Sunday, January 23, 2005

Another Week Looms

OK, here it is. Another Sunday night. Ask Mark: this is usually the point where I go a little whacko thinking about how far away the next weekend is. Tears, anger, frustration, resigned silence, you name it. Nothing good. I was going to say that I started that before things got crazy at work, but that's a lie. Things have been crazy at work since mid-November when I found out that one of the temps was quitting because of my counterpart. And then people started getting fired and quitting. And then rumors sprang up like wildfire and no one's even trying to put them out. And then management got really fucking good at double-speak and chasing their tails. Yeah, downhill for a while. Here's hoping my resume is being considered at the places I've sent it.

But I didn't start this post in order to bitch about the Dreaded Day Job. I started this to talk about my great weekend. Yesterday, Mark and I had barely pulled ourselves out of bed when someone from my crit group called and asked me to go with her and another of our critters to a writing workshop down in a southern Denver suburb. All that was required of me was to help said person set up coffee and cookies. I said sure. We got there and set up in no time, only to have not even a dozen people show up for the RMFW business meeting scheduled for just before the workshop. Somehow I ended up being impromptu secretary for RMFW's shortest meeting ever. (The minutes are about three lines long.) And then we all went to lunch and chatted. The best part of that conversation was when someone said to me, "You're published, right?" Glad to know I look the part or present the impression of being published. Then we had the actual workshop given by Sharon Mignerey, all about how to deal with this crazy job description we writers have. At one point I asked a question (basically revealing again in front of fellow writers my personal psychotic perfectionist tendencies - more on this later), and got a free signed book out of it. Always nice.

And today I read that book for a bit, just relaxing and pretending that the Dreaded Day Job was just a demented figment of my imagination. Later I sat down with some brainstorming software and mapped out the status of my writing. It wasn't quite as cathartic as I had hoped, but it did help to get it all out of my head and visualize it. Then I mapped out all of my ideas for "Princess Incubus". Everything from the original inspiration to the research to the plot outline. All on one brainstorm map. It's a very busy map, but I like it. Again, nice to have it all in front of me, with clear deliniations of relationships and ideas.

Tomorrow night I hope to do some brainstorming for The Masque, or actually write some of "Princess Incubus". It'll depend on what, if anything, the day takes out of me. Still, I'm pleased with the weekend. It was a nice assertion that the Dreaded Day Job (aw, hell - I'm just gonna start calling it the DDJ from now on; the world never has enough acronyms) isn't who I am, it's just what I have to do at the moment.

Friday, January 21, 2005

On the Recent Silence

I could've also titled this post "Why I LOOOOVE My Job - Ha!" Why? Because I've been given new responsibilites. I just cut a few lines of a rant that threatened to go on forever; they were cut because a couple of people I work with know this link--not that I think they'd run and tell anybody what I said, but CYA.

Anyhoo, I've been insanely busy learning new software, attending training to get the basics of just what my company does in the first place, and general craziness revolving around new people in new positions (not me; pittance raise, but no promotion in sight; but things are so unstable at the moment, so who knows). The past two weeks, I've come home (usually a couple hours later than usual) and collapsed on the couch, sometimes having the energy to turn on the TV. Any free time at work is usually spent speed-reading my blog list and email to give me some sort of break from all the insanity. And lunch, what's that? But I think next week might start to settle a wee bit, so maybe I can get back to my usual sporadic blogging routine.

As for the writing.... Not going well. All the recent work upheaval has made my mind so unbelievably scattered. When I've tried to focus it on my writing--ANYTHING about my writing--it's like I'm trying to hold water in a collander. Just ain't happening. So I've taken to listening to writing-related music on my commutes and letting my mind slip-n-slide all over the place with writing. Sometimes a few thoughts will gather substance and stay put for a bit. I tend to put the songs that generate that on a repeat loop and let that substance build.

After briefly toying with the idea of going into work this weekend (and those of you who know me--at least since I left the PhD program--know that ordinarily the thought would never, not in a million years, not if I earned 100x my normal pay, ever cross my mind; THAT'S how bad things are getting at work), I've said an emphatic hell no and decided to do skitterish writing things as they pop up in my head. Brainstorm several ideas, converse with my characters here and there, work on "Princess Incubus", outline revision ideas for The Masque, whatever. I'm looking forward to it. And I finally bit the bullet and decided to have my crit group read HD and give me all the painful comments in June. So hopefully by the end of the year I'll have a final decision on that book's fate. :)

The short of it: Work Be Nuts, and it's messing up my writing in nasty ways. Next week's task will be to assess the ways I can remedy the situation (other than apply for other jobs, which I'm already doing).

Quick Plug

I was remiss last week in trying to beat into all my dear readers the absolute necessity of watching the Battlestar Gallactica miniseries and series premiere. Not this week. So, here's the plug: WATCH SCIFI FRIDAY TONIGHT!!!!! BG is wicked cool, and you should already know that SG-1 and Atlantis rock the Kasbah. Get with it and watch these awesome shows. Thank me later. :)

I'll write more about my silence in a couple hours.

Friday, January 14, 2005

I Have Seen the Enemy

Went to my new dentist today. Let's just hope there won't be a repeat of what happened the last time I was able to say that (i.e. I got fired before I could get my cleaning after the initial "my don't your teeth look lovely" visit.) I really like this new dentist. She has lots of groovy new toys. A laser tool that can check teeth for signs of deacy. A tiny camera to get upclose and personal with me teefies. This was actually a little daunting because I could watch the camera's output on a 20" TV. Blech! I ain't never gonna be no dentist! I actually got to see the plaque buildup in all its disgusting, yellow glory. Don't get me wrong: it was wicked cool to see what my teeth look like. And it was nice that they could get a sense of decay without doing myriad Xrays. But yipes! I think I may have been permanently spooked into flossing daily for the rest of my life.

Nah. Who am I kidding? :)

Tuesday, January 11, 2005


Maybe I just didn't attend enough meetings at IBM to notice it there, but upper management at my current company is remarkably adept at carrying on a conversation without saying anything at all. Or worse yet, they'll say all the wrong things and create more work for the "underlings". I never thought a simple question such as "When is the next training class?" could generate five minutes of useless, barely even tangential, verbal diarrhea. And this, unfortunately, is the future of my life at this job. Gotta find a way to deal with this and stay sane. I thought such conversational gems were the province of politics. Obviously, I was very much mistakent. Grrrrrr.

Monday, January 10, 2005


Didn't get any writing done this weekend for The Masque. Basically, I had hit a chapter where I only had vague ideas of one or two things that needed to happen. I kept hoping that Muse would get her act together to give me at least a thousand words over the weekend, but no. So I used the time for other things. On Saturday, I read all the relevant bits of a book on Satan and his crew to finish up the research I wanted to do for "Princess Incubus". Got a few more ideas about that story, and I should be able to start oulining shortly. (Incidentally, I've marked this story with the status "in worldbuilding". That phrase as come to be my personal indicator for "pre-writing". Not sure why, just seems to make sense to me that way.)

I figured Sunday would certainly see a few bits of inspiration trickling from my fingertips, but no. I even tried to sit down and force just my questions and vague notions about the next chapter, but my thoughts kept sliding all over the place--to the point where I sat at my desk, pen poised, notebook open, and all I could think about was the chorus of a song I had just heard and it kept repeating for large chunks of time. I eventually got pretty pissed at this, so I put together a rather long playlist of good songs that strike me as appropriate for The Masque and the characters therein. I probably won't be able to write to it all the time as the songs, while good and relevant, can often distract me from the writing. Instead, the CDs will serve as driving music on my commute. I get a lot of good scene and idea sketching on that drive, even moreso with the right music.

But still my thoughts kept skittering away every time I tried to focus on them. I thought a movie might be nice, and "The Fifth Element" was on TBS. But I found that I couldn't even concentrate on the movie because of the regular commercial breaks. I got sick of this pretty quick and decided to trek over to WalMart and pick up stuff to teach myself how to crochet. My grandmother taught me--or at least tried to teach me--the basics a good fifteen or so years ago, but I never got into it then. And I've been wanting to learn for the past couple years so I can crochet while watching TV or movies that we've already seen. I picked up two little how-to booklets, the needles, some yarn, and a bigger cross-stitch hoop just in case I struggled too much with the new craft and wanted to go back to something more familiar. Then I put on our videocassette version of "The Fifth Element" and went to work.

My practice pieces are certainly nothing spectacular, but I've got the basic stitches down and enjoyed the learning a lot. My thoughts were still kind of skittery when it came to writing afterward, but at least they had settled with regard to every thing else. And then once we had dinner and settled into watching some "Simpsons" episodes...THAT'S when the writing ideas started clicking into place. And then they kept me up past midnight. That's my muse, though.

Sunday, January 09, 2005

Taken Out of Context...

My husband abandoned me today, just like he did yesterday. Said he was off to collect virgins. He'll be impregnating them later this week. Such are the joys of being married to a man who does research on fruit flies. As he also studies their sex determination genes and proteins, asking him about his day often involves intriguing statements that might be rather shocking when not heard in the right context.

Friday, January 07, 2005

New Look

It took three hours, but I think the blog is stable for a while. I'll probably continue to play with it over the next few weeks (particularly the archive list - ick!). But I like the color scheme and layout. And I've figured out this whole title thing. I guess I'll have to think of another reward for writing tomorrow - assuming I can get Muse to clue me in a bit more on what exactly my characters are going to be doing in the next chapter.

Adventures in Astronomy

Mark and I braved the cold and snow last night to try to catch a glimpse of a comet, the Orion nebula, Saturn, Andromeda, and the Perseides (sp?). We managed to see the Orion nebula (pretty, whispy blues and greens) and Saturn (with the little bright speck of Titon right next to it) before his telescope decided to go on the fritz. One teensy, tiny screw broke, thus preventing the scope tube itself from resting appropriately on its stand. So we had to call it a night early and rush home to partake of amaretto-laced hot chocolate. And, of course, Mark has to special order that teensy, tiny screw at God-knows-what price before he can use his telescope again. I'm sort of mixed about this problem. On the one hand, there's a lot of cool stuff that I want to see and that Mark knows how to find and when to best view it. On the other hand, it was really, friggin' cold out last night! :)

Thursday, January 06, 2005

Be Prepared

I'm getting ready to change things on the blog. The title. The template. Maybe some sidebar links. That's a reward for writing on Saturday. So probably Saturday or Sunday should see the big changes. Or maybe tomorrow night if I write a lot tonight. Just wanted to give fair warning.

Goals for 2005

I've been able to sketch notes on this idea, but anytime I tried to sit down and actually craft a post or something on the topic, I just couldn't. My mind was remarkably blank on anything but the vaguest bullet-pointed list of goals. Hopefully I can force something out of myself on the subject.

Personal Goals: Get better and better at living in the moment instead of always looking ahead to "better days". Stick with the daily journaling and exercise--this took a bit of a hit during the holidays. Figure out how to make the job work for however long it takes until things change. That one's going to be the toughie.

Writing Goals: Implement a reward system for my writing. I've actually already started this. Since I started writing regularly, I've used guilt tactics more often than rewards to keep myself writing and writing well. No more. The rewards can be as simple as putting a better spin on the stuff that I want to / should do anyway. For example, if I can get a particular chapter finished during my writing time tonight (doable), then my reward will be to continue some background reading and plotting for my short story "Princess Incubus" (and I did figure out why that title works).

Finish, revise, and submit The Masque. I'm still basically on track to finish a draft by the Pikes Peak Writers Conference. Then I'm going to let it sit for about a month while I do other things (such as submit "Princess Incubus" to a few SF & F magazines, outline The Masque, Book 2, and continue work for an on-line writing course). I hope to revise it and have it ready to submit by the end of the year, hopefully sooner.

Stick with a two-year on-line writing course. I'm going to use the course to write Strings of Betrayal. The course started this week, and I'm really looking forward to the rest of it. I like the syllabus and format. I think I could learn a lot to further adjust my writing system to my liking. Plus, it would be great to finally start So'B moving.

And at some point this year, I should really decide what to do about Human Dignity. I'm also hoping to start some kind of formal mentoring program with a published author or two this year. Hopefully they can help me with my various dilemmas about this book.

So that's a more fleshed out version of my goals for 2005. My overall goal for this year will be "improvement". Last year was balance. Without balance, you can't improve because you're never sure which way is up. Now I'm sure.

Sunday, January 02, 2005

Dream House for 2005

In keeping with my previous post, click here to check out HGTV's Dream Home 2005. Probably wouldn't hurt to enter while you're there. I've been trying to check out the pictures (other than the front of the house, which is wicked cool), but our home connection stinks and it's taking too frickin' long. I'll oggle at work.

Saturday, January 01, 2005

Dreams for 2005

I've got a longer post in the works about my specific goals for 2005, but it needs some extra time to rattle around in my head. So until then, I've got some dreams that I'd love to see come true this year.

First, the dream of Professional Writing Success. This can take the form of either winning a writing contest, getting an agent, or getting a book contract. Or all three. Though I might wonder what the flipside of all that good luck in one year might be...

Second, the dream of Better Employment. This can take the form of a new job for me, improved conditions at the current job, or Mark finishing up his research in record time and landing a perfect job in Tucson. Then we can start looking for a house and stuff.

Third, the dream of Time Travel, of sorts. All I really want to do for this dream is to make tomorrow June so my brother will be home and out of Iraq for good.

Those are the big dreams. I'm sure I can think of more, like perfect health for all my family and friends, better employment for them as well, financial security, etc, etc. But those three jumped out at me as I wrote, so posted they be.