Considering 2013

On the last day of the year, it feels like a good time to think about what has happened in my life, good and bad.

My life this year was dominated by work.  I worked hard, and a lot, at a job that I love, and fortunately I got some recognition for it at the end of the year.  We don’t talk about work, though, so let’s move on.

Personally, 2013 was somewhat mediocre.  I didn’t travel anywhere exotic, I didn’t see any new birds.  However, my sister got married, which was pretty awesome; I made some friends outside of work (which is nearly impossible); and I did get to go see my Houston friends, even if only for a few days.  As the year began to end, I also met someone who I’m crazy about; it’s very new, so we’ll have to see how it turns out in 2014.

2013 was not a good year for writing.  Sure, I got eleven rejections for Dragon and started the process of re-writing Butterflies, but I didn’t finish a book, I didn’t complete NaNo, and you know how well I blogged this year (not so well).

With any end of the year reflection comes a chance to turn my gaze to next year.  I don’t know what it will bring, but here’s hoping that it exceeds 2013!

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The Gap is Gone

For many years, writing filled a gap in my life.

When they came into my life, the characters kept me company in the dark as I tried to fall asleep in my new apartment, totally alone for the first time.

Later, my brain explored their world as my body did physical tasks long since gone mindless.  Their conversations kept me entertained through the boredom of lines, their adventures gave my mind a place to wander when it had nothing else to do.

A lack of challenge, a shortage of stimulation, led me to writing.  A hobby soon grew, becoming a passion, and I was hooked.

For the past year, I’ve barely written.  Blogs are sparse, characters are quiet, and it’s been perplexing to me.  These are my children, this world one of my own making, a place I am always welcome.  There are still lines to stand in, still quiet moments in the dark, still tasks that don’t require my brain.  Where has the story gone?

This week I realized – the story is not gone, but the gap is no more.  Those empty moments are now occupied with work, with stress, with the many things to which I’ve committed my time and energy.  The chatter that filled my mind now dims in down moments; what was once a fairly level din is now peaks of intensity followed by valleys of quiet.

In searching for and finding a more challenging job, I fear I’ve reduced writing back to an occasional hobby.  I’ll have to decide if I want to pursue ways to bring it back; perhaps I’ll find quiet moments again, as this job becomes more routine, and the characters will speak once more.

Cutting Myself Some Slack

Today I explained to someone who perhaps I’m behind on my word count because my heart isn’t quite into NaNo this year.  The advice I got in return was that perhaps I shouldn’t spread myself too thin, and maybe not participate in NaNo.

The reality is that I’m setting a couple of different goals with regards to NaNo this year.  The first is the obvious goal: 50,000 (new) words and a completed novel.  However, I have another, smaller goal.  I want to work on Mara’s Tale, and without the driving force of NaNo, that hasn’t happened.  Each time I fill in another gap, every day that I write (even a few hundred words) is a success in my mind.  Earlier this week I wrote only about 600 words, but they were important because they completed the last section I had left of a particular part of Mara’s life.  The word count may have been short for the day; the accomplishment was not short.

I think layered goals are perfectly acceptable, don’t you?

Here We Go!

Tomorrow is day one of NaNo!  Are you ready?

I am lucky enough to get four days off from work in a row.  I don’t have any set plans, which I think will help with the writing, but I do have several ideas if I get stuck or need inspiration.

There are a few possible distractions, like needing sleep, groceries, and clean laundry.  Fortunately it should still be possible for me to get ahead of par and get things done in the time I have.

If you’re participating in NaNo, best of luck!  Let’s get started! 🙂

But My Apartment Is Messy…

It’s been one heck of a week.

There are several things I should do tomorrow, when I have a day off from work.  I should read the book I got from the library, especially considering that I’ve barely made it past the prologue.  I should relax, recuperate, and let my body recover from the last seven days.  I should get groceries and cook up some of the veggies I have left from my CSA.

The problem is that this week has also left my apartment somewhat worse for wear.

It’s very hard for me to relax when my apartment is messy.  There is something in my brain that just can’t sit still or power down when there is clutter on my bathroom counter or dishes that need to go in the dishwasher.

I also have trouble writing when my space is disorganized.  Since NaNo is quickly approaching, it is very likely that I will be cleaning tomorrow instead of reading or relaxing.  That way I can give myself the mental lift that comes from a clean house, and I can prepare my world for the writing storm to come.

It seems off that cleaning can be preparation for NaNo, but if that’s the kind of thing that distracts you, it’s a good idea to have it on the list of pre-November tasks!

Writing Practice

Her steps lightened as she approached her apartment.  It had been a long day at work, and she was glad to finally be home.  She walked through the door, her keys clanking into the metal cup on the table.  Her eyes caught on the counter in front of her and relief fled like a nervous dog.  Stacked dishes filled nearly every surface, more peeking up above the lip of the sink.  Sighing, she dropped her bag and turned away, only to be greeted by the growing pile of junk mail and unread magazines cluttering her kitchen table.  Her heart sank, the stress that had not yet fully left her returning in a rush.  For a moment all she could do was stand and stare.

Willfully she forced the thoughts of spreadsheets and dirty plates from her mind.  She ignored the mess, opened her fridge and grabbed a can of soda.  She might not be able to silence the rattle of to-do lists or ignore the unspoken demands of clutter, but she was fairly certain that mindless television and inane web quizzes could shout it down for a while.  Work would be there tomorrow, and the dishes could wait for the weekend.  Tonight she just needed to rest.

Yelling at the Wrong Person

I have to apologize in advance.  I am really worked up over a relatively minor issue (although in my world, anything that interrupts my sleep is not minor) and now that’s about all I can think about.  Thus, that is what this blog post will be about.

My smoke detector is not working.  Again.

This summer, the stupid thing started giving false alarms.  They occur sporadically (although much more frequently at the wee hours of the morning) and don’t last very long.  The most I’ve heard at one time is three beeps in a row, but even that is enough to rush adrenaline through the veins and interrupt a good night’s sleep.  The first time I called about it, maintenance came out, changed the battery, and it was fine for a few months.

At the beginning of September, it started again.  I replaced the battery on my own, which did not resolve the issue.  I called maintenance, explained the issue, and they came out again.  And again, all they did was replace the battery.

While I was quite irked at this point – they threw away a perfectly good battery! – I decided to keep the note and wait it out.  Sure enough, ten days later, it false alarmed again.

Tomorrow I am planning to call the maintenance hotline for a third time.  The person who answers is not the person responsible for the repairs, but she will probably get the brunt of my frustration.  Keeping in mind that she just answers the phone, I will be as polite as possible while still getting my point across.  But here’s what I really want to say:

I have an ongoing problem with my primary smoke detector, and this is my third time to call about this issue.  When I called two weeks ago, I was very clear that the problem was not the battery.  Not only had I already changed the battery, which did not resolve the issue, the sound that it was making was not the beep that indicates a low battery.  The sound is instead the “wake up, you’re about to die” alarm – not something you want to hear randomly at 2am – and I am insulted that you think I’m too stupid to know the difference.  The only step that your staff took to resolve the problem was to change the battery (and dispose of a brand new battery that I had purchased, by the way) and ten days later, the smoke detector is once again alarming randomly.  Clearly the detector itself is faulty, and needs to be repaired or replaced.  If I come home to another note that says the battery was changed, I will take down the detector and it will not be going back up on my wall. 

Actually, that sounds frustrated but not too angry.  I think I will use that after all, if I can keep it in a calm tone of voice, and maybe I’ll finally get my point across!

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