looking back and looking ahead

I’m all set for the new year. Even though it’s a completely arbitrary time, the thought of new things to come makes me feel hopeful for the future. Anyone who knows me knows I’m not a resolution person, I’m a list person who sets personal goals (that’s what I’m calling it and I’m sticking to it). I accomplished quite a bit this year

1) Co-wrote a book that is going to be published(!)
2) Took a major leap in advancing my career by accepting a new position
3) Bought a new car (If you knew the story, you’d understand why this is an accomplishment)
4) Stuck to my guns and continued working on the manuscript (because I really do think it’s worth it)
5) Reached the big 30 with a modicum of grace
6) Finally shifted 5 of the 10 lbs I put on during the 4 years spent on the last job (the constant presence of cookies, pizza, sweets, etc. was not good)

2015

This year, I’m looking forward to a few more personal challenges, not all of which involve writing.

1) I’m going to make a concerted effort to refresh my wardrobe in 2015. This will involve

a. Clearing out old bags, jewelry, and other effects that no longer fit my style–let’s face it, I no longer want to look like an emo teen.

b. Classing up my wear-to-work look which had suffered a bit since I made the switch from an institution that required business wear for all to one that allows faculty to make their own fashion choice.

2) Fit running back into my regular workout routine.

a. Because I enjoy the way it makes me feel.

b. Because it’s been too long since I could call myself a regular runner.

3) Get into the habit of an evening writing schedule.*

a. Because shit needs to get done.

b. Because mornings no longer work and I’ve come to accept that fact.
*this may lead to increased madness and anti-social behavior.

a well-documented journey

Two years ago, I started relying on a desk calendar to track the number of days I work on my writing. I note down when I start and end a chapter,  or whether I’m writing, editing, or transcribing material. It helps me stay accountable and reveals patterns and interesting little life bits that are of no interest to anyone but me. It’s especially useful on days when I’m feeling particularly doubtful about my progress. I’m now three chapters away from finishing my read-through/note-taking/manual rewrite of Anúna draft two. Though it feels like I’ve been working on this draft for ages, the calendar reveals that I only started working on it in mid-August, having taken a month off after completing the second draft in July. That’s a lot less than I expected, though there were several gaps in my writing. For one, I was still adjusting to a new semester at a new library, so there were days when I had little energy left to write. Then there was my grandfather’s passing in September; it was difficult to get back into the story after something like that. Still, it’s not so terrible as I thought and shows that I’ve been much more productive than I give myself credit for at times. As with most writers, it’s incredibly easy for me to not see the forest for the trees. I get so caught up in the little things–like whether or not I took a week off writing and why it was such a terrible thing–that I forget to see how much I’ve really accomplished.

the terrible mid-point

My hair has reached a length that I like to think of as the mad-girl hair look–somewhere between a shag and a bob, though not quite long or short enough to be either. Sigh.

growing out the pixie

It’s the worst part of the growing out a pixie experience, and one that has been extended by some poorly executed trims to manage the mullet tendency. I’m itching to trim it, but know it will only lead to more madness two months down, so I’m exercising restraint and taming it with not-so-strategically placed bobbies and hair clips. These can only go so far in taming the weird mane-like halo that I have going on at times (especially when the humidity soars and my ends with it).

I’m also rocking the half grown-out bangs look, in which my bangs are not quite long enough to tuck behind my ears, but are too long to be anything but a nuisance. I just want it to grow out already! gah! My hair is at its worse and completely unmanageable unless it’s past a certain length, at which point gravity takes over and turns it into a mostly straight sheet of dull brown, but a (generally) manageable sheet of dull brown.

in the spirit of giving thanks

thankful

Thanksgiving is not a big event for my family. Growing up, I never had any of the traditional elements associated with Thanksgiving (I didn’t even have pumpkin pie until I was in my late teens), so the large family gathering is not something I’m accustomed to or will likely ever experience (we’re a really small group). That said, it’s nice to have a moment to stop and be grateful for the little things. This year, I’m thankful for the ones who are always there for me when I need them. For the friends I’ve made, and the welcome I’ve received at my new job. For my tiny hobbit hole and the little ball of chub who greets me every night when I come home (often with a flick of the tail and a demanding meow for food), and for personal growth and discoveries.

books, books everywhere and not a one worth buying

a highly biased opinion

Or that’s what it felt like this weekend at the Miami International Book Fair. After a couple of mediocre fairs during the late 2000s, the 2013 Fair redeemed itself with awesomeness and a wide array of events and vendors. This year it failed to meet any of my expectations. Missing were the used book sellers (I went around 3 times and only found used Spanish or mystery book vendors, and the one Bookleggers tent, which had a very limited selection), the Friends of the Library tent, and the cultural pavilions. In their place, a proliferation of Books and Books tents, a whole lane of self-pubbed pseudo-science and new age quackery, and what I like to call Hipster Central (otherwise known as the Swamp). We had lunch and snow cones, wandered around for two hours, and left after buying a pack of strawberry-scented pencils and an eraser at the Scholastic tent. That is all. Never have I entered a book sale and not purchased a book. I was that disappointed by the lack of variety. Unless you were looking for the latest bestseller, the selection left a lot to be desired. Can’t wait for the annual Library Friends sale. I can usually count on them for a rare find or two, and a nice bag full of paperbacks.

 

acting on impulse

After months of worrying over the thought of buying a new car I decided to plunge right in and do it. It took about 15 minutes to find the car I wanted and another 2+ hours to get through all the paperwork, but I’m now the owner of a shiny new Versa Note. Growing up poor, I have to keep reminding myself that I can afford this kind of thing. It’s a constant struggle sometimes, one that the boy (he of the impulsive buys) doesn’t really understand (he gets it, he just doesn’t know how it feels). It’s also a terribly adult transaction, this whole car-buying, loan-signing situation. It’s so nice driving a new car. The reality hasn’t quite sunk in; it almost feels like driving a rental. Guess that will change when the first payment goes through.

I bought a strawberry-shaped air freshener a few months ago–one of those cash register display, last-minute grabs at Forever 21 or H&M, whichever happy, shiny shop I was in at the time. I saved it, knowing a near car was on the horizon. Today, I hung it from the rear-view mirror. It smells like the Strawberry Shortcake baby doll I had as a kid. Something old and something new.

embracing changes and moving along

Looks like the change of season is just what I needed. There’s something about Fall that always makes me feel refreshed and energized after the agonizing heat and lethargy of the summer months.

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I’ve accepted that the reason I’m having such a hard time sticking to my editing schedule is that I’m still having trouble deciding on which of two deciding moments should come first. I’ve mulled this over for a few weeks and have plotted out more than one sequence of events, but I’m still going back and forth on the order of events. Just when I think I’ve got it figured out, I find a reason to reverse the order again. I think I’m leaning towards one particular sequence, but either one will have a major impact on the rising action and I really don’t want to get it wrong. It’s all self-doubt. In my mind, one series just makes more sense, but it goes against the original sequence of events that lead up to the second half of the novel in the current draft…. I’ve been steaming ahead, keeping in mind that I will have to go back and mostly rewrite two major chapters, as well as several subsequent scenes. It feel like an impasse–if I don’t decide, I really can’t continue, so something must be done. I’ve been trying to leave myself a trail of notes throughout the manuscript to remind myself where I need to go back and make changes when I do make a decision, but the moment has come to make it stick. I just hope it’s the right choice. I think it is… Urgh, so many thoughts.

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I’ve been pinning like mad in anticipation of holiday cooking and crafting. (Yes, I’m one of those people who actually makes stuff). I’m about 95% sure that I’m going to have to buy a new car (or a new used car) this December and I’m hoping to mitigate the cost of holiday spending by making presents for the family and the office. I’m trying to stick to a $50 budget for my small list of loved ones, but I foresee practical/useful presents for all.

This will be my first time buying a car and I am so anxious about the whole loan, haggling, sales person situation. Ugh. Wish I could just use amazon.

Work is going well, though I don’t think I will ever get used to the 2 hours I spend driving to and fro every day. I really do miss the luxury of a short commute and a 7 hour work day (though not the pay).

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Gave up my first foray into Scott Lynch and Henry James. I just wasn’t in the right frame of mind for them, so I’ll have to give them a shot some other time. Meanwhile, I’m woefully behind on the Reading our own tomes challenge with 15 of 30 books read. I really don’t see myself reading 15 books before the end of the year, unless I “cheat” and read all the manga and comics on my TBR shelf. I’m taking a nice breather with Lauren Willig, whose books always manage to make me smile.

i did a thing…

newname

With the weather turning and the year growing old, I decided to embrace change and adopt some new names. things she said served me well for over ten years, but it no longer feels right for the direction the blog is taking. Welcome marginaliaandsuch.net, a domain that represents both my writerly and bookish self, as well as all the other pieces of me.

In keeping with the theme, I also changed my twitter handle to @booknerdcatlady.

Hope this doesn’t lead to too much confusion…

in which a decision is made

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

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

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

catching up

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

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