Sunday, May 31, 2009

In The Works

image Lots of cool things in the works this summer. I’m excited and a bit nervous about it all. It’s alternately exhilarating and terrifying, LOL.

So anyway, I’m gonna disappear for the summer. I’m definitely going to miss you. But please drop a comment any time; I’ll read it and respond. I don’t want to miss anything important in your life! Or drop me an email (see above handle… @gmail.com).

And I can always be found on Facebook. Except it’s been really slow the last the couple days. I’m not sure if it’s my machine or Facebook. :-)

So what have you got in the works for this summer?

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Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Boundaries and Inspiration

image I’ve said it before, but I still haven’t done it: I need to set office hours. It’s a little ridiculous. I work all day because I feel guilty that I’m behind or not getting more done. But I never catch up. And so I sit at my computer from 9am – 11pm.

The problem is that what I get done in fourteen hours is probably not that much different than what I would get done if I limited myself to eight or ten hours, you know?

So along with taking the time to be inspired, to think, to read, and to imagine, I’m setting boundaries. Starting tomorrow. I have no idea what I’m going to do with the extra hours, but… I am more productive if I take the time to read, work out, go to a movie, take a walk, whatever.

Speaking of productivity, last week I discovered FocusWriter. Oh. My. God. (Melanie, the first theme is for you. :-)

It’s a full-screen text editor, but what’s cool is you can set your own background image. (Desktop wallpapers work really well.) You can also set daily word count or time goals, but the beauty in the program is creating a writing environment that inspires you.

You can create multiple “themes,” one for each story you’re working on. Here are mine:

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Inspiration is not something I bothered about for the last nine years, but this year? I need it. I’m even writing with music, and you know how I feel about background music. And now I’m addicted to FocusWriter!

So how do you keep boundaries on your work/writing time? How do you keep yourself productive? How do you inspire yourself when you write?

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Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Running Out of Time

image You know what I hate? What I’m really uncomfortable with when it comes to writing?

It takes time to think.

It takes time to think about life, about philosophy, about what I believe, about what fascinates me. It takes time to wander around Borders and see what catches my fancy, to click around the internet chasing yet another fascination. It takes time to be curious.

It takes time to read, to watch movies, to watch TV shows, to absorb story.

It takes time to let all of that input simmer together. It takes time to put a lid on it, leave it, and go out to the woods and just breathe. It takes time to block out everything but you, your own thoughts, your own center.

The 500 words, the 1,000 words, the 100 words may only take an hour to write, but they’re just the tip of the iceberg. And there’s no point in writing if there’s no you, if you don’t bring what is distinctly--and only—you, to the page.

My greatest frustration is that I’m always itching to write, and my brain is constantly bleeping: Need more input.

And there’s this niggling voice going: You’re running out of time.

Ever feel like that?

Just for fun (and to explain the pic above), here’s a three-minute video on success:

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Thursday, May 21, 2009

What’s Up For Your Summer?

imageRight now, I can see the light at the end of the tunnel! Although, it’s very odd. First, I can’t WAIT until Saturday night, because, for the first time in FIVE MONTHS, I will be ALL CAUGHT UP.

Wow.

And second, I can’t wait until Sunday, because I get to see my best friend and my very darling niece, who I have the hugest baby-crush on. Even though she’s no longer a baby. But I think she’s the coolest girl on the whole planet even though, at this point, I hardly know her yet. It must be some weird ingrained thing, but then my best friend is the best friend a girl could have on the whole planet, so it naturally follows that her daughter would be the coolest girl.

BUT, Glenn leaves. On Saturday. So it’s very odd, because I DON’T want Saturday to come. So half of me is dragging my heels, and the other half can’t wait. If only I could have Sunday and few more days after that before Saturday came.

I’m not really making sense, am I?

Anyway. It’s late.

I’m mostly looking forward to writing slowly. To tweaking. To having the time to go over and over my work and make it do exactly what I want. To play with plotting and play with putting a story together. To finishing up a couple projects that aren’t done yet, to writing three very cool shiny new ideas I can’t wait to write. Ooh! And I promised you guys a story, but I think I’m going to give you a darling I have to cut from one of my shiny new ideas. I think it’s the first darling I’ve ever had, because I typically don’t like what doesn’t work, so it’s not technically a darling.

image I’ve also been playing piano up a storm. My students inspired me. :-) And my schedule for the summer is looking nice, so I’m going to have time to play a lot, do something special for the kids, and write.

I think it’s going to be a totally awesome summer. (Yes, I am totally putting out of my mind the fact that Glenn won’t be here. Putting out of my mind that we are going to only talk for ten or twenty minutes a week. *sigh*)

What about you? How’s your summer shaping up? Got any plans? Writing time? Creative time? Play time? You time?

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Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Just So You Know…

image I’m as fond of made-up words as the next person, but there are some words that Just. Don’t. Work. They’re just not meant to be together.

So Glenn and I pull up to the Arby’s drive-through, and I tell him to order himself a roast burger.

”What’s a roastburger?”

”It looks good,” I lie; I just want to know what the heck a roastburger is and the pics weren’t helping.

He spies some white-looking stuff in the picture.

”What comes on that?”

The guy explains, “Mustard, Ketchup, and Three-Herb Mayonnaise that’s grilled on.”

Glenn shakes his head at the speaker. “I don’t want any mayonnaise.”

”Okay,” the speaker says. “Just so you know, it’s called ‘grillaise.’”

As I snicker uncontrollably at ‘grillaise,’ Glenn stares at the speaker, completely uncomprehending. “What’s that? No mayonnaise, right?”

When we pull away, he mutters, “I don’t like mayonnaise in the first place. I certainly don’t want it after it’s grilled.”

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Believe You Can or Act As If

image It’s funny how our self-perceptions can have nothing to do with reality.


This last year, I let a parent totally demoralize me. They didn’t even say stuff that was true, but still, it got under my skin, real deep. And so in the days and hours leading up to this recital, deep inside and hidden from the students, I sort of felt defeated inside.

In fact, for the first time ever, I cried on the way to the recital. Part of it is that my seniors are leaving, and they’ve been the “leaders” for ten years. My studio will be different now, completely different. So it’s the end of an era.

The other part was the demoralized part. I knew I’d be able to get through the recital because you can always miraculously “pony up” when you have to, but I was a little afraid I wouldn’t be able to work up the energy I needed in order to exude the confidence that some students may need to feed on, you know? LOL!

But the recital was actually awesome. I acted confident and relaxed because I had to for the kids, and I was somewhat surprised, halfway through, to actually be feeling confident and relaxed.

image The students rocked. I have one student who asked me, at the beginning of the year, if he’d “really” be able to play his piece “that fast.” Of course I replied without hesitation and complete confidence that “of course he would.” But still, I was pretty shocked and thrilled he actually did.

There’s a point, in learning piano, where your fingers must go faster than your ears can hear each individual note. A lot of students get stuck at the speed they can hear (around 110-130, sixteenth notes), and it’s a struggle to break through that. He got up to 160-170 because he believed me when I told him he could. Phew! And nothing really goes much faster than that, LOL.

Then the little boys acted as if they were on the top of the world with all their grinning. And the older ones were great, too. When I gave one award, he went, “Yes!” Another boy, who I’ve spent all year on relaxing and breathing and feeling confident and having fun when he plays, has been walking around this past month like he knows exactly how good he is, which makes me really happy.

The girls were so lovely. Girls are so different to teach. It’s more like they NEED something from the music. All my girls are like that, like they need emotional support from their music-making, rather than using their music-making to express themselves. I don’t know. I can’t explain it.

Boys have a tendency to believe what you say, while girls have to prove it to themselves. So a lot of the girls don’t automatically practice the way I tell them to, and this leads to problems.

image But the girls who’ve been struggling with performing as well as they practice this year, listened to me when I told them how to peak at the recital. And those girls NAILED it. I was so thrilled for them, because they both really wanted that badly.

The kids are playing so musically, it was fun just to sit back and listen to the music. It was all enjoyable, even for me, the teacher! And they’re all so poised and comfortable and seemingly relaxed on stage, it’s amazing.

There were a ton of smiles, so that’s cool.

Personally, I was shocked at how far my students have come this year. We’ve taken our studio to a whole new level. The kids all played music from a place of true, mature understanding of the language.

So I guess, at the end of this year where I’ve felt more demoralized than any other year, I have to say that we learned more this year and came farther this year than any other year before. What’s sort of ironic is that it has been more inconvenient to the parents than any other year, and I don’t know how to reconcile that. Should I really become a worse teacher and give the students less of an education so that my parents (the majority of whom really don’t know the difference and don’t have the foundation to even see the difference or understand the difference) are happier?

Bit of a self-indulgent post today. :-) Sorry about that. I’m just so pleased and proud of them.

So have you ever found reality and your self-perception to be at odds? To be getting leaps and bounds better when you feel worse inside?

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Saturday, May 16, 2009

Late-Night Thoughts

image I’m up late working on my speech for the Spring Recital. Which is silly, because as soon as I mention my seniors, I’m going to start crying and have to amend my speech anyway.

I’m going to be dreadfully busy this week, but I wanted to leave you with this bit to chew on:

O seeker,
These thoughts have such power over you,
From nothing you become sad,
From nothing you become happy.

You are burning in the flames
But I will not let you out
until you are fully baked,
fully wise,
and fully yourself.

~Rumi

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Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Stuff. Breathing, Editing, Voicing.

image I like to journal privately, but I kinda like to type in something sorta pretty. I know. It’s silly. Penzu is a lovely place to have a private diary just for you and no one else. It even has a double-locking feature if you’re particularly paranoid about keeping your mental craziness private.

I set it as one of my homepages and spill out gunk every morning, sorta like morning pages.

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I’ve also been addicted to Instant Boss. Working on a computer makes the internet a bit of a distraction. It’s the tiniest little app, and yet it allows you to work in spurts and reward yourself with a break. There’s a little alarm when it’s time to take a break, and a little voice says, “Aw, man!” when it’s time to get back to work.

You can adjust the work minutes and break minutes to whatever suits you.

image Whenever I go to Borders and wander the stacks, I can’t help but think, “Oh! I want to teach my child that! Then that! Then that!” And yet, the possibility of children feels like it’s slipping away every day. Patience, hope, and trust, I guess.

I’m managing asthma much better now. I’m pretty proud of myself. I’d learned how to manage an attack, but I didn’t understand the daily life bit, until falling asleep every hour forced me to figure out what the heck was going on. My attention span has improved DRASTICALLY since I started making sure my brain gets enough oxygen. Go figure.

                                     *****

image I’m not at all pleased with the novella I’m writing now. My one little pub is so busy, I usually just get an “I like it” unless I beg. I suppose I’d rather have the higher pay than an editor, at this point, but my attention is so distracted by the studio and teaching and writing a non-fiction essay, that I feel this novella is not my best work.

I also tried a lyrical voice with it. I’m not sure why. I’m constantly writing stuff that demands a lyrical sort of voice, and yet I feel my strength lies more in the short and snappy and rhythmic.

I rarely write that way. Maybe it’s so different it makes me uncomfortable. Or maybe it’s better suited to genres I don’t actually write. I tend to think of it as my spy thriller voice, but if we were all holding our breath for that one, we’d all be dead. ;-)

What little apps do you use to make your life easier? How do you manage your attention span when there’s so much waiting to distract you? Thoughts on voice?

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Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Love and Laptop Stickers

image I decorate my laptop with stickers and things that remind me how I want to live my life. (Want – I fail more often than not, I’m sure.)

On the little edge above the screen, I have LOVE on each side of the webcam. I also have a sticker that says, “Live, love, laugh, and be happy!” (With the exclamation point.)

I also have three stickers around the keyboard, where the speakers are: “Sing your own song in your own special way.” “Keep growing, keep dreaming.” “Dance to your own special music.

And finally, in big words around my mousepad, I have my favorite quote: “May the beauty we love be what we do.” The rest wouldn’t fit, but it’s the whole point, for me: “There are a hundred ways to kneel and kiss the ground.” ~Rumi

I’m struggling with writing something, and I recalled that I generally can’t write unless I can find the love. I have to connect with love, whether of character, the story, or the readers, in order to open the gates of writing.

Funny enough, I consider myself a very practical person. I don’t put much stock in woo-woo stuff. With business, I tend to distance myself from emotions.

image But at the end (beginning, actually) of the day, writing is all about love for me. My husband and best friend both describe me as “passionate,” which I’m pretty sure is their generous way of saying “emotional.” (They’d be right.)

When a book on philosophy mentioned that we all live by a philosophy of life, whether we’re aware of it or not, it asked us to finish the sentence: “Living is _______.

My mind immediately said, “Living is feeling.” Then it added, “Living is loving.”

It sort of cracks me up how my self-perception (as a practical person) can be so unsupported by my, um, laptop stickers. And my thinking. And reality, LOL.

What about you? How would you finish the sentence, “Living is ________.” And are you aware of any self-perceptions you have that fly into the face of all obvious evidence? Any self-perceptions that may possibly even be wrong, LOL? Or opposite to how others perceive you?

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Sunday, May 10, 2009

Happy Mother’s Day!

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So what are you doing today?

I’m sorry, I start to do my blogging routine every day, and then I run out of time before I get past the first few blogs in my reader. Things should ease up soon. I hope. I keep saying that.

I keep meaning that, LOL.

I have been keeping up on reading your blogs, though, but I still feel like I’m missing out! So what’s up, lately? How’s life? The writing?

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Sunday, May 03, 2009

Changes, Goals, Living, Thriving.

image Change is in the air. So many people are talking about change, that I googled astrology and discovered this prediction for May 2009. Basically, we’re all in for change, LOL.

Change has been a big part of my life, lately. There’s little things, like I recently noticed the days of not wearing makeup are not as kind as they once were. That I need to wear lipstick. That I need to dye my hair. That I need to put shine on my hair.

They’ve been emotional changes, too. Where my life used to be career- and goal-focused, I am now focused on living each day in a way that makes me thrive, that lets me be me.

Goals that, when I started this blog, meant a lot to me, now don’t inspire me in the least. I used to want to be published by New York. I worked every day so I could eventually attain that goal.

Now, I want to play piano every day, teach a few days a week, and write every day. And I’m not willing to spend days just surviving anymore. What’s living if you don’t position yourself and arrange your life so that you thrive?

image If New York will help feed me doing that, cool. But my daily life is my focus, my goal, my desire. Not some tangible sort of attainment thing. I’m having to come up with a new self-motivational system, you know?

I also work differently. I’m now a slow and steady sort of worker, and I have to plan my deadlines accordingly.

So what about you? Are your motivations changing? Have they changed? Your work process? How do you arrange your life so that you thrive instead of survive?

What changes are you expecting in May? In the coming year?

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Saturday, May 02, 2009

Seriously? Movies Make It All Better.

image I keep forgetting that I need to go to the movies nearly every week. When I say need, I mean need. It relaxes and balances me again. Puts me in the zone.

I don’t watch much TV. Some weeks, I’ll watch about three hours, and oftentimes, whole weeks will go buy where I don’t ever turn the TV on at all. 

But there are shows I’ve fallen in love with this year: Kings (OHMIGAWD, epic and wonderful and amazing!), Dollhouse (just cool), and Brothers & Sisters (although if Kitty breaks it off with the Senator I am DONE).

And Chuck.

Which I wasn’t crazy about at first, but is now one of my must-see, love-the-most, crazy-about shows.

But every year, the networks piss me off:

imageKings: CANCELLED, the idiots
Dollhouse: Crew is looking for new work, so…
Brothers & Sisters: renewed, yay!
Chuck: maybe. MAYBE. MAYBE?????

*sigh*

If you want to which shows are in and which are out, here’s the link. It’s updated daily with new news.

So which shows are you rooting for? Upset about? Disappointed in? Thrilled they’re renewing?

And Edie hooked me on Cute Things Falling Asleep. I must watch daily. Kittens and babies. :-)

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