Business Musings: I Had No Life (The December Process Blog)

Business Musings Current News free nonfiction Kristine Grayson On Writing Romances Young Adult

A few weeks ago, I asked my Patreon supporters to let me know what they thought were the big take-aways in 2018. Since I had so many life changes and adventures in 2018, I wasn’t able to keep up on everything in the industry the way I usually do.

The Patreon folk came through, and I have a list, which goes with my Master Business Class list. I have to put all of that together this weekend, and keep track of Christmas stuff, and get together with friends, and do research for a big short story that I agreed to, and research yet another one, and, and, and…

I’m not really overwhelmed, but I am a bit discombobulated.

I used to have all of December to do a lot of work. In Lincoln City, there wasn’t much holiday stuff available besides the things we put together ourselves. Traveling across the mountain in all the storms wasn’t easy, although we did it a few times that month to enjoy the holiday elsewhere. We couldn’t even attend the holiday movies without driving over that mountain, because the local six-plex turned off the heat in the winter. (I kid you not.)

Here there’s quite literally too much to do. Every business has something that will attract the locals. I just found out about some we’ll have to attend next year, because we didn’t even know the event existed before it happened. I’ve spent so many years without the ability to celebrate the holiday that celebrating the holiday is—to me—mandatory.

And fun. The Santa Run, last week’s Reindeer run, this week’s Reindeer run. Stopping at my favorite bakery for sugar cookies (she wasn’t going to make them until this week), seeing the sites at various places, the Nutcracker at the Smith Center, and holiday movies galore! We have reservations for a special Christmas Day meal, and reservations to join the madness a few blocks away on New Year’s Eve.

All of that remains important to me.

And what goes through my head is this: People used to ask me how I got so much done, and I would laugh and say, I have no life.

I meant I didn’t have kids and grandkids and a Real Job, but it also turns out that in that tiny town, I had no life. The months were wide open. I didn’t have a lot of choice about what to do.

Now, I have choice, and I’m exercising it. And enjoying it. And trying not to 1) overdo and 2) underdo. In other words, I’m trying to maintain balance.

And I’m healthy again—as long as I stay here and don’t travel. Yay! I have more energy than I’ve had in years. 5,000 word days are usually a minimum, not a maximum, and I’m getting a lot done, around the visits to weird restaurants and walks to see what’s going on in different parts of town. So in reality, I’m getting more work done than I did when I had no life.

It just feels like I’m not getting as much done.

What hit me this past week, and why I’m doing the process blog before I dive into the year-end stuff, is how much I abandoned in order to get anything done.

I started getting really sick in 2012, and the illness fluctuated in intensity for the next six years. It became untenable exactly a year ago. (I remember the day; I got sick at a birthday gathering for a friend, and it all went downhill from there.)

The anniversary of the dark times came home to me as the date rolled by on my calendar, but ironically, as that date was rolling past, I was doing a project I had put off for five years.

I was compiling the Kristine Grayson novels into four omnibus editions. Earlier this month, I had turned in Hidden Charm, the first Kristine Grayson full-length novel in six years. I wanted to rebrand the entire series.

I’ve also had problems with the traditional publisher who still has rights to four books in the series. (I managed to get the rights reverted to several other books, from the other traditional publisher of the series.) The rights that recalcitrant publisher has are for the standalone novels. I have the rights to compilations, omnibus editions, enhanced editions, and all of that fun stuff.

So, as it became clear (around 2012) that I wouldn’t immediately get the rights to the standalones back, I planned the omnibuses.

I just didn’t have the energy to do them. So I didn’t.

I did them this past week. And, in the introductions to the as-yet-untitled Omnibus #4, which includes the two original novels that the traditional publisher still has in their mitts, as well as Hidden Charm, I wrote about the hideous, horrible, awful, terrible, disgusting, and revolting publishing experience I had with said traditional publisher.

Yesterday, I compiled those introductions into a long post, and put it up for my Patreon people. If you support me on Patreon, you can read that post before the omnibus hits print sometime in 2019.

In addition to doing the introductions, though, I also found the guest blogs I had written for the blog tours I had done during 2011 and 2012.

The guest blog posts (which are going to be in the first omnibus and the fourth omnibus) are filled with my plans for Grayson—the books I wanted to write next, the side series I wanted to do, some off-shoot shorts that were on the agenda.

I was stunned at reading those. I hadn’t forgotten the projects, but they had slowly fallen off my radar. Some of that was because of the hideous, horrible, awful, terrible, disgusting, and revolting publishing experience I had with that traditional publisher. I simply couldn’t face writing any Grayson novel after what I had been through. Some of it, though, was due to my energy level.

I had to keep whittling my projects down because I didn’t have the energy to finish most of them.

I hadn’t realized it went so far back.

One of the first things I did this fall after finishing the big Diving novel was start the next Kristine Grayson novel. That thing flew out of my fingertips. I had to refresh a bit on the project, but it felt like I had never left. And it cleared my palate of the hideous, horrible, awful, terrible, disgusting, and revolting publishing experience I had had. All of the other projects came roaring back.

It surprised me to see that I had planned to start the novel I had just finished in late 2012. That’s when everything Grayson went down for me. I managed to write some of the Santa stories I wanted to do (that’s why the Santa series exists and the three Interim Fates novels).

I think those two projects could slip through my mental radar partly because they had nothing to do with the project that got caught up in the hideous, horrible, awful, terrible, disgusting, and revolting publishing experience I had had.

But all the remaining stories in my head were tied to it, and to the fact that my sense of humor was slowly fading with my health.

One of the reasons I posted those introductions on the Patreon page was because I felt that writers should see how even long-term professionals can be damaged by bad publishing experiences. I have a few others in my pocket that I have to work through. I’m doing active preparation on two of them right now, which startles me.

Before that, though, I need to catch up on the year. The research starts as soon as this post is done (and I finish today’s run [running kept me alive {literally} in those last years in Lincoln City]). Then I turn my attention to all of the shorts I planned, before I get to the next big novel project.

Oh, and I do have to revise that big Diving project. I worry that it is a bit repetitious, since I wrote it under such difficult circumstances.

So…the process right now is trying to find a work-life balance. I didn’t have one before because…I had no life.

I’m kinda flailing on this one. But I do find I’m enjoying myself a great deal more than I have in years.

I know a lot of you deal with this as well. So tips and suggestions in the comments section would be welcome.

Thanks for listening. And now…on to research!!!

Click to go to PayPal.

“Business Musings: I Had No Life,” copyright © 2018 by Kristine Kathryn Rusch. Image at the top of the blog copyright © 2018 by Dean Wesley Smith


13 thoughts on “Business Musings: I Had No Life (The December Process Blog)

  1. I try to work within my version of Alec Mackenzie’s “Ideal Day” template (The Time Trap 3rd ed., p. 42-4). What would your perfect day look like, and how can you use that to schedule your time?

  2. So pleased to hear this! Enjoy!

    It’s wonderful to hear about the results of your move and what it’s allowing you to do, and the energy you’re regaining.

    My health is just starting to get back on track after over a decade of struggle. It feels like escaping from a cage. (For me it’s been finding the right combo of meds to take and triggers to avoid.) We’re planning our own move to a (hopefully) more congenial situation. Still resting a lot more than I like, but hopeful and finding your journey encouraging.

    1. Yes, it does feel like being let out of a cage. It’s so nice. And after 9+ months of mostly health (if I follow the guidelines I need to follow) I’m starting to believe the change is real. I hope the same happens for you!

  3. Kris,

    Glad to hear you’re doing so well, especially after years of illness. Certainly, Vegas is much different than Lincoln City. I just hope you can find a good balance between introvertive writing and an extrovertive “Vegas” lifestyle!

    Merry Christmas and wishing you a very productive, energetic, and healthy 2019!

  4. Ironically for me, moving part-time to a small town (MUCH more isolated than Lincoln City) exploded my social life. When I can walk to just about everything in Enterprise, as opposed to hassling with traffic and attending events with lots of loud background noise…or drive seven miles to Joseph…I find myself doing much more than I would in Portland where it seemed like everything I wanted to do was at least a 30 minute drive away plus finding parking. Plus I just got sick of dealing with rude 50-something men in Portland if I went out to do anything.

    Besides Fishtrap for writing connections, I am part of the Quilt Guild, Soroptimists, and have a few links in the horse world. I can drop into a shop and have someone ask about my latest book, and end up selling books at bazaars to people who don’t normally read in the genre but will try it because they’re a friend. Then they usually buy more books…no, it’s not a huge amount of sales but it is a tidy little chunk.

    That said, what happens here is that local social life fades away in spring/summer/fall because everyone is out taking advantage of outdoor time for ranching/farming, harvesting tourist dollars, or recreating/gardening/other things that can only happen in summer. Wintertime is when the locals Do Stuff–and there’s more than there appears.

    The big drawback to life in Eastern Oregon is that I find I have to take Claritin in advance every time I travel to the west side. Snow and ice and weather don’t bother me after working for ten years on Mt Hood and driving in some really horrendous conditions. Now February can get pretty grim but that’s the time to go to the deep canyons and hike. No rattlesnakes and the temps are right.

    Different things for different folks, for sure. I could never live in Las Vegas. Too much sensory overload that shuts me down. I looked at my productivity since I moved…and even accounting for recreating, travel back and forth to Portland as well as for fun, and such, as well as a part-time online job for a couple of years, I’ve been doing pretty well.

  5. Merry Christmas – and I’m SO happy you are enjoying life and getting so many things you wanted done. What a Christmas present to yourself.

    The move to California to a CCRC for us hasn’t yielded much in the way of writing yet, but I’m doing the PT I’ve been waiting literally years to do (PT is downstairs in this same huge sprawling building), and getting my body in some kind of shape. Maybe I’ll be lucky.

    Again, wonderful to hear your solution was to move – and it worked.

  6. You two have become regular party animals, and it’s great to see! I’m glad Las Vegas suits you in so many respects. As to work-life balance, I’m not really good on that but I can tell you what doesn’t work. Skimping on sleep, exercise, and a bit of something entirely different once a week, plus some quality couple time, will derail everything. I think you have those basics down (being an apex predator of the party animal town,) and with all the options exploding around you, it really helps to keep a written record. I’ve returned to a hand-written planner with fixed pages. Project planning gets more realistic with limited writing space as opposed to huge spreadsheets. Lists are shorter, therefore more realistic. Also, when you go back and see the work done, it’s reassuring to see visible progress, tangible word-count numbers, and non-writing activities on your previous timeline. (Bonus: no back-up needs, no hackers, no nosy social media companies 😉

  7. I’m realizing that “I had no life” was largely true for me also during the past 6 years. One medical thing after another, my mother’s failing health and then death. Honestly, after being knocked down, I would just be thinking about how to climb back on my feet again, and another disaster would arrive and knock me further down.

    My life consisted of writing and being emotionally present for my children and my husband, and just about nothing else. (I was bed ridden for a good stretch amidst the disasters.)

    I feel I have at last managed to move from knocked flat, to lifting my head, to actually sitting up and looking around. Work-life balance is still beyond me. I’m just looking to get back to standing.

    But speaking less metaphorically, more practically, what the recovery process has looked like is adding back in, one by one, the many things I was forced to drop. I added going to church. I added getting to the gym regularly. I added helping with the housework. There’s still a huge backlog of things that need to be dealt with—things I was unable to do, because of my health, and that my husband could not do either, as he carried on with all his own responsibilities plus doing the most crucial of those that I was forced to drop.

    My body is feeling stronger, and I have hope. But when things get confusing now, I cling to writing-kids-husband-gym and let everything else go, if need be.

  8. More Grayson stories? THAT’S AWESOME! I absolutely LOVE those books! And I’m delighted to hear that you’re feeling so much better that life is fun again. That is HUGE.
    The best advice I ever got about life balance was that you need to think of your life as a jar, and to fill it, start with the big stuff because the little stuff will fill in the cracks – but if you start with the little stuff, you’ll never be able to shoehorn in the big stuff. I hope that makes sense!

  9. 5K days are common? Wow! That’s amazing! I am so impressed.
    No tips here on work-life balance. I had a medical problem and it took me down for many yrs.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *