Tag Archive | blogging

The problem with conceptual writing

Actually, my current problem is that the title of this blog doesn’t feel quite right. I started to put the title as something like “On Writing” (nope, Stephen King book), “The Problem With Writing” (nope, ’cause I’m not talking about actual writing), to something like “not-writing” or “pre-writing” to what I have now.

I’m specifically talking about the problem with thinking while showering, or driving, or simply being away from being able to safely write down a concept that I then proceed to draft in my head, believing every time that I will surely remember this later. When I’m at a computer. When I have time to actually flesh it out and write up a blog.

I’m pretty sure it happens a few times a day, to be honest. The last one today was while I was walking back from the mail box. We actually had mail. I was thinking about how ridiculously exhausted I suddenly was, and yet this was an awesome idea. I’d like to say if I’d had my phone on me I would have opened one of many apps and jotted myself a quick note, but honestly I probably wouldn’t have. I don’t usually. By the time I got back to the house and tidied up a few things before giving in to a nap, the idea of a blog had completely slipped my head.

There’s an author I like who has a good web presence, John Scalzi. He wrote a book (which became a series) called Old Man’s War. In it, there are computers implanted in human’s brains that they learn how to access, draft quick notes to each other, retain “photos” that are snapshots of things they’ve seen, and so on. I have to admit that one of the things I most like about that computer is the idea of getting ideas directly into a file to later access via terminal and clean up with my fingers. I think I’d still want to actually write, you see. Maybe even with a pen, although at that stage, maybe not a pen. But the idea of cleaning up by hand and writing additional new items into a document definitely appeals to me. And maybe, just maybe, I would stop forgetting my ideas of things to blog about.

On that same topic, I also just recently downloaded the new Scrivener for iOS (specifically my iPad). I still need to set it up, but it promises that it will sync with the desktop version, which excites me. The iPad and keyboard I have are not a perfect set up, but they’re much lighter and very easy to work with the few times I’ve carried them around. It helps that this particular iPad has data access, and not just wifi. So far, it’s been most convenient when traveling, as a very mini laptop alternative. So in this case, it will be the same idea but even for daily work travel.

I think about writing a lot, you see. And I read a decent amount. I’m hesitant to say a lot, because I don’t read nearly the content that I have in the past. On the other hand, on a recent trip I started (and finished) a 500+ page novel. To me, it didn’t seem huge. Yes, that’s on the large side for this author, but it’s certainly not the largest book I’ve carried around with me to read. (And it was an actual book in this case, although I had access to a variety of Kindle and iBook ebooks on my iPad and phone, of course.) And yet, there was amazement in the eyes of at least two of my fellow travelers and a raised eyebrow or two. At the time they were asking about it, I was roughly 400 pages in. I suspect they were also reacting to seeing me read when I hadn’t read in front of them for the majority of the trip. I think perhaps two people beside by husband even realized I’d brought a book for down times.

Like most people who aren’t published authors in one way or another, I think I’m not really a writer. Sure, I blog. Sure, I love words. Sure, I read a lot and own more books than some people believe are necessary. (Which I frankly don’t understand. What’s necessary got to do with anything? I enjoy books and the ones I keep have stories I’m willing to read repeatedly. My brain and mental health are happier to have those stories, so I suppose I could argue they’re necessary for me but still. Why worry about if something is necessary?) But I still doubt that I’ve any sort of right to claim the descriptor of writer.

I’ve never managed 50,000 words in November. I might have a chance of completing this year’s CampNaNo this month, but the April event I failed. I’m hard on myself and even knowing that, I am still harder and meaner to myself than I would be to any of my friends.

So knowing I’ve had at least two or three solid blog themes I’ve forgotten this week alone is extremely frustrating. The idea that tech is slowly advancing toward a goal that I’ve only read about in a science fiction novel written more than 10 years ago (and Asimov and others have alluded to, although I don’t remember as crisply, decades ago), is very exciting.

I just hope I can learn to take advantage of it!

Relating to Others

I have two posts sitting in my Drafts folder right this moment talking about attraction. One of them laments the fact that I seem to occasionally fall for people with personality traits that I have a hard time working with. The other discusses physical types and whether or not I have one.

Both of them dance around my past experiences (and inexperiences).

I’m married, again. I’m happy. (Which is… so awesome. I have a hard time putting into coherent words how awesome it is.) I’ve been married before.

I have never, ever, in my whole life, dated lightly. I have flirted lightly, and attempted to be clear with my lack of actual intention in those cases.

I mull things over when I can’t sleep, you see.

Why do I not seem to have a specific “type” of guy that I’m attracted to? Mostly, they’re taller, but not always. (Plus, at just a smidge under 5’3″, being taller than me is hardly a challenge.) Some are very slender and graceful, others aren’t. Some are incredibly charismatic, others are almost painfully shy in large groups. Some see things in strict black and white truths, while others are more willing to discuss the complications that make different things true for different people.  The only thing I can think of that most of the men I’ve been attracted to have in common is that when they smile, their eyes crinkle up at the corners, even if their lips move hardly at all. I like curiosity. I like intelligence. I like focus. I like empathy. I like kindness.

And yet, the women I’ve flirted with, well. Those are more type specific. Incredibly feminine curves. Pixie-cuts. Vibrant colors of hair. Extreme blondes. Deep chocolate red hair. Fire-haired goddesses. Women full of sass. Women who are not me. Not entirely my opposite, but definitely not me.

I grew up, at a certain point (let’s be honest, sometime around puberty) learning to fear other women, who seemed to see each other as competition for everything. Men, jobs, scholarships, the next thing. And yet, part of me wanted desperately to be able to be friendly with them. Or, on a few rare occasions, maybe more. I’ve gotten over the fearing part, and have even re-learned how to be friendly with women again.

The thing is, part of me still doesn’t quite trust the way I did as a kid. I want to, and for a while I do, especially new friends on-line. But in person? In person I see body language that suggests a dozen small fibs told, and my own walls go up to protect myself from getting hurt again.

If someone had asked 18 year old me if I’d be better at making friends at 42, I … think I would have said “I hope so, but … maybe not. It depends.” Because honestly, I’ve always been a thoughtful, honest, literal thing.

I want to be optimistic, but… at some point, some part of me always remembers the moments that someone I truly liked expressed how odd, wrong, and not attractive I was. So. It’s hard to share when I like someone, even for platonic reasons, now.

Which brings me back to being so happy in my current marriage: he encourages me to try. All kinds of things: things that are scary to me (athletic physical things! new jobs!); things that I liked once upon a time, but maybe let go (playing games with friends! drawing! writing! experimenting with baking!); and things that are both (going out and socializing and making new friends… inviting them to our home).

I may not be good at anything like that still, but I am still trying. And those two posts? Well. I don’t know. Maybe I’ll flesh them out better some other time. But I think this is the post that I’ve been trying to get out for the last couple weeks.

A lack of words…

I’ve not been writing lately.

In part, I’ve been genuinely distracted with things in real life, as it were. In part, it’s a frustrating and busy time of the year for my work. I’m doing accounting work now, and year end is nasty with tax forms and related nonsense. In part, there’s some things going on that are nerve-wracking and yet hopefully exciting. And finally, I’ve had a really annoying head cold that will. Not. Go. AWAY.

Seriously annoyed with the head cold.

NaNoWriMo website keeps sending me update things that are probably useful, but mostly I’m finding them to be irritating.

I’d like to write more this year. I wanted to write more last year, and I did. I’m hoping to continue to improve upon that this year. Last year, I wrote “half” a book, by NaNo standards. Is it any good? Or polished? Meh. No. Not really. But it’s roughly 25k words that did not exist before. I think they’re roughly in the same universe as another thing sitting in my Scrivener app. Maybe up the coast. Not in the same state, definitely, as Curses Used is based in California, and Place Holder is somewhere Pac Northwest-ish. I’m still not sure if it’s northern Oregon or southern Washington. But it feels like the same universe, in the way these things do. I could see the characters of one running into some of the characters in the other and not finding each other strange. At least a few of them might be vaguely familiar to the protagonist in the other, in fact. Which is nice, for world building purposes that I’m being particularly lazy (ie: allowing to simmer in the back of my head) about. So anyway, I’m hoping to perhaps finish Place Holder and give it at least one good editing pass (the current beginning isn’t the beginning so much as a prologue of treading mental waters), or alternately to actually manage a full 50k of a completely new project. That would mean that I’d have potentially 3 projects sitting in Scrivener, in various states of undress by the end of the year, but that’s not all bad.

I’d also like to do more gaming. I used to like some games. I enjoyed Civilization II or III I think. One of the very early ones in the early ’90s. I liked Warcraft, for similar reasons. I didn’t mind kibbitzing on some FPS’s on Xbox and PS2. I actually liked some NES games in college, although I was pretty bad at them. And of course I enjoyed a few arcade style games (and the old classic Atari games). I also liked RPG text based role playing.

I don’t think that last one is something that’s sustainable for me in that form, and I don’t know of any servers, really, that I want to attempt it on again. I’ve got a Steam account, and I’m tinkering with a FPS style (with group options) on rare occasions, and want to get into that more with at least one friend if not more. I keep meaning to give Minecraft another shot and haven’t. (It was VERY FRUSTRATING to begin with. Need to try it on a computer platform instead of a phone iOS platform.) Mostly though, I’m trying not to spend too much money. Some friends and I have a monthly (roughly) RP with Lovecraftian and cartoon themes, that I mostly Skype into. It’s actually kind of cool, with heavy emphasis on puzzling through a story and role play, but there are Fate Core rules, for when we need to do certain things. I enjoy it. I like that on the rare occasions that the stars align, I can drive and hang out with them in person. So I want to keep that up, too.

There are other things, general health things, that I’m trying to improve on also. An odd side effect of the head cold has been that I’ve more or less stopped drinking soda over the last week. I’ll have the equivalent of 12 ounces randomly, but not daily. This means I’ve lost a couple pounds. It’s really the only change. So if I can keep the sodas minimal, and keep the water intake up, and maybe work in some walking (gotten out of the habit) I can perhaps continue that trend. I’ll feel better in general about myself, and I suspect my poor sleep quality will improve. We’ll see.

I did not intend this to be so much of a “goals for the year” post, but it’s turned into one, and I’ve written some good thoughts down. This isn’t a bad thing. But perhaps next time, I’ll try for less stream of conscious and focus a bit more on a topic. Besides the ones above, there’s the usual background cacophony in my head of useless chatter: what do people want from you? what do you want from yourself? why do you have these irrational fears? why worry about things you can’t change? why plan for eventualities that may never occur? should you go and be evaluated for anxiety? (heh.)

Canned Sentiment is Useless

There’s this thing with cancer awareness months that sets me off into unreasonable head-space land.

“Don’t Give Up… Never Give Up.”

In a perfunctory search, and some talk with my sweetheart, this phrase is related to Jimmy Valvano’s speech, and his foundation, and the search to cure cancer. That’s a good thing to try not to give up on. Search for a cure.

Somehow, it gets used as a rallying cry to patients.

This infuriates me. Sometimes, there is no more. Sometimes, you are literally causing yourself extreme physical anguish with treatments that are barely prolonging your life at a dreadful cost. Sometimes, those treatments don’t even do that, and all you are doing is allowing your test results to aid in statistics for drug companies to further research. Which is not bad, if you have the mental and emotional strength to put yourself through that physical pain and horror.

Some people don’t, or do for a time, but eventually realize that it’s affecting their ability to enjoy the last moments of their life with loved ones. Sometimes, the hardest and best thing to do is to say “no” and to look your oncologist in the eye and say, “It’s time.”

And if you have a good oncologist, one who is not just obsessed with eradicating the disease, but also with helping the humans in his or her care, the doctor will say, “Ok.” The doctor and his team will switch you over to the palliative care team. You will enter hospice care. It may happen at home; it may happen at a hospice house; or it may be a blend of those things.

Making that decision is not giving up. It is not a failure to fight the hardest fight of your life. It is the next step. Because it’s not easy to say goodbye. It’s not easy to stop. It’s not easy to say, “I am going to become a part of nothingness and my body will return to the earth,” if you are an atheist (or other believer in things that do not involve afterlife). It’s not easy to say, “I’m at peace with my decisions, and I believe that whatever the afterlife holds, I will be ready for that adventure now.” Because you are leaving people behind, and they will suffer your absence. And you will be intimately aware of that. And even once you reach the moments where you aren’t quite as aware of that, there will still be moments of seeming lucidity where you see people you thought predeceased you with those who are keeping watch over you. And in the event you choose to be mostly alone, you will still be with your own thoughts and memories.

It is a lot. It is still a battle. It’s not an easy, thoughtless choice; choosing to end your battle with cancer by living your life.

These canned statements for awareness make me so desperately angry, to the point of violence. Fuck cancer. Fuck what it does and is. But do not equate stopping treatment with giving up.

 

Say what you mean…

There’s a certain school of thought when teaching writing that says to write exactly what you mean. They often want you to write as simply as possible. You’ll see a lot of “Sally said,” and “He is tall, with long, black hair and bright, green eyes.”

There’s another school of thought when teaching writing that says to write what you mean, but in minute detail. This often results in students keeping thesaurus handy, because they learn that the instructors want you to avoid writing as simply as possible. Now, you will see “Sally expound broadly,” and “He stands higher than all others, his extensive, ebony locks offset by brilliant, peridot eyes.”

The problem with the latter is sometimes the synonyms don’t have the same meaning, exactly, as the word the student started with. Extensive can mean more than long. It often means “large” or “thorough”. And brilliant can mean “bright,” but it can also mean “very smart.” It depends on context. And sometimes, if the context isn’t there, the results are very silly.

Now, there are people who disagree on both sides. Some vehemently.

I happen to think that a nice blend is more natural, but I was raised by a librarian and a speech/theater professor. My natural speaking pattern is extremely odd, in comparison to some people. For others, it’s not so much.

I personally prefer reading things that are a blend of simple (especially if that simplicity underscores a mood or moment that needs basic truths to be told) and somewhat flowery language with less-used words (because I love words, and if later I want to go to a dictionary and look up something that made sense in context, but that I want to learn the finer nuances of after the story has been read through, I call that a win). I don’t particularly enjoy overly frilly books with a lot of gingerbread trim words, nor do I love overly basic books. Both are hard for me to sink my teeth into, for completely different reasons. If I’m constantly wondering about authorial intent, then I’m not really enjoying the story.

I hope, as I try writing fiction and other pieces more, that I succeed in a balance. I think my blogs do already, but it’s always hard to be sure from the inside.

This post inspired by: terribleminds: “I MEANT WHAT I SAID WHEN I SAID THE SOUP WAS GOOD,” I EJACULATED MOST FIZZILY

I agree with him about the elitism, by the way. I can be elitist about some things with language, but this isn’t one of them. The only reason I can see for writing exclusively simply or exclusively using “expressive” words is to achieve a particular tone. (And frankly, as a tongue-in-cheek joke – a parody for instance, would be perfect.)

Cats and Dogs, Living Together, Chaos! Mayhem!

I am not a morning person. Shamefully not a morning person. If I became Queen of the World, I would institute a new work day that allowed 1pm til 9pm to be perfectly acceptable business hours in any time zone, thank you very much. I would not force everyone to do it, because then banking would still be a pain for most people, among other things.

But I’m serious: if I could sleep the way my body clock thinks it is supposed to sleep, I would not go to bed until about 1 or 2am, and I would probably wake up between 10am and 11am ready to get up. (I would still wake up at least once or twice in the mean time, because my REM sleep seems to cycle to all-the-way-awake lately, which allows for checking on other inhabitants of the house, so that’s fine.)

I try not to be horrible about this, but I’m not actually likely to say “good morning” until closer to noon. I will respond to greetings of “good morning” with a neutral “morning” so as not to be horribly rude, unless I know you and know you know me in which case I might say something snarky about proof required for adjective.

Sadly, coffee doesn’t help. Coffee is nice and gives me energy, and if properly treated (usually with creamy sweet chocolate or caramel flavored things), is even quite pleasant, but otherwise it’s just the hot thing with caffeine which makes me feel like I’m maybe focusing a bit better than I was before I started drinking coffee. A nice black tea is about the same, except incrementally more comforting.

My husband is a morning person. He knows I’m not. He knew it before we got married. He even knew it before we moved in together. (I thought it was important.) Sometimes though, he forgets.

This morning, he was particularly chipper and kept rattling off cheerfully about any number of things … but the final straw was when he made a joke. (I think it was really a pun, or just off-color, but I wasn’t awake enough to be more than horrified that he was joking and it was morning!)  I looked at him, and I told him quite firmly, “You should leave. Because I want to smack you, and that’s not good. I love you.” He laughed, told me he loved me, and wandered out. This was before my shower, mind you.

Post shower, he came back in and got his goodbye kiss, and another love you. I’m very lucky that he doesn’t take anything I say too much to heart, when I’m at that stage of the day.

Change Within Chaos

There can be no conversation when some people scrunch shut their eyes, plug their ears and sing “la, la, LA!!” while other people scream until their faces turn red and yet other people turn away entirely. Then, there is only chaos.

There have to be quiet voices constantly talking and quiet listeners constantly listening to begin and sustain such conversations, in the hopes that some of the others will stop their activity and join in.

I can’t come up with anything more coherent than that right now. I’m tired and sad, but I think; at the heart of it all, that’s got to be the beginning and cornerstone of any change.