Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Getting back on track

It seems things are getting back to normal computer wise, well as normal as they can get. And now that I don't have to spend all my time working on computer problems I'm hoping to get back to my writing schedule.
When I used to work nights and weekends I had a writing schedule and for a while it worked really well. Then my job changed and it was hard for me to get back into the swing of things. After six months I feel like I’m finally getting back in a groove and a schedule is forming.
So now I’m trying to set the schedule and stick to it. I feel like I have a few projects going on and I need to keep them balanced. I didn’t mean to start editing my NaNo novel until after I finished Human Decency but I’ve got some stuff going on in my life that brings me back to my NaNo novel. I feel like now's a good time to work on it. And I’m having a little trouble pushing through with Human Decency at this time. I’ve got a great idea and terrific characters (so I think, anyway) but I need to come up with some idea of where it’s going. I need a little direction.
Now my tentative schedule for the week is to edit my NaNo novel during the day while I’m at work. After reading through it I made a list of things I want to change or need to think about. I’ve decided to change it to first person point-of –view. I do want to add in the final short story. I liked Jenni’s idea of having her live it then start writing it. I thought it would be cool to just have the story and let the reader decide if it’s real or if it’s another one of the writer’s stories but I can’t think of a way to do it that’s not completely confusing. I’ve yet to decide whether to get rid of the first story. If I keep it I definitely need to add more about how it relates to the writer’s life. And I need to make the story less chunky. There are chunks of the writer’s life and how that affects what she’s writing and then chunks of what she’s writing. I think I need to make the parts smaller and intertwine them more.
I know most of this probably only makes sense to me but I thought I’d share so it seems like I’m actually working on something.
At night I work on Human Decency. Well I try to push through anyway. I’ve been working on introducing the characters and bringing them together but I’m worried it’s not happening fast enough and that this book is going to end up huge. That’s if I think of something past the characters coming together. I also don’t want to cheat it.
On Saturday I work on writing short stories and editing them for submissions. Sundays I work mostly on submissions. I throw in a blog post wherever I can fit it. Occasionally, I go off schedule and work on a few other things like an action/adventure short story series, a Christmas story that I would like to get finished and submitted before the end of the month (*in time for a few literary magazine deadline’s for holiday stories) and anytime I’m around my family I get inspired to write a funny story for a humorous anthology that I really should do.

Well I obviously have a lot to do so I guess it's back to work.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Yet another computer update

Someone gave me an old laptop that is in much better condition than mine so that's super exciting. I'm trying to get all my files and software on it right now. Hopefully, I'll be getting back to IMing, blogging, e-mailing and all that other fun stuff on a normal basis.

I forgot to mention another fun part of my chaotic week where an employee left the store unlocked and I had four phone calls from the police to let me know that someone had walked in and set off the store alarm. Now we have to do inventory on the entire store to make sure nothing was stolen. So the few hours that I've managed to be there this week I haven't had anytime to work on my writing.

I did manage to write a post during a quick break at work but I can't open it because it doesn't seem that Word is on my computer despite having put on Windows XP so I'll have to figure that out.
So I thought I'd write a quick update and maybe things will be up and running soon.

Monday, August 20, 2007

A quick update on the chaos that has consumed my week

Okay well this week has been insane. The short version goes that my parents won't talk to me because of a biscuit, I yelled at my boss calling him some pretty not nice things, I missed my best friends wedding reception and I've got about two minutes of sleep since I've been in the hospital with a family member. And did I mention when I finally got home and got a second to write about all this, I'm going to guess that I didn't catch the computer virus on time because my computer got incredibly hot, smelled like it was burning and stopped working. I am now functioning on the old laptop with the missing keys that has been mentioned in previous post that I don't dare look up at this time.

Anyway, amongst all this madness, mostly the hospital part, I have found the occasional few minutes to write. I didn't really have all my novel gear so I haven't been working on any of those. For some reason I felt inspired to write a Christmas story. Maybe I'll have it done in time to submit for the holiday issues of a few literary magazines.

One good thing it's been high in the 70's and raining all week. I'm sorry for those who don't care for it but I'm totally loving it.

And since I'm not sure when my next substantial post will come around, I suggest everyone stop by and read this blog .I really like the current post and the rest of the blog is great as well.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

The troubles of a writing group, if you can even call it that.

The other day I met with the writing group I thought would be no more. We probably wouldn’t have met but my ad that had gone unanswered all summer got one more reply. And one of the teachers was able to make it back for at least this week so we decided to give it a try.

I felt bad for the new guy because, the teacher will call her E, (I don’t want to use her real name since I didn’t ask if I could. Not that I think she would mind but that’s not for me to decide. And yes I use Jenni’s name without permission but her name is all over our Behind the Naugahyde website so what difference does it make? Sorry Jenni please don’t hate and/or sue me.), had been so busy traveling to Maryland for an interview last week that she didn’t have any writing for the group to read and I couldn’t get to any of my writing because it was all floating around in the chaos of back-up file land. So we were going to be focusing completely on new guy's work.

Of course, E and I got there kind of late and we hadn’t bothered to tell the new guy, D, what we looked like so when we got there he was actually sitting with another writing group that had another member named E (well E’s real name). What a coincidence? We told him he was welcome to stay with the cool writing group that had a sufficient supply of members who would be around for a while, would actually bring work and be on time but for some reason he chose to go with us.

I hadn’t been able to get his story that he had sent for me to read in advance because it was in my e-mail and we all know I was having some serious computer problems. So I felt bad that the pressure was on me to read on the spot, come up with comments and do all of this in a timely fashion while I fought off the paranoia that D and E were staring at me.

Once I started reading D’s story I was grateful and annoyed. He’s an amazing writer. He had a fantastic literary story that read like poetry. It was so descriptive and filled with brilliant metaphors. He had an excellent vocabulary. The story definitely needed a lot of thinking which I had little time to do. I of course could think of nothing to say other than “wow!” so I marked a few typos to make it look like I was being helpful.
Thankfully he had questions and that gave me a little footing for some input but still I was annoyed with myself for not having more time to really think it through and grateful that I hadn’t brought the third half of my cheesy, clich├ęd and poorly written vampire story.

We ended the meeting and he said if we had another meeting he would come back. I feel like E and our other writer/teacher, B, are skilled enough in writing to work with D but I think my presence will drag the group down if we manage to survive.

I almost thought that maybe I was just being over dramatic and maybe D’s work was great but not that great, until we were in the parking lot and E said she thought that his work was quite impressive as well.

So we managed to squeeze out one more meeting. I have no idea if there will be another. Fortunately for her but unfortunate for our writing group, E got a teaching job out of state and is moving away. B will be busy at least for the start of the school year plus he lost all of his work due to computer problems so it may be a while before he recovers from that. And D might find a group that’s more in his league.

Just saw: Underdog
Listening to: Nickelback-All the Right Reasons

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

My bleepin' computer problems!

I’m back and no I wasn’t gone because I didn’t pay my electricity and/or Internet bill. The pop-up virus on my computer got so bad that I couldn’t even function. So I managed to find someone to fix it for a decent rate, which was still more than I should have spent.

Anyway, they had to erase a lot of my stuff so I’m trying to adjust. I had most of it backed up so I’m not too worried about that. All my word documents are backed up but they need to be put back on my computer. And I had most of my pictures backed up or in e-mails but I did lose a few. It’s my own fault for not making more time to back things up before having someone fix my computer.

A few weeks ago one of the writers I had met with had some computer problems and didn’t back stuff up. He lost three years worth of work on his novel. I couldn’t even imagine what that would be like. Fortunately, for me I have extreme paranoia. I often hand write my work so I usually have a paper back up. And I usually print things out to edit. Sure I have to type things in again but better that than losing it completely. I also save stuff in my e-mail in case of a fire. It was either that or try to fit everything in the freezer.

My DSL software was also deleted and it took me forever to get it back on since my CD drive is 1% functional. But if this is posted I obviously got it working. (I’m writing this at work. It’s around 2pm Tuesday, Aug. 14).

The computer fixer came to my house instead of me having to take it some place and never knowing when I would get it back so that was cool. And I was worried that in the chaos of all the pop-ups I might have accidentally ended up with some crazy stuff on my computer. Especially, since I kept getting these messages saying my adult material that I had downloaded was being tracked and I could end up losing my job and ruining my marriage if I didn’t by the software to delete it. But if there was any embarrassing material found on my computer he didn’t mention it.

So hopefully this works. Then I can get my computer set up, get back online and everything will be back to normal.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

What's going on

Thanks to the heat and a bad case of the pop-ups my computer is running very slowly. So I haven’t been online much. Although, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Right now, I get online and check my e-mail, read a few blogs and that’s about it. Before I would waste hours away looking up stupid stuff while I was procrastinating on all my other work. Not that the whole computer situation isn’t annoying but I’m trying to find the positive.

So that means I’ve been getting lots of work done right? Well I’d be lying if I said that I haven’t spent too many hours trying to clean my computer. While I’m waiting ten minutes for it to do one small task I’ve been reading. I think this may affect my feelings on certain books since they are being read in frustration. Aside from all of that I have been getting some writing done.

The other day I decided to open up my NaNoWriMo novel from last November. I wasn’t really sure what I was going to do with it but after reading it I think it’s not too bad and that I might try getting it published. Of course, it’s a total mess. I’ve been debating back and forth about whether to tell it in first person or in third person. It’s in third person right now. It’s a story about a writer’s life and how everyday events affect what she writes. So now I’m thinking that maybe her telling the story might work a bit better. And that will mean a lot of work but I’m thinking first person is better.
Also I need to come up with a name for it. If I can get my computer to function for ten minutes I plan on putting up a blogger poll. I have a name with a few variations that I’m debating about but right now I’m worrying about edits.
Bits and pieces of the stories that the writer is working on are scattered through the novel. Each story has significance to the writer’s life. I’m just not sure if the first story is on the same level as the other stories or if it’s really necessary. Then there’s another short story that I had an idea for that I think would be a good addition but I’m also thinking it might work as something that actually happens to the writer.
The stories climb in importance to the writer. The first one is nothing like her life, the next one is nothing like her life but does have a few elements, then the next one is kind of like her life but not really, and so on. So the short story I’m debating about adding can be a story just like her life or it can be part of her life. That probably sounds entirely complicated but I assure you it makes sense in my head. But me saying that is probably not reassuring either.
And if I did chose to add or delete a story I have to change the story around the story so that will be more work. Even though it's a mess I think it's got potentail so I'm not giving up on it despite all the work.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Just a bunch of stuff that didn't fit anywhere else.

I'm sure that my last post makes it pretty obvious that absolutely nothing exciting is going on in my life. So here's some random thoughts that I've been meaning to throw into posts but haven't.

Yesterday I went to the Henry Ford Museum and Greenfield Village with my grandma and sister. I can't actually afford a real vacation so that's where I ended up. I'd like to write a huge long post about how awesome it was but minutes after paying $30 a person we stepped into the hot sun and 98 degree heat. Then my sister, who was horribly sunburned the day before, threw up and passed out. She came to fairly quickly and did not want to go to the hospital so we turned right back around for our hour and a half drive home. We were sad that we did not get to see the cars of rock n' roll exhibit, the bus Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on, the presidential cars exhibit or the Oscar Meyer Wiener mobile, but we felt better knowing the tickets were good for a year. Well, we felt better until we realized that in my attempt to not let my sister crash to the ground of a vomit covered bathroom, I dropped the tickets and never picked them up.
Another thing about the day that bummed me out was that on the way there I came up with the best song lyrics ever. I couldn't wait to write them down when I wasn't driving so I kept saying them over and over in my head. Then all the madness happened and they were lost. I was sad for the first time I had actually thought of great lyrics that flowed and would have made a fantastic song. I hate it when something slips out of my mind before I get the chance to write it down. Sometimes I wonder if it comes back later but I don't recognize it as an idea I already had.

On a completely different subject, it seems the rejection notices I've been getting lately are rather rude. Before I was just getting generic notices or some pleasant 'thanks but no thanks' comments. Yet in the last two weeks I've gotten two rude comments that come out something along the lines of "I am so tired of seeing stories about this." And that's fine. Maybe my story isn't as original as I thought. I'm okay with that but what is the necessity of the rude, snarky remarks. A simple 'no thanks' would suffice and I do appreciate knowing why it's a no but you could say it nicely. Sorry, that's just me griping. I'm sure they get annoyed by the tons of people that send in "crap" everyday so it's probably hard to stay pleasant.

Another random thing I wanted to mention is that I know I keep talking about searches on my site meter and I just wanted to assure everyone that I don't check it constantly. And I rarely look at anything other than how many people stopped by and the searches. I don't want people to feel like they can't stop by my blog because I'm spying on them.

Also, thanks to the hot weather, that makes me want to do absolutely nothing, (Yes I am a big cry baby!), I have seen way too many movies this week. I went to see 'Hairspray'. I've never seen the theater version so I can't compare but I loved it. That could of course be because I have a sick addiction to musicals.
I also watched 'Reno 911:Miami' and I was a little disappointed that it didn't seem as funny as the tv show, which I think is hilarious. Although, I haven't seen it in a while so maybe Reno 911 has just lost its touch.
'Ed Wood' was another movie I watched. I know his movies are suppose to be the worst ever but now I want to find them and see how ridiculous they really are.
And I finally watched 'Breakfast at Tiffany's'. I always thought it was a glamorous, romantic film. After hearing about 'In Cold Blood', I wonder how Truman Capote could have wrote something so serious and something so fluffy. Then I watched 'Breakfast at Tiffany's' and figured out it was a bit more complex than I thought it would be. I never realized that Holly Golightly (the book character) was a little off her rocker. She certainly had some issues to deal with. A surprise I wasn't expecting. Not that it was anything as grave as 'In Cold Blood' but definitely not what I had originally thought. I hear the book is even more complicated since the movie was edited to be more cinematically appealing.

Currently, I'm reading 'Mrs. Dalloway' by Virginia Woolf. I've been meaning to read it since I finished 'The Hours', which was inspired by it. Not that I was confused by 'The Hours', but now that I'm reading 'Mrs. Dalloway' I understand parts of it better. So I guess I should have read it first.
When I get done with that I think I'm going to read 'Watership Down' by Richard Adams. I've never heard of it before but I took a 'what book are you quiz' and apparently I'm that book. So I figured I should give it a shot.

And one final note, I'm starting a new blog in addition to this one. A Positive Blog In Lansing is a local blog about HIV/AIDS. I hope to list local, state, national and world events, medical information and research, political and funding concerns, as well as stories and experience of people with HIV and those who support family, friends and patients who are positive. It will have a local focus but will not be limited to so please stop by and check it out if you have a minute. Right now it's in a rough development stage. I hope to change it and add to it more in the next few days.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Even though it's tempting, I can not quit my job and become a poor, struggling writer no matter how glamorous it seems

I’m at work right now and intend to post this on my blog later. I would just write it then but my computer is a little cranky in the summer and I feel inspired now.
Like everyday, I’ve spent the morning dealing with an ignorant boss and rude customers. (It’s funny how I get one or two customers a day and they are always the rude ones.) And once again dealing with these things has filled my head with the thoughts that this job is completely pointless and that I should be looking for more meaningful or enjoyable work. And yes I know that I wouldn’t make as much money but really, oh well. I just don’t care.
When these thoughts pop into my head I have to reason with myself that maybe this job may not be so bad and that it’s helping me toward my goal of being a published writer.

First off, it’s incredibly slow as far as sales and customers go. If I added up all the time a customer was in the store during the day it would be about an hour. That usually gives me about 6-7 hours to read, write and edit. Plus, I’m getting paid for it.
And no matter how much my boss and the customers annoy me I feel like they are training me for dealing with editors, publishers and critics. Sometimes editors are going to veto my opinion even if I think they are completely wrong. Just like I truly believe most ideas my boss comes up with are stupid but he’s the boss.
Also, every time a customer calls me stupid I have to let it go and continue to politely smiling. So when critics say that my work is awful I’ll have plenty of training of polite smiling and hopefully, by then I’ll have learned to not take it personally. Although, insulting my writing is a bit more personal than calling me an idiot over something I am certain is not my fault nor do I care.
So the demands of customers and practicing the art of multitasking will probably come in handy when I’m dealing with deadlines and multiple projects.

Another good thing about this job is the air conditioning. I don’t have it at home and the summer heat makes my computer crash every ten minutes. So it’s fabulous to have another computer chilling in the air conditioning at work, ready for me to use.
I am really not a big fan of hot weather. Once it gets over 85 degrees I’m in a bad mood. I know, all those people that live in the south are telling me to quit complaining but if they let me complain about this I won’t make any comments in the winter when they think 30 degrees is cold. Anyway, I’m not a fan of the heat and maybe I would get used to it if it was around longer. But when it is hot here I don’t feel like doing anything except sitting in front of a fan. So it’s nice to come to work where there’s air conditioning and I can comfortably type away.

I think one of the best things about this job could actually be the shoes. Not because I love to buy shoes but because I feel like shoes have their own personality. You can come up with great characters by trying to figure out what kind of person would buy certain shoes. And some times real customers help the idea along. Of course the company names and style names often help inspire character names.
We used to play this game at the store where you had to pick a shoe that had the same characteristics as a fellow employee or yourself. It’s really interesting what you can get from shoes. Remember Jenni’s project for her students about walking in someone else’s shoes? It doesn’t just give a writer character ideas, it helps us understand people and who they are, which makes us better people and better writers.

Of course what shoes they bought or wore, weren’t the only things that gave me character ideas. There were some people that became characters because they were just entertaining. Sure a customer demanding that we either drop her shoes off or open early for her may seem like a pain but without customers like her Behind the Naugahyde would be empty.

Out of all the things that have been good about this job, the best would for sure have to be the awesome people that I’ve met. I’m not talking about the annoying customers, jerk bosses and the lazy employees that make great characters; I’m talking about Jenni, Angie and Sharon.
Without Jenni there would be no Behind the Naugahyde. I also can’t figure out who would have done all my proofreading and given me so many ideas to make my stories better for the last few years.
Sharon reads anything I write and is always asking for more, which is just fantastic.
Angie has given me a few good story ideas too and her artistic personality can be inspiring. Yet, I still have to harass her to stop by and read my blog or sign the guest book at Behind the Naugahyde.
And of course they’re amazingly supportive and encouraging. I can’t describe how nice it is to have people to talk about writing to that don’t roll their eyes at me.
There’s also no way I could forget to mention that they are remarkable people who are the best friends a person could ask for.

Oh my goodness, I almost forgot to mention the office supplies. I can print out everything at work and save paper and ink. Plus I get some use out of envelopes, paper clips and other random things. Don't worry, it's not stealing. When I tried to conserve this stuff to save the store money my boss actually lectured me about how it was a waste of time because it was all so ridiculously cheap.

Needless to say there are a lot of good things that have come from selling shoes, aside from having unique job titles such as Bench Wench and Ass. Man. It’s also pretty obvious that I was grasping to find some purpose in a few of these things. But this is the list of stuff I have to go over in my head ever time a customer comes in and tells me that people have no idea what they go through and complains about how hard life is for them because they have a narrow heel.What are they suppose to do? The agony. At this point going over the benefits, keeps me from shouting out “well at least you can afford shoes. I'm pretty sure that people who can't even afford to eat would love any shoes no matter how they fit you whiny, selfish *beep*”.
I thought I’d write them down so I can reflect on it and so everyone can remind me that things aren’t bad when I’m screaming that I’m going to slap my boss and I don’t care if I get fired.

I don't have to worry about going over these things for the next few days because I'm on a mini-vacation. Two days off plus my weekend. My boss wasn't too thrilled about giving me the time off because apparently it's pointless to want a break for yourself if you can't afford to go camping for two weeks or Vegas or Mexico, which he has taken off enough time to do all of those things in a five month time frame.
When he said this to me I had to really think about the good things listed above and I for surely need them when I'm forced to go back after seeing how great four days of not being there is.