MANW Week 11: Check-In and Emotional Labor

Jack The Pumpkin King Avatar

Good morning, challengers! I’ve got a few updates for you before diving into the meat of today’s post. LeechBlock is working out fantastic for me, and I also managed to get my main compy up to speed, too. Huzzah! Sadly, I am forced (forced, I tell you!) to suffer in domesticity, but thanks to February’s ORGANIZE theme my spring cleaning is going a lot smoother than last year. The habits I picked up on are allowing me to gauge how much time a household task takes; this gives me more options to plan my day.

I’ve been bead stitching for my artistic time, and I recently finished this spiral stitch necklace with peyote embellishments. The pattern is available in Jill Weisman’s Beautiful Beaded Ropes–I loved the red so much I didn’t deviate from the color scheme or the original pattern.

Also in hilarious news, I backed the Chameleon Pens Color Tops Kickstarter and didn’t realize that my pledge was specific to the “tops.” A few e-mails and updates later, and I’m the (future) proud owner of alcohol-based markers!

For today’s check-in, I want to talk about emotional labor and its impact on your productivity.

Creative Challenge: Dealing with Emotional Labor

Emotional labor is defined on Wikipedia as: “..a form of emotion regulation that creates a publicly visible facial and bodily display within the workplace. The related term emotion work (also called “emotion management”) refers to “these same acts done in a private context,” such as within the private sphere of one’s home or interactions with family and friends. Hochschild identified three emotion regulation strategies: cognitive, bodily, and expressive.”

Artists perform emotional labor because we tap into the human condition to produce art that generates a desired feeling (e.g. happiness, fear, awe) or response (e.g. sexual arousal in romance) when we create our art, sell it, and interact with our readers, players, etc. If we (e.g. artists) lived in a bubble, unaffected by the outside world, you might think it’d be easier to produce works of art in any genre–humor, romance, horror, science fiction, fantasy, mystery, thriller–on command. It’s not and we don’t. In fact, to become better artists, we have to explore the human condition either consciously or subconsciously to produce art that connects emotionally. Whether we do that through our daily lives/local communities or not, we aren’t robots. We are human beings who make art, and we’re not immune to what’s happening around or to us. Due to the nature of our work, we often have to ignore or deal with our feelings so we can generate emotional touchpoints in our work.

It’s easier to put emotional labor into context offline. For example, consider a fan who asks me out to an intimate dinner at a con. In the fan’s mind, they want to do something nice and spend time with the artist they admire–which is lovely! In my mind, however, an invitation for a private one-on-one dinner with someone I’ve never met before is something I’d typically say “No, thank you!” to for a few reasons. First, when I travel it’s typically for work so I often balance my schedule against meetings, etc. Second, since I’m fairly private a lot of people don’t know I’ve been in a long-standing relationship and I don’t mix work with pleasure. And lastly, as a woman in a strange city there are safety considerations I have to weigh against an invite like this. Because I don’t want to be rude, I might say something like: “I’m very flattered, but no thank you.” Conventions are usually work for me, and I finally feel like I’ve figured it out!

Offline, emotional labor is interesting because face-to-face interactions and body language support what you’re saying. Online interactions are an entirely different ballgame because people are exchanging words and images through their “world view” filter. The internet isn’t a utopia filled with unbiased or free information, because human beings create the content that is published online. If you’re engaged, then you’re consuming updates and content that may or may not impact your emotions. The news is the easiest example I can think of, but what happens when it’s not that simple? Take, for example, a piece of bad news that’s circulating about a peer you’ve worked with. Do you keep an eye on the discussion and pay attention to every nuance? Do you defend this peer? Does this peer expect you to chime in? Do you converse with other fans to make sense of what’s happening? As another example, say that I’m writing a funny short story about kittens and it’s due in a few hours. I briefly touch base on Facebook only to find out that my friend’s beloved cat died. Ouch! How does that news affect my work? I’m sad about Booster, but I don’t have time to feel that emotion. If I want to get my short story done, I need to channel or set aside that grief for a later date.

By thinking about emotional labor as “unpaid work”, I feel this lens puts a little space between what you feel obligated to do, what you have to do, and what you can walk away from. You aren’t getting paid for the emotional labor you’re required to perform online, much like you wouldn’t get paid to smile and nod in front of hostile reviewers or back-stabbing peers. Remember: people often go where they feel welcome, but that doesn’t hold true in all cases. Sometimes, you might not have a choice and have to engage online. Instead of saying: “This [current event] might de-rail me from my deadline. How do I deal with these toxic emotions?” Try re-wording this to: “This [current event] might de-rail me from my deadline. Do I need that kind of work right now?” That way, you’re recognizing you’re adding unpaid labor on top of your regular workload, and that by itself could help you deal with difficult situations.

Lastly, I want to point out there is no possible way for me to relate to all of my readers for this (or any other) challenge, and I recognize that. This topic is a broad one, and intersects not only with productivity but with harassment and depression, too. If, however, your productivity is out of whack, consider what kind of unpaid work you’ve taken on. Maybe your solution is to take a break from the internet for a week or two. Maybe you decide to stop engaging on social media before you get your word count done. Or, maybe you’ve figured out to take a step back from certain communities because you don’t feel welcome. The specifics of your identity, your situation, and how you deal with your emotions both online and off is uniquely personal–your art, your life, your choices. I trust you’ll make the right decision for yourself, your well-being, and your art.

    Mood: I went outside and breathed fresh air. It was weird.
    Caffeinated Beverages Consumed: Four or five
    Work-Out Minutes Logged Yesterday: Housework
    In My Ears: Nada
    Game Last Played: Star Realms
    Book Last Read: The Oracle
    Movie/TV Show Last Viewed: ONCE Upon a Time
    Latest Artistic Project: Make Art Not War 2017 Challenge and Rules
    Latest Releases: In Volo’s Wake for Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition. Read my end-of-the-year list of releases for an overview of what I’ve put out for 2016.
    Current State of Projects: Read my latest project update. New project update coming this month!



Camp NaNoWriMo Prep and 5 Writing eBook Recs

CampNaNoWriMo

T-minus two weeks until Camp NaNoWriMo begins! You can find me at camp under the username: mlvalentine if you want to connect individually. I am significantly decreasing connectivity in April, because I’ve got a lot of words to write for both work and camp.

To help you prep, I’ve picked out ten reference ebooks on writing that are available on DriveThruFiction.com. I’ve either read these books or have them sitting on a shelf in my reference library, and I’ve made notes where applicable.

  • Dynamic Characters – Written by Nancy Kress, I really liked this character reference book because it reminded me of being in workshop. Dynamic Characters utilizes a mixture of advice and examples from popular fiction, so you can see the logic in Kress’s advice.
  • A Writer’s Guide to Persistence – Persistence and discipline are two keys to being a writer, and sometimes it’s hard to find the energy or motivation to have both. This book focuses on persistence by offering tips, advice, and journaling exercises to help you push through a hump. I’ve found this book to have long-term value; it’s not unusual to have more than one slow or frustrating period as a writer. Getting back on the proverbial horse is super important, and this book offers a different perspective.
  • 90 Days to Your Novel: A Day-by-Day Plan for Outlining & Writing Your Book – Outlining my original fiction is something that’s been helping me remain focused and get more done. There’s many different methods of outlining (e.g. The Snowflake Method), but I’ve rarely seen a book that combines outline with planning. I haven’t sat down and tried the plan yet; current goal is to start in June and wrap writing into July’s Camp NaNoWriMo.
  • 101 Habits of Highly Successful Novelists – Sometimes, writing advice can be challenging to give and receive because what works for one writer may not work for another. Secondarily, the path to success varies so wildly from one writer to another, that sometimes it can be challenging to figure out if you’re on the right track. This collection of habits helps to reinforce what you’re already doing, but also give you ideas on how to model your actions after super successful writers.
  • 20 Master Plots and How to Build Them – On the pragmatic side, this book is filled with big picture lots and has a lot of checklists to ensure you’re on track. I’ve referenced this during outlining and revisions, and found it helps serve as a reminder for the big picture stuff.

If you’re taking my Make Art Not War 2017 Challenge, this does count towards the challenge. You’ll want to plan approximately two hours a day to make your daily word count goal of 1,667, and commit to some brief outline sketches ahead of time. Additionally, if there’s other administrative or Life, The Universe, and EverythingTM tasks you need to do, it’s a smart idea to get that done ahead of time and make room for words. That way, if something throws you off-kilter then you won’t veer as far off track.

Happy prepping!

    Mood: Monday Monday
    Caffeinated Beverages Consumed: So much espresso!
    Work-Out Minutes Logged Yesterday: Walking my ass off
    In My Ears: Whiny cats
    Game Last Played: Final Fantasy X-2: The Last Mission
    Book Last Read: Black Unicorn
    Movie/TV Show Last Viewed: Legend of the Seeker
    Latest Artistic Project: Make Art Not War 2017 Challenge and Rules
    Latest Releases: In Volo’s Wake for Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition. Read my end-of-the-year list of releases for an overview of what I’ve put out for 2016.
    Current State of Projects: Read my latest project update. New project update coming this month!



Why You Should Take My Writing the Other Class

There is still time to register for Writing Inclusive Games: Creating RPGs Sans Fail.

Tempest and I have a great syllabus planned! If you’re interested in working on RPGs, here’s a few things I want to point out for your consideration:

    1. I’ve worked as a developer, writer, editor, creative consultant, worldbuilding consultant, and in marketing for over ten years on dozens of games with multiple companies. My knowledge, combined with K. Tempest Bradford’s, is enough to fill a set of encyclopedias. Take advantage of this!

    2. The hobby games industry doesn’t train writers. You have to go to the companies you want to work for and apply. Like any other industry, there’s cultural aspects and processes in place that already exist. If you’re new and representation is important to you, then you might feel intimidated. We’re here to help.

    3. People who design/produce games for the first time often make the same mistakes. The same is true when addressing representation. Knowing is half the battle, especially in an industry where costs are concerned. If you want to make your own game, there are many, many pitfalls to avoid that will save you time and money in the long run. We can point those out.

    4. The exercises are designed to be flexible. I’ll review them with a developer’s eye in a safe space. Some companies don’t have the time for hands on feedback with freelance writers or designers. This class offers you the chance to write and get invaluable comments, which will prepare you for future assignments or show you how to critique your own work.

    5. The class also addresses troubleshooting and methods to handle difficult situations. Creating RPGs is a complicated process with a lot of moving parts, and there may be problems that arise from time to time. Thanks to our combined experiences, Tempest and I can give you tips to assuage your fears and help you be more confident going forward.

For all these reasons and more, that’s why there’s a financial component attached to the class and why we can’t offer this for free. Writing Inclusive Games: Creating RPGs Sans Fail isn’t just about representation, it will also include a lot of information about the creation and marketing of RPGs as well to help you achieve your goals, too. Why? My philosophy is that if you’re paying for my time, whether that’s a RPG, a book, or a class, I want to make sure it’ll be well worth the effort.

Convention Prep: Geeking Out about My Top 5 Makeup Must-Haves

White Queen from Alice in Wonderland

One of the things I love to do is play with makeup, and I don’t get the opportunity to geek out about it very much–so I thought I’d do it here. My recommendations are meant to be for anyone, regardless of gender, age, etc. who’s interested. To that end, I did double-check to make sure my must-haves were available in multiple skin tones, and comments are open if you want to leave specific suggestions.

Before I get to my must-haves, I wanted to mention that one of the most important things you can do is figure out your skin type. There’s a lot of advice out there that talks about what layers you need (primer, lotion, etc.) to put on your face before applying makeup, but often what you use (or how many layers you apply) depends upon your skin’s composition. For example, tons of people put on CC or BB cream; using that as a base tends to make your face slick because it has sunscreen. If your skin is naturally oily, then it will probably feel even slicker if you layer lotions, etc. beneath that. If you’re not sure what type of skin you have, it’s worth visiting a consultant at a department store or a specialty shop like Sephora or Ulta to help you get a baseline.

1. Urban Decay De-Slick Powder

I love this powder. The Urban Decay De-Slick Powder is an odorless, colorless powder that can be worn by itself or with makeup. It is designed to control shine, and it works like a charm to offset humidity, sweat, etc. perfect for long days or summer cons. Urban Decay is sold direct through their website, or you can find the line at Sephora and Ulta.

2. Urban Decay Eyeshadow Primer Potion

If you have issues with slick eyelids as the day goes on, this potion is magical. There are three different types that can be worn under eyeshadow or by themselves. By far, the Urban Decay Eyeshadow Primer has been one of the best ways to give a little coverage and prevent greasy eyelids. If that’s a concern, you can pick up the Urban Decay Lockdown Duo to help set your makeup, or you can use blotting papers instead.

3. Moodstruck Minerals Stiff Upper Lip Stain

Younique has some interesting products to try, and I’ve had good luck with their Moodstruck 3D Fiber Lashes and the Moodstruck Minerals Stiff Upper Lip Stain. The stain goes on like a lip gloss, but it dries out, coloring your lips for hours. I usually pair the stain with regular chapstick or clear gloss; the benefit of doing this is fantastic. I don’t have to look in the mirror to apply the gloss, and the color stays on all day. The only tip I have is that you use a lip exfoliator, like this amazing Mary Kay Satin Lips set, to make sure your skin is smooth before staining them.

4. Perfekt Undereye Concealer

Dark circles, red eyes, and puffy under eye skin are definitely a hazard if you stay up late at night. I often bring Visine with me to help with the redness, and for puffy eyes, I use Alba Botanica Green Tea Gel or All About Eyes Serum De-Puffer by Clinique. (There’s a lovely article about various methods to de-puff eyes here, if you’re interested.) For undereye concealer, I use Perfekt Skin Perfection Concealer. When applying, you only need a little bit. Its lighter-than-air, so it doesn’t cake, and if you use it in a criss-cross pattern beneath the eye stretching to the top of the cheekbone it’ll blend well.

5. Maybelline The Blushed Nudes Palette

I really enjoy playing around with eyeshadow palettes, and some like the kits from Stila, are better than others. I’ve been very surprised by the quality of Maybelline’s sets, and have been really happy with the quality. At cons, I like a variety of shades and small compacts travel well. Maybelline’s The Blushed Nudes are a great buy for the money, and the metallics aren’t grainy. There’s a ton of other Maybelline eyeshadow palettes that I haven’t tried yet, too. The nice thing is that Maybelline is available in drug stores and in specialty makeup stores, plus they’re hella affordable and portable.

Hope you enjoyed this post! I had a lot of fun writing it and geeking out about makeup.

    Mood: Naptime?
    Caffeinated Beverages Consumed: Quite a bit.
    Work-Out Minutes Logged Yesterday: Laundry, laundry, laundry
    In My Ears: Space heater
    Game Last Played: Final Fantasy X-2: The Last Mission
    Book Last Read: Black Unicorn
    Movie/TV Show Last Viewed: Legend of the Seeker
    Latest Artistic Project: Make Art Not War 2017 Challenge and Rules
    Latest Releases: In Volo’s Wake for Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition. Read my end-of-the-year list of releases for an overview of what I’ve put out for 2016.
    Current State of Projects: Read my latest project update. New project update coming this month!



MANW Week 10: Check-In and Creative Prompts for Spring

If you’re buried in snow, it might feel like Spring will never come–but it will! I promise!

Before I share some cool links with you that are loaded with creative prompts to celebrate the season, I wanted to give you an update on my social media and internet usage. You may recall that I’ve been going back and forth about how best to leverage my connections, and I’ve found a solution that works. As I’ve been focusing more on making art, I’m finding I need the head space to ensure what’s happening online isn’t intersecting with my work. To that end, there are two programs I’ve found, StayFocusd and LeechBlock, that allow a user to block websites during specific times of the day. So far, that’s been working out very well because I’ve customized them around my schedule. That’s been very effective, and I’m sure it will help me remain focused during Camp NaNoWriMo.

On with the prompts! Since Spring is a popular subject matter for creative prompts, I wanted to share a few links I’ve found on other websites.

That’s all the time I have today. Hope your week has been lovely! Onwards!

    Mood: Naptime?
    Caffeinated Beverages Consumed: Quite a bit.
    Work-Out Minutes Logged Yesterday: Laundry, laundry, laundry
    In My Ears: Space heater
    Game Last Played: Final Fantasy X-2: The Last Mission
    Book Last Read: Black Unicorn
    Movie/TV Show Last Viewed: Legend of the Seeker
    Latest Artistic Project: Make Art Not War 2017 Challenge and Rules
    Latest Releases: In Volo’s Wake for Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition. Read my end-of-the-year list of releases for an overview of what I’ve put out for 2016.
    Current State of Projects: Read my latest project update. New project update coming this month!



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