Days off are weird...

Today was one. I spent it mostly recuperating, trying to elevate my leg while it banged off the boundaries of my crooked physique. I sit here wondering what those doctors, the expensive ones my grandmother took me to as a kid, not the ones at the free clinic in town here, were thinking of? Why they did not notice all these things were connected? The number of times that I "turned my ankle" or "sprained my ankle" in high school were numerous. I think I went through half the days I spent in school with an Ace bandage on my right ankle.

Got the ugly version of the cramps in it tonight. I'd get a little stiff and uncomfortable and achy in the elevated position and need to stretch. Stretch. Spasm. Should not have stretched to relieve the feeling of it stuck in an uncomfortable position too long. Annoying - because back then, when I'd get these and have to massage foot or calf, I had no more idea than anyone else why it would do that to me and not anyone else. Except that I was lazy and out of shape. Exercise, lots of good healthful walking.

It's weird to do it to myself knowing that's what I'm doing to myself. Knowing I'm already way past my limits but I still need to eat, therefore I still need to grocery shop. So push and do what I have to, and then - wind up with something I don't get that much if I'm taking care of myself. A sick day. It's six in the morning and I haven't written or done a rewrite or done anything more major than put away those groceries in small increments. I don't know what I'd have done differently if I'd known. Dropped out of the college I flunked out of in the first week when I saw the campus would've been a good one, but not really that relevant. What I do doesn't need a college degree and I have four years without sheepskin from a college that was both good and small in campus.

If I rest up it will get better. I think this is one of those times I have to cut myself a little slack and just accept it - there will be times when I can't get much done. Those times will fall when life demands I do things that are out of reach and I do them anyway. Living in this place is a whole lot better than the shelter. Despite its logistic problems - because I had them at the shelter and I had flights of stairs there and had to go out more than I really could and walk greater distances and stand in line.

Sleeping late tomorrow would also be a good thing - I had pillows up under it last night and that helped in the morning. The more time I can make myself spend lying down the faster I'll get over it. Whatever this feels like - it's not actually worse than those other rough times. It just feels frustrating as if I won't manage to pull out of it, when I know darn well that I will and I'll feel a lot better when the trouble's behind me. I think of times when it wasn't that bad and they were all accidentally light on the logistics.

Got several ideas I'm ruminating on for stories, and rumination is part of process.

Robert and Ari >^..^<


Three days later... - yep, the First Paid Sale has still changed everything, it's there as a solid floor under how I feel about my work no matter what else happens.

Update on the Real Life(tm) things interfering with massive word counts and glorious rewrites: yesterday to my extreme joy I found that Andrew did get the power supply for the zip drive delivered to his house before his trip. I had it sent there since I didn't know where I would be living when it arrived. It came in time. Little things going right.

The big plan: use the zip drive to ream out my hard drive and create one to three backup disks with everything I've ever written whatever stage of progress it's in. Use the process of creating that backup disk to organize the mess while it's still in a handleable stage. At present, My Documents reads like a primordial soup of amino acids out of which whole strands of prose-DNA surface, some of which become viable finished fiction and migrate in and out of markets until they find one where they can replicate. I was even right about which strain would be the first to make it out of the muck: my vampire stories.

As predicted, my body crashed. My back crunched out yesterday big time while I dropped $127 in food stamps into a megatrip in which not one item NEEDS to be cooked on a stove - it's all microwavable food and most of it is cabinet rather than fridge or freezer food. Thus the larder is extremely stocked. I did remember to get cat sand for Ari and I did remember to get enough tobacco and tubes to make it through the time he's gone when I can't go out. So I will not have to go out now until it's time to look for another apartment. That effort was well worth it.

My body just put my life on hold and that's inconvenient.

Inconvenient isn't disastrous. I'm almost relaxing and appreciating it as inconvenience. Sonata Lynx, the Linux computer, is here and Peter brought over a monitor just for her and I know that if I crash in the next ten minutes that will just change my priorities. I'll be wrecking my back moving a box of books off the desk and rearranging and packing all the small stuff to make room for Sonata and boot her before even troubleshooting Ema - just seeing her there, I know that a crash has dropped from "risk of total disaster" to "you are going to be tied up playing with computers till you're online again and up."

The landlord came over to turn on the hot water and check the stove. It's not a fuse, the stove just stopped working. So he's bringing a new stove on Monday probably right before I move out. Well, that'll make the apartment rentable to someone who doesn't have back and leg problems after I'm gone. And it will be nice for the last few days. If I'm still here on Monday, I might start eating up the stuff in fridge and freezer that needs refrigeration to reduce what has to get special rush handling in the move itself.

That I'd rather have a definite move day and destination is just - a minor inconvenience. I will unpack and start playing with the computer as soon as my back gets up to it - in the kind of slow stages that don't straing my back. Get up and do one thing and rest for a few hours leg up. Get up and do another thing later on. Get it done in slow steady increments and it WILL get done just the way all the previous organizational blitzes have succeeded in making all of the crafts stuff Not A Problem.

The very last of the art materials and crafts stuff vanished into sorted plastic storage crates after the Wal Mart trip. The new six foot tall, five shelf black bookcase can't be unpacked and set up till after I move. So naturally I took the shot at a last trip to the used bookstore before he left and picked up six more books. So naturally they aren't even paperbacks, but hardcovers and trade paperbacks. Hehehe - I'm anticipating the space. I know I'll fill that bookcase and slop over into some crates and I know from its price that I really will be able to get another one in a reasonable period of time. It's elbow room.

I refuse to get frantic. I will relax, blog, post, maybe write a short story later on when it's my usual time of day for writing. Once again I wound up feeling like I'm slobbing off because I didn't knock out my words first thing when I woke up. But I usually write late at night and the sun's still up! Doh!

I have gotten somewhere with all the planning, all the effort and all the internal and external reorganizing. Sometimes it's hard to see that. Nightmare aside, I'm not likely to wind up back at the shelter. I did sweat through all the things I had to do to get into a program where I wouldn't boom and bust on life - and I'm getting somewhere with that too. I will wind up living a quiet reclusive life locally - and then when I get a car, go to a lot of cons and events and have a real life social life too. That day will come, either on the SSI back payment or on my first novel sale, whichever comes first. Considering that I used to make my rent on doing cons in three or four different venues, maybe that's not that big a gamble!

I'm not going to lose Ari - one of the biggest fears I had if I went back to the shelter was not knowing where I could board him locally till I pulled out again. That's the good thing about the landlord coming over - I'm not getting rushed out of here, if it takes a while for PCL to find a place and I can't logistically help look, I'm not going to wind up homeless. I will feel a little more secure when the move's over and all the unpacking's done, but I've got things in hand.


Robert and Ari >^..^< (Look down before you roll that chair!) {I do, Ari. Every time. Do you have to put your tail between the rollers?} (Yes, it gets attention and you scritch me.)


Isn't it Ironic? The next Big Day... Sonata Lynx arrived. So did a couple of other packages with parts. Did my body feel like functioning? No. Back pain wasn't enough to get my attention, it didn't stop me from going out on necessary trips up and down the Hill of Doom. So now it's the second level - leg symptoms. My right ankle and calf swell a lot every time I go out. This takes a day or two after the trip, like, if I go out on a Tuesday it will start on Wednesday and be worse on Thursday and then of course I have to go out again on Thursday, so it does not get the treatment it's screaming for: stay home, don't even sit up by the computer, elevate the swollen leg as far as possible. I've got to go today too.

Andrew, my friend who shares an interest in First Day Covers and has also been running me around on errands for several years now, is going out of town to help his kids move. He'll be gone for a couple of weeks. It's now or next month for any grocery shopping. And I am running short on microwave food.

Sheila wrote in Star Lines (see side column) about back trouble. And that you should never ignore back trouble. She's right. This is the next level down in a series of health problems brought on by overexercise while trying to do what normally abled people do. It's been cumulative. I keep telling them that, and they don't take it quite that seriously but it's annoying when my body degrades this far.

I know better than to overdo it. But sometimes you have to go against your better judgment. A lot of the things I've had to do since November have been "choosing the lesser of two evils" and the one big flaw in the Social Security system is there's inadequate support for a disabled person to get through the long harrowing process of actually proving he's disabled. Once I actually get SSI - the logistic problems should go down somewhat. For one thing when I get a car I will actually have - and need - the handicapped parking tag that means I don't have to hike across parking lots.

I am not sure I'm whining tonight so much as wrapping my head around it and beating back the voices of my first forty years - parents, teachers, kids that teased me for flunking gym, sadistic gym teachers who thought I wasn't trying, roommates who got justifiably angry I couldn't keep up my share of the housework and employers who fired me for not being able to do the jobs... running my mind into the new track: I am not a failure or a loser. I am not lazy and I'm not the least stupid. Nope, I had a pretty massive obstacle to overcome in life and I'm actually a driven, workaholic overachiever with enough excess grit to be a Real Writer.

I'm rubbing muscle cramps out of my calves as if I were an athlete. The kind of cramps that can catch up and make my leg not work if I ignore the excruciating spasms. I've had that happen and I have had people yell at me to just keep going, they will work themselves out. Yeah, right. Right there along with "walking is free and it's good exercise and anyone can benefit from more exercise."

You know, if it had ever actually worked, I might have wound up taking up running for a hobby? I might not be so averse to even the sight of shorts that I never wear them? If losing weight had ever improved my health, I might have done it because it did? I think about that and I still do need to rewrite the way I look at all these things, because none of it was that I didn't try it. I think there's a side of me that didn't want to be proved right. I think there's a side of me that always hoped that if I tried hard enough or ate well or something, I'd wind up able to do the things anyone could and not wind up like this: on the down side of the cumulative damage crashing and burning on necessity. That I would be able to keep up.

Why I need to retool my attitude: I'm procrastinating on something that I actually need, and am too embarrassed about it. I do need help with housekeeping. I can't keep up my share of the housework even without someone else leaving huge messes around. I just don't. If there's a place to put my stuff, I use it. The more storage containers, dressers, closets, drawers and other ways to organize stuff, the more organized my stuff will be - once it's organized it's a whole lot easier to maintain. I've finally gotten to the point where I might have hit the stage where there really is a place for everything, or will be once in the new apartment. I've got that bookcase to fill when I get it assembled.

They budgeted for me to get a cleaning service to come in and I have put off calling around to price them and find out what their services are. What I had in mind isn't possible living around here. That would be paying cash to some young broke friend from my role playing group who's always over anyway and could use the money. They scattered all over the country, we all left New Orleans. But the people whom I would trust to come into my house and not wreck everything in the process of cleaning it. Or rip me off. Or just come in to do a professional job and sneer down at me for what I am in both directions - it's hard to forget the guy that came over to help me pack when the housing agency got me help packing. Moving very slowly, one book at a time, picking them up by their corners and dangling them as if they'd bite him, he dropped books into the box damaging them. He was literally afraid of books. And the answer of a lot of people like that, if they feel intimidated by the fact that I read, is to look down on me because I never go out and can't take care of myself. If I knew the person, I'd have a much better shot at explaining what I do need, what I don't need and what my priorities are.

I have met very few people who have that job and like it. Or respect themselves for it and do a good job out of self respect. Those I've known worked at hotels or restaurants, fairly large highly visible versions of the job of housecleaning, where they're well paid and they get tips. There is a side to me that is extremely annoyed that while I'll be getting that service, I will not be able to tip whoever after assorted trial and error actually gets along with me and isn't invading my life. I am so used to weighing the advantages and disadvantages of anything down to that fine a level that I'm doing it again. I'm exhausted and in pain and not likely to be as patient as I would be otherwise. I don't want to micromanage. I don't want to have to micromanage. Some of the frustration with it is that I will wind up having to tell that person in detail where everything goes or they'll rearrange my life to suit their convenience - in ways that'll mean I have to go after them and rearrange everything or I can't get at half of it. That's happened just with friends helping out.

With friends that's often outweighed just by the pleasure of their company. That won't be the case when I call a cleaning company and they send over someone at random who will, given their likely background and my habits, wind up at the very least severely confused. A lot of it is shame at being dependent. A whole lot of it is shame at being dependent. That it isn't a luxury or something I pay for to give myself more time to write just doesn't make sense to me emotionally. Logic tells me it does make sense.

I go through a lot of pain to keep my self respect. I went through incredible weirdness and challenge for years and years just to keep my self respect and probably the most shameful day of my life was when I went in to DSS and filled out the forms to go on Welfare. Some of that was internal. Some of that was my self image shattering, especially admitting I was disabled - and fearing I was cheating - the honest do have pangs of conscience. It's impossible for a person outside the person who has pain to know how much pain the person in pain feels. But what just happened to my legs has reminded me of the number of times I ignored pain and kept going till something, back or leg, just gave way and refused to work any more? Till I wound up shaking or stumbling or falling? That's not a whiner. That's the opposite stupidity, that's more my grandfather's "work till he dropped" mentality. And that wasn't balance - he worked himself into the grave and his life had no meaning when he was too sick to work.

I didn't dedicate my life to being a neat freak. I'm a writer and I produce a whole lot of good readable prose. I do not have that hanging on whether some set of rules says "you retire at this age." I'm annoyed because right now my body is telling me "you sit still and you're pushing it just sitting up in that chair" and the excited little kid in me is looking at "Packages! Linux! Computer part grownup Tinkertoys! Oooh book case and I can play with the hammer and screwdrivers! Great big toys!"

I have a whole lot of things to do that aren't writing. More of them than usual are physical right now - clearing off the desk is going to take a bit more than I could do tonight because there's a crate of books that needs to be moved and stacked, which would require two or three hours of rest after I do it. And then places for all the small objects - that would be the tub that's for desk stuff, and putting away some of it in sane places where I'll find it again because it's with all the rest of what's like it. Then unpacking the computer itself and rearranging the surge protector and get some kind of reasonable arrangement up on the desk where I can see everything and reach everything - one thing to look for is another wrist pad. Extreme writing stints are athletic. I do need good equipment if I don't want to wreck my body doing very long hours sitting at the machine and the best solutions to avoid sedentary-related health problems are not always possible.

If I hadn't thrown my back I'd be doing the dancing thing.

It is the one form of exercise I do, when I'm up to it. I leave the radio on and then when any particularly stirring piece of music comes at a break in the prose, I get up and do improvisational dance to it. I wind up using a lot of Asian and Indian and sometimes Hawaiian moves in it because they're stretching or their balance isn't one that kills my back, most of all the motion is not repetitive. Usually that's slow powerful music, it's not the kind of thing where massive energy goes out but the kind of thing where body control and graceful slow precise motions come out cool.

The time that I wound up in the hospital at Valhalla they brought in a meditation tape. I got up and danced to it, after the guy that was doing the meditation said "get up and move around if you want." I wound up because the music was that soft, slow and eerie doing a pretty good long dance. I had my eyes shut for most of it and wound up alone with the music and the meditation and it really helped, both calming me and getting the kinks out. I wound up at the end of it seeing the looks on the faces of everyone there. They were as terrified as if I'd turned into a werewolf or a snake. I did borrow a lot of moves from martial art, some of them from movies without remembering what they were called, some from times friends trained me in this or that tidbit of martial art. A lifetime of experience as hobby came up in that dance. I mean, I do it about as well as I draw but it's not something I take seriously, know the jargon for or keep up regularly?

That is so normal for a writer.

That is hilariously normal for a writer. Writers go through life soaking weird trivia on anything that a character might do seriously and pick up just enough detail to make it plausible. I've written artists, dancers, martial artists, cops, yes even cops, a Secret Service guy, truck drivers, you name it, I dabbled enough to get enough details right that the reader who's a cop or a truck driver or an artist goes "dang he knows his stuff" because I do not need their level of experience to put a highly visible detail on the page. I need to have an eye for the detail that means veracity and I can trust their experience to fill in the blanks.

I'm not sure what they feared when they saw me dance. I'm not sure it wasn't "alien philosophy - read, non Western religious sources understood as well as the Western ones and parts of the dance were sacred" or if it was that they thought I'd come out of that into a psychotic fugue with martial art skills. Maybe they thought I could turn and kill any of them with a kick. Maybe it was just the terrifying attitude that while I was doing it, I did not care what they thought of me and nothing they said would have changed its choreography.

I've got habits other people don't like that are essential to my living a reasonably happy life.

I do not like the status that much of society hangs on me. I do not like accepting what goes along with either poverty or disability. I do not live the life. There are social roles that people in my situation take that I just do not accept. Drug-alcohol abuse when connected with poverty makes a bit of sense because it sets a social role for that person to commit petty crime - to get the booze or the drugs. I didn't look at it that way till tonight but it all makes sense and that is an excuse. It shears the mind away from petty theft to pay for survival needs. In these years of adventuring I've seen the way there's just as much conformity in poverty as any other level of life and the "drunk" or "junkie" way of life is as specific. It has perks, high on them is a big fat excuse for pushing other people around. They can't help it. The spouse or whatever of one has that excuse, has to push around the drunk to get them functioning at all. Gains the moral high ground of being Not A Drunk and martyrdom. Ties in with "Jesus" and a particular set of watered down Christian beliefs that aren't as fundamentalist as their practitioners claim, since most of them contradict what the rabbi Yeshua was trying to say with all his pretty good stories. Preaching is the compensating perk. I'm talking about the unrecovered, not folks that made it to the twelve step groups. Most people who use twelve step groups take their own pace and stage out of this particular way of life into something healthier. It takes years and they do it and once they have they make good neighbors or roommates or people to work with or whatever, with a different common culture and set of rules of politeness that make them easy to get along with.

Constantly putting yourself down and agreeing with people who push you around that you are scum is part of that - and for the moral high ground variety, virtuous humility. They say it first and it's rapidly denied. Then I come out of left field and I'm not humble. I do not actually hate myself. I do not actually believe it if people put me down, I get steamed. They're wrong or they're wrong on what it implies and don't know the whole context, because there is a lot more of me than stumbling around sober as if I was drunk because pain got to my limbs. I don't spend much money on entertainment or luxuries because I'm frugal - but it's not something I take moral pride in at all. It's annoying and embarrassing, when I've got the money and the necessities are taken care of - luxuries do come into the budget as they come into reach. At the moment that's impulse pens and books from a used book store. Occasionally art supplies, craft stuff or food goodies, the food goodies being something I take for granted since the Food Stamps force me to put much more of the budget into food than would be in it if I had the choice of "food luxuries or get needed electronics." Or basically, my priorities. But since I've got it I might as well enjoy it. I don't waste a lot. I think of that in part as a hobby a lot like anything else I do for fun and there are enough wealthy Westchester tag sale junkies who share the hobby that it's just what it is. A cool little hobby.

I look at things from a lot of different angles and that's very typical writer. Heinlein once wrote up an arrogant little list of what he thought "any reasonably competent human being" should be able to do. It was draconian in how much it overestimated anyone but Heinlein and it's simultaneously inspired numerous science fiction fans (especially if they're strong in math) to brag that on some way they made that list of skills - and annoyed others or become an embarrassing downer. The only way to get a skills list that long is to have some reason to dabble in everything at least enough to do it in a halfway amateur way that will do for the purpose when you need it. Not as well as the people who do it all the time but well enough to understand them - and well enough to write about it as if you were better at it than you are. That itself is a writer skill. As much as color recognition and composition balance are art skills, looking at life like a writer means putting yourself in the other guy's shoes whatever they are - and then into the shoes of the person who can't stand that guy and see how those mesh together into readable conflict.

At that point the stories around the campfire contain a lot of useful little tidbits about general living that people interested in those topics either recognize and feel good about, or pick up then and there. Just the way I did Heinlein's list of what the average superman can do on Heinlein's aw-shucks humility day.

I'm good at what I do and a lot of my arrogance is just being who I am doing the job I do reasonably well. I get better at it all the time. It is the job that's in reach of the particular offbeat combination of what I physically can do and what, down from the gut, I always wanted to do. It's not at random. It's the one I always wanted and nothing else would be as satisfying. It isn't for everyone.

I have honest respect for writers who dabble. I could meet a dabbler who's better than I am at what I do out of passionate commitment and that just means they're good at it and do not want to take it seriously. Those are choices. This country is supposed to be so individualist, and yet it's got a fairly narrow range of choices that people can take in their cultural roles if they want to make sense to anyone else!

So I'm a writer. I made mine up. Deep down I knew I was fit for being a writer, capable of being a writer, wanted to be a writer and lived like a writer. That is just - rare. Rare and not all that well known in terms of the day to day nitty gritty habits, because writers' lives don't get as public as actors. And because writers vary so much in all the other habits besides the actual work activities. Even the work activities vary a lot. Some people first draft longhand. That would drive me nuts and does when I'm reduced to it. I'm not like all the rest of the writers except when I'm like all the rest of the writers - including a feeling that I do things my way and they do what works for them and we all get the same results. Books that I enjoy reading. That's a common habit, just reading a lot. I don't know a writer who doesn't. Then again I don't know any cooks who don't pay attention to food and just eat without thinking about it.

Heretical notion: the sheep aren't sheep.

Who has enough time and attention to put that much intense conscious critical thought into every single thing they do? The neurotic stress of "walking on eggshells" that people do around unpredictable alcoholics who may blow or have a mood change in the next thirty seconds is that you have to actually pay attention to every little signal of their mood instead of what you'd rather be doing. Whatever that is. People make long term decisions and prioritize them. They do it by default drifting into something that's comfortable or they get an idea and don't let go of it. At that point everything connected with the goal is resonant. It's exotic and cool and right. It says "this is who I am" like heraldry to everyone around them and hopefully gets the message across: treat me like a writer, not like a professional beggar. That's conflict. On their side of it, when I don't take the script that gets handed to me for how to behave when faced with the people who have to deal with the problems of poverty and disability daily, it makes their job harder.

The person who comes over to clean up my house is someone who, on average, hates that job and is embarrassed about the job, at least the last one that did was. Yet at risk of trading places with disastrous sudden nightmare reversal of circumstances on something as petty as a personal problem with a landlord or a bout of ill health or any trouble in life. People have trouble in life. My troubles aren't unique. They do different things when trouble pushes them to a point of desperation and I have a different brand of stupidity.
I got too used to getting along without this, that or the other necessity and making rob Peter to pay Paul choices in life, which means that I neglect myself. I've got a choice here of the stress of putting up with dealing with a stranger who may be critical, defensive, confused and need a whole lot of attention to keep from doing more harm than good - or dealing with a floor that doesn't get vacuumed till I move.

This is the thing that means I do have the time to write novels.

There are times I envy that detective novelist in his freight elevator. I might have gotten to this point a lot sooner if I'd been able to do that. Fruitless to speculate - we will both wind up in the same place anyway. It's been so many years and he was so productive that I'm sure he hung up the uniform for the last time a long time ago, unless the uniform was inspiration and he needed the freight elevator as background atmosphere. He had good habits. Those will get you there in the long run however you come by them.

"...never to surrender ourselves to servitude and shame, whatever the cost may be." -- Winston Churchill, quoted on late night WQXR as they do D-Day programming.

It fits. It's a good note to close on. Some scripts aren't worth picking up and some ways of life are self defeating. If they are satisfying to those who live them, that's their problem. I'll make it through this week and this move and things will look up, because they already have in a big way.

Robert A. Sloan, author of Raven Dance and High Goth
Ari the fuzzy cat (author of Cats and Writers: One Cat's Opinion - I made my fuzzy little deadline!)


I took this test on Only Words, a friend's blog:

which children's storybook character are you?

this quiz was made by colleen

That is so NEAT! I like the Harry Potter books a lot!

And I feel like I just got into Hogwarts!

Robert and Ari >^..^< (He's Robert. I'm better than an owl.)



Forgive the all caps, but that is a headline!!!!!!!!!!! Whoohoo! Breathing, have to remember to go on doing that yeah... champagne time...

Pegasus Prose is a new SFFH ezine edited by Simon Owens, who just bought High Goth - the SF vampire story set in the same universe as Raven Dance. High Goth will appear in Issue One, and yes, I will post the link as soon as I get it!


Robert and Ari >^..^< (He reverted to a kitten. He's boinging around all over!)
Well, now that bit of excitement's over... ...this morning's excursion to look at an apartment that sounded almost too good to be true was, well, too good to be true. And went way off schedule, so I'm sitting here in a haze of pain wondering why I didn't do anything else today, when that is the answer. This is a day that if I had TV reception I'd be sitting feet up watching it and puttering with crafts.

That did mean a hike down the Hill of Doom at an unheard of 8:30 am... and a hike back up it an hour later after finding out the prospective landlord did NOT want any Section 8 or agency clients or anything where there was any paperwork involved. Because of the paperwork. His right. The apartment was actually in his house - in a deeply residential hilly area where the road wound around like mad over a lot of steep hills, disappeared into a one lane graveled track with ruts for about a block and a half past several ruined old houses and a couple of falling apart trailer homes and then let out at this house, not as bad as its neighbors, at the far end of it. I could just imagine giving directions.

The look he gave my cane and the way I was standing was priceless. Not cruel at all. Sort of a natural tact and kindness warring with something else. I could almost see the thought bubble. "So much for renting the apartment and getting some help with the yard work. Poor guy, bet that hurts. Dang, bet he wouldn't even be able to get out and water the grass let alone mow it." Sympathy warred with disappointment.

Then while Peter was trying to explain there wouldn't be that much paperwork, only one form to fill out about the apartment's specs, while he was making small talk, I mentioned I was a writer and a recluse. I mistook his nervousness for "worried reasonably that in this area people from agencies are dopers or alkies" and assured him of that. And got, for all his friendliness, this reaction. "I think I've read maybe two books since I finished school. You know how that goes."

I do?

Blink, blink?

No, that's actually hard to imagine, what life would be like without reading a lot. Without having read a lot. Maybe if I were capable of being physically active some of those hours would've gone to going out or doing yard work or whatever, but not by that proportion. I mean, I can. I write books set in the middle ages where that fellow's education would've included far fewer books than he did read. It just set me back a little, it was startling. Peter was horrified, shocked that he was proud of that. He did have a big wide 'not pulling your leg' type of grin with it.

So after that adventure I came home, made it up the hill and have spent the whole day laying around in a bit of a physical haze. I haven't got anything going yet that is that immersive, the point of fiddling with Shadow of the Assassin the way I did was to have more of a back burner project. I've taken care of the most important deadline. I got the BN course application in on time, and now I'm fighting what I think must be just fatigue, physical chronic fatigue. The swelling hasn't really started to come up yet on my leg, but my hip kicked out painfully and that was good for about three hours of trying to find a position I could stand to rest. I wound up just resting.

If I had TV reception this would be a good day for TV and vegging out with a brainless crafts project. Preferably a very easy one, or easy in terms of process. I think I'm going to declare that it's okay to use a few sick days once in a while when a move is going to demand that kind of physical exhaustion -- and just not expect much of myself till I get settled, really settled in the new place. I feel like a cranky kid who wants to play with his toys and can't yet. lol

Maybe I'll go read a book.

Robert and Ari >^..^< (I'm taking a nap. He could too.)


Blogging to decompress... - despite all hurdles, my Breakout Novel Course application went its way about three hours ago. Just after midnight on the third possible day for application. Not an early applicant, but I don't think it will matter. The new ending is so much more powerful and it puts my mind to ease too. I don't usually like downer novels. This change really made me think about successful tragedy v. downer novels - or what kind of buildup it would take to kill a main character without making a reader throw the book across the room.

I put too much weight into the romance subplot not to have that end on the traditional romance ending. Yet in some ways it's a bit of a twist for "stand alone plot" versus "trilogy arc." Their romantic moment is indisputably a happy ending. Yet the happy ending is only the battle won, not the war, and I know what I have hanging offstage or up my sleeve for the overall trilogy arc. I am still mulling over the book two focus.

Book two should really stand by itself too. I have a pretty clear idea of where I'm headed for book three and what will be a satisfying trilogy close drawing all the threads together. I'm happy with it and not ready to start book two yet.

In part because of what's ahead. Breakout Novel Course will throw me headlong into another project that's just as immersive but involves totally different world, characters, even rules of magic and races. Fine. This is good, I don't want to wind up doing just one thing my whole career. It will take focus and discipline and I'll be learning entirely new methods. Wheee way to go! That will itself be a kick and a half!

It means realistically I can't immerse on another project, like the book two to this one, till I finish that - but I could pick on the rewrites. I do need to finish the Quest rewrite. I have an ending that rocks linked to the previous ending-chapter cliffhanger by some bridge scenes and the bridge has a few gaps. More scenes to write to fill gaps. That worked this time even if some of them wound up falling onto the cutting room floor or got written several times in succession. I wrote 10,000 words this weekend and at least 2,000 are cutting room floor. Different version of the scene that worked, tossed and redone from scratch. Hey, it was a good thing. It helped me figure out what I did need to write.

And after that, I can tackle some of the other rewrites and try to start making the novels in the hard drive pay for themselves! Most need serious cutting. Most of them might with retinkering wind up two or three book sets and that would be okay. That would be just fine.

And there's all those short stories to clean up and send out. I have a lot of things around that don't take total immersion. I've got one slow cooker novel off on a tangent that I can pick up again when I'm done with the Quest rewrite and probably will.

At the moment I'm just... letting go, relaxing, because that was a heck of a strain and between the crashes and the impending move, life got crazy at exactly the time I needed it not to. I made six out of seven Dares. That rocks. I know that I did my best. That's the biggie. I did perform under pressure and I did my best and I think it's going to rock - that when I pull the rest of the novel up to the level of that sample - okay, well, mostly the cracked and ripped up previous ending that needs to get seriously rebuilt, since most of the changes in the middle seem minor compared to that (go through and replace all instances of Thandrega with Thendraga, etc...) it will have a good chance of selling and getting me a good agent. I do need to do the synopsis and query. But I need to fix up the book first! Especially with scenes not yet written that might be strong enough to be worth mentioning in the synopsis.

Onward. Tonight I relax on a job well done. Tomorrow, well either I deal with moving or I work on my writing.

Robert and Ari >^..^< (I'm asleep. I'll probably be very confused when we move.)