Well, here we are at the end of the round, and I have to say, I think I did pretty well. I was fighting some things, exhaustion and other commitments, and at times it was tough. But I am happy with what I accomplished.
Here were my goals:
~Finish rough draft of Ever Touched. <–NOT DONE. Close, but I got sidetracked by an editing job, a query letter, and a longish short story with a tight deadline. My #1 plan is to finish this next round. I’m at 88k (of 120k) so far!
~If there’s time, start planning Fireborn revision.<–NOT DONE, because Ever Touched isn’t done, but I am planning on doing a read through of the completed draft ASAP.
~Continue logging outline for Survivor into Scrivener.<–NOT DONE. Just not enough time. This will be carried over to next round, b/c my next primary project will be Survivor.
~Reinstate 8 minutes a day of a first draft again/make progress on Covenant <–DONE once. I was fighting exhaustion mostly, and wrist tendonitis, so this was just not working for me. 😦
~Make prints of the film I developed yesterday (my test roll). <–NOT DONE. Same song, second verse. I had to order in chemicals and a new safelight. Not enough energy. It’s happening SOON though!
~Experiment with digital infrared <–DONE! Check it out here!
This week has been tough because my wrist tendonitis came back and I had to take a break from writing. Yesterday, I started using voice recognition again, and it has been a bit frustrating. But I’m glad to have the option of doing it.
(Handwriting actually hurts more due to an old hand injury, so that was out.)
Actually, it went pretty smooth, all things considered. I ended up dictating a total of 800 words. It felt like it took forever, but it was only a few hours. I’ve been spoiled — I can bang out 1,000 words in 20-30 minutes. But it did the job which was the most important thing.
(I also had to stop periodically and transfer the words from the clipboard thingy and reformat. Also, Dragon didn’t recognize the names, so I ended up using placeholder names, which was okay…as long as I remembered to change them!)
So how did I do?
Ever Touched – 1000 words. Better than I could have hoped. 🙂 Now at 81k.
Covenant – 200 words. Finally!
Exercise -2 times this week
AprilLove2016 – I managed 14 days out of 30. I was running behind, and then my wrist tendonitis popped up, and handwriting just made it worse. But I’m happy with what I got, and the experience was enlightening. Will definitely do that again. 🙂
Water – only three days this week.
Elysium – I worked on the outline some more. Making slow progress.
Chocolate consumption: WW sundaes, Twix bars, and hot chocolate.
So, all in all, I did pretty well considering. I’m hoping to give my wrist time to heal and soon hopefully I’ll be typing again.
Annnd here we are again. Man, this week went by fast!
Overall, I’m doing okay. Still tired, but I’m managing. I haven’t hit all my goals, but I got some done, and that’s progress.
So, here we go!
Ever Touched – Due to getting a small editing job, I am slightly behind on this. But the good news is that I think I can make it up. And, extra money is always nice! Up to 78,145 words now (3,426 words sine last check-in!). My goal was to hit 80k this month, so I should make it. As for Camp, I still have 10k to go.
8 minutes/Covenant – Nada. Thought about it a lot, but never had enough energy to make it happen.
Exercise – 3 times this week – 2 walks, 1 bike.
Water – Every day except one.
AprilLove2016 – Still horrendously behind, but wrote 2 journal entries, and posted two blog posts. Here (Dear Future Me) and here (Dear Courage).
Elysium – Pondering, but nothing done. 😦
Chocolate consumption: Oreos – oh man, Oreos. And WW Sundaes.
Just chugging along. I’m still really behind, but I’m managing. 🙂
I did not know your depth until I was forced to find you. Until I was forced to reach for you, and use you to vanquish my fears, or get through something very scary. And there’s the little things, too — a tough situation at work, going to the doctor to investigate this or that, having to have 3 MRIs in a row when I am severely claustrophobic. Facing illness in others. When a co-worker died and I was grieving. Every time I put words on the page (or computer screen). These are all acts of courage, and without you, I couldn’t have done them.
Every book I’ve ever written has been an act of courage. Every poem. When I decided to self-publish Fey Touched in 2012, that was you helping me to reach for my dream of being published. It didn’t matter that I had no idea what I was doing or how the world would react to my book…I’d decided to put it out there, whether I got glowing reviews or bad ones, because I needed to. For myself. You stood by me every step of the way.
Rewriting Grave Touched was also an act of courage. You were there when I rewrote it and revised it, telling me to keep on it, that it will be good. And that was important because at the time, I couldn’t imagine this book being good. It just wasn’t in me, after the TN and low esteem and insecurity got a hold of me. But you were right. Grave Touched is great book, and I’m damn proud of it.
I remember a line from Rod Stewart’s song “Forever Young”: Be courageous and be brave/in my heart you’ll always stay/forever young. And when I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia and intractable vertigo in 2003, never have I needed you more. I was scared. I was faced with people not believing me. I was faced with daily pain and fatigue, and a zillion other things going wrong health-wise. I was faced with weekly doctor visits, and medications, and people’s ideas being pushed on me because they thought they knew better. I learned how to stand up for myself and advocate for my own health. My life had changed irrevocably that year, and not everything survived the change. But, most of all, I learned that I could find you when I most needed you — in those dark moments when I believed it a death sentence, those times when I had to make tough decisions about what to do or not, based on my pain level. When I was teaching, and I was so tired, but wanted to do it so badly I put myself through it anyway (and a full-time day job). It did a bit of damage, but it was what I needed to do for myself and my students.
When I had to have three surgeries on my jaw due to infections and rejection from a previous surgery, when I thought I would die, when my fear of needles was so overwhelming that I didn’t think I could go through with it — you were there, whispering in my ear, saying that everything will be okay and it will only hurt for a bit. I remember my last surgery, in August of 2011, the song “Kashmir” by Led Zeppelin was playing on the radio, and somehow I drew strength from that (because music and my mind have been intertwined since I was a kid).
(Obviously, the song had nothing to do with the surgery, but a connection was made that somehow let me find you quicker and easier.)
And, the doozie was when I was in so much pain daily from the trigeminal neuralgia that I wasn’t sure I wanted to go on, and you told me to never give up, and to keep on, as much as I can, because things WILL get better. (An they did, thanks to you!). But man, I was so scared and freaked out and couldn’t imagine living that way. And when I had my little meltdown after watching “The Fault in Our Stars” and my mom and husband were looking at me funny because I’d been crying for an hour, you were there with comforting words and the strength I needed.You gave me the strength to say, “I have never mourned the loss of my normal life due to this. I have never LET myself feel it so intensely. I was too busy trying to be brave.” But, as the movie has shown me, pain demands to be felt. And right then, I needed it, despite what others may or think.
My general philosophy in life actually comes right from you. I don’t believe in conformity, or being someone I’m not, or not standing up for myself. That, too, is very courageous. It takes courage to be your true self and live without apology or a care. I NEVER worry about other people and how they may react or think. I worry about what’s right for me, and what I’m doing or not doing. Because this life is mine, and I have one chance to live it. Living for someone else or censoring myself or pretending to be someone else is just pointless. Unfortunately, a lot of people do that and I just shake my head.
I’m cool as I am. I have hopes, and dreams, and things I want to accomplish. You’re there for me every step of the way, supporting me, encouraging me, and not letting me fall. You are truly my partner in this, and I look forward to many more courageous things in the future.
You probably don’t know this, but you’re cool. Really, truly, totally, utterly, completely cool. You may not feel this way at times, but let me assure you: YOU ARE COOL.
You’re doing great things: writing, taking pictures, trying to get healthy. These things will stick at some point, and things will get easier. I know this, deep in my heart. I also know that you are capable of great things if you just keep at it.
Also? I can’t guarantee that your health will be good, because there are so many factors in this. But what I can guarantee is this: you’ve got this. Whatever life decides to throw at you, you’ve got this. You’re strong, you’re capable, you’re brave. Maybe even braver than I am now. I’ve spent years being brave and handling things, tough things, so you can work your way through whatever it is that happens. And…it’s scary. As we get older, things start going wrong. Not pessimism, just reality. And I have a lot going on now, and I’m just 40. So I do not expect it to be easy. But you can handle it. You’re made of tough stuff. You’ve watched your loved ones (Grandma and Mike in particular) bear illness with grace and dignity. You learned, and you were changed by the experience.
So much can change, you know? Like with the trigmenial neuralgia. I was fine one day, and the next, I was in excruciating pain for nearly three years. I never would have guessed that it could happen, that it would happen, and how much it would impact my life. But I got through it. It was tough, and sometimes unbearable, but I managed. I survived. So I believe that you can, too. You just need to reach inside yourself and find that strength you possess.
Don’t ever give up writing or photography. I know both can be frustrating, but they are what feed your soul. You need them like you need air to breathe. Eight years without photography taught me never to do that again. I felt the loss daily. And losing writing for three months was absolute torture. Don’t do it again. It’s not pretty.
Continue to be creative and to give thanks for each day. Some days just plain suck, and I know that. But another day is a gift. Some day there won’t be any more. Cherish them. Cherish your loved ones. Time is finite. Don’t ever forget that.
But most of all, enjoy life. Don’t forget about the little things. Don’t forget to revel in the beauty of life and living. Live each day as if it were your last.
Well, being a creative individual, inspiration is so dang important. Because without it, we are nothing…or are we?
On to the letter.
I’ll be brutally honest here. You are an awesome, thrill ride of a thing, but you can be the most vexing. I mean, writers/painters/photographers/other creative types depend on you for everything, but you can be as flighty and elusive and sometimes just not present. I speak of you as my muse, but really? You’re my right brain, my subconscious. Writer Holly Lisle, one of my favorite writers, says that you keep all the secrets and cool stuff and only speak in images. Sometimes words. You’ve caught me off guard with some of them, the most recent one being “old but new, incorporeal people trapped in cybernetic bodies” that spawned the entire war thread of Ever Touched, which was awesome and intriguing, but a bit…ah…different. Yeah, let’s go with that. I hadn’t expected that.
But I’ve learned over the years to expect the unexpected. You can be pure evil, unhinged at times, and at others, you can throw out pieces of cool things like crumbs but remain tight-lipped about the rest until about a third of a way into a book than shout, “hey! This is who he REALLY is!” or, “hey you writer person! She’s not this, she’s really that!” Or my personal favorite, “hey moron, how could you not figure that out? Seriously?”
Photography inspiration you hand me is often bizarre but cool. I’m still working on making your images come alive. You seem to enjoy self-portraiture, which is just awesome, but it’s easier than it looks, you know. So many things…costuming, location, lighting, etc. I’m a perfectionist, and I want to capture what you give me just right. But I have to admit, they are some cool ideas there.
But when you leave me dangling by a thread, like with the end of Survivor [my book, not the show!]? I think I hate you. Because dragging the one piece of information from you is like pulling teeth. Banging my head against concrete. Poking my eye repeatedly. It’s not fun, and it’s frustrating, and frankly? It freaks me out. I need you to work with me on these things. Do what you do best! And you are brilliant! So show me!
But at the end of the day, I’m happy for you, vexing or not. I need you, and I think you need me, too, to bring your ideas to life.
Let us never be parted, huh? Let’s do this together. And make some beautiful, awesome, heart-rending, joyful art and novels and poems.
Where are the first 7 days, you’re probably wondering?
And what is AprilLove2016?
Okay, AprilLove2016 is a journaling/creativity challenge where every day you get a prompt, and then you write (or draw, or photograph, or something else creative!) a love letter. It’s been pretty fun so far. Days 1-7 are written in my journal and I’ve elected to keep them private.
But this one really resonates with me, and I believe it will resonate for lots of folks, too, so I decided to make this one public.
So, onward to the love letter.
Dear Younger Me,
I wish I could have told you — and made you believe me — that things would get better: that you weren’t always going to be made fun of and bullied; that someone (several someones actually!) would love you; that you’d become one hell of a writer and photographer. That you’d be beautiful, in your own way. That you’d feel better about yourself and, most importantly, not want to die.
Oh, sure, there were times when I (Older Me) have still felt like that, but there’s one very important thing is that I got help. So, you’d never have to worry about feeling that alone ever again or that hopeless, because there is hope, and it was there. I was in my twenties when I made that all-important, life-saving decision to get help.
You were never alone.
You had friends. You had boyfriends. I know you continued to feel awkward in your skin, so much that the idea of dancing froze you up, and that unfortunately, had still persisted. But feeling okay? Not like a freak? That’s much less. Sure, there’s the whole chronic illness thing to contend with now, but damn, girl, what you went through then prepared me for this. It gave me strength and tenacity and an iron will. It helped me cope with my chronic facial pain. When you used to say to yourself, “if they don’t see how much they are hurting me, they’ll leave me alone,” you didn’t know that someday you’d be using that same skill to not fall apart when the eye pain got so bad you couldn’t think. It helped me to be more stoic and calm, and not complain or curse my fate (well, I did, a few times, but I made sure to also be grateful that I could still see!).
Everything you did then, everything you felt then, led to me to the woman I am today. I just turned forty, you know. Back then, I couldn’t imagine forty. You know, a “real grown up.” When you had your first boyfriend and had that nasty break up, you learned from that experience although it hurt so bad back then. And then the next one — and the one after that — all the way to my husband now. All the things you went through, all the heartbreak, all the disappointment, all THE SHIT, was preparing me for this marriage I am now. It wouldn’t work so well without all that experience, all that heartache you went through, that taught me how to function in a relationship.
When you had jaw surgery at fifteen, and couldn’t talk for three weeks and couldn’t eat solid food for two months, I’m not sure how you made it. When you had to go back to school in the fall with your jaws wired shut, you had to reach down into reserves of strength you didn’t know you possessed. Your French teacher said, after listening to you trying to speak French, that you were brave. To which you answered, “I’m just doing what I have to do.” And when the wires got cut and your jaws were stuck, you didn’t cry as the doctor cranked them open. Didn’t cry when you were forced to do it to yourself every day at home so you could eat. Didn’t cry when everyone else could eat cake at your sister’s party, and all you could “eat” was frosting and ice cream. Yeah, you were strong. This taught you strength and resilience and perseverance for what was to come.
Your decisions weren’t stupid, you know. They were the right ones for you at the time. You couldn’t possibly know what would happen in the future, that a driver’s license would be out of my reach, or that my health would be the suck. You loved writing, so you went for Journalism. You fell in love with photography, so you pursued that (and had to have your own darkroom!). Nothing is ever wasted, nothing is a mistake. Granted, my life looks so much different than the one I envisioned in my twenties, but who cares? I’m me. I’m still the same person. My goals and dreams have changed dramatically. (By the way, that dream you had about being published? Yeah, did that in 2012.;) ) And that’s perfectly fine. You were such a dreamer. You really were. And I suppose I am still, but I’ve grown up, you know? Things change, but that’s not always a bad thing. We’re evolving. We’re meant to become who we’re meant to become.
I am still evolving, I think. I’m not sure when that will stop, if it will. I’m learning still, even though I’ve been out of school for twenty years. Life teaches you so much.
I have a quote that I absolutely love: “The world breaks everyone. And afterward, many are strong at the broken places.” I think the world — and perhaps life? — broke you a bit there. But you grew stronger. What was weak is now strong. What is sad is now happy. What is broken is now put back together.
I think I will always be a bit broken, though. I don’t think I’d want to be “fixed.” Reason being, this is what gives my writing/photography/etc such depth. Because I feel so deeply, and strongly, and I know what it’s like to lose everything. I know what it’s like to feel like a freak. I know what it’s like to be in someone’s shadow, to not be perfect. To not be cool.To feel like I failed. To feel like I am worthless and not worth loving. That nothing of me is worth it. That I exist in darkness, bereft of light.
This is only slightly true. But I’m working on it. It’s because of you. The You From Back Then taught me this.
Well, I have been hit with exhaustion again, so I have not been as productive as I’d hoped. Been getting proper sleep and all but it continues. Gah.
So here it what I’ve done:
Ever Touched – up to 67,223 words. Past halfway. Things are getting very interesting.
AprilLove2016 – Still a few days behind on my journal entries, but I did three last night.
8 minutes/Covenant – I plan to start this this week if I feel up to it. Honestly? Getting my EvT words in has taken most of my energy, so I haven’t done the 8 minutes. May need to move that to a different time of day or something.
Exercise – Used the exercise bike 4 times this week. I’m still at 3 minutes, but I will be upping that amount of time this week.
Water – Every day except two.
Darkroom – I finally got my new safelight, so once I make sure I have everything I need, and have the energy, I will be printing those pictures.
Digital infrared – Weather’s been too weird for that – you need really good sunlight. But I am watching and waiting!
I’m bringing back my chocolate consumption report! Yesterday – chocolate chip pancakes for dinner (!), a few Samoa-knockoff cookies, a small ice cream Twix bar, and chocolate pudding (snacks!). Today I have yet to eat chocolate. I will though! No surprise there!
Also, shameless plug time! Due to some issues with my day job, I am looking to do more freelance editing. If you or someone you know is looking for an editor (or proofreader), please send him or her my way! My rates are competitive, I am very experienced, and I am a Journalism grad. /shameless plug