A Garden of Delights

Consistency has been my main goal this year and especially this Round of Words in 80 Days session.  Given that common wisdom these days suggests 66 days is the average time to make a habit stick, I guess having a few extra buffer days is a good thing.  I haven’t exactly set records out the starting gate any year before this.

Nor have I this year…

Of my main goals, I’m only kicking off on three of my four cylinders, and with this cold—not just the sub-zero temps and fierce windchill outside, but the knock-me-off-my-feet-make-the-whole-world-look-funky-and-fevery beast that had me bundled up for the past two days—getting the engine going has been harder and harder.  Stalling out is an ever-present concern.

So, it’s with some relief I can say I’m still making steady progress toward most of the goals I set at the beginning of the month.  I missed two days of 750words.com (Thursday was a pen & paper day at Panera with a friend, and Friday was the in-bed-no-computer sort), but even with those misses, I’ve rediscovered my joy of free-writing and on-page musing the site offers me.

The blogging isn’t exactly where I want it to be—I still need to update the pages for our ROW80 sponsors and set up the new sponsor post.  As for figuring out how to merge Many Worlds (where most of my writing samples and art exist) with here is…  waiting.

One thing I don’t want to wait too far on…. returning to my photography.  Even if I’m not taking new pictures, I have a ton of images to process and organize.  Some of these I want to share…

So I am starting up the First Friday Photo bloghop again.  The linky froggie (below or in the sidebar, either one works) will be open for the month.  The actual posts go live on the first Friday of each month.  In the case of this session, the posting day will be Feb 2.  The linky will close the day before.

Anyone and everyone is welcome to join in.  This isn’t a contest…  just a way to share a bit of love to the art of pictures.  Here are some of my past entries: #FirstFriday

That’s about it…  for today.  😀

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It may be that it’s a new year.  Or it may be just because I’ve been gradually finding my flow back into writing more consistently anyway and now I wish to take a new step forward….  Either way, I’m starting some new things today.


Welcome to my first…

2018 ROW80 Check-in IWSG WWW Wednesday Post

Post

(click below an image to go to the specific section you want if you don’t want to read the whole post)

Since one of my new ROW80 goals was to start blogging more consistently and since I’ve wanted to become more active in the IWSG (Insecure Writers Support Group)  and since I have read a lot and wished I had a way to share my recent pleasure…  this seemed like a great place (and great time) to start.

First things last and last things first, let’s go with WWW Wednesday where, according to the rules of the bloghop, I need to answer three main questions:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Currently?  I’m reading Thursdays at Eight by Debbie Macomber and enjoying it as a break from my usual.  Also recently started, Guns Germs & Steel by Jared Diamond, but I am finding myself frustrated by his voice and absolutism in the face of research that has come out since the book’s publication.

Recently? I finished Dying to Sing by Margaret Chittenden, Murder on St. Mark’s Place by Victoria Thompson (The Gaslight Mysteries) and Murphy’s Law by Rhys Bowen (the Molly Murphy Mysteries).  I cannot say enough good things about the second two books (my library has huge orders for the next books in those two series).  The first?  I can’t say I hated it, but I didn’t find myself connecting with Chittenden’s characters in this book quite the way I did with her romance Double Take (read it in November).  And while I have the next book in the series waiting, I’m just not sure I care now.

Next? I’ve got the next Molly Murphy mystery Life of Riley waiting in the wings, Dear Life by Alice Munro (started this then staggered with the holiday chaos), and another eight books waiting for me at the library.  Guess where I’ll be visiting tomorrow if the weather holds out?  😀


Secondly, we have the Insecure Writers Support Group where writers share their doubts and concerns and just express how things may/may not be going in their writing careers.  Optionally, there is a question we can answer, which presently fits a lot of my recent doubts and fears:

What steps have you taken or plan to take to put a schedule in place for your writing and publishing?

Oh, boy…  doubts and fears.  Got plenty of those going these days.  I’d like to say it’s just the post holiday exhaustion, but really, writing has become hard in …  well, not the actual work, but way my head seems to no longer connect with words.  I used to be able to focus.  Lately, unless I’m in that “perfect for me” place, my mind cannot absorb much of anything I write or see on the screen.  A blank page is more than terrifying…  it’s like a slippery snow bank that my eyes just slide right off.

It’s not so much a too much technology thing or even a distraction thing…  oddly enough, writing into my phone (the joys of an S-Pen and a Note5) is much easier these days than on my PC or laptop (a paper notebook itself is still somewhat better).  My best thinking seems to happen in chaotic places like Dave & Busters or lunch time at Panera (it has to be crowded enough [and loud enough]  for me to close inward and focus).

The answers seem simple…  go someplace busy and write.  They are simple really.  Of course, I can’t live in D&B (or afford food there that often) or Panera.  It’s well over a 20 mile drive to either one.  And they don’t keep the hours my (lately) rare bursts of inspiration seem to come by.

So… in answer to the question above, I’m trying other options.  I used to use Coffitivity when I worked the overnight shift as a network admin.  And now there is MyNoise for other styles of background chatter to try.  Music…  always music.  And while I can’t watch a show and write (even if I don’t like it, I find myself unable to stop trying to follow the storyline), having sports on in the background seems to be very cathartic.  An added boon…  my son has recently become quite interested in soccer.

I am still trying to figure out how to be “here” for my family and “here” for my characters at the same time…  my brain never worked well that way, and age seems to be bringing out all of its quirks.  My poor husband mentioned the other day that he’s grown used to my “vanishing” in a second if my attention shifts and focuses on something.

He’s a saint.


And lastly, but not least there is the ROW80 check-in (which has been somewhat answered by the prior two sections).  For those who didn’t see my goals for the upcoming 12-weeks of ROWing, you can see them here.  And you can find our very supportive and helpful group here, if you want to know more about the ROW80 in general.

The biggest “failure” of this check-in is that I missed typing my 750 words on Monday.  Not really a big issue in the grand scheme of things.

Successes?  Pretty much everything else.  I even got in a social media bonus of participating in the RWA Kiss of Death weekly #1lineWed meme (here), posted a WIPpet (here), and researched ways to setup an official website that would combine this blog with my other one.  And I even had the ROW80 blog setup and the linky posted early yesterday (as well as some backdrop maintenance done).

It’s a good start.  I still need to corral the ROW80 sponsor stuff into a neat pile (many thanks to those who ARE sponsoring!).  It’s a process though, and I’m making some steps through the mire.

First day of a new year…  well, if you follow the Georgian Calendar at least.  A lot of people are making resolutions, committing to personal improvement and other “good things” with all the best intentions.  There will be successes and failures, lots of small gains and a (hopefully) few losses.

Me?  I’m just setting short-term goals, mostly because the calendar I seem to be following most of the time these days is the schedule of The Round of Words in 80 Days.  So, this being also the first day of the new Round 1 of 2018, I probably should set my goals for the upcoming 12 weeks.  This way I will have some sort of update to post on Wednesday for the first official check-in of the Round.

😀

Actually, these are my goals solely for the next few weeks.  Until January 12th, I’m going low-key.  It’s a…  thing.  I’ll update my main goals then,

For now, my goals are…

  • 750words.com every single day
  • posting consistent check-ins for the ROW80 site
  • checking in once a week at each of my blogs
  • participating in the WIPpet, SoCS, and WeWriWa writing challenges
  • bring back the #FirstFridayPhoto meme…  I miss it
  • find a way for to combine and connect this blog with Many Worlds Many Minds

That’s it.  A good start, I think…

It’s nearing the end of the year.  Almost the end of another Round of Words in 80Days (a writing challenge I help host), as that ends on Wednesday.

As I look both forward and back, I’m struck by the resistance I’ve developed to blogging in general.  Maybe it’s that I handle three blogs now (the ROW80, here, and my “writing blog” Many Worlds from Many Minds)…  Maybe it’s the fear that nothing I have to post is really that interesting, or the knowledge that there are so very many voices out there already, that mine just doesn’t matter.

Thing is, I love to create…  stories, art, impressions.  And just because I grew up hearing “Hush, no one needs to hear your mouth run”, doesn’t mean there is nothing worth hearing in what I have to say.  I’ve been slowly learning to accept that my voice matters and that really…  there are people who really enjoy it.

But it’s been a slow process.  Part of the problem is the simple truth that there are so many other voices out there, speaking at the same time.  It’s no one’s fault.  We all deserve to be heard, but because it gets hard to rise out of the cacophony, failure can seem so absolute… so inevitable.  And truth be told, we’re not taught in all the lessons on how to promote ourselves effectively to actually promote ourselves effectively.  Yes, being the squeaky wheel does work well for some, but despite having the nickname of Mouse (actually the Mouse that Roared) for many years, I would rather not be known for how loud I can be… or the lengths I might go to make myself heard.

At least, if I feel I need to scream aloud, I want to know that no one has gotten sick of listening.  😛

What does all this have to do with blogging?  Or my resistance to it?

Well, I realize after a few years of trying to keep up with social media, trying to be that voice of so many, calling out in the wilderness, that the frantic scrambling for my pie of internet pie just felt… wrong.  No criticism to those who do it and enjoy it.  Some people out there have amazing social skills and just rock online interaction.

I’m just not one of them.

What I am is a person who needs to have a plan in place and follow it religiously.  If I don’t follow it religiously, my inner sloth takes over and lets all the squirrels in (actually, I think she just doesn’t get to the door in time).  And best if I am doing something for someone else.  When I need to do things for myself, it’s easy to let them slide…  tomorrow is fine.  Or maybe next week, next year.

If I know someone else needs something though…  I’ll jump.  If my teachers during my school years had only made it clear to me how much they needed me to study and do my homework, instead of suggesting that it was all for me, I’d probably be on my second PhD and developing some world-changing discovery in a secret laboratory somewhere now. (Though…  would you really know if I wasn’t?)

So instead of blogging less, I suspect, I need to blog more.  Certainly more consistently…  I need to participate in the mutual exchange of comments and challenges.  Not just the ROW80, but the IWSG (Insecure Writers Support Group) and post to bloghops like the WeWriWa and WIPpet via Many Worlds.  I just need to set my schedule clearly without trying to be always “out there”.  A solitary post per month on schedule is far better than a binge of posts followed by a dearth of them, which has been my recent pattern.

Next week will be the ROW80 “goals post”, and the half-formed plan I have for the future should be more-fully developed by then, so I’ll post it then.  The consistency of the ROW80 has been very good for my creative side, even when I’m not always prompt with my posts.  I intend to make even better use of my check-ins…  though I suspect I’ll be streamlining the process in certain ways.

For this week, I’m clearing some books from my TBR list.  I just finished a bag fill of mysteries, procedurals and romances that partly tweaked my interest, partly needed to be read for writing research.  I’m slogging my way through the new opening of Courting in the Swan Song Series.  It almost feels harder because of what is at stake here…  my membership change in the RWA and a Golden Heart entry. The holidays aren’t helping…  this year is coming with its own emotional burdens, but I haven’t dealt well with this season.  Too many personal losses….

Still…  plugging away.

 

 

I think I have an aversion to days off with my family.  Well, not really an aversion—I just…  become non-functional when one comes up.  Usually it’s a migraine.   Sometimes it’s a lack of sleep the night before (okay, so that’s really my fault; but there’s just this feeling of relaxation and indulgence I get as a “special” day comes up…  I tend to stay up and read or enjoy a favorite show).

Today it was a migraine.

That said…  it worked for us this time.  Because we didn’t hurry out for the original plan of heading out to “do all the things”, my awesome hubby was able to spend some time looking through reviews of local eateries and sights while I indulged in bed with a dark cool cloth over my eyes.  And afterward we went out for a lovely drive through the Heldebergs, a visit to the local Irish import store for puddings and biscuits, a super yummy early dinner at The Saloon (their food is great; their website…  not so much).

I also discovered a local Irish tea and cake shop where I can do some writing on occasion.

Some very small silver linings on what has been a difficult day for many people I know and love.

As for writing?  I’ve done that.  Been maintaining the website, getting in some exercise too.  Had to order another battery for my laptop yesterday…  donated a bunch of LEGO/Duplo toys to the library yesterday.  Getting a lot done, but very little of it has been stuff I’d planned on doing.

Sometimes plans really put a crimp in…  well, in one’s plans, and the only way to deal with that is to start doing what needs to be done and make a new plan on the fly.

This is just a quickie update post in a brief pause of Cray-cray.  I’d ask why I always do this to myself but as was once sung in Oklahoma…  I’m just a girl who can’t say no.

So news?  NaNoWriMo, volunteering at my son’s school (and for other group efforts), keeping up with massive reading lists, the ROW80 website, holiday prep…

Yeah, I got this.  🙂

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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