Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Vacation From Writing?

Well, May has officially kicked my writing butt. Yet again I walked away with NOTHING written. It's getting pathetic. The worst part? I'm so drained from all this work drama that kicked up this month that I don't even have a drive to write. Normally, if I go a few days or a week or whatever, I'm angry with myself. I have an itch I haven't been able to scratch. I have this tug at my heart berating me for slacking off with my writing. I have overwhelming guilt about not picking up a pen or opening a new word document.

Not this month. Not right now. Even as I have my fourth "Yeah, didn't write..." post of this month, I feel no guilt. I feel no pull. I feel no itch to write.

What I do feel is a call to READ. A call to clean. A call to play video games. So, perhaps my mind is just so overwhelmed with what's going on with my life that it can't even escape into its own world. I have to escape into others'.

Hubby bought a new game: Ninja All-Stars. It's a bit complicated to learn at first, but once you get it, the game is super fun. It's a strategy game - which I suck at - and there are actually something like 12 different game scenarios you can play, and a flippable board to add even more variety. The best thing is that it is an army-builder game. When you create your team - or clan, in this case, because they're ninjas - you are given an allotment of game-money to spend on troops. Everyone starts with the same amount of money, but there's little guidance as to how to spend it, so each army is different. You can also set up the game as "League Play" where each player levels up his/her army after each game played in order to evolve their clan. It's a bit of an addicting game that we've been playing nearly every night for a little over a week. Problem is, each game takes an average of three hours to play! That's pretty much all of my free time outside of work!

Yet, when Hubby has a friend over to play later today, I am so tempted to join in instead of doing anything else. Clean. Read. WRITE. I know I can't afford to give up 3+ hours each day to play this game, but I want to so bad....

I don't know where the spark went, but the writing bug has hidden itself away lately. I'd prefer to get lost in the world of Ninja All-Stars instead. Perhaps I need a break from even thinking about writing. Let the work drama settle. Let my brain take a vacation. I really don't know.

As for my weekly updates of edited writing practices? Well.....

I have the January 17th one typed up, but it's my Lia story from a month or so ago. It still needs some polishing. Mostly because I was trying to write it as if it were in the Glitches world instead of the original X-Future one. I really need to go back and iron out the details of that world, or at least the center location of everything. I'll have to work on that and possibly post two next week: the polished Lia story, and the January 18th prompt practice.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Let's Play the Yay-Boo Game

Well, on the plus side, I did write something this week. Yay!

On the down side, it was Wednesday, and I haven't written anything since. I also again neglected to chart the hourly breakdown of what I did this week to know what I was doing instead of writing. Boo.

On the plus side, I was busy at work - cutting down on my available writing time there - didn't have a second day off due to my coworker's quitting, and had a TON of chores I needed to catch up on to prep for Ronoxym and Cyhyr again visiting with their daughter. So, at least I had a "valid" excuse for not writing? Also, I don't have a chart, but I more-or-less know what I was doing? Yay?

Down side was that most of the hecticness at work was for naught. A lot of energy for not as much pay-off. That, and Ron and Cy only managed to hang out for about 2hrs.
Knives from the Scott Pilgrim comic books
by Bryan Lee O'Malley
At least my house was much less of a baby death trap for those 2hrs. Worth?

I didn't even really have the time to read much more this week. I think I got a chapter or two further in? Yay and boo?

I bought us a new sofa table to better organize the increasing number of table-top games Hubby keeps accumulating, I also bought a second chest of drawers to make up for the fact that we apparently found the only apartment on the planet that doesn't have enough closet space. Most of the week was spent reorganizing to utilize the new furniture. I'm hoping it also means it will be easier to keep the house organized so I don't have to have these whirlwind cleaning weeks about once a month.

I know. I fail every time I write that phrase in this blog but ONE OF THESE TIMES IT HAS TO BE THE TRUTH! Some day I WILL keep this place organized. And that will alleviate so much stress. And I'll be able to focus on writing instead of vacuuming, or dealing with laundry, or cleaning an imposing amount of dishes, or clearing off the dining table so we can use it for more than dump-storage, etc.

On the plus side, I didn't really have "dead time" this week. That time when I should be doing something like reading, writing, cleaning, exercising, etc, but instead I'm mindlessly on the loveseat scrolling through Facebook while vaguely watching something on TV with the husband. So, a drop in "dead time" is a plus, right? Yay again?

I'm going to see if I can keep the momentum of eliminating "dead time" while also adding in "writing time." In the meantime, I do have another old writing practice up.


Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Bleeeck. Sick.

It. Has. Not. Been. A. Good. Week.

Wednesday - Wanted to kill my coworker. Vegged on the couch to prevent myself from punching things.
Thursday - Spent all day of the gorgeous weather doing as much super delayed Spring Cleaning as possible.
Friday - Coworker I wanted to murder just decides not to show up to work. It's more involved than that, but that's the long and short of it. Had to call my manager in from her day off enjoying the weather riding her horse and visiting with her daughter who drove 8hrs to visit her mom for Mother's Day weekend. On top of that, I got hit with a bug and ended up passing out at about 8:30 while reading in bed. Yes, I FINALLY got around to reading my next book.
Saturday - Still sick and just dragged all day. My head was too in a fog to write a cohesive sentence.
Sunday - Lethargic at work. Manager again had to give up a day with her daughter because coworker no-call/no-show for the third day in a row. No customers even showed up, because, ya know, MOTHER'S DAY. Had a house-full of guests the rest of the day when I got home.
Yesterday - Still drained from this blasted cold. I spent the day, both the downtime at work and after I got home, reading to play catch-up on my reading challenge. Quickly typed up and edited one of my January writing practices.

I've been so out of it, I didn't even think about my "keep track of your hours" project I talked about last week. At least, I didn't think about it until I went to type up this blog. Whoops.

Tuesday started promisingly enough. Sorta. I wrote my blog post. I did my normal errand-running-around and cleaning for my day off. I went to writers' group a bit bummed about not having anything new. I decided to read my first story about Jynna: The Future is Bright.

I think I have a true fan in my group. I know that most, if not all, of the members enjoy my stories, but one in particular always seemed especially satisfied after my readings. She talks about chills and asks about my characters and the worlds. She's just amazed with my fantasy writing. I threw her off the previous group because I read a slice-of-life story. She enjoyed it, but it was unexpected for me to read something realistic. When I read about the Numenera she just was like "That's you. We're home now." Which is cool.

Then, with a couple minutes left before the library closed, DFL pitched a writing prompt to us. Write something to do. Anything. Doesn't have to be writing related. Go on vacation. Clean the house. Go grocery shopping. Read that book finally. Binge watch a show. Whatever. Then write something NOT to do. Gain weight. Skip leg day. Binge all weekend long. Stay inside on a sunny day. Avoid the dishes. Anything. Next, write something you love when it happens: Hubby cleaning instead of me; a warm, but not hot, sunny day when I have it off; my favorite treat being on sale; finding lost change; the Muse strikes when I have free time to write; etc. Finally, write something you hate when it happens: I'm sick on my day off; I spend the whole day cleaning instead of hanging out with friends; it's rainy on a day I want to do things outside; I try to meet up with people because I'm actually free, but now they're all busy; etc.

After writing out your To Do, Do Not Do, Love When, and Hate When, you're supposed to pick one of them and write a short story about it. Bonus points if you somehow bring in elements from the other categories. DFL said "go" and I was flying. Sadly, I only got about five sentences in before we were told that the library was closing and we had to leave. I meant to keep going with it once I was at the laundromat, but the magic was gone. Hubby and I watched our weekly shows instead. That was the last and only time I attempted to write something this week.

It's been a bad week.

As I mentioned, though, I did finally crack open my new book. I'm twelve chapters in. I'm still not loving the Trials of Apollo series as much as I do the Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard series, but it's an enjoyable series nonetheless. Plus, one of my favorite characters from the Heroes of Olympus series is back as a main supporting character in this second book. He just doesn't seem to have that same "OMG, I want to hug him so tight" factor though. Not sure where the magic went. He's still adorable and fun to read, but... I dunno. Maybe it's the cold. Maybe he's just not as enjoyable because I'm so "meh" myself this week.

Anyway, as I mentioned, I also typed up another prompt. I'm 15 writing practices in. Only kept me the first 136 days of the year.....
"Price of Memories"

Now to try to rest up, get better, and at least do my hourly tracking if I'm not going to do actual writing. Finally, a quick shout out to Mouse for poking me throughout the week and at least attempting to push me back onto the writing path. Thank you.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Aaaaand Then I Fell Back Off

What the heck happened to me this week!?

I was so excited last week. I was energized. I was ready to attack my writing. I was ready to jump with both feet. I was going to finally get some momentum. My writing funk was over.

And now I don't even really remember what happened this week. I was at work. Friday, Hubby and I spent the better part of three hours at the hair salon getting our hair cut and dyed. Well, I took about three hours. He was done a little after one.... Last night we hosted game night again. The rest of the week? What filled the void that prevented me from writing? The reason why I didn't read a single page of the new Rick Riordan book I was so excited to pick up last week?

Not a clue. Not one. I can't recall what I did. I don't remember sitting on the couch and binge watching anything like I did over the winter. I know I cleaned my home, but it didn't take up that much time. I'm clueless.

Which is why I'm going to spend the rest of May using a technique Ali Luke has talked about before. One that is also touched upon in "A Writer's Book of Days." I need to start writing down my daily schedule. First, I should probably write one up based on what I THINK my schedule is and/or what I WANT my schedule to be. Then, each day, I need to write down what I actually am doing. This way I can get a better grip on where I'm spending my time, because this is getting ridiculous that I keep losing weeks like this.

AWBoD goes a step further, Judy Reeves suggests writing on the calendar exactly why I missed a writing session, or simply, why I didn't write that day. What was my reason? What did I do instead? At the end of the week or month or however long I'll give myself to collect this data, I can look back and truly see where I've been wasting my time. I could see what I'm doing instead of writing. I'll see my "avoidance behaviors."

I can tell you right now, "Watch TV" or "Scrolling through Facebook" will pop up far more than I'd like. The weather has been chilly again this past week, so I haven't been able to escape to the front porch. I again lost a comfortable spot to just hide away and write. The only really comfortable spot to sit upright for a long period of time is on our loveseats, which is right by the TV, which Hubby keeps on continuously while he's home for the background noise, which then distracts me. It's a bad spiral I knew I've been stuck in for a while. I really REALLY need to figure out how to climb out of it.

Maybe I really should start making "writing dates" with myself and just run away to the library up the street. I'll squirrel away in a corner of the building, have my earbuds in, and just write.

My earbuds. Those and my kitchen timer should be my best friends until I get into the habit. I keep neglecting them though. I don't know why. I don't know why I'm not putting in the work I know I need to. This week will have to be me attacking these questions and trying to find the answer.

Sorry I don't have anything new for you this week aside from another old writing prompt typed up. Hopefully it is enough to appease. Those of you who know me personally, poke me. Prod me. Push my nose to the page. Make sure I'm doing my exercises. Remind me how much I love writing. With any luck I'll get over myself and put something new to paper this week.

"Thrust Upon Them"

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Trotting Around a Bit

While not as fully back on the horse as I'd like, I have the saddle on and trotted around the yard a little bit. As I mentioned last week, the clean house helping relieve some stress at home, as well as finding my free-time rhythm again at work, has really helped open me back up to writing.

In truth, I spent most of the week just reading as fast and as much as I could to try to finish "Heat Rises" before the end of the month so I could be back on track for the reading challenge. Managed to read the whole thing in about 11 days. Still fairly slow for most people, but it got the job done.
Challenge by Reading Books Like a Boss
As I've mentioned a few times already in regards to this list and the Nikki Heat books, each book title is purposely a play on the detective's last name. So, I caved and finally put the third book in the series in the "name in the title" slot. There are 8 books to the series thus far, and an ninth one apparently dropped today! Also available today are two of Rick Riordan's latest works. "The Dark Prophecy", the second book in the Trials of Apollo series, along with the companion book "Camp Half-Blood Confidential." So, it's both a great day for me in Book World, as well as a crappy day for my wallet.

I'm most likely going to jump off the Nikki Heat train for a little bit as I switch over to "The Dark Prophecy" for this month's read. I'll drop that book either in the released in 2017 or favorite author category. I also have my father-in-law's copy of "Atlas Shrugged" that he wants me to read. On top of that, I've become so addicted to "13 Reasons Why" on Netflix that I feel I should give that story a read. Then there's an even longer list of "to read" backlogging, as virtually every person I meet demands that I "need to" read this book or that one. I'm not even touching my already extensive home library anymore!

I really need to get more reading time in, but I'm fairly slow at reading as I try to fully absorb the story. With my already limited time to read as is, plus not having much spare time to write, clean, or even touch a video game in close to a year, I really don't see myself reading any faster than I already am, nor do I see myself having more time to read. The world is just going to have to live with the fact that, aside from a few author's I'm dedicated to, such as Riordan, I'm going to be years behind the reading curve with new stories.

Kind of pathetic, though. I want to be a writer. I want people to read my stuff. Yet I can only do so well with reading what others have written. Oh, the great ironies that rule my life.

Speaking of my writing, ya know, the reason I'm sure you all are here, well, as I mentioned at the very beginning, I'm doing better.
Month didn't start off great, but finished fairly strong.
Look at all those smileys - or sorta smileys - that last week! YAY!
I didn't manage to do any further writing or editing on Please, Let Me Explain, so when it came to writing group, I went back to reading one of my polished writing prompts. Ended up reading "Nature Can Bite Me." People seemed amused by it. I threw most of them off though because I wrote a slice-of-life story instead of something fantastical. I just chuckled and reminded them that I can write non-fantasy as well.

As per usual for me, since I had a once-and-done instead of an on-going project, not much was said about my story, how to improve it, what was great about it, nothing. While I understand more and more each go that we probably should dedicate more time to the people with ongoing projects, it still irritates me slightly. I mean, these writing practices are just that: practice. A way for me to hone my skills so that I'm a better author when I am working on my WIPs. Yet, if I don't get any praises for a particularly good turn-of-phrase, nor am I critiqued on something I should improve upon, then what good are the practices? How are they helping me do more than simply fall into a steady writing rhythm? I don't know if I should start going into group with a small questionnaire to encourage feedback, but I feel I need to do something. Otherwise I'll only get assistance when I bring in on-going projects like everyone else.

The strange thing is that there are one or two other authors in the group that purposely only do short one-offs or personal essays. There is no intention of doing a long, on-going project that needs help. People seem to comment on their particularly good phrasing, or where they could strengthen something.

Wonder why I'm so different within the group....

Anyway. Still no progress on PLME, although Ronoxym did make a... few... comments in response to my multitude of notes. It's not much, but it's a start. Silly goose didn't comment on the stuff towards the start of the story though. So there goes editing.

I've filled my time though with reading, as I mentioned, as well as trying to at least not fall further behind with the writing prompts. Last week I wrote four prompts. Two of which were on the same day, which was exciting. I also started the week with my edit notes to Ron about PLME - the "smiley" on Monday.

Monday must be "bring netbook to work so I can edit" day, because I did the same thing yesterday. DFL was concerned about a choppy start to a scene she read to us. There were a lot of critiques and suggestions for improvement, but I feel the poor woman was overwhelmed. She ended up emailing us her slight update of the scene opening and asked for thoughts. Well, given that I was purposely waiting for the books to drop today and I had finished "Heat Rises," I decided I'd read other people's works to fill the void.

Besides, I've failed at virtually all of my other New Years Resolutions. I was going to hold firm for my beta reading one. I ended up giving her notes on her page-long rewrite. I hope I didn't overwhelm her. I tend to do that in group without meaning to. I give her a different perspective on her story, but I don't know if she takes my suggestions. I might not be the demographic she's looking for. It's her story, and it's her prerogative to decide whether or not to take my suggestions to heart. For all I know, she won't even look at what I sent back to her. Still, she asked for thoughts, and so I was going to give mine. Take them or leave them.

I also did some beta reading for ChibiSunnie. She's in an animation class, or something to that extent, and so she is using the class assignments to finally make headway on the cartoon she's been playing with over the past two years or so. For her final project, she had to sketch out the storyboard for an episode, or something like that, so she decided to tackle the hardest episode she's had in mind over the past few years. She didn't have the time to give me a polished version of the story prior to her needing to start storyboarding it, so my insight isn't going to help much on her final project. Still, I wanted to give it a read, if she wanted me to, so that she could take my critiques along with those of her classmates as a way of better improving the episode for when she can make it an actual show.

I cut it close on that week deadline though. She gave me the script last Tuesday. I gave her my notes last night. Still. She appreciated my effort, is pondering over my questions, and I kept true to my resolution to get beta notes back within a fortnight. I'm proud I actually managed to give notes on two projects back within a week! Granted, both were short reads which made it easier to go through them.

Going back to my writing though, I'm still not past the January prompts, but I now see the light at the end of the tunnel. I also managed to type up and edit one of my past prompts prior to this morning! Yay, progress! Still forgot to upload the darn thing until this morning, but as long as I can get this blog done on time I guess I could let that slide.

I went back to my Numenera character Jynna for this prompt. I also fell back into scenes instead of stories. I'll figure this out eventually.

"Pressing Forward"

In all honesty, I don't foresee myself doing much more with PLME until Ron's done with school at the end of this month. Might surprise myself, but it's a long shot. Instead, I'll have to pull myself away from my latest book long enough to continue with the writing prompts. At the very least, I could type more than one up a week for your reading pleasure. We'll see what happens.