in which a decision is made

I’ve decided against participating in NaNoWriMo next month (next week, really). It kind of feels like quitting before giving myself a chance, but I know it’ll be a while before I’m done with the changes to draft 2 and even the energy of the WriMo community can’t change that… so I’m going to suck it up and push on without the instant-gratification of word counters and group encouragement. If all goes well, I’ll be able to join Camp NaNo with a new project.

In the meantime, I’m working and mulling things over (there is a lot to be mulled). Major changes are happening–plot-wise that is–and new directions are being discovered. At this rate, I think it’ll be at least another month before the paper draft is edited, and then another 2-3 before all the changes are applied to the digital draft. If I’m lucky, I’ll be able to use some vacation time in the spring and give myself a writer’s staycation.

I’m trying to catch a second wind with this project. There are some days when it feels like I’ve been working this draft to death and I don’t want to spend another minute in Anuna’s head, but then I find myself doing research on magic, or plants, or myths, and I just want to rush back in as an element that was nagging at me suddenly falls into place. It’s a love-hate situation.

catching up

I’ve had one too many family crises this year. It comes of being surrounded by elders, but I just don’t think I can handle another one this year. Let’s just say the last week had me rushing across Miami at frantic speeds. I had a checkup today and decided to take the rest of the day off for a rest rather than try to force myself to get back to work and put in an extra three hours. Been there, done that; I’ll take the sick hours. Not that I’ve been lazing around. I took advantage of the afternoon to catch up on the chapter I was editing last week and realized that I’m half-way through the draft. I’ve been outlining major events and noticed that the scene I just read marks a natural transition between the two halves of the novel. Outlining definitely helps.

Urgh… my neighbors are standing outside my window talking. Hate it when they do that. Sometimes wonder if they have jobs because they have the weirdest schedules. Sigh. Can’t think through the murmur of voices.

autumn breezes and October words

And another month begins and finally there is a slight dip in the temperature (a very slight dip). I’m a little less than halfway through the manuscript read-through, which means that my NaNo plans will likely involve another rebellion rather than a new project. I’ve been kicking it old school with pen and paper (and post-its and note cards), so the going is slow and messy, but much more effective than trying to scroll through files every time I need to refer to an earlier chapter or scene. It’s double the work, but paper-based editing helps me make better sense of chapter length and flow, whereas editing on the computer just encourages me to add words that may not be necessary. I’m much more brutal when it comes to slashing scenes on paper.

Nevertheless, I kind of dread the moment when I’ll have to apply all the change, cuts, and rewrites, but it almost amounts to a second round of editing so I’ll think of the bright side–it’s like a two for one editing deal! If I finish this round by Christmas, I’m rewarding myself with something good. Maybe makeup. Or this necklace.

I’m really looking forward to the holidays. It’s kind of shocking to think that at this time last year, I started the application process for my new job and now I’ve been here for almost 5 months! I think I’ve earned a rest after the stress, planning, and changes that came with adjusting to a new environment, culture, and schedule. Winter break, I need you.

But first… Halloween! I have no idea what I’ll be doing this year, but the older I get, the more I enjoy playing with costumes. Maybe it’s the overgrown child inside me that makes it so.

Here’s to pumpkins, costumes, and other October festivities.

a few observations

I’ve been blindsided by a late summer cold that has left me bleary-eyed and half-drunk. Stayed home on my first official sick day on the new job. Not pleased.

I find it ironic that literary marketing folks have been hitting me up for reviews with alarming frequency, despite the fact that I put my book blog on permanent hiatus a little over a month ago. Bad form folks, very bad form. If you want a book reviewer/blogger to give a good review, find out if they’re still active.

The novel read-through was going well until the cold hit me. I can’t wait to be able to think straight once again.

Why are cold medicines filled with sugar? My mouth feels like a desert. Sugar free is no better; artificial sweeteners give me migraines.

I’ve become a grumpy old woman.

and September arrives without warning

Egads! September is upon us and the highs are still in the 90s! Ugh. Bring on the fall breezes please. A lot happened in August (a little too much, if truth be told), but not all of it worth lingering on.

on writing…

No writing happened. None at all. If you’ve been reading the blog for a few weeks, you’ll know why I had little desire to do much more than sit and be still.

on books…

There were books. And there were some wee tumblr reviews. I was in desperate need of a good, fluffy, sugar-coated read to take my mind off things, so I read Jenny Colgan’s Welcome to Rosie Hopkins’ Sweet Shop of Dreams–which had been sitting on my TBR shelf for at least a year. I tried to finish The Winter’s Tale, but just plain lost interest and gave up on that, so I finished the rest of Sakura Hime instead.

Also read an ARC of Windows on the World: 50 Writers, 50 Views by Matteo Pericoli, which proved to be the perfect mental getaway.

I started the month off by reading Written in My Own Heart’s Blood, which was interesting, but not the satisfying continuation I was expecting.

on life…

Shit hit the fan. It’s a fact. It’s starting to get better and I’m finally starting to feel myself again.

everything else…

I’ve been doing a lot of walking and thinking. Also yoga. Yoga became one of my passions this year, and after years of thinking myself highly inflexible, I’m finding that I can bend further and feel more centered than I ever have. It really helped during the turmoil of the last month.

the weight of it

There is a heaviness to grief that cuts straight to the bone. It’s a feeling that cannot be explained or reasoned away. There is no easing it and no way of knowing how long it will last. It’s lethargic and inward and takes you beyond yourself. 

A Remembrance

After battling a rare form of cancer, my grandfather passed away on Wednesday evening at 10:59 pm. I was with him when he passed and, though it was difficult to watch him struggle in the hours before, I felt that his passing was peaceful and easy. In those last 20 minutes, he just settled. It was like falling asleep; he stopped gasping for air, his breathing returned to a natural, steady rhythm, and then he was gone. It was that smooth.

Though the loss is painful, I was glad that it happened so easily. I didn’t want him to be in pain any longer and I like to think that in those minutes he was at ease. He was not a perfect man, but he was loving and caring and he was a stubborn old goat who had a gift for opening up and telling stories no matter who was listening. I didn’t see him often enough, but in the last two years I lived closer to his home and was able to spend more time with him on the weekends. Though we had our differences when it came to certain beliefs, he always believed in me and made sure I knew it. I said goodbye to him on Saturday when I stopped by his place to pick up my aunt before taking her to the airport, and that was the last time I heard his voice.

He never gave me presents because he was a practical man and figured money was a better gift than an object, so I have few things to remember him by–an antique bracelet he found at a garage sale a couple of years ago, an old shoeshine box that he found and knew I would like (we shared a love interesting of wooden boxes), and an old hammer with three mismatched screwdrivers, things he knew I would need when he wouldn’t be there to help. Then there are the plants–my whole garden came from his, a living tribute that I have been worrying over for the last year and a half as the harsh, unpredictable weather tries to beat my efforts.

He uprooted his life and left his homeland to escape communism. He watched his family grow. And he made sure we were always looked after. When I had to have emergency surgery three years ago, he was the one who watched over me while my mom was at work, and when I moved out, he was the first to come inspect the place. When I met Edward, he was one of the first to approve, and when I graduated and became a librarian, he made sure I knew he was proud.

I have few pictures of us together because I was often the one behind the camera, but last Christmas I made sure to take one where we were together. However, my favorite pictures will always be those that my mom brought with her from Cuba, the ones where he looks like an old time movie star, and this one where he’s doing what he loved best–climbing and fixing things:

granpa

lazy Sunday

Ugh. It is unbearably hot today. It feels like stepping into a moist oven every time I go outside. Just the thought of moving makes me feel exhausted. Not good.

I did manage to do a couple of productive things today:

1) I finished reading Written in my Own Heart’s Blood (I try to reconcile my bookish feelings here).

2) I printed out a double-sided, 2-page copy of the soul-crushing Draft 2 for reading and note-taking (re: sense-making).

Somehow, I will work up the will to take a walk this evening… after the sun goes down.

welcome august (and the unbearable heat)

I almost can’t believe how quickly the last month went by… July was definitely jam-packed with happenings, some more welcome than others, but I managed.

on writing…

Writing is on hold and I’m loving it. I really needed this time off to recharge (though the story is never really far from my mind). The plan is to start reading 5 chapters every weekend until I get through the entire manuscript. I’ll be looking for the big picture stuff–plot issues, time/setting, characterization, etc.–while creating a new chapter/scene outline using cards and noting down all those little details that slip between the cracks (like is it winter or fall? and why is this person suddenly blue-eyed when they had black eyes two chapters ago?)..

With 20 chapters to get through, 5 chapters every weekend should be manageable.

on books…

Finished City of Heavenly Fire, wrapping up yet another one of those series that have followed me from my teens into adulthood. My thoughts on the ending… it was okay. I find that I prefer The Infernal Devices over The Mortal Instruments series–I find that the story and characters in the ID arc are better developed–but TMI started to get a little bloated in the second half of the series and CoHF really epitomizes that. I found myself struggling to finish it, mostly because there were so many subplots fighting for attention. It felt long. The resolution seemed to go on forever, and then there was an Epilogue. Just when I thought it had reached a conclusion. So it was okay, but it could’ve done with some cutting IMHO.

So now that that’s over and returned to the library (right on time too), I finally get to dive into Written In My Own Heart’s Blood. Hurray for Highland hotties! (sorry, fangirling).

on life…

Dad’s still sick. Granpa’s still sick. Mom is her usual self. This is what happens when you are raised by elders.

everything else…

The boy needed professional (ha!) pictures for a website bio. He returned the favor (though I was unprepared and sporting mad hair and no makeup). I give you, my lazy girl weekend look…

things i did today

 (in no particular order)

1. Made a list of all the things I have to do.

Because if I don’t, I will surely forget something and then find myself making excuses for why I didn’t do the thing I said I would do.

2. Rearranged my office space.

Because I’ve been here for two months, it’s about time I made it look livable.

3. Enjoyed a spot of tea. Twice.

Because tea.

4. Bought myself a new planner.

Because #1 requires constant reminders. And I have a weakness for school supply sales.

5. Properly did myself up and wore bright colors rather than rely on the usual darks.

Because the boy reminded me that I am no longer an angsty teenager.

6. Strolled down to the bay during my lunch break.

Because this.

by the bay