Stephen King Sabotaged Me (allegedly)

Progress has been slow, but steady. The good news is that I have finally figured out where to end the memoir, which has been driving me nuts for the past 3 months. I am also now (as of yesterday) pre-editing the 3rd part of the book. Although, the task has not proved to be easy. Quite the opposite, actually.

In fact, as I stared at the screen yesterday . I could literally feel time being sucked out from underneath me as I tried to decide whether I should delete an entire chapter or add another one to a book that I already will need to cut at least 20,000 words from. I also found myself hating several of the chapter transitions, but could not come up with a solution to improve any of them.

When I first started writing the book, I thought about writing each chapter as if it were its own separate story. A series of flashbacks – since that seems to be how things come together in my memory, which would have solved that problem. Unfortunately, I had to drop the idea when I realized Stephen King wrote his memoir, On Writing, in the same style.

Dammit, Stephen!

Aside from being perturbed with Stephen King for ruining my idea by coming up with it first, I’m also struggling to retrieve important memories. There are so many conversations I’m struggling to remember 7 years later, even though they are important pieces to my story. How do I convey a feeling or mood when I have to ask myself questions like , “Why did we laugh so hard in the parking lot, again?” only to come up blank.

While we are at it, can anyone tell me why our bad memories seem to be so much easier to recall than our good memories?

I’d look it up, but I don’t have time.

I had hoped to be done with all the pre-edits by now. Sadly, however, that didn’t happen. Mostly because I forgot how grad school works while I was enjoying winter break and have been slammed for the last 2 weeks trying to adjust to a new schedule and new classes. Then, there’s that whole home school thing I’m involved in.

I suppose I can’t be too upset with myself. I’m still writing (editing) at least 3 times a week. So, I guess that’s at least some progress even if it’s much slower than I imagined. I continue to tell myself that I’d rather take my time and write something I can be proud of then rush through it because I am in a hurry and get published, especially when I don’t even know what route I’m planning on taking when that time comes. Although, I can’t help but be disappointed that my goal of releasing the book on National Coming Out day 2021 appears as though it was a far too optimistic one.


It would have been so poetic.

Finding Time in 2021.

If you couldn’t tell, I’ve been struggling to keep updated on the blog lately. I just haven’t found the time to focus write. You see after I met my first big goal of 100,000 words, I kind of fell off the wagon. I’ve still been writing, but not nearly enough (as evidenced by the lack of posts). My inability to stay on point is less laziness and more over-ambitiousness. I tend to take on too many projects at once. When I don’t reach those goals, I give up and go home. 

I continue to work on my own expectations. However, I’m still nowhere near as productive as I want to be. The biggest barrier of which is that I have TERRIBLE time management skills. I blame it on ADHD, which is why my mind is anywhere but where it needs to be at any given moment, except when I find myself entranced with a particular task. On those occasions, I hyperfocus like nobody else’s business, completely losing track of time and the world around me. I can literally spend an entire day writing or researching without even blinking. A 5 minute conversation or a 2 minute phone call I planned to make last week? Not so much.

We all know big visions require big commitments. And, when you have several of them going on at the same time, it can be challenging to manage and prioritize all of them in the correct order. At least it is for me, anyway. So far, 2021 has already managed to teach me how much harder I need to work and how much more committed I need to be to get to where I want to be. Getting published means getting exposure, which I’m trying to prepare for by building a brand, even though it may seem strange to do so far in advance. Unfortunately, these days, publishers care more about the audience you bring to them rather than the content of your book (or so I’ve read). This represents a massive challenge for a self-diagnosed agoraphobic like myself. So, that’s where I’m at. I’m in the middle of creating a brand that may end up being a colossal waste of time in the end.

The creative part is pretty fun. The more arduous tasks, like learning the technical skills to accomplish those creative parts, are not so fun. Taking content from the original idea to the final TikTok, YouTube video, or blog post always takes much longer than I think it will. I’m talking hours, days, or even weeks in some cases. Of course, the fact that I often re-edit the same sentence 20 times, do 90 takes of a 60 second TikTok because I hate the way my face looks, or the endless hours I spend trying to learn a cool new effect for a five minute YouTube video probably doesn’t help.

I marvel at the people who tell me they can get filming and editing done in one day or a blog post written and published in an hour. I think it has to do with some sort of superpower I will never possess, or maybe they just have plenty of uppers on hand. Case in point, as of now, I’ve been writing this post since 10:30am. It’s now 12:43 pm. 

{Okay, so I did spend some time browsing the internet for some reason which I can’t even remember. But, still! That’s an awfully long time to write a simple blog post.}

Hopefully, all of these things will eventually help me reach my ultimate goal: Get the memoir I’ve been planning on writing for over 20 years to a publisher, or at least to a point where I can self-publish it by the end of 2021.

On the bright side, I have, at least, managed to nail down a planner system (consisting of four, yes four, separate planners) to help me remain on whatever path it is that I’m on. So far, it seems to help about 20-50% of the time. Probably closer to 20%, considering it is now 2:51pm. At least it’s better than 0%, I guess.

A Memoir in the Making?

Photo by Lauren Mancke on Unsplash

I’m a little over halfway done with my first draft of the to-be-named memoir (all the good titles seem to be taken. Thanks very much, Muriel Hemingway!). The goal of this draft is to get 100,000 words out, no matter how shittily they come spitting out from the keyboard. I figured this goal will give me enough room to cut some of the boring and unrelated parts out, because, as Stephen King says, your second draft should be your first draft – 10%. I figure the guy knows what he’s talking about, so it’s a tip I think I’ll use. 90,000 words is about 250 pages (based on the standard of about 350 words on a paperback page).

This is a good thing, right? I mean, for nearly 20 years, or more specifically, since I bought my first computer (A Gateway 2000 – which, I believe was still in the days of dial-up internet), my memoir has consisted of one or two pages of notes in a folder on my desktop. So, the fact that it’s even come this far is nothing short of a miracle.

Here’s the thing, though.

This is the part – the part of any project I’ve ever started where I usually begin to lose interest. And, I’ll admit, the past 2 weeks have been quite the struggle to keep writing at all, let alone at the same pace. In fact, I’ve written less than half of the days I planned on and only met my word count twice. To be fair, the world is in a state of full-on bag of dog shit on fire right now and, as a “creative”, my moods tend to coincide with what is going on in the outside world, even if it’s thousands of miles away in a country I’ve never heard of.

There’s more to it than that, though. It’s also the fear and anxiety regarding the future, after I’ve finished the 4th (or 5th draft) and how this book will end up turning out. Will it meet my expectations? Will it end up DOA like so many other good intentions of mine? The prospect of working your ass off for months, turning your unhinged thoughts into something someone may want to read only to have nobody want to read it, is a little intimidating to say the least.

So, as much as I want to believe it won’t happen this time, I worry these are the warning signs that the loss energy may be the clue that the end is nearing for yet another project. Although, I do continue to remind myself that this part, this part needs to be the part where I dig my heels in and fucking finish something I’ve started for once, instead of watching those 60,000 words fade into oblivion with every other great idea of mine that never came to fruition.

I also try to tell myself that this process, this book, is not about seeing my work published, a glossy cover with my name on it, a place on a best selling list, or positive reviews written by people like Oprah. It’s about the catharsis I am going through as I’m pouring my story out onto the screen. And, it is true, to a point. But, I think we all know, it’s also a lie we tell ourselves when we are terrified we are going to fail at something. Nobody with a shred of sanity, in my opinion, would spend so much effort writing something they didn’t want to see some sort of payoff from. I mean, if that’s the case, that’s what journals are for. For me, it’s not even about a big fat paycheck (though, it would be nice), it’s about people reading and relating to me as a person. It’s about people feeling less alone with their own thoughts, especially thoughts regarding their struggles with their own sexuality. And, of course, it’s about being liked – though, that’s the self-diagnosed “vulnerable narcissist” part of me.

The bottom line is that this book is a journey, a gut-wrenching journey that is forcing me to reconcile all the shitty things I’ve done in my life and including the most cringe-worthy of those moments from the past 30 years in my story. A journey where, if I’m being honest, I come across less like a heroine and more like a villain.

However, just like with any other journey, there is always an end-point. Let’s just hope the end-point for this one doesn’t come before the next 30,000 words and (at least) four more drafts.

If it does, however, I’m gonna be pretty pissed because it took me forever to find a decent pen-name to avoid any law-suits erupting from the massive amounts of tea I’m about to spill. Which, by the way, also caused me to change my social media handles and pay for a WordPress site (most likely, far too early) to avoid losing it to some other Jennifer Hollins, real or fake. Do you have any idea how hard it is to find a last name that sounds decent, and goes with one of the most popular names on the planet today, that isn’t taken?

Pretty damn hard.

*Disclaimer: Due to time constraints, this blog is edited at lightning speed, most likely leaving a slew of horrible grammar behind along with several ill-connected thoughts. Therefore, the quality of writing (and proper use of prepositions – whatever the hell those are) is, most likely, not my best. But, I can’t afford an editor and am too lazy to open up Grammarly, so….