Monthly Archives: January 2013

Too Long Behind the Curtain

The secrets of the universe: Silken threads th...Of late, I’ve wondered about some things.  Then as if the Universe was speaking to me, answers to the questions I’d been asking myself keep appearing.

Of course, a lot of what the Universe tells me seems to come from blog posts.  Yeah, I need to get out more.  🙂

So what are some of these revelations?

Somewhere down the roads I’ve traveled, I made a wrongheaded choice.  I always thought so, but I didn’t know what the choice was.  I had some suspicions, but I needed proof.  It came from reading this post on Seth Godin’s blog.

I watch too much, and I participate too little.  I don’t act.  I don’t step out.

Sometimes I don’t because I really am not interested in the activity–that’s okay.  We shouldn’t all be interested in every little thing.  But in another way I make the wrong choice…  because I don’t want to look bad.  It’s silly of me, I guess (I use that word, that silly word so casually, but it’s not silly; the word is the right word, but it’s not too), but I cringe at the possibility of humiliation.

When there is a risk of being humiliated, my head and stomach roil, a ball of grade school and high school memories that I have to drag myself out from.   Alive once more come the days when I felt I had nowhere safe to be, days I would hide in my parent’s car when the bus went by, even though I knew what would happen when my parents found out I would skipped school because the thought of going there hurt so much.

I have a story of a knife-shaped letter opener, the Hudson River and my dog that I might be able to tell someday.  I’m not there yet… it’s as much because I find my failure that day nearly as humiliating and painful as the reasons that brought me to that place.

Last week I read this article from the New York Times online magazine…  Some of the research in it was eye-opening.   I thought about the people I still knew from high school, about the things they posted on their Facebook statuses, how I was afraid to even post the link to my Writer Page for fear I would draw their attention to me and who I was–who I was over 25 years ago.

Yes, it’s been that long.  It’s been that long, and it doesn’t take more than a few status messages to remind me of something:  I managed to get through high school with little more than a missing letter opener and some visits to those nice people in the clean white suits because I had a few “people who didn’t know me for me” experiences.

Being around people who didn’t know my past allowed me to be myself and didn’t laugh.  A summer camp, a chorus filled with adults who were well past the high school “fluff” (though at the time I believed they knew all my horrid secrets and were humoring me)…  I had a mostly amazing experience at NYSSSA between grades 11 and 12 (mostly, because it was also my first “real” experience with a boyfriend beyond handholding and some kisses…and it ended badly).

I’m not complaining.

In the grand scheme of things, I have a wonderful life that I never could have imagined (well, beyond childhood fantasies of being a queen who ruled the world and lived in a department store where all the jewelry and pretty clothes were there for me to enjoy…).  Yes, life is in general good.  But it’s only as good as I have allowed myself to avoid letting myself be a risk taker.

I need to take risks if I want to actually be more than just a homemaker, just a wife and a mother.  Those things are good things, but I’ve always wanted more.  I want more for me.  My husband wishes more for me.  He knows that I am not doing things that make me feel fulfilled.

So doing matters.

Baby stepsFor the moment, it’s about writing this blog post.    It’s about admitting things that scare me about myself and the future.  It’s not about waiting for someone else to say they accept me before I act.  It’s about finishing Release and publishing it.  It’s about putting my photos out there for the world to see.  And it’s about doing it…again and again and again.

I don’t actually know where the future will lead me.  I do know that my journeys in challenges such as the ROW80 and the2013 Goodreads Challenge are steps along the way.  I know that trying things like the Facebook 365 Project where I must post and take a picture a day offers another way to step out from behind the curtain.

I’ve made progress in all three of those.  Perhaps I haven’t reached all the bullet marks on my goals list…  I did plenty.  Plus I’ve taken out my drawing supplies and tried something new.  I’ve committed to joining a writing challenge… tomorrow.

More than just baby steps…

And that leads me to close with this post by Kristen Lamb about feeling overwhelmed by Social Media and how we can survive it by being honest about our limitations.  I haven’t figured out all my limitations, but I am starting to learn how to plan things better, to check before I commit, to say yes with confidence and not hope and uncertainty…   I’m even learning how to say no on occasion.

Photo credits:

  • The secrets of the universe: Silken threads that knit heaven and earth together part 2 (Photo credit: pb photoworks)
  • Myself
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Slush in Laptop-land

Process is a strange thing.  How we get things done…

Sunlight

Sunlight (Photo credit: zenera)

Do you wake up in the morning and pour your coffee before you can even think of opening your eyes?  Or are you one who needs to see the sun shine in your window at noon to know that it’s time to get moving on your day?

I’ve been slave to caffeine and the solar-powered alarm at various times in my life.  I’ve even had runs of being able to wake up in the dark of wintry pre-dawn and be able to just get about my day without any prodding from beyond.

I’ve never been one for consistency in my day-to-day schedule or habits, unless one wishes to call my inconsistency my habit.

For writing, however,  I am as close to being trapped in the process as any addict ever there was.  After years of playing tag, of cajoling the words on the page, throwing away more than 90% of what I did manage to get down, I discovered that one thing made it easier.  My process…

For me, everything starts with a notebook.  It must be spiral bound; I’ve never found myself able to compose in a so-called “Composition Notebook“.

It involves black ink pens.  My current favorites are Zebra brand 301(A and F) ball points.  I’ve had horrid luck with gel pens, and almost always end up tossing them out barely used.  A pity, because I love the colors.

The next part of the process moves my desktop computer where I will type in and expound on pretty much everything I wrote by hand.  It’s a matter of keyboard-love here.  The click of the keys, the shape and curve of them…  even the non-ergonomic height at which it sits upon my old-fashioned desk all work together to make things feel right for creating that perfect Draft1.5.

Board game Solitaire  | Solitär

Next thing I have to do is give our laser printer a workout.  I can edit some on screen, but for the serious hacking and slashing involved in getting my WiPs in any sense of order, I need to hold papers in my hand and not be lured into any viable distractions such as solitaire or Facebook…  or pictures from one of the Safe For Work Porn reddits.

Then, after much defacing of pages and many scrawled epitaphs later, I head off with my laptop to type in the changes (the exception here is if I have a lot of typing to do, as in new scenes or chapters, in which case I write those in another spiral notebook and type them in on my Desktop PC).  I love my laptop, but I hate most any touch pad “mouse”, and the keyboard layout is, well, cramped.  But its flaws actually allow me more time to focus on the changes I am making…

My laptop isn’t the end of the process–usually it’s just the beginning.  The average cycle usually follows this pattern: Steps 1, 2, 3, 4, 3, 4, 3, 1, 2, 1, 3, 4, 3, 4, and so on.

It works, for the most part.

Which, leads me to where I am in my ROW80 progress:

Things are actually going quite well.  I’ve swum in my slush for a bit lately, trying to recover a sense of direction.  And in doing so, I’ve found myself able to focus more and more of my attention on Release.

I’ve finished reading another book for my Goodreads Challenge.  I’m glad I read the book, although I’m not delighted that dreams about the characters helped keep me up last night as my brain tried to “fan fiction” a happier ending fr the characters.  I guess I’m a sucker for the “Happily Ever After”.

Strange that, since one of the things I’ve been working on carefully is “killing my darlings” in my editing periods.  I know I probably have a long way to go, but I am working it.  Tightening up my writing would be a good thing.

Anyway, I think I’ve made excellent progress since my last check-in.  I could have written more new writing, but then I always could have.  Life intervened, and I still got plenty done.

It was a good week.

————–

Check out other ROW80 people here: at the linky

This post isn’t a post…

Well, technically it’s a ROW80 check-in disguised as a post, but since most of my posts fall into that category that’s nothing new either.  It’s also a writing sample…  See?  I HAVE been writing.

Just the sky

Just the sky

First the check-in:

I’m having a very hard time concentrating on Release lately.  I find it’s usually best for me to print out pages and work on them away from the computer.  Otherwise, I’ll find anything and everything to distract me, and…  well suffice it to say I have enough things on my “to-do lists” that the possible distractions from that one WiP are virtually limitless.

In my defense, I’ve also been spending large amounts of time enjoying good books to add to my Goodreads 2013 Reading Challenge.  Right now I’m over half-way through Yseult by Ruth Nestvold.  I’d started it a while back and had to reread everything because of a problem with my Kindle for PC app losing all its setting and miss-syncing my books.  At least I didn’t lose any of the books themselves.

Has anyone else experienced something like this?  I’m not sure if it’s something I did or something with the software, so I’m certainly curious.

And final check-in point…  my social media time has been sufficient.  Usually it has been more than sufficient, to the point of interfering with my writing.  It’s all good though.  I really love the blogs I’ve visited.  Indeed, my RSS feed reader is getting seriously backed up again, and trimming things is almost as painful as throwing away books.

And so now, here’s a sample of the writing I have been doing, a bit a backstory work on a secondary character in Swan Song.  It’s pretty much raw 750word.com text.  Just me… trying to deepen my perspective on the world I’m writing:

A new caravan appeared outside the fortress walls just before the sun had reached its peak. Rumor said that these men of the Great House Jur Dai Mar had ridden for several weeks to arrive today. Not that one would have believed that given smooth glow of the men’s cheeks as they lead their dancing animals through the fortress gates and into the center by the fountain.

 To Ytramli they looked fresher than many of the riders that left from the fortress itself. And they certainly showed none of the dust and grit that any other such party had shown. Instead, their gleaming bodies and white clothes were scented with spices and floral waters that he could smell even from his perch on the roof of his mother’s room several rooftops away from the courtyard itself. Their mounts, shistrii all, were frilled out, their serpentine necks like a multitude of little jewels against their feathered bodies as the creatures twisted their heads around to receive small bites of jerky and seasoned meats from their handlers. And unlike most of the caravans Ytramli had watched come into the fortress walls these men were men, not a woman, huerta or no, within their party.

 There wasn’t even a Singer or representative of the Temple.

 To add to this, none of the men were concerned about the fact that their skin was bared to the nooning sun. Indeed, they’d made every effort to present their bronzed and ebon bodies to the fullest view of those watching from their windows.

 And especially the Queen and her daughters as they stood in the balcony just over the courtyard fountain.

 For a moment Ytramli found his attention drawn away from watching the newcomers to look over at the small group around the Queen Mother. The womans’s four older daughters stood near the woman, creating an arc of shades with their clothing and colors. The youngest daughter stood well back, her body covered by black lace robes against prying eyes. Two huerta and one Singer flanked the child and the Singer was having a difficult time ensuring that the girl’s robes stayed their place as the girl tried to see in better detail what all the fuss was about.

 He knew about the girl, of course. His mother had been recently returned to him after years where she’d stolen away the child. The Lost Queen some called the girl, claiming that the child was not Mother Araniia’s child but the child of the woman’s mother.

 That didn’t matter so much to him. None of it mattered much to him. He just felt sorry for the child. As bright and curious, even in the near death sickly pallor she’d come back to the fortress in, the girl was already being stifled and quieted to take up the more respectable role of an acolyte for the Temple. The girl deserved better, he thought, than to be shunted off to the priesthood.

 “Ytramli!”

 The call drifted up to him from his mother’s room below, reminding him that he should have been helping her prepare a room for the leader of the newcomers to stay in.

 “Ytramli!” the woman’s voice held a deeper urgency this time that said she knew he was on the roof. She hadn’t exactly told him he couldn’t go there, but she’d not exactly wasted words on her worries for his safety or her concerns that he drop something on a passerby.

 As if he were really that careless! He’d not had the heart however to tell her how foolish he considered her attitude. He’d been without her for so long—he’d been a child himself when she’d left the Great Lands to save the young princess from being taken for the Temple. A mission the Queen herself had required of the woman it seemed… He had no reason to doubt that given the courtesy he’d been given by the Queen during the over four years he’d been left without the woman who’d given him life. Nearly five years! Nearly the whole life of that young princess…

 As he crawled along the roof tiles carefully to the gutter pipe that he used for his slide down when he needed to quickly escape the roof and dared not climb back up to the princesses’ waiting chambers, he considered the young girl again.

 Why, he didn’t know, save that he had never been able to not think about her. He’d seen her the day his mother had left him in the care of the Queen’s courtiers and maids, still squalling and red from her birth, eyes pinched, thrashing against her nurse’s breast.

 Ytramli had fallen in love with her then despite his seven years of age having made him deplore the site of most any girl he saw otherwise, even the lovely princess L’Triia that he’d found himself watching more and more of late, even thinking of the eldest princess’s black hair and dark eyes… the way she laughed as she put on her gear for her lessons with the Arms Mistress… The way she would toss her hair so that it would dance past his fingertips and he would reach out to feel it flutter across his skin…

 Not realizing he’d done so, he found he’d extended a hand out from gripping the gutter to waft in the breeze and in doing so had over balanced himself enough that he lost the grip he’d held on the gutter pipe and fell, awkwardly, upside down against the clay pipe and the stone wall next to his, hitting the back of his skull as he did. The shock made him nearly lose the grip he’d barely maintained with his legs, and he slid roughly the last few feet of pipe to land on his head on the gravelly path outside his mother’s window.

 “Ytramli!”

 This time his mother’s voice came from above him. He opened his eyes and tried looking up from where he laid crumpled on the promenade, but his head refused to allow him to do much more than glimpse the woman’s slipped feet before closing again. He tried answering her instead then, but the words were only a moan. Then the darkness of his closed eyes grew darker and darker…

 He woke up later laying in his own bed. He could smell the tanned furs just enough over the more acrid odor of a medicinal tincture that was soaked into the cloth upon his forehead. That felt cold and damp and uncomfortable, and worse, didn’t seem to be at all near the too most painful spots on his head, those spots he now remembered as having banged his head against the outside wall.

 He could feel the brushed linens of his bedding, warn enough that he could also now feel the straw pad of his mattress peeking through from underneath.

 L’Triia’s bed didn’t have any straw in it. That he remembered well enough. Supposedly none of the princesses save the youngest, save little Atyr, had such lowly things as straw or even linen for their beds. L’Triia’s sbed had been made of feathers and pads of finely tanned leather and silk. And though he hadn’t bothered to check her comment that Araniia cared for all her daughters equally, Ytramli could not doubt that the other girls lived in the same luxury.

 Even little Atyriia had such available to her… He’d actually seen the girl’s room and had stolen a night or two of sleep in the empty chamber when he though he would not get caught. The Temple Singer had refused to allow the young acolyte the luxuries of a royal bedroom, or even royal meals… Or even royal clothing. The closest concession the young child had to her birthrights was her lace covering. Her black robes that she wore outside the wall of the fortress were far less delicate.

 He wondered once more how the child could even see where she was going in such things.

 The rings on the curtained rod that separated his room from his mother’s shifted and he felt the closeness of his mother’s presence as she came over by his bedside. The woman’s larger body had trouble shifting in the small confines of his room, closet that it actually had been, but it wasn’t that she was extra large this time, but more that he could also sense the presence of another woman with her.

 This time, he didn’t try to open his eyes. Better, he’d learned, to pretend to be unaware than to show himself too soon. There would be enough chances for his to try to look later. And given the wizened faces and scowling expressions of most of the Healers in the fortress, kindhearted as they might be most of the time, he preferred to keep his mental eyes on the vision of the two lovely princesses that he’d been thinking of.

 “Are you quite sure, Mother?” his own mother’s voice quavered in the darkness that he was holding. Her voice sounded extra taut, as if she were fighting tears.

 Ytramli almost opened his eyes to see if he might learn who was holding the lines of fear on his mother’s heart so harshly, but before he could do much more than twitch, the other person spoke, and he knew the Queens’s voice.

 “He’s well beyond the age of most males for training, Shenta. I held my faith to your plea that he not be sent off when you were still caring for my heiress, but now that you’ve returned Atyriia to our lands before she was grown enough to resist Masorii’s call, you have betrayed my faith in you. And your son has still lain about in sloth and play, indolent as a newborn… I’ve been patient, I’ve given you time to reacquaint yourselves, and now I demand that he leave before he harms my daughters with his reckless ways. Triia especially is getting far too close to her faiis for him to be around her as much as he is. If you do not send him with the Jur Dai, then I will.”

 There was a moment of awkward silence as he processed what he’d heard and his mother clearly did the same. Then his mother spoke in a voice so soft and tremulous that he wasn’t even sure it was hers. “Surely not the Jur Dai, Mother. Could we not send him to another house? Perhaps one of the ones in the cross lands? I’ve heard they are excellent.”

 The Queen’s breath exploded from her in that way he’d come to know so well when she wasn’t trying to even hide her disgust. Araniia was, he’d found, an unerringly fair and patient woman, but he knew well enough that the Queen’s patience was nearing its end. “The Jur Dai are the best house in all the lands and you wish for me to violate my contract with them as our trainers for your halfbreed son? You? My own slave asks me this? Surely I give you too much leeway because you were my nurse once, woman. What reason could you possibly have for refusing the Jur Dai that could be worth my making such a request to another house?”

 This time Ytramli did open his eyes. Just a crack, but clearly enough that his mother noticed. Her normally pale skin turned bright pink then paled. She shook her head and looked plaintively up to the queen. “Mother, I know I ask you a great burden, but please, any house save the Jur Dai. There are things that…” The woman’s hands wrung into her skirts until she winced and had to shake herself loose from the cloth. She swallowed and she blinked, a tear coming down her cheek.

 Ytramli wondered what could be so very terrible about the Training House at Jur Dai Mar that it drove such expressions of terror from his mother. Nearly everyone else spoke as the Queen did about the place, and given what he’d seen of the men from there at their earlier arrival, he was even more curious.

 And even more, he knew he wanted to be like one of them rather than the halfbreed scalawag son of the Queen’s nurse. He liked the way the whispers of those in the windows had stopped dead as the caravan had come through the gate, how words had been cut short with breaths abated so suddenly that he’d almost heard the collective gasp of all the fortresses women.

 Oh, if he’d been among those men, L’Triia wouldn’t have giggled at him and then scurried off as if he were no more than a plaything to leave behind when she was tired.

That’s it for tonight.  I wasn’t originally thinking of posting anything, but…  Well, I think it’s good for me to get it done.