A day to rest

May 20, 2013

Whoops! This post was supposed to go live on Saturday morning,  but I guess I managed to just save it in draft mode instead. So I’ll include the post as written, and then add some end-of-long-weekend wrap-up at the bottom.

I’ve been thinking about rest quite a lot since I went to church with my family last Sunday. I don’t go to church often, but Mom had decided to get baptized at the church she goes to now, and the date the pastor picked for the baptism fell on Mother’s day, and she asked the family to come, so who could say no to that? 😉

Anyway, the sermon was about the fourth commandment and keeping the Sabbath, and I started to think about that in a secular way. I tend to live my life at a fairly breakneck pace lately, juggling a nine to five-ish day job and all kinds of creative goals in my spare time, not to mention a writing Odyssey coming up that looks like twelve hours of studying and writing seven days a week for six weeks.

I’m not sure that taking a day off from work and writing every week is the right answer for me, but I think I’ve come to realize that slowing down and letting my batteries recharge is something I need to do again, especially in the next three weeks. And I had this odd notion of turning ‘Sabbath’ from a noun into a verb; something that I do for a few hours here or an afternoon there, as a way of blocking out time and not being tempted to ‘put that time to good use’ with a writing course or a programming project or something else. Of course, that brings up the question of whether working on coding or brainstorming story ideas might be a good Sabbath activity, something that will let me have fun and recharge instead of building up stress and exhaustion.

I’ve sabbathed a bit over the past week, catching up on some television and vegging out around the apartment. Today I’ve got big Sabbath holiday weekend plans; my mom and I are going to drive up to Stayner to spend the day with my sister’s family at their usual campgrounds. That’s always good Sabbathing.

What do you do, or not do, when you need to take time to rest?

So, I had a great day up in Stayner; played some games with my sister and nieces, drove my brother-in-law over to the store to get the dinner supplies, and got some good driving practice in.

The rest of the weekend was a lot quieter, and pretty restful. I’ve done plenty of walking, and enjoyed some TV marathons. But I’ve also been working on a few things; finishing lesson 4 and starting lesson 5 for ‘How to Think Sideways’, starting my textbook reading for Odyssey, and adapting an expense tracker for my Mom’s new Blackberry. 🙂

Insecure Writer’s Support Group: My biggest Odyssey yet

May 1, 2013

Hey everybody! Fresh off the craziness of the A-Z challenge, Alex Cavanaugh hits us with the Insecure Writer’s Support Group. IWSG is an opportunity for blogging writers to share our frustrations and fears, and also to encourage fellow writers with stories about how we rose above them and triumphed.

I guess the story I have to tell this month is one of triumphing over my insecurities and finding a new batch of fears and nerves waiting for me. Back in February, I sent in applications for four different writing workshops, all across the USA. I’d slaved over the writing samples since late November of last year, I crossed my fingers and looked for falling stars to wish on. Clarion UCSD and Clarion West sent their regrets. Kij Johnson sent me a nice note saying that she was sorry she couldn’t take me for her two-week noveling workshop, as she had more great applicants this year than ever before.

For a month and a half, as I racked up my NaNoEdMo hours and dived into Camp Nanowrimo, there was nothing, and then: an email from the Odyssey workshop!

Was it another rejection? Was it great news? Was it an induction into the twilight world of the waiting list? (I’ve actually been on the Odyssey waiting list before, and got waited out.)

That first email was none of the above; it was an appeal for me to encourage one of my character references to start referencing! But I took it as a good sign, and in a few days more the character reference was sorted out, and I got the good-news email! I’ll be driving off to New Hampshire this summer.

So, I’m really excited about this, but also just a little insecure about if I’ll be able to hack it at Odyssey. An online friend of mine, Eileen from Speak Coffee to Me, went to Odyssey a few years back, and has told me that it was a great experience, but also very stressful, six weeks of nearly non-stop work on your writing, and that she had a huge ‘creative crash’ after the workshop was done. A lot of other testimonials I’ve found online back that up. The student conduct guidelines I had sign and mail in warn that the expected workload averages to 12 hours a day, seven days a week, and that those with health problems might do better not to commit to the Odyssey. The program director’s critiques are legendary for being devastating and constructive at the same time. Drop-outs due to excessive stress and pressure are not unknown. I’ll need to keep up some kinduv crazy pace of writing new stuff and revisions while I’m there.

Maybe I should be more worried about the fact that I’m not too worried. 😉 It won’t all be fun, but this is a great opportunity that I’ve been pushing hard to earn, and I’m convinced that if I give it 100%, I’ll make it through okay and be a much better writer once I’m finished with the workshop and recovered from the crash.

Another thing that I’m only a little insecure about is the trip there. I think I like the idea of driving all the way from Hamilton to Manchester, New Hampshire, though I’ve never done nearly as long a road trip by myself before. The price of driving in one day (counting the New York interstate tolls,) compares fairly well with airline ticket prices, and I’ll be able to pack more in the car than I’d be able to take on a plane. After all, I don’t think I’ve been away from home for six weeks since I was at university.

Fanfic flashback: Please Stand Up

July 27, 2011

I’ve been thinking about this story quite a bit yesterday. Partly just because I really like it anyway, it’s a fun little adventure, and writing it was possibly my most amazing Nanowrimo experience ever – I chose this project for National Novel Writing Month 2006, and by November the 30th, I had finished it, at a little over 100,000 words – yes, that’s right, it was a double-length Nano. The words just seemed to be flowing out of whatever I was typing on that month, my friends.

It also has a great little fight scene at the end, but mostly what I want to talk about today was the road trip structure. I wanted to do something a little bit more organized than my usual pantsing when I decided to do this story in Nanowrimo, and the idea of the road trip seemed to fit a lot of the other stuff I knew would be going on.

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