Category Archives: Writing

Crawling out of timesinks

As I said yesterday, I made a massive shift that gave me time I could assign to something else.  What was that?

I shut down pretty much all social media.

Now, to be fair, I was most active on facebook and twitter, with a small dabbling in instagram from time to time, and those three are the biggies, name recognition-wise. But I got sick and tired of facebook, and deactivated my account there. As a result, I have quite a lot more time to pursue other things, because those “I’ll just spend ten minutes checking out facebook” is never really ten minutes. You look up, and suddenly you’e been checking it for an hour or longer, wasting time that could be better spent on other pursuits.

I still have a page on facebook, since publishers expect writers to have a “platform” (and let me tell  you how I want to launch that phrase into the heart of the sun). Before I deactivated my primary account used to create that page, I created a new account for myself that follows nothing and friends no one. I then passed administrative duties for the page from the account I used to this new account that I do not use except to manage that page: an object lesson in how to both have a presence and not have a presence on facebook.

That was followed next by twitter getting the heave-ho for the most part. I created another twitter account to use as my author account (for branding purposes, of course).   Under that umbrella, I can do the author update thing now and again without spending hours at a time on social media throughout the day.

So, while I know that it’s necessary for me (the artist) to have a presence on these outlets, it really is not necessary for me (the person) to have one, and now I basically don’t. And I’m ok with that.

Hotties

No, not those kinds of hotties, you pervs – get your mind out of the gutter!

I’m referring to this sort:

This was just before 3 PM local time, with a temp of 93F and a heat index of 110F. You know that phrase “It isn’t the heat, it’s the humidity.”? This week has matched that phrase. This morning I popped out to the beeyard to check a few hives to see who needed a second brood box and to generally make sure there were a good number of bees and stores in those hives. At that time, about 9:30 AM, it was already 84F with a heat index of 92F. I was so soaked with sweat when I came in I had to change all my clothes. It was like wearing a swimsuit, and I had to peel all my clothes off my body, they were that soaked – including my socks.

But that’s ok. This is Florida, after all, and while some days are not all that pleasant, I expect this, and I chose to live here. Making it through the summers is my version of climbing Everest: how far can I push myself without keeling over?

I rolled out of bed at about 7:30 this morning, and this is what greeted me:

Foggy morning at the ranch, which turned into a burner of a day. It all burned off by the time I went out to the bees, and then Mother Nature did her thing by bringing the heat.

The gardens are still a work in progress, and there is still more work to be done. However, each year, I keep refining the processes out there, and I think next year will be even better because of the changes I have in mind. That refinement is what I’m trying to do in other areas of life as well, from outdoor work to the helpdesk where a new user accused us of selling his email address to spammers. He had registered a domain, and naturally, since WHOIS information is public, and the spammers watch new domain registrations, he started getting spammed. He also told us this was “very unprofessional”. I counted backwards from five, then pointed this fact out to him and offered to use our masking info for the domain, so that we would get the spam and the phone calls. He took up that offer. Problem solved, and for me, no being pissed off because of the rudeness some people shoot our way for no reason.

I’ve now posted to the blog here daily since the 24th. It’s a start, and helps me get into the groove of making writing a habit. It occurred to me that I wasn’t making writing one of my top priorities, being too busy with the business, doctor visits, and so on. I made the decision to make it a priority, just as the business, my gardens, and my bees are. I had started a web site as a hobby type of thing, tracking deaths in any given week, I realized that was a major timesink, since I had to pick from the lists, then go do research to build the short blurb I’d give to each. That one had to go, because it took away time I wanted to assign over to my writing instead.

There’s another major shift I made that freed up a ton of time. But that’s a story for tomorrow.

Be well, peeps, and I’ll blather more at you soon.

On not pushing

AKA: on not being a complete dumbass that you head out to do strenuous things just when you’re starting to feel whole again.

Today, a day when the forecast said 80% chance of rain, a day when that went to 0% chance of rain but overcast, would have been a fine day to do rounds of pulling weeds. But I didn’t, even though it wound up not raining today at the ranch.

After yesterday’s escapades with my guts trying to escape my body, I was a tad more prudent than I have been in the past, and I just said: nope. I stayed in, getting work done, doing end of the quarter stuff, finishing repairing my desk drawer as seen in a previous post, putting those things away, and so. For my efforts at minding myself, I was presented with just one horrible round of gut wrenching cramping.

Tomorrow, I plan to pop out to feed my bees and have a look at the peppers. There are some that have to mature to red before they’re ready to be put to some use: cayennes, paprikas, tabascos. As much as I’d like to get red bells out of the garden, so I can roast them and sock them away in the freezer for future batches of roasted red pepper and sweet potato soup – a favorite of mine, loaded with vitamins, fiber, and damn tasty to boot – it’s very difficult to get to stage red from stage green thanks to the weather and the bugs. The hot chiles are better about bugs (if I were a bug, the capsaicin would probably be a turnoff for me, too), but I haven’t really looked at those plants in about two weeks to see how the rains have treated them. The tomatoes are a disaster, this I know. It’s sad, because those really are the crown jewels of the garden, and it’s been a few years since we had harvests of any significance.

What I do not plan to do tomorrow is to go right back into overdrive mode to try to clean up a couple of months of lack of weeding in a couple of hours worth of work. I am slowly, every year, improving on what I’m doing out there to continually lessen the aggravation that is weeding, which will leave me more time to tend to the actual plants, do bug and worm hunts, and keep the plants productive for whatever their lifespans may be.

This weekend, I plan to start a new flat of tomato seeds, to see if I can squeeze in another planting. I tried this last year, but it didn’t work out well, as I started the flat too late for them to get going after transplant. This time, I’ll start earlier, and pick varieties that won’t (or shouldn’t) immediately keel over in August, the month of hellishness down here, and that have shorter maturity times, as it doesn’t make much sense to try to get a 90-day post transplant seedling to produce when that’s cutting to the very edge of what is the norm here toward the end of the year. I’ll also be doing some brassicas: broccoli, cauliflowers of different colors, and brussels sprouts, which I hate but other members of the family enjoy quite a lot.

Saturday is also July 1, the start of CampNano.  CampNano is a twice a year event put on by the same people who bring NaNoWiMo (National Novel Writing Month) to life once a year in November.  The goal for participants in NaNoWriMo in November is to write 50,000 words toward a novel during that month. CampNano, which opens in April and July, is a bit looser, and allows for almost any any kind of creative activity: revising, editing, writing poetry or nonfiction or essays music or pretty much anything else. There is no set target word count; each participant sets their own goal(s), whether that is to complete a revision, write/create x hour(s) a day or week, write something completely new, and so on. Participants are sorted into cabins, and can choose to create a cabin and have friends join it, or allow CampNaNo to assign participants to a random cabin, or to a cabin with other people in the same genre or pursuit.

I decided to throw my name into the participation bucket and I opted for them to group me with other people working on novels in my chosen genre (mystery, for this first book). A quick check this evening shows that there are 15 of us in the cabin, and I think that means we’re full up.  Time for us all to introduce ourselves, I suppose. For my goal, I want to complete the first draft of this thing that’s banging around in my head pretty completely. Those piles of notes in the picture from one of the previous posts does not actually contain a narrative outline for this book, because it’s almost fully formed in my head; however, I do plan on writing that narrative tomorrow or Friday to see how the scenes flow together on paper the way they do in my head. That way, I can pick out what doesn’t seem to work as well as I thought, rearrange it, and the story will be better for it, I’m sure.

If you’re an artist of some kind, you might want to check out CampNano. If you’re a novel(la) person, you might also want to check out NaNoWriMo in November, too.

For me, if this next month works out well, I may very well just start making every month a NaNoWriMo, in the same way I’m treating CampNaNo as one. After all, I have plenty of ideas.

Updates, updates

I told myself to get back into updating ye olde blawg daily, to get me in the habit of writing something daily, which I tell myself will help with the actual writing I am supposed to be doing on anything real – any of the ideas I have rolling in my head for novels. Which, I should point out, I have actually gotten some  “here’s how the story goes, generally” notes down for, like this.

And right at this very moment, it all really sounds like total bullshit to me, probably because I let some asshole annoy me with his stupidity and then his panicky bullshit because he couldn’t be bothered to take ten seconds to think about something before completely freaking out. Likewise, his passive aggressive bullshit afterward didn’t do him any favors in my eyes.

I really wonder about someone who can’t quite get to the idea of choosing “settings” as the place to make a change in the app he’s using. It occurs to me that this is the kind of person who would gnash his teeth and rend his garments and wail about how he doesn’t understand anything about anything, and – in his own words, in not one, but two tickets – he’s now “fucked” and “screwed”, thereby ensuring that someone else will easily fix (because it was an easy fix) whatever it is he’s too stupid or too lazy to do in addition to him pissing off whoever has to deal with it.

So now that I’m typing this, guess who just found himself in a list of people in my head who will make appearances in the books I will write?

Since this guy is so terribly incompetent, he certainly can’t be the bad guy. You can’t really have an incompetent villain carry an entire book – well, I take that back, you can, but the book would not be very good.  I have read many books where the bad guy is so stupid, careless, and/or lazy that he should have been tripped up and strangled by his own shoelaces, yet the hero (male or female) is not able to figure it out for 300 pages.  That says something about that hero, too, but that’s something for another day.

No, this person will be a victim. Not someone that’s particularly going to be missed. Not someone who is a pillar of a community or an underthanked martyr, giving up their time for those less fortunate or privileged than they are. No. Not this guy. While I’ve been typing this, ruminating on the vagaries of dealing with people like this both in and out of the tech world, it came to me that I have the perfect spot for him. He’ll be a throwaway character with some very bad habits whose excuses have gotten old to those who have loaned him money and whose time has come to an end. It’s actually the first scene in one of those books up there. In my mind I had written that scene and the soon to be victim mans up, understanding his fate and resigning himself to it, but as I consider it now, I do believe that he will instead be a whiny, pathetic loser, paying for the problems he brought on himself – not paying in money, but with something far more dear: his life.

And now, having typed all that up there, I feel a bit better, and not like I despise the entire world because this one douchebag caught me up at a bad time.

By the way, those papers in the top image? Each one is a different story. This is how backlogged my brain is.  I have four different series characters, a fantasy trilogy, one standalone non-genre book, and one that I haven’t classified as yet, all hanging out in the idea lounge that is my brain, and all hanging out as a short description of what each of those books is about. I have to go update my author blog now, then post the same thing to my facebook author page, and then tweet the link to the blog – because authors these days need an “author platform”, a term that irks me almost to the same extent as “I know, right?”, “That’s what she said.”, a “You know” after every sentence, and “Because (something).”

Thus ends another blog post. See you tomorrow, peeps. Be well.

 

Where there’s a will

The thing about owning old-style crafted anything – like desks, for instance – is that when it comes to repair and you don’t have a full woodworking studio and all the tools that come with it, sometimes you have to improvise.

One of the drawers has been sticking, badly, and I finally got fed up with it tonight. I unloaded it and found the sides of the drawer were bowing out of their joints at the front. There are no nails or screws in the construction of the drawers except in the handles: the sides were simply groove cut in a tight fit and glued. So, to get them back in order, I brought out my handy wood glue. On a tangent here,I also use the glue on the joints of the bee frames when I’m building those, as well, to supplement the staples, as the bees propolize everything and the top joints get the most pressure when you’re trying to get them out for inspection. Tangent over.

I reglued the joints and then used some heavy things I happen to have around instead of going outside for (wet) bricks. Books, of course. After this dries, I’ll turn it over to do the other side, using the same weights. There’s a notch toward the front so a metal frame for folders can be placed, but the frame joints are 1/4 inch, and the notches are slightly smaller than that – no doubt this is what has caused the tops portions of the sides of the drawer to lose their grip and not seat firmly in their joints. Luckily, I do have a 1/4 inch wood chisel to open those notches just a hair in order to get the metal frame to sit evenly.

Once this is repaired, it won’t be such an ordeal to get the drawer open and then closed once more, and that is a Good Thing.

 

Exploring Planet NoSocialMedia, Day 6

I’m closing in on a week without the usual social media haunts of mine, and I have to say: it feels pretty damned good. I hit up the headlines on a handful of sites just a couple of times a day, and STAY AWAY from the comments.  Today I didn’t actually check the news until mid-afternoon, and that felt pretty fine, too. I’m quite happy to have avoided all the gnashing of teeth and rending of garments over the last few days especially.

What have I been doing instead? Writing! Mostly. I’ve also pulled a bunch of weeds, sorted out some things on my desk, cleaned out my inbox piece by piece, done some reading, worked (of course – something has to pay the bills until the writing does), and in general have been quite productive without the whirlpool of suck that is social media.

If you have it in you, and you want to get more done without the stress various social media outlets create (yes, they do) or just want to relax and do nothing, you could do worse than significantly scaling back the time spent on those. That isn’t to say there should be none in your life – after all, most people are not like me, content to live in their own heads most of the time – but I bet if you timed how long you’re on, you’d be astonished at the reality of the amount of time spent there versus what you think you spend there. I was. Real life is much more delicious with less of that particular seasoning.

 

Exploring Planet NoSocialMedia, Day 1

Some months ago, I told myself to pare back on the timesink known as facebook. I’d been doing really well, too, although I’d not gotten around to doing some of the things I planned to do, which was the reason I dropped facebook in the first place.  I don’t count this as a total fail, because I did get some rather deep introspectional type stuff done to clear up some things in my head that will help me forge ahead with these other things I want to do.

However, I wound up back on facebook as a place to vent after a few events (one of which was the horrifying massacre of 49 people and the wounding of scores of others at a gay nightclub in Orlando) and got sucked in again, resulting in more and more time there, wasted.

But! During the last few days of June, I made it known that I was going to live on Planet NoSocialMedia for the month of July, and perhaps even longer.  It’s slightly easier for me, as the only ones I actually participate on are twitter (not much), instagram (not much except pics from the ranch), and facebook, the ultimate alien-like, face-humping, time-wasting monster.

Today is (still, as I type this) July 1. I have not ventured off Planet NoSocialMedia today. I also have not written anything today. I think this will be all right, though, as I had to get some other things cleared out of the way after having a couple of days of forced rest thanks to some physical issues that cropped up.

Now, we head into Day 2. The goal: continue to work at things that need to be done at the ranch, but also meet a very basic step in the workout to rebuild those writing muscles. A mere 250 words, or about one page of a typeset book, is the target. We all learn to crawl before we can walk, and walk before we run, after all. I firmly believe that trying to start off with some huge goal, right off the bat, after years (ok, decades) of not pursing my art would be like the people who make resolutions to go to the gym, show up on January 2, vastly overwork themselves even though they are not used to working out, then find the next day they can barely move, so they wind up not going to the gym as they resolved to do, slipping back into old habits, only to do the same thing again the next year. I don’t want that, so that is not the way I’ll pursue it.

More to come, my dear readers who swing by every so often. Take care of yourselves.

Starting right

Happy new year, Dear Readers!

We start off our new year by…sowing spinach seeds before the rains come to engulf us. Yes, even before coffee. Often, beginning anything prior to coffee after just a handful of hours of sleep is not a great idea, but at least this process is not terribly complicated.

For the rest of the first new day in the new year, I’ll be doing treadmill walks at halftime in the various bowl games, finalizing my seed selection and ordering from different companies, working (of course), and – drum roll, please – writing.

Here’s to a fine, productive, and prosperous new year.

Project you: Dec 23, 2015

How is your Project You going, peeps? As usual, I’ll start with myself.

I told myself I would post on ye olde blogge every day. Thus far (because I tend to update late in the evening as I am up late in the evening and it’s quieter then) I have technically missed two days. Solution: keep an eye on the clock later in the evening if I haven’t posted to it, since the time I post probably isn’t going to change much on an overall basis unless I want to write up an experience or what amount to notes for myself (about the bees, for instance) soon after completing a task. I expect I’ll be posting more earlier when it’s time to start seeding flats, transplanting seedlings, and getting back to the farming (ok, gardening, but you know, it feels like old-school farming some days because pretty much nothing is automated).

That was one. Number two: the fiction writing. Not so hot on this front. I started an outline for what would be the first in a (particular mystery) series. I subsequently threw it away. I can’t say it was horrid, but even as an outline I couldn’t stand it, so I am not sure what’s going on there. The story itself is interesting – at least according to those who have read snippets of what I’ve written on the actual work – and the outline is basically just a series of scenes that will eventually comprise the book, not those terrible Roman numeral-type outlines that bind you like a straightjacket. It’s more like sitting down with someone and having them tell you a story, which appeals to me in a sort-of-outline thing. I’ll be working again to get something in place as a map, which can then be fleshed out into actual chapters into an actual book. I figure if I can get through this process once, it will be easier the next time around.

I read an interesting comment (actually heard it, but whatever) from a very famous and prolific writer who says he doesn’t write down the ideas that come to him. He lets them stew in his brain, and if the ideas hang around long enough, he supposes those must be pretty good ideas, so he then takes them out and examines them a little, maybe making some notes around them here and there until he gets to them. On the other side is another very famous, but not quite so prolific, author who says shes writes down everything, as otherwise she sometimes has issues on the current work because of the ideas pinging around in her brain. After thinking on it a bit, I’m leaning more toward the latter – not that this will keep the things from invading the space in my head (because my mind is stuffed full of all sorts of things), but because at least they will be there if I want to add anything to them that comes to me during the course of doing something else.

Number three: the treadmill sessions. This has morphed into a general exercise item between walking and lifting heavy things, which is fine, because the point is to get some kind of physical activity in per day. I’ve only missed a couple of days of nothing particularly physical thanks to medically-related things, and that’s fine, too. Not every day is perfect,  despite the little perfectionist voice in my head that I’d like to swat out of the air. Or at least out of my head.

And there you have it. I’m hoping you’ve implemented some kind of plan to get to where or what you want to be or do, and that you’ve taken steps – no matter how small – on the path to getting there. The old adage about a journey of a thousand miles starting with a single step is an old adage for a reason. It’s true.

Until next time, peeps! Be well. Do your thing, whatever that thing may be.

Putting the gardens to bed

Good evening, peeps and rancherinos! The day began wrapped in fog at the ranch today, and slowly burned away the last wisps of it toward noon, turning it into the sort of spectacular day that makes me glad to live here.

The quiet of the fog is different than the quiet of a normal day, but both are welcome – and one of the reasons we moved out here. It’s easy to lose yourself in the silence and allows the mind to wander even while pulling weeds and cutting down asparagus fronds to continue the process of putting the rows to bed as Mother Nature slowly embraces the change of seasons. That runs right up to and includes a scene for a novel unrelated to the one I am currently working on that now needs to be jotted down to have it for that future work.

A pileated woodpecker kept me company this morning, pounding away at the trunk of a tree with which he was obviously familiar, given the various holes in the trunk. I checked on the girls in the beeyard, and they were enjoying their sunshine, darting away in all directions on the hunt for nectar and pollen to collect and return to the hives.

Whatever you did today, folks, I hope you enjoyed it.

“True silence is the rest of the mind; it is to the spirit what sleep is to the body, nourishment and refreshment.” – William Penn