Archive for 2008
1. What did you do in 2008 that you’d never done before?
Had writer's block. Real writer's block, not "I don't know what to write," but "I'm too frozen with fear to write."
2. Did you keep your New Years’ resolutions and will you make more for next year?
I always resolve to do more things just for pleasure. I usually keep that resolution.
3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
4. Did anyone close to you die?
5. What countries did you visit?
No real ones. Only the ones I made up.
6. What would you like to have in 2009 that you lacked in 2008?
A book deal.
7. What date from 2008 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
November 17, because...well I'll just be cryptic here and say it was a great day of personal growth. And it's the only event I can actually remember the date for.
8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
Overcoming my shyness and pitching my book at the OWFI conference in May.
9. What was your biggest failure?
Truthfully? I don't think I had any big failures. And if I did fail at something I ended up better for it, so that's success, too.
10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
Yes, the fragrance sensitivity, though I didn't know what it was till late this year.
11. What was the best thing you bought?
Fragrance-free household products.
12. Whose behaviour merited celebration?
Though it came late in the year, my husband's.
13. Whose behaviour made you appalled and depressed?
This girl whom I can not name because I'm afraid she would scream at me by email again. Wait, two girls.
14. Where did most of your money go?
Utilities and mortgage. Boring, I know.
15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
Several things. My meeting with the editor at the con, then getting my office insulated so I could work up there. Also getting out from under the writer's block.
16. What song will always remind you of 2008?
Maybe Journey's "Don't Stop Believin'" and Linkin Park
17. Compared to this time last year, are you: Happier or sadder? Thinner or fatter? Richer or poorer?
Happier, fatter, and richer even though we have less money.
18. What do you wish you’d done more of?
19. What do you wish you’d done less of?
Obsess over things I can't control.
20. How will you be spending Christmas?
I hosted a giftless Christmas, the best Christmas I think I've ever had.
21. Did you meet/date anyone special in 2008?
Only my husband.
[22 is missing]
23. How many one-night stands?
Five. The number of times my husband and I made whoopie. Just kidding.
24. What was your favourite TV program?
30 Rock and Friends reruns
25. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?
Nope. Still zero.
26. What was the best book you read?
The Time Traveler's Wife.
27. What was your greatest musical discovery?
28. What did you want and get?
29. What did you want and not get?
A book deal.
30. What was your favourite film of this year?
I honestly can't remember any films I loved. The one that sticks in my head was a few years old that I saw on TV, with Bill Murray as a Jaques Cousteau type guy, his name started with a Z...
31. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
I did nothing and I was 38.
32. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
Some boobs. Oh wait, that was WIGSF's answer. I have those, and let me tell ya, it ain't all that. My REAL answer is: finishing BVAl and starting the next project.
33. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2008?
34. What kept you sane?
I felt fairly unstable all year.
35. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
Well, Johnny Depp is always right up there.
36. What political issue stirred you the most?
I hate politics.
[37 is missing]
38. Who was the best new person you met?
The editor at the conference, IF he ever answers my agent's query. But that will obviously be next year. Does that count, if he doesn't actually impact me until the year is over?
39. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2008.
You really do teach people how to treat you.
40. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.
"So, so you think you can tell Heaven from Hell,
blue skies from pain.
Can you tell a green field from a cold steel rail?
A smile from a veil?
Do you think you can tell?"
"Wish You Were Here" -Pink Floyd
Well, for whatever reason, I feel I must solidify my place as the site to come to when you're wanting ass.
So to that *ahem* end:
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Come on, spammers.
I'm surprised to find I resent the time I won't be writing. I'm finding myself finding ways around it, like venturing out into the early morning cold to my office, making the children fend for themselves in the food department, or *gasp* skipping the game.
A good writing day can make the whole year seem better. For most of 2008 writing equated to pulling my own teeth out of my head with pliers. Actually, 2008 felt that way in most areas. I had to work hard to keep my enthusiasm, my sanity. When those things are hard to come by you start to wonder if you're fooling yourself. If maybe the sluggishness and self-doubt and confusion are the real feelings, and any attempt to counter-act them is just paint on a rotten fence.
So I guess I've spent the year rebuilding that fence, one picket at a time. Boy, does it hurt to pull off those rotten planks. Sometimes they don't look rotten, because of all those layers of paint. Sometimes I think, "Well I can't pull off that one, or the whole thing will fall apart." But the rot is spreading, so I pull it off and guess what: the fence doesn't fall apart. Instead, I have a nice clean space to put a new picket.
One of those pickets represents a fresh perspective on writing. Another is self-confidence, and isn't that a surprise. Another is a renewal of my marriage, and self-worth, and family.
I didn't realize how stressful this year was until the stress relaxed a little. I feel big changes coming next year, but I won't speculate on the nature of the changes. I'll just keep pulling off the rotten pickets so I'll have a place to nail those new ones when they're finally delivered.
It's always a little embarrassing reading old posts. They just reveal me as such a damn dork, and I don't see it till a year has past, and by then it's too late to yank 'em down. So since it's too late and everybody already knows I'm a dork, here are 2007 and 2006. Be kind.
Happy New Year, everybody.
So I looked through the cookbook to find a couple of desserts I could make with minimal effort, went to the store on Tuesday afternoon for ingredients and sandwich supplies. No turkey. Sandwiches, a veggie platter, pumpkin pie from a can, and apple cobbler.
- I was very poor growing up. Heck, money's still damn tight right now. But I remember my mom's struggle to get us gifts, and how guilty I felt every year because of seeing how guilty she felt. And because I've always had to struggle to make the money stretch, I figure everybody else is in the same boat. Hence,
- I feel I don't deserve to receive gifts. Or to have people care about me. Or to breathe. Don't get me wrong, I'm not suffering on a daily basis with this like I used to. I think that Christmas coming only once a year, and me trying to just put my head down and get through, has stunted the work I've done at Christmastime.
- I've never been very good at parties in general. Besides Christmas parties I also avoid birthday parties and cookouts and masquerades. I could fill a book with my party-disaster stories. It's not only other people's parties. Every party I've ever had flopped. Hugely.
- I feel like there are some Commandments of Social Behavior that everybody else received at birth, but I didn't.
I'm sure there's a lot more, but that's all I'm willing to look at right now.
Well, this year, with the emergence of the fragrance sensitivity, the normal activities will necessarily change. Going to my mom's will be an exercise in torture--purely in the physical sense, of course--if I know why I'm feeling like crap but can't get away from it. In years past I just felt like crap and stayed because I didn't know why.
Besides the fragrance, there is the exchange of gifts, a huge stressor for me. I almost feel like I have PTSD about the gifts. Every single year I feel this tremendous pressure to spend money I don't have in order to follow rules of giving which are not ingrained in me. I dread getting gifts, and I dread giving them, because then I might get some in return. Not to mention that I never feel my gifts are good enough.
Then there is the guilt. Guilt about not having the money; guilt about feeling sick at family gatherings that are supposed to be a happy time; guilt about all the family events I have missed over the year; guilt about celebrating a holiday that is named for a religion I do not follow. Lots of guilt for lots of nebulous other reasons.
I have decided to hit the reset button. This year I will not be attending any family events. I will buy gifts only for my children, and I asked my extended family to forgo any gifts for me. I would love for my extended family to come and hang out at my house with me, if they feel like indulging my need for scentlessness. My husband has surprised the hell out of me by volunteering to do the Christmas shopping, so that's one more pattern I've released.
I realized something in all this reset button-hitting. My ideal Christmas is quiet. Reverent. Small. I guess my idea of Christmas is sort of opposite of the rest of the world's, in that I feel it's more of a solitary thing. It's more about the God-given gifts, and I see how that could extend to family and friends and wanting to do something for them, but I want the desire to give gifts to grow naturally from the spirit, and it hasn't up to now. I have to find that spirit again, if ever I had it in the first place. I've been too distracted, too sick, too guilty at this time of year. I'm changing that now. Reset.
Once I get 15 readers, they'll put my blog's RSS feed on Facebook, which may help grow my readership and potential fan base.
Thanks for helping a girl out!
I don't know how to imbed music here, so I'm imbedding the videos. For me, a video lessens the impact of a well-crafted song, so do me a favor and don't watch the videos. Close your eyes and listen to the words.
I remember the first time I heard "Don't Take the Girl." I worked at Wal-Mart's electronics department, back when it first came out. Early nineties. We always had a display radio playing, resenting when a customer changed the station. Well, that day a customer changed it to a country station, and my co-worker said, "Oh, I love this song. Sherri, have you heard this?"
Let me just skip to the end of the story where I'm sobbing in the middle of Wal-Mart, asking a lady customer to wait while I got myself under control. She just nodded with a smile of understanding.
"What Might Have Been" still makes me cry, too, but I don't remember when I first heard it. It reminds me how bad I am at letting go of people. Even when it's for the best. Heck, maybe because it's for the best.
And the ever-classic "Every Rose Has Its Thorn." 'Nuff said.
The illustrations by Tony DiTerlizzi are exquisite, done in the style of a silent movie, and add so much to the original poem that I must recommend you give it a look the next time you're in the library.
I copied the original poem (no copyright issues; it's in the public domain) from Storynory, which also features a good dramatic reading if you prefer to listen. As you read along, ask yourself, "Am I the fly?"
Text of The Spider and the fly by Mary Howitt (1799 to 1888):
“Will you walk into my parlour?” said the Spider to the Fly, ”
‘Tis the prettiest little parlour that ever you did spy;
The way into my parlour is up a winding stair,
And I have many curious things to show you when you are there.”
“Oh no, no,” said the Fly, “to ask me is in vain;
For who goes up your winding stair can ne’er come down again.”
“I’m sure you must be weary, dear, with soaring up so high;
Will you rest upon my little bed?” said the Spider to the Fly.
“There are pretty curtains drawn around, the sheets are fine and thin;
And if you like to rest awhile, I’ll snugly tuck you in!”
“Oh no, no,” said the little Fly, “for I’ve often heard it said
They never, never wake again, who sleep upon your bed!”
Said the cunning Spider to the Fly, “Dear friend, what can I do
To prove that warm affection I’ve always felt for you?
I have within my pantry, good store of all that’s nice;
I’m sure you’re very welcome - will you please take a slice?”
“Oh no, no,” said the little Fly, “kind sir, that cannot be,
I’ve heard what’s in your pantry, and I do not wish to see!”
“Sweet creature,” said the Spider, “you’re witty and you’re wise;
How handsome are your gauzy wings, how brilliant are your eyes!
I have a little looking-glass upon my parlour shelf;
If you step in one moment, dear, you shall behold yourself.”
“I thank you, gentle sir,” she said, “for what you’re pleased to say;
And bidding good morning now, I’ll call another day.”
The Spider turned him round about, and went into his den,
For well he knew the silly Fly would soon come back again;
So he wove a subtle web in a little corner sly,
And set his table ready to dine upon the Fly.
Then he came out to his door again, and merrily did sing,
“Come hither, hither, pretty Fly, with the pearl and silver wing;
Your robes are green and purple, there’s a crest upon your head;
Your eyes are like the diamond bright, but mine are as dull as lead.”
Alas, alas! how very soon this silly little Fly,
Hearing his wily, flattering words, came slowly flitting by;
With buzzing wings she hung aloft, Then near and nearer drew,
Thinking only of her brilliant eyes, and green and purple hue;
Thinking only of her crested head - poor foolish thing! At last,
Up jumped the cunning Spider, and fiercely held her fast.
He dragged her up his winding stair, into his dismal den
Within his little parlour - but she ne’er came out again!
And now, dear little children, who may this story read,
To idle, silly, flattering words, I pray you ne’er heed;
Unto an evil counsellor close heart, and ear, and eye,
And take a lesson from this tale of the Spider and the Fly.
Thanks to the mystery illness, I lost an entire week of editing the WIP. Thankfully I only lost the time and not the drive, so I jumped right back in it today. The only problem I had was not wanting to stop when it was break-time. It's so hard to get back in it once I've stopped, but I had to rest my eyes. I am quite pleased with the day's progress, even though it was short.
Well, The Big Bang Theory is coming on now, so I'll holler atcha later.
I appreciate the efforts of my SIL Rhonda to make her family as fragrance-free as possible when they came over last weekend. Brown Bootie the Daring Dachshund went to live with them, so I'm happy about that. I know they'll take good care of her.
After their visit I was sick with a slammin' migraine for an entire two days, but DH took care of everything and let me recover.
I felt better in time for my daughter's choir concert. I'd have gone anyway, because she had the big solo, but I was really glad to have felt well enough for it. The concert was held in a packed auditorium, and I had a little eye tightness, but I was surprised to find I handled the fragrances quite well. Abby was angelic, the star of the show, and the other two kids were good during the concert, so it was a success.
The next day (Wednesday) I woke up feeling under the weather, and unfortunately the migraine came back. I was able to hold off the full-blown migraine yesterday by lying around with my eyes closed all. day. long. ugh. Today I woke up with energy, but still can't see. Keep your fingers crossed for tomorrow. I'm really bored and need to do some housework.
Anyways, I just thought y'all might like to know I put up chapter 3 over at the BVA blog. I won't be announcing the updates on this blog anymore, as they'll slow down after this one. I will, however, post announcements on the fiction blog, if you have it on your reader you can access it through that.
Now, I think I can fit in one more piece of pie before bed. Pepto Bismol is for tonight. Guilt is for tomorrow.
Just a couple of weeks ago I spent all day tearing down the laptop to replace the power jack, first time soldering a piece to a motherboard, and I think I might have loosened my terrible soldering job, because now the connection, even with this new cord, is a little iffy. I'd list all the other challenges I've had with the power cord, but I don' wanna. Let's just say it started with Cody the Questionable Coyote chewing the cord, and went from there.
Speaking of dogs, we've had a dachshund visitor for a week. She somehow ended up outside our door (looking at you, neighbor) on the first rainy night in weeks. I'm a sucker, all right? I know the dog could have found a dry place to sleep, but I didn't want to chance it. She's so much better behaved than Cody ever was, so the only problem is the family's allergies.
During a naming brainstorm session, Jonah hollered out, "Brown Bootie!" Um, why that name, sweetie? "Because she's mostly black except for her brown bootie." (Think doberman markings.) So of COURSE I had to start calling her that. How could I not? We shortened it to B.B. for outdoor calling. Don't want my neighbors to think I'm weird.
We made up a song for her and everything, sung to the tune of "My Buddy." That old doll commercial, remember? Do a Youtube search. I don't link while on the treadmill. Everything's the same except the name and a couple of lines. We don't work that hard.
So then the kids decided that B.B. wouldn't do, so they decided upon Bendy, cuz she's, like, a long-ass bendy weiner dog. Now, you might know there once was a crocodile hunter, and he had a daughter named Bindy, who had a show called "Bindy the Jungle Girl". So (again, look it up) the song is now: Bendy the weiner dog. WeinER.
After doing a reasonable search for her real parents, I put her on Freecycle, and I have a lady coming to meet her tonight. So Brown Bootie might soon have a permanent home and, hopefully, a real dog's name. We'll miss her.
SSS, as we used to sign our notes in middle school. Sorry So Sloppy. That's just how I roll in THOUGHTS FROM THE TREADMILL!!! Mwahahaha!
I'll shut up now.
Note my score of -21 in Cubism. I really hate Cubism. Always have. However, I used to really love Impressionism in art and music, but I found myself turning away from those choices. The second-highest score I got was for Renaissance art. I like those paintings because they look weird to me, and there are usually lots of details to study.
Your result for What Your Taste in Art Says About You Test...
Simple, Progressive, and Sensual
11 Ukiyo-e, 1 Islamic, 2 Impressionist, -21 Cubist, -12 Abstract and 8 Renaissance!
Ukiyo-e (浮世絵, Ukiyo-e), "pictures of the floating world", is a genre of Japaneseand paintings produced between the 17th and the 20th centuries. it mostly featured landscapes, historic tales, theatre, and pleasure. Ukiyo is a rather impetuous urban culture that has bloomed in popularity. Although the Japanese were more strict and had many prohibitions it did not affect the rising merchant class and therefore became a floating art form that did not bind itself to the normal ideals of society.
People that chose Ukiyo-e art tend to be more simplistic yet elegant. They don't care much about new style but are comfortable in creating their own. They like the idea of living for the moment and enjoy giving and receiving pleasure. They may be more agreeable than other people and do not like to argue. They do not mind following traditions but are not afraid to move forward to experience other ideas in life. They tend to enjoy nature and the outdoors. They do not mind being more adventurous in their sexual experiences. They enjoy being popular and like being noticed. They have their own unique style of dress and of presenting themselves. They may also tend to be more business oriented or at the very least interested in money making adventures. They might make good entrepreneurs. They are progressive and adaptable.
Take What Your Taste in Art Says About You Test at HelloQuizzy
So here's a way to help us get over the October publishing financial crisis:
For anyone who cares about the book publishing industry and wants to do their part, there's one simple action step:
Buy a book this weekend.
Just buy one.
Now go read the whole post to find out details.
- O.E. heran (Anglian), (ge)hieran, hyran (W.Saxon), from P.Gmc. *khauzjianan (cf. O.N. hegra, O.Fris. hora, Du. horen, Ger. hören, Goth. hausjan), perhaps from PIE base *(s)keu- "to notice, observe." Spelling difference between hear and here developed 1200-1550. Hearing "listening to evidence in a court of law" is from 1576; hearsay is 1532 from phrase to hear say. O.E. also had the excellent adj. hiersum "ready to hear, obedient," lit. "hear-some" with suffix from handsome, etc. Hear, hear! (1689) was originally imperative, used as an exclamation to call attention to a speaker's words; now a general cheer of approval. Originally it was hear him!
And now my indent is messed up. But anyway, now you don't have to look it up, you lazy bastards.
I've started to think that my lower back pain may be aggravated by all the junk I have in my trunk. The two pigs fighting under a blanket. The honeysuckle hams strapped to my ass. I think they twist my spine when I walk, fighting for space. Something has to give, and it ain't gonna be the hams.
Enough random thoughts for one day. It's almost time to get off here. Hope you have a lovely day.
Dreamed I was practicing casting a fishing pole in a pond and ended up catching 4 huge fish while friends encouraged me. After the 4th one, I looked around at the nice houses surrounding the pond and started to wonder if I was allowed to catch fish there. I wanted to throw them back, but I'd already caught them and the friends said we should just take them, nobody would care. It was really bothering me that I was stealing the fish from this private pond, until I saw that the pond was fed by a stream, and so the fish were likely not exclusive to the pond, and would be replenished easily.
Does it mean that I don't deserve to have the things I've worked for? Fishing in other people's ponds, so the 4 fish I catch don't belong to me? Maybe it means I need to listen to my friends, even if I think they're leading me astray. The number 4 was important. Catching the fish was really easy. Too easy. That's why I felt guilty. What do the fish represent???
I'm totally wired today for some reason. Can't concentrate on anything. Jittery, can't sit still, my leg is bouncing as we speak. Here are some possible reasons: 1) The election, and the late hour I retired to my bedchamber, 2) Claritin, but it's supposed to have no side effects, 3) I was out of synthroid so I ended up taking my old (higher) dosage, but that hormone takes days to even out, so I can't imagine that's it. TOTALLY WIRED, PEOPLE.
Oh, maybe it's the weather. We may get storms this evening.
Moonrat has a great perspective on the writing industry, plus she's a lovely person. Think Miss Snark, only take away the gin and add sunshine. Or, rather, Moon-shine. But then we're back in the liquor cabinet again. I don't know how much she drinks, and I guess that's really none of my business, anyway, since it's unlikely we'll ever be in the same bar together. I don't think she edits fantasy novels.
Well, crap, this is going downhill fast. Just go over there and say hi, will ya?
Oh, and Ryan Gosling is still hot.
- Happy voting day, everybody. May your candidate win, whichever he is, because I truly do not give a shit. I'll start caring again when I see what a terrible job the next president does. This is how I operate every election.
- Typing this on the treadmill. Unfortunately, it's not electric, so getting the pushing angle right without hanging onto the bars is a little difficult. Every once in a while it just....stops. You can imagine the hilarity which ensues.
- Oprah had an explicit discussion about sex yesterday, and girl, you KNOW I want to dish about that! But I won't.
- Finally saw the movie "The Notebook" last night. Rachel McAdams was so pretty, my eyes hurt. Ryan Gosling was so virile, my loins hurt. And that ending? My eyes hurt again from rolling them so much. Geez.
Now. Nanowrimo. Not even bothering to link to it. I devoted Nov. 1 to thinking about what I might write, and then I wrote a few lines, and then I decided not to bother. I thought if an idea hit me during my writing wanderings I'd continue, but that did not materialize.
It was quite a low priority anyway, because I'm still working on the NaNoWriMo book from 2007. I've been calling it my WIP, because I wasn't working on anything else, but I must admit I went weeks at a time without cracking it open. Partly because of the personal problems plaguing me the past few months, but also because it was an utter mess, and I seriously didn't know what to do with it.
NaNoWriMo gave me the incentive I needed to finish the WIP. I finished it, all right. Finished it right into the ground. But I have mixed feelings about it, because even though it turned out to be a mess and shook my confidence, now that I'm in the middle of serious edits I see that without that ovaries-to-the-wall, scary-ass month of writing, I wouldn't have made some of these creative leaps that the story needed.
I've been keeping a brave face. If I didn't love this story so much, I'd have totally put it away. But it's a great book! I swear! I usually don't toot my own horn, but this one is going to be great. IF I can pull it off.
And I only fell off the treadmill once during this post.
|Your Theme Song is Beautiful Day by U2|
| "Sky falls, you feel like|
It's a beautiful day
Don't let it get away"
You see the beauty in life, especially in ordinary everyday moments.
And if you're feeling down, even that seems a little beautiful too.
It looks like I might be back. If anyone still cares! And I know I said I wasn't coming back until something broke in my writing career, but don't get all excited. The progress was internal, not external. Got my mojo back, that's all. Had one of those "I can do this!" realizations (and more importantly, an "I WANT to do this" realization) and jumped back on this slow, lumbering train we call writing with all you other hobos.
I can't guarantee the frequency of posts on this blog, because I'm now dividing my posts in two. My other blog, most of you already know, is Poison Scents, and I'll try to keep all my grumbling about fragrances over there, though I'm sure some will spill over from time to time.
And here's a shout-out to all the NaNoWriMo participants, a group whom I will may join before the end of day one.
Anyhoo, good to see you again.
So this fragrance sensitivity I have, it is the real deal. As you may remember, I took out most everything in my house that contained fragrance and saw an immediate improvement. Over the past couple of weeks I have had much less eye fatigue, no headache, little to no sinus pressure. I've had a stuffy nose, but it's the regular variety. I'm getting to a point where I can live with it.
I was able to find a fragrance-free version of everything in the house, but some things are available only through the internet and cost quite a bit more, such as dishwashing soap, so I'm dragging my feet on those. We're still using the old Soft Soap, and my husband still uses his Irish Spring (making the concession of keeping it under the cabinet when not in use, not sure that's good enough), and I'm using my kid's shampoo since the smell is not nearly as strong as mine.
Everything was peachy...Until I whipped out the carpet stain remover. You know the kind where you spray it on the stain and wait three minutes and blot? That stuff will tear you a new sinus cavity. I didn't consider as I sprayed it on that even after I blotted, the stuff would still be sitting there, in my carpet, silently giving off noxious fumes. By the end of the day I had a migraine. My first headache in weeks.
The headache is only annoying this morning, but I've been sneezing and having trouble focusing already. I tried rinsing and blotting again, but it didn't work. I guess I have to break out the big guns: the carpet shampooer. Of course I won't be using shampoo, only rinsing. Just think, I used to make my whole house smell like that shit... *shudder*
No wonder I had migraines.
I really wasn't planning to post today, but I ran across this photo on my cousin's MySpace, and it's begging to be shared. That's my cousin Sinthia on the left and me on the right, the summer before my 13th birthday, 1983. We sure loved those bikinis. Oh, how I wished I could fill the thing out. But that wouldn't happen for another 6-7 years.
Those were the days. Don't I look like I'm having the best time of my life? Photos rarely tell the whole truth, but I think this one does.
[caption id="attachment_818" align="alignnone" width="468" caption="Sinthia and Sherri, age 13 and almost-13"][/caption]
I was excited about going until yesterday afternoon, when the usual social dread settled in. I couldn't remember a single reason I'd ever had for going, and in fact rationalized how it would be nice just to stay in and relax with the family. LIKE I DO EVERY DAY. And even though the hubs was pouting about it (I assume, since he'll never tell me exactly what's wrong and I usually have to draw my own conclusions and this would be something that would make him pout) I made myself pretty, finished up my housewiferly duties, dragged my ass to the van (one of the reasons for my social dread) and left.
And so I went to the library, talked about this awesome book with some very smart and personable ladies, and didn't die. Quite the opposite, actually. I don't think I inadvertantly offended anyone, so that right there puts me ahead of the game. I managed to sound halfway intelligent, and nobody threw me out. In fact, they gave me next month's book (Jodi Picoult's My Sister's Keeper) and invited me back.
First off was the annual running of the gauntlet, otherwise known as school enrollment day. It went a little more smoothly than usual but still took an hour and a half to complete. Thank goodness I have a daughter old enough to tell me what the date is, and to remind me what grade each child is going into, and to run back to the Pre-K table to pick up the form I accidentally left there. Abby was a huge help.
The weather was great, overcast and relatively cool (mid-90s) so we grabbed a brunch of Sonic and took it to the park here in town. The park is in deplorable shape, the toys I scrambled across as a kid still in place, but unpainted and broken down. Even the "new" area is in terrible disrepair. The brand-new skate park is nice, if you skate, but the vandalizing teenagers wreak havoc on the rest of the equipment, and apparently the only thing the city does for upkeep is mowing. Really sad.
We were back from the park about a half hour when the neighbor lady called, inviting us to go to a real park in the neighboring town. The sun came out about half-way through our second park excursion, and the temperature shot up immediately. We gamely endured for a while, hoping the clouds would come back, but the sky just kept getting bluer and bluer, so we finally gave in and left, limp and sweaty.
After a brief rest at home it was back in the van for a third trip to Shawnee, to pick up the man. I was definitely too wiped to write, so I browsed the internet. Researching a topic of interest to a friend, I came across the Absolute Write forum, which I always mean to join and promptly forget. I'm finally a member, and plan to spend some time there, try to break up the boredom of going to the same sites all the time.
And then, to top it off, my 1st grader lost his very first baby tooth last night. At 2 a.m. I remembered I'd forgotten to play tooth fairy, so I had to track down a dollar bill by flashlight, lest I wake him. I got a picture, but I'm too lazy to upload it. Visualize the most handsome 6yo boy made cuter by a snaggle-tooth smile and that's close enough.
I'm feeling pretty run down today, and luckily the laundry was done Monday, the house is relatively clean, the kids are keeping themselves occupied. I have the option of lazing around for the most part, and I am taking full advantage of that SAHM perk.
Well obviously I didn't go to Conestoga. There really was no possible way to do it on such short notice, so...that's that. Maybe next year.
I appreciate all the encouragement given on my neurotic post. Sometimes you just have to step back and take stock, and that's what I did. Looking at reasons I have trouble writing, without blaming anyone, helps clarify things, and, for some stupid reason, declaring anything to the world brings answers more quickly and decisively.
So after posting I had a revelation. If you've been reading long, you know I have chronic sinus and eye problems, manifesting as inability to see and concentrate, developing into headaches. Doctors haven't been able to tell me why, and medicine doesn't help. I may have found the cause, though I don't want to get too excited about it, in case it turns out not to be so.
It could be (at least partly, and I am in no way getting excited)...
...a fragrance sensitivity.
After I figured out that my deoderant was the cause of that pinchy feeling between my eyes, I did some research of the Google variety and came across a list of symptoms associated with a fragrance sensitivity: blurry vision, brain fog, chronic sinus problems, migraine headaches, even asthma-like symptoms. The list could have been written by me.
So what could I do, except rid my home of fragrance, just to see what happened? People, that's a lot of stuff. Seven or eight plastic grocery bags. Perfume gives me a headache, I've avoided it for years, but I never thought about all the fragrances sitting around my house: scented candles, shampoo, kitchen cleaner, lotion, deoderant, virtually EVERYTHING has fragrance added. You might be surprised to know, as I was, that even products labeled "unscented" probably have a masking fragrance. All of those things went out to the shed for a trial period.
The change was instant. My vision cleared to a certain point, concentration improved. That pinchy feeling between my eyes left, but returns whenever I come in contact with a fragranced product.
The resulting quest for unscented products took me to Walgreen's and Wal-Mart, where the headache came on from just standing on the lotion aisle for several minutes. No wonder I always feel terrible while shopping.
I've had to compromise on some products, because it is just damn hard to find truly fragrance-free products in the stores. There was one body wash, one bar of soap, one anti-perspirant, a couple of lotions, and forget about shampoo. And don't forget that fragrance-free products cost way more than all the stuff I've been using. Since I'll have to order the shampoo off the internet, I've taken the shampoo out of the shower and put it in a plastic bag under the sink. When I open the bag, the smell hits me in the face. It's incredible how the constant barrage of chemicals becomes mere background noise.
I'll probably start making my own soap so I can control the ingredients, and maybe lots of other things. Stay tuned for more developments.
The song ended and after a pause a new one began. This one was a little louder, and from the quality of the sound I could tell it was actually a live band playing, no drums, just guitars. I might have been hearing the practice session of a local band instead of a party.
The opening chords drew me in, so I sat cross-legged on the lawn. An old man's unsteady voice began, "On a long and lonesome highway/ East of Omaha/ You can listen to the engine moaning out its one long song..." and I was treated to a secret moonlit concert of Bob Seger's "Turn the Page," an endearingly off-key rendition, building artfully to passionate crescendo and then echoing away into the night.
As I waited for another song to rise through the frogs' and crickets' cacophony, the wind carried to me the heavy perfume of honeysuckle. I inhaled, remembering my childhood when honeysuckle grew right outside my window.
I considered weaving flowers into my hair and stripping off my clothes, letting breeze and full moon's light caress my fertility-goddess body as I danced under the oak. I was more than an observer of the night. I was a welcome--no, a necessary part of it.
The church bells echoed ten o'clock. I lingered a while longer, then I said good night to the moon and went inside.
They picked a few before the bus came, and then had to rush to make it to the street in time. "Have a wonderful day," I called as I do every morning. They chorused, "We will!" They sat in the front seat of the bus with their heads together and forgot to wave at me out the window, as they do more and more. That's all right.
Oklahoma is a great place to live. Really fantastically awesome. It has it's challenges, as every state does, but I couldn't imagine living anywhere else.
A.C. Crispin of Writer Beware liked it when she came to the OWFI conference a couple of weeks ago. In the linked post she compares the Nebula Awards banquet with ours, the professional writer and the amateur. She talks about the enthusiasm and joy of writers who attended the conference, and through our example realized that once you're a pro it's easy to forget to enjoy writing.
I'm enjoying it, that's for sure. I finished my longer synopsis, which ended up being 2 1/2 pages. I know this is weird, given the general feeling floating around cyberspace about them, but I love writing synopses. It is a unique challenge, word-for-word taking about quadruple the time it takes to write the book itself, but when all the pieces of the puzzle fall into place, it is immensely satisfying.
So now the synopsis is finished, and while I wait for proofreaders to get back to me (anybody else who wants to volunteer, I'll love you forever) I'll insert the changes in the first three chapters that somehow didn't get saved the first time I did it. Then my proposal package will be complete, and I can focus on editing the rest of the book. IF I can stay inside during the lovely summer evenings and get it done.
I think the next topic I post about will be a fatherless follow-up.
Over five years ago I had my huge-ass thyroid gland removed because of a few little cancer cells. Once the thyroid is gone, of course, one has to take replacement hormone every day. Forever and ever. Amen. Which means I'm chained to a doctor for regular testing.
It helps to have a doctor who actually listens to me because an imbalance in hormone can be a subtle problem, immeasurable by an outside source. Oh, sure, they have the "normal" range of values in a blood test to go by, but the range is relatively large, and the tweaking is all about how the patient feels. My old doctor wasn't good with symptoms like shortness of breath, hair falling out, feeling crazy. His best work was done when I was able to point to a lump or a rash or a sprain.
(I hate you, old doctor. Hate your pompous, self-important, making-me-suffer-for-five-years ass. I told you. I told you, mother frakker. GAH!
Thank the gods I finally have a doctor who actually listens to me.
I think this kind of "yes, dear," head-pat doctoring happens to women a LOT. I know how I feel, doc. Just because you can't find the cause doesn't mean I'm a hypochondriac. Just because I have monthly hormone fluctuations doesn't mean it's all in my head. So I'm in the "normal" range, so what? I feel like crap, doesn't that count for anything?
(My husband did it to me just last night. I've been working on my eating habits, and I mentioned that I was giving myself a little leeway since that time of the month was nigh. I said I always get hungrier, and maybe my body needed a few extra calories to get through. He said, "Sounds like an excuse to me." I replied, "A reason is not an excuse," and then I punched him in the face. Just kidding.)
After five years of being made to feel like a hypochondriac, I finally have vindication. My new doc lowered my prescription a lot, and I feel better than I have in years. I don't feel neurotic (or as Dwight so diplomatically put it, "focused"), my hair and skin are not as dry, my appetite is under control.
And the biggest deal of all hit me yesterday when I "started" with only a hint of PMS. Every month, growing worse as the years go on, my period has been telegraphed two weeks before by anger and craziness; a week before by incredible bloating; and a couple of days before by stomach problems, cramping and such. This month, I figured it must be time, but I didn't feel crazy at all. My appetite had increased a couple of days ago, I'd gained a single pound, I was sort of tired. I just figured I would be slammed soon enough with the full cocktail of my usual symptoms.
Surprise! That was it. The extent of my PMS, and I'm so relieved and happy and joyous. My love for my new doc burns with the intensity of a thousand suns. Maybe you folks don't quite understand the root of my joy, but that's okay. I feel it.
Oh, and Fal, you and I think too much alike. I used seam binding tape and stick-on velcro to make a support. LOL
The hinges are loose on my laptop screen. I have to keep it perfectly balanced or it flops back. I'll rig up some kind of support before I press my luck too far and it snaps off. It'll probably be ugly. Good thing I never go anywhere. (Yeah, right.)
I hope all you fathers out there did something good for the mothers of your children yesterday. My mother's day was mostly like all other days, except it started with extra love and hand-made cards and chorus after chorus of "Happy Mother's Day!" My 9-year-old made a card with a drawing of a boulder that said, "You rock!"
Yesterday was not only Mother's Day, but also my lovely bonus daughter's 16th birthday. I've known the girl since she was 4, before I'd had any children from my own body, so I love her like one of my own. It's hard to watch her grow up, but her satisfaction at becoming an adult is fulfilling to me as well. She got her first job at the neighborhood pizza place last week, and will be driving soon. I hope she always considers me her friend. Love you, Z! (I tried to get a pic uploaded in here, but WP is not cooperating!! argh!)
That's enough from me. I feel like I'm forgetting something, but who says I can't post again if I remember later? Nobody, that's who.
My novelistic abilities are making me crazy. The very thing that enables me to be a writer is torturing me in real life. I find that I am projecting my imagination onto already stressful situations and making them almost untenable.
I do this a lot, and if you are a creative type, you may, too. It took a long time to realize that not everyone does it. I think my mom and brother do it, but not my husband or other brother. I wasn't truly able to release my paralyzing anxiety until I recognized the problem. It's too easy to walk through my day in a dream state, with unfocused (or too focused) images taking precedence over what is right in front of me: a book, a chore, a child. It really is enough to drive a person crazy. Coincidentally, my husband and I established last night that only I am allowed to question my sanity.
I know one thing, I'd be a lot happier without the g-d writer's mind. After the birth of my son, images of horror were uncontrollable and rampant. Images, and sometimes entire scenes, would superimpose on reality. Accidentally dropping a knife on him, our family dog turning rabid and ripping him apart, him burning to death in front of my eyes, really horrible stuff. Eventually I recognized that I was suffering from serious post-partum depression, as similar stories surfaced over the intervening years, but still...I wonder if it was made worse by my powerful imagination. I wonder if they've ever done a tally of the jobs held by the sufferers of post-partum depression.
Anyhoo, now that I've gone in a completely different direction than I planned... Don't worry, my son is six, and the things I described in the previous paragraph have been over for a long time. Though never as intense or horrible since (the thoughts have been expanded to include good stuff), they are still distracting. Over the past year or so I've gotten much better at recognizing when my thoughts fall in that pattern, and as the Practical Vampire Slayer says, when you bring vampires into the light, they lose their power.
Go read the article.
Thank you, dear friends, for all your supportive comments. I'm so happy to have you with me on my journey, as I am right next to you on yours.
So I bought some books over the weekend. First let me say that the bookstore situation in OKC is woeful. The conference was held in Midwest City, which is really an extension of OKC, a thriving, growing community with new strip malls going up everywhere. Within a mile of my mom's house are the high school, a junior college and the Air Force base, as well as a new Target, Kohl's, Home Depot and Lowe's...you get the picture. A lot going on in that area. Yet to find a large bookstore one must drive 20 minutes on the interstate system to the other side of OKC. It's crazy and annoying.
My brother, Tony, and I picked our books based on some author names floating on the wind at the con. Steven Erikson was recommended by Minz as good dark fiction, so Tony picked up a couple of those. I already mentioned that I chose a Laurell K. Hamilton and Lois McMaster Bujold (what a frickin' tongue twister that is!). I cracked open the LMB, The Sharing Knife, first.
And what to my wondering eyes should appear but one of my main character names in Ea's Gift. Dag is the name of both LMB's male lead and a supporting, but important, character in my book. Not that I have a problem changing it if need be, but it crossed my mind that certain people might wonder if I copied.
I'm stumbling over the name, picturing the Dag from my book. Not only am I seeing my character, but all his knowledge and experience is automatically applied to this character. Quite weird. It won't make me put the book down, but I might have to rename him in my mind, maybe read it as just plain "D" or something.
Besides that, I'm really enjoying the flow of the story and the characters, and I noticed something by the end of Chapter 2. Over and over at the con, (and before that on the internet) I heard the advice to compare yourself to an establish author's style. To find an author whose voice is most like your own, and then use the comparison as a shorthand to describe your style. Great advice, but I've never been able to equate my voice with another writer's. I believe I've finally found a similar voice.
I make no comparison of quality for that is not mine to judge, but it felt strangely familiar. Not the story or the characters, but the development, the language, the feel. It seems a bit silly to compare myself to such a well-established author, and even sillier that I have never read such a well-established author, but there it is.
What do you think of this advice, and how has it changed the way you see your writing? Do you worry it will make you derivative?
I also learned that I'm pretty good company, especially after a glass of wine. And that underneath my shyness is a craving for face-to-face conversation. Also that people forgive most faux pas, probably because they remember their own. Who hasn't flipped a crouton across the room?
Thursday night we had a storm with up to baseball-sized hail. The biggest hail I'd ever seen, which punched holes in my mom's rain gutter and ruined the roof on the house across the street. I saw many cars with shattered rear windshields over the weekend, the first being in the hotel parking lot. I got video of a tight little pre-tornadic cloud rotation right over my mom's house in Midwest City, but for some reason I can't get it uploaded here. Maybe later.
My brother kindly gave up his bed to me to save hotel fees, and my mom gave up her SUV for the weekend so I could drive back for meals. I appreciate it so much, because staying in the hotel was out of the question this year. The gas factor was negligible, since the hotel was literally five minutes away.
My pitch session was first thing Friday morning with James Minz, senior editor at Baen. He made me feel right at home during my session, as well as the couple of times I spoke to him over the weekend. A very easygoing and knowledgeable guy, an interesting speaker, eager to help the newbies.
Minz has edited some really big-name authors, including some of my faves: Lawrence Watt-Evans, Elizabeth Haydon, and especially Catherine Asaro. We actually talked about the Skolian books a little, and he told me a funny story about the cover of Skyfall, which I may relate later. Somebody remind me.
I guess I'm skirting the real news about my pitch session, which is that he asked to see Ea's Gift. I'd gone in pitching BVA, the newest project, but when he asked about other projects and I told him about EG, he said, "Well, I'd actually be more interested in that," and to tell my agent to send it to him. Is that as exciting as I think it is? I'm really trying to be cool about the whole thing, but I did have a dream in which he bought EG. Of course, then he morphed into James Carvill and we got married, so I'm dubious about the prophetic nature of the dream.
Here I am right after the pitch, before the adrenaline crashed and left me limp and headachey:
So the pitch was the big event on Friday. I was wiped out but managed to go to a few more sessions (including the Minz session pictured above) before I called it a day. I skipped the evening's activities, a cash bar reception and the J.A. Jance speech at the banquet, and my bro and I went to Borders instead and picked up some novels. I bought a Lois McMaster Bujold (how did I go so long without reading her?) and a Laurell K. Hamilton.
Saturday was actually the better day, the productive pitch session on Friday notwithstanding. I came out of my shell on Saturday, though it took a few hours. I finally figured out that most of the sessions were geared toward writers with less experience than I have, so I didn't worry about getting to every one. I hit the high points, hung out in the central meeting area, and went home to rest when I felt like it. Met a lot of interesting people, including William (a WWII vet and electronic engineer) and Rachel (the prettiest girl in the world and an artist I could see doing my future book covers), and Wayne Wyrick (Director of the Kirkpatrick Planetarium), who made me feel right at home when I was shy and nervous. Writers are such a great group of people.
As a result of my go-with-the-flow attitude, I had plenty of energy to dress up for the reception and banquet. I ordered my first glass of wine in probably ten years with help from the lovely bartender. I chose the red Zinfandel. I felt like a real grown up rubbing elbows with editors and authors in my silver high-heels with a glass of wine in my hand. So cool.
At the banquet I hooked up with some ladies I know on the internet. Although a Jenny McCarthy look- and act-alike at the next table eclipsed us with her group's contest wins, Jen Nipps (left) managed to pull some eyes our way with her two wins. The rest of us were wishing we'd entered something so we could be included in the excitement.
I'm in the purple, paranormal romance author Gloria Harchar and her daughter, Audrey, are to my immediate right, and Harlequin author Tessa McDermid there on the right.
Believe it or not, it was my first girl's night out in probably ten years, perhaps the last time I had wine, and I was so jazzed to be talking to these ladies about agent issues and editor changes in such a matter-of-fact way.
So that was my weekend in a nutshell. A very large nut's shell, to be sure, but there was much more I wanted to say. The rest will come out in bits and pieces over the week, probably, along with links and possibly more pictures, though a lot of them are blurry for some reason. I'll have to see.
Relaxing on the van seat I'm using as a couch in my garage. Waiting for all the churchgoers to get out and come to my sale. The blustery, overcast morning kept away the non-churchgoing heathens (a group of which I am a part) but the afternoon looks promising. The Godly people should be here soon.
Yesterday's take was about $150. I've never made that much in a garage sale, but I think I finally have the secret: Don't give a crap how much money you make. Yesterday I accepted every offer. "Will you take fifty cents for this?" Sure! "Is $2 for one or both?" Both! "What'll you take for this box of coffee mugs?" Name your price! Two dollars here, a dime there, it adds up to mucho moolah and less crap in my shed. I'm so happy, seeing all this crap leave my possession. Whatever is left over will go on Freecycle, except for a few items worth advertising in the paper. Everything else--the Christmas tree, the shop lights, the chairs--will be gone soon, one way or another. It may have to wait till after the conference, though.
Yay! The sun is out! Like I said, the afternoon looks promising.
Yesterday I made $150, today I made $15. Didn't sell any of my furniture, nor the a/c, nor the engine. I had five customers all day, but that's all right because overall the weekend was a smashing success. About 4 p.m. when I'd started cleaning up, a lady came to shop, but I just gave her as much as she could fit in her truck. She was glad to have it, and I was glad to be rid of it.
So there is where my "don't give a crap" rule comes in. Today I expected to sell the big-ticket items. I was salivating over doubling my money from yesterday, when I was focused on being rid of stuff. Coincidence? I think not.
Now I change from garage sale mode to conference mode. That's this weekend, folks. Yikes! and Woo!
I took some pictures this weekend, but I can't find my rackin-frackin upload cable. And I'm typing this on my laptop, but my rackin-frackin wi-fi has decided to go iffy on my this weekend so I'll have to go kick Little Bubba off the PC to post it. (Little Bubba is home from school because he stepped on a bee last night and his foot won't fit into his shoe. It doesn't hurt right now, I have a feeling when the swelling goes down he'll start feeling it.)
Worked my figurative ass off (and not my actual ass, unfortunately) getting ready for a yard sale. When I started my Clean Sweep of the garage I wasn't planning to sell the stuff but to give it away on Freecycle. I've learned that the work of a garage sale usually doesn't equal the reward, but this time I have some big-ticket items that might generate some interest. I still have a lot to do to get ready for the coming weekend, but I think the hard part is over.
Ordered a puberty book for my oldest girl. Over the weekend it became clear she had questions but was too shy to ask Mommy. After mortifying her with my attempt to talk about it, I suggested we buy a book, and she perked right up. She'd take a book over my advice any day.
The husband baked a cake last night, all by himself. Frosted it, served me a piece, and even picked up my plate when I was done. Maybe this wouldn't be a shock in some households, but believe me when I tell you this was a telling development in mine. DH had a recent spurt of personal growth which manifests in new ways every day.
My life is better than I ever imagined it could be.
I released the pressure to justify the office time with measurable progress. I typed in some notes while listening to Yahoo! radio. Opened the document containing my plot bullets and wrote a few sentences. And a few more. I looked up at the clock and saw an hour had passed, looked down at my computer screen and realized I'd accidentally written the entire one-page synopsis.
Coming out of the zone, I wondered what had happened to my music, but I'd turned it off at some point. Going over what I'd just written, I saw I'd also cleared up a few problematic names, and filled some long-standing plot holes. Accidentally. Don't even remember doing it.
That's so effing cool.
Now, I'm not trying to prompt a faster response here, just thinking out loud. I'm not impatient at all for the rest of the readers to get back with me. Seriously. I know, I'm always impatient, but I'm doing pretty well this time. I guess I've learned something after all in this long-ass-wait business of writing, even if it is just how to wait. This would be my first piece of advice to a new writer: Write it, release it, write something else.
It always floors me, how intimate a critique can feel. It's a shared embarrassment, like noticing someone's fly is open. The author's openness to harsh criticism, taking it like a woman and saying thank you at the end and meaning it. The critter's willingness to inflict that pain despite the cost to themselves, which could be at the least a lost afternoon and at the most a lost friendship. I've been both the author and the critter, and neither is without stress.
So I thank you, my critters, for being willing to point out my open fly.