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Inky Thoughts

Inky thoughts – kind of like thinky thoughts but involving tattoos! I got a new one today!

Backstory – when I was nine, I fell up the stairs carrying glasses and scissors. This left me with quite a scar on my forearm. It’s very faded now since it’s OLD and while I’m sure most people don’t notice, I notice it. I notice it a lot. And when people do notice it, I feel like I have to explain what happened. I’m sure I don’t. I’m sure no one really cares. But… it makes me self-conscious and has for 30 years.

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In the above, you can just faintly see the scar, running down almost the middle of my forearm. it’s got a big middle and then long tails on either side. I’ve always thought about covering it with a tattoo. I have other tattoos but they are all in places covered daily by clothes. This would be my first visible tattoo. It took me a while to get to a place where I was like, YEAH, I CAN DO THIS. I feel like I have enough ‘cred’ now in my real life career and also that tattoos are so mainstream now that if I did need to find a new job, having a visible tattoo wouldn’t be an issue.

But, what to get?

I recently heard about Project Semicolon and when I did, it really resonated with me. You can click on the link if you’re interested in why but, suffice to say, the decision was made that some sort of a semi-colon tattoo would be the thing to cover up “THE SCAR.”

And today was the day! I drew up a quick little image a couple weeks back, booked an appointment at a tattoo shop with an artist recommended by a lady in my spin class that has awesome ink. I have another artist I’ve gone to twice before, but I feel like if you want your ink to have a diverse feel, you should try out new artists. I’m VERY HAPPY with the final product. (rotated so you can see the flower upright).

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The semicolon is kind of built into the flower, so the dot is the center and the comma part is the stem. I went with black-grey shading instead of color. I’m just really pleased with it. Since it’s black and grey and a little smaller than my last two tattoos, it was a very short appointment! Under an hour. I can hardly see the scar now! and I know INTIMATELY where it is. 😀

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The Sun is God’s Flashlight – and I have usually stayed up too late

I am not a morning person.

I will never be a morning person.

I have TRIED, internets. I HAVE TRIED. I have seen two GPs and a sleep doctor about it and the fact is, I am part of a small percentage of the population who’s internal clock cannot be reset. I am a night owl, through and through.

Mornings SUCK.

Oh, how I long for the days when I would stay up writing till 2 in the morning or watching tv until 4 am and then crawl into bed and roll out around 10 or 11 am.  Not anymore. Le Sigh.

Now, I get up at 5.15 am. I go to spin 2-3 times during the workweek, and the other days I just get up early so I can have some ‘SITTING AND GETTING SELF READY FOR THE DAY’ time. I don’t like working out early, but I like it when it’s done, so there you have it. Also, if I get to work by 8.15, then I can leave around 5 and that’s kind of nice, especially in the winter when it gets dark early. If I stay later I start to feel scared being out in the creepy creepy dark! Plus, my boss and an esteemed coworker get to work at 6:30 and 7 respectively. So. If I’m going to roll in about 8:15 ish, I feel better being able to say, “Yeah, I already hit the gym.”

But it’s tough. I know there are many of you who feel my pain.

There are people in my life who say, “Oh! How wonderful you get up so early, I am not a morning person. I couldn’t do that.”

MAKE NO MISTAKE – I AM NO MORNING PERSON EITHER. BUT I DO WHAT NEEDS TO BE DONE.

Most days, when I wake up, I feel so tired I think I could vomit from it.

This also means that when I’m just starting to perk up around 8 or 9pm, it’s time for me to be thinking about heading to bed for the next day. Even if I don’t sleep, I remind myself that lying in bed is restful and I will get some benefit from it. I think my iron is low lately because I’m barely making it to 9pm some nights. But, usually, around that time, I’m starting to think, HEY! LET’S COLOR ORGANIZE THE CLOSET! AND! LET’S START ALL NEW PROJECTS.

I once talked extensively about this with a sleep doctor. He said, “Well, your body just can’t be trained and some people are like that. You’ve tried. You should just get a night job.”

Like what? Bartending? I DON’T LIKE TALKING TO PEOPLE. I have a desk job. Desk job usually means DAY job. Day being the key word. I could go in later bu then I’m working later and that feels… sad? IDK. Even the way it is now, I stay till 5, 5:30 ish and the building staff is already coming out to start vacuuming and cleaning – they are expecting most people gone! The world is run by morning people.

So, what’s a night owl to do but try to conform? I do what I can during the week to be in bed by 10 and up at 5.15. I nap a lot on the weekends to ‘catch up’ on the sleep I miss (I go to bed at 10 but I don’t fall asleep. Yes, I have tried melatonin. Yes, I have moved all activities out of my room other than sleep, no, I don’t read backlit devices in bed, yes, I have tried a light book, working out earlier, working out later, eating earlier, eating later, no naps, more naps, no caffeine, more caffeine, overnight stay at the sleep clinic and I have excellent sleep hygiene. I HAVE TRIED, INTERNETS. THIS IS THE WAY IT IS).

BUT OH THE GLORY DAYS! when I was in school and then on a holiday and I could just… live by my clock. I remember staying up late reading and writing with the house silent and dark around me. SIGHS LONGINGLY.

Back in the days when homes had computer rooms, I remember waiting for the fam to be in bed and then looking around at 11pm and thinking, “Oh! time to go write!” and I would sit in that room, in the dark, with only the computer screen lit and I never noticed time passing. I would just write. Of course, I never finished anything at that time because I had no structured routine! But there was something… magical about being there, in that room, in the quiet and the dark, with nothing else but the click-clack of my keyboard.

Who put the morning people in charge of the world?

Patience, Padawan – Cello and Writing

I often think and draw parallels between my cello lessons and my writing progress. I feel like I’m a constant student – I never want to think I’m THERE because I feel like there’s so much to be said for always being on the journey.

In cello, I’ve FINALLY progressed enough to learn one of the Bach Cello Suites. I’ve chosen Suite 2

Oh, I love this one so much. I listen to it a lot and I put my ipod on repeat to hear it over and over again. I would probably have started this earlier IF I PRACTICED, but as it is, I don’t practice very much and I have the BEST CELLO TEACHER ever, and she’s fine with how much I do or don’t practice and just works with me where I am. We FINALLY started working on this and I was SO EXCITED. I said to her, “I’ve told people I’m working on it and they want to hear it!” and she nodded with excitement and said, “Yeah, in a couple of years, you’ll be ready to play this!”

RECORD SCRATCH – WHUT. A COUPLE OF YEARS???

Ah, yes. Such is the cello, such is Bach, such is the way of things. I will be able to play the notes, and indeed can do so moderately now [okay, moderately is generous. I can hit the notes. Mostly. Some of the time.].

But yes. YEARS. That’s how long it will take for me to ‘work’ on Bach and play the Prelude of Suite No.2.

And that’s… well. that’s okay actually. I mean, what else am I doing? Don’t’ get me wrong, it sucks that it will take two years, but… it’s a journey, you know?

I feel that way about my writing. I’m happy with each work as I finish it but as I look back on things I think, well, this could be tweaked or that could have been better. But I’m still a work in progress as a writer, and I hope I always am. I hope to always be learning and growing. Although it can be hard at times feeling like you never GET TO THE END, there’s also a sense of freedom in never GETTING TO THE END. It’s like… if I don’t get it exactly perfect, I get to try again on the next round! That’s kind of liberating and frees from this feeling of.. if I don’t get it right, it’s all over. Now, if I don’t get it right, I just try again.

So, Patience, Padawan. We must learn to love the process.

Covencraft – Jade and Paris – Jade’s Demisexuality

I’ve been thinking a lot about something and I’d like to address it. I know that some of my closer readers [friends and family] have expressed a notion that Jade and Paris really should be getting it on by now [they have said it in a nicer way/classier way, but that’s essentially what it boils down to]. This leaves me feeling like I need to address or discuss Jade/Paris and their interactions, or lack thereof. [those of you in fandoms will recognize the SLASH ‘/’ as used when people are in a romantic and/or sexual relationship and isn’t to be confused with just general interactions. If I wanted to talk about their friendship, I would type Jade-Paris, but when I use the slash, there is something ‘more’ implied about their relationship].

Yes, I know, Jade and Paris haven’t so much as kissed in my books but I feel there is definitely an attraction there on both sides. Whether it’s something the readers are in support of or notice, I’m not sure. But, for me, as an author, it’s there. Jade feels *THINGS* with respect to Paris. She’s just not sure how to articulate them or even address them. And I think that in as much as Paris ‘lets’ himself feel an attraction to Jade, he does.

Let’s look at Paris first, since he’s the easier of the two. There are spoilers for book 2 below this sentence……

 

Paris is obviously a guy and feels an attraction to Jade on a simple/visceral level – she’s attractive. I wouldn’t say Jade is drop-dead gorgeous, but she doesn’t have to wear a bag over her head either. She’s also the kind of person I imagine gets better looking as you know her, because at first [and most of the time, still] she’s kind of bratty. But, Paris is also Coven Leader and I feel that he’s had to sacrifice a lot of his personal life at the alter of Leadership. I think he’s keenly aware of his position in the Coven and how, if he did feel an attraction to someone, his position as a person of authority colors that. I think it’s why he had a history/relationship with Veronica – she was also in a position of authority as a Coven Leader of her own Coven and he didn’t worry so much that he may be abusing his ‘authority’ while in a relationship with her as she had a similar position herself. I think that Paris is always hyper-aware that anyone he may show an interest in may have a hero-worship complex for him because of his power and his authority. It was always known since he was young that he would be Coven Leader an in that sense, he’s not just a ‘regular person.’ People have pre-evaulated judgements/feelings toward him. I think that he’s also so busy that he’s turned a blind eye to that aspect of his life. It’s one of the reason that Callie and Paris are so close as FRIENDS. She’s always been in his life since they were both young. She’s able to be there for him as a friend, but not as a romantic interest. She has a boyfriend [Nick, who we don’t really see ‘on screen. I feel like I know him rather well because of scenes I’ve written for him in drafts that didn’t make the cut or alternate universes that haven’t happened]. So Callie has NO romantic interest in Paris and neither does he have an interest in her. While Paris may feel attracted at times to people [I’m not TOTALLY sold on him being STRICTLY heterosexual. I feel like he could be a 1 or 2 on the Kinsey Scale and not exclusively a 0], it’s not something he focuses on because he has his work and that takes up almost all of his time. But to be honest, I don’t worry/think as much about Paris’ sexuality as I do about Jade’s.

 

HERE THERE BE SPOILERS FOR BOOKS THREE AND FOUR – YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED

 

 

In my mind, I clearly identify Jade as a demisexual and she just always has been.

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Demisexual Flag

While I’ve not explicitly stated it in the books, Jade is also sexual assault survivor and that definitely has an impact on her current relationships and how she views interactions. To be clear, she was demisexual before she was sexually assaulted. It’s not a response to her trauma, it just IS the way she IS. Lily, on the other hand, is not demisexual. She experiences sexual attraction a lot easier and more freely than Jade. I may explore that in a later book, I’m not sure. Lily might get her own series. It’s all… kind of up in the air. But I do clearly see Jade as demisexual. She has to have a STRONG connection with someone BEFORE she even thinks of them in a sexual manner. At times, it may appear that she is asexual or repressive, but it’s just that she takes a long time to process things and she can’t even fathom being sexually attracted to someone without having a connection and she DOES NOT connect with many people. At all. I’ve no doubt that she IS attracted to Paris, but that attraction really took time for her to grow into. She has to get to know him but also, has to be in a place where she feels more secure and safe in her environment. When she first joins the Coven, she’s not in that place. She’s nowhere near the head space she needs to be in to address those feelings. When that’s coupled with her past as a sexual assault survivor, it takes her a long time to EVEN acknowledge her attraction to Paris, which is where we see her, I think, at the end of book3, Double-Sided Witch. The arrival/appearance/return of Lily is a catalyst for Jade in more ways than one. Lily can point things out to Jade that Jade cannot see herself, but also, with Lily no longer being ‘gone’ or ‘dead’, Jade is finally able to move forward.

So, where do I see that going? Well, I’m not sure! I’m sort of watching them [Jade and Paris] to see how it goes. It’s very important to me that Paris respects Jade’s boundaries and I think he’s keen enough as a leader and a person to see and recognize those boundaries even when she doesn’t explicitly state them. The fact that at the end of book 3, Jade willingly, WITHOUT REAL THOUGHT, reaches out and touches Paris is a big thing for her. I’m sure in this time/age/world of sex-sex-sex, it’s considered a non-event, but for Jade, that’s a real moment. One that I’m not sure either Jade or Paris may recognize. Lily would be able to see it for what it was, and I may have her address it. The other way we ‘see’ Jade’s feelings for Paris is through Bruce – Jade’s familiar. Bruce’s feelings are a mirror or a composite of Jade’s and, being a LIZARD [lol], he’s a lot more free in expressing them. We see Bruce in book 3 SEEK PARIS OUT to let him know there’s a problem [Bruce’s scaly patch] and we also see Bruce showing a fondness for Josef – something Jade feels as well. In book 4, I’m hoping to explore that, and maybe have Paris tune in a bit more to it. He knows familiars have the same/similar emotions as their witches, but I feel like he may need to be hit with a Clue-by-four and really have that, OH WOW moment in book 4.

I’m still working out what this all means for them as I write book 4 and tentatively sketch out book 5! But, those are my thoughts. Do with them what you will.

Sorry, I can’t go out tonight. I’m in the middle of my werewolf cycle

Things I think about – what if lycanthropy wasn’t really tied to the full moon, but was instead like a cycle that people went through like how women get their period. So every 28 days. BAM. Werewolf. Full moon optional.

Would it be as annoying and awkward as getting your period is? Like… women usually talk to each other about it in code when they’re out in public. “Hey, when I stand up, can you check me, cause. you know.” And then your friend will nod sagely and checks you out to make sure you’re not having an accident. Also, haven’t we all had this conversation with a friend: “Hey, you got any stuff in your purse?” “Yeah, you need?” “Yeah. Bathroom in ten?” – no, it’s not a clandestine drug deal.

But, if I turned into a werewolf once a month, I would hope it would be way cooler. “Oh, I can’t go out tonight. It’s that time of the month. You know, wolf time.”

But then! If we ALL TURNED INTO WOLVES AT THE SAME TIME – WOLF PARTIES IN THE WOODS!

Or would it just end up being annoying after a few years? “GOD, WEREWOLF TIME AGAIN???!! I just got all the hair out of my shower drain from LAST TIME. Ugh. And dont’ even get me started on how many pairs of jeans I’ve ripped through. This is costing me a fortune.”

 

Everything I Needed to Know About Writing, I Learned from my Cello

I love analogies.

If you teach me a thing or tell me something, I’m already searching through my brain like a giant rolodex trying to find a logical match for it – something I can relate it to. My most often used analogy is that writing is like learning to play an instrument. I started taking cello lessons about two and half years ago and like most new things, I took to it with vigor and passion – practicing every day! Reading books! More practicing! Researching online about cellos and bows!

Since I like to match up things I do, learn and see, I started thinking about how I was learning the cello: my sessions with my teacher, my reading of books about it, my sometimes disastrous practice sessions, my occasional stumbling into glory by hitting a row of notes previously missed. I realized – writing and learning to play an instrument are incredibly and intimately similar.

Practice
The first time I tried to play a song on my cello it sounded like a chorus of dying swans – honking, hulking swans with no pitch or tune. For a beginner, it wasn’t bad! But listening to it with my adult ears, it was sad and a little embarrassing. In a way, this reminds me of my first, earliest stories, written as a child and seen through adult eyes. Bad character development. Plot holes. Deus ex Machina. Stilted dialogue. Overwrought emotions.

What if I had stopped writing then? What if I had seen my work through adult eyes, the same way I hear my cello playing through adult ears and just… given up?

Luckily, I can be a persistent terrier when I want and I didn’t give up. I loved telling stories and loved the finished product of a complete, comprehensive piece of work that I created. So, I kept at it. Writing more stories, longer works, shorter pieces. I tried new techniques – maybe a new point of view or a different tone, working on smaller scenes and snapshots instead of bigger works. Each of these stories can be seen as practice. I’m practicing my craft. I think the key thing is, I’m always hoping and trying to get better – and how do I do that? I keep writing.

One of the quotes I’ve read that sticks with me the most was something like, “Nobody gets to the Philharmonic Orchestra by thinking about playing the violin.” That quote turned itself around in my brain for several days while I practiced my cello. I’m certainly not expecting to ever make it as a professional musician, but I do realize that to get better, I have to practice. I then made the connection with writing again. Nobody gets better at writing by thinking about writing. You have to do it. Thinkers think. Writers write. If I want to get better at writing, I’ve got to keep doing it. Working my way through a difficult scene or a patchy area is the same as going over and over a hard phrase of music or a complicate set of fingering for some notes. That’s not to say that I sit there and write lines of the same words over and over again! But rather, the act of sitting down and working is its own reward. Over the years, I’ve amassed a large volume of work and when I sit down and review it, I can see my growth. Sometimes in earlier works I can see hints of the writer I will become, much like sometimes with my cello I manage to stumble through a difficult passage expertly the first time. It’s very exciting when this happens! It’s like a glimpse into the future of what I’m aiming for. Mostly, however, what I see and what I’m proud of is the hard work and dedication my writing shows. It shows I stick with it. I keep trying. I may not always get it right, but I show up and do the work.

It’s an important distinction to make that you generally don’t sit down to write a final draft when you first start. I don’t sit down in front of a new sheet of music and expect to play it proficiently, certainly not at my beginner level! Nor should I sit down to write and expect the words to come out of my fingers and brain perfectly. They will need to be fine tuned and worked over – edited several times. The key is that they are out on the page to work with because I did the initial step – I wrote. Say it with me, “Writers write!”

Focus
Of course, the ‘thinking’ piece is important too! I find I write best when I think out what I’m going to do before hand – settling the plot and the sequence before I put fingers to keyboard. In a sense, I do the same thing with my cello – thinking about what I will practice before I sit down with my cello. Then, just as when I practice my cello, when I write I try to stay focused on the task at hand. I don’t think about the grocery shopping. Or the laundry. Or that report that I’m trying to compile at work. Or Tumblr, Facebook, LiveJournal, iTunes… I focus on what I’m doing. I’m writing. At the same time, I can’t get too focused on the mechanics or I lose the narrative. With the cello, I can’t always focus on tune or pitch. Sometimes I have to focus on the fluidity of the music, or the movement of my bow. Tune and pitch will come as I work on the other items. It’s the same with writing. I tell the story I want to tell. Later on, I can go through my work and polish it – editing for grammar, word choice and further narrative clarity. Just like when I play, I learn the notes first and then work on fine tuning later.

Regularity
Just like my instrument practice, my writing practice needs to be regular. Long stretches or breaks of too long and I’m losing my ‘touch.’ I took three weeks off playing the cello and when I went back, my string crossings were sloppy. My tuning was a little off. I couldn’t remember that note in the second bar is a b-flat [ALWAYS B-FLAT, why do I keep forgetting?!]. It’s the same with writing. Write regularly and you keep the skills you gain. Take long, indeterminate breaks and you start to get sloppy. Poor word choices, bad metaphors, awkward and stilted dialogue. Also, I find when working on a larger work, regular and consistent writing keeps the flow of the narrative moving along well. I don’t have to wonder, “Now, where did I leave those characters last time. Has Jade realized she may have feelings for Paris yet? Did I get that far?” When I write often, daily if I can manage it, I keep the narrative tighter in my head and don’t have to keep going back and reviewing what I’ve already written to keep the story straight.

Self-Editing, Awareness and Analytical Thinking
If you want to get better at an instrument, you can’t just ‘sit down and play.’ You have to listen to good playing. Listen to bad playing. Think about why you liked something and why you didn’t like something else. Compare your playing to others. I feel the same is true for writing. In the case of writers, we have to read. A lot. I read in and out of my preferred genres and I try to keep notes on what I liked and what I didn’t. There have been times I’ve read a book in which I couldn’t stand the main characters but I simply had to know what happened next. So, I went back and analyzed why that was. How were these marginal characters keeping me invested? A lot of it had to do with the pace of the story. It was so fast, I could forgive the characters. I’ve read other books in which the writing was gorgeous and yet, I had to stop half way through because I just didn’t care. Again, I go back and think carefully about why I’m not engaged. Is the language too cumbersome for me? Do I just ‘not like it’? Do I not identify with any of the characters?

Of course, I quite often just read for enjoyment too! I don’t just read profound or literary works and I feel no shame about the books I choose to read. I read horror, romance, urban fantasy, some non-fiction. On vacation, I only want ‘easy reads.’ But that doesn’t mean that I can’t stop and think about why I find those books ‘easy’ or ‘comfortable.’ There’s a certain sense of familiarity about some of the genres I read and by recognizing that, I’m better able to plot and/or structure my own works – whether that means I set out to follow a ‘formula’ or I set out to completely buck the norm and try something different. The key here, I believe, is knowing what the norm is.

Variety
Yes, it is the spice of life. When I play my cello, I have some contemporary pieces, some classical pieces and some studies. Each of the pieces I work on helps me in a different way – style, tone, fingering, dexterity. Multiple pieces also keeps me from getting bored or frustrated. If one isn’t working for me that day, I move to the next. I try to do the same with my writing. I generally have three projects always on on the go – usually two short ones and one long one. The longer piece tends to be novel length [min 80,000 words]. These works take planning, focus and consistency. I’ve got to keep my world building straight, my characterizations solid and my plot arcs smooth. Then I have my smaller pieces – usually a couple of short stories or some snippets of things that may end up being longer pieces someday, but not right now. I’m a bit more free to play around here. Shiny new ideas! Trying out new POVs! Playing around with different tones and nuances. Some days I simply don’t want to work with certain storylines or characters, so it’s nice to have a choice. It’s also a good motivational tool when I don’t feel like writing at all. I tell myself, surely you can find something in these three works that you’d like to work on. If I can’t, I have to wonder if I’m being deliberately stubborn just trying to get out of writing that day.

Prodigies
Now, if you’re like me, you’ve started thinking about the connections between music and writing and you’re probably wondering, “Yeah, but what about those people who are just GOOD at it automatically?” Ah yes, the prodigies. To be sure, there are prodigies in every walk of life. Some people are naturally gifted. There are some writers whose first kick at the can is stunning and they’ll tell you they’ve never written a thing before, or that they just sort of toyed around with writing and it worked out. Prodigies are rare, but they sure do muck up how I feel about my hard work! I discussed this with my cello teacher the other day. I regularly discuss the similarities between writing and our lessons with her and I wanted to know her thoughts on prodigies. She has taught some over the years – students who were able to pick up the instrument and had a gift. I was surprised by what she told me. I expected her to agree with my thoughts – there are some prodigies out there in every field and the rest of us must simply come to terms with the fact that we will never be them. But, what she told me instead was this – Yes, prodigies exist, but what she has seen is that while initially they are able to reach higher states of achievement and performance very quickly, their accelerated progress tapers off. She said that for example, say you have a prodigy and someone like me – an average person learning the cello. I can reach an intermediate level in three years; the prodigy can reach an intermediate level in three months. However, once we’re both at that level, the prodigy’s speed of advancement starts to slow down, while mine remains the same. All is not lost! I could be as good as a prodigy if I dedicated myself and put the time into the music!

This was profound to me. I had somewhat ‘given up’ on ever being considered a ‘master’ at writing. I thought I was okay at ‘being good’ perhaps even ‘being pretty darn good’ but that was where I was going to peak. I was resigned to this, consoling myself by noting that some of the most renowned authors/writers in popular fiction weren’t actually that good, so I was in respectable company. But now! Now I feel as though the sky is the limit again! As long as I keep working, keep refining my product and stick with it, I could be great! Which leads me to…

Persistence
Another key element with writing, I believe, is persistence. Sticking to it. I think we all have a kind of Elysian Fields in our mind with respect to writing – a place where the words flow free under a cloudless sky and everything is chapter after chapter of wonderful prose, thoughtful insights and compelling character development.

What writers generally get instead is hours staring at a computer screen [or a blank notebook], wanting to bash our heads into our desk and wail, ‘WRITING IS HARD!! WHAT IS THIS PLOT? WHO ARE THESE CHARACTERS???’

Let’s be frank – if it was easy, everyone would do it. It’s not easy. Take heart! If you are sitting at a keyboard and thinking that it may be easier to get blood from a stone than to finish your current Work in Progress – you are not alone! What will separate writers from would-be-writers is persistence.

Time Off!
If I play the cello too much in a week, I get sore spots on my fingers from the strings. My bow hand gets this weird cramp. I keep making the same mistake over and over and instead of fixing it, I think I’m actually making it more likely to keep happening. Time for a break! There’s no shame in taking scheduled time off, as long as it’s not too often nor for too long. I slate certain days to be writing free – usually because I’ve got other regular commitments. These ‘Write-Free’ days give my brain time to rest and recharge and also help me on other days when I feel like it’s too hard to keep going. I remind myself that I have some Write-Free days coming up and I’ll get my break then.

As a final note [oh! The puns!] I leave you with this: At 90 years old, a famous cellist Pablo Cassals, still practiced for four or five hours every day. When asked why he still worked so hard, he said, “Because I think I am making some progress.”

May you also always be making progress.

 

I wrote this piece over a year ago for the All Author’s Magazine and completely forgot to cross-post!

A new year?

I know it’s a downer, but I can’t help but think that the New Year is just an artificial construct that we have as a result of our kind of awkward Gregorian Calendar.

I know, bummer right? Don’t even get me started on how we should revamp our calendar to follow the lunar cycles, thus breaking up all months into 28 days [SO HANDY! SO EVENLY PROPORTIONED! SO GLORIOUSLY STRUCTURED AND REGULAR!!!!] and how we should celebrate more astronomical events like the equinoxes and solstices. THEY MAKE MORE SENSE PHYSICALLY AND MATHEMATICALLY, what??

Anyway, despite all this, I STILL find myself getting caught up in New Year frenzy – making plans and feeling … refreshed? Or maybe it’s just all the wine I’ve had over my vacation and now I’ve got delusions of grandeur. Still! I have GOALS, people. GOALS. And I’m putting them in writing.

1. This year, my mantra, motto, raison d’etre is “I release” – I go to a great yoga class taught by a fantastic yogi. I just love her. At the beginning of class, we are encouraged to set an intention. Last week, my intention started out as “JFC I wish my hips were more flexible” but this wasn’t yoga-y enough so I worked on it and it  morphed into “I let my hips release” and then just “I release.” I realized that I needed this in my life for more than my hips (and my hamstrings – it’s like I’m a cyborg sometimes, there’s no give). During the yoga practice, I thought about other areas in my life where I could release things – long held ideas that held me back, long held fears that limited me, expectations that were unrealistic or maybe, not ambitious enough.

As a side note, I lost a lot of weight this year and it’s had be thinking – where else can I ‘release weight’ from my life? Are there things I’m holding onto, physical and spiritual that I can let go of?

So this has all culminated in my 2015 mantra – I RELEASE

2. Get book 3 of Covencraft [Double Sided Witch] edited and out there. Get book 4 [untitled] started AND FINISHED. YES, FINISHED.

3. Get another book done in 2015 – be it my werewolf gothic romance or the shiny new idea I have now for a bionic/cybernetic cop, I’ve got to WRITE MORE. Writing is like playing the cello – I don’t get better thinking about it. I get better by DOING. So far, I’ve done a book a year and I feel like I can do more than that. I actually think 3 books a year would be a good fit for me, but I’m going to shoot for 2 this year and see how I do.
Although, if I go with my werewolf gothic romance, I’ve an idea to turn it into a trilogy with book 2 being a vampire gothic romance and book 3 being a ghostly gothic romance.

4. Stick with my Spin, Barre and Yoga. I am really enjoying spin and no one is more surprised than me. I HATE the stationary bike, but I really like spin! It’s probably because I like the ladies at my spin place so much.

Let’s do this.

But I thought building a Platform meant like, you know, pieces of wood?

I’ve been into non-fiction books lately, which is NOT like me but I’m always open to my likes/dislikes changing so I’m just going with it. Of course, one of my biggest interests is writing and my book, so I’ve been reading some books on both.

I’m in the middle of Fast Fiction which I’m hoping will help me get faster at actually WRITING. But the clincher is you have to do all your PLANNING before hand. This has always been a sticky point with me. I don’t like prep work. I don’t like to tape shit up before painting, I want to just get to painting. I don’t like moving shit around so I can get organized well, I like to just start organizing. And similarly, I don’t like to start planning too much when I should be writing.

Because planning is HARD. UGH. it involves THINKING AND PLOTTING and sometimes these things aren’t fun. I can lay down the FUN scenes, it’s the little bits in between the fun scenes!

I’ve also been reading about marketing and how ideas spread. All this keeps pointing toward DEVELOPING A PLATFORM. which. Yeah. It must be capslocked. It’s a capslocked kind of thing.

So it’s all social media this and social media that and networking and pimp your work and *SOBS*. I kind of identify as an introvert! I LIKE being at home! I LIKE not talking to people. I LIKE being by myself. Can’t I just know that the book is good and it will eventually take off? Maybe? Someday? with luck? and maybe some black magic or a ritual sacrifice?

The answer has been a resounding NO.

I mean, I’m on social media. I like tumblr, and Pinterest and I do okay with Facebook [although too much FB makes me angry]. So I’m out there, I’m just… Out there for me. I reblog the stuff I like and pin the stuff I like and blog about stuff that’s on my mind and I don’t really worry about ‘creating an authentic brand,’ or if it all has to do with my books.

I wish I could say ain’t nobody got time for that. But I guess I have to make time?

 

Because you can’t have two betta fish

Betta fish are those colorful, swirly, VICIOUS BASTARDS that will fight each other to the death.

Look at that glorious bastard

Look at that glorious bastard

Often as I’m working, I will think about cloning myself [I SWEAR TO GOD I am going somewhere with this – bear with me]- I’m the type of person that likes to be busy, I like to solve problems, I like to help and I hate to tell people I can’t do something. This often means that no matter what I job I do, I end up doing several related tasks that aren’t actually my job, but that I end up being really good at or that no one figured out yet.

But, it makes me CRAZY BUSY sometimes and things get dropped.

So, ergo my cloning thoughts. If I could clone me, problem solved!

But I ended up realizing that if there WERE Two Margarita’s, we’d end up fighting. Like Betta fish – each one wanting to be top dog! Butting our noses against the glass trying to get at one another in a fight to the DEATH.

Or rather, each one wanting to sleep in and snuggle the puppies while the other schlepp went off to work. [No, you’re going in today. I’m staying home. NO, YOU’RE GOING IN TODAY.]

And then we’d both feel guilty and end up both going in and resent one another while each believing it’s the other one’s turn to make coffee and who is also responsible for not putting the good eye shadow brush back in the right spot.

Plus, I’d be really uncomfortable around other!Me. She would know all my secrets. And she’d be as secretly mean as I am.

So, I guess it’s best that Margarita’s are like Betta Fish – better in singles than in pairs.

 

Jane Eyre Readalong – Jane as a child

As I mentioned in my previous post, I quite often forget the beginning of Jane Eyre when she is a child, focusing mostly on her time at Thornfield when I think about the book.

However, the beginning of the book, as told from Jane’s younger self, is very powerful. I think we get a better sense of Jane and her surroundings because of her youth. Maybe it’s because we assume children are more truthful, or lack the artifice and intelligence to dupe us. But there is definitely something more tangible about how Jane suffers emotionally and physically during her life with the Reeds. In particular, I was struck by this sentence:

“For me, the watches of that long night passed in ghastly wakefulness; strained by dread: such dread as children only can feel.”

That sentence really stuck with me. I regularly have nightmares and always have and while there are some from my adult dreaming life that scare the crap out of me, I don’t know that any of them have stuck with me as much as those from my childhood. There was something different about being afraid as a child – maybe it’s because you’re smaller and less able to protect yourself and lack the reasoning that’s often required to pull you out of your fright.