Wednesday, October 19, 2016

The Writing Begins in Earnest

I've finally finished writing up the Chamberlain Basin trip that I took with my husband. I'm still picking away at that story that I didn't finish over the summer, but I'm going to continue poking along with the fiction and put my mind to writing up my solo trip for my next book.

Of course, I'm also studying Spanish, and quickly feeling like I'm losing all confidence that I gained from the Duolingo app. The app was good to get me to a point of being able to understand and converse, but in class we're starting to learn the imperfect subjunctive, which depends on knowing the preterite to form and knowing both imperfect and preterite to use in a complete sentence.

On the plus side, I'm continuing to grasp what I see on Duolingo better when I do daily practice sessions. But I still don't feel like I have a solid grasp on preterite or imperfect. And when I don't feel like I know what I'm doing, then I get frustrated.

And I've also started a nutrition challenge through my cross fit gym. 30 days of going low carb. The mere thought is terrifying. I like carbs. I like bread. A lot. But I'm going to try and see what I can do in those 30 days. I've got a starting weight, a goal, and, most importantly, I've got my husband on board. He won't be going as strict as I will, but he will be cooking meals that fit into my challenge and supporting me through the inevitable sugar withdrawal.

I'll just use the solo hike write up to distract me from how frustrated I am in Spanish class, studying Spanish to distract me from my sugar withdrawal and my withdrawal symptoms to distract me from how late I am in starting the solo hike write up.

It's all going to work out...

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Soliciting Rejection

I've taken a bit longer than I wanted to in turning the work I completed over the summer around and either into submission or publishing it myself. I have excuses, of course. I've got a class that needs time and attention. I have work. I've been sick it seems every other week since the start of September.

But excuses are easy to come by. It's work that is the difficult part. So I started that work over the weekend, sending out two short stories. I should get a quick rejection for one and a slower rejection for the other at which point I'll figure out another place to send each of them. Eventually, I'll put them up either on this blog or for sale, depending on how I feel about them at the time.

One of them is a story that I really like. I feel like it was a level up kind of story for me, but that doesn't mean it will sell. And I have to accept that it not selling does not mean that I did not write a better story. It just means I haven't reached the level that I want to reach yet. Or I haven't gotten my story to the right market. Maybe a little of both.

I was hoping to have finished my write up of the Chamberlain Basin trip before October started, but I fell ill again at the tail end of September and did not reach that goal. I'm looking forward to starting work on my next Hike with Me book. I have some ideas about what I can do to make it better than the Hike with Me books I've written already.

One of those ideas is to think of what the theme of each day of the trip is before writing the account of it. I may or may not use this theme as a chapter title, but I think having something like that will allow my writing to be more cohesive and tell a better story about that journey. I'm having fun thinking about what each day should be called if it were a song or what the title of that "episode" should be. I've got 4 different sets of titles for each of the 5 days so far. Maybe I'll use more than one of them and subdivide the days into multiple chapters each.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016 Just Doesn't Learn

A new hockey season is nigh.

And you know what that means...

More shenanigans with the launching of the latest update of the NHL app!

I will give them some credit. The NHL decided to allow live streaming of select pre-season games. Now, the pre-season in itself is not, in and of itself, all that exciting, except for the fact that it's hockey and it means regular season starts soon. But this was a wise move, in that it allowed all the hockey dorks to start screaming about the bugs well before the regular season began.

And, of course, there are bugs.

As the owner of a 3rd gen AppleTV, I had a very special time the last few days trying to figure out how to view the pre-season games that were a part of my  paid subscription package. First disappointment: although the pre-season started on the 25th, the special streamed games didn't start until the 30th. Second disappointment: my NHL app refused to allow me to access the "Today's Games/Scores" section. You know, the part where you actually get to select games for streaming. Third disappointment: the Teams section of the app gave me an actual error message rather than any information about the teams.

To be fair, though who wants to be fair, I was able to stream games on my phone. Sure, the screen is a fraction of the size of my television and the sound quality leaves something to be desired, but I could, technically, get what I had paid for.

And, on Friday, just to be extra special, the vaunted new Support Forum went directly to an error page. So much for reporting my issues there.

So I spent several days exchanging half a dozen emails with NHL Support. The essence of the conversation always came down to them telling me to re-install my NHL app and me telling them that the 3rd gen AppleTV does not have that option, to which they responded, why don't you just download the latest version from the app store? When I got fed up enough to reply with "There is no app store." I got some weird instructions to change my Audio/Video settings from Auto to Standard, which makes almost no sense.

So I decided to check and see if the Support Forum was up and running.

Turns out, there are a lot of people experiencing the exact issue that I was, and getting the exact same runaround from NHL Support.

The difference was, some of them had figured out that if you log out of your account, then you can select a game to watch, which prompts you to sign in. So you can view one game, but if you'd like to switch, then you have to log out again. A workaround, but not a solution.

Still, it was better than what I had and I'm happy to have found it. Sure would have been nice if the NHL Support people were aware of that workaround and told me about it in one of those myriad emails.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

The Proper Order

The other day I was riding my bike home from work. The sky was threatening rain, and I wanted to get home before the downpour began.

So when I was approaching the last stoplight on my route, I pushed my pace. Two blocks away, the light went green, and I wasn't sure I could make it. The line of cars moved through the intersection and I was half a block away.

The approaching left turners had a flashing yellow light and first one, and then another, entered the gap between the last car ahead of me and my speeding bike. No problem, there was room, as long as the next vehicle, a truck, didn't follow suit and not see me coming.

And, to be honest, the second car to turn left actually cut me off. I had to slow a little bit to avoid running into him, because he chose not to yield on his flashing yellow when I had the green.

As I pumped the brakes to avoid a collision, I mumbled a insult under my breath. There's no way the driver could have heard me; his windows were rolled up.

And, for some reason, I saw him turning to look at me as I approached. For one brief moment our eyes met, and he flipped me the bird.

Yes, the guy who cut me off in traffic, taking his car in front of my through the intersection when he had the lowly flashing yellow and I had the good to go green, decided that my presence was offensive enough to his sensibilities that he had to demonstrate his displeasure - silently, since his windows were rolled up and I wouldn't have heard him if he said something.

I rode on, beating the rain home and thinking about the incident. He was in the wrong. I was the one who should have flipped him off. I didn't take it personally that he flipped me off, but I couldn't help but laugh at the circumstances and his clearly poor knowledge of the proper order of things.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Visiting the First Folio

The Folger Shakespeare Library is taking a copy of the First Folio out on tour to every state, even Idaho. And Boise State University has been hosting the book for nearly the last month. This rare book has been displayed less than half a mile from where I live since August 20th and I finally got around to visiting it last Saturday.

Naturally, I dragged my husband along with me. I sold it to him as a nice walk to see an old book, but he spent much of the walk insisting that he had no idea what we were going to see.

The book itself was under glass in a temperature and humidity controlled environment, as can be expected for a book nearly 400 years old, one of only 233 extant copies. It was laid open to Hamlet's "To Be or Not To Be" soliloquy, and I was glad to arrive early enough that it wasn't crowded so I could take the time to read that section. I will admit, I struggled with the font, but it was a worthy struggle.

Photography was allowed as long as there was no flash, so I had Ambrose take my picture to prove my presence near the book itself. And I took a couple pictures of the book by itself.

I was there, within inches of setting off the alarms on the First Folio's case. 

The book was kept around 65.3 degrees in its case. 

Someone was taking pictures with their cell phone, saying that she hoped she would be able to blow the picture up and read the book with it. I took this picture with my backpacking camera, and no amount of zooming is going to make the pages legible. I wish her the best of luck. 
Overall, it was a nice walk to visit an old book. We saw and greeted a couple of my colleagues from work as we were leaving. And soon enough we were home again.

But I have now read from a copy of the First Folio and I'm too much of a Johnnie not to appreciate that.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Revving up

I managed to be sick over the long Labor Day weekend, as well as the one before, but this past weekend I was able to start back on exercising. Unfortunately, the exercising after so long a sickness break made me more than usually tired.  I still haven't finished writing up my Chamberlain Basin hike - I haven't even made much progress in writing it. 

But I have kept up with writing fiction every day, and I've recorded the number of words. I don't know that I'll continue the fiction writing once I finish my current story, because I'll have the solo to write up and produce, but between Spanish homework and keeping up with exercise, there simply might not be time. 

It's all about balancing priorities and making choices. Work is a priority because I need money. Spanish homework is a priority because I'm investing time and money in the class (plus I really want to learn the language). My blogs are up there, working out, writing my solo hike and putting the fiction I wrote this summer out where it can be bought. 

And I like spending time with my husband, too. Every now and then. And spending time with him watching shows we enjoy together is nice and relaxing, but it takes time that I could use for other things. 

So I have to figure out where to put my time and where to put my energy and, if I could, I'd totally cut out my job but my writing income is nowhere near the level that would allow me to do that. It isn't that I don't like my job; I just like writing and exercising and being with husband more. 

I spent more time on the couch this weekend than at the desk. I made that choice. I chose to wake up early and exercise, complete my chores and then watch movies instead of writing. I chose to drag my husband on a six mile walk instead of getting my butt in the writing chair - a walk that drained me of energy because I did it right after Sunday morning Cross Fit. 

I hope by next weekend I'll be a bit more used to exercising so the choice to move from the couch to the desk is a little bit easier to make. 

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Challenge Recap

From May 6 to September 1, I challenged myself to write fiction every day, with minimum word counts of 500 when I was home, 100 when I was backpacking and 250 for bumper days. In that goal, I succeeded. I wrote fiction every day, even when I was exhausted from backpacking. Even when my husband and I arrived at our campsite near sundown and I had to write by headlamp. Even when I felt sick and uninspired, tired from a long day at work, I wrote my words. 

I also challenged myself to write a short story almost every week. My goal was to complete 14 short stories, and 4 novel or novella length works. In that goal, I fell short, completing only 5 short stories, 1 microfiction and 2 longer works. That is, I believe, what Dean Wesley Smith calls failing to success, because without the challenge in place, I would have completed none of those works. 

I had a more vague goal about publication, and I'll put the blame for the lack of completion on the vagueness of the goal. I was so focused on writing that I didn't focus as much on publication or submission. As I transition into the fall, I'll put more energies in that direction. 

I also challenged myself to be accountable for my words, and in that I succeeded. I posted my words every day that I was home and posted recaps when I got back from my backpacking trips. 

Overall, I call the challenge a success. I finished a work that I'd started years ago; I created several new works of fiction. I proved to myself that I can make time for writing if I really want to. I wrote over 65,000 words during this challenge, and I have one more work that is still in progress. Because of this challenge, I'm committed to finishing it, to continue writing fiction every day and recording the word counts, if only for myself. 

This fall, I have a goal of completing my next Hike with Me book, which will get the bulk of my writing attention once I finish writing up the Chamberlain Basin hike I took with my husband. But I won't abandon fiction completely. I have a mighty streak of fiction writing, and I don't really want to break it. Writing fiction became easier as the weeks wore on. Where I struggled to complete my 500 in less than two hours in the first month, by the last month, I was able to finish that minimum in less than 30 minutes. Not something I want to lose. 

Although I'm pretty sure I annoyed my husband more than a few times this summer with my need to complete my words, I am glad to have started and finished this challenge. I may just do it again next year.