I didn’t wear makeup to go to my car; Stories of Adulthood

One of the reasons I hate living in an apartment is that as soon as you walk out of your nice, cozy, PRIVATE home, you’re in PUBLIC. The door is the only buffer. Contrast that to a house, where you have this nice buffer zone of a garage and a yard, and a street, more or less. Unless you live in a bizzaro place, you don’t have people outside your house to see you should you need to get something you left in your car or take out the trash or whatever.

Not so in an apartment. Now, used to be I’d worry about my presentation all the damn time. I’d put makeup on if I knew I was getting food delivered, and put on real clothes instead of sweat pants, and generally look like I hadn’t rolled out of bed. Because, after all, everyone CARES so MUCH what I LOOK LIKE.

The nice thing about getting older (and wiser… *sips coffee*) is that you begin to care less and less about what other people think. Taking a leaf from Sarah Knight and her F*cks Budget, I’ve realized that I want to spend my F*cks wisely and less liberally. And giving a F*ck about what I look like just isn’t as high a priority as, say, writing.

And let’s be clear, not putting on makeup is a big deal, when you’ve worn it every day since you were sixteen and then had a real bad flare up of adult acne when you were in Taiwan and now have the scars and shame to prove it. So makeup = armor = me being okay. But not anymore.

The other day, I’d left something in my car, to get back to the title story, and my car was parked a level above me in the parking garage. I did not put on makeup to go get the stuff. I did put on pants, because decency, but wore slippers and didn’t brush my hair, either. Yes, I was one of those people. Pretty soon I’ll be wearing pjs to Walmart. No, I won’t. It was a step in the self-love department, not the giving-up-self-hood department.

I even saw someone coming down the staircase, and they said hi. Not, oh god how could you show that face to the world, but hi. How nice. *snark intensifies*

Being an adult sucks on a lot of levels, but today it sucked a little less as I accepted myself for myself a little more. Thanks, self.

Tips for the Multipotentialite Writer

About a year ago, I did a post about the Multipotentialite Writer, and while it was kind of useful and kind of cathartic, I was young and in the grip of a feverish writing phase. Since then I’ve…grown. I’ve fallen in an out of writing a couple of times since then, so I thought I’d share some of the new things I’ve learned in an almost year.

Writing as a multipotentialite can be difficult. It comes with a host of what most writing teachers and advice-givers would call problems. Namely, that if you’re a multipotentialite, you won’t want to write all the time. I don’t mean every day – few people really feel like writing every day – but there will be week- or month-long periods of time where you’re interested in something else.

It could be another writing project or something else entirely, like knitting or sailing or cliff diving.

And according to writing experts, in order to be prolific and write well, you need to a) write every day and, b) finish what you start before moving on to a new writing project.

I’m here to dispell the idea that we need to conform to general advice, because general advice for us in careers doesn’t apply, so why should this?

We don’t believe in sticking to one career, one passion, on interest, or one hobby forever, so why do we find ourselves feeling guilty when we dragged away from writing?

There hasn’t been much discussion about multipotentialities and writing specifically (apart from me navel-gazing, that is), so let’s dive in, shall we?

Step One

You need to make peace. Make peace with the fact that your writing process and journey is going to look different than the podcasts, author interviews, and craft books you’ve ingested. Make peace with the fact that it will take you longer to finish some projects, especially longer ones if you’re the type of multipotentialite whose interests vary quickly. Make peace with the fact that you will feel guilty for leaving projects undone, and it’s up to you to move with the guilt and the fear and the uncertainty.

You don’t walk away from fear, you walk with it.

Step Two

Figure out your system. This could be a rotating priorities board, specifically set up for writing projects, or even a simple calendar. It could be that you can hack your own interest system and schedule enough varied things to keep yourself from getting burned out on any one thing. 

Let’s say you know you like blogging, writing stories, and working on RPG design (ahem, me). So you schedule certain days for one thing and certain days for another and allow some wiggle room so you don’t feel constrained. So this week, I scheduled at least twenty minutes a day on writing my story, which comes out to around 500-1000 words a day. That’s a good pace for a novel. Then three times a week I schedule time to write a blog post or work on a longer one that needs some research or just time for the ideas to percolate. Then I make sure I work at least once a week on RPG design, to keep my creative skills flexible. 

But let’s say that one week I get really invested in my RPG stuff while my story has hit a snag and needs some time in the ol’ subconscious factory to work itself out. Do I rigidly stick to my schedule? Nah. I could, and it might be an excellent plug for willpower and self-discipline and all that, but I’m going to capitalize on the fact of my interests and make as much headway with the RPG stuff as I can. 

This all comes from one very simple idea. 

Know yourself and know your interests. 

I know that I love story writing more than any other kind of writing. RPG is definitely third on the list of my writing projects. But it’s still on there, and every now and then that bug will hit harder than the others. It won’t stick around forever; eventually, story-writing will come out on top again as usual. That’s how I operate, and I know I operate that way because I’ve been living in my head for so long. Living and observing. If I wasn’t aware of my own modus operandi, I wouldn’t know how to make this schedule. So if you’re just starting out, try out the rotating board before you make a schedule, and maybe keep track of how often you rotate. 

Step Three

Keep writing, every day. This one I keep going back and forth on whether it’s really a good idea or not, and I’ve heard so many opinions from so many people I think there just won’t ever be a good answer. Yes, as a multipotentialite we need to be allowed to let projects go and work on other things, but as a writer, I also know that leaving my writing for more than a few weeks makes me a really bad writer when I do start again. The time spent not writing is proportionate to the time spent getting back into a good writing state. My voice gets rusty, and it usually takes quite a while for me to find it again when I go too long without writing. It happened last year before NaNoWriMo; I hadn’t written anything between the Flash Fiction and October when I started prepping, and it showed. I tried writing a few things to warm up and they objectively sucked. I was out of practice and flabby. 

And the way to avoid that is to write as often as possible. So I’m going to say this, with certainty. If you want to become a professional* writer, you do need to write every day or at least every other day. Just as in any other profession. Athletes, singers, heck, probably even business people need to practice their skills all the time or they a) lose their jobs or b) lose their edge. How many Olympic swimmers take month-long holidays? 

People will still argue, so I say that you know yourself best, and you can decide (duh). But if you want to be prolific and write a lot of amazing books and hone your craft and edit like a champ…well, you need to be prolific. 

But never feel guilty for taking time off. Balance in all things.

If you’re a multipotentialite writer, where do you find yourself struggling? Like me, do you have both outside interests and other writing projects that distract you? 

Signature

*I realize that there’s a lot of debate going around about writing to make art and writing to make money, and how they should or should not cross. It’s an interesting discussion, and one I’m eager to get in to. Soon, friends. Soon.

Designing My life

Have you read Designing Your Life by Dave Evans and Bill Burnett? If you haven’t, you should. Yes, it’s another plan your life and that life will be good self-help montage, more or less, but this one was written by actual designers. Like, Stanford Engineer designers, so they know a thing or two about designing…everything. Being me, of course, I had to add another self-help book to my list and got it immediately.

Life design is something I’ve been doing unconsciously for absolutely years. I mean, what else has all the productivity-blogging and self-help-book-reading and passion-planning and goal-setting been for?

What cracked me up is the part in the book where they ask you to plan out three parallel lives that you could see yourself doing, and then figure out what resources, time commitment, and investment you’d need to make to have that life.

I laughed out loud because I’ve already done that, except I have about ten parallel lives, vastly different from each other, that I could see myself living. It is kind of nice, in a way, because I know I could be happy in each of those lives, but there again is the choice paralysis many of us face when presented with multiple options. I don’t know which one to pursue first. (This might be why the authors have you only pick three – choice paralysis happens less frequently with fewer options because opportunity cost will be lower.)

The whole point of the exercise is to expand your options and to help you realize that no matter which one you pursue first, it doesn’t matter. Just pick one, and that life will be good. We all have different lives available in us, and we’ll never know which one is “best” (hint hint; there is no best) so just pick one.

Ha. Easier said than done.

Let’s take a look.

My Five Plans

Writer

I see myself being a writer like my hero S.J Maas. I was reading her on fictionpress.com way back in the day before she became an NYT Bestselling Author. I remember reading Throne of Glass in its early days, and it was very different than the one that was published. The bones were there, but in the intervening years she edited and changed a lot. That’s how writing goes, and every time I think of her journey I get excited because I feel like I could do that too.

I see myself in my office, with journals of notes, a bulletin board with deadlines and events and tours and pictures; spending time writing, drinking tea, starting out my window as I ponder my story…

Yes, I can see myself doing that. I can also see myself writing short fiction, blogging, writing courses for empaths and other sensitive types, creating new RPGs and modules for D&D, and a whole bunch of other writing type things. I’ll never stop writing, but being a writer is a bit different. There are different investments required*.

Coach

The idea of being a life coach keeps creeping up on me. It started about a year ago, back in Korea, and has been in the back of my mind like a niggling worm ever since. I was really gung-ho about it at first, of course, and lost interest when my health declined, but I’ve been thinking about it again recently.

Even in my writing, I’ve always wanted to show people there’s a better world for them. Books showed me that, and my big why as a writer has always been about helping people realize their own magic. Coaching is another way to do this. I love it when my friends share their dreams with me, and I love the nitty-gritty of getting down to actions plans and steps and the how-to of dreams. So coaching has always seemed another natural option for me.

I could see myself doing that. Having an office with a filing cabinet for clients, having an appointment schedule book, emailing about packages and questions, skyping with clients and suggesting action plans and tools and books and exercises…

Non Profit RPG/GM Organizer

Another idea that’s bounced around in my head enough times for me to pay attention to it is starting my own non-profit that helps kids learn how to run RPGs. Or start my own chapter of 826 in my area.

This goes back to the whys mentioned earlier; helping people see their own magic. I give this choice of words carefully too, because I really believe that people are capable of their wildest dreams (the magic of life, right?), and I want everyone to be able to achieve that.

And hearing about kids getting into these creative endeavors, creating whole worlds, participating in stories together, learning serious life skills through fun…that just seems like a really important thing to be a part of.

Also I love kids and made a pretty awesome teacher, and I think leading a Game Master workshop would be epic.

(But the title needs some work. Organizer? Workshopper? Leader? Center? League?)

Game Designer/Writer

Going back to the writing front, I’ve also considered being a writer for games. I love D&D so much I think working at Wizards of the Coast (which is just around the corner from where I was born so, hello, fate) would be the most epic job of all.

I can imagine sitting down with a think tank of nerds and brainstorming the next big campaign book, the next batch of monsters, the next iteration of D&D itself…yeah, I dream about that a lot.

And if not D&D, then maybe another game company. I could write dialogue and quests, creating a dozen different threads for each player action, and twining them all sinuously until they meet perfectly at the final boss…

Homemaker

Equally as appealing as the other lifestyles, being a stay at home mom is at least a phase I’d like to experience, if not live out, sometime in my life. I plan on having kids, and I plan on raising them to the best of my knowledge and experience as a teacher, creator, empath, and nerd (oh yeah, my kids will be playing D&D as soon as they can talk, yo). 

But, of course, alongside that I’ll still be writing, crafting, coaching, and doing everything else, it will just have the volume turned down on it. 

You know, it was really interesting to write this post. It was really interesting to see how so many of the lives I could plan out, while vastly different, have this one underlying thread. Helping people see their own magic. And the thing is, there could be a hundred other jobs that satisfy that requirement that I don’t even know about! But five is enough to be getting on with, and as I mentioned in the beginning, choice paralysis is real, and the best advice is to take a step in any direction, rather than stand still.

So the first lilypad, then, is and will be writing. 

And now I’ll toss the ball to you. What lives have you imagined? I urge you to do this exercise and see what comes up, especially if you find, like me, the same impetus behind each desired life. 

Happy hunting, friends.

*On that front, I have some very exciting news coming up soon!

Life In-Between: Waiting to Live

I recently read a book called ‘The In-Between’ by Jeff Goins. It’s an anecdotal book for the most part, full of memories and small stories that illustrate his major point; that we spend most of our time waiting. Seriously. In fact as well as in our heads. We spend more time than we think in lines, on hold, in our cars traveling; always waiting for something. We also spend an inordinate amount of time waiting in our heads and hearts – waiting for the next thing to happen to us. For graduation, marriage, kids, retirement, death…and everything in between.

We spend so much time waiting for the next day or next whatever that we rarely find time to live in the moment. Sure, living in the moment has some bad connotations, like being flighty and irresponsible and never having a plan for the future, but most of us aren’t like that. We may occasionally let ourselves go in the moment when we’re having fun with friends or doing something we love, but those moments are like bright stars in the dark sky – small and minor compared to the vastness of life.

In Goins’ book, he talks about learning to appreciate the small things. Trite advice, you think. Perhaps. But true nevertheless. Look back at the past week or so and think about when you were happiest. Was it a grand moment full of importance and splendor? Or was it a small thing that simply made you very happy? If I do this, I think of being with my friends. Or finishing a book series. Or seeing my word count go up on my book.

All these are small things, but it’s these that I remember.

I’ve spent my entire life in the purgatory of waiting. I felt like my life wouldn’t begin until college, or then until I moved to Korea, or now until I’ve published my first book or gotten married or had a child… But it’s not true. Life is not a goal, it’s a state of being. I am alive now. I’m living, no matter what I’m doing. Waiting to live doesn’t even make sense. Neither does regretting something. I’ve regretted a few things. I always feel guilty that I’m not already married, that I haven’t already got an amazing, six-figure job or traveled more. But looking back, every single experience I’ve had has made me grow in a way that wouldn’t have happened in any other circumstance. I’ve needed all those waiting bits and periods in order to become what I am now, and all the waiting bits ahead will be necessary to get me further. I’m not the person I want to be, so I need a lot more waiting. I now appreciate the waiting, as time to reflect and grow. For, as Goins says, it’s frequently in those waiting moments that we do grow. We think, we reason, we imagine and learn within ourselves, often in a split-second.

I think we tend to hate the waiting and feel it’s useless because we often escape into books or movies, worlds in which no one ever waits for long and things happen consecutively. Action is frequent, speech is parsed down and simplified to exclude the nonessentials. We want life to happen like that, but it won’t. Imagine a book that actually followed, moment by moment, real life. It would be unutterably dull.

So we need to stop and consciously observe the waiting time and learn to grow in it. Reflect more, learn more, think more, appreciate more, and be grateful for the small things. We all live in-between the big things, and that’s where most of life happens.

Remembering Korea: Paldang Dam in Fall

Fall Berries

The beautiful park near the dam; definitely the best picture, which is probably why I put it first.

I’ve been remembering Korea a lot lately, and I found this old post from an old blog and thought I’d share. You know, for old time’s sake. So please enjoy this post I wrote just after traveling to Paldang Dam.

When I have fun, I really have fun. Fall here is incredible. Coming from Texas, whose version of fall tends to be, “Hey, it’s November! Time to bring the temps all the way down to 80 and kill the trees! Whoooo!” having any kind of transition to winter is a treat. I never knew what fall was. Here, I call it Autumn, because holy pancakes, Batman, the colors and weather are sublime.

I feel like Anne of Green Gables, with the shining waters, warm reds of Octobers, and now the promise of a chilly, mystical November. Perfect for my writing and tea-drinking desires.

In honor of the season, my friend and I went biking by the Paldang Dam, about an hour outside of Seoul. You can rent bikes there cheap; 10,000won ($10) for the day. We got the cute ones with baskets and trundled off. Now, my friend is a marathoner, so she probably considered our five-hour outing a light jaunt. My sedentary thighs were not so happy, but I muscled (ha) through and had a grand old time. The leaves were just beginning to turn, and the mountains were a beautiful ombre of every tree color imaginable.

What are these strange floofs and are they related to pygmy puffs?

It’s a big touristy spot, so there was a really nice restaurant about halfway down with bibimbap and really incredible pajeon. Unfortunately, I have no idea what the name of the place was. I was too hungry to care, so I had some tunnel-vision going. Food.


I’d never seen lotus in its natural environment. Those strange roots they serve at school come from these? Incredible.

We also had a bit of an off-road adventure to get to a nearby park. The bike path doesn’t go to it, as far as we know, so we lugged our bikes up and down forest trails, slipping and sliding and being laughed at by the men behind us. Hey, you guys arrived twenty minutes after we did. Take that.

It was so worth it though. The park was quiet, lush, and right on a kind of peninsula into the dam area. It looked more like a lake, really, and with the mountains and lotus leaves, you could believe you were in the middle of nowhere. Never mind the ahjumma’s next to you dancing to their trot music.

The dam itself. Dam.


We stopped for coffee and to rest a little at the park; I got mine iced, which flummoxed the vendor, but it was warm in the sun. And I really, really wanted a picture of the man selling chestnuts. He had the most incredible beard I’ve seen here. But in beard-language, it could have meant “nice old grandfather” or “seriously creepy.” I didn’t want to take the chance.


Cabbages getting ready for kimchi.

It was a nice way to spend Halloween, at any rate, since Korea doesn’t do much for the holiday. And as it’s beginning to be really cold here, it was the perfect opportunity.

Looking back, that was one of the best excursions I took in Korea, which makes me a little sad, not that it wasn’t amazing, but that I didn’t do more of it while I was there. I should have seen everything. I should have made it the perfect two and a half years. I should have…

No, I shouldn’t. It was perfect, every moment.