Am I a slacker?

Where in the world is Patti the writer?  I’ve not been doing much of anything, to tell the truth.  Well, working.  Sometimes.  But, writing?  Yeah, not so much.  I come home from work exhausted and in pain.  Most days, it’s all I can do to get the basics done.  You know, dishes, laundry, feeding the cats, cleaning the litter.  I tell myself I don’t feel up to writing.  I don’t feel like sitting in front of my computer and trying to come up with something to write about.  And I most certainly don’t feel like doing the actual writing.

But, the thing is, writing has always been my escape.  When I was younger, it was my emotional escape.  Why in the world would I refuse to use it as a means of escaping the physical pain I’m in every day?  I think, for most writers, the act of writing allows us to focus on something else.  And I could definitely stand to direct my focus somewhere other than the pain.  So why haven’t I been doing it?

I’ve been feeling somewhat alone in this battle with arthritis.  I’ve spent most of my adult life living by myself.  For most of that time, it’s worked well for me.  But lately there have been times when I find myself wishing I had someone here to help me out, to carry some of the load.  Don’t get me wrong, I have amazing friends.  Many of them have offered to help me out, to go to appointments with me, pick up prescriptions, and so on.  And my step-sister is just the best.  I know she’d do anything I need her to do.  I’m having a procedure done on my shoulders next week.  Originally, the doctor was going to do a more invasive procedure and I was going to need someone to drive me home.  Kathy offered to do that for me.  What I didn’t tell anyone was that they also told me I’d need someone to stay with me for 24 hours.  That just seemed like such an imposition.

So, what?  I think I’m better than other people?  That I’d do that for them, but wouldn’t give them the opportunity to do the same thing for me?  Or that they would turn their backs on me when I needed them?  Or that I don’t deserve their help?  I don’t know.

See?  This is another thing writing does.  It allows me to look at myself and try to figure out what in the world is going on.  Why do I behave the way I do.  Why am I so hesitant to ask for help?  I know no one likes to have to ask for help.  I know it isn’t easy for anyone.  And maybe, just maybe, I don’t want to look too closely at my feelings, my fears, my desires.  If I acknowledge those feelings, then I kind of feel obligated to do something about them.  And it’s a lot easier to ignore them than it is to deal with them.  Not healthier, just easier…in the short-term.

I think it’s time to get back to writing because I need to figure out how to live with this pain.  I don’t want to just survive it.  I want to be happy in spite of it.

Deep in thought...

Deep in thought…

 

Kindle Fire…my newest toy

Kindle Fire: Out of the Box

Kindle Fire: Out of the Box (Photo credit: Brian Sawyer)

Who knew I’d need want another tech toy?  I mean really, how many ways do I need to be connected to the internet?  But I’ve been looking at them for a while now and finally decided to take the plunge.  I have to admit it’s pretty cool.   It was so easy to set up.  Maybe because I already had a Kindle eReader?  Anyhow, I’m pleased with it, with the look of the pictures, the speed, and how easy it is to use.  I may even read the user’s manual at some point in time, but maybe not.

I’m having fun with it.  Unfortunately, Clara came over and wanted to play with it.  When I told her no (hey, I’m selfish that way), she got mad.  Then she asked me if I’d buy one for her (ha, as long as it took to buy one for myself, good luck, kid).  I really never did like to share my toys.

Post 700…or so

I completely missed it when I posted my 700th blog post the other day.  Today’s post is actually 703.  Wow!  Thanks so much to all of you who have accompanied me on this crazy trip.  It’s been such a pleasure to get to know you, to hear about your lives, to see the pictures you share with us, to have your support, and to share a few laughs along the way.  What a blast this has been.

No, no…don’t look at me like that.  This isn’t the end or anything close to it (I hope.  I guess we never know that for sure, do we?).  I just wanted to take a couple of minutes to let you know how much I appreciate your company.  I’m hoping we’ll be able to continue this journey together for many years to come.

Of course, those of you who are with me daily know I’m going to be a little busy for the month of November (a little thing called NaNoWriMo, in case you somehow missed the excitement), but I’m still going to be checking in every few days.  You know I have to let you know how my writing is progressing, right?  Wish me luck.  Spook and Scout want you to remind me every once in a while to go buy them some more treats.  A kitty’s got to have her treats.

Spook and Scout on their perch...together...

Spook and Scout on their perch…together…

Another cool NaNo perk

Pen and Paper

Pen and Paper (Photo credit: qisur)

Are you sick of hearing about NaNoWriMo yet?  Well, hold on.  I’ve got something interesting here that might make you perk up your ears.  I was perusing the NaNo site this evening (I know, I lead the most exciting life of anyone you know, right?)  and came across the list of things winners (meaning you complete your 50,000 words in 30 days.  Well, complete it and have it verified.) can walk away with.  Of course, the number one thing all winners receive is immense satisfaction in setting and achieving a goal.  And that’s nice…more than nice.  There’s tremendous satisfaction in a job well done.

But what caught my eye tonight was that all winners can have two copies of their completed book published by CreateSpace…free, just pay shipping.  It used to be five copies, but I’d imagine that becomes a tad expensive for the company giving them away, so two copies it is this year.  I still think that’s a pretty nifty reward.  Being able to hold a copy of your published book in your hands would be quite the thrill, don’t you think?

While reading the forums, I came across a question that does make me think I would want to do some research prior to going that route.  Would having your book printed by CreateSpace have any bearing on having it picked up by a publishing house in the future (whew, sounds like I’ve got big plans for this book, doesn’t it?).  Like I said, I would want to look into all of that before choosing to do it that way.  Luckily, they give you until June, 2014 to redeem your offer.  I would think that would be plenty of time for me to find the answers to any questions I have…oh yeah, and maybe do a little editing…that might come in handy too.

So what do you think?  Anybody have any advice for me about the publishing aspect?  Anybody want me to shut up about NaNo?  If you answered “yes” to that last question, my question to you would be, “Do you really know me?  Do you believe it would be possible for me to remain quiet about something I’m so excited about?”  Maybe you’ll just have to ignore me until the end of November.  I won’t hold it against you, I promise.  Or you could join in the fun and frenzy of NaNoWriMo!  Come on!  You know you want to.

Life is complicated

P writing blue

P writing blue (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

At least it’s complicated at times, don’t you think?  I haven’t been doing much (anything) with my blog lately.  I’ve been working, then falling into bed when I get home trying to recover from the pain and fatigue.  My house is a wreck, my car needs cleaned, the “garden” is overrun with weeds, and I’ve not devoted much time to writing.  I don’t know what the solution is to everything else, but I’ll be doing plenty of writing next month (yes, next month really is November) when I take part in another NaNoWriMo event.

I really enjoy the NaNo writing frenzy and feel like I accomplish an unbelievable amount of writing during that 30 days.  At the end of November, I’ll likely still be hurting, my house will still be a disaster, my car will still need a trip to the car wash, but at least I’ll have another book well underway.  I’m even upping my word count goal from the 50,000 I’ve done in the past to 65,000 this year.  Am I crazy???

On the health front, I saw the rheumatologist again today.  I feel like we’re not making much progress.  She squeezed my joints (some of them harder than necessary…ouch!) and had me go through some range of motion type movements.  Then wrote out a prescription for a stronger dose of my pain meds…said to call if it gives me any problems.  Then she said she wanted to see me again in February.  It just seems to me this is all stuff my regular doctor could do.  Honestly, I’m starting to feel like I’m getting depressed because I’m not seeing any real improvement, I’m struggling to make it through the days.  I had today off work and was in so much pain that I didn’t do much of anything (why do you think my house is a mess?)

I’m trying to find a positive ray of light in all of this, but it’s pretty dim right now.

Sleepless in B’town

Okay…I agree, not as catchy as sleepless in Seattle…but I’m at home in Bloomington and have been sleepless since a little after 3 am.  I laid in bed reading books (yes, books, plural) on my Kindle, with Spook snuggled up next to me.  It sounds sweet and picturesque, doesn’t it?  The truth of it is that Spook was sleeping peacefully, while I was in pain.  But really, how could I move to try to find a more comfortable position when she was zonked out beside me, her head resting on my shoulder?  Huh?  I couldn’t do it, I just couldn’t start tossing and turning and wake her up.  Ah…the things we go through for our pets.

Anyhow, I’ve been reading books on self publishing, publishing e-books on Kindle, and starting a website.  The website seems the least daunting of the three.  Probably because I’ve been blogging for a couple of years and am at least somewhat familiar with making that transition.  But the self-publishing?  Wow!  Seems like there’s a lot involved in that.  And I’ve read some e-books that were obviously self-published…probably without anyone taking the time to edit, or even proofread, them.  I wouldn’t want any book I wrote riddled with mistakes.  I did discover that you can go back in to edit and update your e-book if you use Amazon’s KDP (Kindle direct publishing)…kind of makes me question whether or not these other authors reread their books.  KDP also allows you to run promotions for your book.  A few interesting tidbits there.

Apparently you have to format your manuscript for Kindle too.  Just to give you an idea of how much I don’t know, that’s something that wouldn’t have occurred to me prior to reading these books, although having seen the messes that some authors have published, I should have been aware of that fact.  I have downloaded the free publishing books that Amazon provides, so it seems like I have a lot more reading (and learning) ahead of me before I even attempt to publish one of my books that way.

kindle 003

I have a few (okay, a lot of) questions for you already published authors out there…e-books? Traditional publishing houses?  Self-publishing?  What are your experiences with any or all of these publishing methods?

Writing styles

Developing Understanding when Reading

Developing Understanding when Reading (Photo credit: Ken Whytock)

Since I got my Kindle, I’ve been reading a lot of books that are not necessarily best-sellers.  Some of them are firsts for the author, others are from previously published authors.  I always try to pay attention to writing styles when I’m reading.  Of course, we all notice spelling or grammatical errors.  I also notice editing or publishing errors that distract from the joy of reading.

But lately, I’ve really been paying attention to dialogue styles.  It seems that some authors write their dialogue in proper grammatical form (those are probably the folks who paid the most attention in English class!).  My issue with writing (and reading) dialogue written in this manner is that it’s not really how most of us speak in our everyday lives.  I suppose, if we’re highfalutin’,  hoity-toity, upper crust, tea and scones in the afternoon types, then that could be how we actually talk.  I don’t know about you, but I don’t know anyone like that in my life…and I sure don’t talk like that.  So I tend to write dialogue as I imagine my characters speak.  In my opinion, that allows the reader to better know and understand the characters.

I have to admit, I get distracted when I’m reading a book and the writing style is such that I get the feeling that English is a second language for the author.  I find myself constantly telling myself it would have been easier to understand had it been written this way, or had they not hesitated to use contractions.  Am I being overly picky?

As I throw my hands in the air in admission that I completely understand that I am by no means the most accomplished writer, and that anyone who has ever written anything at all can either take or leave my criticisms, I must stress that I’ve been an avid reader since I first learned to read.  And I know what I like to read as well as what doesn’t appeal to me at all.  Really, aren’t we all like that?

What distracts you from the joy of reading?