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My New (Writer) Normal

April 26, 2020 in Daily, Writing
My favourite pandemic activity to do with my daughter.

Folks, I struggled after releasing my pandemic story, “Coping Mechanisms“. That story was my own coping mechanism for a bit. An escape. It kept me writing, in the “new normal” of pandemic times. I felt so ON FIRE when I posted it, the high of which immediately dropped after the story went live. Why? Because I had to write another story. And then another. And another. The thought of continuing the slog grew overwhelming.

Some New Struggles

I feel like April’s release happened years ago. That wind-up to Easter became a blur. I remember listening to April’s story playlist on the bus in early March, heading to a dentist appointment. The news played while I got my teeth cleaned, and even the hygienist assured me that they were taking extra precautions while Italy was literally shut down. Back then, I wasn’t worried. Surely things in North America wouldn’t get that dire.

That was my last public outing before this all happened. My dad looked after the kids while I was gone. Things were still normal. And then they got dire.

I started a myriad of pandemic horror tales. None of them wanted to cooperate. I struggled to write while dealing with my kids. I struggled to write while my husband worked. He works in the alcohol industry, so he works ENDLESSLY. We barely get to talk or spend time together anymore. Though we did recently get a couple nights to finally start season 5 of Better Call Saul together. We’re waaay behind though so NO EFFIN’ SPOILERS.

What My New Normal Looks Like

I’ve been biding time writing my stupid The Stranger recaps. Blogging proved tough. I couldn’t express shit and I was getting depressed AF. Typically I don’t like to write about my emotional funks while I’m in them. It doesn’t make for great blog content, IMO. I prefer to use my fiction to channel my emotions, BUT I COULDN’T EVEN WRITE THAT.

Wasting time with recaps at least kept me flexing those writing muscles while I worked through my shit. It also kept the hits coming on the blog. I’ve met some fellow viewers of the show and it’s been great.

It will be nice once The Stranger wraps up, though. The recaps keep me up later than I should be awake. BUT I would def recommend recapping as an exercise for any writer. It’s great practice for writing that dreaded novel synopsis.

Most nights I put the kids to bed and write until midnight when the new episode comes up at midnight. I watch it and churn out the recap. Then it’s 1AM and I force myself to head to bed, but the mix of caffeine and brain-churning keeps me up reading until 2AM, usually. Most nights I don’t get to sleep until after 3.

Because let’s face it, we’re in a pandemic and our sleep is hella messed up.

My 5 year-old daughter usually gets up at 8 and watches TV on her own, which allows me extra time to make up sleep. I wake up at 9AM, because my son is also AMAZING and sleeps in like a kind-hearted little boy who loves it when his mom gets to be lazy.

I make coffee, put on the Majority Report and make my daughter’s breakfast. Maybe I’ll blog a little before I waking up my son. I feed him food. He fusses until he gets sleepy. Then I put him down for a nap and either I take a nap or I take my daughter outside. Depends on the day!

My husband comes home. He makes dinner while I deal with the kids. We try to make eating at the table a priority, because my daughter needs as much time away from the TV as possible. It’s been nice in light of the circumstances.

Almost…. normal.

How much writing does my New Normal Produce?

My son’s been teething so he goes to bed early now. My daughter never wants to sleep so putting her to bed is a giant pain in the ass. Jon goes to bed earlier than my daughter so most of the time I feel like a single mom.

Once the house is quiet, I hunker down over the computer and FORCE THE FUCKING WORDS OUT.

Last week I started my new Patreon-exclusive story. I should have started it a long time ago. I did start several potential Patreon stories a while ago but none of them panned out. Ideas refused to manifest. Nevertheless, I settled on SOMETHING, which I turned into SOMETHING WITH POTENTIAL.

Two days ago I finished a first draft.

One day ago I started editing that draft and HEY, it’s actually pretty decent.

Last night I finished the second draft, and HEY, I’ve got a good pandemic ghost story. I won’t lie.

I worked through writer’s block by writing other stuff. And honestly, friends, you can STILL get a free 90-day trial of Quibi until April 30th, so get on that and flex some recapping muscles, because it is FUN.

The next step for me is figuring out how to write some shorter stories to potentially publish. (The Patreon stories are always about 5000 words and consume a lot of my time, graphic and promotional work included.) I appreciate those of you who’s subscribed to this trial run of “new

It’s been quite some time since I hit the magazine grind. I want go back. I want to maybe try flash fiction.

Gotta use my pandemic time wisely here, because I literally don’t know how I managed to write stories under 2500 words.

The New Normal Continues

My manager called me up yesterday to let me know that my workplace will remain closed for the foreseeable future. I am very fortunate in terms of work. Because I worked full-time before my maternity leave, I have a job to return to. Just a little example of “counting one’s blessings”.

I haven’t worked in a year and I miss my co-workers. I miss making displays. Being on my feet is nice and I’ve lacked that physical aspect, honestly. (Part of the fun of writing “Coping Mechanisms” was reliving my retail job.)

BUT, in lieu of work, I have this free time to spend working on writing. At this point I plan on continuing the Patreon adventure for the rest of the year. Hopefully I can churn out a few stories for magazines as well. Then, next year it’ll be time to write NOVEL #2, which I kind of want to self-publish?

I don’t know.

I’m keeping my options open and AuthorTube is full of self-published authors willing to share their secrets to success. I’ve also been spending more time on Twitter, trying to build my audience a bit.

Sometimes I really feel like I’m failing hard. I’m not producing enough. I suck so bad at marking. But this is a process, right? I’ve learned a lot and things are improving. My follower count is growing. My engagements are up.

I have a half-assed attempt at a “plan”.

Things are working.

I try not to bee too hard on myself because I have been doing exactly that and I gotta stop. The writing is progressing. The writing will come.

How’s your new normal?

Have you been writing (or producing art or whatever you do on the side)? Does your new normal FEEL normal yet? How comfortable are you? I suppose the toughest part is working through the stress of the bad days and looking at each new day at a new opportunity. Which is easier said than done, right?

If you’re in need of entertaniment, feel free to check out “Coping Mechanisms” if you haven’t read it yet. I just put it on Wattpad if you read fiction there. And hey, if you like it, I’ve got a lot more fiction in varied levels of hotness, darkness and horror over on my Patreon.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, essential Costco employee, Jamie endures a violent panic-buying incident with her new cor-worker, Brendan, the aftermath of which bonds them in a salacious workplace affair to cope.
Like this post? With your support, I will have the opportunity to write more fiction, plus more creative blogs like this one. Support my work on Patreon and get yourself some nifty perks.
Rebecca

Rebecca is a neo-noir author from Kamloops, British Columbia. Her first collection of gritty short fiction, Vile Men was published by Dark House Press in 2015. She also writes about her writer lifestyle on her blog at rebeccajoneshowe.com.

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I'm Rebecca Jones-Howe, a neo-noir writer and author of the short story collection, VILE MEN. My work has been featured in [PANK], Pulp Modern and Punchnel's, among other magazines. This site houses my writing profile and my blog, which features posts on writing, fashion, lifestyle + more. Want more?

- RJH

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