Monday, April 30, 2012

A Test of Wills or a Test of Faith

If this is a test, I'd like it to be done.

There are a few conflicting things happening in my life right now and I was getting a handle on things, having faith that things would work out for the best. Really, I was holding on to the belief that all would be okay.

I made out a scheduling/life template and believed in it; I just wrote it out the middle of last week. Then I found out some information which has the potential to disrupt everything. It's a row of dominoes. I was thinking maybe a house of cards, but the dominoes are stronger and can withstand more - so I'll go with the dominoes image. If X happens at VRS, then that has the potential to reduce $ by a significant amount. In order to improve the $ picture, I have to add more Y to the schedule. But if X is reduced and Y increased, it has to be exponentially increased because of some other losses which are attached to X. And if X and Y happen, then my template won't work. And if I try to stick to the template, then $ will definitely be decreased and some of the things on the template will be impossible.

Really. I'm not making this up.

Writing is on my template. More than I've been doing: dedicated, specified time to write and revise and submit.

Sleep is on my template. Enough sleep is an option with parameters. A couple of times when I've slipped below the minimum, I've known, my body has let me know that I can't do that any more. So sleep really is non-negotiable. No more 4- to 5-hour sleep nights.

Work is on my template. Yes, indeed.

And time off. Including trying to get two days off together in every week. Well, let's say most weeks. Which includes trying to get one day off each week where I don't have appointments to go to; not just time off from work. Time with friends and partner and time for fun. And activity: walking, swimming, hiking, kayaking.

This new news isn't good news. Not terrible; I'm not losing my job. But it's a really bad time and it's not just me saying "oh this is awful and I need to add more hours." It's real. And if the information turns out to be true, I should know within a week and I will have to give up: some time off, or blocks of dedicated writing time, or time with my partner, play time. I can't cut down the sleep or health care.

I had a plan. A good plan; reasonable. Reasonable for everyone and not just me.

And I think about people who wonder why workers lose faith and commitment to the giant corporations for which they work. This is one. There is no reciprocity and I keep thinking that I know that, but I keep getting taken by surprise. I keep thinking that being really good at what I do, going along with the numbers and the changing rules, being honest and dedicated to what I'm doing will matter; not in a kiss-up, brown-nosing kind of way but in a commitment to doing this job well. And maybe it does matter to the clients - I hope. But I keep feeling like I am just a number at work and a number which can be replaced.

I think about being flexible. I am flexible; I like some variety. Yes. But a good friend once said, "I'm flexible until I snap." I think of it like a plastic debit/credit card, or a piece of wire: you can bend it and bend it and bend it back again until one day it snaps; no more flexibility. I'm getting frustrated with the bending and won't snap - but I may lose some flexibility.

I want to hold on to the serenity I've found and believe in the good in people (and there are people behind the giant corporation walls, right?) and to hold on to hope that things can be okay without doing what isn't healthy for me.


So I'll just keep writing. Not just about this, I promise. But if I keep writing then it keeps moving through.

And I can retain my resiliency.

And if this rumor/threat comes into being, it may push me back up on that ledge where possibilities live and the corporation goes back to being the safety net and not a false sense of security.

Writing. Where life happens. Where the Chi flows and stagnancy is prevented.

And, for fun, a video as a reminder to myself and to others who may be living/working under similar circumstances. Enjoy!


Sunday, April 29, 2012

Where I Live and Write

I like where I live: Portland, Oregon. I've thought of living other places, but Oregon is home. Oregonians take pride in being Native Oregonians, though I think those numbers are dwindling, or at the least the ratio of natives to non-natives is lower. I can't claim being a pure Native Oregonian; but I"m close. The first four years of my life were spent in a nearby state; but I've lived in Oregon since that time. Most of the time has been in Portland and there were a couple of interspersed chunks of time in Salem.
Sometimes I wish I would have been braver and lived somewhere else. Or wonder what opportunities I missed or how I would be different if I had lived in other cities. And if I would have come back.
A number of years ago my partner and I considered New York City. Probably Brooklyn. We loved it there. Loved going into Manhattan, walking around Brooklyn. I spent nearly four weeks there a few years ago, working, staying at a friend's place in Brooklyn, taking the train into Manhattan to work, to see plays, to see dance performances. I went to Prospect Park to see Philip Glass perform with the Kronos Quartet; and if you've followed my posts for long, you know I love Philip Glass' music.
We could see ourselves living in New York City/Brooklyn. It's so very different than here and yet there was something very familiar and comfortable.
In New York City I'd be at the heart of theater and publishing. I'd be in the city that never sleeps. I'd have an amazing list of performances to see year-round. We'd be able to fly to European countries so much cheaper and in so much less time. So much creativity and possibility and energy.
I could also see myself living in Taos, New Mexico. Sort of. Our first trip there we fell in love. I understand that there are more famous people and other people with money buying up properties and that things are changing. But I hope the downtown/oldtown plaza is still there. Still the same. It touched both of us and we talked about moving there. It really was pretty unrealistic for me as a sign language interpreter: there is a School for the Deaf in Santa Fe, which is a couple of hours away through the mesas and which, in winter, would be a challenge though I know I'd get used to it and adapt. But two hours in good weather would make it longer or impossible in the winter. And another option is a work place I know in Albuquerque, which is even farther away. So as much as we loved Taos and it touched our hearts and creative spirits, it was not practical.
So here I am - we are - still in Portland. I've been here many years and suppose this is where I will stay until I"m not living on the earth any longer. And that's okay.
This is Home. And this is where I sleep and walk, swim, work, write. There is more to explore here and I am so fortunate to have the options of beach, mountains, forests, desert all within short drives. And a bigger city experience a few hours north in Seattle. It's beautiful and I'm not sorry I've landed here, that I live here, that I haven't left.
I read a story about how this video was made (on KATU) and then I watched the video. Beautiful. 

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Back Door

Yesterday I wrote about feeling a complete lack of creativity. About feeling like my writing was dead in a way; like there was no reason nor purpose, no energy, for writing. With thoughts slipping away from writing and possibilities, turning toward schedule figuring and bill computation and piling on appointments.

In the process of writing about a dearth of writing energy and impulse I went through a back door. I bypassed The Way to Write. I bypassed the lessons of Right and Wrong, of Grammar, and Higher Learning; of the Golden Ring of Literary Merit.

By writing about being unable to find the writing path I opened the alternate door and wrote.

And I'm sitting here, again, at the computer. Writing about writing.

One lesson I know for certain about writing is that, when it feels like I will never or should never write again, the one thing I must certainly do is write.

Close my eyes and write. Write that I'm not writing. Even write down "the worst shit in America," as Ariel tells us.

Just write.

And the writing will return.

Not only the writing returned, but also creativity. And ideas for future projects. And renewed commitment for a writing gig which was discussed a few months ago and, next season, I'll make sure it happens.

Writing. Creating. Changing and rebuilding.

Often there is a great view from the back door, too.


Friday, April 27, 2012

Razor's Edge: When Writing Feels Dead

I'm not talking about when what you're writing feels like it is going nowhere.

That could be writer's block.

I'm not talking about when you're reading a book and you couldn't care less about the characters or the plot and you either fall asleep or put the book down to go scrub the kitchen floor.

That could be lousy writing or you're just not in the mood for that story.

I'm not talking about not having ideas or wondering if your writing is any good.

That, too, could be writer's block.

I'm talking about the process of writing not being there. Like there is a steel wall, as a writer friend recently said, and you can't get through it to write. Which is different than writer's block; the material is just not available. I have another writing acquaintance who said something similar to that about her process of writing - or not writing.

That is where I am right now. With my writing/not writing.

I can look at what has been happening and say, "ah, yes, Miss Dot, I see here where this has been going on and so you have no time to write." But this is more than that. Or I can review it again and say, "oh, it's the distractions and the responsibilities, and you can't focus." But it is more than that. I could even look at recent events and say, "Ah, yes, triggers are all around you and frequently and so it makes it difficult to find material you deem reasonable that others may want to read." And it is definitely more than that.

The triggers are true. The disappointment is true. The overwhelmed and anxious state is true. The disillusionment that change can happen is true.

That I'm blocked and having nothing to write about is not true. Ideas are there. I still jot a few notes, send emails to my secret saving writing ideas email folder, observe people and place around me and think of titles.

It feels like there is no point to writing.

It feels like I am doomed to have writing in the background. Especially now that I'm still dealing with the health situation, which has become even more complicated now that I've received a definitive statement of treatment from the MD side of my health care, and begun researching alternatives and have met with a Naturopathic specialist in the area of where my treatment needs lie. More medical appointments and a long list of tests mean more money going out, means more working, means ... etc ... you get the drift. Right?


Yes. The desire is there although there is just a tip sticking up through the ground I feel like I'm barely grasping at this point. The desire; or remembering the desire. The hope faded to a grayscale image; the goals feeling unrealistic or pointless.

This is just today. And a few other days recently. Sometimes the writing is there because of a reminder of the book on my bedside table. Or the new "Plotto" I bought a couple of months ago which is sitting on my needs-to-be-cleaned-off desk. Or the two new writing books on their way to me now. The Poets & Writers, The Writer, and Writer's Digest which arrive monthly or bimonthly. The blogs I follow. The writing/writers Facebook groups of which I'm a member.

So here I'm writing. Confessing that I'm not doing much writing. That at this moment I don't have a sense of what stories are ready to go and which need a lot of work or a little work.

Telling you that sometimes writing feels foreign. Like something I did in another life; which is also true. I've done it in various stages of my life. Set it aside; picked it up. Tried again. Improved. Enjoyed the process and published some and trashed some.

And this time I'm not letting go. But at this moment - I'm not blocked. But my writing feels dead. Except that I maybe just tricked my "Woe is me; where is my inspiration and motivation?" brain into writing. That works sometimes for me - kind of not looking and just going ahead and doing, pretending I'm not.

This is me. Today. This feeling will fade and I'll be glad. I don't like feeling like there is no hope or reason to write. Not that I can't write - but that I shouldn't and there is nothing there to write from.

And since this is Razor's Edge Friday, I poked around online and found a few Writer's Block help websites. Just for fun. There are many, many more, I'm sure. These are just a handful I found (again, for some) today.

. 911 Writers Block : I found this site a while ago; I like the fun format and there are some good prompts.
. LEO: Literacy Education Online: Overcoming Writer's Block

. The Writer's Block
.The 10 Types of Writers’ Block (and How to Overcome Them)
. An Top 10 Tips for Overcoming Writer's Block
. Serendipitous Simile Generator for Stories  

What are some of your ways to break through the barriers, the writer's blocks, the disappearing act of language, etc? What works for you?


Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Betsy Amster at Willamette Writers Meeting May 1st

Next week is the monthly meeting of the Portland chapter of Willamette Writers. On May 1st, Betsy Amster, editor and literary agent, will be speaking. I've been told by two author-editors that this is a presentation not to be missed.

From the Willamette Writers announcement and website:

Betsy Amster is president of Betsy Amster Literary Enterprises, a literary agency in Portland. Before opening her agency in 1992, she spent ten years as an editor at Pantheon and Vintage. She has been described in the Los Angeles Times as "a dogged prospector of�literary talent" and celebrated in the American Society of Journalists and Authors newsletter for her "no-nonsense style and whimsical sense of humor." Her clients include Dr. Wendy Mogel, author of the New York Times bestseller "The Blessing of a Skinned Knee" (Scribner); Mary Higgins Clark Award winner Sandi Ault, author of "Wild Indigo" (Berkley Prime Crime); MacArthur fellow and urban farmer Will Allen, author of "The Good Food Revolution" (forthcoming from Gotham); Portland pastry chef Kim Boyce, author of "Good to the Grain" (Stewart, Tabori & Chang); and many other writers.

All Portland meetings are held at the Old Church, SW 11th and Clay (1422 SW 11th). Doors open at 6:30 pm; the speaker or panel starts at 7 pm. Meetings are free to members of Willamette Writers and students; guests of WW members are $5. Non-members pay $10 to attend meetings. Refreshments are served.

Monday, April 23, 2012



Yes. I needed to be at the coast. I need to be at the coast more often.

Last week someone asked me how often I needed to be at the coast. My answer was that I didn't know, but plan to find out.

It was relaxing. Restorative. I slept and read and went online and walked, walked more, walked more at one time than I've been able to do for a while for one reason or another. And slept and sat and watched the water.

I came home last night ready to face the week. Ready to face another round of appointments and jump back into writing and asking for help instead of digging out my Wonder Woman cape again.

There are a lot of pictures I uploaded to Facebook. This is just one. One of my favorites. It was nearing sunset on the second night and it shows the Twin Rocks well, the sky, the water. It's mystical and magical. And it makes me happy to look at it.

More to come.

Today I ordered "The Mindful Writer: Noble Truths of the Writing Life," by Dinty Moore. I ran across it in a magazine I bought while I was at the coast and it looked perfect for right now. I'm looking forward to getting it.

I also ordered a Feng Shui "Good Health" jade charm thingy.

Writing and health and possibility.

I will be back at the coast with my partner in mid-May. And I may also have a day trip with a friend to the coast in May.

I think I've been missing the beach.


Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Re-charge Just Ahead

Tolovana Beach 4/14/12 by Dot

Last Saturday I dragged myself to the beach. I know: poor me. Right? But I almost didn't go. I had a list of excuses why I shouldn't go and the cost of gas was only one. I dismissed each excuse as it came up and took myself by my lapels and forced myself into the car and headed to the sand and water and, surprisingly, very little wind.

It was perfect. I needed to be there. I needed the walk on the beach. I didn't really need to few blisters on my feet - but they will heal; they're small. And  they appeared after walking an hour on the sunny beach and wading in the water; no problem.

The air was clean. The ocean and the seagulls masked other sounds. The sun was not too bright, the wind was just enough to keep everything fresh, and the water in the air and around my feet refreshing.

And on Friday, I get to do it again. Except this time I will be staying for a couple of days. Just me. At the beach. In a little part of a house I'm renting which has a full frontal ocean view with nothing but dune grass and sand between me and the water. And a fire pit I think.

Me and the second half of Stephen King's "11/22/63", my laptop, a bottle of wine, some good food from New Seasons and/or Trader Joe's. I'll sleep and write and read and sleep some more. And sleep. Lots of sleep. If I get more nice weather, I'll walk on the beach. "Nice weather" doesn't mean a total lack of moisture in the air - it just means not heavy winds or rain. Drizzles and breezes are allowed; I'll have my rain coat and a couple of changes of clothes.

Recharge. That's what I'll do. It's been a bumpy couple of weeks and tomorrow night I'm interpreting the world premiere of a stage adaptation of "Anna Karenina." One of my characters is Anna. Three days and two nights at the beach.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Prescription for Writers

Okay. So some people might think, huh? What is this?

I guess I shouldn't call it a prescription because I am in no way a medical provider. But the prescription comes from a medical provider.

One thing that I would say all writers have in common is that we do a lot of sitting. Maybe no more than the average person (whoever that may be, I know, the "average" person is a mythical standard we're all held to). But we do at least our fair share of sitting. Or most of us. I'd love to see some creative ways writers deal with the sitting.

Elevated desks. Hydraulic desks which can be raised and lowered as desired or needed, from sitting level to standing level to fit ball level to, whatever. Or voice to text software which lets you walk and write your novel at the same time.

But, in general, I'd say that writers sit a lot.

So - this video is for us. It's not just for writers, of course. Receptioninsts. bankers, tax accountants, telemarketers, video relay interpreters, and so on. For anyone who sits a lot, really.

I really like this video - in style, information presented, attitude, and method. Good information.

. And I love the 23 1/2 hours.... Yes.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Hours Turn to Days Turn to a Week

So here I am one day short of a week since my last post. I hadn't noticed. It was an intense week in an emotional kind of way. Also a crossroads for a health decision, as a result of the incident last fall; and the consulted specialist's recommendation is not what I was originally told nor what I hoped.

Then this morning I showed up somewhere and bumped into someone I haven't seen for a couple or three weeks. He commented that he's been checking in here and following my writing. Except that I haven't been writing much recently.

And I said, true, I haven't posted here. But I have been writing.

See, he and I had a long, nice conversation a couple of months ago. About writing and life and experience and knowledge.

And starting a blog. Setting up a website. Which he wanted to do.

So this gentle man's greeting and noticing brought me back to here.

To writing outside of assignments.

To the space outside of the thoughts and concerns of this week.

And the writing class is now officially over.

Thank you.
Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

Monday, April 9, 2012

from THe Creative Penn: On the Importance of Persistence

. Tips For Writers: On the Importance of Persistence
by Joanna Penn on April 7, 2012

If you shop in the Amazon bestseller list for Thriller and Mystery (like I do), you’ll see a number of Michael Wallace books there. Michael has several great books with the Amazon thriller imprint, Thomas Mercer, but it hasn’t always been this way. Today he shares some of his journey with us.

The importance of persistence

I could wallpaper a room with rejection letters.

If I printed electronic rejections I could wallpaper two more rooms. Altogether, I have collected more than 1,500 rejection letters from magazines, publishers, and agents. In fact, I’m still collecting rejection letters, even though my indie novels have sold roughly 80,000 copies and I have paired my indie career with a more traditional contract through Amazon’s Thomas Mercer thriller line. My book, The Righteous, has been ranked as high as #5 in the overall store on Amazon UK and as high as #20 in the US. Nevertheless, my agent recently shopped my World War II thriller and while I had some publisher interest, I also had editors give me those dreaded “I like this, but. . .” responses.


Click on The Creative Penn title at the top of this post to read the rest of Michael Wallace's journey.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

WOW! Women On Writing Blog: Open Letter to Friends of Authors

Post deleted at oiginal author's request.

Go to WOW if you'd like to read the article and the included letter; worth the click!

Saturday, April 7, 2012

A Quick Check-In

I just passed the halfway mark in Ariel's Spring Intensive. And I have managed to post something every day. Some are very rough and short, some have potential for development into submittable stories.

I'm writing every day, as well as giving and getting feedback.

After 12 days I will have a decent momentum which I hope to maintain. I probably won't keep up the same pace due to interpreting a play this month and another one next month. But I think I have a rhythm if I keep it on my radar. Even if the daily pace wanes a bit.

No. There I go again. Even if all I do is a quick write/free write, I must write something every day. which, yes, it will be easier after the May play.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Excitement Isn't Always the Best Measurement of Do-ability

A couple of months ago I learned about an upcoming project. It's related to a couple of my personal and professional interests and I was excited.

I said "Yes, I'd love to be involved!" And so I was.

In the planning stages.

In phone meetings and an in-person meeting.

And then it was getting close to the action time and I was looking at my schedule.

Obsessing on my schedule and trying to figure out how I was going to be able to fit in one more thing.

I was determined.

I wasn't sleeping well.

I wasn't writing much and pushing deadlines when I did.

I was juggling sleep and swimming/walking and writing and, of course, work. Along with the other necessary life aspects: food, laundry, gas in the car, etc.

And trying to figure out my schedule.

Then someone gave me a wake-up call. Someone I talk to weekly but I hadn't told her about the project. The very exciting, time-consuming, far away, how-do-I-add-it-in project. And I told her.

I wasn't deliberately not telling her, it just slipped totally out of my mind when I met with her.

Until last week.


So we talked.

I thought about it.

I looked at my schedule.

And I knew that I let my excitement decide that I could do this. I want to do it and that's good. But I can't.

I was able to find a replacement and will still do some consulting. I will be there on opening night and closing night.

But I needed to back out. So I did.

Tonight I'm finding that my anxiety has disappeared. I'm more relaxed. I finished my Intensive Workshop writing assignment before the last minute and even got my feedback to other writers done.

And I'm breathing easier.

I can support the project without being in a whirlwind of impossible timelines.

Yesterday I had to let go to take care of me.

And today I know that was the best decision. .