Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Winding Up [ROW80 Check-In]

The writing challenge that
 knows you have a life
I'm still having issues stemming from the weeks of infections.  The worst one is the dizziness verging on vertigo related to the ear infection.  Along with irritating tinnitus and, I hope, temporary hearing loss beyond what was normal before.  Energy levels are getting better but still iffy.

Like an old fashioned tick-tock watch my energy winds down frequently making everything feel slow-mo.

So for now, patience with myself is still the watchword.

ROW80 ROUND 2 GOALS
same as for Round 1 except for the last one and as always they are time investment rather than word count.
  • Storydreaming with note-taking tools at hand. 15min Daily (I never lost this one since instating it in my first round in 2012.  A ROW80 win!)  --this has become an integral part of every day for me.  But it's not enough if it never leads to more than jotting notes as I live inside my story.
  • Read/Study Craft 15min Daily  -- easily triple that this past week. Before factoring in Saturday's read-a-thon.
  • Move/Breathe/Meditate 15min Daily  --getting back into it after two months of illness has been a challenge. baby steps for now but should step it up soon.  
  • Personal Journaling 15min Daily  --has not become a daily habit yet.  in fact i've not even reached for it since late February.  I feel serious resistance to it which probably means I need to be doing it.
  • Read Fiction 30min Daily --this is one thing I kept up even while sick except for a few of the worst days.  I've even finished several novels since the first of the year
  • Social network activities 30min Daily (writing Joystory posts doesn't count only social reaching out like reading/commenting on other blogs, guest posts and posting to fb, twitter, pinterest etc) --another thing I've not yet got into the swing of since recovering.  but it's been a challenge just to keep the daily posts going since I started them up again a week ago.
  • Engage with the Blow Me a Candy Kiss structural rewrite file 30 min Daily  --hanging head in shame.  can't remember when I last opened either Scrivener's or WhizFolder the two aps the story's material resides in.
All of this in service to the overarching goal for 2015: Regain the joy in writing that I lost sometime last year.  The Joy/joy meter hovers around 5 out of 10 this week.  Except maybe Thursday thru Sunday it spiked a bit for the read-a-thon from the wind-up to the wind-down. I spent a lot of time during the thon with writing-craft books hoping to wind my enthusiasm for writing back up to stand even with that for reading which I do seem to have back.  Maybe JuNoWriMo will serve the same purpose for writing as the read-a-thon did for reading.  It's time to start winding up for it already!

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Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Book Review: How to Avoid Making Art (or Anything Else You Enjoy) by Julia Cameron and Elizabeth Cameron

How to Avoid Making Art (or Anything Else You Enjoy) by Julia Cameron and Elizabeth Cameron

The 80 odd cartoons illustrating some of the creative excuses creative people come up with for why they aren't creating are the spoon full of sugar that helps the medicine go down.  The medicine being the little shots of reality disproving the excuse and the sugar being the LOL hilarity in seeing your excuse enacted by silly dogs dressed up as humans.  It takes the sting away while keeping your gazed fixed on the sharp needle of truth embedded in the contradictions between what you have said and what you have done and what is the reality.

Paraphrasing, here are some of the excuses I identified with the most:
  • Demanding 15 hour blocks of free time before considering getting started while using scattered 15 minute chunks for frivolous things.
  • Preferring to watch the movie on the screen over watching the one on the back of your eyelids. (your story)
  • Feeling depressed you don't have time to write.  Then turning on the TV to make yourself feel better.
  • Over-committing your time and energy elsewhere--people, jobs, organizations, housework, make-work.... 
  • Acquiring high-maintenance relationships that suck time and energy and overload you on drama that doesn't belong to you and leaves no room for the drama of your stories.
  • Surrounding yourself with negative naysayers.
  • Setting yourself up for failure by planning a project too big and complex for your current skills.
  • Talking about your WIP more than you work on it
  • Getting stuck in the planning/research stage forever.
This was the one and only book I read cover to cover during the read-a-thon Saturday.  I'm still feeling haunted by some of those images and challenges.  And I've reached for it several times in the last few days for booster shots.

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Monday, April 27, 2015

Möbius Dick?

Möbius Dick?
The  8ft Möbius strip to form the bottom, sides and shoulder strap of a crafter's tote

Back to work on the crafter's tote project.  The 2012 Secret Santa project.  I'm beginning to wonder if this is my Möbius Dick, my white whale, my nemesis, the thing that is going to take me down with it.

It is getting harder and harder to hang on to the shining vision this project was when first conceived the summer of 2012.  But I am still at it because I did not have the skill set to do a project like this.  I am developing it tho.  On the job.  Trial and error.

So much error.

The gross underestimate of the time it would take even if all went well and there were no unexpected snags was the first but not the worst miscalculation.  Underestimating the amount of thread it would take (and thus cost in money and more time) is in that same category.  Both of those are minor compared to not understanding the physics of the design.

When I finally had all the panels in a state where I could pin them together last fall and see the bag in 3D I discovered that it would be the tote from hell for anyone trying to use if for its intended purpose.  It would take two people to load it--one to hold it open.

Who would want a duffle they couldn't load without help.

I spent months brainstorming concepts for solving that issue and I think I found the solution. It is just going to take more time and materials.  I finally got all those materials in place.  Now for the time.

One of my concepts didn't need extra materials so I've been working on it while I shopped and waited on orders.  That was to double the Mobius strip over at the ends to re-enforce the four corners of the bag's bottom a bit.

This involved finding the exact center of the bottom of the Mobius and marking it by running a grey yarn through to the exact center of the other side. Thru the mesh without catching threads so the yarn can be drawn out once no longer needed.

Next count the joining loops on the bottom of the front/side panel strip. Then split that count in half and start counting the loops on the Mobius from the center, marking with the grey yarn where the front corner would belong--first on the right then on the left.  Then mark with another grey yarn the line two inches out from that and then fold that over and stitch it with the same brown thread.  Had that much done on one side when the pic was taken but have the other side caught up.

Now I'm crocheting the joining loops across the fold where the ends of the front panel wrap around the sides to form the pockets.  I'm about half done with one side.  Working brown on brown is very difficult.

Next will be sewing a dark brown grosgrain ribbon along both front and back inside edges of the bag bottom which will serve to re-enforce a bit but more importantly serve to hold the microfiber pad in place on the bottom which is one of the three such pads intended to firm up the 3D form.  There will be one on both the front panel and the back panel as well.  The back panel will also be strengthened by the doubling over of twelve inches of the panel to form an inside pocket along the back wall.

Once I have that ribbon sewed on and all the tails tucked the Mobius will be ready to join with the two panels.  But there is a lot of similar prep work to be done on each of those panels before they are ready.  But at least the pastel colors will make working with the panels much easier.

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Sunday, April 26, 2015

Sunday Serenity


I made it the full 24 hours again.  First time in 2 years.  Before spring of 2013 doing the 24 hours was easy breezy.  It was my thing.  The thing I could still do with the best of those who could.

With my visual impairment it is no longer possible for me to excel at reading fast or reading long so my metrics on number of pages or completed books are sad.  So I would always, since the first Dewey thon in 2007, take pleasure and satisfaction from being one of the few who could breeze through the 24 hours.

After all I'd had a lot of practice since my tween years.  It's always been my thing, staying up all night.  And usually gone hand-in-hand with reading.

But spring of 2013 I was put on a new antidepressant, Trazadone, which made me groggy and kept me that way for 8 to twelve hours.  Skipping doses would have nasty repercussions--headache, dizziness, vision issues and anxiety attacks--so for the last four thons I had to quit two to four hours before the end.

The end for me here on the Pacific Coast was 5am today. I made it.  As I hoped I would the moment I got the OK from my med nurse to withdraw off the Traz.  But when I was unable to sleep the night before that put me already 17 hours awake when the thon started for at 5am Saturday.  Thus I've been awake for 41 hours and it looks like it will be at least 42 before I'm actually asleep.

I did manage to read one book cover to cover for the thon: How to Avoid Making Art (or Anything Else You Enjoy) by Julia Cameron and Elizabeth Cameron (artist). 80 odd cartoons illustrating quite LOL the many excuses artists use to explain why the aren't doing their art.  Too many of them too true of me:


  • Demanding 15 hour blocks of free time before considering getting started while using scattered 15 minute chunks for frivolous things.
  • Preferring to watch the movie on the screen over watching the one on the back of your eyelids. (your story)
  • Feeling depressed you don't have time to write.  Then turning on the TV to make yourself feel better.
  • Acquiring high-maintenance relationships that suck time and energy and overload you on drama that doesn't belong to you and leaves no room for the drama of your stories.
  • Surrounding yourself with negative naysayers.
  • Setting yourself up for failure by planning a project to big and complex for your current skills.
  • Getting stuck in the research stage forever.


OK that last wasn't in the book but it should be.  It is one of my things.

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Saturday, April 25, 2015

My Brain on Books XVI

I am reading for The Office of Letters and Lights the folks who bring us NaNoWriMo today as I love what they are doing for literacy with their Young Writer's Programs and because I've participated in NaNo every year since 2004 and will again next fall.  I have been blessed to have it in my life and would like to give something back if only kudos and link love.  I'm putting this plug at the top in hopes some who stop by will check out their site and see all the great things they do to foster love of reading and writing and story in kids. If you happen to be doing NaNo or Camp NaNo this year you can find me there as joywrite

This post will be organized like a blog inside a blog with recent updates stacked atop previous ones. I may be posting some updates on Twitter @Joystory and the Joystory fb fanpage. But this is where I do anything more than a line or two.  Including mini-challenges unless required to have a separate post..   




Be sure to scroll to bottom of this post for advice on how to ward off those scary nap attacks. You won't be sorry.





Ode to Dewey
by Joy Renee
We Miss You Dewey







5:00 AM - And it's done. I did manage to read one book start to finish during the thon: How to Avoid Making Art (or Anything Else You Enjoy) by Julia Cameron and Elizabeth Cameron (artist).  The 80 some cartoons depicting artistic people making excuses for not doing their art was hilarious and struck way too close to home way too many times.

4:00 AM - With an hour to go I feel I could do another twelve. In the last hour I spent some time with:

SURFACES AND ESSENCES: ANALOGY AS THE FUEL AND FIRE OF THINKING by DOUGLAS HOFSTADTER & EMMANUEL SANDER.  Very intriguing concepts.  I'd try to explain why but Thon fiatigue has settled in my head so that I'm having a worse time than usual putting the heavily visual/emotional based language of my thoughts into words.

I think I may have been dipping in and out of the hypnogogic state in which images from memory and dreams swim with the fragmented images of the things surrounding me including the book, the cat and the 'puter.

Words are crawling on the page and screen

Well less than half an hour to go.  I think I'll take Dexter to bed with me.  Not exactly a bedtime story but I'm still needing the book to substitute for the Netflix stream I was so addicted to last week. and will be again as soon as I've slept.

So this is goodbye until the fall thon.  I really think I'm going to make it

I've been awake since noon Friday and am once again feeling the turmoil of the surf reflected in my own eyes.  [surf?  I've no idea what I really meant to say there.  maybe I was already asleep?]

1:00 AM - Having a productive night so far.  Since around 10pm I've spent significant time in each of these novels:

A Dual Inheritance by Johanna Hershon
Darkly Dreaming Dexter by Jeff Lindsay
Missing Melissa by Alretha Thomas [ARC from Inde Author]

I generally don't like to have multiple novels going at once but A Dual Inheritance is the novel I have been plugging away at for months. It's comprised of long stories from different points of view separated by years following three generations of the families of two men who were unlikely friends in college in the 60s. It is literary, complex, deep and needs occasional savoring or simmering.  So several times I've broken away between stories to read a short and often light genre novel.

Missing Melissa is an ARC that I'd targeted as the novel to read start to finish for the thon but was when I thought I'd have finished A Dual Inheritance  beforehand.  And I would have if I hadn't been streaming hour on hour of Netflix for the last three weeks.  Which brings me to...

Darkly Dreaming Dexter is my bribe or reward for resisting the urge to watch an episode of Dexter on Netflix.  I've been on a Dexter binge since Early in April.  Began with season one and just began season 8 Thursday night.  It has been soooo tempting to go back to it.  Just one episode maybe.  Ha.  I can't do just one.  The book is quite different tho.  I'm not sure yet whether it is different good or different bad.  Maybe it's neither.

Just under three hours to go as I prepare to click update.  I think I'm going to make it.

Going to grab snacks and fluids and maybe start an audio book while I eat. But something non fic. Not the Sara Gruen novel I was anticipating in the intro meme.  I was intending to start and finish that during the thon too but know I can't have a forth novel going as I move into the thon hangover week.  None of them would get a fair deal and one or more would likely get dropped indefinitely...

9:00 PM - Still going strong.  Had  a slump between 4 and 8.  Had to get active to stave off the nap attacks.  What with the yawning and the tearing that triggered I couldn't see the words.  Do you realize it is nearly impossible to keep your eyes open in the midst of a yawn.  And then the tears blur your vision.

I did a little declutter of my area, fixed snacks and drinks, got on mini-tramp (after clearing it off of the bags of yarn, thread and fiber art projects which should have been done yesterday!)  I drank a half liter of water.

And finally,shortly before 8, I reached for the Adderal.  Don't worry.  It's a prescription (for ADD) and it's for two a day but the second is optional and most days I try to avoid taking it and especially avoid taking it after 2pm.  But today I knew I would need it and wanted to push it as late as I could towards 9pm but no later.

I really intended to update more often and maybe even do a mini-challenge or two by now.  But the updates I did this morning and the lurking on the thon blog and a few others ate up my morning so from 10am to 4pm I was focused on reading.

I did finish Laura Stack's What To Do When Theres Too Much T'o Do shortly after noon and after that I flitted and fluttered among several NF and short story collections, reading a single story, essay, intro or preface in each, advancing my bookmarks in:

From Where You Dream by Robert Olen Butler
No Plot? No Problem! A Low-Stress, High-Velocity Guide to Writing a Novel in 30 Days by Chris Baty (founder of NaNoWriMo)
A Scream Goes Through the House: What Literature Teaches Us About Life by Arnold Weinstein
Reading Like a Writer: a Guide for People Who Love Books and For Those Who Want to Write Them by Francine Prose
The Mindful Way Through Depression: Freeing Yourself From Chronic Unhappiness by Mark Williams
Collected Stories by William Faulkner
Managing Your Depression by Susan J. Noonan
Winesburg, Ohio by Sherwood Anderson
How to Avoid Making Art (or Anything Else You Enjoy) by Julia Cameron and Elizabeth Cameron (artist).  80 some cartoons illustrating the excuses creative people use to not create.
World Famous Cults and Fanatics by Colin Wilson
Literary Fables of Yriarte by Tom S de Iriarte
Little Black Book of Stories by A. S Byatt

This is something I love to do--graze in a plethora of books comprising a variety of styles, genre, subjects, eras.  It's ultra stimulating.  The ideas and images and stories stew in my simmering brain for days and weeks.  I once wrote an essay about this titled Emerson Whispering Sweet Somethings in Einstein's Ear.

Hmm. I just reread that for the first time in nearly a decade.  I think it is time to rewrite and update and repost it here.  That link is to Joyread one of the web pages I started in the late 90s and abandoned soon after I started blogging.  The other was called Joywrite which featured my fiction, poetry and musings on writing but it's host is now nothing but a ghost in the ether and only a few of my Joywrite pages are wisps in the Internet Archives.  Of course I still have all the HTML pages in folders on my computer.  I still dream of putting Joywrite up again and adding all the new material produced in the last decade and reposting all the Joystory book reviews on Joyread....

Time to rehydrate and a get a snack...


7:00 AM - Introductory Meme
1) What fine part of the world are you reading from today?
Longview WA USA

2) Which book in your stack are you most looking forward to?
I think probably the audio of Sarah Gruen's Water for Elephants which I'll read while crocheting or winding thread or yarn on my crank yarn ball winder.

3) Which snack are you most looking forward to?
  It's always the chocolate isn't it? See last night's post for more on my thon snacks. 

4) Tell us a little something about yourself!
As a child I would frequently read all night.  I would hide in the bathroom after my folks were in bed so they wouldn't see light coming from my room.  I would read by moon light or the street lamps or take my little high intensity desk lamp under the covers. One time I'd bent the gooseneck on that little lamp until the bulb was less than half an inch from the surface of my beside table.  The light reflecting off the light blue cloth was enough to read by but I hoped not enough to be visible from my parent's doorway at the other end of the hall.

But one night I fell asleep reading with the lamp like that and Mom found me and woke me to show me the round scorch mark on the cloth.  She didn't punish me.  She didn't even raise her voice then or ever on the subject.  She just asked me in a soft voice that wouldn't rouse my baby sister, sleeping next to me in the double bed we had just recently begun to share and would share until I was 19 and our brother left home to go to tech school, "What if I hadn't found it before the bed was on fire?" She looked pointedly back and forth between my eyes and my three year old sister's sleeping face. My eyes filled with tears.

I never did that again.  But I continued to read half the night away several times a month all through my childhood, young adulthood, and right on through to the middle of my sixth decade.  Yes.  Still.

5) If you participated in the last read-a-thon, what’s one thing you’ll do different today? If this is your first read-a-thon, what are you most looking forward to?
This is my 16th Dewey Thon.  I'm excited that I don't have to take the Trazadone anymore as I did the last four Thons. Thus I get to stay awake the full 24 again.

5:15AM -I'm awake.  Still.

  Guess I was too jazzed, too wound.

  I woke at noon on Friday after apprximately six hours of sleep split by a half hour attempt to establish a vid chat with my husband at 8:20.  Connection issues frustrated us and triggered another episode of vertigo for me sending me back to bed for another three hours.

Waking at noon probably played a role in not being ready for sleep before the wee hours.

I dont know what not sleeping before the thon is going to mean for my hopes of lasting the full 24.  But before the Trazadone became one of my daily antidepressants it was common for me to be awake upwards of 24 hours several times a month.

Now that the Traz has been stepped back to an occassional sleep aid that means I dont have to take it by midnight or risk nasty withdrawal symptoms so after four Thons interrupted by involuntary sleep at both ends--nap attacks at the start while the Traz is wearing off and lights out at the end after taking it again--I was hoping to have another true 24 hour thon experience.

I probably should have used the Traz to get to sleep last night but wanted to avoid the 3-6 hours of grog noggin upon waking.

We shall see.  I will probably abuse caffiene today.  And go ahead and take that second Adderal.  And get on the mini-tramp more often. And drink lots of water...

Yes, water I learned recently is an energizer! Our bodies afterall are hydroelectric machines.

I am going to start off the morning with Laura Stack's What To Do When Theres Too Much T'o Do.  It is one of the books in which my bookmark is less than 100 pages from the finish and it is below average difficulty level. And an eBook so I can have fonts whatever size my eyes need.

I'm going to stay in bed for the next several hours. Fewer distractions. I have my Nexus 7 for posting, my Blaze cell and Nexus both loaded with books and music so I can read on one while listening on the other, and coffee and tea in thermoses to drink while nibbling on a protein cookie.

All set.


[I have this scheduled to go live at 4:44am.  But if this bracketed paragraph is still here on top after 5am I don't have my eyes unglued enough to check in yet.  I will be here soon as I can.]




Fighting pose
 

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Friday, April 24, 2015

Read-a-Thon Jazzed

Can't wait.

Have spent the bulk of today in prep for tomorrow's Read-a-Thon.

Kick-off at 5am.

I spent several hours in food prep so I would have little of it to interrupt reading and blog hopping.

I made a huge smoothie and split it in two.  Put one in the fridge for breakfast shake and one in the freezer for a late afternoon frozen treat.  Ingredients:

2 raw eggs
protein powder
spinach
rainbow chard
green peas
carrots
mixed berries
apple
banana
plain yogurt
cinnamon
flax seed

I fixed a garlic yogurt dip for chips, rice cakes and raw veggies
also a container with several kinds of hummus, sour cream, salsa, and cottage cheese for same.

I fixed a thermos of hot coffee.

I filled my 2 liter water jug

I organized my tea selection.

I have also almond butter, salty kale chips, cheesy puffs, apples, oranges, dark chocolate, kumbachi drinks, Laughing Cow cheese and string cheese.

Finger food and liquid food and liquids are the main themes of the day.

As for the reading list, I'm keeping it loose.  I will mix it up with audio, ebooks and treebooks. I have one ARC not begun and one begun that I will devote significant time to and bunches of non ARC in progress books I want to advance bookmarks in.  I would like to target as many of those as possible where the current bookmark is less than 100 pages out and see how many I can finish.

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Thursday, April 23, 2015

Getting Wound


One of the things I whiled away time with during those weeks fighting infection was winding yarn and thread with my new winder.  Winding them into round balls by hand took and average of 1-2 hours per skein--if there were no snags or snarls.  With the winder they take 5-15 minutes.  I wound 18 the first weekend I had it.

I'm planning to do some more winding this weekend during the Read-a-Thon while listening to audio books.

I'm really getting wound for the Thon!!

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