Wednesday, March 27, 2013

81st ROW80 Check-In

A Round of Words in 80 Days
Round 1 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.


Last month 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 last April.  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 got my Ys back on the spreadsheet a  couple weeks ago and hung onto them in spite of the many continuing aftershocks stemming from the late January lifequake.

Note: much of the following is preserved from previous check-ins with minor edits, some rearranging and a few expansions and updates. The bold indicates new either this check-in or last.   It just didn't make sense to me to write a post from scratch when most of the issues remain the same.

I'm late getting this up and have pressing obligations so I'm not going to make many changes to this template copy/pasted over from last check-in.  Not much has changed anyway.  Besides this paragraph and any following shown in bold the spreadsheet screenshot is updated and the picture next to this paragraph is new.  Taken by my sister Jamie on her visit last Thursday, it shows me at work in my new workstation and the upended tramp is visible in lower right corner.  The story of the workstation and the tramp are below.

The latest on the lifequake front: my sister and I are planning another trip down to Phoenix OR this weekend to pack up the rest of my stuff and get as much as we can into the van.  We may have to make another trip to load up again before the date my husband is required to vacate.  We expect this to take most if not all of the weekend.  We're leaving Longview on Friday.  Needless to say, I'm looking forward to spending time with my husband as well.

On the writing front I have signed up for the April Camp Nano.  They have made the goals flexible so it doesn't have to be a novel nor have to be 50K words. I haven't decided what my goals will be and establish them along with the ROW80 Round 2 goals next week. But I did use the sign up as occasion to create a much needed synopsis for The Storyteller's Spouse which you can find near the bottom of this post.  

They have even set up a 'cabin' of script writers at Camp Nano to give a space to those feeling deprived of the discontinued Scriptfrenzy.  Which might apply to me.  I'd been participating since 2009 and had yet to 'win' one.  I think the best I did was 30 odd pages in an adaptation of one of my short stories.  I was treating the April Scriptfrenzy as an exercise in stretching my writing comfort zone and as an opportunity to study a new aspect of writing craft.  And an excuse to watch a lot of video.  :)  I admit I did more reading than writing during April often having over 20 books on screenwriting and film checked out of the library as well as actual scripts and several DVD per week.  I can't afford to go to such extremes this year but am considering keeping the April=Sriptwriting alive in some fashion.

On the mood front: I've had zero 24 hours awake since the med nurse upgraded my Trazadone from occasional sleep aide to anti-depressant a week ago Monday.  A few times I still slept less than four hours on a given night but I always slept.  Since then my anxiety and irritability levels have dropped so low I often can't find them when looking for them.  So I'm thinking they were directly related to sleep deprivation in a devilish feedback loop.  Energy is increasing but not as fast as I'd like nor as dependably.  And it frustrates me that my brain won't come back online for hours after waking which makes it hard to give over to sleep when it is time to take my meds and I'm still going strong on some writing, reading or crafting project.  I do anyway tho often an hour or more late as I struggle to prioritize making healthy choices.  


Other good news on that front is the med nurse isn't convinced I'm bi-polar tho she isn't ruling it out.  For now she is calling it 'unspecified episodic mood disorder'.  She said my history of my moods and med reactions tied her brain in knots. But it is possible that the combination of anxiety and ADD might be mimicking mania.  I'm not diagnosed with ADD but there is family history of it and not of the bi-polar.

Because of past bad reactions to meds, and because of so many variables she wants to go slow adding or subtracting one thing at a time and taking the dosage up slow.  She began by repurposing the Trazadone that had been prescribed as an 'as needed' sleep aide to its other use as anti-depressant by doubling it and making it daily.  I had the best sleep in months last Monday night followed by a day in which the anxiety was so low I almost felt like I was missing something essential like a tooth or limb.



Helping my mood dramatically was the Skype session Ed and I had on Sunday after we each installed the program.  It so beats email dialog that often has over 12 hour lags between turns!!!  We are both camera shy so it was a huge thing for us.  I got to see and talk to our Merlin too and Ed and I agreed he will come back with me this weekend so whatever Ed has to do before May 15 is not hampered by concerns for him.

My moods are still less volatile but better by far than early February.  For the most part of most days I'm accommodating myself to the new realities shaking out from the lifequake that hit me the last week of January.   The details of which are covered in ROW80 #69 check-in. and  this Sunday Serenity 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.

Our landlord in Phoenix, OR has decided to sell the trailer and has asked Ed to vacate by May 15.  Then a week later he asked Ed to consider May 1st but he can't insist and Ed can't promise.  Which means there will be no home for me to go home to once my disability status is re-established so my medical needs are assured.  So everything is even more up in the air than it was.  It is hard to see into the future clearly enough to reach for anything solid.

OK.  Confession.  I've been averaging 2 to 4 hours per day on several emails to my husband where at least one is from 2 to 5K words.  I'm trying to decide how this impacts ROW80 goals, weigh the cost/benefit to the long distance relationship goals vs the fiction writing goals and the selfpub goals.  It is writing after all and it seems that my words are flowing better everywhere else from posting to freewrite to notes and sketches in FICTION FILES totaling between them(emails and all) 5 to 10K of words per day.  So there may be some benefit bleeding off the email writing onto all the other writing.  Especially since so much of what is on my mind is the same stuff on my character's mind (see below re Storyteller's Spouse) But if our separation lasts for months as it is shaping up for I may have to take another look at this issue next round.

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My Wednesday post last week (not the check-in which I usually put up late on Tuesday) described how the weight of all the WIP in reading, writing, crafting, and other things on my endless todo lists has been nearly paralyzing me.  Something has to give.  But what and how do I choose?  I'm hoping the skills I've learned via ROW80 will serve me as I apply them across the board to other areas of my life.

I realized early in February that because of my extended stay here I couldn't continue to put off getting serious with my fiction writing until I got home so I had to address the space, quiet, privacy and fear of interruption issues by setting up a second workstation not in the room I share with Mom and dedicating late evenings and part of the weekends Mom spends at my brother's to FICTION FILES.  To make them available I'm supposed to be getting my posts prepped earlier in the day.  Have yet to establish that habit.  Progress.  Not every day but more than half in the last 2 weeks!!

How many times have I had to confess that last?  Umm don't want to count.  Now that the essentials of organizing and moving around of stuff have been tended to it is time to make this the focus of the rest of the month.....  DONE I think.  If I can hang onto to the 50%+ and add to it.


2nd Workstation and
Indoor Workout Space
When I set up my new workstation in what had become a household flotsam and jetsam room, I made room for the mini-tramp which is my favorite MOVE activity and I loved having it so near the writing station even if it does did mean walking across it to get in and out of my cubby behind the stairwell.  I especially appreciated it after I made my station easily transformable into a standing desk as I can could just step over onto the tramp when feeling restless.  It helped me to think.

But after two falls inside a week the pressure was on to move it.  And this last Thursday my sister stood it up on end against the boxes on the right when she was in here visiting and I confessed that the night before I'd had a close call after sitting at the netbook reading too long as I waited for my night meds to kick in and then being surprised by how seriously they kicked in.

As I feared, I've did not set it back down even once since until this past Monday and not again since tho the day is still young.  I've given myself credit on MOVE for other activities but I really miss the ease with which I'd been stepping onto the tramp and moving on it for several minutes several times a day.

After the first fall 3 weeks ago on 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. So the question became when can I make time for completely rearranging the boxes of stuff to make room for the tramp without blocking the path.   UGH.



My Brain on Story
see moar kittehs 
Meanwhile I have selected my 2006 NaNoWriMo novel, The Storyteller's Spouse, to give the bulk of my attention to for the duration of this extended stay at Mom's for the same reasons that I started it in the first place:  Story is the way I think and when I need to process something terribly complex and emotionally overwhelming I often start playing with the what ifs and the people involved and the themes in the same way I do with a novel or short story.  Because of the unusually autobiographical nature of this story I'd never returned to it after NaNo that year but many of the same issues are active in this current lifequake so what better time than now to get this one back out?  It had therapeutic value before and probably will again.

The Storyteller's Spouse is also an exploration of story itself and features a married couple the female lead being a novelist and her husband a raconteur with a rep for tall tales, fish stories and war stories and life of the party yarns.  Neither of them have an especially good grip on reality so their POV scenes are exercises in unreliable narrator.

Synopsis: Lor and Bull Teller, married for over two decades, are about to discover the power of story to either create or destroy when a disturbing accusation lands tall-tale-teller Bull in jail where suddenly he has nothing to say just as Lor, author of evangelical children's stories witnesses something that tangles and then snaps the tether of her faith leaving her afloat on a sea of mystery which often feels like insanity.


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.

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.




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