Another year gone by

Here it is: 38. Feels about like 37. And 36. Et cetera et cetera, ad nauseum, whatever. It doesn’t even feel a year closer to 40. It just feels like another year.

I’ve gotten a lot accomplished in the last year, I guess. Completed two full cosplays in record time (for me); finished the first draft of two different novels; started learning rapier fighting; taught myself how to sew Viking garb and stuffed animals…not too bad of a haul for a year.

Oh yeah, and there’s that house thing. Starting the process of building a home from the ground up. I suppose I should count that in my accomplishments. That’s more of a joint venture, though. The husband and I are in it together, through the thick and thin of it. Six and a half years together, five years to the day since he proposed, and a little over four years of marriage.

Do I have any special hopes for this birthday? Well, I have a few things I’ve been hoping for gift-wise, but that’s selfish stuff. I hope that work goes well. I hope that I get to leave work early enough to make it to the city for birthday dinner. I hope my friends enjoy the restaurant we’re meeting at. I hope for a free dessert. I hope the drives to the city and on to my in-laws’ are smooth and uneventful. Lots of hopes, but mostly just hoping for a good day with friends and family–after work of course.

Yep, I’m working on my birthday. I do most years; it’s kind of just another day in the grand scheme of things. Sure, sometimes I request for a vacation day so I can spend time with my family or take a day/weekend trip or just chill at home, but not always. There was even one time where I worked at two different jobs on my birthday. You gotta do what you gotta do, after all.

I’m wondering when the impending big 4-0 is going to hit me. For 30, it hit exactly one month before I turned 29; I was suddenly filled with anxiety and dread over reaching that milestone, which now seems insignificant. Will 40 be the same? Will I become obsessed with the notion that I’m “old”? We’ll see.

A Friend in Need

Sometimes it takes a friend in crisis (no matter how minor) to make you realize you have more talent that you thought.

calligraphy magic

I have a friend who needed some calligraphy and art for several scrolls. She was on a major deadline, and since I have some semblance of artistic talent (and since I was allowed to trace on the calligraphy) I offered to help. A couple of hours later, I had completed my first two scrolls. Granted, I’ve never really used a fountain pen much, and I’d never done calligraphy, but overall I think the people receiving the scrolls will like them. No, it’s not going to look like the gif above, but they look…decent. Acceptable.

I also did some art–very small, simple art–for each of the scrolls. Imagine a hand-drawn, watercolor version of clip art. Yeah, that.

It was kind of cool to do. I had been avoiding it because I am always afraid that my art won’t be “good enough,” but since my friend needed help I was there. Turns out, it’s not that bad. It’ll take some getting used to for the fountain pen and I’ll definitely need more practice, but it’s something I might consider getting into in the future…as needed. Lol

In other news, it’s two days until my birthday! (A day and a half technically, since I was born in a German time zone.) I’m looking forward to this year’s birthday. I’m hoping to get my own sword for rapier fighting, but beyond that I have no clue what people have planned for me. Guess I won’t have to worry about faking my surprised face 😉

The age-old dilemma

Once again I find myself waffling on an important writing decision: Do I self publish, or do I attempt to publish traditionally?

Not that I’m exactly ready for either kind of publication–I still have a ways to go on book 1 of my dystopian/sci-fi series–but I need to prepare myself for whichever decision I make. If I’m going to self-pub, I need to start looking at cover designs and the like. If I’m going to try to submit to publishers, I need to figure out how to write a query letter. First thing though is to make up my mind.

The idea of going through an agent and publisher is still terrifying for me. I have no idea why exactly, but it’s a definite road block. Is it fear of rejection that’s stopping me? No, I don’t think so. I know that rejection is part of the process. I think what really bothers me is the uncertainty of when/if I’ll get published. I have stories that I want to tell, and I don’t want to wait years and years for a publisher to pick them up. On the other hand, if I self publish those same stories are going to go largely unread because of my inexperience in marketing. How do I get more sales? I sure as hell don’t know. Granted, if I were to traditionally publish I’d still have to work at the marketing aspect, but at least then I’d theoretically have someone telling me what to do. On my own? Yeah, aside from telling all of my friends who would listen and tweeting the link for my novel, I am clueless as to how to get word out there.

I’ve taken to Twitter to ask what my writer/publisher followers think. I need some kind of input/feedback on which is the best choice. I know that self publishing is the easiest, but that doesn’t necessarily mean the best. I have enough author and publisher followers that I think I can get at least a push in the right direction. Sure, the publishers are going to say to traditionally publish (because why would they tell a potential client to fend for themselves?), but the information in their responses could be more informative than they realize.

My first novel, which I self published, did I guess relatively well, given that I didn’t advertise outside of telling friends and family that I’d published it. I had several friends and family members buy it, but sadly the best it ever did in the Kindle rankings was the first time I had it up for a free promotional period. I got all the way to #6 in one genre, which totally blew my mind, but of course it was free so that helped me a bit. I doubt it would have made it that far without the free promo.

I’m hoping that, regardless of which method of publication I choose, the fact that it’s a series will give me a leg up. People seem to enjoy stories that continue on to further books, and potential publishers might like that as well.

Which to choose, though? Do I stay patient and wait for a publisher to realize what a great story I have, or do I plunge in and self-pub it just to get it out there?

Counting down

It’s getting closer–another birthday, another step closer to 40. I wasn’t worried about 30 until a month before I turned 29, and so far 40 is not causing undue stress, but it makes me wonder about my life and where I’ve been, where I am, and where I’m going.

As far as major life events, my 30s brought me a husband and the ability to call myself a published author. Granted, I self published, but it was published nonetheless. Before I’m 40 I’ll be a homeowner, and I’ll be inducted into a HEMA rapier/swordfighting group. I’ve gone to pop culture conventions and cosplayed, and I’ve learned how to sew. I’ve gotten a great job that keeps me engaged and is almost never boring. Life’s pretty good.

So what will 40 bring? We’ll have to wait and see on that one, but here are a few of my hopes for it:

  • Become traditionally published
  • Learn enough swordfighting techniques to be able to teach as well as train
  • Become adept enough at sewing to be able to make more things and sell the things I make (while making some semblance of a profit)
  • Lean some elements of clothing design to where I can devise my own patterns from measurements that I take

That’s not all, but I think those are reasonable goals. Not quite bucket-list-worthy (except for the publication) but still things to shoot for and work on. I’d have to sit and think about what I’d want on my bucket list. What activities or life events do I want to tick off before I clock out? Maybe I’ll do that one day soon…

The return of an old friend…

You ever give something up only to miss it more and more as time goes on? That’s happened to me recently, and today I got my “old friend” back.

IMG_20170805_110044136

Yeah, it may seem silly, but that industrial piercing has been seeping into my subconscious for months. I’ve had multiple dreams involving getting that industrial redone, and my ear has felt increasingly “empty” as time goes on. That metal bar is “supposed” to be there. Or something.

It’s weird how some piercings (and most–if not all) tattoos become a part of you, sometimes to the point of feeling off when they’re not there. The same thing happened with my tongue ring. I took it out for a couple of years but couldn’t take the emptiness anymore, so I got it redone. The industrial has been no different. A part of me needed that part of me back.

Personal style and individuality are strange. I wear my hair in a handful of styles. I wear the same types of outfits (unless I’m cosplaying or going somewhere special). I generally don’t wear makeup, and when I do it’s the same style of shadow. But I also have the same tattoos and the same piercings, generally speaking (today’s acquisition notwithstanding). I am unequivocally me, but “me” is evolving every day. The major things stay the same, but little ripples still flow through the pond.

So yeah, I change yet I stay the same.

So stuffed

In the aftermath of two years of cosplay and garb sewing, I have a TON of scrap fabric lying around. Character prints, solids, fleece, cotton, satin … the list goes on. What to do with it? Well, I think I found at east a partial solution:

Stuffed animals!!

Yep. They’re relatively small, there are tons of free patterns and tutorials out there, and, if done right, can be cute with coordinating scraps. No need to go running to the store for more stuff; I can use the fabric that I already have on hand. I’ve already got ideas for using my scraps to create new gifts for friends and family. Birthdays, holidays, thank-you gifts…this could be something worthwhile if I can pick it up.

Will this lead to anything else? Will I find my “place” in stuffies? Probably not, but at least it will keep me occupied and entertained. I’m going to make my first stuffed animal today; I already know what fabrics I’ll use and who it’ll go to. There’s the small pesky detail of what to stuff it with, but hell, I can just use scraps to stuff the scraps, right? It might be a bit lumpy, but it could work…right?

Okay, so there may be some running to the store–eventually. Right now, I’m going to make do with what I have and have some stuffed fun!

Frayed

They creak and groan, they scratch and scrape

They make the hairs raise on my nape

They cut, they slice, they tear, they rend

What they begin brings me to end

They know my dreams, they know my fears

They whisper nightmares in my ears

Day in, day out, they scream inside

And from these things I cannot hide

I try to run, try to get free

From demons born inside of me

I bite, I chew, I scratch and scrape

I ponder both my life and fate

I cry, I sob, I’m beyond words

I live in prison, trapped by nerves