NaNoWriMo 2017

I’ve finally made a few decisions about what I want to do this November.

ONE:

I will definitely do NaNoWriMo. My novel is already announced on the site and I’ve come up with a working, if stupid, title that I got from googling “how to come up with a good book title.”

… It’s “Good Book Title.” Which probably won’t stick, although one of the main characters is a published author so maybe I can actually work that in.

The temporary cover image is one of the stock drawings from the how to come up with a good title wiki page.

TWO:

It’s definitely going to be a second draft of the novel I was working on last year, which crept along so slowly that partway through I had to do an emergency retcon just so I could get anywhere near the end of the story by 50k. Despite that, I think there probably still are some bits I can still use, but a lot needs to be changed/rearranged and there will be a lot of new stuff to fill in the gaps.

THREE:

I’m cheating a little and already writing. At the moment it’s mostly backstory shorts that wouldn’t necessarily be in the novel though.

… I say that, and yet it’s vital character building stuff for the main character’s later struggle with his sexuality as an adult. So I don’t know.

FOUR:

Boy howdy do I write better if I treat each scene like a short story. So for now I’m sticking with that, and filling in later. If I can spend November just getting down the most important bits, that would still be great progress.


So there’s that. Let me know if you’ve tried the each-scene-treated-like-short-story method and how it worked for you!

Tomorrow’s post will be about the fires in Sonoma County, where I happen to live.

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Polishing poetry

I’m not much of a poet myself, but these are some really helpful guidelines for good poeming.

Druid Life

For many people, poetry hits the page in a rush of emotion and/or inspiration. Developing it beyond that point can feel a tad sacrilegious, and I remember it took me quite some time both to learn how to do it, and to be willing to do it. I’ve tried writing the kind of poetry that is tinkered out in a calmer and more intellectual way and I can’t honestly say I like the results. As writing poetry is something I do for myself, I don’t have to be workish about it, I can wait for the lightning bolt to strike.

My usual method (other methods no doubt exist and are just as valid) is to write in the heat of the moment, and then put the piece aside for a day or two. When I come back, I’ll read through and see how I feel about it. I then get…

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4 Things the Queer Folks in My Life Taught Me About Resisting Toxic Masculinity — Let’s Queer Things Up!

This community taught me not only what toxic masculinity demands of men and masculine people, but also the possibilities that exist outside of it.

via 4 Things the Queer Folks in My Life Taught Me About Resisting Toxic Masculinity — Let’s Queer Things Up!


A couple days ago I wrote a short story in which a young character is bombarded with toxic masculinity “life lessons” by his father. It occurred to me today, while I was reading this, that if I continue his story some of these same points will have to be addressed. And any explicit discussion of toxic masculinity will mostly come to him through members of the queer community as he grows up and begins to explore his sexuality.

He’s going to have to figure out…

  1. That it’s okay for men to hug and make other physical gestures of affection, platonic or otherwise.
  2. That he’s allowed to cry and be vulnerable when he needs to be, instead of constantly suppressing.
  3. That it’s totally unnecessary to feel uncomfortable when his boyfriend wears makeup. And/or offers to put some eyeliner on him.

As Sam points out in his post, “An essential part of dismantling toxic masculinity is men taking ownership over their own education around systemic inequality, and taking on the labor of educating other men about it as well.” And so considering this character learned most of this toxic stuff from his father, it seems fitting that he should unlearn it mostly from the guys in his life.

IWSG Post #10

OCTOBER QUESTION: Have you ever slipped any of your personal information into your characters, either by accident or on purpose?

AHAHAHAHAHAHA— Yes. Both. I’m not sure it’s possible not to.

You know the stupid advice of “write what you know”? It’s trite, but stick with me here. The only thing you’re capable of writing is what you know. This includes everything you’ve experienced, everything you’ve read, everyone you’ve ever met.

It includes every emotion you’ve ever experienced, and everything you can extrapolate, based on those feelings, about situations you’ve never personally been in. That’s always there.

Then there are the things that define your experiences. The things which, maybe you’re not entirely sure you can escape enough to convincingly write outside of your own context. This is why young writers are often asked to write things like, if you’re a girl write about a guy experiencing XYZ, and vice versa — to challenge your personal context. And you have to do that if you write fiction. That’s what fiction is.

But sometimes it helps to keep some of the same building blocks. Start with what’s familiar and extrapolate from there. If your character has parents who closely resemble your own parents, you don’t have to stretch as much to figure out the dynamic your character has with them, the quirks your character might have inherited from them, the books and tv shows your character was exposed to growing up.

For example, my parents are huge nerds. I grew up watching Star Trek TNG and Voyager, the Star Trek and Star Wars movies, 2001: Space Odyssey, anything with George Clooney (because my mom has a thing for George Clooney), and the History Channel (because my dad has a thing for the History Channel). On the other hand, my partner grew up with a dad who loved watching Westerns. You know how many Westerns I’ve watched in my life? Almost zero. We both think the other had kind of a weird childhood.

I can write a character whose parents both had 9 to 5+ jobs in computers, easy. Many of my characters are huge Star Trek fans. Many of my characters are blonde and 5’5″. Many of my characters have only one, younger sibling. And many of them don’t have any of those qualities, but those are some of my defaults because, hey, it has to be something. I can build other details on top of what I know that don’t necessarily have anything to do with me, and as long as it feels organic that’s the important thing.

And… I will admit to a few self-inserts. Sort of. Some details were significantly changed and that character had her own thoughts and feelings. But the similarities did make her a hell of a lot easier to write.

A Month in Review: September 2017

 

I type this one-handed because there is a cat on my chest. Because if anyone is enjoying the hell out if my unemployment, it’s the kitties. Plus, as the weather cools they’re only going to get snugglier. Even our Cranky Frankie has been in a better mood lately. And so have I!

Photo on 10-1-17 at 6.24 PM
Louie, woundering why my computer was making noises.

Anyway, here’s what I am currently:

 

Writing

… Something. In theory. There are some ideas buzzing around in my head but I’m still trying to decide what I want to do for NaNoWriMo this year. Basically, it’s coming down to continuing work on one of my past novel attempts, but I’m not sure which one.

Planning

… To exercise a lot more. By chance, I saw something my local library posted on Instagram about a series of health and exercise classes starting up in September. I’m not doing a lot besides job applications and being a volunteer shelver on Mondays and Tuesdays, so I put them on my calendar. So far I’ve gone to two Boot Camp sessions and one Core class, both of which were basically voluntary cardio torture. But I was so much less sore after the third one than I was after the first, and that feels great!

Making

… Savory baked goods. It took me a couple tries, but I have finally mastered the art of Scallion Goat Cheese Muffins! I’m trying to make things that have more veggies and less sugar. Oh, and healthy smoothies! Guava juice or mango juice both make really good bases.

Anticipating

… Visiting my brother in Nevada. He happens to live in a patch of nowhere that’s only a ten hour drive away, and he’s already bought us all tickets for the local Haunted Train ride. It’s also going to be the first road trip my partner and I have taken together!

Reading

Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty. It’s a fun story because it starts off telling you that a parent died at the local elementary school’s Trivia Night, then immediately jumps back to before the beginning of the school year and follows a few of the kindergarten parents up to that fateful night. While I won’t give spoilers, I will say that I did guess a significant clue about Jane’s backstory long before I was supposed to. However, I had no idea who was about to die right up until the paragraph it happened, and that’s what kept me listening to this audiobook.

Technically I haven’t finished it, but I will tomorrow morning. It’s probably only a few more minutes.

Watching

… American Horror Story: Cult. It’s… more surreal than usual. So far I can’t tell which parts are conspiracy and which parts are horrible coincidence, but the smart money is probably on horrible conspiracy that takes advantage of every coincidence it can find.

Feeling

… So happy! My tattoo is all healed up. The first blush of my partner’s new industry discount at winery tasting rooms is starting to wear off, but I had so much fun while it lasted. Now I am content to stay home and focus more exclusively on job applications.

Needing

… A job. Something I really enjoy doing. And has health insurance. I seriously need health insurance. You want to know how much my stupid endoscopy cost? About $3000, after insurance.

Loving

… My freedom! Since leaving my job I’ve been able to focus on exercising more, decluttering the house, listening to more books, and taking care of my own mental health. It’s wonderful. The only downside is, you know, bills and rent and stuff.

Hating

… The dickwad who hacked my grandparents’ computer, stole all their credit card and social security info, and went on a spree of opening random as hell accounts at places like Walmart.

Hoping

… My parents aren’t planning to push too hard against my dream wedding venue. Because it’s beautiful and probably the best deal we can get in this area (it’s a hotel with a farm-to-table restaurant, an event center, lots of outdoor space, and a vineyard), and if anyone tells me to just look in another area I will be pissed.

 

All in all, September saw some huge steps forward in my personal goals. How was yours?

A Month in Review: August 2017

August was both stressful and a huge relief, because I finally did something huge that I’ve been needing to do for the sake of my health — both mental and insurance. Certain things about the company culture were seriously wearing me down, to the point where it was becoming harder to get out of bed on workdays. On top of that I’ve had some unexpected medical adventures and, given the current political crap, it’s really made me feel the urgency of finding of a job with health benefits.

So I put in my two week’s notice and my last day was on August 31st! At the same time my partner was starting a new job in a winery tasting room (I’m so proud!!!) and doing so well there while also being super supportive of my decisions. The fact that at least one of us is currently employed has, I think, helped us avoid a lot of the tensions that would have come from both of us being anxious and together literally all the time.

Freedom from my old job allows me to do a lot of new things. I’ve started volunteering at the local library. I’m going to get all my shit at home organized, throw out things I don’t need, and start cooking more. I’m going to be healthier, eat better, exercise more, lose weight. I’m going to play with the cats more often, because they’re such needy, demanding little buggers when they have a mind to be. It’s going to be a month of planning and prepping, and getting things done.

In the meantime, here’s what I am currently:

Writing

… In small quantities, but more than I have in a while. I feel like that’s going to pick up speed in the coming weeks. I keep having all these new ideas for the novel WIPs I’ve worked on in the past two Novembers, and I’m still pondering what I will do for this year’s NaNoWriMo. Start something new? Work on one or both of the things I’ve already got going?

Planning

… A trip to visit my brother in October. My partner and I are going to road trip the ten hours to his place in Nevada, in part because the nearest airport is an hour’s drive anyway. He’s already bought the three of us tickets for a haunted train ride, he’s so excited. It’s adorable.

Making

2017-09-02 20.41.35… Pies. I promised my mom an apple pie when I visited for her birthday party over Labor Day weekend, so I made the dough the night before driving down but forgot to take it with me. After I got there I made more dough and did an apple pie anyway, but I still have two discs of dough to experiment with now. Savory pie experiments, here I come! Because if I do open top pies, I can do two.

Fun fact about gluten free flours: Bob’s Red Mill baking mix produces a pie dough that, while still raw, tastes heavily of chickpea. Not a favorite flavor of mine, although it cooks out just fine. The pie pictured above looks like a hot mess partly because I baked it in a toaster oven (it was way too hot inside that house to fire up the big oven) and because I used pure brown rice flour, also Bob’s Red Mill.

I’d tried white rice flour before and thought brown rice would be different, but not really. It was better, but rice flours produce a pie dough with a very sand-like texture. The main difference between white and brown is that the former was impossible to roll out and I just had to press it into the pie dish, while the latter rolled out well enough but didn’t stay together in the transfer from rolling surface to dish. So. Let that be a warning to gluten free bakers out there!

(The pie tasted damn good though.)

Anticipating

… Getting to know my local library better. I’ve volunteered to help with shelving on Mondays, since that’s a day they need the most help right now. In the long term I hope to get a job at the library, making this a strategic move in addition to something I also find really fun. And I get to cross it off on my bucket list!

Reading

Bone Witch by Rin Chupeco. I’m really liking it and I really, really want to know what happens next. Great choice for my first new audiobook in a while.

Watching

… The new season of American Horror Story! Or I will be soon, anyway.

Feeling

… So very frickin happy. I feel happier than I’ve felt in months, and more in control of my life than I have in a long time.

Needing

… A job with vision coverage. I haven’t been to an optometrist in like four years. By this point I’m sure my prescription could use an update. I mean, health and dental are of primary importance and this is sort of secondary, but it would be really nice.

Loving

2017-09-03 11.33.58… The brave new me. Because not only did I leave my job but, despite my fear of needles and pain, I got a tattoo! My partner tells me I was very brave.

It’s a two inch turtle on my shoulder, a honu. That’s what I’ve always had in mind for “if I ever get a tattoo” because I’ve always loved turtles (from my first stuffed animal to swimming near them on family trips to Hawaii) and I love the simplicity of the design. When I was in college I fell in love with the webcomic XKCD and started drawing my own expressive stick figures, including little comic strips here and there, mostly for whatever fandom I happened to belong to at the time. My big project one year for a drawing class was a six foot wide, four foot tall mural design on paper in graphite and black light pen, consisting primarily of words and stick figures (lots of lines). I never did finish it because it was a lot of fiddly bits — writing the words in blacklight marker, filling in around them with pencil to reveal them as negative space, and that’s literally what ALL of the lines were made up of.

I guess if I ever get a second tattoo it’ll be something that I designed in the same style, although I think for a tattoo the words would be better in positive rather than negative space. Or I don’t know. Either way it would probably hurt more than this one did, soooooo we’ll see about that.

Hating

… The crazy heat wave we’ve been having. One day it was so hot that movement just wasn’t worth the effort. (It has since cooled off tremendously and even rained. Yay rain!)

Hoping

… For a job at the library. While I’ve always wanted to volunteer and never before had the time, I do have a bit of an ulterior motive. The compensation and benefits for full time library employees are good. I like books. I deeply enjoy shelving things and making everything neat and orderly. I want to use my volunteer time getting to know people and making connections that might really help me out with applying. (Of course, I will apply to other things too, but this is really what I have my fingers crossed for.)

My First Post Revisited

Thank you for the tag on this, Jessica! It seems appropriate, since you were one of my first followers and definitely one of the most active.

The Rules for the #MyFirstPostRevisited Blog Hop

  1. No cheating. You must highlight your first post. Not your second post, not one you love… the first post only.
  2. Link back to the person who tagged you (thank them if you feel like it or, if not, curse them with a plague of ladybugs).
  3. Cut and paste your old post into a new post or reblog your own bad self. (Either way is fine, but NO editing.)
  4. Put the hashtag #MyFirstPostRevisited in your title.
  5. Tag five (5) other bloggers to take up this challenge.firstpost.jpg
  6. Notify your tags in the comment section of their blog (don’t just hope they notice a pingback somewhere in their spam).
  7. Feel free to cut and paste the badge to use in your post.

I tag…

So, What Was My First Blog Post?

My first post was in November of 2015, and was followed by radio silence until January 2016 because I wore myself out by winning NaNoWriMo for the first time ever. It was kind of a placeholder. An “I want to hold myself accountable to this project and also maybe start a blog?” Actually, looking back on it, I took to WordPress because my partner, musingtopieces, did.

Lately I’ve gotten out of the habit of writing so much, both in posts and fiction, but my first post was a beautiful blooming beginning. So much optimism. (Fun fact about my day today: I gave two weeks notice at work today. I feel lighter than I have in months. I feel… optimistic again.)

Here’s my first post.

Title Pending: National Novel Writing Month

Continue reading “My First Post Revisited”

Recipe: Banana Blueberry Chocolate Chip Cinnamon Pancakes

This weekend I brought home a bunch of bananas and a half carton of eggs, and had a go at my own version of these healthy pancake recipe(s) from Buzzfeed. Flipping things is usually my weakness, yet I keep taking it on. Regular pancakes, green onion pancakes, blinkity blanking crepes… but I am happy to say that by the third round of pancakes I had it down pretty good.

Made with The Country Hen eggs every time, because they are free range, organic… and the only 6-egg carton available at my local grocery store, which works out quite nicely.

And as for the syrup, that came about mainly because I had some still hard cider that had been hanging out in the fridge for a while. It was still okay, but, you know… a little past its Best By date. Whoops. So I used it for cooking, and the results were very tasty with a hint of boozy — let’s hear it for 6.9% AVB!

On their own the pancakes are quite good, moist and almost bready with bursts of hot blueberry juice here and there. With the syrup they were absolutely perfect, although that does send the “healthy” part into a little bit of a decline.

Pancakes last night:

Pancakes this morning:

Continue reading “Recipe: Banana Blueberry Chocolate Chip Cinnamon Pancakes”

A Month in Review: July 2017

The older I get (I say at the ripe old age of 29), the more each month seems to hurtle by like a runaway roller coaster. July was especially full of highs and lows — from a trip to Disneyland to crying before my endoscopy. My anxiety has spiraled wildly out of control recently but I think I am starting to get a grip on things again, partly by building better habits.

July was the month I bumped my Fitbit daily goal up to 7000 steps a day, lost my Fitbit Zip, and ordered a Fitbit Flex. I went to the doctor, spoke to a therapist, and started a daily mindfulness journal using Griddiary. My partner took more nature walks on July than we probably have in all of January through May, and we took the first major steps in finding the perfect wedding venue (even though we’re not technically engaged yet and won’t be tying the knot until at least 2019, lol). Lots of good things happened and good progress has been made.

One thing I’ve been thinking about lately is this blog. I’m not quite sure what to do with it, especially considering the fact that most of my recent posts have veered away from writing to self-care and recipes. For now, I’m just going to let it be. There are a lot of other important life decisions I will have to make in August and blog plans will just have to take a backseat, but in the meantime I will continue to post whatever pops into my lil head.

 


 

Here’s what I am currently:

Writing

… Occasionally. I’ve started working on a short story that goes with my 2016 NaNoWriMo novel, and it may or may not eventually morph into the beginning of the novel.

Planning

… On being so much healthier. First, I’m now entirely gluten free (barring accidents). Second, I am keeping an eye on my macronutrients. I ordered a Fitbit Flex because I lost my Fitbit Zip in the Castro at some point between two or three blackberry ciders and I don’t know how many White Russians. Until it arrives I’m giving myself a little vacation on the calorie counting, but the Fitbit app automatically divides calories up to show the percentage of cals from carbs, fat, and protein. Fact: I need to eat more protein.

2017-07-26 18.56.35
Green Onion Pancakes Experiment #1

Making

… More things with green onions. We planted WAY too many green onions. This has lead to Green Onion Pancakes Experiment #1. I wrote everything down so that ongoing experiments will be better.

Plus, banana pancakes. But I’ll save those for a later post.

Anticipating

… Something in the works that I can’t talk about yet. But I have my fingers crossed really, really hard.

Reading

… An collection of paranormal stories. I forget the title, but the last short was about Peter Pan.

Watching

… 13 Reasons Why. I am not proud of this, but I put it on for background noise while I was working on something one day and now I need to know what the hell is going on.

Feeling

… Less overwhelmed. More capable of letting things go, or at least not holding onto them longer than I actually need to. (For example, work problems belong at work. I do not need to bring them home.) Less sick, because my body finally adjusted to the new dose of my medication and I don’t have to dread an upcoming endoscopy.

Needing

… To meditate more often. I think I meditated once in July, and that was a drop in the bucket compared to how many times I woke up thinking, “Today will be the day I start going that again.”

Loving

… Some of the new blogs I’ve found recently. I have a special grid in my diary devoted to this 21 Day Self Care Challenge over at Discovering Your Happiness. I started a few days late and did not have a chance to take a mindfulness walk on Saturday, but it’s all good.

Hating

… How little effort some people put into their work sometimes.

Hoping

… That I will lose more weight this month. While I do have a goal, my main aim is simply to be healthier — but I want both, haha.

I’m… is it okay or OK?

I had the endoscopy yesterday, and honestly the worst part of it was getting the IV in. That Ativan I took beforehand really helped — I didn't make a scene, just held my arm away and cried hard but silently for about sixty seconds, then let them do it.

The nurse was really good, I don't even have a bruise.

Don't really remember the rest. There was a brief wave of unpleasant feelings when I was wheeled into the procedure room, but after they asked me to turn and lay on my side I was out like a light. My throat isn't even noticeably sore, or at least not more than I would expect from chatting all night in a loud restaurant. I did have to leave the building in a wheelchair though. It was very comfy. And it was necessary, because my knees and legs were definitely on a slightly different plane of existence from my brain.

Today, I'm still feeling sleepy and a little chilled out. I don't know how much of that is residual effects from the sedation (or the Ativan) and how much if it is relief to have the whole thing over with. Both, probably. I'm taking it easy.