Friday, December 27, 2013

141st 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.  I've had one beta reader so far but would really appreciate at least one more before I take the plunge with it.

Note: I broke this up into themed sections to make updating easier.  For Round 4 I've stripped Current of all previous entries, rewrote Fiction Files to reflect current goals, added AWAI Copywriting, and pruned the kudzu out of Lifequake, Self-Manage and Workstation sections.  

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


December 27 -- Wrapping up round 4 of 2013.

Once again this post has been sitting open in a tab in draft for several days. An example of what seems to have been the theme of this entire round--the struggle to stay on task, including the task (goal) I'd set myself of maintaining a consistently regular schedule for sleep, food, hydration and Rx.  I must give myself an equivocating FAIL on that and since I hadn't put it in the spreadsheet that fail doesn't show up there and it is probably more important (as a support for everything else) than any of the things that are reflected in the spreadsheet.

I've been back to my old tricks with my schedule--have been averaging 2 24hr+ awake periods per week since before Halloween.  This is not conducive to energy, focus, productivity or creativity.  It sets me up for an increase of anxiety, irritability and accidents.  In the last week I've had three major jarring incidents from running into walls, doorjambs or furniture that, besides the uncountable sore muscles and joints, have garnered bruises and abrasions on my left shin, right elbow and back of right hand.

Worse even than those is the bad burn on the back of my left hand from sticking it into a hot over sans mitt to give the still cool baking sheet a little nudge only to be startled by the sensation of heat off the broiler element and in jerking it away smacking into inside of oven door.  A really ditsy move.

Besides awareness of that fail, I'm also aware that all the Ys I did gain on the spreadsheet are not worth as much as the Ys of previous rounds because I know over 90% of them represent the bare minimum of time and effort.  I know I can do better.  Last spring and summer I was talking about expecting more of myself--maybe making a doubling of the time investment an official requirement for the Y.  Now I'm back to square one--and I mean from my first ever Round in the spring of 2012 when it was a struggle to get more than 2 Ys per day or more than 3 per week on any one item.

I'm sure my disrespect of the sleep, food, hydration and Rx schedule bears all the blame for this so I'm thinking I need to make it the focus of the next round and find a way of including it in the spreadsheet.

Overwhelmed Much?
December 21 --  The spreadsheet and the LOLcat must do all the talking for me.  Too much going on.  So much this has been sitting in an open tab in draft since Saturday night (21st).  I found it while preparing the browser for a restart Monday evening (23rd).  Same thing happened to yesterday's Sunday Serenity.  *sigh*

Some of the 'too much': crocheting Christmas presents while listening to music and daydreaming storyworld.  Talk about multi-tasking.

Watch the Water Dance 
and think of the water in us

December 18 --  This what I've been doing since Friday nearly every waking moment along with whatever else I'm doing--reading, meditating, breath focus, exercise, writing, crocheting, story dreaming, managing Master Task List, email inbox, and fiction files....

I can testify to its effectiveness in raising mood, focus, energy.
There's music for every state of mind you could want to induce:

Ed was so impressed he got this for me for Christmas.  It's sitting in my inbox right  now but I won't let myself start the 2 hour download until I get this posted and a few other urgent tasks done.  Then I'll probably have to walk away before it's done.

What it is.
Sample it!
Subscribe to their YouTube channel

December 15 --  Thoughts of words and language have been preoccupying me all week.  Three things contributed to this:

  • perusing my amazon wishlist and drooling over these two and having my click finger hovering over the add to cart on one of them three different times and actually taking it to checkout once but not completing the order
  • the Rosetta Stone course I ordered the week after NaNo ended and which arrived last weekend and inspired last Sunday's Bucket List entry that had to be split into two, the second one going up tomorrow.
  • and, in my attempt to encourage continuing work on my 16 existing challenge novels--(Wrimos and Sven--the gathering together of resources for the 2nd drafts and beyond, including reference books for the final draft editing stage which I'm going to need soonest for the ROW80 GOAL of testing the self-pub waters by e-publishing my short story Blow Me a Candy Kiss

This is My Heart. 
Take! Eat! Chew On It.
Isn't that the way of it 
for all artists, all creators?
We finish a piece and hand it over 
and then feel as tho we're being 
consumed by the consumer of it. 
Wouldn't you just love 
to hear the riff Joseph Campbell 
could have done with this concept?

December 11 --  I've allowed what used to be the occasional time stamping of a post not up before my stamina is gone become a habit.  More often than not now I'm working on the post for the day before in my morning or afternoon sessions leaving me still with that day's post to do and too often I repeat the process again.  On days like today which include appointments away from home I loose the morning and/or afternoon sessions altogether and find myself, like tonight, already past my bedtime and still with two posts to put up.

So I'm going to keep this very short.  With the check-in consisting of the above paragraph and the updated spreadsheet. And then leave you with links for two writing themed posts from this week along with the LOLcat from one of them on the side.

That post consisted of only the image and the caption so it is all here but awfully small so in case you need to go to the full size one to read the image text: Friday Forays in Fiction: Quote

And the other writing post: Word Wonderlust

Working Workstation
December 3 --  My focus since the end of NaNo has been organization--of work areas, schedule, task lists, email, files and crafts.  Last check-in I talked about my Master Task List WhizFolder File that I'd created when I started reading Getting Things Done by Dave Allen.  3? 4? years ago!  I never really finished setting it up as I never got past the second chapter in the book before I had to send it back to the library.

Intermittently I did use some of the sections for brief periods adding a lot of tasks reflecting my then current situation. But carelessly and inconsistently and never for long.  I'd also added features that reflected the index card system I'd learned from Side Tracked Home Executives and used successfully for significant periods throughout the 90s.

My screenshot and description midweek (see below) must have given the wrong impression because the comment I got suggested that 'super-duper organized' might be an understatement. Truth is I have aspirations of being 'super-duper organized' but can't seem to get it together and keep it together.  Which is why it is often a focus of these check-ins.

Working Workstation
Another area I struggle at staying organized is my workstations: computer, crafts, and HABA (Health & Beauty Aids) which has several subcategories--clothes & accessories, hygiene, exercise and food & Supplements & Rx.

What has this to do with a writing support group check-in?  Think about it.  Organized means saving time lost in looking for things, missed appointments, making mistakes, cleaning up messes caused by the distractions of looking for something (maybe a safe place to set something down) and on and on...

I've put a lot of focus since last January on the metamorphose of this room at Mom's that contains my computer, HABA, craft and exercise stations.  It seems like an endless chain of fails as it has never stayed in one configuration for long.  But the overall trend has been in the direction of workable--promoting task focus and completion.  Since late August the room configuration has stayed fairly stable with only a lot of tweaking and material organizing in the different areas and my productivity may have tripled from early summer.

That was when I moved the desk chair out of the cubby corner into the center of the room and cleared Mom's desk and the near edge of the card table, creating an L shaped 'desk'. Since then, the computer has migrated 180 degrees of a full circle. The latest placement of the computer allows me to move it between the  desk and the board bridging the space across to the card table or straddle the angle between desk and board.

I was about to rhapsodize over how well it is working when the box supporting the left end of the folded cardboard box the computer and mouse pad sit on for ease of moving slid off the open desk drawer and the computer slid towards my lap as the other end of the board slipped off the card table.  It's not a fatal flaw I don't think.  I just need to keep and eye on that box and board as I slide the computer back and forth.

Working Workstation
My mini-tramp is back in that cubby corner by the window since I moved the chair out but I've not used it much since and I'm not sure why because I know how important it is to my self-care to do so.  I think part of the aversion is the presence of those ugly boxes of unsorted papers on the far side of the table (mine) and on the cubby desk (Mom's) which are so demoralizing to look at.

Probably tho it is that I've yet to figure out how to set up my laptop over there so I can watch music videos, news or movies while I work out.  I recently managed to create a large enough flat and stable surface but there was still the challenge of getting the Aspire move over with the power cord strung across the card table.  One of the things I did with the latest desk config was bring the power strip up off the floor under the desk and set it where I can get to the power cord easily.  I need to try it out.  Soon.

Christmas Crafting Station
Left of Desk
In the above pic see Bradley pretending to ignore Merlin's food dish on the floor under his nose.  Three second later as I turned to go out the door he jumped down and started eating.  He is a fat cat who is supposed to be on rations as he doesn't seem to have an appestat.  He eats until he throws up beside the bowl and starts eating again.

Another thing I had to establish this week was the Christmas crafting station.  I won't go into detail here since I wrote a whole post about it Thursday.

Quality Control Kitty
Here Bradley was inspecting my crochet kit, giving me shivers over the images of it falling off the stool yet again scattering needles, needle threaders, magnifying glasses, crochet hook, memo book, thread, buttons, ribbon, patterns, scissors...

WhizFolder Master Task List
December 3 --  The last three days, including today, Tuesday, has been mostly about catching up on things that were neglected for a month or two:  Email, calendar, task lists, clutter, sleep...

In preparation for the New Year, I'm going to be giving a lot of attention to this theme and since it is all about goal setting, this is where I'll do most of my talking about it.

I spent a lot of time working with my Master Task List in WhizFolders Delux.  It is way more than a month out of date.  I created it when I started reading Dave Allen's GTD.  I love the principle behind what I created and the way its organized, the ability to color code, rearrange topics, comment and drop links on topics, break a project down into tasks and sub-tasks, insert date and time, link anything online or on the computer including the other tasks topics in the file or other WhizFolder files and check the topic box when done.  Now if only I can become consistent at keeping it updated.

The BUY topic heading the list is where I keep track of things I need or want. This is most handy when a project in the TO DO QUEUE needs something in order to proceed.  It's first level of sub topics are item categories--FOOD, HABA, CLOTHES, SOFTWARE, ELECTRONICS, BOOKS, MUSIC, MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTIONS AND WEBSITE SUBSCRIPTIONS, GIFTS, FIBER ARTS, OFFICE, HOUSEHOLD etc.  These each have sub aka child topics for single items where any detail I want to have for reference can be recorded--from URLs for product and store websites, to research into legitimacy of claims, to price comparisons and finally the tracking number or log-in details or the link to the downloaded or installed digital item on the computer.

These nested topics can go as deep as you like and you can collapse the levels not in focus.  For example, in the TO DO QUEUE the first child topic list might be a category or it might be a particular project in progress or in the planning stage.  Once you are at the level of 'project' the child topics become a breakdown of the project into specific tasks in the order they must be taken with some of those broken down further.  Each of those tasks might have child topics listing materials and info to gather before beginning and items to buy which can be reciprocally linked with the item's topic in BUY LIST, research that must be done about materials or procedure where questions can be recorded and once found their answers with them as well as any reference links or links to other files or aps on the computer that will be involved in the project, and the names of anyone to credit if I happen to blog about the project.

When done right and kept updated this gathers everything into one place.  I can even embed or link to images, including images of a finished project, a crochet pattern, a how-to chart, or link to a how-to video.  When it is time sensitive as in for a Christmas Gift or Birthday Gift, or date-committed book review, I can include time estimates for each step and track my progress making adjustments.

The first topic under BUY LIST is SCHEDULE and is an embedded spread sheet with the 24 hours going down the left side and the days of the week across the top.  It's at least four years out of date. Many changes since then.

The section of topics color-coded dark blue are the current front burner tasks broken down into TODAY, THIS WEEK, and THIS MONTH.  This is where I've been bringing the tasks up from the TO DO QUEUE but I am going to change that to creating a new topic that links to the task's topic in the TO DO QUEUE (like the link list in TDQ's topic window in the image for its category topics).  Moving topics around is time consuming and sometimes I drop them too soon and they are lost in the wrong nest and I have to open up all the levels until I locate them.

The section of topics color-coded green are for the repeating tasks.  Under DAILY the child list is the list of tasks.  WEEKLY is broken down into days of the week, MONTHLY into months and YEARLY into seasons with the tasks nested under the relevant day, month or season.  For these also I'll be linking topics to topics rather than dragging them to the relevant spot in the navy blue section and back again when completed.  One of the things I like to record on the task topics here was the date it was last done.  Because if it got skipped on its last scheduled time its priority is raised to urgent for the next scheduled day, week, month or season.

The sections I focused the most on since NaNo ended was BUY LIST, The navy sections and TO DO QUEUE categories: SELF-MANAGE, WRITING, FIBER ARTS, REVIEWS.  The first is important as without it none of the rest gets done, the second was aimed at preventing me from dropping the the NaNo Novel entirely, the third focused on Xmas gift prep, and the last was mostly updating info.

When all of the levels are opened up to the deepest child lists the left sidebar takes a very long time to scroll through. The bottom most first level topic is DONE color-coded dark gray.  When a task or project is complete I checkmark them, color-code them dark grey and send them to the bottom.  The idea being that I'm given time to transfer any info still useful to wherever it's needed before deleting them.  But I've never deleted any.  I kinda of like watching them accumulate.  But it is also my hoarder issue rearing its ugly head.

Speech Recognition? My Furry Ass!
Friday Forays in Fiction:
Friction 'tween Artist and Machine

Beverage Spew Alert
November 30  --  Got my words in the NaNo verifier just under the wire.  8000 words X 3 days.  It's never pretty but it is doable.  At a steady 30 words per minute you can get there in 4.5 hours but I tended to spend 6-8 and maybe as much as ten on Thursday.

One of the tricks I use for hard pushes like this is to never stop typing in order to think.  Rather let the thoughts out through my fingers, keeping my eyes closed or the font so tiny I can't read it.  When I'm stuck on a word I'll keep typing the word association web I see in my head--all possible words and the words that associate to them by meaning or sound.

I'll write in big chunks of monologue, description, dialog, or action without worrying about when in the story they belong, let alone about weaving them seamlessly together.  I ask myself questions, typing them as I contemplate: How would _____'s [interest in, tendency to, knowledge of, friendship/enemyship with, presence in, talent at,] _____ affect his decision to _____ and how would that affect his and other's choices going forward.  Sometimes by the time I get the question typed I'll have a possible answer or two or three and type the all out without trying to choose one.

For this sci/fant novel I did not limit myself to the the single novel but ranged over the whole trilogy and a possible second trilogy.  I let my imagination roam through their possible history--what really happened and how it is passed down in this oral culture.  I contemplate what kind of stories they tell--adult to adult, adult to child--legends, myth, history, adventure, spooky, origin.

Of course I couldn't have done this 24K in 3 days push if not for the hours and hours of storyworld dreaming I've done over the last two months.

Now if only I don't let the mess scare me off like I've done most years.  But I do have more tools this time.  I have the Marshall Plan software and the AEON Timeline and Smart Draw and Xmind to organize the material.  The first to help me structure the story and the rest to give me visual props that resonate more with the way I think.

The experiment in using the Speech Recognition ap was interesting but did not contribute much to the result.  I learned it will take some time to teach it how to recognize my speech patterns.  Meanwhile I had a bit of a hoot with it.  That was the theme of Friday Forays in Fiction: Friction 'tween Artist and Machine and the impetus behind the LOLcat for that post which heads this check-in.  Believe me, you won't want to be eating or drinking while reading it as the risk of something spewing through mouth or nose or aspirated into windpipe and lungs is high.

November 27  --  Things smoothed out since Sunday.  A couple of long sleeps, getting back on correct med schedule, talk with counselor and med nurse, significant NaNo progress and work with AWAI, new numbers on the scale and measuring tape going in the right direction, decluttering of work space and dressing space, a few pleasant vid chats with Ed, a few creative efforts in the kitchen have all added up to a sense of regaining the lost ground in endeavors and self-esteem.

It also helped to have discovered several thousand uncounted words scattered among my NaNo notes and drafts.  With the words distributed among two paper notebooks and two e-aps (my WhizFolders Delux note and draft ap and my review copy of The Marshal Plan software) and my new smartphone, it is easy to see how a significant number of words got missed.  The highest number was in the handwritten stuff which I had estimated without counting.  Those new words bring me close to the halfway mark.

OK I can hear your chuckle.  Halfway with four days to go?  Well I've done it before.  The skids are greased with all of the writing I've done in the last six weeks between book reviews, emails, NaNo and daily posting.  My typing is speedy, my inner editor is soporific, my mind is ablaze with ideas, words, scenes.  The storyworld dreaming has been intense with much material right there on the tip of the neurons waiting for the signal to leap.  I've already got half of today's 6.5K and assuming I can get today's blog tour book review posted before lunch I should be able to get the second half easy-peasy.

Yes it will be messy, meandering and mediocre but I'm learning to be OK with that and am eagerly anticipating the editing and rewrites of this and the previous 10+ Wrimo WIP.  Besides all of the parking, unpacking, sorting, organizing, and rearranging of my physical stuff and environment in the last year has taught me that I not only enjoy it but have a gift for it so why wouldn't that also be true for the WIP messes.

I'm also ahead on on posts with tomorrows Thanksgiving post drafted and no need to worry about Saturday night's ROW80 check-in until after I've uploaded my 'manuscript' to the NaNo word count verifier and once the book review is up today I'm free of that pressure until next week for a picture book.  With no posts until Saturday night (or early Sunday) and no new book to start or review to write before early next week I'm free to put all of my writing and story mojo into The Wailing Womb for 3.5 days.

gitz um 4 dey steelz ur fayc

oar bytz ur noz

November 24  --  This has been a rough week.  The balls I've been juggling began to fall and explode on impact like bubbles.

Over commitment->Sleep dep->scattered mind->bad fall->no focus->late Rx refill->twisted, tumbling mood->misunderstandings->blame-gaming->stare at bubble screen saver having a pity party of one.

In the wee hours of Saturday morning I grabbed the mouse, sending the bubbles away and, I supposed, the pity party.  But I think it trailed after me for the commentary I still needed to add to the silly LOLcat already heading Friday's post turned silly as well.  But not fun, mood-lightening silly like the kitteh fretting over which bubble to swipe at first.  Rather silly as in ridiculously maudlin and morose.  The pity party had crashed the kitty party.

Saturday was given over to a 12 hour sleep that seemed to be of little help other than making the time disappear.  I woke feeling worse and it took me six hours to stop feeling like going back to bed.   Got little of substance done. And none of it was this post slated to go up at bedtime or at worst first thing in the morning.  And here it is past my bedtime on Sunday and neither this or Sunday Serenity is up yet.  I think SS will have to wait til morning.  Even tho I've got both a book review to post before lunch and clinic appointment after.

At least I have finished the book ahead of time this time.  That was one of the few things of substance I accomplished this weekend. It was like I watched all the balls fall and bubbles pop and decided to let them lie there while I fiddled and fussed with this and that or gazed and goggled at every shiny thing that caught my eye--like the bubbles on my screen saver.

Will I ever get this figures out?

November 20  --  Yet again I'm posting this a day late.  24 hours ago I was on track to have both this check-in and today's book review done before lunch.  The former posted and the latter scheduled to go live at dawn.  I had finished the book and had a fairly good idea what I wanted to say.

But I got sidetracked.

It started with thinking it a good idea to go ahead and get next week's two review books set up on the Blaze smartphone so they would be at my fingertips for those odd moments of time.  If I'd left it at that I'd have been OK but the feeling of extra time allowed me to justify returning to one of the review books for reviews I'd posted without having finished the book.  I lost half an hour to it.  Not too bad still.  But then a notification from my phone reminded me of one of the yet unsolved issues I'm having with it.  Won't go into that here.  Lost another hour to fiddling with that.

Next it was a search tab open with an unfinished search I'd been doing and the several tabs I'd opened from it.  I needed to start the day's work with a fresh browser and before I could close it I had to bookmark all those tabs including the search itself.  As I checked the rest of the tabs to make sure nothing else might be lost by shutting it down I found a couple of emails I needed to read and one needed a reply as well....

And so the morning went.  By lunch time all I'd managed to do for either of the posts was to get their unique set of tabs open in separate windows.  In the last hour I'd been interrupted by outside forces several times--Mom, the cats, nature... I was just getting my head into the ROW80 project when Mom started ringing her bell in the living room.  Turned out I was an hour late getting started on lunch prep and she was famished.

So I rushed* around preparing her lunch piecemeal.  Instead of fixing both our lunches and preparing both trays to be served at same time I focused on her sandwich first and served it on a paper plate, returned to kitchen to get her lunchtime pills and brought them to her and was returning to get her Cheez Its when I stubbed my toes on a box of books and launched myself into the dining room where I played pinball with the bookshelves on the right and the dining room table and chairs on the left.  I landed amid a shower of items off the shelves--pens, pencils, scissors, tweezers etc and the mug holding them, loose paper, photos and cards, a vintage lamp, knickknacks, and a large plastic piggy bank full of coins.

Yeah it was so sidesplitting funny the piggy, landing right beside my head, split open from ribs to hips spilling its guts across the kitchen floor.

There are more than a dozen points of impact on my limbs and torso.  The three worst are:

  • the right big toe which is severely bruised and sprained if not also broken and with a nail that came a whisker's width of getting ripped off
  • the left knee bruised and abraded.
  • a whiplashed neck

This happened at 3 and the entire rest of the day and evening was devoted to its aftermath.  It took me a half hour to get on my feet again, another to finish fixing my own lunch, another to eat it.  By this time the drowse effect of the Ibuprophin had set in.  As I took the last bites my sister returned home and saw the mess I'd left on the dining room floor.  I'd only managed to sweep the coins and pens, and pencils out of the kitchen.  To do more I'd have had to get back down on my knees, one of which was bruised and abraded, and feared I'd not be able to get back up.

We needed to talk about it, looking at my visible bruises and discussing how to prevent this from happening again.  Another half hour gone.

A few minutes later I heard the sounds of dinner prep begin.  I headed for the hot shower I knew needed to be a higher priority than nearly anything else.  By the time I got done my dinner was already only a whisper's worth of warm and my husband was messaging his readiness for vid chat.

What does all this have to do with ROW80?  Well for most of this month I've been observing my track-switching tendencies with an eye to figuring out how to minimize them and/or their negative effects.  That will directly impact everything to do with goals whether for writing or any other endeavor.  I've already had some insights but am not ready to spell them out yet.  Too amorphous.

* big mistake rushing when both attention and vision deficits are in play

wurdz! wurdz! buzzz n mai braynz
November 16  --  Very late posting this yet again.  Walked away from it last night intending to finish first thing after waking routines but got started on something else and something else and something else.  See Thursday's Post  So it is after 8pm as I begin typing this entry.

I'm struggling to get any wordcount at all for NaNo and am so far behind I'm starting to panic.  But the wordcount I generated for Friday's book review was at a level that reminds me it is still doable.  The word count I put in the goals sheet for that review is around triple the words that are actually in the posted review but two or three times I'd deleted huge swathes of text--2 to 3 screens full each time which I'm sure was in the neighborhood of 1K.  So it wouldn't be stretching too much to say the unexcised draft would have surpassed 4K.

When I'm really into a piece it's more likely for my hyperfocus to kick in and keep me riveted to the page.  Though it seems to help when there is a deadline too.  And when I woke Friday I'd still not finished the book and then didn't start working on the review until 11am.  I'm embarrassed when my tour reviews don't go up before noon.  But this one was even worse.  I didn't publish until 2 minutes after midnight.  But for most of that 13 hours I was planted in front of the keyboard and for once my focus resisted the track-switching predilection.

With the way I've been dreaming the storyworld as I do physical tasks--prepping food, decluttering, crocheting, showering, dressing, exercise, and while falling asleep or sitting quietly in a waiting room or car--I feel the words for my story percolating and building up pressure.  They're ready to burst free.  I just need to give them attention equivalent to what those tour reviews get. But there won't be many days where I can give them a 12 hour slot so I need to find another way.  The next one is Tuesday and I've not started the book.

Note all the Ys for READ FICTION.  This also is due to the tour reviews.  8 total for November and another 8 spread across September and October.  I can feel a shift happening from this.  It feels like reading fiction is more powerful than reading on craft.  The LOLcat to the left of this entry was made to reflect that feeling.

Another thing to point out on the spreadsheet is that I finally got a Y for AWAI and FICTION FILES on the same day.  I can thank my Blaze smartphone for that.  As I continue to learn my way around and get it set up with the aps and files I intend to make use of on it, it becomes more and more useful.  This past week one of my focuses has been to load all the ARCs.  I'd made sure I had the readers last weekend.  And today I finally got the AWAI copywriting installment 1 loaded and as I set preferences and looked for where I'd left off I actually reread from the beginning and beyond where I'd left off.

So I've been reading a lot more.  I can fit it into the interstices of time like waiting on downloads, waiting for text message replies, waiting on the microwave, waiting for Mom to traverse the hall so I can get to or from the kitchen, in the car, waiting rooms, bed and any other place where I find myself sitting or standing with nothing but monkey brain chatter to occupy me.  Of course that's where a lot of the storydreaming time has been coming from too.

Google Doodle wishing me Happy Birthday
on November 13th

Morning Cuppa
November 13  --  I didn't realize I'd missed Sunday's check-in until I started prepping this one.  That's a measure of how messed up things are.

After my grand insight early last week see November 6 check-in below this one) I got right back on the early bird schedule and maintained if for... Wait for it now...  Drum roll...

2 days.

Cymbal clash.  Horn groans.  Heckles

Many of my daily posts are not going up before I have to go to bed. Which is what happened to this one which will be going up shortly after six on Thursday.  And I'll still have Thursday's post to prep before I go to bed--supposedly no later than 10. Posts that do go live on their intended day are the committed to blog tour reviews and the last four have gone up in the late afternoon.

I've only got NaNo words 2 days in the last week.  Nowhere near quota either.  Am so behind I'm loosing hope.

Tomorrow is another blog tour review and I've just started the book while eating lunch today.

So what have I been doing with my time?  Organizing.  Clothes, books, papers, room, HABA, purses, files--tree and e and...

My new smartphone.  My first cell phone ever.  My birthday present from Ed who added me to his plan and will carry the payments.  It has more computing power and more memory than my first ever computer--the Tandy 1000 Ex in 1987.  But even so it has limitations compared to the two most recent computers--the Acer Windows 7 Netbook with nearly 300G that was nearly maxed after 2.5 years of being subjected to my hoarding instinct and the Acer Aspire Windows 8 with over 900G and more than 200 in use after 2.5 months.  After one week with the Galaxy Blaze I have 150M left of the 1.9G on board but still have all the 3.9G on a SD card which came with the phone but didn't get inserted until late on the 13th.  Now I need to figure out what applications I want to uninstall and which files I want to transfer to the SD card.

The picture gracing this check-in entry is the first  photo I took with my Blaze smartphone. The pic of the kitten behind my breakfast tray is an old calender I propped up there to hide the clutter on the desk.  The full story was in Saturday's post where I usually put up the Sunday check-in.  But it was so late I decided to do a quick and easy post and put up ROW80 early Sunday Morning. And then the Sunday Serenity post which is currently a series featuring items on my Bucket List.  But Sunday was another day marked by track switching.

So my 56th Birthday was today, Wednesday. (Yesterday as I type this tho) It was full of extras.  Extra events, extra interruptions, extra track switching.  I had a counselor appointment at 11:30 so the whole morning was invested in preparing for it.  Lost morning computer session.  Then arriving a minute or two ahead of time I stood in line for 7-10 minutes to get checked in only to have the counselor once notified of my presence say there was not enough time to do it justice so reschedule.  So I had to wait an hour for my sister to return to get me.

On the way home we were approaching the city center circle on which the post office and library face each other across the round R. A. Long park and from which the streets of Longview radiate out like spokes of a wagon wheel, and I spontaneously asked if I could be dropped off for a couple hours.  But she reminded me about Mom's lunch and said she wanted to take me out for coffee for my birthday and how about if after that we picked up lunch and took it home so Mom could eat and she could drop me off at the library on her way out of town to run errands in Vancouver.  Errands about which she was vague.

That would mean a three hour stay at the library pretty much getting us back home in time to start dinner.  I realized this meant I would not have ROW80 up before dinner or the following vid chat with Ed which is supposed to close out both of our days.  But I was all dressed up for that appointment that never was and found myself reluctant to just go home and change out of it without having had a real outing of some kind.  And it had been nearly four months since my last visit and it is hard to get it on my sister's schedule. So of course I went.  And between those three hours wandering the library of my childhood and browsing the stacks collecting books and the birthday dinner my sister prepared that evening with the song accompanying the serving of the Pumpkin Pie Cheese Cake, it finally felt like my birthday.

Her Vancouver errand was to Costgo after ingredients she needed for the fancy nacho dinner and the cheesecake topped with marzipan.  Both of which I'd requested.  Except the marzipan.  I'd never had it before.  Like eating maraschino cherry flavored icing.   Dinner was served just as Ed initiated chat.

So I started this post after 9 Wednesday night but had to walk away from it at 1am and it is now after 10 Thursday and this still isn't up.  I started work on it several times and got interrupted which each time triggered a new attention track switching lasting minutes or hours.

See tomorrow's post where I'm going to give a partial play-by-play of Thursday's track switching to give an idea of what I'm up against most days.  I just cut it out of this post after realizing that it was about Thursday and written on Thursday so it had Thursday Post written all over it.  Just need to find it an illustrative image which might wait til morning.

November 6  --  I had a major breakthrough/insight Monday.  The conclusion was that I must stop fudging on my meds and sleep schedules.  No matter how much I still need to do when the time comes.  If you are new here you might need the context from Self-Manage below.

I was planning on sharing that insight and the mental acrobatics I did to reach it in a well edited piece based on a freewrite/journal musing.  But I'm running out of time.  So I'm going to do something I hate to do but have done here a few times.  I'm going to paste the minimally edited excerpt here.  I've already shared it with three people anyway--husband, sister and friend.  It's the only way I have a hope of getting this posted before I go to bed.

This was spurred by a second missed 6am vid chat with Ed in a week or so and a blog tour book review that was going to go up well past noon for at least the fourth time in a month:

I've been very frustrated with how often this is happening--both the late reviews and the missed vid chats--which of course raises my anxiety and makes it harder to stay on track.  So I recently returned to the advice from The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg which I read over a year ago and began observing my behaviors and their fall out.
6-8 weeks ago I began fudging on my sleep schedule, pushing towards and past midnight two or more times per week to try to stay on on schedule with the reading and writing commitments and there has been a ripple effect I'm just starting to trace.  At first I would sleep the full 7.5-8 hours anyway, exchanging the early AM hours for the late evening hours.  But then Ed and I added the 6:15am vid chat and I set a timer for 6 no matter what time I lay down.  So I started racking up sleep dep again with all its bugaboos.  I'd realized all of that weeks ago and have been struggling to get back on that hard won early bird schedule and only getting more frustrated.  Then just in the last week I noticed two things related to my meds which has taught me that my sleep schedule is dependent on the med schedule which I kinda understood already. The two things I noticed helped me understand why I'd been fudging my med schedule and why it doesn't pay off.  First the bedtime Trazadone will be strong in my system for 8-10 hours but once I take it I have 30-50 minutes before my brain and eyes start going offline.  Pushing it later to get a project finished makes those early bird to night owl hours exchanges a far from equal exchange as the quality of the morning hours are diminished by the level of Traz in my system with the use of my eyes and brain comparable to dial-up with Windows 3.0 rather than High Speed Broadband with 64bit Windows 8.  Second Welbutrin was added to my day meds in September and the starting dose was recently doubled and I soon discovered there was a significant effect on my vision for 3-4 hours starting with the 2nd hour--blurred and doubled and sometimes weird color effects like looking through a kaleidoscope.  I don't remember that from the previous times on W.  Wonder if it's the generic brand? Am hoping it will settle out over time.  So of course I started messing with the timing, pushing to after lunch towards mid afternoon which affected my readiness for sleep.  Between the Traz, and Welbutrin my windows of opportunity for visual and brain work are severely constricted.  Oh how I miss my 24-36 hour days med free.  This is almost counter intuitive but I'm thinking of reversing the direction towards the early morning when i first wake instead of waiting for breakfast.  it would only work if i also get my bedtime back to 9:30pm and traz to 9.  Would also have to give up goal to have that large six hour block for brain work.  switch some of the afternoon activities to early morning and some of the brain work to after lunch which I'm already doing which pushes exercise off and hygiene to after dinner or bedtime or altogether off so by giving them the early morning right after vid chat they might start to stick and start my days with a whole new spirit.

November 2  --  I'm exhausted.  Past my bedtime by hours and that's even accounting for the fall back of the clocks tonight.  There isn't enough hours in the day to get everything done and I keep stealing hours from tomorrow by staying up late even though I know the law of diminishing returns is not a fiction.

I'm fading fast and my eyes are staging a rebellion.  So if I want to get this up before I go to bed so it is off my plate for tomorrow, I need to be snappy.

So I'm going to direct you to my last two posts for edification and entertainment as they are both about writing and refer to some of the same goals I talk about here:

  • NaNo Kick Off. I'm Going to Miss It. :( For the first time since I joined I missed the midnight kick-off on the 1st.  My streak lasted from 2005 to 2012.  And I also forgot to tally up words and enter word count on my NaNo profile.
  • Friday Forays in Fiction: NaNo Tip #1 (A Quote) Tip is in the quote from John Irving placed on the LOLcat also to the left here.  The funny is in kitteh's take on it.  I also went into a long muse on the effects of going back and forth between my NaNo Novel and organizing this room as I found the success in one foster success in the other.  Or as I put it latter on fb and twitter: story world building and room organizing are in a relationship--on stimulating the other  

Now I really need to skedaddle as I've already nodded off several times as I typed these paragraphs.


My Brain on Story
see moar kittehs 

  • 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 [this will be set aside until after NaNo except for noting stray thoughts about it]
  • NaNoWriMo --  I've began prep in mid September 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 called The Wailing Womb meant to be first in a trilogy called The Ward's Prevailing 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.
         I imagine I'll be working some in books 2 and 3 since I'll need to pin down the main story arc of the series and some of the unwritten scenes still vivid in my mind after decades are in those.  The titles: 2) The Travailing Woeful  and 3) The Availing Word
  • AWAI Copywriting course work: working the course involves reading, writing and research as well as videos, web seminars, and teleconference recordings and networking.
  • keep on top of the upcoming blog tour reviews
  • tackle the backlog of book reviews for ARCs and the upcoming blog tours


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) 


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.

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.


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.

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.

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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