Sunday, May 15, 2016

Back from Seahouses

Seahouses collage

It’s been since January when I last posted something, so it’s high time I take a moment from my only day off this week to update things.

As you can see from the collage above, Steve and I have been travelling. These pictures were taken during our last weekend getaway to Seahouses and stayed in a lovely little B&B alongside the coast. We drank at the pub, we ate fish and chips, and relaxed with the windows open while the salty sea air lulled me to sleep. (Things I do miss from Florida.)

The next day, we saw castles. Steve’s idea was to go to Holy Island which I had heard of, but didn’t realize that one has to drive on the bottom of the ocean in low tide to get there. I swear, I had never been so scared about driving in my life. It was early morning, super foggy so you had no idea where you were going, with all these oh-so-handy warning signs about “use your own best judgement” or “do not cross if this road is wet.”

Okay, first of all, we don’t drive on tiny little road in the middle of the sea where I come from. In Florida, if there’s an island you either drive across a bridge or you take a boat. Simple. What I didn’t get was why we can be so hung up on health and safety (you can’t even go into an elevator without a little robot lady announcing, “doors closing” just so you don’t get confused or stick your hands in the door jam) but something as dangerous as possibily getting your car stuck in cold water and being swept away with the tide, is no big thing. “Don’t be an idiot and drive your car out when it’s dangerous.” Well, why don’t you make it so that it’s not dangerous, huh? Why don’t you have barricades or someone patroling the one mile stip of land into nowhere? How about that, Healthy and Safety Minister?

Anyway, after I screamed bloody murder and drove through the abyss (still amazed I did that) we arrive to an island where people lived their day to day lives on perpetual holiday, never caring about rising tides or the people who may get washed away with it. On Holy Island we saw Lindisfarne Castle and the Priory. (We didn’t go into the priory because, let’s face it, time was a ticking and I wanted to make darn sure I was away from some angry sea that would swallow my little Toyota for lunch.)

After the nightmare of Holy Island, we drove to the castle I originally wanted to go to Seahouses for – Bamburgh Castle. That’s the one that’s been used in films. It was huge and very impressive and after having the best brie and ham toastie in my life (the caramel and sea salt fudge was amazing as well), we walked around the beach. The dunes there are nothing that Florida is used to either – you have to treck across mountains of sand just to get to the coastline. But it was worth it. We had ice cream, FaceTimed my folks, and all in all enjoyed our adventure.

* * *

Our reason for going out and about so much on weekends is that I’ve honeslty been quite down. Work is all I know and all I do. Granted it’s good, fun, enjoyable work that I look forward to, but it takes a lot out of you to travel to all the libraries and be in charge of teaching customers and staff how to do computery things. When I get home, I just get depressed and bored really easily. I don’t know if it’s because I have a hard time winding down and when I do, I just emotionally crash, or what. But at any rate, being out and about and spending time with Steve makes me do something other than stew in the house, waiting for the next day to come when I’m running off to some library again.

This means that writing hasn’t been progressing much either. I can write scenes here and there on my phone, but nothing structured or productive really gets done. That takes a lot of time, organizaton and planning – none of which I have much of.

I have, however, started reading on the bus again (because my life consists of commuting and computer updating) so that was a relief that I could get back to my roots, as it were, by taking 15-20 minutes at a time to get back into the habit.

Yesterday I also decided to take a look at my poor blog that has been neglected for so long. Low and behold, the urge to update came over me and here I am. I’m also going to have to update and dress up bookblogarama soon. It’s been too long since I promoted books or did a review, so that will be next on my agenda (after everything else, of course.)

* * *

Anyway, the Great British Summer is upon us, sort of. I have my bathrobe on with the heater running downstairs. Both Steve and I had a cold a few weeks ago (he stayed home sick, but I kept on truckin’ despite my urge to crawl up in a batcave and sleep for days). We’ve also been entertaining the idea of buying a house somewhere. The issue is that my work is way out on the coast and Steve’s work is way out in the country. Town may be our only mid-point solution.

And books-wise: I’ve finished the Half Bad series (amazing) and have now gone back to Ready Player One. This will be a test to see if I finish this book finally before I write another post.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Writing for yourself in the new year

“Write with the door closed, rewrite with the door open.” ~ Stephen King

It’s now January and 2016. It’s raining outside as it has been for the entire Christmas holiday. Unfortunately, I didn’t make the holiday as good as it should have been. I was wishy washy, insecure, and feeling downright sorry for myself.

Our holiday started on 19th of December. I was supposed to work that Saturday, but since my schedule changed for my new IT job, I was free. We took a trip to Edinburgh that Sunday, and that didn’t start out very well either. We missed a bus that didn’t turn up in the morning, and by the time we got to the station we had only 15 minutes left to get out tickets from the kiosk and board.

But we couldn’t get the tickets. I had forgotten that back in October when we booked the holiday, we had the tickets sent to the house. Where they are now – who knows? That’s just an example of how jumbled your brain can get when you work full time and have a zillion other things on your mind from the minute you wake up until an hour (at least) when you get home.

Steve eventually bought a fresh set of tickets for us, 1st class as well, and we travelled in style up to our own city of lights. Sunday was super packed and raining, as expected, and I was just a grouch. I’m finding it harder and harder to settle down after working. It’s not like the job is fast-paced or stressful, I think it’s just that I have to be go-go-go all the time that when I sit down at home, I’m like, “I’m so bored!”

And that was kind of how I was for the better part of the trip. We went to the National Museum of Scotland and relaxed indoors for the better part of Monday. In the evening, we went back to the market which was less packed and found ourselves some tasty German beer and food.

During this trip I also decided that I need to desperately lose more weight because my feet have been killing me lately. I’m sure this was all part of my fussiness too. The doctors had said I have plantar fasciitis, but the tops of my feet started hurting too. My chiropractor said it was a tendon that was inflamed, but whatever it is, it’s driving me batty. But, I digress …

We FaceTimed my parents at the market, just so they could see all the fun we’re having here and try to lure them over for a visit. A vain attempt, but it is fun to share the experience with them in Florida.

We came back on Tuesday, and on Wednesday I had my first official work Christmas party in England. (It was at lunch time and I was the only one drinking, but hey, that’s how it goes.) Afterwards my friend from my old library and I drank mimosas and wine at Jamie Oliver’s in town and had a gift exchange/catch up. That made me feel 100% more festive.

Back home, Steve and I hung out, we had a lovely Christmas, and I was spoiled rotten with gifts. (Steve outdid himself this year, and I was really surprised by my new iPad Air that he’d sneakily hidden A Christmas Story style by the television. Bless him.)

I went back to work on the 29th for a one off day. It was fun too because we sat and caught up, waited for the phone to ring, and left promptly at 5PM to start the rest of the five day break.

I did get some cabin fever, and grew totally listless with the same old same old attempts at distraction and killing time. I’ve played Sims 4, Fallout 4, LEGO Dimensions, Disney Infinity 3.0 (the Star Wars packs!) and watched all of Making a Murderer on Netflix.

After a trip to the Metrocentre yesterday, wading through traffic, and trying to hobble through the mall with my dodgy foot (it was the left one, now it’s the right one – I can’t win!) I was a complete grouchy pants. Finally, I decided it was time for me to just stop being miserable and get on with things.

So, with all that said, my topic was of writing for myself. I think too often when we’re sitting around trying to do good on our promises to ourselves, we get too insecure or too down on ourselves when we see that other people are publishing their books at a much higher rate than we are.

Someone on Twitter had said a while ago that if we’re sitting around trying to write for fame and fortune, we should re-evaluate. True, the notoriety isn’t the best angle to view your work from, but with this audience that we can see the outline of in social media, I think it’s hard to not take them into consideration.

“What would people like to read? Would they enjoy this story, or this other one better? Will they think it’s too much like this book or that book?” Etc.

It made me think about Stephen King’s quote again, about writing with the door closed. I think with all the Wattpad, Twitter, #pitchmad, and blog posts about writing that we have in abundance, it’s hard to forget that we’re doing this just for us as a #1 priority.

With that in mind, I’ve sort of reasoned with myself that posting stories on Wattpad, or talking about projects probably isn’t the best way for me to work. I even debated mentioning this in a blog post because, yet again, I’m blathering on to the potential audience. I’m really too private to be doing that.

I’ve made my peace with Twitter and jump in and out without making much of a ripple in the account. I’m going to look at all of it as a means of inspiration rather than comparison. If someone at age 20 has 200 books already published by Disney Hyperion then, bravo. However, they are not me. I am not them. End of discussion.

I’ve also thought about how to keep myself in check throughout the year and how posting word counts or updates lets someone else in to the writing process.

Granted, I think all of this sharing with the world is second nature to most of us anymore, but maybe this year, as I learn to become the Mistress of IT, ironically, that I switch off the connection between the world and my little hidey hole of creating my own reality.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

What up Wednesday 12 Dec 2015

The Coast!

Here’s another example of why writing is hard: recently I finally got into the groove of writing a story that had a nice voice. That’s kind of hard to keep going once you walk away from the story and come back to it later. When I have thought about how the story is going to go, I end up listing things that happened, rather than letting the character in all her glory, explaining how things happened.

It’s really frustrating.

Again, it’s that thing someone said before about how you make your own work and you’re not that excited about it because you know you can do better. You’ve seen other people hitting the mark that you want to reach, and when you do subpar art, it makes the effort less of an achievement.

Also, I’ve finally accepted that I shouldn’t work on anything that I haven’t spent a long time thinking about. When I have the story in my head, I can sit down when it’s working time, and get into a scene I already know will happen. Not following an outline so much, because those always change as the story goes along, but having seen scenes in my head a bunch of times already. That makes it easier to sit down cold after a few days of letting life get in the way.

So, I have 8 days of work left until my Christmas break. Today’s my last full day off until then. (Not including Sunday.) Then it will be days and days of being festive and enjoying time at home.

I really love being at home, especially when I’m busy most of the time.

And, my foot is driving me crazy. First they told me I had plantar fasciitis, which isn’t surprising since it started when I started working in the library this time last year. I went to the doctor and the physical therapist all for my stupid foot. Also, my lack of Weight Watching has greatly contributed to this foot harassment. That’s another pain in the butt, because I’m trying to walk more, but with a dodgy foot, activity is something I can’t really do without pain. Yesterday, for example, my arch was feeling better, but then the top of my foot started hurting when I put my old shoes on. I have to wear these big, clunky athletic shoes with arch supports, and it’s just annoying.

Anyway, today is a day of rest and writing. Happy Wednesday!

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Update for December

I may as well make an update while I have a chance, because I’m not really going to be able to until Christmas time.

I started my IT job last week and it gives me even less time to write or do much work. I have six people in my office, and most of them come in really early, so I don’t really have alone time. I could bring my laptop in and hide in the staff room at lunch, maybe, but I’ll have to gauge how the job will work. No one stays in that office all day – they’re always on call to other libraries.

So my creative time is at an all-time low. I’ll work some today, and try to get back into the feel of the story, but that’s going to be a one shot deal. I recently saw a GIF that read, “All I want for Christmas is time to write,” which about sums it up.

But aside from that, I’ve been reading Elizabeth is Missing, which is something different for me as well. Every morning, I leave early, take my one bag because I have to travel light now – never know what library I’ll end up in – that holds my Kindle. I have an hour commute because I don’t drive at all over there. I just get on with it, in the fine British tradition.

So, no, I didn’t get a complete or even a half manuscript done in November. I can only plod along at my own leisure. I read a quote this week, saying you should write without an audience in mind, like, just write for yourself. I don’t know if that’s entirely possible. Everything I write is a key away from being published online for someone to see. Everything we do, we know we can publish in some form or another, and naturally I think, “People would like this, no, maybe they won’t.”

But no matter, it has to get done one way or the other.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

What Up Wednesday 11 Nov 2015


For my second instalment of What Up Wednesday, I can offer some information about my current NaNoWriMo project.

I’m always second guessing what project I should be working on. Last week I decided to work on the Wattpad story I started on vacation in September. Of course, the moment that I made the decision to work solely on this story for a whole month, the second guessing came back.

“Why not work on this book? That other book? Why?”

But then it hit me in the most simplest way – it doesn’t matter.

I can work on one thing for a month and ignore the other story ideas I have for a while. There’s always next month and the month after to go back to them. What I didn’t work on last month, or even what I was working on, can wait a month while I do this gut instinct response project.

It doesn’t matter.

So far I have 4383 words of the small 25,000 word goal I set myself for my own personal NaNoWriMo experience. I think putting things in perspective and aiming for smaller goals sort of makes it easier on me. Too often I have the grandiose idea of what the whole series and all the characters will do. Granted, that’s fun in itself, but it means trying to work out too much all at once. This way, I’m taking it in smaller chunks.

It’s been too easy for me to get involved with the routine of work, even though there’s not much going on at the library at all. Without the word count aims, no matter how small for each day, I would only have the day job to place my aspirations in. That’s just not enough.

Steve and I have been talking about how day jobs suck the creative opportunities out of it for us. At the end of the day, what do we have to show for what we’ve done, especially if we’re just working on something that someone else has given us as a project to do. We’re a small piece of the puzzle there. At home, with our own work, we can take pride in doing our own book or our own artwork. There’s more self satisfaction and pride in that kind of work.

Anyway, for my book inspiration I’ve been reading The Secrets We Keep and Life and Death. I’ve been using Word, Scrivener, Wattpad, and Evernote to get my word count down. I even added my story to Inkitt for the NaNo contest. Wish me luck!