Friday, March 24, 2017

Moving Against the Flow

It's back to a bare page for today's story - good bones and theme, poor structure. Time to scrap it and do it again, this time with a different perspective. It'll work, just not as a conversation as I had originally envisioned. If you're getting the impression that often I start a story (or chapter or whatever), write a bit of it, discover that I've entered the quagmire of "meh" and retreat, you're right. Often the path that looks great from the shore disappears or becomes a bloated mess half-way through the marsh. With artwork, I call it my "meh" stage, and everything goes through it. But with writing, it often requires a serious pruning or shift in POV; in other words, not just a "meh", but a total obliteration and restructure.

Sometimes you have to change direction to get to the other side. In writing,
that happens often - at least to me. It's part of the challenge. 

Life can take swings like that too. Jobs come and go, for instance. The idea of a job for life which our parents sometimes had the opportunity to have is a foreign concept in today's work force. The goal of working for a single company for 25-50 years and they, in turn, will provide you with a pension that will be sufficient to live out your retirement with is an idea of the past. It's a shame in a lot of ways. Now you have a career, but you job hop - still working in your chosen profession, but for any number of different employers. And retirement? Well, that's now your own responsibility, with very few exceptions.

Taking a river cruise through Europe certainly isn't for everyone. It's expensive,
it can have problems with flooding or low water levels in those rivers, and
a lot of the traveling is actually done during the night so that you're exploring
the land visits during the day - missing the view of a lot of lovely countryside.
But friends I have who have done them have all loved it. So it's a thought. 

A friend at the YMCA told us about a personal friend she has who retired and wanted to travel. She and her husband wanted to sail all over Europe on one of those river cruising boats. They spent three months traveling the waterways of Europe, spent $100,000 to do that in the fashion and style that they wanted, and had a wonderful time. Other friends and acquaintences were giving the woman a hard time about spending her retirement money on such a thing. She, in turn, said "I'm retired, I could die tomorrow. Now I'll die happy with a dream fulfilled." It's not a bad way to go :-)

Sometimes going with the flow is not a great thing to do. Sometimes you
have to take up your courage and move against the current to get
somewhere in life. Don't give up - just change the path to a different one. 

So be flexible, move with the flow but change as you need to. Sometimes that change will come in mid-stream, and that's OK too. Just remember where the shoreline is if you have to retreat and begin the journey once again. Have a lovely Friday, I'm planning on having a great day after I change the viewpoint and structure of my current story - LOL.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Life Is Good - Writing and the Tolkien Universe

Yesterday was a very productive day. I don't know why all of my days off can't run that smoothly, but they don't, so I'm just grateful for small favors. Of course, there is one number that I missed finding for my accountant, but I'll find it this morning and phone the office with the info and then we're good to go. The appointment was smooth and quick, we had everything we needed together, and we were in and out of there in ten minutes. Happiness. Now it's just up to them.

It's hard to argue with happy, and considering my dark days can
always crop back up, I'm going to stick with the sunshine and
lollipops for as long as I can. Thank you VERY much!. 

I did a lot of writing yesterday, so I'm actually ahead of the B2MeM schedule once again. I scrapped my original idea for "An Exception to Joy" and wrote it as a drabble instead. I'm much happier with the result. Sometimes words just get in the way. I also wrote "An Unexpected Visitor" for the "Remembering" prompt. It has a cliffhanger ending that I'm leaving unresolved. I know - I'm evil! BWAHAHAHAHAHA. (Sometimes it just has to be done - LOL).

Yes, I'm evil, leaving my cliffhanger unresolved. No apologies
from me for this one at all! 

So that pulls me ahead two days and lets me start work on the "Hope" prompt today if I have any time to write. I'm steaming into the final seven days of stories and cruising along. I have switched one thing out a bit on the game board, and that's the "Act of Kindness" and "Wild" spaces. I'm bunching all of those at the end of the month. For me, B2MeM is about writing, and I'm doing a lot of reviewing so I'm not just keeping my head in the sand. But I want to address the alternate activities after the actual 31 stories of my Red Path have been written and posted.

I'm not going to forget to do the Act of Kindness and the Wild spaces, but
I want to group them at the end of the month. I have been practicing Acts
all month long, and have been reviewing a lot of stories. Feedback is part of
the challenge and so important for every creative person. 

I'm still having fun, and that's the really important thing. The characters are still talking to me, the research that I did so many years ago is still in my head and at my fingertips, and I'm back and immersed in Middle Earth once again. I'm really happy to be writing steadily once again in the Tolkien universe. Not all B2MeM formats have spoken to me over the years, although I've always started March out with the best of intentions. This year's sent out a clarion call and I haven't enjoyed a B2MeM event this much since either the Passports or the Bingo events of years ago. I'm very happy.

I've also been playing my Lore Master character in LOTRO a lot. I get into
these times when I'll play a lot for several months, then set it aside again
for another six months. I've been playing in the LOTRO universe since they
asked us to be one of their Betas back in 2006 or so. A LONG time ago. 

My original fiction is sitting in the corner being petulant, but I'll get back to it. Eventually. It's fun to be playing in Middle Earth once more; I might stay for a while. I'm wrapping this up with some pics then I'm off to the pool. It's going to be a great day here in the Frozen Northlands. I hope your Thursday is equally wonderful!

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

A Diversity of Friends to Celebrate

I'm still barely hanging on with my B2MeM stories, writing and posting them on the date that they are due. Today's is in the works, but only a few paragraphs are written so far. I need a bit more on the page before I post, or I'll have to change my format and see if I can warp my ideas into a drabble instead. No time to waste though, because I have my income tax appointment tonight and still have a list of things to get gathered for it. Today's going to be a busy day!

What is it with guys hanging off cliffs? When I
went searching for a good photo for this image, I
couldn't believe the number of pictures out there
of guys doing this. It would totally FREAK me out! 

I had to unfriend someone yesterday and feel terrible about it. She had done nothing wrong, and I had followed her posts for many years. But her posts were extremely long and never used a cut, so there was no way to run through them quickly, and on some days there were as many as 15 of them. I'm fighting time right now - I want to write, I'm doing inventory at the shop, I'm cleaning because it's Spring (or Summer, or Fall, or Winter), and I needed to hone my in-basket down a bit. So, despite the guilt, I messaged her, apologized and told her that I needed to remove her from my active list, and did it later that day after she responded. It will, in the end, be a relief.

Sometimes hard decisions have to be made. I hate
to unfriend people, but paths do diverge and people
do change over time. 

Lots of people have unfriended me over the years. They didn't agree with what I wrote or what I said. I am unapologetic about my hippie views, and I sometimes do step boldly into the fray on other occasions. I've missed the interchange between those people and me, but in the long run, life does go on. So even though I still miss some friends years after the fact, other friends have taken their places. One nice thing is that I've branched out and now also have friends who are not Tolkien enthusiasts, or writers or ... or ... or. These newer friends who have such different interests are interesting, even fascinating, people from all over the world and all walks of life. Sometimes it's nice to know there are people out there who don't get involved in the minutiae of JRRT.

I enjoy my LJ friends, and love their diversity
and their passion. They are intelligent, versatile,
artistic and creative individuals who make
my life better by sharing theirs with me. 

But thank goodness for my Tolkien friends. They are my foundation and the friends I've had for the longest time. There is something satisfying about digging into a volume of HOME to research one little fact, or discussing a single line in "The Silmarillion" and knowing that the people you're discussing it with know the book as well, or better, than you do. I'll lift my coffee in a toast to all of you later this morning.

It's never easy to open up to others. The fact that we
not only do that, but create vibrant communities of
people who have never met, or rarely meet in real
life is nothing short of amazing! 

So here's to friends - old, new, and yet to come. Take a look around you. Who are your long-time and new friends? What are their interests? Choose one today and message them. Tell them that they are important to you and that you  really enjoy sharing the days with them. Happy Wednesday! Enjoy!

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Did You Celebrate Yesterday?

Yesterday was the first day of Spring - the Vernal Equinox. Did you celebrate? Was the day a lovely one in your part of the world? I was busy - lots of customers to help that kept me going most of the day, and then pounding out yesterday's story "Stone Faith for the Future", what I had planned to be short and sweet and what ended up growing into a definite short story instead of a ficlet. Oh well. I finally got it edited and posted late last night so I'm still on track. Today's prompt is "Foresight", and that will be difficult. But I'll figure something out because I have to.

Just look at this tiny mouse in the flowers! Too cute! What a lovely
way to celebrate the new season. 

Spring up here in the Frozen Northlands often is accompanied by snow, but we're almost snow-free and our temps have been fabulous. It's currently 4:00 am and 39 F degrees! I can totally live with this. Call me happy! DH is ticked, though, because he's let his weight loss slide and is more than ten pounds up from where he wants to be. He has my sympathy, but everything I suggest to him he shoots down as something he either doesn't want to do or "can't" do. So he's on his own.

Spring has sprung here in the Frozen Northlands. It's a wonderful
thing to see. We could still get some snow, but if we do it will
be gone quickly because our deep low temperatures are gone
for the season. We still won't plant a lot until the end of May, though. 

Tomorrow is our personal income tax appointment late at night so I'll be scurrying and printing out numerous things to make sure I have everything Paul will need as far as information and paperwork goes. I usually end up forgetting something and dropping it by his office on Thursday or Friday morning, but it would be really nice if I actually had my act together for a change - LOL. Nice dream, yeah?

Most of our Garden Centers have closed down, but this sign still
made me chuckle. I may not be buying plants yet, but soon DH
will be able to buy the last of the stones he needed and he'll get
back to work on the castle. Maybe that will make him happier and
get his extra weight back off. 

So as you step into your second day of the new season (and I'm making sure to wish a Happy Autumn to my friends in the Southern Hemisphere, too), I'm enjoying the possibilities ahead of me. Have a totally excellent Tuesday and Enjoy Your Day!

Monday, March 20, 2017

What a Sunday!

I hope you had a great weekend. After scrapping original story ideas, I quickly wrote "How Long is Forever" and "Reminders of Burnt Dreams" on Saturday morning, and pulled out "Studying the Map" on Sunday for the prompt "The Road goes ever on and on...". I'm working on the prompt for today and have a pretty good idea of where to go for tomorrow's prompt. I'm not ahead of the game, but I'm not behind either, just keeping up. Hopefully I can pull ahead again, though. Breathing room is always appreciated.

I'm trying my best to pull ahead on my stories once again. It's nice
to have a little breathing room in my schedule and I don't want
to fall behind. 

I finally had a chance to see "Dr Strange" last night. I'd been wanting to see it in the theatre, but that never happened, so I bought DH the DVD a few weeks ago. He had a chance to watch it a couple of weeks ago, but this was my first time. Great film. So much fun. I want a cloak like that! I'll have to watch it again to catch all of the secondary things, but Marvel hit another one out of the park with this.

Will Dr Strange be joining Thor in the moving that's currently
filming in Australia - "Thor: Ragnarok"? And what of Mordo?
Hmmm ... all sorts of interesting things going on here. YEAH!

We're crazy warm again, for March. March usually is one of our two snowiest months, but we've had it going all around us. We've certainly had some, and there are still some patches and some mountains of piled removed snow at larger buildings and shopping malls, but it's 4:00 am and 35 degrees F right now, and that's beyond usual. I'm not complaining, but some of the winter resorts have had a really rough few years and ice fishing this year was a bit of a joke, lasting for a month or so. I'm still wearing my lovely purple winter coat because it's not jacket temperatures quite yet. But I really can't complain.

I love my purple coat just as much now
as when I bought it last fall. It's been a
great winter coat - nice and warm, and
it fits great too. Happy me! 

So, I'm off to the YMCA pool for my morning swim, then breakfast, and then to work and continuing to write and post my next story for B2MeM. It's been so much fun so far, and I'm totally having a blast! Have a great Monday, enjoy a strong start to your week.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Starting Over - Sometimes It's Necessary

Sometimes you just have to start over. For the past three days I've been working on my story for the 17th - notice that it hasn't been posted? That's because although the basic story premise was fine, the actual story was a piece of crap. I wrote a quick one for the 18th last night, and that one was flat and dead - words on a page that didn't deserve the virtual ink they were printed in. I double-checked the prompts before going to sleep last night and hoped clarity would come.

Sometimes my clarity comes best when I can
shut down my active brain. My thoughts are always
racing around like mice in a maze. 

Yeah, that was successful. Two totally new stories came out of last night. I'll take some time today to write them and they're short, so I should be able to get them posted today which would at least get me back onto schedule. Yes, sometimes you need to change direction in mid-stream and move to another viewpoint.

I sometimes have to change direction in mid-stream. I think
that all of us have to now and again. The ability to absorb
change is important in life. Without change there is no growth. 

That can happen in life, in fact it often does. New jobs, new homes, sometimes new romances, all of these don't negate what went before, but they influence what is to come. The education of the parents shapes the child. The experiences of friends and social activities influence the future comfort with gatherings and socialization.

Are you open to meeting new people? I tend to be insular and
not that outgoing, but I work in retail and deal with the public
every day. Left to my own devices, my castle would be my only
place, but I make sure to push myself outside of my box. 

So when you look at new experiences, look at them as an opportunity to reshape what has already gone on in your life before. It's not a new start as much as a new pathway branching from the one you've already been walking. Embrace it.

There are always choices, it's a matter of deciding which
one might be the best fit for you. 

Enjoy your weekend. I hope I'll get caught up on B2MeM today and get ahead of the game tomorrow, because I dislike writing on a schedule and not having any cushion time. Now ... off to the swimming pool.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Happy St Patrick's Day

Happy St Patrick's Day! Today millions of people world-wide will be celebrating the life and times of one abused slave who managed to escape, got educated and converted, and then came back to spread the good word and convert the rest of the heathen to Christianity. Booyah! Lots of green will be worn, parades will be marched in, and green beer will be served. People will party hearty, and Lent? Well, Lent will be dealt with tomorrow - LOL.

Have a wonderful St Patrick's Day. Have fun and stay safe! 

Unless ... you're a resident of most of the Archdiocese of St Paul and Minneapolis. You see, the Archbishop of this area, Bernard Hebda, is allowing our 800,000+ area Catholics to eat their corned beef and cabbage on St Patrick's Day. BUT (because there's always a but) they "must undertake a work of charity, an exercise of piety, or an act of comparable penance on a different day" during the 2nd week of Lent. Oh ... and nearby city New Ulm has refused to allow the breaking of Lenten tradition. Of course, New Ulm is a German and mostly Lutheran city, so it's rather moot.

I'm not really sure why there's all this fuss about corned beef and
cabbage. It's really not even a traditional Irish meal. But it is
tasty, so I do make it on occasion just because it's easy to cook
and tastes wonderful. 

The entire idea of eating meat on Friday during Lent (and being able to get his annual treat of corned beef and cabbage) was quite exciting to DH who likes his fish on Fridays during the Season. I just laughed, told him to eat whatever he wants, and am still planning on fish tonight because I happen to love fish and it's a nice, healthy alternative in my diet. DH can get his cabbage for lunch if he wants, but he probably won't bother. He's thinking sushi, which sounds really good.

We both love sushi and have it quite often. I'll envy him lunch if
he has sushi, but that's OK, because I always gain weight with
all of the rice and salt. 

I always find it very amusing that a Catholic who never attends church always holds to the "eat no meat" rule for Lent, and that I, a pagan/Jewish-heritage total non-believer walk right along with him and eat fish too. Of course, I'll still have my normal breakfast and there's bacon there, but I do enjoy my fish for dinner during Lent.

I'm not really sure why, but one Minneapolis bar consistently has the
top sales of Jameson in the nation - year after year! Of course, we
have a heavy Irish population, but there are actually more Irish
in St Paul than in Minneapolis. Oh well, it gets awards from the
distillery every year. 

So, wear your green, parade in your parades, drink your green beer and Jameson Irish Whiskey (responsibly, please) and celebrate along with the Irish. Why not! Happy Friday to all!