Ashe Elton Parker

A Writer of LGBTQ+ Characters in Speculative Fiction

Busy Few Days

I’d like to offer my apologies for not posting anything except this apology today. I’ve had a busy and sometimes exhausting few days and I wasn’t able to get a chance to write my blog post.

Housing Recertification

I live in government subsidized housing, and could literally not afford to live in almost any other apartment. My building is in the Mod Rehab program of my city’s Housing Authority. I’m not exactly sure just what “mod rehab” means, aside from the fact that the owner of the building has to keep the building up to certain standards in order for it to remain under contract with the Housing Authority.

This is not the first time I’ve lived in this building. I moved into my current apartment here sometime I think in July or August of 2014. So that I may continue living here, my apartment must undergo an inspection and recertification process each year. The current caseworker who manages the paperwork for my building and its tenants at the Housing Authority is a woman who keeps up with things very well.

Jasmin had me in for my actual recertification appointment last week, on, I think, the 7th. For this, I had to take in some verification of income paperwork. This basically meant I had to take in a letter from the VA stating my income through them, as Jasmin can access my Social Security income statement on her own.

The next step is for my apartment to be inspected. My inspection is slated to happen next Tuesday, from 09:00-13:00. Basically, an inspector who is certified with the Housing Authority will show up and test my appliances for functionality, ensure the smoke detector still operates, and will ensure I’m keeping my apartment tidy enough it doesn’t contain any health or safety hazards. It won’t be any trouble for me to pass this inspection.

Once the inspection is complete, Jasmin will to through all the paper work and the inspection’s results and adjust my income. Then, the month before my move-in anniversary, she’ll send me my rent adjustment. After that, I’ll be able to live here for another year.

Dungeons & Dragons

Years ago, back in the 90’s, when I lived in North Carolina before the Navy, I played D&D* with a bunch of friends I’d met through Star Trek fandom. This required me getting a ride out to my friends’ home, and sometimes me spending the night. I don’t recall much about those games, but I do recall the fun I had with my friends. This all ended for me when I made an unwelcome comment I don’t recall about how they were raising their child.

Ever since then, I’ve wanted to get involved in D&D again. Oh, I’ve been gaming for about ten years now, but in the Vampires: The Masquerade system. I have no idea who publishes it; all I do know is that the GM** for that has been struggling for a while now with coming up ideas for us to play. We—my current longtime gaming group—have also had a taste of the Rifts role gaming system, but the GM for that flaked out on us within a few months and hasn’t been back. Honestly, none of us really care if we ever see him again. Our old Vampires GM does want to GM the Rifts system for us though, but it requires multiple books, and he, like the rest of us, has little extra money, and he has to use most of it on things that are more immediate to his needs.

So, when Oasis Games bought the building where Utah Pride Center used to be on 4th South, I started getting interested in D&D again. A demo game by one of the employees of the store only whetted my appetite. Enough so that I conceived the idea of DMing* for my longtime gaming group. This was back in December. I got the Player’s Handbook back in December, and by January had the Monster Manual and Dungeon Master’s Guide.

As a result, for the past few months I’ve been making slow progress with writing up plans and such for the first adventure I’m leading my gaming group on. It’s been fun, though I have to admit that I wouldn’t have wanted to do this if 5th Edition hadn’t come out.

I’ve also gotten into another D&D group where I can regularly run a character. That’s been a lot of fun, and I’m stealing DMing ideas I like from the person who’s DMing it with his position. I’ve got to get to Oasis Games some day when the employee who DMed the demo game to get ideas from him. There are some questions about different aspects that I have to ask him—and, actually, another person who I know GMs a Star Wars role game for his friends.

So excited about all this. It’s going to be such fun!

*Dungeons & Dragons
**Game Master – Used as a general term for someone who directs the role game when the official title is unknown.
***Dungeon Master(ing) – The title of the person who directs a D&D game.

One Week In

Well, I’m one week into my new writing habit, and I’d have to say it’s gone fairly well. Not perfect, but not too badly either. I’ve done something with my writing almost every day over the past week, and I’m pretty pleased about that. The only day I think I missed was Thursday, and that was because I was so completely exhausted that I just couldn’t focus on anything by the time I got around to working on my writing.

So, over the past week, I’ve looked at the last few chapters of Unwritten Letters, hunted out the sketchy “outline” I made for the last few scenes, and have determined (yet again) I need more because the leaps between the scenes are too great. Since Wednesday, I’ve been backbraining what I need to fill in the gaps. In the meantime, I’ve edited a chapter of DH02 to to up on Wattpad later, posted DH02CH17 on Wattpad, and worked on some side stuff for the D&D campaign I’m running a character in with my pride center friends.

Unfortunately, due to the appointments I’ve had the past week, and all the other stuff going on, I haven’t been able to work much on my own D&D campaign for my long-time gaming friends. I hope to get that done a bit this week. There’s maybe half the dungeon they’ll be going through to finish, and right now I’m going through the Monster Manual page by page to add some variety to their adventure.

This week, I plan on getting at least 2 plot cards on UL, working at least 3 days on my D&D campaign for my friends, and writing out a “letter” about the most recent adventure my character had in Kit’s D&D campaign (pride friends). I’d also like to read a little more of the Monster Manual. On Monday, I have an appointment, and I’ve got my volunteer shift on Tuesday, a Housing recertification appointment on and then meeting a friend to play Magic: The Gathering on Weds, with quilting on Thurs. I’m supposed to fit crocheting in there somewhere. I’ve sort of taken up the duty of coordinating D&D with my pride center friends, so I’ve got to finish coordinating with them for our gaming session that’s supposed to happen next week. And I’m going to try to fit some crocheting time in there somewhere; probably at my volunteer shift.

In case you were wondering, one of my goals with this weekly posting is to make myself accountable. Even if nobody reads this, I’m hoping that posting my weekly writing goals and my progress with my writing will help keep me focused on the writing goals. I’m doing this because I’ve noticed that I tend to focus better if I’m accountable, and I think that even though this is something I’m doing on my own, knowing I must post here will help me become more disciplined with my writing. the main reason why I’m including mention of other things is because I want to show, in a loose fashion, what other things I have as goals. But, really, any appointments I have, my volunteer shift, and my writing are my priorities.

Making Myself Do This

There is a reason behind my silence here on the site when I’ve been active elsewhere online. I’ve been avoiding writing posts for the blog here. No real excuse, but I figured out the reason recently. When I realized how I was actively avoiding doing any writing at all—both fiction and for the site—I started examining my feelings on all of it. And I realized I’m afraid of success with my writing.

I think I’ve always carried this fear with me. Looking back, I can remember my early writing days, back in the 90’s. I wrote very few short stories, even though I was aware of markets for them at the time. At least a couple of magazines, and one regularly published anthology series I could have submitted to more than the one time I actually gathered the courage to do so. I got a rejection on that one story from the anthology . . . and didn’t send anything else out. Never bothered reworking the story to send out to any of the other markets I was aware of either. I don’t recall being upset about the rejection, but I never found the courage to send the story out again. Looking back at that time, I’ve realized that could-have-been-a-success frightened me a little. My writing career was almost real. And I shied away from doing anything more with my writing.

Since then, I’ve never really moved beyond that fear. I shelved my writing to go to Colorado and ended up in the Navy and didn’t begin writing again until I returned to North Carolina after my discharge, and I was there less than a year before ending up out here in Utah, living with a very kind couple who took me in when they realized I’d be homeless in Colorado if they didn’t. I’ve fiddled with my stories for years, on several different computers, taken my writing out to other places like coffee shops and the library, suffered through a year of hell writing a genre I grew to detest until I was so emotionally and spiritually broken by it that I had to shelve my writing again, started story after story, and began the building of over an alphabet’s worth of worlds.

And through it all, I made excuses for myself so I wouldn’t succeed at my writing. My biggest one was how I’d kill my career before the first book was even published by having a depressive episode when I was supposed to be working on edits. And then Indie Publishing came along. Suddenly, my old excuse was no longer viable. It put me on the spot. So, instead of writing, I stopped. Instead of developing a good writing habit to take the place of my habit of writing when inspired, I let writing fall by the wayside.

I made it my goal to get a paying job and started doing what I needed to in order to prepare myself for getting one. The past few months, since December, I’ve added hobbies to my repertoire to fill my copious amount of free time. I’ve expanded my social contacts as well at the same time. All because I’m afraid to succeed with writing.

This is something I need to deal with in therapy. I can’t figure out what about succeeding with writing frightens me on my own. But I have figured out some things I can do to combat it, and I’ll be asking my therapist for more advice. I’m making it my goal to post something here every Tuesday from now on, even if it’s just a bunch of nonsense—I just can’t let myself worry about how it’ll be accepted as I have been, as a way to talk myself out of writing posts. Another thing I’m doing is scheduling writing time every day as well; I will work on my writing every day. This may mean I actually make progress on my fiction, or I may write a blog post; it doesn’t matter. Something writing-related will get done, even if all I do is stare at the next chapter’s header or read notes and background info over and over. I will do something with my writing.

So this is the first post of my new writing habit. It was supposed to be written Sunday, but I was exhausted and zoney and had no mind on Sunday, so I’m writing it Monday. It will post at 06:00 Tuesday the 24th. Next week, something else will go up on Tuesday morning, even if it’s only a line of nonsense. I’m making myself do this, no matter what, because I can’t let myself not succeed with writing. Being a professional writer of fiction has been my dream for too long to give up on it now.

Note to Self

The depression I was in a week or so ago seems to have lifted, for the most part. I keep telling myself that my writing will come back, when it wasn’t really with me throughout most of last year and the only time it really flowed well was in November—until I got sick of it and gave up. Yeah, I’m owning that. I gave up. Even though I could have pushed on through and made it to 50k—I had plenty of time to hit it—I just threw in the towel because I was sick of my story. Don’t even know what about it I was sick of any more. Maybe just the act of writing daily. No idea.

Anyway, I’m giving it another try. I started off this month with a bang—five scenes on one new project. Five scenes that go absolutely nowhere. I wrote a sixth scene, and that’s it so far. Torn between reverse outlining and trying to get more plot cards on it and just giving up on that one for now since I don’t even know what the fricking story is. I know it’s a mystery. What’s the mystery? No bloody idea. But I like, for the most part, what I have. As always when I pants things, conflicts and stuff I don’t even know about beforehand have been popping up in the scenes I’ve been writing. Go me?

So, on the 4th, I wrote 610 words on UL. Can’t say just how much I dreaded doing so, but I did it. Also can’t say as I precisely enjoyed the process of writing. I did, however, like what I’d written immediately after finishing it. That’s something that hasn’t happened in so long, I’ve forgotten the last time it did. It’s my goal to write at least 500 words a day on this sucker until it’s done.

To be honest, I miss the inspiration-driven writing days. I think, though, I’ve been sliding away from those days for at least a couple years. Having the epiphany that my writing was inspiration-driven was just the final knife in the back so to speak. It was also, I think, an absolutely necessary realization for me to make, because without it, I’d never have seen the way to fix my writing habit. So what I’ve got now is the knowledge of what the problem is and the way to fix that problem. All I need is to inject the discipline into the whole thing, and that is what I’ve had difficulty with, even without a creativity-killing depressive phase. I mean, I wrote the first four days of January, just at the beginning of that depressive swing, didn’t I? A little discipline, and I’d have written every day of January, and finished Unwritten Letters in the process!

I’m really writing this blog post in an effort to be blunt with myself. The fact is, I like to lie to myself about my writing habit, and I’ve gotten away with it because my writing friends I hang out with most have been very accommodating about my excuses. And that’s all I’ve been doing. Making up excuses not to write. This blog post is my command to myself to get to work. I have way too many stories to write for me to dally any longer. Too many incomplete stories to be finished.

So, Ashe, stop making excuses, and get to work.

Depression and Writer’s Block

In a way, I don’t know where the past few weeks have gone, though I can tell you what I was doing for most of them since my last post here. The essential thing is that I’ve been in a depressive funk and struggling to do pretty much everything from rising every day to writing on anything to indulging in hobby activities like crocheting. I’m not out of the pit yet either.

What I’ve been doing is getting out of the house a lot. Between Christmas and the beginning of last week (the 7th). Most of the time, I’ve either been going to the offices where the Utah Pride Center moved their therapy services, or, even more often, to Oasis Games, which bought the pride center’s old building and fixed up the first floor. I’ve been going there mainly to read Dungeons and Dragons books; I finished reading the Player’s Handbook and have been making slow progress on reading the Dungeon Masters Guide since about the first week of January.

I’ve also been continuing crocheting. My primary project is now complete, and I’ll be giving it to my friend who I decided to give it to soon if I get an opportunity. To be honest, I’ve done most of the work on it at the pride center’s therapy offices.

But even with those things, I’ve been in a depressive funk. The main reason is because I received a decision from the VA on my Compensation claim. I’m not sure if I mentioned it last year, but I started the claim in order to try and connect my bipolar disorder to my Naval service. Well, they didn’t even bother opening a case; they simply denied it without investigating. I’m fairly certain that is what threw me into this depressive funk.

It’s still with me. And, unfortunately, it’s not a state of mind I’ve been able to simply write through. I’ve tried. The first 4 days of this month, I wrote at least 500 words a day. Managed to complete, I think, 2 scenes on Unwritten Letters. But I didn’t feel like writing. Even with plot cards, I had trouble grasping the ideas. I felt no joy in getting the words down. Even though the quality was up to my standards, I hated what I’d written because I’d written the words when I felt bad. Gah, talking about it is dragging me down again. Enough.

Anyway, I haven’t touched my writing to do more than read stuff since then. Most days, I haven’t even been able to read my writing. I will not go into detail about how that makes me feel—it’s even more depressing than my description of writing, and I really don’t want to get as bad as I was last weekend over it all.

So, I foolishly thought writer’s block was a myth. That people who had it were undisciplined and lacked initiative in their writing. Well, since September or October, I’ve seen what it’s like to be undisciplined and lack initiative. And now I’ve been treated to my own grand case of writer’s block thanks to this depression.

Let me go over this again, to make it clear. Reading my writing depresses me, primarily because I see all its potential and am not actively capitalizing on it. Writing on anything depresses me any more because it’s not THERE—the ideas are vague, no matter how well-prepared I am for writing, and I hate the act of writing, and having done so makes me feel horrible because I didn’t enjoy doing so and I think I should. So it’s easier to just not write. I’ve gotten to the point where I dread writing, and I figure when it’s that bad, there’s no point in torturing myself.

Oh, I won’t be this way forever. I have faith in that. Maybe I’ll tuck myself into the inpatient mental ward at the VA, maybe I won’t. Either way, I’ll get by and this depression will pass. It’s already started to lift—a little—the past few days. I have a good long-distance friend I can chat about this with, and if that doesn’t help, I can always call the Veterans Crisis Line, and I’ve already notified my mental health care team about where I stand emotionally. All I need to do is stick it out long enough for the clouds to pass, and I’ve done that before and know I can do it again. In the meantime, I’m getting out, cuddling with my cat, and doing what I can to distract myself from my depression so I don’t do something stupid.

A Few Odds and Ends

I’m still struggling with depression and the lack of desire to write, but my overall mood is better. Instead of being depressed periodically throughout the day, the past few days the depression has faded for good once I’ve gotten out of bed. Really, getting out of bed is the hardest part of the day for me, and it’s even more difficult in the winter. I think getting plenty of sleep is important, and I tend to need a lot of sleep, especially in the winter, when my sleep tends to be more akin to hibernation than simply sleeping. In point of fact, I went to bed at six last night, was asleep by seven, and after two or three brief periods of wakefulness that ended by ten, slept through until just after four this morning. I managed to doze for about another 45 mins or so, then laid awake (with my eyes closed) until about 05:40, when I finally got up. It’s only when I get this much sleep that I find it easy to rise.

The past few days since my last post have been pretty good for the most part. Of course, it’s difficult for me to say a day has been bad, because I can usually find something good in every day, and that tends to leaven any ill feelings I could have had about it. I think Sunday was the best of the past few days, though. I got to spend a lot of money on “frivolous” items.

What were those items? They were books and stuff related to Dungeons and Dragons gaming. For me, spending anything over $100.00 is “a lot” and I spent around $117.00 on this stuff. Only about $48.00 came out of pocket, thanks to gift cards from Mom and my sister, Erin. I’m still having mixed feelings about DMing, but am also still more excited over the idea. It’s going to be a fun challenge to come up with stuff for my players to do. According to the Goodreads site, I’m 68% through the Player’s Handbook, which I’ve continued taking to Oasis Games to read.

I’ve also been working on setting up a Bullet Journal for next year. The link will show you the basics if you’re interested. For myself, I’ve got some different things I like adding, such as monthly budgets and weekly goals lists, but the system is flexible enough to permit such things. I’m hoping that with my new schedule, this will help me have a more structured, and thus more productive, lifestyle. Of course, none of this is written in stone—if I get an opportunity to hang out with a friend or something, I’ll go do that, but I’ll also try to be productive when I do so. The main challenge to making progress on the setup of my bullet journal has been Hendrix’s periodic visits to my desk. If I have writing utensils laying about, he’ll try to play with them, and if the journal’s open on my desk, he’ll try playing with its wire binding or eating the pages. LOL

One of the things I’m planning on changing this year is somehow acknowledging holidays and birthdays for my family. I don’t really keep mementos such as cards people send to me, so I don’t really “get” keeping such things. However, I do understand that people do keep such things as mementos, so I’m going to try to conform a little bit and send holiday and birthday cards to at least my sister and her family and my mother. To my surprise, I’m actually looking forward to doing this.

It’s going on 06:30, and I’m hungry, so signing off for now. I may write another post before New Year’s, but am making no promises.

Remiss

I have been horribly remiss in keeping up with posts, and I apologize. There will be no promises that I will do so from now on; I’m not going to promise something that may not happen. Suffice it to say that the rough period that I’m dealing with right now isn’t over.

This rough period began back in October. I’ll be honest here and admit I struggled through November. Even though I did participate in Nano, and I did find the writing somewhat easier than I expected, it was a chore to write each day, and I experienced several days throughout the month when I didn’t write at all. About a week or so toward the end of the month, I threw in the towel. In part because I’m near the end of the wip I was working on for November, which always is a struggle to write, because I don’t want the story to end, even if there’s a sequel. The rest was just emotional exhaustion. To be vulgar, I simply had no fucks to give by that point. Since it had been such a struggle to write on fiction, it was even more difficult to keep up with blog posts, which takes more out of me, even if my post is relatively short.

December has been no different. I’ve written a little, but nowhere near as much as I wanted. I was hoping my creative mind would “switch on” sometime around the 15th, but that didn’t happen. And, to be honest, I don’t really care. I still don’t have any fucks to give about writing. To be honest, this blog post is the most I’ve cared about any writing all month.

Instead of writing, I’ve been doing other things. I spent most of the month making my mom’s Christmas gift—a bunch of wash cloths—in crochet sessions with a new friend whom I helped teach how to crochet. The Pride Center is officially closed, aside from a therapy office in another building they’re renting the space from while their new building is being renovated, and the games store that bought the old building has opened up in the ground floor. Katie went in to check things out and as a result, I joined her and her husband for a D&D demo game DMed by one of the store’s employees. Oasis Games sells board games and a variety of role games and things like miniatures that go to the role games. They’ve installed a cafe and also sell other items related to games and gaming, including Funko Pop figures, dice, and Magic: The Gathering cards.

That visit to Oasis Games with Katie has inspired a new interest in D&D. I purchased a Player’s Handbook with part of the money from a gift card my sister sent me for my birthday. That demo game kicked ideas into my head—ideas I need to be a Dungeon Master in order to execute, so I’ve brought up a suggestion to my Vampires gaming friends that I DM D&D for them, and they’re tentatively enthusiastic about the offer. I just need to get the Dungeon Master’s Guide and the Monster Manual. In the meantime, I’ve been reading the Player’s Handbook from cover to cover, usually in reading sessions with the bottomless cup of tea Oasis Games offers. I’ve got some notes, a number of prize items, and I need to draw up a map for the first quest my gaming friends are going to take their characters through. To be honest, I have mixed feelings about DMing, but most of them are positive, and I’m feeling excited to do it. Even just a year ago, this is something I wouldn’t have considered doing.

Another thing I’m trying to do is schedule my days. Thinking it would be quite easy to switch my sleeping habits around, I originally scheduled myself a rising time of six in the morning. Mornings like this are flukes for the most part—though I did put myself to bed last night, I didn’t actually sleep all that much; overactive mind. So, in paying attention to my natural sleep habits, I decided to rework my schedule for a ten AM rise. Much as I like being up early in the morning, it just doesn’t happen with any regularity, and the fact is, I tend to get to sleep more quickly if I go to bed later, so even on nights when I got to bed around ten PM, I was still getting up at around ten the next morning because I simply didn’t fall asleep until one or two AM. I don’t understand it either; this is just the way my mind works with regards to sleep, and I’ve decided I’ve got to learn to live with it because trying to twist it around into something it wasn’t and couldn’t be was only stressing me out.

I’m glad about a few things, though. The D&D thing, for one. And I’m crocheting more. It’s been nice to wield a hook again, and I’ve even made a bit of progress on my monster bedspread afghan. Currently, my “portable” project is an afghan that’s been languishing to be finished that I’m going to give to a friend in return to all the kindness and patience they’ve bestowed upon me. I’m looking forward to giving it to them and am sure they’ll appreciate it.

So I’m dealing with my lack of interest in writing in constructive ways that are taking me out of the house more frequently, which is another reason why I’m not upset about not caring about writing. And I think all these things are signs of an improvement in my mental health state, which I’m sure everyone will agree is a good thing. The rough period may not be over, but at least I’m dealing with it in healthy ways—another improvement in my mental health state. And, to be honest, I’d rather have that improvement than a regular writing habit, mainly because I can teach myself to have the latter, but the good mental health status comes only with time, the correct medication regimen, and a lot of effort in therapy.

Turning on the Faucet

I’ve decided to apply Louis L’Amour’s philosophy to my writing from now on:

Start Writing, no matter what. The water does not flow until the faucet is turned on.

Why am I doing this? Mainly because I realized earlier this month that I’ve been functioning, with my writing, on a basis where I wait for inspiration. This has not been working well for me. Even with realizing myself beyond being a writer, I’ve been most displeased with my lack of actual writing. So, I’m employing L’Amour’s philosophy. And I think it’s already working.

Remember how I said sometime at the beginning of the year (or last December sometime? I forget precisely when) that I was going to take my writing more seriously? Well, I haven’t exactly done that this year. I’m actually quite fed up with myself, though I don’t think I’d realize where I stand if I hadn’t had the epiphany about dealing with my writing on an inspirational basis. I needed to have the conscious realization what I was doing in order to be able to really be willing to buckle down and move my writing into a more professional habit.

What led me to this realization? A video called How to be Creative: How an Artist Turns Pro. I came across it on a publishing news aggregate website I visit on occasion, and it hit me like a brick. At first, I didn’t want to believe it, because it shocked me so much. Part of me resisted the idea that writing is nothing more than disciplined exercise of my skill. But as I thought about it, I came to accept that I was not a professional writer, as this video explains it; I’m still very much an amateur, or a hobbyist. And I didn’t like that.

This epiphany got me looking for methods of making writing into a daily habit. One thing a friend of mine suggested that I’m working on putting into practice is doing a freewrite session every day. She suggested 100 words, but I decided to do it for 5 minutes instead. Each day I’ve freewritten, I’ve tried to spend some time at least working on my writing for a while—at least an hour. The past few days, I haven’t had any specific goal aside from the time I’ve spent on my writing activities; I’ve decided that anything writing-related, whether it be editing, taking notes, brainstorming—anything is considered “writing” for the purposes of this goal.

And I decided that I’d use National Novel Writing Month to get into the habit of writing daily. Because of this, I’ve selected an incomplete WIP to work on for Nano: Unwritten Letters. My base daily wordcount goal is going to be 500 words a day. If I feel like doing more, I’m going to allow myself to, but I’m not going to force it, no matter how much I may be wanting to make the month’s 50k goal. You can find my Stats here, and my Novel Information here.

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