Oops

I guess it’s been a while since I updated. I have a perfectly valid excuse! No, I really do.

I spent the final four days of 2011 editing. Almost non-stop. Thursday and Sunday both came and went in a flurry of words. Reading, cutting, adding, cutting, changing, reading reading reading. For me, editing fiction is a very particular activity. I have come to terms with the fact that it will never be a tidy process.

On New Years Eve, I ran around outside with some sparklers at approximately 9pm, Perth time. I have more of a tradition of celebrating New Years with Sydney, who are three hours ahead of us at this time of year, than anything else. This is simply because I would normally be asleep for any celebration here! This year, I greeted the turn of midnight in my hometown still editing. Approximately twenty minutes later, I touched the last line and declared it a success! I’d reached my goal!

I woke to the first day of 2012 with my mind buzzing; I knew something I needed to go back and modify more. I often wake up with story ideas, since my subconscious is very well trained in making adjustments and working through problems in my writing. My sleeping mind was totally right, and I spent all of yesterday editing even more.

Last night, I provided my beta readers with their copy of the story. I hope to hear back from them pretty quickly about their initial impression, and just hope I haven’t overlooked some kind of atrocious error! But honestly, I am confident in the place my story has come to, and I am really looking forward to getting right back into drafting book two.

At the end of the second draft, traditional means of word count estimation puts TDM at 54,500 words. Yes, that breaks free of being a novella by 14,500 words. I knew when I began editing that this story would stretch to become a short novel, and I simply had to accept the fact. It changes what I will do with the series, slightly. I haven’t made any firm commitment to how I want to publish TDM, and won’t until the final edit is complete!

In the meantime, I have a sequel to write.

~A

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To an owl kind of year

Owls are awesome. I have written about them a couple of times, but it probably hasn’t really expressed how lovable I find these creatures.

One of my Christmas gifts this year was a free downloadable owl calendar from My Owl Barn. Add together my love of calendars and owls, and you get a pretty fantastic outcome! Even better is how wonderful the artwork is, and that this project is completely free to share with everyone.

So you, too, can enjoy a super excellent owl calendar for the year of 2012, click the image below to head over to My Owl Barn and download your own customised copy!

Owl Lover 2012 Calendar

Since there are so many amazing images to choose from, I’ll be going through the list and printing up a couple more of these for myself. You can never have too many owls, or calendars. True facts.

If you don’t hear much from me, it’s because I have lost my soul to Skyrim. We held out on buying a copy until Christmas in hopes of finishing a bunch of other projects before starting the latest Elderscrolls installment (it didn’t happen), and the game is already living up to expectations. Oh, sure, it isn’t my favourite game, and from a technical standpoint, I have a number of criticisms, but there is something to be said for charging around with fireballs and a battleaxe.

~A

On being a relentless recluse

I just realised it’s after 9:00PM on Sunday night. There was a lot I intended on doing this weekend, and I suspect I only got a small fraction of it completed. Nothing new in that sense – I frequently find my plans disrupted by other activities, or in this case, repressive weather turning me incredibly lethargic.

Summer isn’t exactly my season, particularly here in Western Australia. In the general Perth region, we don’t get it too bad, but the older I am, the lower my temperature threshold creeps. Even this early, just a few days into official summer, I just want to sit in a cool, darkened room for most of the day.

Aside from reading a lot thanks to the awesome birthday gifts I received, I’ve still been busy. I can honestly say I’m more interested in my story, and the lengthy process of editing it, than I am in almost every other form of entertainment at my disposal. Considering the vast quantities and especially the new release video games I’ve been waiting for, that really says something. So if I’m not glued to the very nice screen of my Kindle, I’m on the computer, engrossed in ever more editing.

When two days pass without my notice, it suddenly hits me that I have been holed up in my room for almost that whole time. And days before, except for essential departures; work, groceries, and so on. If it weren’t for the internet and all my exceptional, multi-national buddies, I wouldn’t have had much contact with the outside world.

In the heat of my room, despite the valiant efforts of my freestanding air conditioner, I’m sleepy and just a little content with being away from the world for a while. It’s humid and even warmer outside. I’m too distracted and tired to pay attention to other people, and forgetful besides.

All that’s missing is another rain dance.

~A

“Might as well”

What a funny little phrase that is. Might as well. Shortened down from, “I had might as well-”, which would then include an action. Used when we see something that ought to be done, and we should just do it now and get it sorted out. Of course, it’s not always a negative context, nor is it necessarily something we want to avoid, but the choice to do it there and then is dependent on another contextual aspect.

This weekend was dedicated as a solid attempt at finishing a whole lot of projects all at once. This, of course, was a very ambitious plan and nothing was completed, but a lot of pieces got plenty of progress. Amazing what happens when you stay off the internet for a while, eh?

Tonight had a lot of ‘might as well’s included in my efforts to complete that work. When you’re crocheting, it comes up a lot, actually. See, there’s only a small amount left in the ball of yarn, so might as well keep going until it’s run out. Oh, there’s not much left of this row, might as well just finish it. That went so quickly, I’d might as well just do another row.

Maybe it’s just me that this happens to so frequently, but the more I consider it, the more I see how often I really do add to my tasks with a ‘might as well’. Made a batch of sushi? Might as well bake some cookies while I’m in the kitchen. Writing a blog post and think of another subject to talk about? Might as well jot down the outline while it’s in my mind. Out grocery shopping? Might as well stop in and get that other thing I need. Driving by Nanna’s place? Might as well drop in and see her while we’re out that way. Writing a novella? Might as well write eight. Okay, that one is an exaggeration, but only barely.

I think it has something to do with perceived efficiency. If you’re in the position to take care of something when you’re already there and not otherwise busy, it saves you from having to organise that trip, action, or effort at a later date, or makes sure you don’t forget something. In other cases, it can be one of those really sly, clever procrastination techniques. The ones that are perfectly legitimate, and you’re being productive in one area, but you’re simultaneously putting off work on something else.

As for tonight, and indeed this whole weekend, it was just me trying really hard to get a bunch of unfinished things finally completed. Right now, I’m eyeing off my notebook, honestly thinking, “Might as well write a little bit while I’m not doing anything else.”

~A

Can’t figure it out

Now that things are settling down a bit, I’m left pondering a whole new bag of mysteries. I feel a lot of interest with my novella, M. It’s something I want to write, and in general, I definitely feel like playing the author game at the moment. There’s no sense of “writer’s block”, nothing like that. Nevertheless, this one isn’t coming easily. There’s a lot of dragging and struggling; the words come in bursts, then I don’t know what I’m doing again.

Instead of getting frustrated at the progress, I’ve just adapted. I handwrite as much as I can, and when I’m stuck, I leave it for a bit. Then I transcribe it all into my computer, making whatever necessary minor edits along the way, and find myself hooked back into the story long enough to spurt out another few hundred words – handwritten, so I can follow this same, convoluted pattern next time.

All I can really say is, I’m getting there. I don’t know why it’s so slow going when I’m excited, and happy with the story. I can’t see what’s halting me all the time. Maybe I’m just feeling more easily distracted than I realise.

There’s no foolproof, 100% guaranteed method for anyone. Some people write to a word count, some people write for a time limit, some people are surely getting outside help from the magic realm to write consistently and persistently as a proper, fulltime experience. Plenty of writers that I respect and admire write a hefty chunk a couple of days a week, and don’t even look at their stories at other times. Meanwhile, others would swear black and blue that the only way, the ONLY WAY, is to write every single day without fail.

I rebel against rules, so there’s definitely no single option open to me. I’ll do whatever works this time, and just remind myself to adapt again when it stops working.

And put just a little bit on blame on the other stories in my head that want to be written. Maybe what I really need to do is figure out how to divide my writing time to include work on multiple projects at once… (now wasn’t I just saying I need to do the exact opposite of that?).

~A

Sagittarius

Whether or not you believe in the traits of the Zodiac, sometimes the descriptions are far too apt and entertaining. I’ve been a big fan of the Zodiac for as long as I’ve known about it. Be it the Western Zodiac, Chinese Zodiac, Native American Zodiac, or any other cultural Astrology belief, I think there’s some wisdom to be taken from all of them.

From a Zodiac page on Avia Venefica’s awesome symbology website, What’s Your Sign, we have this little description of the Sagittarius:

Sagittarius – The Centaur
November 22 – December 21
Here we have the philosopher among the zodiac signs and meanings. Like the Scorpio, they have great ability for focus, and can be very intense. However, they must channel their energy or they will waste time and wear themselves out going in too many directions at once. They are not very patient and expect quick results. However, when encountered with failure they make extreme comebacks often against incredible odds. They make loyal friends and lovers, but they do not handle commitment well as they refuse to be tied down while chasing philosophical pursuits.

Yeah. See the third and fourth sentences? I’ve been having a very Sagittarius week, doing everything at once, being impatient at the lack of results, and generally wasting a lot of time.

Now, that’s not too much of a bad thing. I’m also optimistic to a fault, and yes, I will bounce back from this week with more coffee-fuelled enthusiasm! I’m tempted to say, “I haven’t gotten anything done!”, but the reality is, I’ve gotten a lot of pieces of things done. Extra jewellery was produced for The Dragon’s Hoard, as well as writing out all the price tags I just received in the mail. I’ve been asked to participate as a sponsor for charity, and have to organise even more jewellery-related work for that. About four blog posts are half-written and saved for later.

I wrote, definitely, but I also edited as I went (bad mistake), and ended up cutting about 50% of the work, hence my progress bar hasn’t been touched for several days.

I’ve taken care of the cats, and the fish, and a whole lot of housework. I’ve done gardening, and grocery shopping, and maintained contact with my social groups. I cooked many delicious things, most of which I promptly ate. I’ve currently got two major crocheting projects half-finished that I can barely bring myself to look at, because I know how much longer it will take me to finish them, and don’t you know, I have other things to do!

Yeah… It’s about time to rein in the wild, galloping centaur at the core of my multi-project enthusiasm so I can just get things done. It’s hard coming to terms with priorities. Sometimes, for me, it seems like an insurmountable task.

~A

Just half of a fully forgotten memory

I collect things. Anyone who knows me in person can probably tell you something I collect. Ask ten different people, and they probably tell you I collect ten different things. The truth is, I just keep stuff, not in a deadly-hoarder kind of fashion, but in the “this is useful or interesting or taught me something valuable and I must retain it until it no longer serves that purpose to me” kind of way.

Books, and video games (spanning well over two decades of production), DVDs and CDs flow out of a dozen shelves in my house. I have small wooden boxes and large vintage suitcases, collections of wool, yarn, thread, and scraps of fabric for sewing and creating. Tumbled gemstones, Tarot decks, notebooks and little paper and fabric gift baggies that I usually find another great purpose for.

I also collect quotes and inspiring stories. My favourite is collecting writing advice that doesn’t tell you any of the specific things, but rings that clear, pealing bell inside me, the one that says, “TRUTH!”.

Now, I don’t have the best functioning memory in the world. I usually attribute that to replacing memories too frequently with new information, new ideas. I don’t recall specifics of things I’ve read very well, and that is a kind of blessing. Some days when I’m feeling really lost or uninspired, I might decide to browse through my interesting writing file. Just see if I’ve got anything in there that will remind me why I should do any of it.

I’ll usually find something. Rather, I usually find this blog post by Merlin Mann: Making the Clackity Noise. I can’t remember where I first found this article, or why I read it. It came from somewhere.

It rang true to me in all the right ways. And even if I don’t always end up writing something significant afterwards, I’m happy, because just a little bit of a story fell out of me. I think we get way too caught up trying to do it “right”. There isn’t a right. There is, however, a write. That’s what I’m going to briefly remember to do.

~A