Archive for August 2009
I love September. The word is nice, the birthstone is sapphire, the weather is cooler, the kids are firmly in school, football starts...There's nothing to dislike about September. Well, we do have FOUR family birthdays in September--mine, my husband's, my son's, and my step-son's--on top of the back-to-school expense, auto insurance is due and Christmas is just around the corner...So yeah, financially it's usually pretty stressful in September. I haven't had a birthday present in years. If I had the money I'd probably have to buy my present myself, anyway.
But still...September is nice. Energizing. Full of possibility.
I think I'm going to try a technique with my novel that I used for the long synopsis. For the synopsis, I wrote and typed everything out, then I cut apart the scenes and rearranged them into the best order. It's one of those things I've tried before according to someone else's instructions with no success, but once I threw out my internal rule book and played it by ear, it worked out well. With the novel I've tried notecards, but writing a hundred notecards and deciding which information is important enough to go on each notecard was just too unwieldy, so I decided I wasn't an organizer after all. But again, I had fallen into the trap lots of writers fall into--the "should" trap, the "rules" trap, the "everybody knows better than I do" trap.
So I'm going to make up this technique as I go along. I'll print out the whole book--backstory, current scenes, deleted scenes--and staple together the pages of each scene, cutting the page with scissors if necessary to separate them. After that...I don't know. We'll see. I hesitate to tell you exactly what I do, because I don't want to perpetuate that "rules" mentality. Art doesn't follow rules.
I'd just gotten in from grocery shopping (that's why I look so good), and guess what I found on my doorstep! This is the package I've been waiting for: the book that Marta made for me. It's a gift which combines all my loves--art, fiction, and hand-crafted...ness. The book is The Labyrinth House, one I gave a critique a few months (a year?) back, so it has sentimental value, not to mention I've been wanting to get my hands on some of Marta's art, and now I have it. Here's a link to her art page, Words Are Art. Go browse...buy something. One of these days it will be worth ten times what you paid, mark my words.
My 10-year-old daughter loves to look at Marta's pictures, so she is thrilled with the book, even though the story is too old for her. I need to put it under glass so she won't smudge it with all her touching. I'll do that after I read it again.
Looking at my gift, I see inspiration, anticipation, friendship, and beauty. It touches me so deeply that I'm not sure I can even see all the ways it touches me.
I'll stop gushing now. I just wanted you to see it.
Monday I wasted the afternoon looking for an elusive part for the gas grill.
Little Bubba was home sick yesterday with a sore throat, and he sucked down cup after cup of warm water with honey. I got some editing done while he played his PS2 Avatar game, but mostly I gave in to my own blahs and just played Farmville and Farkle on Facebook between household chores. Oh yeah, also did my cards and had a powerful reading regarding my writing in the near future.
Did you ever have an argument with your spouse and in the middle of it you become bewildered because you can't remember who got mad first or why? But it's too late because it got personal almost immediately, and now you're mad about those things, and it doesn't matter at all why it started? Yeah. Had one of those yesterday. I'm still not sure what happened there.
Realized this morning I hate puppies. I've never liked puppies, except in that I like dogs and puppies are young dogs. But, you know, you're supposed to like puppies. Because they're cute. But they are also crazy and hard to control, and they shit everywhere, and knock down the children, and chew stuff, and I just don't have the energy or time to make a puppy into a decently trained grown dog. Kittens, on the other hand, are delightful and perfect and angelic. They poop where they're supposed to from birth, require very little training, and their play is the cutest thing in the world rather than crazy and destructive. The downside to having kittens is shedding (so do dogs) and clawing furniture (but their tiny claws don't do much damage at first, and you can work on that while they're still small, unlike dogs who have the power to destroy everything the moment they start eating solid food). So in the young pet department, I vote kittens. If we adopt another dog, it will be a very old and sedate one. Right now we have a gerbil, and that's just fine with me.
I see Ted Kennedy died. And apparently that's the only thing that happened in the world overnight.
That's about it, I guess. Oh, and I'm waiting for a special package to arrive in the mail. I'll tell you all about it when it gets here. *winks at Marta*
I finished my long synopsis for reals on Friday and sent it off to my agent. Thanks to all my beta readers, I'm extremely happy with how it turned out, which in case you didn't know is pretty rare for me. I think the synopsis is tight and readable and, most importantly, informative--I just can't imagine how it might have turned out better.
So now I'll switch over to another project on the merry-go-round, which is editing these short stories from Eternal Press. One is almost finished, so my mini-goal for the next few days is to finish that one and get a good start on the next one. Then I plan to get the notes for my novel in order and work on that till I get stuck, and after that devote a day or two to a friend's critique, then finish the second Eternal Press story. This merry-go-round method is really working for me. Instead of thinking about how many things I have to get done and becoming overwhelmed (and possibly frozen), I can focus on one thing at a time. Although I have the same amount of work to do, it's more maneagable in smaller chunks. Duh.
Happy Monday, people!
So my mom sold me this laptop, and I finally got around to fixing up the treadmill to accommodate it. It's bigger all the way around, and the base where you rest your hands is a great expanse. My treadmill is a manual variety, so I have to push against this bar, but my hands kept slipping with the counter-pressure. I'm trying out some of those non-skid pads I use in my utensil drawer to keep the divider from sliding around. It works okay, but I think by the time I'm done the heels of my hands may be sore.
So I'm thinking about Twitter. Is it wrong to follow thousands of people? How can a person possibly keep up with all those tweets? Obviously, they can't. They're using a program like Tweetdeck to keep track of the people they REALLY care about, and what are the rest? I don't personally think it's wrong, but I wouldn't want to follow that many people. I assume these followers are doing it for the networking possibilities, and that's fine. I use Tweetdeck, too, filtering out the folks I want to keep in touch with but who tweet too much for me to keep up with. Also, if I follow someone who is also my friend on Facebook, I prefer to just interact that way. Do you do that, too? Is there anyone on Twitter that you love to death, but who just tweets too much? Do you feel guilty about filtering that person? I did at first, but not anymore. I've decided what place each social networking service has in my life. It's nothing personal, I'm still keeping up with everyone I care about, just in my own way.
Feeling a bit faint...may be a good time to stop...
On a technical note, did you know you can register on my website? I didn't either, until I did some snooping around my Wordpress dashboard. If you have an avatar which shows up on every other site but this one, registering as a user might fix it. I'm not sure how it works, so if anybody tries it out, could you tell me about your experience? The link is in the upper right-hand corner of the header.
A couple more readers got back to me with notes on my synopsis, so that makes four, which is a good number to start my rewrite. The response has been mostly positive, but there are a few places that all four readers pegged, so that's where I'll start. I love how each reader brings his/her own personality to the critique--like, the mysterious M., language dude extraordinaire, told me the meanings of some of the names I'd chosen for my characters, and the meanings sort of fit the characters' roles. To answer his question, the fit of the names is accidental--except for the name of the main character, Drina, which in Spanish is short for Alexandrina and means "defender of mankind," I assume because of Alexander the Great. "Defender of Mankind" is a good title for Drina Ramirez.
I was right, it's hard to concentrate. I think I'll have to take my work in small sips today, and that work is: to continue where I left off editing yesterday; start rewriting the synopsis; housework; pay bills; other miscellaneous things I can fit in here and there. I have a feeling the housework will be the easiest of those tasks; I don't have to think to load the dishwasher.
So here's a question for you: Do you do anything special to pick names for your characters? Do the names come immediately, or do you have to study and research and pick just the right one?
Over the weekend a couple of my first readers got back to me with comments on my long synopsis. Their advice was right on and exactly what I needed, pointing out things I am too close to see. Really invaluable. I'm sure the rest of my readers will have just as much insight. I'll do an in-depth report once it's a done deal, probably by the end of the week.
While I'm waiting to finish my synopsis, I have my editing job to do. Last week I received my next two assignments from Eternal Press. To my surprise, they are both classified as erotica. Now, I've never edited erotica before, although I did go through a time when I thought I might be able to write some. (Not.) By the way, the link goes to my old blog because the comments somehow didn't get imported over here on my older posts. The comments are funny.
So anyway, yeah, I'm editing erotica. So far it's been very--ahem--interesting. It's smashing my preconceived notions of erotic literature and bringing to light some personal attitudes which have always operated unseen. Eye-opening, in a number of ways.
On the health front, I found out toothpaste irritates my skin and is probably why my tongue always feels burny. On the other hand, the knuckle on my broken finger popped and I regained some range of motion. I hope this bodes well for having a full recovery.
I pulled all my WIP files to one location and started organizing them. Cuts, backstory, notes, different chunks of chapters, the working doc, 3 different synopses, etc. I'm a very sloppy saver, so my file names are not nearly descriptive enough to immediately know what they are, and also they are saved to two different computers and a backup hard drive. I have the same file name 10 times on 4 different documents. It's atrocious. If anybody has any thoughts on a better way to organize and evaluate what to save and what to delete, please let me know. If nobody has a better idea, I'll import all the files into Page Four, see how that works.
Have a great week.
Chatting with an old college friend led to a discussion of my cool-ass car. Thought you'd like to see it. So many stories... I miss this car. The weiner dog's name is Oscar. Hated that dog.
So anyway, I stole a tv-tray and got a spare--and, alas, uncomfortable--desk chair, stuck them beside an outlet in the living room, and it works beautifully. I'm sitting right against the couch, but since I'm not actually on the couch and facing a wall, my brain is quite happy working. I'm figuring out how to be a writer--that I need to have several projects open to switch between; that if I start feeling antsy, I'd better get up and do something else; that a pen and paper is my friend. So far as a full-time writer/editor, I've finished my long synopsis project and sent it to my first readers, finished a critique for my brother (the story can be found on my new page, The Sax Man), corresponded with the two authors whose works I will be editing next, and started editing the first of those works. The house is also cleaner, since I'm slowly getting caught up on the summer clutter.
My micro-chore merry-go-round method is working out so far. Reminding myself to take it slow and do a good job, don't freak out, it'll all work out in the end. Can you see the glow surrounding me? It's the glow of accomplishment. Come, bathe yourself in my glow, take a piece home. I can make more.
The writing also went well. I finished my long synopsis--final page count: 15 pages. The plot is basically the same, but I did change some key elements that had given me doubts. I think finishing this project is a pretty good way to start my full-time writing career. (Is it a career if you haven't made any money yet?) It's a good sign. I can officially say that I'm out of the hole which had swallowed me up for so long. The writing feels good; having a real, reachable goal feels good; and going easy on myself feels good. I'm loose. But not in a slutty way. Anymore. As far as you know.
Anyhoo, now's the time when I call upon my peeps to read what I wrote and tell me what I got wrong. I know I have at least two readers on board already, so if y'all are too busy, I do have some help. Seriously, it's all right. Lord knows I've been too busy/downtrodden to read at times. Still, the more the merrier, so if you have a passing curiosity and time to read 15 pages double spaced, shoot me an email and I'll put you on the list.
- She can't remember her teacher's name. She will wander the lonesome halls, crying and calling for me, until someone notices, but by that time it will be far too late. Post-traumatic stress disorder.
- I will not know if she made it safely to her classroom until she gets off the bus this afternoon. (Oh God, what if she doesn't get off the bus this afternoon???!!! *faints*)
- She should NEED ME more than that, damn it!
- I'll look like a bad mom if I don't usher her to her room and set her at ease.
- I couldn't take DS when he started because we didn't have a car at the time, so I need to make up for that failure.
- Is this starting to sound like grasping for straws?
The truth is, none of these are real concerns. And here's why:
- I wrote her teacher's name nice and big on a piece of paper and put it in the mesh pocket on her backpack where it can be read from halfway down the hall. Also made her repeat her teacher's name and directions to the classroom about 50 times.
- She's in the same school, just a different classroom. They know her. They will put her on the bus just like they did the previous two kids when it was their first day.
- I don't want to ruin her sense of adventure with my smothering.
- Will I look like a bad mom? I'm probably overthinking this one.
- DS came home fine on his first bus ride. He was just as excited about riding the bus as DD#2 is. No failure there.
- I'm grasping because there's really no good reason!
I can't believe how calm she was about the whole thing. The older two are old pros, so they were fine. I guess it's easier being the baby of the family, because she has a big bro and sis whom she trusts completely to keep her safe. They were all sitting in the same seat, right up front, Maggie near the window so she could see all the landmarks as the kids pointed them out. I think they enjoy looking at the dump the most.
I think back to DD#1's first day and the look on her face as she realized I was leaving her in that classroom with strangers. She didn't cry, she was so brave, but I barely held the tears till I hit the door. When DS took the bus to school that first day, I was a wreck, but I was able to hide it pretty well. At least I had somebody left at home to keep me occupied. This morning I caught myself trying to talk DD#2 out of riding the bus, then I realized I was doing it for my own comfort. She's the last one. She will be fine. But will I?
They should be getting to school about now. My first cup of coffee is almost gone, and my first day as a full-time writer stretches out before me. Doesn't seem so exciting and wonderful now that I'm faced with it. It's quiet in here, people. I feel disconnected. This doesn't bode well for my time management plans--I think I may be online more than I'd planned. But isn't that why I set my schedule daily? There will be a period of adjustment. I must be easy on myself today. I forgot how hard it is to let a tiny child go out into the world without me.
I figured something out about school supplies, though, after years of busting my ass and spending big bucks to get every item exactly as described on the list. They even say on the list, "Please buy specified brands and sizes!! Thank you!!!" And of course the brands are all the expensive ones, I guess so there's some sort of consistency, since grade school is a socialist regime and all the supplies go into one pile to be extracted as needed. We've been spending between $150 and $200 for three kids. This year we didn't have it. Just couldn't make it work. So I asked the school if they had a program to help with school supplies, and they did. Filled out all the paperwork, went to the school a few days later to pick them up, opened the bag and found...RoseArt brand supplies. Not Crayola, freaking RoseArt. If I had known I could have bought the cheap stuff, I'd have been doing it every year! Shaved 50 bucks off my bill! Geez!
So anyway, back to my beautiful morning. Now that I'll be writing full time, I definitely need to get my daily schedule into shape, and that includes backing off the fun stuff like Facebook and Twitter. To start, I'll be turning off email notifications on all my accounts. I'll keep my email up in case of emergency, but I'll have a prescribed time for replies. This means if you have a pressing need which only your faithful Sherri Blossoms can fulfill, I will still be available, I'll just be making better use of my time. Here's my tentative plan:
- check email, respond to urgent messages
- check FB and Twitter during lunch, reply to non-urgent emails
- housework and exercise
- editing or more writing, whatever needs doing
- kid time
- more FB and twitter, stats, blog posts, crits, etc
It's not set in stone, because I need to be able to change what's not working. However, if I don't think of it as set in stone each day, I'll fall right back into chaos. So maybe first thing in the morning I should set my schedule for the day, based on what worked yesterday and what errands need to be run, and then it's set in stone. Till tomorrow.
My book life just got a little busier. I've been working on my own writing stuff, then yesterday my brother sent me a new short story of his to critique, and this morning got my next editing assignment. Now, my former MO is to work on one thing frantically, to the exclusion of everything else. However, I've learned a couple of things about that method, and those are:
- The piece I'm working on suffers because I get brain-fatigue but push through anyway.
- My writing is always the last thing I work on. There's always something else to work on.
- I'm more stressed.
Conventional wisdom says to complete one task before moving on to another. I have to modify that to fit this crazy artistic business, and say that I must complete one mini-task before moving on to the next. Think of it more like a rotating to-do list.
Hope your Monday is good.
- Writtenwyrdd is having a contest on her blog to celebrate three years and a thousand posts. A thousand! Wha? You heard me. Here's her description of the prize: "I've got a bunch of hand-screened cards (black on cream) that I made years ago as part of my arts and crafts phase. The winner will get a couple dozen, each individually wrapped (a $50 value). They can be framed as well. I carved the originals in lino blocks and turned the prints into card designs. Various Celtic designs, fantasy designs and pagan designs." She's taking entries through next Friday, so go leave a comment to enter.
- Ian coined a term to describe when, as a writer, you get in your own way: Eating your earlobes. You'll have to go to his blog to get the whole story.
- A friend of mine had a great job interview today. I'm not naming names because we're being cautiously optimistic, but I wanted him to know I'm behind him!
- The thing I'm most excited about is coming from my buddy Marta. For as long as I've known her I've loved her art and wished I could afford to commission some to hang on every wall of my house. Now I'm going to have a little piece I can hold in my hands. A little while ago she had a contest on her blog, and I won an original copy of one of her books, bound by Marta herself, with original art included! She let me choose the book and everything, and now she's posted pictures of the art-making process here. It's fascinating and beautiful and exciting. Won't you go on over and see my prize and be jealous? She's really giving me a gift, and I'm not just talking about the prize. It's been a pleasure to know her.
Have a great weekend, y'all! I plan to.
- Man, oh man, I had the awesomest writing day yesterday. I was on FIRE. Fire, I tell ya. It was one of those days where the urge to write overrode the urge to clean house and play games and nurse my bad eyes. I made steady progress on my synopsis throughout the day, and after Hell's Kitchen I passed up a chance to watch the new Netflix arrival to go upstairs, and I didn't have to force myself. I wanted to. Why the change? I stopped pressuring myself. Knowing the alternative is writing nothing at all, I changed my goal from X output to Y availability, and suddenly it's working. I typed so much yesterday that it feels like I lifted weights. Woo!
- I've been talking in various accents lately. My favorite is a mix between Arab, German, and Spaniard, but the Indian one is also fun. The kids call them creepy, but they also think my singing and dancing is creepy. It can't all be creepy, can it?
- Yet another stray cat has found us. I love having cats around, but because we live in the Neighborhood of Death they have a very short lifespan. We feed them and play with them until they disappear. Since they're strays they wouldn't survive any longer if we ignored them, so we try to make their short lives as nice as possible. I don't know why people choose this corner to dump their animals. We've had dozens of stray cats and dogs attach themselves to my kids since we've been here three years. We don't rescue the dogs anymore, I just keep the kids inside until they're gone, ever since I called the pound on one that was too aggressive with Maggie. I still feel guilty about that dog. He was almost certainly euthanized.
- Remember my many blog posts about my broken finger? Well, it's still crooked but it's healing otherwise. I can type and do most things normally, I just have to watch bending it too far or striking it against things. That still hurts.
Guess that's it for now. Have a great day!
I can approximate my readership by combining my Google Reader subscribers with my Feedbook subscribers and allowing for overlap, also using the stat meter as a guide. I think it's about 30 but it could be as low as 20 or as high as 40. Some are perpetual lurkers, and that's okay. There are plenty of blogs I read daily but don't comment on, so I don't mind. I've made the blog to be as public and accessible as possible. There will be lurkers.
I do wish I could get better stats from Google Reader, though. It only tells how many are subscribed, not where they are or how many items they've read, which would be nice. Since the lurkers who subscribe to my feed don't show up in the stat counter, it's really impossible to tell which posts interest them.
It's no big deal, I guess, just something I'm thinking about this morning. It's the great unsolvable Internet mystery--How Many People Actually Read This Damn Thing?--and greater minds than mine have pondered it.
Y'all have a great day, those who comment and those who don't. You're all important to me. :)
Despite the intense pain centered between my eyes and radiating over my right eye, I dragged myself up to my writing space in the shed loft. I decided a couple of days ago that I would go up no matter what, even if just to sit and stare at the wall. When I first got up there last night that's exactly what I did, but then I did a meditative visualization meant to activate the chakras, found here. The visualization relaxed my brow enough so that I had about 20 good minutes to work. I would not have done this exercise downstairs, nor would I have had my document open downstairs, so I'm glad I went up. I got a couple of pages edited and made notes for my next session.
I'm tired of life getting in the way of writing. I've been giving it up too easily. DH in a bad mood? New movie from Netflix? Migraine? Kids want me to play? All excuses I've used, along with many others. So to answer Mapelba's last question honestly, I haven't been giving up much of anything for writing lately. I'm ready to change that. It's not a fruitless exercise. It fulfills me. Maybe it's pointless to make a habit of going upstairs in the evening when it will all change when school starts in nine days (yes, I'm counting down), but I don't think so. The commitment will carry over to my new schedule.
Headache aside, lately life has felt generally peaceful, happy, and easy. It's a great feeling, and I want to share it, so here's some ~GOOD ENERGY~ coming your way. :)
DH: Do it anyway.
Me: But when I'm sleepy I can't think of words.
DH: You have to get used it. Make it automatic. There's things I've had to do that with.
Me (insulted): Like I don't do that already with other things. I know how that works. Writing's different.
(DH goes into the bedroom and comes back through on his way outside.)
Me: Were you encouraging me?
DH: No, I was just saying you have to write even when you're sleepy.
(I hear, "You're just making excuses, lazy ass.")
Me: So you're scolding me.
DH: No, I'm just saying...(walks away again)
(I sit for a moment and let it sink in, then I gather up my writing things and go to the shed to write. On my way across the yard, I see DH sitting in his lawn chair.)
Me: You were telling me to suck it up and write because you want me to succeed.
Me: That's encouragement.
(We smile, and I make my way upstairs where I do good work thanks to my hubby. And when I come down later I give him many kisses which makes him smile again. I think he was smiling because of the kisses. Maybe something funny was on tv.)