Month: June 2023

Casting Lights Forward

Yesterday I had a long conversation with a friend for his podcast (airing in August) during which we discussed partnership and care work. Since his partner is coming up on some heavy medical treatments, there was a moment where I reminded him to plan ahead to take care of himself as well. Fortunately he already has a plan for that in place, but in our discussion we talk about how, if you know that you have to walk through a dark dark patch, you should throw some lights forward on the path. Things that you can look forward to and aim for. Even if life takes a left turn before you get to the light, aiming for it still gives purpose and focus to your travels.

I’m thinking about this as we’re in the last few weeks of prep before Gen Con. Having that event to plan for has given focus and structure to our entire year in ways that are really beneficial. But I’ve also been doing the same thing for myself on a much smaller scale. I’ve discovered small, local (usually free) events that I can attend and look forward to for a few days or a week. I’ve been meaning to write each of these up in detail, but life keeps slipping by me.

One of them was a local African Heritage Festival in the courtyard area of our local mall. There were vendors, performances, and food. I got the chance to bruise my hands while participating in the joy of a drum circle. (I need better drumming techniques.)

I also took myself to a new art museum in my town. It is hosted by Utah Valley University and resides inside a mansion that was donated and renovated for the purpose. The current exhibit is a deliberate celebration of multiculturalism.

And sometimes I simply go out into my garden to discover the small beauties that exist there, like this thirty year old fence that has managed to grow lichen.

Next week I get to see friends during the Writing Excuses Recording sessions. Soon after that I’ve found a local Water Lantern Festival that I have tickets for. Then Gen Con looms large.

I’m not currently in a truly dark patch, but even in a life that is good, there is value in bright lights to aim and plan for. I’m going to try to retain the practice even as the seasons change.

Quietly Working on Many Things

Decorative image of pen and paper

Each day is carefully considered and full of things, I am so absorbed with each one that I fail to notice how many of them have passed since I wrote here. One of the troubles is that I am writing in so many other places as well as here. Like this Patreon post about Wasting Time and Materials in Service of Joy. (Free to read even for non-patrons.) Or the multiple Kickstarter updates for A Little Immortality. Or the emails to manufacturers telling them there are quality control issues with what they sent us. Or emails to friends. Then there are the social media posts, and the text messages, and the Newsletters. On top of that I have been doing a concerted push to complete my Structuring Life to Support Creativity Resource Book. (So close!) It feels like I am spilling words into the world all day every day.

Then I come here and discover it has been nearly a month without posting, and that feels like a failure, or some sort of neglect. I begin to wonder if I am spread too thin. If I should consolidate my words into fewer places, make them easier to find. Or perhaps put the same words into more places at the risk of being repetitious to the people who may follow along in more than one way. One of the necessary tasks of my life right now is “get more lines into the water.” If opportunities are fish, then the more fishing lines I have in the water, the more likely it is I will land some. If I didn’t need some of my words to help generate income, I would apportion them differently.

I’ve been granted this lovely space, summer of 2023, where I get to have the life I want, where my time is focused on my house and my projects. I’m not currently employed for a company that I don’t own. That may need to change in the fall depending on the outcome of the next Schlock book crowdfunding. On top of that, we’ve employed my son as our warehouse manager which means my time is not being completely absorbed in shipping tasks. No one in my household is in crisis. So in this wide open space, it is time for me to be expansive. To lay groundwork for a foundation that has capacity to hold up work that I may have to create in more constrained circumstances. This means writing more words in more places. Building up my Patreon, cultivating my mailing list, accepting teaching opportunities, scheduling interviews. If I do enough of all of them, perhaps I’ll net enough income generation so that my long-term future doesn’t contain “Sandra goes to find employment.”

Not that seeking employment is a failure of any kind. I did it last year to my great benefit. I can do it again as needed to push forward on my priorities. But seeking a job isn’t what I want to have happen next. I want to get to have long days where I alternate writing and reading. I want to putter in my garden and try to picture the plants I want to put in the ground this fall if I can afford them. I want to think up fun Schlock merchandise and make it real. I know what I want, I don’t know what I get to have in the long term. So I’m doing my best to dwell in a grateful space rather than an anxious one. I get to have this span of time with a lot of writing in it. That is a gift. The financial results of this time have yet to play out. Trying to imagine all of the possible futures is an exercise in creative anxiety which only siphons energy away from other creative things I could be doing instead. So when I discover myself in an anxiety tangent, I do my best to bring myself back here, to gratitude. I get to have this lovely summer where we’ve had beautiful weather and I get to finish a book that feels timely and important. Then I get to take that book through several rounds of revision and bring it forth into the world. It is going to be real, and I’m looking forward to that bit.

While I’m making that happen, things might be a bit quieter here on the blog, but even when I have gone quiet, I haven’t gone far. Just imagine me puttering away in the corner of the room, keeping you company, but so absorbed in my own project that I forget to speak. Until I do, and suddenly we’re all a little startled to realize we aren’t alone here after all.