“When I am dead
I hope it is said,
'His sins were scarlet,
but his books were read.'”
Hilaire Belloc

author: Nicole J. LeBoeuf

actually writing blog

what i did on my three-day weekend
Mon 2014-01-20 22:44:05 (single post)

John informed me that his current employer, being a big established company and not a new startup, includes Martin Luther King, Jr. Day in its list of official holidays. "I get the day off!" says he.

"Well then! So do I!" says me. "Let's spend some of it together."

And so we did. We spent a great deal of our three-day weekend together, and it has been glorious.

(Nota bene: When I say "three-day weekend," I am indeed referring to Saturday through Monday. I got a respectable amount of work on both novl and short story done on Friday; I just forgot to blog, is all. *shamefaced*)

We played four or five games of Tigris & Euphrates, a board game simulating four "dynasties" vying for primacy within their expanding river kingdoms. Avedan and John, having played it Friday evening, introduced me to it on Saturday, and then John and I played it all weekend long. So far, other than quibbling over their use of the term "dynasty" (I don't think that's the best word for "nation-states with their own leaders existing at the same time and competing for power"), I have no complaints. Though its theme puts one in mind of Agricola and Stone Age, it's not actually a resource allocation game. It's more of a positional and regional conflict game. Like Risk, I suppose, only with constantly moving boundaries and a more complex conflict-resolution mechanism.

John spent a good many hours, including those usually reserved for sleeping, playing The Last of Us on the PS3. As I am usually not up for witnessing games that are also emotionally traumatic movies, I spent those hours mostly holed up in the bedroom playing Puzzle Pirates. I'm pleased to say I impressed one of my senior officers with my whirlpool-navigating skills. Go me!

We also spent a little time together watching videos of stand-up comedian Matt Braunger, who's like everybody's hilarious drinking buddy who tells the best stories. He also passes my privilege dynamic test with flying colors. That's where I answer questions like, "Do I have to brace myself for getting punched in the face every time his stories involve women?" No. He did not punch me in the face. I laughed myself to tears, and nothing hurt. So we watched his Comedy Central appearance, and now we've ordered his two albums on 12-inch vinyl. Also I now follow him on twitter, where he continues be Good People.

Yes, there was also roller derby. The 2014 schedule involves 3-hour practices for all three travel teams on Sunday, with the Bombshells and the Shrap Nellies (B and C teams, respectively) overlapping for an hour and a half of scrimmage. Only we're not doing that for a couple weeks yet, so practice was only two hours long yesterday. Given how beat up I feel today, I'm beginning to worry about the full three hours.

You know what else I did this weekend?

I missed writing.

No, I mean, I missed it. Like, "Aw, it's a weekend. No writing today."

I'm not talking about a conscious complaint or a serious disappointment. It's more like, after four days straight of actually doing what I should, I was experiencing this weird sort of background-level happy expectation of returning to the works in progress. It's kind of like being in the habit of stress, like continuing to suffer from a constant involuntary feeling of "Oh, shit, I have so much work to do" even after the big scary project has been turned in. Only this would be the opposite of that. The enjoyable version of it.

I'm so very glad there is an enjoyable version of that.

Hey! Guess what?

Tomorrow I get to write!

micromanaging the soup
Thu 2014-01-16 22:40:56 (single post)
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"Right Door" is on its way to a new slush pile, one that's reprint friendly. Which makes two submissions this week, hurrah! The other was "Blackbird."

Neither of these are strangers to the field. And while it feels good to keep 'em out in the slush ("'til Hell won't have it," as Jim D. Macdonald is wont to say), I miss the thrill of sending a story out for the very first time.

I am inching closer to being able to do just that with "It's For You," but when I say "inching" I do mean it.

Inch. Ing.

You know, I love the freedom of National Novel Writing Month. I love my daily 25 minutes of freewriting, too. I love writing rough draft. I get to transmit thought to page at the rate of 90wpm without worrying about perfection or even competence. It needn't be good so long as it's story.

Revision is a whole 'nother matter. I look at the previous version, I begin to type the new version, and immediately my brain freezes up under a blinking red banner that says THIS HAD BETTER BE RIGHT.

And it doesn't help that, after compiling the recent batch of critiques, I realize that this piece wants a lot more than discrete fixes to discrete bits. I wouldn't say it needs an overhaul, but the fixes it does need are sort of all-encompassing. The flavor needs adjusting. The ingredients need to be better integrate. It's like making soup, OK, but I can't just twist the grinder over the pot and then stir. I have to place each grain of ground pepper individually.

Argh.

And that is all.

magic realism and me
Wed 2014-01-15 23:03:36 (single post)
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One of the random quotes that cycles at the top of this blog is from Jo Walton. It's about the dragons in her genius novel Tooth and Claw. I've been thinking about it today.

The snippet of the quote here is far too pared down to do justice to the original, though. Let me give you the full context.

It's a bit of conversation that went on in the comments following Patrick Nielsen Hayden's post from August of 2005, "Story for beginners." In it, he muses over a review of Kelly Link's fiction, in which the reviewer, who seems benignly confused about it, wonders whether the zombies are "supposed to be a metaphor", and a blazing-hot response to that review in which the blogger protests that they damn well aren't, at least not exclusively; no, they are real damn zombies and they will eat you.

That's not perhaps the best summary, but it'll tide you over if, say, you lose internet connection and need to restart your router while waiting for the above link to load. (You did click it, right? No? WELL DO SO FORTHWITH.)

As is generally the case over at Making Light, conversation ensured. Says one commenter,

I got into a rather heated argument a few months back with someone who was insisting that Tooth and Claw was good because "it isn't really about dragons." I said that it was too really about dragons, and that it would have been a much worse novel if it had not been really about dragons. "But I mean, really about dragons," said the other person. And I said yes, really about dragons. It didn't matter how many kinds of typographical emphasis she attempted to vocalize: Tooth and Claw is about dragons.

It also does other things, but if every little thing in it was a metaphor for man's inhumanity to radishes or some damn thing, it would suck.

Which is wisdom. Them what has ears, let them hear dat.

As is also often the case at Making Light, the author of Tooth and Claw was there to testify,

If they weren't solidly real dragons with parsons who have the right to eat the eyes of the dead it wouldn't have been worth doing.

This is coming to mind now because two very similar exchanges happened to me today.

  1. In a conversation online in a private forum (thus I will paraphrase, not link-and-quote) concerning the gap, difference, and overlap between science fiction and fantasy, one person mentioned preferring science fiction to fantasy because of an instinctive, involuntary need for rational explanations, or at least attempts thereto. But they fare better with magic realism than with straight-up fantasy, because their lit-crit background tells them they don't have to believe in the magic stuff; it's all just a metaphor.
  2. In compiling the critiques of "It's For You," I was reminded how many readers of the most recent two drafts reported not being 100% sure whether the narrator wasn't dreaming the whole fantastical thing, maybe the next-door neighbor who disappears into the painting like Mary Poppins into Burt's sidewalk art was never real to begin with... but that's OK, because they're enjoying the story as either magic realism or surrealism, where this sort of ambiguity is acceptable.

I should just like to take a moment and say a few words on behalf of fantasy everywhere, and also my inner child, and also my inner witch. And as I do so, please bear in mind that I mean no ill-will nor begrudgement to anyone referenced above; nevertheless, I'm a-gonna get shouty.

*deep breath*

THE VERY OLD MAN REALLY HAD REAL GREEN WINGS, OK, AND THE DOOR IN THE HOME DEPOT ACTUALLY GOES TO ANOTHER WORLD, RIGHT, AND ARISTA REALLY ACTUALLY TRULY DISAPPEARS INTO A PAINTING.

pant pant pant wheeze stomp stomp

*ahem*

Also, ten-year-old me wants you to know that there really, truly, actually is a heart beating under the floorboards. BECAUSE POE SAID SO.

And the dragons are solidly real dragons. And the zombies are really going to eat you.

This is how I relate to fantastic fiction of all stripes. I love both science fiction and fantasy, and I am as willing to take the author's word when they say "The narrator turned into a salamander" as when they say "This starship goes faster than the speed of light thanks to wormholes and genetically-designed pilots." It is not in me, no more now than it was when I first read "The Tell-Tale Heart," to doubt the veracity of the narrator's report.

I mean, if that's what the author wants me to think, I may get there eventually, if the author drops enough hints. But I don't go there first. The place I go first is, "I'm trusting you to take me for a ride. The wilder, the better."

This is also how I relate to my own fiction. I can't dictate your experience of it, now. If you prefer to think that Beth in "It's For You" never actually wakes up throughout the course of the story, or that the narrator of "Right Door, Wrong Time" is lying to the little kid about whether he can open a portal to another world, that is your innate right and I can't take that away from you. You may well read fantasy and think to yourself, "Well, that can't happen, so it must be that the narrator is mad, hallucinating, dreaming, or lying. Or maybe the whole thing's a metaphor."

But that is not my logic. My logic is WHEEEEE FANTASY WEIRD SHIT LET'S DO THIS!

Mainly I'm not very much interested in writing stories about sadly delusional people who think they can fly and are destined for a tragically hard landing. I live in that world already. (Or so I'm told. I'm not convinced, but it's politic to play along.) If I write about a person jumping out the window because she thinks she can fly, she's damn well going to soar.

I write fantastic fiction because I want this wide weird world we live in to be even weirder. On the page, I have the power to make it so.

So, my readers, my friends, my family, my loves, I promise you this and I tell you true:

When I write the weird shit, I want you to believe in it.

this is what a successful day looks like
Tue 2014-01-14 21:37:55 (single post)
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As far as implementing my Diabolically Cunning New Workday Plan goes, today has been a success. (We will not speak of yesterday.) Today I did all the things, and then some. Not in any particular order, nor with any particular speed or urgency, but I did them. So there.

What helped a lot was, I set up a to-do list template in a new Open Office spreadsheet. For each writing task, I logged start time, end time, and duration. Then, at the bottom, just because productivity tracking is fun, I added up each task's duration to determine how many hours I'd spent writing or performing writing-related tasks. Today's total was about 6 hours, which made me feel very accomplished.

Oh, by the way, speaking of productivity tracking, check out how science fiction author Jamie Todd Rubin does it. And here is how he works. Neat, huh? Now I no longer feel alone in usefully overthinking things. Although I'm beginning to feel defensive about my video game time.

I separated it out into sections:

  1. Woke Up At: If I log this, I'll probably stop sleeping in, just out of sheer embarrassment. So far, so good: today it was 8:30 AM. The category should more usefully be Morning Pages with time stats logged just like for the other tasks. The start time is functionally the same as the Woke Up At time, or ought to be. Morning pages takes me about half an hour immediately upon waking up, but can go to an hour and a half if I put them off until later. Just-woke-up-brain spends less time going "What now? What do I write now?" Just-woke-up-brain just freakin' writes.
  2. Fiction: The four tasks here are Freewriting, Short Fiction, Novel, and Submission Procedures. I spent about an hour and a half on annotating the recently critiqued draft of "It's For You" in a new Scrivener project, and about a half hour on everything else. That means it did in fact take a full half hour to submit "Blackbird" to a new market, and another full half hour to take Iron Wheels through Step One of the Snowflake Method. (Step One: "Write a single sentence synopsis of your novel." To be fair, Randy Ingermanson suggests a full hour for this.) Spending only 3 hours on fiction is admittedly on the brief side, but that won't stop me patting myself on the back. (pat pat pat)
  3. Content Writing: Boulder Writing Examiner, Puzzle Pirates Examiner, Demand Media Studios. Didn't do any of 'em today. Not too worried about it. I'll see about easing content writing back into my life after I'm reliably getting fiction done every day.
  4. Other: Here's where I logged the time spent reading and critiquing those manuscripts slated for tonight's writing group, and the time spent attending said writing group. I feel a lot better about the brevity of today's "Fiction" category knowing that most days I'll have at least two and a half more hours to spend there.
  5. Blogging: That would be this. Hi!

So here's Tuesday's Breathtakingly Obvious Epiphany: Going to writing group counts as writing. Right? It is not a biweekly obligation that gets in the way of writing. It is part of the writing. It is a thing that writers in fact do.

I'm very fortunate to be in a group again, and to have friends who pushed beyond "Wouldn't it be great if we got together and formed a writing group?" until it actually happened. There's six of us, all of us in Boulder or Gunbarrel. We write on a wide spectrum from speculative fiction to mainstream/literary, serious and satire, prose and poetry both. Everyone has really insightful things to say, and our critiquing styles seem to mesh well.

I'm embarrassed to admit that they critiqued "It's For You" back in September, and I'm only now working on the revision. I'm even more embarrassed to admit that the 4-month delay is an improvement. The draft my current group critiqued was revised from the first draft based on feedback from the Denver-Area Codex Writing Retreat in July 2012.

Fie on embarrassment. Improvements! Improvements are good! Today has been a success. That's my story, and I'm sticking to it.

We're Fixing a Hole Where the Rain Gets In
Fri 2014-01-10 22:38:55 (single post)

Our closest circle of Boulder friends have a tendency to come up with cute names for our abodes. Why? I don't know. Maybe it's a gamer nerd thing. Maybe it's like the way families develop unique terminology based on things various members said when they were very young. In any case, we don't just say this house or that apartment. Our homes have developed names.

For instance, there's "The Caboodle," an apartment so named because one of the people living there is named Kit. Obviously.

Then there's "The White House," which is the apartment inhabited by the trio one of whom has a cat named Richard Nixon. Really, it all makes perfect sense.

Our place? Well, John informed me that "Chez LeBoeuf-Little" wasn't cool enough for prime time. One of the White House denizens came up with the winning replacement nickname: "The Observatory."

Why? Because you can see the sky through the holes in the roof.

Not really. But there are certainly holes where the rain gets in, having the expected effects on the minds of everyone inside. That's been the case since we moved in. We know this because there was a stain in the area of the ceiling that started leaking water some years later. Up until then, we'd thought it had been a past problem adequately handled by previous owners who simply failed to follow up with the interior damage. Oh, how wrong we were!

The saga of our leaking roof has been a constant source of pain and stress to us ever since. Maybe not as intimate as living with a bad back or arthritis, granted, but just as constant, and just as much a source of uncertainty: Are we going to make it through this spring without having to tell the homeowner association manager we need another patch job, and argue with the homeowner association board that really, really, this time, isn't it obvious the patches aren't sufficient? Really?

I'm not going to go into the sequel saga involving several changes of management, one of whom finally put the leaking roof problem on the board's TAKE THIS SERIOUSLY radar, and the installation of an HOA board who actually seem to care, just in time for the Storm of the Century to make the roof leak utterly unignorable, followed by a lot of very slow moving meetings and consultations and then realizing that we needed a competent management company if we were going to get anything done--

But I'll tell you this. Today, a notice appeared on the corkboard of our stairwell advising residents not to park in the circled section of the map and if they didn't move their cars they would be towed and the HOA will not be responsible for any breakable items falling off walls or shelves so be prepared, y'all, 'cause NEW ROOF CONSTRUCTION BEGINS JANUARY 13 WOOT!

Come February, we're going to need a new nerd name for our condo unit. Or else we're going to need a telescope to justify it. (Hey, wait, I've got one back in Metairie!)

2014: The Year of Not Being In Charge of Things
Thu 2014-01-09 21:18:28 (single post)

So I posted my daily check-list the other day. Deciding on a daily check-list has been a very important part of this whole Reevaluating My Workday and the Productivity Thereof. But another important bit took place behind the scenes: Making room in my life for the dang thing in the first place.

This is why "Content writing" comes after all the fiction stuff. I have been jokingly referring to my two Examiner columns (Boulder Writing, Puzzle Pirates) and my articles for Demand Media Studios as my "day job," but over the last few years I've been taking that a little too literally. I've been treating them like the thing I have to do, while the storytelling has been relegated to whatever time is left in the day.

This was additionally problematic when I wasn't even get the "day job" writing done.

I needed to remind myself that one of the privileges of having a hard-working spouse supporting my writing career is I can actually prioritize my writing career.

But another thing I had to do was prune my life of all these odd responsibilities I've picked up, mostly inadvertently, over time. The joke is that 2014 will be my Year of Not Being In Charge of Anything. So with the end of 2013 I left two volunteer positions behind me...

1) I've relinquished the role of National Novel Writing Month Municipal Liaison for the Boulder area. 2013 was my 10th year fulfilling that role, which is a long time--especially considering I didn't choose to take it on in the first place. True story. The previous ML told the region, "I'm moving, so I won't be here to ML next year, but I know vortexae will do an excellent job as your new ML!" And I said, "You what?" And she said, "That's the spirit!" I was pretty much voluntold. And, well, it was fun, so I didn't fight it. But ten years really is enough.

Oh, I'll keep participating. I get epic amounts of rough draft written every November. But that's all I intend to be: a participant. I won't be organizing write-ins or parties or anything. The only thing I'll be organizing is my plot outline.

2) I also passed on to the next willing volunteer the hat that goes on the Head of the Recruiting Committee for Boulder County Bombers. I took that one on because at the time the previous Committee Head had to relinquish the post, I was the only feasible replacement, but that was near the end of 2012 and, again, it's been long enough. I did enjoy the warm glow of being one of the very first to welcome new members to the league, and getting to meet people as they ventured, excited and nervous, into the sport of roller derby. But it was a year-round part-time job, and if it didn't take up all of my time, mathematically speaking, it certainly had the capacity to drain my energy.

So with the dawn of 2014 I not only passed that hat but I also left the committee system entirely. I'll join a committee again sometime in the future--I love my league and I want to support it as best I can!--but for now I just need to take a step back and assess where my time goes.

So that's how 2014 became the Year of Not Being In Charge, and the Year of Prioritizing Fiction.

Caution: Contains sheep.
Woolen Printness Imminent
Wed 2014-01-08 23:03:12 (single post)
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So I have a Thing to announce. Remember that story that was going to come out in that magazine sometime, maybe, hopefully? Right. So, we're closer to actually seeing it in print. I got to review the PDF proof of [NaMeL3ss] Digest Issue #3 (née "Spring 2013") back in mid-December.

A PDF proof exists, y'all. I saw it with my own eyes. Can a print issue be far behind?

Stay tuned.

That's all I got today. Today started early and it involved a lot of driving. Also roller derby practice. I'm beat. I've being doing the little bits of everything, but they are very little bits.

See y'all tomorrow.

If you can't do a little, do a lot.
Tue 2014-01-07 23:16:25 (single post)
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So. Newly determined daily work schedule, as mentioned yesterday. It's more of a newly determined daily check-list to give me some focus.

Focus is necessary. It's the difference between a nebulous sort of intention to spend the day writing, whatever that means, and a tangible set of goals tacked up inside a working framework.

So the check-list goes something like this, and remember it's largely hypothetical still:

Task When For how long
Morning Pages Upon waking up Three notebok pages longhand
Freewriting After morning pages 25 minutes
Current Short Story After email break 1 hour? Maybe?
Current Novel After lunch break? 2 hours? I think?
Submit for publication Lastly As long as it takes to research a market or actually submit a thing; should submit a thing once a week
Content writing Afternoonish, if there's time Complete one blog post/article, or as much as fits in work time remaining
actually writing blog In the evening 'Til done

It's very much a work in progress. It's vague in places. This is partly owing to the tendency of household maintenance and surprise crises to make clock-scheduling beyond "Get up by 8:30" somewhat futile. This is also partly due to my never having successfully pursued a daily schedule with any regularity before, or at least not since college. How long should I devote to each project in a multi-project day? How long can I go on a single task before I'm ready to climb the walls? I really don't know. Not as a daily thing, anyway.

So this is the cautiously prescriptive version of my work-a-day schedule. A more descriptive version may be forthcoming, but don't wait up.

OK, so, right, maybe I overthink things. But that's how I function. Other people, certainly anyone who looks at the above and thinks Overthinking it much?, function differently. But I've discovered that unless I have a concrete and detailed idea of what I want to accomplish in a day, I don't actually accomplish much. I sort of float towards evening in a haze of good intentions, certain until about 3 PM that there's plenty of time left, equally certain afterwards that it's useless to start anything now that the productive part of the day is gone. Hence all the details.

Today, like I said, was full of distractions, and a perfect example of why the "When" column is so vague. To wit:

After morning pages (and I'm probably due another blog post about my relationship with morning pages), instead of going straight into freewriting, I went into the email and administrative household duties portion of the day early. This is because last night I burst up off the cusp of sleep with the certainty that at least two bills, possibly more, were late and I needed to deal with them now now now.

And then it was lunch time. No more work would happen until lunch had been consumed and about a half hour of Puzzle Pirates was played. (Those brigands don't just knock themselves out, you know.)

After freewriting, I went into full-bore clean-up mode. The first of our out-of-town guests is arriving tomorrow. The office/guest room has been in chaos since the Storm Of The Century. Said chaos consisted of boxes and other packaging materials, and also piles of things that needed to be out of the way pronto for the Winter Solstice party. Taming that chaos would be required if someone was supposed to sleep in here. And the results of taming the chaos was a car full of things to go to storage. So John and I drove stuff to storage. And bought groceries. And had dinner. And bought more groceries.

We got home, put groceries away, and promptly took note of mutual exhaustion. I confess, when John said, "Want to play with me?" and pulled up ibb and obb on the Playstation 3, it was much easier to yield to temptation than it was to pull myself away three levels later, citing my unfinished check-list.

I regarded the items on my check-list with despair. So. Tired.

Which brings me to my next new year's resolution: When I haven't time or energy to do a lot, I'll do at least a little.

"A little" in terms of my short story revision ("It's For You"): Sicced the three-hole-punch on the copies my friends recently critiqued. Filed copies in a three-ring-binder.

About that three-ring-binder: I discovered it in a pile of stuff in my old bedroom back in Metairie. It's a heavy-duty Mead number, woven canvas exterior the color of old blue jeans, blank weekly schedule and contact info list on the inside front cover, conversion tables inside the back. I'm pretty sure I once used it during high school Spanish. This is because, among the multicolored geometric doodles and surprisingly realistic stick-figure unicorns, there are rudimentary translations of Rush lyrics, lists of verbs in the infinitive, and phrases such as "diez minutos quedan" evincing a student watching the clock in desperation, probably because said student was desperately trying not to fall asleep. (Sometimes after lunch I just get sleepy. It's awful. It's involuntary. It's plagued me since at least seventh grade. It is not a referendum on the class, movie, opera, or party I'm attending, I promise!)

It delights me to repurpose this notebook, last seen in the hands of ambitious teenage me, to hold copies of a work actively in progress. It feels like fulfilling a promise. It's lovely.

So then.

"A little" in terms of working on my novel (the roller derby faeries-in-Wyoming YA supernatural romance/adventure): Installing Scrivener for Windows on my computer.

I won a copy of Storyist when I made a donation during National Novel Writing Month's big Writing Marathon + Donation Day. I was thrilled! Until I realized that Storyist is Mac only. But the NaNoWriMo rep tasked with getting a registration code in my hands decided to remedy the situation by offering me a free copy of Scrivener for Windows. So all right then.

The license for Scrivener is decidedly non-evil. I have never, that I know of, seen this sort of language in a license before:

Upon accepting the terms of this agreement, the Licensor grants you, the licensee, (“you”) and your family that live with you at the same address (“family members”) a non-exclusive, non- transferable limited licence....

This licence agreement enables you and your family members to use the Software on your own respective computers within your household but you may not copy or transfer the Software to any other computer or hard drive. Any members of your family not residing at your address for eight months of any year or more are not family members for the purposes of this licence agreement must purchase a separate Software licence. Additionally, you may make one copy of the Software for back- up purposes....

Maybe I haven't been around the block enough, maybe I'm just cynical, but I'm rather impressed by license that acknowledges that, hey, maybe the other people in your house want to use it too. Maybe you have more than one machine you want to install it on. Maybe that's how we use computers.

So. Tomorrow will be even more full of distractions, because we'll have a house-guest from about 9:30 AM on. I make no promises other than the resolutions already stated:

Distractions are no excuse;

If I can't do a lot, I'll do a little.

They often wander through, flicking an ear in courteous greeting as they pass.
Optimism!
Mon 2014-01-06 22:47:11 (single post)

It's a new year. I'm thinking optimistic thoughts. You know the sort: New year's resolutions, making a fresh start, and all that general gung-ho go-get-'em population of the mental nation known as The First Day of the Rest of Your Life.

Unfortunately, Life sometimes has minor upsets that mess with planning The Rest of. Seems like John and I both picked up head colds when we were in New Orleans--and how much of that is due to our insisting on spending a rainy Saturday in the French Quarter, I couldn't say--so our new year has been off to a slow start.

John's been staying more or less active throughout. I'm not sure how he does it. Me, I spent Thursday in bed. Friday I started getting better, Saturday better still--then Sunday I had my first roller derby practice since A) being sick and B) returning from sea level, which landed me back in bed most of the daylight hours of today while my lungs threatened to go on strike. But I made it to the Rock Day Spin-In and Potluck at Shuttles tonight, having baked banana bread for my contribution during the afternoon. I'll mark my small triumphs where I find them.

Tomorrow, I hope, I'll be able to put my new year's optimism to work pursuing my newly determined daily work schedule (about which, more tomorrow). There are distractions in the near future: preparations for out-of-town guests, then the actual activities involving the out-of-town guests, not to mention sharing the house with said guests between Wednesday the 8th and I think Monday the 13th. But if I waited until my life was distraction free to really settle into a daily work schedule, it might be New Year's Day 2015 before anything got done. So I guess one of my new year's resolutions should be to stop using distractions as an excuse.

Another resolution is, once again, to get back to blogging here daily or at least five days a week. We'll see how that goes.

Meanwhile, here's a picture of one of our neighbors. He came around the side of our building while we were chatting, then headed across the street to spend some time in the Atrium's loading dock. John followed him with a camera, for which exercise he graciously posed. Happy New Year!

I feel more like Emily Dickenson already!
Communications Resume From 7,421 Feet
Sat 2013-09-28 22:22:43 (single post)
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Good evening. I'm hiding away up in Avon, Colorado for a week. It's my usual annual-or-so personal writing retreat. Let's hope it works.

Which isn't to say I haven't been writing at all since my last, very optimistic post. I finished the rewrite of "It's For You" and got some great feedback on it from my neighborhood writing group, for instance. But productivity has been sporadic.

Lately, I blame the state of the house for this. Though the Storm Of The Century (or whatever the kids are calling it) did not flood our building (we reside on the third floor, anyway), nor did it cut off our access to the necessities of daily life, it did exacerbate the existing Leaky Roof problem. We are now dealing with our leaking roof in a more active way than before.

First, we chased the leak with buckets as it colonized new areas of the house and multiplied therein.

Then, we repositioned furniture and belongings excitingly and rapidly while helpful maintenance-type people hacked out pieces of ceiling and wall. Also carpet. Anything that got soaked, maintenance hacked it out and carted it away in trash bags. The office got hit hard; it is now romantically attic-like.

Next, we had several days of phone calls with the appropriate people to coordinate the retrieval of all the Magic Fan Appliances Of +2 Drying-Things-Out. Until then, they were In The Way.

In the meantime, we had several visits from other appropriate people--on-site maintenance staff, homeowner's association board members, other HOA-related personnel--to survey the damage, make appropriately shocked noises (especially when they saw that after two weeks of sunny weather we are still getting about a pint of water per day in the buckets in the office), and go away with either purposeful or despairing looks in their eyes.

And just this morning, round about 10:30 AM, we had a surprise re-visitation by the helpful maintenance-type people, needing to take measurements toward replacement drywall and insulation. I am not sure what they are going to do with these measurements, seeing as how replacing the hacked-out stuff would be a waste of time, money and materials while the roof remains dramatically non-watertight. However, I am sure these measurements will be Helpful.

My point is, every day has seemed to develop a Dealing With The Leaky Roof component. Sometimes that component was planned. Sometimes it was an improvisation. In every case, it's left me drained and with about as much energy as it takes to log on to Puzzle Pirates and bilge until my eyes fall out for the night. Other than those things that were definitively scheduled and involved other people (roller derby practice, my weekly farm volunteer shift, cooking or cleaning so that friends could eat, drink, and be in our house, etc.), nothing was getting done.

So tonight is my first of 7 nights under a definitively non-leaky roof, away from my usual weekly schedule. Writing is going to happen, dammit.

Well, not tonight. Tonight I am exhausted. Tonight, regretfully, followed a little close on to today, and today included, in no particular order,

  • Cleaning the fridge
  • Packing an ice-chest full of fresh veggies to consume over the week
  • Packing a suitcase
  • Giving an alpaca-wool-spinning demonstration at McCauley Family Farm's "Family Farm Day"
  • Playing a few songs on Rock Band before wireless drums decided to stop speaking with the Wii
  • Cleaning up the towels used to clean the fridge
  • Taking out recyclables, trash, compost
  • Driving two and a half hours into Colorado's high country

That last one gets special emphasis for obvious reasons.

However, tomorrow is a new day. This week is a new week. If writing doesn't happen, I won't be able to blame anyone or anything but myself.

Not that there aren't non-writing temptations. Some of them even involve roller skates. And the in-room internet is much improved from my last visit, such that online gaming is always a viable procrastination tool. And the hotel's Wii game library includes Guitar Hero.

But I will be strong.

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