The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly (A Semi-Writing Update)

Happy Tuesday, friends and fellow writers. It has been a while since I’ve updated on what’s going on in my writerly world, so I figure I’m due.

The Good

1. I am thrilled (that’s the professional way to put it. The “me” way of putting it is “happy dancing on my desk while singing badly”) to let you all know that I’ve had a piece accepted for publication in the April issue of Sasee.

If you haven’t visited Sasee before, you’re in for a treat. Sasee is a women’s magazine that publishes a monthly theme-based issue. April’s theme is “Yes!” To see where I went with that, you’ll have to check out my piece there. Please poke around and explore the magazine too – there are some wonderful articles and essays. I’ll definitely be an ongoing Sasee reader and also hope to contribute again.

2. You may remember me updating a few times about my short story “Peanut Butter and Jelly” that will forthcoming in The Spirit of Poe Anthology. Actually, I told you it would be out around Halloween. Then I said January. And then I didn’t say anything.

That’s because there has been a delay in publication. In recent communications from the editor, I’ve learned a bit more about the causes of the delays and things appear to be moving forward again. I’m not going to throw out any more “whens,” today, but I will keep you posted on the progress as I receive updated info.

So, why would I put what sounds like a frustrating experience in the “good” column? Mostly, because I’m now reassured that the anthology will in fact happen. But also because this has been an important lesson for me in learning the ins and outs of working with small publishers and getting your work out there. I still believe strongly in this publication because it benefits a great cause and promises to be chock-full of good reads. At the same time, the waiting and the ups and downs have been an exercise in both worry (will my story see print after all?) and patience. Those are important lessons for a writer who is submitting their work just about anywhere to learn.

Even when they sting, lessons are good.

The Bad

True confession time. After a bit of a marathon stint where I made some real progress on the book, I hit a bad patch. There are many reasons. I was working on other projects. Work has been crazy. Other things have been demanding of my time and attention. I had to do my taxes.

But the real truth is that I let myself fall into a mire of self-pity. I became overwhelmed with the fact that so many in both my writer network and personal circle don’t have to work full-time, but I do. I compared the progress I’m making with that of my non-working or part-time working writer’s network and I fell into a pit of “this is impossible for me” frustration and sadness. I looked around at my non-writing friends who have lots more free time than I do and still have fun and money, and I let the green-eyed monster overwhelm me. I got mad that here I am with all these goals and hopes and so little time to pursue them while so many around me have all the time in the world to do whatever they want. I got angry and depressed about barely scraping by when most days I do little more than work and sleep just to stay afloat.

I let myself sink into a short-lived funk of feeling overwhelmed, exhausted, angry, bitter, tired, jealous and sad. I figure since I’m so open about my successes and the brighter more positive side of me here, I might as well let the screaming meanie out in the open too. Sometimes it is more powerful when you keep it stuffed in the closet.

Most days, I am grateful, inspired, encouraged and upbeat. But sometimes bitterness, exhaustion, jealously and fear grab a hold of me when my guard is down. I envision myself as an 80 year-old woman dragging her sorry tired ass into an office for yet another day of drudgery (because she’s too broke to ever retire) and then pecking out stories on her keyboard all night with blurry beaten-down eyes. This is not what I want when I’m 80. At that point in my life, I want to be sitting pretty (or at least comfortably) and never have to wear a bra again.

The Ugly

And so, I let myself get into a bit of a funk. I focused on how all I do is work and write and still always feel broke as a joke. Negativity feeds on itself, and the more I thought about it the more sad and pissed off I got.

I even bought Megamillions tickets, which is something I never do. As I’m not sending out this update from some tropical island, you can guess how that went.

But eventually, reality reared its head. Oh, OK, not reality. I’m already admitting what a douche I can be, so I might as well be totally honest. I watched Rick Grimes in the Walking Dead and I thought “if he can deal with all that shit, surely I can handle my pooper-scooper full and still shine.”

Which is nuts, because Rick Grimes doesn’t really exist. But hey, whatever works, right?

So instead of dwelling on what I can’t seem to change (having to work so much, being broke), I focused on what I could do differently. Specifically, I could take a little break and let myself have some fun.

So Lee and I got our yard geared up for this lovely run of spring weather. He fixed up our fire pit and we had a campfire. We put our tent in the back yard and slept out there for a while. We set up my hammock and I spent some time just lazing there with my Kindle, reading and swaying under my blooming trees.

I went to the pub and got the beer giggles a few times. I bought some cheap flip-flops, because who isn’t happier when almost barefoot? We went to the park and did a trail walk. I went to Rehoboth for the weekend with my mom, niece, aunts and cousins. I wandered the beach and the boardwalk and the outlets and ate and drank too much and just relaxed with my family.

My pendulum is swinging back to “encouraged” again. I love writing and live to do it. But because I already have a full-time job, I’m learning that pushing myself to extremes and treating it like a second full-time job isn’t always good. It leads to burnout and the urge to give in to fears that I’m doing all this for nothing. I had to step back and put some balm on those burns.

The reason all this fun ends up under the “ugly” column is this:

I took this picture while I was in Rehoboth. For those not as Steelers-focused as I am, that’s a Brett Keisel pillow. It is the ugliest damn pillow you’ve ever seen. My aunt, who is a fellow Steelers fan, got it for Christmas, and in turn she got my mother one.

My mother’s dogs growl and bark at hers. That’s how ugly it is. When we were at my aunts, my cousin’s dogs did the same to hers.


As you can see, I snuggled it and took a picture.

Because sometimes, you have to embrace your inner ugly to get back to a good place.

So, how YOU doin’?


About hawleywood40

Writer, Steelers Fan in Baltimore, Frequent Visitor to the Shot Fairy
This entry was posted in Creativity, Family, Slices O' Life, Work, Writing and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly (A Semi-Writing Update)

  1. Amy Isaman says:

    Oh, I so relate to your “bad.” Know that you are NOT ALONE in that deep down desire to work part time and focus on your writing. It sounds like we had the same week last week ie. mega millions was already spent in my life! On Saturday, I had my son who’s a junior look at the costs of college. In state is estimated at $20,000+/year!!! What the F?!? I, like you, won’t be going part time any time soon, and it sucks, so you are not alone. Just keep plugging away, and enjoy that those of us in education get a spring break. I think you already had yours but I’m happily at home now and guess what? I’m not writing. Nope sitting in my pj’s, procrastinating and getting caught up on blogs I like. So maybe working and keeping that schedule isn’t so bad after all. Thanks for your honesty and sharing – it actually made me feel better about the whole work situation.

    • hawleywood40 says:

      Amy, those PJ catch-up days keep me sane! I think one of the hardest parts about being a working writer for me is that by nature I am a person who thrives and does her best in a flexible, spontaneous, make-my-own-schedule kind of lifestyle, and we all know day-jobbers can’t usually go there : ). Half my writer’s blog just comes from getting an overwhelmed “hamster on a wheel” feeling and panicking myself over never getting out of the cage. Spring breaks, or random days off to catch up on blogs or a good book or just little things like planting stuff outside make me step back and realize my mind blows things a little out of proportion. And I so know what you mean about the cost of college – I look at tuition and fees where I work as compared to when I was a student here in the late 80’s/early 90’s, and I’m blown away. Back then, I was able to pay for my own tuition and rent an apartment with roommates once my first-year scholarship was gone by working two-part time jobs and going to school. That just wouldn’t happen for a kid in my situation now – I don’t see how students can go without some kind of support when everything is so expensive! I always wish that since I don’t have kids I could send my niece using the tuition bennies I get but will never use on one of my own … of course the system doesn’t work that way. We’re definitely not alone in this struggle – keep working and writing and finding time to soak in the sun : ).

  2. We all get the “bad” and “ugly” parts. Congratulatons on the “good.” Glad they selected your piece to include.

  3. Marcia says:

    You know what I absolutely love about you Pam? You can be so honest about tough times, but you don’t whine, at least not to us. You say it like it is and then tell us what you’re going to do about it. You’re so awesome!
    Congrats on getting into Sasee! So glad you found out what was going on with the anthology. And spending some time playing is what we all need from time to time. Good for you for taking a break!
    I was in your situation (full-time stressful job and no money) until just a few short years ago. My life was that way forever. Even the psychics I consulted occasionally said they didn’t see any real money in my future. Eventually I had to accept that this was the way it would always be. But I did the things I could afford to do frequently (seeing friends, making a big deal out of snacks and movie night with my grown kids, etc) and I kept trying to find a way to make more money.
    Now I’m retired and still don’t have a lot of money, due to the downturn of the stock market. Can’t go to conferences or on vacations, but I do have time to see my grandkids and spend time with my Mom, my hubby and friends. I can pursue inexpensive hobbies and I can write.

    So, just keep writing, find time to play and do what you have to to get by. One day things will turn around for you. That’s karma. Keep those good thoughts and push away the bad and the ugly. Hugs.

    • hawleywood40 says:

      Thanks Marcia – its a daily struggle but even if it is only for a few minutes each day, I do take time out to appreciate the good stuff and try to focus at least a bit on creativity. The writing has been been scratch-and-claw this week, so I took a deep breath and went out and played with my camera instead. I realize as I age that I definitely value time over money. Sure, I want to be financially secure. But I don’t care what I have beyond that as long as I can look ahead and hope that one day in my life there will be time to do all the many, many free or cheap things I just don’t do because being a working writer just doesn’t allow time for them. When people tell me they don’t know how they’ll fill their days after retirement, or when friends I know who are out of work but aren’t struggling financially tell me they are bored, my jaw drops. I can’t imagine ever not being able to fill those hours with living, learning, loving and WRITING : ).

  4. Congratulations on the “good” and for making it through the ugly – because it sounds like you’re on the upward swing 🙂 I agree with David – we all have the bad and ugly, and sometimes we just have to wait it out. I even wrote a post about it a couple of weeks ago – having feelings similar to you! I’m glad you were able to find ways to “fill your bucket” and continue on!

    • hawleywood40 says:

      I’m still waiting it out and having faith that the slump will recede … even if that means I have to wait until summer when I take lots and lots of long weekends to start feeling a bit more humanish again! My day-to-day outlook is ever more improved, but I’m having big issues with getting the writing and workout routine back in swing. One day at a time : ).

  5. tsonoda148 says:

    God I love your updates! Firstly, congrats on your magazine article! Can’t wait to read it. You rock. And B (did that on purpose) your bads and uglies help put my life into perspective. I wont’ bore you as to how, just suffice to say I stopped pulling my hair while reading this. That’s a start. Much much going on in my life, so I get the juggling and the angst. Keep those updates coming! LOVE your blog. Even if you are a Steelers fan.
    (so happy Broncos have a new QB)

    • hawleywood40 says:

      Thanks so much Terri! Just sort of getting it out there helped me stop pulling my hair out. Still in a bit of a writerly and workout funk … just can’t quit feeling too weighed down by the day job. But its all about the baby steps, I guess : ). And by the way, that’s not just ANY new QB – it will be an interesting season for sure!

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