Yesterday was My Birthday

My husband and I saw Emma yesterday, which was hilarious, and now I’m in Portland with my boyfriend. It’s shaping up to be an excellent birthday week. I didn’t come up with anything particularly clever to share here, so here’s a picture of me with a goofy bunny sitting on my shoulder.

This is what I get for ignoring Frodo while I work. He will not allow it.

New Things

So, some new stuff is coming up. I’m still working on the details, but I’ll be offering email list signups soon. I’ve been reluctant to do that, because I personally find excessive email pretty bothersome, but an email list is an important thing for indie authors to build and maintain.

Self published authors rely heavily on the grace of a few huge corporations for their livelihoods. Amazon and Facebook are particularly known for their capriciousness, but all companies can suddenly change their business model or regulations, not to mention that accounts can be deactivated or deleted entirely. Sometimes that’s accidental, and sometimes it’s the result of a targeted effort on the part of trolls who don’t like that person’s platform. When that happens, the author can potentially lose all of their followers permanently, which means they lose all their ability to advertise their work to an interested audience. That’s the work of months, or even years, building an audience, and it can be gone in an instant.

An email list is a group of people who are interested in what the author has to offer, and it isn’t subject to the whims of Facebook or Amazon or any other company. It belongs to the author. Even if Mail Chimp, or whichever other service they’re using, goes under, they’ll still have that list and can switch to another similar service. That’s why it’s so important for authors.

It can also be nice for followers who don’t use social media as heavily, since they may otherwise miss content or events from creators they enjoy. There’s a balance to strike, where emails regularly offer content that followers are interested in, but obviously they should never overwhelm anyone’s inbox. I would never encourage anyone to stay signed up for emails that stress them out or annoy them. It’s just one option, for anyone who might be interested.

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Snowdrop flowers pushing through leaves and just starting to open.

Good Enough

I’m really struggling to write this post. I can’t think of anything to say, and I’m getting frustrated and distracted, and it’s probably at least in part because I set my expectations too high this week. I wanted to come up with something more to write about than just a quick update or picture, but there’s also a lot of other stuff going on in my life right now, and that inspiring idea just didn’t show up.

It’s so easy to feel like I should just throw my hands up and not post anything if I have nothing cool to share, but that’s not a healthy approach to meeting goals. I said I’d post every Friday, and I do. Ground-breaking content is not specified, although it’d definitely be neat if I could scrounge some up more often.

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Pussy willow branch in front of a wooded area and blue sky with fluffy clouds

February Life Update

My birthday is coming up at the end of the month, so that’s exciting. I’ll be thirty one! I suspect it’ll feel very much like being thirty.

I finally got a treadmill last week, and I’m actually surprised by how much I love it. I really like walking, and I already spend a truly excessive amount of time listening to audiobooks and watching youtube videos about weird stuff, so now those activities can be combined. This makes me feel much less useless and floppy.

I’ve been iron deficient for quite a while, and I found out that the supplementation I’ve been doing hasn’t actually been working all that well, so that’s fun. Having shitty blood really saps energy and focus, and the things required to make me absorb iron better are all also things that throw my potentially very painful stomach issues into overdrive. It’s a wee bit frustrating.

On the bright side, though, I did some vital houseplant maintenance and drew some tropical fish.

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A moorish idol (top) and banggai cardinalfish (bottom) that I got to see at the Seattle aquarium recently, drawn in black pen and colored pencils. Sorry about the lighting on this pic. It’s always hard to find enough light to show the colors without washing out the black a bit.
One of my African violets was looking pretty sad, so I trimmed and repotted it.

 

Messing Around with Colors

I have no idea where I’m going with this one. I usually aim for detail and accuracy, but right now I’m really just playing with colors and shading. Maybe I should just mess around creatively more often. It’s pretty fun not to have any particular expectations going in. I’m not even sure if it’s finished yet.

A pen and ink drawing of a narcissus flower
The same drawing, but filled in with colored pencils. Things got a little wild around the edges.

Keeping the Balance

The schedule I’ve been using for a few months is still working well for me, overall. It’s gone through some adjustments, and I’ve had some pretty rough days where things just fell apart, but it’s good to be in a place where those unproductive days don’t snowball into whole weeks of frustration and self-recrimination.

The dogs and the bunny have even gotten on board. They each get a quick training session every morning before I sit down to work. Their increased biddability does not hurt my focus, even though it probably is just an act they’re keeping up while they plot my doom. I’ve also been managing to regularly fit in yard work like raking, weeding, and planting beautiful flower bulbs for the squirrels to dig up and throw around like tiny beach balls. I’ve read/listened my way through more than a few books already this year, and I’ve even been doing a little bit of freelance writing.

There’s still always that impulse to think everything is going well, so I might as well add, like, ten or fifteen new things to my list this week. I remind myself that I can only manage a little bit more at a time, but then it all seems equally important, so I tell myself that a lot more will just have to be fine. (Spoiler: it wasn’t. It never is.) 

I’ve never managed to run at my full capacity without immediately going over the red line and into rapid burnout levels of stress. Part of the problem is that it’s genuinely challenging for me to tell the difference between the two sides of that line, having had so little experience with balancing near it for any length of time. Consistent effort of any kind is tiring in a different way from a sprint or a last minute scramble before a looming deadline, and gauging its effects probably takes practice.

So, I’m practicing.

A yellow flower drooping out over a mossy curb

Song Sparrow

I had a mystery bird at my feeder, and it turned out to be a song sparrow. Identifying it online was a bit of a challenge, because the population of song sparrows up here tend to much darker than usual. They’re really striking little things.

I’m already waiting for spring, so my little sparrow got a pomegranate branch to sit on. We’ve had our snow now, and I’m ready for all the plants to wake up again.

A song sparrow sitting on a blooming pomegranate branch drawn in colored pencil