2016: The Good, the Bad, and the “What? Why? UGH.”

For a brief review of the utter insanity that has been 2016…

The Rabid Rainbow Ferret Society

Here we are. We made it. December 31st. That shiny midnight that heralds the dawn of a new year is so close I’m pretty sure I can reach out and touch it, but don’t tell 2016 I said that… it will find a way to postpone it even more.

I think we can all agree that this year has been rough at best. In the realm of celebrities I’m pretty sure we’ve all lost at least one person we really admired. We don’t discuss politics on this blog, but if you’re in the United States you know that no matter your views this election was a mess of bamboozlery, misinformation, and high-strung feelings.

If you’re a Ferret, SOMETHING unfortunate happened to your car at least once this year. We’ve all come out of it with working vehicles, but at times it’s been dicey. We’ve had a car go swimming (okay, that…

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NaNoWriMo 2016 in Review

You may have noticed I dropped off and didn’t keep up with updates (on here OR Facebook) as intended. This November was… rough. So here’s a few thoughts on NaNoWriMo for 2016:

  1. This November was determined to not be cooperative. At least in the realm of writing. In the first place, I’ve taken a few years off NaNo and honestly forgotten just how much I have to learn to say no both to others and myself in favor of having the time to write. Also that this is not something to feel guilty over… it’s 30 days out of the whole year. But here are a few reasons this November was extra topsy-turvy:
    1. My best friend’s car met an already-dead woodland creature on the road and thus died itself. I am happy to help be a ride, offered right away and don’t regret it one bit, but it does require extra time.
    2. I also heard from friends who found a newly-orphaned baby kitty who needed a home right away… and put best friend in touch with them. Baby kitty now has a safe and happy home!! The story couldn’t have a better ending. But baby kitties, especially ‘found’ ones, require things to help get them in perfect health, and this also takes time.
    3. Hubby has been having increasing back pain for months now and this month it finally hit a peak that has kept him from working all but the absolutely-required hours at work. We’re in the process of helping him get better and may finally have some answers, but less money + his inability to help with housework has taken away writing time as well. The only thing I regret about this is that he doesn’t feel better. I want to see him pain free. Hopefully that is on the horizon.
    4. I have been dealing with a resurgence of my own health issues. Thankfully none of the severe ones, but mostly the ones that cause low-level all-over pain as well as higher levels of fatigue. The extra responsibilities at this time contribute so that there isn’t much left over at the end of the day. I’d rather sleep than write. And sometimes that’s how it has to be.
    5. ALL OF THAT BEING SAID… that’s life. I regret none of it. Feel animosity toward none of it. This year especially seems to have beat up nearly the entire world. I only list these things as examples that sometimes there are other things that need taking care of in life, and it’s okay to give over to handling those things. Just don’t forget yourself when ‘other things’ begin to calm down once more.
  2. I finished at 17 hours, 1 minute. A far cry from my 50 hours goal. I honestly had no concept of 50 hours in regards to normal daily life, let alone the messy side of life I’ve been dealing with lately. That’s a LOT of time in addition to a full time job and other responsibilities. I will likely try for it again in 2017, but I now have a better understanding and appreciation for how much time that is and what it requires me to do.
  3. I may have only hit 34% of goal, but it was a wonderfully productive month for me. I feel like I absolutely did the right thing in waiting to begin this project during NaNo.
    1. I finished 1 poem, full edits, and am nearly done with a 2nd. This is not going to sound impressive. For me, I’m pleased. I’ve never tackled a full length collection, let alone with a theme, from scratch. I have recently been going MONTHS without picking up a pen at all; I’m out of practice.
    2. I am learning to sit and work at writing even when I don’t feel incredibly inspired. This is the ‘magic’ level of being a writer I’ve never really hit before. No inspiration has always equaled no writing. I’m learning to wake inspiration up by sitting down with my pen before she shows up on her own.
    3. I’m learning my own process of creating poetry, especially from a blank page / free writing stage. Notably I’m learning to NOT give up on the poem when I go from messy free write to really, really bad rhyming verse. This seems to be a common ‘second step’ for me on my way to the end product. It’s just a sign that a poem is beginning to form, not that it will be stuck there. Don’t give up.
    4. I’ve discovered that the more I work on my own poetry, the more ‘hungry’ I get for reading the work of others. I absolutely have to refill the tank. It’s even more satisfying to read the work of amazing poets when I feel like my poetry tank is empty. The best words and lines spark that much brighter. Most recent read? “The Robot Scientist’s Daughter” by Jeannine Hall Gailey. Highly recommended.
  4. This project is going to take a year at best. Any less and I will have rushed through it. I know me and my abilities (at least as they are at this time) and know this to be true. It is likely it will take longer, and if that is what creates the best work I am capable of, then so be it. I don’t want to hurry this and mess it up. But I got enough momentum going this month that I trust myself to not give up. Even taking a week away from writing gave me the itch to sit down for at least a couple of hours one afternoon and work.

Continue reading

NaNoWriMo 2016: Week 2 Recap

This post is a couple of days late, but I’m here! I’m still kicking! At this point I don’t see how 50 hours will happen, but I’m certainly not giving up.

The weekend saw a couple of good writings days, but I’m woefully behind. So far behind that at this point, my more serious goal is 25 hours. (Though the insane part of me does still whisper in my ear that 50 could happen…)

I finished day 14 at 10 hours, 38 minutes of time logged.

Keep in mind that I’m not counting any time my brain wanders to thinking about my project during the day. Or any time I may be vaguely thinking about it in between more serious writing sessions while I do other things. I’m only logging focused time on the project. Butt in chair, pen in hand, total focus. My brain is getting tired… I forgot how much creative focus can be a mental drain!

I’m also starting to feel ‘hungry’ for other poetry. I’m draining so much out of my head that I need to replenish it with the awesome words of others. Thankfully I own at least a few poetry books and have been rereading through those, plus I picked up a new book from the library just yesterday. There’s some poetry books on my Christmas list (*fingers crossed!*) and a friend just got me a subscription to Southern Poetry Review for my birthday so I’m very excited! Not to mention the second issue of Outlook Springs should be headed my way soon too. Plenty of new words to consume in 3, 2, 1…

I’ve been very scattered with my writing this last week. Working for 10 minutes here, 15 minutes there… having difficulty getting any one piece to talk to me strongly, but making sure I take the time to be quiet and focus on each one in case they’re just being quiet. This is a change for me, and a positive one. I’m trying to stop writing ‘only when I’m inspired’.

The good news? I finished a new poem! Edits and all. It’s the second complete poem of the collection. (I realized that one of the poems I finished in the spring was actually the beginning to the collection I thought I hadn’t started yet. Funny how that works sometimes.) Two poems hardly make a collection, but they are a beginning. Perhaps I can finish at least one more before the month is up? Retraining your brain, your creativity, and your motivation is hard…

NaNoWriMo 2016: Week 1 Recap

And so November has begun! I’ll be posting once a week with an update on how the writing is going for the month, and I hope you’ll check in for that! You can also follow my Facebook page for daily (or near-daily) updates.

Note: After November my blog may not be quite as busy for a time, but I’ll still be around. I don’t want this blog to turn into what my previous blogs have been, a race just to post something within a certain time frame. You may have noticed there are a few categories on this blog with no (or few) posts yet. I promise they’re coming. Some of them are just much more time intensive and why would anyone want to read a post that I don’t feel like putting my heart into writing? Those categories are place-holders and will slowly be filled.

This year, NaNoWriMo is not only about starting a new project for me, but also learning to allow myself to do something I love. I’ve known for a long time that I’m holding myself back, but it hasn’t been until the last couple of months that I’ve worked out at least part of my mindset behind it. This NaNoWriMo is a small step in taking back part of my creative self.

In case you haven’t read this post yet, I’m being a NaNo rebel and working on my first poetry collection. I’m not about to write 50,000 words of poetry (even really, really BAD poetry), so my goal is to commit 50 hours of time this month to working on that collection.

It’s been a slow start. But I expected that. As of the end of Nov 7th I have given the project 3 hours and 41 minutes of time. I have some serious catching up to do! Keep in mind that I only count completely focused and dedicate time. Idle wandering as I think things over, internet researchings, etc. are not being counted. I don’t think that’s fair.

Want to follow 5 writers (and not just me) this November? Make sure to check out the Rabid Rainbow Ferret Society’s blog (my writing group) for weekly updates too! Here’s the first week: NaNoWriMo Week One! – Ferret Updates

Are you participating in NaNoWriMo or any other writing project this month? Tell me about it in the comments!

 

I’ve Turned My Life Into Homework

I have recently had a huge revelation into why I always feel pressure to get things done and why the list never ends.

Homework & Study - from MorguefileI went through school treating it like a video game with tasks to complete. Memorize 20 vocabulary words? Check. Read two chapters in your science book? Check. Write a three page paper in English class? Check. Do 50 math problems at the end of the chapter? Check. I was always racing to the next task. Check, check, check.

When school ended, I transferred that bizarre need for tasks from schoolwork into life. Vacuum the living room? Check. Do the dishes? Check. I am the to-do list queen. I have lists of my to-do lists. But there’s a big difference in my to-do lists now vs. the lists when I was a teenager.

In school, you only have as much work as the teacher gives. You will only see the teacher at certain times. This means there are specific, predictable opportunities for your work load to change or grow. At all other times there is the peace of knowing that once done, you are truly done.

Life is never truly done.  Continue reading

The Quest to Tidy: Stationery, Round 2

The first things I am tidying as I once again pick up the KonMari process are the things I have already tidied. The things whose categories are already in pretty good shape, but need some re-tidying to make sure they stay that way. Clothes came first. Next up? Stationery.

I’ve talked about postcrossing and letter writing a little on this blog. I’ll be talking about it much more in the future. But for the purpose of this post… let’s just say I have a lot of stationery. I prefer letter sets over note cards, but I have both, in addition to stacks of loose envelopes, extra holiday/birthday cards, and even some old personalized post-it sized sheets.

In fact, perhaps a picture will demonstrate better.

stationery letter sets

See? Lots and lots of stationery. I’m always looking for more, but perhaps I shouldn’t look so hard for at least a little while. Continue reading

Tidying Your Digital Life: The Pros and Cons of the Process

There is no “organize” button on the computer. There is no “tidy up” menu that neatly puts all your files and folders away in a manner both logical and simple. When making the decision to clean up your digital house you have to tackle it in the same way you do your real home. Methodically.

And just like the process of organizing your physical home, organizing your digital house has its own set of pros and cons that are not always that different from the ones you experience when tackling a particularly cluttered room.

keyboard, like and dislike, thumbs up, thumbs down

CON: If you are the type of person who gets overwhelmed, be prepared to feel overwhelmed. Chances are you have kept a few small things well organized, a few more loosely organized, and the rest are in very generic folders and scattered about all over the place. You may have duplicates, triplicates, or even more of the same file. (I’m not counting back ups.) You may have vacation photos from just one trip scattered about in three different places. It’s the same thing as having your clothes in three different rooms. How are you supposed to go through them when you don’t even have them all together?

Unlike the KonMari method which tells you to save organization for last, I think you have to organize your digital clean up as you go at least to a certain degree. That doesn’t mean it has to be your end-all style of organizing, but you need a loose system. For example, I have a folder labeled “Funnies and Quotes” where I dumped all the comic panels and memes I’d saved. This kept those in one place and one place I could find easily. Once they were gathered up from all over, I furthered my organization by creating sub-folders for types of comics and memes, making it easier to always find the one I want.

In the same way the KonMari method tells you to gather all items of one category before you start going through them, use a loose organizing system of folders to gather your files. You can fine tune your organization later.

PRO: You might be feeling overwhelmed, but you can very easily break up the task of organizing your digital life into dozens of much smaller, much more achievable goals. Continue reading

Worldwide Post Report: August & September 2016

Time for a few new favorite postcards I’ve received over the last two months!

postcard from germanyThis card hails from Germany. The lady who sent it my way says that this is a very famous bridge in the city where she lives. (She also said that at the time of writing she was off for a girl’s weekend. My, how I envy her!) What you can’t tell from the picture is the lovely, slightly weathered texture of the thick paper. This card doesn’t look fresh and new and I love that about it. Continue reading

NaNoWriMo 2016: Poetry Collection, Coming Right Up!

I finally have a solid idea for what might be my first collection. Certainly my first consciously themed poetry project. It began as an idea for a single poem. Specifically, a title. When I couldn’t pin down what I wanted to write, having too many options, I thought perhaps it would be a few poems or a poem in many parts. Before long I realized that the concept I had was not for just one or two poems, but a theme for a collection.

I’ve been tossing it around in my head for well over a full year now, and seeing as how it won’t go away I think I need to work on it. Unfortunately wanting to write it does not immediately make it appear as a bestseller on the shelves of Barnes and Noble tomorrow. I can daydream all I want about it, but if I think about all of the steps it will take to get it into published form I won’t even start. There’s simply too many. (And this is where a lot of writers in all genres get stuck.) Instead I’m working on a game plan to get around to writing it in the first place.

I’m afraid if I tackle it now, while I’m still only writing in fits and starts, I won’t stick to it, no matter how much this project means to me. So instead, I’m using NaNoWriMo this year to kick off. If I can dig my claws in deep, I don’t think I’ll let the project go even if I can’t devote time to it at a consistent pace after November. In the spirit of 50 (since NaNoWriMo’s goal is 50,000 words), I pledge 50 hours of “butt in chair” time, all to this project (unless another poem that doesn’t fit just insists on not waiting, you know how it goes).

Does that mean I’ll stop at 50 hours? Of course not! I hope to spend more time! But I will do everything in my power that month to see that I devote at least 50 hours. If I spend that much time focusing, I know I will get something written. Even on my day-dreamiest days I can’t spend a full hour staring at an empty page without writing SOMETHING before I give up. 50 hours will equal progress, even if I can’t guess how much.

journal and pensSo until November starts I’m quietly working on the logistics in my head. I have a few different ways the collection could be arranged, and while I won’t worry too strongly about that until it is nearing completion, the core ideas for arrangement in my head I am trying to sort because they will at least partially determine how I go about writing.

All I can say is that my favorite pens and a shiny new journal (picked up during last year’s writing retreat with the Ferret girls; I told you this has been in my head for awhile) are ready to go!

The Quest to Tidy: Clothes Closet, Part 2

Clothes are the very first thing Ms. Kondo suggests one tackles in her KonMari method of tidying house. When I first started applying KonMari to my own household last summer, I started with clothes. And my goodness did we get rid of clothes… (You can read that post here.)

When I picked up the process of KonMari once again this summer, I began with clothes. My husband’s wardrobe hasn’t changed too drastically, so I left his alone, but mine had seen at least one more big thrift store sale as well as new purchases this spring before going on international vacation. It needed going through.

clothes on bedI will admit that this is all I bagged up to donate. Just 25 items. But it was so much easier going through my closet this time around. Not to mention I was also pulling from an already heavily reduced inventory. I couldn’t really expect to pull 100 or more items. There are a few pieces I almost pulled for the donation pile this time, but I’m not quite ready to let go and if I still don’t touch them for another six months it won’t be so difficult.

Doing this a second time I was able to more easily tell my feelings about the clothes I had. The skirts that were a little too short, the shirts that didn’t quite stretch long enough, the dresses that were worn less now that I had others I liked better to wear… all were so much easier to thank for once being mine and let go.

Yes, I do still thank things out loud, both when I keep them and when I let them go, as I go through the KonMari process. For some, this part of the method is more metaphorical. They use it to simply be conscious of their decisions and the reasoning behind them. For me I take it a bit more literally. It works for me. I talk to the objects in my house frequently, so why would I not talk to them when figuring out whether or not they will remain a part of my household?

I would like to be able to keep up the process of going through my clothes about once a year. It would keep my closet from getting out of hand, and also keep me aware of whether or not the things I’m keeping are actually being used. Not to mention, it just feels good to open your closet and see only things you love to wear.