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It’s been HOW long?

So my last post was aptly titled, “I’ve Been Away.” I’ve been away again, but I definitely don’t want to make a habit of it.

This summer, I did some of the most awesomely fun things ever. My friends Lauri and Charlie and I visited our university town of Falmouth, Cornwall. I was busy with multiple trips to Paris and London and the U.S. to see family. My two sisters and I were in the same place at the same time, which is rare these days and always over way too fast. I met my new niece for the first time. Then more trips, my first Star Trek convention, in London (at which I met the entire cast of TNG except for Jonathan Frakes and Wil Wheaton, who didn’t attend, sadly… but it was AMAZING), some friends’ wedding in Lyon, France, and just lots of incredible busy-ness! (Did I mention I met Brent Spiner on both sides of the Atlantic? Data = <3).

But unfortunately, the health problems I was struggling with in my last post are still present. And I’m angry at myself for allowing it to put a damper on everything that happened over the past 8 months.

I just had my 2nd gastroscopy, this time to biopsy my esophagus. I’m awaiting those results, but the scope itself showed that my esophagus and stomach looked to be in perfect working condition. The endoscopist said, “You’ve got a stomach to be proud of!”

All of which is lovely, except it doesn’t explain my mystery swallowing problem. When I eat most foods, it feels like they’re sitting somewhere between the back of my throat and the entrance to my stomach. And no tests or x-rays have been able to show any problems. It might be easy to dismiss this as a mental problem except that I did have gastritis, which has been treated with PPIs that I’m still taking, and the acid reflux it’s caused has been known to also cause swallowing problems. It’s just that no doctor has been able to TELL me, “Yes, this is what’s going on. Do this, and you’ll get better.”

So for now, I’m still taking the PPIs, hoping they’re doing something, and await a specialist appointment in December (that was made in July and can’t be bumped any sooner).

I know this is not a serious issue, and the doctors have assured me of this as well. But to me, it’s serious, because it’s affected my quality of life. It’s made me miserable to be around, and made me miserable, period. I want to eat like I used to. I’d LOVE a glass of red wine. I’d love to just eat like normal and not think twice, “Is this going to feel stuck in my esophagus and make me panic?” Though I remind myself over and over, this isn’t major. Some people have REAL issues. This is not one of them.

And, I have faith. The only real comfort I’ve had has been God getting me through this. I might feel at the end of my rope some days, but I’m back to writing regularly, and exercise.

Which brings me to today’s point. (Yes, I have a point!) — (1) NaNoWriMo, and (2) the gym.

(1) I’m doing NaNo this year! Let’s be buddies! I’ve prepared nothing and have only the beginning of a draft I liked, that had no idea where it was headed, so I’ll work on that.

(2) GYM. Here’s where we throw down. I’ve been trying all sorts of things to overcome the anxiety that’s accompanied this mysterious dysphagia. A lot of it’s been helpful, to a point. I’ve been a runner for years (not a GOOD one, but a runner who does 10ks and is pleased with coming in under an hour. That kind of runner), but since our current neighbourhood isn’t conducive to refreshing jogs, I joined a gym. And it’s time I really use it.

I’ve never done this sort of thing before, but I’m posting it publicly so that, even if no one reads this, I’ll still feel compelled to stick it out. For ONE WEEK, I commit to getting up at 7 on weekdays, going to the gym, and starting my day with a workout behind me. Some people do this without thinking twice. I’d like to just do it, for once 🙂 Beginning next Monday, 3 November.

If you want growth, you gotta get out of your comfort zone, right?

No matter how rainy, no matter how tired, no matter how cold and lazy. I’m going to do it. And we’ll see what all the fuss is about after a week. If I feel better, I’ll try to keep it up. If not, then I’ll go back to once or twice a week whenever I can fit it in.

Until next time, here are some gratuitous photos of the past 4 months (the fun stuff, not the not-fun stuff):

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Brent Spiner at RocCon in Rochester, NY

 

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The lovely ladies of Star Trek: TNG – Marina Sirtis, Gates McFadden, and Denise Crosby

 

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John de Lancie. I love Q.

 

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ENGAGE!

 

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The handsome fellas: LeVar Burton, Michael Dorn, and Brent Spiner (again!)

 

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Amazing weather in Paris.

 

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My favourite spot on earth (Allegany State Park, NY)

 

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Another Allegany shot

 

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Lyon, France — hot in October!

 

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Finally – FRONT ROW for Phantom in London. I was SO FREAKING HAPPY.

 

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Our hotel room view. Amazing.

 

 

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Cakes and champagne in Falmouth. As one does. (Thanks, Lauri!)

 

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Stopped for the view on my favourite run, in Falmouth.

I’m grateful to God that I’ve had the opportunity to do all these amazing things and visit these beautiful, breathtaking places. I just need to learn to stop focusing on my feelings, and focus on what’s real, and the other people around me. And in that department, I need all the help I can get.

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WIP Marathon Report #3 – April

Last report wordcount + chapter count/scene count:

13,195 / 3 chapters / 6 scenes. 

Current report WC + CC/ SC:

18,160 / 5 chapters / 12 scenes. Some of these scenes are just ideas for later, set aside.

WIP Issues This Month:

As those numbers reveal, I didn’t spend NEARLY as much time and focus on the WIP as I planned this month. We still have a few days left in the month but I’m sitting here wondering where the majority of April went! We were gone for 5 days to Paris (see previous post) so that really gives me about 14 days of work in the time since our last check-in.

So what the hay else have I been doing? Working on another MS, and spending a lot of time reading. But I’ve also been experimenting with daily routines, trying to find one I can make a habit, or a combination of ones that might work best for me. I’ve come up with two daily (weekday) schedules, and while I know I won’t stick to them exclusively, I’ll spend next week trying them and seeing if it helps productivity.

I think the recent experimentation has shown that I am prone to switching between Chrome tabs and apps like mad… if I think of something I need to do later, I open my to do list. If I remember something I wanted to order from Amazon, I stop what I’m doing and do that. I don’t have ADHD (that I know of), but it’s more a fear of forgetting something and a panicky sense of IT MUST BE DONE NOW. So I’m trying to note on my daily planner anything that pops in my head while I’m working, and then forget it.

I did get a lot done when I look at my spreadsheet for the month, but it wasn’t mostly on this WIP!

Four things I learned this month while writing:

    1. Share things, even silly things you’re unsure of, with CPs. I shared something with my CP, Joy, last week that I thought was a throwaway, which I did just basically toss together. She really liked it. I did NOT expect that, and it turned out to be just what I needed. So never be afraid to run something by a CP or beta, because that’s what they’re there for! (so my CPs and betas, please use me! 🙂
    2. Even the work you do on the run (the train, the bus, waiting in a queue) is work. Write it down, don’t chuck it for not being “real” work since you’re not at a desk. Sometimes my best ideas come when I’ve just got a notebook or iPad sitting on a train.
    3. This article on rejection — so encouraging! http://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-8400/if-youve-been-rejected-read-this.html

    4. Another article from author Jen Blood about writing suspense: http://blog.janicehardy.com/2012/05/guest-author-jen-blood-5-ways-to-build.html


What distracted me this month while writing:

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Goal for next month:

My goal last month was a joke (finish this WIP’s 1st draft). But for reals, people. By the end of May, I propose to have this draft complete. COMPLETE, I SAY!! If at first you don’t succeed, right?

Last 200 words:

I plead the Fifth 😉

Good luck with May, fellow WIPMarathoners (and all writer friends! 🙂

 

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Springtime in Paris

Hello!

This is an unapologetic photo post, just to warn you in advance.

I just returned from my first visit to Paris (Disneyland Paris doesn’t count!) and had a fantastic time. It feels somehow sad that it took me until now to visit a place whose language I studied twenty years ago. Especially given the proximity to where I’ve been living for the past 7 years, but it’s not for want of trying. Over a year ago, my husband booked us a trip as a late birthday gift but I wasn’t able to go in the end because the Home Office had my passport from having applied for a new visa months earlier. But I made it this time. Hoorah!

So to celebrate, I had champagne at the top of the Eiffel Tower, toured the Palais Garnier and scored 10-Euro tickets to the opera (Rossini’s L’Italiana in Algeri) which was a once-in-a-lifetime experience, stalked Erik (just kidding. Sort of), ate crepes and baguettes and pain au chocolat et café au lait, visited Notre Dame during an Easter Sunday mass, toured the Catacombs where 6-7 million Parisians rest, climbed the 300 steps to the dome of the Sacre-Coeur, saw Moulin Rouge, the Seine from all angles, the mini Statue of Liberty, the Louvre, Champs-Elysees, Arc de Triomphe… phew.

Oh yes, and saw lots of American tourists wearing b&w striped shirts and berets. *cringe*

Commence the photo deluge!!

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Until next time!

 

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Video Games and Goals

As some of you know, I’ve been waiting for my new visa to be processed by the UKBA, and because they have my passport while processing, I was unable to go on a three-day trip to Paris my husband booked as a belated birthday trip for me. We decided he should go on his own because it was non-refundable and would give him time to get his head down in a nice hotel and focus on some work he had to do. He’s been to Paris a lot for work, so he scoped it out for exactly what we can do when we go. Eventually.

Which only makes me more eager for the UKBA to hurry up. While he was away, I raced (see here) with some writer friends and got 4 chapters revised, but also did some fun stuff that I usually feel “too busy” with writing and job-hunting to do: I played video games.

I’ve always loved video games. My first foray into the world of computer games of any kind was at age 4 when my parents bought a TRS-80 (Radio Shack) computer that hooked up to our TV. We had graphics games as well as text adventures (Infocom was the BOMB). Then we moved up to an original B&W Apple Mac with games like Dark Castle, Gemstone Warrior, and many more Infocom games. Then on to NES, SNES, and so forth. And I loved me some time in the Aladdin’s Castle arcade at the Summit Park Mall in Niagara Falls during my elementary and middle school years. Gauntlet, Castlevania, Golden Axe, Marble Madness. Arcade games rocked. To this day when I hear the Peter Gunn theme, I think of Spy Hunter at the arcade. Oh yeah. You know what I’m talkin’ ’bout. (Okay, maybe you don’t).

We recently invested in a PS3. Bit behind the times but better late than never. There were a few games specifically we wanted it for, one of which was Journey.

I’d never heard of it before, but back after my husband announced we needed to get it, I saw the soundtrack on sale on iTunes and fell in love with the music. Soothing and rousing and all by itself it takes you on a journey, so when I started playing the game on Thursday night, alone in the flat, it was like greeting an old friend, hearing the familiar music as backdrop to the beautifully-rendered landscapes.

If you’ve not played this game and get a chance, I highly recommend it. I don’t even quite know how to describe it, so watch this video instead:

You play an unnamed character who travels through changing landscapes to reach a peak far off the distance. There are no typical computer game features like endless baddies or an array of weapons. The game is short; both times I’ve played it’s only taken me about an hour and a half.

You can read all about gameplay elsewhere, but I’m here to say how surprised I was by how moved I was. I experienced that the first time I played Final Fantasy 2 on SNES, but that doesn’t even compare to this. I watched the credits roll and sat somewhere between peaceful contentment and bittersweet loneliness at the end. The best part of the game is that occasionally, you’ll be playing with another player online. You can’t communicate through words, and you don’t know who this person is, but you can help each other, follow each other, or leave each other alone. In my first game, I was helped along or followed by 3 separate players at different times, and by the end I really felt like I’d been through something unspeakable but special with them. My husband simply described it as, “not a game but an experience.”

All I can say is, thank GOD there are still people out there with creativity! I applaud the makers of this game, including Austin Wintory, the composer.

It made me feel hope and joy and sadness and all kinds of emotions; not on an overwhelming level, but just gently bubbling below the surface. It sounds simplistic to say it’s about cooperation, and that’s incorrect as well because I think you can finish the game even if you never meet another player. But it’s much more moving when you do.

The goal of the game seems to be to reach the peak that you see throughout, but at the end–and as it came so quickly–it felt more like the goal was just to experience the journey. Seriously, it seemed as simple as that. While I can say graphics and gameplay in other games is beautiful, Journey is just a beautiful experience from start to finish. It made my heart happy.

And at the risk of sounding cheesy, this brings to mind a quote my husband recently pointed out to me.

Now and then it’s good to pause in our pursuit of happiness and just be happy.

-Guilaume Apollinaire

We’ve both been so caught up in future stuff: when my visa will come, when we’ve decided where to settle, when we’ll get our own house, when I’ll get a job. We’re learning to remind each other and ourselves that we’re allowed to be happy right now, not just then.

And that’s all. I was going to find a clever way to work this into my update on my monthly writing goals, but nope. I’m leaving it at that. Just go play this game, if you haven’t already.

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On to my September Writemotivation goals:

1. Reach 70k word mark on WIP first rough draft. Slightly worrying, I’ve not done anything on this because, as I noted before, I feel like a firecracker’s been lit under me to get MS#1 fully revised thanks to inspiration from Leigh. 
2. Revise 1st MS based on any beta feedback received. Doing pretty well.
3. Send feedback for beta reading (if not done by end of August). Not doing too well here. Currently have 3 manuscripts to read and feed back on. Apologies for slowness & thanks for understanding 😀 I will get there.
4. 1st MS x3. Hope to do this at the end of the month.
5. Revise query for WIP to include changes. Done!
6. Set aside specific time weekly to read blogs/comment/cheer! Still not making as many rounds as I’d like but trying to do a little each day. You guys are awesome!! <3

So, three weeks left in the month. How are your goals going? And if you’ve played Journey, I’d love to hear your thoughts!

 

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