Wash On Monday … Or Something

It’s a month(ish) later, on another Holiday Monday, and I’m doing laundry. Don’t even try to look surprised. At least the weekend wasn’t a frame-for-frame reshoot of Labor Day Weekend:  while I did go out of town for work last Monday through Wednesday, and I pulled a work-related all-nighter on Thursday, I didn’t do…

Okay, at least I didn’t do as much questioning of life choices this weekend, and I didn’t at all have to hide from people I care about so I wouldn’t have to fight the urge to scream at them. I even left the house for reasons other than going to the airport or a grocery store or to take the Monster somewhere.  Yes, really!  Despite the weekend rain, I succeeded in participating in the charity walk I signed up for all the way back in August, and as a nice bonus, was able to drag @bhoneydew and the Monster along with me.

Of course, we did have doughnuts after that.

It also was for a good cause.  Or something.

Random Notes:

  • In week three of the Networking class.  My first exam’s on Wednesday. Things are going about as well as I was expecting from a refresher-must-once-again-officially-prove-that-I-know-this-stuff course.
  • Dropped the systems biology Coursera course after getting into Week Two and realizing, yep, I need to spend some quality time with my old biochemistry textbooks before I can get back into this stuff. Quality time, yes, I can schedule that! I am already almost done with this year’s Goodreads Challenge, and I am so proud of myself that it’s ridiculous. Just don’t ask me how low I set this year’s bar, okay?
  • Signed up for NaNoWriMo again this year, because :masochism:. Or my armadillo life is getting to me and I want to feel like part of a community again without, you know, having to put on war paint or pants. The officially sited reason is that I do have a personal writing project I want to work on in addition to the stuff I get paid to write, and NaNo gives me a great excuse. Or something.
  • Speaking of pants, I’ve become mildly addicted to LuLaRoe leggings. If only they had pockets…






My Year of Bread and Water

Bread in Basket

The first round of January bread. Dead. Wrapped in plastic.

When the alarm sounds, all errors are recorded.
-Today’s #spamadvice (translated from Norwegian)

I admit I spent more time trying to figure out how to add social media links to my blog than I did writing this post.1 It’s not that WordPress.com made that information hard to find, it — alright, I’m still not certain that I should be adding social media links to my blog. Oh, sure, I’ve had links to my Twitter feed here for a while, and it’s not (yet) been anywhere close to a disaster, but do I really want to make it that easy for folks to find me?2

The previous paragraph was a roundabout way of mentioning that I finally signed up for Facebook and … SweetMotherOfCthulhu, I’m so happy I discovered that it has a mute button! Still alarmed that I feel the need to use it as much as I do3, but I’m delighted that I have that option.

Anyway … 2015 just happened, and 2016 is here. I sort of disappeared in the middle of November, so I’ll start with quick recaps before I natter about goals for this year then disappear for another six months4.

NaNoWriMo 2015
I hit 50K with Key of Tree on November 26th, and stopped recording my word counts after the 27th (50,466). The NaNo project’s now a shade over 60K, and, ah, it’s still mostly in outline form with blocks of dialogue scattered here and there. I estimate the first draft will be just over 100K when it’s done, assuming that I don’t just throw it in a box and bury it, maybe with a stake through it for extra reassurance. It started out as a paranormal thriller and turned into a historical family saga with barely any paranormal in it. Think, uhm, Gone with the Wind, just make it the modern era and swap in demonic possession and cultural shock caused by technological progress for the antebellum South and Sherman’s Army. Is your brain now threatening to leak out of your nose? Yeah, that’s how I feel when I think about it, which is why I’m considering the box-and-stake option.

Speaking of brain leaking out of the nose…

…since I’ve admitted this on Facebook already (but only to the peeps in Nova Nanites), I do have some other writing goals for 2016. Once I sort what to do with Key of Tree, I’m going to take a look at the dark epic fantasy duology (The Madness Gate and Singing Down Sepia) and see if they’re actually a trilogy-in-denial, or if they just need to be printed out and set on fire.

I might also try writing something short and maybe not as grim as my usual stuff. Maybe.

I would like to get at least one rejection this year. That would be awesome.

Finally, after the need to reschedule some courses, I’m on track for getting my database administrator’s certificate this spring. All I’ll need to do is complete a PL/SQL refresher, and yes, I have to complete it, because the PL/SQL course I took in California is over ten years old so it didn’t transfer. Have I completed my Oracle certs? No. Have I taken my PMP exam? No. Am I still sure I want to do those things? Also no, but I probably will anyway. What am I going to do after I finish the certification? I honestly have no idea yet. I keep poking at systems engineering, business analysis and data science programs, because I do a little of all of that for a living these days. Do they excite me? Eh … in the ‘new tools for the mental toolbox’ sense, sure. If I wanted to be excited about what I was studying, I’d go into bioscience.

Two projects are supposed to wrap at the end of January, and I’m ballparking the end of April for the third one I’m involved in. Of course, I ballparked the end of April 2015 for the two that are ending in January, and it turned out that I was needed until now, so, oops. This month is going to involve a fair amount of deepthink about lessons learned from the past year and change of freelancing, what I’ve enjoyed doing, what I don’t want to do again if I don’t have to5, and where I’d like to grow from here.

Speaking of growing, I’ve lost a little over fifty pounds this past year without doing anything crazy; I went back to eating three-meals-and-snacks as my nutritionist in PA prescribed, logging my food when I did, and moving around more than I had been6. The only things I’ve cut out are artificial sweeteners, which wound up eliminating soda by association (I haven’t drunk fully leaded soda on purpose in decades), and swapping the half-and-half in my morning coffee and the whole milk in my smoothies for almond milk.

My base goal with all of this is to see how healthy I can get just by being mindful. I’m not sweating setbacks, because so far I’ve been able to get back on track and get through them. When that stops working, well, it’ll be time to start doing more than the house cleaning/home improvement/gardening/cooking from scratch/parking a good distance from the store entrance workouts that I’ve been doing. The Monster goes to a great local gym, and I’m sure folks there wouldn’t mind making me forget how much I hated high school P.E.

Don’t laugh; cooking from scratch really has helped with all this! I’ve even started baking my own bread (that is, without using a bread machine). The effort involved in making it should guarantee I eat less of it!

1I’m still not done. WordPress.com’s Social Media Widget doesn’t appear to support Google+ or Goodreads (which surprised me) or multiple Twitter accounts (which didn’t), so there are some HTML shenanigans in my future.
2Because, uhm, Google might be hard to operate or something?
3Otherwise, I’d likely say something I wouldn’t regret in a way that I probably would.
4One of my goals for 2016 is to post something once a week, on Mondays if I can manage it.
5#1 on that list is ghostwriting.
6Yes, the eye doctor ordered computer diet has helped improve my physical activity levels. So has the FitBit.

Digging Toward Daylight

Monday, November 16 – 2,124 (30,032) words
Tuesday, November 17 – 1,471 (31,053) words
Wednesday, November 18 – 834 (31,887) words
Thursday, November 19 – zero (31,887) words
Friday, November 20 – zero (31,887) words

Wednesday, Thursday and Friday’s being consumed by work and Thanksgiving planning-and-shopping also meant that I got nothing but the bare essentials done holiday house prep wise. Since I didn’t have to leave the house over the weekend, I resolved to catch up on the NaNo project in 15 minute bursts between loads of laundry and skirmishes with dust bunnies.

Saturday, November 21 – 4,812 (36,699) words
Sunday, November 22 – 4,076 (40,775) words

Yeah, I think I might now be able to hit that 50K total before December 1st.  Will I finish the novel by then? Oh, good grief, no. I’m not sure it’ll even start looking like one until it hits 75K1, and that goal I won’t hit by the first of December.

1Assuming I don’t print it out and set it on fire before then, which is quite possible.

Not Be Seen Until I Cease To Exist

I’m trying to find issues to improve
You’ve got an awful lot of text
I was wondering if you could write a little more?
-today’s #spamcommentary

Friday, November 13 – 1,493 (25,932)
Saturday, November 14 – 654 (26,566)
Sunday, November 15 – 1,342 (27,908)

“Love Me Again” left my head Friday, and I haven’t had a single song stuck there since. Truth be told, I’m also not really wanting to listen to lyrical music right now. I won’t discuss the reasons, but hell, unless you’ve been in the bottom of a cave since Thursday, you probably already know them.

It’s Like The Devil’s Doom

The original title of this post (when I started it in longhand back on Monday) was “Like a Language I Once Spoke With Ease”, yet another lyric snippet off the Indigo Girls’ Swamp Ophelia1. That was on Monday. On Tuesday, between writing sessions #1 and #2, the penguins got tired of an entire album’s being rotated on my mental stereo, yanked it, and put John Newman’s “Love Me Again” on repeat.2. It’s not budging, despite multiple meatspace plays, a round of The Backstreet Cure, and a re-watch of Edge of Tomorrow, which is where I first heard the song.

The only rationale I can think of for this is that I’ve been working through multiple romance arcs this week, all doomed, but some more than others.

My “standard” 45 minute writing sessions were anything but standard over the past four days. I grabbed 15 minute chunks at a time (occasionally 20, when I blew past the timer and just had to get something down before I forgot it) when I could grab it. Despite the destandardization, I managed to keep up with word count and still maintain a few points in my SAN pool.

Monday, November 9 – 1,942 (18,000)
“Where is she?”
“Over there.”
“I don’t see her.”
“She doesn’t want to see you.”

Tuesday, November 10 – 1,971 (19,971)
“You’ve done your job. Why are you still around?”

Wednesday, November 11 – 2,608 (22,579)
“Notice where we’re not.”

Thursday, November 12 – 1,861 (24,439)
“Glad the old man didn’t care.”
“Old man? Dad, he’s as old as you.”
“Then maybe I ain’t the same kind of glad now.”

1From “Language or The Kiss”.
2The post title is taken from a bad transcription of the song’s lyrics that I found on the IntarWeb. The actual snippet is is that what devils do?.

Every Thought’s A Possibility

November 6, 2015 – 1,365 (11,022)
“Nothing but the usual Amen Bingo.”

I had an uninterrupted hour on Friday night to do nothing but scrawl story notes on paper. I got through half of those in two sessions on Saturday…

November 7, 2015 – 1,206 (12,228)
“I’d like to do that, but I think it’d be weird.”
“Weird how?”
“Single guy, hanging around kids … at least you can pass as a lesbian.”

November 7, 2015 – 1,287 (13,515)
“You’ll be out of here as soon as you find another wife, right?”

…and finished them up on Sunday.

November 8, 2015 – 2,543 (16,058)
“Our house was the opposite of childproofed.”
“Child friendly?”
“Naturally selective.”

I did promise myself a day of editing when I hit 12,500 words, but I decided to trade it off for skipping the hour’s handwritten prep work on Saturday night. At that point, I still had half of my notes from Friday and a keen desire to get my head out of the story before I started writing scenes like … oh, describing how one of the protagonist’s friends plans her moods around her nail polish. For the record, that’s just an example of the potential nuttiness: the protagonist doesn’t have any friends like that. Come to think of it, I’m not sure I’ve written in any friends for the protagonist. Hrm.

Fueled By Distortions

There is a solution supplied inside
There is a citation given within
Lleva ya un tiempo jugando
Este increíble juego
If that does not perform, then the ball needs to be replaced.
-Today’s #spamadvice

November 3, 2015 – 1,617 (6,711)
“Do not lie to me, or I will destroy you.”

Tuesday night, while I was breaking pencil leads drafting1 (I’m no easier on writing implements than I am on keyboards), the penguins decided to load my mental jukebox with all the tracks from The Indigo Girls’ Swamp Ophelia.  Considering the themes I’m working with, I can’t say as I’m too surprised by their choice of soundtrack.

November 4, 2015 – 1,385 (8,096)
The back door shut quiet, then the screen door slammed. He did not come back.

November 5, 2015 – 1,561 (9,657)
She did the thing she hated the most; she picked up the damn phone.

1 I draft in pencil in the evenings, for whatever amount of time I can spend on this. I key in the draft the next morning during the roughly 45 minutes (15 minutes at a stretch) I am generally able to manage before everything blows up. I really do not want to spend more than that amount of time working on this, because I’m already at the threshold where I want to start editing and polishing previous content instead of pushing forward. I’ve promised myself a day of editing for each 12,500 words — given that I only add words, not delete them.