Losing that Nano momentum…

So, I purposefully took the week after NaNoWriMo ended off of writing – partly to give myself a break, and partly to let the story percolate in my brain a bit more before getting to the rewrites (there’s going to be hell of a lot of rewrites!).

The plan was then to start re-outlining and nailing down my plot points this week, so that I can jump into writing again next week. But, then, of course, I came down with a nasty cold and have spent the past two weeks languishing of consumption on the couch. Not writing, or plotting, or really anything productive.

Okay, I knitted my first hat. But that was lazy productivity – I haven’t even yoga’d in two weeks!

I’m still coughing a lot, but there’s really no reason why I can’t get back to that super-productive schedule I had in November, where even when I was tired, the momentum carried me forward and I kept making new words every day.

I need that momentum back….

Life, the universe, and everything

A decade in review

I love this idea from Jenny Trout of making a list of important stats from the past decade…not necessarily all positive or life-changing, just a simple, unbiased look at the past 10 years. So, in no particular order, here’s mine:

Tropical storms lived through: 2

States lived in: 2

Cities lived in: 3

Jobs held: 5

Jobs rage-quit: 1

Jobs fired: 1*

Kittens rescued: 1

Times downstairs neighbor has banged on my floor because the cat is too noisy: Countless

Times downstairs neighbor has threatened to call the police because the cat is too noisy: 1

Times downstairs neighbor has been offered a different apartment and has refused, despite the cat being too noisy: 2

Tall ships visited: 12

Tall ships sailed: 2

New hobbies cultivated: 5**

Cars bought: 1

Cars paid off: 0

Peer reviewed papers published: 2

Peer reviewed papers held hostage by PI: 2

Degrees earned: 1

Scientific conferences attended: 8

Oral presentations at scientific conferences: 2

Half marathons run: 13

Countries visited: 6

Dive trips: 2

Camping trips: 4

Words of fan fiction written: 710,132ish

Relatives died: 1

Melanomas removed: 2

Dead bodies discovered: 1***

*Not the same job.

**Working on #6. I don’t think 4 orchids count as a hobby just yet. Especially since I might have already killed one.

***Not the relative that died.






Life update – 12.03.19


I came home from visiting family for Thanksgiving with a terrible head cold. I’m so mad – this week is super busy, plus it’s the toughest week in my RunBet game, and I’m resigned to the couch with a blanket and a cup of tea. I don’t even like tea, but it’s the only thing that feels good to my throat right now…

But in happier news, I finished NaNoWriMo! (There’s no name or date on the certificate, because a slow website + slow WiFi = no patience from me). This is the first time I’ve attempted it seriously with a work of original fiction, and while the story is a hot mess and only about 70% done, I got my 50,000 done! I’m super proud of myself; as a reward, I bought a discount Phalaenopsis orchid from Kroger. I repotted it on Sunday and it looks happier already.

What really worked for me this year was:

1) Plotting ahead of time (shocker). I didn’t have a very complete outline, but I had enough so that I had 18 or so scene cards in Scrivener already laid out by Nov 1.

2) Writing consistently. I knew ahead of time that there would be one weekend in which I wouldn’t be able to write for three days; but those three days were so easy to turn into four, then five…it was super hard to start up again, and after that I tried extra hard to write something every day, even if it was just 50 words.

3) Word sprints. I started these on day 13. I was a skeptic going in – I don’t know why – but on that first day I tried them, I knocked out 3000 words in just three sprints. They were garbage words, but still words – something that I can edit. The sprints also helped with finding consistent times to write. Doing 25 minutes of writing with a 5 minute break meant that I could sit down and define exactly when I was going to start writing, when I was going to stop, and kept me from getting distracted.


So, next steps – I need to compare my outline to what I actually ended up writing, and pull out all the “Note to self” markers I left in the document; then write up a new outline, and rewrite, rewrite, rewrite.

Now that the bulk of Draft 0 is done, I’m feeling much more excited about the story than I was at the start. Not that I wasn’t interested in it before – but I’m used to fan fiction stories, where even when I’m not writing, I’m thinking about new scenes and new stories and can’t wait to get back to writing some more. With this one, since it was so new, that didn’t happen – until I was about 20,000 words in. At that point, I felt like I was finally getting a feel for my characters and for what the overall plot would be, even though I had it outlined already. It just started to feel more real.

So, that was a pretty exciting feeling, and a sort of internal validation that yeah, I might actually be able to hack it as an author of original fiction!

Well, we’ll see what the final product ends up looking like.

Anyway, back to struggling through work now…my goal is to take it easy without letting things pile up. I can’t really get upset with my clients for being late on deadlines if I turn around and let their drafts sit on my desk for a week.


Day in the life

November 14, 2019

I feel like I’ve lost an entire week…and I’m not really sure how. I spent Friday-Sunday doing ship stuff, and alternately freezing/burning because the weather can’t decide wtf it wants to do. Then I technically had Monday off for Veteran’s Day – except for an 8am conference call with a client. After the call, I went home, fully intending on spending the entire day writing…and spent it napping instead. Whoops.

But in my defense, I was exhausted from the weekend, mentally and physically. Also bruised – I could barely move my left wrist on Monday, and apparently – which I’ve only just discovered because we no longer furl the sails on top of the yards – I have a bad habit of faceplanting onto the yard when I’m reaching around for the gasket. After 15 minutes of “Why the hell is this hurting so much??” I figured it out. Now that the sail is in front of the yard, I’m hitting the bare jackstay. I now have the lovely cheekbone and collarbone bruises to show what an idiot I am.

I really feel like slacking off of work today…we had an internal conference call at 7am my time; it’s cold again, and raining, and I now have two cats on my lap. I think I’ll make another cup of coffee and write until my 11am call.

I will never be able to give up working remotely.

Day in the life · Life, the universe, and everything

November 5, 2019

Today is already one of those days…my grand plan to wake up at 5am and get my 2000 words knocked out first thing failed utterly. I woke up at 7, which actually isn’t too bad – until I remember that the time changed this weekend so my body still thinks it’s 8am. Whoops.

I spent half an hour checking work emails and setting up meetings (the joys of juggling multiple time zones…); then I went for my 4-mile run. I started a new RunBet on Monday, and since it will be extremely difficult to run on Friday, Saturday, or Sunday, I need to get my 4 runs done by Thursday. So of course, with half a mile left to go, my tracker app crashed. I restarted it to record the last half mile, and have asked Support if that will count for my four miles. If it doesn’t, and I have to squeeze an extra four-mile run in this week, I’m going to be super annoyed.

So, I started off the morning annoyed and out of sorts, but I really shouldn’t complain; my co-worker A’s car was stolen this morning, and when I called my other co-worker M to hear what her latest emergency was, she started out by telling me that she was calling from the backyard, where her wife had accidentally locked her out – and then went on to describe that latest client fuck up. Not my client, but she likes to complain to me because I actually listen lol.

She also told me that – what the fuck – last night our company was given the keys to the city. How on earth did that happen?? The best part is, my boss almost didn’t go, because he doesn’t read his emails and thought it was just some waste of time event that he was asked to RSVP to. The official notice went to our legal department (in Europe), who forwarded it to our office manager, who also doesn’t read emails and just told Boss that he needed to RSVP to this thing.

If he had blown it off because no one in this company reads their emails – omg that would have been the best thing ever. I’m just sitting here five states away and laughing to myself…

Anyway. On the slate for today: a call with a client, in which I will hopefully convince them to stop making changes to their proposal and just let me finish it; then I have to write an entire Research Strategy, that I’ve been procrastinating for an entire month, and is due by Thursday.

Procrastinate? Me? It’s like I’m a writer or something…

Life, the universe, and everything · Writing

Happy Nano-eve!

Until this morning, I had every intention of staying up til midnight to get my first 2000 words in; now it’s 10pm, and….I’m tired. I have no excuse for being tired, except that it’s cold outside. But I can’t deviate from my plan on day 1, hour 0; what kind of tone would that set for the month? Midnight it is, I guess.

The one good thing about this awful cold front is that the camping trip I had planned for this weekend (totally forgetting that it was the first weekend in November) is officially canceled. I was going to go with three friends who want to escape the motorcycle rally on the island, and head up to Caddo Lake State Park. There’s not much to do up there except kayak and look for alligators. Until last week, the weather was perfect for kayaking and gatoring. Now, not so much. Too windy for a kayak, too cold for alligators. Honestly all I want to do is curl up on the couch with blanket and a cat or two and write.

I don’t get my entire weekend back; the rally is still happening, so my friends are coming up to my place for an indoors camp-out, complete with tent and s’mores. As we were deciding this, I realized…I haven’t had people over, more than one at a time anyway, since I was in college, and had roommates who forced me to play hostess with them. Weird.

Anyway, I no longer have to shop for camping supplies, pack, or drive four hours to a state park, and they’re all leaving Saturday afternoon. That means I’ll have a bigger chunk of time on Friday, plus all of Sunday, for writing! This is more than I had planned on in my schedule, and it’s good because I volunteered to go help move the ship to another pier next Friday, thus losing yet another precious November day.

…I’m going to be spending three days in a row on the ship, between transit on Friday, training on Saturday, and instructoring at the make-up on Sunday.

Why do I do this to myself.

Life, the universe, and everything · Uncategorized

October 21, 2019

My favorite thing is waking up early when it’s raining, then just lying in bed listening. This morning I woke up at 530am – pouring rain, and the temperature was finally dropping below 80. So, I stayed in bed, and fell back asleep.

That’s the time of night/morning when I always have the most vivid dreams. This morning I dreamed I was in some sort of sailing context, but we had to use inflatable ribs instead of actual sailboats, and my team’s had several holes that needed patching. From there it morphed into this bizarre period piece that I was a character in; a politician had engineered for my ship to sink, and then hosted a very sad torchlit funeral in the middle of Washington DC to honor all the crew that went down with the ship.

On the pretext of needing him to talk to a lawyer, I got him to follow me to a closed-in, crowded square. As we walked around the square, the supposedly dead sailors and people who were eyewitness to the sabotage started falling in with us, until we had a huge crowd assembled on the steps of a church. Then the crowd started singing a hymn, and the captain of the ship pushed his way forward – that was when the politician knew he was fucked, and I woke up.

The worst thing about trying to remember dreams is that they don’t make any logical sense; it’s the feeling of them that’s powerful, and the most hard to describe. I don’t know what it was about that dream, but it was super impactful, and I hope I can keep remembering it.

And of course, I’m already thinking of whether or not I can tie it in to one of my story ideas….

In other news, I spent the morning on Saturday trying to maneuver a 50lb steaming light into place, and strained my deltoid, which was already sore from climbing on Wednesday. I guess the good news is that I don’t need that muscle for running?

Day in the life · Health and Fitness · Writing

October 17, 2019

I finally conquered the blue route at the climbing gym!

Okay, so it’s a V0 (i.e. easiest level there is), and I’ve been working on it for two months, and there’s no reason why it should have taken me this long. But I don’t care, I did it!

It turned out to be mostly a mental block. I could get to the second-to-last hold, and then I’d be stuck; because the last hold required a long reach with my right arm, then gripping it and letting my right hand bear most if not all of my weight while I moved my left hand over to match. And…I just don’t trust my right hand. Trusting my whole weight to it is kind of scary.

Most of the routes there are for right-handers, and most of them (the ones that I’ve tried, anyway – anything above a V1 is too hard for me right now) don’t require quite so much trust there; not like this one.

I never even realized how much they favor righties until a few weeks ago: a new route went up and everyone was complaining that that last hold was super hard for a V0 – and then I did it in one try. Which never happens. As they were complaining, we realized that the tricky part was a left-handed hold. Which is why it was easy for me. And now I don’t feel quite so bad and being not quite so good as everyone else there. I have a disadvantage.

Goddamn right-handed world.

Today is going to be nice and slow…everyone is late getting things to me, which means next week will probably be hectic trying to catch up. But all I have on my plate for today is to send out passive-aggressive email reminders, finish some slides for a presentation, and then hopefully get some work done on outlining for Nano. I’ve been spending my outlining time watching YouTube videos about outlining instead of actually, you know, outlining.

Day in the life

Academia PTSD

I was having serious flashbacks to my postdoc yesterday. I had a call with a client and his former mentor to discuss the results of their last grant proposal; if I hadn’t already known that they were mentor-mentee, I would have guessed by the way Dr. L was constantly talking over him, contradicting him, and saying things like “I’m not saying no, I’m just asking you to think about why…”.

Dr. L was definitely an old-school academic. Instead of thoughtfully considering the reviewers comments, he would say things like “Anyone who thinks so has the brains of a brook trout” and “Well this guy’s obviously a moron.”

This is one of the major things that pushed me out of academia. I don’t know if it’s just a personality type that’s attracted to tenure professor positions, or whether the process itself fosters the growth of this kind of ego (honestly, it’s probably a bit of both). But when the people at the top constantly treat those who are supposed to be their peers with this kind of derision, is it any surprise that PhDs are leaving in droves?

There are more factors, of course, like lack of funding and the near impossibility of tenure anymore, but the way senior scientists treat their people is just awful, and needs to change. I don’t care if you’ve never had a reviewer not comment “world-renowned expert in X disease” whenever they read your biosketch – your grant was full of holes and the reviewer was spot-on with his/her comments.

Brains of a brook trout aside.

He liked me – because I just agreed with everything he said. I know how to deal with the academic ego: agree in public, then go back and write it the way it should be written regardless of how much they complain.

Just because you have a PhD doesn’t grant you license to be an asshole.

Day in the life · Writing

October 3, part 2

That feeling when your client (who hasn’t paid yet) sends out a press release announcing the award of their new NIH grant (that they wrote with the help of a different company) and gets told off by the program officer for 1) not running the release by the NIH press office first; 2) spelling the name of the NIH awarding component wrong; and 3) using the new name for their company which is not the name the award is made to. And then wants you to fix All the Things.

If she wasn’t such a sweet (if distracted) client I’d refuse, but…I like her. And the project I’m doing for her is going to be awesome.

But still, this wasn’t how I want to spend my day…