Friday, December 31, 2010

WOW! Women On Writing Blog: New Year Dreams, Guest Post by Rochelle Melander

Okay - I couldn't let the day slip by without giving you one New Year list as a resource. There are many floating around: this one is particularly energetic and inspiring. Click on over to WOW! to get your "what I want/plan/intend...." list and start answering her prompts.

WOW! Women On Writing Blog: New Year Dreams, Guest Post by Rochelle Melander

Have a fun, safe transition night and best to you all in 2011. May it be an awesome year!

Razor's Edge for December 31, 2010

How fitting that the final Razor's Edge of 2010 is the final day of 2010. There are so many resolutions and look-back-at-your-year and what-was-what-will-be resources that I don't really want to go there. But I can't also deny that this is a transition from 2010 to 2011. And that Mercury has just started its return to its normal projectory speed (albeit, still in its shadow period for a couple weeks).

A time of change and a time to review and a time to renew or recharge.

Yes, this cannot be denied.

And my own life of late is an example for me that it is a period or transition - which is not a negative thing; it just is.

So I won't provide another list to complete. A wants or needs or desires inventory. There are plenty of those all across the 'net, in our email inboxes, in the postal mailboxes and magazines. You can easily find something to fit your tastes.

For this week's Razor's Edge, I want to return to my original intention for this weekly posting. Which is to bring together pieces from the edge of experience, maybe something new, something challenging, something surprising, and maybe delightful. Something to bring some part of you alive, which hopefully brings out a response in some creative form. Where you see the word "write" - think "create," or dance, or build, or draw ... whatever is your creative passion. Because my intent is, as always, to inspire creativity. Creativity as expression of the inner vision, desire, hope, or whatever it is you have to say. And my primary outlet is currently writing - my area of expression. So I often find myself saying "write" and what I mean is "create."

Yes. Create.

Below are some prompts to touch different senses. Pick one or two or all. And create.

The music prompt can stand on its own. It's about seven minutes long - and, for me, is inspiring while listening. You may choose to start writing while you listen - or listen, let it sink in, then write.

The visual/video prompt can also stand on its own. It's a snow meditation video. As with the music - you might feel inspired to start creating during the video or wait until it's done, then write. Or watch the video while listening to the music prompt. The two of them go together really well; but the visual prompt is only about five minutes long.

Then there is a word prompt. Combine it with either of the other two prompts or use it on its own.

Blessings for the transition into a new year and best wishes for everything good in the coming year.




 As the essence of her drifted 
into the room, 
I could see ...

Thursday, December 30, 2010


Thirty minutes later I got my car back. The rear brakes replaced, the oil changed, the tensioner repaired.

Writing date canceled - well, truthfully, long past being possible.

7:45 PM I arrived back home. Blog posts done. Tomorrow's Razor's Edge ready to go out for the last day of the 2010.

The original memoir file safely uploaded.

A glass of wine, a couple more episodes of Better Off Ted, and another couple inches knitted on the hat.

Soon - a good night's sleep. Tomorrow is another day.

Still Waiting

And some days you just say "Thank you Universe, for all that you offer and your silent protections, even when I didn't know I needed it."

See - it is now 3 1/2 hours after my last post. The one where I thought I was about to pick up my car, that I would now be sitting at my friend, Jenny's, dining table and we'd be typing away with dinner and a glass of wine sitting beside us and Ron in the other room or joining us for a snack and then going cycling or watching a movie.

But, no.

It is now 3 1/2 hours later and I'm again waiting on my car. They took care of the brakes and the oil change. Then came the test drive. A noise. An unfamiliar knocking sound. Back into the shop, dismantle, start looking for it. Testing. Listening.

No more details here - except to say that it was a part - the tensioner - that was replaced on my car mid-June. Something that shouldn't have been broken. The type of a part that would go unnoticed by me, with the studded tires and the radio on - I wouldn't hear it. But the mechanic heard it. And I wouldn't hear if it became worse. And when it became worse the belt would slide off and then I'd have a major automotive breakdown.

Thankfully - and here is one perfect example of why I love my mechanics - the mechanic working on my car was willing to stay past closing to repair it if they could locate a part. Which they did. And the place who didn't have it didn't have a delivery driver so someone drove over to get it.

Yes, I'm still waiting for my car.

But it will be safe, won't break down, and will stop when needed. (The mechanic said that my brakes were low enough to need replacement - but they weren't in any danger - they are just Saturn brakes; which are different than the new Chrysler brakes I've been driving for three weeks... which I suspected might be the case, but I also knew the rear brakes (I replaced the front brakes in September) needed replacing.)

So I've canceled the plans to go to Jenny's house to write. The day long writing marathon has disintegrated to hours spent at Les Schwab and the coffee shop. Writing, yes, here, in my blog.

I will be okay with that. I have to be. "Better safe than sorry" feels especially true right now.

Special Days

Then there are those special days, when I have set aside the entire day for writing, and life hands me something else.

Today is one of those days.

I'm not complaining, really. I will still be able to make it over to Jenny's house for the evening portion of our day of writing.

I tried to take care of the flat studded tire yesterday afternoon. But the Les Schwab in the neighborhood where I was, said the tire couldn't be repaired (I wasn't surprised; one by one the tires are giving out; which they do over time - and I've had them a while) - and they didn't have the replacement tire for my car. The mechanic checked and the Les Schwab I usually go to and they had three of the tires. The problem was that I was 25 minutes from that store and only 5 minutes from where I needed to be in an hour. So my new plan was to go this morning to get the new tire. Quick. Easy. Right?

Problem number one was my own fault. My partner and I stayed up until two o'clock in the morning watching several episodes of "Better Off Ted." It was great fun. A new series we've gotten attached to, thanks to Jenny and her husband. But that meant sleeping later this morning (wah, I know! I didn't work today - which is why I set it aside for writing). Which means my whole day started later than originally planned, since I got up at the time I thought I'd be meeting Jenny to write.

I was hoping to take my car in tomorrow to get the rear brakes done. It was time, they needed to be done (had the front ones done in September), and felt a little "sloppy" - which I realized could be partly due to driving a new rental car for three weeks. But, alas, the reliable, friendly, most excellent place we take our cars (Hawthorne Auto Clinic - awesome people; great service; never a ripoff - always excellent work) is closed tomorrow. So, okay, problem number two surfaced: I needed to take my car in today because the shop could get it done. Yay - it could be taken care of in one day.

Oh, the tire, I remembered after setting it up to take my car in for rear brakes. We're in a somewhat wet time - although it may be letting up for a couple days - with cold temperatures, which means ice potential. And with the driving around I do, I really need to have all four tires studded, rather than three out of four. At least that's my opinion. Yesterday the Les Schwab guy said, "Oh, it's safe." But I think he was thinking in general, since I had a regular size tire on it and not the donut-spare. But I couldn't get the car in for the rear brakes until after the parts arrived - which would be by the time the mechanics were back from lunch - so I had 90 minutes.

A quick and thorough shower and I was on the way to Les Schwab in 20 minutes. Where it took all of those 90 minutes plus a few more to mount and put on the new (now three out of four studs are new) studded tire. Whew.

Then off to Hawthorne Auto, and next door to Common Grounds Coffee House for a latte and tuna sandwich (my favorite tuna sandwich in town: tuna with diced apples, capers, and grilled with swiss cheese). And here I still am. Over two hours later. And that's okay. The coffee is good. Hawthorne Auto is also doing an oil change since it's due in a couple weeks - may as well do it while it's up there.

And I will get to Jenny's at some point to write.

Meanwhile, here I am. Writing my blog entry. I've uploaded to my online storage the copy of the whole memoir in process (the file I thought I'd lost - but discovered I had here on the laptop, thankfully, since my desktop is dead).

A day of writing became a day of car care. But that makes me safer on the road and here on earth to write another day and month and for years to come.

Yes, better to miss the planned writing time and be safe on the road.


The lesson of acceptance and patience continues.
from NKJ Live

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

One Month at a Time

As a follow-up to my last post - my schedule has changed so that I have another large gap between a couple of jobs. At least for the next two months.

That's okay. My last post I wrote about "soft times" and how that hasn't worked as a place to do my writing - or at least not all of it.

Then today I lost an assignment that was between two other things; one of those is scheduled through mid-March and the other through February. So - I have a hole in my schedule. A perfect place to put some writing and a walk. The locations on either side of the gap, in combination with the time of day (rush hour), make going to my gym impossible. So I'll need to hang out near one end or the other and do something like, oh, write!

Soft times aren't all bad.

I just can't count on them being there.

Which is why I had previously scheduled two times into my calendar, each week, for writing with writing partners (thanks Jenny, Deb, and the spontaneously available or not Alexander).

Now I have three times a week scheduled in - two with writers and one most likely on my own!

Monday, December 27, 2010

Writing is not a Soft Time Activity

I started this post as "Time is a Commodity." A quick internet search brought up a gazillion or so posts with that in them. Okay, too trite.

"Protection" was the next thing I thought of, but that's not exactly the focus I wanted for this post. I've written about protecting my time. About protecting my writing time, my sleep time, my down time. Not really what I meant.

Then I remembered thinking a week or two ago that I had thoughts of my "soft time" in my schedule. There are some things I have set up now that are pretty much set in stone (at least for the next eleven weeks) and some things that have become expectations of being somewhat regular in my schedule. And then there are the other things I do that are maleable - may be present or not, may happen or not, and the schedule is not set. Soft times.

Writing has been one of those - with exceptions. And the exceptions are getting more - especially as I'm working on the bigger projects: the memoir and the novel. And now I have writing buddies who help keep me motivated and keep me on track. We keep each other on track - accountable - keep the words flowing and keep it fun.

I had a planned schedule where I had regular times booked in for writing and some "soft time" that could be writing time. And some "soft writing time." Guess what? Some of those "soft times" may get work thrown into them - but at least not all of them.

I will re-evaluate my schedule for the next round of bid/submission preferences - as well as looking ahead for the available freelance slots - and make sure that I keep the protected writing time. And, perhaps, some of the "soft times" will become set writing time. Yes. I think they will. Writing time and half marathon (walking) training!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

from WOW!: "...Getting Your Conference List Together"

As some of you may remember, I'm undecided about attending writers' conferences. As with so many things, there are pros and cons - of course. But writers' conferences are different than the conferences I usually attend (interpreting, arts, LGBQT, etc) and the format - so far - hasn't worked that well for me. I won't rehash the list of reasons right now, because I'm actually passing along a link to a WOW! post about getting ready to attend conferences. It's a nice article about preparation for the conferences and I wanted to pass it along.

I'm considering a writing conference next summer in a different location. I'm not ready to give up on them yet; I need to try at least a couple more to see if what I've experienced is the norm or was due to the organizers/region/participants and there are writers' conferences out there that are more my style.

So - enough about me! Click the link below to go to The Muffin for an article to help you prepare for attending a conference.

WOW! Women On Writing Blog: Search, Select, Shape & Shove Off: Getting Your Conference List Together

Friday, December 24, 2010

Razor's Edge for Fri 12/24

Christmas Eve
The Razor's Edge

What is this season about? I think it's about relationships. Recognizing those who have been important in your life. Appreciating not just what's done in the two/five/ten/twelve days leading up to the event - be in Christmas or Solstice or Hannukah or whatever of the other wintery holidays you celebrate. It's about what we do all year, who we are in relation to each other. It's about respect, about community, about being partners in life and guardians of this planet that is mostly water, as are we. For many people, this time of year is about spiritual or religious beliefs and traditions. Those are good, too - looking at our heritage, those who came before us, those who paved the path we're on, those who are taking a journey with - or similar to - us. And I bring that back to relationships.

So, with that in mind, I'm posting a YouTube video of Ellen Bass reading her poem, Bone of My Bone and Flesh of My Flesh. It's about relationships, and naming. What do we call someone who doesn't fit the stereotypical role of "husband" or "wife" yet that is how they are important to us. What is in the naming? Is the label important? Why or why not?

PROMPT: After listening to Ellen read her poem, write a story (or a poem) about a couple. This couple may not fit the traditional titles of "husband and wife," yet they are dedicated to each other and their life together. Have your story's couple venture out into the world of the everyday - or go to a family holiday gathering - and let them interact with others, traditional and not, understanding or not, accepting or not. What do they encounter? How do they speak about each other, introduce each other, what are their special names for each other?  If you want, start with this: "When we walked in, the sound from the kitchen was...."


Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Jenny Rocks!

My friend and writing partner, Jenny, gave me a wonderful present. She said it was a genius idea and she was right.

She took some envelopes and addressed them to a few of the publications we send our writing to - one I have never submitted to. She stamped them. She included SASE for those which require that. And she included printouts of upcoming themes as appropriate.


See - I've been a little stuck on submissions recently.

I've been writing a lot. And I do mean a lot - even outside of NaNoWriMo. That's good. But I haven't sent anything out for a couple of months. That's okay; it's not a crime. But I made a vow a while ago to send out one thing a month; which I did for a while. But my life got really busy and I received some rejections and life got more busy and I entered a phase of looking at my priorities. So much I want to do and I was not having the time to do everything - or at least not do it well, or as I wanted to do them. Then a falling out with someone - which really rocked my sense of what I wanted to do, even to some extent of what was most important in my life.

While the situation with this individual was a surprise and I struggled to stay out of a funk from it, it also presented me with an opportunity to really look at where I was spending my time and energy. There were many positive things involved in what I was doing with this person and it was an important part of my life. After my trust was broken, though, I had to re-evaluate and re-form my vision of who I was and what I wanted to do.

I realized that one thing that was hard to maintain with all of that other activity was my writing. So, while I was hurt and saddened by the exchange with this person, I also decided to take this as an opportunity to re-evaluate what I was doing; and how.

About a month after that, I received Jenny's gift.

It was perfect.

I sent out two submissions last week, thanks to Jenny. One of them was using her magic envelope (and sending the piece that Ariel Gore gave me some wonderful advice about how to strengthen - and gave me the courage to send it on). The other was not one of the envelopes; but a place I really wanted to submit to, but had almost convinced myself that my piece wouldn't be accepted anyway, so why even try. But those envelopes, addressed and stamped and packed up together gave me that boost, that little piece of courage to send that one out, too.

Thank you, Jenny.

You gave me a way back onto this path we're on. I'd strayed, just a little.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Full Moon, Full Lunar Eclipse

Oh, I bet this is beautiful. I am using my imagination because it is pouring down rain. An hour ago we had a clearing and I hoped that I would be able to see at least part of this event.

But it's not to be.

All for the best, I suppose, since I should go to sleep.

I will use my imagination and tomorrow I will use my laptop or my partner's computer to search for pictures. There will be some online, I'm sure.

Happy viewing to those in areas not clouded over, those not being drenched in rain or in the quiet whiteness of snow. For me, maybe next time.

All is well.

The solstice is soon. And the season will change as the moon returns and as I sleep.

For now I will take to bed with a cup of herbal tea and "Cutline" by Bonnie Hearn Hill. This is an excellent book that I had to set aside for NaNoWriMo, then for the play, then for the end of the term grading. But now - I'm reading it every chance I get and it's a great read. I have the two other books in this series by my bed, waiting to be read.

Bed, tea, book.


How Much Longer until Mercury Rights Itself?

As I've mentioned before, Mercury is in retrograde. It's something I've heard about and know a little about and it's not something that generally has much of an impact on me.

Until now.

This time around I feel that I have experienced the full impact of Mercury in its shadow side and I am not happy. I'm trying not to be unhappy, but it does catch up to me now and then. For those who don't believe in things like Mercury in retrograde, no worries; I haven't gone 'round the bend. I haven't lost my marbles. I haven't lost everything I have. And there may be some other explanation that you can offer me and that's fine, too. But this I know is true: Mercury is in retrograde; the "complications" started at right when they were said they would start (and for the non-believers: I didn't know this ahead of time - it was after the problems began that I saw a post about Mercury and read the dates and, voila, there was my life).

And this is the reason I am not replacing my now "fatal error" blue screen of death computer until after December 31st. Not taking any chances. My computer previously had "recovered from a serious error." That was soon upgraded to a "serious error" and followed by rebooting. Next was the "serious error" with "windows has had to shut down" blue screen of near death. And then my access to the hard drive stopped. Fortunately, I did recover the one ultra critical file before the blue screen: the archives for my business accounting software - that would be the ultra tedious thing to have to try to rebuild and I'm sure I would lose information in that process; over ten years of business information if I couldn't get my backup. Okay - I'll stop being dramatic - I probably have a backup of the information through 2005 or 2006 burned on a CD somewhere. That's the truth.

So I have to replace the computer. But not just yet. Today I tried my final alternative: the restore drive. Nada. No good. No how. It's done. The ultra last thing I can do is get this device - which my stepson has - and take out my hard drive and hook it up via this machine to another computer and retrieve data. I hope.

The thing is, I have some writing stored on that computer that is nowhere else. I've know that since the problem started. And I've accepted it. I've accepted that there are photos on there I have nowhere else. That my old electronic organizer data is there, along with archived emails I really want to keep. And more. All potentially gone. All reconciled with and prepared to lose data.

Then, tonight, I got into my laptop and opened up the browser. See, I've uploaded a lot of my writing and teaching files to an online storage location for backup and safety. Good for me.

And recently I made the decision that I need to focus my writing on completion of my memoir in progress and the "Open Boxes" novel (that one really needs a new title, but that will come later; right now the title is the last thing I'm worried about and a title will come to me when it's ready). The bulk of my focus will be on the memoir, I think. That seems to be where the writing energy is and the words flow better there and I have a lot of support to get that done and out into the world. So I will.

When I opened up my online documents to organize them a bit and start to make a plan, I saw that I never uploaded the original document in its entirety. It's not there. I have the "main story" part, and I have some segments. I won't go into all the details now, but it was written with the plot of the memoir as the throughline and then there were supporting backstory pieces in it. To see how it was working, I'd pulled out the backstory/flashback/memory pieces. And I thought I'd uploaded the original. But, apparently, I didn't. Apparently, the only place where the original in its entirety resides is on the fatal error blue screen box I used to call a computer sitting on my desk. I don't know if all of the pieces are uploaded or not.

I was prepared to let go of everything.

But not prepared to let go of the original of this book. I have one more chance to retrieve the data. And I will.

And I need to prepare to let go of that, too. And to get to a place where it will all be for the best if I can't retrieve it.

But I'm holding out hope.

I'm not ready to let go of that one.

So, until Mercury gets itself turned around, I'm taking it easy. I'm breathing. I'm staying low to the ground and not risking anything. The auto accident at the beginning of the turnaround has also forced me to slow a little, to keep close to home, to rest more, and not take on too much. Pros and cons.



For Mercury to turn.

Friday, December 17, 2010

for January: "a river of stones"

Need a January writing challenge? Fiona Robyn has a sweet, daily, writing exercise that seems perfect for this time of year. Here are the basics and a link following to read more. I think I'm in. I haven't committed yet; I'm on staycation and decisions come slowly and thoughtfully right now. But I think I'm in - how about you?

... from fiona at a river of stones ....

Would you like to start the new year as you mean to go on?

You might have heard of NaNoWriMo, where participants are encouraged to write an entire novel in a single month.

I would like to announce a new event beginning on January the 1st 2011: NaSmaStoMo. National Small Stone Month.

Your challenge, should you choose to accept it, is to write a small stone every day during the month of January.

What is a small stone? 

A small stone is a polished moment of paying proper attention.

You can see many fine examples at our sister blogzine, a handful of stones. You can read more about the birth of the concept of small stones here and how to write them here. ....

click this link a river of stones for more information

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Update: not a hate crime? oh, I see.

From the Poets & Writers Daily News:

"Upon further inquiry, Harvard University Police are no longer investigating the damage done to a section of gay- and lesbian-themed books at the Lamont Library as a hate crime. Apparently, a bottle of urine of unknown origin was accidentally spilled on the titles by a library employee. (Harvard Crimson)"

I don't know if it is or isn't. But when I read this, I thought, of course they're no longer investigating it as a hate crime; of course. This would never happen at Harvard that there would be a hate crime against LBGTQ. Never. My cynicism showing again. Of course it could be innocent. Or not. And we'll never know.

Because it's Harvard.

Because it was urine of unknown origin.

Which just happened to be left in the LGBTQ section of the book stacks.

Because it was a library employee.

Who accidentally spilled it. The unknown urine.

On what just happened to be LGBTQ books. Excuse me, LGBTQ themed books.

So we'll never know.

Because it's Harvard.

And things will get better.

Hmmm. Let me ponder this further.

We'll never know.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Books Vandalized at Harvard Library

...from Lambda Literary...

LGBT Books Vandalized With Urine @ Harvard Library 
by Antonio Gonzalez

The details are still unclear, but according to the Harvard Crimson:
Approximately 40 books dealing with LGBT issues were vandalized with what appeared to be urine in Lamont Library on November 24, according to a report filed Friday by the library security staff to the Harvard University Police Department.

There’s nothing in the article to explain why the incident was only reported on Friday, and not closer to November 24th date, almost three weeks ago. More from the story below.  
HUPD spokesman Steven G. Catalano wrote in an e-mail that the vandalized books’ subject matters included lesbian and gay issues and same-sex marriage. Due to the nature of books, HUPD is currently investigating the incident as a bias crime.

The library staff members found an empty bottle next to the vandalized books that may have contained the urine, according to Harvard College Library spokeswoman Beth S. Brainard. The staff initially responded to the incident as a health hazard, quickly removing the bottle and relocating the damaged books to the Collections Conservation Lab on Level D of Widener Library.  
Brainard said that the library staff assessed the value of the vandalized books before reporting the incident, accounting for the space of two weeks between the incident and the report to HUPD. The books—which Brainard estimated to be worth a few thousand dollars—will be discarded due to the severity of the damage.
As you can imagine, the comments section on this article has quickly devolved—as most comments sections are prone.

College prank? Coincidence? Or hate crime? Probably all three.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

submissions: The Rumpus

from The Rumpus - a call for submissions:

       Tell us about family

from Stephen Elliott   · December 11th, 2010 · 

We’re putting together a 'readers write' feature about family. Send us your stories, 400 words or less, and we’ll publish the best ones on The Rumpus. The deadline is Wednesday December 15. Email to silentjoy2001 AT

Friday, December 10, 2010

Razor's Edge for 12/10/10

Be a performer today. Watch the following video - imagine a character who is either:
[a] in a dance class
[b] in a musical production
[c] learning with a group of friends from the dvd

Tell me why the character is here?
What are his/her goals with learning this dance?
Who is the character and how did s/he get there?
Where are they?


Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Real Life - one day, one project, one step

This is what it is - projects to do (a play to interpret - tomorrow), papers to grade (final journals, final self-assessments, check hours, calculate percentages, compute the grades), appointments to get to (work, the doctor, more). And then, unexpectedly, a minor car accident, t-boned, on the way to a job. Moments thrown out of whack and everything else still needs to be done.

One moment at a time. One hour at a time. One student's work at a time.

I will get it done.

Tomorrow I ended up with the morning off - but now I have to take my car to a body shop to get it looked at. Minor damage from what I can see, but that's why I'm taking it in. I'm not an expert and I've been warned there could be internal damage that's not visible. It wasn't my fault, but I still have to deal with it.

Then a department meeting for 90 minutes.

Then off to the theater where I will interpret "A Christmas Story" (yes, based on the movie of the same name) about three hours after the meeting. Set lights. Meet up with the interpreter I'm working with and our Sign Coach. Then - do it!

Which is followed by five straight days of work. And that is followed by a week off work. Yay.

After tomorrow - although I will be working for another five days straight - things level out a bit. Especially if the car only needs a new hubcap; easy. And I will also be going to the doctor on Friday - just to make sure. I'm a little sore and stiff today - but I'm hoping that goes away by tomorrow, that it's just from the stress of the accident. It was scary having the other car headed right toward me; it was on the driver's side.

But I'm okay - no major damage to me that I can tell. No major visible damage to the car.

And it's one thing I really didn't need right now.

That's life sometimes. And life goes on.

One moment. One hour. One day.

Then it's a new day.

I guess my experience of Mercury going retrograde just started a little early. (My computer also wigged out three days ago and I have the authentic blue screen of death. Someone is going to help me try to at least retrieve my data this weekend, even if we can't revive the whole thing. I really didn't want to have to replace it - but, that's a part of life these days, too. Thank goodness I have a back-up - unfortunately, some files are only on the currently quiet PC.)


Monday, December 6, 2010

submissions: "Coming Out"

CFS: New LGBT Anthology ‘COMING OUT’
Gays, lesbians, bisexual and transgender persons are invited to contribute stories from their crucial time of coming out, to be included in an anthology that will raise awareness of this deeply personal time of admitting sexual preference. Ideally stories could be 300 – 1500 words, maximum length is 3000 words. Some people may prefer a quote, an anecdote or a full story to share their journey – send them all in. If you have not come out yet and wish to share ‘why not’, also send your words in. Stories will need to be edited and can be anonymous if you wish. The book length is anticipated to be about 70,000 words. The aim is for a collaboration of truth and the emotional reaction of yourself, of family and friends during this time. For more information and to submit your story please contact

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Re-entry: a plethora of cliches or The Lesson

It a somewhat typical Dot-style, the leaving of NaNoLand and re-entry into the Rest Of My Life was not the smoothest transition. This is something I'm "working on," as the saying goes. And it's true - it's just that "working on" is somewhat vague and could imply some resistance to change. Which isn't true.

What is true is that from the time I realize something to when I can implement the change is sometimes longer than I would like. For example, if I realize that the schedule I have planned out for the next two-plus months has a major flaw - such as only being able to get a maximum of four hours of sleep twice a week - I can make some changes toward the goal of increasing my sleep on a regular basis, but, because of where I work, it's not an overnight change.

What is also true is that some of the slowness to change is because of my own work ethic. Another phrase that is overused and misused. But it fits. Yes, I could give back some of the work I have scheduled. Yes. Some people would. But that is not good in my opinion. I took the jobs or the shifts and I could have said no at the time. But I thought it would work or that I had figured out how to make it work.

So I kept them. It was the right thing to do. And as soon as I found out that it wasn't working, I made a change at the next possible time according to my ethics.

Then there were those things that I couldn't change because, well, I made a commitment that I didn't want to back out on - such as the play I'm interpreting this coming Thursday.

The transition from NaNovember to December was quick, without a breather. And that was a mistake. I've been chasing my tail since early Wednesday morning and set myself up for a set-back of sleep and inability to swim and general overload for a few days. This was not a good plan. But by the time I realized it, it was too late. And in just over a week this heavy schedule will be done and I will have a few days off of all work. Yay.

A good thing in this transition is that I have managed to keep a few writing dates. Only one last week. But I have two scheduled this week. And at least one long one later this month, with the hope of scheduling more time.

And this time, I think I actually learned the lesson and, while I can't make any major changes right now, I did make some in how I'm setting up my winter term schedule. I will be teaching two classes in the interpreting program, so that gives me an easy test period. As usual, I will have a couple months of the new schedule in place before I *get* to the schedule to see if it does work. But I have hope it will be successful.

My goal is to get my work hours more under control as far as eliminating - or at least reducing - what I've come to call the quick turnaround: where I end up with four or less hours of sleep by the time I get home from one job and have to get up to get to the next. (A note that these quick times mean going home and straight to bed and getting up those three or four hours later for a quick departure - no leisurely hours of unwinding or getting ready.) Ok - I want to eliminate them; but I know me and the reality is that once in a while it will happen because sometimes the doctor or the something I have to do has no other time - not everyone runs on my late night schedule.

In this new plan, in addition to putting sleep into my schedule, I have included time to exercise and I have a minimum of two writing meetups scheduled each week.

See - this is the thing. When I sat down to look at my schedule and look at my priorities, I realized that my writing - outside of NaNovember - was getting pushed to the back. Then my exercise was also getting shoved out of the way. And without those, I get cranky. And then I'm in the downward spiral headed to "The Hole." Lack of sleep, minimal writing, minimal exericise = make Dot a grumpy pumpkin. And, without making a conscious effort to clean up my schedule ...
I will never finish my memoir
I will never finish revision of my 2008 novel
I will never finish and revise my 2010 novel
I won't be able to do the half-marathon in May for which I'm registered

So - I need to put these things in writing, in my schedule. And I have.

I need to get enough sleep. And I will. That is my current priority. If there is a choice between 7-8 hours of sleep or going for a swim, sleep wins. Because I've found that sleep does more to relieve aches and stiffness than ibuprofen. Exercise does more to lift my mood than a latte or a natural Uplift capsule or grousing about, so that's my second priority - but it doesn't have to be daily. And I've found that writing on a regular basis does "prime the pump" and the writing flows more easily and ideas start popping up like water on a hot oiled skillet. So, I will balance out the scheduled writing and the scheduled swimming/walking/dragon boat training.

So my new schedule has enough work hours allotted to meet my financial needs, things scheduled so that I can get 7-8 hours of sleep each night, and specific days and times for writing dates & editing and for working out.

I'm not fond of strict schedules. I like things to be changed up a bit. I like some flexibility for things that come up last minute, to go to things outside of the "norm" I've set up. And, hopefully, I've done that. Which is also why I'm making this change in conjunction with the term - there is a natural break, time to change, if it doesn't work or if I just need to do something a little different. But maybe, with the writing and what I experienced again during NaNovember, the benefits of a semi-regular schedule will be worth it.

We'll see.

So that is why I took a few days off the blog - to recoup? No, that would have been predictable. It was to jump back into my crazy schedule because I'd forgotten the lessons from last year.

I'm back.

I will finish my memoir
I will finish revision of my 2008 novel
I will finish and revise my 2010 novel
I will do the half-marathon in May

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

NaNoWriMo - Wrap Up

I know, you thought I was all done with NaNoWriMo. Just one more specific NaNoPost. ...probably...

I just read the stats for 2010 and they are amazing. See the numbers below.

And I'd just like to point out that my two consistent local writing friends, Jenny and Deb, and I were among the 18.6% who actually became winners by completing a 50,000+ words novel this year. Yay!

The stats from the Office of Letters and Light (parent non-profit to NaNoWriMo and YWP (Young Writers Program))...

Holy pants and shirts, Wrimos! What an event. I hope you enjoy reading this statsy analysis of NaNoWriMo 2010 as much as I enjoyed compiling it.

General Stats Round Up!
For NaNoWriMo main:
  • 200,530 participants, up 20% from 2009’s total of 167,150.
  • We wrote a total of 2,799,449,947 words up 15% from 2009’s collective word count of 2,427,190,537.
  • This averaged out to 13,960 words per person.
  • We had 37,479 winners, up 16% from 2009’s total of 32,173.
  • This gave us an 18.6% win rate!
For NaNoWriMo’s Young Writers Program:
  • 45,000 participants, up 29% from 2009’s total of 35,000.
  • We wrote a total of 251,038,660 words up 51% from 2009’s collective word count of 166,218,038.
  • This averaged out to 5,578 words per person.
  • We had 11,000 winners, up 58% from 2009’s total of 6,941.
  • This gave us an 24% win rate