Sometimes I get things in my head that I just need to get out into the world. I suspect a lot of people do. Ideas that bite and nibble at you until you do something about them. Usually it's words. Sometimes it's art projects, big and small. Some I get done, some I abandon, some I say "someday". The most frustrating ideas are the ones that I don't have the tools for. (Yet.) Some of them are things I know I can't bring into existence. Ones that are just so much essence and spirit and energy that I revert back to words in the hopes that someday I'll capture some small part of their being. It would make me sad, those things, except that I know that they exist anyway. Just not here.
It's that time of year again. New year, same old crap to sort through! I really really really want an intern to clean out my email for me. And yes, before you ask, I only clean my inbox about once a year, sometimes twice. Because it takes a looong time. And it is boring. And I get mouse shoulder from all the clicking. And did I mention boring? I suppose if I had racier emails it would be more entertaining but I don't. Maybe I should start an illicit pen pal affair. Preferably with someone who is slightly outrageous and inappropriately funny, but also kind of unreliable. Then when I got an email it would always be a pleasant and titillating surprise! That'd be kind of awesome. So... any takers? I mean, for the intern. I really need to clean my email. I'll pay $10 an hour plus cookies. No?
It's especially bad this time of year because of all the holiday ads. I probably have at least 1000 ad emails alone. I try to unsubscribe everywhere you can unsubscribe but you cannot order a SOCK without them putting you on the list again! I mean, that's just unproductive, marketing to the cheapo buying socks. You're much better off targeting the person who spent $500 on a sweater instead of hanging out in my inbox unread. Although, I admit, some of the cluttering emails are for good causes that I stay subscribed to totally out of guilt. Like the Red Cross. I know where their office is to volunteer or take a class. But I feel bad for their volunteer marketing teams, because you know it's a bunch of college kids just trying to get enough experience to land their first job, so I keep getting their emails even though I don't want them. (I'm helping!) I used to get emails from some of the civil rights advocacy groups*, too. But then their emails starting getting really obnoxious, like super demanding and kind of needy. And righteous. Righteous obnoxiousness is the worst! Like reformed smokers** or those people who make everything into smoothies. I mean, seriously, stop making cheeseburgers into smoothies! It's not healthier because you put it in a blender! Just eat it regular-like! Maybe stop halfway through and eat some veggies! DAMN! It's not that hard!
Unlike cleaning my email, which, since no interns have applied, I suppose I'll have to do. (le sigh) Maybe I'll just do an alphabet letter a day, like all the Zs first. If I start backwards the emails won't have a chance to multiply, right?
Yeah, that makes sense. - wg
*I support your cause, not your attitude.
**Just kidding, I love reformed smokers. You are my jam!
Christmas is over and I am sadly relieved. It is always such a rush and a crash and a conundrum to get everything DONE! And while you are doing so everything else from your previous non-holiday life stops, whether you intended to stop or not. Somehow I forget that every year, how all-consuming it can be. Like the memory repressing hormone that kicks in while you're pregnant, only for gift wrapping and baking and frantic cleaning before guests arrive. You remember the jolly instead of the exhaustion. Or part of me remembers, but it sort of lurks in the background, blocked by holiday laughter and pretty bows. And then suddenly it's all over. But before you quite catch your breath the New Year is here and you have to start all the things that stopped again. Plus, whatever the plans are for the future.
Oy. Deep breath now.
But you know, in the end... all those people and all that love, I wouldn't have it any other way.
I've had muscle spasms in my back on and off for the last couple of months, but I gotta say this week... this week has been a doozy. I've been trying to be good with stress, and eating well (dessert doesn't count), and taking the right supplements, and EXERCISE! I admit I'm having a hard time finding that balance of not too much and not too little. In fact, this all started when I started working out again. I just thought I injured myself, and I would get better, but I haven't. And now that my body has had a taste of the exercise... it wants more! I mean, what the hell, body, this is the addiction you're gonna choose? I don't even like exercise, and besides it hurts!
I can't find the thing that's setting off the muscle spasms, or strike the right balance of activity. All I know for sure is my body doesn't like to sit for long periods of time, which is kind of a problem when you're a writer. Staring at a computer is a big part of the job. Or have to drive a car. Or want to binge watch TV. I've been sitting (heh) with the issue, meditating more, trying to figure out what I'm doing (because I know it's something I'm doing - probably something silly like "don't cross you're ankles while eating oranges, oh and you're secretly worried about such-and-such"), and I'm still coming up with nothing. So I was turning the old tarot cards one night (because, yes, that's something I do when I'm stuck) and I was getting messages about shut up and listen. So I listened and listened hard, waiting for divine insight, the profound epiphany that will help me resolve my back spasms, and I don't hear anything except the cat meowing. So I start talking to the cat, and she meows back, and my husband is giving me the eye as I'm wiggling in pain on the couch in discussion with my cat, and I'm wondering why the heck is he looking at me like that?
It turns out... that no one could hear the cat except me! She was outside the whole time. But she did want to come in, so I'm pretty sure she was communicating with me telepathically. I mean, clearly, the muscle spasms are just the psychic ears opening up. It seems obvious now. I'm sure soon I'll be able to chat with whales, or possibly fairies. So cool, right?
(I reserve the right to refuse sense while in pain.)
Last week I had the rare occasion of an unplanned day. That’s not to say that I didn’t have things to do, because I always have things to do. It was just a period where there was nothing critical and, without any sense of urgency, I had foregone setting up my day. No lists, no schedules, not even an appointment or activity I had to drive someone else to. It was really almost an accident. I was wandering the house when I realized the day was luxuriously wide open.
Now usually when I have a sudden break my mind goes to “the list”. But for some reason, on this particular day instead of thinking, “What needs to be done next?” or “What should (guilt guilt) I do?”, or even “Crap! I’ve got to make a list.” Instead of thinking any of that, what popped into my head was… “What would make me happy?”
That’s not something that normally occurs to me, to ask myself what would make me happy. I am an adult, after all. I have things to do. That's my job. But I asked it anyway and you know what? It felt fucking great! In fact, it felt like a radical act. Like a fricking evolution of the mind/soul! Like something I should be doing all the time. It’s a question I can immediately answer in almost any given moment. What would make me happy right now?
The funny part was, the thing that would make me happy at that particular moment… it wasn’t being on a beach somewhere, or stuffing dollars down a hot stripper’s pants, or eating loads of chocolate… it was clearing off the table so I could decorate it pretty. See, that’s something that would have been on “the list” anyway. Most things that generally make me happy are everyday list items. But the thing about lists is sometimes they turn things into obligations and chores and urgency, even when they (and I mean me) don’t mean to.
(Such huge things, those little shifts in perspective. World shattering really.)
It feels much better to ask myself “what would make me happy”, instead of “what do I have to do next”. Because I’ll always have critical stuff to do.
But the majority of it, especially on those unplanned days… well, I think giving the happy ones priority seems like a really good idea. Almost radical.
I’ve completely pooped out on NaNoWriMo this year. I participated a couple of years ago for a serious writing push for The Byways (previously named Through the Holes), and it worked! I mean, I didn’t make 50,000 words but I was writing every day and I completed about 20,000 words, then, two months later I finished my first draft. (Four drafts to follow but worth it!) So I absolutely believe in and love the incentive NaNoWriMo can give you. I figured this year I’d use it again to jumpstart my second novel.
The problem was I wasn’t sure what my second novel was. Or rather, WHICH novel was my second. I have two tussling it out in my brain: one, funny and outrageous and short-ish (perfect for a month jumpstart), and the other, longer and compelling and niggling at me but without the details worked out yet. I started the funny one and then lost my funny. I switched to the other and wrote in drips and drabs. I toyed with switching back. I googled stuff about llamas. I stared at the keyboard. It was basically the writer’s version of doodling during a test.
But! I did finish writing my query letter, synopsis, and author bio for The Byways this month so… YAY!!! ‘Cause that shit was tough, yo. And I was a fricking marketing writer.
So yeah, poop out. It’s funny, though, I don’t feel the least bit bad about it. In fact, I’m pretty happy with the way the month turned out. In esoteric circles they say that winter is the time for dreaming. It’s a time for going inward and preparing for the growth and action of spring, just like nature does. Now, knowing me, I can’t guarantee that I’ll stop working the entire winter, but sometimes it’s fine to step back and plan, rather than do.
Especially when you’re just farting around anyway.
I'm on the third big revision of my book and I'm at that point where I feel like I'm slogging against the current. And by current, I mean me. I am the fricking current. I know what I want the book to be, it's alive in my head, and (except for some details here and there) I know what the finished product will be. It's probably 90% there.
I'm just having a hard time digging in consistently. There are parts I'm still very excited about, and there are parts I'm just really tired of staring at.
Here's the thing... there are a million major and minor revisions happening while you're just trying to get a first draft of your story complete. Then it's finished and oh, the dancing and exultation! THEN you go through the entire thing and do a revision of all the crap that bugs you. You get feedback. Then you do another revision fixing the things that don't make sense to everyone else. And fixing all the glaring rookie novelist mistakes. More feedback. And then you take out all your word crutches and repetitions. Etc.
Then you do another revision putting in all the really truly important stuff in your head that you pushed aside while you were just trying to get the plot/grammar/timelines down.
Then you really hope you didn't forget anything. And then you paddle frantically against the tidepool swirling around your head.
Dun dun DAH! Will our intrepid swimmer make it?!
Sigh. I sure hope so.
My house is full of moths. I think there's a moth portal in here somewhere. (That's like a fairy portal, but for moths. But I don't know what those look like so I can't find it. It probably looks like something innocuous like a shimmer in the air or a cheerios box.) There are all sorts of moths, big ones and little ones, feathered and delicate and dusty. They pop up out of nowhere in every room in the house. Sometimes they smack me in the face, because they are nearsighted and need new glasses (obviously). And sometimes they eat my clothes. (Not cool.) And the cats don't eat them. Which is strange because I've seen the cats eat pretty much anything. I figure the cats feel bad for them because the moths are probably really chill and good conversationalists and they're always getting compared to butterflies and they probably don't get asked to dance as often at parties and THAT'S gotta get old so maybe the cats are cutting them a break or something.
So I suppose I can cut them a break, too.
Go to the optometrist.
I was groggy this morning and this video woke me up.
Plus, their PR emails are entertaining.
Yes, I do reward creativity.
I'm digging some of the new shoegaze sound bands. Cheers!
So I've been working on my novel. I know, right!? Finally! And this is where I start blogging again so I can blather about nonsensical shit for fifteen minutes or so while my brain reboots. I am about 30,000 words in, or about a third way through the plot. I'm not exactly sure because I'm halfway between a pantster and a plotter. (Those are writing terms. Impressive huh? It's like I know what I'm doing!) Like I've got most of the story living in my head, where it's been living for about five years and I tend to write when a certain scene or dialog just grabs me. That's the pantster part, aka by the seat of your pants. But I'm too anal retentive in real life to not go over accurate details (thank you google) and perfect timelines (a plotter specialty) and stare at hastily drawn maps, write out notes, etc. etc. So the bottom line is... I write slowly. I'm trying to get faster. I'm trying to write every day. I'm trying to separate writing time and editing time. I'm doing all that shit.
Oh, but did I mention how we had a water leak and now we're renovating much of the bottom floor of our house? No? Yeah, there's that. Oh, and a whole bunch of other stuff happened because it's been like two years since I've really maintained this blog. Anywho, moving on.
But... I think the biggest news that has happened in the last two years is that the fricking voices in my head are now MANAGED! Meditation has made such a difference. Any breaks or journeys or to be continues it took to get to this point in my life and this state of being have been totally worth it.
There have been the most wonderful metaphors popping up in music lately. Just lovely turns of phrases. And it's not always obvious, you have to listen closely and they come up in unexpected places. But I love when a sad idea or theme is rendered beautiful through its medium. You can take the broken and remake it in those moments. It doesn't change the actions or tragedy behind it but it both elevates and grounds the sorrow so that it is breathable.
I never understand why people don't set zombies on fire. I mean, you got a whole mess of them trapped somewhere, fairly nonflammable, and people try to pick them off one by one. Roast them! They can only keep moving if they have connective tissue left. Of course, I also don't understand why zombies seem more well-preserved than the average corpse. There is a standard decomposition rate after all, and these things are exposed to the elements. A body can go from freshly dead to a skeleton in the space of a year if left out in the open. I figure the first few years of a zombie apocalypse should be hell but then there should be improvement. Like an arc on a graph, there's the initial upswing of mass zombie infection and then eventually a decline as all those zombies fall apart. Hello, science? But I also wonder why, when survivors are raiding old stores for food and supplies, why no one picks up some ammonia and bleach. You could make hydrochloric acid bombs! Lob them at corpses from afar. Or pick up some lye. Start dissolving those pesky zombies right out of existence. I mean, really people, use your head.
And now I've probably been tagged by the government because I looked up "how to dissolve people with acid".
Lately insects of varied flying ability have been swooping into my face for unknown reasons. They have done so with forceful persistence and periodic consistency. This is not an affliction I've been burdened with in the past. Like, you know that brother of a friend of your cousin's who everyone says attracts mosquitoes like a zapper so you can never invite him camping. I cannot for the life of me think why my face is suddenly so appealing to bugs. I've gotten hit in the cheek, the forehead, my neck, several times! I've narrowly avoided swatting them down my shirt. Because who wants a moth in their bra? (You know that's going to smear.) No one else in my family seems to be experiencing the love dives of gnats besides me. It's utterly baffling. And kind of creepy. I have been taking a meditation class for the last few months and the only thing I can think of is that my chakras are now so blazing bright that I am like a beacon in the dark for small winged creatures.
So just in case you were wondering what the downside to enlightenment is... it's learn to keep your mouth closed or you might inhale a moth. - wg
I wrote this as a note to myself. I forget for what exactly, clearly I was irritated, probably something distracting me from the task at hand. But now I feel this should be emblazoned on a t-shirt and/or needs to be the mantra of my life. Sadly, my first thought was to put it on facebook or twitter, it is so utterly twitterable, and I wanted to remember it and share it and nod sagely at it, but that is just feeding the chimes. Then it occurred to me that I could put it up specifically and with intention on where the bell tolls... except I really don't hold truck with the younger gen's notion of doing things, big and small, "ironically".
Call me old-fashioned but I think we should stumble ignorantly and spectacularly into our irony, the way it was meant to be. Flames shooting from our tresses, ashes on our shoulders.
Now give me a treat.
I am also sideways. Because auto correct on computers has gone too far.
WHO'S IDIOT PROOF NOW COMPUTER?!
Massive writer's block. Just stymied. Or I've got too much floating in my brain and I can't organize it. But I did decide to shut off my syndication feed. I'd rather throw my words out into the black emptiness and see if they coagulate into something more defined. Let the remnants of gravity and cosmic attraction mass elements together. Besides there are too many audiences in the public eye with the potential to be offended. I.e. I don't feel like I can talk about what I want to talk about. And I haven't felt that way for a long time.
(Except to those who I know will come find me. You know who you are.)
I have been told that I keep myself busy, so busy that I avoid the things I really need to do. And I do do that sometimes. But that is not always the reason. Sometimes I'm just stumbling around looking for the path.
A writer once told me that the way she got through her first novel was to take felt tip pen markers and write on big sheets of paper, which she hung all over her walls. That is the only way she could get started. If I could start with something that visceral I would. I suppose that is why I flounder around doing other creative tasks; a hope for a trigger point, for flow. I constantly feel writing in my gut. But it keeps getting stopped up, clogged in my throat before it gets to or out of my head.
At least that's what it feels like. Here you go darkness.
We installed a Little Free Library in our front yard! I fell in love with this program when I heard about it. I asked for the library for my birthday. I guess we could have built our own; there are some crazy cool libraries out there. But I just don't trust my rainproofing skills. Plus, it's so pretty!
I distributed flyers around the neighborhood and only had one person look at me like I was crazy. But not for the library, just for handing out flyers. I mean, we do get a lot of flyers in our neighborhood so I kind of get it. But I'm not all THAT suspicious looking! (Although, I'm not a professional flyer hander-outer so perhaps I was breaking flyer etiquette somehow. Apologies, good neighbors.)
Anywho, we've already had a few visitors and some donations! The kid's books are very popular. Must get more. (Or make Chance clean through his bookshelf. He'll love that!) - wg
It's only been sleeping. It's not like I didn't have anything to talk about, but I was sort of really tired of all I had to talk about. You know? But that's OK, it's time to wake up now.
We have been doing a major overhaul on our yard. The problem with our yard is that our house is a hundred years old and the backyard has been ladscaped to death. Literally. There are spots where nothing would grow anymore. I figured at some point treated wood had wreaked havoc with the soil. And the last time previous owners had landscaped they had rendered everthing in shades of grey and brown and sort of woodland-like but reallly just kind of dead looking. It was like a zombie forest back there, minus the moaning. We also had either a ton of shade or the withering glare of too much sun. So let me introduce you to our new artificial lawn! (the crowd roars)
I'm horrible about before and after pictures but I'm GREAT at right in the middle pictures! This is our new wonderful lawn, and behind it is a patch of nothing-will-grow dirt, and our ugly cement pad. Why am I so excited about plastic grass? Because IT IS AWESOME! So much nicer than the roll out hurt-your-butt-when-you-sat-on-it turf carpet that I remember fed-up grown ups used in the 80s. And you know, this is California and we're in a drought again. And ALSO, most importantly, this...
That patch was previously covered with flagstone. No child could lie there and play with Legos. Seeing Chance on the lawn was worth the purchase right there! We also had the cement pad stained and it looks a million times better. To the point of, people keep asking us when we put in the concrete! (Le sigh, it's been there. It was just blaaaaaand.)
See the offending flagstone, accesory to ants. My dad is happy to take that off my hands, btw.
We've also been working on a million small projects while the garderners are transforming the space into a wonderland. Keen wants an outdoor kitchen so he painted an old picnic table and added sheet metal on top to created a prep table.
I've been painting a metal table set and a bunch of other outdoor items. And because it's me it's totally bright colored.
We're not done with everything yet, but we're getting there. To be continued!
- the weirdgirl
I do this thing when I'm sick where I sit on the couch and plague myself with guilt. I look at what needs to be cleaned, I look at all the emails I should answer, I think about my To Do list, I think about what's critical and what's not critical, I think about my overall life goals and I just berate myself for not having the energy to get up and do any of it. It's like a tenfold mid-life crisis every time I'm sick. I could be feverish and dizzy and it doesn't matter. I could be pathetically tied to the toilet. I tell myself that if I was truly driven, that if I really wanted to get somewhere, that if I was adhering to the habits of highly successful people (I don't remember how many habits there are because I didn't read the book... ALSO on my To Do list!) then I would be working even when I'm sick! I would be pushing through. Because that's what the successful people do. I'm not doing aything else while I'm stuck at home so why am I NOT writing the great American novel?! I mean how sick am I really? Not that sick! Stop messing around, you slacker!
Then after days of that going through my head, one morning I'll wake up and start doing dishes or answering emails and it's not even a question of when I'm going to poop out because I have energy and I just get to work. Clear-headed, motivated, and (relatively) guilt-free. (It's never totally gone, you know.) And that's about the time I realize, "Yes, I WAS sick." I wouldn't have been quite so depressed and tired otherwise. I probably WOULD have had some energy to do something. Maybe I shouldn't be so hard on myself. But then how would I motivate myself when I do have energy? And there the voices go again.
So my real problem is... figuring out when to listen to the voices and when to tell them to just shut the hell up.
I can't be the only one who does this, right?