May Update

Moving through malaise

Hello and welcome to my new newsletter! Formerly I did these monthly updates on the blog, but I decided the newsletter format was better for rounding up links since my work is so many different places these days. I promise not to clog up your email inboxes too much and only produce an update once a month! Without further ado, here is Bizarre Ink, my brand-new newsletter. I chose that name because I write about my writing, and much of my writing is, well, weird.

The WIP

I wish I had more to report on my grimdark fantasy WIP, but it’s been slow going so far. I tried Camp NanoWriMo in April and that gave me a little boost, but I end up slowing down midway through the month.

I’m now at 15,037 words total. For June, my goal is to get to 30,000 words, or at least to write three times a week for the whole month. I always get to this phase in my longer works when I start to doubt myself and wonder if my idea is good enough. But this one I want to stick with if only to prove to myself that I can finish a novel-length work. I’m doing it as a way to work toward a goal, and that goal is not perfectionism. Perfectionism kills more dreams of publishing than we may ever know.

Truth is I’ve been a bit down about my writing this year, so I haven’t done many short story submissions, and I have bounced between half-hearted novel attempts. When I think too much about the business end of the publishing industry and whether I have any good ideas, I box myself into feeling stuck, and I wonder, if it’s not therapeutic and I don’t enjoy it, maybe I need to do something else. Or maybe it’s just my imposter syndrome talking. That stuck feeling is the worst ever. So instead, I have been doing just a little at a time when I feel like it.

What helps me get out of it, though, is journaling, exercise, meditation, getting enough sleep and working on more than one project, so I’m slowly working on those other things to get back to the words. And I recognize that maybe I’m a slow writer; if it takes me 5,000 words a month to finish a draft it will take me 18 months to finish an epic fantasy. If that’s the case, then so be it. Novels are about persistence against the odds. All I need to find is three hours during the week to work on it. When put that way, it doesn’t sound as hard. At least with my current project, I am a fount of ideas; it is just making myself sit down and stare at a screen and not stress about it.

Other Projects

I am back on Patreon! I am doing Ray Bradbury’s challenge to write a short story a week for a year again in 2021. In 2020, I submitted all of these stories to lit magazines, and I got a few published, which was exciting. But this year, I’m feeling insecure about my writing and I want to write weird, out-there, different stuff, anything I feel like writing, not according to some editor’s narrow specifications. So I will be posting one flash fiction story to my Patreon a week, and serializing a longer story for the $5 / month tier. I may end up collecting all these stories into a book at the end of the year if I write enough good pieces.

I am also still doing Buy Me A Coffee if you feel like offering a one-time donation instead, if you can afford it. My philosophy with Patreon and BMAC is that they are not income streams for me; that’s what I have a day job for, to fund my artistic endeavors. (However, I’d like to make writing a side hustle again, or at least treat it with a more professional approach.) Patrons and coffees are just validation for me to keep going. Read about why I am back on Patreon where I explain this more fully.

Book Reviews

I’ve mostly reviewed graphic novels in the month of May. New reviews include:

I am trying to ramp up my book reviews so I also added a page on my site soliciting book reviews; please fill out my form if you are a self- or small press-published book who wants an honest review. I realized I needed to stop looking at reviews as an obligation and more as a way to simply keep track of what I’m reading, so now they come more easily to me. I also keep them to 300- 500- words instead of writing book reports.

Mental Health Blogs

Since May is Mental Health Awareness Month, I had intended to do more blogs on mental health from the perspective of someone with depression and anxiety. However, I always find it tricky writing in this space. You either have to be an expert trained in the field of psychology, which I am not; or give advice as an unqualified professional, which I won’t do. I often think the self-help space is full of self-proclaimed influencer gurus who offer one-size-fits all to the masses, oh and sponsor me please!

Feels like trading your privacy in the form of confessional content for followers and likes. Endless chasing after of the coin of authenticity just makes it an act for an audience, in the end, even though you might help some people. Then again, perhaps these people should be seeing therapists whom they cannot afford, instead of getting co-dependent on self-help influencers. I just know I don’t want to be a self-help influencer. A guru, I am not. I am also not defined by my mental illness. It’s just one aspect of my identity. So I haven’t quite figured out how I want to write these, exactly.

But I wrote two of them so far. I plan to write more for my regular Wordpress blog, as soon as I get a handle on the premise.

Other Blog Stuff

I am planning more essay topics for my blog other than writing and book reviews. These will be exclusive to Patreon subscribers first and then open to everyone a week later on my Wordpress blog. I’m thinking about some topics on politics, philosophy and bisexual visibility. I used to tweet about these topics but lately I find 280 characters simply isn’t enough to deal with the complexity, gray area and context I want to dive into. So that may be coming in June as well.

Photography

I am loving shooting with my Nikon D750! I recently upgraded my D5100 to a full-frame camera and got a new macro lens. I am planning new shoots every weekend; mostly nature, but I am also hoping to shoot transportation and architecture this summer. You can follow my shoots on my Instagram. I may also get a Flickr too for posting sets. I was keeping up with a Smugmug site, but I wasn’t selling any prints on it so $7 per month seems like a lot to pay out of pocket, so I canceled my Smugmug subscription. I also didn’t get many page views on there, so I don’t think anyone has missed it.

But I am still keeping up with Redbubble and hope to add a few more print-on-demand sites for my photography.

What I’m Watching

Dehli Crime on Netflix - a wonderfully dark, slow-paced story told in a mix of English and Hindi about a horrific gang rape in Dehli and the police unit that investigates the incident. I especially like how a woman is a police captain in this show, and the way it showed the sexism women face.

Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist - I watched it on TV, so I’m not sure if it’s on a streaming service currently. I watched this show expecting a lighthearted romantic comedy about a woman who can hear others’ innermost feelings through song. But I got hooked because it explores deeper issues and does a wonderful job with showing grief and illness in a close-knit family. Zoey’s fashion taste in sweaters, notwithstanding…

Shadow and Bone - Netflix - I’ve really just started this one but it’s a lovely epic fantasy taking the Chosen One trope and throwing in some fun, colorful characters. The magic system is intriguing as well, especially the origin story of The Fold, the darkness that threatens this world.


And that’s a wrap for this month, folks. Until next time! Be sure to check out my blog, Tea While Writing, and subscribe to this newsletter to never miss a beat.

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