Sunday, December 17, 2017

I Miss Writing

Hello, laptop. I've missed you. I carry you with me nearly every day, but rarely interact with you, anymore. I see you, across the room, while I'm doing my work as a massage therapist, and I think, "soon." Yet, there's never any time. When I do have time, either in between sessions, or at the end of the day, I'm too tired, or fried, or sore, or behind on other tasks to pick you up. I miss you.

I miss writing my newsletters. I miss scouring calls for submissions and browsing my writing morgue, looking for that spark to write a new tale. I miss the thrill of the pressure of meeting a deadline, of racking up those resume points, of exploring my own ideas. I haven't even been journaling... the few dreams I can recall, I jot down in highlights and bullet points. Less than satisfying.

This month, too, is already filled...with work, with work, with work, with parties, with shopping, with wrapping, with holiday cards, with exhaustion, with sleep.

Maybe in January...

Saturday, October 21, 2017

How Do You Make Up For Lost Writing Time?

I can't believe it's nearly November. Seems like I am always in disbelief at the speed of time, anymore, but there it is. Here's the short list update since my last post, in June.

  • I am competing in NYC Midnight's Flash Fiction (1000 words or less) contest for the first time. There are more than twice as many contestants in this one than in the Short Story Contest that I have done several times.

    Everyone writes for two rounds, and points are tallied to progress towards Rounds 3 & 4. My assignments were:

    Round One:
    Genre - Drama
    Setting - Beauty Pageant
    Object - Cash Register

    Of course, I kept having to rewrite it with less humor. I was less than enthused with my elements...I wanted to write it funny! So, then what happened?

    Round Two:
    Genre - Comedy
    Setting - Superstore
    Object - Parrot

    Great, comedy! But, a parrot? My mind was clouded with images of Monty Python's Dead Parrot sketch. I wrote my first story (1800 words) but it was not funny. My second story (1200 words) was funny, but had no story or plot, to speak of. I sketched out a few other possibilities, and finally wrote one that centered on a thief and a talking parrot (1550 words). I cut it down to 996 words and submitted it in the final hour. Of course, the next night at my writers group, I read it and notices a handful of typos and errors...sigh. Hopefully, I will make it into the third round, anyway.
  • My Microsoft Surface, which had been finicky about accepting a power charge since at least February, wouldn't charge at all after Round One of the contest, in late July. A month later, I replaced it with a Lenovo Yoga laptop/tablet. I really never use the Tablet function, but I love the lightweight and small size of these convertible things. Another month later, I got my lost files retrieved (OneDrive snafu) via the help of a friend. That was this week...
  • I am so behind on everything. I feel like I barely get anything done, every time I sit down to do all the things I need to do. (These include budget updating, newsletter writing, meetup upkeep, editing, reading, collating information for working writing projects, writing, editing, submitting, querying, posting on this blog, etc.) Today, I updated my meetup calendar, posted in the Nanowrimo forum, and finished my massage newsletter from July...finally! (But so much I didn't get to, and I'm running out of time, so I decided to do this blog post!) Plus, my day job has been soooo busy that I haven't had many writing sessions set aside. I work, eat, pass out, repeat.
Work, eat, pass out, repeat.

Okay, so my plan is to write a novel this November, as a participant in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) for the TENTH year. I am undecided on the story, as of yet, but will be going through some brainstorming and notes this week.

That's it for now. Join me at NaNoWriMo! @divinerebel 

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Scrivener: The Learning Curve is Worth It

I've set my sights on conquering Scrivener.

It's not difficult to use, just takes some time to get to know it. The first time I used it was for a NaNoWriMo novel, and I seemed to muck things up unnecessarily. (Starting with forgetting to get my NaNo participant's 50% discount on purchasing it!) I couldn't keep my folders organized properly, I mislabeled scenes, it was messy. I wanted to use the corkboard view mode feature, but couldn't figure out how to incorporate that into my text-doc style habits.

But, I know the benefits of streamlining later down the road. A writer in my writer's group used Scrivener (at my suggestion, even) to great advantage when self-publishing: the program makes instant Table of Contents, easily accessible Chapter Headings, and publisher-ready formatting for ebooks.

So, as I revise my memoir modules and look to assembling them, I ventured back into the Scrivener world. I chose to use the Non-Fiction Template. I watched a couple of How-To videos on YouTube to refresh my memory and perhaps help me avoid making the same mistakes I made before. Immediately, the difference is noticeable. I keep my chapters as folders, and my modules as scenes. I add more scenes - variations on the modules, notes, etc. - and manage to label them in a logical way.

The only trouble I've run into, so far, has to do with pictures. A tutorial video has espoused the benefit of using photos as the covers of the scene chapter/scene cards, in corkboard view mode. Sounds good to me - I'm a pretty visual person. But, alas, I believe that is not an option in the Non-Fiction Template mode, unfortunately. I manage to learn how to include photos, at least, by opening a new text inside a folder, adding the photos to the text document, and saving it as a scene within the chapters I want them.

Okay, so, now...I'm going to employ the use of "Stamps" - so each folder or virtual index card is stamped with a word of my choosing: Rough/First/Raw, Needs Polish, Needs Research/Editing/Citations/Photos, etc.

Videos I used:

  • Scrivener: A Quick Review of How It Works and Some Of Its Cool Features (Karen Price)
    Fifteen minutes long. Good overview, nice pace, but doesn't get into the different templates and modes as much as longer tutorials, obviously. 
  • Scrivener Bootcamp (Jason Hough)
    This one is about an hour long, and covers just about every thing you'd want to know how to do. Very well organized, but still slightly overwhelming for me...I had to take pauses, try things out, and go back to the video.
  • Scrivener Basics For Windows (Literature & Latte)
    Ten minutes in length, built for beginners, but is six years old, so some features have changed.

Monday, April 10, 2017

NYC Midnight & Writing Report (Is it April, already??)


That's what this year feels like, already. A blur of days and nights and weeks and rain...I am not daunted by the rain, or the greyness of Seattle. But the greyness, edging into darker territory, as we watch the world turn to shedooby, shattered...that is taking its toll, no?

But the last thing I want to talk to about is the encroaching evil in our world. It is always there, but the wheel has spun to bring much of it into the light, and I only hope we can treat it effectively, making the light we still have brighter and stronger.

But this is a blog about WRITING.

This year's NYC Midnight Short Story Contest began with my assignment:

Genre: Horror (yay!)
Character: Security guard
Theme: Retirement
Prize: HM

I was pleased with the genre, to say the least. I wrote a story about a retiring guard passing the secrets of the nursing home to his replacement. I received an Honorable Mention, which I was pleased with, even if disappointed that I did not get to on to Round Two. There were three times as many contestants this year (About 3100-3200) as years past.

The three judges from whom I received feedback gave me inarguable remarks. I was happy to hear the opening was very well received, and my dialogue was credible and story driven, which I humbly recognize as one of my truly natural skills. I agree with the judges that my ending was vague and somewhat unresolved...I left it very ambiguous about the nature of the magic at hand. This was somewhat intentional, and somewhat a product of the time and word limit of the contest; I had ideas of changing the story, but didn't want to take too long and miss my deadline (like I did last year!). Instead, I chose to submit a finished story that may have some missing elements but felt strong and contiguous. In the end, the creep factor was barely enough to keep me qualified. I must work harder and not allow the time/word limit keep me from getting my ending to a fully realized point.

My plan is to practice some 2500, 2000, and 1500 word stories in the meantime.

My Memoir Project 1

Slow going on those painful passages of years past. My 1989 recollections are tough, and it takes me several hours to get the bones down, after which I must take weeks to process the grief and get to a point where I can read it without crying. Finally, the editing can occur, although I am not sure how efficient this process is. In any case, that is the process. It is difficult, emotionally wrenching, and time consuming.

My Memoir Project 2

I a now referring to this as a memoir, despite the fact that I am not in it. It is the story of my grandfather and his brother in the 1920s, and I require much more information. I still have not gotten a hold of my cousin Tina, but will redouble my efforts in the coming weeks.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

2017: Happy New Year! Resolutions Part 1

Let's face it: none of us in the arts is looking forward to what January 20th will inaugurate. This new "leadership" model is fraught with fears about getting tossed into a new war, undoing the the good works and strides made so far in civil liberties and equal rights, causing massive damage to the planet, our economy, and our lives. But let's put that aside for the moment.

I love making New Years Resolutions. I see them as Goals & Guidelines, aspirations, and a focus for my attention and intention for the year. It is a lengthy process for me.

  1. I think about what I am doing, what I want to be doing, what I am happy with, what I want or need more of, and where I want to focus my energies and efforts. 
  2. I begin collating words, thoughts, ideas, and images around what I want to manifest in the new year.
  3. I read over last year's list. How did I do? Did I accomplish what I wanted? Why or why not?
  4. I create this year's list. I write in a journal, and/or a blog. I do art on it. This year, I started a Pinterest board on it...with tips, images, and ideas of what I want to accomplish and focus on.
  5. I make goals and milestone markers for the items! ("Write more" is vague - "Daily 15 min writing," "set aside two hours a week twice a week to write," "take a writing course," or "submit five stories for publication" are much more specific and likely to get done.)
My Pinterest board is a new thing. I mean, I've been on that site for several years, but have gotten more active on it the past year. I like having a visual scrapbook of things. I try not to go overboard, but I do enjoy it. 

That said, The 2017 Resolutions board I've made has images and infographics for my goals: 
  1. Sleep better I've been waking up in a panic a lot this year, not long after falling asleep. I also
    have trouble feeling comfortable - too hot, too itchy, too deflated pillow... 2016 my husband and I made plans to buy a new bed and pillows, which we did. (I'm still on the sofa most nights...we aren't very sleep-compatible.) I've learned that I actually suffer from something with a name - "night terrors" - and it doesn't have to be me, screaming. It is a type of sleep paralysis that is often brought on by stress, sleep deprivation, asthma, and sleep apnea. Well, guess what? Yup, I have all that...although I never really feel stressed.

    Okay, so now what? I am using asthma meds as always, but am also adding aromatherapy - mint, clary sage, elemi, even Vick's VapoRub seems to help. I also use saline nasal spray. And sleep on an incline. I try to stay calm, breathe deeply, and meditate on a healthy system. Now, I am adding more exercise - it always helps. Walking 20-40, sometimes 90, minutes a day. Yoga - certain stretches are helpful for better sleep. Doing 20 min of those poses every night. Diet - cut out most dairy, wheat, alcohol, and aiming for five veggies and two fruits a day.

    So, this one resolution - for better sleep - has basically turned into five:
    walks, yoga, raise veggie intake, lower processed food intake, and increasing meditation time and regularity.
  2. Write Yes, it's still undefined. I am working on those goals. At the moment, I am thinking of this year's goals being:
     - get that interview with Cousin Tina and mine resources for story details about great-grandparents for the Historical NF book.
     - Write that HNF book, at least first draft.
     - Do the HISMZA revision
     - Finish Allan's story, London, and collate for editing
     - ?
  3. Massage Career - New network referrals
  4. Retirement Investment - Start!
  5. Support Journalistic Integrity - In addition to continuing to support as many charities as I can that fund women's health, equal pay, equal representation, civil rights, equality, animal rights, arts, and education, I am devoted to funding REAL NEWS, not "fake news" aka propaganda, or soft-hitting infotainment. I want real news. Hard-hitting, investigative journalists, working to tell us the truth about our government, politics, the economy, and the world we live in, without fear of blacklisting, imprisonment, or death. I want Real News on TV, in the papers, and online. I am supporting Free Press this year.

I usually have about 17 Resolutions, so I am a ways from completing this list. I haven't even looked at 2016's list, yet, either. I'm wondering if I got anything on it done at all? I was so filled with angst and grief for so much of the year...

I'd love to know what you all are planning to work on this year. 
What are your goals? What steps will you take to get there? How do you measure your progress?