Monday, October 31, 2011

The Drumroll

In places around the earth, NaNoWriMo has already started.

Here in the Pacific Northwest, we are among the last to begin. But that's okay.

I'm itching to write, but my hands are busy.

I'm itching to write but I have to wait until after work and the drive home.

I'm itching to write and I will write my first 1667 words before I sleep.

One hour until my regional NaNoers will have begun. And I'll still be working. For another hour. Then head home and begin writing My New NaNoNovel.

I don't know how many participants there are worldwide yet. I'm curious to see!

NaNovember is officially underway - and soon coming to my time zone, too.


Sunday, October 30, 2011

30C30D Project: Nomination

There has been this great NaNoWriMo event the last couple of years, 30 Covers in 30 Days. John Gall, the VP at ... well, I'll just let Tim at NaNoWriMo explain it.

"Look, you already know all about this 30 Covers, 30 Days thing. You know that the cool kids call it 30C30D. You know that John Gall, VP and Art Director for Vintage/Anchor Books, has been heading up a crack team of designers who whip up a book cover a day during the month of November—pulling off feats of design that are Cirque du Soleil-worthy. You know that the event’s all of three years old, but has already spawned some incredible art for your incredible stories (precocious enough to be the scene-stealer on an ABC sitcom, yo)."

There are some awesome, amazing, wonderful covers. I would love to have them pick me - so I nominated myself! You can do that with ease and confidence in NaNoWriMo. So I did.

Here is my self-nomination (if you go to the NaNoForums, you'll see that at least 95% of the nominations are from the author). And, no, I didn't come up with the questions - those are from the cover creators.
User name: Dot.
Title: Following Instinct: of Shadows and Edges
Genre: Mystery, Thriller & Suspense
Synopsis: Samantha Albright "says funny shit." Annette Green is a loner spending time at the shooting range. Hank Spinoza spends his days meticulously grooming his lawn - by hand. These disconnected neighbors lives are about to change when Juliette Reynolds moves in to the vacant house at the end of the street. Juliette's abilities to sense truths people would rather hide threatens the daily drone of this quiet hodgepodge neighborhood.

Region: USA: Portland, Oregon
The actor who would play your main character in the movie adaptation: Juliette Binoche (Juliette - no, I didn't plan that!); Kathy Bates (Annette); Whoopi Goldberg (Samantha); Alec Baldwin (Hank)


Saturday, October 29, 2011


That's right! In just Two days, Nine hours, and Fifty-Three minutes, NaNoWriMo 2011 will begin. As I've already said, I will be 90 minutes behind in my beginning this year due to work - but that's okay.

I've been lagging behind even myself in my "preparation" this year. Normally, I at least have a title or a scene or a setting. Well, other than my first year where I ... No - that's right! In 2008 I did have a title when I started. That was it -a title. No other information at all until my fingers hit the keyboard at 12:01 AM on November 1st.

This year I had absolutely nothing. No characters. No title. No plot. See, I'm following Chris Baty's book, "No Plot? No Problem!" And this strategy has worked for me.

Each year I learn something new. I learn how having absolutely no direction or idea or plot in mind before you start can make for very messy editing. Yes, it does. Oh, well, lesson learned. And I am still editing that novel, partly because of no structure at all - then not even starting an as-I-go outline until probably week two, when I realized that I really liked what I was writing and would see that one through to publication. Lesson learned? Sort of.

But I'm a fly-by-the-pen type of writer. So, I needed to find a different way. I don't like outlines. My muse and my characters don't play well with outlines (or is it me, the writer?).

So, year two, I started with a setting and a plot of sorts in mind. And a very vague sense of characters: members of a relay walking team and their driver. That year I kept trying to bring the characters back to my idea of a plot when they'd wander off. I tried following them on sideways journeys and then forcing them back into where I, the writer, wanted them to go. I passed the 50k mark - but I never finished it. I think there are some great character sketches in there. Some good scenes, with nice imagery. And it didn't go anywhere. So lesson learned? Yes - I'm the type of writer who can't force my characters into a mold and I have to go to the mental creative space where I let the story come out as it wants to. I think there can be some conversations with my muse and the characters, but, again - I have to be open to the flow of the story.

A second lesson learned in my second year was to not base my story too heavily on recent real events. That was another part of the problem. The story was fiction, but was based on an experience a few months earlier. I had problems letting go of my "reality" and the characters and story I was trying to write.

Then year three: wow. I had a beautiful setting and the story started out really strong and I was whizzing through it and there were surprising yet delightful events ("delightful" is relative - that's delight from a writer's perspective of the characters and plot depth that surfaced; the subject in a few places was a little murderly "ick"). I kept a running outline every step of the way. I kept my Google Docs version of the novel in smaller pieces (lesson #3 from year two: Google Docs doesn't play well with large documents, especially on a five year old laptop; Google still hasn't resolved this large file issue and it's getting worse in my opinion - that's a story for another day because this year I will again use Google Docs but as a backup and will be trying somewhere else for the main document because I'm tired of the computer freeze-ups on Google). I again passed the 50k benchmark last year and liked my story - a lot. That one still needs an ending and will get it - later - after the 2008 novel is done, because it's still my favorite.

Now here I am at the brink of year four. Nothing at all as of midnight last night. Then, after I completed grading the final student journal for last week, I decided to look in my special writing email folder. Several months ago I had this brilliant idea to set up a folder in my personal email account just for writing inspirations. I keep losing slips of papers with ideas or observations written on them. I can't remember which notebook or journal I jotted something down. I forget I even wrote something down sometimes. But with my personal email, there is a great filtering system for incoming messages. So I set up a special folder just for inspirations so I can send myself an email to that account with my secret word in the subject line and it goes straight to my inspiration folder.

I was planning to go to the Portland NaNoWriMo kick-off party this morning. I'd heard one thing people do is go around and introduce themselves and say what they're planning to write. Until yesterday I was thinking I would just say "I've got nothing" and leave it at that. But I remembered my secret folder. I opened it up and looked at the 25 or so emails: titles, characters, phrases, plot ideas, and so on. I copied some of them into a Notepad document and printed it; looked them over. And a plan emerged!

I'm happy to announce that I now have a Title, and four Main Characters, and at least a Plot Summary. And, no, I didn't make it to the kick-off party. I woke up with the alarm set for that purpose, but my body needed more sleep. I decided to see if I did really go back to sleep and would just wake up naturally. If it was in time for the party - yay! - and if not, then I needed the sleep.

I woke up at noon : 30 minutes after the party ended. So be it, my body needed sleep, obviously.

As anyone who as been with me through previous NaNos knows: I will keep you updated throughout November.

For now, here is a link to my author's page : dot. where you can see my progress and read a synopsis and a sample. The samples will change as I get some good ones; the sample portion is, obviously, blank since I have started writing it yet. Not until November 1st at 1:30 AM for me.

My 2011 NaNoWriMo novel title and synopsis:
Following Instinct: of Shadows and Edges
Samantha Albright "says funny shit." Annette Green is a loner spending time at the shooting range. Hank Spinoza spends his days meticulously grooming his lawn - by hand. These disconnected neighbors lives are about to change when Juliette Reynolds moves in to the vacant house at the end of the street. Juliette's abilities to sense truths people would rather hide threatens the daily drone of this quiet hodgepodge neighborhood.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Razor's Edge for 10/28/11

I am standing at the edge of NaNoWriMo 2011. In 74 hours and 41 minutes, NaNoWriMo 2011 will begin. I won't begin until about 90 minutes later - but I will not go to bed until I have reached at least my first 1,667 words. And that first sprint usually goes pretty quickly - it shouldn't take long.

Twice in the last week an ad has popped up on Pandora while I was listening. This wouldn't seem too odd if I listened to Pandora often - but I don't. The first time I just listened to the ad, the name slipped my mind, and I forgot about it. The second time it caught my attention and I was stopped at a light, so I was able to glance at the screen - and the visual helped. I also linked to the iTunes website where it can be downloaded and saved the page, for later reference.

The CD I'm dreaming about is, "The Goat Rodeo Sessions" with Yo-Yo Ma, Stuart Duncan, Chris Thile, and Edgar Meyer. I watched three videos, "teasers," about the making of The Goat Rodeo and this is the basis of today's prompt. In Teaser #2 the musicians talk a little about their coming together and it clicked.

NaNoWriMo is authors of all experience levels, ages, and genres from around the world participating in this write-a-novel-in-30-days event simultaneously. We are not creating a novel together - though there might be some authors collaborating somewhere.

So - watch this video, listen to just a small sample of their incredible music, listen to their talk about coming together, diversity, colliding universes.

After watching the video, read the two character sketches and write a story about these two people coming together. Or your variation of these two people. Write for 10 minutes. Let it sit for a while. Then share it with someone, see where it sings, where it could be expanded and revise.

Happy writing!


Character sketches:
A: Man whose days are spent thatching, weeding, grooming his lawn - by hand and meticulously.

B: She's the kind of woman whose closthes reflect the seasons. No. Reflect the
holiday of the season. Whenever she goes out, she dresses in the consumerism holiday driven choice of colors and style and appliques.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

From NaNoWriMo: Natalie Goldberg

The start of NaNoWriMo 2011 is just around the corner: five days and just under four hours from now the NaNoNovels will have begun.

Today the Office of Letters and Light (OLL: the bucks and brawn behind NaNoWriMo) sent out this video and an article you can read here.

For now - here is the video... Natalie Goldberg's NaNoWriMo advice.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Ideas for Writers from Jessica Morrell

There are some excellent ideas for writers from Jessica Page Morrell over at The Writing Life Too.

Another Ariel Gore Wayward Writers session ends, followed by a brief break until the winter session begins on November 5th. During that time, NaNoWriMo 2011 will begin.

And I wait to hear about the Graywolf contest. And my memoir is in an editor's hands. And I'm falling a little behind on my daily output.

So I found Jessica's suggestions timely.

And definitely worth sharing.

Here are a few of the highlights, or topics -- and I'll leave it to you to click on over and read the rest of what she has to say.

If you're struggling with creating a writing routine that you can stick with, then try a blitz day once a week when you write your butt off….

Build your vocabulary: Words are your tools and if your toolbox is dinky your reader becomes bored. 

Become Limber:...
Murder your darlings:...
Paint word pictures: ...

Share your Truth: The place to begin writing is from your own truth. This is a variation of the advice to write about what you know, and it’s good advice because it works. If you write about who you really are, about your pains, embarrassments, loss and grief, your  words are bound to ring with authenticity..... 

And more. Check out the rest of what she has to say. I'm pretty sure there is something there which will spark your writing!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Two Weeks Later

This morning I had a follow-up appointment with my regular MD for the hospitalization two weeks ago.

Everything looks good. All vitals perfect and my lungs sound clear and strong. This is good news.

The other good news is that the probability is high that I will be able to stop the medication in about six months. Their concern is that there is no known cause for what happened. (I do have another test next week to rule out a final potential site of causation - which I'm hoping also comes up negative.)

So they might want to keep me on the medication for life. No, thanks. My MD doctor actually agreed with me. I'd rather take the chance of it happening again rather than continue with the risks associated with the medication. And I've already started the dialogue with my Naturopathic Doctor about natural prevention once I get off the meds. Of course, there are more tests - but the chances are we won't have a definitive cause.

I asked my MD about the length of time I'd be having symptoms - especially the breathing. My breathing is much better, but there are still times I get a little winded after doing something and it's not back to normal. Not that I was doing so unrealistic to expect it to be all gone by now - but I had no concept of when I could expect symptoms to dissipate.

Her answer? A few months.

I have an answer. I'm not happy about it - but at least I know. And I will adjust.

And I'm scheduled for a review in April with the hope of stopping the prescribed medication.

Meanwhile, back to writing. Especially now that I'm caught up on grading student journals.

Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Creating Language

I'm catching up on grading student papers. I'm teaching a practicum course, where students are in "live" placements, practicing interpreting and everything which goes with that - but there is no Deaf client/consumer. Each week the students turn in journals - which provide them a place to reflect on their process, give me a picture of what's happening in their placements (I can't be in all of the placements all the time, of course), and it's a place for us to dialogue about their process.

I got behind with the medical situation.

So I'm grading. And grading more. And getting caught up little by little.

Tonight I was inserting a comment for a student and hit save. Then went back to review what I wrote before submitting it back to her.

Thanks to the word program's spell/grammar check, some things stick out.

Including a new word I invented. But I like it. It actually describes the student's dilemma very well and it's a word I could use.

Of course I changed it to the word I intended. But I think I'll save this word for my own future use. Don't be surprised if it shows up in a story!

My new word?

Fustered. (Yes, I meant flustered. But I really like fustered!)

Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Feeling Humbled By Recent Events

elated by the news that I am done with the injections
and can skip today's planned trip to the lab
for another blood draw

nod my head to the phone when the pro-time nurse tells me
today 4 pills, tomorrow 3 pills
then we'll see
no lab today but yes tomorrow

another call from my insurance/care-center needing
to schedule a test with a long intimidating name
the test requires
no prep
it's another examination in an attempt to determine
why I
an otherwise healthy person who was at low risk
for this event -
it happened

I don't want anything more to be wrong and
everything points to everything being fine
these two spots
on the CT exam
which stole my breath away

the doctors want to know why
I just want them to go away
I just want to return to
normal, my normal

breathing returns
energy is still lagging
stairs are so much easier
and each day I meditate with hand mudras
my body's terror when I couldn't breathe
washing away
spots dissolving or being absorbed; shrinking


grateful to be alive
grateful for this strong body and organs
which kept going and are
grateful for my partner
my friends
my life

and sleep
which I think is my greatest healer

a word

Sunday, October 16, 2011

My Word For Today

G r a t i t u d e
detail of silk painting by Dot.

While searching on the internet for a graphic
I discovered a spiral being used to symbolize
and remembered my own painting, with spirals.

by Mary Oliver, West Wind: Poems and Prose Poems

Houghton Mifflin, Boston (1997), p. 35

I was walking the field,
in the fatness of spring
the field was flooded with water, water stained black,
black from the tissues of leaves, oak mostly, but also
beech, also
blueberry, bay.
Then the big hawk rose. In her eyes
I could see how thoroughly she
hated me. And there was her nest, like a round raft

with three white eggs in it, just

above the black water.

* * *

She floats away..................Halfway to my knees
climbs the invisible the black water
on her masculine wings........I look up

then glides back..................I cannot stop looking up

agitated much time has passed
climbs again angry..............I can hardly see her now

does not look at me...........swinging in that blue blaze.

* * *

There are days when I rise from my desk desolate.
There are days when the field water and the slender grasses
......and the wild hawks
have it all over the rest of us

whether or not they make clear sense, ride the beautiful
long spine of grammar, whether or not they rhyme.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Razor's Edge for Friday 10/14/11

It has been a week.

A week of changes and scary events and challenges to who I am. And yet - I'm still me. I'm still here.

And all across the United States of America cities are being Occupied. Protests. Arrests. Impromptu Camps. Marches without Permits.

Those doing the work, the average American, the non-Rich - the Not Top One Percent - have had enough and are marching. Are shouting. Saying - Enough.

And on the first day of the encampment in downtown Portland I passed out in the parking lot of the community college where I work part-time. Which led to a trip to the emergency room. Which led to hospitalization and a scary diagnosis which is being treated with a scary medication. And I'm getting better.

On the day of Occupation, things changed. And are still changing. It's not over.

Where were you when Occupation hit your town/city? Or the nearest city to you?

The video below is a performance of the Boris and Natasha Dancers. The dancers change - but the premise is the same. Linda Austin, dancer and choreographer, takes a few untrained males and teaches them a dance - to perform. This is a performance of one Boris and Natasha incarnation.

Watch the video. When it's done, think about where you were when Occupation came to your neighborhood. Place yourself - or a fictional character - with these dancers, during Occupation.

Write. For 10 minutes. Go!

Encaustic Workshop - taught by Serena Barton

From Serena Barton's blog:

"Bloom" - encaustic by Serena Barton

I interrupt the posting of student work from Art is...You and Art and Soul to announce my upcoming encaustic workshop for beginning and intermediate students.

When: Saturday, October 29, 2011 1-5 PM

Tuition: 85. Supplies provided.
Fall in love with the aromatic, luminous, and versatile properties of beeswax in the form of encaustic painting! Learn how to build up layers, add color, and add collage elements. No previous art experience needed—just lively curiosity and willingness to risk addiction to painting with wax!
We'll play with fire (safely) as we wax lyrical over this wonderful medium.


Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Returning to the Rest of My Life

Tomorrow I return to one of my part-time jobs. It's the first time back to work since being in the hospital last week. I've been following doctor's instructions, resting, not pushing myself. Checking in with my body and my breathing.

I had to cancel part of my work on Friday and set up an alternative venue for teaching. I can't navigate the campus, the standing, the movement between rooms, and the energy level of teaching. So I will be holding class via phone conference instead of in person.

I think tomorrow will be okay, as I'm sitting most of the time, except for breaks. And the breaks are necessary - my doctor suggests taking breaks every 30 minutes, since sitting a long time would be contraindicated for my condition. And standing? No, I can't do that for a long time, either; also contraindicated. So, the breaks I would take each hour, I will divide in half and take every 30 minutes.

These days, my life seems to be made up of scheduling time for medication, time for lab work, now time for breaks. Noticing how I feel - closely.


Time to step back into work life. And continue paying attention. To notice if I get tired, if my breathing changes, if I need a break.

Time. Rest. Return.

Writing. Reading. Thinking.


Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Being Handed Some Time

I do not recommend this method of being handed some time: develop a serious health condition, go to the Emergency Room, be hospitalized and taken off work for a week, and have to cancel friends and personal appointments. Confined to minimal activity; no driving for a couple of days. Check-ins for health monitoring.

No - I do not recommend this course of action to see what you can do with more time.

But, it's what happened.

No worries - except for this specific health condition, I am very healthy! Healthy heart, lungs, blood pressure, oxygen level, blood sugar, etc. I just have this condition. And it's being treated.

And I was given the warning that I have to listen to my body and not over-exert myself. Doing that forces my heart to work too hard and that can cause damage. So, I do little bits. I listen. I rest. I do a little more. I rest. I rest and breathe a lot. I don't overdo. Anyone who knows me knows that I don't do "don't overdo" well; but I don't really have a choice right now.

So - time on my hands. To sleep. To nap. To visit with a friend who came a-calling on Sunday - we had a nice chat for a couple hours or so. To talk with a friend on the phone today for a while - something we rarely do or only in very short Q&A schedule arranging/meeting up kinds of ways. To answer emails with more thought after thoroughly reading them in the first place *wink.* To finish up watching the train wreck known as LOST which became ludicrous but I had to see how they ended the mess. To discover a whole new season of "Lie To Me" on streaming Netflix, interspersed with short silly episodes of "30 Rock." To write. And write some more. To complete my assignment for Ariel's Literary Kitchen yesterday. Then today to be able to complete my feedback in a timely manner instead of on the day before the next assignment is due.


Sleep and napping.

Eating thoughtfully and well and unhurried.

Reading. Writing.

At rest.

I need to do this before there's a crisis next time.

It's kind of amazing how much I've been able to do in terms of catching up on my writing with having mandated down time. And no worries, I haven't sacrificed naps to write - I have nothing but time to do it in right now.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Wild Fox Zen: Occupy the Self

Wild Fox Zen: Occupy the Self:
Seems like we might be at the edge of something big here - the Occupy Wall Street demonstration is spreading, including to nearby Minneapolis, completely without violence or arrest. ...

The pundits on the tube and in cyber-journalism that I've seen are quite critical of the Occupy movement. "What do you stand for in 5 seconds?" "Got the solution or are you just complaining?"

I like that there's a huge range of big problems that are being raised because that's real. To focus on just one thing is part of the problem. The wars and Wall Street and lack of civil liberties and killing an American citizen without due process and ...

by Dosho Port, co-creator of "Zen Howl" with Natalie Goldberg

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Flash Memoir Posted

Ariel Gore has posted my flash memoir on The Literary Kitchen. This piece was developed under Ariel's guidance in her Lit Star Training online class.

Thank you, Ariel, and all of the Wayward Writers for your feedback.

Moving Forward

It's been a rough couple of weeks - which has affected my writing and energy and, well, everything.

While not a fun experience, I at least now know what was causing the health issue and I have started treatment to eradicate it. I've been trying to pay attention to everything, including my body any my schedule and my sleep. And I made a wrong guess about something a couple weeks ago. Then yesterday, it all came to a head and, when I passed out in the college parking lot between my car and the one next to it, I knew I had to stop going on my assumption and get myself into Urgent Care or ER. It turned out that my insurance provider didn't have any urgent care clinics I could get to before they closed; which was probably for the best, since I really did need the ER. Hours and tests later and there was a diagnosis - without a cause, but a diagnosis. And I was admitted. More tests.

And it's true that hospitals are not a good place to rest or get sleep. So many comings and goings, checking stats, and then the sounds in the hall and other patients and everything. Sleep - not so much.

They did release me this afternoon - another test of patience. But I got out and am home. With instructions to not work until Thursday. And with medications - one of them very expensive and I don't have prescription coverage (I rarely take medications, so it was cost effective for me to get the plan without prescriptions; even with the  high cost of one of today's drugs, it's worth the lower monthly cost).

Kaiser was actually very good. Everyone - with the exception of one snarky technician in the ER - was friendly and helpful and listened. I felt like I got very good care, and they paid attention to my needs.

So - back to writing. I've been doing less because I've had no energy. Now I have several days ahead where I've been instructed to take it easy, increase activity slowly, cautiously, and stop if any symptoms worsen or a couple of specific ones appear.

Maybe - just maybe - once I catch up on sleep after being home, I'll be able to get a little more writing done.

But, for now, I need to recover some rest and sleep time.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Broadcasting Myself

I wonder about my blog.

I wonder about my website, which is primarily my blog at this point, with a calendar of calls for submissions, a "store," an outdated workshops page. I have hopes of developing my website into so much more. I have dreams of a beautiful, functional, fun, informational website.

I wonder about my Facebook profile, er, presence. I have thoughts of what I want to do there, as well, but I also want at least an outline of a plan. Because being an author requires a platform, requires a presence, and I don't want it to start badly. I mean, I have a profile - but not yet a page/group/fan site or whatever the current need is called. I will!

I wonder about Twitter. Yeah. I'm there, too. As just me. And I'm still in the flirting stages with Twitter; have been for three years now. Though maybe we have made it to first base together. Useful? I think so. Overwhelming when I'm busy? In the blink of the eye of that great watcher in the sky way - absolutely. Now, if only I could read as fast as my new Blackberry Bold can scroll : no overwhelmed, for sure. Right?

And I do have Google+. That's the newest social gadget (or one of the newest, there have probably been two more appear since I've been typing this) and I'm still trying to remember to check there. And determine its usefulness - which I'm sure it is, but it's still growing and I'm still growing my presence/platform/circles.

Hootsuite? Twitterdeck?

Oh, I forgot Linked In. No, really, I forgot to link in on Linked In. I'm not there. Yet?

Platform. Profile. Who am I?

Public me.......Private me
..........Online me............
As a person...As a Writer
...........I'm Still Me..........
Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry