Musings

[Blog] “When you can’t run, you crawl”

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One of my favorite lines from the whole Firefly series is the one provides the backbone to The Message, the episode where Mal and Zoe get the body of one of their old war buddies in the mail. A lot of you probably know the one I’m talking about already (and if you don’t, please beware of spoilers below):

“When you can’t run, you crawl, and when you can’t crawl– when you can’t do that anymore, you find someone to carry you.”

It’s a sentiment that’s been deeply important to my circle of friends. We’re a bit less melodramatic about it than we were during college, but it’s still one of the easiest shorthands we have to describe what you do for the people you care about. So when I recently rewatched the episode, I was surprised to remember that Tracey used it as justification for calling his old comrades in arms “saps”.

The last time I watched it, I think I was so focused on the no-man-left-behind part that I didn’t really register that one of the main characters in the episode actually considered it a weakness. And sure, there’s a good chance he was grateful for it by the end, and our protagonists did right by him regardless. But still.

I’m not sure why I noticed it so much this time. It’s not like it’s the first time someone exploited the people who were there for them, and I’m pretty sure the whole thing is just a variation on the same theme Jesus was talking about when he said to turn the other cheek. But for whatever reason, it made me think a little harder this time. It made me that much more grateful for the people I know who will be there to carry me, too.

Musings

[Blog] Relearning Old Lessons

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Man. There was a time (last summer, actually) that I was doing a very good job of actually writing fiction every day. Part or most of that had to do with the fact that I’d finally started accepting that whole “the only good writing is rewriting” thing. And, of course, there was also a pretty solid understanding that it’s a lot easier to edit something that already exists.

And then I fell out of practice. I’m inclined to say that I had a couple of great reasons for it– world travel, moving, new job– but regardless of whether it made sense or not, the upshot is the same: it’s really hard to write. Again.

Sigh.

It’s a bit like working out. You get into the rhythm and the habit and it’s a bit easier. Your brain and your fingers know what it’s like to produce a regular wordcount, and whether or not its some great masterpiece, it’s getting better every day. And then something happens, maybe an injury, maybe something else. But whatever it is, it breaks the rhythm, and after a week, it suddenly seems so hard to just work out. You’ve already missed a few days, what’s one more?

And then one more, and one more, and one more…

And just like that, you’ve suckered yourself out of months of hard work at building a good habit.

For me, I think I’m slowly getting it back. Provided, of course, that I didn’t just jinx it by saying so. It helps to have encouragement and writing buddies (you all know who you are!), and the fact that I’m actually feeling pretty settled in my new routine with work and travel and such doesn’t hurt either. And I think there’s still a long climb before I’m as settled with it as I used to be, but for the first time since I fell out of the habit, I’m feeling a bit of it coming back. Which makes me really happy.

Musings

[Blog] Perspective

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I’ve always thought I lived in beautiful places. The area of northern Idaho I grew up in is full of rolling hills that are green in the spring and golden in the summer and fall. And then, as if that wasn’t beautiful enough, I went to college and worked my first job in Santa Barbara, meaning that I got to spend the next nine years in a city with mountains on one side and ocean and islands on the other. I’m a littler farther south now, in an area that’s drier and browner (now that summer is in full swing, at least) and not what I would immediately think to describe as a beautiful place. Not because it’s not, but because I’m used to a different sort of pretty.

But then I catch a glimpse of a desert sunset, the sort that covers everything in a wash of gold, the sort that somehow seems more vibrant when the first whisper of a cooler breeze come through, the sort that’s nothing like what I grew up with. And it’s incredible.

Musings

[Blog] The Buddy System

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Or: Misery Loves Company

I’ve been trying to figure out why I have so much luck doing NaNoWriMo in November, but when I try to participate in either of the Camp NaNoWriMo events in April and July, I seem to fall off the wagon before it even starts rolling. It’s mortifying, really, because I know I can will myself into performing great feats of writing, and every time April or July rolls around I promise myself that I’ll do better this time… and then I’m eight days in and haven’t written a word on my chosen project. As I said– mortifying.

And yet, that’s never been a problem in November. I’ll grumble and drag my feet and wonder why in the heck I’m putting myself through the insanity yet again, but I’ll write. I may even get behind, but that just means I write more later. (Some years I’ve gotten really behind and that’s when the aforementioned feats of writing prowess happen. It’s ridiculous, but I’m quite proud of the fact that I have written over ten thousand words in a single day multiple times. Please forgive my shameless bragging.)

At this point, I’ve got two theories as to why this is. The first is that the November event is a whole big to-do: fifty thousand words, thirty days, one novel. Go! Thousands of people participate every year, and we’re all in it together, encouraging each other, recommending our favorite writing music, exchanging wordcount updates. It’s a whole lot of momentum, and it’s always helped me keep at it. There’s a little of the same during the smaller events, but they’ve just never quite matched up to the excitement of the big one for me.

The second is that the Camp events let you set your own goal– which you would think would make it even easier to keep on task, but always seems to take away a bit of the excitement for me. It’s more of a personal challenge that way, but apparently I’m just more motivated by chasing the same goal as a bunch of different people.

All that being said, I’ve found a way around this. Sort of. My best (read: most productive) NaNo ever was in 2015, when I ended up with a complete, if rough, manuscript and a substantially higher wordcount than most years, and I got there because I spent the entire darn month racing with my sister who was doing the same thing. So this month, I suckered her into doing camp with me.

Her wordcount is waaay better than mine, but I have gotten work done on my own project too, so I’m pretty sure this is a win.

PS: Thank you, dear sister, for writing with me. I truly appreciate it.

Musings

[Blog] All the Different Stories

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As a self-professed introvert, it feels a little funny to say that one of my favorite things about my new job is all the different people I get to meet and all the different stories I get to hear about their lives. I get to interact and connect with all sorts of folks I’d likely never have run across otherwise, and I get to learn a little bit about the way they see the world. The same thing happened when I was driving for a rideshare service, too, so it’s not just limited to the medical field.

I, as I imagine most of us do, tend to gravitate towards certain groups of people– the sorts I get along with best, with whom we I the most in common. When something other than shared interests bring me together with someone, common interests may or may not be involved at all, at least not in the way they are when I meet people through something like a shared hobby. It’s a great thing for perspective. It makes it a lot easier to not caricature people on the “other” side of this or that divide.

Musings

[Blog] One Year

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Last week, WordPress sent me a friendly little message congratulating me on the one year anniversary of this blog, which left me simultaneously wondering where the time had gone and how it had only been a single year. To everyone who’s run across my adventures and stories and random musings during the last fifty two weeks, thank you all so very much. I can’t even begin to say how much your support means to me.

Going forward, I definitely plan to continue posting weekly on Fridays, but I’d love to hear from all of you regarding what you’d be interested in seeing. More writing prompts? More stories (I’d like that too…)? Book reviews? Thoughts on what it’s like for a former English Major to embark in a career in the medical field?

Please post your thoughts below! I’d love to hear from you, and I look forward to another year of sharing my nerdy speculations and silly adventures.

Writing Prompts

[Blog] Writing Prompts Round 2

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Last week I asked for writing prompts and you guys delivered! Here’s the stories.

Is it supposed to make that sound?

Given that we lived on a border space station in the middle of nowhere, it was fitting that we opted for a robotic guard dog as opposed to the flesh and blood sort that put more of a drain on our limited resources. It wasn’t the cuddliest of options, but then, we didn’t need R-0ver to be cuddly. We just needed him to look fierce and help us scare off the occasional pirate gangs who assumed we’d be an easy target. We’d managed well enough on our own so far, but the last time had been a little closer than we’d wanted it to be, and when the traveling salesman came by with a discounted model, it seemed like a no-brainer.

At least, it did until 3am the next morning, when the eeriest squeaking filled our entire space station. And when your home is a tiny layer between you and the void, you are painfully aware of each and every weird noise it makes. So it was actually a sort of relief when the source of the metallic whine turned out to be our brand new R-0ver. We found him in a corner, looking sadder than it should have been possible for a robot to look, and the only way I can describe it is that he was crying. He perked up when he saw us, too. It was cute, sure, but I don’t think it’s quite the best sort of behavior for a guard automaton.

That’s it, I’m telling Mom about the dragon egg you have hidden in your closet!

“No! Wait! Jackie!”

Eight months of planning, and if I didn’t beat my sister to the stairs, it was all going to be for naught. But she was younger than me, smaller, and faster, and it was going to take something like a real miracle for me to get there before her. She was three yards from the bottom step, and my socks weren’t getting purchase on the linoleum. And she was opening up her mouth to yell.

“Mom! MOM!!”

And then my miracle happened. Dad came to the top of the stairs instead, and I knew it was going to be alright. Because I wouldn’t have had the surprise dragon egg for mom in the first place if he hadn’t snuck it in there with me at the start of all this.

Writing Prompts

[Blog] Writing Prompts Open! (Round 2)

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I think it’s time for another round of writing prompts! (She says, shamelessly levying everyone else’s imaginations for ideas.) Same deal as last time: all you lovely people give me prompts– a song, a word, a phrase, a whole darn premise, whatever comes to mind– and I respond with a bit of flash fiction (100-200 words). Post your prompts in the comments!

Also, as it’s the middle of the month I have a full(er) length short story due. It’s mostly written and on its way, and I should be posting it over the weekend, so keep an eye out!

Musings

[Blog] Just Add Dragons

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I’ve talked a bit in the past about the stories– books, movie, video games, et al– that have helped develop who I am today, but I haven’t said a lot about the books I’m currently reading. And in the hope that some of you might find it interesting (and also to give some well deserved plugs), I’d like to talk about the ones I’ve been enjoying recently!

Oddly enough, there’s been a bit of a Napoleonic Wars theme, between Bernard Cornwell’s Sharpe’s Eagle and the Temeraire series by Naomi Novik. Sharpe’s Eagle is the first (by publication order) of a series of historical novels that follow the adventures of Richard Sharpe, a British soldier in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. With apologies to any history buffs reading this, I don’t know a whole lot about that era and the Napoleonic Wars, but my understanding is that the books are well researched and accurate to actual events. I’m about halfway through Eagle at the moment, and so far it’s been highly entertaining, if not the sort of thing I’ve read a whole lot of in the past. Given the snark and the audacity of the main character, I may well have to fix that in the future.

As for Temeraire, the series bears some similarities to the Sharpe series, in that it’s also well researched, follows the adventures of a soldier in the British military, and takes place during the Napoleonic Wars, with one addition. The fact that the addition is dragons just makes it even more fun. I’ve currently read the first four books of the nine book series, and I’ve enjoyed each new book more than the last and definitely plan to read the rest.

I’ve also been reading Luke R. Mitchell‘s The Harvesters Series. Starting with Red Gambit, these are post-apocalyptic high adventure, complete with monsters, mech suits, and magic, and they’re an absolute hoot. If you’re looking for something that’s full of action and just a whole lot of fun, I’d definitely recommend checking them out.

What about everyone else? Any books you’ve been enjoying lately?

Musings

[Blog] New Steps

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I’d forgotten how much energy it takes to adjust to a new situation– which, given my recent travels, I find a little amusing. At the same time, everything I was doing in Armenia was something that I had done before in one form or another, and the fact that I was volunteering for a set and limited time definitely took some of the pressure off. With this new job, that’s not the case. I’m hoping that this job will be a first step towards a continuing career in the medical field, which means that I’m rather invested in it going well. Which it is!

That being said, there’s a thousand and one things to learn, a million tiny details to keep track of, and a faster pace than I’ve kept in the past, and I can feel myself growing as I’m pushed and stretched. And I’m loving it. I’m also a little scared by it when I have time to think, but I hear that’s perfectly normal. And I can’t help but be excited too.