A Garden of Delights

Posts Tagged ‘self-discovery

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.

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…

Life in limbo

At least, that’s how things seem to be lately.  I mean, yes, I’ve been doing things…  lots and lots of ‘things’.  Most of those things involve time and activities with the Kidlet and the Hubby.  And paperwork…  lots and lots of paperwork too.

Emotionally I am in a bit of a funk because I realized (with some chagrin) that I’ll likely never achieve my dream of becoming a citizen of the UK.  Want doesn’t really play a part in it…  I mean, I want to very much.  But logistically, I am not in a position to do such a thing and probably won’t be for so long that the feasibility of such a move goes down the toilet.

At least I get to live there vicariously for a few weeks at the end of this month.  🙂

But dreams of England aren’t the only things I’ve considered.  Dreams of story are too.  Trying to find them again, trying to reconnect to worlds that seem to be happy to fade into a distance of paying bills, planning budgets, driving, shopping for heavy-duty archeology trowels…  and other people’s stories.  Oh, that last one is actually a killer.  I once thought I needed to read and see what others were writing and doing to fill my head with ideas and options, but… no.  The more I immerse myself into the worlds of others (often without much enjoyment even), the harder it is to connect with my characters.

They’re like cats that way.  They don’t take snubs well, and they don’t seem to get the idea that I’m just spending time elsewhere so I can be a better writer of their stories.  I’m not even sure they care if I write their stories, just as long as I am dutifully enthralled by them.  There’s a reason I used to think that Alanii’s alter-ego with feline.  He’s corrected me on this matter many times, but…  my cats are more like puppy-dogs than he is.

Which is why I took so long before setting out my ROW80 goals (today is officially the first day of Round 2 and I am just getting around to writing this post up)…  I am still not sure what my goals are.  I know how to set my goals, how to make them S.M.A.R.T., but I don’t know what I actually want to focus on or even achieve these days beyond get the “next thing done”.  There seem to be so many next things, that I am driven to distraction just trying to get through a day.  And when I do have those free moments that I once would have used for Those Five Sentences, I don’t write…  I space out.

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.

Giddy Goose

Posted on: March 6, 2017

One of my husband’s nicknames for me is “Silly Goose”.  I forget when it started, perhaps after I started calling him “Punkin”.  All I know is he has called me that so much, I don’t remember him not calling me that.

Today though—well, yesterday, I was more of a giddy goose.

I’ve been steadily making progress on my trip to England (I’ve started calling it that because it really is just England this trip, no side trips to Wales or Scotland (though we will be at Hadrian’s Wall for part).  I’m not sure a three-hour layover in Dublin really counts as being  in Ireland, and even then, the Republic of Ireland is an independent European country.  So, England it is.  I really hope we can do this again sometime soonish so I can add in the rest of this wonderful group of islands (I really want to head up to the Orkney Islands one of these days too…  oh, and through the Mediterranean countries and…)

Anyway, one of the little hurdles I was waiting on just arrived yesterday.  My English Heritage membership package arrived yesterday (when I was in the UK last, I fell in love with English Heritage stuff, the sites, the discounts…  even the Dandelion and Burdock Root soda [I drank a lot of that stuff, and I don’t drink soda most of the time]).  The new handbook is gorgeous!

Isn't the new handbook cover lovely? My favorite colors!

Isn’t the new handbook cover lovely? My favorite colors!

I may be getting a bit silly with my planning.  Last night I was trying to get a rough calculation of how much petrol I’d likely be using for the trip so I could budget it in to our plans.  Since the rental cars (yes, two, so I can actually get some sleep on the trip) are going to cost us more than the airfare, it makes sense to make the decision work in my favor.  You should see what I have planned for those car days 😉

Does this mean I haven’t been really working on my other goals?  Well, sort of, yes.

I have been working on my classwork, trying to get as up to date as I can in each class because FutureLearn’s new policy for its free classes goes into effect tomorrow, and I have another class to start then.  This means, I may have to actually set aside the three I am working on so I can dedicate all of my attention to finish this new class (which actually might help my other classes) in the time allotted.  Or…  depending on my experience, I might wish to actually get the certificates.  I want to get them eventually.  I’d just like to wrap up a few more before I buy those (being here in the US, it’s easier to do one bigger transaction than a bunch of little ones).  *shrugs* Who knows?

Plotting and planning for the Boodle’s B-Day is also in the works.  He wants a ‘calmer’ day out (if one can call games at Dave & Buster’s calm) with friends.  He’s also asked for a day with one of his best friends from an old  school at a park and getting ice cream.  It sounds like a great idea to me.  I really enjoy time with his friend’s mom too, and because of our schedules, I almost never see her these days.

My stories, however, seem to have stagnated…  I can get a few words here or there in my play pieces and my fanfics, but anything “serious” (which translates to anything I’m actually trying to plan out) seems to be stuck.  I’ve been reading an article in the most recent Romance Writer’s Report(s) called Know Your Code with suggests that certain personality types write certain ways, based on something similar to Briggs-Meyer personality types.  So far what I’ve read feels very much like me.  The question then becomes “how to make this ‘work’?”; I love the way I feel when I am writing, but life has this way of sabotaging the best of sensations….

The nice thing is I’ve been finding ways to bring back in some photography.  This past Wednesday while the Boodle was at swimming, I took advantage of the great weather and played around with camera on my cell phone while the sun was setting.

A sunset over the YMCA parking lot

I like the banner-like feel of the shot, but I think I miss using my Canon G5.  My hand is steadier.

I think that’s all I have to say for now. I’ve got plans to work on for next month and the upcoming “new” Round of Words (we’re already in week 9, can you believe it?).  I’d like to make some progress before I get on an airplane.


First Friday Photo

Something to inspire

obligatory “What I Allow”

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