Many people in my life don't understand why I get so discouraged and frustrated over missing self-imposed deadlines. But nearly everything in our lives is structured around dates and deadlines, whether you're talking work, school, appointments, sales, applications, or even taxes. There are deadlines or cutoff dates for everything! And by setting deadlines, I am trying to elevate my writing and creative pursuits from a hobby to something more serious.
In getting ready to self-publish my novel, there comes the question of what to do about a cover for my book. Many writers I've talked to in the past have said that it's better to hire someone else to do cover art for your novel, leaning on the idea that other people are trained in marketing and graphic design and that most writers have not taken the time to learn such things. However, with the rise in self-publishing options, there has also been a rise in available templates which people can use to make their own book covers. So the question becomes one of preference, costs, and time management; is it better to create your book cover yourself or to hire someone to do it for you?
So I'm back from vacation and unfortunately, it was not as productive as I had hoped it would be. While I did manage to get out in the woods for several photography sessions early in the week, during the second half of our time away, I ended up sick and didn't venture far from our rental cabin. This isn't the first time I've ended up sick on vacation, but this is the first time where my family has decided to come home early because of it. I spent most of the ride home and the rest of yesterday sleeping while my body recovered, and then I also slept straight through the night and woke up several hours past the usual time when I would get up.
Despite inflation and high gas prices, I am currently preparing to go on vacation. It will be the first week-long venture I've taken in nearly a year and a half, and I am looking forward to having some quiet time to relax and recharge in the mountains. I've written before in this blog about how I use such vacations to get some work done on creative endeavors, and this time around will be no exception. I'll be taking my laptop along with me as well as my DSLR camera and some art supplies. I have plenty I hope to accomplish during the week, but also, I will be looking for inspiration for projects I won't be able to work on until I get back home again.
During the past couple of weeks, I have woken on several occasions to the sound of rain rustling the new tree leaves outside my window. Sometimes there have been low grumbles of thunder accompanying the rain. Sometimes only a light breeze adds to the sound of the drizzle. If I have the time to do so, I will lie in bed and listen to these natural melodies for thirty minutes or more before deciding to get up and start my day. This type of spring rain puts me in a mood to create, and the peaceful atmosphere gives me the patience to pursue complex or challenging projects.
If there is no rain to envelop me in this peaceful atmosphere, I tend to listen to music to achieve the same mood and focus. I have several soundtracks and go-to albums of instrumental music which I can use as background noise while I write. If I'm working on paintings, sketches, or photo editing, then I may choose to listen to select singers or groups instead. Music doesn't create the exact same atmosphere - lighting quality, temperature, and humidity play a part too - but it can help.
So it has been a strange couple of years. I had not intended or expected to abandon this blog when the Covid pandemic started, but it happened. When the whole world hit pause on life as we knew it, my sense of needing to create things paused as well. I stopped writing. I stopped editing. I stopped taking my camera out on walks for nature photography. (Granted, travel was not advised in the early months of Covid and therefore, day trips were not an option, but I'm still surrounded by a respectable amount of wild property at home. Lack of travel opportunities is not a good excuse for me on the photography front.)
As one of those people who has limited time to work on my personal projects, taking a working vacation has become a regular occurrence year after year. For me, this means taking my camera and laptop along on my trips so I can work on two of my hobbies at once, photography and writing. This year will be no different.
Much of this weekend threatened rain, keeping me inside where I spent most of my time editing my novel manuscript. I'm hoping to pitch or query it this winter, but putting the final polish on it is difficult for me, perfectionist that I am. I realize some other writers have the same problem, but such knowledge is not enough to silence my inner critic.
Over the weekend, I joined my parents in attending a gun show. Normally I find these events to be a waste of my time. Most of the vendors display modern weapons with composite stocks, overly-priced shotguns, antiques from WWI and WWII, or handguns with slides and clips. But none of these guns interest me. I'm not into shooting sports (although I was an archery instructor for a summer camp), and hunting in my little neck of the woods is not good enough to justify spending more than $300-$450 on a shotgun.
Today I decided to take a pause in listening to lecture series on my way to and from work to listen to some music instead. Over the weekend I got a song stuck in my head from one of the first CDs I bought as a teenager. It's from The Chieftains' "Tears of Stone" album, and once upon a time, I used some of the music on this CD to help inspire some character and world development in my writing. By listening to this music, I'm hoping to spur my desire to write and edit into action. Again I'm finding that long days at the office are killing my energy to do much of anything once I get some free time, and I want to put an end to this lethargic procrastination.