A Garden of Delights

Archive for the ‘Self- exploration’ Category

As I said last week, I’ve done a lot of reading lately.  Different  genres, authors, size works….  This weekend I finally dipped my toes into the ocean that in James Patterson’s body of work.

Basically, I had to test out the hype for myself.

Now, I do have to confess that these works, two of the Bookshots series to be exact, were only co-authored by Patterson; they were also of a very different style than I normally read.  So to say I didn’t find myself as enthralled as I hoped I would be by the works of this mainstream master isn’t me trying to be critical of his work.

More it was me trying to be critical of myself.

I wanted to understand why I never read any of Patterson’s work (or Nora Roberts or… insert name of best-selling author here).  I often actively avoid such books, preferring to try someone with a smaller backlist or an author I’d never heard of before when I go looking to try something new.   So, yeah…  it was definitely about understanding the hype, but also wondering what made me avoid the “popular” books.  Was it years of high school angst that made me fear messing with the In-crowd.  Did I just inherently dismiss it all as booorr-ing mainstream fluff while the read “deep” things were being done behind closed doors in band and by the kids doing AP Bio and French?

Maybe…  Though also, knowing that many of Patterson’s works were highly action-driven stories, I wanted to see some of that writing style… well, in action.

The lessons I learned, as well those from last week’s foray into Barbara Pym’s and Sir Walter Scott’s works (Crampton Hodnet and Excellent Women as well as The Talisman and Ivanhoe respectively) and my feast of Denise Swanson’s Scumble River detective stories (one a day keeps me at the library) are…

  • putting down a Bookshot book is easy, almost as easy as Ivanhoe, but not nearly as satisfying to pick up again
  • if I’d known about Pym’s works sooner, I’d be a serious Austenite instead of the half-hearted one I am now.
  • I need a series.  Seriously…  if I can’t follow characters through several books (or seasons if it’s a video thing), then it better be a very long book
  • most contemporary fiction characters do not act the way I would write them acting but many of the more classical characters do
  • there’s not much action in an action scene…  at least in a Bookshot

There’s more of course.  But this post is getting long already and I still have a ROW80 check-in to finish.

So, how’d I do?

  • I didn’t quite manage the daily note in my journal.  Some days I didn’t really write anything except texts to be honest.
  • Devouring books however was right on course.  Saturday morning I returned 18 finished books (including the four listed above) to the UHLS and two to the MHLS.  As my interlibrary loan requests were still in transit, I picked up a few books from the books sale and freebies racks to tide me over.  Finished three of those and now working on a romance by a fellow member of our local RWA chapter.
  • I think this definitely qualifies as a mini-post about books I’ve read, though it definitely can’t be called a review
  • have not set anything into motion at the ROW80 blog, though I did have last weeks posts up on schedule for a change
  • and no outline for ‘Listii’s story…  silly man is trying to urge me to return to the Swan Song Series books instead of focusing on him, so I’ve outlined and replotted that

Pretty much all my stuff so far.  This coming week is bound to be extra hectic, so I am probably not going to be posting on Wednesday.  Just sayin’.

 

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A ROW80 Goal Post

A few months ago, I had a plan.

Actually, I’ve had plans and been executing them, step-by-step, most of the time I have not posted here.  Life has been…  well, Life.  Crazy, unpredictable, sometimes hellish, sometimes wonderful—mostly it’s been a blur that I remember only through looking over notes and drawings in my travel journal.  Maybe this is a good thing….  a topic I think I will try to develop into a real post for my Wednesday ROW80 check-in.

We’ll see.

You may wonder why I say “We’ll see” when I am writing up (albeit late) my list of goals for the Round of Words in 80 Days challenge.  After all, shouldn’t I be committing to regular posts and improving my writing?

The answer is “probably”.  Lately though, beyond my maintenance of the ROW80 site and blog, I’ve spent more of my word-related headspace in reading.  Some video time, but mostly reading and learning what appeals to me as a consumer of stories.  I’ve found that I run through an average-sized cozy in a day, I love a series, and that I’m the kind of reader (and watcher) who should never start a series when it’s new—if I have to wait for the next book… I may never return to it.

I do need to return my attention to some writing output however.  Which is why I’m making this post.

So here goes, my (8-week now) plan for the ROW80 challenge:

  • a daily note of something that has happened (journal)
  • continue to devour books
  • a once-a-week post about the books I’ve read
  • continue work on the ROW80 blog
  • outline (this first week) and then rough draft the new story that has been tossing in my head about one of ‘Listii’s covert missions

It’s not a great list.  It’s just a start…  long term goals don’t really work for me.  That’s something else I’ve discovered in my lull from posting.  Neither do breaks…  I need to maintain a consistency of scheduled events or the clutter of Life’s demands takes over and I lose sight of the place I’m trying to get to.  My ROW80 goals are as much a daily thing as anything, but I’ll be updating them weekly.

And maybe that more than anything is my goal for this Round of Words.  Be achieve some consistency in Life.

April 16th seven years ago in a city called Troy

Last week I didn’t quite fulfill my initial goal I’d set for myself.  To recap, this is what I set for myself:

So, at least for this week (the nice thing about goals is that they can be adjusted), I have ONE goal:

Make a list of  ten things I dream of doing and prioritize them by how much I want them, how long they will take to achieve and what steps I will need to follow to meet each one.  And one caveat here…  no “pay bills” goals here.

We’ll see where that gets me (What Am I Doing? 4/3/17)

Last week, I bemoaned the fact that Shiny was more than just an adjective but also a state of mind as I tried to describe the cause of my failure.  I can’t say I am better off now.  The ‘new and shiny’ is still demanding more of me than I suspected.  I knew it would be hard to narrow down the list, but…  yeesh.

Still, I think I have come up with something that works as a decent starting point.  Ten things I dream of doing and how I intend to get there… and after that, new goal: to take dream from the list and start working on achieving it.

  1. I want to do something that will help others without causing hassles for the people I love.  This may seem like an odd thing for a dream.  It’s clearly not a S.M.A.R.T. goal.  It’s vague, has no defined times, and…  attainable and specific ran right off the cliff here.  But this is who I am.  I like to help, to do things that make peoples’ lives easier…  and I get into all sorts of fluff because of it.  Starting now, I want to figure out better ways to help without also becoming a problem.  Sometimes it will mean saying “No” more.  I bet sometimes I will have to say “Yes” more too.  This is not something that can be given a one-size-fits-all-(or even most) solution, but…  I can dream, can’t I?
  2. April 15th, four years ago on a road called Lower Flatrock

    The storyworld that exists in my head needs to be realized in more than one ‘permanent’ format.  I don’t want to just work on the writing—I need to get through that part, but I also want to develop the skills to also give it form in other expressions, preferably drawing or painting since I have at least half a chance of achieving it there.  I would like to someday make an animation of some of the stories, but that’s not as high a priority as more basic art.  To that goal, I need to dedicate more time to drawing and trying out how to use other artistic media.  I may start joining some of the Boodle’s art classes, as they’ve been wonderful for helping him learn how to use the different tools to achieve his artistic visions.

  3. I want to travel because, while the internet has made the world much more accessible, there is a limit to the depth of experience one can garner from 360°images, webinars, and descriptive text passages.  This is a dream in some ways…  my husband is very much a home-body.  It is also a goal that I can meet in limited forms.  Next week I will be on an airplane, heading across The Pond with the Boodle to spend a few weeks exploring England and meeting some fellow writers.
  4. I dream about living in one of those homes that is part retreat, part library, part museum and antique shop.  Sometimes this dream wobbles a bit and I actually am living in an antique shop, one that specializes in old books.  Sometimes the dream involves running a Bed & Breakfast that would have some of these elements.  Clearly I need to refine this a lot more…
  5. Sharing things that I find beautiful with others brings me exponential happiness… I need, in a visceral way, to do this. Since art and beauty are subjective, this isn’t always as easy as I would like, but generally, I have good luck with this.  I just want to keep doing it…. and maybe increase my ‘out-reach’.
  6. I know I am not taking the best care of my body that I can at the moment (as much as it likes to remind me of that fact, I am not giving up my green tea lattes from Starbuck’s though).  So I have other dreams/goals involving fitness and health…  one of them is to run again and do another 5K race, running the thing this time.  Why?  Because I had a dear friend, almost a brother, who loved to run in 5 & 10K races, and he died before we could run together.
  7. I’m putting this a bit further down the list because…  really it’s not up to me, so to speak—it is his life, and he will make these decisions on his own—, but I really want to be able to help my son discover what gives him joy and a sense of fulfillment.
  8. In little things as well as big things, I want to keep a sense of wonder.
  9. I dream of worlds where contact between two people meeting is not abrasive, but soothing.  I want people to be comforted by my presence, and to be comfortable in theirs…  I’d like to find my ‘tribe’.
  10. If we’re talking dreams…  I dream about helping grow our local homeschooling community center into a more self-sustaining resource that involves the community at large in some ways.  I know what I would do if I suddenly had a lot of money… or the skills to help operate such a place.

The Boodle and his Great-uncle measuring fish fry, 2 years ago April 16h

There it is…  I suspect this list isn’t The List. It just is The List For Now.  Seems to me, this is a process that I would benefit from participating in regularly.  So…  to Round 2 for this goal, and onto the goals for the rest of this round, starting with the new goal of ‘the week’.

A Sense of Wonder

Why?  Because it’s the goal I am in the best position to work on now and it opens so many of the other goals.

I know that the reason for regular ROW80 check-ins is not to brag about our accomplishments (okay, not solely), but also to share those less than stellar times when we are floundering and need the support of our fellow ROWers to get us going again.  Still, I somehow managed to avoid three check-ins in the past two weeks (one at Many Worlds and two here) because I felt I had nothing to report.

I wasn’t writing, and somehow, I’d begun to equate words on the page as the only marker of actual progress I could use.  Which is (of course) very silly on my part.  I was doing a ton of things, above and beyond the normal stuff of daily life.  If anything, I’ve had to become extra creative to fit in those normal things…  a few dishes here and there while waiting for my hot water in the morning, sort a few clothes and move a load for folding out on my way downstairs…

Thursday and Friday I was “at college” with my son as he was invited to participate in a  set of workshops* with the drama department at Hudson Valley CC and Shakespeare & Co. for their Northeast Regional tour.  A mini-homeschooling conference on Tuesday, car inspection and repairs on Wednesday, dental visits on both Monday and last Thursday, and on and on…

Oh, and I have managed to get back to some writing-related stuff.  The classes I am taking on Ancient Portus (not so much the Maritime Archaeology one) and the American South (global view) have provided a great deal of fodder for my stories.  Time Team episodes have given me a deeper realism of the past and what skies might look like, smells, even how the water might be…  We like to romanticize the past by imagining things were so much cleaner and purer (or how much more violent and dangerous) things were.  At least in fiction, especially, there seems to be a sense that we do things so very different than we used to.

Then we have to consider facts like the Tiber river had become so polluted during by the 2nd C BC in Rome that there were purification rituals for the river itself (and an increased need for well drilling), that the slag heaps from ancient iron smelting were stacked so high in some places they made their own mountains (and became a source of iron in WWI), or man-made hills of discarded pottery in Italy…  just think of the trees that had to be cut down and burned for those kilns and furnaces (making charcoal uses an insane amount of wood in its own right).

So, yeah…  I’m getting some definite ideas about the world in more stories, smells, sights, textures.  And I even managed some newish words last night.  Yay!

*For the record…  After Friday’s 3½ hr session on clowning, I have acquired a great respect for the control needed for any comedic actor as well an awe at the passion the Boodle brought to his parts.  He’s an amazing kid.

The first thing one needs to do (if one wants to do anything) is to start…

13239297_10208935359048457_5614473794801101084_nThis is me starting…

…yet again.

It’s not a grand plan of attack yet.  It’s a baby step.  I don’t know where I’m going yet.  It involves writing and stories—I know that much at the moment.  It also involves trimming some things.

 

More on that later…

For today, just a quick “Hi, I’m back.”

And a bit of an update…  I’m writing again.  *whew*  It was hard going for a while.  I suspect every year it’s still going to be a bit hard to maintain any writing momentum around the holidays.  This year I almost wished I could embrace the normal busy-ness that normally takes one during that time.  Hopefully next year, and the years that follow, will get easier, and I can stop thinking about the should’ves and could’ves and the people gone.

I can only honor them one way—be the best person I can be.  When I was with them, they made me feel like I was that best person…

We all go somewhere, someday.  If it is a real place, then…  it’ll be fun to say “Hi!  You were right!” to them.

Oh, and my daily wordcount via 750words: 1031 words

I have bad habit I’d really like to break.

I tend to react, often quickly, often with great vigor, and…  often without much forethought.  In other words, I tend to overreact, fly off the handle and not think before doing so.

So very much not a good habit.

Some of this comes from the fact I’ve felt rushed to make decisions all my life.  We live in a world where instantaneous responses are demanded for more and more daily affairs.  A product of technology perhaps, though I didn’t grow up in the era of cellphones and email.

Hopefully his son got some letters from Dad

That said…  I often dream of those days when people would travel for days to carry a message from one person to another.  Imagine a note from a Roman Centurion to his family.  Some news would be missed in the weeks and months between letters, little events such as his son’s first steps would not be so vital to record in a letter as a count of the wool gathered from the sheep this past season or that Citizen Maxanimus had offered to tutor the young child for the small fee of two hens.

Today however, messages are traded back and forth at the speed of conversation.  Some people type better with their thumbs than they do with all their fingers combined.  And many of these people can’t use a pen except to scribble their name on some official forms or an electronic pad at the store.

With that kind of communication speed, it’s easy to expect near instant answers to every question that can be asked.  Extra company is coming over…  Can you pick up two loaves of Italian bread on the way home?  Oh, and XXYY can’t eat gluten, so can you also grab some rice?  (because, of course, company that didn’t plan to come until the last minute expects a feast when they arrive) Or the fear of relationship trouble … Are you mad?  You didn’t call this morning (because we need to call our dates the first thing we wake up or we clearly don’t like them)

Don’t we ever take time to process things anymore?  Is it so wrong to simply have a cuppa and maybe a dish of fruit and cheese or some snacks as opposed to a full meal when unexpected guests arrive?  Or to say…  “Oh, I didn’t know you were coming.  I was making X, but I can put that in the fridge for tomorrow if that doesn’t work and we can go to Smith’s Restaurant tonight.”

Yes, some decisions need to be made on a moment’s notice.  But we live in a world where every decision seems so urgent….  And I am not good at it.  I like to think my ideas through.  I panic.  I get frustrated.  I snap…

I’d like to change that about myself, but…  it’s not easy to do.  The best way I’ve discovered?  Refuse to make so many instantaneous decisions.  Demand time to let the ideas and possibilities simmer.  Something I have learned in my near-half-a-century of life is that there are second and third and fourth (and more) chances to redo those poor initial reactions.

Thankfully!

Some cool links on decision-making:

I forgot my last few weeks of posting (I know!  but at least the break in between wasn’t almost a year like I had done).  Who’d have thought it would be so hard to come up with single weekly blog post?

Thing is…  it hasn’t been a single post.  Just a single one here.

I’ve been busy, busy, busy over at my writing progress blog Many Worlds from Many Minds, and have been either posting there or commenting on the many wonderful participants of the Writing challenges I have been involved with: the Round of Words in 80 Days; Ready. Set. Write!; and the JuNoWriMo.  It was also the end of school for me at BCS (and homeschooling), so there were progress reports to make and assignments to review….

The plan this summer is to merge this blog with Many Worlds so I can dedicate my attention to maintaining one online home.  Or rather one blogging home…  with Facebook and Twitter and LinkedIn and… well, you get the idea.

But that’s for later this summer.  For now…  I just really wanted to both apologize to you all for being absent and to note a small change to the First Friday Photo blog hop I hold here on the 1st Friday of every month.

From now on, I’ll be opening the FFP linky up the week before the first Friday of each month so people have time to post their links.  The links should go active on the Friday.  This way people can schedule their posts somewhat, and they can have something to look forward to on First Fridays.  😀

Waiting for laughter

Waiting for laughter (cred: Eden Mabee)

Hope you’ll all join in.


First Friday Photo

Something to inspire

obligatory “What I Allow”

Short Stuff

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