Wednesday, August 14, 2013

110th ROW80 Check-In

A Round of Words in 80 Days
Round 2 2013

The writing challenge that
 knows you have a life
My goals are all time investment and are detailed on the  ROW80 page   I keep track of the time invested with a Google Doc spreadsheet linked on the goals page and also in each check-in along with a screenshot of the most recent days.

These check-in posts will contain any commentary I have about encounters with the goals since the previous check-in and any relevant links.

Below the commentary is my current reading list for the READ CRAFT goal.

In Round 1 this year I finished the edit for Blow Me A Candy Kiss, the short story I'm planning to use as the experiment in self publishing.  This was on my original Goals when I first joined ROW80 in April 2012.  It is now ready for beta readers.   Anyone interested can say so in a comment or email me at the email in the sidebar.  A link to an earlier draft can be found in the ROW80 Goals page linked under the spreadsheet below.  I've had one beta reader so far but would really appreciate at least one more before I take the plunge with it.

Note: I broke this up into themed sections to make updating easier and as of the 97th check-in I've added a new section directly below the spreadsheet for the must recent check-ins some of which won't make sense without the context from the other sections but will make it easier for returnees to see only the latest.  After a week or two I'll delete the older stuff, preserving any info significant to context in the relevant sections below which I will also continue to edit and pare so it doesn't grow like kudzu..

The Lifequake--
Self Management--
Evolution of the workstations --
Fiction Files--
Read Craft--



I've got ALL the Ys back now!  Even FICTION FILES oops!  Camp NaNo ended and I dropped the ball on FICTION FILES again.

I know.  I know.  I really need to edit this weed patch of a post and prune it down but I can't face it just yet and have barely scrolled below the top of this section while prepping it for weeks.

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August 14 --  I'm not in quite the wallow I was in over the weekend but I feel a bit like I'm wearing it's mud and leaving its slime trails on everything I touch.  Lately I've spent more time captioning pics at cheezeburger.com than in my fiction files or even writing my daily posts.  The pic to the side here is one in which I wrote a snippet of a story as told by a kitten on the picture of the laptop screen.  That was off the cuff and silly and fun.

I have been reading a lot.  Both fiction and non-fiction.  Both books and online.  Including blogs and email.  A month ago I had an inbox containing over 12K items and have worked it down to 4K, organizing with filters and labels and trying to stay on top of the current stuff.

I was on duty with Mom the last two days as I was last Saturday and will be again tomorrow afternoon and evening and all day Saturday.  Like last weekend Mom won't be going to my brother's for the weekend again.  She is in too much pain.  So it has been two weeks since I had a day in which I could feel completely 'off' as in not listening for indications I'm needed and not feeling observed or at risk of interruption.  This amounts to a serious deprivation for me as I crave privacy and quiet and seem to need it more than food or sleep.  That is one reason I gravitated to the late nights which I can't do anymore if I'm to get healthy.

I noticed today that the sound of Mom's voice was bringing up some seriously uncomfortable emotions and memories from my early childhood and teens. It's the distinctive tone of pain remembered from the monthly migraines she suffered all those years and from the summer I was twelve when she had sciatica and was in bed with traction for months.

This realization among others recently has made me consider starting up a personal and private journaling habit again.  I used to have that but let it fall away when I started blogging--which is not a substitute.  The year I started blogging was the year my Dad was dying from cancer and it just occurred to me that was probably the real reason I let the personal journaling fall away.  I was resisting the introspection because of the deep denial I was in.

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August 11 --  [context in first 2-3 paragraphs of Lifequake section below] Major setback since Wednesday.  My mood went into a wallow.  Anxiety and sadness competed for ascendancy.  Doctor appointments and social services paperwork sucked up time and energy and chewed up optimism and self-esteem.

As if conspiring to wreak the most havoc out of an already crapola week Ed's work required his presence past noon 6 days a week for two weeks in a row--rare between Christmas and Halloween--robbing us of our daily video chats which had become my anchor, leaving us with only a brief text chat before dinner and the bedtime phone call which almost always ended with me in tears, and giving me a taste of what the season will be like if we can't swing things to bring me home before it hits its stride in October.  A nasty taste indeed.

I keep telling myself that this isn't the time to be writing less but rather more, to turn to writing as my anchor, to fill the emptiness with words, to explore the pain and sadness and fear on page or screen, to let my veins bleed ink or pixels until I"m drained of all the angst and infused with something other than tears and fears and self-jeers.  But I resist.  I turn from the keyboard with disgust.  I let the pencil fall from limp fingers. I procrastinate on my daily post and look for ways to do it with little to no words of my own devising and contemplate stopping altogether.

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August 07 --  This week I continue to be in the grip of other people's stories rather than getting a grip on my own.  One is an ARC from NetGalley that used up it's 55 day allotment sometime on Sunday and to my amazement continued to work.  But I know I won't be able to get it back once I close Adobe Digital Editions.  Which means I can't restart my computer and it is over a week since I did.  Thus the computer is getting sluggish.  So the fewer aps I have open the better so I closed WhizFolders Monday which is where my FICTION FILES live.

I read in that book for hours yesterday but I can't do that today or tomorrow due to having doctor appointments to prepare for.

I do have one ROW80 goal fulfillment to report: I finished, Writing in General and the Short Story in Particular by Rust Hills, one of the books on my READ CRAFT list.  Last week actually but I kept forgetting to report it here.  I found it one of the most helpful how-to write books and I'm hoping to put up a review soon.

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That's my Merlin with my new Library Loot
August 04 -- I'm not sure what happened on Thursday to derail FICTION FILES.  Other than I got focused on a project related to ARC reviews I owe and time got away as it is wont to do when I hyperfocus which is either my blessing or my bane my talent or my defect.  Friday tho it was because I had a counseling appointment to prepare for and afterward my sister dropped me off at the library where I spent two hours combing the new books shelves and came away with 11 which of course dominated my attention for the rest of the day and most of Saturday.

Sigh.

Sometimes I think I should have aspired to be a librarian, researcher or book store owner rather than a writer as I seem to much prefer endless hours of handling books and manipulating their associated info (metadata?) in multitudinous lists, towering stacks of paper slips, and ever burgeoning data bases and files both tree and e to the endless hours of composing original sentences that writing stories requires.  But then there is this: The bliss I succumb to when lost in a story whether reading, watching, listening, or dreaming up is exponentially greater than the kicks I get out of playing with books and files and data.

So I'm probably meant to be a story maker.  The obstacle I need to overcome to get there is the confluence of two facts: The bliss of reading, watching, listening to or dreaming up stories is addictive and nearly effortless while the attempt to transfer those dreamed up stories from their confines in my mind is like trying to pour champagne from either a corked bottle or a shaken one--either I get  nothing or I get a mess that looks more like that metadata I collect from other storyteller's efforts.  It is so rare to get anything that remotely resembles the vivid images in motion steeped in emotion that is the story I dreamed and the difference between the two causes me pain and revulsion that results in a resistance to both making new messes or confronting the old ones and attempting to make something out of them.

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July 31 --  Today is the last day of July Camp Nano so I put off prepping this check-in as long as I could to get the NaNo wrap up in as well.  My goal was 22K and I think I topped 13K plus a lot of unmeasurable file fiddling.  I think the point to focus on tho is: The ice is broken!!

Meanwhile I'm closing in on two weeks straight of early bird success.  As in waking before 6am and doing brain work before 7 and staying focused until noon for the most part.  Of course brain work includes many things besides fiction file work or even ROW80 goals work.

The big deal is that I used to believe that I could not do brain work for 4 to 8 hours after waking.  That was a function of the mood disorder and sleep deprivation that the meds, diet and scheduling efforts have been addressing for the last several months.  The improvements have been so drastic I hardly recognize myself.

To fully understand that last bit if you are new here you might need the context of the Lifequake and Self-Manage sections below.

Now that Camp NaNo is over I'm going to make a serious effort over the next week or two to pare down those sections below and remove most of the older updates in this section, preserving any info necessary for context in the lower sections.

I also want to do a thorough edit of the ROW80 page and once that is done I'm thinking of moving all of the context material over there.  But that is brain work that would take time away from fiction files and ARC reviews and reading fiction and computer maintenance and task list maintenance and blog reading, and research and email writing, and inbox maintenance and social networking, and daiily post prep and sorting and organizing of my physical papers and and and

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July 22 --  Today marks ten days of early bird success.  For over a week now I've been waking without an alarm before 5:30 and sitting at desk before 6.  But most significant is that I'm doing productive brain work before 8 and sometimes before 7 and working with focus until noon.  This night owl to early bird shift has been nearly two months in the works with a lot of ups and downs and I'm feeling very encouraged at having strung together so many successful days.  I'm not completely positive yet but I am becoming surer by the day that it was the Melatonin that made this possible.


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jus letz meh sits onit...datll wur
July 22 --  well I have strung together five days in a row waking before 7.  the last three just a few minutes before 5.  have not always gotten the preferred 7.5 hours of sleep first but i'm hoping that by encouraging a consistent wake-up hour the Melatonin will help to entrain the other end of the circadian cycle as well and I'll eventually be ready to sleep before 10pm as regularly as I've  been waking at dawn.

I still have not used the morning hours for fiction files work.  had really hoped to this morning but my computer had other ideas.  i found it hibernated and it woke up cranky and with a whole different agenda than i had.  probably the update downloads that it couldn't do while asleep.  by the time it was in a mood to cooperate I had to move on to finishing an ARC for which I am committed to posting a review tomorrow.

the WRIMO words in the spread sheet represent the review I posted on Monday.  that's why i got wordcount but no Y in FICTION FILES.  because as a Camp WriMo Rebel I created my own set of goals and one of them was book reviews.  And that was the first and only one so far.  the wordcount represents the roughdraft as i pared it down a lot in the edit stage.

i am sorry for the mess of this update.  have been typing a lot today and working with print smaller than i like and it has been a long day and my eyes and pinky fingers are both rebeling.  i started work on this post shortly after serving and eating lunch with Mom and one interruption after another whether from the computer, mom, nature, my husband txting when he got off work followed by an hour of texting in Gmail's tiny font and i still have not got it posted and my evening med timer is about to go off.  i had to actually save and shut the browser down an hour ago because it was freezing on me so much.

i'd hoped to get tomorrow's blog tour review ready to go this afternoon as well so that i would be free to work with fiction files in the morning.  i am actually itching to get my hands on one of my WIP that has been haunting me every night as i'm trying to fall asleep.  which augers well for actually doing it soon as i'm feeling drawn to it rather than feeling anxious or empty when i think of it.

so.  soon.  i hope.  i feel the pressure building.  and the story is never far from my thots

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July 21 --  I just strung together two good nights of sleep waking before 7 (6:40 & 5:40) and doing brain work within an hour followed by fairly productive days (in things other than fiction file work) in which my mood was conducive to ambition and optimism.  I'm hoping this is in response to the recent tweaks to my med schedule and not just reflective of a normal oscillation in my bizarre mood cycle but it is much too soon to make that call.

The tweaks I made were to add Melatonin to the mix and to take it with dinner along with my evening food supplements, my BP/anxiety med (moved from bedtime) and the 12hr 5-HTP (moved from lunchtime), leaving only the BP med that blurs my vision and the anti-depressant that makes me drowsy to take as I'm preparing for bed.  This had two benefits--the calming of the anxiety and racing thoughts were well underway by the time I lay down and I did not need more than a single bite of plain yogurt to take those last two which removed the risk of reflux upon laying down.

So, if I can duplicate this going forward, I'm going to expect more of myself for the morning sessions.  I can't promise it will be fiction file work tomorrow because I have a commitment for a blog tour book review that must be up by noon which I don't think I can complete before dinner tonight but that review will give me credit for my Wrimo Rebel goals which include reviews.  But Tuesday morning FICTION FILES will be included in my morning session.

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July 17 -- I've been at the night owl to early bird switch for over a month now and am still not using the morning hours for fiction file work (story planning, writing and/or editing or research) it seems my muse has remained a night owl only deigning to show up while I'm trying to fall asleep or waking me from a dream and keeping me awake hours before it's time to get up.

For the past two weeks the most creative stuff I create are LOLcat captions.  One of them made the front page on two cheezeburger.com sites last week.  No, not the one accompanying this update.  That one is there because it's the one I'm the most pleased with and is relevant to my riff on the muse which was the theme of my post yesterday which I created it for.

I don't know whether to be pleased I'm holding steady on all the other time investment goals and continue to be patient with myself on the fiction files and Wrimo words ones or if it is time to require more of myself.
On the side of the former is the fact that the stresses arising from the schedule change are still high as are all of those arising from the Lifequake (see below for context) including the chaos of this household of Mom's that is run by my sister and is not mine to reshape.

July 13 --  Holding steady on everything that I gained back but still no FICTION FILES work including WRIMO words.  I keep asking myself why I'm not yet using those early bird hours for creative writing yet as that was the whole reason behind switching from night owl hours--to have the largest available block of uninterrupted, quiet for the intense day-dreamy thinking that fiction file work requires, whether the planning, writing or editing stage.

Instead I'm reading a lot of fiction which I'd been neglecting as well and has been known to act as compost for my own creative writing.  Another fertilizer for fiction writing that I'm hoping bears fruit soon has been the return of my vivid, complex, story-like, technicolor dreams which had been dull, dreary, monotonous, and grey for years. So maybe I can hope that the combination of the meds and the stabilized sleep is finally uprooting the depression.

My expectation of finding quiet solitude until noon has not been realized tho as several times in the past weeks I have been interrupted by Mom who I guess has decided that since I'm awake, I'm available to tend to this or that little thing.


July 03--   the BIGGEST news I wanted to share for this check-in was what I managed to accomplish during the round hiatus: I switched my self from the life-long night owl schedule to an early bird one so that I could claim the largest block of uninterrupted, quiet and privacy for my 'brain-work'  aka all writing, reading and research including blogging.

THE LIFEQUAKE:

Ed and I April 2nd
5 minutes before leaving
The event I'm calling the lifequake hit me in late January and for the most part of most days I'm accommodating myself to the new realities shaking out from it.  The details are covered in ROW80 #69 check-in. and  this Sunday Serenity and most recently in It's Like This and The Eyes Have It so I won't keep reiterating the story in these check-ins.

The most important fact affecting ROW80 goals is that my 5 week visit at my Mom's begun in early January has been extended indefinitely.  It has been a huge disruption in itself not counting all the disruptions of life, thought and emotion behind the whys and wherefores.


The latest in the series of aftershocks disrupted things so much I had to drop out of ROW80 check-ins for a month.  I left Mom's in Longview WA April 29 to spend the next 11 days in Phoenix OR with my husband packing up the rest of our stuff and helping him prepare for vacating the house on the 15th.  My sister returned here with a third van load of my stuff on May 2nd and then picked me and a forth van load up on the 10th.  I spent the next two days shuffling boxes and bags and stuff around between van and house and my areas at Mom's.  The four days after that I wallowed in the pain of missing Ed, loosing our house and not knowing when the next visit will be now that there are no more loads to go after and no house to call ours.

Merlin
This trip our cat Merlin returned with me and has been part of the comfort.  He was being kept in the laundry room until we were sure he had no parasites before he was allowed to share a litterbox with Bradley.  But Saturday night he got paroled.

He has started to regain the weight he lost while he was sick this winter.  During our last trip in early April my sister took him to the vet and the following week he had surgery to remove rotten teeth and fix his eyelids so his lashes would stop scratching his eyes.  He looks oriental now.  The pic is from several years ago when he was still healthy.


One of my main focuses in the first week home was unpacking and organizing my clothes.  The hanging clothes in the room where my primary workstation is and the folding clothes in the room across the hall which I share with Mom.

When I first arrived in January I had about ten hangers hanging in this closet and now there are two winter coats in there belonging to Mom and everything else is mine.  My coats, sweaters, jackets and vests are hanging on hooks on the door to the room.

Since 89th check-in I've continued to unpack and tweak every area.  One of my projects has  been to unpack every one of the hastily packed boxes and do the sorting, organizing, cleaning, repair etc that there was no time for before stuffing things in boxes.  As of June 8th I've opened every one of the boxes still unpacked to identify contents, unpacked at least a dozen, repacked with eye to keeping household items going back on the first trip after Ed is moved separate and once such a box was identified or repacked stacked it in the garage.

I sorted out several categories as I went thru boxes: crafts, Health and Beauty Aides (HABA), office supplies, electronics, cat toys/misc, paper files and loose paper, household (kitchen, towels, bedding, etc), Ed's personal belongings and books and magazines. Then I rough-sorted each of those separately identifying damaged and dirty, might need while here vs. won't, and the obvious garbage.



The biggest rough-sort project was the paper files and the loose paper.  I have two medium sized boxes with files and notebooks that are moderately organized already but it is the two large boxes of loose paper--one very large--that was a very tedious and long process.

To prepare for it I gathered dozens of boxes of various sizes from boot boxes down to the cardboard covers of tossed out VCR cassettes, from the shallow boxes cans are stacked in at grocery stores to empty tissue boxes and I've created a sorting station.





While teaching me how to triage my priorities, Ed identified the paper sort project as non-negotiable, top priority because I'd said that those two boxes of loose papers had become a trip hazard for me on entering and exiting the room as well as causing me grief in getting ready to go anywhere because they were blocking access to the closet.

So I targeted that task to focus on in early June during a weekend while Mom was at my brother's.  I whittled the two boxes down to one on Saturday.  It took six hours just to get that far. The second box, tho smaller took another four hours on Sunday due to having eliminated most of the obvious trash on Saturday.

And that is just the first once-over rough sort--weeding out the obvious trash and grouping related things.  But at least those boxes are not trip hazards and they are grouped by topic or theme so that when I tackle them one by one my attention can be focused on one category at a time instead of being split three dozen ways like it was during this rough sort.

The final week of round 2 I had the field vision test to determine how much of my peripheral vision I have left and judging from how few times I was able to click the button upon seeing a flash of light while I stared at a bright dot in the center, I've got very little.  I only saw one flash near the center in my left eye.  There were several on the right but I didn't think to count.

I knew it was getting bad but I don't think I REALLY knew how bad and I'm more than a bit flustered.  I think I was able to be sanguine about it as long as it hadn't started threatening what I love to do--read, write, fiber arts and watch movies.  But my left eye is already nearly useless for most of that, needing size 20 font and then having to decipher words syllable by syllable.  I close it when I'm doing close work and let my right eye have at it which can still read size 12 font and take in about 5 letters at a time which slows me but doesn't stop me.  But who knows how much longer before my right eye goes the same way?

I helped my Mom switch her winter wardrobe for summer in her drawers and closet recently and was given a serious object lesson in what I'm in for.  The time is coming when I won't be able to identify by sight alone items of clothing I've owned and loved for decades.

I think I've been in denial because I've never really put much effort into picturing my life after the vision is gone or all but gone.  For the last thirty years it's been about the bruises and the fear of falling or getting run down by a car or cyclist or tripping over a small child and injuring it.  Now it is starting to register that I will eventually be finding my way around with my fingers and cane.

And what will become of the messes in my fiction files?  I'd rather delete them all then let anyone see them in the condition they are in...


SELF-MANAGEMENT


Reading and crafting corner
The creating of stations to accommodate activities has been one of the themes of my organizing.  It was after the books and bookshelves came back in April that I moved my writing workstation entirely out of Mom's room and turned my corner in there into my reading and crafting spot.  Not much of either is happening in there yet though.  There is just too much unpacking and organizing still to do and the time that might be used for reading and crafts is given to those tasks.

The pic to the left is new for 90th check-in, reflecting the latest tweaks.  One of which was switching out the office chair that was there for the exercise ball.  The office chair is now where the exercise ball was--at one of the workstations in the other room which are discussed in the next section.  The empty shelf is reserved for library books which I hope to be acquiring again soon.

The other development related to self-management is the timer my sister bought me just before she left me alone with Ed the first week of May.  It has two timers, a clock and a stop-watch function.

One of her concerns about leaving me there for a whole week was the tenuous nature of my ability to stay on my med schedule, sleep schedule and food and water intake schedule without outside monitoring.  That is one of the repercussions of an unmanaged mood-disorder.

She had a heart-to-heart with Ed about it in my presence and they elicited solemn promises from me and helped me work out how I might keep on track even on those days when Ed had to work.  The timer coupled with the ritual of writing a todo list every morning was the solution and I stuck to it through the first weekend back at Mom's.  I still maintain the med timer and a sleep schedule (tho different now) but I let the todo list drop away during the week I wallowed and have not returned to it.

The week before I left the med nurse had added Ritalin to my day meds to address the issue that makes it so hard for me to maintain the healthy sleep schedule.  The fear that all those 24 to 48 hours and more awake were a symptom of bi-polar has been nearly eliminated and we are leaning toward the theory that its a combination of the depression and anxiety and ADD.  With anxiety causing difficulty in getting, staying and returning to sleep and the ADD responsible for the way my brain won't turn back on for 8 to 12 hours after I've slept for over 6 hours which makes me resist sleep when I'm involved in a task or project.

The Ritalin was a failure and my sister and husband concurred.  It did help turn my brain on and give me energy earlier in the day but it also brought back the anxiety that the BP med Metropolol had removed and left me with lower tolerance for frustration, high irritability and a tendency to meltdown.

I saw the med nurse again May 28th.  She increased the Trazadone to 300mg and added Adderall to address the morning mush brain and low energy.  And that seemed to work well so on June 2nd she added a second 10mg tab for the afternoon.

In late May I went in for a fasting blood draw to check the levels of things related to energy and fatigue like thyroid, adrenals, blood sugars, vitamin B and D, and etc  This was something that I asked for when I saw the other nurse who is managing my care.  Big step for me--self advocating, being the one to suggest a course of action.  If I was dealing with a doctor instead of a nurse practitioner I might not have had the courage.  Tho my sister who is officially my advocate might have anyway.  She is bold she is.

Well the results of the blood draw show everything but cholesterol and triglyceride levels are normal and they called to tell me they'd called in a prescription for a Statin drug.  Did not consult with me.  Did not tell me the numbers.  Just essentially ordered me like a child.  I won't have it.  I have a history of atypical reactions to drugs and from what I've read on the side effects of the statins I'm not going near them.  Not unless the problem is severe enough to warrant hospitalizing me so they can monitor my reaction.  And what of the careful work the med nurse has been doing with my mood meds?  Making it a point to add or subtract only one thing at a time and careful to note possible interactions between them.  Did they consult her before adding this?  I doubt it.

Why am I so afraid of the statins?  The side effects include muscle weakness and fatigue which I already have issues with.  And more severe side effects can include damage to the muscles or damage to the liver.  I'm willing to work hard via the diet and exercise route and I believe that responsible medicine would promote that over drugs and that a care provider who respected you would consult with you and not just issue orders from on high.

One of the things happening to me as the depression lifts is that I'm starting to crave autonomy.  And when the assistant called to inform me about the prescription I found myself saying OK and Yes aloud while inside I was screaming No No NO.  Like a child who is compliant on the outside but feeling rage or helplessness on the inside.  And as soon as the call was over I said the No out loud.  And started researching the drugs alternatives and the diet alternatives online immediately.

I was able to address this with my counselor June 17th and she informed my nurse practitioner.  His nurse called to inform me that he is willing to work with me on alternatives.

In the past when a doctor has treated me autocratically or not listened to my fears or concerns I would just not go back.  I would stop complying. I did it once before when a doctor put me on a BP med that turned my muscles into sugar taffy and would not consider trying a new med because it was working to lower the BP.  So my BP went untreated for several more years until I tried to have dental work done and they found it too high at 220/120.

My sister is not going to let me get away with that tactic this time plus it would interfere with my main goal of saving my marriage and being able to live with my husband again which requires having my mood stabilized which means I must continue working with the med nurse supervising that which means I have to stay in the good graces of this clinic. I'd just as soon keep the focus on the mood issue for now as that is making it possible for me to make the healthy choices in other areas like diet and exercise and sleep and I believe all of that could go a long way toward making drugs unnecessary.

June 4th, I was hooked up to a heart monitor for a 48 hour recording of my heart rhythm.  This I'm told was in response to my complaints of dizziness and near fainting nearly two months ago.  I did not get the impression that was being taken seriously before so I suspect it was after the cholesterol results that he decided to order this.  The results were normal.

I've not discussed the metrics of my weight loss campaign here but I was delighted to find my weight down two more pounds since last week and to have dropped another inch off my belly in the last month.  That  is approximately 25lb and 3.5 inches since New Year's.  The size 18 pants that I just started wearing in April are already loose and Merlin actually pants me the other day in early June climbing my leg while I was dishing his gushy food.  Good thing we were alone in the laundry room and not out walking on the sidewalk.  I hadn't been in a size 18 since the late 80s.  Looks like I'm going to be in a 16 soon.  Last time was 1985!

Meanwhile there have been enough improvements in my ability to function that I've been able to commit to making and serving lunch for me and Mom every day and load the dishwasher after dinner.

Yeah.  It was once that bad!

On June 3rd, I researched online for hours looking for time tracking software and/or calendar software so that I can start keeping track of how my time gets spent, what my mood is, med, food and water intake and sleep.  I want to develop a record of the useful information to look for patterns in cause and effect and to look for the payoffs for unhealthy habits so I can design alternative behaviors that are healthy but preserve the payoff as described by Charles Duhigg in The Power of Habit which I read last spring.

After making myself dizzy with the choices I finally decided to give Outlook another chance.  I already have it on my netbook and have just avoided it because my first few encounters with it were so intimidating.  It seems to have a steep learning curve and to have way more functions than I need.  Plus it's fonts for menus and dialog boxes are so tiny.

Meanwhile I'm trying to learn patience with myself and flexibility.  One of the new skills I'm honing is the ability to analyse what is working and what isn't and then apply a likely fix and observe what does and doesn't result.  I'm trying to keep a vision of what success looks like in my head so that I'm always aiming for it.

June 15  --  A recent post is relevant: Lazy Daze  why am I still planted like a turnip on the mini-tramp after four days and unable to put action where my mouth is on any of my stated goals and priorities?

In response to my Lazy Daze post my husband commented in his email that he believed that I was experiencing a mini-burnout after having pushed too hard on too many fronts for too many days in a row, allowing myself little recreation.  And a second point he made was that he believed I had too many high priorities and several of them were in conflict which I was possibly unconscious of.

Then our next video chat he proceeded to use his skill-set as a supervisor and experience with time-management on the job to show me how to triage my stated goals.  He also had me estimate the amount of time I thought certain tasks needed.  And then he walked me through what that looked like in terms of the number of hours available in a day, a week, a month.  He itemized everything--even how many minutes per day the average person spends answering Mother Nature's Call (8 times per day for the bladder alone for an average of 5 minutes per visit).  Who knew?

Right off he subtracted the 8 for sleep and another 3 for meal prep and eating.  Then there was my household and family responsibilities--another two minimum on days with no extras.  Then there were my appointments with healthcare and social services which included prep time and transportation time.

For the triage he laid it out there that anything touching on my health or safety was non-negotiable.  This included sleep, med schedule, food schedule, exercise, all those appointments, and recreation--which last I had been denying myself until I ended up planted like a turnip on the mini-tramp.

So I'm in the middle of reassessing everything in light of the insights he led me to.


June 19-July 3 --  the reassessment after the triage talk with Ed, led me to a radical decision which nearly half my posts since have been tracking:

An Experiment in Time  -- in which I announce that I'm going to defy my life long identity as a night owl and attempt to switch my hours to early bird as I think I've identified a larger block of time that can be counted on for more privacy, quiet and limited interruption.
A Bedtime Story  --  a tale of my foiled attempts to switch hours so far.  it is always one thing or another.
There's No Pleasing Her  --  in which I bemoan my inability to be consistent
That Explains It  --  ah, it wan't simple failure on my part it was actual illness
Night Owl Dreams On Early Bird Wings  --  Maybe it's going to work...
So That's Where It Went  --  Evidence of progress and some glitches
Making It Dance  --  More progress and high hopes and a glimpse of the new structure to my days
To Sleep Perchance  --  Major glitches and self berating with a nod to Shakespeare
From Topsy-Turvey to Groovy  --  In which I finally, after another coaching chat with Ed, stop self-sabotaging myself and reach what looks like a sustainable schedule

Every one of those were illustrated by a LOLcat that I captioned.  My fav I think was Maiking It Dance but the aha moment came in From Topsy-Turvey to Groovy.

Ultimately the goal is to use the pre-lunch hours for brain work--reading, writing, blogging, research, netbook maintenance, daydreaming story world and such but during that whole time I was lenient with myself on what I chose to do with the hours between waking and lunch.  I daydreamed a lot only some of which was storyworld.  I read a lot of fiction.  Tho I did get READ CRAFT in every day if only for the minimum 15 min. And FREEWRITE tho only because I started counting my morning emails to Ed.   I also played spider and free cell and fixed metadata in my calibre ebook library which soothes me much the same way as playing solitaire.

But I have only rarely gotten posted before lunch which short-changes the tasks slated for the afternoon hours and usually exercise and personal hygiene are the two taking the biggest hit along with frequent late lay downs.  And I've rarely touched my fiction files with other than my imagination.  I think the new schedule is settled out enough now it is time to start requiring more of myself.

One of the fallouts from the stabilized sleep schedule has been an increase in those intense, creative, colorful and story-like dreams that have often contributed what I call the storyseeds for my fiction.  This augers well for the future work with my fiction files--both editing and new writing.  And is a sign the depression is lifting.


The evolution of the writing and workout room:

2nd Workstation and
Indoor Workout Space
In February a few weeks into the lifequake I realized I could no longer wait until I got home to get serious with my fiction writing but to accommodate it I would need a writing station that afforded privacy, quiet, light, and the ability to move about and make moderate noise without fear of disturbing my sleeping mother.  And I would need to designate a time of day in which I could count on no interruptions.

The time best suited was the hours immediately after Mom heads to bed.  The space was trickier.  But the best bet was somewhere in the room that had once been Mom's office and had become a storage room.  So I rearranged some boxes and created a desk in a cubby behind the stairwell.    I was even able to set up the mini-tramp in there. Tho I had to walk across it to get to my desk, I liked having it there until I fell twice inside a week.

 After the first fall on a Sunday I set my mind to being careful but after the second fall the following Friday I realized careful would not cut it.  Not indefinitely.  Not for someone visually impaired and with such a history of scattered thought and impulsive movement.

After a third incident--a close call--my sister set the tramp on end.  But as I feared it seldom got set down for use after that.  I kept wanting to find the time and energy to rearrange the stuff again to make room for the tramp and a path to my desk.  That became one of the goals as I worked to make room for the stuff coming in from the van the first week of April.

To make room for the tramp I moved my folded clothes into Mom's room and the boxes of Mom's papers under the card table.


Reference Books

The reference books are now on that cabinet above the tramp.  The 1999 World Book set and the Britannica Great Books set I bought from the library in 2005.  And writing related misc.


Cubby desk May 25
The cubby desk has morphed so many times.  I continue to tweak things but continue to find it a very uninviting place to spend much time.  For weeks I  used this station primarily for scanning, storing office supplies and as a paper sorting station.  Then I moved that chair that bit my butt out and put in its place an exercise ball in front of stacked boxes for a desk.  But never did actually sit to work at it.

On May 25th, I moved the office chair I'd been using beside the bed in Mom's room in here and the exercise ball in there.  It is a tight fit but I'm test driving it as I work on this post and I am sensing a shift in consciousness. It feels like a place to get work done at now.  I'm more focused on the task at hand.  I'm shifting about less.  I haven't had to get up to get something that isn't at hand.  But a crick in my neck indicates one minor tweak might be needed--raising the desk about two inches.  But now I have to be sitting right there to have the netbook on the board that slides out from under the cubby desk so when I'm done I can't just walk away but have to move it over to the stand-up station.  It has been a productive writing station tho.

The Desk

Working it Out  yet another workstation tweak. My solutions to the height and other irritations.

I sometimes get so frustrated by all the tweaking.  It seems I spend more time fiddling with the workstations than I do actually working at them.  I hope I can shift the balance soon.

standing desk May 21
One of my preferred netbook stations is this standing desk above the mini-tramp.  I can stand on the tramp to write or while text or video chatting with Ed.   But mostly I listen to music or watch videos while working out.






Looks more like a nest

For the two weeks after returning from Phoenix (May 11-24) this was my primary writing and Internet surfing station.  I also crocheted while watching videos and sometimes read either ebooks or treebooks.  The tramp in this pic is now my own brought from home.

But on May 24 I decided it was not working.  I'd gravitated to sitting on the mini-tramp that first weekend because there was so much upheaval everywhere else.  But that had unwanted repercussions--I stopped working out because the tramp was always piled with cushions and for some reason I can't pin down my productivity dropped both on and off the computer.  Maybe that is partly due to not working out.  But it might also be because the setup was more conducive to daydreaming, watching videos or surfing than serious work.  The clue is in the caption I gave the pic: Looks more like a nest.


Bradley
The family cat, Bradley has been a pill as I rearrange the two rooms.  He mountain climbs the stuff.  He picks up small things and carries them off.  Twice it was my reading glasses that I wear over my prescription glasses for close work.  He sits on top of the very thing I need to pick up.

Once he knocked my netbook off the desk.  I had an extreme moment of panic before I got it picked up and checked over.

Merlin nesting with me
My hope that once Merlin was allowed to join the family the two of them would entertain each other came true.  After a few weeks of talking to each other through the laundry room door they had a brief encounter when I brought Merlin up on his leash on our way out for his yard exploration they  touched noses and nobody hissed.  Bradley did raise one paw over Merlin's head and held it there until Merlin ducked his head and slunk away.  A couple weeks after that Merlin was paroled and they've acted buddies ever since with Bradley obsessed with grooming Merlin who had been lax with that due to his poor health.  They do occasionally fight over the spots of sun on the living room carpet.

But for over a week after Merlin got paroled I hung out on the tramp again so he could hang out with me.


FICTION FILES:



My Brain on Story
see moar kittehs 
For the duration of JuNoWriMo I set aside The Storyteller's Spouse to focus on the romance, Orbiting Jupiter.

Now for Camp NaNoWriMo in July...

I've joined the rebels and created my own goals 

--Work on cleaning up the files of the more than dozen NaNo and JuNo novels already existing
--write character rambles for at least 30 of the dozens of characters from existing or planned stories whose voices still elude me -- min 500wds ea
--write 14 book reviews for backlog of finished ARCs -- average 500wds ea.

and that's 22K not 50K

August 1 Update:  I made it slightly past halfway to my Camp NaNo goals  I hope to revise this goal section soon but meanwhile will continue along the same lines.

August 11 update:  after what I just wrote for this date up top, I'm thinking I need to add personal journal writing to my goals.  I had a daily journaling habit for years before I took up daily blogging.  I'm don't think the latter is a full substitute for the former.

READ CRAFT:

Currently Reading

What to Do When There's Too Much to Do by Laura Stack (Part of my attempt to organize my life around my priorities. So part of my ROW80 reading list)  What with the lifequake and all I've had to do a lot of reassessing.  Recently I realized that my todo lists are way overloaded even for someone with a reasonably quakeless life.
Hooked: Write Fiction That Grabs Readers at Page One and Never Lets Go by Les Edgerton
Write Good or Die! edited by Scott Nicholson (a collection of essays by inde authors.  many of them self-published)  
The Act of Creation by Arthur Koestler
What Matters in Jane Austen? by John Muller  Net Galley a NF that purports to answer many puzzles in the Austen novels. Since this discusses writing and techniques of fiction
Trust the Process: An Artist's Guide to Letting Go by Shaun McNiff  In late February I lifted the strikethru I put on this the week I left home in January as I brought it back with me on the 22nd.
Jung and the Tarot: An Archetypal Journey by Sallie Nichols Since I'm reading this for an understanding of character type and the language of symbol understood by our unconscious as well as research for a character who is a Tarot reader
13 Ways of Looking at a Novel by Jane Smiley  This was one of the 24 items I checked out of the Longview library on my sister's card last January and has been the one I've spent the most time with ever since.  Friday's post was a quote post for this one.
The Exegesis of Philip K. Dick.  Found this while spelunking the stacks looking for the Smiley book.  Who knew.  Dick was a mystic.  I've only read one of his novels and a few short stories but now I've got to try to find and read everything!
Mystery and Manners by Flannery O'Connor  This is a reread for me and has had significant impact on the development of my storyworld in the early months of its inception.  My Friday post was about my current encounter with it after checking it out of the Longview library again for the first time in over a decade.
The Right to Write by Julia Cameron.  Also a Longview library book.
The Fiction Writer's Handbook by Shelly Lowenkopf  Review for blog tour  Haven't finished it yet tho so it will remain in the list.
The Complete Idiot's Guide to Writing Erotic Romance by Alison Kent.  Found on my shelves while packing books.  I won this in a drawing during the Sweating for Sven writing challenge in 2007.  It made me blush and I kept it hidden in the recesses of my bookshelves but I think I've gotten over that.  Tho I admit it is hard to pull it out and read in it now that I'm back at Mom's.  But since Valentine's Week all my new story ideas have been for romances.  Not my usual thing.  But hey, you gotta take what the muse sends or she'll stop sending.  Setting aside the erotica aspects, this book is full of good story structure advice as well as romance genre specific advice.  I'm exploring the idea of writing a love story.  Hmmm.  Not sure who that is that just said that.


Recently Read:

A Cheap and Easy Guide to Self-publishing eBooks by Tom Hua read this online
Imagine: How Creativity Works by Jonah Leher
The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg  Just finished this last fall and wrote an overview of it for that check-in along with my musings on how to apply what I learned..  This is where I've been getting the most help with learning how to recognize a habit, determine if it is desirable and if so maximize it but if not change it.
Writing in General and the Short Story in Particular by Rust Hills onetime fiction editor at Esquire.  A tiny little paperback published in the mid 70s.  I pulled this off my own shelf a couple months ago as just the right size to prop the netbook keyboard at a better angle but then I pulled it out to read while waiting on my computer to finish updates and a restart as all the ebooks were unavailable and it was the only book I could reach without getting up.  Lazy me.  But it hasn't gone never went back under the keyboard yet.  I keep kpet picking it up whenever the netbook is was too busy to mind me.

1 tell me a story:

Kelli Callahan 8/15/2013 10:32 AM  

I like your idea of keeping a spreadsheet of your progress. I think I might try to incorporate that into my process as well.

Also, I kind of fell off the radar and went slightly catatonic after Camp NaNoWriMo ended. Haha! I can relate to you there.

Happy writing!

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