Archive for the 'Life and Everything' Category

Novel Notes: What did I give up for wings?

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So I’m having a rough week, considering my temp job, in which I do secretarial type stuff for a smudgy little man who cozies up to his superiors while stopping to take time to throw everyone who works for him under the bus when the opportunity arrives. It’s like waiting for not one shoe to drop, but a whole boxful. (Or for them to get thrown at you as you slip screaming under the black wheels of the RTD #205.)

They’ve got “summer hours” where I work, which means that anyone who’s someone can leave at 11 am on Friday. I mean, why come in to work at all? Mostly you hear people talking about how they’ve got 2 hours to go, or 1 hour to go, counting down the time till Freedom arrives. The way I see it, if that’s the way they’re looking at it, then they have the wrong job.

Anyway, to the point of this little diatribe. Unsupervised, at promptly 11:45, I whisked myself away to my favorite coffee shop, Amante, on North Broadway, where I ordered a new (for me) drink, a Granita, to smother my woes with some iced half and half, coffee, sugar, and whipped cream. It was pretty good, and I had a nice outdoor seat in the shade, and a view of the foothills where there were a number of paragliders easing over the rocks and trees, riding on the same breeze that tossed my umbrella.

But woe is me. I’ve got a shit job and no prospects of a new one, no matter how many places I apply to or interview for. Interviews especially come dear because I have to take part of the day or the whole day, and that costs me because temp people don’t get vacation, holidays, or sick pay, so when I’m not at work, I’m not earning a dime. Doesn’t that suck? It does. Especially considering the cush job I USED to have before layoffs last August. I had cush work, work where I knew exactly what I was doing and how to do it well, a GREAT boss, four weeks of vacation (I KNOW, right?), and tons of benefits. And it’s not that I had any choice in them laying me off (we had 40% cuts in staff), but I wanted it, so I’m responsible for it – wanting it, putting it out to the Universe and learning to live with the consequences.

Which brings me back to my coffee today, that I sipped through a straw under my umbrella, my notebook in front of me, twirling my favorite pen in my hands (It’s a Dr. Pilot Grip, purple with blue ink), with nobody in particular expecting me back at work any time soon. In spite of this, I was miserable, sitting there, couldn’t think of a thing to write, couldn’t come up with any interesting takes on the next Supernatural review, couldn’t bestir any energy to work on fanfic, and especially couldn’t manage to find the time, the all important time, to work on the novel. It’s like I’m all tapped out, and part of that is because I feel I should be done with a lot of that (esp the novel) long ere this.

As I watched the paragliders I bemoaned my fate, wondering what the hell I had given up for wings. (See above list of the great things about cush job.) What did I give up for wings, what did I give up for wings? Oh, it was a beautiful day, truly, with that blue, blue sky of August cutting over the mountains, little puffy clouds that might turn into a thunderstorm later, people passing by on bikes and with strollers, a little gaggle of two mothers and three children with gelatos sitting nearby, just as pleasant as you please, and all I could think about was what I had lost.

But, as you may or may not know, with coffee, all things are possible, and I had a sudden little somersault feeling in my brain (which is always rather uncomfortable when it happens), where I realized that in spite of my current sense that I was in exactly the wrong place and job, that I did, indeed have wings. That it wasn’t about what I had given up, but the fact that I had WINGS.

First off, although I do not have that cush job (See above list of the great things about cush job.), I also do not have the limitations of it, I do not have the metaphorical leash tying me to that particular cubicle, and the promise of retirement in so many years, of being a certain type of person/worker in order to get those four weeks and those nice benefits. Instead, I can have anything. Anything at all. I can go anywhere, do anything, be anyone. “Wings” is a metaphor for the boundless possibilities of life and everything good that comes with it, so instead of giving everything up for nothing, I’ve given up just a little tiny bit of a world in exchange for a much bigger one.

It terrifies me, my life, with the open-ended scope of it. Instead of a schedule of vacation and deadlines and a specific decided-upon environment, the world, as they say, is my oyster. I’m the kind of person who feels rather comfortable with schedules and deadlines and end dates and being within a certain kind of framework. To not have any of that…what am I supposed to do now? Anything. Anywhere. I guess I should be brave and realize that the question “What did I give up for wings?” now becomes “Now that I have wings, where shall I fly?”

Anyone got a map?

Novel Notes: What about that novel, anyway?

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So I’m at work, right. It’s a so so job where I’m more secretary than anything, and god bless secretaries and all the work they do, but I can’t stand it. Moreover, I’m horrible at it, because I don’t like the feeling of being at the boss’s beck and call. I’m a tech writer damnit, and I am used to being considered professional and mature enough to determine my own daily schedule. At any rate, that’s not as important as the talk I had with a coworker, a wonderful and talented woman who is also underpaid and underutilized.

During the conversation, I was telling her about my SPN articles, and how much I enjoyed them, how much I enjoyed talking with fans about them. Then she goes, what about that novel? I said what? (On account of I never remembered telling her.) And she said, two weeks ago you were talking about redoing the outline for that, what happened to the outline, did you work on it? Well, I lied and said that yes I had even though, no I hadn’t, because while I really appreciated her interest and her asking, I couldn’t bring myself to admit that I’d actually not working on it at all – that I’d taken a Saturday afternoon to read through it, but lazily did no acutal work. (I was at my favorite coffee shop, Amantes, on north Broadway.)

Then, I’m getting my hair cut yesterday by a lovely woman named Christine, who recently realized that she can’t cut hair forever and has started radiology school and is going to be an X-ray technichian. I’m more pleased for her than I can say, as long as she continues to cut my hair every six weeks, because frankly, she can cut it any way she wants and I never ever have to blow dry it to make it look nice. So, while sucking on my frappichino, I’m talking to her a million miles a minute about my plans and schemes (because, as you know, with coffee, all things are possible), and she goes, well, what about that novel? And I did remember telling her, and started talking about the outline I wanted to work on, so she goes, you’re going to do that outline then? And I said yes, I will. And she goes, so don’t worry about it then because you said you’d do it and you will – but I want to see it the next time you come in here. Okay.

So then today, Sunday, I call my sister Caren like I do because on Sundays I work on my reviews, and she’s my beta. She reads them and gives me her reaction, assures me that they don’t suck, and begs me to make them funnier next time, because she dearly loves to laugh. And then she goes, so how’s the novel? (I’d already lied to her about the outline because while I’d read through the many, many words of crap, I couldn’t bring myself to do any actual work on it.)

It’s about this time that I about broke a gasket, and snapped that everybody needed to leave me alone now, because otherwise I would feel obligated to THEM to write the thing, and not following my own heart. She asked me what happened, and I told her about ALL these people (including my friend Danuta, who likes to call up from time to time to remind me that I could be working on my novel) asking about the damn thing. And she said, “Well, mabye the universe is trying to tell you something,” and I said, “Well maybe it should realize that I’m getting it loud and CLEAR!”  

It makes me tired to think about, because the problem is not that I don’t know how the plot’s going to go, because I do, down to the last scene. I might be a little afraid of my subject matter, but that keeps the writing exciting, so that’s okay. The problem is, and this is what I keep telling THEM as well as myself, is that the characters have taken over. I’m not sure why they’re acting the way they are, or how they are supposed to relate to each other, and once I got them started on their journey, they went AWOL on me.

That part is true, but the fact of the matter is that I’m overwhelmed. Just completely OUT of my depth about the entire thing. I’m not sure of my audience, I don’t understand the characters and what they want, I don’t have a handle on the material. It’s like one of those papers you used to do in college the night before the damn thing is due, remember those? You stayed up till 3 am typing your heart out, exhausted and not caring anymore. That’s how this novel feels.

I got a good chunk of it done before I got this temp job in March, and the writing isn’t bad, it’s just that the scenes go all over the place. They’re not heading in the same direction, and the bad guy, I’ll just tell you his name, Mr. McCready, is too bad, too soon. He shows his hand early, which is fine, but things get out of hand because I can’t decide how mean he should really get.

So my plan is this. I’m going to (yes) take the printout that I have to work and make a list of what I need to do. This isn’t makework or distraction, the list has helped me before, and it will do so again. Then I’m going to do a little sketch on each of my main characters, list the minor ones, and then I’m going to take a look at my rising and falling drama. THEN I’m going to rewrite the outline from the begining, so that I’ll have something to show Christine and everyone in six weeks. After that, it’s a peice of cake, right? RIGHT?  

Novel Notes: Cafe Sol in Boulder

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So I went to Cafe Sol in Boulder, expecting better than what I got. I’m not saying the coffee wasn’t good because it was, though the poppy seed cake had a hair in it. The tables were pushed up at the edges of the room, it was on the chilly side, and the conversations were BOR-ing. There were two women to the left of me. One of them was getting signed up for Share A Car or something, where you buy a part of a car, or lease it or something, kind of like renting on a permanent basis. Oh man. The rules to doing this went on forever.

The two women on the right of me bitched on and on about how the coffee shop overcharged them. Turned out there was a ghostly charge for some juice, and the coffee shop happily gave them their money back. Yes, cash instead of putting the charge back on their card, and oh, how they moaned about that!

I couldn’t write a thing. It was not a good atmosphere. The Cafe Sol was a bust, sadly.

Novel Notes: The experiment continues

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So yesterday, I blitzed on the job hunting, and went downtown Boulder to check out a place I’d applied for. Pretty cool building, so I’d be happy with that job. Then I wandered down the street to a local coffee shop there. Amante’s Cafe or something. It was snowing, so it was a very artistic walk. The coffee shop was a bustling little bistro with English soccer on the TV and a loud Welsh announcer, so not the ideal place to “linger and chat” as the advert advised. So I couldn’t really write write, although the two gents sitting next to me were having a very INTERESTING conversation about power games and mind control (he had a freakish boss, apparently) and how he’d just lost his job that day, and how he was kind of glad to be out of that abusive relationship, where it had gotten to the point where every time he met or saw his boss his whole body would tighten up and he would start shaking. 

I’m taking notes like mad, right? It’s good stuff, to hear it come out of someone’s mouth like this. Might be good if I needed notes on a story about mind games. Then his friend asked him, why didn’t you leave earlier than this? Why didn’t you speak up? So the guy goes, get this, “I’ve always been rather negative about those stories where I hear of abused women, wives, you know, who are in a relationship where the guy beats them, her husband, and I’m like, leave, woman, what’s your problem? Just leave. Until now. Now I understand why they can’t leave, they can’t speak up. They blame themselves. They’re ashamed. Like I blamed myself. I was like, you start blaming yourself. How do I fix this? You start having a certain kind of response. His mere presence set me off.  I never understood it. As for talking about it? Forget it. I felt…stupid for being that scared. Now I know.”

Can you imagine having that kind of revelation? 

PS The coffee was great and so was the chocolate croissant

Novel Notes: The experiment

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So I tried a little experiement. I call it the Coffee Shop experiment. In it, I go to a coffee shop to write. It’s gotta be a local one, not a chain, and it should have good solid tables for all the words I’m going to be creating on it. I acutually did this yesterday, but I’m posting the word count today, just to keep track. I went to a place I think is called Ziggi’s but don’t quote me on that one. I did not bring my laptop, even though they have wifi, instead I brought a fountain pen and a stack of paper. Romantic, right? The ink didn’t get everywhere like it sometimes does, but my hand sure ached. I’m more used to writing on the computer these days.

So I didn’t write a lot, only 821 words, none of them blistering, but I did write. Since I did job hunting stuff this morning, and blitzed on that, tomorrow I’ll go to the coffee shop again and try it out. Again. This time I’ll bring my character list, because, crap, I forgot their names. These are secondary characters and I think they are pissed at me for not really knowing who they are because they are all blending together in one pasty faced lump.

Novel Notes: Taking a Stab

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So today, I did what I said I was going to do. I worked on my novel. I wrote a blisteringly 731 words, in about an hour. I just connected one scene to the next is all, but at least it was a STEP. In the right direction. I’m going for a walk now, feeling very proud of myself.

The novel has nothing to do with fandom, and is a historical drama set in Victorian London. I’ve always been obsessed with that era, with the repression that sat right underneath the holier-than-the-poor-unwashed folk, and the filth and the general hubbub. You go to London today, and you see smatterings of it, the class separation which seems to be still going on strong. So the story is about that a bit, and the filth, and the shoes. I’m obsessed with Victorian footwear, go figure.

Anyway, 731 words. Horray for me! (To date, the story already has 100,000 words, so I’m looking to double that for the rough draft.)

New Year’s Resolutions

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Yeah. It’s that time of year. I believe in clean slates, start-overs, and sharp new pads of paper to make lists on. I used to like the start of the school year, or the new semester, for just the same reason. Begin at the beginning, begin as you mean to go on, and who knows what cool things could happen?

 Lots and lots, to my way of thinking.

The hard part is when the world is open before you, and it’s like looking down on the Grand Canyon from the South Rim. Which way do you go? What do you do first? Which path should you take. Acutally, there are no shoulds here, but there are options, just acres of them. It feels a lot like watching “The Unbearable Lightness of Being” when the couple (as I recall) returns to their little apartment on the other side of the Iron Curtain, where their options are limited, and the world doesn’t feel quite so open ended and scary.

Because it’s scary you know, to have all that available to you and suddenly, the choices you knew you would take the moment you had the chance suddenly up and dissapear in a puff of smoke. It’s much easier, when you’re stuck in an office job, to say, I’ll do thus and such…when I have time. That office job gives you something to push against, something to be defiant to.

So, in response to that, New Year’s Resolutions offer a kind of do-over, a kind of limitation to what the world can offer. I’ve got the usual, as I’m sure everyone does, stuff like, stick to the budget, exercise more, eat more broccoli, have the rasberries and sugar and cream without quite so much sugar and cream, but it’s tough. Tough when you are your own boss for a bit longer, to stick to a schedule nobody sets for you but you.

I’ve got me a schedule, and I’ve got goals. I didn’t participate in the November Writing Month project, but then I never do. Not when every month is writing month, which in my case, it is. Do I….have a word count as a goal? Or a time limit? Do I walk every day for 30 minutes, regardless? One peice of fruit or two? What’s worked in the past?

My sister says, “You gotta want it. That’s it.” There’s no getting worked up to do it, no schedule, no list that is ever going to replace just wanting it. But what about that puff of smoke that everything you thought you want vanished into?

See? Going round and round in circles. So my answer here is, “Act as if.” Or, my other favorite quote from “My Dream of You,” by Nuala O’Faolain, which is the story of a travel writer who finds her dream life: Waiting in a beautiful little stone cottage in Ireland for her lover to visit her. The lover is married, of course, and somehow, the dream that the character wanted, and which has come true, is not enough. She talks to a friend, and he tells her, “Do the active thing.” In other words, don’t spend your life waiting for some married guy to visit you just so you can have the perfect screw. Go LIVE your life. So she does. It’s a very satisfying resolution to her problems. I like to think of it whenever I’m stuck. Do the active thing.

So here, the active thing is writing, and walking, and going to those line dances I always say I want to go to. I even have the shoes. Do the active thing, act as if, and everything else will follow.

Road Trip: Holcomb, Kansas

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I recently took a road trip. It was right after Halloween, and I drove from Panama City Beach, FL, to where I live in Colorado. For anyone else, I think the roadtrip would have been drudgery, but I had plenty of time, new tires on the car, and an interesting itinerary. I went along I-10 by New Orleans, up 45 through Texas, and then headed up 287 to Childress, TX, where I took 83 north up through Kansas. I took this route partially based on the book Road Trip USA by Jamie Jensen (which is a very handy book for those quirky road trips) and partially because I wanted to go someplace empty. Having recently been laid off, I wanted the emptyness to fill me up, and with the book telling me that there were plenty of gas stations along the way, I had the confidence to do so.

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Ranting about Fanfiction

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I’ve had several discussions with fans over the past fiew days, for no reason in particular, but they all seemed to end up in the same place, and that is, whether or not fanfiction is superior to profiction. Read the rest of this entry »

The Next Best Thing

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The next best thing to seeing a Supernatural episode, be it a previous one or a brand new one, is watching Plastic!Winchester Theater. For those of you who don’t know, here’s the scoop. Anteka, over on Live Journal, found some barbies one day, and decided, wouldn’t it be funny if….well, heck, her story about how it all started is much funnier than mine, so go check it out here. Her page is much more visually oriented than mine, and I love visiting it because it fills me up with joy and squee. Basically, she’s taken everything cool and good and fun about the boys and Supernatural and mixed it all together with a dash of funny, a splash of brotherly love, and in the end, when I watch one of her episodes, I’m usually laughing so hard, I cry and pee my pants. She is what’s going to keep me going between episodes this year!