Tag Archives: writing

Toni: Reconstruction Thursdays – Comfort Zones

23 Oct

big cog

 

It’s been a long while since I’ve posted. I’ve been unable to really blog about forward progress with the building, mostly because there hasn’t been much. We’re still waiting on the committee to approve the new colors, and until that time, a lot of stuff is on hold. That hasn’t been a hardship–which, I know, is odd–but simultaneous to all of this, we ended up with work spread out from New Orleans to Texas, which means Carl is running like a crazy person, making sure we’re doing okay. He needs to be here for the building stuff, so the committee taking forever ironically worked for us instead of against. I think all of that is going to get resolved in this next month, though. Fingers crossed.

Meanwhile, last spring, I applied to The Arcanum, an online photography school that used the mentor/apprentice construct to teach. The idea being that each photographer would naturally have their own path and things they were passionate about. Instead of creating a “one-size-fits-all” type of curriculum, the guys starting the school opted for a flexible program where each master/mentor/instructor can help each student hone their skills and then aim at their specific goal.

One of the school’s initial leaders is Trey Ratcliff, the first photographer to have an HDR (high dynamic range) photo hanging in the Smithsonian. If you follow that link and see his stuff, you’ll be gobsmacked by how amazing it is. Really, he’s just mind-blowingly good.

Our teacher is A. D. Wheeler, in our particular group, and he’s pretty damned phenomenal as well. We have a great group of photographers, all with varying skill sets, which makes for a terrific learning experience. I love that the Arcanum is set up so that you get a lot of feedback at every step from fellow photographers. It sets us up to learn from each other, and then, in improving in an area, we have to figure out how to be more articulate about that skill when critiquing someone else… and having to be articulate helps us refine our knowledge, which improves the skill… and so on.

Last year, for example, I went to a party at a friend’s house where she has an old car just going to seed in her back yard. I tried to get some shots of it, but there’s a lot of shade there, no matter what time of day, and I could never get anything that I felt happy with. This was about the best I could get, then:

Old car

 

 

After a couple of months in the Arcanum, I was able to go back and, even though I was rushed, get this:

Barbara's old car

[…]

Krissie: NJ Tuesday

25 Feb

Photo on 2-25-14 at 11.05 AM I look strange. Here’s the question. I clearly need my hair trimmed. I think I need bangs. I have a long face with a high forehead (all those brain’s, y’know) and I think I need wispy bangs. Opinions?
And aiyeee!!!!! (in more ways than one) for blood sugar. When I had my last physical it was 105 (pre-diabetic) so I decided to check it down here. I made Jenny stick me and it was 110. And then 83. And then 118. (We did two sticks and three tests). It was fasting, of course. Hmmmmmmm.
Which means I need to go back to my doctor to see what’s going on, because I’m trying, I really am. And I’m doing pretty well, so why is my blood sugar nutzoid? We don’t have blood sugar issues in the family, even in the chubs ones.
Anyway, that’s for dealing with when I get home.
I got down here on Thursday and we went out for dinner at Kathy’s Diner, our favorite place. Friday we went to Walmart and Staples while I looked for a lap desk — I’d left mine at home but Jenny finally jerry-rigged one out of a dog gate so I could write. Wrote tons and we ate our meals at home. Saturday we stayed at home. Sunday we went out for breakfast (Kathy’s) and then I went out and bought a few things (a little fruit instead of crumb cake — I have resisted that wicked temptation) and a couple of other things. During all this I dealt with the trauma of finding my latest proposal was turned down, but fortunately I was already 25 pages into a new sort of book that I really really liked, and my agent had wanted 50 pages before she sent it out, so I finished up the pages and revised and revised so I could send it out Monday (yesterday). We’ve been watching episodes of Arrow and Leverage and White Collar and we saw Despicable Me 2 (which was wonderful!) and so far no crocheting! But lots of talk about writing and story and what works and doesn’t work. It’s been glorious.
Today we go to Jenny’s eye doctor, then treat ourselves with our ceremonial visit to ihop where we have healthy pancakes (ha!). When we get home I’ll pack and get ready to leave tomorrow, weather willing, and I’ll probably cry for the first half hour.
But things are good at home. I’m not sure when I’ll get down again, because the baby’s due at the end of March and I expect I’ll be glued to things for a while. But I also think getting away will be a healthy thing, and Erin’s got a fairly decent maternity leave so I won’t be needed that much, so I’ll wean myself away by the end of April and come down and enjoy spring and Jenny.
Tonight we’re going to watch Blacklist and Thor, if it arrives. Heaven! It’s a drag to be torn between two places, but then again, it’s wonderful to have a bolt hole. Now all I have to do is find where I put my iPod classic. I dropped it underneath my car, rescued it and brought it in triumphantly and then set it down and Jenny’s House ate it. My house does the same thing. So I’ll need to make it regurgitate it before i leave tomorrow — it has all my music on it (I have books on the iPhones.)
I don’t know if I mentioned it by my beloved iPod Nano died on the way down (and the classic is on borrowed time – can’t use earphones with it so I can’t listen to it when I go to sleep). Nothing I’d like more than to buy a new classic and a new Nano, but that’s not in the cards financially, so instead I ordered a tiny Sansa clip with a micro SD card. It’s an excellent alternative to my beloved iPods, and I just have to bite the bullet right now. Publishing is insane, and it only seems to get crazier. I need to come up with a plan, though that requires much discussion with La Crusie. Good thing I’m here.
May you live in interesting times. There is always something glorious about disaster if you look hard enough. It’s not like publishing is ever a secure profession, and all this chaos means that following the rules and being a good girl doesn’t do squat. It frees you to follow your bliss, because if you aren’t going to get the contracts (or sizable ones) or the publisher support then you may as well write what you really really want and hope you’ve got enough people who’ll buy it.
I bought a sappy card at the health food store in Burlington that I loved. It said “Life is not waiting for the storm to pass, it’s learning to dance in the rain.”
So today I’m dancing.

Krissie: Friday, Bloody Friday

18 Oct

I don’t know what’s wrong with me. I go for days being upbeat and cheery, and then suddenly I crash and become leaden and morose. That happened last night — At five-thirty I just lost all energy and interest and went up to bed. I woke up for a couple of hours at ten and then went back to bed, sleeping relatively well the entire night.
But waking up in a major funk.
But does our doughty heroine simply submit to the forces of depression? Never! I called and made and appointment to get my hair cut, I called to find out when I see my shrink (Monday, thank God), I called and got Tim’s phone working. And then I decided, rather than sit in my chair unable to move, to get up, put on my bathing suit and drive to the pool (25 miles away), because supposedly exercise is as good as anti-depressants. And so I did. I did water walking, and dreaming about the book, and a few stretching exercises, and by god I felt better. So here I am, late in the day, telling you about it.
I get to go see Crusie next week, which is glorious. I just realized I have to put my writing into high gear, though, and that makes me edgy, but I was always able to work in Ohio and I don’t see why I can’t work in NJ. All I need is a recliner and Jenny’s got one.
So I’m at page 130 — I want to be at page 300 by the time I leave NJ (on the 31st). Lemme see — that’s 12 working days if I don’t take any of them off. Twelve goes into 170 …. ugh. 14 pages a day. In the old days that would have been easy. Nowadays I’m not so sure.
I guess I just have to be disciplined. Allow myself fun with Crusie but get that work done. Good thing is I love this book, and know where it’s going, so that helps.
I also did an experiment. Problem is, when I write I get sleepy. It only makes sense — I used to tell myself stories when I went to bed, from the time I was very small, so it’s an automatic trigger. If I don’t sleep the night before I get sleepy and nap instead of writing. If I take the meds that are supposed to help me sleep then I’m sleepy the next day and nap instead of writing. Damned if I do and damned if I don’t.
So I figure if it’s late at night and I’ve been lying in bed unable to sleep I should simply go downstairs and write.
Which I did.
I tend to sleep well at Crusie’s, so that’s not a problem, and she needs her alone time too, so I won’t have trouble writing. It’s a good plan, and it’ll work. It has to.
I think it’s my sense of impermanence that’s causing the edginess and anxiety. We don’t know where we’re going but we can’t afford to stay here (VT is very enlightened but the taxes and utilities are mind-boggling). And I’m screwing up my courage to get my knees replaced next year. Ugh.
But meanwhile, I’ve got to write. And there are good things waiting to happen.
Most of us have such a love/hate relationship with work. We’re the ones who are responsible — there’s no boss, no co-worker, only your own ambition or imagination or even guilt if that works. I use whatever I can to whip myself into my office.
Fortunately right now the imagination is working overtime, and I bet there’s hot sex by Monday. That always cheers me up.
But I guess that’s the price we pay for doing what we love. There’s never any boredom here — more likely high drama. I just have to remind myself that it’s going to be all right. Everything is in the end.
I hope.

Krissie: Wednesday, Bloody Wednesday

2 Oct

Well, I’m trying to upload a photo and it’s not working, so screw it. Got up and worked on taxes for three hours and am now in a foul mood, so I’ll think about something pleasant. Like the hero of the utterly ridiculous Sleepy Hollow. Doesn’t he ever change his clothes? Doesn’t matter — when he stands in a graveyard with the wind blowing through his hair (which has to be a wig since it was short at ComicCon) I’d follow him anywhere. Perfect avatar for my current hero. The show is ridiculous but pretty funny if you can wade through it. And, oh, my, the hero.
The avatar for my heroine, and always has been, is the character Maxie on General Hospital. I don’t know why, but when I pictured Sophie, pretty, selfish, wounded Maxie was the one I envisioned. You know, Jenny usually knows who her avatars are, and she makes the most astonishing collages. For me, I sometimes start with someone, sometimes not. And of course, they soon become their own characters.
So, tv.
I’m loving The Blacklist, of course, not won over by S.H.I.E.L.D. yet, and thrilled by my old friends, like Person of Interest and NCIS (damn you, Ziva!) and the Mentalist. Too much good stuff nowadays, and I’ve got taxes to get done. Aaargh!

I’m wondering if Barbara and Toni are locked out of Refab. With the constant troubles they may have gotten lost in the shuffle, but we’ll see what we can do to get them back. Crusie’s overwhelmed, and I moan too much. Trying not to, but life certainly can be a challenge. We need Barbara’s good advice on moving our butts, and Toni’s rehab inspiration.

I keep looking for the Meaning of Life. I don’t know if life has any meaning — I wrote a series of books where God gave freewill and then took a powder, leaving someone bad in charge. I think that tends to be my general belief — so many wretched things happen that a loving god would interfere. Therefore he’s sunning himself on some beach on the Caribbean with no cell service while an evil archangel is in charge, dispensing plagues and war.

NOT that we should talk about theology or politics or we’ll all start fighting. (Krissie immediately zips her lips about congress but you know what I think).

I wish everything didn’t feel so out of control. I think I need to get someone in to help me on the house — someone who can stand for a long time and carry things, etc. No one can do the taxes but me, no one can write the books but me, but damn it, I can get help with the other stuff, can’t I?

OK, that’s my goal. To call the woman who was going to help me work on this place and see what I can do about it. That, and maybe drag my husband out to work on the storage areas.

But first, I gotta write. Because if I write, the rest of the world is manageable.

But man, do I hate taxes.

Krissie: This is Why I Write

14 Aug

Photo on 8-14-13 at 9.06 AM So Crusie sent Lani and me an email yesterday which set off a whole bunch of thinking. If I could choose what I’d do for the rest of my life (or even for a couple of years) and have no repercussions, financially or in terms of future career options, what would I do? I’m having a little trouble getting started on the new book, I’m feeling like I’m juggling too many things, and I’m basically not accomplishing anything and feeling guilty about it. So if I didn’t have to feel guilty, what would I choose to do? Would I turn my back on writing, just for a year, or a few months, or the rest of my life? I’ve been writing my entire life, professionally since 1971, and god knows I’m so disgusted with publishing and editors I once trusted that I’d be justified in blowing everything off.
But … I suddenly remembered why I began writing professionally (and really, why I wrote fan fiction in my teen years before fan fiction was invented).
Recently (as in the last few years) I was thinking it was because there were stories I wanted to tell. That I had these stories inside me that I needed to write down, and money and success had nothing to do with it. The stories just kept coming and I needed to write them down.
Well, that’s part of it.
But I suddenly remembered why I made the decision to write my first book that I wanted published. It’s because other writers weren’t keeping up with my need for story. There weren’t enough writers writing the books I wanted to read. If I wanted to read the story that spoke to my fantasies then I had to write it.
Which is why I made my first mistake, and wrote a first-person Gothic in the early 1970s. There weren’t enough being published, so I had to fill the gap. But the reason there weren’t enough being published is that the market in them had crashed (too many weak books, too fast) and editors weren’t buying them.
I still managed to sell my first five books before the market tanked completely, but by then I’d moved on to Regencies because Georgette Heyer was dead and I needed more regencies (that heyday lasted a second and a half) and I’ve been able to write what I love since then. What I loved most seldom happened to be the flavor of the month, though there were occasional times when they coincided, but at least I wrote and sold.
If I stopped writing now I don’t think there’d be enough books to transport me. I’m fairly picky — there are a great many massively beloved writers who leave me cold. Now maybe if Laura Kinsale, Loretta Chase, Sherry Thomas, Jeaniene Frost, Ilona Andrews, Patricia Briggs, Lisa Kleypas, Elizabeth Hoyt, Mary Stewart, Georgette Heyer, Eloisa James, Linda Howard, et al were all writing enough to keep me happy (and all of them are of course not equal in my esteem, but I devour all of them) then maybe that would be enough.
But I don’t think that would be true either. Because when I read a really good book it fills me with a kind of restless, creative energy that I need to expend. A great story just makes me want to tell my own great story, with the hero doing and saying exactly what i want him to do or say. With the sex and redemption and despair and love and all that good stuff going on.
My mother wrote until her mid-nineties, and she wasn’t even a story-teller. Her stuff was more character-driven, and she loved playing with words. And yet she kept working.
I need stories, my own and others, to survive. So when I’m sitting there in my recliner (or whatever they’ll have in 30 or so years) I’ll be making up stories because I have to. Without them something inside of me dries up and twists and dies.
So I guess there’s no way I’ll ever be free from the compulsion to write. And because writing is communication (I passed the fan fiction around to my friends in high school) I suppose I’m always going to want to see things published. Basically there’s no way off this fucking merry-go-round.
Which is all right. I just to work on my Zen a bit. Life is a journey, not a destination. Accept the things you cannot change, change the things you can. Enjoy the ride.
Stop bitching (or silently mourning) the things I cannot have, or haven’t had. Grab what I’ve got, the amazing gift I was given. Okay, it’s not Mary Stewart, but hey, it’s Anne Stuart and there’s only one of her, and er … she’s really my favorite writer because she speaks to me directly.
And I can have as many Anne Stuart novels as I want. Laura Kinsale and Sharon and Tom Curtis and Judith Ivory may have stopped writing, and I can’t be Kathy Bates in Misery and go after them with a sledgehammer. But I can make Anne Stuart write, and do it with joy.
Which is exactly what I’m going to do. ┬áStarting today.

Krissie: Trapped

7 May

Photo on 5-7-13 at 10.09 AM All I do is work, and my spirit and body are protesting. I have a lovely spot, I’m loving my book, but I’m being really brutal on myself and everything is rebelling. TMI information time — I pee slowly. Runs in the family, and it’s worse after the hysterectomy. No problem,it’s just leisurely. So I have a handheld solitaire game in the bathroom. Nowadays when I take a pee break my hands shake when I play solitaire.
Now my hands tend to shake anyway — not sure why. They shake more in times of stress or depending what meds I’m on. In fact, they may shake because of the meds. But this shaking is a lot worse.
And I’m so tired. All the time. I need a break. The weather’s been gorgeous, and I can see it out my window (I’ll take pictures, I promise) and feel the breeze, but I’m still trapped up here.
I gave up for a while, went downstairs, cut and filed my very long fingernails which are one of my genetically gifted pieces of real beauty. They’re long and oval Photo on 5-7-13 at 10.15 AM (that might not be clear because, duh, my hands are shaking). Anyway, those are some seriously fine natural fingernails. Problem is, they’re a bitch to play guitar with. It’s hard to get enough pad at the top of the nail to press down on the strings.
But I digress —
So I went out on the deck and tuned the old Guild guitar and played it. My voice was shit, which is interesting. I can belt out “Columbia the Gem of the Ocean” in faux operatic splendor for the tryouts for Music Man, I could sing my solo nun parts quite nicely. But my country voice is shot to hell. And I couldn’t remember lyrics. Jeesh!
So I gotta find my old music notebook, because the Guild is easier to play than the acoustic or my Martin. And sitting on the deck playing and singing is a very good idea.
But even that wasn’t good enough to make me sane again. It’s Deadline Dementia, and there’s not a damned thing I can do but work my ass off and try not to go insane.
I did start a new shawl (the Amita shawl in soft yellow yarn, compliments of Crusie) while I watched the Voice and lusted after Adam Levine, who I like because of his self-deprecating sense of humor (and his tats). So that started to relax me.
We’re getting days of rain starting on Thursday, which we badly need, but tomorrow is going to be another glorious day. I haven’t had a day off in more than a week, and i really need to get some food in, etc. So I think I will try to rise early and then go shopping. I have to get to the point where I’m ready to soar on through to the end (I’m still revising) and then the long drive (65 miles to Costco) will be great for brainstorming.
I just hate how I tend to make myself sick when I finish a book. It’s not fabulous of me.
Okay, a new goal. How to re-imagine my way of working so I don’t become a little puddle of exhaustion and hurt by the end. How do I control what I can’t control (the girls in the basement?). How do I say no to all the distractions that call my name?
How do I find a little balance in all this?
And don’t I have truly great fingernails?

Krissie: All About You

18 Mar

Photo on 3-18-13 at 7.41 AM Are you getting tired of this? It’s March, it’s in the teens, a two day whopper of a storm is coming, and I’m feeling so fucking blaah that I can’t think of anything. I haven’t been writing, I haven’t been swimming, I haven’t been eating well, the house is in chaos. (Banging head against the wall).
Tim calls it March madness. Winter is so freaking long in Vermont that we get a major case of cabin fever around now. Even though I’ve gotten away to NJ (and more snow) a lot, and Richie and Tim got out to Portland, it’s still weighing down on us.
Oh, shit, Richie said it was four below zero this morning. That’s crazy.
Sigh.
Well, I did get my colonoscopy. You cannot imagine how that hung over my head.
But somewhere I have to find the energy to do what needs to be done, what I want to do. And facing a two-day storm that’s going to paralyze everyone isn’t the way to start.
Okay, time to smack myself upside the head. Pull up my socks. So I’m trapped in the house for two days? A perfect time to write, and to work on organizing my office.
I bought lots of healthy food so there’s no excuse on eating crap. I can do what I need to do, and that’s what I’ll do.
I’ll spend the storm in my office, working. That’s really the most important thing I can do right now. I’ll get back to swimming next week.
One thing at a time. This week I’ll concentrate on writing. That’s the most important thing, and I always feel better when I write.
So. I don’t know if the rest of you have a terrible case of the blahs, but let’s not push too much.
What one thing do you want to accomplish this week.