Posts Tagged ‘work’

At the time this post is being published, it is the American holiday of Thanksgiving. Despite the holiday’s questionable origins (a discussion not for this blog), this is a holiday for being thankful for all you have. And while a lot of us are surprised by how fast this year has gone by (seriously, how the hell is it already late November?), for many of us it has been a stellar year. I know that’s the case for me. I’ve got plenty to be thankful for this year.

And if it’s not too much trouble, I’ll run down some of those things I’m grateful for (I swear, this won’t be too long, and I’ll try not to turn it into bragging):

  • I’ve published two stories, the sci-fi novelette Gynoid and the fantasy romance short story What Happened Saturday Night, on Wattpad, and both were very well received. I also wrote half of the novel Full Circle, edited the entirety of Rose (and will probably edit it again, as soon as I have feedback from both my beta readers), made good progress on a new story, and had more ideas for other stories than I could ever write.
  • While I work on my writing, I also have a good job that allows me to do really rewarding work with a great team. That job also has great pay and benefits, so I can afford to pay my rent and my bills, never go hungry, and even put away some cash into savings. And every now and then, I can even afford a little splurge for things like wall art, a new addition to my doll/figurine collection, or even awesome shows (heck, sometimes the job gets me discount to awesome entertainment in town).
  • Speaking of rent, I have a great apartment in a good area near where I work. I can afford to live on my own, and do what I want within my apartment, so I don’t have to worry about anyone seeing me at my kookiest. And since I’ve lived here for nearly a year and a half, I’ve had time to settle in and make it my happy place, a great place to relax, be creative and occasionally entertain friends (Joleene Naylor knows what I’m talking about).
  • My health has improved greatly since the New Year. I’ve been eating healthier, cutting back on the sweets, and so have lost about thirty extra pounds. My back problems have also improved, thanks to the ongoing treatments of a really good chiropractor and my improved diet. I feel better than I have in ages, and as long as I keep things up, I’ll continue to get better (though I doubt I’ll ever be fit enough to be a prima ballerina or a bodybuilder).
  • I don’t have a driver’s license, but I’ve made incredible progress towards getting one. And with a bit more practice, especially with maneuverability and parking, I could have my license within the next year (though whether a car comes with that is another issue entirely).
  • I live close to my family, and we’re all on good terms for the most part (though I would not want to live with any of them again if I can help it). I also have plenty of friends, and I’m glad to have their love and friendship everyday. I know that if I need them, they will give me their support, and help me through another day.
  • Finally, I have you, my Followers of Fear. Over the six-plus years I’ve been blogging, you’ve stood by me, seen me at some of my best and worst moments, and posted your thoughts and encouragement, and even bought some of my published work. And over this past year, Rami Ungar the Writer has grown significantly, to the point where I’m less than fifty followers away from hitting the thousand follower milestone. It gives me such joy to write for and interact with you guys every day, and I hope I can continue to do so for ages to come.

Of course, this is just a fraction of the many things I’m thankful for, but I’m thankful for them all nonetheless. And I’m glad I’m aware of them and thankful for them, because I can think of a number of people who are just as lucky as me, or even luckier, and yet are miserable. They’re not satisfied with what they have and they constantly want more.

My mother and me when we went to see Swan Lake this past weekend. Not only was it an incredible show, but I got to experience it with someone I dearly love and who gets me on so many levels. I’m incredibly thankful for her and our relationship together. Also, I’m looking at the button on my phone camera, in case you’re wondering where my eyes are looking.

 

Now, there’s nothing wrong with wanting more than what you have. I want to expand my readership, write more stories, and get more of them published. Heck, I wouldn’t mind being able to write full-time if I could. But some people, they just don’t appreciate what they have. They could have a loving family, a big house (or several), a nice car (or several), and enough money for vacations abroad and fancy gadgets and whatever. But they aren’t happy. They want more. More stuff, more sexual partners, more fame and prestige. A friend once told me he talked to a man who was depressed because he didn’t receive as big a Christmas bonus as someone else in their office, even though he felt they did the same work and the same amount of work. Both bonuses were in the five-figure range, which boggled the both of us. How could anyone be in a position where that sort of money is given as a Christmas bonus and NOT be happy?

And that’s why I’m thankful for one more thing: I’m thankful that I can recognize what I have. Some people can only recognize what they don’t have, and that bites deeply into their happiness. They may feel good when they get a promotion or they bed someone deeply attractive or they get that new house on the Italian coast, but it’s only a temporary drug high, and the crash they feel after the high wears off just leaves them as empty as before. It’s not a true happiness, not at all.

And that’s why I’m grateful for one more thing: that I’m capable of recognizing all that I have and that I’m grateful for. Yeah, I’m not rich or famous (though I could be someday), but I’m glad for everything I have. I worked hard to get it, and I know it could be taken away all in an instant with one bad day. So when something new comes into my life–a new follower, some good news on the writing front, the chance to do something fun with friends or family, or even a new doll for my collection–that drug high will go away, but a good feeling will remain. I’m grateful for it all, and I hope I remain that way for the rest of my life.

So this Thanksgiving, my Followers of Fear, let’s all be grateful for what we have, and express that gratitude as best we can. Because we could have nothing at all, or we could have plenty and not realize it. I prefer to have some stuff, and be glad that I do have them. And if you ask me, that’s a good way to go about things.

Happy Thanksgiving, and until next time, pleasant nightmares.

Me being thankful for all that i have. And thank you, Sailor Moon, for constantly giving me so much to work with, from entertainment to story ideas to illustrative GIFs.

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Those of you who’ve followed me for a while know that I am on the autism spectrum, and that I’ve had opportunities to speak about it a couple of times, including a widely-circulated video which I posted back in March. I was able to get my job partially because of my autism, and a lot of the work I do involves working with, accommodating, and advocating for people with disabilities in the workplace, including but certainly not limited to autism. I don’t go around everywhere broadcasting my diagnosis, but it does come up on occasion.

One of those recent occasions was for my organization’s newsletter. I was asked to write a short essay, about a page long, about having a disability, about the program that helped me get a job in my organization, and what that’s been like. That article was published recently, along with a couple of other testimonials, and it’s been getting around. A lot of people have been coming up to me and thanking me for being so open with my story.

Today, I got an email from someone in my organization who had read the article, and had contacted me asking for advice. His adult nephew had been diagnosed with autism a couple of years ago, well past the point where intervention can be at its most effective. And in theĀ  years since his diagnosis, his life has not gotten easier. I won’t go into details, but it was heartbreaking to read the man’s email and to hear about his nephew’s suffering.

At the end of the email, he asked what could be done for his nephew, and if maybe the program that helped me get my job could help his nephew.

What do you say to something like that? What sort of comfort can you give when there’s already so much pain?

I don’t know if I ever meant to be an advocate for people with disabilities. But over time, that role has kind of been molded around me. A good part of this has been because of my job. As I said, I have to advocate for people with disabilities in the workplace. To that end, I’ve learned how to market to people who are able-bodied why they should hire more people with disabilities. I can tell them that people with disabilities have a much lower turnover rate than the general population, 8% compared to 45%, that getting them accommodations rarely gets anywhere near the $500 mark, and then back all that up by talking about my own satisfaction with my position, and how the only accommodation I’ve needed for my ASD was permission to listen to my iPod or audiobooks while doing certain tasks. I’ve also been asked to do essays, like I did for the newsletter, and the video I recorded back in March. And sometimes it just comes up, like when explaining how I got my internship in Germany (yeah, my ASD played a part in that), or using it to illustrate a point in conversation, or a hundred different scenarios.

One way or another, it seems like I was meant to be an advocate, especially at this point in my life, when I’m doing so well at work, living on my own, and even as a writer.

But as a giver of advice? I’m not sure I expected that. And I get why it’s happening. Autism is a scary diagnosis for anyone to get, as well as for the loved ones of those diagnosed. It’s a disorder that varies widely from person to person, it can never be cured, the cause is still unknown,* the number of people being diagnosed with it has grown exponentially with improved diagnostic tools. Depending on what traits are present or what other disorders are present with autism can also affect everything from therapy to school choices to possibilities in adulthood. And when the diagnosis is made in adulthood, as happened with the young man whose uncle emailed me, it can be a sort of terrifying that no horror story can tap into. With all that in mind, hearing from someone who not only has the same diagnosis, but is successful in the real world, can be a soothing balm for the mind and soul.

I just wish I had all the answers. Or that I was more confident in the answers I have to give.

But if I’m going to give any sort of advice, it’s that we shouldn’t deny or try to hide our diagnoses. We shouldn’t try to be “normal,” because normal doesn’t exist, especially not for us. We process the world so differently than everyone else, but that doesn’t mean we have to be ashamed or afraid. I’m able to succeed and do the things I do every day because I process differently. So embrace your different. It may be called a disability, but it can be an asset too. Some of the greatest innovators and creators the world has ever known have been on the spectrum. And once we learn to work with the issues we have, we can learn to become those great innovators and creators.

And don’t be afraid to look for or ask for help. Even if you’re diagnosed later in life, there’s still plenty of resources for you. Many states, including my beloved Ohio, have programs that offer help and direction for people with disabilities and families, whether they be children or well into adulthood. Many schools have or are adding programs to ensure the disabled can take full advantage of their educations. More and more employers are recognizing the importance of hiring people with disabilities, and what they can contribute. We’re not being left alone like a ship in a storm. There is help.

Living my life strong, no matter what my diagnosis is.

And it’s important to be open about your diagnosis, especially with your friends, family, coworkers and teachers. Keeping it a secret has never helped anyone get by. It’s better to be open, so that those around us are better equipped to work with us, and join us on our journey as we work our way through life. I know it’s scary, and you don’t want to be any different than anyone else. But remember, there’s no normal. We’re all different, and many of us wear it on our sleeves. Might as well display this different too, if only to make life a little easier.

I hope you find this helpful. I hope the man who emailed me today found my advice helpful. And if you or someone you know has autism, I hope that no matter what, you or your loved one is able to hold their head up high and know this: you are great the way you are.

*And if you’re about to comment saying some bull about vaccines, let me tell you a story, since anti-vaxxers seem to value testimony more rather than scientific consensus: my mother has told me a few times that I was different from the day I was born, well before I received my first vaccine. I was nothing like the baby books predicted I’d be, and it wasn’t until my younger sister was born that she saw any of that stuff. I trust her word, so that means vaccines had nothing to do with the way I am. And if you still insist that vaccines had something to do with the way I am, you may be calling my mother a liar, and them’s fighting words.

Well, when a lot of time goes by, I get itchy and want to do a blog post, something that happens when you have blogged steadily, usually releasing one or two posts a week, for the past six years. And since my last post was nearly a week ago, I thought I would pop in and say…I have nothing really to say.

Okay, I do have things to say. Anyone who’s been around for a while knows I ALWAYS have something to say. The thing is, nothing feels right at the moment. I could do an update on Rose, but I have not reached a point or done something with the story recently that merits a full post. I could do a post about some aspect of writing or horror or the macabre (especially the latter two since it’s October), but there’s no subject I feel particularly passionate about to write about. I could do something about current events, goodness knows I’m confronted with enough idiocy every day to make plenty of posts. But those posts usually bring trolls by the dozen to my blog, and I don’t even want to summon the energy to ignore them if I can help it (plus with my current job, we’re encouraged to not get too political because some of our clients wouldn’t care for that). I have two potential articles for Self-Published Authors Helping Other Authors, but I’m saving those for after I finish Rose. And as for my personal life, which does occasionally get a post here, just nothing’s happened that I feel like I need to speak about. There are a few things I would like to talk about eventually, like hobbies I’ve taken up in the past year, but I feel like I need more material before I do.

As you can see, I’m a creature of mood and need. I have to be in the right mood to write about certain subjects, and I have to have accomplished something or have the material for a post if I really want to do other subjects.

I’m also a creature in general, but you probably knew that already. What kind, you’re about to ask? You’re probably better off not knowing that.

Regardless, I feel like I have to talk about something, so I’ll talk about my life at this moment. And…it’s busy. My life is very busy.

Yeah, that doesn’t seem like a big thing, but honestly, it’s amazing how much is going on with me right now. I recently got a small promotion at work–nothing big, just a pay raise and a few more responsibilities. I certainly don’t have a cushy new job title or office–and that’s made me very busy. I even had to travel recently to take a week-long training for one of the duties I’ll be taking on, and I’ll be going to another training very soon (as soon as I get through all the paperwork). And right now at work we’re in busy season, as the new fiscal year has started, and we’re wrapping up all the old so we can get into the new. I had to stay at the office late today just so I could take care of my own workload and have less to do tomorrow. And this may be something I have to do more often as the month goes by.

On the bright side, not all of this busy-work is from work, and not all of it is as grueling as work stuff can be. Take, for example, Rose. I am utterly absorbed in the last three chapters, and I am making such great progress with them. I could be done in a couple of weeks, barring nothing unexpected happens. And when that happens, I have two beta readers who are eagerly waiting in the wings to read Rose and give me feedback. Not to mention a lot of people I’ve talked to who don’t necessarily like horror stories, but are interested by the description I give of the book. I think if I can get this story published, it’ll really strike a chord with a lot of people. And if I’m able to get with any of the publishing houses I’ve scoped out, who knows? I could end up with a wide audience like I’ve always dreamed.

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg that is my life. I’m also in the middle of a bunch of books, I’ve got a social life that can get hectic, and a few other things besides. But hey, that’s life, isn’t it? And I’d rather be busy and happy about it than what I was during my job search, which was frankly pretty miserable. I didn’t like not working, living in my dad’s house and feeling judged every time he came home to find out I wasn’t employed. Plus having my savings account dwindle every month due to bills wasn’t that great. No sir, I’m happy I’m this busy, because it shows how good my life has become and how much it can still improve.

And if the feelings I have about Rose are true, perhaps improvement is just around the corner.

What’s your life like? Are you keeping busy, and with what? Let’s discuss in the comments below.

That’s all for now, my Followers of Fear. I hope to have a new post out Sunday, but we’ll see what life throws at me. Until next time, pleasant nightmares!

When most people hear that I work, they ask me where I work. I inevitably reply, “I work part-time at the financial aid office at OSU.” What I often forget to add is, “I’m also a fiction writer in my spare time.” The reason I bring this up is because I recently read this article on the Huffington Post (which you can check out here) in which she learns that her friends don’t see her as working because she writes full-time, and reasons why writing full-time should be considered working (some of those reasons I will reiterate here).

The thing is, writing is work. Hard work. Some peopleĀ envision writers as sitting on their butts with a notebook, typewriter, or a laptop and watching a story unfold before our eyes. In their minds, we might as well be playing video games or watching Netflix for all the energy we’re expending.

The reality is far from that image. Here’s my process for writing a novel, for example: I outline the story, which usually takes a couple of weeks depending on how crazy my life is. Then I do my preliminary research, which is usually done when I’m not working at the office or doing schoolwork (so summers make a great time to do research because I’m not in classes, but sometimes I’m not lucky enough to be in summer when I do research). Then I start to write. And there’s nothing more daunting than the blank page at the beginning of a project. My novels are usually upwards of eighty-thousand words, so seeing that first blank page is terrifying. I have to force myself to get the first words onto a page and from there try to get into a groove.

Usually I’m doing schoolwork and working part-time while I’m writing, so I often save my writing during the evenings, and usually during the commercial breaks when I have something on TV I really want to watch. So how much I get done is dependent on time, how distracted I am, if anything else comes up in my life, and a million other things. With this sort of schedule, writing a novel can take anywhere between six months (which was the case with Snake) to almost two years (as was the case with Reborn City). I’m in the final chapters of Laura Horn, and I’ve been working on that for over a year, taking breaks for all of life’s crazy moments.

And that’s another thing: sometimes I have to take a break from writing in order to work on school or anything else going on in my life. When that happens, it usually takes longer to get words down on the page. As was the case with RC and is the case with LH.

Your average writer.

And if I need to do some additional research? That takes a bite out of writing time too.

And after I finish a novel, it usually requires one to three more drafts before I’m ready to publish it. Even then I usually send it to someone (usually another author and a friend, though in the future I might be looking at professional beta reader/copy editor to help me with the technical stuff) to make sure I haven’t missed any plot holes or horrible typos. Then I design the interior and the cover, apply for a copyright, and set a release date.

And after the book comes out, there’s all the marketing to do. Heck, even before the book comes out, I’m advertising in every place I can so that as many people as possible will know about the book and maybe want to read it. I’m blogging, Facebooking, tweeting, updating business cards, e-mailing, slipping mentions of my new book into articles, updating my resume, telling people by word-of-mouth, and asking people who do end up buying the book that once they’re done, I’d really appreciate it if they’d write a review or do something else to let me know what they think. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to all the marketing I have to do in order to get word of my book out there.

Because let’s face it, I don’t have a team of advertising professionals. I’m self-published, so part of the territory is that I’m doing all my advertising on my own. It isn’t easy, but it’s something I take upon myself so that my book can sell well and people will read it.

Does that sound like sitting on my butt playing video games or watching Netflix? No, it’s work. We don’t have time cards or an office cube or water coolers, and very rarely anything like a regular paycheck. But yeah, we are working. It’s as grueling a job as working in the Sales Department or on an assembly line or going to a meeting with execs from another company. Our job just allows us the perks of setting our own hours and picking our own projects.

In summary.

So I think from now I’ll be adding that writing is my other part-time job when people ask me where I work. And I hope people who read this article who aren’t writers will realize we’re not just relaxing in our living rooms or home offices (if we’re lucky enough to have those) playing solitaire or watching funny cat videos on our computers. We’re working, and we’re working hard.

Still don’t believe me? Then go ahead and write your own novel that’s halfway decent, and then tell me it’s not work. I’ll wait.

How do you feel about writing as work?

Has anyone ever mistook what you do for free time? How did you respond?