Told My Troubles To The River

It was a hard day.

My first official and intentional 10 hour day.

My cold is on the way out.

A short story was rejected.

I woke up to the news my grandmother was sent to the ER with chest pains.

It was a hard day.

It could’ve been worse. I learned better today that emotional toll can zap you faster than anything physical. That waiting and not knowing is utterly draining no matter how much you have to keep you occupied.

It was a hard day, but my mother had it worse, and I’m glad she was there to keep us posted, to keep my grandmother company through all the infernal and seemingly infinite waiting.

My grandmother, last I heard, is fine. No diagnosis and from what I understand, her CAT scan and MRI came back clean. Next up will be the results of the Lexiscan, and maybe, just maybe we’ll learn why my grandmother had such a bad weekend that they called an ambulance to take her to the ER.

So it’s time to rest up, start over again tomorrow, and pay a visit after work.

And hope and pray that today’s hard day doesn’t turn into a harder week. Or a harder month. Or a harder year.

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Today’s blog post title comes from “Told My Troubles to the River” from Tom McRae’s The Alphabet of Hurricanes. What a fantastic album title. You can hear the song “Told My Troubles to the River” here.

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Edit: And then I heard this: Melanie Tem passed away. Damn it. I feel like I need a good cry now. Steve and Melanie were our Writers in Residence during Week 5 of Odyssey 2005. A lovely couple, wonderful writers, and Melanie was just amazing. I am so terribly sorry to hear this.

How Sick We Are

So I’ve been fighting a cold since Tuesday, hence the radio silence. Last week was a busy week with late nights, and it wasn’t even my first week of four 10s. That starts this week.

Hopefully, the cold is on the way out. And I promised progress reports (which I hope to do on Fridays in the future) when I talked about my official plan, so here’s how week one went.

The goal:

Read Codename: LB Prequel. Take notes on world-building, write down questions to get answered in Codename: Telepathic Soulmates. Deadline: Sunday, February 8th.

Consider it done. For a while, the cold was fighting me, but I got caught up.

This week’s goal:

Read Codename: Telepathic Soulmates. Take notes on world-building, write down any questions that aren’t answered, figure out what, if any, questions should be addressed in a sequel. Deadline: Sunday, February 15th

I’m actually well on my way of finishing this. Maybe that’s a good thing that I’ve got a head start (I’m on page 317 of 518), because I’ll start the 10 hours days tomorrow, and I’ll likely be pretty zonked by time I get home. So I’m glad that I’ll have Friday free to really focus on the reading.

I don’t have any commentary yet, other than places I’d previously thought I wanted to change for REASONS, I’m second-guessing now. Once I finish reading and start studying the notes, and get off the cold meds, I may have a clearer direction, but for now, I’m still pondering.

So that’s it for a writing update. Today’s blog post title is brought to you from Evanescence’s “Sick” from their self-titled album. You can here the song here.

So I Run and Hide and Tear Myself Up

I came across two blog posts yesterday that I’ve been chewing on: the first by author Malinda Lo, “On Self Rejection and Writing From a Marginalized Perspective” and the second, which references the first, by Kate Elliot, “The Courage to Say Yes.” Both posts talk about self-rejection, which stood out to me like a flashing neon sign.

I’ve been self-rejecting for so long it feels like my entire life. One of the reasons it’s taken so damn long to really get up the gumption to start agent-shopping is, ultimately, self-rejection. I’m not saying I’m cured of it by any means, but over the course of the last year I’ve had to face a lot of demons down. Through therapy, I’ve learned how to pick my battles, how to fight, how to stand up for myself. I don’t always win, but the state my mind is in now versus where it was last year is completely different. Not devoid of self-rejection, but not consumed by it either. Self-rejection is no longer smothering my motivation.

I’m sharing these articles so that I have something to come back to when I need the reminder that self-rejection is something I need to fight. I’m sharing these posts for my friends who are also writers, but who might also need the reminder that self-rejection is something that needs to be fought. I’m writing it for anyone and everyone who wants to break free to find a way to be happy, for those whose self-rejection is one the biggest hurdles to overcome.

Today’s headline brought to you by Thirty Seconds to Mars from their debut album, 30 Seconds to Mars. The song, “Capricorn (A Brand New Name)” can be heard here.

Do It On Your Own

Short post tonight, because it was a long day tacked on to a longer night. The Super Bowl party was a hit, though half our guests barely caught five minutes of the game. Good food and good company, I suppose?

Today was my last day of physical therapy. I’ve gotten stronger since I started last year, but let’s be honest: I’m not very good about keeping up my exercises at home. I’ve got a long way to go, but at this point, there’s no need to keep making appointments with my PT guy, so I’m officially discharged. It’s just time to buckle down and figure out a way to get my exercises in and do them consistently. That, coupled with my time on the elliptical, is how I’ll get stronger.

And don’t get me wrong: it’s not like I’m still jonesing to take up running like I was last year. Rather, it’s the realization that everything I do between my day job and my hobbies involve me sitting on my ass. I need to get stronger so that there’s less pressure on my joints, which means I’ll be dealing with less pain as I get older. And that’s nothing to sneeze at.

That said, I wish there were more hours in the day, or that I was the type of person who really looked forward to exercise of any kind, or barring even that, I wish I was the type of person who was motivated by the benefits of exercise, even if I didn’t like the exercise itself.

I’m not, so it’s a matter of buckling down and doing it.

Today’s headline brought to you from “Invincible” by Muse, from the album Black Holes and Revelations. It’s one of my favorite albums by them, and part of the playlist for my Codename: Telepathic Soulmates project. That’s right…I’m getting in the mood! You can listen to “Invincible” here.

It’s Official: I Have A Plan

I’ve been chewing on a plan. Have been even before announcing My Story Is Not Done. A week or so prior, I had reached out to a handful of people to get some advice, and I received some great feedback and responses. And now, it’s official.

I have a plan.

Only for this year. I’m in the process of outlining and ironing out a five-year plan (I know, crazy, right?), but at the present, I’m going to focus on the here and now.

My Writing Work Days, as I mentioned earlier this week, are an experiment. I’ll have two in February, and four in March, assuming all goes well. So what I’m doing is giving myself a schedule from now until the end of that experiment, and that schedule is accomplish this year’s main goal.

What is that main goal?

To send Codename: Telepathic Soulmates out to agents.

I don’t know how many of you are actually interested in particulars, so I’m going to list these behind a cut. It’s for me and anyone interested in holding me accountable, and don’t worry, I’ll be posting progress reports. Not daily, and you’ll see why once you see the schedule and what it entails, but I’ll definitely be posting them weekly.

And now, without further adieu, my schedule:

Continue reading

My Story Is Not Done

I’ve been talking for a month now about a BIG! NEW! THING! I’m working out for my day job. Today, we finalized the BIG! NEW! THING! so I’m going to talk about it here, why I’m doing it, and what I hope to get out of it.

What I’m Doing

I’m changing my day job schedule. Currently, I work five days a week, eight hours per day. Starting mid-February, I’m going to work four days a week, ten hours a day. In short, I’m going to give myself a three-day weekend every week. Holidays, vacation days, and sick days allowing, and/or my boss or I decide this just ain’t gonna work.

Why I’m Doing It

My boss floated the idea to me last fall. My first reaction was, “That’s SO not going to work.” I was so convinced that it wasn’t going to work for REASONS that I actually made up a list of pros and cons, and that list ended up being three pages. But for nearly every con, I came up with a solution that turned it into a pro. But I don’t make big decisions quickly or lightly, so I put it on the back burner. There, it simmered and stewed, and I found myself wanting to do it more and more.

Why? Because while I won’t be going to my day job on Fridays, I’m going to go to work. I’m making Fridays my Writing Work Day.

What I Hope To Get Out Of It

I’ve mentioned it before, but I realized this year that I’m not challenging myself writing-wise. I’ve already proven I can churn out a discovery draft of a novel in a year’s time. So what’s the point of doing that over and over and collecting a bunch of novels that badly need revision? I’ve also mentioned before that 2015 is a big year for me: it’s the ten-year anniversary of my attending the Odyssey Writing Workshop. It’s the ten-year anniversary of my deciding to take my writing seriously. It led to my getting my MA in Seton Hill’s Writing Popular Fiction Program (which now offers an MFA). But I burned out a wee bit after graduation for reasons I won’t get into here, and it’s only been in the past few years that I’ve climbed my out.

It’s time to start taking my fiction to the next level. I want to take my thesis novel from SHU, known here as Codename: Telepathic Soulmates, and start shopping for agents. That requires a lot of work that isn’t churning out new words every day. It requires hard revision, polishing, and research and queries. I want to learn how to manage multiple projects at the same time but in different stages. Why? Because if I ever get published, I’d like to have some good working habits established before I’m thrown in the deep end.

But this is an experiment. Taking a three-day weekend may not always lead to Writing Work Days, but I’m hoping in the bigger picture I’ll start to figure out how to incorporate some of these habits daily and feel productive even if I’m not adding to my daily word count.

We’re trying this through the end of March, and then evaluating the system to see how and if it’s working for my day job. Because if it doesn’t work there, then it doesn’t work and I’m cool with that. Day job comes first, because that’s what’s paying the bills. In the meantime though, maybe I’ll learn something. Maybe I’ll get a new focus and a new motivation.

Maybe this is the year something could happen.

Today’s headline brought to you by Seanan McGuire’s album, Wicked Girls. I can’t find “My Story is Not Done” online, but you can read the lyrics here.

It’s Been A While…

I haven’t posted in nearly a week. I apologize. It’s funny to watch how my site’s stats go downhill when there isn’t regular content, but my brain has been so full of stuff that posting in the blog has been the last thing on my mind.

So to catch-up:

1) The husband and I marathoned the fourth and most recent season of Homeland. This last week was the 10 year anniversary of the pilot episode of Battlestar Galactica, and one of the articles I read discussed how the last ten years of television has failed the expectations set up by the show. Mostly, it discusses how science fiction and fantasy has failed, and it makes some interesting points. It also talks about how the successors of the show aren’t actually science fiction or fantasy at all, and after watching this fourth season of Homeland, I think you can make a case that this show could indeed be a successor. No, it’s not science fiction or fantasy. But you want to take some (not all) of the really hard questions BSG asks, the moral ambiguity it puts its characters in and find a current show doing the same thing? Take a good look at Homeland, especially this last season. Damn, it was good.

2) I’ve been reading both published and unpublished work. The latter has taken up most of my time, but I also sank my teeth into Jo Walton’s My Real Children and found myself completely absorbed. The structure is such that once you get to a certain point, you’re compelled to read two chapters at a time, due to the parallel structure. And I’ll give Walton credit where credit is due: at first, I feared she was making a case for one obviously good life and one obviously bad one, and yet it slowly became obvious that wasn’t the case. A clear picture is painted in the last chapter, and the reader is always asking oneself, which life would YOU choose? The ending doesn’t provide a clear answer, but it definitely provides food for thought, especially in light of both realities being alternate universes to ours. A fascinating read, and one I could read again.

3) I’ve changed up my elliptical schedule. Since 2013, I’ve been getting up early to put in my thirty minutes on every work day, but the end of 2014 had me cutting that out completely, and while in 2015 I’ve gotten back on the saddle, I’m looking at a serious change to my work schedule which, in order to keep working out in the mornings, means I’d have to get up an hour earlier, and I’m not sure my body will tolerate that. So, before the work schedule changes, I’m retraining myself to work out in the evenings. The pros: I can do the full 30 minutes without feeling rushed, and I’m fed with plenty of calories, so I don’t get tired. The cons: it takes an hour when it’s all said and done, and I have to take a second shower that day.

4) Nothing of note to report on the writing front. That being said, I’m starting to make plans. I have three projects that I want to reach a certain state, and I making plans to ask myself the following: 1) what is my goal for this project? 2) when do I plan to accomplish this goal? It’s a good start, considering I’m notoriously bad at PLANNING things when it comes to writing, unless it’s something simple, like a word count per day. But what I’m embarking on is a level up, maybe two levels up. We’ll see how it goes.

5) That’s it for now. My brain is still kind of fuzzy and fill, so I’ll leave you with this song that I pulled the headline from: “It’s Been a While,” from Staind’s Breaking the Cycle. You can hear it here.

Give Me Something More….

It’s kind of nice to be tackled first thing in the morning with the following question: “Where was your Calico Writes entry from yesterday?” I’ve actually done a crap job updating over the holiday weekend, as I spending lots of time catching up on LOTS of reading. I finally finished the VanderMeer trilogy, and to that end, I’ll say that I want to read the whole trilogy again. The first read is to experience without spoilage. The second, eventual, read will be with a different, more critical eye, now that I have a sense of how the story fits together. If you ask me what it’s about, I still couldn’t tell you specifically: reading the Southern Reach trilogy is an experience, and the comparisons to the television show Lost aren’t unfounded, if you’re someone who likes conspiracies and mystery and crazy science. Whatever faults Lost had, if it inspires more fiction like this, I’ll be a happy camper. A slow reader, mind you, but still happy.

I’m also working on some administrative things relating to my writing. I intend on making BIG CHANGES soon, and those changes will deserve their own special post. In the meantime, I’m pre-planning. One of the results of that is that I’m in the process of shuffling Codename: Magic Twins to the back-burner. Reasons being that it’s a complex world I’m building and I don’t have my arms wrapped around the rules nor all of the characters. It’s something that, while I’ve said it before, I really to to plan out in great detail before I start writing in earnest. I churned out another 495 words over this weekend, but by and large, I think my time will be better spent focusing that energy into a major brainstorming piece: something that breaks down the characters, the magic as I understand it, and then I’ll have some people critique the shit out of it so that I can move forward with a more solid direction in mind.

Besides, the world that Codename: Telepathic Soulmates is in is calling me, and I’ve got some serious work to do.

So I may not be writing every night. Not new fiction or new words, but I solemnly swear I’m up to no good, and I’ll try to keep the blog posted on my progress on a regular basis.

Let’s see, what else? We finished watching the first season of Penny Dreadful over the weekend, and while I enjoyed the hell out of watching it, I couldn’t help but notice some of its more problematic qualities: notably, while the show attempts to empower its female characters sexually, I can’t help but notice those same characters are also thoroughly punished in the narrative. How direct that correlation is depends on the character in question, but for one particular character, the correlation between having sex and BAD SHIT HAPPENING is disturbing. It’s something I’ll be watching with a close eye on when season two premieres, because of course I’ll watch. I heart the werewolf.

I also finally got around to watching Divergent, which was an enjoyable adaptation and makes me want to re-read the trilogy. I almost caved in and watched Beautiful Creatures, because I heard that was also enjoyable, but I promised a friend I’d help on a project, so help I did.

Today was back to the grind at work, and it was definitely a stressful grind. But that’s what happens when there’s a holiday during the workweek, and with any luck, hopefully today was the worst of it.

This post brought to you by a very bruised but healing ankle, an innate distrust of this unseasonably warm and sunny weather, and the sounds of the latest Marilyn Manson album filtering down the hall. Damn, that does not sound like the Manson I heard back in the nineties. It might be sacrilege, but whatever he’s doing now, the sound’s a huge improvement to my ear.

Today’s headline brought to you from Lacuna Coil’s album, Trip the Darkness. You can hear “Give Me Something More…” here.

Playing Ketchup

Rather, catch-up. 😉

I didn’t post on January 14th, and I didn’t write that day either. That’s okay, because sometimes life happens and you need to do that instead. So today, I wanted to give you Tuesday’s and Thursday’s stats, because adding Tuesday’s figures to the tribute to my uncle just seemed hideously inappropriate.

Currently Writing: Codename: Magic Twins
Tuesday’s word count: 299 words
Thursday’s word count: 487 words
Total word count: 10,811 words
I’ve officially given up any pretense that I’m writing a workable draft. Instead, I’m trying to figure out my world-building through narrative and dialogue. If this were in a published book, the info-dumping would be so awful you couldn’t get away from the stench. But I figure it’s okay for now. I’d rather feel may way through some shit now and then come up with a workable outline once I have the rules and world-building figured out.

Currently Reading: Jeff VanderMeer’s Acceptance
I know, I know. It’s taking a while. I’ve been busy, yo! But I’ve made a dent, and I’d love to finish it over the weekend, but there are chores demanding my attention, as well as a stack of comics that’s getting dangerously high again.

Next up: THE WEEKEND. YAY FOR WEEKENDS. Who’s with me?

New Rules

So I know Bill Maher is a controversial figure. However, my husband likes to watch his show, and if I’m in the vicinity, I’ll perk up for the final segment of “New Rules,” because, by and large, there can be some interesting observations about human behavior and its hypocrisy. Who hasn’t witnessed something and wanted to shout, “You are NOT allowed….” or “You must ALWAYS….” because they’re dealing with something surpassing common sense?

Today, I came up with a few:

1) If I call you and it’s not a good time to talk, don’t answer your phone. If you feel like you MUST answer the phone, even if it’s legitimately a bad time, you have to be as polite and courteous as possible and tell that person you’ll call them back. Don’t be rude and don’t tell THEM to call back later: how do they know it’s not a good time?

2) If you’re returning my call, return the call at YOUR convenience. Don’t call me and tell me it’s a bad time to talk. If I call you and it’s a bad time, there is some leeway for being rude despite New Rule #1. However, if you call me and then tell me it’s not a good time for whatever reason? Rudeness, curtness, and being brusque is not allowed. You called me, remember? Either call me at a good time, or suck it up and be polite despite said bad time.

3) If you happen to be a member of any kind of clergy, if you’re a preacher or pastor or seen as a respected religious figure in your community, you are NOT allowed to be rude EVER. I get it, you’re human, and you have bad days like the rest of us. So if you slip up, we’ll forgive you…. but only if you recognize the error of your ways and apologize to us directly. Jesus forgives and all that, but you’re the face of your church, and if you’re rude to me, that speaks louder than words.

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Currently Writing: Codename: Magic Twins
Last night’s word count: 1404 words
Total word count: 10,027 words
Hey, I broke 10K! The words are crap, mind you. I’m basically brainstorming through narrative. Or it may be more accurate to say I’m brainstorming via info-dumping dialogue. Whatever. I ended up writing more last night than my start time would’ve have foreseen, and I had to stop myself so I could actually get sleep. Go me?

Currently Reading: Jeff VanderMeer’s Acceptance
Ugh… where did my reading time go? I want it back!

Next up: I think tomorrow will be a normal day. I think. I hope. I plan. I’m contemplating some major schedule changes, and I’ve bounced those changes by a few people and so far the response has been positive. The more I talk about it, the more I’m convinced I’ll do it. There’s a few details to be ironed out though, so for now, I shall not blog about it directly. Yet.