll see how much time I have over the next few days.

I wrote more words last year (500k), but I think this year was the hardest mentally. There was a good while there when I didn’t think I’d be able to hit 50k at all, and then a longer time when I thought I would never get close to even 100k, let alone 150k. I hated the novel I had planned on writing because I didn’t plan it well enough. The first 50k I wrote was mostly random short stories and two sad, pathetic attempts at other novels. It took me over a week before I finally came up with a new idea. This one I didn’t plan at all, so this is my first attempt at completely pantsing a novel. It has actually been a lot of fun, and the words flowed a lot more easily with this one than they ever have before.

I also hit a new milestone – 3k in 30 minutes! I actually ended up doing 4131 words in 42 minutes. If I hadn’t been hanging out with friends who really wanted food, I would have kept going, and I probably would have gotten my first 6k hour. My hands weren’t even hurting! The good news is that even though I didn’t hit it this time, I now know that a 6k hour is possible for me, so I have my next goal in mind!

Dreams, backup plans, and a confession

It’s been two months since my last update. Sorry about that. Between finding an apartment, moving ten hours from home, and starting school, it’s been a very hectic two months. I can’t even believe it’s only been two months. I feel like I’ve been doing this forever. At the same time, I feel like I’ve just started.

But I’m babbling. I should start at the beginning.

Our apartment is nice. We’re paying way too much for it when I think about what we could have gotten in Georgia for this money, but it’s not horrible, especially since my boyfriend and I are both working full time. We haven’t seen our first paycheck yet, so we’ve been living off brand new credit cards with zero interest until November of next year. Yay credit cards.

The teachers I work with are also nice. Exceptionally nice, actually. My mentor is super helpful, and she always listens when I complain about things and offers advice. She shows me how to do everything I need to do, which is awesome because most of the time I feel silly asking for help. And then there’s the teacher whose room I’m in fourth block. See, I don’t have my own classroom, so I float between three classes. Since I end in this one teacher’s room, I generally stay there while I prepare for the next day. She listens to me and the other new teachers rant about our day, and she offers advice and words of comfort. I don’t know what I’d do without her.

So I like my apartment and my colleagues. I just hate my job. I spend way too many hours thinking of ways I can get myself fired, since I can’t quit because I’m signed with them for a year. I would never actually do something to get fired, but it’s still nice to think about. I’m just not cut out for this. I thought I was, but I’m not. The kids are out of control, and I don’t know how to fix it. It’s not fair to the few kids who are actually trying to learn, and I know that. They deserve better. I’m just not sure I’m capable of being better. I’m going to try to write more people up this week, but if that doesn’t work then I don’t know what I’ll do.

I think my biggest problem is that I don’t really want to be a teacher. I never did. Whenever someone asked what I planned on doing with an English degree and suggested teaching, I would laugh at them and say no. Hell no. Because I have no patience. I can’t explain anything to anyone. I hate people, especially children. Especially stupid children. So why did I end up as a teacher, you ask? Funny story.

It started in 2010. I graduated a year early from college and returned home, to my parents’ house. I had no job, but I wasn’t concerned yet. I thought I had time. And then I couldn’t find an editing job, mostly because I didn’t know where to look for them. I also couldn’t find a job doing anything else. I applied to gas stations, coffee shops, restaurants, and smoothie shops. I couldn’t find a job. I eventually ended up working for my mother as a school photographer. I made $9 an hour, which works out to about $10,000 a year since it was seasonal work. Not enough to move out on, especially since my boyfriend was in college still and didn’t have a job either. So I stayed with my parents, hating my job and my life because I felt like a failure.

There are several reasons why I started thinking about teaching then. Part of it was because my boyfriend was going to school to be a teacher, and I liked the sound of the classes he was taking. Part of it, a bigger part, was because I was already in schools every day. I figured if I was going to be around kids all the time anyway, I might as well be a teacher, where I’d make more money, have a respectable sounding job, and still have summers and weekends off. Plus I could get my Master’s and still use my English degree. I liked that my first degree wouldn’t be useless, that I could pretend it was just a stepping stone to my new goal. I still didn’t know anything about teaching, but I figured that was what grad school was for.

Except it turns out I was wrong. Very wrong. You don’t go to grad school to learn how to be a teacher. You go to grad school to talk about teaching-related issues like standardized testing and the Common Core standards. I learned how to write lesson plans but not how to help children learn when they don’t already know the material and can’t learn by simply taking down notes. I didn’t learn how to manage a classroom. I didn’t learn what to do when I have 15-year-old students who think “sleepy” is a verb and don’t know how to count five or seven syllables in a haiku.

I don’t know how to be a teacher, and my kids are out of control, and I’m losing my mind trying to fix it. I want to be better, but I also just want to curl up in a ball and cry and never go to school again. This wasn’t my dream. My dream was to be a writer. Ever since I was six, I wanted to write for a living, but I knew a I needed a practical goal. So I tried editing. Not novel editing. Just copy editing. I wanted to edit grammar. But I couldn’t do that. And I couldn’t find a job at a coffee shop or anything. So I turned to teaching.

Let me tell you something – teaching should never be a backup plan. This isn’t a job you can do when your heart’s not really in it. Well, I guess for some people it is, but not for me. I started realizing this was the wrong choice last semester. My boyfriend would get all excited when Latin teachers followed him on Twitter. Most of his Twitter feed comes from fellow Latin teachers, actually. Mine isn’t filled with teachers. It’s filled with writers. That’s what I want to do. I thought I could teach to make an income and then write in my spare time, but it turns out I don’t really have that much free time, and what time I do have is spent freaking out and trying to postpone what feels like an inevitable heart attack, stroke, or nervous breakdown.

My chest hurts all the time, like someone of my height/weight (which, trust me, is quite large) is standing on it. Or like there’s a rubber band around it at all times, stopping my lungs and heart from moving properly. My head generally feels like someone’s squeezing it. I’m worried all the time. I haven’t had any fingernails since the move, another sign I’m freaking out. I’ve been eating like crap, worse than usual. I’ve done like 15 minutes of exercise since school started 3 weeks ago. Every single night I have at least one dream that involves school in some way. I wake up at least once a night, sometimes more. I’m tired all the time. I can’t remember the last time I was excited about something. Even this apartment and the cold weather and the Starbucks salted caramel mocha frappuccinos aren’t doing it for me. They make me smile a little, but that’s about it.

Hell, even the thought of NaNo isn’t making me happy. I’m just worried I won’t have time to do it, and I can’t work up any enthusiasm for any of my novel ideas, not even the new one that sounded like so much fun back in early July. It’s like this move and this job has sucked all the joy from my life, and there wasn’t even that much of it to begin with.

So, yeah, that’s been my life for the past two months. I’ve started seriously wondering if I have depression, and at least six Internet tests say that I do, in fact, suffer from severe depression. When my health insurance starts in October, I think I’m going to try talking to someone. I’ve felt like a failure since I graduated college, but it’s just gotten so much worse in the past couple months.

Sorry for the long, depressing blog post. How has everyone else been?