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    4am walks in the rain

    I haven’t been sleeping real good. Nerves, I guess. We kept my eldest home for much of last school year to attempt home school, but we’re off to 7th grade today and *so anxious*. We’re dealing with anxiety in our house the way that Los Angeles is dealing with a light drizzle, in terms of scale.

    It doesn’t rain much in Northern Nevada, although you may be surprised to hear that I am near enough SoCal in this spot that our rain is from the tropical storm too.

    On the bright side, not sleeping well during such a rainy time period means that I can take walks in the rain, at night. I took a 4am rainy walk just now. The coyotes were out again. They sound like babies the first time they cry, every time.

    Streetlights are on, but they aren’t real bright, and they don’t go down the trails between houses. It’s pretty black down there. You only get the shape of things from ambient light reflected off the clouds. The geometry of tree copses, overgrown ditches, and split rail fence, but not the colors or textures.

    What I enjoyed most about the rain in the dark was the way it paints an audible landscape. It’s sprinkling just a bit, but it’s been going a while, so the gutters are full and everything is dripping. You can tell from the echoes down a drain how wide and deep it is. The patter against roofs can tell you what your neighbor’s corrugated awning is made out of, exactly. The mix of quiet-hiss to drumming-tap communicates how much sand vs concrete you’re walking around. The bushes don’t rustle with lizards when I pass; they’re already hunkered down. There is no movement but mine and the rain.

    Do you ever think about how your tongue knows how everything will taste when you look at it? Look at the wall, look at the carpet, look at the bush outside. Your tongue can imagine the flavor. Can you imagine the flavor and texture if you don’t see it, but you hear the rain bouncing off of it? How many senses do you need? How different is the world when you perceive it in different ways? Can you taste the corrugated plastic composite on that gazebo? Can you taste the plum tree leaves?

    Almost everyone is asleep at 4am, but it’s quiet enough that you can hear everyone who isn’t. A mile away, I could hear the whisper of a car going to the gym. But otherwise it’s empty. Bustling suburbs turned liminal. Nothing but patter-patter and coyote baby cries.

    Except I’m back home now with all the anxiety, the closed air, the litter boxes that need scooping. My hips hurt from the walk. I’m going back to bed.

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    The next few years, the last few years

    I’ve been talking for years about quitting my job as a writer (as in, no longer making career advancement a primary goal) but it’s a hard weird thing to do when you’re self-published and there’s no real line between “I am doing this” and “I am not doing this.”

    I am still doing all the exact same things, after all. I’m just doing them slowly. And that is how you kill your career as an indie author. Get around to organizing one promo a year? Publish one book a year? You are dead in the water after a few years, even when you have a lot of wonderful readers at your back. Just because the bookstores forget about you, and they stop selling your books at all. And readers can only buy all your books once 😉

    The fact I got away with working soooo slowly for so many years before the faucet reached near the end of its financial drip is a blessing, because I’ve had a lot of time to think about this off-ramp and what it means.

    Financially the off-ramp hasn’t been great. I do have a spouse that pays our bills, but we must run a lean ship without additional income from me, and y’all know how precarious reliance on one income is. So we aren’t in a scary place or anything. I have time to reconsider myself, and my life, which y’all have already seen me doing. (remember how i did college last year? lol)

    What “quitting” *actually* means is putting my body’s needs and my family before my job. That is what I wasn’t doing when I was making it a career. Production went first. Everything else went after that. And I think this is the right choice – I haven’t been hospitalized since 2020, and I was running so hard, I kept landing myself in a hospital bed every few months (no exaggeration, long story). I have also gotten addictions under control. So I think this is right.

    But I ask myself, does it make any sense to regard myself as a working writer now? When “work” becomes something I do if it fits conveniently around my meltdowns, my children’s meltdowns, taking care of a chaotic household, recovering my broken body…? Where if all of that happens, I can still just say, “I’m going to think zero thoughts about publishing this week because I feel poopy.” Can I REALLY call that a job?

    I think I kinda can, kinda can’t, but I also think I’ve reached a place where I’m comfortable with it if I’m just like…a stay at home mom. I took a lotta pride in being a Working Writer Supporting My Family and deciding i’m actually a sahm mom (for another decade) with strong art hobbies is weird.

    I actually really like how loose the boundaries are around this. I like how undefinable it is, in a way, because I feel like so much sickness in the world comes from this expectation that humans must be able to fit into various systemic structures, and punishment if you don’t do it. Somehow I am currently in a place where I can evade categorization even by myself and don’t need to be participating in most systems. How did I do that? I barely have to account for myself if I just putter around drawing all the time. lol. God, I judge myself so hard for wanting that as a life. I want to be a cat. I want to just exist and have no idea that schools or jobs are a thing.

    My point wandered a bit. Did I have a point?

    I guess I wanna tell you guys that, all of this aside, I am actually writing a lot right now, and I’m even publishing a story on Kindle Vella under a pseudonym. The only reason I’m not sharing the name yet is because then it might feel like work. If it’s anonymous, and if nobody reads it (nobody is reading it), it’s not work? But I’m not withholding stories, lol, just kind of being all up in my head and weird about it.

    And of course Lincoln 5 is coming (even if it’s getting written in sparse moments of sanity) and I have “Atop the Trees, Beneath the Mountains” coming as this sort of last grand hurrah of a gigundo project that will stand as a monument to the crater of my early 30s.

    But OTHER THAN THAT, I have so totally quit.