|A Round of Words in 80 Days|
Round 2 2013
The writing challenge that
knows you have a life
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. For the 111th check in I moved Fiction Files and Read Craft sections from the bottom to just below Current Check-In
Current Check-In --
Fiction Files-- newly adjusted goals for 09-14-13
Read Craft-- several recently finished books
Evolution of the workstations -- new pic and links to more of the best set up yet
I can see a pattern developing: significant attention in both FICTION FILES and AWAI on the same day seems to elude me.
But a lot of the Ns in both are reflective of the upheaval created by switching computers.
With Wednesday's surprise email from Evan Marshall offering me a review copy of his new software based on his book, The Marshall Plan, I began to get excited about the upcoming NaNo.
Thursday's post was a quickie signature LOLcat quote from a fantasy author on the nature of story. Such posts are becoming my fallback for days when other commitments preclude spending hours on a post and such was Thursday, an exhausting day that followed my first all-nighter in months and included a visit to my med nurse who upped the Adderall and added back the Welbutrin.
Friday was another LOLcat/quote. This one reflecting my realization that I'm again feeling deprived by the lack of time for fiction reading. As Stephen King says, If you don't have time to read you don't have time to write. (I'm sure I paraphrased that) Do I need to put FICTION READING on the goals list and spreadsheet?
One way or another I must make the time to read as I've committed to 11 blog tours for inde authors between this Thursday and November 19.
This time the 'lazy' post was due to having worn out my eyes on hours and hours of inbox managing. Will I ever get that under control? I must! Imagine if my chaotic inbox and caused me to miss Evan Marshall's offer? *shudder*.
Something seems to have shifted as I've been getting more and more emails direct from authors or their reps in the last two months.
Though I began work on this post Saturday evening and intended to post it before I went to bed I had to quit before it was ready as I didn't dare pull another stunt like I did Wednesday night for which I paid dearly with a truly ugly day Thursday.
I keep saying I need to get in the habit of getting posted during my morning sessions but I keep putting it off. Ironically, I will post in the AM today but yesterday's post not today's.
Yesterday was one of my most productive days yet:
- got my Windows 8 start menu organized to my liking
- learned how to create XPS documents
- downloaded and installed the drivers and other software needed to introduce my printer to the new Aspire (my sister intends to replace the dried up ink cartridges today and then I'll have the ability to print again!)
- replied to several important emails
- discussed with my husband (web site architect) what I imagine I need for my writer's platform web site
- downloaded and tested a screen magnifier I hoped would be better than the MS version on board. Was not so uninstalled minutes later.
- downloaded windows updates and did a restart
Note there was no FICTION FILE or AWAI work on that list but every item on there will support both going forward.
One of the browser tabs I have opened in a separate window so I can maximize it behind all the other windows. It is running an animated gif of river rapids. I could not have done that on the netbook.
I use it for stress relief. It helps me think. Sometimes I just bring it forward and gaze at it. Most of the time it is in back but showing around the edges of the other windows which I've shrunk in half an inch to make it visible. Sometimes as I'm typing I'm watching the water instead of the cursor and find that I'm focusing more on the thoughts I'm trying to convey than on the typos, spelling etc. All things that can be fixed during edit. I've a bad habit of continuously editing as I go.
This week it has been all about test driving the new computer. In regards to the FICTION FILES I'm tweaking preferences in aps and testing the links that interweave the maze of files and aps that allow me to jump from one to another from inside the files, joining research with notes with drafts with mindmaps with spreadsheets with images with websites...
So far the links to files are working just as they did on the netbook thanks to the file transfer program that created the same hierarchy of files and folders on the Aspire. And if the ap has been installed on the Aspire the links to them are working too.
I can't begin to calculate the hours of frustration that has saved me. I may have been frustrated Monday night when that file transfer locked me out of both computers for 13 hours but in the long run that was a very cheap price to pay for being able to slip back into the files and find everything just where I left it and doing just what I expect it to do. And faster to boot. Much, much faster.
But I've also been tweaking the notes and drafts as my eye falls on things in passing and triggers a thought. I keep forgetting the power of just opening the files and passing my eyes over them. Things start to stir..
Monday evening I began a 13 hour file transfer process that locked me out of both computers until it was finished. Yesterday I installed at least a dozen of the programs used to create or manage the 117K files in the 159GB that had been transferred. Most of those programs opened with their settings just how I'd left them. The only exceptions were those which had been significantly updated since the last time I'd updated them.
The credit I gave myself for FICTION FILES was for the fifteen or so minutes of gazing or fiddling each time I opened files in aps like XMind and WhizFolders to verify settings. Same for READ CRAFT as I test drove the new Kindle for PC, Calibre, Adobe Reader XI and Adobe Digital Editions.
Between the new computer and the new workstation that has proven itself very workable over the last five days, I feel loaded for bear. The best thing about it is how fast everything happens. While working on my posts there has been zero waiting on ap responses and page loading. If I blink as I click I miss it. The time that will save me going forward is incalculable. Not to mention the wear and tear on my biosystem. Think blood pressure...
My New Acer Aspire
This time it isn't physical labor but brain labor and tech frustrations.
I hinted in the August 24 check-in that there as a miracle afoot regarding the replacement of my cranky netbook. I finally told the story in last night's post: My New Aspire. I don't want to retell that here but let me just say it feels almost like a gift from my Dad who passed away in 2005. I said that to Mom and she smiled big and, I think, got misty-eyed.
Anyway my new refurbished, Aspire laptop arrived by UPS just before noon Friday. From that moment all of my attention shifted to all the tasks related to getting it setup, getting familiar with the new features (Windows 8 w/touchscreen=steep learning curve), getting my preferred aps downloaded, setting preferences and getting my netbook files moved over to it (all 280G).
That last is in the barely begun stage and just the attempt to get the two computers to acknowledge each other over the local network took my nephew three hours this evening. At one point he was sitting in here with four computers open--my two, his laptop and his Mom's netbook. The best he could do for now was make it so the Aspire can read and write to my personal folders and files on the netbook. But until I have all the aps that created the files installed on the Aspire, I can't even do that.
So I'm still using the netbook to write this post. Though Blogger is online and I do have access to it on the Aspire, all my browser bookmarks and passwords are on the netbook. As is the screenshot program I use to grab a new shot of the spreadsheet each check-in. Last night it was the lack of an image editor that prevented me from creating the post about the Aspire on the Aspire.
Earlier today while waiting on my nephew to return from a trip to the coast with friends, I focused on hunting down and downloading the aps I will need. Nearly all of them are open source freeware. I didn't install any of them tho as I knew that would slow me down as I'd be stopping to set up preferences with each one and since none of the files I created were on board yet I'd be tempted to create something just to play with the ap. I know how I am.
The first ap I want to install is not freeware but it is the one I am most dependent on for all note taking, tasks lists and rough drafts. That is WhizFolders Organizer Delux which I mentioned in the August 21 check-in. I'm itching to do it now but I really should go to bed and come back to it fresh.
My Brain on Story
see moar kittehs
- work at cleaning up the Wrimo messes
- get Blow Me a Candy Kiss prepped for self pub
- target a second finidhed short story for the self publish route
- work on the FOS storyworld -- add events to timeline, add characters sketches, do mind maps, clarify specific research needs, edit existing scenes and add new, target one of the POV character's stories to focus on
September 14 -- I've begun prep for the 2013 NaNoWriMo novel using my new review copy of The Marshall Plan software and book. I have tentatively selected a YA sci/fant story that I started while in my 20s that continues to haunt me. I'd lost all the world-building notes and all the rough draft work except for about five pages of semi-polished scenes in our 2001 move and lost heart.
Hooked: Write Fiction That Grabs Readers at Page One and Never Lets Go by Les Edgerton
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.
AWAI Copywriting Course materials
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
Write Good or Die! edited by Scott Nicholson (a collection of essays by inde authors. many of them self-published)
|Ed and I April 2nd|
5 minutes before leaving
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.
He has started to regain the weight he lost while he was sick last winter. During our 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.
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 the 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 an 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: 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.
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.
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. 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.
|Reading and crafting corner|
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.
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 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 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.
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.
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.
In response to my Lazy Daze post in early June in which I muse on why I am 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 my husband surmised 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. He added that I had too many high priorities and several of them were in conflict which I was possibly unconscious of. Then at my request during our next video chat in used his skill-set as a supervisor and experience with time-management on the job to show me how to triage my stated goals.
He 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, hygiene, all those appointments, and recreation--which last I had been denying myself until I ended up planted like a turnip on the mini-tramp.
My reassessment after the triage talk with Ed, led me to a radical decision I set out to switch myself from night owl to early bird having identified the larges block of time least likely to be interrupted as those between dawn and lunch. It was a struggle until mid July when I added Melatonin to the evening med mix. Now as of mid August it is starting to feel like normal to me.
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.
Ultimately the goal is to use the pre-lunch hours for brain work--reading, writing, blogging, research, netbook maintenance, daydreaming story world and the afternoon for active/social tasks like exercise, sorting/organizing, chores, hygiene, family interaction, vid or text chats with Ed. But so far I've nearly always gravitated back to the netbook or books after lunch and once engaged in a task it is hard to break away for another.
|2nd Workstation and |
Indoor Workout Space
The time best suited (I thought until the mid June reassessment) 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.
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.
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|
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.
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|
|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 Desk Inpector|
Finally room to spread
out books and paper
I've continued to tweak. Of course. Am resigned to that being something of a comfort activity for me. Besides as new commitments move onto the agenda new accommodations must be made. Right? Like when a new, larger computer enters the picture and the older one cannot yet be set aside so the computer desk aka tray table gets pushed to the right until it is blocking the tramp. Oops!
Or when the 'brilliant' front burner project box turns out to be a clutter collector rather than efficient use of space.
Will try to post a current pic of the tweaks that resolved those issues soon.
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|
But for over a week after Merlin got paroled I hung out on the tramp again so he could hang out with me.