Writing Weather

Posted: November 4, 2016 in writing
Tags: , ,

I don’t know what it is about November, but it makes me want to write.

Perhaps its the fact that by November school is well underway and my brain has settled into the rhythm of the work day. Less stress of remembering where I need to be means more time to daydream about things that aren’t work.

Maybe its the weather, as the heat of summer gives way to the ever cooling fall. Sure, there’s still plenty to enjoy outside, but when the sun starts going down around 5 the heat goes with it. No need to be outside in the chill when its comfortable indoors.

Or it could be my inbox, with its happy NaNoWriMo reminder e-mails sparking my inner Pavlovian dog to drool at the idea of a month dedicated to nothing but fictional bliss. Contrarily, I won’t be participating this year. I’ve had years when I’ve said I’m busy and then still attempted, and I’ve had others where there was nothing more pressing than the siren call of a word count, but either way for the past five years I’ve at least given it a shot. Last year I even won. (Shocking, because I’m perpetually behind in daily word counts.) This year, though, I really put myself in a bind with a play. Next week we enter tech week, and the following week we perform. There is no way in hell I have a spare minute.

Whatever it is (schedule, weather, NaNo habit, or a mysterious writing bug) I’ve found myself very much focused on the stories that exist only in my head. They kept me up a few nights ago. I wrote, fell asleep, woke at 4am and decided I couldn’t get back to sleep until I finished getting all my ideas down. Since then my brain won’t shut up. I don’t really have the time, but it’s there. Nagging me.

I can’t wait for this play to be done so I can have a little fun with my other mistress: writing.


Rice Saves the Day

Posted: October 2, 2016 in Life
Tags: , , , ,

Mistake #1: Having a glass of water anywhere near my laptop.

Mistake #2: Forgetting there was a cat in the apartment.

Mistake #3: Letting the cat get anywhere near that glass of water.

The cat stretched up to grab the water glass, I saved it from toppling to the ground, and in retaliation a small dribble ended up on my keyboard. A little bit of paper towel and it’s all cleaned up, right? Right? It’s not the first time my keyboard has had a close encounter with H20 so I wasn’t even on high alert.

And then the screen started freaking out. It’s on, it’s off, there’s my open Scrivener document, there’s the log-in screen, there’s my document, the screen is off… it’s off?… it’s off!

I lift it in the air and it comes back to life with my document. Weird. Everything’s fine, right? Right?

My brain is on high alert now and very aware of the fact that I haven’t backed up anything I’ve written in the past month. Worse still, I had recently gone through all my paper snippets and transferred them into digital form. There was no backup. There was no back up!

I fly to grab a flash drive, put it in, and in the middle of backing up the computer has another seizure, turns off and does not come back.


There’s water under the keyboard and frying something! I don’t know what and I don’t have the tools to get in there at my apartment. I make a quick call to my computer guru friend. “Hey, so a little water got on the keyboard. I thought it was fine but it’s not fine. The screen freaked out and now it’s turned itself off. How screwed am I?”

Good News: Not as screwed as I thought I would be. He told me to take the battery out, put the computer in rice, and try it out in the morning. It had worked for his iphone. Worst case scenario we’d trouble shoot it on the weekend. Worst Worst case scenario he assured me the hard-drive where all my stories were stored was very hard to kill, and not to freak out.

I did as I was told, emptying the dregs of my large box of rice, cursing that I didn’t have more, and my roommate offered up her small box. There was enough. I waited.

The next morning I hesitated to turn the laptop on. Scared to my core it was a goner. But at a text from my guru asking if it had worked I found within myself the courage to confirm my worst fears.

The power button lit up, the hard drive whirred to life, and upon the screen was the beautiful purple of the sign-in prompt. Half my keys didn’t work, but at least it wasn’t dead. The touch pad still reacted appropriately, and that gave me hope.

More hope was given later that evening as I inspected the laptop and realized my keyboard wasn’t fried. It was dirty. The dregs of the rice came complete with tiny little rice shards that had finagled their way under the keyboard. A little shaking and wiggling of the keys and every one of them began to work.

My laptop had come back from the brink of death.

It’s been several weeks since the incident and everything seems to still be in working order. All hail the Rice Lord, King of Hopeless Electronics!

I haven’t written in awhile because I haven’t been writing.

There. I said it. For reasons that are numerous and mostly bullshit I basically stopped writing soon after my last post. I told myself it was because I was busy, that my brain had too much to think about without forcing it to be creative, that I just needed a break.

As time passed and I busied myself with other things I continued to tell myself that I’d come back to it. That tomorrow I would write. That next week I would kick myself into high gear and start accomplishing things on paper.

Finally, I started to wonder if all my dreams of finishing my book were simply fantasies. Maybe writing wasn’t for me. Maybe I don’t have the discipline. Maybe I hold that dream up as a shield not because it’s really what I need to do but because it allows me to say that my current line of work is not forever. That as soon as I finish this manuscript I can start fixing it up. I can publish it. I can write more and maybe turn it into a job rather than a hobby.

I worried that I was hiding from some sort of truth deep down: that I don’t want to work at my current job for forever, but that I have no idea what I’d rather do so might as well hold up the banner of “writer”. It’s safer to hold up an unattainable dream than confront the problem head on.

I let the self doubt set up residence in my heart while I let my story stagnate on my hard drive.

As I sat, wondering what else I could do with myself if writing wasn’t it I suddenly found myself calling to mind all the times that it felt like writing really was it. I thought of the long-winded stories I wrote for English class back in middle school, of the afternoons in high school spent writing up fanfiction to later post online, the years of participating in group storytelling with an online RPG message board. I thought of the joy it brought me, of that feeling that nothing else was better than imagining a world and putting it on paper.

I’ve been focusing a lot on the struggle of finishing. To be honest, I’ve never attempted anything so large in scope before. Finishing a story never required stamina beyond a few weeks, and to be honest I’ve been working on my current project for almost five years. I started toying with the idea soon after securing my first professional job, and as a person who typically goes for what they want full steam I find it disheartening that I haven’t reached an end yet. That it’s still in disarray.

A few weeks ago I started organizing all my handwritten notes. All the jumbled scenes and snippets I typed up into Scrivener, labeling as I went. When I ran out, I started reading what I had, editing as I went, filling in some blanks.

I’m making progress. It is slow, but it is relatively steady compared to the months of nothing.

This afternoon I looked on my Google drive and found even more I had typed up months ago. Full scenes that flowed from one to the next that I’d forgotten I’d taken the time to type up. So I started copying and pasting them into place.

I started reading what I have and smiled, amazed by what I’ve brought into being so far. It’s more than I realized I had. Not a finished story, but not as big of a mess as I’d lead myself to believe.

A little bit of organization may be just what I needed to help me get back on track.

What You Started

Posted: February 8, 2016 in writing
Tags: , , , ,

So in the plethora of writing advice it’s not uncommon to see one particular shred of wisdom that makes a lot of sense: You have to finish what you start. No amount of pie in the sky hoping and dreaming will change the fact that nothing can happen if you don’t sit your but in a chair, write, and actually finish a project.

In the past year I’ve been guilty of not following that advice.

I didn’t realize how much I wasn’t following it until I took stock of what I’ve been up to recently, where my interests and focus has taken me, and all the shiny things that capture my interest. Spoiler Alert: I have not been faithful.

Particularly in the new year my focus has been scattered. I’ve thought of at least three other stories I would like to write. Worse, I’ve penned  parts of them down. I’ve also rekindled my love of knitting and fed my addiction to video games.

What I haven’t been doing is writing the story I’ve been working on for the past two years. Yes, I really have been working on my book that long, and no, I have not given it the priority it deserves. I haven’t been sitting my butt in a chair and writing.

The sad part about my predicament is that I have a lot of it written already in longhand. Hell, I have a lot of it typed up in snippets that just have to get looked over and edited. More to my public shame, I have just about everything mapped out in my mind’s eye if not on paper. (Honestly, I may have written a story outline as well at some point with just about every main point I could possibly need to know to steer my straight and true.)

What I’ve been lacking in is discipline. I sit down after a long day at work, try to get a little writing done, and then… oh, hey, did you see that? I should really get that done. But I’m writing… eh, I wrote a few paragraphs, that’s more than nothing, and that means its something, right? I tell myself that a few paragraphs every few weeks is acceptable, that as soon as I have the time I’ll sit down and work on it. I’ve been avoiding. (Avoidance is quite possibly its own topic wrapped up in fear of failure, so we’ll leave that here for now.)

The problem is that avoidance doesn’t help anything. I keep telling myself, “This year I’m going to finish it. I have it all planned out. I’ve created a deadline.” But I don’t hold myself to it. What I need to establish is some sense of habit. A way to push past my sleepy brain through training.

In short: I have to be more strict with myself.

This week starts Lent, the 40 days before Easter when good Catholics are supposed to focus on preparing themselves, on making themselves better. In high school my psychology teacher used the time frame to conduct a habit-breaking/creating experiment. (I think 50 days is the actual threshold for habit formation, but I may be making that up. After all, it has been 10 years since I took that class.) For me… I’m not particularly religious anymore, but I can see the wisdom in taking the time to refocus. In recent years I’ve used it as a time to curb my road rage, stem the flow of profanity, or treat others with more care and compassion than I may otherwise afford them.

Last week I realized it’s that time of year once again, and couldn’t think of what I wanted to focus on. Perhaps I owe it to my creative self, the one who yells at me for avoiding my book, to spend the 40 days refocusing my writer’s craft.

Or I could once again work to minimize my cursing, because Lord knows I’ve become too lazy to express displeasure using anything beyond words that describe excrement and fornication.



Advancing Years

Posted: January 11, 2016 in Life
Tags: , , ,

Today the world says I’m 30.

To me this is a rather surreal experience because for at least the past five years I’ve decided that I don’t actually feel any older. People say, “age is just a number”, but I swear to God I’ve been mentally living that little nugget for awhile now. In fact, I broke down crying a month ago when I felt older than my years. My lower back was aching (as it tends to do as I stand all day at work), the pain had leaked into my hips so nothing was comfortable, and one of my fingers was experiencing what I could only imagine was arthritis (stiff joints while interpreting sign language is no bueno). I arrived home and cried out that I was too young to feel so old!

When I turned 21 I was excited that the last barrier (excepting car rental) had been breached. The next year I rejoiced as all of my friends were finally old enough to go to the bar as well. After that…the numbers didn’t mean so much. In fact, they meant so little I caught myself on several occasions lying about my age, not because I felt embarrassed but because I actually forgot.

My most memorable moment of forgotten age was talking with a classmate at a conference. She was worried because she would be turning 25, and didn’t know how she felt about that. I boldly told her, “I love being 25! It’s been the best age yet. You’re going to love it, too.” She smiled, felt better, and a moment later I wanted to scream at myself because at that moment in time I was 23. Soon to be 24…but in reality I had not yet reached the very age I had just professed I had experienced. I didn’t tell her that, though. In my defense, 25 ended up being a pretty kick ass year, and I do not regret telling her that 25 is awesome… my mind was clearly a time traveler.

A few years ago I had to actually count birthdays and do math because I somehow believed myself to be a year younger than I was. I think it was my 28th… but as I was confused, what’s the point in trying to remember?

In any case, I just don’t feel like 30-such a large number- belongs to me. I may look a bit older around the eyes, I’m sure my hair has started plotting a sneak attack against its given color, and I now roll my eyes at the antics of “college kids”, but I feel like 30 is a number bestowed to a person older than myself.

My sister, four years my younger, is the opposite. She feels her age. When she wakes up on her birthday she nods and agrees that the new number suits her.

Maybe young at heart really is a thing. For the good of the human race I’m going to continue believing it to be so, see if it makes a difference as the years advance, and will report back my findings in the name of science.

It may be awhile before the results come in. You don’t mind, do you?

2015 Retrospective

Posted: January 4, 2016 in Uncategorized

There’s something about starting a new year that makes a person want to look back on the old one. Perhaps it’s the idea of starting fresh. Maybe we are simply looking for proof that the year, which has already so swiftly passed us by, has not been wasted. Whatever the reason, when I look back I always find far more achievements and milestones than I expected.

And so, without further ado, here is 2015 as it flew past me: Read the rest of this entry »

A Girl’s Best Friend

Posted: September 20, 2015 in Life
Tags: , ,

Henry is 12.

I forget that sometimes.

He came into my life the summer before my senior year, and quickly became a member of the family. Perhaps I forget how old he is because time has flown by so quickly I hardly remember how old I am now. After all, I wasn’t even old enough to vote when I got him, and now I’m pushing 30.

Perhaps the bigger reason is because much of what I love about him has remained the same. When the weather gets nice we get to go on walks. Henry tells me when its time to go, anxiously anticipating the fun time he’s going to have sniffing everything in sight. It starts with the stare down, and as soon as I say, “Let me get my shoes on,” he goes crazy, barking and rushing around with excitement. He doesn’t stop until the leash is on and we are outside. Then all bets about the pace are off, because he needs to stop and sniff EVERYTHING.

Typically I’m on a time crunch, and we go two blocks at most. To be honest, that can take a half an hour if he’s really involved in what he’s sniffing. The only good thing about his one track mind is he often ignores birds and other wildlife, so no fear of him tearing off and ripping the leash out of my hand. He used to perk up when he encountered a dog, but his sight is going and his hearing must be as well. Dogs can pass Henry by and half the time he doesn’t even care.

Sometimes I have a day with nothing planned, and then we can go on an adventure. We cross any street Henry deigns is necessary in his quest to sniff out new life and new civilizations. Today was a popular day for walks, as the summer weather has softened to the mellow warmth of fall, and we encountered people out and about. A few of them left some nuggets of wisdom with me, and it compelled me to write this.

Halfway through our walk today we met a woman with her little Shih Tzu. The cute little guy was so excited to meet Henry. Henry was more interested in the grass, but gave the dog a sniff on the nose and was done. The woman walking with her complemented Henry’s “cute little face”. As always when words of “how precious” or “how cute” are doled out upon him I reply in a way I feel captures his very nature. “He likes to think so.” (Yes, my dog is adorable and he knows it. It’s how he gets away with everything.)

The woman then said something that struck a cord. “Isn’t it amazing how they just take over your life?”

Yes. Yes it is. Henry has become so ingrained in my everyday life that I sometimes find myself altering plans to suit him. Around 10:00 at night he gives me the look telling me it’s time to go to bed, and I go. Sometimes it is simply the destination that he requires, and I can stay up late reading as he sleeps. Other times when he tells me to go to bed he means it, and will be very harsh with me until the light is off. In the morning he tells me it’s time to get up and eat.

“Can I sit in bed a little longer?”
“No,” he tells me. “I’m hungry and I need to use the facilities outside. You have to get up now.”

Sometimes his desire to sit with me plays at my heartstrings and I set aside the work I’m trying to get done in favor of spending time with him. Of course, this is often a result of his demands bordering on terrorist efforts as he will stare, bark, and whine until he gets his way. No one can get anything done under those conditions.

I feel guilty when I’m the last person home and I have to leave him. “Dad will be home in a couple hours,” I tell him. “You won’t be alone for long.” I shouldn’t feel guilty, but I do. I feel as though I’m abandoning him.

This guilt becomes more prevalent as I take up residence in another city. He’s my family’s dog. We’ve had him for 12 years. He sneaks into my bed at night and greets me when I get home. Yet the time comes when a person needs to move out, and I hate leaving him. I can see the betrayal on his face after I’ve been away for a week and come home to visit. The first week he was happy to see me. The next he feigned indifference. “Oh, it’s you. The person who leaves me when they are supposed to love me. Did you know that I went looking for you in your room last night? You weren’t there. Mom told me you weren’t, but I thought she was lying. She wasn’t. You’re going to leave me again, aren’t you…”

The sting of my betrayal mends as I stick around the house, take him for a walk, and do the things I normally did when I lived with him. But I know that this evening I have to go back to my new home town, and I will once again have to say, “goodbye”. I’ll pet his head, and tell him how much I’ll miss him. Henry will just look back at me with the same dark brown eyes he always has.

A man on our walk today said, “Is that a Westie? I once had a really good friend who was a Westie.”

“Yes,” I answered. “He is really good.”