Here’s what I’m doing this week

Our friends are in town for the week, and we had our daughter with us for a few days. It’s been busy, but it always is. Not pictured: Fresh pasta and a couple of movies.

We went to opening weekend at the Bristol Renaissance Faire,

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

had a group pic at the Museum of Science and Industry,

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

and worked on getting spruce roots out of the yard in preparation for our new patio.

 

Hope y’all are well and staying out of trouble!

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Long-Term Benefits

For those of you who don’t know, I’m a veteran–USAF, 1986-1994. When I left active duty, our children and I followed my husband around the globe for 11 more years before he retired. My two decades with the USAF taught me a lot of things, like hospital corners. I’d only heard about them until basic training. I still use them every time I make my bed.

Then there’s t-shirt folding. I bet you didn’t know there’s a specific way to fold a t-shirt. Leave me a comment if you’re curious and I’ll describe it in detail.

There is one thing I learned that stands out above everything else: Embracing The Suck.

Full disclosure: We didn’t actually call it that. I didn’t know there was a name until I saw it on Facebook a week or two ago. Although I haven’t verified* it, I think it’s a phrase the US Army uses. We didn’t name it. We lived it.

Embracing The Suck comes into play when the phone rings at 3 a.m. and you learn you have half an hour to get to work. If you’re a single airman, that’s hard enough, but we were a dual military couple with two toddlers. We had half an hour to get ourselves ready, get the babies out of bed and take them to day care (thank goodness the director got the call before any of the other commanders, so they were ready for us). After reporting in, we got to work 12 hours, pick up the cranky babies, eat cereal for dinner, and crash. Sometimes we did that for a week straight. If we were really lucky, we had a heads up the night before so we could pack extra clothes in our kids’ backpacks. After Desert Storm started, that usually happened about once a quarter.

Embracing The Suck means you get to work with the flu; leave your family for several months with 18 hours notice; deliver equipment to aircraft on the flightline regardless of the weather; follow orders (usually stupid ones) with no explanation; keep your mouth shut when the Base Commander acts like a jackass, run PT at 7:00 a.m. in 90* heat and 100% humidity. And we had it the easiest of all the services. That’s why they call us the Chair Force.

Embracing The Suck in my 20s was good character building. It beat the whiner out of me, made me finish growing up. People think I’m nuts when I say Desert Storm was the best thing that ever happened to me. My husband deployed when our son was three weeks old, and he was gone seven months. I was still active duty and came thiiiiiiiiiiis close to deploying myself. I would have, if I’d been ordered to, but the hubby was over there, I had an infant, and my long-term child care givers were trapped by snow in Idaho. The chief agree to push me back a rotation, but by then I’d already cross-trained into a field for which I was better suited.

Over the years, I’ve been grateful for the experience in trying times. These days, I draw on that experience every day. Traffic here is a bear. Good thing I know how to Embrace The Suck.

 

*If you can verify it, please leave a comment

That Time of Year

Late June and July have historically been dry times for me creatively. It starts slowly. Word counts decrease as distractions creep in. We always have friends come to visit around the 4th of July, and it takes a fair amount of prep to get ready for them. Then there are garden chores, weeds to pull, grass to cut. There are Scottish festivals we attend to represent Clan Campbell. Let’s not forget the Bristol Ren Faire–we have to do that a few times in the short summer months. It’s hard to think past the activity and prep work long enough to concentrate on whatever book I’m working on.

I actually didn’t put it together until yesterday. I was stomping around, irritated because the trash hadn’t taken itself out. I felt generally put out and started thinking about what I need to do to get ready for our friends, and resentment started to creep in. That was the moment I realized I was cranky because I haven’t been getting words like I want to. I’ve been in and out of the garret for a couple weeks, and it’s starting to wear on me, but it seems futile to try to get back into the rhythm when I’m going to have someone sleeping in my office soon.

I’m not sure about the solution, but I know there needs to be one. In the future, I need to try to finish the draft du jour by mid-June so I can pick up after the summer dry spell with a fresh project. I might also need to find another creative outlet for a little while. The best part is guilt about not getting any writing done is conspicuously missing. Well, okay, not entirely. It bugs me a little, but I’m not beating myself up over it. I’m not going to meet my word count goal. There might not be a month-end report this month.

The world will still turn.

Procrastination

About 3:00 this afternoon I came to a startling realization: Today is Thursday.

I haven’t been sleeping particularly well lately, and there have been lots of fun things disrupting my normal schedule. I’m not at my sharpest right now, so the thought of having to blog on the fly sent me into a flurry of productive procrastination. I put away three loads of laundry and changed the sheets on my bed. I organized my husband’s t-shirts by size, putting aside his options for this weekend’s Highland Games. Then I went to inventory the fridge for dinner options. We’re having steaks with tortellini and pickled veggies, if anyone is interested. I still haven’t gotten book words in, so I might have to whip up a red wine reduction to go on the steaks. After all, according to fine dining rules, it’s not a meal without a sauce. Just ask Gordon Ramsey.

If you happen to be in Chicagoland this weekend, we will be at the Aye-tasca Highland Games on Saturday. Gates open at 8:00 a.m. (Heaven help me). You can get advanced tickets here. If you come by, make sure to come by the Clan Campbell tent. If you’re there about noon, you can walk in the tartan parade with me!

Busman’s holiday

After looking over the May numbers, I took a look at June. I started the month over 80,000 words for the year. Sooooo close to 100k! Getting there is possible–I have to average a mere 691 words every day this month.

There’s just one problem. We have stuff going on, and people coming to hang out with. While I love my visitors, every day I don’t write piles goal words onto the heap. Add to that the fact that I’m in what CE Murphy calls the Novelist’s Event Horizon on book 1 and you begin to see my dilemma.

I was thinking about a solution, and I remembered reading on Holly Lisle’s blog several years ago about taking busman’s holidays. If that’s a new term for you, don’t worry; it was for me, too. It’s when you take a break from your job by doing something similar to your job, like a bus driver taking a long drive to unwind. Since I’m counting all the words and not just the WIP words, I think I might try something like that. Maybe I’ll pick a prompt once or twice a week and see what happens. I might even come up with a short story I can shop around. At this point I’ll try just about anything that increases productivity.

End of May report

I have no idea how it’s June already, but my calendar says it is. I think it’s a lying cuss, but I can’t prove it.

May was marginally better than April. Not that April was hard to beat. The goal now is for April to be the worst month all year. Numbers for the month: 8,296 words, and nearly 13 hours. I did manage a 12 day streak at the end of the month. The second half was far better than the first. Now it’s a matter of maintaining, although I’m starting to wonder whether I should allow myself a day off once in a while and not concern myself with the streak so much. Maybe focus on days/month instead of days in a row? That might be a more workable solution.

I made some progress on Balphrahn, and I read some books. I’ve also been working the new day job, and that’s been zapping my creativity a fair bit, but like I said, it’s better than it was. At least I’m down to one job now, and that’s freed up some time. That’s good, because I put my garden in. Between the garden and pots, I have 20 tomato plants and 10 green peppers. I did potatoes and sweet potatoes in pots, but I think I drowned the potatoes. They don’t seem to be doing much.

One sort of odd thing I’ve noticed is I’m watching less TV. It just doesn’t keep me occupied like it used to. I still have favorites I like to watch, but between DVR and the Netflix/Amazon/Hulu trifecta, I can watch when I feel like it. That’s helped productivity in other areas.

Oh, and I figured out why my dryer wasn’t drying. The outside vent had significant lint build-up, and there wasn’t anyplace for the moisture to go. I cleared it out and it works like a champ now.

So that’s what I’ve been up to. Plugging along. Sometimes that’s all you can do.

 

Important

A friend of mine sometimes gets philosophical on Facebook. We all have that friend, right? This morning she posted song lyrics about getting older, and later commented that the word “important” becomes more fluid.

Preach, sister.

I admit I’ve never been very interested in trends. If a particular fad appeals to me, I’ll play along, but mostly I roll my eyes. I sometimes silently judge people, but I’m working on not doing that.

I’ve never tried to keep up with the Joneses. In fact, sometimes I don’t even notice the Joneses. That makes me wonder if the Joneses notice that I’m not noticing, and if it’s making them want to keep up with me. I doubt it, though. My standards aren’t super high for most things.

This tendency to ignore trends has become stronger as I’ve gotten older. I used to worry about what other people thought. Now I mostly can’t care less. What people think of me personally is none of my concern. Of course, I still want everyone in the world to be fans of my writing. How else am I going to get rich? My writer side is the gushy middle in the hard exoskeleton, I’ll admit it.

Importance really does become more fluid. The things we care less about are swept away in the tide of the years. We can let go of old things, old hurts, old habits, old ideas, and we can realize that what we think is new and shiny was really there all along.