Hello, Happy, Dear Old Friend.

I lost my happy last week. Despite my optimism, the stress of a mess I had to clean up just got to me. All’s good, all’s organized, and everything’s on track for an awesome 2011.

I have a new writing desk. From Scientific American, I just read that sitting can kill you. You writers out there know how crazy sedentary the writing life can be. Apparently the study says that it doesn’t matter whether or not you workout an hour a day, sitting all day is sedentary—and raises your risk of death 50%.

in a sample of more than 17,000 Canadians (available here). Not surprisingly, they report that time spent sitting was associated with increased risk of all-cause and cardiovascular disease mortality (there was no association between sitting and deaths due to cancer). But what is fascinating is that the relationship between sitting time and mortality was independent of physical activity levels. In fact, individuals who sat the most were roughly 50% more likely to die during the follow-up period than individuals who sat the least, even after controlling for age, smoking, and physical activity levels. Further analyses suggested that the relationship between sitting time and mortality was also independent of body weight. This suggests that all things being equal (body weight, physical activity levels, smoking, alcohol intake, age, and sex) the person who sits more is at a higher risk of death than the person who sits less.

I’ve wanted a treadmill desk for awhile (funny: one wouldn’t fit in my camper), but I’ve never tried a standing desk. I loved sitting on an exercise ball, but I don’t have a desk in the camper, either.

But I’ve found something better: the dancing desk. It’s like a standing desk, but instead of just standing, you dance. It does wonders for focus. (Y’all know how I struggle with that.) Plus you can totally get down to Glee or Cher or the Cure or Queen or whatever gets you rockin’.

AND, when you’re done, you can settle back with wine, bread, cheese, and chocolate cake. Stress, gone; happy, back. (A long talk with my best friend helped, too.)

It’s always such a relief to find my calm, happy center. It’s like a rock I can always rely on, an old friend who’s always there.

So this weekend I reclaimed my happy. And my fun.

How do you find your happy again when stress overwhelms you? How do you get your fun on?

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Written by Natasha Fondren in: Full-Time Writing | Tags: ,

You Know What?

I thoroughly love my job. Between dreams of baking cookies in the kitchen and dreams of being a grandma (Wtf? I understood the baby-making hormones, but this is just plain weird—shouldn’t I be more focused on the son and daughter thing first?), I just love making up stories.

Writing. Totally. Rocks.

That’s all.

How’s your writing going? What’re you workin’ on?

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Written by Natasha Fondren in: Full-Time Writing |

On Motivation & Motherhood

How many goals can you maintain? Mark Terry’s post “On Quitting” got me thinking. I’ve been missing the drive to write I had when it was my number one goal/passion/obsession.

Lately, it’s not.

You mothers are going to totally laugh and make fun of me, but I’m already feeling the pull between being a mother and a writer.

The focus thing: how do you do both?

When I daydream, I see my kids instead of mentally working on my book. My “imagination time” has plummeted lately. Even during my downtime, I’m researching homeschooling or somesuch, instead of researching writing or the market or the my next story.

I’m trying to get ultra healthy before I have kids, so I’m working out three or four hours a day. (Mostly walking 7 miles a day, so it’s not like I’m being crazy about it.) I want all systems go when it comes time.

Lately, writing has become a sub-goal instead of a primary goal. I want to build royalties so I can have more time to be a mother, to homeschool, to be at home with my kids. I dream of family dinner every night (I know, laugh) and big Sunday afternoon dinners and having a real family.

It’s a little weird. A part of me sort of mourns when my single-focused goal was writing, you know?

On the other hand, who’s to say that writing as a sub-goal won’t make me more motivated at writing than when it was an only goal, you know?

I was in Walmart last week and there was this little boy outfit and I really wanted to buy it. I could see putting it on my son. (*squeals at the words, “my son”* Can I say that again? *my son* *my son* *tears* *biological clock POUNDS*)

Did you guys sense what sex your first one was going to be? Were you right? Wrong?

If I could to choose, I’d probably choose a girl, but I seem to believe I’ll have a son first, which is weird, right? I don’t care which one it is, honestly.

(Okay, see? I’m trying to talk about writing motivation and this has derailed into tears and baby clothes.)


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Written by Natasha Fondren in: Full-Time Writing | Tags: ,

Enthusiasm and Writing

If you’re my Facebook friend, you know how much I enjoyed the Mixed Martial Art event on Saturday. It totally inspired me. Two of the many fighters just loved their sport so much, it was like watching unfettered, pure, and joyful enthusiasm.

(I’ve always felt that way about Taekwondo. Most fun I’ve had in my life.)

Enthusiasm is such a pleasure to watch.

And I thought: Why can’t I approach writing like that?

It’s true that in my first days of writing, I’d just grin at the screen and toy with the words I’d written. I love how each word carries so many nuances and connotations. SO cool. I love, love, love language.

What I think is difficult about writing is that I can’t sit down and be in an enthusiastic and joyful mood when I’m trying to write a gripping story full of conflict. I’m mostly a “Method” writer, so I put myself in the emotional frame of mind (and heart) of my characters.

Given that by necessity, one has to put one’s characters through hell, I’m walking in the shoes of someone whose life is a real mess when I sit down to write. (That sentence makes me laugh on so many levels, that I’m not even going to fix it.) You can’t be feeling all happy while you write about someone’s mother dying.

So I’m wondering: How does one write with enthusiasm? Can you really sit down to write and feel, “I can’t wait to get all depressed about the fact that my mother died and there are werewolves chasing me!”

Is this perhaps why so many writers struggle with procrastination and avoidance? I mean, who wants to ruin a happy mood by going down in the dumps to write a character going through hell?

I can see how one could be enthusiastic about editing, however.

No conclusions today. Just wondering.

What do you think? How do you (can you?) bring enthusiasm to your daily writing?

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Written by Natasha Fondren in: Full-Time Writing,Writing Craft | Tags:

Loneliness and Writing

I’ve been feeling a little lonely lately. It’s just I need to get out more—but if I get out more, I’m not writing as much. And I have a ton of writing to do this fall, so the first priority is writing right now. I’m a writing machine this fall.

Loneliness and boredom have always been a part of my story-making life. It was at first how I managed insomnia. As a child, it took me about two hours to fall asleep every night, so I needed something to think about. I created imaginary worlds I visited and developed for years.

In my first few years of school, teachers would complain that I stared out the window too much. (I was just imagining stories.) I specifically remember in second and third grade, working very hard at developing the skill of weaving stories in my head while pasting an interested, attentive expression on my face.

I didn’t really put fingers to keyboard until my late twenties. I was still sick and spending every moment I wasn’t working pretty much in bed. It was awesome, because I could “live” a whole, active life through my stories. Most all my friends had moved away—and I’d moved away, so I was pretty lonely then. My characters were my friends. :-)

When the RV Resort fills up, I do start to feel a little overwhelmed with my social life. Just walking to the bathroom, you end up talking to people for at least an hour every day. Right now I’m missing it.

But loneliness has its uses. It helps to sink into a story so that you forget the rest of the world. I write faster and more when I’m lonely, when there are no social distractions.

That’s a drawback to Facebook. I love staying connected to my friends, and I am so, so, so thrilled to see the daily happenings of my old friends and acquaintances on Facebook. Sometimes I’m tempted to pop on Facebook to connect with friends, but it’s more productive if I sink into my story to assuage the lonely feelings.

It’s a balance. I need enough human connection to stay happy and sane, but not too much that I lose that need to sink and disappear deep into my story world—because that’s how stories get written.

Being a writer is weird, isn’t it?

Do you find a certain amount of social deprivation helps your writing? Does loneliness pull you deeper into your story world? Does your word count go up when your social interactions go down?

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Written by Natasha Fondren in: Full-Time Writing |

Luxuries and Adaptabilities

It’s strange what you adapt to. We’re thinking of upgrading our camper. Until we started shopping, I didn’t realize how I’d grown accustomed to a life without “luxuries” that I’d taken for granted for years.

See, as we drove across the country, I sorta did something stupid and broke the countertop. (It folds over, and I stored pans in its upside-down position, and the jostling and weight of the pans broke the countertop.) So the plumbing to the sink, which wasn’t awesome to start with, got worse.

And, um, I waited for someone to fix it. And I never figured out how to fix it myself.

So I got accustomed to going outside and turning off the water to the camper any time I wasn’t using the water. Since that was such an inconvenience, I got accustomed to only turning on the water about once a week.

But when I think of that, of only turning on the water once a week, isn’t that odd? When I lived in a house, I must have turned on the water ten thousand times a day!

Granted, I go to the clubhouse to use the restroom and take a shower. Also, I have a big water jug for the cat’s water and my water.

Other things I’ve adapted to?

Life without a frig. Okay, that only lasted for two months. But strange. I never would’ve thought it. We used a cooler with ice!

Also, no stove. The propane clogged. After a month or two, we bought a grill that has a sideburner, and it functions well as an oven and stove, but I’ll admit it’s a bit of a pain to do all one’s cooking outside.

Looking at it now, it seems a little surreal. But it all happened so gradually. I find it fascinating that I’m happily living without those luxuries I would have taken for granted even a year ago.

It’s so freeing to know one can live without. Really. I wouldn’t trade that lesson for the world.

I voluntarily chose this lifestyle because I seem to love my freedoms (Constitution Day is only three days away! Oh yes, it’s another post on our five freedoms. My mission in life is that every citizen knows all five of their freedoms off the top of their heads, backwards and forwards.) and because I wanted to live cheaply so I could focus on writing.

In shopping for a new RV, I’ve realized how luxurious a stove, a working sink, indoor toilet and CUPBOARDS! are to me. Odd. But seriously, I’m happy with my computer and Kindle at my side. Pretty much the rest are optional.

Which is nice, as I seem to still be stuck seeing all things as burdens. Yes, I still hate stuff.

Glenn, unfortunately, doesn’t see things that way. He wants stuff and he wants big and he wants room. :-( I find the price too high.

OH! There is ONE luxury that I miss desperately and daily: the dishwasher.

What about you? What luxury have you done without and were surprised it was an unneeded luxury? What luxuries would you trade to work less or work a different job? Or your dream job?

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Written by Natasha Fondren in: Full-Time Writing,My Adventures |

Don’t Quit Your Day Job

Blog posts with this title always perplex me. I’m not sure why they’re written or who they’re aimed at, because anyone deciding to quit their day job is an adult with a brain and can reason for him/herself. Not to mention that, as an adult, people are perfectly entitled to take their own risks, make their own mistakes, and choose the wrong path.

That seems to be the greatest fear of these blog posts: that someone will quit their day job and run out of money.

I say: so what? Really, what if you make the leap and fail?

I would hypothesize that the best things come from stumbling and making risky leaps.

I’m guessing that when you have no food in the house you will possess the logic to get out there and get a new day job or do whatever you have to do to survive. I’m guessing that if you have kids and a family you possess the intelligence to do something before your children starve. I’m guessing that if you make the leap, you considered how long you could go before you had to take a job.

If someone does not possess the above common sense, then undoubtedly a blog post is not going to help them. And again: so what if they fail?

Living and learning is the best part of life.

A blog post is so limited in scope that it can only skim the surface of the complexities of such a decision. It can’t examine the issue as deeply as one making the decision certainly has.

These posts for writers that examine the day job issue are prevalent, so they must serve some purpose I am missing.

I can’t say as I consulted a single article on quitting the day job when I leapt to full-time writing, but then I did that for music a year or two out of college. I’ve been self-employed in the arts for fifteen years. Is my experience blinding me to the usefulness of these posts?

I suspect they may reassure those who made the decision to keep their day job that they made the right one, and give courage to those who’ve decided to make the leap.

I’m wondering:

Why do these posts exist? What purpose do they serve? Do you enjoy reading them? Why? If I were to do a post on quitting the day job, what would you want to see? When reading such posts, what do you hope to get out of them?

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Written by Natasha Fondren in: Full-Time Writing | Tags:

Wildly Sedentary

That’s the writing life. And yes, this is at least the third time I’ve stolen the phrase, “wildly sedentary,” from Mark Terry. It’s such a perfect phrase and a perfect description. (Sorry!)

I am tired of sitting on my butt.

It’s not like I don’t do yoga nearly every day. Only about 20 minutes, though. And I do water aerobics for at least four hours a week. And then I hike for about six hours a week.

That sounds like a lot, but it’s not. In my old life, I did a lot of standing and pacing. Moving from place to place, walking from the car to the parking lot, etc. Here? I get up and write. Sometimes I write before I get up! My camper has a fifteen foot “hallway” to walk, and that’s it. Okay, it’s a good thirty yards to the bathroom, but still.

I am crawling out of my skin.

An hour of working out is NOTHING to fourteen hours of sitting.

I desperately want a treadmill desk, but that won’t happen until we upgrade.


So what’s a girl to do? I’m not sure. Maybe I need to start taking two-hour walks every day, like Thomas Jefferson or something. I don’t know.

Watching this guy just makes my body twitch to MOVE.

So how do you deal with the sedentary nature of writing? Do you find yourself crawling out of your skin, too?

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Written by Natasha Fondren in: Full-Time Writing | Tags:

It Was A Very Good Year

Edie noticed that my year has been inspired by Frank. Why yes, it has, what with “Not in a Shy Way” and “Regrets: I’ve Had a Few” and now “It Was A Very Good Year.”

I need a song for next year. Any suggestions?

About Last Year

I love Arizona. Oh. My. God. I love it here. I can’t get enough of the lizards. I stop and exclaim at every one, even though I’m pretty sure this drives the people who I hike with crazy. Also I love desert flowers, cacti, cracked mud in dried riverbeds, insects (even when they scare the bejeezuz out of me), animals, birds, toads, spiders (see above parenthetical statement) and… well, everything. Water now fascinates me, because it is such a rare sight. I can’t get enough of the desert and the mountains and the washes and the canyons.

Living Outside

The weather is BIG in my world. With paper-thin walls and a camper that has plenty of gaps where the various fold-up walls meet, weather is big. So when the 60 mph wind gusts come and I’m getting seasick from the rocking and I’m afraid my camper is going to blow over and then I won’t have a house… um, my world revolves around the weather.

Totally not like living in a house or an apartment. There’s very little barrier between me and nature.

I have no bathroom in the camper, so I walk to the clubhouse in the middle of the night and I treasure my time looking at the moon and the stars. I always have fresh air. I like being subject to the weather. I feel like I’m part of the earth, part of the natural world.

In fact, upgrading? I don’t know. Being enclosed in a sturdier camper with luxuries and a bathroom and thick walls and no fresh air? Um, well… I don’t know. When my bed is sopping wet from a leak, okay, I can’t wait. I would like to have my piano with me. But 90% of the time, I dread leaving my little camper. It’s a step away from nature. The thought makes me restless and nervous.


Travel isn’t high on my list. I’m shocked. In fact, I appear to just want to write. I, um, have a tendency to get annoyed when anything interrupts my writing. I will procrastinate the whole world in order to write. I force myself on an adventure every couple weeks, and I push myself out of the house to volunteer one day a week hiking the desert.

Part of it is also that I haven’t yet sucked up everything this area has to offer. There’s just so much to explore!

I was also surprised to find myself teaching a water aerobics class twice a week. I love it and miss it (I only do it during the snowbird season), but I never had the thought, “I’d like to teach a water aerobics class someday!” It just happened and it was fun.

Not Surprised

I still hate things. I am perfectly happy to have a bed to sleep in. Even when it leaks. When humidity gives me an asthma attack, yes, I’m ready to do anything to make it stop. But in normal, every day life, I am happy. The less things, the better. When it comes to working, I am not motivated by money or the accumulation of things.

Unless it’s a computer to write on. Or a Kindle. Or books and movies (as long as they’re in digital form). :-)

I remember when I walked in a friend’s pantry and realized she had more things in her pantry than I owned altogether. Okay, maybe as much. Still, there are two seats that have storage that I haven’t opened in ages. I’m definitely feeling the itch to get rid of more of my stuff. Don’t need it. Why keep it? It feels like a burden.

So that’s my life, this past year. I wonder what the next year will bring. I think it might be another big change, but such is life, I guess. It’s an adventure, that’s for sure!

So how was your year?

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Written by Natasha Fondren in: Full-Time Writing | Tags: ,

Regrets: I’ve Had a Few

A year ago, I completely changed my life. This year has somehow managed to be the happiest, most relaxing, tumultuous, and terrifying year of my adult life. If I had known how hard the changes were going to be, I’m not sure I would have been brave enough to make them. I changed my life, and not in a shy way.

Leaving Music

In becoming a writer, I lost a lot of self-confidence. Giving up something you’re good at, something you’ve rooted your identity and self-worth and self-confidence in, is incredibly difficult. Since grade school, I was a pianist. For nearly thirty years I actively improved my musical skills every day, and a whole lot of my confidence was built on that foundation of skill and knowledge and training. And fifteen years of teaching piano: I knew exactly what to do and exactly how to teach certain things. It makes one feel good, to do something well, day after day.

Leaving all that was HARD, and I was totally unprepared for what a drastic blow it would be to my self-esteem.

I’m in a good place now, so I can admit that there were periods in this last year when I was depressed and felt like a complete failure and utterly worthless. I was terrified. I felt like I was drowning, like I was trying grab the buoy of music and teaching that had once been my confidence, but I’d thrown it away.

And there was nothing there.

Oh yes, I don’t know if I mentioned it, but I was freaked.

Becoming a Writer

Part of me will always be a musician. I miss it. When I watch my music friends in their careers, my fingers itch to get at the piano. I mourn it often, and it’s still a sore spot that aches, even though I am certain that writing is where my heart truly is.

With writing, I never have to manufacture motivation. Whether I’m motivated or not, I find myself writing. It just happens. I don’t want a life; I never want to “escape” writing or even take a break, unless it’s to go to a movie. Even then, try to get me to a matinee—it won’t happen. I can’t go to a movie until I’ve written.

I love volunteering and hiking the desert once a week, but as much as I love it, I have to “force” myself away from writing. In theory, I want to travel and I want to explore Arizona more, but in reality, I can’t bear to give up the writing days.

Even when I swear-to-God really don’t want to write, I don’t want to do anything else.

No Half-Measures

Up until this last year, I had an absolute, no-idea-where-it-came-from confidence in the fact that I “should” write, that the “universe wants me to write.” This certainty did not come from any belief in my writing abilities; it was just there. And I am not given to faith; I’m really not. But there it was.

That confidence was shaken and tried this year.

(Yay! I finally get to join the club!)

I knew, going into this writing thing, that I wanted to be a very good writer. And I’ve seen what it takes for musicians to be very good musicians. I put zero stock in talent, so I’ve never wondered if I had writing talent. I do, however, know how to learn. I know how to make a living in the arts. I know how to become good at something, and I particularly know how to become good at something creative.

Line up all the best musicians, and I bet not one of them ever had a fall-back career. I knew if I gave myself the luxury of one, I’d never be as good as I want to be. Believe it or not, I’m a security freak, and if I gave myself the option, I’d get comfortable.

I maneuvered myself into the position of having nothing to fall back on; I do realize that. And for me, it was the right decision.

But damn, it was frightening as hell.

It Was a Very Good Year

Yes. Yes, it was. It doesn’t sound it so far, does it? In spite of it all, I wouldn’t change a thing. I don’t regret my regrets for a second.

And now look, I’ve written a whole blog post and I haven’t even gotten to the good bits! And there were more good bits than scary bits, I promise. So I suppose I’m going to have to finish this up in a day or two… after I finish my writing. :-)

Ever have regrets? Or regrets you don’t regret? Ever choose one thing above another, and mourn the loss of it, even while you know you’d make the exact same decision a thousand times over?

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Written by Natasha Fondren in: Full-Time Writing,My Adventures | Tags: ,

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