Magic Moment

(Reed’s Song of the Day: Handclap, by Fitz and the Tantrums)

A short one today – I’m all written out from the revelations I was having last week. I’m mostly on here to share something good that happened to me, since I’ve written a lot about the bad and not so much about the good.

Optimism has never taken work for me before, so that’s scary. But still, I’m readjusting and reminding myself to seek happiness in the little things.

My magic moment happened yesterday when I sat down after work to write a bit for Sanctuary and I actually wrote more than a thousand words without dreading it or feeling emotionally drained.

Normally, writing over a thousand words isn’t an issue for me – especially when I’m writing some adventure fantasy novel where the characters are fun and the story is, if not light, at least lighthearted in some places. But Sanctuary is meant to be taxing on the reader. It tries to dig up all the blackest corners of mental health, mental illness, and our attitudes about them.

I think a part of it was the whole Not-So-NaNoWriMo, which exhausted me for writing, and another part of it was the content in what I was writing, but ever since I started picking back up on writing after I was sick (a few weeks ago now), I’ve barely been able to get out 500 to 700 words a day. My progress on Sanctuary has been miniscule the past few weeks.

But I’m proud of myself because I kept writing every day, even with that exhaustion setting in. There’s nothing worse, I think, as a writer than sitting down and barely writing anything, knowing the writing itself is shitty, and feeling upset not just because of that shittiness but also because of the way the writing itself actually makes you feel.

That’s been my past few weeks.

And now it seems like I’m more over things – at least for right now. Yesterday I sat down to write and not only was I not dreading it, I was actually eager. Maybe it’s because this book has kind of been like a burden I’ve been dragging and now I can see the end of things where I can finally put that burden down, or maybe I’m exciting for the climax of this novel, which is only a few chapters away. Whatever it is, I’ve been doing better with the writing.

And when the writing goes well, chances are life goes well too.

So I wish all you other writers good luck with your projects. Hopefully they’re going better than mine and you’re excited to sit down every day and create. And if you’re not, well… just keep pushing through it. The day you can willingly allow yourself to write shit and not immediately throw it away is the day you start to become a writer in earnest.

Yours, feeling it Mr. Krabbs,

-R.R. Buck

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Reed’s Top 3 – Things I Learned from Packing my Fire Bag

(Reed’s Song of the Day: Fire, by Jimi Hendrix)

It is a rather dark day on which I’m writing this, friends and followers. Or, well, it would be if there weren’t four fires raging in L.A. County.

But in all seriousness, first I should just say that I’m totally and completely fine. We’ve been packed and ready to go for the past two days – ever since I woke up at seven thirty AM yesterday and saw that the mandatory evacuation zone was only a few blocks from my apartment – but it looks like the “Skirball Fire”, as it’s being called, hasn’t moved southeast of where it currently rages.

Honestly, my thoughts turn more towards friends and family in Ventura or caught among some of the other much deadlier fires. If you’re going to offer all those thoughts and prayers, ironic or otherwise, please offer them to those victims.

But anyway, other than finding a penchant for morbid humor in the face of a potential evacuation (my roommates and I immediately started making a playlist of fire-related songs to play while we packed, lol), I actually learned a few things during the packing of my fire bag. When faced with an apartment’s worth of possessions and only one duffel bag to fit the most important ones in, what did I choose?

Honestly, it was surprising to me, what I ended up packing. I won’t give you the full list, but I will give you the takeaways.

NUMBER THREE: HOLY SHIT I’M A NERD

I mean, this one should not come as a surprise to anyone at this point, but honestly, if you were to take out the contents of my bag and arrange them by volume, fantasy would take up a bulk portion of that space (along with my soft blankie). The first things I thought to pack were my fantasy clothing outfits, and later on I added my D&D materials and various fantasy weaponry I’ve picked up over the years.

The fantasy stuff wasn’t that surprising to me – it was more that I had so much of it, and dedicated a huge amount of my bag to it. Of course, much of it is expensive, which I’ll talk about in the second point, but still. It was interesting that the first thought that jumped into my head was “Save my doublet and cape!”

NUMBER TWO: PRICE TAG SEEMS TO MATTER MORE THAN I EXPECTED

You know, for someone who’s said frequently that I don’t care about money or that I spend money on weird things, I nonetheless packed the most expensive possessions I had first. Things I wouldn’t have ordinarily thought about – like my most expensive suit and my cologne bottle – jumped into the front of my mind as soon as I realized that there was a small probability our place would burn down.

It seems like a “well, duh” thing to say, but honestly I always thought the price tag didn’t matter to me when considering an item’s worth. I assumed that things with sentimental value would be much more important than the dollar amount… and speaking of sentimental value….

NUMBER ONE: I DON’T HAVE VERY MANY POSSESSIONS OF SENTIMENTAL VALUE

I’m a very sappy person. A very sentimental person, too. I never really catalogued my possessions, but if you’d asked me, I would have probably said that I had a lot of sentimental stuff lying around. What was interesting to me was finding out that I’d actually left a lot of that stuff at home, and there were only a few items of value:

A pocketwatch Lindsay gave me for an anniversary because she knows I love old pocketwatches; a wristwatch my brother gave me for graduation which I soon broke; the first book I ever wrote, printed, and self-bound (from all the way back in middle school); my D&D token, which happens to be the top from Inception (another anniversary gift); a deck of cards with cute shit written on it (another anniversary gift); and a charm necklace I made for myself which had broken a while ago.

But that’s it. It sounds like a lot written out, but all in all they took up no space. I’m not sad or upset or anything that I don’t keep a lot of sentimental things; I’m just more surprised than anything. In contrast, when I went to Lindsay’s place, I asked her which of her (approximately) 7.5 metric fucktons of stuffed animals she would save if she had the chance.

In a way, packing your bags with the possibility of a catastrophe is a crude lens through which to take stock of your life and what’s important in it. Though these were the most important three realizations I had, there’s an entire list of things I learned as I was preparing to evacuate. I’ll list em here, in case anyone’s interested.

  1. Packing for an evacuation is like packing for a trip – you bring your electronics and your chargers, your toiletries, maybe something to read. It feels kind of surreal packing as if you’re about to leave on vacation instead of because there’s a fire just a few miles from your apartment.
  2. I didn’t pack nearly as many books as I thought. As I was trying to choose which three would be able to fit, I said to myself, “This is the only time I’ll ever say this in my life, but I wish I had a Kindle or a Nook instead of all these paper books.” Honestly, they take up too much space – and I’m not inclined to read them all another time – to pack more than just a few. But, since I’m an avid reader, it surprised me how easily I could part with them.
  3. There’s something kind of pretty about a nice soft ashfall in the winter. Call it the morbid part of me, but it’s about as close as we’ll get to snow in L.A., especially with this global warming whositwhatsit.
  4. I didn’t even consider the fact that I should things that would be hard to replace, like my Social Security card, passport, and birth certificate, until my roommate suggested that. Related to this, both common and identity thieves would probably have a field day in an evacuation center.
  5. It’s weird how hard it was for me to take the whole thing seriously. Like, I was cracking jokes and denying the severity of things even when we could see the smoke billowing up from just next to the freeway. When I think back about how I’ve handled, say, relatives dying, it’s been with the same dark humor, but somehow I thought I would have had it different when it was a fire.

Anyway, here’s to hoping I don’t have to evacuate after all, and to hoping that everyone else is safe around here. My love for all you people, it… burns.

Too soon?

Yours, with fiery passion,

-R.R. Buck

 

Streed of Consciousness [Part 9 – the “Each Project” Phenomenon and my Elusive Female Lead]

(Reed’s Song of the Day: Hit me with dat Gerudo Valley Theme)

Hello. How are you? I am fine.

With the exception of being unnecessarily tired.

The past two days made me kind of exhausted for some random reason. I got all the sleep I needed, but when I woke up yesterday and this morning, I had to hit the snooze button (which I really don’t do very often on weekdays). There’s nothing that bugs me more than when I wake up feeling exhausted despite having gotten more than 8 hours of sleep.

But hey, now I’m just complaining. I really don’t have very much to talk about in this post, but I wanted to share a few things I noticed about my writing projects which I wanted to throw out here in this space. I didn’t really know what to call this bundle of only semi-related things, so I went with the first thing I came up with, which is the “Each Project” Phenomenon.

Basically, I’ve noticed that when I finished a project of a certain style, be it a single novel or a series, I had to set that style completely aside when starting my next project. Not like I wrote in a completely different genre each time (well, kinda, but not entirely), but more like little things couldn’t be repeated.

For instance: I’ve said frequently on this blog that I love to write to music. Even right now, I’m listening to the Breath of the Wild soundtrack. Usually, unless I’m going for a very specific tone or type of chapter, I listen to the same soundtrack the entire time I’m writing a project; for instance, in my current novel, I’m listening to the Firewatch OST. Before that, it was Journey – not the band, the video game, ya dingus. And before that it was Twilight Princess and a few other random songs.

But that’s the weird thing – after I would finish a project, I would immediately stop writing to what I had started calling the “playlist” for that novel. I tried to write my current project, Sanctuary, to the Journey OST which had worked so perfectly for Symphony of Legend, and I just couldn’t – I had to start anew with Firewatch.

This mirrors the changing feeling of each book I write. Even though all of them fall under Sci-Fi/Fantasy, I wouldn’t consider any of my projects to be the exact same kind of genre. To date, I’ve written:

  • One attempt at Sci-Fi literary allegory in high school (The Trrratssmaker)
  • One heavily autobiographical pseudo-Sci-Fi trilogy in freshman year (The Fourth, The Fifth, and The Sixth)
  • Two heavily world-building books of a Sci-Fi trilogy that was never finished (The Palazzo and The Slump)
  • Two heavily character-driven books of a fantasy trilogy that was never finished (Sleeper and Woken), which had zero larger themes
  • One fantasy middle grade novelette written in a single night (Blackeyes)
  • One character- and magic-driven completed novel with underlying themes (Symphony of Legend)
  • One nearly completed super depressing YA Sci-Fi book about mental illness (Sanctuary)

Along with a bunch of other short stories and half-finished projects. But none of these projects feel even remotely close to each other, despite being penned by the same hand. In fact, I would go so far as to say that the writing style changes drastically from project to project, sometimes to its benefit, other times to its detriment.

I dunno, I just figured when I was starting out that most projects would be kind of in the same genre until I got good enough to experiment with things. I’m now realizing that the experimentation often comes before the expertise.

Regardless, everything feels different – hence the “Each Project” Phenomenon, where each project is very much set apart from the others.

BUT THERE IS ONE THING THAT’S THE SAME.

I have had in mind a character, ever since The Palazzo in my second year of college. She was first called Tori, then she became Melira in Sleeper. After that she was Qin in Symphony, and her newest iteration is Laney in Sanctuary. She’s a badass, witty (often sarcastic) female lead who usually has to wait for others to catch up to her. The character I want her to be – the eventual character I know she will be – is strong without being stoic, emotional without being whiny, passionate without being intense, and sarcastic without being straight-up mean.

But none of the characters I’ve written have come close to that.

Ironically, I think I’ve actually been moving away from her as time has gone on. When she appeared in the Palazzo as Tori, she was well characterized but kind of dull to read about. She did a lot of introspecting but not a lot of growth. And when she became Melira in Sleeper, I liked her a lot but felt that, compared to my other characters’ motivations, she was kind of flat.

But then she became a total bitch in Symphony, and I have no idea what’s going on in Sanctuary, but amid a litany of other problems, Laney’s character is emotional at the wrong moments, defiant at the other wrong moments, and overall a mess. Which is kind of what I intended, but still. Not very much of a feminist role model.

Still, this character keeps appearing in each of my major projects. And something about that – the only person that persists, despite all of the changing genres and circumstances of my projects – makes her special to me.

I want her to be flawed, but when I try to make her that way, she ends up being dominated by her flaws. However, I can’t make her perfect – not just because I wouldn’t know how to write perfect, but also because that kind of idealizing women is just another form of sexism. So right now I’m stuck.

But I have a new project coming up after I finally finish the living hell that is writing Symphony. I don’t want to talk about it now, but suffice to say that while it will be dark like my other recent projects, it will be underlined and cut by an uproarious adventure and good humor. And honestly, I think that’s what this character has been missing – the entire time she’s lived in my past four projects, she hasn’t had a place to express the fun side of her.

Well, I’m gonna give it to her.

Did any of this rambling resonate with you? Do you have the same “Each Project” Phenomenon going on? Do you find yourself writing iterations of the same character in each major project? If you do, hit me with a like or a comment – I’d be really interested to hear if anyone else is struggling to make a specific character come out just the way they want.

Anyway, my stomach is screaming at me, so I’d better get off and grab something to eat. But rest assured, darlings, I will be back again on Thursday.

If you get bored in the meantime, find some good new writing music.

Yours, from beautiful fiery Los Angeles,

-R.R. Buck

Not-So-NaNoWriMo: The Final Update

(Reed’s Song of the Day: Crazy Little Thing Called Love, by Queen)

Not-So-NaNoWriMo Word Count: 24,964 words

Welp.

If you’ve been following along at this point, you’ll know – things went a teeny bit off the rails in my first attempt at a pseudo-NaNoWriMo. However, it taught me some interesting things which I’ll flesh out a little bit below.

But first, what exactly was I trying to attempt this month? If you haven’t read my first post about this experiment, my basic idea was a challenge, to myself and other writers who read this blog, to try a “write every day” mentality without the pressure and organization of NaNoWriMo. I had a little formula which gave me a guideline of about 40,000 words for the month.

Yeah, I didn’t hit it. Being sick for an entire week and then going right into Thanksgiving totally killed my momentum.

But here’s the thing. I wrote 25,000 words this month. That’s a quarter of a novel! The kind of crazy thing to consider is that, even with all the bumps in the road, if I did this every month (which I intend to), I’d have a completed novel in just four months.

See, considering a full-length novel when you’re just getting started is kind of like looking up at Everest from base camp and being like, Holy shit, I’m gonna try to climb that?! But if you just start walking, taking step after step with your head down, all of a sudden (twelve oxygen tanks, thousands of feet of icy climbing, and two dead guides later) you’re at the top.

I hope that even a few of my readers tried this exercise with me, and that it gave them an opportunity to realize that finishing a novel is actually, totally possible given dedication and a bit of tenacity.

If you didn’t, well, hey. Maybe you can make it your New Year’s resolution? 😀

Anyway, I don’t have a lot of time to spend, so I wanted to leave you with a forgotten relic from my recent past. I had a random moment the other day when my girlfriend said to me, “Hey, did you write a short story called Blackeyes?”

I had literally forgotten about this project.

It was when I was just getting started trying to publish my work. I heard from a friend about Wattpad, and I was like “Hey, what the hell.” In fact, I published a single chapter from Sleeper, one of the first projects I talked about on this blog, on my Wattpad profile as well, just to see if anyone was interested.

I also decided I would take a five-hour night and write a ten-part novelette, completely on the fly, and publish it to Wattpad as I wrote. It received a few views, but not that much, and as I continued editing Sleeper I kind of forgot about it.

Randomly, my girlfriend’s sister found Blackeyes on Wattpad and through her, I was reminded of an early project. So I’m blowing off the proverbial dust and presenting it to you for your reading pleasure. I think the whole thing is about 15,000 words – don’t quote me on that – but it should take no more than an hour to read at the very most. I should know – I binged it the other day.

You can find it here. Happy reading! (Remember, you have to click to the next section when you’re finished with the current one.)

Yours, through Alasha’s grace,

-R.R. Buck

Life Counselor #5

(Reed’s Song of the Day: Should I Stay or Should I Go, by the Clash)

Not-So-NaNoWriMo word count: 23,651 words

 

I knew him… not well. I knew who he was. Tom. (SHOOT ME)

Okay, I know that’s not quite a fair quote to start you off with. Could be anyone on staff. But you know I’m talking about you, my constant encouragement to keep writing this stupid book about mental illness. The only person from O-staff I keep in good contact with (Sorry, Zack, Brianna, Aya).

I’ve been avoiding writing about you for a while. Well, I’ve been avoiding writing about most people for a while. It’s too damn hard to try to do this stuff, even when I’m not tired and hungry. But hey, life’s full of hard shit, right? And that’s actually a perfect segue into what I want to talk about.

You taught me more than I think you’ll allow me to give you credit for. You showed me a story so full of horrible shit that it still makes me shudder to think (and write) about. You taught me how evil the world can be to certain people who don’t deserve it, but just as importantly, you taught me that somehow, those people can bounce back. And you might not feel like you’re bouncing back, but compared to how I would be if I’d had your experiences… I admire you every day.

You taught me things that now have a permanent place inked onto my body. You taught me that sometimes, the best response is to just stop mothering and listen instead. You taught me that I don’t have to know the right answer all the time. That sometimes an arm around the shoulder is better than a billion blubbering words.

You taught me that life can be so much more serious than I pretend it is. You reminded me how goddamn lucky I am to have the familial relationships I do.

And honestly, you’re one of the main reasons I no longer think of feminism as a curse word. You’ve shown me what it means to care about social justice issues, and why every single person in this world should care about them just as much. Many of my friends would thank you for that, if they knew who you were.

You showed me how quickly a person can take up such a large portion of my heart.

And I’m not going to lie, you have taught me so much about mental health and how to best support people who are having difficulties. Every day when I interact with the people around me, I should be thanking you mentally for your patience in letting me understand these things on my own time and my own terms. For that especially, I want to thank you.

I’m determined to capture your character in a book someday – not this trash I’m writing right now, but in a book where you can really, truly blossom on the page as you have in my life.

I need you to know something. I’m not ever going to get tired of you. There will never be a moment in my life where I won’t want to be there for you. I love you, I enjoy talking to you, and I don’t ever want you to feel like you’re alone. If you’re having a bad day, please – just reach out to me. I want to be there to support you.

I’ve talked to you before about how I view the two types of people with mental illness. I want you to know that I always see you as the kind of person who keeps on struggling, even when it’s almost too much to bear. I have such respect for you for continuing to pick up that burden and carry it every day. I’ll continue to try to help you with it as much as I possibly can.

Thank you for sharing the disgusting, overworked, overemotional, wonderful journey of an O-staff summer with me. I’m so glad to have you as a friend.

Yours,

REEEEEDY

Thanksgiving

(Reed’s song for the day: Stand By Me, by Ben E. King)

Not-So-NaNoWriMo word count: 20,184 words

Paraphrased from something I wrote a long time ago and actually thought was pretty decent.

Happy Thanksgiving, y’all. I’ll see you next week.

************

Thank you.

Thank you for the tears. Thank you for the anger. Thank you for the nights spent wondering, or just sleepless. Thank you for the moments of timeless pain I thought wouldn’t end.

Thank you for the times I had my head bent over a toilet, for the times I was too sick to go to school or work. Thank you for the unique misery of teenage years, and the growing pains that came with becoming a man.

Thank you for every fight I’ve ever had with a family member, every time we accidentally wounded each other with our words. Thank you for every time I’ve taken something too far.

Thank you for that time when I beat up my neighbor for calling my best friend fat.

Thank you for every moment I was ever confused about my path forward. Thank you for every question I got wrong on an exam, every time I opened my mouth and promptly sounded like an idiot for speaking.

Thank you for my immaturity and all the lessons it’s brought raining down on me. Thank you for my naive black-and-white attitude, my bullshit arrogance, and my hyperemotionality.

Thank you for every rejection I’ve ever faced, every literary agent who’s ever turned down one of my manuscripts, every girl who’s ever laughed at my intentions.

Thank you for every time I’ve ever judged, assumed, or allowed the nature of my privilege to darken somebody else’s path.

Thank you for terrible moments I can be too ashamed of to speak about with most people. Thank you for every impromptu therapy session a friend has conducted when I think about those moments.

Thank you for the bad, because without it I wouldn’t know the good.

All the rejections led to my soul mate. All the immaturity led to my discovery of a new philosophy that guides me through these dark times. All the darkness led to optimism.

Thank you for allowing me to learn from my mistakes, moreso now than ever before.

Thank you for the presidency that has kept me grounded and reminded me of where we must move in the coming years.

Thank you for the dying world that inspires me to act on its behalf.

Thank you for the people in my life who are struggling with mental and physical illnesses, because in their steadfast resolve I find my own hope.

Thank you for the bad, because without it I wouldn’t know the good.

Yours, gratefully,

-R.R. Buck

 

Not-So-NaNoWriMo Update #3

(Reed’s song of the day: Bob, by NOFX)

Not-So-NaNoWriMo word count: 17,771 words

Inspirational writing quote of the day (altered slightly to be more gender-inclusive):

“Any person who keeps working is not a failure. They may not be a great writer, but if they apply the old-fashioned virtues of hard, constant labor, they’ll eventually make some kind of career for themselves as a writer.”
– Ray Bradbury

Well, I’ve fallen below my goal for word count at this point. And I’ll be honest, I thought it was going to happen at some point in the month. I’m pretty lazy, and sometimes if I get thrown off track, it’s hard for me to get back on. Plus 40,000 words in one month is something I haven’t done since junior year of college.

But I never expected the thing to keep me from writing to be a pulled muscle.

This has been a seriously strange week for me. My best guess right now is that I pulled a muscle in my neck while climbing the UCLA rock wall last week. I had little twinges of pain in it all week, especially after I slept on it wrong, but nothing too bad.

Smash cut to Monday morning, about 5am. I’ve been experiencing some pretty discomforting levels of pain the previous night, but I’m thinking a good night of sleep will make things better.

At 5am I wake up and I can’t move my neck in any direction without intense pain. I thrash around for about an hour, trying to muffle these little grunts of pain I’m making, until I realize this isn’t going away. At that point I message work and let them know I won’t be coming in – which sucks because I had been planning an event for the past month or so and it was held on that day (yesterday).

Then I down two Advil and wait for something resembling relief.

What does this have to do with writing? Well, since I had to take Monday off, I was thinking it would be the perfect time to get out like 3,000 words, since I had nothing better to do. But no matter what angle I tried to keep my computer at, or my neck at, it was always searing pain going through me when I typed.

I know, right? Of all the things… a pulled muscle.

And as if this hasn’t been enough, yesterday I started getting sick.

DUDE, WHAT THE HELL, RIGHT?!

So it’s been quite the week, and it’s already Tuesday. I have to go back to work on Wednesday (well, assuming I’m in some state of alive on Wednesday) so I’m trying to conserve strength. The only thing I was capable of doing yesterday was lying perfectly still in bed with pillows behind my back, playing Super Mario Odyssey for eight hours.

It speaks to my better health that I was able to get down about 2500 words today – not quite enough to be back on track, but a good start – and also write this post. But seriously, as soon as my neck let up, it was as if the sickness was like, “OKAY, IT’S GO TIME.”

So I’m gonna lie here and hope against hope that I get rid of this by tomorrow, or work is going to be very, very unpleasant.

Yours, feelin’ eighty-six,

-R.R. Buck

Not-So-NaNoWriMo Update #2

(Reed’s song of the day: Riot Girl, by Zebrahead)

Not-So-NaNoWriMo word count: 13,589 words

Inspirational writing quote of the day:

“I have been successful probably because I have always realized that I knew nothing about writing and have merely tried to tell an interesting story entertainingly.” – Edgar Rice Burroughs

Holy hell has it been a long week.

And I have the day off tomorrow, but somehow it’s like all the work from a 5-day week went into four days instead. Let’s see a breakdown of things that happened for me at work this week:

  1. I had three back-to-back instruction sessions on a day when I wasn’t scheduled to teach (culminating in 4.5 hours of extra work with about 5 minutes for lunch in the middle)
  2. I’ve been taking lead on an event project for the library the past two weeks and this week was “crunch week”, so I’ve been helping coordinate a bunch of different activities from trying to get volunteers to help staff, to printing, folding, and collating materials for the event
  3. We’ve been severely understaffed this week, so there have been extra shifts in our research consultation station I had to take because there wasn’t anyone else able to
  4. And finally, my coworker and work mom is having health problems which prevented her from coming into work and worried me to no end.

Somehow, I’ve been maintaining my schedule – even time to exercise and see Lindsay, despite her having midterms this week too. But there’s one moment that really stood out to me and made me proud.

It wasn’t earlier this week, when I was getting between 1200 and 1600 words down on Monday and Tuesday. It wasn’t today, when for some reason I got in a writing frenzy and nailed down 2000 when I only intended a little bit.

It was actually Wednesday, when I could barely get in 500 words.

After yesterday (the back-to-back-to-back instruction session day), I was so exhausted that I really just wanted to go home and fall asleep reading. The very last thing I wanted to do was write, and I was sorely tempted to just pass it up altogether. I was even more convinced by the fact that I was ahead of my writing goal (still am, I should be at 12,000 words as of today), so it really wouldn’t hurt to take the day off.

Instead, I got on my computer and I wrote. And holy shit were those 550 words bad.

But I did it. And I think that’s what NaNoWriMo is kind of all about. It’s like digging deep in that last few hundred meters of a marathon; it’s about spending all the energy you have left, and then some, to just push a little harder. Even though I started off my first day of my Not-So-NaNoWriMo by writing 3300 words in one day, I felt more accomplished yesterday than I did that day.

To anyone who’s struggling with NaNoWriMo, or just with writing in general – I know it sucks, and I know you’re tired and don’t want to do it. I know it’s too early in the month to be this upset over writing, and I know you feel it anyway.

Do it, dude. Just go for it. Even getting down a hundred words is better than writing nothing for the day.

Even getting down six is better.

So do it. Just write it out. I believe in you.

Yours, now going to fall asleep reading a book,

-R.R. Buck

Streed of Consciousness [Part 8 – Careers]

(Reed’s song of the day: Why Don’t You Get a Job, by The Offspring)

Not-So-NaNoWriMo word count: 10,975 words

This isn’t gonna be a very long one – I have had a pretty busy day, and I’m in for two even busier days tomorrow and Thursday.

Still, I had some new insights recently that I’d like to share with anyone who wants to keep up with my life.

I’m at a point in my life where it looks like I should be starting to choose a career. Or at least something vaguely resembling a career. I’ve had jobs now since the beginning of college, but they’ve really just been ways of paying the rent, not really anything substantial.

Of course, right up until I graduated, I thought my career path was going to be graduate school, a PhD, and a professorship somewhere at a research university. I’m really fortunate that several close people in my life told me (as politely and gently as they could) that they didn’t really see me doing academia. They proved to know me a lot better than I know myself, and I turned away from it at the last minute.

So now I’m here, and I’m thinking that communications might be a career for me. But I’ve not even truly been able to explore that path – well, not as much as I’d like – here at the library. Which begs the question, what have I been doing with all my time? What do I actually have experience doing, enjoy doing, and yet haven’t considered as a career?

Well, for one, the library. Although I’ve been doing a plethora of different loosely connected projects for the UCLA Library, I feel like my role is getting more defined with each quarter I spend here. And the other day, at a meeting, a coworker and friend of mine suggested that he, at the very least, wants me to stay on as a more permanent member of the Library staff – which surprised me, because I always thought they weren’t interested in having me even as a full-time employee.

I hadn’t really considered the idea of working for the Library, but honestly, staying near my favorite campus in the world, near all of my friends and Lindsay, it might not be that bad of a life. I’d even have the ability to apply out to other libraries if I needed to move.

Another one was brought up by a different coworker, and I hadn’t even really thought of it as a career before she said it – that of a campus ambassador. I’ve done quite a bit of outreach now for the UCLA Library and for UCLA in general, from being a New Student Advisor (an orientation counselor) to giving tours to donors to serving as a liaison to certain academic departments on campus. I love public speaking and inspiring people about programs I know to be awesome.

It would be pretty cool to go around to high schools and try to encourage people to apply to college. I don’t even know how I would get started in a career like that, but it’d be pretty cool.

Third, there’s teaching. I sort of accidentally, sort of purposefully, found myself teaching a lot more this quarter for the library than I ever have before. (In fact, part of my busy day tomorrow is three different instruction sessions for English classes.) I’ve always had a passion for teaching, and I guess previously I thought professorship was the only route I could take to get there. But now, well… I could do it for the library. Or I could get a master’s and teach at a community college. Or hell, even AP psych – the course that inspired me to become a neuroscience major.

I don’t know. I guess that’s the problem, right? I don’t know what I want to do. But for once, it’s nice to have options, instead of just sinking in this unsure quagmire.

Fourth and finally, I have my creative writing. The thing that’s stuck with me since I was twelve. I suppose I could become a published novelist, being able to work from home and spend time with my kids while doing something I love for a living.

OH, RIGHT. I SUCK AT WRITING.

Ah, well. Maybe in a few decades, after I’ve written more words than I even want to count. For right now, I’ll see about choosing a path I’m already established in, where I clearly have talent. And maybe writing will fall into place a little bit later.

Well, this turned out to be longer than I wanted or expected, and my stomach is yelling at me to shut up and get some dinner. So I think I’ll be off.

If you’re doing NaNoWriMo, or even my Not-So-NaNoWriMo, here’s to inspired writing and shitty first drafts. You’ve got this.

Peace out, everyone.

Yours, professionally,

-R.R. Buck

Not-So-NaNoWriMo Update #1

(Reed’s Playlist for the occasion: I Want to Break Free, by Queen)

Not-So-NaNoWriMo word count: 4,420 words

Inspirational writing quote of the post: “If you can tell stories, create characters, devise incidents, and have sincerity and passion, it doesn’t matter a damn how you write.”
– Somerset Maugham

So the past two days have been kind of fun.

Yesterday was my day off work, which usually I take as a sign from fate that I deserve to collapse and do nothing all day. Ordinarily, I would enjoy that – especially a few weeks ago when things were getting intense.

Instead, yesterday I got up, read for several hours, went to lab, went to the store, and wrote for several hours. That was my nine-to-five, after which I cooked dinner for Lindsay and I and spent two and a half hours at the rock climbing wall at the UCLA gym. The productivity was off the charts, at least for me.

(It’s creepy to think some people actually live their lives that productively.)

Out of the two and a half to three hours I was writing, I got about 3100 words out. Pretty slow pacing for me, but hey. I had to take breaks, but it surprised me how much I was actually able to write all at once.

If you haven’t seen what I’m doing, do yourself a favor and read my Not-So-NaNoWriMo post. And then do yourself an even bigger favor and give it a shot with me. You’ve only lost one and a half days, and I’m giving you some super relaxed guidelines. There’s no better time to do it; life will never be clearer in the future, no matter how much you tell yourself it will be.

Time to shut up and write.

If you need some more inspiration, check out a few of my other feel-good posts from when I’ve been down on myself. Here, here, here, here, here, here. That oughtta be enough.

Now get to it.

Yours, productive af,

-R.R. Buck