I’ve been fighting my inclination to go full-snark on VDOT this week, as that shiny web application kept reporting plowing underway or completed… when, really, there were entire lanes randomly missing on major thoroughfares–and the spaces plowed meandered across the median and didn’t seem to care that cars were being encouraged to drive down the wrong side of the road when their side abruptly became impassable. Luckily, my office has a generous work-from-home policy, so the beautiful part of my week was a lot of extra time with my loves. Kou has mastered the “through the armrest hole” arm nudge for attention, while Tashie was just happy to hang out in my office on the fouton. Tino remains the International Man of Leisure and keeps an eye on me from the hall, while I get to listen to hubs rehearsing in his office.
Less commuting also meant more time for writing and blog duties. I finally finished setting up the two WordPress plug-ins Gayla recommended, so now my books page includes easy buy links for everything I’ve published, and the right sidebar has more colorful word-count trackers that come with a bunch of other functionality. In fact, if you click on the heart icon, you have the option of sending me a nudge to keep adding words. The “i” icon, on the other hand, takes you to an in-process book page with the blurb and any other information I’ve pulled together about a particular WIP. The best part: the MyBookProgress plug-in has a similar kind of mental button-pushing impact for me as the NaNo tracker… so I’m strongly motivated to keep adding words. This week I started to make up for my recent slow poke ways and added 1,558 words to The Builders. According the tracker, at my current pace, I will easily beat my April 2 deadline for finishing.
Mostly, I’m encouraged that I’m finding a rhythm to writing fiction again. Hubs sent a link to ten sentences that help keep one’s perspective properly adjusted, which also helped focus me appropriately. Particularly, “accepting your limitations is the best chance you have of surpassing them”. He also found a full explanation of the Laws of Karma, which includes the notion that all reward must come from initial toil. The article that really caught my attention today, though, was a book preview for a German forest ranger‘s explanation of the biological network among trees–how they feed the old and dying as well as the young, and how they have friendships and increase their strength through their mutual connections. In a simplistic fantasy, that might have driven some of the fiction behind Avatar, but on an emotional level, for me, it’s another reflection of the nature of our interconnectedness. That there are ties between us–even between species–that we fail to recognize to our own detriment. Of course these thoughts are making their way into my fiction-building, which makes it all that much more fun to explore how my characters choose to play to their strengths and weaknesses.
From a fiction-writing career perspective, then, I ran across a blog post pointing out the MANY pitfalls in standard Big Publishing contracts. I’m more and more satisfied with my decision to avoid all that–even if it has meant that I’ve had to work through finding, contacting, and negotiating with rights holders for elements I’m interested in using as part of my stories. In the latest instance, I don’t think the actor’s agent had ever been contacted by an indie, and priced an image freely available online as if I were a big house able to afford the crazy license fee she suggested. So despite its perfection for the cover of The Builders, I will be continuing my search for cover art elements. But I’m still proud of the licensing agreement I was able to arrange for a few years back for the Elvis lyrics quote that provided such perfect and subtle insights into Ivan’s character in Blood to Fire.
The connection I most enjoy honoring, with hubs, is coming up on the 18th year of its official existence in 9 days. Finding my stride with writing–and more specifically, stepping away from the many distractions I’ve allowed to become bad habits–has also freed up more time for enjoying our handful of shows together. This week we caught up with both The Expanse and The X-Files in an epic evening of cuddlesome togetherness. The combination of mystery and action with shadowy antagonists makes both compelling in similar ways. I’m anxiously awaiting further reveals.
Another consequence of the terrible plow job (and/or the huge snowfall, depending on where your inclination to lay blame lies) is that we’ve been pretty well house-bound–i.e. no long walks, and our short walks are in the late hours of night when it doesn’t matter so much that we’re in the middle of the road. My phone has been staying home for our minimal walks, too, so it thinks I’m averaging fewer than 500 steps a day. I’m crossing my fingers that the ongoing temperatures in the 50s and predicted rain this week mean we’ll be able to reclaim the sidewalks and step up our family exercise.
As usual, I’ll be back again next week with my latest progress report. In the meantime, check out how the other ROW80ers are doing with their goals.