Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Look over there! SHINY.

For my new low-pressure blog not involving a novel, see ratty blue stockings - reading, knitting and occasionally cats.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Stop Writing

So I think I'm going to have to give the novel a break for awhile. You may think, as normal people would, that my previous hiatuses of weeks at a time constituted "breaks," but that would make too much sense. This is a break of the "I am not currently writing a novel" variety.

There are many factors at work here.
  1. I'm just damn sick and tired of it. I dread having to work on it and when I'm done I forget about it with gratitude. It's a chore.
  2. It's taking up too much of my time. If I didn't have to work for a living, I would love to write a novel, but I already have two jobs and I've never been able to get by on less than eight hours of sleep. If I want, and I thiiiiiiink I do, to freelance full time and give up my day job for good, I'm going to have to spend hours every day shilling for new work. The sustained psychic space necessary for me to write fiction has no part in such a lifestyle, at least until I do in fact give up the day job.
  3. It's a source of anxiety. Whenever I'm not working on it, I feel like I should be, and since I don't want to and don't have time, it makes me feel like a failure. I had a brief acute depression about two weeks ago, followed by my first-ever migraine, that scared me enough to really pay attention to sources of anxiety. The world is full of things I have to do that I don't want to and don't have time, and I can't impose more on myself and not go nuts.

I hope this isn't the end of The Amateurs; I do think it's a good idea and I do think I'm good at it. If I pick it up again in six months and finish it six months after that, it's better than writing it for a year and a half in my life's blood and then dying young. Quitting is depressing, but not as depressing as keeping on with it would be.

I'll try to keep posting here though -- I've got to tell someone about my knitting.

Final Word Count: 19,593

Monday, March 13, 2006

Talk About Oneself

Eek! I’ve been tagged by Wiz Knitter. For heck’s sake, Wiz Knitter, would I have started a blog if I wanted to talk about myself?

Four jobs in your life:
1. Freelance writer/researcher – someday I’ll do it full time.
2. Legal word processor/graphics operator (It’s the Best Day Job in the World! Please don’t fire me!)
3. Library assistant (College)
4. Retail clerk (High school. Isn’t everyone?)

Four movies you could watch over and over:
1. Fantasia, the ideal sedative. Have you ever noticed that at least one character falls asleep in almost every segment?
2. The Commitments.
3. Anything by Monty Python.
4. The Thin Man. Why am I not Myrna Loy?

Four TV shows you love to watch:
1. Mystery!
2. Rick Steves’ Europe.
3. The Daily Show
4. The Muppet Show, and if they would COME OUT WITH ANOTHER VOLUME ALREADY it would be higher up the list.

Four places you have lived:
1. New York, NY
2. Alexandria, VA
3. Lakewood, CA
4. Mechanicsburg, PA (OK, I was really too young to remember that one)

Four places you have been on vacation:
1. Disney World (Mike and I got married there, which is really all you need to know about us)
2. Paris, France (Why yes, we went to Euro Disney while we were there; why do you ask?)
3. Montreal, Canada
4. Ely, Minnesota

Four websites you visit daily:
1. Cute Overload
2. Go Fug Yourself
3. The Daily Kitten
4. Firedoglake

Four of your favorite foods:
1. Dark chocolate
2. Red wine
3. Brie cheese
4. Potatoes in any form (Irish on my father’s side and Polish on my mother’s – you can’t escape potatoes)

Four places you'd rather be right now:
1. Disney World (Anyone perceive a trend? Me neither.)
2. My extremely well-worn easy chair.
3. A cabin in the woods.
4. Bed.

Four favorite types of yarn:
1. South West Trading Company Phoenix Soy Silk
2. Crystal Palace Fizz
3. Debbie Bliss Cashmerino
4. Self-patterning sock yarn. How do they get it to do that?

Four bloggers I'm tagging:
1. Knancy at Sockaholic


I don’t actually know any other bloggers who knit and have not yet been tagged. So take it away, Knancy!

Friday, February 24, 2006

Skip Town, Part Deux

Got to make this quick so I'll do it in bullet points:

  • Leaving tomorrow for a week with Mom in sunny California.
  • Finished the eyelash yarn corkscrew scarf and started a soy silk clapotis shawl.
  • Finished articles about Melvil Dewey and the Great Bone Wars for the History Channel Magazine, and I am so damn sick of them that I hope I never hear about decimal classification or dinosaur fossils again.
  • No novelizing.

So that's it! See you in a week. Unless you're Mom, in which case I'll see you tomorrow.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Wait Too Long To Take Up A Hobby

So I've made a hat and a pair of fingerless gloves, so far, and I've just cast on a corkscrew scarf in glittery eyelash yarn (kind of a beast to work because you can't see the stitches, but quite forgiving because...well, you can't see the stitches). And I've discovered something interesting. My microcassette recorder has a voice-recognition feature that turns it on when it hears sound and off after a moment or two of silence. Which means I can dictate while I'm knitting (*BUMP bump BAAAAAA*).

This may sound like I'm making a big deal out of nothing, but it's actually a discovery of some importance. The problem I have with first-draft composition, as I mentioned once before, is that concentrating solely on it causes me so much anxiety that I second-guess it as I go along, thereby adversely affecting the speed of the process, the quality of the work and any lingering enjoyment I might have of the whole affair.

I used to dictate while I walked in the park, which was ideal. Exercise, fresh air and perceived forward motion -- exactly what a neurotic needs most. But that's not always practical in the wintertime, especially on pitch-dark weeknights, which is when I have to write now that I work days. So any activity that will distract the internal censor while the lizard brain gets to work in peace is a great help. It's not quite a perfect solution because I'm not a particularly good knitter yet, so I have to send part of the lizard brain along to give the internal censor a hand with it occasionally, and the dictation slows down. But time and practice should address this.

Momentous discovery notwithstanding, I haven't done very much in the last two weeks, and whenever I don't work for a few days, I'm convinced that I'll never work again. But I transcribed my knitting dictation last night, as well as putting in an hour with the two articles I have due next week, so I feel that I can face you all again.

Word count: 19,593 (+2,111)

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Take Up a Hobby

A bunch of us at my job have gotten together for a "Biggest Loser" contest. Each person kicks in $100 and on May 5, the one who lost the highest percentage of body weight gets the pot, which is up to $2,000. To complicate things, the firm's charity committee is donating $5 per pound lost to Oxfam. Long story short, since health and vanity are obviously not strong enough incentives for me to lose that last thirty pounds, I now have greed and philanthropy to shore them up.

This is one of the reasons I've taken up knitting. I figured I needed something besides eating to do with my hands in my leisure hours. The other reason I took up knitting is because of my friend Wiz Knitter (N.B. Daaaaamn yooooou). I'm sure she didn't go out of her way to indoctrinate me or anything, but what she did do was introduce me to the concept of the online knitting community, and from then it was merely a matter of time.

Because knitters? Are crazy people. Intense, compulsive, possessed of a majestic illogic. Here is a knitter who lusted after a particular fiber for months, finally procured it from a foreign land and then put it in her yarn stash where it stayed for a year before she figured out what to do with it. This is the site for the Knitting Olympics, where contestants begin a project the moment the Torino flame is lit and have to finish it before the flame goes out. Finally, this. Clearly any activity undertaken by such sumptuously eccentric people is one it would behoove me to investigate.

So I'm going to be making this. It's my first attempt at knitting in the round, so I foresee drama. But one must move beyond scarves at some point, mustn't one? Of course one must.

Word count: 17,472 (+8,020, but mostly second draft so it's not quite as impressive as it sounds. Sorry!)

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Plan an Escape

So Mike and I are thinking about moving back to Southern California in a couple of years. The prospect freaks me out somewhat because I grew up there, and I never really thought I'd go back. Growing up, I had this beef that the California culture and architecture and setting were all some kind of cheap cardboard imitation of something -- that the proper state of the world involved snow in the wintertime, decent public transit, housing stock more than forty years old, neighborhoods instead of strip malls, and a downtown that people actually live in. You know -- New York.

But now that I've lived in New York for eleven years, I'm beginning to change my mind. In my grand total of two trips west since I left in 1993, I've been able to wrap my brain around the concept that California culture is its own thing, not a knockoff of something else -- the stucco and the strip malls and the sprawl and the occasional sun-addled dippiness are on purpose. Perhaps even in a good way.

In any case, I'm kind of over New York. It's cold, and dirty, and too many people live here, so it's rude. The places I've seen palmed off as livable homes would boggle the mind of a suburbanite. The rents charged for those places would drive the suburbanite to autolobotomy.

So it's time for a change. Mike, at the age of [REDACTED FOR SECURITY PURPOSES] has never lived anywhere else, so he's got to get out of the city for at least a few years or he'll start to grow moss. It will be great to be close enough to my mom to see her more often than once a year. And if we actually swing more than one bathroom, I can pretty much die happy.

Plus, Disneyland. Remember who you're dealing with here!

Word count: 9,452 (+3,059)