Monday, February 11, 2019

Heigh Ho, Heigh Ho, Back To Work I Go

I am loving being retired from my paralegal career. LOVE. LOVE. LOVE.

But after about six weeks, I’m beginning to worry about my other job. The one I didn’t retire from – my career as a writer.

For years I cranked out two novels a year and held down a full-time job. One year I even produced three novels. That year about killed me. Even the other years with two books were hard on me. I was always on a computer, either at home or at work. I seldom got out with friends, unless I made a pointed effort. Long weekends were often spent holed up in my apartment alone, without ever leaving until I had to go to work. Same with holidays. I paid a price for that dedication to both my job and my writing career – weight gain, high blood pressure, depression, etc. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t regret all the sacrifices I made to establish myself as a prolific novelist. I never made much money. Few fiction writers do. But I have a loyal readership and a body of work that makes me proud.

Now that I don’t have a job, I should be writing all the time, but I’m not. I wrote more when I was working and under contract. I haven’t released a new novel in over a year. Then again, much of 2017 and all of 2018 was spent preparing for retirement. I had to get my RV. Outfit it. Give up my apartment and move into the RV. I have been writing during this time, but not with the same dedication and focus. Early 2019 was spent getting out on the road, dealing with RV issues, and setting up my new residence in Texas. I did put out a new short story in 2018 – Sh*t I’d Kill For – which was very well received.

Now here I am in mid-February 2019 and I’m ready to get busy and back on writing fiction with a heat-seeking focus. This week I got off the road and settled into a lovely campground at Gulf Island National Seashore. I know a lot of people who have stayed here and loved it. I plan on really pounding out the finish to a non-mystery novel I’ve been working on for several years. It’s almost done. But it won’t get done if I don’t make it a priority. Then I need to move on to the next Granny Apples novel and the new Odelia Grey novel. After that the third Madison Rose book. I need to put deadlines on myself. So my deadline to finish Finding Zelda is the end of February. I need to treat my own deadlines as I did when I was under contract to publishers. You can fudge a bit, but not a lot.

But all work and no play makes Sue Ann cranky. Everyday I need to exercise, do some household chores, and I also need to see the lovely places I’m visiting. It’s a balance, just like balancing the day job with the writing all those years, but not as daunting.

Going forward, every day I will be writing a few hours on my fiction. And I will be blogging on Babble ‘n Blog at least twice a month. I will also continue writing my posts on The Novel RV Journal. These are done daily and are the raw material for a travel book. You can read those at https://www.patreon.com/Sueannjaffarian.

Writing has never been a hobby for me. I have always treated it as a job, a career with deadlines. I need to get back to work!

I’m self-employed and my boss can be a real bitch!

Sunday, February 03, 2019

You Slept Where?

A co-worker gave me this hand towel when I retired. Well, it’s true. I do sleep around, and in places most would find unsavory.

The first night I owned my Travato, I slept in the parking lot of a Walmart. For the entire trip from South Carolina to California, I never once stayed in an RV park. Every night I put my head down in either a Walmart parking lot or one of the major truck stops. I always felt safe. And they were free, and conveniently located on the route I was taking.

So now I’m retired and not on a forced march across the US, but I still stay in these parking lots with my RV. Not all the time, but when it’s convenient, and I’m just looking for a cheap stopover.

My favorite such parking lots are the Flying J/Pilot truck stops. Love’s are good too, but I prefer Flying J/Pilot. They have everything a traveler could need or want, and I’m not talking gas and oil. Most of them have showers (big clean showers with hot water, fresh towels, and a nice strong water flow), laundry facilities, fresh hot food, favorite junk food, often a restaurant, and every gadget or health care item you could want. The coffee is always hot. The drinks always cold. The service always good.

Okay, I’ll admit that the parking lots can be noisy. They are often just a wall or frontage road away from an interstate, and often filled with 18-wheelers. But I’ve never found this to be a problem. I’m a good sleeper. And at the end of a long drive, I’ll fall into bed and hear nothing. I slept in one last night, and when I woke up, was surprised to find the RV on my right was gone and on my left, between my van and a big rig, was someone sleeping in their car. Never heard him pull up either. After living on one of the busiest streets in Los Angeles for over fifteen years, noise from the road is white noise to me.

If I need supplies, I will go to a Walmart for the night. Not all Walmarts allow overnight parking, so you have to check first, but it’s pretty convenient to do your shopping and turn in for the night in the same place.

Other places that often allow RV overnight parking that I haven’t tried yet are Cracker Barrel restaurants and some sporting goods chains. Also Camping World.

But are they really free? In theory, yes. But if I’m at a Walmart, I’m spending money on paper goods and groceries. At the truck stops I often buy a shower and dinner or breakfast. And how can anyone park at a Cracker Barrel and not have a meal?

The next time you’re at a Flying J, you just might see Novella.