Wednesday, February 19, 2014

144th ROW80 Check-In

A Round of Words in 80 Days
Round 1 2014

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.  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.  For Round 4 I've stripped Current of all previous entries, rewrote Fiction Files to reflect current goals, added AWAI Copywriting, and pruned the kudzu out of Lifequake, Self-Manage and Workstation sections.  

Current Check-In --
Fiction Files -- newly adjusted goals for 10-09-13
Other Writing -- working the AWAI course involves reading, writing and research as well as videos, web seminars, and teleconference recordings
Read Craft -- several recently finished books
The Lifequake -- Life decided to give me free lessons on the art of flexibility in January of this year.
Self Management -- applying flexibility, persistence, habit rehabilitation as I learn that caring for myself is the foundation for all else.
Evolution of the Workstations -- have made no major changes since early September so I think it's working





CURRENT CHECK-IN


February 19 -- I missed the last two check-ins.  I did try.  I started work on this entry for the 12th, switched the date to the 15th and now to the 19th but I'm still working on it on Friday--a day before the linky goes up for the 23rd's check-in.  The room project, (see pic to right and link below it) post commitments, vid chats and being on duty with Mom every day but one last week and feeling unwell this week made it hard to find time to reassess my goals and revamp the spreadsheet accordingly which I thought needed to be the next step seeing how we're already nearly two months into the round.

You'll see in the spreadsheet screenshot above that I've added new columns, renamed others, and rearranged their order to loosely reflect the order in which the activity is tended to. And I've increased the time investment minimum for each goal from 15 to 30+ minutes per day.  But in many, if not most, cases that is an average reflecting the intent to total 3hrs for the week   This gives me the option to skip a day for any I choose and if I designate Sunday as skip day for enough of them I will have a large block of time to devote to one of the goals or other projects or pastimes entirely.  With the idea being that Sunday is for whatever activity is drawing me whether a ROW80 GOAL or no.

I'll just list the columns here in order noting with each the exact expectation and how it differs from before if it does.

SLEEP 7.5+ = NEW  The goal is to get 7.5 hours or more per night consistently.  This has been a struggle all my life so I'm not expecting perfection but I hope to reach a better than 50% average success by the end of Round 1.

Why designate SLEEP as a ROW80 goal?  Because I've discovered that sleep deprivation is lethal to creativity, mental acuity, concentration, focus and optimism, confidence and accuracy.  All of which are necessary for success as a writer.

MOVE 30M+ = I'm no longer the limp rag I was when I first set the MOVE goal in 2012 so I need to expect more of myself:

  • 30 minutes per day up from 15 is what I settled on.  
  • Also now that I'm so much stronger (think of all that was entailed in the big room project!) its time to stop giving credit for normal daily activities--unless I'm wearing weights on both wrists and both ankles.  Otherwise it needs to be a sustained activity of the kind that comes to mind with the word exercise.   
  • It includes both aerobic and muscle building.  
  • Until the weather improves that means the mini-tramp for aerobic and isometric, stretchy bands, wearing weighted bands on wrists and ankles and book lifting for arm muscle building and squat walking on the tramp for leg muscle building.  
  • I also will expect myself to do two sustained 30 minute tramp sessions per week in which 10 minutes between warm up and cool down must rise to the level of vigorous.


FREE WRITE = Includes: misc writing exercises, journaling, Morning Pages, themed word lists, word association, stream of consciousness. speed dash, and xstreamwrite, an exercise I created that combines speed dash with one or more of the previous three.  Daily minimum up from 15m to 30m.

DAYDREAM STORY = with note taker at hand.  Daily minimum up from 15m to 30m.

FICTION FILES = see FICTION FILES section below for detailed list of tasks.  Daily minimum up from 15m to 30m.

AWAI = AWAI Copywriting course work: reading, writing and research as well as videos, web seminars, and teleconference recordings and networking. Daily minimum up from 15m to 30m.

BOOK REVIEWS = NEW  So new I've not started keeping records.  Tho for this one I've not been doing much outside of the blog tours so there is a huge backlog of finished books--ARC, borrowed, owned--that I've yet to review.  Tho the Daily minimum is set at 30m I'm actually intending to do 60m three time a week or 90m twice a week. The idea being to have enough time to finish the review I begin each time.

RESEARCH = NEW  So new I've not kept track but this is actually something I need to set boundaries on as I can easily spend the whole day researching.  I'm thinking 3hr min and 5hr max per week.  And not necessarily daily.  I'd rather do bigger chunks on fewer days than be restricted to 30min sessions daily.

READ CRAFT = Daily minimum up from 15m to 30m.

READ FICTION = Daily minimum up from 15m to 30m.

The last four columns are word count separated by type.  For anything that gets spruced up for posting, or publishing I count the rough draft words which tend to be more than double the final draft:

AWAI WORDS = NEW  copywriting exercises and spec copy for potential clients.  Soon there will be the web copy I write for my own freelance copywriting site.

BKRV WORDS = self explanatory and I've been keeping track for several months out of curiosity.

FIC/WRIMO WORDS = I've retitled the column so that I can start tracking fiction words even between the wrimo events

MISC WORDS = NEW  Includes journaling and the others listed in FREEWRITE as well as blogging, emails, poems, and the notes in FICTION FILES that aren't fiction.


Just About
February 8 -- My main focus continues to be this room.  My creativity and brainwork wordstation is just about right.  I've already made a few minor tweaks since that pic was taken and am about to make a fairly major one that involves moving the tramp out of the cubby as try as I might I can't have a good workstation configuration and keep the tramp accessible.  I really like the concept I have in mind but will save the description for the after picture.

Nexus 7 in Keyboard Case
more pics
The latest development that will change the parameters of my writing life rather significantly I think is the addition of my Nexus 7 with keyboard case on Tuesday.  For starters it will make the READ CRAFT and READ FICTION time investment goals easier by giving me back the portability of my ebooks lost when my netbook became unavailable.

The Blaze smartphone had done so to some extent but the small screen coupled with my need for large fonts was a frustrating combo.  There will be more room to keep as large an ebook library as I could hope to manage on the Nexus as well.  Space was limited on the Blaze.

The portability will also contribute to the MOVE goal by making it easier to have music, pods, audio books or video available while on the tramp--even if I took it out on the porch this spring.

As for the writing itself, again portability!  From room to room to out and about--bed, waiting on downloads on the Aspire, car travel, waiting in the car, the library, waiting rooms, the yard, the lake, the park, the porch...

It was for the writing and what I find essential for smooth flow of words from mind to screen that I made the Bluetooth keyboard a part of the original purchase instead of saving it for later.

As for the lifequake:  mood is fairly stabilized as long as I respect the med and sleep regime, no news on the separation front (I've been here a year and a month now and last time Ed and I saw each other without benefit of vid chat will be 9 months on the 11th).

As for self management:  I've gotten quite slack.  Messed up my mood big time in the last month by pulling too many all nighters and short nights.  Missed meds several times.

I think this last wake-up call might have scared me straight. I had a low-grade chronic headache for days.  I stopped making long term memories or at least not dependably.  I grumbled and growled and snapped at Merlin.  I grumbled and growled and yelled at myself and inanimate objects.  Especially over the many silly mistakes--and there were many, maybe triple a typical day.  I had to read paragraphs over and over and couldn't remember the first sentence by the time I got to the last.  My vision went wonky--splashes of kaleidoscopic color overlaid everything and the edges of thing wobbled and pulled out of shape like taffy.  And creativity?  What's that?

I'm thinking about putting SLEEP on the spreadsheet making it a ROW80 GOAL.  The time investment goal being a minimum of 7.5 hours per night.  Getting that bare minimum regularly has proven essential to brainwork--creativity, memory, focus.  Essential as well to maintaining a stable mood--lower irritability, confusion, fog-head, anxiety, frustration, self-deprecation and pessimism.

I'm thinking about doing the same for MOVE which is equally relevant to the same list, helps acquire better sleep, lowers blood pressure and boosts creativity and problem solving.  And for both of them I need to bag the Y/N and record the actual time invested.


ROW80 AIDS
February 2 -- I am really late jumping into this round.  But although I'm just now declaring my intentions, I continued to act as if throughout January, maintaining the time investment goals from round 4 2013.  I was just too busy to prep the first post which entailed taking the old check-in template back to bare bones and revising it according to intentions for this round.

The Big Room Project that occupied most of my time and attention since Christmas, was mostly in honor of ROW80.  I was tired of the half measures.  Tired of shifting stuff from here to there and back again.  Tired of the dust that made my eyes and nose itch and drip.  Tired of never being able to put my hand on the thing I needed when I needed it.  Tired of spending so much of the time I should be investing in writing and its support tasks on rearranging and reorganizing my workspace.

So when my sister was scheduled to have oral surgery on the 13th and planned to spend the next ten days at her best friend's house getting pampered and so arranged for Mom to spend that time at our brother's, I planned a major overhaul of this room.  A spring clean.  I took just about everything that I could move without help out, swept the carpet and then vacuumed it, dusted from ceiling to floor, eliminated boxes by consolidating partially filled boxes and nesting empty boxes and taking them to my sort station in the basement. I found and treated a large mildew stain under the cubby desk.  A likely culprit along with the dust for causing the itchy eyes and nose.

Many posts since New Years were about the project:  Many of them mostly photo essays.
Makez Up Ur Mindz Already!!! -- about beginning the first foiled attempt to start the room redo
Stuck With It -- pics of the bad ending of my first attempt to start the project
Nostalgia Nudges -- pics of some knickknacks I remember dusting once upon a time
The Big Room Project -- pics of the taking apart part
Mildew Moratorium --  pics of the mildew before, during and after treating
Sunday Serenity #371 -- pics of two antiques
Easy-Peasey -- assembling the Ott Tattoo lamp I got for Christmas
Not Quite Right -- a very temp workstation to use while putting room back together
Assembling the Puzzle -- bringing stuff back in
Workstation WOW -- workable for now (until Joanne.com order arrives)
Boxed Up Bushels of Desiccated Passions 
Sunday Serenity #372 -- pic of a couple of Mom's college era paintings

Mom left on Friday the 10th and Carri on Sunday night.  Silly me thought I would be able to get this done the first weekend and have the whole week following for the many other things I can't do when Mom and Carri are home.  Writing, Reading, crocheting, playing computer games, watching video or listening to music to my heart's content without interruption.  Let's not forget sleep.

Down in the Mouth
Carri January 14th
Not only did I not finish by Sunday night,  I did not finish by the next Sunday night which would have been a big problem if Mom and Carri had returned as planned.  Carri wasn't ready to step back into her position so I had, as it turned out, until the end of the following weekend.  Carri got home late Friday the 24th and Mom late Sunday the 27th and I was still scrambling to clear off Mom's side of the bed and the floor beside it as Carri left to pick her up.

On the 18th as soon as I had created the room for them I made a Joanne.com order.  The three boxes arrived Monday afternoon but I had a number of commitments last week that left me no time to deal with them so they hogged much of the extra room I'd created by the new room do.  The contents of two of the boxes are featured in the image heading this check-in entry.  Which makes this post a time-warp as I didn't get that cart assembled until nearly midnight Sunday night--Feb 5th.

Since I was still working on this post (have been since Wednesday hoping to make that check-in) when it was time to start prepping Sunday's post, I allowed myself to break open the two smaller boxes and assemble the contents of the middle-sized box (a five hour project) so I could get pictures for Sunday's post which I'll start prepping as soon as this one goes up.

That pic was intended to showcase the OED 2nd Edition on CD-ROM and the Britannica 2009 on CD-ROM which arrived Saturday morning.  These I consider major writer's reference.



FICTION FILES:



My Brain on Story
see moar kittehs 
Ongoing: 
  • work at cleaning up the Wrimo messes
  • get Blow Me a Candy Kiss prepped for self pub
  • target a second finished short story for the self publish route: How Does Your Garden Grow?
  • work on cleaning up the WhizFolder for the NaNo Novel, Wailing Womb [task list similar to that for FOS Storyworld below]
  • work on the FOS storyworld:
  •  -- add notes from DAYDREAM STORYWORLD notebook to FOS Worksheet WhizFolder as well as the specific story's Whiz
  •  -- add events to timeline
  •  -- add character sketches, rambles, and metadata
  •  -- move or copy metadata from each story's Whiz into the FOS Worksheet Whiz
  •  -- add to FOS mind map in Xmind
  •  -- clean up notes, research, reference, links, etc in each story's Whiz, adding any relevant to multiple stories to FOS Worksheet Whiz
  •  -- clarify specific research needs
  •  -- edit existing scenes and add new
  •  -- target one of the POV character's stories to focus on  [When Home Is Where the Horror Is AKA Crystal's story]
  •  -- break out Aeon Timeline and start inputting info from the text timeline
  •  -- breakout Smart Draw and experiment with creating story boards and plot flow charts
OTHER WRITING TASKS
  • AWAI Copywriting course work: working the course involves reading, writing and research as well as videos, web seminars, and teleconference recordings and networking.
  • keep on top of the upcoming blog tour reviews
  • tackle the backlog of book reviews for ARCs 
  • tackle the backlog of book reviews for books owned and borrowed books finished 2012-2013
  • tackle the backlog of book reviews for finished ROW80 READ CRAFT books

READ CRAFT:

Currently Reading

[For Round 1 2014 I've removed all but five of the books in this ever growing list. I may not totally abandon the others but I'm targeting the five in this list for focus until finished.  As a book comes off I'll add another.]

What to Do When There's Too Much to Do by Laura Stack   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
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.
AWAI Copywriting Course materials

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  Finished this fall of 2012 and wrote an overview of it for that check-in along with my musings on how to apply what I learned..  This is where Igot 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, having found it while packing/unpacking my books.  Don't remember how it became mine.
Write Good or Die! edited by Scott Nicholson (a collection of essays by inde authors.  many of them self-published) 


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 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.


Between the last week of February and the first week of May 2013 my sister and I made several round trips to my place in Phoenix to pack up my stuff and bring it back to Longview.  It was supposed to be only the first load for my books, crafts and summer clothes but in March our landlord decided he needed to sell the trailer and set May 15 as our move-by date.  So I made two more trips and my sister made a forth the first week in May, leaving me behind while she took a load back and returning for the forth load.


Merlin
Merlin, our cat, came back with me in May.  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.  He has started to regain the weight he lost while he was sick winter of 2012-1013.

As 2014 Round 1 begins we're pushing 8 months since leaving Phoenix with the last load by February 11 it will be 9 months.  There has been no further visits.  He's living with his folks in the same tiny room we shared for ten years but we both agreed that environment would be unhealthy for me and our relationship.  So we're waiting for him to find a place before I come back for a visit bringing a van load of household miscellany and Merlin.

Before I can go home for good my meds need to be stabilized and healthcare assured.  I have to be separated from Ed in order to qualify for health care.  So much for those wascally wabbits and their so-called concern for the sanctity of marriage.

Meanwhile we make do with phone calls, text chats, emails and one or two vid chats each day.


SELF-MANAGEMENT

A significant development in self-management was 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.

In December I transferred all my task alarms to my smartphone, a birthday present from Ed in November, and no longer use this timer except for one off tasks.

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 since August.  I have gained more ground each month.  Adding minor and major commitments to self and family.  I've just [Feb 3 2014] taken on care of one of the two litter boxes.  I've been on duty with Mom from lunch to bedtime most Tuesdays since fall and oven fix dinner at least one other time during the week.  Significantly, except for Tuesday, most evening dinner preps are sprung on me in the one to four hours before time to start which would have flummoxed me into paralysis a year ago.

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 to 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 or at least being managed well.

The early-bird schedule I switched to last August specifies 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 brainwork after lunch and once engaged in a task it is hard to break away for another.  So many things get neglected.  Which often leads to fudging on sleep... Slippery slope.

My Nature Bright Sun Touch Plus
w/ high lux light and air ionizer
The two most significant things that contributed to the healthier sleep patterns were the melatonin I began using in late summer and the the full spectrum light therapy lamp I bought during the Cyber Monday sales.  This gives me hope that I won't have to be on the meds forever.  There are still several more things I can add to my Natural Remedies bag.  Like maintaining consistency in the sleep schedule (still pulling too many 20 to 30 hour days and too many under 7.5 hour sleeps) exercise, meditation weight loss, water intake, detoxing from sugar and food additives and diet changes for starters.  Except for the sleep schedule most of these I've been dabbling at in the last six months but I need to be committed and consistent with those things I've experienced as helping. 

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.

WORKSTATION WOES AND WOOTS
The evolution of the writing and workout room:

Workstation and
Indoor Workout Space
January 2013
Late January 2013
Tramp set on end after
2 falls and a close call

March 2013
Making room for 1st van load



Reference Books
The 1999 World Book set
and the Britannica Great Books set
bought from the library in 2005
And writing related misc.

Looks more like a nest
Primary work and play and mope
station May 11-24 2013

Cubby desk May 25 2013
replace exercise ball
with office chair


June 2013
Almost good but hard
to get in and out and no room
to scoot or swivel chair

April-August 2013
Standing desk above tramp
Good for writing, reading ebooks,
text and vid chat, videos and music
All while getting a gentle workout
Or vigorous with videos and music. 

Bradley Desk Inspector
Major August 2013 Makeover
Cleared Mom's Desk
Finally room to spread
out books and paper

In late August it finally came together: a workable workstation.  The story and pics about it are in these Sunday'sMonday's and Tuesday's posts.  My productivity ratio increased from 1 in 5 days to 1 in 2 or better.  But a couple weeks after setting this up I got my Aspire and being significantly larger than the netbook it didn't work well in this setup and major tweaking commenced.

I keep meaning to add pics of the most significant tweaks to accommodate the Aspire and now there is the January 2014 whole room makeover pics to add.  But not this time.

Bradley
The family cat, Bradley has been a pill as I rearranged 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
Merlin had to stay locked in the laundry room for nearly three months until we were sure he was free of contagion or parasites.

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.

0 tell me a story:

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