Tuesday, April 16, 2013

86th 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.

Last round 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.

Note:  The following contains lots of carryover from previous check-ins to provide context. New material is mixed in with the old some of which has been reordered or elliminated.

I regained the Ys for READ CRAFT after loosing them along with those for FREEWRITE and FICTION FILES during the 2.5 weeks involved in going down to Phoenix OR after another van load of my stuff, bringing it back here to Mom's, making room for it, unpacking the books and clothes and organizing.  Obviously Camp Nano seems to have fallen into the abyss but I hesitate to just let it go as I'd likely get zero word count for the month if I did and I've been feeling some pressure building on a story idea...maybe...

No excuses now for the remaining two time investment goals.  It is now about having lost the habit and making choices that push them aside.  The primary choice?  Mooning like a giddy teenager while conducting a long-distance relationship with my husband of 34 years.

I stopped requiring myself to do the freewrite before using the netbook for anything else because the first thing I want to do is check my email for my 'good morning' from him and then of course reply to it.  Sigh.  And that is just the first of two or three or four emails before I sleep again.  And that doesn't count the chats and the Skyping.  Who knew it could still be this fun to be in love at 55.  And it is especially poignant because we came so close to wreaking it and calling it totaled less than three months ago.

That is all part of the event I'm calling the lifequake that 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 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.

Continuing aftershocks abound.  The latest being the notice from our landlord to vacate by May 15 as he needs to sell the trailer.  So my sister and I just made a second trip down to Phoenix OR last Saturday and spent four days packing my office and closet and bringing a second van load of my stuff back.  We were supposed to bring our cat Merlin back with us too but he was sneezing and had goopy eyes so my sister took him to the vet there and discovered he had an infection from rotten teeth and inverted eye lashes.  He had surgery last Monday.

The bulk of what came back this time was books, papers, crafts and clothes.  Books being the greater part with 8 boxes of them alone.  The work of making room here at Mom's for 22 boxes and then unpacking 11 and organizing it along with the stuff already here ate up at least ten days.  I continue to tweak and fiddle with my two main areas--the wall on my side of the bed in Mom's room and my desk and workout area in the room across the hall.   Some of the story of the evolution of the writing and workout room since February is below.

The date for the next trip has been set for April 29.  But my sister will be returning with the load after a day or two and leaving me behind to spend eight to ten days helping Ed with the final packing up and the deep clean in preparation for his move by the 15th.  We are both ecstatic about the idea of a whole week together even tho it may be bittersweet with the knowledge of my return to Longview and full of some very hard work--both physical labor and relationship.

My reading and crafting corner
on my side of the bed
in Mom's room
Note: The following paragraphs between the long ___________ were new or mostly new on Saturday's post.  Then Sunday night I blew the commitment I speak about out of the water.  I talk about that and recommit in Monday's post, Penalty Box which I considered a formal 'holding myself accountable' exercise.

I received some more feedback from my husband during this evening's Skype asking for a similar commitment to time management.  It is related to the sleep issues but still a separate issue.  I was going to make that the theme of this check-in after taking out much of the older stuff about the stuff but I've run out of time as I have to put up a scheduled book review before 3am when it is time for my meds.  Plus I need to shower before bed as I have a counselor appointment at noon.

I've been grateful for the distraction provided by the work involved in unpacking and organizing my stuff with an eye on my goals.  Now that is mostly done I will need to find other distractions--reading, writing, crafting, music and workouts are definite candidates.

So far only the music and workouts have been a regular help with that.  I'm still struggling with the issue with my brain not coming back online for up to twelve hours after I've slept longer than six hours.  This has played a role in my sleep issues.  Often the insomnia is truly involuntary but just as often I'm opting for those 24, 36 and upwards straight hours because I can't bear to let go of the creativity, productivity and the me that I know and like because I can't depend on getting them back again.

This choice to put my sleep on a higher priority than creative work continues to be very difficult to stick to.  Taking the Trazadone and blood pressure meds by 3am and requiring myself to stay in bed for a minimum of 7 hours is a struggle every night because I have to set aside whatever my mind has finally engaged on and say goodbye to my 'self' not knowing when/if I will pick up where I left off.  This causes me to resist even starting projects like FICTION FILE work or review writing out of the fear of that frustration with having to quit while going strong.

Ed and I April 2nd
5 minutes before leaving
I am doing it as part of my role in saving my marriage and shortening the time we must be apart.  But I confessed to Ed during a chat Friday night that if I believed that how I'm experiencing this now would be the reality going forward I would revert to despair because it is that hard.  I feel like I'm loosing myself.

He suggested I shift perception and see it as growing pains.  We both  know we can't go back to the way things were.  That was slow suicide and also crazy-making for both of us.  Not  just the unpredictable sleep cycle but the unpredictable mood and energy levels.

It wasn't like I was getting regular, reliable creative or brain intensive work done then either. That is an illusion created by the memories of the occasional--twice a month or so--crazy spurts of work on a project over a two to four day period in which I slept little or not at all, and neglected food and water and hygiene.

So I remain committed to the project of the new me.  There is still the promise of the med nurse to address the slow-waking brain issue as soon as she is satisfied the depression and sleep issue has been dealt with.  And the fact that the new regime of Trazadone as anti-depressant seems to be working bolsters the hope that she will find the solution for that as well.

Meanwhile the regular sleep has gone a long way to regulating my moods.  My anxiety has fallen so low it may actually be what healthy people experience as normal.  My sister noted last Friday night when we went to listen to the band at The Electric Bean cafe, the type of place full of the sensory overload that triggered my anxiety attacks--that I'd left the house with only my white cane.  No book, no netbook, no notebook, no crochet.  In other words, none of the things that I always carry with me as buffers between me and the anxiety triggers.  And I had a thoroughly good time.

I've had more energy and stamina lately and have been tending to my diet, exercise and hygiene to nearly a normal sustainable level and that is paying off in big ways.  I've lost an inch on my waist in the last two weeks and dropped below 200 on the scales for the first time since 1986 just this week.

Now, if only I can add fiction writing back that would go a long way toward making me feel like me again.


To right of my desk
Besides all the work on the two rooms and unpacking I've spent an hour or two nearly every day on the mini-tramp listening to and adding to 2 YouTube playlists I've created for working out to.  The first one hit 200 so YouTube cut me off and I started a second that is closing in on 50.  They are  90% love songs from the 70s and 80s.  The years of mine and Ed's courtship and early marriage.

I refuse to feel silly.  Well, I do, but I refuse to believe I should.  It has been years since I listened to much pop music and I am surprised to find what a consolation it can be.

And it seems to have paid dividends in creative inspiration too as I found myself making up song lyrics in my head to a weird hybrid of two songs I couldn't get out of my head.  I posted my lyrics along with vids of the two songs last Sunday

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.

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

 I do hope that when we bring Merlin back next trip the two of them can entertain each other.

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.

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.

Desk in cubby
The desk has morphed so many times.  I continue to tweak things but continue to find it a very uninviting place to spend much time. And the chair continues to bite.  I've taken to using it mostly just when I need the printer or scanner and sit on the tramp with netbook on a box for other tasks.  Or stand on or beside the tramp with netbook on a drawer pulled out of that cabinet.


My Brain on Story
see moar kittehs 
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.


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.

1 tell me a story:

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