Change Happens.

I struggle with focus on a regular basis. You could blame the ADHD; it’s a topic of conversation around my house. This week, my son’s music school brought up Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5 as part of their lab work. I listened to it.

And my random doomscrolling habit paused, and I got out the story I’ve not managed to finish for a bit. After that, I chose another. It got me through most of the school day with a lot more focus intact.

It’s Thursday, and I’ve listened to most of the symphonies of Beethoven this week. It’s like a reminder starts in my head that I have things to do (it might be laundry) and suddenly I have more of an ability to start those tasks, and a much better chance to finish them (ignore the laundry, it’s never done).

Today I found the end of the story that’s been haunting me for a few months. My brain turned over the parts that weren’t working until finally the story did work. It wasn’t as I originally intended, but I think it’s much closer to where it needs to be as a story.

There will be more change to come, but these things make me thoughtful.

The Last WisCon For Now

You can plan to go to a Con, but you never know how it’s actually going to go. WisCon 46 was full of fun people and discussions. There’s also the Otherwise Award, and guests of honor and several friends to run into.

I don’t know why I feel like I don’t fit in at WisCon. I stick mostly with my small group, and I see others getting along easily with new groups. I haven’t figured out my struggle. I think it has more to do with me than WisCon, and I’ve noticed I’m a bit quieter in other places as well.

I ran one event this weekend – the SignOut Party. Many authors come together and sign their books and it’s a good place to say good-bye. I got asked to help last year, and along with the biggest reason for WisCon not happening next year, no one wanted to help (or they do, but are unable because of Life). I’m okay running it by myself, especially after getting the hang of most of it last year, so all went decently. I changed one thing because of information I’d learned during the convention, and the authors impacted appreciated it a great deal.

Plans can change and it can be a good thing. Sometimes, like Saturday, I hold too much to a plan that cannot happen. It felt like everything that could go wrong, did, just for me. I need to remember more of that yoga that I teach, because being flexible isn’t just about bending into a pretzel. It’s also about rolling with whatever comes your way.

I was lucky, Saturday, that more than one friend reached out a hand (and one person I’d never met before) to remind me that changes can be better than the original idea. It’s a good thing to remember that the world can give you what you need even if you didn’t know what it was until it smacked you in the face.

(I missed my reading with my Paradise ICON people Friday night because I was under the weather Thursday night. I’m glad to recover to make it to the rest of the Con.)

Tonight I find myself back in my office, trying a new idea that occurs to me in snippets. It might be a book for my kids, or for their friends, or just that ideas that need to be in the world that weren’t when I was a kid. I have new signed books across my desk, and a fun hand lettered nameplate that I took home instead of recycling. I haven’t pinned down the main character yet, but I do hope to. Maybe it’ll be a short story instead of another novel.

Tomorrow, I have a short story and a couple other things to finish, then back to whatever this new thing is. Wish me luck.

DemiCon and Beyond

Last weekend I went to DemiCon. I don’t get there as often as I’d like, but this year it worked. Bonus – at DemiCon I’m not responsible for anything and I see many of the same people from ICON. (Plus I got to roadtrip with a good friend who is also one of my ICON writers.)

I often stick to writing panels, but we (because nearly every panel I attended had another ICON friend with me) also attended several more metaphysical panels. Maybe every con has them.

However, this time I went, and I was between the ideas from yoga conferences past and science fiction conventions present. One of them allows a lot of latitude for not believing in the thing even if you go, and one of my writer friends realized his character would be very into what the panelist shared. The experience also made me question credentials. How do you get credentials in metaphysical pursuits? Also, what do those credentials mean?

Those are deep questions. It’s not just about metaphysical pursuits, either. All of my physical teaching modalities might fall under this, as well as all of my artistic ideas.

In engineering, a degree is necessary. There’s also a professional licensing board to stay current with your specialty. That was not always true – my father in law once practiced engineering from the school of hard knocks, but he started work in 1963 I think, so times do change.

When I started teaching yoga, I wasn’t certified. I was recommended by the current teacher, who had been through training. I was practicing every day and I was the most flexible person in the room, and I didn’t feel qualified at all. I took a training to learn more, and I studied hard. I taught while I did this, starting with what I had learned in the books I had purchased to create my home practice, and adding in the details from the training. I’ve gone through the same level of training at another time, and I may do it again. It seems redundant, but each time is a different experience and it covers new areas – even though the base material is supposed to be the same.

Writing has always been a passion. I’ve learned far more outside of school than I did in it, partly because I didn’t take that many writing classes. Not that I didn’t want to, but I didn’t often get the opportunity. I can’t tell you how many writing books I’ve read, how many sit on the shelf near my desk, nor how many times I’ve asked and received assistance on my creations. I’ve grown and changed over the years, and it’s amazing to see how my stories have transformed. I won’t say a degree on my wall wouldn’t have changed my progress, but I’d still be pursuing more.

Metaphysical things I have had interests in for years. Partly I find myself trying to ground things in science, and partly I know there are simply concepts which we cannot prove or disprove. I can take an introductory course or find a book in almost anything, though the practice of it day to day will teach me more. To what degree do we hold those who create the books? What about those who teach the courses?

As far as opinions, we’re allowed to disagree. One of the books I’m reading (Body Work by Melissa Febos) talks about how her wife allows more than one version of the truth in their home. Fascinating, since my house is often rooted in science and there are mathematical and scientific proofs running around. Yet human experience doesn’t follow that way, and our brains are far from perfect. We do remember things differently. What we mark in our journals may not be the experience that we speak of as the one that moved us years later. Those experiences are what make us who we are, and having an allowance for a memory to be different in two (or more) minds is a good one, if a difficult one to hold. It reminds me so much of one yoga teacher I had, and he often said, “The truth of the situation ends at our senses.” Our senses perceive something and our brain wants it to be a story. We look for patterns to match with the input we receive. Our brains lie to us. I feel that so keenly when I share something that my brain tells me even though I know it is false. (Depression sucks.)

So often in childhood, and in scientific pursuits, we call for proof, we want see credentials, and we want to trust in an entity to be able to certify or register professionals. There are many places where these things are mandatory, though there’s also the idea that some humans don’t mesh so you still need to search for a professional to work with. Not just anyone will do. And very lately I’ve been reminding myself, and finding comfort in the idea, that there is no proof. Maybe that is also the human experience, and something I should write about.

Something I will write about. Soon.

A Writer Is One Who Writes.

Another snow day – our third in three weeks. Each time I get an approximate 530 wakeup call that I don’t appreciate. Though today I’m convinced it’s Thursday because the other two were, and in a way it kindof is because the kids only have one more scheduled day of school this week before a 4 day weekend.

Each time these days become unscheduled blocks of time with chaotic family.

I have a book, and I’m somewhere in Chapter 3. I have a short story due soon, and my draft is open. I looked at it yesterday, and will again today. (Yesterday had two sick kids, but not sick enough for doctors?)

(okay, that was last Wednesday… We had Friday and Monday scheduled off, and we ended up with a weather day Thursday. Welcome to my six-day weekend of interruptions and forgetting what I was doing.)

I’m still writing. I did miss a couple days on my 750words, and my draft is still open for that short story. Life provides obstacles, and I keep going back to it. That’s the path of the writer. Wish me luck today, I got my pomodoro timer back out and I’m doing my best to focus in increments. It’s supposed to be very helpful with my ADHD brain. Brain might be resistant today, but if I get the ball rolling with it today it’s very likely the rest of the week will be more focused.

Now breathe with me. Inhale, exhale, repeat. Whatever else I am, yoga has made me focus on breathing. It helps, too.

Creative Pursuits

I listened to a short course about getting your ‘crojo’ back. (crochet mojo) About two minutes into the first episode, it felt very much like every creative pursuit could use that, including writing. The last episode was devoted entirely to self-care, and she divided the thing into categories: mental, physical, social, emotional, and spiritual. I’m not sure I’d heard it divided up like that before, and I’m glad I tuned in.

My kids have been struggling with a couple things, and so I’ve been working to keep them in good places. Invisible illnesses are plaguing them, but I’m glad Wisconsin treats them as if they’re real. Iowa always felt like I had to fight whomever I was speaking with to be believed that this was a problem that I couldn’t handle alone – often even in my own struggle for mental health. I find myself calmer here, knowing that when I call and explain a problem I get someone who works to help me, rather than just making us wait for months (we’ve waited up to 5 before) to talk to someone.

Today I wrote a little bit. It wasn’t a lot, but it’s better than nothing. My 750words project didn’t count – that was me worrying about what’s to come from my children’s current struggles. It was letting out my fears and letting them go.

Then I just had to remind myself that I am a creative. While I am crocheting a project (or five, depending on how you look at it), I’m also writing. It doesn’t need to be all of the time, but I do need to focus occasionally to keep my goals in check. I have a lot of goals, and I’m slowly getting them organized for how I work.

On the Right Foot?

That saying may or may not go all the way back to when people thought the right side was luckier than the left.

I feel like I didn’t start off correctly this year. My family was sick last week (each of them had something different, and somehow I escaped without catching anything). Then I lost my story binder, found my story binder, and my son’s birthday is Friday. (He was also born on Friday the 13th, so this is a huge to-do in my home. We find these days quite lucky.)

Yesterday I finally put my fingers to the keyboard to start Book 2. I’m excited, but also keeping my sights on the coherent draft, rather than a completely perfect one. Coherent for me is the characters, settings, plots are in order, and not with all the extraneous things. Description is often an issue that I have to get later, but as much as I can I’m working to weave them together. It’s hard looking at these character names that I’ve already done an entire book with and remembering to describe them as if they haven’t met the reader, just in case they jump into the wrong book first. (Something my dad usually does. I am a completionist for book series, but he recently borrowed just Bk 2 of a trilogy from my bookshelf without ever having read the rest. That author has 4 series within that world, too. So I don’t know why just that one book seemed readable to him.)

It doesn’t matter that I didn’t get very far. I’m excited to start. I’m keen to make all the happenings and characters fit in with Book 1 and be sure that it makes sense. I know that like Book 1, Book 2 will have several places where it is more polished and less polished, depending on whether I had to draft it from scratch. I’m starting the very first page from scratch, since the draft I’m following had the plots of books 1 and 2 mixed together so completely it tried to masquerade as just one novel. Silly books. I will finish you properly.

Oddly, something told me I needed a quick project to finish, too, so I have a silk ribbon scarf crochet project I also started yesterday. I’m hoping it’ll get me through the cool 9th grade orientation we have tonight at the high school.

Unintended Consequences

In my house, we clear things up for the holidays. Have to make room for decorations (and gifts) and guests. Somehow, I hid my story binder – the one with books 1 and 2 of my space western. I also started a really fun (not) boxing day (weeks) challenge of my wardrobe.

The result is that my bedroom has clothing everywhere in different piles- give away, modify, and keep. Then I also decided to rearrange where everything goes, because 1. my life has changed a lot since I decided those were the best places for things and 2. my style is still trending to something different than it was when I set it all up. Yes, those are two different things.

I did stop myself from removing everything from the third huge drawer in favor of making decisions on what was already out. I used to do yoga, martial arts, and other fitness classes six days a week. I knew which classes I would sweat through and I had everything at hand to come home, shower, change, and repeat. It was harder to change three times a day to fit that than to simply plan on activewear most days. Now I teach once a week for yoga, my martial arts classes are limited to three times a week, and I coach gymnastics on one night. It’s a much different pace than before, and I’m finding my stride with that.

With the bedroom completely torn up, I couldn’t remember where I’d stashed my binder, and when I was ready to start book 2 last night – I panicked. This morning, I found it. Bonus, I found a great place to stash things when I need them stashed. Just gotta remember where I put it next time.

Bring on book 2.

Hello, 2023.

I took time off to be with my family while they were home. My husband isn’t quite sure what to do – today is his 18th day off in a row (extra vacation – use it or lose it) and he goes back tomorrow, along with the kids. I’ve seen so many memes about coming in, being quiet, and nobody yelling that this is your year, but being the best version of myself isn’t claiming anything about the year.

There’s a quiet time for me between Winter Solstice and the new calendar year. I often choose a new notebook and find some goals I’m ready to work on, whether they’re new or not. Writing always makes that list, no matter what I did the year before.

I joined 750words in 2011. In the last 12 years, I’ve written over 4 million words, and that’s just what was tracked on the site. There are usually blog posts, handwritten ideas, and all sorts of rewrites that aren’t tracked. I learned a lot. For 2022, it was around 252,000 words, and I didn’t write in March. (Mom died, and before that I traveled a lot to see her in hospice. It’s very difficult to give myself permission not to do my words, but this was the time it was appropriate.)

Within my projects during 2022, I had a story published. I have a couple stories out for consideration, and I managed a decent rewrite of the first book in the space western series. I also had a couple other ideas for extended series or novella length works. I’m hoping to continue the series and see how many others I can develop.

While I’m still working on my revised goals for the year, I’m going to start the second book rewrite as well as a short story this week (the one I didn’t finish by the 31 Dec deadline). I have my new notebook lined up, and I’m excited to see what happens with both of the projects. By the time I finish one of them, I’ll have another to work on. Some of you know my love of paper – so my project binder as well as this year’s notebook are below.

Service Guys

I always wonder what they expect when they come to a particular house. Today we had a whole-house humidifier installed to the furnace. It’s a straightforward, time-consuming job. The guy who showed up was young, had a smile, and seemed pretty understanding that I hadn’t gotten my kids to school yet because we expected him tomorrow.

If he’d shown up tomorrow, husband was on track to work from home and be on top of everything he was doing. Instead, I got to sit in the mechanical room and chat with him. Most of these guys are good-natured. I learned a lot about them during my internship in college, where I worked for an HVAC controls company, so he’s literally the kind of guy I worked with back then, except it’s no longer the 90s and stuff.

So I ask him about what else he’s doing, and we commiserate about how birds get in the way. He’s never quite sure how a job will go. My husband prepped the water line that goes into the humidifier, and he had a large mechanical room to work in. The next job he’s going to today is in a closet, in a condo, and he’s not even sure water is hooked up in there. His height is another barrier – closets are not made for men over 6′ to comfortably work in generally. I hope he has good luck, but often not so much.

His manager called, and he forgot to tell that dude that he was expected tomorrow. I told him that was very important to express to the managers. While the service guy laughed, I know he understood my point. However, I think my tomorrow will run smoother despite the mix-up, and today I am working with a short time to do a few things. Luckily I’m flexible.

One of my favorite parts of listening to him today was how he didn’t have “real” tools. He even had to borrow my broom to clean up after himself. I wish I could write a note to those managers: He needs all the tools. They send him into all the jobs, and sometimes he has to call someone else to show up at a job. Every job brings something unexpected, and sometimes they’re good things- like the waterline this morning- but most often the other way. Be kind to any service people who come into your home. They most want the job to go smoothly and everything to work when they’re finished.

End of November

Have you ever tried to write a novel in a month? It’s not necessarily impossible, especially for a zero draft. The fun part for me this month, I didn’t try to write a zero draft. I aimed at a better one. However, I didn’t take into account how much I had to write from scratch to make this novel work.

So, I have a draft that is better in some places than others (especially the middle needs attention). The part I’m really proud of is that this draft is all Book 1 and not with Book 2 mixed in of my Space Western. I have a beginning, middle, and end, and my plot and characters are pretty much where they need to be. I only have chaptered it up to 9, and I am starting to go through to find the rest.

Also, I wrote/edited about four short stories this month. Two have been sent out, one is finished this morning (that few paragraphs were haunting me), and I’ll start the rewrite on the next soon.

Finished four books this month, and I was surprised they were all #2 in series:
Narwhal I’m Around (The Incredibly Dead Pets of Rex Dexter #2) by Aaron Reynolds
Storm of Locusts (The Sixth World #2) by Rebecca Roanhorse
In Over Their Heads (Under Their Skin 2 of 2) by Margaret Peterson Haddix
Merger of Evil (Sequel to Minion of Evil) by Shannon Ryan