”The Cat’s Cradle” Is On Hiatus!

Greetings to my readers!

In June 2011, I ventured online with my brand new author website The Cat’s Cradle on Blogspot. In March 2013, I moved my site and all its contents to WordPress. And now, in June 2021, almost ten years to the day since my first entry, The Cat’s Cradle is going on hiatus.

The last two years I’ve been struggling to keep up with it, to come up with fresh ideas in the face of little to no engagement with my work even as I continued to write. The pandemic only worsened the downward spiral so that I haven’t written anything at all that I didn’t have to. So rather than continue to force myself to churn out sub-par content, I’m going to take a break. I don’t know how long it will be. I don’t think this will be a permanent thing. There may be sporadic updates if my writing picks up again, but the bi-weekly posts are a thing of the past for now.

What will still be active on The Cat’s Cradle?

  • I’m still operating as a freelance editor, the details of which you can find on my Editing Services page.
  • I plan on working through my backlog of Audio Editions, getting those recorded and uploaded. Keep an eye on my Audio Editions page for updates.
  • Any stories or articles I write for other online publications will be posted and linked on my Articles & Publications page.

What else will I be doing?

  • I’m on Twitter @kvclements, so be sure to follow me there for any posts, updates, or other randomness. On Sundays between 3pm-4pm EST I’ve been posting my #weekendreads, which consists of the book I’m reading, the beverage I’m drinking, and the candle I’m burning over the weekend.
  • My ancillary site Second Unit Reviews will still be active, although I only post there when the mood strikes me. So if you are interested in my thoughts and reviews of books, films, television shows, video games, etc, please follow me there!
  • I don’t know how active I will be with writing, considering how little I want anything to do with it at the moment. (Chronic acute stress and depression will do that.) However, I am trying to make my health and well-being a priority so that I can return to a state that will let me return to writing.
  • If I do any writing for things like Camp NaNoWriMo or National Novel Writing Month, that journey will be posted daily during that event on LeNoWriCha (the Legendary Novel Writing Challenge).

Part of me is disappointed in myself for taking this hiatus. It feels a little like a failure to not keep going after so much time and investment. But at the same time… hey, I maintained a regular blog for 10 years! How many folks can say that? Times change, life circumstances change, and, as Gabriela Pereira says in DIY MFA, it’s time for me to “honor my reality.”

Thank you all for reading, and I will see you again when the page turns.

Image by Pexels from Pixabay

 

Prepping For Change

Audio Edition Coming… soon?

 

Image by StockSnap from Pixabay

After working in a public library for 10 years, I’m faced with the stark reality that I will have to leave. And soon. I don’t want to uproot myself like this because I am very dedicated to my job that the community I serve. But unless something drastic happens, like a major pay raise or hitting the lottery, I’ll have no choice.

I’ve been fortunate. By living with my family, I’ve been able to live on a wage below what I would need to survive on my own for several years. But my brothers are starting to seek out new opportunities elsewhere, and I do not have the physical or financial capability to take care of our house by myself. Soon we’ll have to sell it and I will have to find a new place. Renting an apartment is out; not only are they ridiculously expensive, but there is no place that will allow me to have five cats. Buying a house is a remote possibility, but the places that are the right size to me tend to be in the 1950s-style, and those are so old that they would require maintenance that I have not the time, knowledge, or money to complete.

What I hope to do is purchase a small piece of land (1-2 acres) and build a small house on it (around 1200 square feet). It doesn’t seem like much, and yet I don’t know if I’ll be able to realize that dream, or maintain it if I do somehow scrape up enough pennies for it. I don’t plan on ever having a significant other who could help with bills, and my introverted nature makes a roommate an intolerable proposition. But when you try to get a credit card approved to try to build credit so you’ll be ready to take out a loan but are denied because you make too little… getting to that point is a major problem. And when you are constantly battling yourself because of depression, obesity, and a deep sense of self-loathing because you haven’t done anything creative in two years… well, it’s even harder.

Some days I’ve hopeful, doing research on building options to see how much money I need, laying out blueprints and designs for what I want. Other days I am nearly crippled with the overwhelming sense that all of this is hopeless and I’ll never be able to finance this, not without utterly sacrificing my mental and physical well-being (not to mention any notion of free time) by taking on two or three jobs.

On top of all of this, I haven’t been writing. I just feel utterly exhausted by everything and yet simultaneously feel like I have no right to feel that way. I’m not special. People change jobs all the time. There’s no reason why my life would be any different, that I wouldn’t have to struggle to make ends meet like so many other Americans, that I’d be earning below the living wage for my state in a field that is considered essential to the average person but is always first on the chopping block when it comes to budget cuts.

Sorry this is such a downer, but I haven’t felt very optimistic lately. Things might turn around unexpectedly, but the current trajectory is not encouraging.


Just a reminder that The Cat’s Cradle will be going on hiatus soon! June 28, 2021 will be my last entry for a while, and I’ll lay out what to expect going forward there. See you in 2 weeks.

Erased

Audio Editing Coming… Soon?

I want to state right up front that the story I’m about to share does not compare to the erasure that many people, especially minorities, feel due to the lack of representation, be it in media, politics, career paths, etc. This is a small sliver that gets me a little closer to understanding how that feels, but is not comparable in terms of the systemic harm and degradation far too many other people face.

If any of you have been reading the last few blog entries, you’ll know that during the Covid-19 pandemic I’ve felt very gaslit by the majority of my family whom I live with. It felt like I was the only one taking the pandemic and the recommended precautions seriously, that all of my concerns were hand-waved away, and while they would comment on my increasing distress and depression, no real steps were actually made to ease that state of affairs. This has led to a great deal of strain and a has taken a severe toll on my mental health.

Continue reading “Erased”

Glimmers

Sorry for the long silence on The Cat’s Cradle. It’s been really hard to do anything even remotely creative and the months of February and March are both long and tedious. Winter draws fitfully to a close while Spring teases and flirts with us, giving tantalizing glimpses of warmth and sunlight.

I’ve been on new antidepressants for about two weeks now. So far no major side effects aside from a little nausea the first few days. But in those two weeks it’s been warm enough for me to take some limited walks, and I’ve actually managed to establish a morning routine. It doesn’t include writing yet, but it’s still a step in the right direction. Provided this horrific ritual of Daylight Savings Time doesn’t blow it all to hell, which it felt like today. (My internal clock and circadian rhythm are very sensitive to time changes and DST messes me up for at least a week, whether it’s “adding” and hour or “taking” one away.) Seriously, this is the dumbest, most useless ritual ever that does no good and a great deal of harm… SO WHY ARE WE STILL DOING IT?! (Fortunately, there seems to be increasing support to make DST permanent so we wouldn’t have to change our clocks back in the fall and then forward again in the spring.)

So, routine. I kind of have one, at least for the morning. I’m actually getting out of bed rather than collapsing back into it after feeding the cats. I’m getting basic chores done a little more regularly, although most of those hadn’t slipped too badly thanks to my reliance on listening to podcasts, YouTube videos, and audiobooks to get through the day. I’ve been reading at least one book a week, usually two, and established a nice Sunday tradition of Tea Time with a Candle, Beverage, and Book, which you can see on my Twitter feed if you’re interested. Sundays are my super-chillax day, so nothing gets done and I do my best not to feel guilty about it and remind myself that self-care is not selfish.

While I haven’t been able to bring myself to watch new movies or TV shows (even ones that I do want to see), I have been playing through Diablo III: Reaper of Souls as the female Monk. (I’ve already beaten it as the female Wizard, but after seeing the trailer for Diablo II: Resurrected, in addition to the announcement of Diablo IV, I really wanted to play.) There’s something very therapeutic and cathartic about punching demons to death with your fists.

Part of me desperately wants to be writing right now, but a far larger part of me is either too scared or too depressed to make the attempt. I’ll still try to poke at projects and do a little work on things, but it’s sporadic and probably will be for a while. I don’t like it, but that is my current reality and it will take small, cumulative changes and improvements to become creative and productive again.

Almost 12 Months Into COVID-19

Audio Edition Coming Soon!

Photo by Yaroslav Danylchenko from Pexels

In mid-February 2020, the community room at the library was festooned in red and yellow for our Chinese New Year event. There were crafts like paper lanterns and koi kites, games like Majong and Chinese checkers, traditional lunar new year treats like sunflower seeds and dates. There was even a calligraphy set for the kids to practice with. It was one of our biggest and most successful library events, and the first of many fun activities we had planned.

I had no idea it would be our last in-person library event for over a year.

Continue reading “Almost 12 Months Into COVID-19”

Broken Record

Click HERE for the Audio Edition!

As Winter Storm Orlena sweeps through the northwest, I am comfortably ensconced in my library, watching the snow come down, with a stack of books from the James Asher series by Barbara Hambly beside me.

Since my last post, I have gotten even less done than the little I had managed to do before. Each week my living quarters dissolves into a chaos of dirty clothes and scattered papers. I spend the weekend putting myself back together only to repeat the process next week. This weekend in particular I spent mostly sleeping and haven’t even managed to get those basic tasks done. I feel like each week I need an additional week to recover, and I’m not sure how to break out of this insidious cycle.

Continue reading “Broken Record”

Derailed & Despondent But Not Deterred

Click HERE for the Audio Edition!

Image by Pete Linforth from Pixabay

Soooo…. remember my post “Making Things Happen” from two weeks ago? Yeah, I’ve already been derailed. Kind of. I’ve been working on the Faylinn organization and upload to World Anvil, although it hasn’t been as regular. I’ve been lifting my weights, although that too has not been regular.

But honestly, right now, I’m an emotional wreck.

Continue reading “Derailed & Despondent But Not Deterred”

Writing During Covid-19

Audio Edition Coming Soon!

 

I thought I could do it.

And for about nine days I did. Consistently.

But then the fatigue set in and the stress from external pressures began to mount and so here I am, in the final week of National Novel Writing Month, 8000+ words behind where I should be. A few times the writing has been fun or enjoyable, but mostly its been a slog and I’ve used scraps of “author laments” to pad out the word count enough so that I am updating my word count every day, even if I don’t reach the goal.

Why has this been so hard?

Continue reading “Writing During Covid-19”

Book Balls, Fan Fiction, & Other Endeavors

Audio Edition Coming Soon!

Today is the last day of my vacation. Yes, I took a vacation because the low-level but persistent stress of 2020 gets tough to deal with, and fortunately, I’m in a position to actually have and use some of that accrued time.

I kicked off my vacation with the #FCPLBookBall, a virtual library fundraiser where you make a monetary donation to the library to “attend” and then just sit and read all day. It was, in a word, glorious. I highly recommend curling up someplace quiet and comfy with one of those “10 hours of ocean waves” tracks from YouTube running in the background. Since I can’t go to the beach this year, this was the closest equivalent, and it actually worked very well:

Books, pillows, tea, candle, cat, soothing ocean waves in the background… Time to settle in for the #FCPLBookBall! ^_^ #bookworm #amreading #ILikeToParty #AndByPartyIMeanReadBooks (2020-08-15 @kvclements)

I’m going to have to try to do something like this once a month or something, a dedicated “Read & Relaxation” day. It worked wonders to help calm and recenter myself. (Also, Saturday August 22nd was the Ray Bradbury Centennial, and there’s a Read-a-Thon of Fahrenheit 451 available to stream until September 5th if you want to check it out!)

Continue reading “Book Balls, Fan Fiction, & Other Endeavors”

Should The Cat’s Cradle Continue?

Audio Edition Coming Soon!

I wish good habits were as easy to form as bad habits. I’m really good at the latter, but terrible at the former. I didn’t write any Cat’s Cradle entries for a month, and I managed to miss the day that I was supposed to start writing them again (yesterday).

I am seriously wondering if I should even bother.

The Cat’s Cradle has been running for over nine years. June 2021 will mark the 10th anniversary. Since I like nice, round numbers, I want to keep writing entries at least until then. But I’ve been struggling for ideas and content. I feel like everything that can be said about writing, any topic I might try to tackle, has already been covered by people who are far more influential and articulate than myself. I don’t feel like I have anything new to add to the conversation. I avoid a lot of controversial topics in fiction because A) many I don’t have strong enough opinions on, B) I don’t have to knowledge to give an informed opinion, C) I don’t want to write about touchy subjects for clicks, and D) I just don’t want the hassle. And since I haven’t worked on my own novels in… well, longer than I care to think about, there isn’t anything to report on those fronts.

And does anyone really care anyway?

After nine years, this blog has little to no engagement on it. A few likes here and there, but almost no comments, shares, or anything else to show reader interest. I can’t tell if anyone is actually reading or getting anything out of it or if, like so many others, I’m just shouting into the void of the internet. The people who know me are understandably busy with their own lives and have little to no time to read these ramblings of mine. And the people who don’t know me have no real reason to care what I’m writing about.

The purpose of The Cat’s Cradle was to be a author platform, a home base to showcase my writing, my reliability, and to host things about my work once I got published. But the more I learn about the publishing process, the more daunting it becomes and the more discouraged I feel. Do I really want to go through the hassle of finding and convincing an agent to take me on and get my work published? If all I want is a physical book of my work, I could go to a private book printer or self publisher and get one made for me. The chances of making a living as a writer are slim to none, and I don’t know if I have the passion and drive to push through all of those obstacles. I don’t know if the stress is worth it with such fierce competition and in such a dismal economy.

And yet at the same time, I also see some real drivel on the shelves, which makes me think, “If this piece of puerile pap made it through traditional publishing, why can’t I do the same?”

But I’m not sure why I’m writing anymore. It isn’t regular enough to be a habit, I make no money from it, and there is a severe dearth of joy in it. I don’t know if that’s just a result of the near-constant low level of stress dogging my heels, or if depression is rearing its ugly head again… or if I’m just being lazy because it’s easier to dream about being a writer than actually writing. Or maybe it’s just the chronic stress piling up. (I may be an introvert, but the restrictions of the pandemic are getting to me too.)

I’m sorry if this sounds discouraging. Believe me, I feel pretty discouraged myself. I’ve been calling myself a writer for years and a writer writes, don’t they? This is a huge part of my sense of self, my identity if you will. And I don’t have much to show for it. Aside from blog entries, I haven’t done much of that in a while. Maybe I just need to force myself back into a habit and that will get everything working properly again. I want to create things… I just don’t know if I want to go through the publishing process. The end result may not be worth the stress.

The good thing about writing is that there isn’t a time limit. It’s not like sports or dancing where you have a narrow window of physical and mental prime and once that’s passed, you’re pretty much done. Writing (and publishing) can be done at any age; there isn’t some “point of no return” where if you haven’t published by this time, you’ never will be. But I need to sit down and ask myself some hard questions:

  • Why am I writing?
  • What is the end goal or purpose and how would I know if I reached it (or didn’t)?
  • Should I keep pouring time and energy into a blog that no one reads?
  • How much effort should I dedicate to the publishing part of things at this point?
  • Do I even want to be published?
  • Do I even want to write?
  • Can I still be a writer if I barely write?
  • Is this just a temporary funk or a genuine shift in priorities?

In the meantime, if you do read this blog, please let me know that you do in the comments, what types of topics you prefer to read about, anything to give me an idea if it’s worth continuing this venture. I will keep going until June 2021, but then I will need to decide if The Cat’s Cradle should continue… or be retired.