People frequently ask me what keeps me so busy--why does it take me a while to address your non-time-sensitive e-mail? Why is it hard for me to be spontaneous and join you for that social event you didn't tell me about until just now? Why am I so often turning down offers to participate in projects or contribute to stuff you think I ought to have time for? What exactly am I doing anyway?
And of course, there are occasional jackasses who see some project I AM involved in and they judge it to be the whole of my existence because it seems broad or comprehensive, or because it clearly took time and effort. (This happens a lot on YouTube--people message me just to snot on me for "making this asexual thing [my] whole life.") It's amazing how common this misconception is--that their exposure to one tiny cross section of my life means they can accurately assess what I'm about. They have no idea.
So! Let me walk you through my life.
Writing should come first, though obviously sometimes it doesn't. I am actively drafting a novel--Bad Fairy's second volume in the series--and I am editing my novel Stupid Questions and sharing it with a couple critique partners. I am planning to clean this up and show it to my agent, so that's pretty important. The nonfiction book obviously came out recently, and up until that point there were edits, correspondences to be had, decisions to be made, and now we're applying for awards. I've also been stealing little bits of time to work on short stories and have done research to put them on submission to editors. (I currently have six stories out for consideration.) And sometimes I write articles and get them published in magazines.
This is a big one. Now, some of you might not know this, but I run four blogs. I have this one, which I try to use as a personal-writing blog--it's primarily about my author life, and includes writing advice and updates on my accomplishments in the writing world, with a personal update once a week. This blog tries to update four times a week. I also have my good old personal LiveJournal, but since the blogging platform has become a bit of a ghost town these days, I have primarily been using it to post a different version of the Saturday Digest I always post here, so those still reading there can see it. I have my main author site, which is not regularly updated on any schedule but always has the major writing-related news. And I have my Tumblr, which is an asexuality blog. I create original content, share other people's content, and sometimes post my hate mail so people can laugh at it.
I'm almost always in the middle of reading something for one of my critique partners, and Pitch Wars is front and center now as I'm stomping forward trying to help my mentees tweak their books and massage their short pitches. I have several friends who could at any moment suddenly drop a book on me, and though of course I want to help, it is something I end up having to shoehorn into my schedule. I also read a published book about once a week. I decided this year to make a strong effort to do more reading because 2013 and 2012 were disastrous for my reading list; you're not going to get time, because you have to make time. And it's very important for writers to read. So just about once a week, I'm reading a new book and posting a review in multiple places: my own site, Amazon, Shelfari, and two Goodreads accounts. (It's generally two different reviews.)
Yeah, there is more to my life than my personal projects and staring at a computer screen. I hang out with my mom pretty often; I go out with my friend Jeaux once a week and have dinner; my friend Victor calls me once a week at night and talks to me as I do chores and art (or sometimes he comes over); sometimes friends come into town and hang out with me when they can, like Meghan, Sarah, or Mike. I also go to a book club once a month and we talk about the book we read and go to dinner after. Sometimes friends and family from out of town call on the weekends and maybe I'll talk to them while trying to get laundry done.
I have two YouTube channels--one for writing videos, one for personal and asexuality-related videos--and I do my best to update both of them once a month. That doesn't sound like very much, but there's at least some planning involved in every video I make, and depending on the type of video, sometimes it requires extensive editing. It's the kind of thing that will definitely steal the majority of your Saturday on occasion. And then on top of that, I create transcripts for my videos so people who need them can also enjoy their content. (YouTube has a feature that lets you turn captions on or off. I program caption files for the videos so they'll sync up with what I'm saying.) In addition to the two videos a month, I make a goofy singing video pretty much every week. This isn't exactly a priority, but I enjoy doing it. Partly because I went to school for music and singing was a huge part of my formative years, so it's a little sad to me that when I grew up I didn't become some kind of musician. (That probably would have been unfathomable to my high school self.) Doing goofy karaoke videos once a week is a nice way to stay in touch with the part of me that's still a musician, and it keeps my voice in shape at least a little bit.
Some of you know I do a couple of webcomics. Well, let me give you some perspective on that. Negative One updates once a week (on Fridays). So You Write updates once a month (whenever I want). That means that somewhere in this nonsense I have to find time to write the storyboards, draw the pictures, process the art and text on the computer, and upload/post them. Negative One is an ongoing story comic that has been posted consistently every single Friday since May 20, 2005. It's never been late or missed an update, ever. Most issues feature TEN frames--ten new drawings every week. People sometimes laugh at me when I claim this is a priority and that no, I can't suddenly go out on a Friday if I'm not done, but I find I don't get along very well with people who think a night out automatically trumps a ten-year-long unbroken commitment because "lol it's REAL LIFE." So I usually draw Negative One while I'm on the phone with Victor (and finish it up the next day), and I draw So You Write (which is usually only four frames, but it's in color) whenever I get a block of time that I can squeeze it in. And since I really like drawing characters outside of the webcomics--especially if I want to figure out what a new character looks like--I sometimes end up pushing that in, too.
Correspondence, Social Media, and Internet Maintenance
Beyond just keeping up on Twitter and posting/responding to messages on Facebook, there's this little thing I call Internet Maintenance that I frequently have to deal with. It takes time to keep profiles up to date, respond to YouTube comments, check Tumblr reblogs and see if anyone's throwing a strop about something I said (or, more often, saying something super nice; thanks guys). I sometimes have to reorganize my website because of certain things, or add things to public lists, or clean up stuff that's dated, or add photos to my Internet galleries, or add books to my to-read lists, or approve comments on my blogs. I also have a newsletter that I put together and send out every few months or so.
And of course . . . I get a lot of e-mail. TONS OF E-MAIL. A couple dozen a day, many of which require some kind of action or response. It's not very surprising, I think, that when the rather long, non-time-sensitive mails trickle in from old friends or thoughtful people, I don't generally respond to them immediately. Partly because the content and its author deserve to be addressed when I have a non-rushed time to pay attention to it, and partly because they often have more time than I do for correspondence and will probably write me back faster. ;) A large portion of my e-mails are people asking for advice or information; sometimes it's people wanting publishing advice or reactions to their writing (the latter of which I can't provide for random strangers), and often it's people wanting to explain their sex problem or relationship problem to me and get advice on how to deal with it or how to figure out if they or someone they know is asexual. If a message is short, time-sensitive, or (sadly) hostile/harassing, I will usually choose to deal with those first. And speaking of which. . . .
Interviews and Appearances
This isn't something a lot of my blog readers will be dealing with in their own lives on a regular basis, but it's kinda been part of mine for a long time--though more so since I got the book published, of course. I get a lot of messages asking me to provide a quote, answer a series of questions, be featured in an article, be available to be on a podcast or radio interview, or come to an event. Less commonly, I'll be asked to participate in video media, but that happens too. I will tend to respond more positively to speaking opportunities that will result in resources I can share with my community. There's been a pretty steady trickle of interviews since my book's publication, but I'm kind of expecting next week to explode with sudden time-sensitive requests because it's Asexual Awareness Week and that generally happens to me every year at that time. When I'm invited to make an appearance or presentation somewhere, I usually have to put a fair amount of time into preparing my speech and visual aids.
So there's also this whole earning a living thing. I have a part-time job and have to spend 28 hours a week doing said job. I'm an admin at an engineering company. And I say with absolutely no ounce of sarcasm that it is the best job I've ever had, for many reasons; however, it is of course a small suckage of my time, this whole pesky need to make money and pay my rent. And like anyone else, I still have to pay my bills, go grocery shopping, clean my house and do organization projects, take showers, eat, and sleep. Oh the horror!
You may have noticed just about everything I do above is sort of fighting for its place in the loosely organized "whenever" of my life. And I've got a pretty good schedule down for a lot of it: Laundry and karaoke on Sunday, grocery shopping on Monday, hang out with Mom on Tuesday, go out with Jeaux on Wednesday, draw the comic and talk to Victor on Thursday night, post the comic and do site updates on Friday, play catch-up on Saturday, and find time to read, draw, make videos, blog, play with my friends, WRITE, and fulfill communication obligations in between. But there are still other things I like to find time for too, like baking, playing DDR, making crafts and presents for others, listening to music, seeing stage shows, gardening, redecorating, playing tennis, or going out to do shopping, see movies, or go to events with my friends. A lot of these are things I do WHILE I'm doing other things--for instance, when Jeaux is at my house, I get to watch TV shows we like or listen to a podcast, and when others invite me to do things, I get to go swimming or see a theme park or do something special. And I've always got projects that are infinitely postponed that I like to get to once in a while. Making a new website, scanning some old photos, learning new songs that I can make multitrack recordings of, researching books and music by artists I enjoy and seeing what they've done lately, actually reading blogs. . . .
It's sometimes really hard to maintain the energy to do all this stuff, so I am always in a sort of balancing act as I try to both satisfy other people's expectations and live up to my own standards. So sometimes if I don't text back, or I'm hard to nail down, or I'm too tired to do something, or I don't answer your e-mail quickly, or I'm never on Skype, or I say I'd rather spend my Saturday writing than going to the movies . . . please cut me some slack and be patient. For the most part I love my life the way it is, but it's true that sometimes I drown and sometimes I'm not happy with how I'm handling it. I need your support, and when you're patient and nurturing and willing to cheer me on even if I take a while to get back to you, I notice.
So please don't follow up an unanswered e-mail with snide commentary on how apparently I don't think you're important. Don't take it personally if I've been putting off my own writing for so many weeks that I just need to do it and therefore politely decline hanging out with you. Don't sneeringly point out that my posting ridiculous links on Facebook means I have time for your e-mail, especially considering I'm often stuffing my face with one hand while reading Tumblr and happening to share a funny link I found on another platform.
And don't you dare flollop into my YouTube comments to tell me I clearly have no life because you don't think one of the ten thousand things I'm doing deserves the attention I give it. Yes, some jerk did this today. And two days ago. And last week. Apparently these folks feel it's very important to shame me for supposedly lacking anything meaningful to do in my life, accusing me of ~wanting attention~ and ~trying to be special~. I'm aware that nobody who reads my blog would do such a thing, but good lord does that irritate me.