Are blogs the new journals?

I saw this article recently in my writing blogs:

Are Blogs The New Journals?

It’s been ten years since I kept a “proper” journal. You know, the kind you write long-hand into a private (note)book? Actually, I was in a journaling slump even the early ’00s, so it’s been more like twelve. I’ve kept a journal since I was fifteen (even earlier than that, but in a fit of teenaged angst, I threw that earlier one away). So I believe with conviction that blogs are not the new “journals.” A contemporary form of ongoing letter-writing correspondence, perhaps, but not a contemporary form of the journal.

If any blogging platform comes close to journaling, it’s Dreamwidth/Live Journal, which in my experience is more intimate than your average blog. People talk more about their personal lives, their highs and lows. But blogs and “online journals” are social media. They allow you to interact and form communities. I remember when I first heard about Live Journal from some ATPo friends ten years ago. I was flabbergasted. They keep their journals ON LINE? It seemed the height of exhibitionism to me.

Because at the time, journals were, for me, a private space where you wrote your innermost thoughts, didn’t censor, poured out emotions you wouldn’t reveal any other place, engaged in self-indulgent naval gazing, and kept the metaphorical pressed flowers of your daily life preserved for later nostalgia or mortification. Assuming you could even pick up that volume 20 years later without wanting to kick your younger self in the shins.

Journaling isn’t better or worse than blogging, it’s just different. You blog for attention and validation, in part, and you risk criticism and rejection. It’s the school yard, the neighborhood coffee clache, the backyard barbecue. A journal, on the other hand, is just You, and sometimes Your God (my mom, forex, thinks of her jouraling as a form of prayer. Self-indulgent whining at God kind of prayer, but cathartic for that very reason).

There is a gray middle ground, of course. I sometimes write private entries in my Live Journal that are more like my old journal than a blog entry. But I do censor myself in those entries a bit in the paranoid fear some security bug will sweep through LJ and make them public ever so briefly. But I don’t often just journal with a notebook and a pen like the old days anymore. The only time I still feel compelled to write in a notebook that is totally disconnected from online blogging and emails is when I’m hiking and feeling kinda spiritual. Computers and the woods don’t mix for a lot of reasons.

Holy Yikes! Self-publishing and Tax Law

I published a book last year. I made some dough on it. Not a lot, but enough to generate two 1099-MISC forms from Amazon and Smashwords.

This week, I went to the TurboTax website to do my taxes. 1099-MISC with an amount in box 2, it told me, is either property rental income or business income. Plz to be proceeding to fill out a Schedule C.

I have a business?

So I start in on the schedule C. Business name, business address, business type code. This all seems rather silly. I write fiction from a chair in my living room. Some day, God willing, I might be a self-employed writer, but not right now. I have the proverbial day-job, a full-time job in an urelated field that brings in the majority of my personal income. Now onto the deductions. Oh, yes, I paid some money to get a personal website put up to promote my writing and book. Enter the expenses on that.

Suddenly, my refund, which was not itty-bitty due to mortgage interest, doubled. What. This can’t be correct.

Now, ask some people, this is all perfectly legit–especially if Turbotax lets you do it leads you down the garden path right through it. But I’m not keen on the idea of being audited. So I spent an hour plus today waiting in the queue for TurboTax’s free CPA chat. Schedule C is correct, says my Free CPA. “But it’s not a business,” type I. Free CPA disappears for a moment, then gives me this useful info dump:

“There is quite a bit of law on the distinction between a hobby and a business; but basically you have to record hobby income and you are allowed to deduct the expenses to that hobby, as long as they do not exceed the income. Some of the factors the IRS and the Court looks at as to in the distinction are:

(1) The amount of time you spend at this hobby or business can be a determining factor. If you have other trades or businesses, or if you have employment with someone else, it may be obvious that the activity in question is a hobby because you may not have sufficient available time to devote to the concept of making this activity a business. An example of this was a case in which an attorney was found to be in the business of gambling because he concentrated on his betting activity more than his law practice and his intent was to make a profit.

(2) Your intent in this particular activity also weighs heavily in whether or not the activity is a hobby or a business. intent is usually determined by considering other factors. Do you keep records as though this were a bona fide business? Do you spend sufficient time to show intent to make a profit? Do you advertise? Do you do other things that are characteristic of a person who’s trying to make a living at this activity?

It’s not a cut and dried decision, but if your activity is a business, your best defense of its business nature is to treat it like a business.”

Yeah, legally a hobby, for now.

So I return to Turbotax, enter an expenses write-off equivalent to my sales, and wipe my hands clean.

31 Things

One of my New Year’s resolutions was to clear out Stuff I Don’t Need from my living space. To that end, I resolved to get rid of one thing (or set of things) every day this year.

So far, so good, although I suspect January is easy because there is more junk around at the beginning of such an exercise. One thing I noticed is I really didn’t hunt down one thing per day. I gathered multiple things on more motivated days and distributed them forward for the coming week or two. The result is the same, though.

My January list does seem to be a colossal pile of junk, but I think that’s the point here. Items were donated to Good Will, recycled, or, in one or two cases, trashed:

31 things

365 Things

One of my New Year’s resolutions is less a resolution than an experiment. I am going to try to rid myself of one object, thing, trinket, machine, doodad, tchotchke, whatever a day for the next year.

There are not many people who would accuse me of having a cluttered house–I don’t think it’s cluttered–and yet, I still wonder what it would *feel like* to live in a house that isn’t full of what are basically useless distractions. Junk you save thinking it will “have a use someday” that sits there for years serving no purpose whatsoever, practical or aesthetic or entertainment.

The ground rules are pretty simple.

(1) The day’s discard can be one object (say, one issue of a magazine), or a group of objects (all issues of that magazine),
(2) It has to go in the recycling or be donated to a charity/or Good Will, unless it’s really truly biodegradable junk,
(3) It can’t be anything I’m getting rid of simply to replace it with a newer thing that performs the same function.
(4) It can’t be anything with a natural short life span, like fruit peels or paper towels.

So today’s Thing is

(1) a basket full of silk flowers and plants.

Resolutions

A lot of people don’t like doing New Years resolutions, and I don’t blame them. Each year of our lives has a particular flow, and the flow we are in in one year is different than the one we veer into in the next, and therefore the expectations we develop from one may not apply to the other at all. We can’t always control the way our lives flow.

But I think those of us privileged enough to have some semblance of control over at least part of our time ought to at least visualize how we’d like to spend that time, even if other stuff comes along to divert us from those visions. 2012 was a case-in-point year for that.

Resolutions

I just finished the first draft of my novel

Woo-f***ing-hoo!!

But yes, alas, that means I am officially not doing NaNo this year, ’cause October has been my NaNoWriMo–a non-stop writing-and-editing spree that began each morning as soon as I woke up , stopped only so I could go to the stress-hell that has been work this month, and resumed the minute I got home until I collapsed in bed.

I think part of the reason I managed to whack out the rest of this story in one month is that work has been so sucky, writing distracted me from dwelling on it. Which, bonus. But I overdid it. I have been sick with the flu for over a week now. Still working at my job from home–blast modern remote login computers.

I crawled into my actual place of employment for meetings twice last week and couldn’t even sit up for the length of them.

Now I am all jealous of my friends prepping for NaNo. Not because I’m dying to spew out 1,667 words a day, but because it’s fun to be part of all that energy. My Nov and Dec will be spent planning the second draft of my novel (and posting on that process, hopefully). And it will need planning–lots and lots of planning, ’cause for Pantsers, the first draft is really the “outline.” It is the raw material out of which the “actual” novel is formed.

And there was so much I wanted to include in this draft I didn’t have room for, I slowly concluded it was three books instead of one. So now I need to plan out three books. And then, hopefully before the new year (but I’m not pushing it), start the “second” draft of the first book.

The free-floating knot

The anxiety is back. The kind you feel in your arms and your legs and your gut but that never attaches itself to anything in particular in your thoughts. The kind that feels like the butterflies before you give a speech, the tension in your muscles when you know you absolutely have to do something unpleasant you’d rather avoid. Only, there may or may not be anything like that going on in your life at the moment. You feel the sensations anyway.

Read more

That reading thing

Lately, I have been pondering ways to do more pleasure reading. As a kid, I always had a book on hand. I devoured them by the gross. In the years since grad school, however, I have found myself reading a lot less, and I know that is effecting my writing.

Okay, stop: just the fact that I am thinking about this in terms of how it “effects my writing” tells me I am not really framing this as “reading for pleasure,” and that’s one problem right there. Reading has become a means to an end, an obligation or chore, and that’s not a great start.

Anyway, there is plenty of advice out there about how to “find more time” for reading (much less, however, on how to make it a pleasure again). The most relevant suggestions:

Computers are my problem

Dis/inhibition paperback gets Ingram distribution

I found these this morning while Googling:

http://www.adlibris.com/se/product.aspx?isbn=1105603709
http://www.libri.de/shop/action/productDetails/19400201/nancy_e_shaffer_dis_inhibition_1105603709.html

There is still an issue with getting the book cover on some of U.S. sites, but I am told that’s being worked on.

“Inhibition is nature’s way of keeping you from doing something really stupid…”

Valerie Running Deer is a brash, brilliant neuroscience graduate student. Elizabeth Baldwin is her uptight, control-freak advisor. Elizabeth and Valerie’s relationship has always been a battle of wills, but when Elizabeth hands over one of Valerie’s original research ideas to another student, Valerie fires the shot that turns their cold war into a hot one: she makes a pass at Elizabeth’s daughter Lisa, a coy, impetuous teen who has been harboring a crush on her.

Valerie’s spiteful impulse is diffused when she starts to fall for Lisa behind Elizabeth’s back, but a confrontation is inevitable. Valerie’s tumultuous journey towards it will entangle her in the circuitous dance of the relationships around her as friends, colleagues, and family struggle to balance need and trust, impulse and restraint. Control freaks. Hot heads.

Timid artists. Impulsive kids. Dis/inhibition explores the complications of self-control both outside and inside the scientific laboratory.

Buy the book

| Amazon | Barnes & Noble | IndieBound | Books-a-Million |

Buy the eBook

| Amazon | Barnes & Noble | IndieBound | Apple iBookstore | Smashwords | Kobo |

The book is also available at Amazon UK and Amazon Canada.