Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Passions, Cheese and Writing....

So, I just wrote this whole blog about my life and my writing and my job...and when I tried to publish, the server gave me an error message and now I have to start all over. I'm annoyed. I'm an impatient sort of Monkeypants. Also, I'm very tired and it's late and I really don't have a clue if I can mentally pull it together to recreate that blog.

Basically, the gist of it was that, scarily, I'm actually liking my job at this moment in time. I know, I know. The idea of me, Captain Monkeypants, saying that is...alarming. I think the scariest part of all is that it's temporary. I know that, in a week, my euphoria is going to be over and that I'm back to concocting ways to entice a squirrel to a) eat through the power lines or b) take down the internet. Either option would render us useless. Even if a squirrel is not involved, on a normal day, I confess that I do find myself imagining ways for our building to be out of commission long enough that we get to go home.

Still, for now...I'm liking my job. Today, I got invited to a meeting that involved the programmers and me and, interestingly, I was vital to the meeting. That has never happened before in this job. It happened in my last job but it was at a point where I could see that I'd finally hopped over a fence that I'd never have to navigate again. This job...who knows. One minute, my boss is asking for my assistance, the next thing he's treating me like a blond bimbo who can't possibly comprehend anything more technical than "microwave or toaster"?

But, I'm scared to say that today and yesterday were, um, fun for me at work. I am getting to test issues that have been found to be wrong with our software. Then I get to try and break them. Then, when I'm successful in breaking them, I get to tell the programmers what to do.

I'm good at telling people what to do.

I know it's only temporary, that once we release our software, I'm relegated back to the ranks of "what are we supposed to do with you?" Those days make me hate my job. They send me back to the days where I'm job searching. They send me back to the days when even working as a cheese shop manager at Jungle Jim's sounds appealing.

For the record, the last time this happened, I did apply for a Cheese Shop Manager position at Jungle Jim's. I'm annoyed that I didn't even get an acknowledgment for my application. While I might not have an official background, I still think I was a good applicant. While I might not have a passion for software, I'm sad to say I have a passion for cheese. I'm good with customers. I like people.

Also, twice now, for the record, I've been in Jungle Jim's and have been able to assist customers when the store employees could not. I'm not joking.

For the record, Creme Fraiche is found on the top shelf of the "French" cheese section. It is a mild sour cream and can be substituted for American whipping cream although it doesn't have quite as much bite. I highly recommend the real stuff.

Also, though Gorgonzola is a strong blue cheese, it is not Danish blue, as many assume. It is, in fact, Italian. Thus, it can be found in the "Italian" section of Jungle Jim's cheeses. I can recommend it as an excellent topping for salads or, even better, with mashed potatoes or stuffed mushrooms.

Anyway, I'm moving on, even though I'm slightly saddened that my future in Cheese Shop management is not to be. I know this sounds sarcastic. But, in truth, like a wise friend of mine says, [I'm] not sarcastic!, [I'm] British."

Seriously, even though my day job in software is sometimes good, as it was today, I do know this is not my passion. I can't pretend that I will ever compare the thrill I get to doing well at this job to the thrill I get when I'm writing.

When I'm writing or doing anything to do with my writing, I get wired. I find an excitement that can't be replicated by much else in my life. I'm doing scarily well with my Amazon Kindle sales of my novel, The Reluctant Demon. In a few days, my book will be for sale in a paperback format. If I do half as well as my potential sales targets promise, I'm going to be ok.

But it's not about the money. You must know that about me by now. It's more about trying to get my book out to people who I think will enjoy it. I don't care if I get any profit...I really, honestly, just want people to find it entertaining and not mind paying the $10 I'm charging.

(For the record, I'm going to charge $9.99. My original wish was to charge $7.99 but in the interest of not going into insane debt and still getting my book out there, I had to compromise. A fact, for which, I apologize).

No, I really just want people to read it, to laugh, to not mind that they had to buy the book to read it. That's it.

Ironically, in my attempts to find out the status of my proof copy of my novel, I clicked on I discovered that tonight is "The Night" for the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award entrants.

A year ago, I was one of them. I had a novel entered in Amazon's competition. I wanted to pretend I didn't care but I did. At 3 a.m, I remember awaking, panicked after a dream in which I realized I sucked as a writer. When I checked my emails, I discovered I had been awarded a semi-finalist position for my novel.

I was elated. I was excited. It was the furthest I'd ever come with a novel. I reveled in the knowledge that I didn't completely suck.

That lasted until I got my prize from A review by Publisher's Weekly. My review was terrible. It summarized my book. It gave a good explanation of the events. Then it trashed me. It gave no explanation why, no constructive criticism to help me figure out why my reviewer hated it, only that my book was awful. It was, in short, destructive criticism.

Sadly, as much as I hate to admit it, it began a horrible period of writer's block for me. A period in which I doubted my skills, my abilities, my desire. I tried to write something...anything. There was nothing but this blog.

Then I did some research and discovered that for the purpose of the Breakthrough Novelist Award reviews, Publisher's Weekly had hired reviewers for a pittance, just so they could get the 'job done'.

Someone's $50 profit was my mental breakdown into self-doubt about my writing. Thanks, Publisher's Weekly for being professional.

Still, then came the wonderful, amazing National Novel Writer's Month challenge (NaNaWriMo for short). In November, in the short space of a month (or three weeks if you're me and helping a friend with a master's thesis), I managed to write my novel, The Reluctant Demon. It was easy. It was light. It was fluffy.

It was fun.

I'd re-discovered my passion and my love for writing. The result is my most marketable novel to date. A novel which can be yours for the low-low price of $9.99 once I approve it. It's not about the money, it's about the fact that a would-be novelist found her path in life again.

And, no matter how much I enjoy my day job in software, for me, it's about the passion I feel in the evenings, when I get to write. Granted, I'd love to find a day job that solicited my passion too but...we can't have everything.

In the meantime, I'll settle for loving cheese but being passionate about writing. In between, I'm enjoying my current job.

It's all about the now...right?

Happy Thursday.

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