Thursday, June 29, 2023

Shifting Normal

Tomato plant in our garden;
fighting off a leaf disease

I want to write something profound. It doesn't come. 

So I think that maybe I will write something personal, close to home, about this change of "normal." It floods in words and feelings and it doesn't look like what I mean and I think, that sounds like a pity party.


I have so much to say about the shift of "normal" but it is large and others have already commented, are commenting. What do I have to add to the discussion?

Except my experiences. My own shifted normal to a place where I never thought I'd be; to a place which is the same but my perspective has been forced to a new view by conditions and situations which are - actually - outside of my control. They were not caused by me, were not sought for by me, were not wanted. If anyone would have asked me in January or February 2020, "Hey how about we try this?" I would have scoffed and turned away and known that wasn't my path to walk.

I haven't had COVID-19. I am still actively avoiding getting it because I have a genetic disorder which makes me at increased risk for negative outcomes if I were to catch it. I reconfirmed with my medical team six weeks ago when I had to go in for something unrelated. 

"No, YOU don't want to get COVID," the usually conservative provider said. The one who would happily prescribe more pills, is cautious with too many tests, and has told my partner and others that - since they're up to date on vaccinations - it should be okay. But not me. Not with the genetic condition for which there is no cure, only a medicine to offset what it causes (an increased tendency to make blood clots). 

One of the things COVID-19 causes is making blood clots. Also, recent studies have shown that, at least for some people, tiny blood clots are a factor in causing Long Covid. The primary drug for us regular people for treating COVID-19 is Paxlovid. Some medications are contraindicated for Paxlovid use, and among them are anti-coagulants, which is (one part of) what is used to treat exactly what I have. One type of anti-coagulant reacts so badly that Paxlovid is listed to be used only when they are out of all options. In this, I am lucky, because the anti-coagulant I am taking is the best one in terms of Paxlovid. If necessary, with the particular medication I take, I could take Paxlovid, but I would need to be monitored for blood clots, for DVT (deep vein thrombosis (blood clots)). Taking Paxlovid would increase my risk of another pulmonary embolism; something I would rather not repeat.

So, this "shifting normal" for me is, that I have a genetic condition which means that many places are not safe for me. Without masks, with no social distancing, with oftentimes questionable air circulation - my answer has to be, "no, thank you." Creative spaces, both inspirational for me and expressive, personal and professional, are not currently safe.

I am now on the "expendable humans" list. This is new. Because of a genetic condition I was born with, but had no idea I had until I ended up in the ER in 2011 with blood clots in both lungs, I am now pushed aside. I used to not be afraid of a cold and I didn't get the flu - I'm still not. But COVID-19? Different story. 

I'm not ready to die, but I am not afraid of dying from COVID-19. I am completely up to date on my vaccinations and boosters. I always mask in public, when around other people even at my home. We don't go to parties and crowded events. Because the internal damage from COVID-19 can be months or years-long. Some people are developing problems caused or triggered by COVID months or a year after recovering from the infection. I know people who are surviving and struggling with Long Covid. 

I would rather have a healthier life, with my brain cells intact, and my internal organs functioning.

So I will continue to avoid COVID-19. Which means I am missing out, yes. Which means I am still breathing, yes. Which means I can continue to work as an interpreter and do my writing. 

This is not normal.

This is not what I used to call normal.

This is my shifted "normal" as other people continue to get reinfected and think they are fine. Some are; especially those with the financial resources. Some aren't. Some people are dying or have brain fog or develop heart problems or diabetes or several other negative health issues because of that. Some people don't even know they've had COVID because they haven't and don't test, assume it's a cold, the flu, allergies, or they're just tired.

And don't even get me started on the climate situation. North America is already on fire and it's not even officially "wildfire season." 

If you have any of those nasty N95 or KN95/94 masks lying around, you might want to get them out. They also help to reduce harm from wildfire smoke.

The normal we knew no longer exists. Sometimes the attempts to replicate the past are like eating carob to replace chocolate. Just not the same.

Tuesday, April 18, 2023

Creativity Comes in Many Forms

 After 2 1/2 years of never missing a Friday Night Comics, I was hit with a lot of coordinating and assignments for the marvelous Mavens of Mythmaking assignments and a few other things which came up. I mean, the Mythmaking assignments were not a surprise - I knew when I was signing up for the year-long certificate program that there would be intense times. 

So - life happened. I had to skip one Friday Night Comics, then again a couple of weeks later. Then it was several in a row and then. Where had they gone? 

Right where I left them: on Friday nights, same time, same sponsor. Oh, look, the haiku comics instructor was up last week. And, even better, I didn't have anything scheduled, no theatrical crises or dire needs, so I signed up.

It was awesome. David Lasky is an excellent graphic novelist and comics instructor and more. And his writing prompt which led into a comic without pictures was inspiring. Sure - there are a few things I'd need to clean up and make a little better (stronger) if I were to redo this "Float Tank" - which was inspired by the prompt of 'write about your first or an early experience in total darkness." Float tanks weren't my first, but they were my strongest memory last Friday.

I like this one!

And, look, it led me back to here. 

I'm still wondering what I want this to be. What I want it to look like. How I will use this website-blog etcetera. 

For now, another post. Three months after the last one when I thought I would try once a month, at least. 

I'm working on a plan.

I'm in final stages of edits for a manuscript ("final" = I hope!).

I may have some more things to write about soon, but that depends on a couple of factors. Right now, I want to keep this light and not get into those other things. *smile*

Wednesday, January 4, 2023

2023: What's Ahead

Portal Cards by Corporeal Writing

First, I have continued to write every day since the end of NaNoWriMo. Which is kind of amazing for
me. I don't usually do that - or not outside of November. Even during NaNovember, I often don't make the personal goal of writing every day of the month.

I am writing story starts, ideas for stories, and have made a little bit of progress on The Project (hybrid/memoir). I have also started journal writing, again. With everything happening, that seems like a good idea for me. It has been beneficial, so my intent is to keep up that practice.

I had a boost toward the writing everyday, because I participated in the Literary Kitchen Winter Break Intensive, again. This is a fast-paced, daily assignment class/workshop where we are given 12 assignments in 14 days. (The two days "off" are up to the individual participants.) In addition to our own daily writing, we also provide feedback to three other people's writing for each assignment. Think of it as a writing marathon. It is. And it is a great activity for the last two weeks of December. It's a great way - at least for me - to keep present in my life and keep connected to my writing. The world goes kind of haywire with expectations and holiday gatherings (or not, if you're being COVID cautious or don't like the holidays, or whatever - but even if you avoid the holidays the pressures and expectations from others are still there). This clipping-along writing commitment is fun and gives a nice, creative focus in a time which can "try one's nerves."

I did get all of the assignments done and all of the feedback done. I fell behind on the feedback, so I didn't get it completed until January 2nd. But I did get it done. I do have a few things from that workshop which seem like keepers to develop and edit further; and a few germs of ideas, even though the particular thing I wrote is "not it."

So. On to 2023. In terms of writing, this is going to be a spectacular year. 

On January 1, 2023, the first meeting of the Maven of Mythmaking Certificate Program was held via Zoom. The participants are from all over. Armed with our required and recommended book list and the textbook for the program, The Wayward Writer: Summon Your Power to Take Back Your Story, Liberate Yourself from Capitalism, and Publish Like a Superstar, we met for two hours, did a writing exercise about our goals/intentions For The Year!! We did not do introductions, because we had already begun posting our introductions on the class online Boards. 

That's right: the Maven of Mythmaking is a full-year program, led by Ariel Gore. There are weekly assignments: readings, actions, writing, and of course, feedback. Most months we will have two Zoom meetings, as well. Ariel will have Office Hours. 

The Mythmaking Authors are an eclectic group. We are writing everything from memoir to essays, fantasy to short stories, horror to novels; so much more. We are writers with many publications, writers who have written primarily for themselves; writers who want mainstream publication and writers who want to self-publish or do a hybrid; writers with MFAs and writers who have barely started taking any writing workshops; the age range is large and joyous. 

This is day four of the year-long program and I know it was the right decision.

On some days, when the news is bad and politicians are using citizens as collateral, when my primary work is creating havoc with scheduling which impacts my income and my "safety net" (it is no longer that) - I wonder. Did I do the right thing? This big of a time and financial commitment?

Those moments of doubt are tied to old patterns and old beliefs which still live under my skin. Even though their impact has shrunk, they still exist. Those moments of second guessing myself and toying with self-regret or remorse are truly fractions of a second and rare. But they do still seep through the excitement and creative energy, poking through the surface very briefly. I've learned to give that negativity a nod and a "thanks for trying to keep me safe; but I'm good." It isn't able to get a hold any longer.

So. One thing I am going to try to do is be more present here. I don't have a plan for what that looks like. I'm hesitant to set up a strict schedule, which would put more pressure to perform on me, and potentially set me up for failure. Or, at least, fear of failure - which I am trying to avoid. With the continuing high numbers of COVID-19 cases and my personal additional risks, I still have to avoid prolonged indoor events, especially with large crowds; and if masks are not required, it could be deadly for me. Which means that theatre - another passion of mine, and an important creative outlet, is minimal and mostly virtual for me, until COVID is truly under control - which is not now. (I have a genetic mutation which increases the likelihood of blood clots. It was discovered in 2011 after a bilateral pulmonary embolism incident and don't want to experience it again. This puts me at higher risk of hospitalization and more severe complications from COVID-19. Therefore, I must avoid infection.)

I don't know where this year of Mythmaking and a kind of "alternative MFA" is going to lead. I do not have a specific project I am working on. I am showing up for writing. I will write every day - sometimes that will be journal writing, sometimes it will be generating new material, sometimes it will be reading about writing, writing about writing; sometimes it will be working through edits on The Project; sometimes showing up for writing means loafing and relaxing and going for a walk, where I will be thinking about my writing.

2023 is going to be a good writing year. 

Thursday, December 1, 2022

NaNoWriMo 15th Consecutive Win

 This year I wrote a personal best: 84,906 words written from November 1st to November 30th, 2022. That is a lot of words! I crossed the finish line early - around November 19th, I think. That writing retreat in the second week of the month sure helped. Along with joining, which provides another type of writing community and "gamifies" writing. At 4thewords, they had a special dragon event just for NaNoWriMo, which made it fun, too. 

Everything I wrote in November is draft. Some of it is pre-draft, some of it is worldbuilding, some of it is writing myself out of the stuck place. No novel this year, but I have some great fuel and ideas for at least a long short story, perhaps a spine to build a novel around. 

Most importantly: I wrote every day. That doesn't often happen. I also wrote many words and I think I did break through some writing or creativity resistance. November was a good month for writing!

Saturday, November 12, 2022

NaNoWriMo 2022 - second week update

I have been staying at a very cozy, very Oregon, cabin in Oceanside OR since Tuesday night. The weather has been cool and clear for the most part, until yesterday. Yesterday morning woke to pouring rain and a light wind.

I do not mind storms while at the coast, at all. In fact, this is only one of two or three times I've stayed in Oceanside over the past many years that I haven't lost power. 

Pre-pandemic, coming over to the coast for a NaNovember writing retreat was pretty standard. I often came here to Oceanside because the town is small, slow going, and beautiful, with one of the most incredible views from anywhere. The cabin where I'm staying now is a definite favorite; I have stayed at a couple of others, but will get this one when I can. This cabin is about 1/3 of the way up the hillside, so the view goes for miles and miles: ocean, sand, sky, mountains. And there is a view of the quiet little town.

Also, Oceanside has one longtime restaurant, a very tiny ice cream shop/cafe at the edge of the wayside parking lot, and there appears to be a working pub of some sort now. There is no temptation or expectation of shopping of any kind, no museums, no bookstores - just nature doing its thing, with time and space to write. 

Once when the power went out for a couple of days, the longtime restaurant fired up a generator and had a portable cooking unit or two. They provided a very limited menu at shortened hours - it was during the winter so daylight was short - and even had limited hot coffee. Everyone was friendly and helpful. And the power did come back on; it always does. I learned after the second time it went out to make sure to keep devices charged. 

Speaking of which: there also is virtually no mobile data service available in town. I have found over the years that the only place to consistently have a chance of getting a signal is on the beach. Up here where I'm staying, or down below us in the town, mobile phones and data don't work. Which is another refreshing thing. The small cabin does have wifi, which is much appreciated. But even that fluctuates and drops off; there are a couple of hours midday where the signal is strong - usually.

So it has been delightful to feel comfortable coming back here this year for my annual NaNoWriMo writing retreat. My NaNoFriend - who is an IRL friend, coworker, and writing buddy - and I have been hanging out, writing, sleeping, sharing meals, writing and writing and procrastinating and writing.

This has been a very productive retreat and it feels good.

I admit that my story has not advanced very much at all. But there has been some progress. However, I do also include world building and backstory writing; brainstorm writing; and even process of writing writing during NaNovember. Some of this applies to the book project, some does not but since it applies to me and me being in the world as a writer and creator, it actually does apply to the project I'm writing.

See? Being a writer means writing. Whether I'm writing on the current project or the words belong in a different category, I am writing.

Will I come out of November with a 50k draft of a novella written? Probably not. I could be surprised; but if the second half of the month goes like the first half, it will be difficult once I return to the rest of my life in the city and my life as an interpreter and performance interpreting coordinator.

This writing retreat was just what I needed. My writing is better for it. My writing confidence is better for it. And my word count is soaring! That I also needed.

My current word count? 31,077 words written since November 1st. Woot! I am on track to hit 50k around November 20th, which gives me plenty of time in November to work more on the story. 

[I'm not going to take the time to go deeply into it now, but I will write a post about a website I'm trying out for NaNovember, as well - 4THEWORDS. It pairs writing and gaming and, so far, it's been good and helpful. They have a special event this month, pairing dragons and NaNoWriMo, so, good time to try out what my friend has been using for a couple of years!]

Sunday, November 6, 2022

NaNoWriMo 2022 - first week update

       Other than getting my partner's cold this week, NaNoWriMo is going well. I do have a germ of a story. It hasn't quite taken sprout, yet, but it's there. I think once I'm over this cold I will be able to make some progress on that and excavate its bones. 

Despite the cold - and we have confirmed we have a cold and not COVID. We have both tested every day for over a week and all of the tests are coming up clearly 100% negative - which is a relief. This cold is not good, but it also seems I may have the shorter version of it than she does. 

Back to writing: it is happening. I am able to write every day. Some days are lower counts, some are higher. I've just written Sunday's whole average word amount, so I wouldn't have to write any more today, but I will. 

So: writing every day? Yes! On track with overall average word count so far? Yes! Is there a bit of a story being written? Yes!

NaNo for the win! Current word count = 9101 !!

Wednesday, October 26, 2022

announcing: NaNoWriMo 2022

My blog posts may come and go, the frequency varying from every few days to missing a month or two. I am still working on finding a new path with this space and it hasn't landed anywhere specific, yet. I'm confident I'll get there.

Soon. I hope.

But one thing you can count on in this space is the announcement for NaNoWriMo!

Here it is. I considered - briefly two or three times - not doing it. The organization has changed since the founder stepped down a few years ago. Some of the organizational changes have not been what I would choose (but no one asked me, right?). The website overhaul a few years ago was a disaster - and that is not just my opinion; it was fairly widely agreed on that they broke it and it's not as cool and helpful as it used to be.

But this idea of joining hundreds of thousands of people around the world in a writing marathon? Yes, please. 

The idea of setting aside anything non-essential in my life for a month and making my writing an absolute priority? Yes, please.

The idea that - for one month - I can strive to write every day and I can set a word goal and I give myself permission to write badly and gush out onto the keyboard whatever comes into my head even as I'm rolling my eyes at the content? Yes, please.

So here it is: NaNoWriMo 2022 is less than one week away. By this time next week I will be writing my Day Two words. I don't know how many words I will have - but there will be some.

In the spirit of me being a self-proclaimed pantser, this year is one of my Ultimate Pantsing Journeys[TM] and the only "planning" I have done is to announce my project on the official website. The first thing it asks is the title of your project, so as to not leave it blank, I present my WIP title: "there will be words."


I am looking forward to another year of NaNoWriMo. And this year my COVID-pod writer friend and I will reinstate our NaNo coast writing retreat for a few days. It's a sweet spot on the Oregon Coast, off the beaten track with a view for (literally) miles. 

Buckle in writers. NaNoWriMo is just around the corner. In 5 days 5 hours and 2 minutes, NaNoWriMo 2022 will officially begin!

Monday, October 17, 2022

Licking Ice Cubes After They Melt

This is one of my Inktober 2022 favorites and it started as just a few marks on paper. I had no idea where it was going and I let the page and the pen guide me. Step by step. Left that pesky inner critic behind and the imposter syndrome crier in the drawer. Let this being and her words evolve with each stroke of the pen and then, she said, I need a poem.

Smelling the flowers in
mid-October when its
unseasonably warm, is
like licking an ice cube
after it's melted.