Recharge 

img_2347

My partner said to me recently that if people don’t know me, they have no idea that I’m quaking inside as I chat, discuss, teach, or sell. That it’s taking little chunks of energy with every interaction and by the end of the event I’m completely drained. I wear a mask cultivated from childhood. Show no fear. Don’t let the bullies see you cry. Be strong; people like confidence. Wear lots of deodorant to hide the stress sweat.

Sigh. The life of an introvert, right? I know so many other writers who feel similarly. Is it part of the creative personality, do you think?

This has been a whirlwind month, full of lots of interaction, and one big event where we were the sole center of attention. People have been kind. They’ve been supportive and complimentary. Many went out of their way to help. I’m unquestionably lucky to have so many truly wonderful people around me. We’re heading toward our last big event of the year, and I’ll be surrounded by other writers I enjoy being around, and who enjoy having to be social about as much as I do.

And.

I’m looking forward to moments of utter stillness and true silence come December.  No voices, no conversations, no need to parse social expectations and try to find the ‘right’ things to say. No need to deep breathe and second guess my role in the interaction. No imposter syndrome screaming for attention. I need to recharge so I can put my confidence mask back on and function among other humans once more. Because given my druthers, I’d quite happily be a hermit.

So if we meet, if we email, if we communicate in some way, please forgive my slowness to respond or the look of panic in my eyes when I don’t know whether or not to laugh. Or, maybe my mask will be in place and you’ll just find me insanely charming. It could happen…

 

Advertisements

And…breathe. 


33 hours of travel with 6 hours of sleep; we drove with the window down and the music turned up to stay awake on the final leg home. Once home we gladly crashed into our wonderful cloud bed and left the world for a few hours.

It’s been a whirlwind couple weeks (months, really, but I’m too tired to think back that far). A week spent teaching in Spain (see the blog on that), with a single day on return to re-pack and head to America, has made it so I have no idea what day it is, let alone what time.

But here’s the thing I want to talk about:

As you might know, I’m not good at being human, and the last several weeks (months) have required me to behave as though I have a single clue about what it is to be socially adept. I’ve given it my best shot. I’ve hung out with old friends, made some new ones, and worked on keeping hidden my hugely awkward self.

It didn’t always work; I didn’t get to talk to several people I wanted to, and probably came across as aloof, snooty, or just plain rude to others. If you were one of those people, I apologize. Leaving the house to speak actual words to real people is always like a crapshoot during an eclipse; only when the light comes back do I see the damage.

That said, I was able to talk to friends I’ve had for years, have lots of laughs, good food (madre de Dios, is Ptown food expensive!) and time to talk about writing. Words, words, words. And I got to do it with Robyn–our first time as authors at a big event we weren’t in charge of. That was pretty damn cool too.

Now we’re back and the rest of the year requires a few more events where I have to step outside myself, put on my ‘I’m pretty normal’ mask, and remember to use words in place of blank expressions. But tonight I’m soaking in my lovely bathtub, listening to the wind from hurricane Ophelia howl around the house while my wife unpacks two weeks of luggage.

So, to everyone at Ptown: thanks. To those in Spain: thanks.

Life is good.

Grateful 

I’m sitting outside. 

It’s October.

I’m in a tank top and shorts. 

I love Spain. I always say I miss the sun, but I forget what that really means until I’m surrounded by it again. The warmth seeps into my bones, the views lift my spirits, and my fibro pain lessens. It feels like we’re a world away from everything, couched in our own Spanish sunrise bubble. Even my migraine went away overnight, and as I sat with an ice pack on my head outside at five thirty in the morning, I stared at the stars, cuddled a cat, and thought how amazing life can be. 

The ability to teach a writing retreat here is such a gift. The owners are lovely people, the people attending the retreat are like creative sponges, and we’re managing to do our own writing too. I fully understand why Hemingway spent so much time here. 

Stupendous. 

I am feeling so deeply, almost desperately grateful for being able to live this way. And when we get back to England after yet another big trip, I’ll appreciate the cuddly sweaters, what’s left of the autumn colours, and the turn toward winter. 

Movement and Mechanics


Tomorrow is the annual Writing Retreat in Spain. It’s a little bittersweet, as it will likely be the last one. At least for a few years. 

It’s making me think about writing, and the teaching of writing. An author I work with asked some good questions about the next stage in her process, and in my answer to her I found myself wondering about mechanics. 

The greasy-spilling-smudged-blank-beautiful kind, rather than the wrench and socket kind. (Are those even tools? I have no idea, but it sounds right.)

I’ve got a number of teaching type things on this site. But they’re just a micro-minuscule portion of what’s out there. I advised the author to never stop learning, to keep trying to get better at her craft, no matter who her editor is. And I really believe that. Writing is a craft. It takes hard work, graft, determination, and a willingness to understand that as much as you know, you have so much to learn. And it’s worth listening to lots of different approaches and concepts, so you can try, discard, mold, and internalise the things that do and don’t work for you. 

Learn from others. Learn from doing. Learn from experience, both your own and that of others. Be grateful, be thoughtful, be generous, be honest, be gentle. With yourself and with others. Writing whatever comes to you is simple. Writing well and working at it is tough but worth it. As I start my fourth novel, it was a perfectly timed reminder. 

Off to Spain. It’s time to write. 

Britches


In your twenties, you know everything. And if you don’t, you figure it’s not worth knowing. 

Hopefully you outgrow that attitude, eventually. You realise that opinions around you may vary. You realise that listening and puzzling and then making a decision is a good idea. You also realise there are those who know better than you. There is always more to learn.

Because you don’t know everything. 

Maybe you disagree with someone. Maybe there needs to be a larger conversation, with room for negotiation. 

But let me assure you; if you come across as patronising and know it all, you’re shooting your self in the proverbial. Be condescending, refuse to listen and accept that there is someone who knows better, and probably someone who knows better than the other three people you asked, and you should really expect the kick you get in return. 

Oh, and throw someone else under the bus in the process? Yeah… that ends well. 

Instead: 

Be grateful that someone is willing to help you. Be glad they’re not just letting you fall on your face. Be happy they’re willing to work with you at all; often, it would be easier to cut you loose. 

Granted, they’re not perfect. They may not see what you do. They, too, probably don’t know everything and are still learning. So have a conversation about it. Work it through. Try to show them your idea more clearly so they can help. If you need to stand firm, do it respectfully. Explain. If they’re trying and being professional, return the courtesy. (If they’re being absolute ass-hats, that’s a different scenario. But make sure you’re not the ass-hat before calling them out.) 

Sigh. 

There are reasons I’m an introvert. I am not good at peopleing. 

The story continues 

I’m really excited to tell you guys that my second book in the Afterlife, Inc series is out this month. 

Fury’s Choice follows the second fury sister, Tisera, and the suave Kera. I hope you’ll give it a try. You can find it, along with the first one, Fury’s Bridge, over at Bold Strokes Books. And I’m trying to do a bit more over on my Brey blog, if you’re interested in checking me out there. 

Will you? 

Why do you write?

What drives you to sweat, swear, and despair over the worlds and characters you create? 

What creates the need to put black on white for as long as it takes to spill the story into the world? 

I’d very much like to know… Will you share?