A-ROWing We Will Go….Update #1

ROW 80 Round 2 – Goals Update #1

Here we are, at the very first ROW check-in of Round 2.

It’s been a tumbled, tousled, and transformative time, here, in my real world.

I am writing a lot, reading some, and readjusting to Jim’s work schedule and a return to car-sharing, at least until our big old Dodge truck is repaired, we buy a second car (we have decided we want a used Subaru Outback; but are not yet really ready to go beyond that, and setting a budget for the purchase).

Today, Jim’s first day back to work, found us very low on milk (a staple around here!), and also coffee creamer (a far greater tragedy, on the whole!).

Transformation in the air....

We’re all a little unsettled, like the weather today.  Fits and starts of chilly rain and wind gusts, then a time of no wind and brilliant sunshine…..

Thankfully, I am more able to flow with the burly transitional energy than I used to be.   I am more in tune with my own energy, Jim’s, and the children’s. too.

Over the last few years, as I have become more peaceful in general, I’ve moved awayfrom long bouts of fury and futile yelling and punishing…..and of course, I would have to enforce my rules, and the punishments for them, in the name of “consistency”.

Now, I try to step back from my own feelings, and remind myself that feelings are fleeting, and I will feel happier feelings, at some point.  And, for this moment of feeling, I am better served by trying to find an action I can take to improve whatever has me feeling uncomfortable.

Sun and shadows...and the winds of change.

When the children are feeling less than loving toward each other, as siblings will, at times, I’ve moved away from policing the dispute and making decrees about how it will be resolved.

These days, I listen to both sides of the dispute, and try to help each child to understand the other’s point of view.  I offer suggestions to ways they might resolve the issue, and a neutral energy to help defuse the tensions or rages of the moment.

Usually, they can then work out an equitable resolution, and return to peaceful coexistence within just a few minutes.

So, today, I am breathing deeply.  I’m tired, and a little growly.  Knowing this, I am taking steps to resolve some mental, emotional, and physical clutter.

Rays of light and hope......

I am breathing, and remembering that this unsettled place, like the weather, will smooth out ahead, and there will be a return to ease and comfort.

And, until then, I will remind myself that just this type of unsettled , intense energy is what is needed to give birth……and, for certain, we are, in this moment, each birthing our future selves, and the lives they will live.

So, here, for your exploration, are my “labor pains”:

Here are my goals, arranged in categories for this round:

Reading:

  • Read at least as many books as the number of the month (4 in April ; 5 in May; 6 in June) from my bedroom To Be Read piles.
  • I am a little less than 50 pages from the end of my first book for April, The Dance of the Dissident Daughter  by Sue Monk Kidd.
  • Read at least 3 articles or blog posts a week from my To Be Read files on computer, and categorize those I choose to keep or share.
  • I have read this blog article from my Read Later Fast Chrome app - a stuffed-full of intentions space.  Saved the article to my Facebook Writer Page because I want to respond to it.
  • My second post read was on a scrap craft card.  I have shared it on my Facebook timeline and my Writer Page, because it has inspired an idea for me.
  • Third post read was this, on the effects of spanking.  Also shared to my Writer Page.
  • Fourth (and bonus!) article was on digital learning in schools.  I was moved to share on my Writer Page for possible future material, and also to comment on the post.
  • I have sorted several other saved posts there, some archived for later attention,and others deleted.
Writing:
  • Create flash fiction, short stories, dialogues, character sketches, alternate scenes, and poetry for  Chameleon’s Dish.  Wander cow trails, and learn these people and their lives more fully.
  • I have written one flash fiction piece (about 500 words), for the Blogging from A to Z April Challengletter H.  The piece will post on Monday, April 9.
  • I have created another flash fiction piece, using a different viewpoint character, for my Blogging From A to Z  I is for Intuition post, which will post on Tuesday, April 10.  Already, I feel new bits and perspectives on the story emerging, and I will be eager to move amongst my characters, getting to know each of them better.
  • I have had another idea of a rich vein to draw from.  Because of the existing Star Trek canon, I have a very good idea of what Spock was up to from the time he began sensing Jeniah to the time when they were finally able to physically consummate their bond.  What I don’t have is an equal awareness of Jeniah’s life throughout these years apart, yet connected.  It’s led to an imbalance and feeling of being stuck when I write from her POV, and so I will be writing some flash fiction and poetry that explore her  journey during those years.
  • I used the flash fiction approach to Jeniah’s life for the rough draft of my A to Z Challenge K post, K is for Knowledge. I am quite happy with the little vignette I got from it. =)
  • Pull material from all 750 words posts not part of the Chameleon’s Dish first draft.  
  • I have pulled the June 2011 posts up and imported them to LibreOffice.
  • I have highlighted and edited up to the third  post.  I found the seed of a couple of essay ideas, a few rough but complete essays I wrote but hadn’t returned to, and  a complete essay I think I posted on The Unfettered Life.
  • I am using a different color for each essay thread, so that it will be easier to separate them when it is time to move them to blog drafts or to Scrivener.
  •  I think I will create an essay and/or unschooling page here at shanjeniah for pieces like this, as well as preparing some to submit.
  • Create essays, stories, and other pieces based upon these writings.
  • I have written about 300 w0rds on the “seed idea”, and will let them rest a day or three before returning to reread them.
  • I was able to move the first essay to Scrivener  –  and find it again.  I even think I have a basic sense of how it works (no, I’m saving the tutorial for if I get stuck!).
  • Find all chapters of Blood and Breath.  Input into Scrivener; possibly begin rewrite.
  • I believe all the files for this WiP are on my external hard drive.  The only problem is that the hard drive is not currently working.
  • If that retrieval methods doesn’t pan out, I will be scouring memory sticks and the hard drives of our other computers, to see if I backed up there (I wrote the draft in 2009; memory has fogged a bit, since then.
  • All other methods exhausted, I will rewrite the draft as best as I am able.  Since I had the majority of the plot worked out, that would result in a draft that would be more evolved than a rough draft, and a bit less evolved than a revised second draft.
  • On the positive side, I have found a complete version of the Prologue.  It’s oddly formatted, which I will want to fix, but it is a starting point! =)
  • I have input the Prologue into Scrivener.  I managed to format it more or less as intended.  I am feeling really cool about that, and as though rewriting won’t be a horrific challenge, if it comes to that.
  • I found Chapter 1 – whole, complete, and in WordPerfect format.  My Sweet L’il Lenovo now has a free program the can read WordPerfect files. The chapter will need some editing before being moved to Scrivener.
  • Finish father-in-law letter and send. 
  • I had a dream the other night involving a maze in an unfamiliar place which I understood to be my father-in-law’s house (although not like where he actually lives).
  • I am going to let that dream be for a bit, and see what it evolves into.
Blogging:

  • Complete the Blogging From A to Z April Challenge.
  • I have scheduled the posts for April 1-9; letters A-H are edited and will post/have posted on their assigned days.
  • I have written rough drafts for letters   J  and K; which will be edited, then scheduled for April  10, and 11, respectively.
  • Complete Cooperative Catalyst post and related links (interviews with both children, and their “day in the life” posts from last year) ; submit to editor.
  • I have completed and posted both children’s interviews from this winter.  There are even pictures.  Annalise is here, and Jeremiah here.  In the interest of full disclosure, I had these posted up before the beginning of the round.
  • I have retrieved Annalise’s “day in the life” post, and edited the text.  In a day or three, I will add some relevant images and add the links before posting at The Unfettered Life.
  • I have also edited and added links to Jeremiah’s “day in the life” post, and will be adding images next.
  • Create a “flow chart” for posting to shanjeniah and The Unfettered Life.  Use these, and adapt as necessary, throughout the round (with allowances made in April for the challenge).
  • I have created a flow chart for this blog, and will pretty it up and post it within the next few days.
  • I have also created a flow chart for The Unfettered Life .  I will post after I add a pretty and inspirational image or two.
  • Add pages/ edit sidebar layout on shanjeniah.
  • I started small by creating a draft page for my online content.  Next will be tracking down a few links.

Networking:

  •  Explore She WritesTwitterStoryDamPinterest; and LinkedIn .  Use, develop, evaluate, adjust.
  • Started this goal off small.  I reset my forgotten She Writes password, and read this post there, sharing on my Facebook Writer Page.
  • I have saved a post on Twitter Best Practices to my Writer Page, to explore further, and asked for help in learning it, because it flummoxes me.
  • I got brave and reentered my Pinterest account.  Looked around –  there is a lot of empty real estate and possibilities there…..room to grow, and to explore.
  • I created one new board and got out of there, to return with a Chrome extension, and some images to pin…..and maybe to check out my followers (who seem to have come although I rarely visit there!).
  • I found and installed an extension, so now I can pin from any site, and I am planning to explore using it to save images for my posts.
  • Continue joining hops, fests, challenges, and other community blogging efforts.
  • I posted a One-Minute Writer post early Monday morning (see Blogging, above).
  • I read up on Shah Wharton‘s Storyteller Writing Challenge.  I found the photo prompt compelling, and will let the idea sit for a while, freewriting on it later tonight or sometime tomorrow.
  • I wrote a 508 word rough draft of my as-yet untitled story for the Storyteller Challenge.  It will get a bit of resting time before reread.
  • My Flicker of Inspiration post is up, as noted above..
  • Comment on and share blogs regularly; share my blogs as widely as seems feasible, and in diverse ways.
  • I have  commented on and shared several blogs, as posted above.
  • I am continuing to challenge my comfort zone by offering my words to a wider audience.
  • I am just starting to notice that my posts are beginning to be shared and commented on by people I don’t know, even online.  It’s an interesting and slightly terrifying experience, and I am still absorbing it.
  • My book review for Last Child in the Woods was reblogged on Learn From Nature.
  • I have been experimenting with adding a greater variety of tags, categories, and links.  I think this may be at least part of the reason for the spate of new activity, and I will be checking my stats sometime over the next few days to see if I can learn more there.
  • Do 3 guest posts and  host 3 guest bloggers this round.
  • I’m in the process of making plans for a guest post exchange with Eden Mabee, who is a ROW80 sponsor this month, and whose bravery I admire!
  • I am officially requesting guest spots, and guest posters willing to diversify! 

Submitting:
  •  Submit at least 10 pieces of flash fiction or poetry this round.
  • I have a “seed idea” for my 2012 NaNoWriMo  novel;  I will explore this further and develop through flash fiction I submit for publication in places other than my own blog.
  • I have had another “seed idea” regarding Jeniah’s personal timeline (see Writing, above), and will be writing some of these as submissible pieces, as well as some posted here for more immediate feedback.
  • Submit at least 5 essays or lists this round.
  • I have developed the “seed essay idea” (see Writing, above) into a several hundred word freewriting.
  • I have highlighted several passages from my June 2011 750Words.com posts.  Some I will develop further, and others are ready to share as they are.
  • Next up will be beginning to research essay markets for these posts.
  • Continue submitting to hops, challenges, fests, etc.; at least 3 each month.
  • I am currently participating in the A to Z Challenge, as noted above.
  • I have an entry for the  Storyteller Challenge in progress, as noted above.
  • I have an entry for the Flash of Inspiration hop in progress, as well, as noted above.
  • My Flicker of Inspiration Character post, Spock – A Most Logical Character.  That is one submission for the month, thus far.
 Photography:

  •  Organize all photos on hard drive/move to organized Picasa web albums or delete.
  • I have made a cursory sweep of my meager My Pictures file, deleting all files that are already on  my Picasa Web Albums.
  • Most of my pictures are in my Documents and Downloads files.  That will be a more involved process.
  • I have deleted from my Downloads all loose (not in folders) pictures I know to be on Picasa web albums.
  • Learn how to watermark pictures.
  • I have downloaded the Picasa help page for watermarking, and skimmed it.  Next will be attempting the process.
  • Watermark all photos that appear on my blogs, and all those I post going forward; begin watermarking favorites not on blogs.
Marketing:
  •  Explore marketing articles on my Facebook Writer Page.
  • I have reposted three articles to the top of the page, so that I can find them again easily,  I will begin reading them during the next several days.
  • Add useful articles to my shanjeniah  Marketing Articles page.
  • Use this information to help define my direction; adjust as needed.
Learning:

  •  Get Scrivener  downloaded; begin learning by inputting first an essay, and then Blood and Breath.
  • Scrivener was downloaded ahead of the round, because I got nervous.
  • I have input one essay, and will continue with others, experimenting with the drafting process on smaller pieces first.
  • Use Twitter and Tweetdeck at least one day a week.  Learn more.
  • For WordPress, create a running list of questions; work on finding answers!
  • Begin learning about how to publish ebooks.
  • Learn what I can do with my domain name.
  • Begin research list/research for  Chameleon’s Dish second draft.

Organizing:

  •  Edit all 2009 posts on  The Unfettered Life.  Consider layout and design changes.
  • Take clips from first Penzu notebook.
  • Input Blood and Breath and Chameleon’s Dish to Scivener.
  • Began with Prologue of Blood and Breath.
  • Clean up computer downloads, documents, photos, and other clutter – move it or lose it!
  • Began decluttering photo and document files, as noted above.
Self-care:
  • Add JOY to every day!
  • Monday – Writing time, flowerbed cleaning, trip dreaming, snuggles with Miah, listening to Lise read aloud!
    Tuesday – Allowing myself a home day, hanging and grilling outside, all together, skipping hometending, tried computer outside.
  • Add movement to every day, too!
  • Monday – Hometending, decluttered yard and front flowerbeds, raked large flowerbed.
  • Tuesday – tired.  Moved around in yard and garden.
  • Add self-deorating to every week!
  • Add more of my passions to each day, in as many ways as I can manage.
  • Add all these for my beloved others, too!
  • Lise: admiring chalk art, yard work, gardening together, reading time.
  • Miah: Morning snuggle, TV time, computer and website building talk.
  • Jim: Watched the Whitney Cummings  standup he’s been wanting to share with me, flirted and kissed.

Administrative Stuff:

  • Write and submit third quarter reports for both children.  These are due on June 1, 2012.
  • Cleanup email folders/organize, move, read, delete, act upon as needed.
  • Started cursory sweep of several files while searching for Blood and Breath chapters.  Deleted obviously unnecessary and unwanted items.


 So there it is – the contractions and striving that will help me to reach my goals.Jim is home from his first night back at work, and we are settling into our evening.   We’re watching Nova: Hunting the Elements, which the kids discovered after Annalise watched Nature: Humpback WhalesTime to sink back into the rhythm of my life…..You can find the other ROWers’ updates, here! =)

Rebirth.......

Spock – A Most Logical Character

One logical guy; one emotional guy - delightful synergy!

This post was written for The Lightning and the Lightning Bug‘s  Flicker of Inspiration Blog Hop.

I had seen him around a few times, ever since I was maybe 7 or so, and I knew his voice, in other contexts. He was like a neighbor I whose face, car, and house I recognized, but about whom I knew nothing of consequence.

Except that that voice could draw me from anywhere, when I heard it, and it spoke things I couldn’t yet understand to my wounded soul.

Until I was 13, and my best friend, after much attempted persuasion, pressed a book into my hand and said, “Just read the first story, before you refuse to read more.”  I had a long tradition of fiercely resisting things she was certain I would enjoy.

The story was “Spock’s Brain“, the James Blish novelization of the original Star Trek episode.

I read it, and I was hooked. Deeply and passionately in love with with a fictional half-Vulcan who managed, even with his brain severed from his body, to solve the problem of (however improbably), getting it back where it belonged.

The Essence of Cool.

I have never gotten over that passion. I love Spock, and I always will.

The relationship, however one-sided it may be, has grown with me, and the teenage lust has given way to a deep and abiding – well, I guess the appropriate word would be fascination.

Because of Spock, I learned that I could be smart and still be fallible. I could have integrity of self. I could live according to my internal compass rather than rely on external factors to define my life for me. I learned that I could sacrifice myself for the greater good – and that I could hope that, on occasion, others might think my well-being was the greater good, even when logic didn’t agree.

"Remember"...a mindmeld before logical self-sacrifice.

I learned that one can be stronger, but does not need to use their strength to bully or force others. I began to see that sometimes there is a gift in silence, and in the subtle shifts of expression.

It was from Spock that I first learned that there was a possibility of mastering my emotions, or at least of not being so utterly ruled by them as everyone around me seemed to be. In time, I became able to step back within myself, breathe, and attend to my  feeling more of the time, allowing  me to take necessary or desired action with less reactivity, at least most of the time.

Spock, revisited in 2009......

I learned that while there are things worth killing and dying for, and a time when only force can act as defense, striving for understanding and compassion  generally avoids coming to such dire straits.

I learned that passion is uncontrollable, sometimes, and must simply be given in to, and allowed to run its natural course.

I learned that there are always possibilities, and most of the trick in seeing them is recognizing that fact.

Spockish fun!

I cut my writing teeth on Spock, creating terrible plots and merrily defiling characters, logic, and even possibility, all in an erotic quest for my Vulcan, and largely conducted in high school classrooms, or on the bed in my unhappily shared bedroom –  a vital escape that kept my mind from stultifying, and disengaged me from at least some potential sibling conflict.

I know that fan fiction is frowned upon in serious circles -

And yet I know that a rich and vital world has sprung up in my life over the nearly 3 decades I have shared with Spock, and I know that, without him, I would not have this remarkable world for my subconscious to play in.

It took a while, but Spock integrated his conflicting instincts....and so can I.

I would not be leading the life that I am, because Spock showed me the way to courage.  I would not have the husband I have, because it was Spock who first showed me how to risk taking a flying leap off the deep end of logic, when that was needed.

I would not write as well as I do, for it was in reading back and seeing how badly I had corrupted the character I love more than any other, that I began to learn to never force my stories to comply to my ideas, but rather to be a faithful observer and narrator of those stories, without interfering in them.

Live Long and Prosper.

There are always possibilities.

And, with Spock tucked firmly and logically into my soul, I will continue to find them, and live them.

Click here for the link!

D is for Da Wonderhub

D is for Da Wonderhub!

Chef Bluebeard vacations in Jersey.

I’ve used that nickname for Jim for several years now. Somewhere along the line, we drifted into that odd parental habit of calling each other Mommy and Daddy, as though that role and all the perceptions that go with it are actually our identities, almost as though we weren’t born as people until Jeremiah was born…..

We had been married for a bit over four years, when he arrived into our lives and apparently remade our selves and the way we saw each other.

Before that, we used to refer to each other sometimes by less than savory pet names – in the contrary manner of naming someone as their own opposite – and, more often, as Johnny. We were both Johnny, as though, in some sense, we wanted to believe we were so truly one that we even shared the entirety of a name and an identity….

Tickle time!

Actually, that makes a great deal of sense to me. One of the things that I love about writing romances that involve Spock is that the nature of telepathic peoples gives them a deeper unity and sense of awareness of each other than is possible for those of us less telepathically inclined. And the implications for a species that routinely locks children together in telepathic pairbonds, which also has a mating imperative so strong that to deny it means certain death, that brings insanity, and strips away all else, until it runs its course, is that the awareness of each other and joining with each other could be so blisteringly strong that individual self fades, and something is created that is part of both, and yet as completely individual as any child.

Two Johnnies Become One, August 1997

In essence, in my writing, Spock and Jeniah are capable of becoming a new being, with its own name and identity – born of their union, but not either of them.

The name I gave to this being is Moja – Swahili for “One”.

Yes, I did start off talking about my relationship with my husband, and wander off to be with Spock for a bit.

That’s OK. Jim accepts, even when he doesn’t understand. He knows that my passion for Spock is a lot older than my passion for him, and, perhaps out of respect or gratitude, or maybe just the certainty that demanding I give up my Vulcan would not yield positive results, he does what he can to accept it.

But now, back to Jim, and our life.

On the Metro to Washington, D.C. September 2008

Yesterday was a difficult day, the kind that come in batches, close together, when life is in transition. Thankfully, the passing years see fewer of these upheavals. They aren’t as volatile, and they run their course in hours rather than days, now…..

And I find myself, today, as I sort myself after the unexpected fray, that perhaps a lot of it has to do with roles, and identity, and seeing the other not as separate from oneself, but rather an enigmatic portion of one grand universal being……

Thinking, and feeling………no answers now, just impressions.

And love. Always love.

Da Wonderhub, 2009!