Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Written Draft Complete

The first draft is complete! And I've reviewed some of Ambrose's suggestions. I write 'some,' because after I addressed them, he went back to read the whole thing again, so I'll have one more set of them to work through.

In the meantime, I'm working on selecting the photos that I'll include in the book, and, if he's still working on it after I've selected, then I'll work on captions as well. I've started work on the cover, but I can't get very far on that until I choose the cover photos.

I wish I could use photos of the beautiful lakes I hiked by on day 3, but that day was particularly smoky. I will include some of them in the book, but they aren't clean enough to use for the cover image. I definitely want a nice mountain shot for the front cover, preferably one that shows a nice "Sawtooth" type mountain.

For the back cover, I'm thinking of a shot with water. Perhaps Fern Falls, but the time of day that I passed those meant that those shots weren't lit the way I'd prefer. If I were going to photograph them, I'd want to be there in the late afternoon, with the sun shining on the water and not into my camera lens.

There were more blurry shots than I realized this time. The pressure of hiking long distances in a tight time frame made me a little more careless with the shutter. I sometimes re-took a blurry shot, but more often I didn't - I'm sure it was a good idea at the time, but I do regret being so hasty now.

Well, I do forgive myself for the haste. I remember the pain in my feet. Even in good boots, they got swollen and sore and complained. And they were just the loudest among the complainers of my body. I pushed myself hard on that trip.

I did get a lot of good pictures. It's not going to be easy to winnow them down for the book. I know I can at least eliminate all the blurry ones, but that won't be enough of a bar. I took over 1000 photos! Only one way to do it - I better get to work.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Home Stretch

I didn't finish my draft of the solo trip last weekend. Partly because I wasn't feeling well and partly because the temperature outside was so low. At least, that's what I'm telling myself. My computer desk is located next to the window and so is naturally a bit colder than the couch. Although, for some reason, I often get warmer sitting there than sitting on the couch.

Whatever excuse I might give myself, the draft is not yet complete, though I am well into day 5 - the last day. Writing about it still makes me smile. I love looking at the pictures. I go back through my memories and chide my past self for not taking pictures of parts that I now find I wish I had recorded - the nearly invisible trail up to Observation Peak, for example. At the junction where I crossed it, the trail was indistinguishable from a rut, but I didn't take any pictures of it.

I know that I'm going to have to bring a good deal of focus and concentration to my writing this next week. I would very much like to be done, or nearly done, by New Years. It would be best if I could finish before and keep the book in the same year as the trip was done, but I can handle it if that doesn't happen. I'm not the best at resisting procrastination, especially when my husband tempts me away from my work computer with movies and hikes. Perhaps I'll enlist his help in this scheme.

He has recently decided that to help us eat less sweets, all sweets come with penalty laps. I decide how many laps his treats may be bought for and he decides my price. For example, a pastry left over from an office party can be bought for four laps. A small piece of chocolate only costs two laps. So far, it's been an effective deterrent from eating extra sweets. It isn't that the laps run will balance out the calories from the treat, but that the thought of having to do laps prevents us from eating them - sometimes.

So maybe I'll have to do a similar plan for my writing work over the break - something like, one hour at the writing desk equals one movie. And the television viewing would get more expensive as the week went on, forcing me to spend yet more time at the desk - like 2 hours - in order to watch just one 44 minute episode of Deep Space Nine with Ambrose.

I might have something here!

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

La clase

The Spanish class experiment is over, and I am relieved. It was interesting, but much more stressful than I anticipated. I did learn a more about Spanish grammar than I knew before, but I'm not convinced that my speaking skills improved very much and my listening skills are pretty much exactly where they were before - but I know how to use the subjunctive! If only I could recognize it in conversational speed speech. . .

For a variety of reasons, I will not be taking a class next semester. The main reason is so that I have time to plan and prepare for doing a solo trip in the early spring rather than late summer, but there are others. I've taken a class every full fall and spring semester since I started working at my current job. I consider it to be a bit of a waste not to take advantage of the reduced tuition that is an employee benefit, but I think I've finally reached scholastic burnout.

I want more time to devote to my own interests, more time to spend with my husband without worrying about whether I have assignments due or need to study. Classes take up a lot of brain space for me, and I want to reclaim it, maybe let it lie fallow for a season and see how I feel about more classes next year.

I do want to continue to study the Spanish language and try to gain a level of fluency, but I'm not convinced by this class that taking college courses is the best way to do that. I'm not sure what the best way would be. My husband has recommended watching commercials; he says that a number of immigrants to America that he knew learned English that way. But they were also living in a country where English was spoken.

I've tried watching television in Spanish, but I inevitably lose the train of conversation as soon as I hear a word I don't know. I run into a similar situation with trying to read books in Spanish, even books that I've read in English before. And, because Spanish words sometimes have objects appended to verbs, the Kindle dictionary lookup can't always tell me what the word is because it won't look up the root word, just the whole word. Which is nonsense, according to the included dictionary.

Maybe I need to buy a dictionary that I can use in the Kindle; that way if the highlight word for lookup feature fails me, I can go to the other dictionary and figure it out based on what I know of roots. Or I could just read at the computer with a dictionary open. But that takes much of the enjoyment of reading out of the equation for me.

One thing class did do for me was give me an incentive to focus on learning the language. I'll have to see whether I can keep some form of that focus without the class to prod me to practice.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Book Writing Thoughts

The write up of my solo trip is going along nicely. I should be finished with the initial draft in the next week or so, which works well with my schedule. I'll be completely done with Spanish class as of 12/12, and my office will be shut down between Christmas and New Years, leaving me with plenty of time to work on polishing the draft, formatting the pictures, and laying out the book.

I find once the words are done and ready, the rest of the book comes together more easily. The formatting of the pictures and their captions takes time, but not the same kind of effort that the writing of the main narrative requires. I'm looking forward to doing the pictures because it's work that is creative but also comfortingly repetitive. The pictures need to be formatted to a certain size, occasionally cropped or otherwise manipulated, but these are tasks that I'm used to doing by now. 

Coming up with captions can sometimes be a bit tricky, but it's still not that difficult for me. Especially when I have my husband to bounce ideas off of as I'm working. 

The hardest part about the pictures is going to be selecting which photos to include. I took over 1000 pictures. Even if I take away all the blurry ones, of which there were quite a few because I was in "hike fast" mode, I'll still have a ton of shots that I won't be able to include in the book. 

But that's part of why I leave the pictures for after the writing. Whatever form the narrative takes, I'll be able to find the pictures that illustrate and compliment that. This time, I'm less focused on narrating every step and more focused on telling an interesting story. There are some interesting tidbits that I don't think will be in the text, but I will include them in a picture with a little caption. Almost as if the pictures and their captions will have "extra" story in them, parallel to the narrative. 

I use the pictures while I write. They help remind me of what happened when, and, quite frankly, they make me smile. Until I get to the point of picture choosing and editing, I'll just  have to keep chipping away at the story of each day - and put some caption notes on the pictures as I scroll by.