Where I Am

As life continues to throw me curveballs and love and support disappears left and right, I am taking a moment to express my gratitude for all that I do have and those who have bothered to stick around for the ride. This is not the first time I’ve been at the bottom, it’s not the first time I’ve ceased to exist to others. Somehow, I’m still here and alive–doing my best to keep my chin up when I feel withered–and again left looking for my purpose in continuing with this life.

I’ve started a new job as an associate teacher through Head Start. Short of knowing nothing of what I’m doing, I enjoy it–I enjoy finally getting to be around children and feel pretty blessed that the opportunity has been presented. It is a struggle, however, as anyone knows that teachers make very little money–associate teachers make even less. Being back below poverty level, I’m now looking for additional work and a closer residence to my job so I can cut out the 35-45 minute commute and save on fuel. It’s tricky and going much more slowly than I thought it would. I’m also looking for a second job, though getting schedules to match has also proven a challenge.

As things have been particularly dismantling (especially in the past two weeks), I’ve lost much of the inspiration to my writing…It’s devastating and I have no other words for that… I will make it one of my priorities to finish the last chapter of The Open Book this weekend, as I still want to release it before the end of the year, but my joy for writing has been more than a little weakened. It will take some time to get that back. I’ve said before that I would never give up my writing, as it feeds my soul unlike anything else, but in the middle of moments like this, I do wonder if it will ever come back–it does not feel like it this time, and that is rather soul-crushing as well.

It’s been some time since I’ve done much sewing. There’s a part of me that feels I should return to it as a means of distraction, and also to help me get rid of more excess in materials. I still think while I’m sewing, but not to the extent that other activities allow for, and that may be best for now. I will say that not being on call anymore has already lifted quite a lot of a different kind of stress. Yes, I abhor struggling and scraping financially, but I will make things work. Being on call was inescapable. At least I can go for walks now and leave my phone behind…I can only hope that being able to have that will bring inspiration where there is none.

Not writing

I just wanted to make a quick post about my necktie boutonnieres–I’ve started listing them on Etsy, and I will put that link in this post, but also under my Support of Interests tab. Please go take a look and know that each sale helps enable me to make ends meet. That is more important than ever right now, and certainly if I want to keep writing! I’m just showing a few here so you know what I’m talking about. Please feel free to contact me about these or go ahead and shop through Etsy. https://www.etsy.com/shop/heatherhutsell?ref=hdr_shop_menu

amaryllis dscn0469 dscn0473dscn0461

Upside Down

My apologies for not staying consistent with this blog. I had really wanted to get to a point where I was posting daily (or at the least–every other day), but as some people in my closer circle already know, the company I work for has decided to eliminate my position. There was about a 30 day notice on this, so I’ve been spending time sending out resumes, filling out applications, and going to every one of the few interviews I’ve been called back for. It’s been rough and I don’t know where things will be in another 2.5 weeks, when it all ends.

With this going on, I’ve been trying not to fall too far behind on my school work, and to also edit a page or two as I can on The Open Book. I have sent the first ten chapters off to one of my editors, so it’s at least into that part of the process, and I’m still crossing my fingers for an end of year release. I have done very little writing aside from that, and while my soul is craving the chance to get back into it, I guess it’s something of a relief that my muses are rather hushed right now.

There is, of course, much more going on that just isn’t meant for here, and it does all have me thinking some pretty dismal thoughts. I say this because I think on how many times I’ve read or heard people say that this kind of darkness is the best sort to create from. Personally speaking, there’s too much survival mode happening for me right now to even consider it. I can’t even look at my basket of mending and small sewing projects and make sense of it, let alone churn out some kind of masterpiece. I wish I had the sort of drive those people are talking about to help me through this. It’s a cycle I seem to have been caught in for quite a while–tiny glimmers of light in a night that just doesn’t ever want to give way to dawn. I’m but a few breaths away from resigning to the reality that this is just how it is always going to be for me. Yes, I’m in that place, and there has been no indication–inside or out–that I am wrong. It’s been a very long time now that anyone has told me that I’m not alone–hard to believe otherwise now, and it gets more and more real each day.

The Open Book Update

It has been a week since finishing the full first draft of The Open Book, and it’s now in editing mode. A little slow on that, considering that I’m getting hits on all sides from work and school and it leaves little time to concentrate on punctuation, grammar and flow of a book. Deadline goal: December 31st, or sooner. I know I’m really pushing it in thinking I’ll have it done by then, but there is that small piece of time after the semester ends…

Post Event

My last day of peace and I’m already prickling. Not good at all. I also have a long list of things I’d like to get done (housework, writing, cooking…) and I’m sitting on the laptop, flipping back and forth between screens, trying to get motivated to actually do something productive. I’ve managed to do my version of ‘clearing off the kitchen table’, which really isn’t much more than removing about 5 items and then shuffling the rest around. I think the proper way to do it (short of removing it all off into the trashcan with the sweep of my arm) is to take everything off of the tabletop, then put back only what is supposed to be on it. I wonder how well that actually works…

I could probably make a sizable dent in the chaos that surrounds me just by hanging up a few articles of clothing, putting away vending set up items in their storage bin, and/or washing the sink of dishes. But no–here I sit.

I will say this for myself: at least I’ve added two pages to The Open Book this morning. I believe I wrote about six over the weekend in an effort to finish this one last chapter. I do have some content to add to an earlier one, since I thought of some things during one of my drives to and from the Steampunk unLimited show (good time, by the way!). I will probably hit that part when I make my first editing round. I can tell that I am still farther away from finishing this book (and here I mean publishing) than I thought, because no other muses are vying for attention just yet. That’s not a bad thing–I need the focus to all be on this one. Some colorful and weird dreams would be nice and helpful–and not ones of lighting the bottoms of severed horse hooves for torches. Not quite like that. I’m not sure I can work with that…At least not in this book…

My scattered brain is taking me elsewhere right now, so I guess I should move on. Perhaps I’ll come back to this later…

The Open Book and a movie review

I’m taking a few minutes to type this up, while waiting for it to be time to leave to go and see “Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children”. I will give my review at the end of this post when I get home!

In the interim:

  1. Tomorrow the Steampunk unLimited event commences (YAY!!). I will be there to set up in the early evening, and if anyone wanders through and wants to shop, I’ll be happy to sell. Also, I have been given a space in the authors’ caboose on Sunday at 11:30am to do a reading. I suspect I’ll probably read bits and pieces from A Potagerie of Rejects, since it’s the newest book, HOWEVER, I will bring the first few chapters from the The Open Book, and if any fans of the Twins Trilogy show up for it, they will get a preview… Speaking of the twins: today is Bonnie and Beau’s birthday. Born by artificial means of a c-section, it’s only fair to admit that this is the central date to my ‘twin’ Chris’ and my birthdays (the 6th and 19th, respectively). We, being artificial twins as well, it only seems an appropriate birthdate. That being said…
  2. I worked on The Open Book for a while this morning, and plan to get to it some more upon my return this afternoon. I’m working on closing up the last unfinished chapter. It is stretching out a bit longer than expected, but I’m taking it in stride and making sure I get the outlined moments connected right. This draft will be extremely rough, but I shouldn’t have a problem with smoothing things out and filling in any remaining detail holes. It’s my intention to get it at least half done (or to the point of where I have something substantial already written) today, and then to finish it up tomorrow. As I got this week’s homework done last night, it’s all I have on my plate before heading out to the event for set up.

And there we’ve come full circle. More to come…

My Review of “Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children”

First off, it was nice to see a Tim Burton film without Helena Bonham Carter or Johnny Depp in it. While both good at their craft, this movie wasn’t for them, so it was a wise casting move to pass them over. Second, while it was a little jarring in some sections where the editing from one scene to the next was…sloppy, it was still a captivating film and a pleasure to watch. Maybe not so fluid as Crimson Peak, but still beautiful in hundreds of other ways. Everyone did an excellent job (except the woman who played the aunt delivering a birthday gift…she seemed very out of place…), so all characters were quite believable. Not to mention the extra bonus, as I had no idea Terrance Stamp and Dame Judi Dench were in it! I will definitely see it again.

That said, and on a really personal note–

  1. As an authoress: it was great eye candy to stir my imagination and to refill my creative well. It’s been a while since I’ve had that, and shutting off my phone for two hours really helped. I got to just BE and experience it, rather than halve my attention between something awesome and something invasive (though it’s not really halving as in 50/50–usually it’s more like 97/3 and the creative influence is not the heavier side). I had moments during the film where I caught myself thinking “I really need to write more and faster! I really need to be in a place where I am financially able to spend days upon days being absorbed in my writing–if that’s what I want to be doing”. I put myself into a number of job roles in a matter of seconds, and at each one found myself asking, “But when would I write?” One of those roles being a criminal psychologist (I’m a 2-day-old victim of debit card fraud…and a damn good detective, it turns out), and another being a Miss Peregrine. Yes, a nanny of sorts…
  2. As a once mother: this tugged–A LOT. To be surrounded by other people’s children, nurturing and loving them…Getting back what I lost and giving back even more in return. And as great at that as I would be, on a large scale (say, a school mistress, for instance), the above question popped in once again: “When would I write?” Never mind that I don’t know the first thing about running a school–nor care to–and would rather never deal with things like the education department or anything else that a middle man would more effectively deal with than I. A smaller number of children–that I could balance. In any case, it’s a nice little dream to be a mentor or the like to anyone, but as I said a few days ago: All I have are my books, and that is what I will have to be content with, whether I like it or not.

Ends and lights and all that

A quick popping on for an update:

The Open Book is officially 2 gaps away from going into editing phase. While I suspect there will be quite a bit to hammer out during editing, just getting it that far is a huge victory! It’s coming, you guys! It’s really going to happen! Because of where things stand with it, it is a very realistic possibility that this book will be released before 2016 is over. I’m thrilled, because it’s been some time since I’ve released more than one book a year, and I have some making up to do. I really owe you this one, so I’m more than a little relieved. I’m not saying that these last parts to finish up won’t be a challenge…one more than the other…but I can see the light at the end of the tunnel… Huh. Ironic to say so. You’ll see what I mean once you read it. I think I’d love to help this draft to completion and announce it on Thursday–October 13th is Bonnie and Beau’s birthday, after all, and how beautiful would that be??

Other news (in case I haven’t yet said so): I’m on the docket to attend Far Point 2017 as a guest author. Lots of panels and great people to talk to there, so I hope you can make it! I’ll likely talk about it more as it gets closer. Also, Steampunk unLimited is this coming weekend! YAY! Books and boutonnieres will be available for purchase–including copies of A Potagerie of Rejects. Not steampunk by any stretch, but why hold back the availability? I will have 8 copies, so if you want one, best alert me asap!

That may be all there is for now…certainly all that comes to mind. You know that will change.

A Lack, and A Lass

Not something I talk about much because it isn’t writing related, but it is life related, and it’s still pretty important to me–that being the fact that I didn’t get much of a chance at motherhood. I was one briefly–to two beautiful boys–but due to life and circumstance and choosing the greater good for their sake (god knows, it wasn’t and never has been for mine!!!), I lost out on the privilege of raising them. I am now surrounded by women on one side who don’t have children, either because they chose not to or couldn’t have them, and on the other side by women who have had them (or are still raising them), and I’m stuck in an emotional charybdis that kills me daily. I never had the opportunity to have any more children–never was with anyone who wanted them, or anyone who I actually felt comfortable creating another life with. It has not been fun, and now it’s too late. It’s pretty clear to me that that ship has sailed forever. There are no words for what that feels like…

So today while I sat in the laundromat, diligently working on my Anthropology reading assignment, a young girl came in with her grandmother. She wore wedge heels–faux suede, it looked like–very similar to a pair I have. I got up to get more quarters from the change machine, complimented the girl on her shoes, and then the machine and I argued about whether or not it was going to take my fiver. This young girl watched the struggle for a few minutes as she walked up and down the row of washing machines, pushing the opened doors closed with her body, one loud snap of the latch after another. She finally came to me and asked if she could try the change machine, stating that it sometimes behaved for her… It didn’t, but I managed to get the second machine to cough up the handful of two bits. I stated, “I guess we just had to warm it up!” to which she agreed with a grin. I went on to put my clothes into the dryers and she tagged along, striking up a conversation with me about stuff she’s found in the dryers in the past and things she’s left in her pockets and put through the wash, and of course her shoes–all intriguing to me, naturally. Once my clothing was tumbling, I resumed my place at a little table to continue working on my homework, pretty certain that the little girl had had her fill of me, such seems to be the attention span of kids. But she surprised me and sat at the table with me. I managed to engage her in about fifteen minutes of conversation about school and her favorite subjects (found out she’s in second grade), and how she hates art, except for when they paint. She loves gym and music, and there was a moment of hesitation when her grandmother called to her and said it was time to leave…

I woke up this morning hoping for something good to happen–a big win, because I keep taking the sucker punches in the gut instead of rolling with them–and on my drive to work, forced myself to list off each and every amazing thing that had happened since waking up. I’d come up with nine things along the drive–pretty good, considering. Meeting up with this little second grader blew all of that out of the water, and yet none of the nine things were any more complex or simple than meeting her. It’s really hard to explain to anyone what it’s like to be in my shoes when it comes to things involving children.  What it feels like to remember the loss. What it feels like to recognize the missing out. What it feels like to know that no legacy will follow me after I’m gone.

For the people who threw up roadblocks over the years, trying to tamper with my success, trying to steer me away from my books and my dreams–I hope they–of all people–read this. I hope they understand. I hope they really, truly grasp the reality that all the times my writing came up and I expressed my excitement and passion about it, it has been for the absolute and painful truth that, as a mother: my writing is all that I will ever have. 

Week End = Continued Work For Myself

I had someone try to argue with me that I have every weekend off, as though I actually get to sit around and laze about and do whatever I want with my time. 1–forgetting that I’m on call for my job 24/7. 2–forgetting that I also go to school and have homework to do every day. 3–forgetting that I’m an author and, as that is my real life’s work, there is no break from that (not that I want one!!) unless my muses aren’t speaking to me. With this reality in hand, I do have quite a bit of homework to catch up on, thanks to the week that I have had and all of the damage control and cleaning up after others that I found myself doing. By the time I got home in the evenings these past few days, there was nothing left of my energy for what *I* needed to do for myself. But oh! That’s what weekends are for, right? Aside from still needing to get through Wednesday’s two chapters of algebra, and two modules of Anthropology (including 2 quizzes, and hopefully catching up on my reading assignment), I have it set in my mind to get back to The Open Book, at least enough to push through completing a chapter–all during my “time off” this weekend. If I am able to devote a day/writing session per each chapter needing finished up, I could have this draft done in about six days. Maybe not consecutive days, but six days, nonetheless. I’m not even going to talk about the errands I really need to run, or the housework I need to do…Because–you know–I have every weekend off. Someday I really will have the weekends off again. Someday…
Not today.

 

Perspective

The proof copy of A Potagerie of Rejects arrived today, and aside from a few minor adjustments with images (which I think I’ve resolved now), book baby #13 has arrived! Some strangenesses also arrived with it:

This has been a trying time of life for me. Yes, some of it has stemmed from the past two years’ financial strife, and while some of that has eased, different struggles have come up and I seem robbed of my joy from every which way that I turn. I believe I described my current place to someone today as ‘swimming in quicksand’. I’m 100% in survival mode right now–getting through 1-5 minutes at a time, with very little looking ahead. It’s a nasty way to live, precious. Having my brand new book arrive today and getting to hold it for the first time was of course a thrill, though I was much more reserved in how I wanted to feel about it. I described this sensation to someone recently as feeling like wanting to jump for joy, but the ceiling is constantly too low. It’s a sensation of feeling stunted and caught in the brambles of someone else’s garden. Oddly, there is talk in another of my books, currently under way, of how some characters feel they are trapped in a physical location. They are told flat-out that they’re not and no one else is either. They can leave whenever they wish. I try to think about that when I hit one of these days like today, and remember that I’m not trapped at all. It’s merely the waiting game when it comes to more suitable opportunities that will help me make necessary adjustments; opportunities that are there, and even then, my struggles are against thin membranes that are due to break at some point. Like my books, everything is born eventually in one way or another. So in the meantime, I must continue to eat, take my vitamins, rest, and write. Those are the things I have maneuverable control over, and that is just fine. That is good. That will keep me strong for the positive changes that will help me to get to a healthier place.

Yesterday and last night I picked up that horrendous pirate story that I mentioned a short while ago–the one where I named all the characters after people I had in my life at the time. I’ve added more and done some hard tweaking to improve bits of it. I know I quoted a lot verbatim back during its original writing, but some of the dialogue was just so trite and… I don’t even know what the hell!? Stripped from old IRC conversations, that’s what! Man. That alone is reason for amusement! Anyway, some chunks of conversation are MUCH better now. Enough so that I look forward to re-reading those upgraded sections and have been able to add a few more sentences each time. Might be salvageable! There’s another story that is loosely related to it–written a good 5 years earlier (as this first one is now around 19.5 years old…sheesh! No wonder it needs work!!!) and I have already done some work to turn it around. There are some real zingers in the dialogue of that one–lines that I read again and again and just sit back thinking, “Well, damn!!” By that, I mean I actually impressed myself some. No telling if either of these will work up into books. I actually have about half a dozen that will be books, and that’s where my focus should be at the moment. The Open Book, for instance. I finally gave it a glance over this evening, now that Potagerie is done, to see what areas need to be completed. Still not a heck of a lot–which is a relief–and if this cold, windy, rainy–perfect–weather holds through the weekend, I might be able to get into the right frame of mind to plow through at least some of those unfinished places. Now there is a thought that inspires me! At this point, it won’t be done in time for my next event, but before the end of the year. A December book baby…I don’t think I’ve had one of those yet! Maybe even November… Strange as it sounds–and as much as I want to finish it for its own sake of completion–I am really looking forward to it because I am consumed with curiosity over what I will heavily work on next. There’s always something pretty amazing about seeing which muses speak up and for what story/stories.  What adventure will I be taken on next? Where will I go? What things will I discover of my creations that I will never be able to un-discover?? It’s fascinating–you must trust me on that!

Thinking about that has helped me to feel better than I have for the majority of the day. I think that’s a good up-note on which to end this post.