Sunday, November 7, 2021

It's No-No-November.

Let's stipulate that I spend way too much time on Facebook and get that out of the way upfront. 

I usually enjoy looking at the memories that Facebook shows me each day, but the crop these past few days has been bittersweet. It's convention season, you see -- the two big writing conventions I've been in the habit of attending over the past ten years are always scheduled for late October or early November. Today's memories include a photo of the mass autographing event at the 2014 World Fantasy Convention in DC; a photo of the freebies table at the 2015 World Fantasy Convention in Saratoga Springs, NY; and some photos my pal KS Brooks took of me in Las Vegas when we attended the 20 Books to 50K convention there in 2017.

Checking my somewhat faulty memory and my contemporaneous blog posts, it appears that 20 Books to 50K event in 2017 was the last convention I attended. I'm not quite sure what happened in 2018. I believe I intended to go to 20 Books to 50K again in 2019, but ended up rolling my membership over to 2020. We all know what happened -- or more accurately, everything that didn't happen -- in 2020. When the 2020 event was canceled, I rolled my membership over again, to this year. 

This year, I'm not going. I'll be there as a virtual attendee instead. And I probably won't attend many of the virtual sessions.
IzelPhotography | Deposit Photos

I have reasons: 
  1. The convention is on the Strip this year, which is more expensive than where we were before. 
  2. I'm not a fan of Vegas; lots of people love it there, but I'm not one of them. (I don't really like amusement parks, either, for similar reasons.) 
  3. I'm working for the New Mexico legislature as a proofreader again this year, and I started full-time two weeks ago. I would have had to take the week off without pay to attend this year's convention. Plus my supervisor was really leery about my going to Vegas for a week and catching who-knows-what while I was there; she was ecstatic when I told her I'd decided not to go.
  4. That who-knows-what thing. Santa Fe has been a safe place to ride out the pandemic; Vegas, once it reopened, was definitely not safe. It may be better there now, but the thought of going out amongst the Great Unmasked and Quite Possibly Unvaxxed was just too unnerving for me. 
  5. November is also NaNoWriMo, and I always end up missing a few days at the beginning of the month for a convention and then spending virtually all of Thanksgiving weekend writing. 
Of course, I'm not technically doing NaNo this month, either. I'm up to 5,378 words on The Atherton Vampire 3, but there were a few days last week when I didn't write. I think I'll still be able to get the book done by the end of this month, although it doesn't matter if I'm a few days late because I'm not actually doing NaNo.

The bottom line is that I've said no to a number of things this month that I typically say yes to. No writing convention, no NaNo. It's No-No-November.

To be honest, I'm been rethinking this writing gig for a while now. I've been at it for more than ten years; I've written and published upwards of 25 books; I've made a little money; and I've earned a little respect from some of my fellow indie authors. I'm not sure what else I have to prove. 

When I was in my early 20s, I wrote a list of life's goals; then I spent the next 40 years pursuing them. I've reached each and every one of those goals, including this one: "Become a published author." The goal wasn't to make a living from my writing (and anyhow I did that as a journalist for 20 years). It also wasn't to write a bestseller. It was to get published. And I've done that.

Years ago, I took backpacking training for Girl Scout leaders. I was so out of shape that I had a hard time slogging along the trail with my heavy pack on my back. I kind of whimpered at every little rise we climbed. (Yeah, I know -- pathetic.) But the lodge at the end of the trail had an ice cream parlor, and I just kept thinking about rewarding myself with ice cream when the hike was done. It became my goal -- if I could finish the hike without dying, I could have ice cream! But when the hike was over, I forgot to get the ice cream -- and I wasn't mad when I remembered it later. For me, reaching the goal was the important thing. The reward was beside the point.

I'm going through the same kind of thing now with writing. I wanted so badly to retire and get out of DC that I promised myself that when I finally did, I would live the life of an author -- writing every day and promoting the heck out of my work and all that stuff. Then in the fullness of time, I retired and left DC. And what I'm discovering now, a year into retirement, is that maybe I don't want to be a full-time writer, after all. The writing life was like that ice cream I'd promised myself on the trail: it was the reward. But my goal was always to get out of DC. And from where I'm sitting, the reward is looking like a whole lot of work -- probably more than this retiree is interested in pursuing.

I expect I'll still keep writing. I'll definitely publish The Atherton Vampire 2 as an ebook this month and The Atherton Vampire 3 next month, as planned. But after that? I don't know. We'll see how it goes.

These moments of goal-reviewing blogginess has been brought to you, as a public service, by Lynne Cantwell. Get vaxxed!


Mary said...

I can't even fathom retiring...what would I do? My (ice cream) goal is to work until I"m 70 then enjoy being with the boys, and their families...being a grandma (whatever that is). I'm thinking of learning snowshoeing so I can stay active in the Montana winters, after that???? BTW for some reason everything still links to my old gmail account...this is not the one I use!

Take care and hope to see you in JUNE for the Wedding!!!

Lynne Cantwell said...

I'm planning on it!