First Cup of Coffee – November 3, 2019

On yesterday’s podcast, First Cup of Coffee – November 2, 2019, I talked about building up daily wordcount gradually. So I’ve resurrected a previous post that gives a suggested strategy for hitting that 50K in November NaNoWriMo goal. Come on over to the SFF Seven to read about it!

Why Building a Writing Habit is Essential

WARRIOR OF THE WORLD, which comes out January 8 2019, is being featured in a Goodreads giveaway until November 27! Great opportunity to win one of a hundred free copies! Kensington has also started a reader Facebook group called Between the Chapters. Lots of great giveaways on there – along with author chats. I’ll be doing one in January, so join up and enjoy the party!

Our topic at the SFF Seven this week is one I suggested, on the idea that “Even When You’re Not Writing, You’re Writing.” Come on over to find out what I mean – and get some NaNoWriMo tips!

 

The Luxury of Small Aggravations

This is an eight-foot tall glass Christmas tree made by Dale Chihuly for the Clintons when they were in the White House. It’s on display in the Clinton Presidential Library in Little Rock, Arkansas.  I was there for a day job conference and the final night’s banquet was at the library – a place I would never have thought to go on my own, for any president. Now I’m considering seeing as many as I can, when I’m in the right area. Just fascinating. I confess the replica of the Oval Office gave me a surprising emotional tingle. They replicated exactly what Clinton had on his desk and now I’m rethinking my tchotchkes.

Of course, Jackson just jumped up on my desk, nabbed one, and took off with it, so it could be a self-resolving situation. If I had a bust of Nelson Mandela, he wouldn’t be pulling that shit.

I flew back yesterday, landing in Albuquerque in the late afternoon. Regular readers know I’m often cranky coming back from work trips, because they throw my writing schedule all to hell and gone. It’s just how it goes. As I drove up the interstate, I immediately hit a major traffic slow-down and groaned, thinking I’d hit rush hour and it was going to be a bad one. I ran the calculations in my head, if I should take an alternate route that’s normally longer, but would save me going through the whole city at that speed.

If you’ve never driven in Albuquerque, you should know that the traffic can be terrifying. There’s no good reason for it, but people drive *really* fast and change lanes rapidly, weaving in an out of traffic. This is in addition to the decrepit vehicles from Mexico, with Chihuahua or Sonora license plates, pottering along easily 30 mph below the speed limit. Even people accustomed to driving in the free-for-all of Boston rush hour can be taken aback.

You have to look sharp.

After a couple of miles of stop and go, a truck pulled into traffic with the elevated lighted signs that point traffic to change lanes. It was an accident then. Sure, enough, as we all merged over to the rightmost lanes, I passed the wreck. Three or four vehicles were jumbled up in the left lane – one pickup truck spun around so it faced traffic. No cops or EMTs had arrived yet, but people were gathered around the cars in little clusters. It looked – miraculously – like mostly the vehicles had gotten banged up, not the people. One man, though, older, probably in his 70s, leaned against the concrete barrier by himself. He looked stunned and bewildered in a way that grabbed at me. I wanted to pull over and tell him it was okay, that at least he wasn’t hurt.

His face stuck with me for the rest of the drive and I wondered about him – if he’d had someone to call. If his wife had been angry or understanding or if she was maybe so far gone into dementia that she’d never understand what happened to him that afternoon.

It’s an easy thing to take for granted – all those days that aren’t ruined by sudden disasters. Instead we focus on the irritating minutiae. The minor aggravations of all the little things that don’t go exactly the way you want them to.

What a luxury that is.

Climbing Back into Routine

I took this photo back on July 3. Apparently. I don’t remember taking it and was surprised to find it in my cache of photos to use.

But that seems about right – July was when everything seriously picked up speed. Although I note that I talked about my decimated writing schedule on June 19, alas. I was also in a heavy meme of Cute Kitten Pics for a while. There will be more of those to come!

Still, between work travel, conventions, graduation with family visits, I’ve been totally off my rhythm and ritual.

You all know how I am about my rituals.

~weeps for shattered rituals~

So, today, I’m climbing back on the wagon. Like a party girl after a six-week bender, I’m going clean and sober again. This means full rules of observing word count and writing time. Turning off the interwebs. Code One Writing Rules.

See, the rituals are there to create that sacred space to write. I’ve talked about this many times, such as here. For me, there’s a sense of building a wall around that sacred space. We all build those walls in different ways. For me it’s about a certain time on the clock, using Freedom to keep me from looking at the internet, playing particular music and enforcing word count goals. Once I’m in my rhythm, I can bend some of those rules, because I’m in the space. I don’t need to work so hard to create it.

But now, with my sacred writing space in rubble at my feet, I have to reimpose maximum measures. It’s like placing myself in solitary confinement until I can demonstrate better behavior. I know it will be painful at first and after that, the writing will flow again and I can take a few hours in the exercise yard.

On that note… see you on the flip side!

When Your Writing Schedule Gets Decimated

There’s lots of stuff out there about how writers and cats go together.

It’s true – the two creatures have similar natures and habits. A lot of that has to do with quiet and contemplation.

You might also notice that this is always about cats and never kittens.

This is our New Kitten, officially named Jackson.

I finally managed to get this photo, when he ran out of energy and got a little sleepy. I have requests for video. So far, this is the best I’ve managed:

Jackson 2

It gives you an idea of the eternally moving target I’m dealing with here. Is he a good desk companion? Oh yes! Every inch of my desk, all the time. Keyboards are for walking on. My face is right there for loving on. He goes for my tea. I move it to the other side. He follows. I move it back. He follows. Persistence, thy name is Kitten.

So, yeah – my even, pleasant rituals are shot all to hell. If I’m not trying to see through a tail, I’m mediating conflicts with Isabel, who is decidedly cranky about the whole thing. Here was her statement from last night.

Hint: look at the end of the near canale. Yes, we got her down. She’s been up on the roof before, but we had to get out the extension ladder last night. Just so I would know that she is DISPLEASED.

So, now I’m trying to get my schedule back into place – knowing full well I’ll lose it again, because I’m headed to Rom Con on Thursday. (Hey, if you’re coming, or are in the Denver area, stop and say hi!) I’m trying to be Zen about it all. My life is overall pretty even and peaceful – like I said yesterday, I don’t know how you people with little kids do it – and this kind of disruption doesn’t happen often.

I think that’s part of the staying the course with writing: knowing that sometimes different parts of life get in the way. And that’s it’s all good. All part of being a connected human being.

Just like getting back to my exercise routine after the holidays, to extend my recent analogy. Starting off slow and easy.

Working my way back up to full intensity.

(With only a little whining.)