On the tenth day out…

Tracking preventatives
Grotesque underlying emails
Their rough surface makes entrance and exit easier

— the latest #spamcommentary.

I finished NaNoWriMo on November 20th. Unlike previous sorties, it wasn’t a strain: more like receiving a daily flu shot than suffering from a post-apocalyptic plague, pun fully intended.

[NaNoWriMo 2019 Winner]

I will give credit where credit is due to 4TheWords.  I signed up for it in 2016, and never activated my membership, for ReasonsIDon’tEvenRemember.  This time around through NaNoWriMo, I decided to give the app a legitimate try just to see if slaying monsters with words could help me think of creative writing as something I want to do as opposed to Yet One More Thing I Have To Get To And Ideally Through Before I Get Whatever Sleep I Can Manage.  I did enjoy Habitica in my early days using it (before it became Just Another Grind for me), and I figured that I might get the same sort of boost from 4TheWords.  It was a sound assumption:  the app did help, in a ticking timer sort of way that was more fun to keep pace with than any of the actual ticking timers that I use daily.

I didn’t get anywhere close to a first draft on the literary science fiction thing I was poking at, but I wrote enough of a skeleton to realize what critical body parts the novel is missing:  mainly, a compelling reason for the protagonist not to spend his next Wednesday afternoon trying to get run over by a self-driving bus.  Correction, a compelling reason to keep his author from wanting him to spend his next Wednesday afternoon trying to get run over by a self-driving bus.

Actually, I’m not sure that would be a terrible opening scene.  A reader could have so many questions, like …  why is this guy out running around in traffic trying to get run over?  Why is he so frustrated that it isn’t working?  How are the passengers reacting to all this?  Are they even noticing, or are they lost in their personal entertainment/communication/portable computing devices?  The downside to the scene would be that I’d have to come up with a character motivation more uhm, something than “I am doing this because my author has it out for me”.

Speaking of such things, work is still trying to eat my life, despite my occasional best efforts to coat myself in hot pepper sauce, metaphorically speaking. During my more awake moments I have been questioning if I am just wired to take on projects and roles that will keep me insanely busy because I have some pathological need to have someone else set my priorities, or at least give me a reasonably lucrative excuse to get out of doing laundry or deciding what I want to be when I grow up.

Not that work is stopping me from accomplishing stuff outside of work.  Ref: NaNoWriMo, mostly keeping up with the Duolingo French practice, parenting, unpacking, studying, decorating, and dealing with approximately a hundred different contractors while we were prepping the old house for sale.

And it is now freaking sold, so we can celebrate by, uh, buying a lawn tractor.  Also, furniture.  Curtains.  A composter.  Yay!

Twenty-One Days Out

So, 23,407 words later, I am no closer to knowing whether what I’m writing for NaNoWriMo is science fiction or literary fiction. But there is still something in there to write, and I am still able to find time to cram in little pieces of it every single day, so that’s something. Okay, I’ll admit that it is something miraculous, considering the hours that I have been working lately — but honestly, my spending more hours working than I should be is nothing new, so I won’t dwell on it.

I have not been spending enough hours studying. I need to get back into that habit before I look up and discover I have weeks’ worth of stuff to do at the last minute. The dedicated study hour between 8:00 – 9:00 each evening has been eroded by, oh, lots of things. Most often, it has been due to our starting dinner late (because of work), which means we eat dinner late, and kitchen clean up is late, and if there is a 9:00 PM deployment scheduled for work, I can forget about studying at all that night.

But I said I wouldn’t dwell on that.

I could try shifting my study time to the mornings before everyone in the household gets up. This, of course, would require me to get up at the same earlier hour every day, which I could easily manage if I went to bed every night by ten like I was doing so good with until a series of escalating events made it more likely that I go to bed by one than ten, and my tiny stupid brain remembered that one a.m. used to be my regular bedtime and was okay with that even when the rest of me very much Was Not.

I owe my advisor a return call. I should probably tell him that I’m fighting with this. It … alright, understand that I still find it weird to have an academic advisor that I feel I can talk to. I spent years taking classes at some institutions without interacting with any beyond getting a random person’s stamp on my course schedule.

Speaking of being up past my bedtime, it’s after midnight, and I can’t blame work at all for my being awake (I did work earlier today), so I’m going to bed.

Tomorrow is another chance to do better, right?

In the morning, I’ll probably read this post, shake my head, and tell myself that I at least succeeded in blogging twice in one month!

Twenty-Nine Days’ Sort

Clearly I need to do NaNoWriMo this year and get this sorted. Maybe whatever dogs we wind up getting will agree.

– Me, just last month.

We do not have any dogs yet, though we have met several in the past month, as we’ve been settling in here while trying to untangle ourselves from the other house.   If all things go well, we’ll be out before the end of this month. Considering that we spent three hours today at the old house trying to reconnect a dryer vent that had mysteriously come undone between our move and the time the buyer had it inspected … yeah, it’s been like that.

Fortunately, that should all be squared away tomorrow.  One positive outcome of this move is that we’ve begun to be more realistic about what we can accomplish ourselves in the time we have available.  We fought with the dryer vent for three hours.  We swore at it.  We lost blood to it.  We gave up and called in a professional.

Speaking of sorting things, yes, I did sign up for NaNoWriMo this year.  Thanks to work and school and all of the other things I do in and around work and school (e.g. parenting, laundry, gardening, sleep), I won’t have a lot of time for it, but  I think I can do some damage within those chunks of time, as long as I manage to keep them out of the same daily soup bowl as everything else.

Will I fight with this for thirty — er twenty-nine days?  Will I swear at it?  Will I lose blood to it, and eventually give up?

Maybe.    Or maybe not.

Let’s find out, shall we?

I’m tackling a completely new project, rather than trying to make sense out of any of my old ones.  I can’t make up my mind whether it is science fiction, or dog help us all, literary fiction, so I’ll just write until it sorts itself out.

Place and Perspective

Along the tumbleweed way
I met someone like me.
He drives, sometimes.
Other times, I do.
For now, our son sits in the back,
Eats raspberries,
And sings along with the radio. 

 Next year, we may all be from here,
And if not, then, well, maybe the year after. 

– excerpt from “I’m from everywhere, man…”, a mandatory  ‘introduce yourself to your fellow classmates in the form of a poem’ assignment, circa 2013ish.

Place and Privilege was the original title of this blog post, but it sounded too much like a  Jane Austen reboot.

Continue reading

The November Premise

This is not a political blog post. As we’ve discussed:  I don’t do those, because I prefer having one-on-one conversations about such things.  Once again this year, our household is receiving heavy telephone and drop-by survey traffic.

This is probably not my fault.

Probably.

The general premise of NaNoWriMo is “the world needs your novel”.

Yeeeeaaah.  I’m sure it doesn’t. Not that this certainty has stopped me from participating for several years, out of inertia or … something.1 Even when it has been crazy, I’ve carved out time to hit word counts, and inevitably hated myself because I dropped so many other things on the floor in order to do so, but it was okay!  I had an excuse!  It was November!  I could waste time writing a lot of crap (or telling myself I was editing a pile of crap by spackling a lot of new crap on top of it) and throw it all away on December 1st2 and nobody would think I was weird at all.  Nope, no weird here, no aberrant behavior, everything’s good, it’s all perfectly normal, lalalala.

It is November. It is crazy.

I don’t want an excuse to drop things on the floor.  I genuinely like the idea of having less panic and less self-loathing in my life, so yeah, going to avoid the whole dropping things in November thing.

If I write, I’ll write. If I don’t, that’s good too.3

Happy NaNoing. Be sure to take some time next Tuesday to go vote. Ideally, you have already figured out who is getting your vote, and you have reasons for choosing that candidate that don’t sound an awful lot like a parrot’s reciting the latest Facebooked horror story about the opposing candidate, but … you do you.


1The ‘something’ is likely perceived obligation.  I’m supposed to be writing, so ta-da, look, see, I’m writing something that I can share! Not that I do share it, but theoretically, I could.

2Or early February, because I can’t generally wrap my head around a new year until it’s the Lunar one.

3Admittedly, this philosophical insight was brought to you by this morning’s panicked freak out because it is November 4th, and I haven’t even bothered logging into the NaNoWriMo site, let alone started writing anything.  I went to the gym, and felt better afterwards. I’ll probably feel better still once I post this blog entry, or at least capable of making myself focus on my Statistics homework.

My Year of Bread and Air (and Stuck)

“Insanity is doing the same thing, over and over again, but expecting different results.”

-Albert Einstein (likely misattributed).

I baked a lot of bread this year.  One or two loaves a week (three loaves a week on a few occasions), even the week of Mom’s funeral and the subsequent weeks of family-related and work travel.

I have been on planes this year more than I have any other year of my life — but there has still been bread in the house, each homemade loaf a little (and occasionally quite a bit1) different, even those weeks I’ve had all the ingredients I needed on hand and the last thing I wanted to do was experiment.

The bread did run out during a couple of those business trips, which inspired @bhoneydew to capture all the scrawled-on-butter-stained-printout hacks I’d made to the basic recipe I started with and bake a couple of loaves himself. Both of them came out differently than any of mine, and different from each other, even though he followed the same steps each time.

And … this is the paragraph where I was stuck for two weeks (I started writing this blog post on my birthday). It was a unique sort of stuck for me: until December 19th, it was a stare-at-a-page-and-no-words-come-out stuck as opposed to a write-ten-paragraphs-think-they’re-messed-up-and-delete-them-all-before-anyone-else-sees-them stuck. Though since this isn’t the first time this has happened this past year, I guess I should stop calling it ‘unique’. I should just call it ‘2016’s stuck’, and hope the year doesn’t forget it in the house when it heads out the door in a couple of weeks, especially if the door smacks it on the butt so hard that it falls down the front steps, because that should so happen.

My chirpy ambitiousness about being able to do NaNoWriMo and a massive work project and finish a networking class all in the same November timeframe? Yeah, that was me trying to flip off 2016 before it’d turned its back. I should know better, I really should, but I did get the two most important things on that list done, so there’s that. The bread still happened.


1The first time I used the “Proof/Warm” setting on our oven to proof a loaf, I didn’t notice that the temperature read “Hot” instead of “Brd”. This killed most of the yeast and made for a very dense brick o’ bread.

In The Weeds

Current NaNoWriMo Word Count [end of Day 6]: 13,101
Current Work Word Count [end of Day 6]: 13,144

Surprisingly, my despite being in the weeds of a massive work project and in the last two weeks of a networking class (I haven’t been keeping track of the words I’ve written for class), I’ve been keeping up with The Bone Sapling. The plot’s even coming together.

Something must be horribly wrong.

Horribly. Horribly. Wrong.

Things seemed to get easier when I gave up on the idea of having Thanksgiving. My work project’s due that week, and my class finishes that week … and Halloween didn’t turn out so bad after all (left a big bowl of candy on the porch and went to see an early movie with the Monster: the theatre was practically deserted, which was awesome!). So, maybe lowering expectations is going to get me through this without going insane.

My having removed the Facebook and Twitter apps from my phone might also help.

On that note, I’ve already voted. 🙂

Be safe out there tomorrow.