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Long Overdue Life Update August 26, 2018

I knew I hadn't posted on this blog in a while, but I didn't know it had been seven months. Egads. Where did the time go?

I know the answer to that, and I'll tell you.

1. I became a homeowner.

Watercolor of my house
A watercolor of what my house will look like after we get around to painting the exterior.

In April, Sweetie and I bought a house. The process was long and stressful, especially since we tackled some hefty renovations right off the bat: installing bamboo floors, replacing a bathtub and surround, repainting the interior, and tearing up two decks and a concrete patio in the backyard.

We thought things would settle down once the renovations were out of the way and we moved in. Nope. Now that we're living here, the projects never end. There are still eight windows without curtains, three rooms with white walls, and one door lying in the middle of the living room...not to mention the many basic maintenance tasks required to prevent the house from flooding, burning, or exploding.

Don't get me wrong—I love my house more than I've ever loved a 1700 square-foot inanimate object before. It just takes a lot of work. Constantly.

Until now I felt like an "adult imposter," a woman who has been legally of age for more than a decade but was secretly an adolescent inside. But now that I'm more likely to spend a Saturday afternoon at Home Depot or Lowe's than at Macy's or Kohl's, I feel I can call myself an adult proper.

2. I joined Wattpad.

With all of the stress of buying the house, I put the visual novel on hold. When you're staying up until 2 a.m. smearing mortar over cement board, there's not nearly enough time or energy left over for developing a video game.

Instead, in the free hours remaining after caulking joints and sewing curtains, I've been working on a fun story and posting it on Wattpad. Despite its sadly justified reputation for rampant poorly spelled self-insert One Direction fan fiction, Wattpad also has many talented writers who are serious about creating and sharing quality stories. You just have to dig through a lot of erotica about 20-year-old billionaire CEOs to find them.

Last May I wrote a couple of posts referring to a modernization of Pride and Prejudice that I disliked because it destroyed the story structure of the original and was insufferably preachy. The weekend after reading that book, I wrote an outline for a modernization of P&P that did preserve the story, while also giving Elizabeth Bennet the agency she lacked in 1813.

I knew the novel wouldn't be viable commercially because retellings of Jane Austen novels are so overdone, and there's nothing "sexy" about my version like...

  • "It takes place at an elite private school. Elizabeth Bennet is a poor scholarship student and Darcy is her prom date!" (See: Prom and Prejudice)
  • "It's a gender-swapped Christmas-themed romp. Elizabeth is a glamorous Manhattanite and Darcy is a Midwestern carpenter who distrusts city girls!" (See: Pride and Prejudice and Mistletoe)
  • "It's literally the copy/pasted original, only with added scenes in which Elizabeth and Darcy are zombie hunters!" (See: Pride and Prejudice and Zombies)

No, my version is simply a low-key somewhat-faithful retelling with no glitz, no holiday cheer, and no supernatural horrors. No agent or editor would ever go for it. And so I filed away the outline as a mere exercise.

But the story continued to run through my head while driving to and from work each day, doing chores, and other moments of mental idleness. I decided to write and post it for free on the Internet, with no expectation of making money from it. And thus, Lizzie Bennet's Diary was born.

Lizzie Bennet's Diary
The "cover art" for Lizzie Bennet's Diary, using a photo by Rosie Ann

The other day I read in this NY Times article that seeking payment for activities decreases both motivation and creativity. When children are paid for drawing, they draw less than children who aren't paid. When adults are rewarded for solving a complex problem, their solutions are less innovative than those of adults who don't expect rewards.

Anecdotally, I noticed that when I was trying to get published, my intrinsic enjoyment of writing was smothered by the stress of trying to make money from it, and I discarded fun story ideas that excited me in favor of risk-averse "sellable" ones. No more! I'd rather have a day job that pays the bills for the rest of my life than become a Real Author who churns out marketing-department-approved paperbacks.

Unlike those days when I dreaded writing because I feared it was all a waste of time, now I happily write one chapter a week and post on Wattpad on Sundays. I have a handful of regular readers, and I stick to the schedule not just for them, but because the "deadlines" prevent me from becoming too obsessively perfectionist about my work. The project is supposed to be fun, not Nobel Prize worthy.

3. I have too many hobbies.

Writing is the hobby I prioritize first, but I have other casual ones too.

I design and sew clothes.

Pokemon Dress - Front   Pokemon Dress - Back   Pokemon Dress with Cat
A dress made out of an XL boys t-shirt from Goodwill. It still had the tag from the department store on it!

I bake breads and cakes.

Chiffon Cake   Chiffon Strawberry Shortcake
Chiffon cake served with strawberries and whipped topping

I play piano.

I wish I had infinite copies of myself so I could dedicate more time to all of these hobbies. Unfortunately I don't, so I dabble a little in each one every week.

And so time flies by, and I don't necessarily get around to documenting it all. I don't know how the Intagram generation does it. Taking a single photo of myself is a big to-do, and publishing a single blog post like this requires several hours of effort spread over many days. Updating the library's social media accounts at work is torturous enough. Every time I have to log in to Twitter and Facebook to post something informative yet humorous, I think, "Who would do this willingly?!"

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