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Doing All The Things

"It isn't about setbacks, it's about how you deal with them." -Zen to ZanyI just finished my big task of the week: Editing Gayla’s sixth book in her Discord Jones series, A Little Street Magic. I’m super-excited for her to release it–the overall story arc keeps getting stronger and more intriguing. I just don’t think I’ll be finishing what I started for NaNoWriMo with the number of days I’ve fallen behind. At this point I’d need to be able to write more than 3,000 words per day to finish… which isn’t impossibly outside the realm of possibility.

Except, life.

Thanksgiving, I will be cooking and hosting (and we need to spend time cleaning, too). The day after, we have another family event to attend. I’ve finally gotten my replacement computer, and need to spend time getting it all set up. KouKi went in for her spay Friday, and because she’s healing spectacularly quickly, I need to spend a lot of time walking her to make sure she’s not yet jumping, playing, or running up and down stairs. Felix is back in his sick tank, so I’m trying a new medicine that requires full water changes every night.

Hubs is doing his best to give me a good attitude adjustment, but it’s back to my old bugaboo about not finishing what I say I will when I say I will. Zen to Zany had a good image to align with what I’m feeling (stuck in the mud) and an even better way to realign my thinking. So I’m going to keep going and be where I am when the month comes to a close. And keep up with the good habit of daily doses of fiction words–even if they only come in dribbles of a few hundred at a time. Eventually, I will finish all three of my current WIPs, even if each of them is taking much longer than I had hoped for or anticipated.

Another mental adjustment I’m happy to make: Take away the name Isis from terrorists. A mental adjustment I’d urge helicopter parents to make: stop with trying to insulate kids from the bad things in life. A recent article by people who know about human psychology pointed out that things like trigger warnings and claims of micro-aggressions are making it more difficult for people to recover from mental health problems, because the best road to recovery is a process of desensitization. Not that we shouldn’t be empathetic and kind with our fellow humans, and learn from our mistakes when we legitimately make them–let’s just not encourage more people to be mired in mental illnesses that can be treated in safe and humane ways.

As for my other goals… We started a walking challenge at work this week, so I know I’ve taken 27,815 steps, which beat the week’s goal, but I haven’t taken the time to calculate miles exactly. (I suspect it’s around 12 for the week, so that finally beat my goal.) I haven’t gotten to spend much time with hubs because of all the other things I’ve had on my plate, so the Thanksgiving holiday will be a good reminder to enjoy his company more, too.

Otherwise, check in with the other ROW80ers to see how they’re progressing, and I’ll be back next week with my next installment of my own forward momentum.

Fear Less

"Nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood. Now is the time to understand more, so that we may fear less." -Marie CurieSince yesterday would have been Marie Curie’s 148th birthday (if only radiation had the effect of extending life…) and I’m science-ing scifi with my newest story, this quote spoke to me. Not quite with the eerie voice of atoms colliding, but more like the world-building thoughts that come from twisting what we know in our world in order to introduce a first-contact situation. In fact, there were some insights in a recent io9 article outlining world-building failures that helped spark my imagination. Not enough to drive speedy typing that might help me catch up with my slow start to this year’s NaNo, but enough to add weight, shape, and dimension to the story that is building in my mind. This is the fun part of writing: half an hour here or there, then a pause to consider what has just happened and brainstorm about what it might mean, and another half an hour at writing. Lather, rinse, and repeat.

😀

It’s especially apropos considering I discovered today that my protagonist has severe PTSD issues, and the fears she has to overcome have made a sharp turn in the narrative I expected when I started. So I’m working to understand more about PTSD, emotional trauma, and its treatments. I discovered an amazing, new-to-me writer’s resource that described some of the sequelae for trauma, which led me to learn that Ketamine can induce vivid hallucinations in some patients. It was the first shivery moment of recognition that I’m on the right track with this story.

As for my other goals? Blogging and commenting? Check. Stay-at-home date night? Not so much… though we ended up spending some quality time together battling the madness at Costco this week because our second car failed inspection… for badly gouged tires. I guess shopping together is one of the great American pass-times, given the hordes we confronted, and it was nice to be together… It’s just… all those people. I cracked up this week when I saw a Diply post speculating about being an introvert, and later, more to the point, that I might be a crazy Husky person, because I saw a good many parallels between the two articles… and me. smile

As for walking, we’ve been lazy, mainly because we were out of time for it because of the errands we were legally obligated to complete (see above). We managed two that I recorded for a measly 1.9 miles, though we did short quarter-milers a few times that I didn’t record.

I also re-established Felix’s home. Hubs decided we shouldn’t risk any of the old aquarium elements, so took advantage of a sale at one of the local pet stores to restock, but this time I also decided to boil anything I put in the sanitized tank. So far our Betta boy seems to be settling in well, and he certainly seems to enjoy all the new habitat options he can hide behind or wiggle his way through.

So I need to head back to my WIP… I’m glad I’ve so far at least managed to double the ROW80 goal I set for fiction word production. I’m a goofy nerd for being motivated by an online bar graph and the badges over at NaNo, and am excited that even though I’m behind, I seem to be gaining some momentum. In the meantime, check out how my ROW80 cohorts are doing.

The Madness Begins

"Imperfection is beauty, madness is genius, and it's better to be absolutely ridiculous than absolutely boring." -Marilyn MonroeNaNoWriMo began today. Despite not having finished anything I had planned to, I still managed to start writing my latest novel. The others will just have to wait. This story has been bugging me for the past year and a half, and I’ve discovered details in the past month that make me need to explore this alt-present sci-fi world pronto. Even so, I’ve fallen so out of the habit of drafting new fiction, it’s been a slow start for me. I’m grateful for the potential of some combination of morphic field transference and inner compulsiveness/competitiveness that may help me pick up my pace over the next few weeks.

I’ve finished 50K words in November twice before, so I know it’s possible. Given hubs’ support and no other plans for the month, I should be able to repeat and regain my fiction-writing mojo.

We’ll see.

We certainly haven’t regained our walking mojo: We had another three-walk week, totaling just 3.5 miles. Part of that was certainly because the long days at the office while we had our subcontractors and SMEs in town left me too tired to do anything once I got home. Paraphrasing how one colleague described the circumstance, “we used all our words while we were at work, and didn’t have any left over for our families.”

On the other hand, it meant a few bonus nights of cuddling up with hubs and watching our shows. The newest one is The Worricker Trilogy. Hubs and I have spent the past couple days shaking our heads at the fact that a spy thriller had no bullets flying and no ridiculous car chase scenes, and yet was thoroughly gripping. The characterization in the films was a master class by writer David Hare and managed the amazing feat of turning protagonist and antagonist into largely meaningless terms–all the characters were complex and driven by entirely reasonable aims, each of which set everyone against everyone. Of course the audience roots for the titular character, Johnny Worricker, and (spoiler!) he achieves the end he pursued across the 3-film story arc, but the final scene shows the experience to have been a Pyrrhic victory. The layers of development and the richness of every character included played with all the complexity of the real world. It left us wanting to re-watch the whole set to pick apart how Hare managed this, and marvel once more at the subtlety every actor (and there were more than half a dozen A-listers involved, including Bill Nighy, Rachel Weisz, Michael Gambon, Ralph Fiennes, Winona Ryder, Christopher Walken, and Helena Bonham Carter, and another bunch of good actors recognizable from a host of niche TV shows and movies). In particular, I had never imagined a mature Winona Ryder able to achieve what she did in the second of the three films. It was thoroughly satisfying to see women and men shown with both sympathetic and less-than-admirable traits in the context of the ongoing War on Terror. I would highly recommend it for anyone who likes mystery, political intrigue, and complex characterizations.

The other good news of the week was that Felix seems to have pulled out of his funk. He’s in medicated water and has switched to food that is in a ziplock baggy (i.e. not stale from too much oxygen and who-knows-what exposure), and back to enthusiastic eating, as well as interactive finny dancing when we wiggle our fingers at him. The bad news: I’m going to have to make time this week to boil all the stuff from his other tank and resettle him there so he has more space and his toys again. Ohwell. At least he seems no worse for the wear.

Until the end of November, then, I’ll be focused on generating a whole new story. And being inspired by 60 quotes from Gautama Buddha hubs forwarded this week. I’ll continue to check in to report on progress, but may or may not be fully coherent by the end of the month.

😉

In the meantime, enjoy the updates from my ROW80 cohorts.

Foolishness

"The cleverest of all, in my opinion, is the man who calls himself a fool at least once a month." -Fyodor DostoevskyIt was silly to think just one weekend of extra sleep would see us fully recovered… especially since it seems we’ve both been fighting some kind of ick that has different kinds of cold symptoms associated with it.

Apparently the yuck has impacted our Betta, Felix, as well: He’s been lethargic and not eating well for the past week. Today, he has a white, stringy poop hanging from his belly. I’ve been spending my evening researching what can be done, and discovered a few more sites dedicated to Betta health. Nothing from the Bubbles & Bettas site disease listing matches his symptoms, though it’s alarming to read the range of diseases Bettas are subject to. I had no idea they could carry Tuberculosis. The Betta Talk site disease listing is similar but talks about depression in Bettas as well. The closest diagnosis I can come up with is maybe parasites based on discussion forum responses at MyAquariumClub and FishForums. Given I’ve only ever fed him Betta pellets, and we’ve had him coming up on a year… I can’t figure out what might have introduced that problem. Aside from the fact that he was the only being in the house for the 5 days we were gone and doesn’t seem to have been pleased with his alone time, which could have impacted his immune system. Even though the Back to the Roots Aquaponic tank he’s in is advertised to be self-cleaning, I half suspect that the sludgy water (which prompted last week’s cleaning efforts) may be another contributing factor. So I’m debating how often I should plan on changing the water–despite the company’s insistence about not doing so.

If anyone has any relevant Betta experience and has any answers… I would appreciate your feedback. Right now I’m considering Octozin, Clout, or Betta Revive as my healthcare options for the fish… though I think Felix will have to live in a jar outside the tank while he gets treated, since I don’t want those medications getting into the healthy basil plants that are thriving on top of his tank. I’ve sent a message to the Back to the Roots community support folks to see whether they have any thoughts on this circumstance, but since this is my first fish-owning experience, and there aren’t any fish-oriented vets, I’m feeling far out of my depth.

With all of these worries, we’re still on the slow path to walking. I have three recorded from the past week, totaling a mere 3.7 miles. I miss our long walks, but was feeling pretty breathless and worn out from just the 1.6-mile route because of my ongoing battle with the cold, so don’t want to further stress my own immune system by overdoing things.

To further destress, we’re catching up on both Agents of Shield and “Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell” as part of our ongoing commitment to spending time together at home. Each series is providing some interesting insights into my ongoing issues with antagonists, so I’ve been mulling over conflicting goals for a few days as I consider my own stories.

I have managed to keep up with my commenting, as well as sent Kait my blog post for the ROW80 community blog. I guess it will post the week before Christmas. Until then, you can keep guessing about the gif I included that Kait said “just makes me happy.”

😉

All the ick factor in the house has left me wiped out of an evening, so my very minor bits of progress on Red Slaves likely won’t see me to the end of that story before NaNo kicks off. On the other hand, Gayla has started sending me chapters to edit for her next release, and I’ve granted her priority in my queue. Apparently her story spooked me enough that at 3:33 this morning I awoke in a muck sweat trying to scream “help me” when a scene she may or may not have written about psychic transference of a bloody crime played out against my mind’s eye. Or maybe it was a fever dream incorporating Cordi and her crew. Either way, another not-restful night didn’t help my sinuses, so hubs was kind enough to give me another acupuncture treatment tonight.

I’m feeling generally slow and behind these days, and am anticipating another crazy week at work while we have subcontractors in for two days in  preparation for quarterly progress report site visits in early November, so I’m not sure how much progress I’ll be making on my writing goals, though they are still hanging out there for me to consider. I’ll be reporting in again next week to see how I do; in the meantime, check out how the other ROW80ers are doing on their goals.

Good Laugh and Long Sleep

"A good laugh and a long sleep are two of the best cures for anything." -Irish ProverbObviously the Irish aren’t on a first-name basis with acupuncture, but they are onto something with how restorative sharing a peaceful, sleep-ful weekend at home is.

🙂

It was a long week at work, notwithstanding the fact that I had had Monday off, mostly because it’s taking both of us a lot longer to recover from the Epic Road Trip than either of us expected. So while we had had tentative plans to spend time with family and friends, we were both happy when they got rearranged–even if I am still looking forward to seeing The Martian… next weekend.

We’ve been easing into our return to long walks with the dogs while the weather has crashed head-first into the first cold snap of the season, so we took a few mini-walks, and three of over a mile. Yesterday we finally got over two miles. And are resting our weary selves today. So nowhere near 10 miles this week, but at least we’ve re-started that exercise regimen.

We also enjoyed our stay-at-home nights to catch another episode of Agents of Shield and ELO in concert at Hyde Park. Yes, I might be stuck in the 80s with my musical taste, but I defy anyone not to rock out to “Don’t Bring Me Down.” In fact, that might be my personal anthem for the next few months. Because hubs and I agreed to our own creativity pact: While I have signed up for NaNoWriMo again to see if I can’t finish a story that’s been bugging me more and more in recent days, he will be working on SongoWriMo… his own personal challenge to get music recorded. (Strangely, I read an article this week that claims men are intimidated by women who are smarter or more ambitious than they are. I’m feeling spectacularly lucky hubs is as smart/ambitious as I am, and has always only been supportive of my goals.)

I’ve even continued some productive editing on book 3. I’m still moving much more slowly on this than I hoped, so I’ll need to step it up to get into the NaNo groove, and I’m not sure whether I’ll finish it before I start the next novel, but committing to butt in seat/hands on keyboard for several nights a week is bearing some fruit. I’m even keeping up with my commenting duties… though I just realized I’m now behind on my guest post for ROW80. (Sorry, Kait, I’ll work on that … tomorrow!)

I’m not even really mad that I didn’t write or edit during the many hours freed up by staying home this weekend. I took care of some of those time-consuming tasks that have been hanging over my head for a while: Cleaning Felix’s fish tank; changing our water filters; re-arranging the stones in the yard so they more properly cover the run-off drain; and cooking ahead for the week. If both hubs and I are to give free rein to our creative juices in a few weeks, these things need to be taken care of now. We’ll see whether I get around to writing up book reviews to meet my goals before the NaNo madness hits, otherwise that goal may go out the window. I have a story that is exciting to me, rather than two that have been hanging over my head for a few years waiting for their turn in a long line of reasons to delay writing. I’m hoping the NaNo crazy reignites my story speed so I can finish all the stories I’ve started before the end of the year.

We’ll see.

In publishing news this week, apparently Amazon is in the process of suing individuals on Fiverr who post fake reviews on their site. I hope Amazon will be disabling all those sock-puppet accounts, too, so real reviews once again become more prominent. There was also an interesting article listing a number of traditionally published authors who are taking their writing careers into their own hands and going indie. I certainly appreciate having control over the team that supports me in producing books for public consumption, so I’m half wondering what took all these other authors so long to join the fun.

😉

Meantime, I have two weeks to complete my NaNo ramp-up process and general preparation. Until next week, check out how the other ROW80ers are doing on their progress.

Holidaze

The best vacation from stress is a mind filled with happy thoughts. -Zen to ZanyAnd thus, the holiday season is half over. I’ve loved having a string of days at home, though, as usual, I overestimated how much I might actually successfully accomplish. None of the rooms I thought might be sorted are; neither did I do more at my computer than diddle around on social media sites.

On the other hand, yesterday I finally (almost two years after our Aquafarm arrived as a reward for having supported Back To The Roots’ Kickstarter campaign!) set up our tank. Unfortunately, my first experience with a new fish did not end well. While Bettas are supposed to be the easiest fish for rank newbies to handle, my first died within 6 hours of being installed in the new tank. This meant my morning was then occupied with researching all the ways the fish can die. I suspect the whole “does fine at room temperature” instruction was the root cause, so when I returned to the pet store today, it was to buy additional water conditioners as well as a tank heater to make sure hypothermia did not set in once again. Felix the 2nd appears to be thriving as I write tonight, so I’m crossing my fingers that I don’t have to handle another death in the family very soon.

Also, we’ve managed multiple walks per day for the entire week. Our newest schedule seems to be to get up around 8 to potty the youngest canines, bring them in for breakfast, and then take all three for a little more than a mile walk. When the weather’s nice, in the afternoon, we take another one ranging between 1.7-2.8 miles. We cap the day with a final, half-mile walk.

I don’t think I’ve been in as good shape (despite the lingering lung issues from the cold/flu of a week ago) in decades.

And we seem to have finally hit the age with KouKi that she’s letting us get more decent stretches of sleep–or we’ve walked her enough that she’s as worn out as we are.

😀

To sum, then… This round I did check off a few things: Finished my MBA! Posted three (of the four of my goal) book reviews. Got the exercise thing sorted. However, I did not finish Jasper’s Story, though I did start reviewing my work on Red Slaves book 3. I don’t think my brain has actually been awake enough to be creative in the past month, but as the youngest of our pack matures, this too shall change, so maybe next round I’ll finally get back to some decent word counts.

I will be looking forward to it, though I can see my social calendar here will remain busier than anywhere we’ve previously lived. I’m not terribly happy about that given how precious time has become, even though I enjoy spending time with family and extended family–and today I got to help with the holiday baking with my nieces, as well as enjoy the Packers clinching their division for the fourth year running. It will be an ongoing challenge for me, but hearkens back to the Zen to Zany quote that kicked off this post: Happy thoughts really are the best cure for stress. Sharing unstructured time with hubs; watching Felix cavort through the water, or the furbabies chase each other through the house; or relaxing with good stories… definitely happy-making experiences. I feel  those cramped neurons unfurling in my brain.

While the next round technically kicks off January 5th, I’ll be spending the week considering what my goals should be to report for my next check-in, as I balance family and work needs with my own creative drive. Meantime, consider visiting the other ROW80 writers to see how they’ve met their goals.

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