Six Years Collects

The time has come to compile all the random ideas and bitty details of the years into one spot. In addition to this notebook, I also need to glean from my Todoist, my Evernote account, and a handful of Dropbox files and Google Docs.
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I started working on #SaltNovel in 2013.
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It just is what it is. I started Truest in January 2012 and had a book deal in late 2013 (when I started to work on Salt Novel), so each project has its own timeline. (Not to mention life events that help or hinder the process further.) I’m learning to just be okay with it. This book needed a lot of time. I’m grateful for a full time job I also love that allows me to put in all the time this story demands.
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#blog #writer #writing #writinglife #author #slowwriting #details #sixyearscollects

InstaThoughts

Exhibit A: the closest-to-perfect book IMO (but read Saving Francesca before The Piper’s Son for context), my medication sorter/storage, and my weekly goals peeking through in the back.
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Today has been weird. Yesterday too, a bit. I have a feeling of being directionless, which makes NO SENSE since I’ve had more direction and motivation in recent months than I have in years. Might have to do with hormones. I felt sick and tired (literally) today and stayed home from work to sleep all morning. It makes me feel like I’ve taken ten giant steps backward, but that’s me being dramatic. It’s more like, well, like what it is: like I’ve been growing in leaps and bounds and took a day to pause and rest. That’s not going backward. That’s pacing.
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Right now I’m rereading The Piper’s Son for the one bajillionth time, reading Emotional First Aid by Guy Winch, listening to The Poet X written and narrated by @acevedowrites, and listening to the Baby-Sitters Club Club podcast.
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My basement looks like the scene from the end of ET, all plastic walls and containment. After a summer of outdoor construction woes, it’s hard to now face indoor construction woes. I’m trying so hard to stay chill, but the stress that comes from having strangers in your home is legit, even if they are the kindest strangers.
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At the university where I work, fb players move in tomorrow, followed by other fall athletes on Friday. Next week international students arrive, then all students for general orientation on the 23rd. I love the excitement of the new school year, but I also feel like I am holding both Fall 2019 and Fall 2020 in my hands right now, and it will feel good to welcome Fall 2019 and set them down on campus. 😊 It’s a stressful, emotional time for families, especially moms. I’m trying to be gracious, generous, welcoming, and calm. It really is an amazing school, and we are so lucky to have an incredible new class coming in. .
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In general, I am trying to be fully on and attentive wherever I’m at. Alas, it’s Tuesday and it already caught up to me. 🤷🏼‍♀️🤦🏼‍♀️ One day at a time. Sometimes one minute at a time. This is not going backward. This is just a pause.
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#blog #spoonie

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Exhibit A: the closest-to-perfect book IMO (but read Saving Francesca before The Piper's Son for context), my medication sorter/storage, and my weekly goals peeking through in the back. . . Today has been weird. Yesterday too, a bit. I have a feeling of being directionless, which makes NO SENSE since I've had more direction and motivation in recent months than I have in years. Might have to do with hormones. I felt sick and tired (literally) today and stayed home from work to sleep all morning. It makes me feel like I've taken ten giant steps backward, but that's me being dramatic. It's more like, well, like what it is: like I've been growing in leaps and bounds and took a day to pause and rest. That's not going backward. That's pacing. . . Right now I'm rereading The Piper's Son for the one bajillionth time, reading Emotional First Aid by Guy Winch, listening to The Poet X written and narrated by @acevedowrites, and listening to the Baby-Sitters Club Club podcast. . . My basement looks like the scene from the end of ET, all plastic walls and containment. After a summer of outdoor construction woes, it's hard to now face indoor construction woes. I'm trying so hard to stay chill, but the stress that comes from having strangers in your home is legit, even if they are the kindest strangers. . . At the university where I work, fb players move in tomorrow, followed by other fall athletes on Friday. Next week international students arrive, then all students for general orientation on the 23rd. I love the excitement of the new school year, but I also feel like I am holding both Fall 2019 and Fall 2020 in my hands right now, and it will feel good to welcome Fall 2019 and set them down on campus. 😊 It's a stressful, emotional time for families, especially moms. I'm trying to be gracious, generous, welcoming, and calm. It really is an amazing school, and we are so lucky to have an incredible new class coming in. . . In general, I am trying to be fully on and attentive wherever I'm at. Alas, it's Tuesday and it already caught up to me. 🤷🏼‍♀️🤦🏼‍♀️ One day at a time. Sometimes one minute at a time. This is not going backward. This is just a pause. . . #blog #spoonie

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Micro-Steps Victory!

Wrote the scenes I’d assigned myself to write and am feeling victorious just because they exist.
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I’m thinking about Ann Patchett and how she says our beautiful ideas are like butterflies, and when we write them down, we pin the butterflies to a board. BUT she says an imperfect but written piece is better than perfect and unwritten. One can be shared with others.
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I wish that not everything we touched had to die. Annie Dillard says touch it anyway.
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I fear I’m misrepresenting these incredible women. The bottom line is: write, create, build, even if the finished product can never match the perfection in your head.

Micro-Steps

I once had the online opportunity to ask Anne Lamott–the beloved author of Bird by Bird (the recognized authoritive text on the writing life)–if, all these years later, she would add anything to the book.

She said, “I still swear bythr same ideas: short assignments, shitty first drafts, and just do it. You get to ask people for help. And read a lot more poetry.”

Short assignments have been key for my “re-entry” into revisions this summer. But I had to think intuitively about what short assignments look like for me right now.

Once upon a time, I might have said, “One chapter at a time,” or even “one paragraph.” But that wasn’t cutting it for me anymore. It felt like saying that building a house begins with the foundation, which is both true and not.

Because there are lots of steps before that, aren’t there? Micro-steps. Before building the foundation, I need to collect the bricks.

Okay, time for this non-builder to exit that metaphor. Ha! But really, for me it meant even dividing baby steps into something smaller.

Step one was to have a list of scenes, whether they were written yet or not. Now put them in a likely order. Now just gather all the things that should be in chapter one into a document called chapter one.

The next step is to make sure the unwritten scenes get written. The rules: shitty first drafts and no worrying about transitions between scenes (yet).

Ten or so weeks of this will give me disjointed scenes but they are on the page and in the right order. Meanwhile I will begin creating a list of my concerns. I’m not even addressing them yet, just recording them.

Transitions will come next. Then time to brainstorm the concerns and pour energy into them. Later still, grafting all that in.

Does this seem obvious to you? If so, I’m glad! You’ve discovered a wise, bite-sized, micro-steps journey to the goal. If this seems foolish to you, I’m glad! You’re not in a writing space that has left you paralyzed with fear and doubt.

But if this seems helpful to you, I’m also glad. Making a syllabus of micro-step assignments has helped me write more in the last couple weeks than I have all year.

P.S. Would it be helpful for me to share my entire 21-week syllabus? Let me know in the comments. Hugs!

InstaThoughts

When I don’t get enough accomplished in a day, it’s hard for me to go to sleep. My mind and body are unsettled because I felt like I didn’t hit my quota of “meaningful creations and/or experiences” for the day. Since I had a plumber here for SIX HOURS today, I’m feeling it.
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So this post is actually a last-ditch, ten-minutes-to-midnight attempt to add value to the day before I turn into a pumpkin. It actually was a great day. Know why?
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Firstly, because my house is falling apart but *I* didn’t. This stuff would normally collapse me, but I took it in stride, knowing these repairs are expensive and frustrating but necessary. And praising God for insurance.
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And my CPAP. And Prozac. And Effexor. And my therapist. My coworkers. My parents. My besties. I am the luckiest girl in the world to have such a vast, expansive support system.
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The family I met with on campus this morning had read my book. ❤️ Mom said to daughter, “Did you realize this is who wrote Truest?” Daughter said, “Yes! It’s my favorite book.” Like… What?? I had such a rockstar moment. Thank you, Evelyn. I should have told her there’s an Evelyn in Salt Novel. I will email her in the morning.
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The world is in so much pain. It feels so privileged for me to say I need a break from it. I am trying to take it in sips. As an outgoing introvert, you will see me entertaining at the party, then hiding, repeat. I’m sort of doing the same thing with the incredibly painful news right now. Make a round, then hide, repeat. I wish everyone was able to hide for a moment.
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Well, it’s midnight. I’m a pumpkin. My thoughts are a glass slipper; please be gentle.
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#blog #spoonielife #spoonie #spoontheory #writing #writinglife #writer #author #novelist #truest #YA #yafiction #yalit #vaguecinderellareferences #theworldissobrokenicannotbearit

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When I don't get enough accomplished in a day, it's hard for me to go to sleep. My mind and body are unsettled because I felt like I didn't hit my quota of "meaningful creations and/or experiences" for the day. Since I had a plumber here for SIX HOURS today, I'm feeling it. . . So this post is actually a last-ditch, ten-minutes-to-midnight attempt to add value to the day before I turn into a pumpkin. It actually was a great day. Know why? . . Firstly, because my house is falling apart but *I* didn't. This stuff would normally collapse me, but I took it in stride, knowing these repairs are expensive and frustrating but necessary. And praising God for insurance. . . And my CPAP. And Prozac. And Effexor. And my therapist. My coworkers. My parents. My besties. I am the luckiest girl in the world to have such a vast, expansive support system. . . The family I met with on campus this morning had read my book. ❤️ Mom said to daughter, "Did you realize this is who wrote Truest?" Daughter said, "Yes! It's my favorite book." Like… What?? I had such a rockstar moment. Thank you, Evelyn. I should have told her there's an Evelyn in Salt Novel. I will email her in the morning. . . The world is in so much pain. It feels so privileged for me to say I need a break from it. I am trying to take it in sips. As an outgoing introvert, you will see me entertaining at the party, then hiding, repeat. I'm sort of doing the same thing with the incredibly painful news right now. Make a round, then hide, repeat. I wish everyone was able to hide for a moment. . . Well, it's midnight. I'm a pumpkin. My thoughts are a glass slipper; please be gentle. . . #blog #spoonielife #spoonie #spoontheory #writing #writinglife #writer #author #novelist #truest #YA #yafiction #yalit #vaguecinderellareferences #theworldissobrokenicannotbearit

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InstaThoughts

I am not as #productive as I once was, so I am making efforts to be exceptionally #intentional.
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#blog #checkin #selfevaluation #checkinwithself #intentionality #intentionalgrowth #cultivatewhatmatters #growbabygrow #enneagram4 #enneagram4w3 #infj #spoonie #spoonielife #spoontheory #chronicillness #seasonofgrowth #radicalacceptance #radicalselfacceptance

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Summer Lessons

Summer 2019 has been a crash-course in Life. Here’s some of what I’m learning:

I can be my own mentor.
I read the book The Hero is You by Kendra Levin, which tackles the writer life through the lens of the Hero’s Journey. While I do have writing mentors and coaches in my life, this book encouraged me to be my own mentor. So I created a syllabus for a 21-week “course” that takes my current draft to the next draft by Christmas. I gave myself reading assignments and very short assignments (thanks, Anne Lamott!). So far, so good! I have spent more time in this last week working on my manuscript than I have in the last year, no joke.

Courage over comfort.
I purchased a card deck of prompts that push you out of your comfort zone. The idea is to push your boundaries and become more comfortable with being uncomfortable. I just started this– one thing a week– but it’s been interesting so far. I have made plans to visit a landmark an hour away (this will double as writing research!), asked friends to name my strengths, and today I sent five celebrities messages on Twitter. Of course, my celebrities are all people in the book world. One tweeted me back already!

Saying no to shame.
It’s been easier than I thought. I made an actual, conscious decision to quit using shaming language with myself, choose courage and confidence, practice radical acceptance, and– when needed– fake it till I make it. It has been SO FREEING. I don’t do this perfectly, obviously, but wow, has it revealed how much time and emotional energy I spent on shredding myself. Instead, I’ve been following people on Instagram like @huntermcgrady and @drjoshuawolrich.

Grieving a past identity.
I’m in the middle of this one, even after nearly two years of working on my health and energy levels. I’m taking a free online course about Navigating Grief with Humor, and it’s been fascinating and sad and good. In learning about William Worden’s four “tasks” of grief, the one that hit home the most was the fourth: “Help one find a way to maintain a bond with the deceased while reinvesting in one’s own life.” So, for me, my question is how can I honor my former self while also moving forward with my new self? I’m going to try writing a letter to 2012-2013 Jackie, who was at the peak of productivity.

The next right thing.
It helped to read The Next Right Thing by Emily P. Freeman, who also talked about making life decisions in the wake of life changes. I listened to the book on audio, answering Freeman’s questions aloud. Have you taken on a new role at work? “Yes.” Have an injury or illness reduced your abilities or energy? “Yes!” Have you had construction or work in your life that has brought strangers into your home? “YES!” It was good to realize that this summer has actually been intense and full of change AND that I’ve experienced growth in spite of it all.

Interviewing the Shadow.
This was another exercise from The Hero is You. The Shadow represents big, world-shaking people or events that, in this context, stop us from writing. I’m not talking about mere distractions here– lack of focus, household chores. The Shadow is big. It puts everything on hold. It makes us question our identity. The book had me identify my Shadow and then interview it– “What was Jackie’s life like before you came into it? Why did you want to keep Jackie from writing?”– and guess what? I found out that my Shadow was not even anti-Jackie or anti-writing. My Shadow was just anxious and stressed and sad and unsure. In the midst of my own crisis, I could not look beyond myself. But when I finally sat down opposite the Shadow, there was so much insecurity in the Shadow itself that I felt like I was able to feel empathy instead of fear.

Enneagram & Goals
So, the first half of the year, my goals were as such: healthy body, healthy heart, writing & wonder, finances, and investing in others. As I’ve been learning more and more about the Enneagram and my type (I’m a 4!), I switched them around a little bit. Since 4s are motivated by meaning and significance, I made a subtle adjustment. Three main goals– meaningful creativity, meaningful relationships, meaningful growth– and two sub-goals that support them– finances for meaning, health for meaning. It’s a small shift on paper, but a big one in my head.

InstaThoughts

I just wrote a long, thoughtful, tearful post about chronic illness, online dating, jealousy, and grief. Only it was too long, and Instagram kicked me out and I lost it all.
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Maybe it was only meant for me, in the end. Now it’s nearly midnight, I’m soul-tired, and I’m thanking God for Prozac while my body and brain are screaming for The Way Things Used To Be.
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Sometimes I act like I’m just in this temporary space, and it’s true I’ve come a million miles from this time last year. But a million miles didn’t get me back to where I was. And another million may not either.
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I have five non-negotiable parts of my life right now, a sixth that I deeply desire but have put on hold. And yet, I have energy for about… Two-ish. How can I honor God, invest in people I love, work full-time, add meaning and purpose to my life via creativity, and keep fighting for my health? Let alone find love AND get my garbage disposal fixed!
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Time for sleep, an audio book, more tears, and letting Prozac and Effexor (my beautiful meds I forgot to take this morning) do their thing and carry me from the basement up to the main floor, just in time for Monday.
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Love,
Jackie
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#blog #spoonielife #spoontheory #spoonie #enneagram4 #enneagram4w3 #mentalillness #onlinedatingistheworst #ISOsexymanwholikestoreadandfixgarbagedisposals

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I just wrote a long, thoughtful, tearful post about chronic illness, online dating, jealousy, and grief. Only it was too long, and Instagram kicked me out and I lost it all. . . Maybe it was only meant for me, in the end. Now it's nearly midnight, I'm soul-tired, and I'm thanking God for Prozac while my body and brain are screaming for The Way Things Used To Be. . . Sometimes I act like I'm just in this temporary space, and it's true I've come a million miles from this time last year. But a million miles didn't get me back to where I was. And another million may not either. . . I have five non-negotiable parts of my life right now, a sixth that I deeply desire but have put on hold. And yet, I have energy for about… Two-ish. How can I honor God, invest in people I love, work full-time, add meaning and purpose to my life via creativity, and keep fighting for my health? Let alone find love AND get my garbage disposal fixed! . . Time for sleep, an audio book, more tears, and letting Prozac and Effexor (my beautiful meds I forgot to take this morning) do their thing and carry me from the basement up to the main floor, just in time for Monday. . . Love, Jackie . . #blog #spoonielife #spoontheory #spoonie #enneagram4 #enneagram4w3 #mentalillness #onlinedatingistheworst #ISOsexymanwholikestoreadandfixgarbagedisposals

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InstaThoughts

I am so in love with little me. I want to write her a letter. I want to make sure she knows how much hope there is, how far creativity will get her, and how to use eyeliner someday.
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#blog

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InstaThoughts

I told my friend, “Outside of the heat, I think I’m the healthiest mentally and physically I’ve been in years.”
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I’m defining what is important to me, making better choices, refusing shame. I’m eating semi regular salads, reading almost every day, applying for a grant, making an outline for novel work, enjoying admissions, sleeping well, embracing my curves, seeking out growth opportunities.
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Let me know in the comments if you’re curious about any of these things. I feel a bit bursting-at-the-seams to share.
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#blog #radicalacceptance #radicalselfacceptance #selfesteem #growth #author #YA #writinglife #iamaheroine

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