Friday, July 20, 2012

But, What If Everything Goes Right?

Perhaps the evil twin of Shoulding, the ever-popular What-Iffing frequently plagues many creative-minded people. A side effect of the wonderful imaginations we possess includes the ability to conjure up horrible catastrophes in mere seconds, often leading to a lack of motivation and confidence.

Sal and I had a thought this week. Since we're already What-iffing, already imagining an infinite number of worrisome and tragic scenarios for whatever it is we're avoiding, why not take the time to imagine a few awesome, or at least mildly pleasant scenarios instead? It's just as, if not more, likely to occur and can potentially change your mood.

The problem is that positive what-ifs sound ridiculous. For example, say you're worried about an upcoming presentation for which you've prepared and your silly brain starts up with a few wacky what-ifs such as, "What if I forget my notes?" or "What if I sweat and get giant pit stains in front of everyone?" or "What if my colleagues laugh me out of the room and I get fired for my inane attempt at seeming knowledgable?" Instead try, "What if the presentation goes well?" or "What if my someone compliments me on my poised public speaking skills?" or "What if my coworkers applaud my inspirational presentation and my bosses immediately give me a promotion and a raise?"

What if I read all of these books instead of imagining
them crushing me in an earthquake?
Is it just me, or do the positive "worries" sound completely absurd while the worrying worries seem plausible? Yet, in reality, the positive ponderings are actually more likely to occur. Because how many times does a presentation totally flop and result in public shame and job loss? Compare that to how many times a past professional presentation goes off without a hitch and I'm sure the latter will be in the lead.

Perhaps, if you are a worrier like me, the horrible things hold more emotional power over us, leading to more worrisome episodes. I told Sal it's like that scene from Pretty Woman where Julia Roberts responds to Richard Gere's compliments with, "the bad stuff is easier to believe." Maybe that's just because that's all we ever choose to focus our energies on. And maybe the way to tuning out those worries is simply turning them into reassurances or, by golly, even hopes-for-the-best?

In an effort to work toward rewiring my worry-center, here are my what-ifs for this weekend:

What if I make a new friend on Saturday?
What if I write a new poem?
What if I finish writing that book review?
What if I don't feel bad if I don't write a poem or that book review?
What if Sal and I go out to dinner and then go see the new Pixar movie?

Sounds like a good weekend. I hope yours is potentially as good as mine.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Stress, Focusing, Impostor Syndrome and Other Adventures

I haven't written much lately. Life is sort of beyond stressful. Laughably stressful. I'm working a ton and writing all day for work just drains me.

Why not write at the beginning of your day, Laura?

Excellent question. Complex answers. 

Brevity is not a strength I possess and neither is being vague. I'd rather just say, "I'm struggling with [insert weird condition here]" and be done with it. For privacies sake, I will say instead that any given day I have a limited number of hours in which I can focus, which greatly depends on how well I've slept, whether I've been eating right, and the amount of physical activity in my week. Since most days I wake up tired, even if I've slept enough, eat pasta and cheese all day, and a walk down and back up two flights of stairs to get the mail causes my heart to race, my focusable hours are really at a premium.

The other problem with my writing life is that I don't do anything. I don't go anywhere or see people. When I have the chance to go somewhere and see people, I often make myself sick with anxiety over it (that's a whole other post). Having just recently come to the realization that I am both an extrovert and an introvert (ambivert?), I have a better understanding of my needs. I need both time with people and time alone to feel balanced. I've got the time alone racked up for years. If only it worked like that. This lack of general eventfulness in my life has made whatever I do write fall into the "Pit of Despair and Obsessive Navel Gazing" - which is bad, in case that's not obvious. In terms of writing material, I'm at an all-time low. 

Whatever focusable hours my stress level and natural tendencies afford me these days, I spend it on work. I have been getting things for Weave in order, which feels wonderful. And my chapbook sales went well. But not producing any new work right now has given me a nasty case of Impostor Syndrome. My general stream of thoughts when attempting anything bordering on poetry-writing or editing consists of:

This is crap. Why try? Get a different career.
How many times have you used the word "feel" in this poem??
OMG I'm annoyed by my self. 
You call that poetry?

It's actually much worse than that, but I'll leave those lovely thoughts for me and me alone. I know I'm just in a rut and I'll eventually get out, but it's really no fun feeling like a fraud of a poet everyday. It makes it hard for me to further promote my book, write reviews, or even take joy in reading the poetry of others.

I think it just boils down to the fact that I'm profoundly lonely these days. I've been in California for a year now and while I have friends, I have no close friends in the city. The kind of friends you can be a mess with. Maybe I do have those friends here, but I feel too embarrassed to risk breaking down in front of them. Depression is clinical. Loneliness is just embarrassing.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Chapbook Rookie: What Happened to Preorders?!

Well, that went quickly. Turns out my pre-order period is just about finished. If you haven't bought a copy of Braiding the Storm yet, and you plan to, it'd be swell if you could grab a copy by this Friday, July 13th.

Oh yeah, that's right. My pre-orders end on a Friday the 13th. Good thing I'm not superstitious.

I have so much to say about chapbook marketing, but I won't be able to get to that until later. For now, I leave you with resources I've found useful thus far.


Kristin Berky-Abbott on the Promotion of Self and Others
Laura Madeline Wiseman's interview with Dancing Girl Press Editor Kristy Bowen
Effective Email Signatures for Book Marketing