Writing is a journey, not a destination.

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Thursday, January 29, 2015

Progress Report

You all know I'm trying to self-publish. This is a thing at least a dozen of my author friends have done, so it shouldn't be that hard.

Enter the Turtle.

I am not an autodidact (self-teacher). Thank you, Katherine Coble for an introduction to that word. I am a teacher. I would rather teach a man to fish than fish for him, but everything I know I learned from a teacher somewhere in my life. I don't forge new paths. I don't test every button or option in a program to see what it does. I don't fiddle with every setting because I can't remember how to replicate those results. I follow the manual.

Grace taught me the margins that have worked for her in the 28 (?) books she has published in the last six years. I discovered my ancient Word program doesn't convert to PDF specs that CreateSpace wants. I could just keep sending huge files to all my friends to convert for me, but I don't want to do that for the rest of my publishing life. I found a Friend who helped me find LibreOffice, free software that does convert to CreateSpace specs. Fabulous.

New hurdle: the LibreOffice converted files add 8 pages to the finished CreateSpace project and I can't figure out why, how, or if it matters. It does matter a bit because it makes the book bigger, which affects cost and cover size (a whole other learning curve). Are eight pages that big a deal? Not necessarily, but before I just sigh and accept, I'd kinda like to know what I'm doing or not doing that's causing it.

I'm not suicidally frustrated, like I was when Star of Justice was being prepared. The benefit of total control is I can walk away and sling mulch if I need to. But I really thought this would be easier - the number one cause of conflict in life, by the way: false expectations.

I'm going to keep trying, like Edison with his light bulb, and tonight I'll convert and upload the 18th (at least) attempt in the last six days to CreateSpace. Eventually, by accident, I'll stumble on the right magical formula to please the Machine Overlords, and with my newly acquired experience points, I'll  move on in the Publishing level of the writing game I call The Swamp.

On a more satisfying note, God finally provided a dump truck load of free wood chippings on my lawn, so I have plenty of mulch to sling when it all gets too be too much.

Keep the faith.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

My Greatest Fear

I am a worrier. I try very hard not to be, but I come from a line of worriers so it's a nature and nurture thing. I worry about weather, cost of living, icy roads, and a whole bunch of other things that are outside my control. This leads to me being a control freak about things I can control, like having a multi-step tornado safety plan, and an emergency fund that would make Mrs. Ramsey proud.

However, what's harder to see from the outside is that all my worrying and control freakness stem from a single source: what will happen to my animals if something happens to me.

If I lived alone, I would be carefree. I think I'd be so depressed and miserable on a regular basis I wouldn't get out of bed other than to go to work, but I wouldn't worry anymore. Frankly, I'd be waiting impatiently for God to take me out of this increasingly insane world.

I worry about how I can protect my charges during disaster or emergency. Or Rapture. The Rapture bothers me a lot, but so does being dragged off to jail for being a Christian with my door open, and my little ones left to fend for themselves. That thought makes it hard to breathe on my best day. 

They're just things, Turtle.

No. I have things, and I don't care about what happens to those when I die.

Animals are not things to me, no matter what the law says. They're lives. Too many lives, it can be reasonably argued, but lives nonetheless. I won't abandon them in case of fire. I won't get myself downstairs if one of them is upstairs. I won't risk an auto accident if it means I become paraplegic, and they go to the shelter to die ('cause that's what happens to 99% of cats in shelters. They die).

Is this a stupid way to live? Yeah. My head knows that, but my heart runs these things, and I don't know how to control my heart. I can't be the person who thinks only of herself when seven other lives depend on me for their subsistence and overall protection. I don't want to be that person.

So I worry. I know it's a sin. What I don't know is how to apply God's grace to cover my critters. He and I have talked about it a lot, and the conversation shows no sign of concluding.

Just know, if something happens to me, my one and only remaining concern is that my critters be cared for. This is why I made a will. This is why I won't commit suicide (because they wouldn't get their hefty insurance payment that will provide for them for the rest of their natural lives). This is why I wrote this post.

My first Bible study of this year will be "peace." Seek, and you will find. I'm seeking, Lord. 

Keep the faith. 

Friday, January 9, 2015

Put Up or Shut Up

Tallahassee Florida says it a bit differently, but this isn't Zombieland (yet), and I'm not Tallahassee Florida (yet).

Today is the day I intend to complete publication of Daughter of Anasca. It will be an uphill climb. I have to read 250 pages looking for spots where I foolishly removed hyphens. I have to return to Createspace after four months and remember where I was. I have to return to GIMP after four months and finish off the cover, which I think just involves sealing the layers or whatever it's called when you take all the layers and fuse them together into a single image. Part of me thinks I should save an unsealed version, just in case, but I may have already started when that thought occurred to me. Bit late to close the barn door after the horses have eaten the children. I have to figure out how to get an Amazon created book onto Barnes & Noble's site for Nook readers, although that doesn't have to happen today. Naturally, all of this involves technology, and we all know how well the Turtle does with tech.

However, I'm showered, oiled, and fed (actually, I'm eating while I write this to save time). I'm dressed in my Hitchhiker's Guide to the Universe comfy T-shirt, my "I am not the Commonwealth" sweatshirt, yoga pants to avoid binding issues from sitting so long, and my housecoat and thick socks because I'm doing all of this at the desk computer instead of under the electric blanket with the laptop. I have my bifocals on to prevent eyestrain headaches. In short, I am armored to do battle with geek issues.

I took today off because daytime TV on Friday sucks, so I won't be tempted to turn it on. I planted long-growing crops on Farmville so I won't go check on them. The radio is on low, and I will change stations if people start talking in distracting ways. I have healthy snacks, a pile of flavored cocoas and green teas ready to drink, and bottles of Citrus Fresh and Peppermint oils ready to sniff for energy and concentration. I have my favorite pens (Pilot PreciseGrip extra fine 7 pack of colors, including pink and purple) and a fresh notebook ready. I have a spray bottle to hand to ward off unwelcome lap sitters (which I just had to do). I am even prepared to lock the cats in the basement if they all turn into Satan Spawn. I hope they feel this. I also hope the sun comes out so they'll disperse to sleeping sun spots.

I have some short physical tasks planned for when I need to stretch. Finally, but mostly importantly, I've invited God to guide and direct the process, and asked Him to cover my tail when I make whatever mistake I'm going to make today. I'm as ready as I'm going to be. 

So that's my day, Deo Volente. Best get to it.

Keep the faith.

PS: Jason Gray's Remind Me Who I Am just came on the radio. I know who I am. It's gonna be a good day.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Goodbye, 2014, you were OK

Last year wasn't horrible. I could go so far as to say, for me, it was a good year.

Mild weather, no massive losses or traumas, steady job, enough money to pay my bills: what more can I really ask of a year? True, I only harvested six zucchini, but I made a blueberry shelter, strung a fence and lost a pant's size working in The Swamp. Writing goals were almost non-existent, but part of that was intentional. A bit of sabbatical.

So many times I've considered not writing anymore. For all practical purposes, I've adopted a non-writing lifestyle. I'm not driven like I used to be. I have no explanation for this, but it is time to accept that if I am going to write, I must do it without a monkey on my back whispering in my ear. That's OK.

If you know me on Facebook, you know I found an old journal going back to 1996. This "dead inside" feeling has been with me that long. So has my tendency to depression. It's time to accept this is how I am, and move on. Enjoy the little things and all that. The beauty part of living with chronic depression is knowing it comes and goes. Just hold on a little bit, and the chemical wash recedes.

This is not to say don't treat your depression. Depressed people are extremely hard to live with, so don't do that to your loved ones. I self-medicate with St. John's wort, extra sleep, exercise (even daily stretching helps) and my new Winter best friend, vitamin D 5000 IUs per day. I am saying if you live on the line, don't let it become your only focus. 

The world hasn't ended, so I may as well continue to play along. I'll never get anywhere if I don't start, right?

Keep the faith.

Friday, January 2, 2015

Why Tiny Homes Are Fascinating But Not For Me

I own an 823 square foot house with an unfinished basement of equal size. I live in about 800 feet of that, and use the rest for storage or cat space. Frankly, the cat space is more important. I wish the space was distributed differently, and I often consider and occasionally implement ways to utilize the space I have more effectively (the loft bed being an excellent example).

Katherine Coble is fascinated with tiny houses, and posted this on FB yesterday. She doesn't want to live there, but admires the ingenuity.

I watched the 5 minute video, and shrank back with a sort of mental claustrophobia every time they demonstrated the "combination" of ways the space could be used. They can attempt to reassure me as often as they wish how liveable the space is, but I saw a hotel room for either the very poor or very rich.

No fridge or freezer means I'm either grocery shopping every day, eating out every day, or making ramen for every meal. A four foot wardrobe means I wear uniforms to work and the same shirt and pants every weekend, with possibly one nice church outfit. I can also have only one heavy coat. My library would have to rotate out on a monthly basis. I could own no knickknacks, no musical instruments other than a harmonica, no craft supplies, and no comfortable seating. In short, the entire space requires me to live in a city where I am completely dependent on what I can buy or rent from others, like food, transportation and a padded chair. This is anathema to me.

I abhor McMansions, too, so please don't think I object to a simple lifestyle using available materials. I can only say I am too American, too big-sky Kansan to consider life in an urban shoebox appealing.

Plus, there is no space for a litterbox in this lifestyle. I can't be a part of a life with only outside cats.

Keep the faith.