Tag Archives: learning

Rainy Days and Wordsprints

I think I like being up during the early morning hours.  I don’t like getting up early, but I like being up early in the morning.  Anticipation, wakening, determination fill the world with a creative energy.  For a few hours, I bask in it, my head filling with characters, their stories and images to give a permanent form.

wilted-flowerThen I wilt.  Whether I slept soundly the night before or grabbed an hour or two cat-nap after a reckless all-nighter, I wilt about the same time each day.  It’s not a meal thing either.  If I eat, I have a slump; if I don’t, I slump.

Today… I’m in a slump for a bunch of reasons.

The biggest is I overestimated my energy for my part as staff in the JuNoWriMo.  I’m holding it together, mostly, by ignoring the little things, like pleasure reading,  cleaning my desk…  Oh!

img by Adamr via FreeDigitalphotots.net

img by Adamr via FreeDigitalphotots.net

Well, actually, I’ve spent a lot of the last few days reading.  Opened up the Kindle app my phone a few times and spent some time reading short stories I’d downloaded a while back. Since short fiction is not my usual fare, it was doubly cathartic. I tend to be less critical when I’m in an ‘alien’ zone. That said, I read one piece that would have hit the wall had it not been my phone.

I wonder how many people can say an iPhone saved their story?  Or in this case, a story nearly destroyed their iPhone…  and am I the only one or does strike you odd too that iPhone doesn’t set off the spellchecker but all-nighter does?

Oh, and from some of my more pleasurable reading this week, can I please inspire you to read Maria Popova’s Commencement Address to the Annenberg School of Communications?  This, along with her recent post Against Self-Criticism: Adam Phillips on How Our Internal Critics Enslave Us, the Stockholm Syndrome of the Superego, and the Power of Multiple Interpretations were exactly what I needed to read after the last few days of sprinting sessions for the JuNo.  I’ve begun, but not finished How Kindness Became Our Forbidden Pleasure, but I read enough to know I wanted to read the book.  It’s on order from the library now.

The experience of which COULD lead me into a rant about the layout of the local library system, but…  maybe for another day.  It time for my:

ROW80 Check-in and Assessment

ROW80LogocopyAll weeks should be this profitable…  (okay, maybe not all, but more than a few, which is where I seem to be right now).  I’m still not making much progress on that Goal #1, but it’s OK.  I’m reading other things, and exposure to writing and stories in general is always good to get the mental gears spinning.

  • Goal (#1): working through three chapters weekly of James Scott Bell’s Plot & Structure (including exercises)
  • Progress: nothing, no progress here at all
  • Not-progress, but… explored other fiction formats, some YA (by Avi) and a huge bunch of short stories
  • Goal: catching up in my local critique group (including submitting something this week)
  • Progress:  I haven’t submitted anything, but then neither has anyone else.  Three of us are doing the JuNoWriMo, so perhaps no one has something ready
  • Goal: typing two pages a day of old notebooks in
  • Progress: of a sort…  see the next goal
  • Goal: (VIG) Write new words daily! (the Five Sentences thingie)
  • Progress:  I’ve been doing a lot of handwritten work and typing it the next day for my word counts, so yes, a definite “Check”
  • Not a Goal but Progress Anyway: continued progress  my languages (except Spanish and Russian… dropped the ball on those two)

As you can see, another really good week.  I’m not sure how long I’ll be able to maintain this momentum (I’m hoping to make it a regular habit that just IS, but that takes time).  I know even then there will be off days that things just don’t work anymore, but I’m hoping to reduce those to just a few and start enjoying my rest days more because I won’t be stressing about the work I’ve missed on my off ones.

And now, the Boodle update for those interested…  you’ll have to turn your volume up for this one; Dan wasn’t in the best position to capture the video (things you realize after the fact).  But for anyone interested, here are two slices of Boodle: his most recent piano recital and today at the Albany ComicCon.

Aperture Labs meets Star Wars

Aperture Labs meets Star Wars

Among and Of Art

Today's Temporary Office Space

Today’s Temporary Office Space

Today I decided to step out of my comfort zone and step into a café I normally don’t go to (mostly because it’s about an hour from home–I just had come this way for a dentist appointment* and a visit with Mom).  With a few free hours before my next thing and with heading home a stupid proposition since I had be back this way for it, I felt this was the time to give this place another try.

I confess…  this place doesn’t work for me most of the time.  And today was no exception.  If I hadn’t needed something more doughy than flaky (and definitely not crunchy once the Novocaine started wearing off), I would have been highly disappointed in my ordered nibble (a buttered croissant that tasted frightfully like a Pillsbury Crescent Roll from a tube that had been “baked” in a microwave oven–under-baked at that).  The tea was good, but then as long as the water is clear and heated right, I usually can monitor the steeping to my taste just fine.

Still, I’m so very glad I came.  OMG, the paintings!  A local artist, named Tim Dobert, had several works displayed about the backrooms.  Incredible stuff.  His work with water effects is just…  Wow!

Even in this iPhone4 image you can see how good the water looks

Even in this iPhone4 pic you can see how good the water looks (I posted this to my Facebook to gloat a bit about my happy “office away from home”)

I  so wish I had the money to buy a painting.

Maybe after I find out what the oral surgeon I need to hire for the next tooth is going to do our bank accounts…  Just kidding.  Then the money will go to the oil bill, the car and house insurance… trivial stuff.

Guess I need to learn how to paint.

Not now though.  In lieu of a career as a talented painter**, let me update you on my progress as another kind of starving artist…

ROW80 Check-in

After yesterday, I bet I’m ready to take up a PT job as a proofreader.  The last few days have all been spent editing and beta-ing.   Sometimes it hurt to snip and trim…  I loved the work so much as it was, even when I knew it didn’t fit the guidelines.  Some pieces…  I’ll be honest, annoyed me because the creators took the suggestion that this was a place to promote their work very seriously.  I’m not big into ‘market speak” and “You too can…” genre of sales-speak just gives me the willies.  I understand where it comes from; these days, everyone feels almost forced to sell themselves to someone… audience, employers, even stores!  The urge to be the next Best Thing can seem overpowering in our society.ROW80Logocopy

I never wanted “IN” on that.  I so very much never wanted IN, that seeing this post by KM Weiland just made the world feel sane and happy again.  Or at least a place where I can stay sane, which is good enough for me.

But what all that meant for my goals is…  I’m squeaking by.  Almost.  Sort of…

Not really.

If you don’t mind, I’d rather not go through the list and explore my failures in fine detail.  Accept they are there and that I have a bunch of work to catch up on before Sunday, and then go visit some other ROWers here for hopefully more happy news.

Me?  I’m off to enjoy a song or two and get my 750words for the day done.  Here are two of my favorite car ride and contemplate tunes if you’d like to enjoy with me, both from the Avalanches album Since I Left You:

*I’ve had the same dentist since high school, and I don’t deal with change well…  don’t judge.  😉

** As I noted in this post, my brushwork could use some brushing up.

Sunday, Lovely Sunday

I know that’s not the way it’s supposed to go since I just finished a course on the 1916 Easter Rising in Ireland, but…  I like my version better. Especially since this has been a pretty good day so far.

It’s a rainy day, but not one of those drown you in mud rains nor even one of those hovering drizzles that reach into every layer of clothing you own without offering the consolation of a solid dunking.

A real rain…  just heavy enough to soak into the ground and nourish the roots, just heavy enough to hear plit-plattering on the window, just light enough to leave rain drops caressing petals and leaves…

Rain and Fountains at Blenheim Palace

Rain and Fountains at Blenheim Palace

A heavier rain than I remember from my days in England, but only by a small touch.  It is certainly grayer here.  I’d be curious to know why.  Perhaps it’s because of our location on the Hardiness Zone scale…  No—I just checked, and we’re actually 10° closer to the Equator here in Southern Albany Cty than we were in the UK.

Elevation does it again.   Add on over 600 more feet, remove the effect of being surrounded by water…  We’ve lived in this house for 15 years now, and I still find it remarkable that  we can drive to Albany in 30 minutes, but it takes an extra week and a half minimum for plants to catch up with those in our NYS Capitol.

Hmm…  well, that was definitely a line of non-sequitur.*

And so is this…  now is time for:

ROW80LogocopyMy ROW80 check-in and weekly assessment

General Assessment first…  It’s been another damned awesome week.  A few more migraines than I’d have preferred, and definitely with far more kitty panic than anyone needs…  but in all other ways it has been a great week.

The question of whether it’s been awesome enough to inspire me to add on something new though?  I’m still thinking “not yet”.  This is why:

    • Goal: working through three chapters weekly of James Scott Bell’s Plot & Structure (including exercises)
    • Progress: still detoured, though Syd Field’s Screenplay is sitting untouched too; I’ve done other reading, but between my classwork and getting my wordcount in for the CampNaNoWriMo, I wasn’t doing diddly about this goal
    • Goal: catching up in my local critique group (including submitting something this week)
    • Progress: group is was on hold for the month of April, and I still haven’t submitted anything
    • Goal: typing two pages a day of old notebooks in
    • Progress: on track
    • Goal: (VIG) Write new words daily! (the Five Sentences thingie)
    • Progress I thought I was getting All The Words, but yesterday I found proof.  When I went to collate everything I’d written this month for my CampNaNo project (and this isn’t including words deleted because I was also editing work), I didn’t have to include any of the 37 handwritten pages I’d held in reserve.  I’d set myself a 30K goal for this Camp, and cleared the month with a total of 46K.   Am I ready for the 50K JuNoWriMo this year?  Oh.. yeah!
    • Someone couldn't stay still for the photo... he wanted to hug the camera and the hand holding it

      It’s dry inside, Mom

      Not Goals but Progress Anyway:

      1. Dropped the ball after 112 days of Duolingo last Sunday.  I’m back up to seven days again, but it was hard to lose all that progress (and the bonuses that come with a long streak).
      2. Being school vacation, there was a lot of Boodle time this week. I admit–I glutted myself a bit. No regrets.
      3. This was also the week of missing cat, surprise dentist appointments, and curious financial errands (several visits to our insurance company for policy rewrites and adjustments). The good news? Mr. Kitty is home and sitting on the deck-rail all soggy and pitiful (on purpose, trust me… he could sit under the picnic table and stay dry, but it’s harder to watch for when I move from this chair and just might be heading to the door to feed him); no new cavities this time for me (the Boodle has the start of one on one of his permanent teeth); and in all this juggling, we’re finally not spending a month’s salary on insurance each year…

And lastly, I’m still flailing wildly on my goal to do something creative every day.  Since that’s a new goal I’ve made absolutely no progress on in over two weeks now, I think I need to attend to making that work before I go further.

Still, there’s a lot of progress there, a lot of joy and some surprises…

As I said before, it’s been a pretty awesome week.  Kind of like today and the rain (see?  I did have a point hiding in there somewhere!)

Anyone who has conversed with me over Starbucks’ drinks is all too familiar with the way my mind wanders aimlessly from thread to thread in this way.  Hope you enjoyed the journey.  😀