I still exist! I’m working on several posts, including a piece of flash fiction and an explanation of my absence.
Please be patient with me. Thank you.
I still exist! I’m working on several posts, including a piece of flash fiction and an explanation of my absence.
Please be patient with me. Thank you.
My muse has been waking up, so it was no surprise when my body starting betraying me again. It seems like every time I get close to being myself again after all these back problems and medication adjusting, something pops up that could potentially stop me from writing.
This time it is my sensitivity to salicylates. It’s been quite some time since I had my first major allergic reaction and I’ve done many things to avoid a repeat performance of Hellboy (this was my entire body turning bright red after drinking a smoothie containing blackberries and blueberries). I really thought I had this stuff under control, but I learned twice in the last week how wrong I was.
Okay, confession time. I did learn tea was very high in salicylates, but at the time of my first reaction, I didn’t know. So I kept drinking it, every day. As time went on, I reacted to more things. The doctor had warned me of this, and while I listened to her, I unwisely decided to keep enjoying the things I loved until my body told me I was done.
Unfortunately, when I react to one thing, there is a domino effect. There are three different types of salicylate. I wasn’t reacting to the one that includes mint and menthol, so I didn’t cut either out. I loved my mints and cough drops, they acted as substitutes when I stopped smoking years ago. Then came the fateful day when my body rejected both. It was awful! They caused sores in my mouth, even under my tongue!
Once that happened I reacted to certain shampoos and cosmetics. I had already cleaned out the ones with ‘benzyl salicylate’ on their label, but I left the ones containing aloe. Mistake!
And I still drank tea. Even when there were signs it was doing bad things to me, I kept drinking it. Then my body, which is clearly smarter than me, decided it for me. I reacted, and it wasn’t fun. Shortly after I reacted to a face cleaner, then yesterday I an unexpected enemy reared it’s lovely, delicious, terrible head — paprika. I ate a grilled chicken salad. The chicken was seasoned with salt, pepper (another salicylate), garlic, onion powder, and paprika. Stupid me, I have looked at the lists of foods to avoid a hundred times and simply never noticed the spices. It’s more accurate to say I ignored it.
My punishment was to turn into Hellboy again. Honestly, I’m lucky I haven’t had any breathing issues, though the doctor says it will come to that.
There are a few more items in the house I need to figure out replacements for. Did I mention I can’t have mint? I have yet to discover a toothpaste that is for sensitive teeth but doesn’t contain mint. I guess I should cut out regular pepper too, ugh!
I had to learn all the terms used by various companies that mean salicylates without actually using the word. Most sunscreens have the evil in them, but the label says homosalate or octisalate. Some of the ones for sensitive skin don’t have those two, but they have aloe. I found two I can use, which are more expensive but safe is good.
I’m discovering more and more things I have to avoid, but I’m paying more attention now. I hate giving up things I love (no more chicken strips from restaurants), but it’s time to give in. I don’t only turn red when I use things I shouldn’t, I also feel really awful. Lie down and stare at the ceiling awful. This stops me from writing, and I can’t allow it any longer.
Back pain and surgeries have already been roadblocks to writing, I can’t let my own bad choices also stop me too.
Yesterday was the first day with no tea. I hated it, but I survived. Today will be the same. The two pieces of chicken meant for my salads will be given to my offspring, and I’ll find something plain to eat. I’ll pout a lot and curse the unfairness of it all, but I know it’s all worth it.
Most importantly, I’ll write.
Someone once asked why I call this my Everything Update. I think the real question was why do I update everything all at once. The answer is in the name of my blog: Writerish Ramblings. I do tend to ramble on. I’m so full of words that I can’t contain them all inside my head, so I let them out on paper, on the screen, and in person, I never shut up (unless I’m talking to a stranger).
If I did separate updates for each of the items in this post, then I would overload everyone. So I put it all here.
The other reason is pain. I can’t sit at the computer for as long as I want to, so it’s easier for me to update on everything in one post. What you don’t see is I don’t always type it up in one sitting.
So, on to the updating.
Writing: I purchased an online course about writing a series. I know how to write, but there are different rules for series, as well as many different types of series. Each kind has its own set of dictates. I figure I will learn something and add to my writing toolbox and it’s worth it to me. I also bought a book that I would call a refresher.
My reasoning on these items is I have not been writing. No work on my trilogy, no short stories, no new ideas (besides a few jotted notes).
Part of my problem is pain medication. I had to choose between a nightmare surgery or pills, so I chose pills. I hate it, but I’m doing what I can to put off the inevitable for as long as possible.
So the meds make me a little flighty and a lot sleepy. Since I’ll be on them for at least a couple of months, I need to do something to fight through it. Following instructions in a class or book seems to be my best choice for keeping my muse awake.
Besides, why wouldn’t I want to keep learning, and trying new techniques? Talent/skills can stagnate if you don’t take the time to help them grow.
I also plan to use writing prompts I normally ignore. I like prompts for writing short stories, but I never do the ones that want you to answer questions about your life. For example, Why do you want to write? Or Where do you see yourself in ten years? Maybe even Describe your hometown.
Fiction won’t come out of using these but words will. Any writing leads to more writing. I shouldn’t be ignoring them. An essay using the prompt: Why do you want to be a writer led me to win a scholarship to the West Texas Writer’s Academy. Clearly, any prompt has value!
So I’ll use them and I’ll probably post some of the results of my experiment.
Medical: BLAH! I had an injection for pain relief, but it didn’t really work. They added something to dissolve some scar tissue at the same time. I don’t know how long it takes to work, but at this point, there isn’t much difference. I’m sure it is doing something, but at this level of pain, it’s hard to appreciate a small change.
Two days ago I must have overdone it at the gym because the pain was so bad that I spent most of the day in bed. It was much the same the next day. So I skipped working out yesterday, and I’m much better now. On the upside, I watched the extended cut of The Lord of the Rings trilogy (over two days) with no writer’s guilt. I also analyzed the hell out of all three movies. Everything from dialog to structure. I almost took notes, but it’s hard to write anything when lying down.
I really enjoy those movies, but I found myself laughing at some of the speeches and Eowyn’s face when she was shocked, those eyes!
Everything else: I had to rearrange my work space. I have an L-shaped desk, and where I had, it wasn’t causing me problems. One of the desks was in the middle of the room. The space was too tight, and I was getting into my chair in a way that hurt a lot. Now, that desk is against a wall. The area is open and I’m better off.
My dogs love it because they can’t sprawl out but still be close to me. I miss my ‘nest’ but overall, I like this arrangement better.
I also moved all my books around. Every time I can’t do things because of pain, I want to do all the things! So I do some of the things even though it’s going to hurt. A rebellious nature sucks when you’re rebelling against your own body and it fights back!
I’ll try to post more often. I’ve been slacking but I’m trying to push through all these roadblocks. That’s all for now. I’ll let you all know how it goes.
Deaths in the family: My aunt Janice passed away last week, which is why I haven’t been posting, nor writing, much. The night it happened I got the call at 10:41 pm. When you get a call at that time of night, you know something is wrong. Add in I saw my cousin post on Facebook about her mother being in the ER earlier and I knew when my phone went off exactly what I was going to hear.
Still, when my mom said my aunt had died, I sat up quickly (and painfully) and said “What?” I guess I hoped against hope that nothing was wrong. She explained what happened and abruptly got off the phone.
Janice had major surgery a couple of weeks before. Everything was looking good until Sunday night of last week. She got a blood clot in her lungs and there was nothing that could be done.
I was so upset and so shocked I was basically numb. I think I was staring at the ceiling after trying to convince my husband he needed to go to sleep since he worked the next morning when I got a text maybe ten minutes after the call. It was my mom asking me to call my two brothers to let them know.
It was the first time in my life I had to do something like that. Normally my mom did it but this time she needed me. So I made the calls and eventually I fell asleep.
The next morning I called mom and she said her, my grandmother, and my two cousins were going to the funeral home. I invited myself along and met them there. This was also a first for me. I wasn’t involved in the planning, besides speaking up for my cousins when they answered in whispers and I was the only one who heard them. Moral support was all I could offer. My mom had to deal with several other funeral arrangements so she stepped in when needed and eventually it all got done.
Then I picked up lunch for everyone and went to my grandma’s house. Everyone was mostly calm, the shocked calm that can’t last. It was hard but for the next couple of days, I did whatever I could to help. Anything from vacuuming to helping my husband (he’s the muscle, I’m the director) clean out my aunt’s garage to make it easier on her daughters when they have to go through it all.
Sometimes I simply sat on the couch and chatted with my grandma and the other women in my family. We told funny stories about Janice and comforted each other by being together. Seeing everyone’s pain was so hard.
I cried at the gym the day after I found out then at both the graveside and the memorial service, many times but otherwise stayed in my numb calm state. I suppose I was in ‘get it done’ mode.
Friday was hard because I stayed home. I didn’t cry because my husband was also home and I didn’t want to upset him. You see, last Sunday was only the beginning of the bad news for my family. The next day my husband got a call from his dad letting him know his grandmother had passed away. She was such a great lady and we’ll miss her a lot. I feel so useless because I can’t do a thing to help since I’m so far away. I couldn’t even do much to comfort my very stoic husband because I was such a mess waiting to happen.
Her funeral will be in New Jersey and we can’t make it. I wish we could. A family needs to be together in times like this. I’m hoping my brother-in-law can set up Skype for it.
My son also got bad news. A really close friend of his died of cancer. This kid was twenty-two years old! What a sad week.
I’m not sure I’ve processed it all yet. Grief on grief is terrible. My house has been filled with a somber gloom all week. Not to mention one of the kids has the flu and strep so we’re all avoiding each other.
Today, everything is hitting me. Writing this is hard but helping me.
Writing: As for writing, due to the above events, it’s been on the back-burner. Yesterday was the first day I had any creativity come out of me.
My writing group does a weekly picture prompt. When it was posted in our FB group I thought it was amazing but didn’t think for a moment I’d be able to write anything. I was wrong. I started getting ideas within minutes. It was problematic because I had two paths I could take with one character. I’m not sure which to pick so I’m writing both, hopefully today. I’ll decide which I like better, or see if one takes over the other. Maybe I’ll combine them.
Unfortunately, it’s as likely I won’t be able to write a complete story. It doesn’t matter, though. Creativity happened. I’ll ease back into writing but it would be nice if I could lose myself in it.
I have a couple of pieces of flash fiction I need to polish a bit before I post here. Expect those soon, tomorrow or Thursday.
Medical: I’m in a lot of pain but it’s from all my activity last week and I think I’ll be okay soon. I need to schedule an appointment with my neurosurgeon and get a CT scan done next month. Fingers crossed it looks good. I’m worried about the rod and screws in my back. I’ve been in pain for quite a while. During the last visit, there was concern about me healing so slow. The CT scan is to make sure nothing loosened because of it.
After what happened to my aunt, and finding out my grandfather also died the same way after surgery, you can imagine how much I fear another surgery.
Everything else: There isn’t much else. We’re all trying to move forward. I’ll try to post another update late in the week. Hopefully, I’ll not have anything else bad to talk about.
Writing: Sadly, I haven’t written much lately. Only a piece of flash fiction (click here to read it), and a bit of revision. It seems my muse is on Christmas vacation.
I picked up an older story, my Nanowrimo project from last year, and started on revisions. Then I stopped. In all fairness to myself, I’ve been busy, but I’m also reluctant. I don’t know why. Part of me is afraid to step out of creative mode. The problem with this attitude is there is not much in the way of words coming out of me. So I’m already mostly out of creative mode anyway.
It could be my rebellious nature or fear or stupidity but I can’t get into editing/revising even though I feel I should.
There are a few issues, besides the above, stopping me. One is pain, more on this later. Another is the scariest. Burn out. I have writing fatigue and I don’t know what to do about it.
I’ve considered changing mediums because I still have the urge to be creative. I could do photography, which is unlikely due to the pain issue, or draw. I’m a beginner at both but I like to think I have potential. The problem with doing either of these is I tend to switch off all other creative outlets.
If I’m into sketching then I don’t touch my camera or the computer. If I’m taking photos, no stories come to me and I lose interest in drawing.
The darkest side of this is writing is a business. If I’m not writing then I’m not finishing books to sell. I’m not in it for the money but, like every writer, I need the money to be able to keep writing. The bright side of changing my focus is when I go back to writing I seem to be more creative.
I do need some kind of recharge. I wish I knew exactly how to get it. At this point I’m just guessing.
Another option is to change what I’m writing. This could be a change in genre or a different word count. I’m considering working on only short stories for a while. If I do, I would only write these, novels would have to be put aside completely.
It wouldn’t be a bad thing to write a lot of pieces of flash fiction. The sense of accomplishment from finishing a story completely should not be underestimated. Part of my issue with writing is I sometimes feel I’ll never finish anything.
It’s great to write a complete first draft and I’ve done exactly that with four novels. However, a book isn’t finished on that draft. There are revisions and editing still to come. I wonder if I’ll end up revising all my novels in a group, one after the other. Actually, this is one of my fears. I get into whatever mode and stay there until something jerks me out of it. Financially it would be great. Creatively, it would be devastating.
I’ll decide eventually and get to it. For now, I’m going to continue with this semi-break from writing.
Medical: I had a procedure recently and will have another on December 30. They are burning off nerves and can only work on one side at a time. I’m sore from the needles but I feel a difference. Unfortunately, it makes the pain on the other side seem worse. So I’m kind of better but still miserable haha.
Working out helps a lot so. So did the exercises I learned in physical therapy. I haven’t kept up with them but I’m going to start again today. I’m an idiot for not doing them all along.
I’ll update again after my other procedure. It will take a couple of weeks for me to know how successful it will be though.
Reading: There were many novels I planned to read but I ended up picking up something unexpected. I’m rereading The Sword of Truth series by Terry Goodkind. I’ve only read it once and I didn’t love it the first time. The reason I’m reading it now is partly research. Book one was the author’s debut novel and it shows. Still, this book is pretty amazing.
It moves a little too fast in the beginning and the words ‘that’ and ‘had’ are everywhere. The sentences are overly long at times and quite frankly there are times I don’t understand how it made it through an editor’s hands in its end form.
Grammar and sentence structure aside, the story is great. It’s hard for me to put it down. I feel I can learn a lot from reading it with a critical eye. The series is long and the writing gets better with each book.
My biggest reason for reading it is description and transitions. He does both in an interesting way. The first book is long and there simply isn’t room for too much description. So in most cases, he keeps it compact and only uses the details needed to give the reader a solid picture.
Transitions are hard. If you’re not careful as a writer, you will bore a reader into putting your book down if you spend too much time on how a character gets from place to place. Unless getting there is important to the plot. So far, Terry Goodkind does this well. I remember he gets a bit lazy in later books but for now I’m happy with what I’m reading.
I want to write transitions like he does. I don’t want to write like him but I do want to see good examples of how other authors tackle things we all struggle with. My real problem is I don’t write enough with transitions. I’m trying to find the happy medium.
So reading right now is as much for writing as it is for pleasure and I’m okay with it.
Everything else: Yesterday was my birthday and my husband said we could do whatever I wanted. I couldn’t do exactly what I wanted so I did the next best thing. I wanted to see Rogue One but I don’t do opening nights. I’ll have to wait until next week. Since I wasn’t willing to be around a crowd but still wanted to go see a movie, I decided to go to Alamo Drafthouse for the first time.
We went to see Moana. It was great. There was more singing than I would have liked and one of the songs was so grating I wanted to cover my ears, but I liked it. They serve food and I got my old standby: chicken strips. The food wasn’t great but was tolerable. I don’t have any interest in ever eating there again but I liked being able to pick my seats.
I might go back but I live practically next door to a better theater so I’ll probably still with it.
We decorated out Christmas tree differently this year. There are some plain ornaments on it but mostly there is non-ornaments all over it. I told my offspring it was time to we made it more fitting for our family.
So now it’s covered in nerdy stuff. There are Pokemon stuffed into the branches. My Star Trek and Doctor Who key chains have become ornaments. There is a Harry Potter luggage tag and a multipass (bonus points to anyone who knows what that is). I even hid the alien from Aliens against the trunk for the kids to find. I bought a BB8 ornament too. Everyone is happy and making plans for buying more franchise ornaments for next year.
There probably won’t be anymore updates until after Christmas but I hope to write some short stories and I’ll post them when finished.
Happy holidays to everyone!
Writing: As mentioned in a previous update, I finished the first draft of book one of my unnamed trilogy. I’m a bit at loose ends now.
I started planning the novel I plan to write for Nanowrimo but the middle is giving me trouble. I know the beginning and end. I even know a lot of things that need to happen in between but once I made my story board I saw the middle was sparse. At this point I don’t know how to fix it.
On a good note, I did figure out how to introduce some important back story. I have less than two weeks to figure out the rest. This may turn out to be only a partially planned story. I’m going to start writing it on November 1st whether I work out the issues or not. It will be like old times, when I would write by the seat of my pants, but with a bit of a safety net.
Since finishing my novel and getting stalled on planning the next I wrote one piece of flash fiction (click here to read it), and not much else. I have a few ideas for more short stories but haven’t been inspired enough to write them. My brain is too wrapped up on other things.
One of those things is an older story trying to intrude and push my Nanowrimo project to the side. This is no surprise as it happens every year I participate. Last year I started with one story and when I got stuck I switched to a different one. The new novel kept pulling my attention away and once I let it have my focus it poured out of my head quickly. I wrote the entire first draft in 15 days. I did the same thing the year before, and the year before that.
Sometimes I write one and a half novels in November and other times it’s two halves but apparently this is my pattern. I’d like to break the habit but I’d rather write parts of two different stories than get so stalled I can’t write a thing. I do not advise jumping from story to story for most writers.
In other writing news, I plan to go to the West Texas Writer’s Academy in June. I know how to write but I feel like adding to my writer’s toolbox is important. Also, I need to recharge my writing battery. I’ve talked to several people who’ve attended in the past and know this is for me. I can’t wait to be around a bunch of other writer’s who want to learn and share their knowledge. It’s part classes, part networking, part absorbing writer vibes.
The problem is it’s expensive. I’ve started saving but I’m nervous I won’t be able to manage it. There is a small scholarship available and I applied for it. I had to write a short essay about why I want to be a writer. Yesterday I finished it and forced myself to send it. I was a nervous wreck! At first, after attaching the file, I kept my mouse pointer hovered over the send button.
I’m not sure how long I sat there in fear but I finally clicked. That’s when I started shaking. Tears were running down my face and I was freaking out. It was weird! I stamped down the ‘what-if’ questions trying to overwhelm me and stared at the table in front of me so no one would notice. I wasn’t sobbing, it was only nervous tears, which I had never experienced until that moment, but I didn’t want anyone to ask if I was okay. Did I mention this all happened in a coffee shop. I’m so glad I sat in the corner! If I had known I would react this way I would have done it at home.
I told some writer friends what I did and even typing it in a text brought back the anxiety. Telling my husband that night did the same. I’m okay now as I type this, but I’m still a bit nervous about it.
That tiny partial scholarship could make the difference between me going or not. I desperately want to go. I think I need to. I have to pay in January and I’ll do everything I can to make it work. Wish me luck, I think I’m going to need it.
Reading: I’m rereading Harry Potter. I don’t want to get too distracted from my own writing so for the last couple of months I’ve only read books I’ve read before. I tried to only pick ones I’ve read several times.
When I picked up book one I was surprised by the beginning. I love J.K. but the first chapter is awful. Not the story itself, but the writing. Even by book two you can see a huge improvement in her skill level. Noticing this gave me hope. I’ve reread some of my early work and been appalled. Knowing this happens to all writers is encouraging. We all get better. I don’t know if I can ever get J.K. better but I can certainly try.
The other thing I noticed was I haven’t reread these books in a very long time. I probably shouldn’t keep reading but it’s already pulled me in. So I’ll treat it as research.
Coincidentally, the story trying to intrude on my Nanowrimo story is a middle grade tale. Reading at least the first four Harry Potter books really is like doing research since Harry is in the age range of my characters.
Okay, I’m pretty sure I just decided, literally as I wrote the previous paragraph, I’m going to switch projects now for Nanowrimo. Tommie the fairy and her friends really want to me write about them and I will. It will be a lot more fun than the story I had planned. It has a lot of death and impossible choices and betrayal and creatures that kill and eat humans.
Tommie and her friends never eat people! Well, one of her friends would if she was allowed outside the fairy realm, but that’s not important here.
I think I won’t pick up The Prisoner of Azkaban today. Instead, I’ll plot out my new Nano project!
Medical: I’m still waiting to hear from the doctor’s office about insurance approval to do an injection in my back. There is a nerve basically being a little smushed. It’s more complicated than that but my silly word serves. I hope this procedure happens next week. If it works then I’ll be all set for November’s crazy writing schedule.
Everything else: I’m going to search for freezer meals today so I can get some good use out of my slow cooker next month. I’d rather spend two or three days preparing a months worth of meals than cook every day when I’m trying to write 2000 words a day. Plus, meal planning will help me save money towards the academy.
For those of you who read my post about my daughter’s friend, I have an update. The abusive jerk who hit this girl got expelled. I’m not sure if it’s because that is policy when someone is accused or if it’s because one of the times he hit her it happened in an alley that runs along one of the parking lots. If they consider it school property, well they have a no-tolerance policy on violence. He now goes to a school across town, so the girl feels safer. I’m waiting to hear what the police had to say about it.
I’ll post an update on my planning progress soon. Don’t be surprised if I change my mind again.
If you don’t like meandering ramblings then this post is not for you. Don’t say I didn’t warn you!
I’m sitting in a Starbucks. It’s not my normal writing spot but for some reason I felt the need to change it up. I hear people say either this place has the best coffee or the grossest brew. I don’t really care because I get hot tea, English Breakfast, which is nearly impossible to mess up. I’m here for the atmosphere and the aroma.
If you know me at all you know I despise the flavor of coffee but adore how it smells. Something about it improves my creativity.
Anyway, I ordered my tea and sat down. As I pulled out my laptop and my spiral I overheard a short conversation between two men dressed in business suits. They were talking about work when suddenly one changed the subject.
“I love my wife but she calls me at work about the kids and it drives me crazy. I mean I’m at work, how does she not get that. She never even asks if I can talk. As soon as I say hello she’s all ‘blah blah blah blah,'”
The other man nodded then talked about an app that tracks everything for his baby. Diapers, feeding schedule, everything. So he and his wife were on the same page and she doesn’t call him at work. Though she does text.
I had several thoughts as this conversation unfolded. First was why on earth had I tuned into this? Second was that the first guy was a moron and the second guy was smart. I get it that when you’re busy with work it’s rarely good to be interrupted with a personal call, especially when it happens often.
However, why hasn’t this guy done something about it? Perhaps a conversation with his wife would take care of the issue. Ask her to text or something, get the app, don’t answer unless you are able to talk, etc. Also, I hate it when people piss and moan about their significant other. It’s disrespectful and crappy.
The other guy handled this issue in a much better way. He and his wife got an app, probably had a conversation and he never said one negative word about her. His nod to his coworker indicated he understood and that was enough.
I’m feeling pretty judgy right now but he struck a nerve. I never gripe about my husband to anyone and he never complains about me to anyone. We respect each other enough to keep out mouths shut, even when we’re angry or irritated with each other. Well, to be honest I have complained that my husband never puts himself first but I don’t think that one counts as negative. It’s okay if you think I’m a hypocrite lol.
To change the subject, let’s talk writing. I made an important connection this morning while at the gym today. I was on the elliptical and thinking about my fantasy trilogy. Yesterday I started having new ideas for the first book. They came out of nowhere during physical therapy and grew throughout the day.
I woke up today with even more ideas and I was thinking about them while working out. I made a plan for what I wanted to write today and it hit me. Exercise. It was the key to unlocking my sad case of writer’s block!
Since coming home from vacation I had only gone to the gym once until Tuesday. Once I restarted my gym habit my muse came out of hiding. She’d poked her head out a bit for a writing prompt but not much else for a month. Now ideas are flowing easily. I almost have too many!
My writing was always easier and better after working out but I never realized I had inadvertently trained my muse to almost need the exercise first. When I look back to when the block started it all makes sense. It began with me getting into vacation mode. I was still working out but as it go closer to time to leave town I slacked. I wasn’t really writing much but it was fine because I was gathering stuff and making lists and generally preparing (excuses all).
I told myself I’d get work done on the plane or when there was down time at my in-laws’ house. It never happened. Then I came back home and I don’t know what came over me. I went to physical therapy two days in a row that week and it kicked my butt. I went to the gym once after that and my tooth disaster wrecked any chance of me working out again until this week. If you’ve ever had an abscessed tooth then you understand why I stayed home and felt sorry for myself. Also, no writing happened.
So on Monday school started and I had a PT appointment after dropping my daughter off. I told them I was done. I wanted back in the gym and they previously didn’t want me doing anything other than cardio while in their care. I plateaued a long time ago and at this point I was only making them money and getting nothing out of it.
On Tuesday I worked out, and yes I was careful not to overdo it. Or so I thought. I was so sore but I felt great. I went back to PT on Wednesday for one last time and asked a lot of questions about what I could and couldn’t do in the gym. They had me do all my exercise a final time, including some alterations so I could do some of them at home. I was almost done when the random idea struck. I must have had a dramatic physical reaction because when I came out of my writer’s trance several therapists were staring at me haha.
My husband had come with me so he had to listen to me babble about the idea all the way home. I was so excited that I don’t think he minded too much. He knows how I’ve struggled and how disheartened I’ve been about it.
This morning I went to work out again. It was hard! It was amazing too. Almost the entire time I was making stuff up, just like a writer should! It was even about the project I want to work on.
There are still issues I have to work through of course. For example. I came to Starbucks to write all these ideas down but instead I eavesdropped on someone’s conversation and decided to write about it. I’ll have to find a way to push distractions away. Writing a blog post isn’t so bad but other things need to be ignored.
I am a creature of habit so once I reestablish my routine, or come up with a new one and get used to it I’ll be good. My plan is to always write after working out. If I’m able to write again after lunch then I will. My muse likes structure so I will give her structure! I will go to the gym daily to at least get on the elliptical for a while. I’m not sure what my schedule will be for the weights and machines yet but I’ll figure it out quickly.
The best thing about working out today is at this moment I feel no pain. I might wreck that by sitting here writing but I’ll find my way.
In other news there is a nerdy convention this weekend. I’m trying to decide if we’re going. It’s also my husband’s birthday on Saturday. He’s into the same stuff I am and I know he wants to go but with my unresolved (and expensive) dental issues we don’t know if it’s feasible to go to this thing. He says we shouldn’t do it just for him. I say we should. Now it’s in my hands. I need to decide soon but I haven’t heard back from the dentist about my insurance and price.
Okay, this is random but some guy just did one of my biggest pet peeves. It ranks up there with people complaining about their spouses to their coworkers, friends and family. I live in Texas, in a biggish hub city surrounded by many farms and ranches. This means there are more trucks on the road than small cars. There are some smaller trucks but I’m talking F150 and bigger.
This guy in an overly large Ford (a 250 I think) pulled into the parking lot here, deliberately taking up several spaces and actually blocking another car. My car. He’s lucky I’m hanging out for a while! I mean come on buddy. I know the truck is big but it can fit in ONE space. Or if his driving is so sucky he could have taken up two spaces further way from the door, where people don’t normally park. He was only here for a few minutes but still, he and his truck are not so important they should have the right to do that. What a dipsh…nevermind.
I’ll just leave this here.
Okay, rant over. Time to get to work. I’ll post a writing update soon. I hope to have a lot to say!
I’m back from vacation and recovering. It’s weird to think about the need to recover from time off but you know what I mean. Vacation can be a great time but can exhaust you. For me this was doubly true.
We flew from Texas to New Jersey, which started the tiring process and was no fun for my back. I was excited to go visit my in-laws but I was terrified. Before we boarded the plane I realized I’d forgotten most of my prescription medication. The muscle relaxer I could have dealt with but the nerve med was another story. Not only is it a medication you should never stop taking all at once, it also meant the toes in my left foot were going to be on fire in a few days. I had enough to last for three days.
If I’d noticed earlier I could have asked someone to bring them too me but by the time I figured it out it was too late. The pharmacy in NJ was willing to give me a three-day supply but I would have had to skip a dose a day and lower the dose of the remaining two times each day I take it.
Through lots of phone calls, tons of hassle and the efforts of the most amazing woman on the planet (my mom), it all worked out.
Vacation: Now the fun part of my time away. Two days after we got to my in-laws’ house we drove to Philadelphia to visit my husband’s brother and have some adventures. We went to the Philly zoo, the art museum and the aquarium (over two days). The last time I visited a zoo was when I was thirteen and I’d never been to an art museum or aquarium. Each was fun and interesting, plus I was able to take a lot of photos. There was so much walking though!
On the second day I started noticing my ankle was feeling odd. Not quite painful but close. We drove back to New Jersey that evening and by the time we got there I was quite uncomfortable. The next morning my ankle flat-out hurt and the pain shot up into my leg. To be honest, I wasn’t sure where the pain originated. My mother in law asked if it was my shin but I couldn’t give a good answer. I could feel it from the middle of my lower leg to down into my foot by mid afternoon and it hurt to walk.
We figured I twisted my ankle or something until I realized I could feel a little discomfort in my other leg. I still don’t know what it was but my mother in law had some herbal pain relieving massage oil that helped a lot. She originally told me to try arnica but that is a salicylate (which I can’t go near) so I had to settle for the next choice.
For two days we did very little and when it was necessary to get out I wrapped my ankle. By the weekend I was fine. It still hurt but I could walk without making it worse. I was even able to roam around the abandoned Boy Scout’s camp I wanted to see and take pictures. It was creepy and a little scary but I got some interesting shots. I also managed to avoid being attacked by all the poison ivy we had to stomp on to get to the cabins. My husband held tree branches out of the way so I could watch my feet haha.
Our flight home was on Tuesday. There was a ton of walking to get to our gate and then a ton more getting between terminals for the second flight but my ankle/leg held up. My back hurt from sitting in airline seats but I’ve recovered from that.
It was a great trip but I was so glad to sleep in my own bed. Plus make a demon hunter in World of Warcraft, since the patch allowing this landed on the same day we did.
Back Home: The first thing I noticed when I walked in the door on Tuesday was the kids had actually cleaned. It wasn’t perfect but effort was made so no yelling or mom looks were necessary.
My dogs each turned into Tigger, with their bottoms made out of springs. I didn’t get as scratched up as I thought I would but my husband did. Since we’ve been back the dogs hardly leave our sides.
Writing: I am still suffering from semi-writer’s block. The closest I’ve gotten was while we waiting for our first flight to take off on Tuesday. We were delayed because of a mechanical issue. There is a plastic ‘boot’ covering the wires connected to the inflatable slide on the main boarding door of the plane. This boot was busted and the wires were exposed. We couldn’t take off until they got parts (from a different terminal). There was a real danger of the slide inflating mid-flight if they didn’t fix it.
We took off an hour late and with little complaining from the passengers once they explained what was happening (after 30 minutes of sitting there wondering). Several people missed their connections but we were lucky. When we booked we had to decide between a 50 minute or two and a half hour layover. We chose the longer, just in case. So when we finally reached the Houston airport there was no rush. We got lunch and sat around for 45 minutes.
So, while we sat on the plane, not knowing anything besides there was a ‘minor’ mechanical problem, my muse tentatively raised her hand. Everything from pixies messing with the door to a dragon egg being found in the cargo hold were presented as reasons for the delay. Several what if questions led to a steaming suitcase, containing the egg (which was now hatching). We couldn’t very well take off when a newly hatching dragon needed heat right? The luggage loading crewman who found it would have known the absolute cold of the hold while in flight would have hurt the creature.
Then my muse went back into hiding and I prepared for take off. This consisted of death gripping the arm rest and my husband’s leg. I hate take off!
Drawing: A new category! I don’t know what made me do it but one day, months ago, I decided to draw something on the dry erase board we keep on our fridge. The contents of this board change all the time. Someone will draw something, then another family member will alter it. Then another, then another and so on. There have been some interesting results.
I’ve done this before, but will little effort. I never really thought I could draw, despite several art classes. The problem was I could duplicate stuff but only with a lot of effort. I didn’t think I had actual artistic skill. Just copying skill, not tracing, just redrawing what I see.
Anyway, most of the things I drew were ridiculous. A fat camel, a dog a child could draw, etc. But that time I decided to draw Kim Possible. If you don’t recognize the name, it’s the title character from a cartoon I watched with the kids. One of the few I could tolerate actually. It took me most of an hour and in the end you could tell it her but I felt like it looked like an older version or something.
Man that bugged me! I wouldn’t call myself a perfectionist but it irritated me that I couldn’t get it quite right. It didn’t matter that I was working with dry erase markers, I wanted it perfect! I put it on the fridge and waited to see how the kids would change it. They didn’t. The shock of who drew it must have been too much. So I added Rufus, the naked mole rat (also from the show) to it.
He turned out better. They still didn’t change it. By this point we had two dry erase boards on the fridge. So I grabbed the other one and started searching for other cartoon characters to draw. Nineties cartoons were either drawn very simply or too elaborately. I ended up picking a character drawn in the same style as my first attempt. Danny Phantom. I have to admit, of all the cartoons my kids watched, this was my favorite. If they watched it in the living room today, I’d probably sit down with them and watch a few episodes.
This drawing turned out much better. Well, the first attempt at it sucked, but when I started over it was good. The kids did eventually alter it. He gained then lost a mustache. His eyes became bloodshot and some impressive wrinkles showed up.
Since then I’ve drawn several more cartoons on the boards and two on paper. I look up “how to draw…” and duplicate what I see. The things I do on the boards sometimes get altered and other times don’t. Cosmo from The Fairly Odd Parents got some kind of disease leaving him with red spots.
The deliberately badly drawn dog eventually became a demon dragon thing. Eeyore didn’t get touched. The Last Airbender got some much-needed color and Squidworth was deemed too much of a masterpiece to be altered.
I did a few drawings on paper: Shego from Kim Possible, which was much harder than I thought it would be, Harley Quinn, a hatching dragon, a few flower sketches and a large dragon. No one was more surprised than me when I learned I could do it. Also, it’s much easier to fix flaws when using a pencil than the dry erase markers!
Here are my examples, and pardon the old beat up dry erase board:
Clearly there are flaws in both. You can see my mess-ups on Harley Quinn because I pressed too hard and erasers can only do so much in that case, also I know I can’t draw a circle haha. Still, I was able to make corrections and while it’s not perfect I didn’t get angry. With angry Ang, well, you can’t see how bad it was before but trust me when I say it is hard to get something right with a fat marker, stupid ears! The kids and my husband added the color and no one touched it afterwards.
I’m not a great artist but I’m getting better. In fact, I need to erase the instructions for while I was on vacation I wrote on the board and draw something new now that I’m home. I’m sure my children would rather see a drawing than what they have to clean.
Photography: I took about 1200 pictures on vacation. There is a shot of almost every animal we saw at the zoo, multiples of the super cute ones. I probably took fifty photos of sharks at the aquarium but maybe 10 turned out okay. I took macro shots at my in-laws’ house and a bunch at the abandoned camp.
I didn’t take as many pictures as I thought I would but at this point I’m happy with what I got. Last year in New Jersey I was only able to take about 20, including the selfie I took in the hospital before they took my appendix from me.
I’ll start going through them all tomorrow and probably post a few after. There is one from the camp I really love that I’d like to share.
Physical: I’m doing okay. As previously mentioned, my back was hurting from walking a lot and long plane rides but I feel back to my normal right now.
I went to physical therapy yesterday and it was hard but not unbearable. They told me I’ll be doing it through all of August and after that I have ten more visits covered by insurance if I need them. I’m impatient to be better but PT is a necessarily slow process.
I went to the doctor on Wednesday to check my thyroid levels as well. My prescription didn’t change and for the first time, possibly ever, I don’t have a giant bruise where they took blood!
More Writing: I keep thinking about the dragon hatching in the suitcase. I may have to write that story, hopefully today. My plan is to try to write some flash fiction over the next couple of days anyway. If I’m lucky this will break my block. I think half the problem was I was in planning/packing mode, then vacation mode.
It’s time to get back to work and I’m going try everything I can to coax my muse back out. I’d rather work on my trilogy but I’ll whatever writing I can get! I’ll post an update as soon as I have one.
Sidenote: I forgot I did one more drawing for the fridge before I went out of town. It started out as Stewie Griffin. This is what it looks like today:
When I got home it said “butt rock, oc, do not steal” (no clue so don’t ask what or why) and the teeth were square. I changed it to say “bite,” made the teeth pointy and added the bottom tooth. I was told it went through many alterations before reaching this point.
It’s silly but it’s fun with my offspring and I love our weirdness. I say bond with your loved ones any way you can.
Other sidenote: Being this post is so long, I clearly have a lot of words in me. Now if only I can convince my muse to put them into some fiction!
Writing Personal: I’ll save writing for the end of the post so I don’t humiliate myself immediately. I’m going on vacation soon. I’ll be in another state for a week and a half. The regular Wednesday and Saturday posts will go up but I’m not sure I will be able to post anything else while I’m gone.
We’re going to New Jersey to visit my husband’s family. We’ll also spend a couple of days in Philadelphia. I’ve never been there (with the exception of the airport and a drive through on the way to the beach). We’re going to do touristy things like go to the zoo, the aquarium and the art museum. I’ll buy silly souvenirs for my kids and take massive amounts of pictures.
There is a chance I’ll post some of these photos if I fall in love any of them but I doubt anyone wants to see hundreds of shots of historical sites and ocean life.
Also, my husband says there is an abandoned summer camp near his parent’s house. I’m crossing my fingers we can get in there so I can take creepy pictures.
Photography: Speaking of photos, I’ve taken close to none lately. It was a choice but not one I wanted to make. Since I’m in physical therapy I decided I better not do anything to mess with it. I’m putting in a lot of hard work and I don’t want to sabotage my efforts by getting down on the pavement to take pictures of bugs or climb through foliage to find just the right shot and end up hurting myself.
The last time I pulled out the camera was the 4th of July. Most of those photos were of family. I really should edit those and send them out the people I told I would. Maybe after vacation.
Physical Therapy: Honestly, I don’t know how it’s going. In the beginning there was slow and steady progress. Then I felt like I hit a plateau. They increased the intensity on a couple of things but my back was in a phase of wanting to cause trouble so we didn’t push too far. The last two times I went I asked for more weights on a couple of exercises and it worked out well. I don’t know how much longer I’ll be doing this.
I also don’t think it’s helping the way my neurosurgeon hoped it would. I know he didn’t really think it would do the trick. I suspect he wanted me to try it just in case it worked.
At a recent appointment with the pain management doctor I was told something I didn’t want to hear but was also relieved to find out. After physical therapy if I still had pain they want to do another injection. The doctor said it will be more difficult (for him, not me) because of the fusion but ‘could’ work for me.
The relief was due to remembering the surgeon’s concern about the disk above the fusion. If none of this works I either put up with the pain (says the woman with the minuscule amount of pain tolerance) or start down the surgery road again. The first few weeks after the fusion were the worst of my life (pain-wise) so I hope to avoid going there again.
Reading: I finally finished the quad I’ve tried to read for months. I’ll probably start something new while on vacation when there is downtime and on the plane.
How did I find the time to read? Well, that brings me to my biggest problem…
Writing: What writing? My muse is MIA with no hint of where she went, how she’s avoiding detection or when she’ll be back. I use the word ‘she’ because she is me and I refuse to use the word ‘it’ when referring to my creativity.
I don’t know if I’m simply flighty or if this is a true case of writer’s block. Sometimes I don’t believe in writer’s block. I think it’s possible to be blocked on certain stories but there are always things to write about. They might not be the things you want to write but you can still write.
Other times, like the last couple of weeks, I believe you can be blocked from writing everything. This was the case for me. I tried working on my WIP. I attempted to plot a new story idea. I even searched through writing prompts – my own and others. Nothing worked. My lack of belief in writer’s block was tested.
Hell, I couldn’t even write a blog post until this one (which gives me hope)!
The one thing I have been able to do is think about writing. It didn’t get me doing the physical act but I know myself well enough to know there are seeds planted and eventually they will turn into words on a page.
There is one thing I believe will help the most with pulling me out of this slump. I’m not taking my laptop on vacation. I only packed one composition book, my Moleskine notebook and pocket journal. If I get inspired I will have to physically write stuff down. This is good for me. It’s a completely different creative process putting pen to paper than sitting staring at a screen.
I’ve tried writing freehand during this impasse and it didn’t work but I’ll be in a different environment for 9 days. Something is bound to happen. I live in the flattest place you can imagine with few trees and plenty of wide open spaces.
For a time I’ll be surrounded by hills and forest. I’ll visit historic sites and see animals that aren’t dogs and house cats. Maybe the abandoned boy scouts camp will inspire a creepy story or the threat of bears will make for a great suspenseful piece. My in-laws see bears in their backyard all the time so this is a real possibility and yes I’m terrified about it haha.
Street photography could bring up some ideas as well. Either way, the potential is there. Still, I type faster than I write with a pen. I hope to regret leaving my computer at home. I’d rather have the problem of too much to say to only use paper than the issues I’m having now.
Potential disaster/amazingness: The end of July and beginning of August every year is something I fear. Traditionally during this time something big happens, normally a bad and expensive something.
One year it was lightning striking the apartment we lived in and its subsequent destruction. The next year a lady destroyed our fence while trying to run down her husband with her car. There was the time we woke up to find our car had been totaled while parked in front of the house (something we normally don’t do). Last year my appendix tried its very hardest to rupture and I was forced to have emergency surgery while on vacation. Ugh, I could go on and on.
This year I’m due for something big and good to happen. Five years ago I married the most amazing man on the planet. It even rained on our wedding day. Not only is that considered good luck but it was during an awful drought and it was the first rain my area had in four months.
Since the good things seem to happen every five years, I’m hopeful. I’ll settle for a nice, uninterrupted vacation and the return of my muse.
Photo taken by me. I can’t believe I’m putting something up here with my awful handwriting! I wrote slow and this is as good as it gets. Also, look at the detail on the leather journal! I picked it up during an Art’s Festival in my home town. It was expensive and worth every penny. I was going to make the picture black and white, and I still might if I decide to use it again, but this first time I wanted it unedited so you all could see why I love this journal.
Sidenote: I’ve never had a Philly cheesesteak. I hate onions so I’m not going to get an authentic representation but I’ll try it and report back.
Another sidenote: It isn’t fiction but I just wrote almost 1400 words for this post. I think my muse is thinking about returning! That said, pardon the lengthy post!
Does what others do in their free time really matter to you? What is it about someone having fun with something you don’t care for that bothers you so much?
It’s amazing to me to see so many aggressively uninterested people on the attack. Maybe it’s me. I don’t like watching golf, nor playing it, but I don’t get on Facebook and write long posts about how awful it is that others like it and play all the time. I am not into racing but I don’t tweet negative crap about the people who are.
There are things out there I actively despise, such as really badly written books some women obsess over that get made into really bad movies. But I don’t hate the authors or write about how terrible the obsessed ladies are just because I don’t understand the appeal. So yeah, it could be I simply have no experience with this kind of nastiness, except what I’m seeing.
Someone I know recently posted a rant on Facebook. It consisted of all the things they were fed up with, including politics, hatred, etc. In the list was Pokemon Go (which inspired this post). Now this particular person had a negative experience with someone playing the game so I understand her frustration and I want to address the bad stuff about it, especially because I expect to be yelled at for all this.
Any leisure activity taken to extremes is bad. Obsession to the point of neglecting responsibilities is stupid and destructive. When I gripe about Pokemon haters I am not talking about the ones who are upset because someone took it too far.
I’m talking to the casual haters. Like the older lady at the gym who gave me the dirtiest look as she watched me catch a Pokemon in the locker room. I was standing in front of my locker, nowhere near anyone or blocking anything. I was hurting no one and affecting no one. She looked at my phone, glared and turned to her friend to piss and moan about how kids these days should find better hobbies. She talked about some girly things and they walked out in a huff.
First and foremost, I wanted to thank her for calling me a kid. I said she was older but I mean maybe 20 years older, not old. As a 40 something woman, I will never be upset at being thought of as younger.
Second, piss off lady! I can’t stand to do needle work or crotchet. I don’t want to make quilts or play whatever the hell card game she mentioned. I didn’t give her a dirty look and disparage her hobbies.
I just don’t see how playing a game, any game, for fun is any different from what others do for entertainment/hobbies. Do you come home from work every day and watch an hour or three of TV? What are you accomplishing while sitting on the couch for so long? Relaxation and fun is what you’re accomplishing, just like me when I’m playing games.
Are you watching every baseball/basketball/hockey/football game of the season? What do you get out of it? Recreation, fun, excitement, whatever, same as me and my family when we’re playing or talking about our games.
Do you play golf? You know what I’m going to ask here. Well, my son and his friends, including the new ones he’s made playing, get what you get, they have fun, competition, exercise in the form of walking and possible sunburns, just like you!
So why are people so irritated? Sometimes I think most simply want something to be pissed off about. Other times I think it’s misinformation. Such as the assumption it’s only young people who play the game.
My whole family plays. One of my writer friends posted about seeing a group of nurses who roamed around the park for part of their lunch break catching Pokemon and having a blast. I caught two at the gym, taking all of 30 seconds before I began my work out. Another writer friend played when she couldn’t write and wasn’t at work, affecting no one. I personally saw a man pull up to a Poke Stop with his family in the car. They all were clearly having fun as they played. Oh and the man old enough to be my father I saw playing seemed to enjoy himself too. I should ask him to come to the gym and meet quilting lady.
So to all the Pokemon party poopers out there, you do you’re thing, I’ll do mine. I promise not to get angry at your hobbies and you will probably continue to be negative and unhappy (and I’ll keep not understanding you). All the while I’ll have fun and bond with my children and enjoy the silly times with my husband as we keep playing Pokemon Go until we get tired of it, if we do.
The picture is of the beauty I caught at the gym, Planet Fitness, not a Pokemon gym.