Good, not fun

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Photo credit: OZinOH on Visualhunt / CC BY-NC

I owe you all an apology for this week.  I’m sitting here, in the electrics ‘office’ writing down a few thoughts before we get rolling on today’s rehearsal.  It’s been a somewhat rough show to work on, etching it in fits and starts, but we finally put it all together last Sunday to run the show beginning to end and it was pretty hard to take.  We had our first preview last night, and no doubt there are things we need to touch up and refine now that we’ve had a taste of what the show feels like with an audience.

I have to tell you it was not easy.

I suppose I should back up a bit.  This is a good show.  It’s performed by some incredibly talented and brave people, and I’m genuinely glad I get to be a part of it, but it’s really forced me to remember that ‘good’ and ‘fun’ aren’t synonymous.  See, the show I’m working on is The Scottsboro Boys, and it’s a peppy, upbeat musical about an actual godawful train wreck of the so-called American Justice System in Alabama in the thirties.  There’s a disturbing, beautiful, upbeat song and dance number about sending a 12-year-old to the electric chair, so you have some context.

6981216591_7bb692e187_c.jpgI’m glad to be a part of it, like I said, since it’s a damn good show and an important subject, but it has seriously impacted my ability to get any of my own work done.  I missed Monday’s post (as you no doubt noticed) and didn’t even realize it till it was far too late to rerun something.  Even this post has been a bit of a struggle.  And I know it’s not going to get easier this week at least.

So I’m going to fall back on doing some line edits and get out into the fresh air (when it’s not pouring down rain and hail outside) and then, hopefully by next week, I can start working on some outlines.  The assistant designer and my fellow spot-op have sparked an idea for a series of short stories that may amuse you all.  I’m looking forward to being able to work on them soon.

Just not this week.  I hope you can forgive me.

Here we go again

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Photo credit: piermario via VisualHunt.com / CC BY-NC-ND

Well, I’m in tech again.  Probably even as you read this, I’m sitting in the dark, slaving over a hot follow spot, waiting for someone to tell me where I’m pointing.  It’s probably my last show as a technician, though I’ve said that before and look how that turned out.  Still, I’m moving out of the country, and away from the few people I still know well in the D.C. area theatre scene who would think to hire me, and that’s okay.

I mean, it’s kind of sad, really.  This is what I got my degree in lo these many years ago.  I spent all that time and energy (and student loan money) learning the skills I would need to propel me through an industry that I’m leaving behind.  But really, when I step back and think about it, I’m only leaving part of what I was interested in.  Because what is theatre about, really?

It’s people getting together and telling stories.  It’s characters and scenery and dialogue and action and all that amazing stuff, and I still get to do that, which is amazing.  I sort of fell into theatre by accident— thanks to my brother mostly— back in a time when real writers were the people who could get an agent to convince a publisher to spread ink across paper in the shape of their words.  Blogs became a viable thing when I was in college already, but by then I’d had my attention redirected.  It wasn’t until I was in California, raising my son as a stay at home mom that I got my first Kindle.  (My husband, bless him, had no idea what he was starting when he got it for me…)

With that Kindle came an epiphany, and I dipped a toe into the Wild West of indie publishing.  So, while I’m going to feel a hole in my heart where theatre has been for the last twenty years, I’m still going to be in the business of telling stories.  I just won’t be surrounded physically by an amazing group of like-minded people with the same goal: a great performance.

On the bright side, I’ll have my weekends back.  Monday is an odd day to have off.

Everything hurts, again

So I went over to a friend’s house last Friday to help her tackle some of the invasive ground cover she’s trying to get rid of.  Four hands are better than two and we made an awful lot of progress, and I learned a bit about the native plants she’s trying to establish in place of the invasive we yanked out.  We didn’t get it all done, but we made a lot of headway and felt pretty decent about ourselves when we were done.

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                                     I tried to talk her into just getting a goat, but to no avail.                               Photo credit: williac on Visualhunt / CC BY

We made sure to stay hydrated, and mostly in the shade, and all that good self-care stuff that’s super easy to forget about when you get In The Zone at something outdoors.  I especially got a bit zen-ed out towards the end of our gardening playdate and had a few decent ideas for what to do with my next writing project.  I also didn’t get bitten by any ticks, so I’m taking it as a massive win here.

On the other hand, I woke up on Saturday and once again, *everything* was sore.  You guys, I spent most of the weeding session sitting down on my butt.  Why my legs felt like I ran a marathon I couldn’t begin to tell you.  My hand makes more sense.  I’ve been heading to arthritis in my hands, and boy did it hurt till about lunchtime when the pain meds and so on really kicked in.  My back and arms though?  Totally fine.  Weird.

So I guess I have even more motivation to keep trying to get more exercise and take better care of myself.  Somewhat tricky when all the jobs I have involve a lot of sitting down, but I’ll do my best.  Do any of you have some favorite tricks to combat sedentary lifestyle troubles?  I’m all ears!

Odd insomnia

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Photo credit: Fairy Heart ♥ on Visual hunt /CC BY-SA

I experienced the weirdest thing I’ve come across in years, just last night.  Well, this morning.  I couldn’t sleep.  No, no.  It wasn’t like that, I can hear you thinking about my battles with the Anxiety Gnomes and all that insomnia stuff where I lay awake for hours stressing out about all the things that could possibly go wrong and so on, but this wasn’t like that!  It was crazy!

See, I woke up in the wee small hours of the morning.  It was maybe 3 am, 4 at the very latest, and I got up and did all the middle of the night stuff one does to go back to sleep, and… nothing.  My brain flashed back to a book I read years ago in which a guy who has visions of the future tried to convince a woman to marry him for her own safety or Bad Things Would Happen, and even though she knew about his visions, she flipped out and yelled at him, and stormed off and immediately got into very serious, death-if-she’s-lucky danger that could have been avoided if she’d put the damn ring on.

Haven’t read that book in years.  Haven’t even thought about it.  Couldn’t tell you anyone’s name, but I remember that the guy had purple streaks in his hair for some reason.  I remember thinking that the lady in question was being a complete brat, and rude on top of it all, and as I lay there in the dark, wondering why the heck I was awake at all, I decided that I kinda wish he’d left her to her fate, since that’s the one she’d chosen.  I guess I’m kinda vindictive at 5 am…

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Photo credit: Charisma: http://pixeltinkerbell.blogspot.com on Visual hunt / CC BY-SA

So it was just normal, everyday, boring old insomnia this morning.  I did finally fall back to sleep right after The Boy got up to help his grandma make coffee, and I had a *very* strange dream involving a voice actor recording, a friend of my husband’s, and a noodle dish I’m pretty sure I invented just for the dream.  I’ll unpack that oddity on my own, but I’m weirdly glad that I have started moving back to plain old insomnia.  On the other hand… I’m feeling a bit goofy now from lack of sleep.  Do you have any tricks for dealing with waking up in the middle of the night?9185853549_8269a29182_c

Everything hurts

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             Jacob’s Sheep are super adorable.              Photo credit: Alan Weir on Visualhunt.com / CC BY

This weekend, I took some time off editing to hang out with my family.  We all bundled off to the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival because when you have the chance to pet a Jacob’s Sheep or an angora bunny, you take that chance.  Seriously, you guys, so soft and adorable!

My mom and I always love seeing the sheep (she was a Future Farmer of America, back in the day.  You know what they say about the best-laid plans and all that.) and I’ve been a knitter, spinner, and weaver since… for as long as I can remember actually.  I can crochet, too, but somehow I never got as hooked on it. So we love wandering around the festival when we can get out to it.  All that fiber!  All that yarn! All those amazing projects and beautiful craftsmanship!  Last year it took us a good 4 hours to see a small fraction of the event, and we basically only left because it started sleeting.

The Boy went with us this year.  It was super fun to be able to share this with him, and I was looking forward to taking him through the fleece barn and show him around the sheep and the goats and poking around the craft stalls to find some wonderful treasure that was small enough we could take it to Japan in our luggage and not have to pay a million dollars to ship it.  We could spend a lazy sort of day mostly outside in the pleasantly not-too-hot weather, and learn maybe a little about how we all end up not wandering around naked all the time.

The Boy, on the other hand, was on a damn mission.  He arrowed into the festival and

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Ok, to be fair.  Picking the right button is always a challenge.

went straight to the first stall and pointed to the pink yarn like “This one, Mom.”  Um… we just got here, sweetie.  We can buy some yarn but let’s look around a bit.  Finally, he put his foot down and we got a skein of candy pink yarn for him (me…) to make a hat from.  Once he had his bag of yarn in hand, he was done with the festival.  Mom wants a fun kit to play with? Tough.  Gramma wants to see the sheep? Nope, time to go home. There’s a whole main barn we haven’t even reached yet?  Meh, who cares, we’re done here.  The Boy had his button and his yarn.

 

Fortunately, there was ice cream available for bribing the kid with, so we did manage to make it through the main barn at least, mostly by carrying the post-growth-spurt first grader piggyback through the thick crowds and now my whole body hates me.  Still, the only other things he stopped to look at after his purchase?  The biggest spinning wheels he could find.

That’s my boy.

Thursday?

So I got a little lost in the week.  I’ve been busy, doing my re-writes and getting the book ready to send to my editor and whatnot, and apparently got totally lost in the moment rather than remembering the whole of the week and preparing stuff for later.  Like blog posts.  Whoops!

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Basically, I’ve been either deep in the antics of certain residents of Los Gatos, or over at my son’s school helping to set up a New Tool for him.  You see, The Boy is ADHD, and has been diagnosed as on the autism spectrum.  Personally, I don’t care about the labels the school system has to use to get him the help he needs.  I just want to make sure that by the time he’s an adult he has all the skills necessary to function in the world.

That, however, includes paying attention in class and actually doing his work, among other things.  So this week they’ve started an experiment.  (That’s how I’ve presented it to him because science is a motivator in his case.) . They’ve decided to try putting a ‘bug in his ear’ during class.  I know, gross, right?  Really what they mean is that they’re adapting a system they brought in for heard of hearing kids and are trying to see if it will help The Boy.  His teacher gets to wear a fancy microphone necklace and he wears the receiver and a fancy headset, so when she needs to make sure he’s on task but she herself isn’t near him, she can just hit the button and talk right into his ear.

Fancy!  And if this works for The Boy it might help other kids who are deeper into the spectrum than he is.  The Boy’s teacher is hopeful and encouraging him to give it a chance.  I’ve been on the phone and emailing both her and the special education specialist who watches The Boy’s case, and basically, when my brain isn’t in editing mode, it’s been following the exciting adventures of the bionic boy.  We’ll have to see if it helps… so tune in next time for further updates!

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                                                   Maybe next time The Boy can join them!                                                        Photo credit: Gage Skidmore on Visualhunt / CC BY-SA

Crash

I have something to admit.  I was not very productive this weekend.  I didn’t even manage to get dressed.  I did venture out on the front stoop to sit with my coffee on Sunday afternoon when the sun was gloriously tempting, but otherwise, I pretty much hid in my room for a little over 48 hours.

 

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me, this weekend.

 

See, my brain crashed completely on Friday afternoon while I was having my eyes checked to get my glasses updated. (Something about sitting in front of a computer while writing or reading for about two-thirds of every day seems to affect my vision.  Go figure.). I crashed so hard that I couldn’t even manage to tell the nice folks doing the exam the right number of letters on the last line, let alone what letters they were.  It was maybe a reverse Miss Marple: instead of being dismissed as a fluffy-minded old lady who is really sharp as a tack and can see all the connections, I was probably viewed as a competent, well-put-together adult who had the brain of a jar of whipped marshmallow.

So… I didn’t get much work done.  I caught up on sleep (slightly.)  I played some Super Mario Oddessy with The Boy.  I read about 6 books on Kindle Unlimited (and I have a few opinions about one of them, I’ll maybe post about that on Thursday.) But I just couldn’t manage to sit down for more than 10 minutes to do anything work-related.

It was hardly surprising, I suppose, after the past few weeks.  April, in general, was a rough month full of fairly heavy real-life stuff, so my brain deciding that it had had it at some point was probably something I should have expected.  Still, it inspired me to get

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Okay, maybe I’m not here *yet* today, but I’m working on it.

up bright and early this morning and get showers and dressed and all made up for the day long before I had to.  And you know what?  It feels pretty good, actually.

 

I realize that weekends like this are a bit of a luxury for me while I’m still living with my parents before the Big Move.  Still, I’m going to capitalize on my good fortune while I can, and honestly, I feel a lot better today than I did last week.  Have you ever had a weekend like that?

Seeing red

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Photo credit: theilr on Visual Hunt / CC BY-SA

Ink, that is.  Okay, okay, I actually can’t find my red pen, which I do use out of respect for traditions, but the past few weeks have basically blown any semblance of order and routine straight out of my life.  (A perfect example is how late this post is going up…)

The next Los Gatos book is in the middle of being shredded by the First Pass before I let anyone else read it.  I’m about a week behind where I wanted to be, but you know?  Considering everything this month, I’m okay with that.  I still have to email my editor and give her a heads up, but I think I can pull this off without being too horrifyingly late.

This one is focusing on Sebastian, Kai’s brother, Sarah’s boyfriend, and the Village’s helpful handyman extraordinaire.  But I find myself having a new sort of problem: I have to find a real balance between over-explaining recent events in Los Gatos and risk irritating folks who have read the first two books, and under explaining those events and thus losing the people who randomly stumbled into the middle of the series.

I have honestly not had this problem before.

Well, now I think about it, I have.  But then, the Riverton series got oddly difficult suddenly, and that is the least of my concerns with it.  Brian and company are still on hiatus for a bit while I sort through these edits and then the tech process for my last show next month.  I also have the next Los Gatos story tickling around in the back of my head, and a few short stories as well.  We’ll see how much I can pound out in the next couple of weeks.

Before all that, though: edits.

My new plants…

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So I finished the next Spirits of Los Gatos novel last Friday!  Well, okay.  I finished the first draft of the next Los Gatos novel last Friday.  There’s a LOT left to work on, and I’m starting that this week.  The main character in this one is Sebastian, and he’s got a few things he needs to work out, and there’s plenty of areas that need smoothing out or alternately roughing up a little.  Also, Granny’s mad at me because Seb doesn’t go out for Pho at any point in this one, and clearly that’s just not cool.

But here’s the exciting part about it: I got stuck about halfway.  This seems to be a Thing for me at this point.  I mean, no matter what I’ve done to prepare, I seem to get stuck right in the middle of the story and have no idea how to write myself out of it.  So while I was wallowing in my misery just a bit, I went back to my notes.

See, I started this one by going through and working out about half a snowflake.  By this, I mean that I wrote out a sentence to describe the book, then a paragraph, then a page description of my story, and I did a few paragraphs for each of the important characters.  But… I didn’t go all the way through the whole process.  (Partly because the way his book is written makes me want to strangle him and I couldn’t bring myself to keep reading it.)

But even with all this handy guiding information about where my story was going andStockSnap_LTY3TGLE73 how the characters were going to get it there, I still couldn’t quite figure out what happened next.  Amazon, confused as I have made the ‘Zon’s algorithms, still recommends to me writing books at a pretty consistent rate. One of them was written by a woman who started to pay attention to her word count and her writing speed.  One of the things she suggested doing was noting down the beats you want to hit in each scene or chapter.  So… I started scribbling a few things for each of the next couple of chapters since beyond that I wasn’t as confident about where I was going, despite the snowflake.

And it worked.  I wrote the last half of the book in about a week, and it felt smooth, not forced!  I didn’t plot out the whole book, chapter by chapter, scene by scene, but I did manage to work out a lot of stuff ahead of when I wrote it, so I wasn’t fully pantsing my way through it either.

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Photo credit: theilr on Visual Hunt / CC BY-SA

Now, I’m moving on to editing the book so you might be getting a preview of the work sometime over the next few weeks.  But I’m also re-reading Take Off Your Pants, and I’m thinking of the next thing I’m going to sit down and work on from scratch, and maybe going back over Brian’s next book and starting almost from scratch on it. We’ll see how it goes.  What are your thoughts?  Do you write?  are you a planner or a pantser, or in between , like me?

Forming habits

As I have mentioned before, I am frequently plagued by Anxiety Gnomes. They make it difficult to do a number of things, most notably sleep at night, but they also interfere with my writing.  To that end, I’ve been trying to practice better self-care.  The trouble with that of course, is this generation’s favorite pair of problems: with what time and money exactly?

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Someday my arms will look like that…  Maybe…

Well, the answer for me, recently, has involved a bit of an adjustment of my routine.  Instead of wandering down to my laptop at some point in the morning, I’ve been sitting down right after I get back from dropping my son off at school and setting a timer.  I’ll put on some music, close the door, and write for a half an hour or so until my timer goes off.

 

See, that’s when the sneaky part of the plan kicks in.  When the alarm goes off I have to get up and walk around a little and do some sort of exercise. I’ve been doing push-ups and yoga stretching and jumping jacks.  A few different things I’ve looked up online that don’t require any equipment.  But I pick one or two exercises and I’ll do 5 or 10 of each one every time the alarm goes off.

I also get a glass of water before I sit back down

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and inevitably fall down some internet rabbit hole.  (I spent 45 minutes the other day ‘driving’ on California freeways via Google Earth to figure something out for the next Los Gatos book.).

 

I don’t know if this new plan is going to make a huge amount of difference in my overall health, but I do feel better in general.  I’m actually sleeping at night— well, more often anyway— and my eyes are feeling less horrible.  And I’m actually being way more productive, even with the little ten minute breaks!

Next issue I’m targeting?  The pain in my shoulder that seems to stem from spending so much time typing.  Not really sure how I’ll get around that one.