Wednesday, October 29, 2008
How to be a novelist? You have to be a writer. You have to write. It's crazy that it needs to be spelled out that way but it's the honest truth. Writing is a skill that can only develop when one uses it. You can't claim your a writer without ever going through the process of writing. What most of us needs is motivation. A challenge to get us off our lazy butts and working for a goal and that's the whole point of National Novel Writing Month. Lucky for me and you, November is National Novel Writing Month and there's nothing better than knowing that somewhere out in the wide world some other crazy people are spending the next 30 days trying to scrap out 50,000 words.
It sounds like it should be easy but it isn't. In 2006, I managed over 65,000 words. I was so proud of myself when I got my official certificate, but last year didn't go so well. I don't think I got 25,000. I just couldn't get into the flow I needed. Writer's Block is so cliche but it is so true and it can be debilitating. I guess I'm making excuses too.
This time around one of my friends LW is going to attempt the gauntlet with me. She's been talking about writing a novel for years so I sent her a thoughtfully written challenge:
Dear Ms. LW - Singer Extraordinaire - Older Sister's Best Friend - Holder of Aforementioned-Sister's Secrets -
You might be asking your self "why was I fortunate enough to receive your email?" You are right to be awed and speechless. There is no time for groveling. You must prepare.
The time has come to prepare for the fun and excitement of novel writing. While many have tried, few have succeed. Many boast of their goals, few will realize. Only the strong, the brave and the bizarrely strange.
The Calendar might say "September" but you only have two months to prepare your mind and ideas for the glorious event that is National Novel Writing Month - http://www.nanowrimo.org/. Now that I have lured you in with my clever lines and phrasing, you will have no choice but to fall for my plan of getting your fingers working on your novel to be. While you might aspire to be a novelist, you are only a novelist once you have finished the novel - published or not - and you get a cool little certificate that you print out and stick to your wall showing all who they are dealing with.
Don't worry. I will continue to hound you for the next 8 weeks and then maybe daily during November. You will learn to love the bits of wisdom that my fingers send you and you will be forever grateful - a mention in your thank you will do no need to dedicate the book to me as that would be too much.
Now, to be truly cruel, I am Ccing M. who is delegated the task of asking about your book whenever she emails you and talks to you on the phone. You might want to mention her in the thank yous too.
Doesn't this all sound like fun. Get to work planning cuz you only have 7.5 weeks left.
PS - No I'm not joking. Give in.
I'm hoping we'll be able to keep each other motivated. My husband is supportive but as a non-writer he does not quite understand the issues at hand. He tries and I love him for it, but having someone trying the same challenge is just that fabulous.
So, I challenge you, my fellow thespians, to get their computers, typewriters, pens and paper pads ready for something you have been mumbling and thinking about your entire life. You will try to write that book, paper, essay you always dreamed off but never managed to set the time aside for it. So, you might write crap. Who cares? You have to exorcise all the crap before you can write the good stuff. Or maybe that crap just needs to be edited 50 times to get to the heart of the story. You won't know until you're done.
You can't ever be a writer, if you never write. I admit that I am a lapsed writer. I haven't written as much as I should lately. I've been more of a reader and a photographer and a scrapbooker, but writing is an important facet of my life.
I want another certificate to stick to my wall and another cool t-shirt. My 2006 one is falling apart. It's my favorite nightgown. Ah well.
Time to stretch those fingers and grab your thesaurus.
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
I know it's mainly because I'm dying for the whole job thing to be wound up. T has another interview on Friday and might have to go in a time after that because the VP he's suppose to meet is in NY all week. I'm just ready for something to be decided.
I've been spending my free time looking at apartments in different areas. I don't think we'll make enough to get any thing in or near San Francisco. This mainly means we'll be going to the South Bay and T will have to drive to the SF office a couple of times a month (maybe more). We're hoping to more on Friday. Then again, he might not get this job anyway and all this will be one big disappointment.
I really, really want things to be settled soon so I (we, actually) can sort out the next phase of our life. This job thing has been hanging over us all year. Never knowing what's coming or when the layoffs will be and who will be gone has been draining.
Friday, October 24, 2008
Thursday, October 23, 2008
Pass it on.
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
T's day didn't go so well - which made me have a 'not-so-good' day either. More layoffs. Ugh. He wasn't laid off but a bunch of people from his office were (most were at the Dallas office - now down to 25 people). I can't imagine how frustrated he is with the constant changes in personnel and projects. He's gone from the China project, to finishing up a dying project and is now on a project with the Finland office. Crazy.
Days like that just suck. I tell myself we're lucky - good health, not hurting financially, free to move on, etc. but you still wish things were easier at times.
Ah well. It makes us count our blessings more, right?
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
My feet are cold. I can hear T. telling in my head to put socks on - just like my parents did when I was a kid. I still haven't learned. I'm really into socks unless I'm wearing shoes, but as soon as I get home I take my shoes - and socks - off. I'm just a girl who prefers to go barefoot. I use to go barefoot out in the snow. I will say that I have some fabulously bright colored fuzzy (lotion-infused) slipper-socks that are just heaven. Not really for wearing with sneakers, but great for around the house. I'm just to lazy to get up and get them.
Monday, October 20, 2008
One of the scrap pages I did this weekend:
I had a pretty good time making a mess in the living room. I moved all of my scrapbooking stuff into the dining room area of our apartment and called it good. No point in going crazy with setting stuff up if we'll be moving... (maybe).
In other news, T. has a job interview for a software firm in San Francisco and Sunnyvale. He had the phone interview last week and talked to the group manager for an hour (a long time for a weed-out phone interview). He got a "call back" via email Friday night and will be going in this coming Friday. Again, more waiting. I'm just too happy that he's still excited about this prospect and company. He's had some other phone interviews that just didn't work out. The work wasn't interesting or what-have-you. This time around seems perfect. He already knows the language and system they use (Yeah!) and he has experience with the customer base they are trying to get.
The company he works for now is publishing their quarterly earnings tomorrow. It doesn't sound good and there are rumors - as always - flying that layoffs are coming around (again!). A whole year of suspense and worry - I just want it to end... (Well, end well for us, I mean.) Hm.
Plans for this week include... going to the pumpkin patch and getting some good photos, dragging out my lighting kit and working on self-portraits and doing some housework (possibly). I don't want to over do it.
Friday, October 17, 2008
About halfway there, I passed a new sign for a church ...the Chinese Community of the Soul (I think). The name was in English and Chinese followed by a quote from the Gospel of Mark. The name struck me. I think I'm pretty close to what it was even if I'm not a 100% right. It got me thinking about my own personal beliefs about God and religion. Deep thoughts for a walk to the library.
When people ask I usually say "I'm Catholic;" more recently it's been "I was raised Catholic" because I haven't been to church in awhile. I'll be honest and say that I have some problems with Catholicism but that doesn't change the beauty of the rituals and of the Mass. I miss that aspect some days. Mostly I think of myself as just "Religious". That's what I came to on my walk anyway. I believe in a Higher Power but I don't think there's one way to get there or to Divine Happiness or Heaven or the After Life.
I honestly don't care what religion someone else follows. I don't think people who don't believe in God or who don't think Jesus is the Savior are destined for Hell. God can't be that mean (as in miserly not angry). When it comes down to it, most religions are about doing what is right as a human being and growing. Any way you put how can that be wrong. I don't think Heaven is exclusionary, just for certain people. We're too beautifully different for that. If God had wanted that, we'd all be the same with the same thoughts and goals and just be flat.
Me, I think I'll focus more on being a good person and worrying less about what others are doing. People are human first... before anything else... religious (priests, sisters, nuns, rabbis, reverends, what-have-yous) and good second. I think we forget that. I know I do. Someone isn't just good or bad. They're human.
Thursday, October 16, 2008
I've had my Lensbaby 2.0 (now called "the Muse") for at least a year - probably longer. I haven't used as much as I should, but that doesn't mean I don't love this toy. If I could, I'd have the whole collection to play with and be all the happier for it. I, however, do not have an infinity supply of camera gear money. Shocking but true. Ah well.
I took it out today for the first time ...in a long while (for which I humbly apologize for oh lensbaby toy) and had a grand old time taking self portraits. All of them were bad, but playing with any lens is always good fun even if the results suck.
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
After yesterday's post, I figured you'd be skeptical so I was planning on taking pictures throughout the process. HA. Forgot. Oh well.
I did make it though.
Tuesday, October 14, 2008
I'm not big on cooking. I blame my parents. Growing up, I was the one sent to the grocery store while making Christmas cookies or holiday meals since I was least likely to be helping in the kitchen. They made my older sister and me make dinner growing up. Mom is a nurse so she always worked the 3-11 shift. Dad worked from 7 until 6 or so at night. Who else was there? I understand their logic and I know it's good I can cook. I just prefer not to... If I was in charge, we'd have a fabulous chef who could make decadent meals that are both delicious and healthy. I'm not holding my breathe though.
Cooking is all well and good but I never could get over the mess it made and the fact that after cooking I had to clean up and wash the dishes. I hate messy kitchens. I can blissfully ignore messes in every other room but the kitchen. It's kind of ironic that my high school job was working in the kitchen of a psychiatric hospital - washing pots and pans.
T. cannot cook (again, parents are to blame). (Sorry, hon, you know I love you; it's not your fault). He never learned but every once in a while he tries a dish or grills something. In general, we subsist on sandwiches, frozen dinners and crock pot meals (which I don't consider cooking). I'm all for throwing things in a pot or a mixer and seeing what comes out. I'm not big on patience in the kitchen and tend to say good enough too much when it comes to cooking.
Recently, I found Cooking For Engineers. Anyone who knows an engineer will see the humor in the site. Each recipe has step-by-step instructions and a flow chart. Seriously. Maybe now T. (an engineer) will turn out to be an excellent chef - he only needs the proper pictorial graph. Here's hoping.
Friday, October 10, 2008
This version of the final song is just the best I've seen... it made me smile so I thought I'd share. Enjoy.
Portal - Still Alive typography from Trickster on Vimeo.
Thursday, October 9, 2008
I had a doctor’s appointment on Monday for a checkup (mainly because I have Gilbert’s Syndrome, a pretty dull disease that has no affect on anything unless it gets screwy [slim to none chance] and it’s hereditary (thanks, Mom!)). It’s such a dull thing that Mom didn’t know she had it until they diagnosed me and told me to have my family checked. Basically, I need regular blood tests on the off-chance there’s something wrong with the GS and because I’ve been tired. I’ve even gained 10 pounds since last year. UGH. This is with me working out every fricking day during the week and taking long walks in the afternoon. Seriously.
I went in yesterday morning for the blood work and had all my results emailed by the end of the day complete with notes from the doctor. Got to love modern technology… and Kaiser too. Everything is good. No thyroid condition or anemia; my GS is perfectly fine. So now I’m not sure if I should be happy or frustrated that working out just isn’t cutting it for me. I don’t obsess about calories but I’m not eating cheesecake every day either. Too bad, we aren’t rich enough for someone to make me perfectly portioned meals everyday that taste good. UGH.
T. thinks I’m letting the whole thing get to me too much and that it’ll work out all well and good. If he worked out with me everyday and gained weight, I’m sure he’d understand my frustration - not that he isn't supportive; he just doesn't understand. Part of me just wants to give up and scream while shoving spoonfuls of Chocolate Overload cake from Michelle Marie’s Patisserie into my mouth while laughing evilly and licking the crumbs off the plate. But then there’s the whole guilt thing. Another part just wants to cry until my eyes swell shut. Then there’s the slim leftover part that is pushing me to work harder and stop bitching. I think all three are good ideas, esp. the cake part. That won’t happen though because I don’t want to drive to that side of town. Traffic over there usually sucks this time of day and I don’t want to be bothered. I can’t cry because I’m at work and I’d have my coworkers peering into my windows and sticking their heads in my door asking if I’m okay. I’d never hear the end of it. So, that really just leaves option c.
I feel better now. I'm looking forward to the weekend. I keep telling myself it's just a number and my clothes fit better now than they did last year but having your doctor tell you that you gained 10 pounds and that it's a concern is just depressing. There, I said it. Now, can I move on??? Please.
Anyway, I found these hooks at Urban Outfitters while surfing the net yesterday afternoon. The "welcome" hooks made me smile. I love the color on that one. I think I like the "beautiful day" phrasing more. I'd buy the one on the right and spray paint it yellow or some other random happy color. Just thinking about that makes it a better day altogether.
Thursday, October 2, 2008
Usually I exercise every weekday morning before I do anything else (eat breakfast, whatever). I need to get it out of the way or I'd never do it. I'm getting better at that whole thing though and I'm beginning to actually enjoy it... sweating and all.
At work, I have a wonderful office that has a heavy sturdy door that locks. Unfortunately, I will be loosing the office and being moved to a cubicle in the coming weeks as the guys have hired another golf architect and little me doesn't need an office as much as he does. I will cry rivers of tears those last days - but everything must end.
After work yesterday, I read Photo Freedom again and have started the process of sorting all of my albums and photos from the last few years. I will also need to start working on my computer storage as well. I have loads of pictures but finding anything isn't always easy. I'm hoping Stacy Julian's bookStacy's Blogwill help.
If you're interested, Photo Freedom is a system for sorting, filing and managing one's photos for scrapbooking and crafting. I know too well how frustrating it can be to be working on something and spend half the day looking for an image (or five for a project). I discovered this particular joy when I was creating my friend's birthday present (an album with pictures from our entire friendship spanning more than 20 years). IF only I had had some easier way. I have the gist of Stacy's system but it was only recently - too late to save me any time for my earlier project. (Note to self - upload pictures of album).
After many readings over the past week or 10 days, I have started sorting my albums by decade (a sort of presort). Our apartment isn't equiped with loads of space so I know the next few steps will be agonizing. I am looking forward to the day when I can just flip through a drawer or an album or a computer folder and find exactly what I wanted.
While Stacy's Library of Memories (known to followers as LOM) might be time consuming in the set up, the idea of it makes it worth all the agony of sorting and organizing. If only I could hire someone to do all that for me - but I'd miss half of the point and I've already found that out.
Just doing the initial sort, I found some wonderful pictures that I had forgotten about that made me laugh or were bittersweet since my dad's passing. I know I will only ever have more photos and the longer I put off doing the grunt work the harder/longer the sorting process will be. My husband and I had some good laughs over pictures we had taken early in our relationship. It was an amazing experience.
After the sorting into years, Stacy recommends using a limited number 3-up albums to hold a collection of these photos that will be "active" scrapbooking - current events if you will. I already have a collection of albums and pages from back before I scrapbooked and everything went into 4X6 pages from centuries plastics so I will be repurposing the albums I already have since I don't care much about looking pretty in this case. While I'm rearranging these albums, I will start pulling images for the 4X6 drawers I purchased today (they should be here on Monday - Yeah!) for Stacy's category drawers where she puts photos she wants to scrap but are no longer in the active albums. These drawers have four different themes "us", "people", "places" and "things" - I'm not sure if I will keep Stacy's categories or not we'll see once I start using the system. Stacy also uses "cold storage" for images she doesn't want to get ready of but doesn't think she'll scrap when she cleans out her storage albums to move in new photos.
I'm excited about the process but dreading the actually nitty gritty work. I know the results will be worth the cost in time/money but I'm anxious to get it all out of the way and move on to my next thing.
Enough about that. I'll post more as I get going.
Before work today, I ran a bunch of errands and tried to get the cement off my car from the works going on in the apartment complex. It didn't come off in the carwash so I went into the office and talked to one of the managers. She'll be getting back to me tomorrow or Monday I guess with what the contractor has said/suggested. I hate dealing with that kind of crap but I also want my car to look as pretty as it did before the cement landed on it. It could be worse though.