Brain Tumor · Writing & Freelance

The Memoir is on Pause

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I hit the the 50,000 word threshold on the memoir last week, and then I put the manuscript away. It’s very nearly ready to hand off to Dan for structuring feedback. However, there are a few reasons I’m waiting:

  • My postcard writing for the Midterm Election has been moved to the front burner. (I’ve written nearly 240 to date with address to write at least 100 more.)
  • I’m not “feeling it” at the moment, and pushing forward before I’m ready will only result in wasted effort. (Ask me how I know.)
  • I want to print the manuscript, because I need a tangible thing to craft at this stage. But my printer’s out of ink, and it’ll cost about $25 to print the current MS at Staples or Kinko’s. So, next paycheck.

While the memoir is on hold, I’m working at making videos for my YouTube channel.

Sometimes I can’t tell if things are genuinely hard (and would be for anyone) or if my brain is slower because of the cancer and treatment. For example, it took me three long, crank-filled days to figure out why my phone kept forcing videos to record in portrait mode instead of landscape.

Anyway, if you’re interested in looking at the progression of my work, watch my videos on coloring and Zentangling. They’re going to get better, I promise!

Activism · Birds · House and Home · Medical Cannabis · Writing & Freelance

Let Me Introduce You to My Workspace

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This is a picture of the end table next to me right now. It’s a little chaotic, I’ll admit. It’s maybe not how I’d keep things if I were perfectly healthy. But maybe it is. I don’t really know. I’m not the most organized person in the world. Anyway, this is the current state of things.

  1. Mountain Dew goes really well with weed. (See #6.)
  2. My phone case/wallet. It’s a really ugly imitation of suede. It’s hideous, but it’s functional.
  3. My only prescription med right now, and it has nothing to do with cancer. (I know, that’s amazing, right?)
  4. The earrings Dan picked up for me three days ago at Meijer “just because”. The are cats wearing witch hats.
  5. The double-sided Sharpie I use to write postcards to voters. One side is fine point. The other side is ultra-fine point.
  6. My MMJ vape. The changes in weather got me all like “OUCH!” I try to remember to take it every day just in case it feels like shrinking my brain tumor. But some days I forget.
  7. Vitamin D capsules. The doctor wants me to keep my levels up, and I just don’t spend a whole lot of time outside.
  8. The Sibley Guide to Birds. If you look closely, you can actually see the bird feeder out there in the back yard.
  9. An almost empty basket of Halloween candy. It only contained a partial bag of treats, but still. I’ve consumed way too much sugar in the last couple of days. (See #6.)
  10. Windex electronics wipes for cleaning my laptop and cell phone screen.
  11. Mary Karr’s The Art of Memoir. I’m using it as a desk reference while I continue writing my memoir.
  12. The Sassy Bottle™. Izzy likes to be a little jerk and scratch at the furniture. Turns out she likes being sprayed with water too, though. So now it’s a game and we’ve taught her to claw the upholstery for attention. Cats, man.
Brain Tumor

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In May I reach the end of my 24-month, long-term disability claim (SSDI is not going away). Meaning we will lose $900 a month in household income.

That’s a lot of money for two chronically ill people to lose, guys.

In an attempt to hold on for dear life, I’m writing a memoir and hoping the manuscript sells, creating content through Patreon, and working harder to promote referral connections.

If you plan to use any of these things, click the link below before you buy! When you do that, the company pays me for drumming up some business for them. And every little bit helps.

There isn’t anything on the list I haven’t tried myself.

Thanks!

Brain Tumor · House and Home

Our Rolling Death Trap

What day was it? Thursday, I think. Whatever day was National Taco Day. I put on my taco socks and told Dan to take me to Taco Bell for lunch.

Before we left the house, I double-checked that my auto insurance cards were up to date. See, the last time we went to Taco Bell, Dan got pulled over on the way home for speeding. And I didn’t have my phone or my wallet with me and couldn’t prove we had insurance on the Corolla.

The officer wrote Dan a ticket for speeding, but not for failing to show proof of insurance. He could’ve nailed us for both, and god only knows how big the fine would’ve been.

Anyway, even with the officer giving us a break, that freaking trip to get cheap-ass “tacos” cost us $147. So now every time I even think about Taco Bell, I wonder if my auto insurance papers are tucked away in the glove box.

Back to this past Thursday, though. All the insurance stuff was fine (I double checked before we pulled out of the driveway) so Dan drove me to Taco Bell for one of those ridiculous $5 box deals, which I would share with him. This time on the way home, the car started stalling at lights. It sputtered and shook as we rolled down a pretty busy street.

“Gah.” Dan tensed up. He threw it in neutral at every stop and had to give it extra gas as he put it back in drive just to get it rolling when it was time to go again. “Just get us home,” he patted the dash. “At least get us off this busy road.” He turned the hazards on, and cars whizzed past us in the left lane.

“Let’s never go to Taco Bell ever again,” I said. “Once is a fluke, twice is a fucking curse. Also, I’m too young to die.”

“Deal. Taco Bell can suck it.”

We did manage to get the Corolla back home and in the garage before it completely gave up the ghost. Dan lifted the hood, checked the oil, and inspected the battery we’d just replaced. “Whatever is wrong with it isn’t obvious to me,” Dan said. Lowering the hood to almost closed and then letting it drop the rest of the way with a loud thud.

We tried to eat our tacos while we watched GOP senators morph into rape apologists on live TV, only taking a few bites before pushing the taco remains away. We were mad about Kavanaugh. Our nerves were shot from the scary ride home in a failing car. And we were stressing over the financial implications. We didn’t even have the $113 to shell out for the battery last week. No telling how much more it would cost to get the thing running again.

Our appetites were gone.

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Friday morning I called roadside assistance and had the car towed to the shop.  For the first time since we’d been forced to downgrade to a single-car home, we were without a car. We had errands to do, so we walked to the bodega-ish shop a couple of blocks away to get Dan’s smokes, and then I ordered groceries from Shipt for the first time ever.

I’m going to long-story-short this sucker, because I’m almost to 500 words already.

A friend of mine from the glorious interwebs, saw my distressed tweets about the car troubles on Twitter and DMed me. She said not to worry about the car, she would help. And she did. She called the mechanic and paid upfront for the repairs. No only did she have them fix what was preventing the car from running (bad spark plugs and a shot number three ignition coil) but she got us new tires too. (The tread rating on two of them was in the red and the mechanic previously given us the concerned parent lecture about riding around with bald tires while we entertained him with stories about blood and turnips.) Not long after that, a second friend offered to cover the expenses. I was speechless at the generosity.

Over the weekend I was emotionally all over the place. On the one hand, people were wonderful and kind and full of goodwill. And on the other hand, people were belittling one of the bravest women my eyes ever beheld while making excuses for a power-hungry, entitled, beer-swilling basket case. I couldn’t reel in my feelings there for a while.

Now that the dust has settled, I’m writing postcards to encourage people to vote. These midterms are so incredibly important. And I’m looking at my next MRI and checkup with the oncologist on the calendar with a little less angst. It’s coming up in about three weeks, and now, thanks to the kindness of someone I’ve never even met in real life, we’re all set to make the 175-mile trip to Siteman Cancer Center in St. Louis in a car that isn’t a rolling death trap.

 

Brain Tumor

Emily’s Cancer Calendar: September

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After this week, I’m feeling kind of weird about my Cancer Calendar series. I said as much to Dan. “What?” he asked, looking over my entries. “Where’s your workout with Tobin, PJ and Squi?”

I tend to save my political screeds for Twitter threads and retweets, but I can’t say enough how unworthy of the position of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh is. We can and should find a better nominee. He is horribly unfit to be a judge of any kind if he’s willing to scream about Soros and the Clintons–IN A PREPARED STATEMENT IN FRONT OF THE SENATE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE BEING BROADCAST TO THE PUBLIC LIVE–for his current predicament. And that’s just one of a couple dozen reasons I think he’s a terrible choice. The man isn’t qualified for the job he currently holds let alone a fucking lifetime appointment to SCOTUS.

Anyway, if you want to know more about how I feel about it, you can follow me on Twitter @EmilySuess.

As I predicted, my FitDesk minutes/miles significantly dropped off this month. To remind myself the biggest reason for that was a really good one (I’ve been working hard on the book), I started noting days when I made significant progress on the memoir. This past Wednesday I reached 40,000 words!!!

On the 18th, I leveled up and increased the tension setting on the FitDesk, so even though I’m putting in less time on the stationary bike, my legs are still getting stronger.

Brain Tumor · Writing & Freelance

Somebody Talk Me Down

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I can’t focus on the memoir today. Yeah, I made it to 40,000 words this morning, but only because I was able to copy and paste some years-old writing. While I was in Scrivener poking around, I looked at a few previously written scenes and immediately became depressed.

They are horrible.

I know this is what first drafts are like—particularly for someone like me who’s never written a whole freaking book before. But, ugh. It’s depressing to feel like you’ve got 40,000 words and a month worth of your life invested in something that is completely unsalvageable.

Dan tries to console me when I get like this, which is about three times a week. “Neil Gaiman, or someone, I don’t remember who, posted a few lines of their first draft on Twitter once to show how hard he had to work to get it right.”

“Yeah?”

“It was one of the worst things I’d ever read. Everyone’s first draft sucks, Swiss. That’s why first drafts are never published.”

“Yeah, I know. I guess.”

It doesn’t help that I’m reading a couple of really great books (An Absolutely Remarkable Thing by Hank Green and Educated: A Memoir by Tara Westover) right now, and both are kind of brilliant. As far as Green’s novel goes, you couldn’t compare two more different books—his YA novel and my memoir—but that doesn’t stop me from doing it anyway. However, Westover’s memoir fits squarely in my book’s genre and the writing is better and her life is about 10,000 times more interesting than my own, despite my once marrying a compulsive liar and then later being diagnosed with a brain tumor.

Anyway, it is just as they say, comparison is the thief of joy.

Writing & Freelance

On Approaching Forty Thousand

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When I finish writing for the day, I usually reward myself by researching the publishing process (I know surprisingly little about traditional publishing) and/or watching bookish YouTube videos. Today, I went to YouTube and stumbled on YA writer Nadine Brandes. I watched the video where she opened a UPS package from her publisher containing the hardcover of her book Fawkes and I was like, THAT. IS. SO. EXCITING. And after that I watched the Fawkes release day video. When I got to the part where she picked her book up off the shelf at Barnes & Noble? I might’ve cried my pants (peed my eyes?) a little bit.

The super-reserved, daughter-of-a-stoic part of me thinks that if I talk about how badly I want to publish this memoir I’ll jinx the whole process. But the rest of me is ready to blab about how I’ve already started bookmarking the web pages of potential literary agents.

I’m feeling pretty good about being this close to 40,000 words after only a month. I mean just look at the lovely shade of green that progress bar is turning! When I originally settled on the goal to write 50,000 words I thought it seemed impossible. And truthfully, I think I need closer to 60,000 words for a real book. (Somehow 50,000 seemed much less daunting. *shrug*) But now I think the first goal is a foregone conclusion and the second goal is well within my reach.

A couple nights ago I was talking to Dan about the themes I was seeing emerge from the scenes I was writing, and he was like, “Wow. That’s actually pretty cool.” So then I mentioned how I was even tossing around some working titles.

“What do you think about [Blankity Blankity]?” I asked.

“That’s not bad. Or maybe just [Blank].”

“Oh. My. GAWD,” I said. “That is fucking brilliant.”

“My fee is 15%.”

So now I have a working title, which is also super fun. (Sorry, not ready to disclose it just yet. It’s too early and the whole story arc it’s based on could still easily fall apart and then we’d all be disappointed.)

Dan, my littlest Lit Major, has also promised to help me organize my scenes into something readable once the draft is complete. The plan is for me to finish the first draft, drink a margarita, and then print it out and hand it over to Dan for the cutting and pasting and reordering of scenes. I won’t look at it myself for a minimum of seven days once it’s on paper for the first time.

If you’d like to sponsor that margarita or the replacement ink cartridge I’ll have to buy after, you can donate to paypal.me/EmilySuess.