Jennifer Brozek | January 2019

Declutter Monday for 28 Jan 2019

by Jennifer Brozek 29. January 2019 11:05

I decided to start decluttering on Saturday with my bathroom. That continued on into the hall closet. I didn’t expect the hall closet to take that much time. Except for the CDs. I’m one of those people who has held onto their CDs “just in case.” I’m part of the generation that grew up without the internet until my twenties. Some habits are hard to let go.

First thought: It’s amazing how much crap you stash away when you’re “just cleaning.” I remember doing a deep clean on the bathroom a few months ago, but I still found many tubes of expired makeup, hand cream, and sunscreen.

Second thought: CDs. Oh lord. Those included unexpected emotional bombs. Like hypnotherapy for weight loss and self-esteem. I kept about 160 CDs. This included my maybe pile. Donated 180+ CDs. I culled it by asking myself, “Would I miss this CD if the end of the world came and I only had a CD player to listen to music on?” If the answer was “No.” into the donate pile it went. I guess this apocalyptic question-and-answer was my version of whether or not something “sparks joy.” Now, three huge boxes have been condensed into a single wallet storage organizer I can get to easily.

Third thought: Me and the Husband are learning all about different recycling systems and services. Jewel cases are simple plastic recycle as long as they are empty. Also, locally, there is a company that does fabric recycling for fabric things that cannot be donated.

Fourth thought: Some areas are harder to declutter than others. I realized that I didn’t want to actually declutter my office. I kept thinking about leaving it until last, even though I said that I was going to finish the upstairs before I tackled the downstairs because so much of that needed the Husband’s input. (Husband unexpectedly home to help doesn’t count.) Thus, I decided I would take my time with the office. Partly why I started the declutter over the weekend, I guess.

Fifth thought: The large bookcase in my office was painful. Physically and mentally. I lost another gel nail. The same finger (left pointer) as last time, but this time, a full week early. Too busy to go get it fixed. Mentally…so many bad writing mistakes hiding in the back and bottom of the bookcase: Scams I was taken in by. Bad contracts. Really terrible manuscripts that I never want to see the light of day. I feel like I need a drink…and a hug. Not necessarily in that order.

Final thought: It is still a pleasure to shred. More tax / house documents 10+ years old. I hoarded that stuff like I was sure I would be audited. Though, my shredder is starting to make distressed noises. I need to be careful with it. It’s 15+ years old after all.

Next week, I start downstairs officially. The Kitchen. I don’t know how bad it will be. We did one round of decluttering about six months back. Part of me wants to redo the entire upstairs because I feel like I’ve missed stuff, but I think distance and time is the better bet. To hone my decision making skills and make sure my ruthlessness is used on the right thing. Do the downstairs. Then come back upstairs and start again.

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Declutter Monday for 21 Jan 2019

by Jennifer Brozek 22. January 2019 09:18

As it turned out to be a vacation day for the Husband, he agreed to help me tackle an area that would need a lot of his help/opinions. So, instead of me tackling an upstairs room, we tackled the Library/Reading nook/China hutch. This area was easier than I thought it would be. It helped to have the Husband right there to agree/disagree with me and sort through his books.

First thought: The Library purge wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. As it turns out, I still have my favorites, my duplicates (“but that’s the first version of that book I bought” or “my mom gave that one to me”), and my to-be-read books. I donated all of the books I haven’t read that no longer sounded interesting, the books I wouldn’t read again, and books I liked enough to keep but not in duplicate form.

Second thought: The china hutch isn’t one anymore. Ninety percent of what we used to store in there is gone. There was an amazing set of random glassware we never used along with the specialty serving ware we got as wedding presents. We used it for the first five years of our marriage on special occasions because it was beautiful. However, it was not dishwasher safe. In fact, the dishwasher destroyed a couple pieces. After a while, we stopped using it—even for special occasions. Mostly because it was all handwash. Who has time for that?

Instead, the bottom part is for all of the serving ware we do use (also wedding presents) that are dishwasher safe—pretty, white, simple boats, plates, and bowls. The top part is now home to my antique occult literature book collection. It’s so much easier for me to get to it now. I do have to fiddle with the sorting of the books, but they all fit.

Third thought: There is an amazing amount of crap that can be stuffed behind a couch. Everything from empty packing tubs to rolls of crushed wrapping paper to many lost cat toys to mailing boxes. It was good to purge all that stuff and now know there is nothing behind the couch that shouldn’t be.

Fourth thought: The “warranties and manuals” side table was in definite need of help. We had stuff in there from appliances we no longer own and services we no longer have. It was paperwork that needed going through. As I said last time…it is a pleasure to shred.

Fifth thought: Random keys no longer bother me. If we haven’t used or needed a key in the 5-10 years they have been in the side table, we don’t need them at all. If we do, I know people with lockpicks. Failing that, I know how to use a screwdriver and a hammer. Bonus: we found an extra key to our mailbox.

Final thought: I am still weak (and that's okay). There are some things I could not part with. A couple of duplicate books because each one had its own story. Also, there was a beautiful, black, empty notebook I kept because it just felt so good in my hands. It might become a new journal. It might become a story I tell myself. I don’t know. I just know I wasn’t willing to let it go.

It was good to have the Husband helping me today. We got everything done that we wanted to get done and that makes us both happy. Next week, back to working on the upstairs… the hall closet and my bathroom. 

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Declutter Monday for 14 Jan 2019

by Jennifer Brozek 15. January 2019 08:51

This Declutter Monday was dedicated to the Cat Room AKA the Bonus / Exercise / AIP Book storage Room. This “catch all” room has been the eyesore of the house since I moved in. It got all the extra stuff—LARP, travel, storage, whatever. It is also where we lock the cats up when they need to be locked up. Thus “the Cat Room.” (Notice how hard I'm working to not say "junk room"?)

This room was hard to start. Most of the stuff outside the closet needed organization rather than strictly decluttering. Especially the Apocalypse Ink Productions shelves used for the AIP office, travel, storage, and records. We moved the sturdy cabinet from downstairs to upstairs and shifted all the AIP stuff onto it.

Also, full disclosure, the declutter of the Cat Room started on Sunday with the Husband helping because some of the stuff outside the closet was all him or needed his opinion/muscles. This help included a much-needed dump run.

Still, decluttering, cleaning, and organizing the Cat room was rough. It even took a sacrifice in the form of ripping one of my gel nails off. I didn’t feel it. I found it on the floor. Good thing I had a nail appointment scheduled for Monday.

First thought: It is a pleasure to shred…. I overheated my shredder on twelve-year-old house / tax documents. I’ve never done that before. I couldn’t just toss/recycle most of the documents due to the sensitive nature of them. Also, I don’t mind using the shredder. Though, it may have a few choice words for me after today.

Second thought: I ran into more—surprise!—pictures and a sentimental collage book from college (I think). I’m shocked at how many pictures I have stashed all over the house. I know I didn’t put together the scrapbook. I don’t know for sure who did. I think it might have been my mom. It, along with the photos, are now in my sentimental drawer. I hope by the time I get to it, I’ll have a decent handle on how to declutter sentimental things. To be fair, I’ll probably put a lot of it in a “treasure box” and limit the sentimental stuff that way.

Third thought: This was a hard room to declutter/organize. There was too much stuff that needed the husband’s opinion/help. I felt guilty needing it. He didn’t sign up for that part. He signed up for moving the trash bags to the trash, taking the donate piles to the charity shops, and when (IF) I get the eBay store up and running, he’ll help me mail everything. I appreciated all the help he gave me and he did understand why I needed it. Sometimes decluttering means you’re going to need help.

Fourth thought: If you didn’t know me or the Husband and you decluttered the Cat Room, you might come away with a very odd impression of us. A lot of old LARPing and Dance costumes, accessories, and tools got downsized. A bunch of it was odd. Even to me. The weirdest thing I found: a bag filled with a wig head, wigs, a wig brush, and wig de-tangler. All of it unopened. That was next to two empty rifle cases and a couple of walkie-talkies. Hmmm, I say. Hmmm.

Final thought: Even though this was harder than I thought it would be and it was a LONG day—we finished at 7:20pm—it was so worth it. We can open the closet to get to our suitcases without something falling on us. The AIP shelves are clean and organized. We even labeled some of the boxes to help keep it that way. There’s a floor in the room! The cats have sprawled all over it. There’s enough room that I can do my stretches in there instead of the hallway. For the first time in over a decade, the Cat Room is actually clean.

Next week… the upstairs hall closet and my bathroom.

 

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Declutter Monday for 7 Jan 2019

by Jennifer Brozek 8. January 2019 15:59

The first “Declutter Monday” of the new year is complete. I tackled the parts of my bedroom I hadn’t actually gotten to in the last quarter of 2018. This meant today I tackled my closet, my bedside drawers, and my dresser.
•    In the closet, I tackled all my drawers and the shelves at the top.
•    For the bedside drawers, this included the top and all the drawers.
•    For the dresser, this meant “only” the two slender “stuff” drawers, the top of the dresser, and all my jewelry. (I tackled the main dresser drawers in 2018.)
In essence… a lot.

First thought: I owe Marie Kondo an apology. The thought that I need to thank things as I decluttered them was weird to me. I understood the animistic approach, but I thought it was a bit much. I was wrong. I was so wrong. I ran into not one, but two, boxes of stuff from my past. In my early twenties and thirties, I was a dreamy, fantasy Jenn. I don’t know how to explain what I did, other than to say that I collected a lot of stones, rocks, runes, and other fantasy accoutrement.

I was thrown back into a time of “just dreaming” before I worked to realize my dreams. It was a lonely time where I took much pleasure in my fantasy lives—mental, spiritual, and gaming/LARPing. It hurt my heart to get rid of these things. And, in truth, I kept a scant few items I just wasn’t willing to part with. The rest I thanked and said good-bye to. I felt better saying, “Thank you for giving past me so much joy. I will miss you. Good-bye.” as I put each thing in a donate or trash pile.

I always joke I’m an intellectual magpie. I used to be a physical one, too, collecting every shiny bit and bob I could find. Most of what I had packed away was trash.

Second thought: It is perfectly fine to “nope out” of decluttering sentimental items. The bottom bedside drawer is now designated “sentimental.” When I ran into the piles of letters I’d kept from when I went to boot camp, I knew I wasn’t ready to tackle them. After considering reading and shredding them, then maybe selling them (there is a surprisingly robust market for personal letters and journals on eBay), I decided I just couldn’t do it. Same with the surprise! more pictures to sort—from my wedding no less. I labeled it sentimental for tackling in round 2 (or 3) of decluttering.

Third thought: There is real satisfaction to be found in decluttering and getting rid of old things. Of looking at something and knowing it needs to go elsewhere. I’ve got three bags of trash and one full basket to donate waiting to go out.

Fourth thought: The method of sort-purge-organize is best. After sorting and purging, you can see what you need to organize and what organizational things you need/want. Right now, I know I want a dresser tray to hold my hair pins, mirror, and perfumes. These are things I want out because I use them a lot.

Final thought: I’ve already decided/realized that I’m going to need to do at least one more full round of decluttering in every place I declutter. Round One is to hit the low hanging fruit and do as much of the clean up as possible. Round Two will refine this and tackle the sentimental things and to re-examine all the things I put in the “maybe” pile because I wasn’t willing to part with them yet.

Here’s to a good start to 2019, The Year of Decluttering.

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The Plan for 2019

by Jennifer Brozek 1. January 2019 10:23

Now that you’ve seen what I did in 2018, here’s the basic plan for 2019.

Writing/Editing:
•    Finish processing publisher edits on BattleTech Rogue Academy 1: Iron Dawn.
•    Write two BattleTech Rogue Academy novels – Complete Rogue Academy 2: Ghost Hour (writing and publisher edits), complete Rogue Academy 3: Crimson Night first draft.
•    Edit Shadowrun long fiction – First, edit the novella, A Kiss to Die For. Next, in-between Rogue Academy novels, process publisher edits for my long-ago written Shadowrun novel, Makeda Red.
•    Release a limited run Shadowrun Flash Fiction Podcast called Shadow Bytes. This includes three excerpts from DocWagon 19 and five loosely linked original pieces of fiction.
•    Edit/manage a brand new, soon-to-be announce project. It is super exciting and I can’t wait to tell you all about it.

Expand My Creative Horizons:
As it’s turned out, I’ve received the opportunity to try some new things in 2019. Each is new to me and something I’ve wanted to for a while.
•    I’ve joined a Twitch RPG game. It will be set in the Emberwind universe. I believe we’ll be playing once a month.
•    I’ve joined the cast of the Dire Multiverse podcast as voice talent. I’m voicing two characters so far and I’m already having a lot of fun with this ensemble podcast.
•    I’ve joined Curious Fictions. It’s a little like Patreon, but is focused on writers. I’ll be posting weekly. Two weeks will be open to the public, two weeks will be for my subscribers only. I’m not completely sure how this will go, but if you become a subscriber, know that I appreciate you immensely.

Travel:
I have five conventions scheduled for 2019. There will, most likely, be a couple of one-day driving events that I do with Raven Oak or with Books & Chains. I’m really making the effort to do less travel because I have a heavier writing schedule this year. Also, me and the Husband plan to spend a couple of weeks in New Zealand in 2020.
•    Mar - Rainforest, WA (Teaching a workshop)
•    Apr - Norwescon, WA (Dealers table)
•    May - StokerCon, MI (Teaching a workshop)
•    May - MisCon, MT (TBA – I haven’t heard if I’m in the dealers room or on panels yet.)
•    Aug - Gen Con, IN (TBA – Author’s Avenue most likely)

Personal Growth:
I’m 48 now. Something clicked in 2018 that proved I really need to take control of my space, my work-life balance, and my health—both physical and mental. I worked 316 days last year. That is too many. I should be closer to 260 days. Also, there’s not that much in my life I have complete control over. Based on the business I’m in and the world at large, I need to take control over what I can control.
•    Physical health – I’m eating better and I’m exercising more. This isn’t a resolution. I started this back in August 2018. I’m going to continue doing what I’ve been doing.
•    Declutter – I have now lived in one place, one home, for longer than I ever have in my life. 10+ years. For someone used to moving every 2-5 years, I’ve gotten good at decluttering and downsizing my stuff. That hasn’t happened in 10 years. Needless to say, the house is a mess. A cluttered mess. Because I have a hard time being motivated to work on Mondays and because I can’t seem to actually take a weekend day off, I’m scheduling Mondays to declutter, downsize, and clean. I can write/edit on Monday if I want, but Mondays are guilt-free no publishing work days for 2019.
•    Crafting – Finish craft projects. Compared to most, I am not a crafter. I’m a dabbler. I’m okay with this. I have one baby blanket and a couple of nebulous projects in the works. I want to get those done and evaluate if I get any joy out of crafting or if they are just added stress.

That’s it for me. What’s on your plate in 2019?

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Jennifer Brozek: Writerholic

Jennifer Brozek is a multi-talented, award-winning author, editor, and tie-in writer. She is the author of the Never Let Me Sleep, and The Last Days of Salton Academy, both of which were nominated for the Bram Stoker Award. Her BattleTech tie-in novel, The Nellus Academy Incident, won a Scribe Award. Her editing work has netted her a Hugo Award nomination as well as an Australian Shadows Award for Grants Pass. Jennifer’s short form work has appeared in Apex Publications, and in anthologies set in the worlds of Valdemar, Shadowrun, V-Wars, and Predator. Jennifer is also the Creative Director of Apocalypse Ink Productions, and was the managing editor of Evil Girlfriend Media and assistant editor for Apex Book Company.

Jennifer has been a freelance author, editor, tie-in writer for over ten years after leaving her high paying tech job, and she’s never been happier. She keeps a tight schedule on her writing and editing projects and somehow manages to find time to volunteer for several professional writing organizations such as SFWA, HWA, and IAMTW. She shares her husband, Jeff, with several cats and often uses him as a sounding board for her story ideas. Visit Jennifer’s worlds at jenniferbrozek.com.

"I see story ideas. All the time. They're everywhere. Just walking around like normal ideas. They don't know they're stories."