Wednesday, October 09, 2013

121st ROW80 Check-In

A Round of Words in 80 Days
Round 4 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.  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 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, persistance, 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


October 15  --  

moar kitteh squee   2 see  share  caption  vote
October 10 -- I've already put hours into cleaning up  the Round 3 mess and bringing all sections up to date.  So I'm going to let some of my interim posts present the current situation.  And I'm not even going to take time to make them pretty and that's gonna bug me no end until I come back and fix them.  sigh.

Email Nightmares
A Word Wrangler's Lasso
Crossed Eyes and Knotty Thoughts
You Know the Drill
Of Grumps, and Dumps and Triumphs.
Fall 2013 Challenges
I Have a 2Dos Pileup




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 
  • work on the FOS storyworld -- add events to timeline, add characters sketches, do mind maps, clarify specific research needs, edit existing scenes and add new, target one of the POV character's stories to focus on
  • September 14 --  I've begun prep for the 2013 NaNoWriMo novel using my new review copy of The Marshall Plan software and book.  I have tentatively selected a YA sci/fant story that I started while in my 20s that continues to haunt me.  I'd lost all the world-building notes and all the rough draft work except for about five pages of semi-polished scenes in our 2001 move and lost heart.
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.
  • tackle the backlog of book reviews for ARCs and the upcoming blog tours

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
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.
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  Just finished this last fall and wrote an overview of it for that check-in along with my musings on how to apply what I learned..  This is where I've been getting the most help with learning how to recognize a habit, determine if it is desirable and if so maximize it but if not change it.
Writing in General and the Short Story in Particular by Rust Hills onetime fiction editor at Esquire.  A tiny little paperback published in the mid 70s.  I pulled this off my own shelf a couple months ago as just the right size to prop the netbook keyboard at a better angle but then I pulled it out to read while waiting on my computer to finish updates and a restart as all the ebooks were unavailable and it was the only book I could reach without getting up.  Lazy me.  But it hasn't gone never went back under the keyboard yet.  I keep kept picking it up whenever the netbook is was too busy to mind me.
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.


In late February and late March my sister drove me down to pick up as many of my personal belongings as I could imagine needing over the next several months. I imagined that I'd be returning home by summer but then Ed got a vacate notice from the landlord who needed to sell the trailer. So I had to drop out of ROW80 check-ins for a month in April/May as 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 to Longview with a third van load of my stuff on May 2nd and then picked up me, our cat Merlin, and a forth van load on the 10th.


Merlin
During our trip in early April my sister took Merlin 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 last winter.

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.

As Round 4 begins there has still been no visit.  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 our cat who came back with me in May.

Before I can come 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.  We had a lot of hope pinned on the implementation of Oregon Care, Oregon's answer to the Affordable Care Act, slated for October 1st.  But the government shutdown has put that on hold.  So much for those wascally wabbits and their so-called concern for the sanctity of marriage.

Meanwhile we make do with several emails and one or two vid chats each day.


SELF-MANAGEMENT

All the way to the middle of August my main focus was unpacking and organizing my clothes, books, papers, crafts and even the household items.  Organizing the things I wanted available for use and repacking out of season clothes and household stuff for the trip back down as soon as Ed found a place.

It looks like I'm going to have to pull the winter stuff back out before that happens.

Reading and crafting corner
The creating of stations to accommodate activities has been one of the themes of my organizing. I put 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.  The reference books with my workstation and the rest in the bedroom along with most of the crafts.


A 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.

As for the mood-disorder, the med nurse has been careful because of my history of atypical reactions to meds.  She adds or subtracts one thing at a time.  She started with changing my Trazadone from an occasional sleep aid to the primary antidepressant,  upping the dose and making it daily.  Over the spring and summer she raised it from 50 to 300 mg.

She was for a brief time looking at the possibility of bipolar because of my intractable insomnia that often had me awake for 24 to 72 hours at a stretch.  But careful observation and family history led her to suspect that it was my severe anxiety coupled with ADD creating the appearance of bi-polar.

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.

In response to my Lazy Daze post in early June in which I muse on why I am still planted like a turnip on the mini-tramp after four days and unable to put action where my mouth is on any of my stated goals and priorities my husband surmised that I was experiencing a mini-burnout after having pushed too hard on too many fronts for too many days in a row, allowing myself little recreation.  He added that I had too many high priorities and several of them were in conflict which I was possibly unconscious of.  Then at my request during our next video chat in used his skill-set as a supervisor and experience with time-management on the job to show me how to triage my stated goals.

For the triage he laid it out there that anything touching on my health or safety was non-negotiable.  This included sleep, med schedule, food schedule, exercise, hygiene, all those appointments, and recreation--which last I had been denying myself until I ended up planted like a turnip on the mini-tramp.

My reassessment after the triage talk with Ed, led me to a radical decision to switch myself from night owl to early bird having identified the larges block of time least likely to be interrupted as those between dawn and lunch.  It was a struggle until mid July when I added Melatonin to the evening med mix.  As of mid August it became my new normal.

One of the fallouts from the stabilized sleep schedule has been an increase in those intense, creative, colorful and story-like dreams that have often contributed what I call the storyseeds for my fiction.  This augers well for the future work with my fiction files--both editing and new writing.  And is a sign the depression is lifting.

Ultimately the goal is to use the pre-lunch hours for brain work--reading, writing, blogging, research, netbook maintenance, daydreaming story world and the afternoon for active/social tasks like exercise, sorting/organizing, chores, hygiene, family interaction, vid or text chats with Ed.  But so far I've nearly always gravitated back to the brainwork after lunch and once engaged in a task it is hard to break away for another.

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:

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 (I thought until the mid June reassessment) was the hours immediately after Mom heads to bed.  The space was trickier.  But the best bet was somewhere in the room that had once been Mom's office and had become a storage room.  So I rearranged some boxes and created a desk in a cubby behind the stairwell.    I was even able to set up the mini-tramp in there. Tho I had to walk across it to get to my desk, I liked having it there until I fell twice inside a week.

 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 morphed many times.  I continue to tweak things but continued 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.  I tried moving 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.


 Then I exchanged the exercise ball with the office chair I'd been using beside the bed in Mom's room.  It was a tight fit but it seemed to be working at first.

After yet another workstation tweak, solving desk height and other irritations, I had a few productive sessions at it but what seemed minor issues at first became deal breakers and I found myself more and more back on the mini-tramp.

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.

This led to the series of attempts to make the cubby station viable.  I got so frustrated by all the tweaking. It seemed I spent more time fiddling with the workstations than actually working at them.  I was desperate to shift the balance.

standing desk May 21
One of my preferred netbook stations through spring and summer was this standing desk above the mini-tramp.  I could stand on the tramp to write or while text or video chatting with Ed.   But mostly I listened to music or watched videos while working out.




Bradley Desk Inpector
Finally room to spread
out books and paper

Then 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.  As Round 4 begins I continue to be happy with it and have had more than 50% productive days.  Those that weren't were not due to the workstation.

I've continued to tweak.  Of course.  Am resigned to that being something of a comfort activity for me.  Besides as new commitments move onto the agenda new accommodations must be made.  Right?  Like when a new, larger computer enters the picture and the older one cannot yet be set aside so the computer desk aka tray table gets pushed to the right until it is blocking the tramp.  Oops!

Or when the 'brilliant' front burner project box turns out to be a clutter collector rather than efficient use of space.

Will try to post a current pic of the tweaks that resolved those issues soon.

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
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.

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