February 28, 2003
Trying New Foods

We ended up going out after work today, directly to the mall without stopping at home for the diaper bag. Kevin grabbed a couple of diapers for Ryan when he picked him up. And off we went.

So there we were, sitting in Friendly's restaurant for dinner. No sippy cup. No bib for Ryan.

The first fun was the drink. Dani got a cup of chocolate milk, with a straw. Ryan tried the straw. Couldn't figure out how to suck on it to get milk out and got annoyed. And he REALLY wanted that chocolate milk. So we had them bring out an empty cup and we poured a teeny tiny little bit of milk into it. Kevin tried to show him how to drink it. Ry almost got it, sipping a little of it pretty messily. Then Ry got frustrated, so he reached into the cup with his little hand and tried to pick the milk up between two fingertips.

It was cute.

He tried two new foods tonight -- ketchup, and barbecue sauce. He tried to pick the ketchup up with his fingertips too. By the time he got the barbecue sauce he figured out how to dip (or dredge) fries in it.

He would soak the fry in barbecue sauce and then shove it into his mouth as if he couldn't get it there fast enough. He made a face, like the lemon face, as soon as he tasted it, but then he chewed and just had to have another one. And he kept doing this, over and over again. Now I'm sure, at Boskone, when we gave him the lemon, I did see him eat it. With a screwed up little unpleasant look on his face the whole time, but he ate it. He apparently likes the strong tastes. A lot. He tried to wipe up all the barbecue sauce from the plate.

Posted by Deb Atwood at 09:48 PM
February 27, 2003
The Writer at Work

*gasps* Jenn sent me the link to The Writer at Work. Okay, so this one starts you out in the middle. And it's a screenwriter not a novelist or short story writer. But I was still gasping for breath because I was giggling. And besides, given my latest fun with revisions, the self-esteem one was a good one. *giggles*

Posted by Deb Atwood at 09:54 PM
Top Ten Writing-Related Neuroses

Today someone posted to the OWW list the Top Ten Writing-Related Neuroses. I couldn't stop laughing. Even giggled the rest of the day. So tonight I decided to go look and see if I could find them on the net so I could share. If you write, or have to deal with/live with writers in any way, go look.

I think Kevin's developed the mailbox one right along with me... did you know these are infectious?

Posted by Deb Atwood at 09:48 PM
Baby Speak

My son is speaking. Not just the occassional word, parceled out and then never said again where someone else can hear him. But he truly is trying to communicate, all of a sudden.

Last night Ryan said HUG! He put his little arms around me saying HUG! as he hugged me, over and over again. It was adorable.

Today when I picked him up he ran to the door and yelled "Mommy byebye!" His words are still indistinct, but they are becoming more and more distinct and understandable. Far from perfect, but then, he's only 15 months old. The important thing is, he's starting to communicate in more than merely yells of frustration.

It's adorable. It's amazing. I thought I wouldn't be impressed by it as much the second time around.

I was wrong.

Posted by Deb Atwood at 09:17 PM
Itchy

Today I am itchy, waiting for the other shoe to drop, anxious for something to happen. Why? Guess it's that change thing again. I want something to resolve. Anything. Even a rejection letter right about now would be helpful, in some weird way (although that would just mean that I have to find new homes for stories again and I don't think there IS another place out there that likes erotica stories that don't have happy endings).

I just keep feeling like there's something... other than documentation... that I should be doing.

The new boss arrives Monday, and the crew gets to meet him face to face for the first time. It's a beginning, not an ending, but it's a completion too of a cycle. Maybe that'll help. No matter what, should be a good lunch out.

Posted by Deb Atwood at 03:13 PM
No Room in the Brain

Another thing I learned this past week or so... when I'm revising, there's no room in my brain for critiques. I have totally fallen behind on crits, and most of it is because I have been so intent on revising Lamenita. But it was like I could only handle one of the two things in my head at a time.

Hopefully, now that I've got that first revision out of the way for the moment, I'll be able to crank through some reviews!!! I owe some, and I feel badly for taking so long.

Posted by Deb Atwood at 02:42 PM
Epiphany

There has been a lot of conversation on the OWW lists about epiphanies lately. Some of the posts, specifically around sentence level construction, have been extremely helpful. It was all the same stuff I'd heard before, but something clicked this time (maybe it was the specific examples that did it) and suddenly I could see, at least some of them, in my story.

So I've hacked apart Lamenita. It went through one edit before it was posted to the workshop. I thought it was a pretty in-depth edit and that it was close to done. The crits pointed out some major holes in the piece, which I agreed with, so last night I finished up an almost two week process of tearing it apart and putting it back together.

Surprisingly, it looks an awful lot like it used to. Why does that surprise me? You should *see* the amount of pen on my editing paper. Almost nothing went untouched. There were a few paragraphs that I really liked, but the rest of it got played with. And changed.

I finished the process last night, and then today, over lunch break, I typed the changes into Word, saved it as version 1.1, and accepted those changes to merge them into the document.

Looking at it, and seeing how much the same it was, both relieved me and said something's wrong. So I walked away for a moment, puzzling over what was wrong in the back of my mind.

Then it hit me.

I have been told that I write well. I, personally, believe (well, sometimes) that I write well. But those are readers telling me that. I can put together a story that entertains and slides along easiliy and has characters that people like to read about. So readers think I can write.

The epiphany was that writers & editors don't. I write stories. I write things for fun. But my craft... my knowledge of it... is lacking. Readers think I can write. Writers & editors don't necessarily.

I can't say it to myself enough right now. I'm not trying to generalize, or kick myself, or anything like that. It was really just such a simplistic realization that I know I must've known it before and just refused to see it.

It goes along with the "writing is work" thing that hit me last week (was that when it was?). I can write. But in order to write really WELL I need to work at it, and then the words work and do something more than they did before.

Just little things. Like removing the felts. *laughs* I said to myself before, I don't do that. Then there it was, staring at me. Oh hells yes I did. And yeah, the entire feel of the sentence changed when I fixed it.

It'd be cool if I could get my subconscious to buy into this whole craft thing. Until then, it'll continue to be work.

Posted by Deb Atwood at 12:25 PM
February 26, 2003
Lost

I've been lost lately. Lost in my head. In my world of work. Somewhere around here... I know I'm here. But I'm not sure I know where.

There's so much to do around the house. We've been shopping kitchens, more and more. It's going to happen -- the move, the kitchen, everything. Just don't know how or when yet.

Work has been... absorbing. The big changes are starting to come through. In a few weeks I'll have a new boss. No, Chad isn't leaving. We are reorganizing my department, and I am moving into a new role. Is this good? Yes. I'll be able to focus more on the projects and less on the frustration. Is it weird? Hells yes... the next couple of months are going to be very rough psychologically. Strangely enough, Ambercon will come in the middle of this -- either the week John starts or the week after. I can't decide if that's good timing or bad.

Gaming... well, except for my email being completely insane (the laptop periodically decides randomly to not download messages, and then I miss them for days until I notice it happened), it's going okay. I found one of those missing messages -- have to reply to it when I get onto the decent machine in a bit tonight.

Writing... I have no idea how professional writers survive the "revision" phase. I have been working on Lamenita for days. And days and days. In some ways, I am sleeping it and dreaming it and thinking about it at odd moments when I'm not paying attention to anything else. And this story is under 2000 words long! But I'm trying to really THINK about the rewrite. I'm trying to pay attention to each word, to each sentence, and make them say what I really want them to say.

I don't think I've ever written like this before. I'm not sure I like it. I mean, I'm not sure I like how it makes me feel. Frustrated and furious at myself and tired and wanting to finish it all at once because I'm obsessed. And I'm not entirely sure I like how it makes my writing sound, either. But I suppose I'll need to read through the story altogether when I'm done with this revision.

I've been going through the defeatist thing lately. I guess I'm just at that stage in life. It happens periodically, y'know? Like there's just too much of everything, and the things I want are lowest on the list (of course) and sleep just isn't a part of it anymore (isn't that the usual way). Like I don't know why I'm pushing at things because I can't see the point. Well, no, I can see the point, but while a part of me is saying "yeah, we can do that" another voice is saying "you've gotta be kidding."

I think I need to generate a few new voices in my head. Cheerleaders. Whose only function is to jump up and down and say "yay Deb!" and instill some self-confidence in me. Wouldn't it be nice to be able to push a button and just feel steel flow into the backbone and lift you up, so you knew anything was possible? Yeah, that'd be cool.

Posted by Deb Atwood at 10:10 PM
February 24, 2003
Writing is Work

Yeah, writing is work.

I've been revising Lamenita for two days now. I'm all of about halfway through it, and I'm not entirely sure I've got that half right yet. I figure once through, then at least one more time before it goes out the door. But right now it is like drawing every word out, extruding it from my mind and letting it fall onto the computer screen and wondering if it matches the others. Trying to, as was suggested, make each word work for me.

Damn this is hard.

But worth it.

Posted by Deb Atwood at 10:57 PM
February 20, 2003
Ongoing Nerves

Okay, so I've decided that since I haven't heard, at least it hasn't been rejected. *nervous smile*

I'm trying to figure out if getting more things out on the market will make me *less* nervous or *more* nervous. Right now, I go to the mailbox daily, digging into it to see if the envelope with my own writing is there. Visualizing the envelope, and hoping that when I open it there is something that says YES and not another piece of rejection slip wallpaper. I figure, the nerves will be multiplied if I get more things out, but so will the chances of receiving a response of some kind. And that feedback of going to the mailbox and getting something has got to be good, right? Even if the something is bad?

It is almost the end of February and I think I have decided not to try for the Vampire Cockroach anthology. I've got a story -- it just needs revisions done. But the revisions look like they will make it longer, not shorter, and it's already 2200 words too long. So I think I'll just revise it and then go hunting vampire markets that will accept stories over 5k in length. Which are rare. *sighs*

I need to learn to write shorter short stories!! But when I do, and try something to make it have the right impact short, it seems to lose something in translation. I just work better in a slightly longer medium.

Posted by Deb Atwood at 08:02 AM
February 12, 2003
Stress Reaction

It's official, I'm way too stressed. Just had my dr.s appointment -- have one every other month to monitor blood pressure. And that part was great! Among the best it's been. So even with the stress, I'm keeping the pressure down somehow. Good news.

But the bad news? My weight's among the worst it's been. *groans* I gained more weight in two months than I can reasonably expect to *lose* if I adhere obsessively to Weight Watchers. I'm out of control on the stress reactions, and I can't seem to get it *under* control. I think I need hyopnosis or something.

I'm used to chew pens. When I get stressed, I need to chew or munch. But my new pens are not exactly chewable. So I've bought gum (I like bubblegum but can't seem to find *good* sugarfree bubblegum) and lifesavers. All things which are either minimal or free in points. Eating a lot of popcorn again, too.

Fact is, I need to lose wait. And I can't get to the gym easily right now, so it's going to have to be diet. Which means I've gotta get myself under control.

Somehow.

Posted by Deb Atwood at 02:07 PM
February 11, 2003
Cats Read Too

My cat, Athena, has expressed her opinion of my manuscript.

She threw up on it.

*sighs*

Posted by Deb Atwood at 07:25 AM
February 08, 2003
Kitchens & remodeling

We went to the home show today.

We're looking critically at kitchen things. What could we do to the kitchen we have? Where could we move, and if we did, what would the kitchen be there? Yes, kitchen is important.

If we had the arrangement we're considering, we'd even start entertaining again.

One thing we have agreed on -- professional cooktop, probably 48 inches, with 5-6 burners and a grill. Gas if we move, electric if we're here. The idea of gas is just SO cool. We're comparison shopping now for style.

I want a double wall oven, too. So far, I think we're talking a good $5k in just cooktop and oven. *groans* We'll be in debt for bloody ever. But damn, we'd have a rockin' place to cook. *grins*

Posted by Deb Atwood at 10:33 PM
bad writing habits

Urgh. Just started to add some words to a particular SF (yes, I'm actually attempting to write an SF piece) story I was working on and discovered that within the first page I had the phrased "seemed to" three times. So far.

There are things that just make the writing sound passive, dull, and boring. That's one of those phrases. Either it is, or it isn't, or she *thinks* it is. And if she thinks it, then I need a better phrase to describe it.

Writing is definitely moving from skill to work here... hard work. Worth it, I hope. My sense of self worth is improved today, but far from perfect. I'm hoping Boskone will actually be a lift. We'll see.

My goal? Have something in print or coming soon so that next year at Boskone people know my name as something other than a member of the Floating East Coast Art Show Crew. I really want to hear people say "oh, so you're THAT Deb Atwood" for something other than net.infamy.

Posted by Deb Atwood at 10:28 PM
February 07, 2003
Down Time

Tonight is a depression night. I'm really down. Just sort of can't really get myself motivated down. I recognize it in myself, recognize the silly swings my mood takes when I'm like this. One moment I'm dancing to a cool song that's playing and the next I'm staring at my screen wondering what to write because I feel a desperate need to do something that I actually *want* to do this week but the bloody words won't come.

Damn glad I'm not manic depressive. I don't think I could take it if the mood swings were *worse*.

But no, this is situational and not chemical... I just have a tendency towards obsessive behaviour that makes it all worse. Stronger. More intense.

I should probably go get some sleep.

Posted by Deb Atwood at 10:14 PM
Feeling Defeated

I'm feeling really defeated today. Last week I had an amazing week. I completed three reviews, and pumped out Lamenita and about 1000 words of another story. I made it over 3k words last week.

This week I opened up my spreadsheet to update it with a review I'd done and realized I had recorded no activity this week. None. Admittedly, I'd forgotten to record a review, so I put that in. I've done two reviews this week, and those were scraped out of some free time I MADE out of nothing. Like yesterday -- the can opener has disappeared from the kitchen and I took that as a sign to go buy lunch instead of eating my soup. I packed up chapter 15 of The Brigid and took it with me and had a nice break outside the office. Perhaps one of the best things I've done.

But today... I have meetings from 11-2. At least. So I guess I'm bringing my lunch along at some point, because I'll be damned if I'm gonna eat at 10 or wait until 2.

So anyway, writing. I managed to scrape out about 20 words last night. I think I'm trying to force a story that isn't ready, but I keep bouncing around and looking for the right place to write. And not finding it. Maybe it's the stress. I'm so wound up that I just can't seem to keep a thought together in my head. Maybe it's the outside influences. I'm not just escaping to do it. So I'm sort of focussing on reviews, not that that is really getting me much further than usual, either!!

This is that hard week... the one where it feels like an impossible task and I wonder why I've decided to do this. And I wonder whether maybe I'm meant to be a reader and reviewer and not a writer. And then I hear myself thinking and I resolve to refuse to accept that. I will write. I do write. I *am* a writer.

Might as well try not to breathe.

Posted by Deb Atwood at 08:15 AM
February 06, 2003
Brilliant Writing

No, I'm not talking about my own. *laughs*

I am reading Orson Scott Card's Enchantment and ran across one of those moments of brilliance that just make you sit back and say ah... yeah... that's how it should be done.

It's a small enough piece, and as far as I can tell, not a HUGE impact on the story (I'm only just past this moment) that I think I can tell it here without it becoming a spoiler.

The story is a Sleeping Beauty tale, and involves Baba Yaga, who has come forward into modern times from the ninth century. Baba Yaga has already discovered planes while chasing the heroes of the story. And as the heroes intend to return to Russia, Baba Yaga is contemplating taking a 747 in order to stay with them and catch them.

She considers the plane -- the huge flying metal house. And she thinks to herself that perhaps she will keep it, and take it back to her own time. And then she says to herself, how afraid would the kings be if she were to visit them in a huge metal house that moved on chicken legs.

And I stopped as I read that, thinking vividly of the myths of Baba Yaga's hut, which walked on chicken legs. And then I visualized a 747 with those spindly little legs leading down to the tiny wheels on which it lands.

And I thought yeah... yeah... that so works. And yet, he didn't have to harp on it. Didn't have to go into it and say "this is how the myth begins". It was a passing thought in Baba Yaga's mind and then off she went to go do her next thing. It was subtle, yet strong enough to make an impact and make me think.

Yeah, that's how it should be done.

Posted by Deb Atwood at 09:18 AM
Language Skills

I am surprised sometimes by skills in language. I still remember some Spanish, which I used to know damned well when I was still in high school. But it's the computer languages that blow me away.

I rarely get to code these days. Yet this morning I needed to put together a quick agent, and when I started typing the code just started flowing from the fingertips. Once I had my basic block put together I snagged the code chart I keep for reference to check my objects. And yeah, they were all right. I was surprised.

It is amazing how language sticks in the brain. There are things I think I'll never remember and yet I do. And then things I told myself to remember this morning flee the second they get the chance.

Posted by Deb Atwood at 08:16 AM
February 05, 2003
Guardian Angels?

I believe in Guardian Angels.

Yeah, I know, not the Christian. We all know that I'm pagan. And pagans don't have angels, right? But well, it's a good term to explain the concept. The idea that there is someone, or something out there, watching over us. Something that makes things become more than merely coincidence.

There have been too many things in my life which could have been horrific, but instead have been mitigated somehow by chance. Times when I should have been in a horrible accident, but something little got in the way, slowing me down, so that I wasn't in the right place at the wrong time.

This morning a friend of mine fell down the stairs. Normally she would've been carrying her daughter... every morning she does that... it's a routine. But this morning she just felt she had to leave her daughter with her husband instead. She slipped on the first step and fell down. If she'd been carrying the baby who knows what would've happened. Instead, everyone's fine.

Like someone said "put the baby down".

Like I said, a guardian angel. They aren't always around. But thank the gods that sometimes they are.

Posted by Deb Atwood at 09:18 PM
Ooh, new toy!

Okay, now this is a new toy! I've downloaded w.bloggar to use as my posting tool. It's nice to have a little program floating around that I can just pop up, type a quickie into, and then post & publish. I like it a lot. I can use the web pages when I want to do major work. But this works fine for the basic posting stuff. Whee!!

Posted by Deb Atwood at 08:56 PM
Braindead

Well, there it is... I've managed to go through about six mental blog entries earlier today, and yet when I get here, I can't remember a single one. *groans* I need to somehow keep mental facility past oh, 9am. *wry smiles*

Posted by Deb Atwood at 08:54 PM
February 02, 2003
Back to Signs

I didn't finish up last night -- let it gel some more in my head overnight.

[Moving this to more for spoiler space.]

This morning I saw Julia's comment about Episcopal priests -- are they called Father? *curious look* I hadn't realized there was a non-Catholic religion that did have priests as well, and the collars. I had honestly thought that was unique to Catholicism, which was what was confusing me. But if there is a religion with the collars, and the Father, and the marriage, then I'm cool. Although I think it would've been good to make that statement somewhere in the film since I think Catholicism is so often most associated with the collar (at least in my experience).

And of course, now I'm thinking it's time to go read some about the Episcopal faith. Since it's one I'm lacking knowledge in. *smiles*

I came up with some things I really liked about Signs, but most of them are acting or characterization. I loved the girl with the water. That is just so *true* about some girls. I remember I used to be like that -- I wouldn't drink water that had been sitting out. I even remember saying "it tastes old", so I was laughing every time she did it.

I liked the acting, but then, I generally do like Mel Gibson. I thought the kids were pretty good.

But overall, it felt slow, and it felt unresearched. I've had one comment about the fact that our world is covered in the aliens' greatest weakness. That was also what my husband said when it came up -- why the hell would the aliens *want* a planet covered with water when it can kill them? I can come up with at least one reason, I suppose -- to control the supply so that it cannot be used against them. But that still felt wrong, still fell way too simple. It made the ending taste funny.

I did like the concept of fate, that things happen for a reason. That nothing is coincidence and you must have faith and accept that things will work out. I like that, because it is very much my attitude, when I can manage to maintain it -- I try to look for the good in things, no matter how dark they see. Why? Well, if I dwell on the darkness, I can't bear it. If I look for what it means in the grander picture, then I can get on with my life and perhaps relax and even improve. And that is good.

Posted by Deb Atwood at 11:38 AM
February 01, 2003
Have you Seen Signs?

Okay, its not a complete and full review. Not yet, anway. Perhaps I'll update a little later, when its over. I'm only about an hour into it.

But there's something here that's bugging me. Can anyone explain to me exactly the relationship between Mel Gibson's character and the kids and his faith?? They keep calling him Father, and the pictures show him clearly wearing a Catholic priest's collar. This is reinforced by Tracy asking him to hear her confession. However, the implication is that these are truly his kids, and that his wife was killed, and that he only left the church when his wife was killed. But if he's a Catholic priest, he wouldn't have been married with kids.

It's bugging me. I like the movie so far, even though it's got a slow pace. But the religious thing is bugging me. I may not be Catholic. I may not be even Christian. But when people do religion, in the real world, I want it to be consistent. I *like* comparative religion, and I like stories about faith.

So, any takers out there? Wanna tell me something I missed? I have read a review of the movie that says it is also a story about faith, so maybe there's something still coming, too. But right now, it's just bugging me as an inconsistency, and unusual for Shyamalan's work.

Posted by Deb Atwood at 09:01 PM
The Columbia

By now, everybody knows that at 9am this morning, while the space shuttle Columbia entered the Earth's atmosphere, it came apart 200,000 feet above the ground and was destroyed.

I was standing in Walmart when I heard an older woman saying to her husband that the space shuttle had been destroyed while landing. I asked Kevin if he'd heard it. Our children went on chattering, not really understanding why we had to go look for a TV in the electronics department, or stop and listen to the radio. And we stood there, amongst the aisles of the store, listening to the news. I still had difficulty believing it.

On Thursday I went out to lunch with the other managers and our boss. We were talking about "where were you when" because someone mentioned that the seventeenth anniversary of the Challenger had just passed. I remember vividly where I was -- in art class, listening to the launch on the radio. I was dazed for the rest of the day.

Much like today. Almost exactly seventeen years later. I couldn't process it, couldn't seem to absorb it really. I just kept thinking about it.

I mentioned in the car that I didn't expect any space missions in the latter half of January, into early February, after this. After all, both space shuttle catastrophes have happened within the same week -- January 28th and February 1st.

Now I'm almost certain of it. In 1967, on January 27th, the Apollo 1 fire occurred. There have been only three fatal disasters, that I'm aware of, in the history of the space program. They have occurred within a five day span. And roughly 20 years apart.

I just hope our space program can recover. I think we need it... we need to science, we need the hope, we need the belief that there is something out there worth striving for.

Posted by Deb Atwood at 08:45 PM