I’ve been neglecting the blog, but I have a reason. The first week of the semester is done. Only 14 more to go. The week before classes start and the first week of the semester are always hectic in the fall. Freshmen trying to figure everything out, colleagues trying to get and stay organized (it’s always optimistic the first week), returning students finding friends and professors, everybody generally running around. There’s lots of laughing and hugs as well.
There have been some changes and some things staying the same (sadly). I have been reminded every day this week that I am indeed making the right decision by leaving academia at the end of this year. As I’ve said many times before, it’s going to be scary, probably difficult, but exciting and fun. I am very much looking forward to the new directions for both of us.
I have vowed to myself that I will find the time to do my own non-research and non-course related writing every day. I have finally (!) finished editing my first book and I’m going to be sending it out to my beta readers this weekend. I’m going to outline the series that popped into my head last week and see where that takes me. I’m also going to write up a couple of short stories that have been floating around in my brain for a while now.
So, we’re off and running. Hopefully things will calm down. It’s bad, but I don’t want to focus on teaching and committees, I want to focus on my own writing. Included in that is keeping up with the blog. I know that I ramble a lot, but writing down those thoughts and ideas helps to clarify things and gives me some idea of what to write about.
In the meantime, it’s a long weekend. Go out and enjoy!
Image by Ken Shelton from Pixabay
A question I’ve been asking myself is where am I and am I where I want to be? Surprisingly for me, I’ve been reading some “self-help” books lately. I’ve never been one to gravitate towards those in the past. However, in light of some severe frustrations and set-backs in my chosen career path, I have come to the realization that I need to take a step back and reevaluate things. As I’ve mentioned, I started writing fiction last summer and I’m really enjoying it. I don’t seem to have the surge of ideas that many authors whose blogs I read (and are linked on my blog roll), but I am finding that more are coming to me as I read for fun and interest and if I simply let my mind wander.
One thing the self-help books mention frequently is gratitude and faith that you can and will figure things out to move your life and life trajectory onto the path that you want and truly enjoy. I’ve been keeping a gratitude journal for about a year now, writing down, at the end of the day, 10 things I’m grateful for that day. I am also consciously reminding myself to be grateful for little things (everything from a good parking spot to a cute dog on my walk to a friendly cashier) as well as the big things (friends, my husband, family). It really does make a difference in my mood and my attitude during the day. I used this technique with relative success last academic year and I will be more mindful about putting it into practice for this coming year (I think it’s going to be necessary!)
I do find myself doubting whether I can pull off this fiction author thing. I tend to procrastinate and that’s been happening lately. However, I can see that the procrastination is being fed by the fear of sticking my neck out, putting the book out to beta readers and then putting it up on Amazon. I am reminded of Marty McFly’s dad in Back to the Future. George McFly has written a sci-fi novel but has not sent it to a publisher because “what if no-one likes it?” he asks Marty. Fear of no-one liking his book means George never sends it out, and therefore never enjoys the success from writing that is in him. I don’t want to be George McFly at the beginning of the movie, I want to be George McFly at the end. When Marty has changed the past so that George sends out his book and it’s a wild success.
To counteract my fears of becoming George McFly the early, I am building a faith that my life as a successful, full-time fiction author is out there waiting for me to arrive. I will send the book out to beta readers in the next week. I will work up the best cover possible and I will figure out all the ins and outs of Amazon Kindle publishing and just get it all done. It will all happen. I know it. It’s all out there just waiting for me!
Image by Greg Montani from Pixabay
Saturday night my upstairs neighbor died from an overdose of heroin with fentanyl. His mom and girlfriend had spent the afternoon and evening trying to locate him and then, that night, found him dead in the apartment. Absolutely tragic. Our landlord is a neighbor and friend and we ended up spending about two hours outside on the sidewalk drifting between stoops with one of the other upstairs neighbors, and the next-door neighbors. The conversation ranged from the trivial, as we tried to take our minds off of things, to the immediate. Turns out my landlord’s sister died from an overdose and my other neighbor’s brother had serious abuse issues (thankfully still alive). We all thought about family and friends as we watched the mom deal with the sudden (although clearly not unexpected) loss of her son. I thought about how grateful I am that I have not had to deal with this level of addiction in my own family.
Drugs are obviously life-altering in ways both good and bad. Good drugs can cure cancers, overcome diseases, wipe out diseases and allow millions of people to go about their daily lives unencumbered. Bad drugs send people into imagined utopias of no pain and no problems, provide unimaginable highs that require ever higher doses to achieve and maintain all while destroying the brain and body. Drugs and their life-altering affects are often the subject of science fiction stories with outcomes alternating between relieving a dystopian existence or bringing down a utopian one. In the end, all the stories return to the theme that yes, indeed, too much of a good thing can become bad. As with all mind- and body-altering substances there is a required balance. Medical people will often say, the line between cure and poison lies in the dose. But heroin? I’m not sure there is anything but poison there.
Other drugs remind me of snake-oils sold throughout history. Right now, a friend is becoming involved in an MLM selling extremely diluted human growth hormone gel on the argument that it helps you lose weight and repairs a number of other issues associated with aging, etc. She gave me a bottle (which I discovered retails for about $170!!) for me to try. I am extremely leery of anything like that and did a quick bit of research on the active ingredients. My conclusion? Uh, no thanks. Not even going to try it. The attraction of no-work weight loss and getting in shape is huge for many people. The quick fix with no sweat. I want to keep living my life exactly as I do now, just without the belly fat. Well, I would too. However, I know that there is work involved in getting rid of the unwanted belly fat. But, I am unwilling to risk my near- and long-term health for the quick fix. The bottle and a warning about what I found is going back to my friend. I’m hoping she gives this up.
I have a couple stories floating around in my head that involve the sort of “cure-all” drugs that are found in science-fiction and in our current world. What happens when too many people get hooked on the idea that a simple drug can provide the answer to all their problems? What happens when potentially debilitating or even fatal side-effects are ignored or not discovered until much later? Quick weight loss fixes that don’t stop even when you stop taking the drug? Mental and energy enhancements that propel a person beyond human endurance and capabilities? The warnings came as early as “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde”. We need to heed those warnings still.
My apologies for rambling, but this weekend’s activities have put me a bit on edge. The roommate of the late upstairs neighbor has not yet returned from the beach (she does know what happened), and it’s not clear what will happen in the near future for her. I don’t know about you guys, but no way could I continue to live there. It’s been a weird few days. I sincerely hope my late neighbor has found peace.
Image by Johannes Plenio from Pixabay
I’m visiting my brother who lives in western Ireland. I’m sitting on his back deck looking out at the yard and the pasture and the ponies and the dogs and realizing why exactly Ireland has inspired so many poets and writers. It’s not just the romantic history, castles and what not, but the views, quiet, and landscape right near you no matter where you are. We were walking on the Black Head Loop yesterday with the dogs and while we didn’t really walk up any steep hills, the gain in elevation was astounding. The views of the Atlantic and back into Galway Bay are gorgeous. And awe-inspiring. I’ve only been here acouple of days, but already I’m feeling relaxed and rejuvenated. I am heading home on Tuesday (I know, short trip, but worth it), and I know that I will still feel this peace once I get back (despite the airlines best efforts!)
I haven’t written anything since I got here, this post excepted. However, I’ve got photos and seen names and heard short histories enough to inspire me for a couple more short stories and the second and third books in Academic Magic. (BTW, the rooster crowing from the neighbors just adds to the whole ambience. Even my sister-in-law telling the rooster to shut up.)
If I could sit here, or out in Fanore looking at the ocean, for a week or so, I think I could do a lot of writing. No, summer weather here is not exactly my preferred version of summer, but it’s still nice and still beautiful. I am more of a tropical person, but Ireland in the summer is a good change of pace. Ireland in winter….not really something I want to deal with. Summers though, you can totally see the fae and other stories in the landscape. It’s inspiring and fun. So, to that end, I’m off the computer and heading back to the beach. Enjoy what’s left of the weekend!
Photo is my own. black Head Loop trail.