Tag Archives: not writing

Clarionwest Beg-A-Thon Week #6 Wrap-Up

The workshop is finished. Everyone goes home today probably heartbroken, happy, and exhausted. I think I slept twelve hours the first two nights I got home. I’d already taken six weeks off work but they let me take Monday, too, because I needed it.

Check out Percy making some figs. Don’t think he has the juice to finish the job this summer but maybe we’ll get a few next summer.

In the interest of complete honesty: I failed at my meager write-a-thon goals. I’m still fiddling with my story idea and thinking I just need one more weekend to get it worked out which looking at history, there’s a good chance this story is doomed. But I can’t bring myself to trunk it yet. I never even looked at the kayak story which needs a little light tweaking and it’s ready to go out the door.

However, I also busted ass to get that last self-published book done in May so I could enjoy summer things and I am doing that. I’ve read almost 20 books since then and I’ve done lots of family things and made lots of pies. I’ve watched shows and a bunch of soccer matches and have a better garden than usual.

After this month I’m going to ramp back up.

A couple of pumpkins out front plus one blue hubbard squash.

If you forgot and think it’s too late. It’s not. You can donate anytime. All donations are welcome.

Donation Links:

Here’s the address if you’d prefer to mail a donation:
Clarion West
P.O. Box 31264
Seattle, WA 98103-1264

Thanks to everyone who supported me and the workshop. We raised over $16K. Enjoy the rest of your summer.

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Everything Changes, Everything Stays the Same

Here’s a shot of the irises. They only last about a week and they’re kind of a pain. I don’t know why I feel bad every time I accidentally pull some of them up. Pretty while they last.

Here’s Percy — look how cute his leaves are. I found some fig forums online so I will be learning everything about figs. People who love figs are very passionate about figs. People who don’t know about figs are sad.

This is a giant dark opening behind the alien bush and inside the hedges in the backyard. Every time I do yard work there, I imagine a growling clicky sound like you hear in a horror movie while some unsuspecting lady hums while gardening and a giant creature with claws and teeth gets ready to tear her apart.

If you don’t hear from me, that’s what happened.

Still trying to fix the 90% draft and some sad back tracking happened this week. I nuked two chapter because they were a huge mess and sometimes it’s better to jettison stuff than try to fix it.

64163 / 75000 words. 86% done!

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Rage Against the Tag

I’ve recently developed an unreasonable rage toward the giant tags that are on bathroom towels and wash cloths. Why are they so big? It’s hard to cut them off without it looking like ass — are we supposed to live with the giant tags and the way they curl up after you’ve washed the towel? Are you supposed to iron them so they look nice? Is there a way I’m supposed to remove them without leaving a corner of the towel looking all ripped up?

Since the rage started, I’ve been cutting them off. But the more tags I cut off the more tags I notice. Clothing, too. A lot of my newer stuff skips the tag along the neckline but then inserts a giant tag on one of the side seams. One of my extra long tags included the washing instructions in 4 languages and then a little dotted line showing me where I could cut the tag.

Gee, thanks. Am I supposed to memorize the washing instructions to all my clothes?

On some of my clothes with a confusing neckline — is this the back or is this the back? — I stitched a few little red stitches with embroidery thread. It’s a great idea but also sounds like something a weird old lady would do and also, not like I have free time begging to be filled.

I don’t know what to tell you about this book. I am having an agonizing time of it. My brain refuses to cooperate. I sit here for hours on end and have so little to show for it. The characters make the same cow eyes at each other and then make a bunch of ham-fisted remarks to drive my point and then we’re on to the same scene in a different location. I freak out every book but I freak out in a different way and this way seems like the worst. The only part that’s easy is when they take their pants off which is hilarious because with the first book, that was the most difficult part.

Looks like my old word meter died so I’m going to try this one out:

41770 / 75000
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Know Your Limits

This is not the current scene. This is from a couple of years ago. This weekend we got a light dusting with some freezing rain on top.

I tracked down all of my blog post idea lists. I have one in google docs, one on an electronic stickie on my computer desktop and one on a piece of paper that I printed out at least a year ago that had only two crossed-out items. One about papaya and one about lists. (ahem) I didn’t merge the lists, just made a note that I had three and where they are.

One of the items on the printed list was Goals for 2016. That’s not a typo. That’s because the list has been sitting here so long. Grabbed a sharpie and crossed that off.

This is why I don’t do a bullet journal. A bullet journal is a written journal where you write all your lists and stuff to do and ideas and supposedly it’s super organized and intuitive and handy and people love them. (More here.) That article says a bullet journal is great for people who have millions of lists and like paper to-do lists and like goal setting. Sounds like this was made for me.

Here’s where the wisdom of old age comes in. I know I would spend all my time making the bullet journal. It would be all pretty and organized and color coded and take up a giant chunk of time that I could use to actually do things. Plus it would never be quite right so I would fart around with it, thinking and rethinking my organizational strategy — so I could get really efficient with it. But then I’d be afraid to cross things out and I would get weary of transferring the same to-do things over and over and over and over. The only thing I would ever cross off my list would be “organize bullet list.” Then after a few weeks I would fail at that too.

My best organizational system is the poor one that I am implementing now. I keep a giant list. And lots of sub-lists. I have one in Google Docs and various lists on my computers. I name them things like: “OMG Save Me! Another List” and “Neverending List of Doom”

I print them out. I break them down and write them on index cards. I put them on colored index cards and fasten them with fancy paper clips.

I don’t need any new systems. Plus I thought all the kids today wanted everything on their phones. I’m still trying to remember to put things on my phone. How long has the iPhone had Reminders? I *just* learned how to use those. (Aside: I saw a blog post from a year ago that said I was on page 42 of my iPhone book. The post-it that reminds me what page I’m on in my iPhone book still says page 42.)

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Disappearing Mac Salad

This is Roscoe, the other next door cat and current ruler of the stoop. I can’t remember the last time I saw Toes out there. I saw Noah out there getting hissed at. I was out watering and for a second I didn’t want to disturb him until I remembered that he doesn’t live here. I do.

Now that I’m in the middle of a writing project, there is no spare creative energy of any kind.

Almost every meal is tacos or Trader Joes prepared foods or something I can stretch out for 2 or 3 meals. I have no ideas for gifts. I have no energy for house projects except for light organizing. I have no ideas for posts. I have no ideas.

We have just reached the point where we pick more berries than we can eat each day. Not complaining!

I found 3 extra brain cells and squandered them to make something other than tacos this weekend.

Since it was so hot I did a ton of food preparation on Friday. I made a mac salad and a couscous salad. I made a jello mold with fruit. Don’t laugh. It’s refreshing on a hot day.

On Friday I made Kenji smash burgers. Recipe here. Video and recipe here. I very very highly recommend. I kind of messed it up and it was still amazing. Plus it’s fast and easy. Use American cheese and make the special sauce. You won’t be sorry.

I have enough beef left for one regular and one mini smash burger tonight. The mac salad is already gone. There is a ton of couscous salad.

Project of August:

I’m actually behind on this. I got stuck. And then I panicked. And then I sat here staring at the screen going: OMG, think of something! Quick! Hurry! You’re falling behind! Think of something!

Turns out: That doesn’t work. I had to back up. Take a couple of days to unravel and regroup. I think I’m back on track now.

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Orleans bridge

I was going to write about this yesterday but then I got distracted and went off-topic.

These are my writing statistics.

I had 22 submissions.

I sold one story. Two reprints. And the anthology for the story I sold, also sold subsidiary rights. So, does that count as a reprint? Where are the writing statistics regulations?

I think I finished 5 new short stories and did about 15,000 words on the novel which is still in a condition that I don’t want to use negative words to describe. What else can I come up with? Unfocused? Searching for greatness? Acting out as a disaster?

My word count is 178,000 for the year which is mostly first draft words but it’s not completely accurate because I have system for how I count the time I spent revising and working out stuff when I’m stuck.

I read 30 books and I read 149 short stories/novella/novelettes although I don’t keep track of all the short stuff so I read more than that.

I attended at least 25 soccer games. That has nothing to do with writing but does explain where a big chunk of my time went. I would not dream of changing this.

I’ve been thinking about it and I honestly don’t think I can dramatically increase my output without major lifestyle changes that I’m not willing to implement.

I used to think that I just needed to focus more and be more motivated (and those aren’t the major lifestyle changes that I’m referring to) but my work days are long and I spend my days reviewing and drafting documents. On occasion I can come home and have a productive evening but I can’t sustain that for any length of time without becoming completely miserable.

And I have a lot of weekend time to work, and I do, but I also like to do other things like bake and garden and hang out with other people. I also insist on exercising on a regular basis.

So, my goal is to produce slightly more finished material than I did last year and Bob and I have already talked about some ways to promote that goal.

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Industrious Woman

Good Freaking God, what happened to today?

I was up early and super industrious. Working on all these loose ends that I’ve been procrastinating on forever. I did a bunch of online things that necessitated my opening at least 6 new user accounts with usernames and passwords — I only have about 10 trillion of those right now. Yay, isn’t the Internet making life easier? And how about having to click a half million times to buy my 6 items? Yeah, only a teeny bit easier than actually going to the store. (If the store was close by and had a competent person standing there just waiting to help me.)

I was doing all this stuff and suddenly it was 4:30pm so ran to the kitchen to make peach pie (which turned out godhead, by the way. I used Cook’s Illustrated, except I didn’t like the spices or the sugar ratio, so I read the Betty Crocker recipe, except I didn’t want the flour in the filling. I used less brown sugar and more white sugar plus 2 t. lemon and 1 t. lemon zest and 1/4 t. cinnamon and tapioca for my thickener. I’ve never made a peach pie before but this is going in the rotation. I guess I’d better write down what I did while I’m thinking about it.) (I mean write it on a recipe card. I’m never going to remember to look here for my peach pie tips.)

After the pie I made this baked chicken recipe which was easy but had lots of steps including “browning” it on the stove top in a pan which means “get oil splattered everywhere” so I figured while I was there I’d just disembowel the entire stove top and clean it all.

And after that was done I had to get started on the watering. What a fantastic day. I never turned on the air. I just had the windows open and the breeze felt great. Watering still needed to be done. I’ve modified my watering routine to do intensive watering every other day rather than half-assed watering every day. But intensive watering takes forever so while I was out there I did yard work and by the time I finished it was almost 9pm. Then I had to eat my chicken and pie.

I’m completely filthy and smell like a stinky hippy but it’s too late to bathe now. (I’m sure 90% of you are appalled. Yes, I’m fastidious but I will go to bed stinky and dirty with barely a second thought.) I’m also sort of wound up. Sitting here at the computer typing is not helping.

Point being: I still don’t have your train pictures – I did start working on them this morning. And I don’t have my Charlie and the Chocolate Factory story or any of the other stuff I have jotted on scraps of paper that are scattered all over this room. Maybe later this week.

Meanwhile. I’d just like to point out that something I didn’t do this weekend is go to the Willamette Writers conference. I think I’ve attended at least part of it every year but one for the last 4 or 5. Wow, and I’m not feeling totally humilated or like I wasted my money. Coincidence? I think not.

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Star Wars Confession

I’m still not in the mood to recreate my train trip post and I still haven’t posted the photos (well, I’ve posted 2 but that happened by accident and I wasn’t in the mood to fix it).

This weekend I continued my bitter project of tossing writing crap. I don’t think my attitude is completely healthy but whatever gets you through. I’m making tons of rooms on my shelves and drawers and getting a tiny smug sense of satisfaction. It reminds of this relationship I had in my mid-20’s that ended with particular tragedy and the guy gave me a cassette of Edie Brickell and something else, I think a folk singer. I *STILL* can’t listen to Edie Brickell. I taped over what he gave me with Megadeth and Racer X.

Petty, childish and strangely satisfying.

Also I cleaned out my closet and I FINALLY hung up the giant vinyl signs that Steve and Denise gave me for the Attack of the Clones DVD sales. I now have a giant Boba Fett that looks over my desk and a giant Yoda and light saber in my yoga handstand practice area. It’s awesome. I hung the Yoda, Obi-Wan, Anakin one in the laundry room. It pleases me greatly that I have better Star Wars stuff than pretty much all the other kids. I have an Obi-Wan bank, talking Yoda, life-sized cardboard C3PO cutout, Darth Vader phone, and R2D2 mini-robot and a photo of me and young George Lucas that was a photo on the wall at a Cafe 50’s type diner in San Francisco. (Mel’s?). I know. Sad but all true.

I also have a moleskine that I put a retro Princess Leia sticker on and I got a great compliment in line at the movies the other day. Also an awesome Anakin Skywalker backpack that Bob got for me in Chinatown in LA. The clerk asked if it was for his son and he said, “No, my wife.”

If Revenge of the Sith is still on big screen this weekend I’ll see it again. It will be #9. I saw (big screen) Phantom 13 times and Clones a mere 7. I saw the special editions on big screen: Ep IV (5), Ep V (3) and Ep VI (3). I have no ideas how many times I’ve seen them on DVD or VCR. I’m not a TV in the background type of person but I often plug in one of those movies when I’m doing an extended cooking project. I watched IV and V the past few weekends — the old “before special” edition and thought it was cool.

I have no idea why I’m writing out this extended Star Wars confession. I feel perfectly healthy and at relative peace with the world.

Also, completely unrelated but I think I’ve discovered my pie crust problem. It’s the fat. I went back to my Betty Crocker recipe this weekend and was extra generous with the shortening and it was about 90% more successful. Yay.

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Smells Like Rock Swings

Did you know Paul Anka has an album out called Rock Swings with covers of songs like Smells Like Teen Spirit, Wonderwall (one of my fave songs of all time), Jump and Eye of the Tiger? Yeah, I know. Eye of the Tiger. If you have iTunes, charge up the Apple Store and listen to some samples. I’m speechless. And not necessarily in a bad way.

I wasn’t going to write about this but screw it. I did totally officially quit writing the weekend before last. And it was simultaneously heart-breaking and liberating. I’d also been in the process of a pretty determined run at law school and I gave that up too. See my touching story in [cheezy women’s magazine] “I gave up all my dreams on the same day.”

But you know what? This is great. It’s all good.

You need to break it all down before you can build it up again and I need to figure out how to see myself in the world without writing or something intended to make up for it.

I’ve got a great life and work I like and I only have to be there 4 days a week and I don’t have kids and I have an independent husband so I can more or less write my own ticket. And when I think of the things I want to do: garden, cook, yoga, draw, photography, learn German — and so forth. It’s all making things and learning. The other afternoon we had an afternoon rain shower and Bob and I were on the back porch inhaling that incredible fresh smell and I danced around like a little kid: “And I’m going to be an interpretive dancer, and an artist and a photographer, and master chef and a … .”

I’ve spent so much time not doing things because I was preserving time to write — which often, I did not do. So now I’m doing those things. Like yesterday I went to Araline’s for the annual work party. I was berry vine woman. You could argue that I won, but I am covered from wrist to shoulder and knee to ankle in berry scratches. It looks nasty but I’m sure it’s meaningful on some symbolic level.

In the meantime, if I get a yearning to tell a story, I can always drop everything and start writing again. And I do tons of other writing that I like so not like I’m really “quitting.”

This past weekend I cleared off my bookshelves and dumped about 90% of my writing books and cleaned out some notebooks and files of saved articles. It’s like breaking up with a worthless boyfriend. Toss all that shit. Good bye and good riddance.

Seriously. It’s good. Chuck it all right now.

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Thinking About Quitting

This is a simplified version of a long story of this thing I’m dealing with right now.

Several times in the last many years I have considered “quitting” writing. I’d still jot notes and keep a notebook and write things here. But I’d quit writing fictional stories with an intent for sale. Previously, this idea caused me a great deal of distress.

But I had this notion again a few months ago and I tell you it was like the promise of a monkey off my back. Imagine waking up Saturday morning and not thinking about sitting at my desk all morning trying to do something that other people will like. My best writing time is 6am to Noon so I prefer to avoid anything that will distract me during that time including not staying up too late the night before. I took this idea to the extreme: imagine getting rid of all these stupid writing books on my shelves and emptying out my files of articles and ideas. And all the things I could do with that time instead: cooking, actually gardening vs. just trying to keep things under control, watching sports, visiting with friends. The list goes on.

A big part of my issue is that, particularly in the last year or so, I have begun to loathe writing. It’s like pulling teeth to get my butt in the chair every time. Only 1 out of 3 times do I even manage to produce anything or perhaps experience a moment or two of enjoyment. Who does things for recreation that she hates?

But it bothers me that I now hate something I used to love so much and I know at least partly why and I don’t want to get into a 20 screens of my whole inner psychology, I’m trying to sort this whole thing out.

The point of this post, is that since I had this idea, that I might officially quit this exercise in humiliation and disappointment, I have had two new acquaintances ask to read my manuscript without any urging from me. This is almost as much interest as I had when I actively tried to market the stupid thing.

This morning I cleaned out my writing box — archived stuff that sits in the garage — tracking down the most recent versions and in the bundles of papers I found all kinds of notes of encouragement.

I don’t know. I haven’t made up my mind yet.

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