Tuesday, November 25, 2003

Another End

Last night I officially took a leave of absence from my chorus. I said I'd be gone for a year and hoped to be back after that, but I don't know. Going back depends on how my writing is going. It wasn't all that hard to say last night, and most of the chorus didn't seem too surprised. They were extremely happy for me with my writing and eager to hear all about sending my submission to the agent. And, of course, they all want autographed first editions. Nothing was difficult about the night until I actually had my jacket on, my purse and bags in hand, and was walking out of our practice hall. That put a bit of a lump in my throat and made me look back over my shoulder with regret. It didn't last too long, though, as I realized that I was spinning the next scene I needed to work on for HD and would end up writing it that night. Writing on a Monday night? That's never happened before. And yet it happened last night. So leaving my chorus did hurt, but I've got to look at what I gained. More time to write, and a better attitude about writing now that I don't have the draining distraction of my chorus. I'm so energized about HD, that I'm even going to bring everything with me on our Turkey Day trip. I'm also going to see about writing in the car. I doubt that will happen, but I'm eager to try. So the ending of my chorus days - even if a temporary one - brought about a beginning or at least a refreshing new step in my writing. I can live with that.

Monday, November 24, 2003

It's in the Mail

Sent the packet off to the agent today. If her turnaround time is as advertised on her website, I'll hear back by the end of the year at the earliest, end of January at the latest. If her turnaround time is on par with the email response she sent after the conference, I could hear back by the end of next week. Because I still have quite a bit of work to do on Human Dignity, and on my writing habits in general, I'm hoping she takes her time. But not too much time. Just before Christmas would be good. Because if she wants to read more and/or represent me, that would be an excellent Christmas present. And if she takes a pass, then I've got lots of gifts to cheer me up (not to mention another excuse to eat Holiday goodies).

Friday, November 21, 2003

Silly Astrology

My horoscope is at it again.

Stop thinking so much about what you want to do 'someday' and start making plans to actually do it now. You have so many good ideas -- don't let them all go to waste because you're keeping them to yourself. It might be a bit scary to expose your creative side to the rest of the world, but once you do, you'll feel as though a great weight has been lifted off of your shoulders. Something really good can come from your willingness to share your hidden talent.

OK, fine. I get the point. I'll send the pages off to the agent this weekend and get busy writing every day. Just stop beating me over the head with it!

Thursday, November 20, 2003


The end of a cold is worse than the beginning and middle, in many ways. You're ready to be healthy again, and yet the silly bug still has a grip on you. Your throat always has a tickle, but your coughs never do anything to ease that. Instead, your coughs give you headaches, pulled muscles, and other fun things. Your nose is always stuffed and you can never blow it enough. Your ears pop continually. And you still feel just a smidge of weakness to keep you from carrying on with life as usual. At least when you're in the middle of a cold, you're too miserable to do anything but sleep and take cold meds. The beginning is never too bad because it's usually a dry, scratchy throat and not much else. But the end of a cold sucks.

There's another end happening right now. The end of a few internet presences. Holly Lisle and Sheila. They've both decided to end their blogs and end all involvement with on-line communities. These two women are responsible for getting me into blogging, and they've both taught me more than I can list about writing. They both explained that they need to just focus on writing, "protect the work" as Holly put it.

I went through several reactions to this news. At first it was loss. I enjoyed reading their blogs and their comments in various forums. They had such unique voices and many things to say. And it kept that human element to the writing world alive and well for me. But, despite my loss, I felt respect for their wishes. Then I got angry. I looked at my own life and realized how much I wanted to just focus on writing. How much I wanted to have that option. But I don't. And I got really pissed that suddenly these two women who had shared so much and given so much to my writing experience were suddenly taking it away - and in a fashion that made it all too clear that I couldn't follow their example in their last lesson on writing. Now I'm impatient. Eagerly watching the clock tick away to the day when I can take their lead and protect my work.

I'm trying to do what I can now. I find myself thinking about my own blog and how I use the Internet. What can I cut? What do I need to help with my writing and just life in general? I've already started to cut things out just because I've been so busy at work. I don't post hardly at all at the various bulletin board / communities I belong to. I don't do a daily blog read. I check a couple, skim here and there. But nothing like before. And I don't make it a priority to post here any more. That last I'll probably change. I do like this blog. I enjoy learning about coding and internet stuff in this fashion. And it's nice to know that my relatives scattered all over the country can hop on-line and see what I'm up to (if only they'd comment now and again and reciprocate - hint, hint :) ).

So now what? I'm quitting my singing group to give me more time and energy for writing. I'm trimming down my Internet presence so I don't "waste" my words and time in silly debates that do nothing except frustrate just about everyone involved. What else can I do? I can't quit my job. And I can't keep taking time for granted. It's not the best dilemma to find myself in, but I have the sense of working toward something that will be great, that will work for the way my life has to go right now. That little shaft of hope is mighty pretty. I hope I don't lose sight of it.

Monday, November 17, 2003

Sick, Tired, the List Goes On

It's pretty ironic looking at the entries that are sitting on my blog right now. Well, before I post this, anyway. On Oct 28, I posted about how proud I was that I was taming my pontificating habit. Then on Nov 3, I posted about how I let loose in a thread on politics - I'm certain it was done in true pontificating fashion. On Nov 9, I posted about how I was going to start taking care of myself and my writing more now that I've, more or less, taken the last year to goof off about that stuff. And here I am today, posting about how sick I am and how busy I've been at work. God has to have a sense of humor. Otherwise irony wouldn't exist.

To give some impression of how busy work was last week, let's just say that I could've come into work for just 15 minutes on Friday, and I would've still logged 40 hours. Yeah. That busy. I pulled a twelve-hour day on Wednesday and came in on Thursday hopped up on cold drugs just so I could keep myself vertical. The good news: the reason for all that overtime is a two day meeting that is done. The bad news: I may have to do this all over again for another similar meeting in just a few weeks. While the overtime pay is nice, working myself into a nasty cold isn't. Everyone at work is concerned for my health, but it felt a little less heartfelt when I kept hearing things like, "You should go home and take care of yourself. But since you're here...." Which explains why I really couldn't take the days off I needed last week. The stuff I needed to do couldn't wait and was worked up in a bunch of background work I had already done, making it very difficult for someone to fill in for me.

Being sick wouldn't bother me so much except for the fact that I was unable to perform in my last barbershop concert for a while yesterday. I feel really bad missing that. But I slept through the entire time I would've been on stage, which should say a lot. In fact, writing this right now, I can't believe I'm at work. I thought I would be OK, given that I was at that stage where you really want to be active but know you still need the rest last night. I figured another night's sleep would do me some good and then I would be good to go today. Ha.

I was also going to send off the submission to the agent this weekend, which didn't happen. Nothing happened this weekend except a lot of sleep, a lot of coughing, a lot of blowing my nose, and a lot of watching movies. And now it feels like this week won't be too different. *sigh*

Sunday, November 09, 2003


There's a lot to weigh when you make decisions. If there isn't, you might call it a choice instead. Choosing seems less dramatic than deciding. Choosing seems more "flip a coin" and "blink of an eye". Choosing implies a sense that perhaps you never really had the ability to make the choice, that it was fate, or someone else made it for you. But a decision is another beast entirely. You have to look at the outcomes. You have to look at the factors leading you to such a decision. You have to balance your needs with the needs of those dependent on you. A decision is never easy. Even when the pros far outweigh the cons, the con will never go away.

A year ago, I made a decision. It was the third and final one in a trilogy of life-altering decisions. The first was to leave a PhD program with a masters and give up my eight-year-old goal of teaching and researching at a university. The second was to quit my high school teaching job (after only teaching a quarter of the year) and give up my twelve-year-old goal of teaching in general. The third decision (made a week or so after the second one) was to pursue a writing career and get a job as a secretary to pay the bills (not using my science degrees - six years in the making). Each decision felt like the hardest thing I've ever had to do - until the next one came along.

I am now a year removed from that trilogy. I've spent the year doing a lot of things but primarily taking care of myself. Since high school, maybe even junior high, I've worked myself ragged. I gave myself breaks here and there, but I always felt guilty about them. Like I should be using that time to study for a test, to participate in another club, to volunteer, to read up on current research, to learn something new that I could use in my chosen profession. But not this year. This year I've slept in. I've given myself countless manicures and pedicures. I've spent a half hour getting ready in the morning, pampering myself with a fun hairstyle or a new color of eye shadow. I've read books instead of writing. I've played video games instead of cleaning the house. I've just sat on the couch and done nothing other than sit by my husband in front of the fireplace and enjoy our companionship. I've soaked up the sun. I've put off doing something at work for hours at a time so I could play a computer game or really spend some time emailing a friend. I've called my brother on a regular basis instead of making excuses not to. I'm planning on calling in sick so I can watch the two Lord of the Rings extended versions on DVD and then go see "Return of the King" in theatres that same day. I'm catching up on all the goofing off I never allowed myself to do or felt horribly guilty doing. The guilt is still there sometimes, but I'm taking care of myself.

That's not to say I haven't done anything this year. I've completed a draft of Human Dignity. I've revised a third of it, then started over at the beginning and re-revised the same third. I've submitted it to a writing contest and got feedback on it from an editor at Tor and from a published author. I've prepped it for submission to an agent. I've written 30,000 words in a romance. I've started building a world for a fantasy trilogy that's rapidly becoming a series. I've written the beginnings of a few short stories. I've played around with different writing styles. I've set up a system for dealing with the writing ideas I get. I've learned. I've also gotten a promotion at work. And I've made another decision - to take at least a year-long break from singing.

But now I want to do more. I want to take better care of myself by exercising, eating right (at least occasionally), and by writing every day and holding myself to a writing schedule for my various projects. I want to succeed and feel healthy, to add to the peace and happiness I've had from this past year. And now is the best time. I've given myself a year to do all the lazy I never allowed before. That's long enough. Time to balance it with responsibility in my health and writing.

Monday, November 03, 2003


It's easier to dismiss something in anger than actually try to think rationally and logically about it. Last week I realized that this is what I was doing with the Catholic Church. And today I realized that I'm doing it with politics. It's very easy to do when there's so much to be angry about. But something doesn't feel right about it. Like I'm short-changing something. But trying to confront the issue brings a fresh wave of anger.

We went to church about a month ago. And it was a nice liturgy. The homily seemed perfect for welcoming us back, the community seemed great, the priest reminded me of the good guys from my Germany days. But we haven't been back since. A couple weeks ago we even got in the car and were halfway there before I asked Mark to turn around. Our nice clothes had been dirty, so Mark and I had been forced to wear jeans - an article of clothing I was taught didn't belong in church. Plus, I just kept getting more and more pissed about the idea of going to Mass. I didn't want to bring that into the church. So we drove back home instead.

Last week, Teresa posted about the lengths to which Bush and Co will go to create a good image. Usually when I see her post about such things, I avoid commenting. I've gotten the impression that she believes the Florida Election Fiasco was a Republican conspiracy to get Bush into office and that Clinton didn't quite manage to walk on water but only got his shins wet instead of falling in. That's probably horribly unfair to Teresa. I may be guilty of lumping her thoughts on those subject in with a lot of sentiments I read along those lines because of similar language and/or ideas. Instead of trying to figure out, I try to just ignore the subject entirely when it's brought up in her blog. And we had that great chat at Colorado Gold, I did my best to bite my tongue and help the conversation move on to something else.

But I just had to say something about the post I linked to because I found it ridiculous to accuse Bush of pandering/creating a public image and imply that Clinton didn't do the same things or it at least wasn't so bad when he did it. I made the mistake of bringing up Clinton's infamous $200 haircut at LAX. Instead of taking my point and working with that, the haircut business became the topic of debate. It didn't really happen that way...It was all Limbaugh Lies....You've fallen victim to the right-wing malice machine...etc, etc. I honestly had no idea that the disruption the haircut caused was minimal at best and blown out of proportion by the press. OK, I got that point and acknowledged the error on my part. But it's like I was expected to absolve Clinton of any wrong-doing simply because the press decided to warp something. And that's when my anger slapped me in the face. I want to hate all politicians: Clinton, Bush, Cheney, Gore. Hell, even Nader. It's easier. By far. There's too many jackasses involved in politics. Forget "diamonds in the rough". Try "cubic zirconia in the dung heap". As someone pointed out in the comments, is it really worth my time to sift through tons of shit to find a small, cheap, knock-off imitation that may look pretty but will never be the real thing? No, it's easier to just say that all politicians are selfish imbeciles who should be in jobs as far removed from public office as possible.

And, thus, anger wins.

OK, so I've seen my problem. I'm copping out of my religion and my nation's politics due to anger. Probably not the smartest or the best thing to do, but it sure keeps my stress level down and my sanity intact. There's got to be a better way. One that allows me to participate as necessary in both but without having my idealism trampled to bits on a regular basis. Does anyone have any ideas?

They say that admitting is the first step. Well, damn it, what's the second one?

Saturday, November 01, 2003

Reading Snob?

As I mentioned earlier, my patience is running thin with books. I gave up on C.J. Cherryh's Faded Sun trilogy because the pace never picked up despite a very cool story. And I've been less than enthusiastic about Sara Douglass's The Wayfarer Redemption because her writing style is omnipresent POV and rife with adverbs and it keeps pulling me out of a very cool story. I get really pissed when I keep wanting to skim through my fiction to follow the story. I finally got sick of trying to force myself to read books I should be reading (due to extreme popularity or frequent referrals by other writers - I figure these authors must be doing something right, so I should read and take notes). Now I'm reading the books I want to be reading. I started last weekend with Sheila's latest Jessica Hall romance The Kissing Blades. But those take me no longer than a week to zip through (and I never skim, and I love every minute of it - thank you, Sheila), and all I had left were books I should be reading. I finally got sick of trying to read Wayfarer and made a trip to a used book store today.

I picked up a couple romances by a woman that used to work in the same desk I just got promoted from (years ago, so hopefully her good vibes were still there). I picked up a cookbook and a book on CD (for our upcoming trek to AZ for Turkey Day). And I found a book that actually grabbed my attention and made me itch to read it instead of writing today. Kristin Britain's Green Rider. I'm just excited that I've got something that I want to read again. I just hope I can stretch it out more than a week.

But this reading problem makes me worried that I might be a Reading Snob. I keep telling myself that I'm just paying more attention to the craft of writing than I used to. (Should've heard me Thursday night while watching the new show "Tru Calling". In the first few minutes, I kept saying things like, "Well, hello, Exposition." I did like the show, though. Neat concept. It'll be interesting to see if they can do something with it. Trimming down the time that they show the main character running would be a good start. She's attractive and has a good body. I get it. Move on.) But I never used to notice when writing was bad or the style was annoying in a book. I would just read and either be interested or not. Now it's "adverb" this and "exposition" that and "stop showing off your research". *sigh* Is this a fringe benefit of being a writer?