Wednesday, May 04, 2022

ROW80 Round 2 2022 Check-In

 

The writing challenge that
 knows you have a life


Since the last time I made a goal post many things have changed in my life circumstances.  I became a widow and then a few months later moved into my own apartment where I depend on the aid of caregivers for many daily chores and errands.  It was a big change and a steep learning curve which I'm still climbing.  But things are settling down enough now I feel able to make commitments again in this area.  

I'm thinking now that it might have been a mistake to think I needed to get past the move chaos first and instead look for a way to fold the writing into even that and add the move related goals to the list here to teach the living goals how to play nice with the writing goals and visa versa.

At any rate I'm back now and highly motivated again after a hugely successful Camp NaNo win that was about way more than reaching the word count goal.  I reached the much more important goal that the project had been designed to obtain and that was breakthrough in the psychological blocks keeping me from owning my truth which was also keeping me from completing any of my WIP because every time the stories began to touch upon the themes that triggered my anxieties I shied away.

Last Friday's post Of Flux and Fuss and Frustrations describes the breakthrough and how it relates to my leaving the fundie cult I was raised in in 94 and then using the FOS storyworld to explore my thoughts and feelings about it tho only just so far...

Because I am in my own place now and no longer having my elderly mother's needs dominating my attention I have more autonomy over my schedule and so I've been able to double the time investment in many of the non-writing goals like reading and craft study. But even there I know myself well enough to know that setting my mind to any task for at least 20 minutes increases the probability that I will still be at it two hours later.  Even four hours or fourteen hours later.  That is an aspect of my autism spectrum that transitions between tasks or any mind state actually are very difficult but once the transition is accomplished I'm all in.  

Focus once it kicks in is my superpower but it can also be a super pain in the butt for myself and anyone forced to deal with me.  Thus one of the things I need to make an aspect of my goals is to keep a watch for when the problem isn't devoting too little time but devoting an unreasonable amount of time.  Unreasonable defined by how it impacts my health and wellbeing in other areas.

Because in order to keep this place as a viable writing haven I must keep myself healthy, the environment clean and clutter free, the bills paid and the errands ran.  That means keep a constant sleep schedule, set task alarms, answer the door when my caregivers ring, eat regular healthy meals, plan and execute the tasks required including prepare for HUD inspections, make appointments and keep them and continue to purge and organize the stuff I moved in as I bring more over from Mom's.  I may discuss some of these in the check-ins as they impact my writing goals but unless they become such a problem they start to threaten my health or my ability to hang onto my place then I may have to define a goal.

2022 Round 2 ROW80 goals:


  • Sleep 7.5 hours Daily Minimum --  Used to be a challenge but I've kept it fairly steady for over two years now.  
  • Move/Breathe/Meditate 15 min Daily minimum  -- Swaying on the mini-tramp can include all three simultaneous.  There are a number of other ways I can do any one or combine two but it is essential that each one is included every day. The MOVE part is going to be the most challenging as I injured my knee during the move last summer and every time I increase activity I tend to tweak it again. But these have proven to provide a high yield return on investment as whenever I've practiced any of them it stimulates creativity, memory, and insight; lowers anxiety, and increases energy, stamina and a positive mood.
  • Storydreaming with note-taking tools at hand. 30 min Daily MInimum -- This is a technique I learned from Robert Olen Butler in the book From Where You Dream.
  • Read Fiction 60 min Daily Average
  • Read/Study Craft 60 min Daily Average 
  • Social network activities 30 min Daily Minimum (writing Joystory posts doesn't count only social reaching out like reading/commenting on other blogs, guest posts and posting to fb, twitter, pinterest etc) -- something I've a strong resistance to.  The autism diagnosis helps explain this but doesn't let me off the hook.  If anything it makes it more important.  Plus this is preparing the ground for future promotion once I'm ready to publish
  • 30 min Daily minimum engagement with a scavenger hunt though all my creative writing files including Joystory looking for better than shitty first draft scenes, sections, stories, poems and essays and edit, organize and make hard copies. --  It's been years since I've made clean copies of manuscripts in my portfolios and for most of the noveling writing challenges I've never printed hardcopy.  That is a lot of words to mine as between 2004 and 2015 I participated in more than one such challenge per year-- Nanowrimo, Junowrimo, Camp Nano, ROW80 and Sweating for Sven among them.  That is a lot of novella length WIP just gathering electron dust.  A conservative estimate is over 20.  This is an exercise in honoring old work to encourage new work.
  • Create and maintain a FOS Storyworld Bible as part of the file mining.  The aim is to collect in one place all the Character rosters, character sketches and monologs, family trees, timelines, themes, real world history that backdrops the story, landscapes and floor plans and other such story criteria that may be relevant between multiple stories in the storyworld.  This should also help me sort out which of the individual POV WIP really need to stand on their own and which need to be blended together.   Another exercise in honoring old work to encourage new work.
  • To prep for self-pub: Gather all my poems into a single Scrivener file. Minimum one poem per day until all accounted for.  Adding new ones encouraged.  See Poems by Joy Renee Portal.  Another exercise in honoring old work to encourage new work.  Another exercise in honoring old work to encourage new work.
  • Continue writing in the Camp NaNo True Joy memoir file 1000 words Daily Minimum -- This is the heart of the writing challenge.  The preceding provides the structure and the nutrients that nurtures and honors the work which I've learned over time must exist to ensure that this becomes more than just dabbling.  This has been an exercise in honoring my heart and mind to learn to stand in my truth and to explore the events in my life that either inspire or block the writing of the stories. The breakthrough I made during April Camp NaNo gives me hope that the words will soon flow again in the stories. They have already started to haunt my waking and sleeping dreams again.
  • Choose a story or POV character WIP to focus on for the month of June for JuNoWriMo.  This would be a rewrite more than an edit but there would be both editing and added words involved.  I already suspect which story it will be but I need to take a fresh look at it before I commit. It is even possible I might choose two.  One that needs mostly editing and another that needs significant words added.
  • Post one review of a book or a video every week.  See this week's review of M K Wren's A Gift Upon the Shore
  • Read more...

    Monday, May 02, 2022

    Book Review: A Gift Upon the Shore by M K Wren

     

    A Gift Upon the Shore
    by M K Wren



    M K Wren's A Gift Upon the Shore was a gift to readers everywhere and everywhen back in the day before smartphones and internet.  It's a post-apocalyptic story about saving the books for future generations.  

    I read it first time decades ago when it first came out in the early 90s and felt the need for a reread in this day when the book burners and banners are at it again.  

    What might happen if they gained the upper hand?

    The premise:

    Civilization is gone.  Nuclear winter just set in.  Two women alone in a house on a bluff above the surf on the Oregon coast not yet knowing if there are any survivors in the local rural community and if so are they the friendly kind?  

    The runup to the nuclear End had seen a  plague that killed millions in America alone, roving gangs of nihilists terrorizing those still civil, half of California fell into the sea taking 2 million more souls, the president had been assassinated by a bomb and those taking the power canceled the constitution and set up a Federal Information Broadcasting System.  

    You saw that right: FIBS.

    But even that was gone on the day the bombs fell as the EMP took out all electronics including car ignitions and digital clocks, home appliances and power tools  And then nuclear winter set in within days.

    Is there hope?  And if so will they choose it?  

    The only clue is in the author's choice of names for her protagonists: Mary Hope and Rachel Morrow.

    This book came back into my life like a miracle.  I'd thought about it often over the years as memories of scenes haunted me as did the mission the women took upon themselves after the initial shock wore off and they had assured their basic survival needs by looting the abandoned buildings and vehicles within a day's travel on horseback.

    Instinctively, part of their looting had included every book they encountered until the volumes they found together with those they'd already owned topped 10K not counting duplicates.  It was nearly a full year after the End when they had the time to contemplate a future for themselves and for humanity.  And that is when they devised the mission to preserve the books for the future.  

    I had vivid memories of images of them wrapping the books in aluminum foil and then applying a waterproof sealer which I could not remember.  I remembered they had built a vault by digging a cave into the side of the bluff above the surf and lining it with stone and cedar planks.  I remembered that later in the story someone had tried to dynamite the vault.  And that that someone was related to the Christian cult they had encountered years after the End.  The first and only survivors they did encounter within the decades the story covers.

    I had remembered that much but even that more vaguely than that summary implies.

    I had lost my reading records in a move and could no longer remember either author or title.  But I did remember we had once owned a trilogy written by the same author and that it had been a sci/fant story involving another fundie cult and that the title of book one had the word Lamb in it.  That wasn't enough to find a viable search term for online resources.

    But then one day while searching something else altogether (which I no longer remember what it was or the search terms) there in the results was one of the books from the trilogy and there was the author's name and from there it was just a click to find her list of titles and there it was.  A Gift Upon the Shore.

    That happened no more than a month before Dewey's thon and I thought what a perfect read for Dewey's legacy.  So I made myself wait for the morning of the thon to start the book.

    Reading this book was a slow slog due to eye issues (legally blind with RP) combined with emotional issues related to the events in my life in the late 90s that caused me to excommunicate myself from the cult I was raised in.  I wonder now what role this book played back then in helping me identify my own faith community as similarly toxic to the one featured in Wren's book.  

    It must have had some impact if even unconscious as I read it when it was still a new hardback at the library in the early 90s and the first inkling I had of the doctrinal disputes that were about to implode our faith family was in 92.  Then in 94 I witnessed the disciplining of an infant for "inappropriate use of his voice" as the men in the room calmly discussed scripture and the women calmly handed out dessert plates and the small children calmly played their little games on the floor.

    That scene became a tornado that devastated my soul. That picked me up out of my world and set me down in what might as well have been another planet. That turned me from a True Believer into a skeptic and set me on a mission to learn to think for myself.

    There is a scene in this book where a 13 year old is whipped with a belt for blasphemy for asking in church why the begets for Jesus in the gospel don't agree with each other and both lead to Joseph and not Mary who was supposed to be a virgin.  Reading that scene again after spending the month of April writing my memoir of the events that catapulted me out of my faith community was so surrealistic I can't even...

    It was like pouring salt on the wounds I just ripped the scabs off of.

    See Friday's post, Of Flux and Fuss and Frustrations, for a more in depth explanation of the roots of the emotions this novel is stirring up.

    The read-a-thon was supposed to end at 5AM Sunday for me but I read on until 7:30 trying to finish this story. I was still just over 10% out when I had to give up. Then I woke up after only four hours of sleep and after coffee picked up the book again--and fell asleep over it waking at 9pm after another 4 hours of sleep.  I finally finished it after 10PM. 

    This story is going to haunt me for the rest of my days.

    Read more...

    Sunday, May 01, 2022

    Sunday Serenity - More Story Joy

     

    My DVD Shelves

    The read-a-thon was supposed to end at 5am for me but I read on until 7:30 trying to finish that novel I spent more than twelve hours with during the thon.  I woke up after only four hours of sleep and after coffee picked up the book again--and fell asleep over it waking at 9pm after another 4 hours of sleep.  I finally finished it around 10:20 PM.  

    That story is going to haunt me for many more years to come as it had haunted me since the first time I read it in the early 90s.  It was a miracle finding it again as it had gone out of print and I had lost my reading records and could not remember the title or author only snippets of plot and flickers of scenes and the fact it was about rescuing books for the future after a civilization ending event.  I've about talked myself into believing I need to post a review but meanwhile my thoughts on M K Wren's A Gift Upon the Shore as I read yesterday are part of yesterday's thon post.

    But for right now I'm going to finally give myself the reward I promised myself for the dedication to writing my story for Camp NaNo thru April and the dedication to reading stories for the thon all day yesterday.  I'm going to watch DVD sitcoms until I fall asleep again.


    My DVD Player

    There's my DVE player and the little box of DVD taken from their cases.  I call it my line-up.  There 9 of them.  Eight sitcoms and The Twilight Zone. I watch on average one to four episodes per day, working my way through the line-up around six times until all episodes are watched and then switch out for the next-up disc in each series. Very occassionaly and usually because I'm sick, I'll watch through the entire line-up in a single day.

    It takes me ten to fourteen days to work through the pile.  As one series finishes I add a new series into the mix.  That happened several times since Christmas but as it sits now it will be months before another series finishes.

    The line up: 

    • Twilight Zone
    • MASH
    • Gomer Pyle
    • Green Acres
    • Mork and Mindy
    • Laverne and Shirly
    • I Love Lucy
    • Mary Tyler Moore
    • All in the Family

    The common theme: series from my youth that I was discouraged or forbidden to watch at the time.  

    Series I finished since I began this foray into comedy and closing cultural gaps:

    • Bewitched
    • I Dream of Jeanie
    • Keeping Up Appearances
    • Petticoat Junction

    Series waiting in the wings:

    • The Big Bang Theory
    • Seinfeld
    • Beverly Hillbillies
    • Third Rock From the Sun

    That's just the comedies.  I leave the Dramas, Sci-fi/fantasy and such for another post and the movies and musicals from recent to classical I've just started collecting to yet another.

    I used to favor the dramas and sci/fant--the hour long episodes and the movies.  But during the early acute phase of my grieving process after loosing Ed I was watching a MASH episode because it was something we used to do together and he had introduced me to the series after we married.  As I watched one episode I was surprised by laughter in spite of the fresh grief.  

    Discussing it with my counselor she assured me it was normal and nothing to be ashamed of and encouraged me to continue exposing myself to the possibility of laughter so that I would not forget that it too was part of life.  It was the most valuable advice I got about how to endure and process grief.  And it became almost like a mission for me to explore these kinds of stories.  It has been an interesting experience and I hope to muse on it some more in future posts

    But next up tonight: MTM and All in the Family.  And if I'm still awake the line-up starts over with the Twilight Zone...

    Read more...

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