Tuesday, July 25, 2017

I would stab this novel but it might still not die

I'm fighting this book and it's fighting back hard. I've done SO MUCH WORK but that doesn't matter. I mean I have to say that to students all the time. "But I worked so hard on this!" Yes, but it's still terrible. As is this book!

It has major logic problems because it started out as a genre/mystery and I took that out and replaced it with this property thing and that sucks so I've been undercutting that and now it's just these two big mysteries that our main character should have figured out years ago but has to stumble backwards into while freaking out over twenty-one other major crises.

Okay, that's not so bad. I mean I like that kind of story. Fine! It's okay.

It's not DONE though. Instead of writing it right now, I'm doing this! Hahahahaha! Oooh. Because I'm listening to some old MBMBAM episode with Lin-Manuel Miranda before he even put Hamilton out there. In other words: procrastination!

I have a list of scenes I need to write. I'm just going to write them. And then there's a couple of long talky sections that make me want to slam my head in a drawer, but instead I'll just sum them up in my mind and cut them out and rewrite them from scratch. That's what you have to do pretty much.

Must not ooze over to this terrific 30k draft and work on that instead...noooooo!

Must say to self: "Self, go write the damn book. Just write one of those stupid scenes. Then go punch the speed bag for a while. Then come back and write another one of those stupid scenes."

Don't wanna! It's so weird, I don't even know why. It's not that I'm avoiding work. I went through this entire book multiple times day after day fixing major things, like doing a pass to remove the mystery plot and doing a pass to change this one character from one thing to another, and another pass to remove these other dudes and a subplot, and another one to completely change and massage the shape of the relationship arc. SO MANY MORE PASSES NEEDED.

It's just so much better to write a book straight through in a row without pretzeling yourself into an infinity shape where you have to keep going around and around and over and over everything.

This isn't even about making it GOOD yet. This is all about making it hang together and make sense. UGH.

I just really prefer telling a story in a straight line, where someone makes a choice and that has consequences and then they make more choices to deal with the consequences and that causes more consequences and so on until boom!

I've noticed that someone I like to have books and stories end with someone very high up. Like, physically high up. It's kind of a funny thing to discover. One ended up on top of a tall building in Burbank. One had someone climb a mountain, get taken off in a helicopter, then land on the roof of a hospital. Hard to get higher up than that. Maybe a balloon or plane or spacecraft.

I'm feeling a PROFOUND pull toward space opera after soaking in and delighting in Jupiter Ascending and being reminded that my favorite thing is space opera. I live for Farscape, dude! And I have this whole series of books that are space opera! I think I wrote two complete ones and then half of three others.

Just thinking about tackling rewrites of those antiques makes me want to lie down with the covers pulled over my head.

Whereas thinking about writing fun new space opera makes me tired but also happy?

Anyway I'm all wobbly and boneless today again because I took one of my prescription non-freakout pills per night for the past three nights. I'm going to have to quit taking them because I have gotten slightly more than zero writing done since I started. Sure, they allow me to sleep, and I'm all mellow and happy and sleepy and dopey, but I have things to do, dude! Time is slipping away! Work starts in a month and I have meetings coming up for both places I'm working, online and real world.

I'm already pretty happy about all of the work I've gotten done in this middle time. I mean, I wrote a whole novel that I'm pleased with. That's fantastic. But I judge my days by how much I get done and I'm getting nothing done.

That's not quite true. A couple of days ago I got utterly fed up with the stupid metal bed frame. I haven't been sleeping well on that bed, even buttressed with bookcases, so I took apart the day bed that pulls out to be queen sized from its resting twin size (Hemnes daybed at Ikea if you're curious) and brought it back into the bedroom and moved the metal frame/feet back to the guest/writing room, and it was all brutally hard work and my back is killing me.

And THEN I discovered that the new mattress is much heavier and made the slats sag, so I had to buy a bunkie board and do all this surgery on it. I had to take apart one end and saw the boards and shorten it and then reassemble the end and staplegun the covering back on. It was kind of brutal. It fits exactly perfectly now, though, and the bed is fabulously, gloriously comfortable and secure feeling.

It's hard to explain what was wrong with it before. It was a mattress on a bed frame. Like normal. I mean. It's just a bed. But it was too high and too narrow and too scary and then when I buttressed with bookcases it was too closed in and too stifling, and I hated having my back to the doorway. I kept feeling like someone was standing there. I had to take down my bathrobe that usually hangs over the door because I thought it was someone, even though that robe has been hanging there for fifteen months.

So I moved the bed 90 degrees, back under the eaves, and put it on the old daybed, which is much wider than the mattress, so I have a headboard, and walls at both sides of the head, and extra space to the side, so dog doesn't feel like he has to cram himself against me all night or risk falling off.

In other words, I probably don't need the anti-freakout pills anymore. I'm supposed to take 1-2 every night as needed but I would be just a puddle on the floor if I did that.

I'm just hoping that there's enough air flow under the eaves when it heats up again. That's why I moved it out in the first place. But oh boy is it ever louder by the door! Something about the angle to the window, I guess? The road noise was unbearable. It hasn't gotten any quieter but it bothers me much less under the eaves.

Someone is doing construction maybe a half mile directly in front of me as I sit at my desk. Speaking of loud intrusive noises. I cannot wait until I'm able to live in my very own house in a quiet place. I'll just peacefully fantasize about moving over there by loading up my trailer each day and driving over and unloading it. Mmmmm. Yes, very nice. Ooh, it's a good triangular house.


Now I want to make weird animal heads out of metal and weird stuff to hang up like those mounted deer heads. That would be AWESOME. Fun art project for me, eh? Like my ongoing lamp-making situation.

There's a cardinal outside! I haven't seen one of those here before. Look out for the bobcat, cardinal! Though the barred owl has been eating all the little critters, so maybe the bobcat has relocated to easier hunting grounds. Twice in the past week the barred owl has swooped down right outside my office window at night to eat the mice that run between the woods and the house, scaring the heck out of me both times. First there's a rush of ammonia out of nowhere, then there's some sudden loud hooting that seems to be coming from inside the room. Gaaaaaah!

Some mourning doves were doing something in the yard when we went out today, too. Or possibly that neighbor cat was messing with them? I don't know. We went out, there was a ruckus on the ground, two birds flew away, and the dog went crazy running around and sniffing everything. Could also have been a hawk that had caught one of the mourning doves, though they seem big for a hawk. I heard them calling after, though. The mourning doves, not the hawk.

Isn't life just scintillating around here? I know! I also moved a round rug from one room to the other!

It's okay, the more writing I'm doing, the less interesting life is, so it's all a good sign. And I keep completely forgetting to drink my tea! And then it gets cold! Can you imagine? Dude.

I looked at too many timber framed A-frame designs and I can tell you this: they are all badly proportioned. The ceilings are far too high. The rooms will be uncomfortable to sit in, like you're in the bottom of a bucket. And definitely they'll be drafty and impossible to heat. We don't normally hang around in rooms with twenty foot ceilings for a reason, especially in colder climates.

I'm so sore from heaving that mattress all over creation (off the frame, from bedroom to writing room and back to bedroom, on the frame, off the frame, back on the frame) that I can hardly put my hands on the keyboard, which might be another factor in the non-writing. Though I sure managed to drivel on here forever, huh?

Fine. ONE SCENE. I'm on it.


Saturday, July 15, 2017

Drafted

Oof! I'm so tired! I'm tired deep down. I finished the first draft of my novel yesterday, 75k words in two weeks and two days, which explains why I'm flipping EXHAUSTED. That also includes two major road trips to farflung ends of Maine and one day off, last Sunday.

I am wrecked.

But! I'm very happy to have finished the draft. I have a lot of work to do still, obviously--it's just a first draft. I need to go back and flesh out my main character much more, especially in the beginning, and make sure that fundamental drive is there. You know, the one that will make the whole thing go? And there's a part I need to swap out, but I know what needs to go in there. I might do that today while it's fresh in my mind.

I am thrilled to discover I can do this quickly once I have the essentials in my mind. Ugh, all the rewriting is such a slog! It's all I've done for ages!

So here is how to do it:

1. Main character must have a huge drive toward a goal and no way to attain it.
2. Main character must have AGENCY in what she does and cause what happens to her.
3. Dominoes. Everything has to cause the next thing. Even if that is a revelation of new information.

Agency, goal, dominoes.

I don't know if I learned this at school, but I certainly learned it during school. I'm not sure what exactly I learned at school, which is not to say I didn't learn anything, just that it's so well assimilated that I don't know what it is anymore. Bluh? No idea. I could go back and read all my notes from all the craft talks and that would tell me.

Honestly I think I learned the most from studying all the books closely. What did they do and how and why and what worked and what didn't? Write that down and articulate it clearly and learn from it.

In my final review thing, in the little fishbowl room, one thing I said as far as goals was that I wanted to figure out whether all my old drafts were worth fighting with or whether I should just write new things. I think both! But the boggy nature of old drafts is exhausting, as is writing new ones. Basically I'm just worn out by all of this! But that's because I'm doing eight or ten hours a day of writing some days. Some days two. Yesterday I did a lot.

Also the parts based on reality can pretty well suck. I think it's because I'm thinking about that and not about storytelling. It starts to read like somebody's boring hiking blog. I'm not sure how to integrate that stuff into real writing. I mean, when you're out somewhere, say driving from point A to point B, you're not really thinking primarily about that drive. You're all wrapped up in your inner thoughts and what's going on in your life. The drive is such a distant fourth or fifth or twentieth in importance in that scene. It's like writing descriptions of the inside of the car. Yes, it's there, but NOBODY CARES.

In other words, nobody cares about the scenery or any of the technical aspects of things except as they pertain to the story. So the last block of writing needs to get that part fixed. If it's not relevant to the story, leave it the heck out. I think I'm trying to be true to the scene or something.

That said, I don't want to say it's a desert when it's a forest or whatever. I'm glad I went on those trips. Ugh, Flagstaff Lake! I need it so much! I didn't get to use it at all!

There's an excellent awful historical bullying thing uncovered in the book. I find it exceedingly compelling. One of the things about being this character's age (18 and not going to college) is that you start to find out that adults have these stupid ugly pasts that nobody told you about and you've been going around treating them like solid reliable people all this time. Which makes you feel like you've been duped.

I like watching someone find out that adults are just people who are trying to act like adults and be responsible. They don't know until they know! It's one of the big turning points of that age.

Oh! I also have to rewrite to change the track of these other kids who really screw things up. I was suddenly remembering only yesterday about these freshman girls I went to college with. I was about six years older I think? Because I had left and come back. And they just suddenly discovered around Halloween (they were 18) that they had these bodies that would get them a lot of attention. It was gross and upsetting to me at the time, and I told them so, to see them suddenly objectifying themselves and using that to manipulate people. I kept saying, "You're a person!" and things like that. They didn't get it. I couldn't explain it. We had a whole conversation that I remember in the dorm. And then they went on running around half naked and enjoying how it made everyone jump.

It's such an odd thing. I think it's been nagging at me since then, since 1991. There are lots of articles out there about this now, about these girls that age who go and take off their clothes in public. It's so interesting psychologically, because it means one thing to them, various forms of empowerment and whatnot, but it means something else entirely to the ravening hordes who watch them, and there are all these other consequences. Like my old neighbor who was in one of those gone wild videos and whenever employers Google her, that's what comes up, so she doesn't get the job. Anyway I've been reading the articles to try to figure out this other character, not the main one. Her friend.

There are so many different ways of acting out to test the waters of adult life.

I really enjoyed the challenge of writing this draft, oh boy! I had it figured out in my head (and written down) beforehand, the outline of it in general, though that changed and I ended it before the point where I had planned to end it.

Really it was all about sticking to the chair for the requisite hours per day. If you put me in a comfortable chair in front of a laptop every day, you will get a book, apparently. This chair! What a great thing it is. With its ridiculous sporty race car wheels. And it's red. Red! And so comfortable. Made by Sealy, the mattress people. It came with a little block of the foam padding with their name on top in case I ever forget. I keep it on the desk and squeeze it and watch it reinflate, like a stress ball.

Between my awesome chair and the loss of my job and the habit my job gave me of coming to sit in this chair in this office every day for many hours without fail, it seems I have a system figured out.

There's finishing a first draft, and finishing a book completely, though. That's the next step. HUP HUP.

Friday, July 7, 2017

Sky rollerblading loyal wolfman boyfriend for the win

I watched Jupiter Jones on the fourth to help the animals not freak out from fireworks. It worked very well! But also: OH BOY!!!

I would strongly advise you to see this movie before reading any further, because I'm probably going to spoil the heck out of it.

First of all, Jupiter herself is a terrific heroine, a fish out of water who adapts and figures things out and overcomes. The Wachowskis said they always start with Dorothy in Oz, and that makes perfect sense. Jupiter is Dorothy in Oz for sure.

But Toto is a six foot one inch utterly gorgeous wolf/human hybrid shaped like Channing Tatum, which is to say, he moves in this wonderful way. Like a dancer, I guess. He's a dancer, isn't he? This guy knows how to move. You can't take your eyes off him.

So then he's on these sky rollerblades and flying spaceships and having shootouts and beating up dinosaurs, and he keeps on crashing in and saving Jupiter from situations where the evil jerks have been lying to her and she's doing exactly the right thing except it turns out she's not because they lied. Ah!

She beats up the last guy herself. It's utterly awesome.

Also she falls out of the sky about a million times. This is such a vertical movie!

There are all kinds of fabulous aliens and in the end, Jupiter herself saves the world. And then Caine, the wolf guy, saves her. He keeps on having to rollerblade through space toward a destination he can't possibly reach. Ahhhh!

And then at the end, she has managed to negotiate to get him (and Sean Bean) back their ACTUAL WINGS. And then they fly off into the sky. Fabulous! Glorious! Amazing!

I watched it again today. It seemed much shorter and made much more sense. Also I kept having to exercise, meaning run on the trampoline, or do this step thing I'm supposed to do for my knees. (It's a step aerobics step. I have to do this: step up, step down. Repeat. Exciting, no?)

I finally stopped going down stairs sort of sideways to save my knees, with the result that they're getting much better very fast. Wearing shoes at my desk seems to help, too. Who can possibly know the ways of knees?

What else? Oh! My local NaNo person asked if I was doing Camp NaNo, and I was like, "Huh? What?" as I was just back from school. And then I had this idea, and I drove around and researched it really fast, up by Sugarloaf, and then I started writing at perfectly normal speed, and then I started writing more and more hours per day. And the upshot is, I'm at 42k words already.

It was flying along and then I wrote this sort of iffy part today, but I know how to deal with that: pretend it doesn't exist and keep going. Then I'll wake up in the middle of the night with a solution, no doubt. Or I'll think of one while writing this.

Very odd to be writing 8k and 10k words per day. Physically it's fine. I just don't usually know all of the "what comes next" that fast. But this book keeps planning itself out in my head when I'm not looking. I appreciate that very much, book!

Today I managed to get more steps than words for the first time since I started the book. 6205 words, 7791 steps. Jeez, that makes me want to write another 1500 words, but that way lies madness. Anyway it's almost midnight.

You can credit the steps to Mr. Channing Tatum and his zooming around on space rollerblades.

I don't think I would want to watch other movies just to see him. It's that he's a DOG PERSON in this that makes him so awesome. I mean, he's all loyal and wonderful in all the ways that make dogs so wonderful. So although he's highly decorative and compelling to the eyes, I could easily see that turn awful if he was being or playing a jerkface. Which would ruin Caine for me. So no thank you.

I will happily watch this movie every day if that's what it takes for me to commit aerobic exercise. Sure! Why not! Or my other go-to similar space opera, The Fifth Element. What others are there, even? I should think about this.

I realized forty thousand words into my novel that it was playing on Anna and Elsa from Frozen in a whole lot of ways, so that's very funny. I only realized it when a character pulled a Frozen dvd off a shelf. Ha! I love that. Nice one, subconscious! Their names are even similar. It's someone else who shuts herself off from the world for safety, though. See, thematic.

Today I went out and bought seven yogurts and seven boxes of tissues. Two fezzes of cat litter and two boxes of Wild Berry Zinger and two cans of cleanser and two royal blue towels and two blue camping pads. One step aerobics step. I really hope my knees don't rise up and throw a revolution against me tomorrow. They have to get stronger so they will stop hurting. It's a thing!

Anyway I have to go up near Katahdin to explore and research for the other end of the book. It'll be awesome! I need other resources, too, but maybe they're in the library. I should go there and look, eh?

School is coming for me. It's all going to start at once. I have big plans to get so many things done first, most of them books that need to be put into order and sent on their merry ways. It's infinitely easier for me to write whole new novel drafts than work on rewriting old ones, of course, but the way this is going...I'm not going to say in case it makes it not happen. Lalalalalalalalalala! Anyway let me just say I'm happy with how this is going so far and looking forward to the rest of it. My poor character went through some of the worst stuff ever in the past few days and is about to come into her own whether she wants to or not, kicking and screaming if necessary.

I just figured out how to fix that section I didn't like. Aha! Thank you, sky rollerblading loyal wolfman boyfriend from space! Oh boy, that character! He's like if you mixed my dog with a hot guy. Also, I seriously suspect his ability to move like that makes the whole character, because he's so unselfconsciously physically comfortable in a way that animals are and we lesser humans aren't. I only usually see this in athletes, but then again, I never see dancers. So there you go!

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Misery loves more misery

I am actually not miserable, because I got AWESOME NEWS on the job front. Hurray! Two jobs! Happiness loves more happiness!

But I am miserable because of the stupid heat and humidity. It was 88 yesterday and today with high humidity and a million biting bugs, so you can do the math. = BAD. Do not like!

When it gets super hot, I won't cook, so I don't eat, because I'm not allowed to eat bread or whatever, even though sometimes I totally forget and go eat a lot of pizza, and then I feel like I'm going to die for three days, so then I don't do it again for a long time. When there are no sandwiches, what easy fast cold food is there that takes no effort because I'm not doing anything because it's hot?

Well, today I made a massive salad out of irritation with that lying crook, the attorney general. Oh my goodness. He's a liar and a gaslighter and a racist and a misogynist. Half of those he would admit proudly, too. YUCK. I hate his little pink goblin face.

I was languishing in front of a fan and doing absolutely nothing but watch that testimony when it irritated me beyond endurance and I got up and chopped up everything in sight and made it into a the aforementioned massive salad. Which I then ate up, every bit. Yum.

Salads aren't as good without apples. I really like an apple in a salad. Plus bell pepper, cucumber, chicken, and whatever else is around.

I don't know what I'm supposed to eat before going on the plane. I might make a mess of eggs with horseradish cheese in them, on the understanding that I won't be hungry again for a very long time. (It's true.)

Things I did today out of sheer irritation even though it was too bloody hot to move:

vacuumed the whole house
moved the tv so I could get into the yarn trunk
trawled the yarn trunk for travel yarn
picked out a pattern
took the dog for a walk through tick-infested woods and down the black fly infested road
changed the sheets

Irritation apparently motivates me quite effectively.

I'm having yogurt for a late dinner because I'm still not going to cook anything. Forget it. Though in retrospect, rice sounds nice.

Ever since I took those ridiculously huge doses of antibiotics FOR NOTHING on the word of a nurse who didn't know what she was doing, I've had to eat very plain food like rice or yogurt or fruit or my innards get very upset with me. I hope that things will calm down eventually. Maybe they'll even forgive me for the pizza!

Oh boy, it was good, though. At least the first two pieces that I had for dinner.

Anyway the dog loved our walk and the house looks very nice.

I'm on a mission toward increased fitness, though my mission has to battle extreme desire to do nothing at all physically. I mean I do tons of stuff, just I prefer to be sitting in the comfy chair with an iced beverage while I do those things.

Anyway, that's the plan. Egregious sigh of dismay. I'm hoping to use the pool at school, in my absurd bathing suit with the red and white striped cups and the navy blue dress part. It's not exactly low profile, but it's on MY terms.

So that's my day. Incredibly uncomfortable weather and annoying pests, not to mention the bugs (ha ha) resulted in a tremendous amount of work getting done. For which hurray!

I want a bath, but not a hot bath, and not a cold bath, and also not a warm bath because those are just cold baths waiting to happen. Maybe what I want is a shower, come to think of it.

Meanwhile I keep remembering about job thing and yippeeing to myself. I get these little jolts of excitement. Eep! Yay!

Maybe I can reintroduce my stealth fitness methods to my life, like the rule that I have to do jumping jacks while the kettle boils for tea, plus standing up at my desk. Ugh...I have no desire to do any of those things. Where is my get up and go? Did the antibiotics kill that too? I've been downing tons of probiotics every day, both the gummies (which survive best into the gut) and the yogurt. I suspect my meds need to be tweaked, by which I mean lowered, because I'm mellow to the point of zombification now that the severe pressure is off. MFA is over, training for Online Job is over, I'm hired officially, and now Traditional Job has hired me also.

It still won't be as much work as old Online Job plus MFA. Or like in the past when I worked full time in an office AND did a full four iterations of Online Job, back before they hired me on full time.

A couple days ago I wrote a story about that whole thing blowing up, how that horrible lady made me change my name and manipulated everyone and bullied everyone and then turned vicious on me when I got sick and got the full time Online Job, and got me pushed out early. Boy was she a piece of work. And I mean, from the beginning. All the signals were there. I just pushed past because I needed the job.

I do that a lot! I'll put up with badness for my own ends. It's kind of a form of not listening to yourself. I've been realizing I am super bad about that. I don't know when I'm hungry or thirsty because I learned from a very early age that what I wanted didn't matter. I'm not even aware of those signals. It takes feeling woozy to notice I haven't eaten all day, for instance.

Luckily I have tea! I want tea, boy oh boy. But I have to eat first, or it will make me throw up. So I do eat breakfast. And then I want another cup of tea so bad in the afternoon, so I have to eat again. Dinner, however, often goes forgotten.

I suppose being more active would make me hungrier, too. YAWN. It would be easier if I could go outside, but thirty seconds out there and I'm covered with black flies, whose bites leave insanely itchy welts the size of quarters. Now the mosquitoes are starting, too. GOOD TIMES. Frelling Maine, I tell you what.

Today I wondered why black flies don't live further south of here, like in Pennsylvania. They seem to be a northern thing. Do they not like the heat? If so, maybe we'll be rid of them, because it's hotter here every year.

Though it's lovely and cool right now. 70!

One of the fun things about Maine is talking to cashiers about our perfect temperature. We all agree on 65, in my limited survey. I think that's awesome. 65 is cool enough to wear long pants, while 70 isn't. For me. And other cold-adapted life forms.

It's supposed to get down to 52 tonight. Yes, please! And 45 tomorrow night. Oh boy!

Maybe I actually can have a bath. Glory!

This yarn I'm taking with is fine and soft, sage green. I'm going to knit some pretty lace for a scarf. Ooh, must remember stitch markers, thanks for reminding me! I was afraid my knitting days would be on pause because I crushed my right middle finger's last segment (what are finger segments called?) pretty good today putting the lawn mower into the shed. The mower has an end section that tilts up 90 degrees to self-propel. Well, you can lock it, or you can forget it's not locked and use the handle to push the mower up a steep ramp, upon which it will slam down that 90 degrees and crush whatever digit happens to be in the way. It's not broken or anything, and didn't damage the joint, but it sure hurt a lot. I thought it would stop my knitting but that seems to be okay after all. And writing with a pen. Both useful activities!

Stay safe, little bunnies! Eat your salads and drink your water and do your jumping jacks while the kettle is on to boil. I'll certainly try--cue exhausted eye roll--but presumably it'll get easier each time. Oh YAWN!

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Oh hi

I weed whacked so much over the past two days (not counting today, a DAY OFF) with my new weed whacker that I can barely lift a leg high enough to step over the edge of the tub. Why does weed whacking use those hip muscles? That seems so weird. But you have to lean over in a particular way to avoid whacking all your toes right off, I guess.

It's terrible out there. It's a very bad year for the black flies, which swarm and bite and get in your mouth and ears and eyes and nose and hair. So even covered down to my wrists, with a hood over my head and a head net over that, in rubber boots up to my knees, I STILL get bitten. Ridiculous.

The lawn is not so very much cut right now. I've been catching up on the super tall areas, but the regular flat part is growing fast. Today landlord came over with extra tomato plants (nooooo!) and I showed him the wiring/switch problem in the front hall, where my new weed whacker also was, which led to a lawn conversation, and anyway I'm going to go borrow my old mower that I gave him and mow the grass properly tomorrow.

Except not the steep parts. I'm sticking with the weed whacker for that. The mower is heavy and wrenches my arms out of their sockets when I have to yank it around on that steep slope.

Good times, eh?

In other news, I have an awesome interview coming up, and I got a rejection notice for a short story today. I instantly (five hours later) went and submitted all the stories I could to all the places I could. Including that one. Bounce them right back on out!

Then it became clear to me that I need to write more stories. Like, every day. I should write a story a day. I wonder how long I could do that? If I made it a huge priority I might be able to pull it off. They can be short, after all. Flash fiction is bananas short.

I wrote my presentation and it's 1776 words. That feels like INDEPENDENCE so I'm unwilling to edit it even one tiny bit. I have a little bit of weird number OCD.

Oh and today I suddenly regained the ability to play fast sudoku. Nothing exciting happened to bring this about. I have no idea.

I keep doing all the weird packing things, like counting out enough vitamin gummies and probiotic gummies to last me while I'm away. And picking out earrings. And hand washing scarves, then neatly folding them up.

It'll be a relief when it's late enough for me to pack clothes. Even though I know I only need like seven days' clothes, I want to take absolutely everything. I pulled a million things out of the closet as part of my psychological pre-packing process. It's enough stuff for a month. Come on, now. It's almost like I don't want to leave anyone behind, though. Nooooo!

And I got the upstairs finally cleaned up and everything (almost) put away. Jeez. After I switched the day bed into the writing room, there was massive chaos. In part that's because I had a lot of clothes in the drawers of the day bed that suddenly needed to go elsewhere. I dealt with all of that last evening. It was kind of hellish, to be honest. It meant moving absolutely every garment in every drawer, reorganizing, refolding everything, storing a bunch of stuff in a Rubbermaid tote in the closet.

Okay, so that's a pretty mild version of hell, I admit it. But my knees and hips were already in agony from the weed whacker extravaganza and it was all kneeling and bending. Oooooof. Ouch.

I hope all these people publish all my stories and then I'm all story-published and thrilled and delighted. I want to be a story publisher person. Write the stories, send them out! That should be me. I can do that. Boy do I love writing stories. Whoop!

Especially since now I don't have to write about dreadful autobiographical material, which was admittedly cathartic, but some of those are definitely not publishable, alas. I cannot send them anywhere. I don't think. Can I? Maybe. I have to think more about it. Right now I don't feel like I can.

So get this: if I wear capri leggings from Walmart ($4!) and a giant oversized t-shirt that I usually sleep in (KMart, men's 2XL tall) then I feel like a million bucks. I feel like I can run and jump and ride bikes and do absolutely anything. If I wear my fancy expensive J. Jill linen trousers, all baggy, which okay I paid $8 for, but they were $80-120 new, then I feel ugly and awkward and terrible and like I can't do anything at all.

What is that all about? Is it just about sporty garb versus frumpy garb? I practically want to put my hair up in a scrunchie in this getup. It's awesome.

I figure I'll stick with the speedy garments. I'm not even packing any of my giant linen trousers. I will dress like an aerobics instructor circa 1985 and be happy instead.

Not really. I'm taking all my nice silky blouses, plus the silky tank dresses that are actually tops on me, which I wear as undershirts to cover my retreat.

I have clothing issues, apparently. I just reread a story I wrote about that. Yep. I have 'em. The part that is weird to me about today's navy blue leggings with red and white stars all over them, worn in honor of the Comey hearings and the defense of democracy against that utter jackass T***p and his abuse of power and all his various crimes, plus the giant navy blue t-shirt, is that clothes have such a powerful effect on how I feel when I never ever actually look in a mirror. Right? Like the received wisdom is that how you LOOK affects how you feel. But nobody sees me. So that's irrelevant. How I dress is entirely about how I feel instead.

These leggings are hilarious. But not as funny as the royal blue ones with the red and white hearts and curlicues all over them.

A lot of my clothes have turned out to be red and black, which mystifies me. That deep glowing crimson, though, I can't resist it.

I even reglued my Adidas Sambas for the trip. One sole was flapping in the front. I should wear them to see whether the glue stays stuck. I have superglue that I can use if necessary.

All those submissions tonight, that was pretty awesome. It was like work, in the sense that it had clear cut parameters and clear beginning and ending points and I could just work through it methodically and then be done.

Heck, maybe I can send out those others. I'm all torn about it. I mean, don't pre-reject something, right? Let them do it. There we go!

I'm craving pizza so badly that I'm in serious danger of going out and getting one tomorrow. I've been in pre-trip no desire to eat mode. Basically it's just been rice and yogurt, though today I made eggs with horseradish cheese and it was utterly delicious. I might make that again tomorrow, to be honest. If I don't get hot food and protein, I get all frazzledy and quietly frantic and then can't focus or do anything.

That is actually the sign of NOT TAKING CARE OF YOURSELF that I'm learning to watch for. I was not raised to take care of myself, or to think that I needed to be taken care of in any way. I'm only gradually starting to figure out that I have the right to want and need things and then get them. No duh, you might say, but it's a side effect of neglect and abuse, so whatever, I'm working on it. You treat yourself the way you have been treated, until you train yourself otherwise. It takes work.

Speaking of taking care of myself, I'm heading to bed. At a reasonable time. New mattress is freaking amazing that way. I can go to bed and just go to sleep. Outrageous! Glorious! Wonderful!

I spent the whole Comey hearing running around the house, cleaning everything up, sweeping, tidying, putting absolutely everything away. That hearing agitated me, even though I think it was the giant push we need to get that orange knuckledragger out of office and gone from our lives. I'm still amazed we haven't seen some kind of idiotic backlash from him. I imagine a team of lawyers actually sitting on him to prevent him from making things even worse for himself. What a jackass.

Comey was impressive, though. I feel like we might be seeing a lot more of him coming up. But that may be because I mistake anything I see on my iPad for fiction.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Embedded

The project isn't complete, because I want to build and then carve a headboard and footboard for the bed. And probably sideboards too, let's be honest. Once I get carving I'm not going to want to stop. But I got a new mattress yesterday after a sudden dawning awareness that all this major body joint pain and a ten year old mattress were causally related. Except then the mattress wouldn't fit on my ad hoc bed that I've been using for a year, the boxy white daybed. So I had to disassemble the daybed and move it into the other upstairs room, the tiny writing room, and build the metal feet/frame thing, which I bought specially because it has bolt brackets on each end instead of just one, and then I had to cut twelve long boards to support the mattress on the bunkie board, which is like a super thin box spring, and THEN I had to put all those pieces together, find the sheets, and finally go to bed.

I know!

I was in SO MUCH PAIN by the end of all that. I'm sick of pain. Get rid of it!

And I'm not even done. It's up too high, so I have to adjust nine screw feet adjusters to lower it down. And there's stuff everywhere in the writing room that needs to be rearranged and get put away. There are bookcases all askew. Also I might need to bank the far side of the bed with bookcases because it feels very precarious not having that extra buffer zone of pillows like on the daybed.

The daybed is a very happy place to sit and write in the writing room now, though. That mattress is fine on the edges.

One odd effect is that now I have three beds in three rooms. The third one is my office. I could have guests! Multiple guests! What is that about? Actually there's a fourth old thin twin mattress in the closet up there, too. And the downstairs daybed has a pull out trundle bed where that could go. So four, four beds! What is that about!

Nobody comes to my house, so I don't know what I think I'm preparing for. Last visitors were...Christmas, when my brother and nephew came over with presents for me. Has my sister even been here since? I don't think so. I think she visited before Christmas.

I also got a proper desk chair, a comfortable one, instead of using those hard flat dining room table chairs as I have been doing. I know! I was just figuring, everything hurts so much all the time, and where am I all the time? In bed or in my desk chair. So those things are fixed now.

First night on the new bed was blissful. I did take ibuprofen because I was in screaming agony after carrying all those heavy things up the stairs and rebuilding the daybed and so on. (The furniture boys brought the mattress up. There is NO WAY I could get that massive thing up those stairs.)

Anyway now I get to think about my headboard and footboard and consider what to carve and how. I had originally planned to make it like the Franks casket. I could do that! I'm not sure whether I want to use one solid board or what. Also it's kind of a long process, carving things like that. But so fun! But hard on the hands, with the hammers and chisels. Last time I had this setup where the board I was carving was blocked in place on my quilting table. I could clamp a longer board down there. Or use the trestles. I probably won't start this until fall, though, because I have to finish the cedar chest first. There's massive sanding to do, which I hate, so I've been putting it off.

Must stop putting it off!

Sanding kills my hands. Anything where I have to hold tight to something like that is excruciating. Good times!

I got my printed and bound copies of my thesis this week and positively squealed with delight. I hope I get to keep one. I think I will. I think both get signed and then I get one. Oh boy!

Actually I have to go mail the box of those right flipping now so they get there in time. It might cost a fortune. But they'll charge me $25 for a bag that's over weight anyway and this way I won't have to carry them.

Yes, travel prep--horrendous. I hate it. I hate leaving my house anyway, but traveling is the worst. But after this residency I won't have to do this again. No more dorms, no more cafeteria, no more planes. I mean, we'll see about the planes, but I managed to avoid flying extremely well for many years. It's just so unpleasant in every conceivable way.

Having to leave the house and be around people means of course that I suddenly notice that I have no sandals (remedied) and no summer shorts except those cut-offs (have acquired capri leggings) and no sleeveless versions of the giant long silky undershirts I've been wearing all winter (have acquired slinky rayon tank dresses that are like tops on me, and camisoles) and so after that visit to Walmart (yes) I'm all comfortably outfitted. Plus linen capri pants at Marden's.

Those clothes are alarmingly cheap. Like the silky camisoles are $3. I almost got a bunch of the white linen pants to wear while painting because they were $8. I never want to get paint on any of my actual clothes, no matter how old or funky, because that's a line that can't be uncrossed. Once there's oil paint on something, it's there forever.

It's funny. Why not just designate one of the existing pairs of linen pants as painting pants? But that would cross that line. They'd be gone from the rest of the world forever! I don't know where this comes from because I'm not exactly a snappy dresser, and it's paint, not baby vomit or something--I mean, it's not gross. But still.

I have the same problem with shirts. Though probably I can allow paint on my ancient black t-shirts at this point. I don't wear them out of the house.

I really, really want to paint, so something has to give here. Every day I'm like: okay, but not in these clothes. And then I never do.

Mostly I'm busy writing BOOK. New comfy chair of lack of pain makes an enormous difference in how long I can sit still, at least physically. It doesn't do much for my psychological need to get up and run around. Physically not being uncomfortable is a game-changer, though. Same with the bed.

So now I expect great things! Sleep! Writing! Great things!

And finishing of lingering projects: the cedar chest, the flannel quilt. I will get them done.

I should be starting New Job soon, which is very exciting and will set my mind at ease. I'll have to buy a monitor for that since my laptop screen is so small and the site is fixed width, but that's okay. I want to make massive progress on all three things, cedar chest, quilt, and BOOK, before that starts. So we shall see. I also have to put pockets into my shorts and such things. This morning I ripped out the seams in the fake pockets. That was the hardest part. I'll use some muslin or whatever to make new pockets and sew them in and voila! (In which "voila!" means "several hours of careful work.")

One of these weeks I'll get my mower back from the shop and then I can cut down the jungle growing all around the house. I've only been keeping this one patch in front clear and now the rest is too tall for the push mower. I could try to figure out and gas up the weedwhacker and cut it all down, but I would not hold my breath on that one. Who knows, maybe I'll do it! I *should* do it. But so far I never *have* done it.

Anyway. To the post office! Except not the one in town because I mailed a box to my mom priority mail and it took ten days to get there. I don't know what happened, but that's not going to work for this situation. I guess the next town up is my best option. They seem to be more on the ball.

Happy summer, and happy comfortable places to sleep and write!


Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Dr. Crusher

What an odd name to give to a character. Beverly Crusher. Dr. Crusher. I wonder what on earth lies behind that name? Bet there's a story in there.

I have to go see Dr. Crusher or maybe Dr. Squeezer on Friday. Or more like Dr. Tortilla Press. I've been making lots of corn tortillas lately so I feel like in some sense I've brought this on myself. (Not actually true. But I do see the parallels.)

At any moment I'm going to have to leap to my feet and run outside to grab the laundry and bring it in due to imminent rain. Maybe it won't, though. Maybe it will!

The black flies are so bad that it's torture to go for walks with the dog, so he's not getting walks unless we go to parks or places like that. My niece's school, one day when we picked her up, for example. But our usual walks down the road are horrible, even when I'm drenched in bug spray, so nope. Even going out in the yard is not much fun with the bugs.

The grass is super tall everywhere except the front flat part which is reasonably easy to mow with the motorless mower. But today I got the trailer onto the car and the mower onto the trailer, so I'll take it in tomorrow and get it fixed all up. Soon, I hope. I mean presumably the rush is over, right? I did my best and took it all apart and cleaned it and replaced bits but that thing is beyond me. Off to mower camp!

I have to go to writer camp and the boys have to go to dog and cat camp soon. DON'T WANNA. Though I am hatching a plot to drive down to Crater Lake, somewhere I've always wanted to go. It's only 4.5 hours away but you can't take dogs, so I never managed it, because: always dogs. It was too far to go and leave him home, and I couldn't take him, which means I didn't go. Same with previous dog, obviously.

I've got this shirt on today that is just completely enormous. I have no idea why I've never worn it before. There are a couple this sort of color but one is smallish, so I think I conflated them. I wouldn't wear a smallish shirt so I skipped this one too, I guess? Anyway it's delightfully vast in the acreage and I'm pleased.

It's worrying me how I'm going to dress for the hideous heat out among people at writer camp. I hate that part. I have a fantasy of sewing lovely soft knit camisoles by hand. I mean, it's not a far-fetched fantasy--it's perfectly possible--except that I have no energy or motivation at all lately, so I haven't taken the slightest steps to make it happen. Yawn!

I did buy twelve more boxes of tea out at Marden's in my old town yesterday, though. Cool! There's another year of tea in the bag! They had it for half price so I'm thrilled. I'd have preferred to get all of them and just back the car up and shovel them in, but for some reason I felt a little constrained after twelve. Like twelve is okay but twenty-four would be weird? Or forty-eight? That's only four years' worth of tea, you guys.

I would love to have the shelf of this closet all totally stacked up with boxes of tea. How great would that be? Of all the things anyone could hoard, tea is the most reasonable. She said, realizing that saying that makes her sound completely daft. But listen! It keeps perfectly well, it's light, it's non-perishable, and it's the thing I would miss the most if civilization fell apart, after my various meds. Possibly more than my various meds.

Boy, I really need to wash this window that I really needed to wash a year ago. It hasn't gotten any cleaner. How weird.

I hope the TSA doesn't mind that I'm bringing an inflatable bed and a pump in my suitcase. Not in my carry-on, so they shouldn't care. Also a box of tea (ha) and an electric kettle and sheets and a mattress pad and who even knows what else. I can't imagine anyone would care, but then again, they probably do care. Then again I just read that some vast percentage of actual illegal items that should be screened out get missed, like 95%, so maybe my camping equipment is okay.

I've been chopping away at the forest of weeds that is my book all day long, making excellent progress, but it has come to my attention again that this B story needs to be developed because without it the whole thing falls apart. So I'm working on that. Villains! Creeps! Jerks! But they feel so aggrieved and unfairly done by. Nothing makes people less sympathetic in my mind than that when it's not true. Good times.

Since I was out in my old haunts, I went back to that TJ Maxx and got more delicious smelling liquid soap and shower gel etc. for baths. Which is why I reek like a rose today in case you're wondering. Which you're not. This time I used what I learned from last year's collection. No citrus, no rosemary, no basil, no coconut. Go for flowers, anything sea breeze flavored, lavender, bergamot even though technically that's citrus, ginger, roses, spice. The Crabtree and Evelyn sweet almond kind is just the most delicious smell ever. Mmmmm. I also found incredible bottles this time, the prettiest things you ever saw. And some came in blue glass bottles that will be keepers for sure.

That is my bath bubble acquisition adventure for the year. Pretty thrilled! It took ten minutes. Read, sniff, into the basket.

Later this week I get to go pick up my printed and bound thesis and see whether Gaiman's law holds true. Supposedly the first time you open up a printed work, you see a typo or other mistake. I hope not! Maybe it doesn't count if you only printed and bound two copies.

Here's hoping that Dr. Crusher doesn't find anything amiss and life can go on as planned without major upsets. We do not want that! My friend far away is also going through exactly the same thing, only different, so we're lab rat buddies. It sucks! But hopefully it'll all be okay.

Character traits to write into these villainous types because these are things I dislike the most: greed, malice, jealousy, callousness to the sufferings of others, clannishness, cruelty. That should be plenty to go on with.

I realized my book is short on EVENTS. And when there aren't any EVENTS happening, nothing is really happening, which is weird and strange and why? So I'm working hard on EVENTS. People doing stuff! And then because of that, they have to make choices and decisions!

Personally I prefer when nothing happens ever, but I'm discovering that's not ideal for fiction. NO DUH.