Ups and downs

Here we are again, another new year.

The whole of last year was spent writing two more books that I self-published, plus a mini-series. It was good to keep to a strict schedule, to write purposefully every day. It got so I was even able to photoshop my own covers and stop worrying about someone else meeting my deadline. I have to thank dreamstime.com for providing a very affordable means of finding beautiful images to play with in photoshop as well. They are awesome and easy to use, and the copyright info is cut and paste. Simplicity itself.

Summer came and went, sliding out of consciousness too easily…maybe because my kids are so much older now. We didn’t have many of the usual squabbles. But also because I was sooooooo tired all the time. And it got to be the usual. Fight through each day, and go to sleep immediately upon hitting the pillow at night. My doctor (a PA from Australia, actually) told me in November that I had a B12 deficiency, following my yearly well visit. That certainly explained a few things.

But here we are, months into taking supplements, and not a huge improvement. Don’t get me wrong, I still hoist myself out the door three days a week to run. It has to happen, or I go cuckoo. But the little things, like the overall tiredness, dropping things all the time…not better yet. Have to hope that it will get there…believe it will.

Between that and a multitude of other concerns that have kept me busy, I have not written a blessed thing. The desire is there, the ideas are there. The rest will have to come in its own time, just like the other stuff.

In the meantime, please consider signing the petition to free Neli Latson, a young autistic man in Virginia who has been imprisoned since 2010 in a terrible miscarriage of justice. His story is the stuff that parents’ nightmares are made of – I know, because he could be my son.

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All you need is love

When I think of this song, I think of Love Actually. And while the Beatles were undoubtedly chemically enhanced at that stage of their writing and recording career, they had the truth of it. Love lights up the darkest places in life.

It gets challenged. All the time. Every day. And sometimes it isn’t easy to look at.

Love is brave enough to dress in balaclava ski masks and perform punk rock protest in the streets. Love is bold enough to stick it out when the person you love is horribly changed in the blink of an eye. Love is tough enough to trust others to hold you and keep you at your most vulnerable, like how a friend of mine helps photograph stillborn babies with their grieving parents.

Love is standing up and speaking for the voiceless, even when it means you may be personally attacked.

It requires a great deal of inner dialogue, examination of the issues, and emotional durability. I’m not great at that last one, because it is HARD not to take feedback personally. The alternative is to stay silent. It’s not in my nature to do that, either. But our social landscape is shifting, and becoming a place that most people little recognize.

What are we to do in this society, I wonder, when everyone can vomit their anger and rage so effectively – so lethally – online? When it results in young kids committing suicide? Has normally reasonable people “screaming” in caps at one another? Allows perfect strangers to pass judgment over other perfect strangers? Send mass numbers of death threats in the matter of minutes?

Is this the fabric of society these days? We have no way of predicting for sure – just as we have no way of knowing what this landscape will look like in ten or twenty years. I think it bears each of us asking ourselves certain questions as we interact, probably. And that’s best left up to the individual, but for the ability to exert the control to go away from the computer for several minutes, step outside, breathe, and let go of reaction in favor of reason. By the time anyone might find their way back to what we were about to click “send” or “publish” on, our thoughts might have already shifted.

This brings us back to the idea of love, and what it means as we move into a brave new world. Love is never perfect, but it is forgiving. It might mean that you delete that response that had your blood boiling a moment before. Filtering your feed you don’t see the annoying political views from someone you otherwise like a lot. Not worrying when someone misinterprets your use of a phrase because you forgot to emphasize a particular word. Love lets it go.

Love certainly means speaking up when something is not right, but it also has a lot to do with accepting that mistakes and misunderstandings are more common than anything else we do in this life. And I begin to think that, instead of getting mad and commenting or posting, speaking up in favor of what you believe might be more effective if you get into the root of things – go and give your time to the causes you believe in, instead of yelling about them, and some of those troubling things might begin to get solved. Whatever it might be, if you approach it with love and compassion, there’s no chance it won’t be a good thing.

 

Wandering through the (dis)comfort zone

I hope I’m not the only one who procrastinates and avoids things…it’s a not very helpful habit, and keeps having unintentional side effects. I hate this about myself, but it’s a work in progress as far as getting rid of it. It was a long time in being built…I suppose we all seek out things that are soothing or pleasant…I just tend to avoid certain things until, say, it’s the night before a paper is due. That was for sure my college M.O. – and it typically had mixed results.

Those mixed results eventually taught me that I needed to strategize better at that type of work (it hasn’t spread acorss the spectrum yet) – but I remember professors at UNC giving me a gimlet eye a lot of the time. I was a laissez faire student once I got there (after hammering out a 3.8 gpa at my CC, it was zeroed out by transferring – a little depressing) – putting in effort precisely where needed, and not a ton more. But I remember my damned Poli Sci class (the one and only I had to take) – American Political Theory – the prof was just a little older than we were (and was let go after our term) and wrote on my massive term paper, “You proved your point, but I disagree with it.” And the grade to go with it was Depressing. At a university the size of UNC, you quickly find that you can’t fight the system too much – it will either bite you back, or ignore you.

Now, fifteen years later, I’m still doing that night before thing. What is it, the burn of adrenaline and fear, is that what makes you able to set to and pound out something right at the wire? Sweaty palms, upset stomach, eyes stinging…here we go again…. I’d like to have everything tidy and under control, for once in my addlepated existence.

My sister is good at doing what needs to be done, when it ought to be done. She’s got the opposite issue – the burning need to just do it, or not be able to sleep until it’s done. Well, except for a scientific paper she cowrote with her boss…but he kept changing things along the way, so I think that wasn’t entirely her fault. Which is more challenging to deal with, though, or is it the same effect – is there no real escape from that sense of panic – I guess getting it over with probably is a tiny bit better, if only by virtue of not prolonging the agony.

I’m sorta stuck there right now with the book – I need to finish it – I want to finish it – but there’s something hanging me up. I shouldn’t be too afraid by now…except I still haven’t seen any mediocre or negative reviews on the first book, and I feel like I’m waiting for a shoe to drop. I also need to put the first book onto the other sites still. I’m my only dictator of deadline – which doesn’t go well for an ADD procrastinator like me – but I guess I can overcome that. *sigh* Time to take the car to the repair shop.

Lingering in the home stretch

I keep sitting down to “finish” the latest draft of the book I’m going to put up next on amazon. And then I sit and stare at the screen. Stare some more. Get distracted. Stare. It’s not a good place to be at the moment. As now, when I’ve just gotten settled into my seat and realize that I forgot to take my vitamins. Not a huge deal, but I’m so particular about it that I’ll sit here and obsess until I get up and do it. It’s my Monk tendency – which is in direct conflict with the side of me that gets lost in the sauce.

So now I have taken the vitamins – what else is distracting…

  • I need to vacuum, change sheets, generally declutter
  • The Christmas tree must come down before the weekend
  • There are various bits of paperwork that I don’t want to do, but should
  • We need to order contacts
  • I want to apply for my great-grandfather’s death certificate – he disappeared into California and we don’t really know what became of him aside from his dying
  • We’re out of bananas (if you knew my older son, you’d get why this is a major problem) and the water jug should be refilled from the spring

This is only a sliver of what races through my mind at any given time (it’s why I run, too – to organize the little grey cells, mais oui). This also hinders certain other activities – of the kind that would otherwise require you to be “in the moment” – and drives me a little batty from time to time. Or all the time. Rather than fling my hands up and cry, “Why am I like this???” I try to just fight the good fight and accept that stuff is going to be Not Done at the end of the day. As long as my husband’s lunch is ready for the next day, and the kids don’t miss the bus, it’s ooookay.

As for the book, I really need to beat my distractions into submission and just get it done. My friend Gail has agreed to do another cover. Since she’s doing it out of friendship for now (until I’m able to give her a slice of the cheese), I’m trying not to pester her for updates – not until I’m within a day of being really truly done and getting ready for the conversion. That sounds like a religious event. The Conversion. Hmmm.

In the meantime, I’ll plug my brother’s book. He’s writing straight up fantasy, probably influenced by all his years of D&D, David Eddings, and whatever else he used to read. I can’t remember if he was into Dragonlance (he’s only about 8 years older than I am)….

Here you go! The Rise of the Destroyer….

http://www.amazon.com/Rise-Destroyer-The-Creation-ebook/dp/B00AW1K9WG/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1357828252&sr=8-2&keywords=michael+bushnell

darkness

I saw the light of a red sky this morning…thought it would only be a herald of the weather.

I’m just going to briefly say this:

I cannot make sense of what has happened in my state today. These tragedies are never comprehensible, but these children were babies still. I cannot believe that James Madison ever foresaw where we would be today. Never. Never. Never. It saddens me to the very depth of my being. When will it be enough?

year of the dragon

Evy2Evy1

And here we are, nearly at the end. Some people think the world will end soon, too. I hope not, because I don’t feel like spending the rest of eternity as a free-floating mass whose only thought is, “Why didn’t I finish my last book this way instead of that?” Or something like that. Actually, I’m sure I’d have bigger regrets to dwell on while my molecules slowly de-coalesce. What would your regrets be? Or, better question, what would the end of the world look like, in your opinion? 2012 (the movie), or just a sudden flash of light and fizzing like opening a champagne bottle with a sword…it could come in any form (if I believed in such things).

As of right now…I have written one book pretty much completely from the beginning (I had about 30 pages just sitting around in a word file for a couple years), edited it, allowed my close friends to read it and give me feedback…which wasn’t so much feedback as admiration. I’m reasonably certain that it was all sincere – okay, I know it was – but I’m still waiting for the boom to come falling off the mast of this otherwise seaworthy vessel. I have three “Loved It!” reviews sitting on amazon. So yes, like I said, I’m waiting for the “Meh,” reviews, or even the, “I find this book pedantic,” or “What the hell was she thinking?” or even, “I’m astonished by your crap,” reviews…yes, that’s me. I’m an expert at expecting to be disappointed.

From this comfortable bubble, I have plowed on, however. I got absolutely nothing done during summer break. Those are the days when my husband leaves for work saying, “Go with god.” As our boys are wide awake at 6am every day, and typically are full of far too much energy and mischief…I’m sure their father is laughing his way to work every day. Ok, he doesn’t do that, but maybe he does once in a while. Just as he imagines I sit around eating bonbons and doing things that he’d like to, ahem, see me doing.

As many of us who are willing to be honest will tell you, Mother’s Day is not in May, it’s whatever the first day of school is. That’s when I get back my workout schedule, and the ability to write. I’ll also be perfectly honest here – I don’t labor intensively to keep my kids healthy because I’m such a good mom, it’s because I don’t want them home more than necessary! Knock wood, we do manage to stay pretty healthy around here…. And because of all that hard work, I am in the home stretch of a massive rewrite.

This was a book that I literally dreamt up back in, oh, 1996. It took me until 2002 to finish writing something resembling a first draft (in reality, more like an 18th iteration…I kept going back before I was even done, to add and dither, and generally create more work for myself). Then, I entered it into this “contest”, it won the popular vote, and the real judges told me that it needed a “lot of work”. Well, no shit. As an amateur, I had no notion of how to fix the stupid thing, or so I thought. Instead, I tossed it aside and didn’t look at it for the next 5 years. Maybe more, I forget. In the meantime, I read, and read, and began to really pay attention to how other writers write. Just as you can watch a movie and see why it was: a blockbuster, a flop, a critical success, or a cult-fave in the making…you can easily detect these things in a book. Except for the whole 50 Shades thing…that defies logic.

I read good stuff, and I read some yawn stuff, and I thought back to stuff I’ve read before. For instance (my apologies to my younger son and to Mr. Lucas), if you want to have a lesson in how NOT to write dialogue, one need look no further than both the Star Wars screenplays and in Lucas’ collaborative series that was a sequel to Willow. I’ll apologize to the talented Chris Claremont as well, because I suspect he could do little to tell his co-writer that what they were writing was practically impossible to read. I mean, we *know* he can write….

Even the best writers stumble, obviously, and it can be pretty instructive to read those instances as well. I will admit that I prefer (as any sane person would) to read the really good stuff. I read the Hunger Games trilogy, Oscar Wilde, PG Wodehouse, all of Sherlock Holmes, Jane Eyre, Mansfield Park, Northanger Abbey, the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo trilogy, Anansi Boys, Good Omens, Kate Atkinson…and many others, but that list covers the summer, if I remember correctly. Once I start writing again, I don’t tend to read.

So, when I started in on editing, I think I had a pretty good idea of what Really Good could look like. I’m not saying that I will come up with it on my own, but I can try. I am hoping to have Sleep up and live on amazon no later than year’s end. My friend, and all-around awesome lady Gail is designing the cover, as she did for my previous book. All I have to do is think of a good ending for the beginning of a series (which this is, just as the other book is – but that’s a separate series, just so you know!).

My goal for the blog right now is to post bi-monthly. We’re mid-month December. The next one will be right when I’m aiming to publish. I’ll work on the format for the blog at that time, but I welcome all….

And if you’re looking for a really great book for the winter break, I recommend Susan Henderson’s Up From The Blue. It’s her debut novel, and I do “know” her from interacting in her writing community over at LitPark for quite a few years now, but the book took me on an unexpected journey. I don’t always like contemporary lit, but this was like stepping through a time machine into my own past. It’s straightforward, elegant, unpretentious, and really a work that I can only aspire to. Her ability to evoke memory through small detail is…I can only compare it to Ellis Peters or

Tolkien (but a lot easier to read!). I hope you’ll take a moment and find a copy at your local store, or at the library!