Just Write: Self-shaming Sunday Update

A quick recap:

When I last left you, I was struggling, as I am wont to do these days, with the death of Retribution.  Perhaps death is a strong word.   Hiatus may be a better way to put it.  That sounds less absolute.

In my last self-shaming blog entry, I vowed to take the advise of some fellow writers and write something different I decided to write a short story.  I am and it feels wonderful.  It’s not finished, but it is in full swing.  I feel very good about the plot, the characters, and my intended destination.   I will admit that the general gist of the story has likely been done a million times over with all manner of twists and turns, but really, what story hasn’t?  I can only hope that I bring something new and refreshing to the table.

My main character, an aging scholar, has a dark and hideous past – one that haunts him with every breath he takes.  In the wake of atrocities too horrible to imagine, he has found a way to carve out an anonymous life.  No one knows who he is, or what he’s done.  Of course, he goes to great lengths to keep his secrets from becoming known, and is largely successful.

Until he meets the girl.

I haven’t quite decided who and how many will have to die.  Someone always has to die.  Perhaps I will let my main character live, though.  I’ve grown attached to him in the last week, but then again, perhaps that is the very reason he has to go.  Only time will tell.

So where are we?

Short story – in progress.

Goal for next week:  continued progress.

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**I should add a little disclaimer here so that when we get to next week and I’ve not finished, I won’t seem like a complete and utter loser.  I have a huge project due for my Western Civilization II course next week (the 7th).  I seriously doubt that I will doing anything more than immersing myself in the life and contributions of Thomas Hobbes between now and then.  But you never know.  Maybe I will finish early.

Yeah, right.

Happy Birthday, Dad

Today would have been my father’s 60th birthday.

These are a few of the things that always remind me of him.

One of my dad’s favorite movies. We watched it nearly every weekend when we lived in Germany.

Happy Birthday, Dad.  I love you.

Things I learned this week

This week I learned…

…that Beginning Yoga for a grade is really a combination of intermediate Yoga and Pilates for a grade.  This is something that I feel is grossly misrepresented in the course description.  The instructor, a tiny woman with Madonna arms and the flexibility of a Circus du Soleil performer, is surely the spawn of the devil.    She is an unsympathetic, anti-whining, whip cracker who doesn’t understand why we all showed up to the second class limping and chugging bottles of over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medicines.   I am happy to say that I did make it through the week without disgracing myself.   I managed to perform every single pose she threw my way.  They might not have been pretty, but I did them.  Of course, I can still barely walk.  Hopefully, my body will forgive me by Monday when I have to start it all over again.

…that I don’t like change.  Yes, I know this is no revelation, but sometimes I forget how uncompromising I can be.  Lately, I’ve had an issue with getting through the books stacked on my bedside table.  After a four-month struggle to finish one novel, I finally resorted to an audiobook.  I’ve always sorta looked down my nose at audiobooks, like they were a means of cheating.  Of course, now that it benefits me, I have had a complete change of heart.  I’m fickle like that.  What can I say, I’m a Gemini.   In the last week, I’ve finished two novels.  Both Gabriel Allon spy novels by Daniel Silva, and both read by the same man, John Lee.   I have come to associate his warm, accented voice with these characters that I love so much.   This morning, I popped my little flash drive in the handy-dandy USB port in my car, and settled in as the opening chapter of Prince of Fire began to play.  What is this?  No John Lee? Where’s John Lee?  As it turns out, John Lee is not the reader for this next installment of Gabriel Allon’s adventures.  This new reader is terrible and his Ari Shamron interpretation sucks.  I may never recover.

…that sometimes I forget that my daughter is a girl.  I know that sounds strange, but if you knew her, you would know exactly what I mean.  She is a tomboy, through and through.  She doesn’t wear frills or ruffles or anything with a skirt.  No pink or purple.  No glitz or glitter.  She wears dark jeans with a flared leg, graphic tees, sneakers, and a hoodie – right now she is in love with her lime green Invader Zim hoodie that comes complete with ears.  She will only wear her thick blonde hair in a severe, slicked back ponytail.  No earrings or bracelets, though she does like necklaces – of course, those must meet a certain criteria and cannot be overtly feminine.  These are the rules.  Any deviation from such will result in a big sigh and an eye roll.  So it is not unreasonable for me to sometimes forget that she is, indeed, a girl.  Today is a big day for her.  She plays the clarinet in the sixth grade band and they are doing a performance tour of our local elementary schools.  This morning she dressed with extra care, made sure she didn’t have a hair out-of-place and then, as she studied herself critically in the mirror, announced, “I’m as pale as a vampire, Mom.  I need to use some of your powder and blush.”  Um…okay.  Excuse me while I pick my jaw up off of the bathroom floor.

…that Roger Federer allowed himself to be ousted from yet another major by Rafael Nadal.   This time the Australian Open.  I hope Novak Djokovic kicks Nadal’s ass in the final, and if he does, I am swearing off my allegiance to Federer for good.

…that after my little temper tantrum last week, I find that I am feeling better about my writing, though I still don’t want to talk about the Retribution implosion.  This week I have started work on a short story and have fallen in love with a very flawed old man with a penchant for old books and aged scotch.  His past is peppered with unimaginable pain and the horrors of a war.  I hope to find him a measure of redemption, but it’s too soon to tell if he will know absolution or fall victim to his crushing guilt.

…that my hockey player problem has resolved itself. I am happy to report that half of them have dropped and the other half have decided that the young blonde two tables over is more their speed.  I am grateful.  I can hear the professor again.  Now, if only the girl with the weird bouffant hairdo that sits in front of me would move so that I can see all of the projection screen…

…that I don’t have a pet peeve of the week!  OMG.

…that last but not least, this week’s awww moment is brought to you by this adorable little baby otter named Cayucos.

Source:  http://www.timesunion.com/news/article/Chicago-s-Shedd-Aquarium-rescues-baby-sea-otter-2727899.php

Just Write: Self-shaming Sunday Update

Failure is only the opportunity to begin again more intelligently.  ~Henry Ford

I’m done.

I’ve decided that in order to avoid prosecution and a hefty fine for violating my county-wide burn ban, it would be prudent of me to take a step back from Retribution and let it simmer on the back-burner for a while.  I don’t feel that I am really ready to thoroughly explain my decision or what incident lead me down this path, but I know in my heart that I am doing the right thing for the story.  Boy, that sounds more dramatic than it should, huh?  Well, I must admit that right now I feel like I’ve just abandoned a dear friend on a desert island with only a pistol and a jug of rum.

Today, I feel sad but determined.  I am beginning the process of flushing out ideas, picking themes, characters and situations from my little box of randomness.  I am also going to take the suggestion of fellow blogger, Dawn G. Sparrow at Write Away, and my husband and write something different, something that I wouldn’t normally write.

I am going to write a short story.

This weeks goal:  Unmet

Next weeks goal:  One short story.

“Failure is the tuition you pay for success.” – Walter Brunell

Things I learned this week…

This week I learned…

…that nothing strikes fear in my heart, or pisses me off more than being surrounded by young, obnoxious kids in a freshmen level class.  This semester I am taking Intro to Sociology.  It is a low-level course and thus, it is expected that the majority of the class will be under the legal drinking age.  I knew this going in.  I was prepared for it.  Turns out one can’t really prepare for a surprise invasion by six hockey players.  They sauntered in five minutes after the professor began to take roll, and proceeded to occupy all of the seats at my table.  I can’t tell you what to expect this semester in Sociology. I can’t tell you when our first exam will be, or what our first writing assignment entails.  However, I can tell you that the six hockey players are all good buddies and play for the same team – their camaraderie is nauseating;  Collin College is just a pit stop – they fully expect to be scouted soon; they all think that Sociology is going to be a stupid class; they are all in agreement that it is a good thing that this professor will not be grading attendance – I myself can’t attest to this as I was unable to hear that part of the introduction; and one of them insists that he is from England and can turn his accent off at will – I call bullshit on this one.  If he’s English, I’m the queen of Denmark.  It’s going to be a long semester; and before it’s over, I might need bail money – and a good defense attorney.

…that Rick Perry has come slinking back home to Texas.  I am relieved by this. I don’t look forward to his continued leadership, but at least I can watch the nightly news without seeing his smug mug and incompetent gaffs splashed all over every channel.

…that the librarian who mans the circulation desk at my college library conspires against me, I just know it.   I am a huge advocate of their online card catalog system that allows a student to electronically browse all of the districts books, media, etc.  I can order any book I choose – as long as it is not checked out – and it will be delivered to my campus.   All I have to do is go pick them up.  I love this and take advantage of it every change I get.   Unfortunately, the books seldom arrive at the same time.  This is where the conspiracy comes in.   I will pick up part of my order with the expectation that the rest will not be delivered until a later date.  Inevitably, twenty minutes after I’ve left campus, the librarian will call me to tell me the rest of my books have arrived.  She does this to me every semester.  She did it to me again on Friday.  I think she holds my books behind that circulation desk of hers and waits until she knows I am too far away to turn around and come back.

…that my new “Yoga for a grade class” is going to very interesting.  Very touchy-feely; much like I imagine group therapy to be.   I’m not sure if you’ve noticed, but I’m not much of a “kumbaya” kinda gal.  I’d rather remain anonymous, quietly sitting in the back of the class assessing my classmates.  An impossibility in this one.  On the bright side, I’m sure I will benefit from the five minutes of meditation that will close out each class period.  That just might keep me from doing harm to the hockey team in Sociology.  Or, at the very least, allow me to contemplate a proper disposal method.

…that after five months, I finally finished the third installment of Daniel Silva’s Gabriel Allon series.    I don’t want to give the impression that it wasn’t a good book.  It was.   Great, in fact.  I just have a very hard time committing myself to doing nothing but reading.  Yes, I can hear my fellow writers groaning at me.  Shut up.   I always have something else that takes precedence.  Since Christmas, I have been determined to finish it and I had to resort to an audio-book to get the job done.   That worked out so well, that I’ve decided that audio-books are not cheating after all and am going to listen my way through the rest of his books.  I am already a third of the way through the next one.  The only problem I have with audio-books is that sometimes in the carpool line when I am watching the moron’s around me, I lose track of the story and have to back up.

…that a new spy thriller has quietly been released when I wasn’t looking.  Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy.  It’s based on the 1974 novel of the same name by John le Carre.  Gary Oldman, John Hurt, Colin Firth and who?  Benedict Cumberbatch?  My new favorite Sherlock Holmes?  Where do I buy my ticket?

…that I am going to have to step away from Retribution or else I will end up burning it.  I tried the weekly word count push, but if the story isn’t there, it isn’t there.  No matter how much I desire to finish it, I feel that I am force it.  I think I’ve just made it too complicated and I lack the experience to work through.  Does this make me feel like an utter failure?  Yes, and I don’t want to talk about it.

…that upon editing this post, I notice that I had a lot of negative energy this week.  Hmmm…

…that – in trying to find something a little more positive – the smell of new leather in a new car is almost as good as the smell of rich, dark chocolate – but without the caloric consequences.

…and last but not least, this week’s awww moment is brought to you by this adorable baby hippo.

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Source:  http://pinterest.com/pin/138345019772779073/

Just Write: Self-shaming Sunday Update

Why do I suddenly feel like it’s weigh in day and I’ve just come down off of a ten-day junk food eating binge?  Could it be because I am feeling guilty?

Most definitely.

Let’s get right to the unpleasant self-shaming, shall we:

Last week:  28089 with 144 pages

This week: 30,299 with 154 pages

That is a grand total = 2210words written this week in Retribution.  Goal = 3500 words.

Goal not met.

So while I did make progress, I didn’t meet my expected goal for the week.  I am disappointed, but not surprised.  This week, the majority of the progress was made in the creation of a new scene.  I am usually more comfortable in writing in a linear fashion.  Skipping around confuses me and therefore, mistakes are made.  This new scene occurs much later in the novel than what I am currently working on.  However, it screamed at me to be written.  Literally grabbed me by the hair and threatened my life.

Okay.  Maybe not quite so dramatic, but the urge to write it was overwhelming and as I said before, who am I to argue?  Unfortunately, this scene caused a bit of chaos and controversy.  It brought to light and created some issues that need to be resolved.  I am working on that.  I suppose these kinds of things are a necessary evil, but it is frustrating nonetheless.  And I can’t help but feel a twinge of guilt for failing to deliver 3500 words.

But if there is one thing I’ve learned in the last few years, it’s that if you fall down and miss the mark, you get up and have another go at it.

Next week’s goal:  3500 words.

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Things I learned this week

“Procrastination is the most common manifestation of Resistance because it’s the easiest to rationalize.  We don’t tell ourselves, ‘I’m never going to write my symphony.’  Instead we say, ‘I’m going to write my symphony; I’m just going to start tomorrow.’”  – The War of Art – Steven Pressfield.

“The most pernicious aspect of procrastination is that it can become a habit.  We don’t just put off our lives today; we put them off till our deathbed.” – The War of Art – Steven Pressfield.

This week I learned:

…that listening to the Bee Gees or any other disco era music while working out on the elliptical, is dangerous.  Not dangerous in that I might fall off and hurt myself, though that is always a possibility when we are talking about me.  I was passed over when they were giving out the coordination gene.  Case in point:  I once fell off a ladder while painting my bathroom.  I guess I shouldn’t have put the ladder IN the tub to paint.   But that’s a blog for another time.  No, it’s dangerous because I find myself strutting in time to the music.  And when I say strutting think Tony Manero in the opening credits of Saturday Night Fever strutting.

It took me a while to figure out what everyone was staring at.

…that I am easily entertained and enjoy scoffing at the incompetence of others – when it doesn’t directly affect me.  This is a character flaw that I’m not necessarily proud of and yet, I can’t seem to stop myself.

…that my belief that there is some unseen force sucking out the brains of the parents at my daughter’s middle school still holds true.  This week there were no carpool line scuffles, but there was some interesting parallel parking going on.  One lady tried, and failed, to squeeze her mini-van into a slot several times, before giving up.  Instead, she opted for something similar to the photo below.  I took this snapshot in 2004 while walking through the heart of downtown Rome, with my dear friend Manie.  Somehow it was funnier in Rome.Rome 2004

…that I’ve successfully pissed away another holiday break with nothing to show for it.  I was supposed to finish my novel – didn’t happen (though I didn’t really expect to finish and I did make some pretty good progress).  I was supposed to clean out my flowerbeds and winterize – didn’t happen.  I was supposed to finish Daniel Silva’s The Confessor – didn’t happen.  I was supposed to finish working on my husband’s incorporation documents – didn’t happen.  Oh well.  There’s always Spring Break.

…that while I’ve been making word count progress on my novel, I find that I am increasingly frustrated with certain plot points.  Major plot points.  I’m going to have to work this out or I see myself going ahead with the ceremonial cleansing burn in the backyard.  Who wants to bring the marshmallows?

…that Lisbeth Salander is still one of my all-time favorite fictional female characters.  I was skeptical about the American version of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.  I feel that we have become a society of reboots and remakes with very little originality coming out of Hollywood.  I’ve read the book, seen the Swedish film, and I doubted that even the great David Fincher could make this story better.  I was wrong.

***Warning!  Pet Peeve of the Week***

…that it is very frustrating when someone forwards me an email and instructs me to inform them of associated deadlines when the deadlines are spelled out in the very first line of the forwarded email.   I’m all for delegating, but good grief.

…and last but not least – this week’s awww moment is brought to you by this little guy who seems to be digging winter just as much as me.