Muse-Inks: Weird mood stuff

So here’s the (first) thing: I’m freaking out inside (about my upcoming trip), but I’m trying not to freak out. I’m so excited I can barely stand it, but … if I let either of those two particular cats out of their respective bags, I won’t be able to function.

And I have to function. I have to be able to work. I have to be able to write. I have to be able to do normal, day to day stuff like laundry. And I have to be able to organize my shit and pack for the trip. Which, of course, loops me back around to freaking out.

Can I tell you that all this restraint is exhausting (and not have y’all think that I’m a whiny baby)?

Anxiety is real.

I may appear calm. I may speak quietly. I may smile.

Meanwhile, my heart’s beating a hundred miles an hour, I feel like I’m having hot flashes (and I’m of the age when some of them may be legitimate), I’m dizzy and feel like I might faint, and sometimes my extremities go numb. All of these reactions are the result of adrenalin release. Though I’m not actually experiencing anything that justifies fight or flight, my anxiety triggers the hormone cascade.

It also messes up healthy sleep, which means I’m perpetually tired.

Most of my effort centres on remaining clam. If I can prevent the cascade from happening in the first place, I’m good. So at the day job, I’m laser-focused until breaks and lunch and then I dive into one of the several novels I have on the go and I immerse myself in words.

I avoid talking about the trip, because that, in itself, can be a trigger. I can’t be rude, though, and once the topic comes up, I try to focus on the practical, the logical, the real. I’m not always successful. And once my anxiety kicks up, I can only ride it out, go for a walk to burn off some of the nervous energy, or focus on my breathing until my hands stop shaking.

An anxiety attack passes. That doesn’t mean it’s not hell while it lasts.

So, yeah. That’s the first weird mood thing going on.

The second is introspective weirdness.

I’ve written before that I used to dream vividly when I was young. I had nightmares and night terrors, somnambulism, and somniloquy (talking in your sleep). I’ve had out of body experiences, near death experiences, and other experiences of the universe that would be considered uncanny.

I’ve delved into meditation of various stripes, wicca, and European shamanism.

From my mid-twenties into my mid-thirties, I was what I would call a seeker.

After all the reading and the research and the exploration, I ended up settling on the uncertain ground of the agnostic. My experience of the universe defied definition. I didn’t want to force-fit it into a category. I let it be what it is, tell me what it wanted to, and I’d respond accordingly.

The problem is, as I get older, I’ve heard, or felt, those universal nudges less and less. And I don’t know what the cause is.

Have I, like Susan Pevensie, outgrown my sense of wonder? Recent events have led me to believe that this is not the case. Am I close enough to where I need to be that I don’t need those universal nudges anymore? Possibly, but why do I feel so … lost, then? Have I shut down my intuitive side? Again, it’s possible, but how can I tell?

I’ve been working on the assumption that all of the uncanny stuff has channelled itself into my creativity. This part of my life continues to blossom, but it’s a flower in a private conservatory. What’s the point if no one gets to see it?

I guess that’s what everything comes down to. I know what it is I need to do, and I do it. I write. I study craft and literature and story of all kinds. My life revolves around that central principle, sometimes to an unhealthy extent.

To date, however, I haven’t been able to produce a lot of objective evidence of the work that I’ve done.

I know that the writing is its own intrinsic reward. I will still be writing for the rest of my life, regardless of what does, or does not happen. I just keep missing, or messing up, opportunities to get my words out there, or my efforts proceed without significant results.

They say that when the student is ready, the teacher will appear. The universe seems to be out of lessons. I need to find another way forward.

Maybe my big Baltic adventure will provide some answers.

In the meantime, I’m going to make the effort to remain open, to recognize a universal nudge if I get one, and to act on it accordingly.

There you have it: I suffer from mental illness (depression and anxiety), and I have an unorthodox view of the universe. Maybe one leads to the other? Or coaxes it along? Who’s to know? Unless the universe is interested in sharing … ?

I shall leave you on that ambiguous note.

This is my last weekend post until after Helsinki WorldCon.

I don’t know how active I’ll be on social media, though I’m sure I’ll be posting a scad of photos 🙂

As ever, be well, be kind, and stay strong. The world needs your stories!

Muse-inks

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Muse-Inks: Still striving for balance

Greetings all you writerly people!

July is off to a good start. My plan seems to be working. By focusing on one revision and one short fiction project, I’ve been able to get back on the horse, so to speak.

On Thursday evening, there was a special meeting of the Sudbury Writers’ Guild to attend, so I took that night off revision and writing, but made up for it on Friday.

I’m also busily drafting my next piece for DIY MFA. Like the last one, it’s going to be a bit long, but I have a strategy that will hopefully keep it manageable and leave me with material for a second post on the topic. Stay tuned 🙂

Unfortunately, it wasn’t a good week for quality sleep. I guess I have to take the bad with the good.

Looming (less than 3 weeks away!) is my great adventure to the Baltic. Yes, early, early, on the morning of July 27th, I’ll be flying down to Toronto in enough time to find the Air Iceland kiosk, get through customs, and board my flight to Hamburg, via Reykjavik.

The Writing Excuses Cruise will be visiting Copenhagen, Stockholm, Tallin, and St. Petersburg, with tonnes of writing workshops in between, from July 29 to August 5. Then I hop a short flight from Hamburg to Helsinki on the 6th, rent a car to run up to Marttila (yes!—isn’t that awesome?) on the 7th, tour around Helsinki all day on the 8th, and then take in the amazing that is WorldCon from August 9 to 12 (it runs to the 13th, but my return flight takes off early that day … ).

It’ll be my first time outside of continental North America. I’m excited and nervous, and, let’s just be honest here, scared out of my wee gourd. I know I’ll have a fabulous time. This is a bucket-listy kind of writerly adventure, after all, but iz still escared.

I’m not afraid to fly, or of the plane crashing, or anything like that. I’m afraid that I’ll miss one of my connections, and therefore the cruise, altogether. I’m afraid my boarding passes, which, to this point, are all virtual, will not materialize, or that my embarkation form for the cruise won’t arrive. I’ve received confirmation that some of the forms were late. I should be hearing about my embarkation form soon.

Oh, and did I mention? I’m going by myself. Sweet baby Jesus.

I’m getting jittery just writing about it.

Went out for dinner with a dear friend, Kim, on Friday night and she says the trip will empower me. I don’t doubt it. But I’ve travelled on my own before. Just not such a big trip so far away with so many moving parts.

In other news … we’ve been enjoying the fruits (and vegetables, and herbs) of our labours. The strawberry harvest is just about done, and the raspberries are about to start. Friends have been dutifully decimating the rhubarb, and we’ve been harvesting greens for salads and sandwiches. And lots of herbs. Chives, parsley, lemon thyme … We’re almost overrun by the sage. And our beans are starting to climb the trellis.

GardenJuly

I’d show you the patio garden, but I haven’t finished weeding it yet and so it mostly looks like purple clover. *blushes*

Inside, I’ve been enjoying my orchids. I have no idea how, but I’ve managed to get two plants to flower. I’ll take it 🙂

OrchidsBloom

That’s it for this week in the writerly life.

Next week, I think I’m going to do a series discoveries post, just to shake things up a bit.

In the meantime, be well, be kind, and stay strong. The world needs your stories 🙂

Muse-inks

Muse-Inks: A week in this writer’s life and more lessons in vulnerability

Greetings, writerly folk!

Fun stuff first.

On Tuesday of this past week, the Sudbury Writers’ Guild held its annual picnic on the lovely patio of one of our members 🙂 This is the first year in … several, that we’ve actually had a picnic outside. In recent years, because we’ve paid for the rental space, we’ve held the “picnic” in our regular meeting room.

Though the point is to get together and socialize before our summer break, it was nice to enjoy the lovely weather we’ve had recently.

Also on Tuesday, my latest column for DIY MFA went live. It was on time travel. I kind of gravitated to the topic because one of my works in progress deals with time travel, in a way, and so I’ve been researching the various theories. I’m kind of proud of this one. I’m proud of all of them, really 🙂

On Wednesday, I took part in the quarterly DIY MFA call. Gabriela has a number of new columnists and interns. It was great to get in touch with everyone and meet all of the new additions to the team.

Thursday was the final meeting of the Canadian Authors Association CanWrite! sub-committee prior to the conference. That’s next weekend, and will necessitate a brief blogging vacay. Just for the weekend. Curation will go on as usual 🙂

Then, just today, I participated in my first urban hike, a cooperative event put on by the Rainbow Routes Association and The Greater Sudbury Poet Laureate, Kim Fahner. The poets from the Sudbury Street Poetry Project were invited to accompany hikers on a downtown route which visited the various businesses and organizations where our poems were posted.

PoetryHike

We paused to read our poems at each location, and chatted between. Just after my stop at NISA, it started to drizzle, and then to rain. We ended up at the Farmer’s Market and the drumming circle performing there, where Louise Visneckie crashed the performance and read her work with drum accompaniment 🙂

As I mentioned last week, I was courting burnout and so, I decided to take a break from writing and revision for a while.

In the meantime, writers have continued to post their thoughts about writing every day, especially if the writer has a day job. Even for writers who work on their craft full time schedule days off. It’s important to give yourself space.

What I discovered this week is that even if I’m not writing and revising, I’m still writing and revising. I carry a small moleskine with me all the time and I made a number of notes on my various works in progress. Even when I’m not writing, it’s where my heart and soul live.

This weekend, Phil and I are also pupsitting for Phil’s sister.

Buster

Isn’t Buster a lovely boy?

So, I’d thought that, perhaps, I’d get back into the habit this weekend, but I have to put the final SWG newsletter together, and I think I might defer until Monday.

I’ve been considering giving myself a regular day off. Perhaps Friday.

I am feeling better, though. More centred.

Another reason for this is that I’ve continued to listen to Brené Brown’s The Power of Vulnerability sessions.

Stuff I’ve learned:

I’m addicted to shame. I said this last week, but now, I want to unpack that statement. When things go to shit, it’s always my fault. I don’t think, “It’s unfortunate this happened.” I think, “I’m a bad person because I let it happen/couldn’t stop it.”

That’s the core difference between guilt and shame. In guilt, you’re accountable, you take responsibility but, because it’s the action that was thoughtless or hurtful, you can take ownership and change your behaviour. With shame, it’s not the action, but the actor, who is thoughtless or hurtful. It’s much more difficult to change behaviour when the story you tell yourself is that you’re hardwired that way.

I live in a continual state of low expectation because it’s easier than getting excited about things and being disappointed.

You can’t love anyone else more than you love yourself. This gets people’s backs up, but it’s true. If you don’t have compassion for yourself, how can you ever show it to others?

I overshare as a defence strategy. Brené Brown calls it spotlighting. I don’t know if I do it consciously, with intent, but I’m very open with some parts of my life, sometimes with people who might be classed more as acquaintances, than as friends. It makes people back off and confirms my bias that I’m a bad person. I’m not worth knowing.

I’m not sure what I’m going to do with all this new insight. Yet. I now know that I have these issues and I’m learning some strategies to address them. I’m just not sure how I’ll get from point A to point B.

Mindfulness and baby steps. Like anything else, it’s a matter of patience and practice.

I also think I’m going to start gratitweeting. Blame Brené Brown and Kim Fahner, who is half way through her second year of the daily gratitude practice. I’m not sure when, but I think it’s a way to bring the good stuff to mind. It’s too easy to take those things for granted, and then you can too easily slip into hopelessness and depression.

I don’t expect the transformation to be immediate, but I do expect that it will help me manage my mood.

As always, I’ll keep you informed.

As I mentioned, next weekend there will be no post, and the weekend after will be July 1st (Canada Day!) and it’ll be time for my next chapter update.

Until next I blog, be well, be kind, and stay strong.

Muse-inks

Muse-Inks: My day at Graphic-Con and the struggle for balance

Greetings, writerly peoples!

Before I get to the meat of this post, I’ll give you a little update on the writerly happenings of the week.

This past week, there was just one. The Sudbury Writers’ Guild booked a table at Graphic-Con, which was held at the Sudbury Arena, Saturday, June 10th. While it’s not a huge event as comic cons go, it was big for Sudbury.

Fandom was well-represented. There were cosplayers, LARPers, gamers, table top gamers, RPGers, comic fans, art fans, and television and movie fans (Degrassi actors were in attendance). And there were readers.

SWG co-chair, Andy Taylor, committed to be present for the full day as this was our first year booking a table and he wasn’t sure whether it would be worth it or not. Liisa Kovala helped out from opening to noon. I helped out from noon to 6 pm, Clay Campbell walked over after his CKLU radio show and stayed through to 7 pm, Liisa returned to finish off the day and help Andy pack up the table, Kristan Cannon had her own table (right beside the SWG table), and members John Jantunen and Sabine Gorecki stopped by and hung out for a while. It was a team effort 🙂

GraphicCon

Andy took this picture just after Clay (Rincewind) and I arrived and before Liisa left (noonish).

We had on display various books by Guild members, including a few copies of my wee poetry chapbook, NeoVerse. We sold just about one of everything (well, except NeoVerse—I didn’t expect poetry to be a big seller, though there was some interest), sold out of Creepy Capreol, which our other co-chair, Mat del Papa edited, and sold five of the SWG anthology, Sudbury Ink.

Sales weren’t the purpose of our booking the table, however. Reaching out to the writing community in Sudbury was. In that respect, the table was a total success. We had 19 people sign up to find out more about the Guild. We’re going to try to get together in late June for a special meeting for these individuals. If the timing doesn’t work out, we’ll at least send them a copy of our June newsletter to give them an idea of who we are and what we do.

Which leads us to balance

When I got home from Graphic-Con, I was pretty much bushed. Phil had the moms over for BBQ, but afterward, I decided to forgo my usual Saturday post.

Work/home/creative balance is a recurrent issue for me.

As a writer with a day job, I’ve chosen to devote nearly all of my non-work, non-sleep time to writing. Thus, a lot of other things go by the wayside. Physical fitness, family and social events, friends, support of artistic and professional organizations and events. Still. I can’t shut all of that out of my life. So, I try to squeeze it all in. Therein lies the rub.

When I can drag myself out of bed early enough, I do yoga or other exercises in the mornings. When the weather and other commitments permit, I walk home from work. I spend time with Phil and with my mom. I volunteer for the SWG and for the Canadian Authors Association. I try to get out and do something creative and soul-feeding in the community.

I try to get out and garden, or use my summer office. I try to keep the house clean(ish). My standards have fallen significantly in recent years …

I also try to write or revise my novels and short stories daily, keep up with my blog posts, keep up with my commitments to DIY MFA, read, study my craft, improve, attend writing workshops in person or online … and it all takes its toll.

Add to that my persistent issues with depression and anxiety which I must manage carefully, and a myriad of aches and pains that only seem to multiply the older I get, and there are times when I have to step back.

Phil’s supportive. He does the cooking, the groceries, the heavier household chores, and the renovation on his own. He knows my writing time is mine and, except for the odd hug or kiss—we need a fairly steady supply—he leaves me to do my thing. He doesn’t insist on coming along (he hates travelling and would just be miserable) or that I stay home when I have a conference or convention to attend. He listens when I have to blow off some frustration about work or professional obligations. He’s learned, for the most part, not to try to offer solutions. I’m very fortunate.

The heady rush of positive feeling and energy that returns with the sunlight in spring gives way to my first bout of burnout around this time every year. The second battle with burnout usually hits in the fall. This is why I have usually tried to take a self-funded leave from work every 18 months or so, May into June and then October into November.

It’s how I’ve managed my physical and mental health.

It’s been two years now since my last self-funded leave and the continual issues with our pay system at work have meant that I’ve had to defer my plans to take a leave yet again. I won’t be able to manage much longer if I can’t get a leave this fall. I’ve pushed through before, but never longer than two years. I used to work part time when I was in the call centre. That’s probably a better long-term strategy, but this next leave will involve a new pup as well, I don’t have enough leave aside from the self-funded to house train a pup.

I’m hoping that the larger part of our pay issues will be resolved by then and that it will be a possibility. Even if it’s not, I can’t afford not to make the request.

For now, all I can do is take things easy for a few days, give myself a break, and then get back to it.

I’ve been listening to Brené Brown’s The Power of Vulnerability sessions on Audible. Vulnerability is at the core of a satisfying life, of contentment (which is always my goal, not happiness—I’m pretty sure that’s a mythical beast), and of achieving healthy goals. And self-love is at the heart (lol) of vulnerability.

Unfortunately, I’m kind of addicted to shame and I tend to wall myself off from other people so I don’t have to be vulnerable with them, one on one. Everyone else thinks I’m doing great. I’m that high-functioning person living with mental illness. I can simulate vulnerability on this blog because it doesn’t cost me as much as opening up in person can. All the self-hate takes place in private. I operate from a scarcity mindset. There’s never enough time, energy, you name it, and I am certainly never enough.

I know that none of this is true, intellectually. I know time can be managed, found. A healthy lifestyle can provide me with more energy. I can tell my friends and family that they are enough often, but I can rarely turn that compassionate lens on myself.

So I’m going to goof off for a few days, except for the absolutely necessary stuff, like blogging and housework, professional obligations, and, well, the day job. I’m going to try to be present enough to listen and be kind to myself and to others. I’m going to try to enjoy myself.

We’ll see how it goes and I’ll check in with you next weekend after the poetry walk. The post may go up on Sunday again, but that’s just my way of shifting things to give me enough intellectual and emotional space to recover.

In the meantime, be well, be kind, and stay strong.

And I’ll “see” you on Tipsday!

Muse-inks

How to dream your way to a great story at DIY MFA

There’s this thing I do over at DIY MFA. It’s a semi-regular column called Speculations all about fantasy and science fiction.

dreams

 

This is my third column, on sleep and dreaming. Come on over and visit. There are a lot of great columnists on lots of different genres and topics. Plus, Gabriela has a tonne of great resources, a podcast, courses, and other tasty writerly goodness for you to check out.

I have a little anecdote to share with respect to dreams and writing.

It has to do with this little tip:

  • Sleep on a creative problem. Similarly, if you’re stuck on a scene or a plot point, ruminate calmly on it before you sleep. Even if you don’t dream up a solution, your mind will be working on the problem and when you head back to the page, the answer might just appear. Like magic.

So it happened, just the other night.

I’d just finished writing and posting my Next chapter update and went to bed thinking about the short story I’m hoping to write this month. I had an idea that’s been simmering since January.

That night I had a dream that, taken at face value, had nothing to do with my story idea. Except that it did in that weird way dreams have. And now I have three quarters of the story sketched out in my moleskine. I just have to figure out an ending that will work.

It makes me furiously happy when my dreams cooperate with the muse. Or maybe they’re scheming. Whatever they’re doing, it works. Like magic.

 

Changing things up and the reasons why

A few years ago, I decided to change things on the blog. I started curating Tipsday and Thoughty Thursday, and then, on weekends, I mostly blogged my session notes from various conferences and conventions I’d attended.

It was easy for me, with respect to generating content, and I sincerely thought I was offering something of value to my readers. My WordPress stats do not bare this out, however. Round about 2014 (when I started the curation and session notes), my views drop and are consistently below a thousand per month.

views

Views dropped again after Nuala died in 2015. My pupdates were clearly some of my more popular posts, as well.

Even looking at it by day, I only seem to have a peak in views (40+/day, which I know is nothing when it comes down to it) about once a month. When those peaks occur varies. It could be after a Tipsday post (most often), or a Thoughty Thursday post. Sometimes, it’s on a weekend, but it could be session notes, or a monthly update. There’s really no pattern that I can pull out.

But clearly, this means I’m not doing my job.

I have therefore decided that it’s time to shake things up again. Not too much. ‘Cause I’m cautious that way.

I’ve had the most views, likes, and comments on my curation posts, so I’m going to keep blogging those. I’ve created better graphics for them (thank you, Canva) and I still believe they have value.

It’s the weekends I’m going to rethink.

I’m also going to continue my monthly updates. I like sharing my progress on various projects and it keeps me accountable.

I’m no longer going to blog session notes, though. Instead, I’ll do a summary/highlights post of any writerly events I attend. There are enough of those that it will keep me producing quality content. In the past couple of years, I’ve actually glossed over some of these events, or only given them a passing mention in my monthly updates, because I really haven’t had the time to write a post devoted to every event I attended.

I’m going to revisit some of the topics from the blog posts that, even five years on, continue to receive the most traffic.

I’m also going to post a referral to my DIY MFA columns when they come out.

Finally, I’ll fill in the gaps with Movie Madness, Series Discoveries, and the odd book review. There may also be the occasional Muse Inks post on this writer’s life, which won’t focus on the writing, but the other stuff that fills up my life around writing.

When Phil and I get our next fur baby (this fall is the new goal … we hope) Sundog posts may even return 🙂

Because writerly goodness is a solo effort, though, I’m still going to have to take the occasional blogging vacay for some of the bigger events I attend. It’s the way things have to go while I’m still working a day job.

If I want to set the time aside to write and to attend my various writerly professional development opportunities, I really don’t have the time to generate a lot of content to pre-schedule and fill in the gaps. I find myself at the limit as it is, but that may be because of the various commitments I’ve made to some of the professional writing organizations of which I’m a member.

I’m considering a re-envisioning of those commitments, too. There’s only so much of me to go around. Do I want to be writing, or do I want to be contributing to the success of writing organizations? It’s going to be a tough decision, ‘cause I’m like Eek! the cat. I always think it never hurts to help. Until it does.

The next few weeks in writerly goodness:

Next weekend, it will be my monthly Next Chapter update. The weekend following, I’ll be away at Story Masters and won’t be posting, but I’ll tell you all about it the weekend after. I’ll have a few more events to discuss in upcoming weeks, but I’ll get into that in my Next Chapter post.

So stay tuned as I work my way through this transition.

And let me know what you think, please. Will this shift be a pleasing one for you? Perhaps only time (and stats) will tell, but if you have any thoughts to share, I’d love to hear them. And if you have requests to make, I’m all (virtual) ears. I know I can’t please everyone, but I’m willing to incorporate some of your suggestions into my ongoing plan.

Thanks for your time and attention.

You’re the bestest!

Muse-inks

Something apropos of nothing

I’ve gotten back into pendants lately.

I used to wear necklaces a lot . . . aeons ago, but found them inconvenient in more recent years.

When I started swimming regularly, it was a pain to have to remove them (and often forget them). When I got into yoga, it was a similar issue, with pendants/charms slapping into my face in various poses.

In the last couple of years, though, I’ve grown fond again. I don’t have the time to swim, and no longer have a membership at the Y to facilitate it. I do some simple yoga in the mornings, on my own, and I don’t have to worry about leaving my necklaces anywhere that might result in my losing them.

So here’s the new line up.

pendants

It started with the lovely knotwork angel my friend, Margaret, picked up for me in Wales (far left). This was followed by the raven (October’s charm in one Celtic system), the Brigit’s cross, and the green man.

Last Christmas, my sister-in-law, Stephanie, gave me the Origami Owl pendant. At the time, it included a typewriter, a birthstone (my dad’s), my initial, and the purple dangle. I added a paw, for Nuala, Zoe, Thufir, and Tripod, a dragonfly (transformation), a bee (I’m a business expertise advisor, or BEA, at work), and the infinity and tree of life dangles. It’s a little cluttered, but that’s me 🙂

In August, my mom-in-law brought me back the sea glass pendant from an artisan in PEI, when she and Stephanie vacationed on the east coast. I love sea glass and it turns out to be very symbolic of my writerly life.

I have others. A set of earnings and necklace that are dolphins curled around fluorite balls, a pegasus with a quartz crystal dangling from it, a meditating goddess, a dragonfly, a unicorn, and some much older, gold jewellery that I keep for sentimental reasons. I might pull these out and share at some point, but for now, I’m too lazy to do it 😛

This is all just to say that I like necklaces again.

Something truly apropos of nothing 😉

Next weekend, I hope to do another double post on Saturday, finishing off the midseason follies and reviewing a few of the more interesting movies I watched in the last year. Then it will be time for my next chapter update the weekend after that, and I’ll finally move on to some of the interesting panels and presentations I attended at WorldCon.

Be prepared for another weekend blogging hiatus in November, for NaNoWriMo. I’m just putting this out here now, because I won’t be on leave, as I’d hoped.

Be well until next I blog 😀

Renovation MADNESS

Before I dive in, I have to let you know that Phil has been very good about not involving me in the actual destruction, or the reconstruction. I know nothing of ‘lectrics (as Phil calls them). I’ve just tried to keep the house clean and keep up with the weekly business of laundry, dishes, grocery shopping, and that kind of thing.

Because of Phil’s various health issues, this is going to be a slow reno. We’re going at Phil’s pace, which is largely on the weekends. But . . . because he’s been feeling so good lately, as a result of the medications he’s on and the changes we’ve made in diet/lifestyle, he felt good enough to tackle the project in the first place.

He chose the living room/dining room area of our small house because it would be a relatively easy reno. Strip it all down, clean up the ‘lectrics, insulate, vapour barrier, drywall, mudding and sanding, floor sanding and refinishing, and painting/finishing details.

The bedroom took about two weeks of solid work, and he had the closet to deal with.

He expected to be done before the end of October, thus making my leave with income averaging and a new puppy a possibility.

But things never go as planned, especially with a house as old as ours.

In a way, it’s good that the pay issues at work caused me to reconsider my leave. It may work out better, even though I was really looking forward to a new little squirmer. It will be that much sweeter when we can.

The ‘lectrics turned into a massive undertaking. When we had previously tackled my office and the bedroom, the ‘lectrics were fairly simple. Phil just removed all the old stuff and ran new wiring.

The living room . . . not so simple.

livingroomrenobegins

It begins.

The room is directly above the panel, and Phil saw right away that he couldn’t leave things the way they were.

There were hidden junction boxes, as many as five wires snaking through a single hole, and three generations of wiring dating back to the original build sometime in the 1940’s. All of this is not up to current building code.

So, Phil patiently turned off the power, traced the wiring through the ceiling, basement, and sometimes the walls, removed the old crap, and replaced/rerouted the wiring efficiently and cleanly. Not all of it, though. There were several places where it looks like additions to the house were built over/around the existing wiring. Phil would not have been able to get at it without removing the siding and original wood from the outside of the house.

He wasn’t about to do that.

As it was, he had to cut holes in the kitchen and side entry to track down and replace some of the old wiring. These will be patched up temporarily pending renovation of those areas.

The pictures:

demofinishedish5

Demo done (kind of).

sept17-1

View from the kitchen (today).

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A fresh start.

I’m not going to show you the devastation in the other areas of the house, the problematic wiring, or the piles of old wiring (currently waiting at the end of the driveway for the second delivery of a bin and removal).

Things should be more straightforward from here on out.

I’ll offer further updates later in the year.

Have another short post coming up. Stay tuned.

Home and garden update

So this one’s not going to be much in the way of words, but there will be a lot of pics 🙂

As of last fall, the work the city had promised to do for us when they repaved Marttila Drive was still not done.

In October, one crew came by to build our new front steps. Even though I asked for an estimate on rebuilding the side steps, too, the contractor never got back to me.

But the work was done. Ok.

NoOneWillTripOnThat

No one’s going to trip on that

In December (remember we didn’t have snow until Boxing Day) another crew arrived to do the interlocking brick. They didn’t go under the front steps, though and now the side steps, our old, but very solid steps we made ourselves, overhangs the brick.

Oh well. We’ll build ourselves a new set  . . . someday.

brickwork

Notice the former garden that’s now growing out from under the front steps

In February, in the middle of a snow storm, yet another crew arrived to install the railing on the retaining wall. It had already snowed quite a bit and they had to excavate the cement pylons they had to bolt the railing to.

RailingYay

Unfortunately, one of them was not placed properly.

railingfail

Stable as hell

With regard to the garden, I planted the raised bed Phil built for me last year.

gardenplanted

The transplanted hops vice and clematis seem to be happy.

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clematis

Now if I could only get around to weeding . . . 😦

Phil has now added solar power to our gazebo.

WorkinOnTheLectrics

So we can work outside, even after sunset. Summer office: accomplishment unlocked!

GazeboAtNight

And that is this writer’s life.

I’ll be back in a bit with the latest Ad Astra reportage.

Muse-inks: The dream vs. reality (check)

On my way to London in August, I was listening to the radio when I heard Beck’s “Dreams.” It’s been on my playlist since.

I don’t know if it’s the driving foot-drum or the grunge-y guitar. I love this song.

Dreams have always been a BIG part of my process. I get ideas from them. I percolate writing ideas into concepts through daydreaming. I studied shamanism for a few years wherein the primary mystic delivery system is dream.

Not incidentally, my characters often receive insight from dreams.

I have dreams for my writing career, too. I may have mentioned them a few times on this blog.

Particularly since “winning” NaNoWriMo my first time out in 2013 and subsequently joining the (some would say) cult of word count tracking, I’ve learned that I’m capable of more than I thought in terms of writing productivity.

I share my productivity, or lack thereof, with you each month on my Next chapter updates.

If you look closely, though. I don’t write a heck of a lot.

My daily drafting would probably average about 250-300 words, or around a page. Sometimes I have a good day and I write 500 or a 1000 words, but some days I don’t write at all. I fit it in where I can around work, blogging, television, and the stuff of life like laundry, gardening, family dinners, and housework.

I’d like to think that if I had the opportunity to write “full time” I’d jump at it. But I *know* I wouldn’t be writing for 7.5 hours a day, five days a week. I’d probably write in the afternoons, primarily. I could still get a shit-load of writing done in that time, though.

I think.

A friend of mine shared that she’d written a thousand words in an hour on her current work in progress. That’s impressive. Other authors I follow report similar results, or better. Several of them with much more demanding lives than I have.

Catherine Ryan Howard recently blogged about her year of amazing productivity (watch Tipsday for that post) and I’ve shared a past post by Kameron Hurley, in which she wrote marathon 10k weekends because that was the only time her day job and life allowed her to have uninterrupted writing time.

Can I do that? I honestly don’t know. I’ve never had to.

A couple of other authors I follow (Marie Bilodeau and Jim C. Hines) have recently made the brave leap into full time writing. It takes more dedication than you think it will to make the writing life work.

I’ve been thinking about this again because I’m querying Initiate of Stone right now. If an agent decided to offer me representation at this point, I wouldn’t be able to leave the day job and focus on writing. If my agent was so lucky as to get me a deal contingent on additional novels, I’d have to find a way to bull my way through everything, including my resistance, to get the work done.

Right now, I make the choice to spend Saturday (and sometimes Sunday) mornings with my mom. On my days off, I generally do that, too. It’s not a duty. It’s something I want to do. Tomorrow, I’ll be taking her out shopping. She’s my best bud as well as my mom.

All the social media stuff that backs up during the week falls into the weekend as well. And preparing my weekly curation posts.

I let this happen.

Part of me says this is the way it is. Another part of me says that the day job gives me the excuse/luxury/lack of urgency to be lazy. I don’t need to grind out words to meet a deadline and pay this month’s (or heaven forbid, last month’s) bills.

I’m also thinking about my potential productivity as I head into another NaNoWriMo while I’m working, and travelling for work, during November. My only goal for this year is to beat last year’s 28,355 word effort.

In August, due to my two and a half week trip delivering training, I gave up posting on the weekends. I think I’m going to do that in November, too, even though I’ll have Can-Con sessions to report on. Y’all will just have to be patient 🙂

I continue to discover that I can do more than I think I can when I have the proper motivation.

If nothing else, I’ll try and see what happens.

The dream is still alive despite the reality check.

What about you, dear reader? Will your dreams survive the reality check?

Until next week! *waves*

Muse-inks