Month: February 2019

Administrative Week

It has been a very administrative week. My tax accountant noticed something wonky with my inventory tracking, likely caused by last year’s switch to new store and accounting software. She sent me to talk to an expert on inventory tracking, after two focused hours I emerged with a long list of housekeeping chores. It turns out that there are far better ways to track inventory than an annual counting-of-all-the-things. I now have a system in place that tracks from the moment I place an order for inventory until I sell the last one. Having the process makes my organizational brain happy, though learning to implement all the aspects of it will take some practice.

In addition to that, there have been dozens of other small business administration and tracking tasks. I got all the tax paperwork turned in to the accountant. I took my high school senior for a tour of her impending college. …and my brain is blanking on what else I might have done, but I know it was a long list of thing after thing after thing. Being the person who tracks family schedules, tracks quantities of household supplies, tracks groceries, fetches new groceries, does returns to stores, and reminds people of their chores, etc is not a small task. The work of a household administrator is frequently so invisible that people don’t even define it as a job. But it is, and it is a job that is separate from parenting even though it frequently runs in parallel.

The week is likely to continue administrative as I’m expecting a shipment of new inventory (challenge coins.) I’ll need to put my new-learned inventory tracking into practice and then turn around and ship a hundred or more packages. Despite all of that, I’m trying to carve out creative time around the other things. We’ll see what I can do.

Signs of Spring

Despite being the shortest month, this February has felt long. Most years I have blooming crocus by this time. Instead we’ve had an extended run of cold days with small amounts of snow. I’m not complaining, other areas of my state have had lots of snow instead of small amounts. Yet as I look at the calendar and think “It’s still mid-February?” I have to focus on the signs that spring will come. It is already beginning to sprout from among the dried out detritus of last Fall. I just need to be patient and allow things to grow at their own pace. Which is also good self development and parenting advice that I’m consciously taking to heart today.

When the Convention is Done

On the day after the convention my mind is a shadow play of overlapping thoughts in different colors that pass behind and through each other so that by the time I’ve discerned what one thought is, it has dissolved into something else entirely. Many of the thoughts are memory fragments condensed into a momentary flash of expression or a few words. Memories of me saying the right thing mix with moments when I misstepped. The moment when I said something kind that healed the heart of a friend dissolves into the moment when I attempted to reassure a fellow panelist and only later learned that I was “reassuring” the artist guest of honor whose depth of experience with the panel topic was oceans deeper than mine. Both are equally specific in my mind though I must be vague about my friend’s story as it isn’t mine to tell. I am fortunate that for the panel with the guest of honor I was the moderator and my usual moderatorial mode is to let the panelists talk, so I got out of the way and made no more missteps after the first one before the panel began.

That moment dissolves into remembrance of moments when another professional said or did something that showed respect for me and for the things I do. Those moments are contrasted with the times when I was in groups of highly intelligent, wonderful people and I was shut out of the conversation because the topic was not one I could add anything to. Moments of feeling large and valued versus moments of feeling small or invisible. A convention is all of these moments and a hundred more.

Some of the moments are more than a flash. One of my final panels was about literary fiction and genre fiction. It was one of those magical moments when all of the panelists were equally engaged in the topic, willing to passionately discuss and happy to give space so others could speak. We were all so excited by each other’s thoughts that our own opinions were re-evaluated on the fly. Such a joyful experience to debate and argue without antipathy. No anger or defensiveness, jsut the joy of engaging with new ideas. I loved every minute of it and was sad that I had to run off to another panel instead of lingering to thank my fellow panelists.

This year at LTUE I was more focused on being at the booth. I spent more than a week in advance planing and preparing the booth. I only did a few panels and no presentations. One of the booth changes we made was to only have a few featured items rather than trying to display everything equally thus overwhelming shoppers with too much choice. The work paid off. Especially combined with the fact that we had three new Schlock books since last year. It was the most profitable sales year we’ve ever had at LTUE. We don’t measure the value of the show in dollars, but being able to pay bills always allows us to enjoy things more. And the fact that people buy is evidence that they value what we create, which is even more of a boost than the dollars. Today I am wishing I was not so tired, because I want to dive into creating new things to share with all the lovely people who enjoy the work we do.

Keliana ran her own booth this year. On the first day she was low energy and apprehensive. She’s been having trouble believing in the value of her work. Then people came to her table and were excited by what she was doing. by the end of day one she could believe that all was not doomed. By the end of day three she was energetic and bubbling over with plans for the months to come. LTUE rejuvenated her in ways I am incredibly grateful for and I can only hope to repay that by paying forward.

Like my daughter, I also struggle to believe in the value of my creative work. It is easier for me to believe in and promote my collaborative works (Planet Mercenary, Schlock Mercenary, Hold on to Your Horses) than the works where mine is the only name on the cover. I’m consciously and carefully working to change that. I’m trying to reach out and claim worthiness rather than hustling and hoping someone else will bestow it on me. Right now our sales table does not contain any of my solo work. Over the next year or three I want to change that. Slow and steady, bit by bit, I will claim hours to work on my solo efforts in tandem with further collaborative ones. I won’t let the collaborative crowd out the solo. I’ve already begun, I just need to continue.

So much more happened than I’ve written down. Friends from out of town. Friends who helped at the booth. A hundred small conversations. LTUE was amazing. It always is. For today and tomorrow I rest. On Tuesday I pick up again and get back to work.

Checking in with a quick update

With shipping in full swing and LTUE only a week away, I am living by lists these days. Of late the lists have been on paper since I’m finding it useful to see the lists for each day side by side. Sometimes it also serves as a useful memory trigger to be able to picture where on a page each task resides. I still have an electronic task list that pops up reminders to me, but mostly those reminders serve to prompt me to add it to the page for the week. Last night I even numbered the tasks for today so I’d have direction on what to do first, second, etc. I’ve already departed the numbered instructions since “blog post” is nowhere on the list. Nor is “500 words of fiction” Both of which I’ve already done this morning.

Most of the days this week have felt scattered and less productive than I wanted. There were some emotional impacts because family needed support, there is also the new Eating Healthy project which will theoretically become habitual and simple, but which for now is taking significant time and attention. So I’ll wrap up this post and move onward with my list by announcing two things.

1. I’ll be at LTUE next week. It is a fantastic symposium event where you can come and learn how to be better at creating whether you’re an artist, writer, game designer, film maker, etc. The focus is on speculative fiction, Science Fiction, Fantasy. I’ll be most easily found in the dealers’ room at the Schlock Mercenary tables.

2. Since December I’ve been sending out monthly newsletters. They include progress reports on my writing and a long-form letter where I muse about something that is on my mind. I’m hoping to send out my next one later today. If you would like a letter from me, you can sign up here: Letters from Sandra.