robertsloan2: Ari sweet (Default)
2014 is the start of a 3 year plan for me to become self supporting before my SSI turns into Old Age version of Social Security. If I retire early, I will get a smaller check. Much better to be self supporting and just never retire. That's the long term goal.

In a comment on an artist's blog that I wrote about 4,000 words and deleted all but about 200, I worked out just exactly what it means to "Work toward self supporting in 2014."

I have a slight chance of success at it. My guesstimate at the moment is 10% to 20% that I will actually reach a point where I could draw a salary of a thousand a month and not change my lifestyle. Just quit SSI and take the limit off my personal savings.

What I really need to do in 2014 is work out my schedule and the rhythm of the year. November 2013 was a very bad time. I barely got in 50,000 words. Lots of sick days and two weeks of flu did me in. I will always have Too Many Sick Days. I always have. Net result of disabilities, day job as a cripple schedules itself.

December 2013, I didn't do much at all. I took a freaking vacation after the intensity of the most difficult Nanowrimo that I ever won. I'm serious. It was harder getting 50,000 words of Arts and Aspirations than it was to write 450,000 words of seven fantasy novels in a previous year. But I succeeded in my big goal - it is a better book that will take less editing.

I also signed up for The Sketchbook Project. I paid for it to be digitized and posted online. This is using my art to sell my book. I did it so that I could publicize my steampunk novel. I thought that I'd be self illustrating while writing, would have a lot of time to do 32 decent sketchbook pages with teasers.

Now I've got ten to fifteen days to complete the whole thing, with three pages penciled. Those need to be inked. It's not quite as bad as I thought - I thought I only had one page. But it still means doing more than one artwork a day till it's done. Getting back to a schedule more like when I lived on my art. Managing to work on it on days when I've got home care or medical appointments.

It's going to be possible but difficult like Nanowrimo was. It will only serve its intended purpose if I can do a good job on it. Penciling first is probably a good idea! It might let me lay out many more pages and it's not something I'm doing just to goof around. I paid good money for it as a publicity tool for the book's launch. I'll design the cover last, because I could do the cover very simple if it comes to that. An easy cover would be a portrait of the cat and the title in calligraphy.

So this year is starting off with a bang.

December will always be my vacation. A pro writer I knew a decade ago did that, took December off entirely as vacation because the holidays and her kids took up too much of her time. I don't do that kind of thing. I don't live with my kids and grandkids and when I did, they did most of the work. For me it's just that is the low end of the year when I'm exhausted physically and emotionally. I either get depressed by pain and fatigue or distract myself with holiday cheer and soppy old holiday movies. I did the lazy holiday cheer this year.

It was great!

In fact, it might have been the first real vacation I've had in my life. I don't count the miserable two week trip to San Francisco in the 1980s when I went with my ex, blew a lot of money saved up for it and bought a lot of tourist junk, ate out a lot, stayed in an expensive transient hotel and made myself miserable with homesickness. That trip was a bitter exercise in pressing my nose hungrily against the window of my life. Now I live here.

This time, for once, taking a month off left me feeling excited again about my writing and my art. I want to sketch. I want to play with colors. I want to get back to the book and read about those characters and keep going when I hit the point where I left off. Writing rough draft is a lot like reading the book before it exists. I turn the page and get the next sentence, paragraph, page and enjoy all the twists as surprises.

So why not combine rereading the book to catch up with myself with doing the Sketchbook Project? I'll ink what I have penciled, then start reading the book again. Stop and pencil when I see something that'd make a good picture. Doodle my way through the reread and then turn "Rereading" into "Drafting" when I run out of chapters already written.

Maybe it's not so daunting after all. :D

I want to be able to build up to 40 hours a week at productive work on my career. 2014 is the year of discovering my schedule, what gets done when. What works best which days of the week, which weeks of the month, which months in the year. I need to find just the right level of push between "pushing myself too hard and falling over" and "could actually be doing more if I made the effort to start." That's always tricky in both directions.

If I find out by December 2014 that I can't do 40 hours a week year round, fine. I'll readjust my income expectations to the reality, whether that's 30 hours or 20 hours or 10. It will probably be different in different months and some months I might go over 40 hours a week because some tasks work better by immersion. I mean average 40 hours a week for the next 11 months, not keep to 40 hours a week every week but December. Most of all, know the seasons and my climate. I've had two years here to know when I'm up to going out just for fun, when it's hard just making it to medical appointments, when I'm going to fall down on basic necessities of self care and when I've got time to relax.

So... resolution: CHART what I'm doing in 2014. I need to start logging my hours every day and week, what I do that's productive. I'm not going to count hours spent doing medical appointments or other necessities like supervising home care unless I did something productive during it. I've taken to using the hour of waiting for the van or after arriving early for sketching, which got me sketching even when I wasn't doing anything else. So that hour counts on an appointment day.

Two new treatments in 2014 might also improve my net function. EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) treatment for my PTSD may eliminate flashbacks and symptoms that trigger fibromyalgia flares. That is a nasty combination. Knocking down my PTSD may give me a lot of energy locked up in flashbacks. Once that's done, I'll look for a physical therapist with geriatric and/or pediatric experience.

When I finish that, I'll get a physical therapist for massage therapy, possible hippatherapy and water therapy. The sorts of physical therapy that really do reduce the damage and give me more energy walking out than I had walking in. Chiropracty always does that too. When I'm no longer living on the survival edge, paying out of pocket for treatments that really do help is worth it. I just need to have enough left after necessities to afford those treatments.

So... 2014 is starting the run. I'll start by doing the Sketchbook Project and see what comes of it. Hopefully a finish to Arts and Aspirations.
robertsloan2: Ari sweet (Default)
Went off the wagon on the "edit an hour a day" because my days don't match Earth's days and if anything else takes concentration or too much time, I don't have the energy for it. Editing does take more work than rough drafting.

But I can average it because the days I did were 3 or 4 hour stints. If I go for 7 hours a week minimum that I can keep up.

Today's happy distraction, an intake appointment for Salvation Army's "Meals that Heal" program. I'm getting hot meals five days a week. Out of an entire month's menu there are only three or four that might be too spicy for me to eat, most of it I can eat. They lean toward things I not only can eat but actively enjoy, tomorrow it stars with Swedish meatballs and beef-barley soup. MMMM two favorites.

That will help cut the impossible food budget and add in things I can't afford, like, meat and veggies. I've been living mostly on rice, ramen, potatoes, onions, oatmeal, corn meal, pasta and hominy grits, all things I can buy in bulk and eat simple, with butter or olive oil. The one big expense is the olive oil healthier than margarine and used whenever it'd taste as good or better in order to cut back the butter. I'm not trying to lose weight. I don't eat enough to maintain my weight and have been losing weight rather dramatically since the last time I tightened my belt.

Instead I sort of count calories to try to get in enough in a day. I dropped about 15 pounds due to eating less by skipping meals and some foodless days when I first lost the money and wasn't prepared to, have been having bad days toward the end of the month. Beverages other than coffee went by the wayside a long time ago. I don't afford soda when I could get a can of Vienna sausages to have some meat in my diet or a pack of hot dogs or a canned stew dinner once a week. no fridge so everything's nonperishable.

I'm good at living on th echeap but there are a lot of cool things on these meals that I don't bother buying because they're sides. Beef barley soup - it's not enough calories to be a meal for the day beacuse soups are too light. Soup is not cost effective when I'm trying to get in enough calories to live.

They put salads in about half the meals. I can't eat raw veggies and salad dressings make me sick, but I'm going to deconstruct the salads, cook anything that can be cooked in the microwave and put it into ramen for a second meal of the day when it has salads. No sense throwing away fresh produce just because I have to rinse salad dressing off it, especially if someone else cut it up and it's just putting it in the sink with the water running for a bit. Anything unpalatable that can be reworked, I'm going to eat it. Any veggies I don't like by themselves, like peas, can go in ramen where it's tolerable but adds nutrition.

Though I must really crave them bceasue the last time I got a TV dinner, I ate the green beans and they tasted good. This is like "gatorade tastes good" feeling, I hate green beans so if they taste good my body's craving it.

I am so relieved I finally got into a program. Whatever these meals are, it's food I didn't have before and I'm able to afford it.
robertsloan2: Ari sweet (Default)
I've been sitting on an ever-growing stack of science fiction and fantasy novels since I published Raven Dance in 2000. Every year I participate in NaNoWriMo and usually the 3 Day Novel contest too, either officially or just by spending Labor Day Weekend writing a new short novel.

I just keep writing them and stacking them up in my hard drive. Editing is a daunting task especially when all of them have the same problems that I need to overcome in order to produce good professional quality work. I decided to go indie some time back after watching the way the publishing industry changed and keeps changing.

90% of the delays are due to physical or financial hardship. I'm a disabled 58 year old transman who only worked full time for about a decade and never did get ahead enough to get past basic survival, let alone pay for needed medical care. I never got insurance because I was trans and I wasn't going to take that money out of necessities like rent and bills and food for self and significant other if it didn't cover my gender reassignment treatment. Disability, trans and aging all combined to a perfect storm and I was homeless for a long time, sub-marginal long before I was homeless, sub-marginal all through the 90s even if some of that was actually one of my most prosperous times in terms of physical comforts.

The other 10% is something uglier. Self acceptance, choice of living stealth or being out of the closet and wimping out on my GBLT themes and social science fiction themes. I've sweated over that all along.

If the right thing to do is stand up for my rights and link arms with anyone else who's gotten oppressed for any reason (which does make for a pretty HUGE majority), then I should write my brooks true to my view of life and just find my readership. Trust that it's out there. Trust that some people will read a blog entry about transgender issues and find out I do SFF and check it out because they are sick of wimpy princesses who don't act like real ones, sick of main characters always being straight-white-cisgender-male, sick of science fiction that doesn't question society and make you think. I definitely fall closer to Ursula K. LeGuin and Ray Bradbury and all than I do to the current crop of rocket men.

I don't even have anything against the quest of the rocket men.

I don't think it's pointless to reach for the stars. I think that's a lot better thing to do as a human endeavor than 'try to kill off lots of other people for their customs/religion/want their stuff' and it can solve other problems on Earth because good science is not a waste of effort.

It's just that's not my story. No matter how much some of it looks like fantasy fiction, it's actually social SF about culture and adapting to technology and interacting with people who aren't like you. It's what it is and I'm who I am. So maybe this post is like those moments heroes decide to do the dang fated thing anyway. It beats not doing it by a lot, because not doing it is stupid and doesn't solve anything.

I never could run. I had to learn to fight.

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