Tues. July 26, 2022: Protocols, Performance, Persistence

garden sculputre installation at The Mount

Tuesday, July 26, 2022

Day Before Dark Moon

Pluto, Saturn, Neptune, Chiron Retrograde

Sunny, cooler, less humidity

Hot, busy weekend.

Friday wasn’t quite as hot as Thursday, mostly because there was cloud cover, but the humidity was oppressive. Once the plants were watered on the front porch, we closed it off and let it be a greenhouse for the day, which helped keep the rest of the house cooler. And we kept the blinds closed on the east side of the house, and the lace curtains drawn on the south side. The lace lets in enough light, but blocks some of the heat.

I did some admin/organizational stuff, noodled on my article, and then turned around the script I had in the late morning/early afternoon. I made a pasta salad in the morning that could cool in the fridge for dinner, so we didn’t have to think about cooking or preparing anything.

I rehearsed my portion of the poem, working on rhythm and voice placement. What made me smile is that we just moved into Leo season – a season to shine, to share, to perform – and here’s the performance date.

I finished reading the next book for review.

The request for mail-in ballots arrived, and we filled them out and returned them. The mail-in option makes it easier (and safer) for this year’s voting.

I was invited to an artists’ resource meeting, but the day and the date didn’t match up. I emailed them for clarification. If the day of the week is correct, I can’t make it this month. If the date is correct, I can. At any rate, it’s a group with which I’d like to work, and if I can’t do it this month, I hope I can next month. They even are meeting outside this month, to make it safer.

It was tough to get to sleep Friday night because of the humidity, but I managed,

I should have worked on the Topic Workbooks, but I was too hot and tired and grumpy. I am very much a Winter Girl, not a Summer Girl.

Started feeling all kinds of doubt and uncertainty on Saturday morning again. Part of it was stage nerves for that afternoon’s performance. I am not a performer; I write for performers. I am a behind-the-scenes person. But there are enough of us in this event (50) that it’s about collective creation and collective experience, and there isn’t pressure on me to do more than be in the moment (and get my first & last words right, to keep the flow going).

Another part is also with the Topic Workbook and the serial launching in the upcoming weeks, there’s the whole pressure of now it’s out in the world, and no longer in my control. It’s 50-50. Some people are going to love these pieces & find them helpful or interesting; others won’t. There will always be those who are condescending and make nasty comments. Not that they ever create anything themselves; but they talk about what they’ll do some day while slam others. That’s the reality of the business.

I remind myself: They are not my target audience.

I remind myself: The previous negative reality is not my current positive reality. I am building something new here. That means taking risks, creatively and personally. Not all of them are going to work the way I want them to. But I still need to do it.

Because the alternative is a day job outside of my field, and that is the ultimate last resort.

I cut out a rant from this post about wanna-be writers who think they know more than those of us earning our living in the industry,  because I don’t feel like focusing on them today.

Saturday morning, I had to run out and get a hat. Early, when it was easy to stay ten or more feet away from anyone else in the store. There’s no way I could make it through the event without a hat. I have a whole collection of wonderful hats – in storage. So I ran out to a store that was likely to have workable hats. I couldn’t decide between two in the store, they were both affordable, so I bought both.

I did not go to the Farmers’ Market. I knew the heat would wear me out; I also didn’t want to risk exposure to anyone who might be sluffing off virus, and then bringing it to the event. I missed it, though. I missed the beautiful produce and the friendly, engaging farmers, and the other market regulars I chat with every week.

Took the rest of the morning to rest, read, rehearse. Packed my bag for the event. Took a shower, slathered on sunscreen, braided my hair that I wasn’t able to get cut in time, the whole thing.

I was proud of myself for breaking the usual pattern, which would have been to work myself into the ground all morning, and then feel frantic and unsettled when it was time to go. I gave myself time and rest. I knew it would be hot and humid and challenging, so I made sure, for once, not to sabotage myself.

I left around 2:30, to give myself time in case I hit tourist traffic. I did vocal exercises in the car, and rehearsed my little bit (all those years working musicals have application in the real world). I made decent time to get to The Mount, and got there around 3:30. Walked through the gardens to get to the house, where we were meeting. The sun dappled through the trees in nuanced light that was both beautiful and spooky. The phone’s camera made it look lighter than it was.

We assembled. They had us on chairs on either side of the path that wound down around the side of the house, odds and evens. We lobbed our parts of the poem back and forth across the path, with the audience on the path. I was number 9 (being one of the early poets to sign up and create my bit). So Number 7 was next to me. He lobbed the final word of his poem to Number 8, across the path, who started with the last word of his poem as the first word of her poem. She lobbed back across to me. The last word of her poem was the first word of my poem. I lobbed to number 10, across the path, whose first word of her poem was the last word of my poem, who lobbed it to Number 11, next to me, whose first word was the last word of the previous poem, and so forth and so on.

The audience moved through us as we spoke. They moved through us in waves, so when the first group reached the bend (about half way through), the next group started with the first poet again, so there were multiple vocals happening at any given time, and we had to be present to the poets around us, while aware of what was going on above and below us on the path.

There were a few poets who couldn’t be there. The agreement was that, if someone couldn’t be there, that individual was responsible for sending a proxy. There were several who did so, and that was great. There were a couple of people who didn’t, and a couple who didn’t show up or let anyone know, and that put unnecessary pressure on the poets who were there. Someone early in the poem couldn’t run down and cover for someone late in the poem, because by that point, the next wave of audience was coming through. So the organizers had to work out who could move a few chairs to read a missing poet’s bit, and then get back to their original chair to perform their own bit again in time.

It worked, mostly because there were enough experienced performers to flow, and the first-timers like me, who were trying to get a handle on what was going on and feel the rhythm, weren’t put under that additional pressure.

In other words, the organizers took care of the performers, instead of expecting the performers to fix things that happened at the last minute.

And the overall poem did build a flow and a rhythm. It was amazing. Somehow, even though we didn’t know anything about the poets and their poems on either side while we wrote, it all came together.

There were poets of all ages and from all over the place. I walked in with a poet from Northampton (who used to be a production coordinator for the Boston Ballet, so we had a good talk about backstage). The woman next to me and her daughter (numbers 11 & 13) were from Gloucester, MA, and each wrote a segment as something fun to do together. There was a family of six – wife, husband, two teen daughters, and their dogs – who each did a segment (they were spread out amongst everyone. And only the humans created poems, although the dogs performed with their humans). I think they’re from upstate NY. They told me they love to “poem together” and grab any opportunity to be part of public art events like this. There was a woman across and down a few who’s stage managing a show with a theatre company with whom I had contact awhile back, and I hope I get to see the show. The guy who led the playwrights’ workshop I attended a few weeks ago wasn’t in it (he’d planned to, but dropped out when he couldn’t be there, so another poet could step in and take his place with their own work, instead of someone reading as a proxy). But one of my fellow playwrights was there, and we had a good catch-up natter. There was another woman who’s a part of a poetry group that creates and performs social justice public art.

It was great to be part of a group that had NO Trumpers in it, and no both-siders and right-wing apologists. No one pursing their thin little lips claiming they “don’t do politics” when in reality, they support extremists.  In fact, a good deal of the poetry was political. Quite a few of the older poets, men and women, a few years ahead of me in age and experience, were talking about how they’d fought/marched/voted/protested for Civil Rights and Roe the first time around, and here we are again.

It was a dog, kid, family inclusive event. Several poets brought partners or family members who set up camp chairs nearby and watched/listened or read a book or worked on their own writing.

No one was told to tone down their language, and the audience was warned of the possibility of strong language. As far as I know, no one complained.

They’d put out a buffet for us up at the Terrace Café (it’s a spectacular view). They’d told us they’d have snacks for us, but there was real food to make sandwiches (and gluten free options) and salads and fruit and lemonade and raspberry tea and all that. They watered us well throughout, to make sure we were hydrated and didn’t faint. The chairs were in the shade. The audience was kept in the front courtyard until showtimes, with lemonade and cookies.

Originally, we were supposed to do the full poem 4 times through. However, so many people signed up that, for both vocal projection’s sake and safety’s sake, they split up the audience for the first couple of shows; hence the waves of audience members. So what were originally scheduled as the first two performances turned into four performances.

Each performance built a unique rhythm and flow. As the poets got more comfortable with each other, we could try different inflections with the same words, and lob the bits back and forth more easily.

We poets also kept moving our chairs back. We knew we were all fully vaccinated and had tested negative that day before showing up, but there was no way to trust that the audience was the same. Since the audience didn’t pay attention to the social distancing, we made it happen by enlarging the distance.

After the first four shows, we had a break to eat. One of the poets was bored with saying the same thing over and over, so he rewrote his poem in the break (keeping the first and last word, per the agreement). A couple of people joked that they’d never remember everyone’s name, but they could remember everyone’s content. For instance, I became “Lilac” because I had lilacs in my poem, and the image of “frothy lilacs” stuck in people’s heads. So, you know, any event I do from here on in, I’ll be “Lilac.” I can live with that.

After the break, we had two more shows. Because of time, the groups couldn’t be split up this time around. They were larger; we pulled our chairs back farther from the path and projected more. The heat and humidity were taking a toll, even with all the precautions.

During the final performance, as we completed our bits, we folded in behind the audience (at a safe distance), so that we were all together at the end and could celebrate.

We were all pretty much hurting by then (even the puppies were tired), but we celebrated each other, and were invited to a couple more of these creations, given our travel stipends, and then headed out.

The walk back to the parking lot seemed to take forever. I managed to get home in only 40 minutes (not much traffic), but as the adrenalin wore off, it was a challenge.

Dashed up the stairs, ordered Chinese food for delivery, and jumped in the shower to hose down and decontaminate. Even with some protocols in place, there were still a lot of people involved in the day. My throat was raw and everything hurt, and I knew I’d put myself at risk.

Popped the prosecco, though, and sucked down a couple of glasses along with the Chinese food. It took awhile to unwind. As a non-performer, and also as someone who’s used to writing by myself and then it either goes into the world, or, in the case of a play, it goes into rehearsal with a finite group before going out into the world, it was quite a new experience. But that sense of excitement, creating with others, trusting in them, and then INVITING the audience to experience it with us instead of PRESENTING TO the audience as pretty incredible.

Even if I don’t participate in the next couple of events (one of them, a haiku contest where content is created in the moment, is not something I could even consider doing), I might go as an audience member and support my fellow poets.

I finally collapsed into bed. I woke up around midnight and drank a bottle of water. My throat felt awful. I woke up again at 3 and did the same. Sunday, I rested. I drank tea and water. I took Slippery Elm (which I should have taken before I left, but I didn’t think of it). I’m not used to talking that much, or projecting outdoors. Of course it’s going to leave my throat and voice raw. I read.

Again, the usual pattern would have been to push myself and run myself down even more, probably winding up sick with a cold, if I managed to avoid the plague. At the very least, running myself down would give any exposure to the virus more traction.

So I rested.

I had to run out mid-day for a few errands – pick up my mother’s prescription and get her a new blood pressure monitor, get in some groceries, since I didn’t go to the market on Saturday. Just that little bit wore me out. The heat and humidity were oppressive.

I managed to do another read-through of the next chapters I have to upload for LEGERDEMAIN. I did some work on my article on Saturday morning, but didn’t do any work on Sunday. I put some hooks up in my mom’s closet, hung up some of the copper molds in the kitchen, and hung a quilt on the living room wall.

That was it.

Went to bed at the normal time. Tessa got me up early on Monday. I was still a little tired, but overall felt decent. Still just not loving the heat and humidity.

There’s a post on the GDR site about enjoying the week. There’s a lot going on, and I want to enjoy it.

THE GRAVEYARD OF ABANDONED PROJECTS released on Monday. I’m proud of all the Topic Workbooks, but I think this one will help a lot of people who get scattered among too many projects.

A ridiculous amount of email piled up over the weekend, so I slogged my way through that. Did the postings of the daily prompt on the site where I couldn’t schedule the posts. Wrote the thank-yous for the event. Signed up for a yoga class. Signed up for an online cooking class at Kripalu, with my beloved Chef Jeremy, and even received a scholarship to attend. Checked in with my friend about my upcoming visit, provided I test negative the morning I’m supposed to leave. Packed for the trip.

Kept track to see if I’m showing any symptoms, or if I felt bad. I mean, I was grumpy in the heat and humidity, and I was tired (hey, I’m not 20 anymore), but overall, I feel fine. My throat was a little raw for a couple of days, but steadily felt better. My voice is still a little scratchy, but I don’t talk much during the course of the day, so that’s to be expected.

Turned around a script and some questions on a previous script I’d covered. Grabbed some shorts to turn around today. I’ve been steadily working on the Italian every day. I’m definitely learning vocabulary, but I’m not understanding sentence construction.

Did some work on a grant proposal, and noodled around with my article and with an idea tossed out by Word X Word.

It was hot and humid when I went to bed, but much better upon getting up this morning. I feel like I can be much more productive today, and I kind of have to be. There are a slew of errands to run late this morning, after I get some work done on the article, the Topic Workbooks, and getting the next LEGERDEMAIN episodes uploaded.

This afternoon, I turn around the three shorts. In the late afternoon, I head out to Greylock Works for a 1Berkshires Entrepreneur meeting at Berkshire Cider. It’s inside, so yes, I’ll be masked.

Someone contacted me about a content writing position. I have to take a look at the details. On the surface, the money looks outstanding, but I need to know more about it.

Hope you had a good weekend, and let’s work toward a good week!

Fri. July 15, 2022: Of Books and Cheese

collage by Devon Ellington from stock photos

Friday, July 15, 2022

Waning Moon

Pluto, Saturn, Neptune Retrograde

Sunny, warm, and pleasant

Meditation was good yesterday morning. Charlotte enjoyed it, too!

Got the ads for THE GRAVEYARD OF ABANDONED PROJECTS and THE COMPLEX ANTAGONIST scheduled to post/run through the end of September. Created the ads for the other five workbooks, so as soon as I have buy links going live, I can add them into the content calendar, and we’re good to go through August and September. In early September, I’ll decide what I want to do through the end of the year.

I might put some of those ads and some of the ads for The Big Project into an updated marketing portfolio, because they are fun. The ads for the Big Project, in particular, have a rather wacky sense of humor to them, which I think will engage readers.

Did a library run, and dashed into the grocery store to grab some Lysol spray since I can’t find ours. Really excited about some of the novels that arrived. I’m looking forward to reading them.

Spiro Squirrel climbed the kitchen window screen, trying to get in this morning. Willa chased him off. We’ve started closing the kitchen window at night. All we need is for him to figure out how to remove the screen and get inside.

Freelance Chat was fun.

Turned around two scripts in the afternoon.

Skipped Open Studios as MASSMoCA. I needed to focus on my work. Also, the though of getting dressed, putting on makeup, and pretending I wasn’t feral for a couple of hours was overwhelming yesterday. I’m not sure if masking is still required (the email was unclear), and if it’s not, I would have had to leave anyway, because they get crowded. I’m going to have to play each month by ear, and see how what they’re doing fits in with what I’m doing, and with what I need to do to keep us safe.

I’ve done more content calendars than I can count for clients over the years, but doing one for my own work has been invigorating. Having it all there on the calendar inspires me to get it done. It also helps to track the ebb and flow of projects, so I can see where I have room to do more, and where I can pull back a little and not overdo.

Buckle up, my lovely buttercups: The last week of July and the first week of August are going to have a lot of promotion going on!

A Twitter pal and her husband is taking their first ever trip to NYC for 5 days, and I sent them a boatload of suggestions for weird little fun stuff. I really love New York, and I’m so grateful I lived there the years I did. Even though it’s not where I need to be right now, I do love it.

The sentence about the children’s screams cut out from the Uvalde videos released will haunt me the rest of my days. For the parents, who are going through more pain than any of us can imagine, I hope this helps them (rather than insults them, and different parents will feel differently). For those who stood around and did NOTHING while those children were slaughtered, may they never be free from the screaming. May they be haunted the rest of their miserable lives for this, and may they suffer in eternity beyond their own deaths. May they never, ever rest in peace.

I intentionally cleared off the script reading early this week, because I wanted to have three days without it. I’m headed to Pittsfield to a book sale at the library this morning, then taking my mom over to Wild Oats, where the Von Trapp Farmstead is doing an event around their cheese. I never thought I would build time into my schedule focused on cheese, but there you have it. My mom loves cheese, so we are going.

Then it’s back to work, on The Topic Workbooks, and finished the first big arc of The Big Project, so that the next parts of the process can hum along on time, and I can actually make the Big Announcement and The Big Reveal next week, and all of this will make sense.

Then comes the Big Marketing Campaign, which will last for months, so. . .be warned!

Have a great weekend, and I’ll catch you on the other side! The weather has been just gorgeous here, and I hope it is where you are, too.

Thurs. July 14, 2022: Of Scheduling and Tools

image courtesy of Gerd Altmann via pixabay.com

Thursday, July 14, 2022

Last Day of Full Moon

Pluto, Saturn, Neptune Retrograde

Cloudy and humid

Bastille Day

A very long time ago, back in the 1980’s, when I was living on the West Coast, I claimed July 14, Bastille Day, as my personal independence day. So I always acknowledge the day, in whatever way is appropriate that year.

Gratitude and Growth has the latest on the Squirrel Shenanigans, and Ink-Dipped Advice has a post on writing about your ideal workday, which we will use in autumn for another exercise.

In spite of the computer issues, I managed to get the Topic Workbook page on the Devon Ellington site updated. All the new covers are up. As buy links release on pre-orders and closer to release date, those, too, will go up.

THE GRAVEYARD OF ABANDONED PROJECTS and THE COMPLEX ANTAGONIST went through final proofreads and some more tweaks, and are up for pre-order. I can start scheduling the marketing ads on social media channels, so they can run and I don’t have to think about them too much. I downloaded some calendar sheets with “hour” slots from General Blue. The Google calendar stuff wasn’t working for me, and doing what I wanted it to do. I run ads at different times on different days; since the Topic Workbooks are releasing close to each other, I want to make sure I don’t schedule two ads on the same day at the same time. There will be enough overlap for the promotion on The Big Project.

Having the content calendar as something on the computer isn’t working, so I have my handy dandy printed out calendar sheets, so I can look at it as I work uploading the actual content.

The plan is for all the Topic Workbooks to re-release in early August, and have the workbook tied to the class release the week after the class (class participants get a copy, free, with the class). Once I catch my breath, I can decide how I want to fit the new workbooks into the workflow.

I had a good conversation with an editor about a project both of us are no longer connected with, and not being a part of it is the right choice for both of us. Trusting my gut was the right choice. Onward.

As part of updating another workbook, I’m playing with project management software. I loathe Trello, so that is not an option. Trello fractures things too much for my liking. I’ve used Click up with clients, but, looking at it, it doesn’t give me enough room for the number of projects I’m juggling, unless I lump them into categories. I decided to do a comparison/contrast with Todoist and Asana. I have colleagues who adore each of them, for every different reasons.

So I signed up for both, and I entered information on both, to see how they work, comparing the same tasks in the two different platforms.

Todoist is too much like the traditional “To Do” list, which makes me feel restricted. I ditched the daily list, because all it did was make me feel like a failure, and even crossing items off gave me no pleasure or sense of accomplishment.  Todoist also suggested that I vacuum the house today (Thursday: vacuum through all the rooms), which is really not its business, and not something I entered. What I like about Asana is that I can color code projects (like I do on my big desk blotter calendar), break projects down into pieces while still keeping the bigger picture in view. So it doesn’t feel fractured, the way Trello does. I had used Asana for some client work at one point, and wasn’t all that thrilled with it, but it’s letting me set things up the way I like it, at least so far.

I may ditch both of them, and just stay with my desk blotter calendar. You know, the tool that’s worked for decades.

But since I’m writing about tools, I want to give those readers options and experiences.

Working with that, and handling incoming buy links going live put me behind in the script coverage. I managed to cover three scripts, although I was working until 11 PM. But I’d decided I don’t want to do coverage on Friday, and I have limited time today, between meditation, Freelance Chat, and Open Studios, so I piled on more yesterday.

I did my Italian lesson, keeping up the streak. I’m learning vocabulary, but don’t feel like I’m getting an understanding of the grammar or why sentence construction is the way it is. I need to head across the street to the college library and find a textbook to fill in the gaps.

I was also looking at beachfront hotels for October. The prices are ridiculous for the mediocre. I planned to spend more on the hotel, since we are staying put and making use of it, but I’m not seeing the value I’m looking for in what’s on offer. Plus, with virus numbers on the rise again, and those who should have never told us it was okay to unmask telling us to mask up again, it’s probably not worth the risk. Instead of going on a midweek oceanside vacation, I can do a long weekend home disconnected retreat and not put us at risk. I’ll keep an eye on prices and possibilities, but if it doesn’t make sense, on either financial or health levels, we just won’t do it.

I took a break for a Grace and Gratitude yoga/meditation session online with the Stressed Out Professional Women Without Children group, and that was excellent.

Slept well, up early. Online meditation group this morning, then hitting the page for a few hours, and doing a library run. I have two scripts to turn around before Open Studios tonight, and then I’m done with coverage for the week.

I am working this weekend, on the Topic Workbooks, the Big Project (so that everything is in place to make the announcement next week), and starting the article for my Llewellyn editor. I want to get it out the door and onto my editor’s desk a few days early, before I go to visit my friend. Setting up the content calendar for upcoming releases, and uploading/scheduling the content. That way, I can enjoy my time away.

I had a wonderful aha! moment on the next big arc of The Big Project, which excites me to work on.

Have a good one!

Wed. July 13, 2022: Working Through the Storms

image courtesy of Brigipix via pixabay.com

Wednesday, July 13, 2022

Full Moon

Pluto, Saturn, Neptune Retrograde

Cloudy and humid

Yesterday was a pretty decent workday. Got a nice chunk of The Big Project done in the multi-colored draft over at the laundromat. Got everything washed and dried, and put away as soon as I got home. Dealt with email, did follow up from the networking session (there’s still some more to do today), got some bills mailed, got the box from the mail carrier that was stuck in the slot (because he shouldn’t have put it there in the first place).

Did a good chunk of work on the Topic Workbooks. THE GRAVEYARD OF ABANDONED PROJECTS just needs a final proof, and it’s good to set for release. THE COMPLEX ANTAGONIST got a solid revision/update, and also needs a final proof. There’s some formatting wonk, but I hope to fix that today and set that release date, then update across the various websites.

Did a couple of ads for them, too. Also created a style cheat sheet, so I can keep the look/details consistent throughout.

If I meet my own goals, the six revised workbooks will release in the weeks leading up to the conference workshop, and the workbook built around that workshop will release the week after. There’s class material for two more workbooks out of classes I’ve taught, and I have ideas for at least two more.

The Topic Workbooks give clear action steps on their topic, and I intentionally keep them inexpensive so people on a budget can afford them and use them.

Finished the script coverage I’d started last night, and did a second one. I have five more scripts I my queue for this week. I won’t hit the preferred mark for the pay period, but I’ll hit the necessary mark. I have to hope the work comes in steadily in July, although I’ll have to work through some weekends, because I’m taking some time away from the work in some of the midweeks.

I also need to get started on the article for the Llewellyn annual, because that deadline is racing toward me faster than I’d like. And, of course, my editor contracted the most complex topic I pitched!

Heard from another editor about an anthology. I wrote and submitted, because I wanted to work with her, and this anthology gave me a chance to stretch. I was shortlisted for the anthology – not promised acceptance, but made it through the first round of 1K submissions. Then, the publisher ran into difficulties, and it looked like things were off. But now the publisher wants to move forward. The editor has left the project. If we choose to continue under consideration (again, no promises, but we’re the shortlisted group), we have to submit directly to the new editor. I don’t know if I want to. My gut tells me to stay far, far away. My ego encourages me to go for it. The smarter choice is my gut. My ego is just going to have to get over itself. I’ll look at the piece again, and find another possible market.

Thunderstorms and pounding rain did little to break the humidity. The next couple of weeks will be hot and humid. Still not as bad as last year, but the cats, who’ve already grown in their winter fur, are miserable. They are little fur puddles. Charlotte was smart, last night. Instead of sleeping on the bed, she slept on a side table in front of an open window (and only came into my room to wake me up for attention a few times).

Started reading the next book assigned for review. It’s good. Hard to settle in to meditation, but came up with a project title. Not sure if I will use it for something already in the pipeline, or if it’s for something new.

The computer decided to do an upgrade this morning. It only took one hour instead of 4, but then none of the software talks to each other, and it will be a mess to untangle it. There go hours of the workday for which I had other plans. Windows11 Sucks.

Back to work on the Topic Workbooks and The Big Project. I hope to have the official announcement for the latter ready to go next week. And then script coverage.

The Jan. 6 Hearings continue to horrify. And the seditionists continue to get away with it. Very discouraging.

Have a good one.

Published in: on July 13, 2022 at 7:04 am  Comments Off on Wed. July 13, 2022: Working Through the Storms  
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Thurs. July 7, 2022: Cleaning Up Some Messes

image courtesy of Mote OO Education via pixabay.com

Thursday, July 7, 2022

Waxing Moon

Pluto, Saturn, Neptune Retrograde

Partly Cloudy and pleasant

Garden update over on Gratitude and Growth here.

Yesterday was not as productive as I’d hoped. I am tired, trying to shake off the last of the sense memory stress. Also, as an astrologer friend reminded me, we’re in the sun sign of Taurus right now, and Taurus likes to slow things down and look at it from all angles (sort of like Tessa the cat approaches life all year long).

Broke off contact with someone I’d known, both personally and professionally, for quite a few years, whose patterns in the relationship will not change and aren’t acceptable. This individual refuses to respect boundaries, intentionally causes harm, when I speak up, tells me I have to “take it” because they have mental health issues, goes into therapy, reinvents themselves, wants to repair the relationship, and, a few weeks later, starts again. Not doing it anymore. I wish them a long and happy life, far away from me. Mental health issues aren’t a free pass to treat people badly.

 Plus, the viral tweet just keeps going and going. This morning, I finally muted it. I hate muting threads; I feel it’s a cop-out.  Most of the tertiary conversations have nothing to do with me. I’m glad people are discussing it, but after two days and the repetition, I’m done. I have nothing more to say. I said it. Plus, a lot of people who are arguing how small a portion of the population it is when over a million died are showing their psychological dirty panties. Every one of those dead matters.

On top of it, the guy who started it all is snickering and said he made the initial post as a “social experiment.” So he’s getting blocked. If you claim you’re building relationships on social media, you don’t set the people in those relationships up like that. It is, of course, a white dude. Because it’s always a white dude.

All of this interaction is getting in the way of the work, and when something gets in the way of the work, it has to go.

A welcome distraction was watching what’s going on over in the UK, ousting Boris Johnson. Absolutely fascinating.

I did do a good chunk of work on the Topic Workbooks. For the SUBMISSIONS Workbook, I have to take the example pages and turn them all into jpgs, and then insert them into the text, because the e-reader formats can’t hold the necessary formatting. That will take time, but I think it will solve the problem. THE GRAVEYARD OF ABANDONED PROJECTS is almost updated; just a few more pages to go, and the resources. That can re-release on time. I have to take down the remaining few workbooks, so that they can go back out before the end of the month.

Most of those revisions shouldn’t be too awful, although the Series Bible may need the same examples-into-jpgs done. But the others need some expansion for changes in the industry, and updated resources. It shouldn’t take too long (famous last words).

The damn computer crashed again. I think McAfee is part of the problem. It’s acting more like a virus than a virus protector. Combine that with the HP/Windows11 conflict, and it’s not pretty.

Oh, and Spectrum raised my internet bill by 25%, which means I expect 25% better service. (ha). That still might only get it up to 50% of what it should be.

We gave in to the every-so-often fast food craving and had burgers, fries, and shakes. Good while eating; misery for the rest of the day.

Turned around a script in the afternoon. Got some questions on a script I’d covered earlier in the week, which I will answer this afternoon, after I’ve turned around another script.

Invited to an artist networking group next Monday. Part of me wants to go; another part of me wonders if I’m doing too many in-person things, and if I should be a little more careful until after the Word X Word event on the 23rd. I already am going to MassMOCA’s open studio event again next week, and then there’s a book sale at the Atheneum. Even being careful and masked, with more people around, especially unmasked tourists, it’s a risk. I’ll think about it.

I mean, we only have a few months of possible outdoor gatherings before it’s winter, and we’re all inside, and that means little to no gathering (and new variants). But if I choose the wrong gathering, I’ll pay the price.

At the same time, I need to build a life here. The vibe’s already much more laid back, inclusive, and generous than where I was before. But every event/interaction needs a thorough risk assessment. I made the choice to take that risk with Word X Word. So now I have to adjust events/expectations around that to make it as safe as possible, and not put myself at risk before then. Because I also don’t want to put my fellow poets at the event at risk.

I look around at writer colleagues, flying all over the place to attend in-person conferences, posting unmasked group photos, then wondering why they’re sick when they come home. What the hell did they think would happen? Come on, people. Get a fucking clue.

This attitude of “it’s over” or “it’s not over, but I won’t get it” is, quite literally, killing people. So every time I’m invited to something, I have to find out: Is proof of vaccination required? If no, then I don’t go. If it’s indoors, is masking required? If no, then I don’t go. If both answers are yes, I still have to calculate number of people expected in the space, and the likelihood that someone is positive without yet knowing it, or has been exposed and transmitting, even if they themselves don’t get it. Do I have enough open time before and after for contact tracing/testing if necessary, before another event?

Exhausting, but necessary.

And the day is likely to come when I’ve miscalculated, and will have to pay the price.

On a happier note, a neighbor a few doors down was on his porch practicing the tuba.  A few minutes later, some guy with a djembe showed up, and they were jamming. It was pretty funny, and kind of wonderful. I love that about this neighborhood.

I started reading HOW TO DO THE WORK by Dr. Nicole LePera. It resonates. I hope to learn some pattern-breaking and healthier pattern-setting techniques.

Looking forward to meditation group this morning, and then it’s back to the page. A friend is eager to read “The Little Woman” and I want to do another draft before I send it.

And, as I’m sure you’ve noticed, I STILL haven’t finished that kitchen island. That is a goal for this weekend.

People are enjoying the 31 Prompts, and I’m glad.

Have a good one!

Fri. April 16, 2021: Die For Your Employer day 328 — Pen To Paper

image courtesy of Stock Snap via pixabay.com

Friday, April 16, 2021

Waxing Moon

Bucketing down rain

I’m so grateful for the rain. We need it. A good, all-day soak would be a boon for this area.

I didn’t do the grocery run yesterday. I had a really, really bad feeling I shouldn’t go, as I got ready to leave. So, I trusted my instincts and didn’t. I don’t know why; there wasn’t news of a serious crash down the street until later in the day. But I trusted my instincts.

Meditation was fine, although I had trouble focusing and staying in with it.

Did some client work, looked at rental listings, heard back from a place that they didn’t have the unit available we’d need, noodled with a couple of pitches I hope to get out today.  I want to get something to my Llewellyn editor for the 2023 almanacs.

Freelance Chat was interesting, although it was about working with agencies as a freelancer. While I’m poking into that, I really didn’t have much to contribute to the actual conversation. It was about listening and learning yesterday for me, which is a good thing.

Got a response from an LOI, and we are having a conversation next week. The company interests me, and if the parameters and the way they treat people are as well as they claim, we’d be a good fit. I might, actually, visit their calendar and try to move the conversation earlier in the week.

Did some work on the Topic Workbook revision of THE GRAVEYARD OF ABANDONED PROJECTS. I need to get the Topic Workbooks revised and out again. When they are available and I promote them properly, they are steady sellers. I keep them affordable, but not so cheap I resent it. Once we move, I might look into getting some print copies of them, too, not just digital.

Worked on contest entries.

I’ve read two books in the past few weeks (not contest entries) that are different – from each other and from what’s out there – and enjoyable. WHO IS MAUD DIXON? by Alexandra Andrews is twisty and fun (although I did figure it out ahead of time, but was interested enough to find out how the characters would navigate). BEACH READ by Emily Henry was also fun, a nice twist on the standard romantic comedy formula. Hits all the points, but goes beyond, with a lot of heart. I recommend both.

I also, finally, got back to some writing, working on three ideas that have been playing in my head. I had hoped to find a way to combine them, but they are three definitive sets of characters on different projects.

One is contemporary, slightly alt-reality, with elements of romance and paranormal. I have the characters and the catalyst, and part of the setting (the house in which most of it happens is very clear, but I don’t yet know where that house IS). I’m looking for a one-word title for it, a word that encompasses self-confidant solitude. I threw out the request on Twitter yesterday, and got some interesting responses, but nothing with quite the right shade of meaning yet.

The second idea is something I’ve been playing with, off and on for years, inspired by the breakfasts at Cole’s Farms in Maine, and some of the other wonderful breakfast-only places in Maine that are so well-loved. I want to start in the 1970’s, in the aftermath of the Vietnam War, and have one section in each decade for about five decades. Built around a breakfast-only restaurant in Maine. Cole’s Farms closed this past January, after 68 years in Maine. I’d been eating there, when I visited my family up there, since I was 10.

The third idea I suspect will grow into a mystery series, and needs the most research. It will start in the aftermath of WWII, a former ferry girl pilot and the shattered soldier with whom she had an affair during the war. I don’t want to say too much about it until I know where it’s headed. There are a few scenes very strong in my head that I will get down as a foundation, and then develop.

And yes, I’m aware that I still need to write the stand-alone suspense novel about the former ferry girl who becomes a barnstorming pilot just after the war, the one I started developing in a workshop during the Cape Cod Writers Conference a few years back. That’s in the queue.

Once we’ve moved, I can look at the queue of books that need to be written, sort them, and get back to it. But for now, under all this stress, I will work on what pulls me.

I’m going to take a look at THE GHOST IN THE BREAD MACHINE and see if that’s viable, or needs to be put into stasis. I’ve been thinking about it the last few days.

Because writing even for a couple of hours made a huge positive difference in my psyche and coping skills. I need to stop the self-flagellation about not knowing where we will move, and keep writing so I have the energy to move.

Knowledge Unicorns was fine. We’re taking another break next week — many of them have next week as the spring break. Everyone is burned out. We all need a massive month-long vacation. But too many companies have learned NOTHING from the pandemic, and are trying to force the same old crap. No. Just no. All the way around no.

Staying in today in this mucky weather, to work on articles, pitches, LOIs, client work, contest entries, the Topic Workbooks, story ideas, and, of course, pack and look at rental listings. I have another book to read for review, and I hope to finish the next category of contest entries this weekend.

At least I slept through the night for the first time in a bit.

Another mass shooting, this time in Indiana. More murdered black children. The cops need to stop murdering people based on skin color, while letting white domestic terrorists roam free. And, in general, American society needs to stop murdering its children.

Have a good weekend.