Wednesday, July 17, 2013

102nd 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 the Ys back for everything except FICTION FILES and still no WRIMO words...

moar kittehs   see  caption  share  vote
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 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.  But then there was the major anxiety fueling upset created by the doorbell at 8:30 Thursday morning.  In my own home I would have ignored a doorbell before 10 and maybe even until noon if I'm trying to keep those hours for my work. But especially before 9 as I can't see a legitimate reason to knock on someone's door that early without an appointment or calling ahead.

But since this is Mom's house and I knew she was up and would try to get to the door I went out to the living room and said "Let me get it." but Mom said  "I can do it." so I painfully (and impatiently) watched her make her ever so slow way across the dining room and living room to the door with her cane.  And of course by the time she got the door open he was gone.  So she closes the door and locks it and heads back to her breakfast in the kitchen and I stand there watching until I'm sure she is safely past all of the trip hazards and return to my 'office' where I barely get seated and the bell is ringing again.  This time I started calling "I'll get it." as soon as I got into the hallway where I was steps away from the kitchen door--the end opposite the dining room.

That whole episode with the doorbell was not over until a quarter after 9 and it took another hour or more for my anxiety to calm down.  If I'd been able to answer it in the first place it might have been over in ten minutes instead of more than 30.  But my anxiety would have still been an issue for an hour or two.  When my anxiety runs high my brain locks down and races at the same time and becomes useless for directed, focused work.

The guy at the door?  He had been sent over by a church affiliated organization that does yard work for the elderly and disabled.  A neighbor had told my sister about them because Mom's back yard has gotten hip high in grass and weeds because last summer the lawnmower broke down and by the time my sister got it repaired this spring the grass was too tall for a mower and Mom didn't own a weed eater.  And there has just been one crisis after another all year (mine being one of the biggest and most time consuming) so she had focused all the time she had available for yard work on the front yard which is visible from the street.

I hadn't yet heard about any of this so I had to tell the guy that it was my sister who dealt with things like that but she wasn't up yet.  And if you're a natural early bird who might be thinking that someone who is still in bed at 9AM is too lazy to deserve free labor, don't even go there.  My sister, much as a mother with young children would, uses the hours after Mom is in bed to do the chores that get neglected while tending to meal prep, phone calls, errand running and tending to the needs of Mom, myself and her teenage son that eat up the daylight hours--or hovering as Mom is doing something for herself to make sure she is managing safely.  So she is doing kitchen cleanup, laundry, bills, minor repairs and a multitude of little tasks that require a lot of scurrying from room to room and up and down the stairs.

July 10 -- I just spent from Saturday noon thru Tuesday about 8:30pm alone at Mom's while she was at my brother's and my sister and her son were out of town.  I had thought I would devote great blocks of time to my fiction files but that first day I felt ill and my husband suggested that in the push for the schedule change I'd been under a lot of stress and I'd been neglecting rest and recreation.  So I soaked up the solitude and lack of obligations and read a lot of fiction, vid and text and phone chatted extra with Ed, and researched online for fun, and fixed metadata in my calibre ebook library, and made fun stuff to eat and slept in til 7.

Today my main project has been the serious edit of the themed sections below.  It has taken hours.  And I know it is still way too long.  I'm considering the option of moving most of it over to the static ROW80 page  but that has needed serious editing itself since the end of Round 1 or before.

July 06--  It has been a stressful couple of days.  My sister left town yesterday morning leaving me on duty with Mom and we had a relaxing day but in the evening Mom got sick.  Then once she was settled in bed I was unable to get right to sleep due partly to the stress of the previous several hours and partly to the neighborhood fireworks going off until nearly 11.  So tho I tried to get up at 4:30 I couldn't manage as was feeling ill myself so I went back to bed until 7:30.

Then Mom woke at 8:30 and needed tending to and help getting ready for her weekend at my brother's and once she was ready I read aloud to her from the Mitford series until my sister-in-law arrived at 12:30.  I fiddled away the next hour getting my lunch and waiting for my husband to initiate our afternoon vid chat and when that ended at 3 I fiddled around with my Calibre ebook library metadata for a couple of hours then got a shower then heated up the taco soup from the other night for my dinner and phoned my husband for our good night.  It was already an hour from my bedtime when we said goodbye and I started working on this which I should have had done before lunch.

My husband in our chats today pointed out that my off day today was probably the direct result of my not having given myself time off for over a week again and reminded me that when you don't schedule in rest and recreation time it ends up happening anyway but in ways less likely to be enjoyable and more likely to be out of your control--like getting sick.  I'm still not sure whether that's what is happening.  It could just be fatigue.

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.


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.

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...


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.

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.


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


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.
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 days 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 back under the keyboard yet.  I keep picking it up whenever the netbook is too busy to mind me.

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:

Tia Bach 7/20/2013 8:49 PM  

Funny that you mention fighting your writing clock--I try so hard to be an early morning writer, but I can't fight my night owl tendencies either. I need quiet, so I have to wait for my kids to go to bed (they KNOW when I wake up in the morning, no matter how early).

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