netpositive: (sato)
Irrational idea for today:
Get angry at yourself for all those things not done,
and just give up. Why bother? Who cares, really?

    Write down the facts.

    Down time. Dead time. Resentment. Resistance.
    Have not been as productive at work recently.
    Didn't write words three of the last five days.
    Forgot to use two coupons to save on books.
    Have done zero shopping for the holidays yet,
    and have no idea what to get anyone, either.
    Spent a week waiting on someone to call me back
    about something important, albeit not urgent.
    Skipped possible dancing opportunities twice.
    Can't focus on anything to look forward to.
    Connected with the divine all Wednesday night --
    but connected with nothing since then.

    Write down your subjective self-talk.

    "You'll never accomplish what you want to.
    You're going nowhere right now and that will
    never ever change. Everything before this was
    just a lie, to get your hopes up. You're not
    paying attention to anything or anyone important
    and you are unable to change your bad patterns.
    Look at your inconsistent control of your diet.
    Think of all the things you haven't done by now.
    You hate the 'holiday season'/this time of year,
    and you resist any encouragement or insistence
    from others to be happy, or participate in it;
    it is unnatural not to enjoy this, and you have
    no right to be/feel so different from others."

    Describe your emotional response.

    I feel like I'm not who or what I think I am,
    and that's frustrating after a too short period
    of feeling better and more "me" than usual. I feel
    like I must not really have the self-discipline
    or abilities I envision myself as having, and so
    I'm a terrible being - a waste of time and space.

    I also hate having my schedule/routine disrupted;
    and Thanksgiving through New Year's is a time
    every year when that happens to me.

    I also really hate being told by others that I
    "have to", "should" or "must" do certain things --
    even if I agree and believe in them, or not.

    And then I hate myself for not being thoughtful
    of others, and for not sharing their happiness.

    I have become so afraid to look forward to the
    future for fear of disappointment. I'm afraid
    to try to change things -- even broken ones --
    for fear of renewed, or different, failure.

    Then I'm mad at myself for not even living up to
    my own expectations - for not finding hope in
    things - for not going forward all the time.

    Dispute and change irrational self-talk.

    I don't normally regret for long things, esp
    minor ones, which I have not done once they are
    past. Also, I am usually good about discharging
    my obligations without undue resentment. I must
    be feeling a lot of extra performance pressure
    imposed on me by myself and perhaps (knowingly
    or otherwise) by others. Part of this may be my
    (mis)perception of others' expectations of me...

    I know this time of year is always very difficult
    for me, when it gets dark and cold and my routine
    is thrown off, and I don't feel like celebrating.

    I also know I am often afraid of change because
    I don't know what will happen afterwards --
    and I may not be in control of what does.

    This is all conflicting with my desire that
    *this year*, "things will be different":
    because I have things I really want to do
    and relationships that I want to maintain,
    or improve, despite my feeling lethargic and
    disconnected, and overwhelmed by pressure.

    Substitute alternative, rational self-talk.

    You've run into a whole bunch of roadblocks!
    Let's take them one at a time out of that wall.

    You do good work, and that will continue.
    However, you would like periodic feedback
    from others that you are helpful and useful.
    At present, you're not getting much of that.
    But you will have your annual review soon and
    that should tell you where you stand and what
    you can do to improve yourself or help others.

    You did write, two days out of five. Both days
    you did extra beyond your (self-imposed) goal.
    Two of those other days you did some research
    that you've recorded in your notes to support
    your upcoming work. Plus you should have some
    help with your research as you get organized
    and know what -- or who -- to ask for.

    More books? You have plenty to go through yet!
    There will be other chances -- and coupons --
    whenever you finally need more reference works.

    As for your unhappiness about holiday shopping,
    this is a manifestation of your fears about money,
    uncertainty, and simple lack of time, as well as
    frustration with insistent insanity in spite of
    both negative and positive reality checks. However,
    you generally shop for others via wish lists and
    gift cards. You also try to help others who need it,
    via charity donation requests or invisible acts of
    kindness. It all happens, at an appropriate level,
    in a way that works for both you and the recipients.

    You did collect needed contact and resources
    information, so that you can now proceed with
    settling something you've procrastinated about.
    You are taking steps to take care of yourself in
    smaller and larger ways; however, there will be
    moments when you fall down, for whatever reason.
    Blaming yourself never helps get you back up.

    You have celebrated, and will celebrate, with
    someone important to you; even if you do feel
    fear of the implicit acknowledgment that time
    passes, you can still be grateful for all the
    time that is, and all your presences in it.

    In addition, you are back in touch with people
    both close and far away from you, and you have
    another chance to let them know what they mean
    to you. You can do things you want to. It's ok
    to balance that with what others want you to do.

    Remember: a phone is simply a tool. Use it.

    Notice your thoughts and feelings,
    acknowledge them non-judgementally,
    and let them go.


    I feel these things. They may or may not be
    rational, but I do not discount that I feel.

    Refuting the irrational idea:

    Look back. It was not a lie; it is your path.
    Look down. Those are your feet, standing still.
    Look forward. There is your chance to take steps.
    Look up. Remember standing in a concrete courtyard
    a few nights back, all those lights shining upwards
    and one star looking down through reflected glory?

    You haven't left the universe, any more than it's
    left you. It finds you even in this. The universe
    has a weird sense of humor, you see, by making you
    go through ecstacy just to get to the laundry.

    Fear of failure is understandable, especially when
    you have been used to success. But the worst that
    can happen could still be for the best if it frees
    you from further fear of failure. So why not try?

Instead of giving myself reasons why I can't,
I give myself reasons why I can.

-anonymous
    Tactics:

    Listen to any music that helps right now.
    Skip the rest until sumer is icumen in.

    If there's blockage in the way, you have always
    found my own unique way to get past it. Use your
    innate resistance, rather than feeling used by it.
    They say you can't, or you shouldn't? Say: "I can.
    I will. I must. And no, I won't let you stop me."
    Aikido your critics with their own negative energy.

    Continue to get rid of ten things a day
    to make room for the ten thousand things.
    Then you will have what matters most to you.

    Breathe.
    Breathe once just to go in and out.
    Breathe twice, to reestablish the pattern.
    Breathe threefold -- for those who were,
    for those who are, and for that which will be.
    Then keep on breathing, however you do it.

    Continue to celebrate even the smallest things.
    If you don't share another's joy at this time,
    don't disrespect it. Find it in your own terms.
    If only the fact that the year, and the wheel,
    will continue to turn -- that spring will come.

    Listen to others -- but find your own voice.

If you hear a voice within you say
'you cannot paint,' then by all means paint,
and that voice will be silenced.

-Vincent Van Gogh
netpositive: (bloodylane)
It takes a great deal of history to produce
a little literature.

-Henry James
    Seanan McGuire has an interesting essay on
    Know Your Territory: that one needs to be
    somewhat familiar with the genre one is writing in.

    Sadly, this applies hard to me: I am creatively stranded
    in unfamiliar territory. I read a wide variety of stuff --
    not just "speculative fiction" -- BUT I am not familiar
    at all with the subgenre of alternative history. My soul
    is firmly rooted in heroic fantasy, dammit! Nonetheless,
    somehow I got this idea that wouldn't go away....

    I agree with her in principle and I am trying to do this,
    but it has some problems. The most irritating thing about
    working on this alternate history idea has been not doing
    the historical research (or even doing the writing itself,
    though it's early yet) -- it's been doing just this kind
    of "market research" on other books "in the genre".

    It's been like adding 50% again on top of all the other
    work one is doing to unearth and ground one's writing
    PLUS having to suffer through stuff that isn't good, or
    isn't right, or simply isn't "what I want to do with it".

    [Or rarely, it's so good one despairs, at least for a few
    minutes. Then one grits and grinds and gnashes one's
    competitive teeth together and gets on with it again.]

    Specifically in my situation, where does one draw the line?
    What is "alternative history"? _Guns of the South_, sure,
    but how about _Gone With The Wind_? Gingrich-Forstchen's
    _Gettysburg_ series looks to be popular, but it's almost a
    polar opposite of the kind of fiction I want to write. If
    that's what people really want, maybe I'm doomed. [Or is it
    just a matter of getting a vaguely-related celebrity name
    on the book cover? *rolls eyes* If it was a choice of "by
    Sarah Palin and..." or not being published, WWTDCD? :P ]

    So I agree with her -- and yet.... :) Maybe I need help.

    I turn to you, dear reader, for you are reading this and
    I blithely assume you may read other things as well.

    Have you ever read anything that you consider either:

    (a) a *good* work about the Civil War era? Emphasis here
    is on fictional works, but if you have a favorite auto/bio
    or nonfiction item, go ahead and rave about it. I may read
    those too -- someday. Major bonus points for anything that
    conveyed the flavor of the time without being ponderous, and
    the characters didn't seem too anachronistic (or saintly!).

    (b) a well-done alternative history piece? Doesn't have to be
    U.S. Civil War, but it would help if its backing history is not
    *too* obscure. 14th century Ojibwa culture may be Fascinating
    enough for Mr. Spock, but I lack time to immerse myself in it.

    I am aware of David Weber and Eric Flint, and Patrick O'Brien.
    Go ahead and explain what appeals to you in them! Bonus points
    if you can convince me to read them.

    Thanks in advance just for reading this. Also if you respond.
If you want writing time in your day, you have to
take it—no one will give it to you. Often, you can
only take it from your own alternate activities;
writers' lives tend to get rather stripped-down
for that reason.

-Lois McMaster Bujold
netpositive: (bloodylane)
One of the problems of being a writer is in
identifying "time off." If the book is always
running in your head, niggling at your brain,
you're never quite altogether present to
the people you're with.

Lois McMaster Bujold
    Today's word is "gasconading": to brag, bluff, boast.

    Use in a sentence, please?

    Autobiographies of Civil War Generals are often full of
    gasconading.

    Just sayin'. ;)

    These can be like watching a car crash in slow motion.
    You know eventually such utter self-delusion is going to
    run smack into relative historical truth, and the result
    is going to be pieces of self-image splattered all over
    the pages of countless non-fiction books arguing whether
    said general was a plaster saint, or the devil incarnate.

    As for fiction... well, that's why it's called fiction.

    *evil grin*

    Some words got written this week. Not enough, but some.
    Time got eaten by living people, rather than the dead.
    (Look, I am grateful for friends, but I'm one of those
    weird people who needs sleep on top of everything else.
    Which would you rather me have - balance, or my sanity?
    I'll settle for one. What I can't cope with is neither.)

    However, the outline got some very helpful annotations
    which I hope will lead to mo' better words down the pike.
    Plus I'm figuring out how to concentrate the research to
    lead to a kiloword or two of original writing most days.

    Now if I could accomplish that every day, for 200+ days?
    I would be a lot farther along than I am. *rolls eyes*

    But seriously, I need boundaries -- even artificial ones --
    or I get daunted. Don't ask me how it's going -- I'm all too
    likely to tell you before I stop myself from babbling on. :/
    For the time being it's all practice, yet it's becoming real;
    it's all moving along slowly, but somehow; and it's all good.
    Except where it's still bad. But even that, can get better.

    Dear Characters,
    I'm hearing some of you loud and clear. If the rest
    of you could speak up? Er, not all at once, please!
    Ow! My ears! And I can't type that fast, dammit...
    thx,
    Aspiring Novelista

Writers aren't exactly people.... they're a
whole bunch of people trying to be one person.

-F. Scott Fitzgerald
netpositive: (bloodylane)
A historian who would convey the truth must lie.
Often he must enlarge the truth by diameters, otherwise
his reader would not be able to see it.

-Mark Twain
    Sigh, sob, shrug. See "To make bodily motions so as to convey
    an idea or complement speech." Maim, mangle, mutilate..

    I don't want to get involved in historical reinterpretation
    or the minutiae of scholarly arguments, dammit. I just want
    to write this crazy thing and get it out of my head already.

    This will be *fiction*. Based on history, but still fiction.
    Must keep on with the outline of main scenes. Go from there.
    Reason #23 why I don't read alternative history books... )

You have a limited amount of creative energy.
Even when it feels like a bottomless supply, it isn't.
It's finite, if only because there are only so many hours
in a day.

Value that creative energy. Because if you don't,
no one else will.

-Mark Evanier
netpositive: (bloodylane)
Books should not be falling down, sideways, upside down,
or backwards.

-from a training manual for library workers
The time to begin writing an article is when
you have finished it to your satisfaction. By that
time you begin to clearly and logically perceive
what it is you really want to say.

-Mark Twain

...[he] looked across the page to the rest of the book
left in the reader's hand. It was going to be a long epic.

-Bored of the Rings
netpositive: (bloodylane)
In preparing for battle, I have always found
that plans are useless but planning is indispensable.

-D.D. Eisenhower [attributed to]
    Took today off from work to get the fabled "four-day
    weekend". To-do list included: take someone to the airport,
    drop due books at library, grab my favorite lunch special,
    and spend a chunk of time collecting research from online for
    my insane multi-volume alternate history Civil War project
    (oh, let's call it _Attack!_, because that is what it is)...

    One of my more difficult characters is going to be a doctor.
    He's not a major continuing character, but he has an important
    role to play within a small, but very, key time period. However,
    his autobio has been way long out of print, and he's had zero
    voice either within the storyline or in my background thinking.

    No more.

    Ok, I don't take back everything that annoys me about Google, but
    damn, is this helpful and timely! Sometimes, pieces do fall into
    place because you've been putting the puzzle together around it...

Organizing is what you do before you do something,
so that when you do it, it is not all mixed up.

-A.A. Milne
netpositive: (bloodylane)
A good plan violently executed now is better than a perfect plan next week.
what GSP would have said to GBM
    Via the library, I found a reference work that is
    likely to help both my novel-length writing projects:

    _Everyday Life During the Civil War: a guide for writers,
    students and historians_, by Michael J. Varhola.

    Unfortunately, once again, someone has used a black pen to
    correct certain facts in the book.

    Sadly, some of the Amazon reviews bear out that this may be
    necessary -- and necessary for more than one section.

    The kicker?

    This was a book put out by *Writer's Digest*.

    I expected better from a group which presents itself as
    professional and authoritative. Color me blue and gray
    with disappointment.

    Nonetheless, it holds enough "intrinsic value" for what
    I want to do that I am getting a copy. It's out of print,
    but I lucked out on eBay.

    I just hope I can hang onto the library copy long enough
    to verify and transfer any already-determined corrections.

    (No, please, don't get me started on Wikipedia -- either ranting or revising.)

    I have a revised Preface and half of Chapter 0.
    My main Mac books are getting highlighted
    to high heaven, and as "light research reading" I have
    crossed the Cross Timbers with one Randolph Marcy and
    returned to "civilization" -- circa 1850.

    (Sometimes, civilization is overrated. But not when it
    involves pizza, a working laptop, and a hot shower.)

Never interrupt your enemy when he is making a mistake.
what Napoleon B didn't have to say to Robert E
netpositive: (bloodylane)
Hopefully the first of a series of notes on writing and research...

There is some person who keeps writing comments/corrections
in the margins of Regency romances I borrow from the library.

Normally it's more irritating than either amusing or educational,
but at the moment I know EXACTLY how s/he feels. Grr. I caught 3
in the first 75 pages. Who knows how many more there may be that
I didn't catch due to relative unfamiliarity with this time period,
or because I was just doing a preliminary skim/read for how useful
it might be for what I'm doing.

They aren't simply spell-checking "typos", dammit. These are
errors in the copy that somebody ought to have caught.

Sadly, it's not a library book I can just take back
(with or without corrections...). Currently, I own it.

But I can't trust it without checking. Which is maddening.

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