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Category Archives: Master Plans

Just a quick (non-ranting) note.

I’m considering possibilities for the future of this blog.

I certainly didn’t set out to be a Timbers blogger but that’s seems to be what’s happened. There’s little else I write about that brings about this amount of passion – from myself or from those around me.

I’m grateful for the response. Truly. You all have reminded me of a time when I thought I would grow up to be a writer. Turns out I did. Just in a much, much different way that I had ever considered.

I posted a piece last night on Slide Rule Pass. I consider it an honor to be given space on SRP as I respect the work Kevin’s done there covering the Timbers and the soccer world as a whole. His knowledge is vastly superior to mine and I’m humbled to be in any way associated with Slide Rule Pass.

For the time being, I think most of my Timbers-related posts will go up there first and be reposted here later for archival purposes. Unless there’s some time-sensitive Timbers thing that happens, new content here will be back to normal. Whatever that was.

Heads up in October. That’s when it all gets wacky. I start posting recipes for apple sauce and talking about Halloween lore.

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Okay, so here’s March.

For those of you who’ve followed along over the years, you recognize the pattern: I post something about writing more and then there’s a long pause.

There’s a long pause because – guess what! – I’m not writing anything.

This is a problem for me. Writing is mostly a solitary business, done under the cover of darkness, separate from those around me. When I’m focused, I live mostly in my head. I can shut everything else off and the words just come.

But I’m finding it increasingly difficult to turn everything off. Maybe it’s the excitement of the first few weeks of the new MLS season. Maybe it’s the stress of not knowing if I’ll have a job a month from now. Maybe it’s the popping noise my left knee keeps making. Perhaps it’s the lack of a muse. Could be any or all of these things.

I’m a slow writer at the best of times. I consider it a victory if I can settle down long enough to write a couple hundred words for a blog post every couple months. The only time I really knuckle down and go for volume is in November, when I know my community of writers is all working toward the same goal. I know that if I don’t show up for a write-in, they’ll call me on it. And I can’t fathom the embarrassment of not making my wordcount for NaNoWriMo.

But what about now? Middle of March. No accountability in sight. Except, maybe, for the eight of you who read this blog.

So, here’s what I’m going to do. I’m going to start on the goal I had been considering for this year. I’m starting three months late. Because I like a challenge.

A thousand words a day, on average, for the year. 365,000 words in total. The blog doesn’t count.

I’m already 80,000 words behind. This should be ridiculously entertaining for everyone.

 

The January Curse

Well, here I am.

I should just expect that the cosmos will punch me in the gut each January, steal my keys, clean out my bank account and crap in my kitchen.

I thought this January might be different. I thought I might make it through without any major crises or catastrophes. I was wrong.

Last January, I lost my job of seven years and, almost immediately, had my wisdom teeth pulled. In fact, I had a dentist appointment less than an hour after I found myself unemployed.

The January before? Gall bladder surgery. This followed a month and a half of eating rice and drinking chicken broth because, well, the results of eating anything else were a nine on the pain scale. Fun!

The one before that was a really good one. I woke up New Year’s Day barely able to walk. Herniated disc. The neighbors had to carry me to the car to go to the doctor. That’s right. They carried me.

A lot of you have carried me over the years, both figuratively and literally. For that, I’m forever grateful. As it happens, it looks like I’ll be leaning on you a little more in the near future.

As I see it now, in the haze of “how am I gonna pay my bills?” and “I wonder if I’m still eligible for unemployment compensation?” and hours of looking at Craigslist job postings, I can go in two different directions.

This was the conclusion I came to last year, after several months of mopey unemployment (early retirement?). I can continue to grieve for opportunities lost or I can make new opportunities.

I wrote a lot last year and didn’t finish a single project. Not one.

So, unemployed again, I can’t help but see this as a second chance to get it right. Use the time, the cosmos tells me. Use the time to create something.

Funny that. As I sat at my desk today, doing someone else’s work, I thought to myself,”I’m not making anything. I’m not creating anything. I’m not putting anything into the world that will outlive me, that will be my legacy, that will carry my name when I am gone.”

I’ve wasted a lot of time. I’m not going to do that anymore.

I’ve got another week at this job but I’m not going to wait that long before I start putting the words together again. I’ve got plenty of editing to do on last November’s NaNo project. I’ve got the little Valentine story I started about this time last year that became a story about werewolf royalty (you read that right). I’m thinking about writing fairy tales since they seem to be all the rage in Hollywood right now and probably will be for the foreseeable future.

I’ve got lots of words and lots of time. I just need to use them both wisely.

 
 

A new day dawning…

May your coming year be filled with magic and dreams and good madness. I hope you read some fine books and kiss someone who thinks you’re wonderful, and don’t forget to make some art (write or draw or build or sing) and I hope, somewhere in the next year, you surprise yourself. – Neil Gaiman

This has been a whirlwind of a year.

Isn’t that what we’re supposed to do today? Lament how quickly this past year has left us? Then we’ll talk about all the wondrous things that await us in the new year.

We’re creatures of habit so here goes:

2011, we hardly knew ye. 2012, I am looking forward to meeting you.

For me, 2011 started off sideways. I lost my job of seven years immediately after the new year dawned. It was a job, looking back, that pretty much sucked the life out of me. My workplace defined my identity, became the center of my world. This might have been okay if I’d been doing something I was passionate about, but I wasn’t. I wasn’t saving the world or curing cancer or creating something beautiful. I was being passed over for promotions and not getting a raise for four years.

I had some truly, truly phenomenal coworkers over my years there, many of whom I count among my friends. And, I might add, many of whom escaped following my departure. Chapter closed.

And then I had my wisdom teeth pulled. Because being suddenly unemployed didn’t quite suck enough. Did I mention that I was fired by my Secret Santa? Worst. Secret Santa. Ever.

So, lost job and lost wisdom teeth. Happy January. The year was shaping up to be a bust already.

But I’m blessed by an abundance of good friends who reached out, offering encouragement and support and words of wisdom. I reconnected with many I hadn’t seen for a very, very long time.

I spent mornings in coffee shops with Layn, also unemployed at the time, talking books and movies and music and zombies. I spent afternoons with Sean, discussing writing and world affairs.

I wrote. A lot. Sean sponsored my entry into the NYCMidnight short story contest and I came in fourth in my group in the first round, a pretty good finish for someone who writes as slowly as I do and has never entered such a competition before. But where I placed seems inconsequential to me when I remember that someone who knows my writing was willing to step up and say,”Hey, I believe strongly enough in your ability to string words together that I’m willing to put money on it.”

Sean will be on the acknowledgments page if this book ever gets published. He won’t be the only one. So many of you have encouraged me this year: Heather and Laura, Dora and Jennifer, Patrick and Jeanette and Richard. That sweetheart bartender at the Horse Brass who remembers I like cider and rye toast with my breakfast. Aaron and Stacy and all those who offered me space to write (or didn’t fuss when I showed up, disheveled and crazy, looking for a quiet space in which to put the words together). I sincerely offer thanks to each and every one of you.

As a news junkie, I would be remiss if I didn’t at least mention some of the big stories of the year: Gabby Giffords, the Japan and New Zealand earthquakes, the Joplin tornado, the royal wedding and the uprisings in Egypt, in Syria, in Libya. The downfall of several world leaders, the deaths of terrorists and dictators. That crazy World Series game. The Occupy movement.

I watched them all happen, from the comfort of my home, and was grateful for all that I have.

I saw a few shows (opened the year with Social Distortion and closed with Shed Culture Live) and more than a few movies. I read a few books, though fewer than I would have liked. I sent out hundreds of resumes. I spent a couple hours in the presence of Neil Gaiman and Amanda Palmer who inspired me and reminded me that it is possible to find love in the unlikeliest of places with the unlikeliest of people.

I volunteered with the Bus Project, at Sock Summit and at the Oregon Food Bank. I spent an October day in Oregon’s wine country making wine and spent Halloween night in a graveyard as a guide for the Tour of Untimely Departures. I performed two weddings. I completed NaNoWriMo, 50,000 more words for the novel, all written in November.

I joined the Timbers Army. This turns out to be the best decision I’ve made in the past year.

At a time when it would have been easy to curl up into a ball and cry myself to sleep, the Portland Timbers’ first MLS season began and I found myself caught up in the current of green and gold love flowing through the City of Roses and through the world’s soccer community.

I’d put down my season ticket deposit years ago when the idea of MLS coming to Portland was little more than a dream for a faraway future. I went to matches occasionally but wasn’t a true supporter. I usually knew if they were winning or losing, but that was about it.

But MLS did decide to come to Portland and the time came a year and a half ago to fully commit: I bought two season tickets, not knowing if I would go, or if anyone would go with me, or if I would just sell those tickets later if I decided I wasn’t into it.

As it turns out, I was into it.

I bought in wholeheartedly. I got caught up in the excitement of the game and the love of the Timbers Army for their club, their city and all of Cascadia (minus the rave green encampment to the north).

I met some fantastic people through the TA: writers and artists and winemakers and more IT guys than you can shake a stick at. I marched in a parade alongside them, packaged food for the hungry with them by my side and, yes, managed to find myself in an episode of Portlandia. I watched home matches from my perch high in 221, the prefect vantage point to witness the Timbers Army in their native habitat, the North End of Jeld-Wen Field. Sharese, who had the good sense to buy my second ticket, and I had our pictures taken for the We Are Timbers campaign and, in addition to having said pictures hanging on the concourse, our likenesses are also sold in the team store. We’re all in.

We’re moving to the North End with the coming season where we will be yelled at by Pong and where Barnacle Brian will spill beer on us and where we will jump and sing our way into the playoffs surrounded by the greatest soccer supporters group the world has ever seen.

So, that’s my year in a nutshell: I lost my job and joined the Timbers Army. Lots of other stuff happened, but those are the two events that will forever define 2011 for me.

What’s on the horizon for 2012? More time with friends. More opportunities for creativity. Perhaps a little more financial stability.

I’m not one to make resolutions. Resolutions are nice, but they set you up for failure. Me, I’m just going to wait and see what happens next.

As for you, I offer you the above wish from Neil Gaiman and add my own:

May you know love and laughter and joy this coming year. May you see a place you’ve never before seen, may you meet someone who makes you laugh, if even for a moment, and may you raise a glass and toast to your past as you look to the future. Your past is what brought you this far, but your future is where you will shine.

Much love to you all.

 
 

Confessions

So, I have a little confession to make.

Sometimes, I don’t think of myself as a writer.

Oh, sure. I write things, but I rarely put them out there into the world for people to read. It seems they’re never good enough. They might be good enough for other people, but never for me.

I went to a writers’ fair thing a few weeks ago. It was a last minute decision, on my way to something else. It was a room full of other writers and small presses and writing programs (“Our program is $3000 and we’re very picky about who we accept.” “Well, I’m very picky about who I give $3000.”) all hawking their wares.

It would have been fine, I would have written it off as a wasted hour, but for my reaction to the question,”Are you a writer?”

I was asked several times. The answer should have come simply, without thought. “Yes. Yes, I am.”

But it didn’t. I stuttered and stumbled over my words apologetically. Am I a writer? “Sometimes,” I heard myself tell one particularly lovely little old lady.

“Oh, dear,” she answered. “Aren’t we all?”

Are we? Am I? Being a writer, to me anyway, has always been intrinsically linked to being published. You can call yourself anything, but unless you’re doing it, it’s not true, is it?

But I am writing. I’m just sans agent, sans publisher, sans finished work. Can I just go around telling people I’m a writer? I published that little short-story-that’s-not-really-a-short-story on Smashwords. Does that count?

Ugh.

If I do, the next problem comes immediately. Tell someone you’re a writer and they want to know what it is you’ve written. So, I stumble and mumble and fumble my words again.

I’ve got a couple projects I’m working on now, interrelated and terribly confusing to try to distill into just a few sentences when people ask. Do I tell people that I’m writing one thing with a werewolf and the other deals with some theological issues in such a way that I half expect to find a representative from th Vatican on my doorstep any minute? I rewrote the beginning of the world last night, from the perspective of a fallen angel. How’s that? Yeah, I think I hear the doorbell.

Okay, with all of that said, I have another confession.

Sometimes, I think I’m an amazing writer.

I read what others have written and I think,”I could have done that better.” I read what I’ve written and think,”Damn, I’m good.”

I imagine a time when my dentist will see my name on the NYT Bestseller list and think,”Yeah, I’m her dentist.”

Then I remember how far I still have to go with the two big projects before they’re remotely readable. How far? Ima guess 700 pages on the big, scary one; a couple hundred with the werewolf.

Maybe when I’m done, I’ll be a writer.

 
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Posted by on May 10, 2011 in Master Plans, Writing

 

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I’m writing.

It’s been a month and a half since I lost my job. In that time, I’ve sent out scores of resumes, done easily a ton of laundry, reconnected with some old friends I hadn’t seen in an age and I’ve been writing.

That’s the exciting part. Writing.
I hear myself say it like a grand announcement. Like other people say, “I’m getting married!” or “I just won the lottery!” I say, “I’m writing!”
Some people take it as just that, the announcement they’ve been waiting for years for me to shout out. Others, mostly those who haven’t known me for decades or don’t know me as well, don’t seem to get the importance of this statement.
“I have something to tell you.”
“What is it? Are you getting married?”
“No.”
“Are you pregnant?”
“Still no.”
“Ahh. You’re a lesbian!”
“Wrong again. I’m writing.”
“Oh.”
I completed the short story for the competition and, once it was accepted by those folks, posted it on Smashwords. I’m working on another short and, when that’s done, I’ll work on a follow-up to the first one since the people who’ve already bought it are asking about what happens next.
The novel is still on my plate. It seems to have taken on a life of its own and I’m just along for the ride. The main characters seem to be doing things I didn’t anticipate so that’s turning into a bit of an adventure. It might be a series of novellas so heads up for those.
I’m writing.
The blank page is every writer’s greatest adversary. We complain about not having a place to write, or time, or peace and quiet so we can think. We use these things as excuses not to write. “Oh, I’ve got tons of errands to run, dirty dishes in the sink, we’re almost out of dog food, the back yard needs to be raked….”
But, when it comes right down to it, we’re just scared of that blank page.
Here’s the next part none of us will admit: when we do actually manage to get the words on the page, we’re terrified that they’re not good enough. That you won’t read them. That the effort we put into getting them there in the right order won’t matter.
Lemme tell you, I’m reading a book right now that’s an okay book. Interesting premise, easy to read. Not great. Won about a gazillion awards. And, as amused and entertained as I am by said book, I can’t help but thinking, “I could TOTALLY have written that.”
So, I’m going to. Not that particular one, but another one. A better one.
 

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