A Garden of Delights

Posts Tagged ‘observations

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.

Advertisements

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’.

 

For my Sunday ROW80 post, I mentioned a bit of how day seem to become a blur that I mostly note only in my travel journal and how this is sometimes a good thing.  I stand by that, though to be honest, sometimes I wish I didn’t.

For writing, the blur feels especially useful, but it only works in tandem with a solid journaling practice.  With the blur, days pass by allowing regular stresses and annoyances to fade to a dull roar at worst, and often into obscurity.   The recorded bits in the journal highlight remarkable or otherwise somehow significant moments which come to life once more in the words and images I’d created.

Pretty much like a book should come across, imho.

Yes, there are occasional great stories out there that describe a character’s daily actions in explicit detail, but rarely do even these dwell on the minutiae for long.  Once the significance of the action the author wants us to recognize is made clear, the action moves on wooshing past the little things and onto what really matters to the story.

Likewise, the journal entries record those things that matter.  The smile that stood out of a crowd and made a day feel so much nicer, the raw moment when everything seemed to just fall apart, but stuff needed to be done no matter what, so that’s what I did.

These are the things that I know I read for, be the moment as fantastic as a life or death escape from a rampaging dragon or dealing with a tween whose heart is breaking because the cute girl in class didn’t sit with him a second time in a row.

The rest is merely a blur.

Returning to the ROW80…  it’s time for a check-in.

I wish I could say everything is roses, but actually, I staggered on my daily writing (did two days of three) and, beyond some serious daydream planning, haven’t touched the outlining for ‘Listii’s new story (fortunately he’s a pretty easy-going guy).  All else seems on track.  Will see you all on Sunday.

I gave all my money to a cult today.

Well, technically I had lunch with my husband and son and paid the tip with all the cash I had on me, but we didn’t realize that the restaurant we’d gone to was run by the Twelve Tribes.  Which is weird…  I’d looked up their website several times before we went (we live in a very rural area, so finding a decent selection of local eats beyond the local grocery has been a challenge, especially since our favorite pizzeria burned down two years ago), and somehow missed that bit of information.

To be fair to the group, they weren’t hiding anything, on the web or in the restaurant (look up the Yellow Deli in Oak Hill if you’re curious, and before you ask… yes, the food was yummy and the restaurant was beautifully decorated, but no, I don’t think we’ll be going there again, not even for those pictures of the place I’d wanted to take).  I was just somehow dense or blind.

But something about the place felt odd, and after a lot of discussion with hubby (who usually is pretty good at finding out creepy stuff and somehow didn’t either), I looked again and suddenly finding the nasty stuff was easy peasy.

But no matter!  This post, being my weekly ROW80 check-in, is about more than my weird lunch…  it’s about my writing goals and my (debatable) progress.  I could have wished for a more productive week as far as my goals had been planned.  But I accomplished a huge amount of unplanned-for stuff that needed to be done on short notice.

Specifically, I didn’t do much weeding out of extra paperwork; if anything, I added a bunch with all the notes and research that filled this week.  In doing so, I read two books from my research stack, Radium Girls by Kate Moore and The Honor Code by Kwame Anthony Appiah, and got ¼ through The Faithful Executioner by Joel Harrington.  Oh!  I got some incredible answers for some worldbuilding conundrums I’d been trying to figure out.  (And I did get rid of some extra fluff.)

So win in my book…

The rest of my goals need more due diligence this upcoming week.  I did write every day, but only three days involved new story.  My walking schedule was equally sporadic, and often devolved into stepping in place before bed because I missed the goal all day. But best for last… my house-cleaning goal has been a resounding success even with the busy week, with tons of laundry, vacuuming, dusting and closet-clearing achieved. 😀

And I even took some awesome pictures of our week of fog, the mini-maker faire my son was involved in, and some lovely baby horses at a nearby farm, like the two pics in this post.

Round 3 of the ROW80 actually started last Monday, but…  well, this just shows one of the awesome things about the Round of Words: one can jump in at anytime, and I just wasn’t ready last week, physically, mentally and especially emotionally.

However, after several chaotically busy weeks (good ones, mostly), this Saturday I received a bit of a wake-up call when I nearly lost all my archived photos and stories (and music…  lots of music) to a failing harddrive.

What had happened is mostly my fault… a case of I’ll deal with it later that refused to wait for “Later”.  Luckily, the chance of this particular combination of distractions and diversions being repeated is less likely than my winning the NYS Lottery…  despite the fact that I never buy lottery tickets.  😛

This round, however, I intend to reduce my use of Later.  As a result, I also intend to clear out the many years of fluff files and duplicates that I’ve accumulated through years of shifting electronic stuff from one machine to another, then to another (with two backups per shift).  That’s a lot of fluff since 1991…

So, here are my goals for Round 3 of the ROW80:

  • goal 1) clean out my electronic house
  • goal 2) everyday Test Mile of 5 Sentences or 250 words
  • goal 3) clean out real house…  excess paperwork first
  • goal 4) walk a mile daily

It’s a small list, and I may add temporary/weekly bits here and there as needed.  Small, in this case, is huge…  Goals 1 & 3 are multi-layered affairs.  For example, this week, I intend to gather up old magazines for goal 3 and either recycle or donate them as makes sense.  For goal 1, I will be gathering together all of my archived disks (some are even 5-¼ floppies still) and moving whatever data is on them into our server where I can start sorting through what I want to keep and what I don’t.

Sounds like enough for one week, eh?

MOAR!

Posted on: April 10, 2017

Last week I thought I I’d set a S.M.A.R.T. goal for the beginning of this round of the ROW80.  Just a little thing…  one goal, to figure out what I really want to focus my attention on by making a list of ten things I really want to achieve in my life.

My mind of late….

It’s a bit more challenging than I thought.  I found a lot of “this would be so very awesome if I could do it” things, but…  whether it’s because I’ve been in a funk of sorts for a few years now, or because I’ve been too distracted with dealing with day-to-day blargh to want anything except an escape, I just didn’t get it done.

Since we all know that there really is no escape, that leaves a lot of brain-ing for answers that just don’t seem to be here now.  I have worked with the “this would be super awesome” bunch for a few days now, but that’s a huge list, and the processing is taking longer than I’d planned.

I have discovered a few things about myself in this…

  1. I cannot stop myself from discovering and seeing new things—the “Shiny” is all-encompassing.  Even when the ‘new’ things are actually very old (I fully intend to see lots of castles and ruins in a few weeks as we jaunt through England), I feel an obsessive pull to see and discover more.  Or in the words of the web…  MOAR!  Do All The Things really is a thing for me.
  2. All the Things isn’t feasible, but a lot depends on successful navigation of what is possible within the limits of time, energy and physical constraints (money, location, etc.) for me to maintain any kind of mental stability
  3. In addition to All The Things, I also cannot stop myself from obsessively volunteering to help others who share my passion for discovery and finding new things.  (Ask anyone who knows me personally…  I am a (frequently annoying) font of “try this” or “maybe you’d be interested in this” ideas and suggestions for shows, events, challenges, websites, travel info…)

Like many of my friends, I one of those 30 browser tabs open at a time people.  Social media is a dangerous place for me, not so much for the flame-wars (though those can be excellent places for story ideas and character creation) but for the plethora of links and ideas to consider and explore.  The images that inspire ideas…  like these!

Imagine walking these, the cultures of people who lived in such an area through history (keep in mind that whoever posted these photos did overdo the image saturation a bit)…  Copper and thus the Bronze Age in human history, may have occurred because one group of people realized that there were other ways to use the beautiful green stone malachite than for jewelry and personal adornment.  And when did people come up with the idea of making storage containers out of clay and firing them into pottery?

Yeah, I think of some odd stuff…

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.

First Friday Photo

Something to inspire

obligatory “What I Allow”

Member of The Internet Defense League

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 736 other followers