Saturday, October 24, 2015

I Wasn't 100 Percent Focused on my Book, and I'm Glad

When I finished my first novel several years ago, there was a huge letdown at the end. I felt exhausted, like I just wanted to move on and not deal with that story anymore because it was all I had thought about for a year and a half. This time I don't feel that way at all. This time, I'm actually thrilled at the prospect of getting feedback, doing more edits, and eventually looking for a publisher. I'm ready to celebrate, and I'm ready for the next step.

Most of this is just because I'm very satisfied with the book, in a way that I was not satisfied with my first novel. But another part stems from the fact that in the past 14 months, I didn't force myself to focus exclusively on the validation book. With my first novel, I felt like I had to focus on one project exclusively because that was the only way I'd finish, but this time around, I didn't force it. I continued blogging and I have more blog posts this year than any other year - I'm up to 178 for this year so far, when my previous record for one year was 92 posts. That's pretty much doubled! I wrote some very good blog posts this year. I wrote the unschooling post, which I consider a major project and my second most important blog post after The Unencrypted Truth. I also made a lot of progress on my personality quiz book and wrote some of the best quizzes in the book this year. I never forced myself to focus on the validation book when my heart was pulling me in another direction.

When it comes to personal projects, I'm both a multi-tasker and a single-tasker. I like to have a lot of different projects going on at once, but I also like to focus on just one project for a period of time. So, for example, if I'm working on the validation book, the quiz book, and my blog, I will have periods of time when I'm just focused exclusively on each project and ignoring the others, rather than trying to do a little bit of each every day or even every week or month.

And I think that's why I don't feel sick of the validation book after 14 months - because I never forced myself to focus only on the book, so when I did get tired of it, I took a break from it. Now I'm not drained or tired from it at all and I'm still just as passionate as I was at the beginning.

One Jelly Bean

There's a psych study on delayed gratification in children in which the kids have a choice of eating one jelly bean now, or having a whole bowl of jelly beans later. The experimenter puts the child in a room, places one jelly bean on the table, and says, "You can either eat this jelly bean now, or if you wait until I get back, you can have a whole bowl of jelly beans." I think they also show the child the whole bowl of jelly beans so they'll know what they're getting. Then they leave the child alone and watch them on film, and time how long the children wait before deciding to eat the one jelly bean. Normally the younger kids eat the one jelly bean, and the older kids wait for the whole bowl of jelly beans.

(I should point out that jelly beans are not the best candy to use for this type of study because they are all different flavors. If someone's one jelly bean is a flavor they don't like and aren't planning to eat anyway, they we can't really assess whether they were willing to wait or not. That's a confounding variable).

I can see how this study measures whether or not children will choose delayed gratification, but I don't see it translated into real-world delayed gratification scenarios. The idea that if you give up one jelly bean now, you'll get lots more jelly beans later is not how life really works. A real-life example of the jelly bean scenario would be if an adult had said to me, "If you spend one hour doing homework now instead of playing, you can stay home from school tomorrow and have the whole day to play." That kind of delayed gratification, I would have agreed to. But that's not how things went down. The reward that I was supposed to reap from doing my homework was getting a good education and getting good grades - neither of which I cared about. I only ever cared about having fun, and exchanging fun time for the long term benefit of learning was not something that I ever wanted to do. When I look back on it now, I wished I'd spent my childhood just having fun and not going to school and learning. The jelly bean study indicates that if you wait, you'll get more of the thing you wanted in the first place, but that never happened. My hard work in school only lead to me having to spend MORE years in school - college and grad school - than I would have if I had said, "Screw school, I'm just gonna play and have fun all day." It was not the jelly bean study at all. It was the total opposite.

A more true-to-life version of the jelly bean study would be if the kids had a choice of eating one jelly bean now, or a healthy meal later. If they choose the healthy meal, they don't get to have the jelly bean. That opportunity is gone. Sure, the healthy meal may be better for you, it probably has a higher value than one jelly bean (in terms of cost), but at the end of the day, everyone doesn't want a healthy meal. Some of us just want jelly beans.

This Is Where It Started

This is how the idea for my book occurred to me:

I wrote this post lying in bed on a Sunday morning because it was the first thing on my mind when I woke up. Then I realized what the post meant in terms of what I had to do. I called my mom and talked to her about my goal. Then a few hours later, I announced the plan:

Now 14 months later, I'm here. It almost doesn't even feel real.

The Next Day

This feels totally different from when I finished my first novel, mainly because this time, I'm very satisfied with how my first draft turned out and I'm mostly psyched to get feedback from everyone, rather than being nervous. It's a really deep satisfied feeling.

I think that's partially because I'm really satisfied with the first draft, and also partially because I already blog so much about the issues in the book that none of the friends I sent it to are going to be shocked by anything I say. I think I'll be much more nervous promoting it to people who don't know me as well.

It's weird - it's just such a weird feeling being done. Sort of happy and sad at the same time. I know the process is far from over, but still. There's always a loss feeling when something like this comes to an end.

When I get into my mode where I'm really deeply obsessed with something I'm doing, I basically live in a bubble where outside stuff doesn't matter. I know that bubble is about to burst.

I've basically just been working on my book and watching Inside Out on repeat (the digital version - DVD release is still Nov 3rd).

Maybe I'll start blogging normally again. I have several blog posts on the wait list. I could also start working on my Inside Out post, and just not post it until after everyone has seen the movie.

Tomorrow night I'm meeting my friend, so we'll get to celebrate! And I have reactions and feedback to look forward to (which I am actually looking forward to)!

Friday, October 23, 2015

I Finished!!!!!!!

I finished my validation book tonight, 10/22/15, 11:50 PM.

I don't really know what to say right now. I'm pretty out of it. I can't tell if I'm hungry or full or tired or awake or what.

I sent my first draft to my friend who is helping me edit. Once I've gotten their feedback and made some changes, I'm sending it out to more of my friends for feedback. This will probably happen in the next week or so, depending how long it takes to discuss the edits with my friend. There will be a few rounds of getting feedback and making changes before I start looking for a publisher.

I will start blogging again at some point, but I might need a little rest since I've been writing and editing almost nonstop for last few months.

I'm really looking forward to seeing my friends this weekend and celebrating.

I'll write more about this in the next few days because I'm too exhausted right now, but for everyone who has been supporting my project this whole time - Thank you. Thank you for being the awesomest friends in the whole entire universe (planet Bubble Gum included)!!!! I would still be sitting here staring at the wall and being sad if it weren't for everyone's support. Knowing that my friends support this project and are psyched to read the book is what has kept me going and maintained my interest in writing it. It's been 14 months since I first got the idea for this book, and now I'm here. It feels surreal right now. It doesn't even feel like real life. It feels like...I was just here in this apartment a year ago when the idea hit me, and now I have a whole book written. 281 pages.

Anyway, thank you for being awesome friends and being there for me in all the darkest times and letting me feel how I felt and being validating and not pushing me to change and encouraging me to get the validation message out to the world. Thank you for being friends like Sadness. And thank you for being so interested in my book and wanting to be my early readers. You will all get special acknowledgements when it comes time to publish.

Even though I did the writing part by myself, I feel like we've all been in this together the whole time, like you were all there with me the whole entire time, and feels like a victory for all of us now that it's done. I love you all so much. Team Validation.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

No Rush

I'm in the home stretch of writing my book, but I've made a decision that I'm not going to try to rush it. I've already had so many years of missing out on fun things I wanted to do because I had to put schoolwork first when I didn't want to. I love my book and it is a top priority for me, but I am never planning to miss out on any other fun things because of it. I can write my book anytime, but Halloween season only comes once a year, and perfect weather days don't come all the time. I remember being in grad school and being so upset that I couldn't enjoy Halloween and take as much time as I wanted to work on my costume, and I'm not going to miss out on those things now. My book is a priority, but I'm not going to rush it. I got through the bulk of it at the end of September while I didn't have any other fun plans, and I'm going to edit at my own pace and enjoy not having a deadline. I've always wanted to not have deadlines.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Tru Confessions

I've always loved the Disney Channel movie Tru Confessions. It's about a 14-year-old girl named Tru (short for Trudy) whose twin brother Eddie has a mental disability (the movie never says specifically what he has). Tru has a lot of feelings about her and her brother growing up and growing apart. When they were kids, they had more in common and the felt more similar, but now that they're older, they're growing apart from each other. Eddie even says to Tru, "You used to be my twin, and now you're not."

Tru is a filmmaker and she wants to enter a home movie contest for the chance to get her movie shown on TV. She decides to do a movie about Eddie. On her first try, Tru does a science show in which she explains how Eddie's brain works from a neurological perspective, with no details about who Eddie is as a person or what it's like to live with him. Everyone is bored stiff. Then Tru's mom suggests that she make the movie more personal, more about who Eddie is and what life is like with Eddie on a day to day basis. Tru worries a lot about what people will think. Her feelings bounce back and forth a lot. One minute she absolutely has to win the contest and doesn't know what she'll do if she doesn't win, the next minute she's worried and upset about what will happen if she does win the contest - what everyone will say to her when they've seen the video and seen her reveal so much of herself. When she does win the contest, most of her classmates are very supportive.

This has always been one of my favorite Disney Channel movies. Funnily enough, I never actually saw it on TV when it came out - I came across it on YouTube in college. I watched this movie a lot during college, over and over again. It was comforting. I didn't know why at the time, but it made me feel not alone.

I get it now. I get what Tru was going through with her movie. I understand exactly why she first went for the technical science show about how Eddie's brain worked. I did the same thing. Having been a psychology major and having learned why behave the way they do, it's easy to hide behind big words and technical concepts that make what you're saying sound impersonal. As if we're just interested in psychology and neurology, not how these things actually affect us. And I get why Tru kept going back and forth with her feelings. It's hard. One minute it's like, "OMG this is the most important thing in the whole world I have to get this out there no matter what!" and the next it's like, "OMG what am doing? This is my diary and why the heck am I sharing it with the whole world? What are people gonna say?" I get it. That's why I always loved Tru Confessions and why I could relate to Tru so deeply.