Category Archives: Time management and goals

Thanksgiving was … different

Not the food. Eating at Café Parizade’s big vegan banquet, we found it delicious, as always. Here’s one of my dessert plates. Why yes, we did eat a lot. And enjoyed every mouthful. And they have some neat little figures outside the restaurant too.

But it was the first time in god knows how long that I’d had a day where I didn’t feel the need to do anything. It was a holiday. We didn’t have any errands to run Thanksgiving morning, nowhere to be until lunch, so I just lay around, read, petted dogs, took a walk … it felt fantastic. Even when I’m not writing, I structure (and sometimes overstructure) my time; when I give myself a day off from work, I usually use it to clean or something.

I think I need more days like yesterday. I’ll have Christmas and New Year’s Day, but I definitely need to find space for more truly lazy days in the coming year.

As for the rest of the week, it went fairly well. I got started on the next draft of Sexist Myths, did several Leaf articles and got a couple of thousand worlds on Oh the Places You’ll Go. I also sent in a revised proposal for Space Invaders to McFarland to see if they like it better (it’s tweaked to their specifications, so maybe). I submitted two short stories. And I spent some time thinking about what I wanted to accomplish next year.

Oh, and once again I had to work my schedule around contractor visits due to a plumbing problem. Not as disastrous or expensive as I’d feared though. But Plushie was exceptionally discomfited at having to be caged in with me so he couldn’t interfere with the work.

And here we are at December. Fingers crossed, I will wrap up the year with a productive bang.

#SFWApro. Photos are mine, any rights to figures remain with current holders.

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Filed under Nonfiction, Personal, Short Stories, The Dog Ate My Homework, Time management and goals, Undead Sexist Cliches: The Book, Writing

It was one of those fueled by insomnia weeks

Apparently last week stressed me out more than I realized because this week I just did not sleep. Well, four hours a night, but that’s not a lot.

However this did make for a productive week, and spending yesterday without the dogs (they were in day care) apparently fixed things as I slept like a log last night.

I’m done, pretty much, with combing through bookmarks for Sexist Myths. I incorporated several useful ones into the text but I have so much material now, I don’t think I need to just keep adding (I’m around 80 to 90,000 words, which is not what I thought this would be when I began). I’ve read them over, sorted them out and now I’ll add where I need them: there are still several sections that don’t have enough information or examples or sources. This feels pretty good: scrolling through endless blog posts and articles is more tedious and draining than writing, even when the material’s interesting

I finished another draft of Death Is Like a Box of Chocolates and it’s improving steadily. I thought some about what Bleeding Blue needs but didn’t actually start a second draft. I shall prioritize fiction next week to make up for it.

I submitted two short stories and searched for markets for a couple more. The ones I found were all closed until next reading period, which doesn’t help.

And as usual, I did quite a bit of Leaf work.

I also contributed an Atomic Junkshop article on why outraged supervillains don’t just destroy the DCU or MU comic-book companies for saying smack about them. Below, George Perez gives us one example of the Impossible Man running wild in the Marvel Bullpen.

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In the face of all odds, I struggled on … or something like that

This week got messy. Not as bad as October, but I did start feeling like Spider-Man on this classic Steve Ditko cover.

Monday, Trixie started having her tummy troubles again, where she’s in obvious discomfort and won’t eat anything (it’s a semi-regular thing). We made an appointment for the afternoon and I decided that when she moped off to hide in the corners I’d just steel my heart, ignore it and get to writing.

Only unlike previous incidents, Trixie didn’t hide as much. Mostly she came over and begged for petting, which of course I couldn’t help providing. So my work slowed to a crawl.

Worse, getting her drug injections at the vet didn’t help. She was just as miserable Tuesday so I had another day of distraction, another vet appointment (as did TYG, who had to break off work to come home).  I didn’t even make writer’s group. Partly that was because it had been a rainy day and it looked to get cold enough the roads might ice over (I don’t drive on ice unless it’s absolutely necessary). But I doubt I’d have had much fun if I did go.

Wednesday, thank goodness, Trixie was back to her old self. Thursday, we took her in for an ultrasound to see if the vet could find an underlying cause (they suspected pancreatitis). Nothing. Nor did the bloodwork show any signs. We’ve switched her to a more easy-digestible food, and we’re going to try and watch in case she’s eating something harmful (she likes to eat dirt. Who knows what’s in it?). Oh, and they had to shave her to make the ultrasound, which looks weird. Hopefully if nothing else, we can make sure the time between these attacks is long.

We do have pills she can take for the discomfort but it’s very difficult getting a dog that doesn’t want to eat to take a pill. I managed it, but it took a lot of work. Next time we’ll pop it in the first time we suspect a recurrence — hopefully it’ll solve things before it gets bad.

And of course, I didn’t sleep very well with Trixie in distress.

Astonishingly, I did get some writing done. I rewrote most of Death Is Like a Box of Chocolates but I couldn’t quite figure out how to revise the finish (it’s way too expository right now). And I began working through the bookmarked references for Sexist Myths — but damn, there’s a lot of them. I know I probably won’t use all of them (there are only so many examples I need to make my point) but I’m not sure which are dispensable yet. And I submitted three short stories, though one’s already back.

I did some Leaf articles and wrote a sample article for the Bakova Gallery in Hillsborough, whose owners I met with last week. If they like it, writing for them will become a regular gig — not as lucrative as the Leaf, but it’ll be lucrative enough. And I’m pleased that even with all the distractions, I’m much more efficient than when I was writing for Raleigh Public Record a few years ago.

But I’m glad the weekend’s here.

#SFWApro. Trixie photo is mine; all rights to cover remain with current holder.

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Filed under Nonfiction, Personal, Short Stories, Story Problems, The Dog Ate My Homework, Time management and goals, Undead Sexist Cliches: The Book, Writing

Saving Daylight, Stealing Sleep

Like so many people, the switch to Daylight Savings Time messes up my body’s clock something fierce. I’d go to bed regular hours, but if I woke up around 3:30, my body would insist it was 4:30 which is too close to 5 AM to go back to sleep. So I’m a little sleep-deprived, again.

Despite which I had a productive week, making up for the mess of October. And that’s despite Plushie and Trixie insisting an hour before lunch and dinner that Daddy, it’s time to eat, it really is, why are you writing? And having to take Trixie into the vet Thursday for a sore throat. Chihuahuas are prone to collapsing trachea, and hers was acting up (it’s not fatal, but we have to take care of it). We got some drugs, she’s doing fine.

So what did I do, besides my usual quota of Leaf articles?

•I worked on my rewrite of Rabbits Indigneotem. I think my friend Cindy was right that a more upbeat ending works, but it’s still not quite right. I feel it’s close though, so I’ll keep working on it. I think something upbeat but black-humored would be ideal, but that’s tricky.

•Having gotten such a good response to the rewritten Chapter One of Impossible Takes a Little Longer from the writing group, I followed up with the next three chapters. I’d actually already made some changes on them so it didn’t take a huge amount of effort. It’ll get tougher as move forward into terra sort-of incognita.

•I continued rewriting Oh, the Places You’ll Go. I want to either finish the story by the end of the month (if it’s a short) or get 10,000 words in (if it turns into a novel). While I’m keeping the core of the original short story, which is the relationship between the four protagonists, I’ve followed my feedback and put a lot of work into fleshing out the world of people who use maps to time travel.

•I started going through the articles and blog posts I’ve bookmarked for Sexist Myths and incorporating them into the book. It’s going better than expected. I suspect I’ll have to cut some stuff when I finish this draft, because it’s getting pretty damn big.

•I went out to Hillsborough, about 30 minutes from my house, to meet with the new owners of an art gallery there. They’re looking to have someone write some press releases and articles for them; I’m sure they can’t pay what Leaf does, but it would be a fun break and a second income stream, which I haven’t had for a while — and not one that would suck up a huge amount of time, as some projects have.

I’m crunching numbers to figure out what to charge; I’ll get back to them this weekend and we’ll do a trial run article for their opening next week. Good thing I work fast.

•I sent off three short stories to different markets.

Hopefully I can keep up the momentum next week despite a doctor’s appointment. It does feel good to be productive again.

#SFWApro. Photos are mine.

 

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Filed under Impossible Takes a Little Longer, Nonfiction, Personal, Short Stories, Story Problems, The Dog Ate My Homework, Time management and goals, Undead Sexist Cliches: The Book

When will this cruel month be over?

Okay, it hasn’t been that cruel. Vacation was fantastic. But the repeated appointments and obligations keep nibbling me to death.

This week it was some extra dog-care duties on Sunday when I hadn’t expected it. And Wisp showing up to demand petting, which I’m too soft-hearted to refuse. I have to resist, but when she mews I usually get all mushy.

Tuesday I had to go back to our dentist and finally get a crown that fit. It did, but it’s still really sore. I’m hoping that’ll pass and I won’t have to go back soon to fix something. Wednesday I had my latest Alexander technique appointment. It’s really starting to have an effect on my posture and body tension.

But after repeated doctor appointments and contractor appointments and other distractions in previous weeks, my brain just entered “Screw it!” mode and tried to stop doing any work. I got my Leafs for the week done which is good (money coming in is always nice). I managed to rewrite Chapter Eight break down Chapter Nine of Sexist Myths and reorganize it while the dogs were in day care (that kind of pure thought is much harder with them around), but no fiction at all.

And Wisp has been adorable.

Next week I have my semiannual checkup but hopefully nothing else to distract me. And then November begins and I can put this month behind me.

#SFWapro. Photos are mine.

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October continues to underwhelm, writing wise

But it’s not surprising. And I still feel pretty relaxed from vacation, so I guess that’s a win, sort of.

It’s not surprising because first, I was traveling Sunday so I couldn’t do any work. Tuesday I had a contractor in and had to walk the dogs before he arrived, so I figured I’d wait until he’d arrived and done the job before I started work. Only he didn’t show (for valid reasons). Then he did show Wednesday, so that ate up a couple of hours. There’s a limit to my concentration when the dogs are all Stranger Danger Daddy! Danger! and Plushie wants to climb on the lap desk to make sure he has my attention.

Good thing he’s so cute, huh?
So that took out a chunk of time. And once I accepted I wasn’t going to get in a full week, it was easy to just get less and less done. Particularly as I was out late Tuesday after writers’ group, and woke up exhausted on Wednesday.

I did get my Leafs for the week done, and another chapter of Sexist Myths redrafted. And I rewrote the first chapter of Impossible Takes a Little Longer in case I was called to read at the group (I’m first in line for next week, but I may pick something else by then). And I rewrote Rabbits Indignateonem based on my friend Cindy’s feedback; I think her advice was definitely what I needed, though I still need to tinker with it.

And next week I have a dental appointment to finally get that crown on, plus one of my Alexander Technique classes. But at least I’ll be able to work on this coming Sunday.

#SFWpro. Photo is mine.

 

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Filed under Impossible Takes a Little Longer, Nonfiction, Personal, Short Stories, Time management and goals, Undead Sexist Cliches: The Book, Writing

Teeth, lack of sleep, contractors — I hit the trifecta again!

So early Saturday morning, some time between 1 am and 2, TYG shifted into bed into Trixie’s sleeping space. Trixie, rather than just move a little ways, got off the bed, ran around to my side and tapped me to move so she could jump up. I woke, settled her on the bed … and found I’d been too thoroughly awakened to get back to sleep.

Sunday morning, Trixie decided she wanted to go out. Turns out she didn’t need to go, she just wanted to explore (this happens every so often). Again, sleep denied.

Sunday evening, we dropped in on our neighbor for a puppy play date and a glass of wine. The wine apparently messed up my sleep rhythms (which I was aware might be a problem) and I got almost no sleep.

Combined, that left me with a sleep deficit I haven’t quite made up until today. My work was correspondingly … uninspired.

Then on Thursday I had a follow-up dental appointment to replace my temporary crown with a permanent one. I showed up, got my mouth numbed … then it turned out the lab had made a misaligned crown so we had to cancel. That was a waste of potentially productive time, and I’ll still have to go back for my next appointment.

That afternoon I had to spend a couple of hours dealing with a contractor for some upgrades to TYG’s bathroom (new shelf, new small mirror).

I managed to squeeze out one redraft of Bleeding Blue that doesn’t come near enough to fixing the problems (I’m scheduled to read at one of the next two writers’ group meetings, so I want it at least a little more polished). I posted about cool book covers on Atomic Junkshop. And I got a fair amount done on Sexist Myths. But by and large, I felt kind of like the guy on the cover below.

#SFWApro. Cover by Wesso, all rights remain with current holder.

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Filed under Personal, Short Stories, The Dog Ate My Homework, Time management and goals, Undead Sexist Cliches: The Book, Writing

I hadn’t planned on a three-day week

I’d thought maybe a four day. Trixie had to go in for a dental cleaning yesterday, which threw my schedule off enough (not only trips to and from the vet, but wanting to cuddle her once she made it home) I figured maybe I’d take the day off and clean. But I also started to feel run down; I’m not sure if it’s due to a bug or allergies (they don’t usually get this bad up here, as opposed to Florida, but once in a while …) butI started to feel tired yesterday (though I did get some major cleaning done) and wiped out today. So no work. Though I take some comfort that my reaction was “darn it, I was going to be creative!” rather than “yay, vacation!”

Plus Trixie got up very early to poop a couple of nights, so I had to take her out and got little sleep after that. Happily it seems to have passed.

So what did I get done? Well, a lot of work browsing through various books with information for Sexist Myths, and adding it to the manuscript. I’d hoped to over the early chapters and straighten out the footnotes (I haven’t kept up with the constant addition of data) but still, I think the book’s coming along well.

I rewrote most of Bleeding Blue. I plan to be reading at one of the upcoming writer’s group meetings so I wanted one, or preferably two rewrites first. That would have been a major part of today’s work.  And after thinking about Oh, the Places You’ll Go last week, I started on a rewrite. Didn’t get far, though.

On the bright side, I was able to apply Wisp’s topical anti-flea meds this week. The vet told me it would be easy (and it’s only once every three months) but I had my doubts. She was right though. And Wisp has been very friendly, asking for pets and catching Trixie to rub up against her when we go out. So here are some photos.

#SFWApro. All rights to images are mine.

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Filed under Short Stories, The Dog Ate My Homework, Time management and goals, Undead Sexist Cliches: The Book, Writing

I short-changed my fiction again this week

Trouble is, it’s just so much easier to work on Leaf articles — they take a lot of research, but they’re straightforward stuff — or on Sexist Myths/Undead Sexist Cliches. The book is at the point where the structure of each chapter feels kind of self evident. It still takes a lot of work rearranging and tidying up the writing to fit the structure, but much less creative thought than rewriting my short stories.

However Leaf is wrapped up until October so for the next couple of weeks I can devote mornings to fiction, afternoons to writing about sexism. That will be less profitable but it should be much more productive for fiction (and my personal nonfiction too).

I did check up on one story I’d submitted; it had gotten lost in the email pile but they said they’d get back to me by next week. Another market had problems opening the document so I re-sent it in the body of the email. Getting more submissions out will be another activity I catch up in the next couple of weeks.

McFarland also responded to my Space Invaders proposal suggesting my plans were ambitious — they’d need a much larger book than I proposed — and would I be interested in scaling them down? I think that’s doable but I’m going to go over the specifics of their suggestions before saying yes.

Work on Sexist Myths went well. I redrafted the two chapters on rape into a solid shape, but didn’t finish adding all the footnotes. I added so many examples and moved so much stuff around it would have been pointless. I also had the dubious thrill of reminding myself of how ugly rape apologists can get, like Warren Farrell claiming that for men, paying for dinner and getting turned down for sex is as traumatic as date rape. (short answer: no it isn’t). And that if a woman says no to sex while she’s kissing the guy, well you can’t blame him for trying to turn “no” into “yes” just like heroes in romance novels do (“He might just be trying to become her fantasy.”). Yes, actually you can. Even if he really thinks her no means yes, the guy is still committing rape. And Farrell is signing off on it.

Next week will hopefully be a productive one, despite a dentist appointment on Tuesday (tooth hurts. Might be nothing, but my gut says it’s something). Even if that takes me down for the whole day (it won’t. If nothing else, I have some research reading I can do), next week will be awesome! You heard it here first!

For eye candy, here’s a striking cover by Gervasio Gallardo. #SFWapro, all rights to image remain with current holder.

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It’s always a relief when the hurricane doesn’t come where I am

I don’t mean any disrespect to the people in the Bahamas and along the U.S. coast who got pummeled by Dorian. But having lived in Florida most of my life, I always have a selfish sense of Thank God! when an ominous hurricane (it could have been a problem for Durham had it tracked further west) misses us.

That aside, this has been a weird week. Last weekend, TYG cared for the dogs for most of Sunday so I decided I’d use the time to put in a full day of work without them. Much as I love them, it really is much easier to think without them squished up against me. That way, I figured, I could make up for my lost down time by taking Wednesday off and just snuggling with them.

Instead, I spent the morning reading (and yes, petting the dogs a lot), then decided to do some Leaf work for the afternoon. That way Thursday when the dogs were at Suite Paws, I could do more creative stuff in blissful solitutde. Half working on Undead Sexist Cliches — which I think I’m going to retitle Sexist Myths and Why They’re Bullshit or the like — and half on some short fiction.

Ooops. Instead I wound up working the whole day on Sexist Myths (I guess the title change is a done deal, even if I change it again later). I had lots of information from Cordelia Fine’s Testosterone Rex I’ve been meaning to record in my notes for the book, so I did that Thursday morning. Then I had to incorporate some of the details into Chapters One and Two, which I’d already written (I finished Chapter Two earlier this week) and then footnote it and insert the footnotes into the list, then change all the numbers on the subsequent footnotes. So that sucked up the rest of the day, plus some of this morning.

I also got my usual quota of Leaf articles done, plus I rewrote Bleeding Blue. It’s looking much better since I added more women to the cast, but it’s a long way from finished. I made some changes to Death Is Like a Box of Chocolates, adding to my protagonist’s personal stakes. Didn’t get that finished though.

Oh, I also submitted Southern Discomfort to DAW Books, so I guess I’m officially done with agent-hunting. I got two short stories back but I haven’t found a new market yet.

Plus I sold some of my books on Amazon (I don’t know which, I find getting specifics frustratingly opaque)

I did find an artist for the cover of Questionable Minds; my friend and fellow author Samantha Collins is available and she’s good, so I’m hiring her.

A productive week. If I can keep up the pace on Sexist Myths I’ll be satisfied. I may switch from rewriting Chapter Three next week — it’s a bit of a mess — to Four, Five or Sex, which are in better shape.

For an illustration, here are some grumpy cat clones I saw at Suite Paws when we dropped the dogs off.

#SFWApro. Photos are mine.

 

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Filed under Nonfiction, Short Stories, Southern Discomfort, Story Problems, The Dog Ate My Homework, Time management and goals, Undead Sexist Cliches: The Book, Writing