A Garden of Delights

Posts Tagged ‘self-discovery

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

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(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.

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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.

 

 

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’.

 

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.

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.

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.

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…


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