Saturday, November 04, 2006

In hell

I have read literally hundreds of books and reviewed nearly as many but I can usually find some redeeming quality or feature that keeps the book from being truly awful. Not this time. The book I'm currently slogging through is an example of what not to do when writing a novel. It is the worst piece of garbage I've ever read and I need to find a professional way of saying simply, "This one sucks".

I don't usually look for information on publishing houses but I decided to break with habit this once because I could not imagine a legitimate publishing house buying and producing this one. A legitimate publishing house isn't responsible for this one. It's self published. That doesn't make a difference in my estimation because some excellent and truly noteworthy books have been self-published: all of Mark Twain's books and The Celestine Prophecy (before it was featured on Oprah and bought up for a mind boggling advance), as examples.

I am truly in hell. I have to finish this book this weekend and write the review but I also have my own writing to do and it has never taken me this long to read a book. I've been working on this one for five days and it's not getting any better. John Grisham may have been turned down by umpteen publishers before his first book was published, but he had something worth fighting for. Even in the world of the Old Ones this book would not be considered literature and the Old Ones would have destroyed the author for screwing up even their twisted and arcane sense of reality. If I were the kind of person who read the first few pages of a book and a synopsis and then wrote the review, I would, and I'm sorely tempted to put this one down and burn it after reviewing the half book I've read. Too bad I'm not unscrupulous. Being professional truly sucks sometimes; this is one of them.

That is all. Disperse.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Cold lizard moves

A cold lizard moves very slowly, comes from being cold-blooded and needing the heat of a summer sun to get their blood flowing and their limbs moving. That's how I felt this morning: cold and slow. Instead of jumping right into writing another 2000 words, I opted for a warm shower to get the blow flowing and my limbs moving. It felt really good, too, but today is definitely a sweater day, and possibly a sweater and jacket day. The sun room is cool most of the time even when the sun hits it but I also like a window open for the fresh air to keep my head clear. That translates to cold fingers and cool temps. Sacrifices. Warm, limber body this morning means no words written.

And then there was breakfast to cook and eat. No oatmeal, although that would have felt really good going down and lighting a warm fire in my belly to last a few hours, so eggs, but before I could cook anything the phone rang. It was the landlady needing to talk. Since she's a friend as well as my landlady breakfast could wait. After 45 minutes on the phone with her and gulping down two eggs, I am already late for work. Just two minutes, but two minutes late means two minutes extra and probably a short lunch. The life of a single writer who still has to slave for wages is not very glamorous. It is, however, my life and it's still a good life, warts and all.

That is all. Disperse.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

So many words

Well, the day is finally over and I added another 2000 words to my novel over on NaNoWriMo and finished a chapter. Looks like I'm going to do this. I already know there are some areas that need to be reworked but I'm resisting the urge--successfully for now.

Today was a busy day. I actually had plenty of transcription to keep me busy and I received an email from the other company telling me they want to set up a phone interview. I'll do that tomorrow at 1 PM (3 PM their time). I also had to send them the names and numbers of three professional references. I can't exactly ask my current employer for a reference and I lost contact with my supervisors and QA techs at the old job a while ago. No one sticks around for very long (the company's choice, their choice, who knows whose choice), so I had to scrounge and beg a little today. I was surprised the people I asked responded so quickly--and said yes. I have good friends.

I also called Mom and Dad and got some news. Dad sounds great and he's in good spirits.I had to yell so Dad could hear me but he was laughing and joking and back to Dad. Must be the lack of testosterone poisoning in his system. This surgery may have been a good thing, outside of cutting off the food supply for the cancer. I know how attached he was to his jewels. It's not like taking out a woman's ovaries. We are attached but not quite so attached to them. Our ovaries don't define most of us. Our breasts do.

Anyway, everything is squared away, or so I thought. Beanie told me she's moving. Not here to Colorado or even to Montana or Wyoming, but into Mom and Dad's house. I knew it would happen but not until after our parents were gone. That changed with Dad's surgery. Mom and Dad have decided they need to move back to town so they're not so isolated. They also want to cut back on expenses. The house isn't as big as Beanie's house now but they will have more land for their horses and animals. Beanie's son Ants is a little upset because its farther from Charity's house. I told Beanie to tell Ants it will give him more practice driving. She laughed. So, Beanie and her husband will put their house on the market and take over the payments on Mom and Dad's house, which is a scant eight miles away from their present home. So much is changing and the inevitable keeps moving closer.

At least Mom and Dad will be closer to the hospital and Dad's cardiologist and Mom can go back to Mt. Carmel for her monthly transfusions. It's a good idea but I didn't think it would happen so quickly. Surprise!

In the meantime, I'll focus on work and finishing the new novel and book reviews and more work and just keep busy. I may even manage an afternoon nap once in a while so I can write until 11 PM. Now it's time for bed. Oh my gods o'clock comes early in the morning and I want to get another hour or two done before it's time for work. I have words to write and words to transcribe.

That is all. Disperse.


Dad had his surgery yesterday--finally. They kept changing the time so that his original 9:30 AM start time became 1:30 PM. He was in surgery about 30 minutes and since his replacement heart valve is failing they did the procedure under a local anesthetic. That means that Dad had a chance to talk during the surgery--and he did--a lot. I guess he talked the surgery team's ears off while they worked on him. That'll teach them to leave him awake. I'm sure he was nervous and a little bit anxious and that always translates to conversation. He probably couldn't hear everything people were saying because he wouldn't have been allowed his hearing aids, but there's nothing wrong with his mouth.

He came through the surgery all right but he may be dead this morning. I haven't checked. I talked to my mother last night and she said she was fixing dinner for Dad, always a bad sign. ;0) Just kidding. Dad is a better cook but Mom can open cans and use the microwave with the best of them. When it comes to desserts Mom shines as a cook, but only because she loves to eat them and would settle for nothing less than chocolately perfection.

As for the rest, I have writing to do before I begin my working day. I promised myself I would write for two hours in the morning and fit in some more later in the day. This is my short work day since payroll ends at 2 PM my time. I need the break from working like a mad woman for the past three days but I'll get over it. At least the work is finally there. I may make it after all.

That is all. Disperse.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Off and running

National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo for those in the know) began this morning and I began by editing and commenting on a friend's story. It's a really good story that could be better. I see some of the things I used to do when I first started writing seriously. I should say when I first started seriously writing fiction. Books and writers tell you to show and not tell but they never really tell you how. By editing other people's work I learned how to explain it better and how to understand it better. Nothing like taking someone else's words and showing how they tell and don't show.

I'm sure none of you is interested in writing talk but for the next 30 days while I struggle to write 50,000 words before the end of the month (and most likely more than 50K) I will be talking and writing about writing. For now, I'm off to the bathroom to take care of some business and take a shower before I plunge into another day full of paying work.

That is all. Disperse.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

More tests

I thought I was done with tests when I got out of school but it seems like there are always more tests. Either I suggest them for others or I have to take them. I took several tests to get my ham radio operator's license and after a very false start did very well. I took several tests to get the job I currently have and, since I got angry yesterday and decided to find another company to pay me a regular paycheck, I received an email that sends me to a site to take more tests. Once this is done I will have another income to add to my main income and to my writing income.

Tomorrow I will begin another test, one that lasts a whole month. I will test whether I can stick with a program and write a book in a month. If I can do that then I will test myself even further and see how many months I can fill with writing books. I have several on the drawing board but I'm tired of waiting for time to write; I am just going to write them.

The thing about waiting and patience, no matter what you want to do, is that nothing ever gets done. Waiting puts you in a submissive position so that the Universe or god/dess or someone else can fill your emotional, mental and spiritual orders. You have to wait while you're pregnant for the baby to be born, but you're really not waiting. You're creating and adding to something. Your body is active. Your mind and spirit are preparing for the new life that will join with yours. It just seems like you're waiting and that's where the problem of defining waiting comes in.

When you wait for the right time to have a child, a time when you have enough money, a bigger place, a better job, etc. the right time never comes. People wait for the right time to leave a marriage or a job or start their own business, leaving their dream nothing more than a dream. They don't work toward the time when they can make their dream a reality; they just sit and wait for the right time to arrive. It never will.

I've been waiting for the right time to finish the books I have half written and to start the ones I've been planning, waiting for enough time to sit down and write. In the meantime, I have written and edited lots of other things, but not those books. They are still dreams. They are still out in limbo waiting to see print. Granted, my work schedule has been impossible with me working 100 hours for 20 hours worth of pay, and by working I mean sitting at my computer starting and restarting a program every 10-15 seconds that tells me there is no work available or gives me 1 or 2 jobs. The program is not automated and I have no other choice but to sit there and click the program to start and end and start again until all I see is another screen telling me there is no work. I catch naps in between stretches of work, working every available hour day and night. I've been stressed and stretched to the breaking point and for all my diligence I get less and less work. I realize now I could have written something, even long hand on real paper, while I sat there fuming at a blank screen and answering emails and made the time work for me. I didn't. I couldn't see further than the blank screen with no jobs. I was frustrated and tired and very cranky. I worked weekends, nights, holidays and got more nothing. Not any more, not since I got angry yesterday.

So I will take the tests tonight, email them the results and my little essay about how I got involved in medical transcription and I will write my books starting with the new one tomorrow morning bright and early. No more working all hours of the day, night and weekend. No more giving up all the things I love doing or the people I enjoy seeing. No more waiting. No more patience. From now on I make things happen every day. I'll take my lumps and tests in stride and move forward into the present of every moment. Yes, getting angry and refusing to wait for the right time is the right thing to do for whatever dreams you hide and polish and put back on the shelf. Waiting does nothing but waste time and time is a precious commodity that waits for no wo/man.

Life is not a test but there will be tests to take...and pass.

That is all. Disperse.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Emotional Sati

The past week has been difficult. My mother was in the hospital for dehydration and to find out why she was vomiting constantly. She thinks it is the Glade plug-ins that Dad has in nearly every available outlet in the house, including under the kitchen sink. Dad does like the scent of jasmine but a little jasmine goes a long way and a lot of jasmine, to the point everything in the house smells of jasmine, will make you sick. There were no Glade plug-ins when she was here a couple weeks ago and she was vomiting then, too. She also has an upper respiratory infection that finally seems to be breaking up, but neither of those would be cause for almost constant vomiting. She also had severe cramps in one leg and the next morning woke up in the hospital with extensive bruising in the same area and the doctors didn't think it was red flag enough to consider doing a Doppler to check for DVTs (deep venous thromboses, blood clots in the leg). I wonder what good they are if I can spot a potential problem and know more about their job than they do--and I didn't go to medical school.

The pre-op testing caught a problem with my Dad's mitral valve, the valve that exploded and was replaced with a tissue valve seven years ago, which means he would be extremely high risk for general anesthesia, or any anesthesia come to that, which would be needed for him to undergo the removal of his testicles. The surgery was set for November 1st, but that may have to be delayed or even canceled if his heart valve, which only has a shelf life of seven years, is giving out. So now it's a matter of what will get Dad first, his heart valve or the prostate cancer that has moved into his spine, ribs, and pelvis. The testosterone generated by his testicles feeds the cancer, which is slow growing (relatively) and will grow a little slower (relatively) without the added push of the testosterone. Hopefully, the cardiologist, who hasn't put in his two cents' worth yet, will okay the surgery under conscious sedation or even a local so the spread of the cancer will slow down, giving my father a few more months of painful life as his bones succumb more and more to the spreading cancer before his heart valve gives out.

I paint a bleak picture but it's not nearly as bleak as I know it really is. That's the problem with having spent twenty-four years typing up operative reports and death summaries, not to mention oncology and hospital reports detailing similar situations. I know the course of many diseases and the cause of even more diseases and I type reports of people in situations similar to my parents' situations and I know what comes next. I have no illusions; my work took those away.

My parents have lived full and long lives at 75 and 78, respectively, but I'm not ready to let them go. Still, I'd rather they go now without suffering what I know is ahead of them even with the dulling and mind numbing effects of increasing doses of morphine. Even nearly 2000 miles cannot cushion the blow of talking to my parents and hearing them downplay what I know is really going on. I am caught between wanting their pain to end and wanting my parents around for another twenty years. All of this almost eclipses the lack of work and my growing concern with the lack of funds spilling out of the pipeline I have spent so much time filling.

There are times when I hate publishing's pace. It's like a snail frozen in its slime trail most of the time. Lots of work up front but no money for long periods of time. Yet this is the path I have chosen and one that I am working more and more, almost as much to earn more money as to soothe the sadness and pain growing inside me with every bit of news from my family, every moment of frustration with ignorant and incompetent doctors on all sides of my life.

I have been sad and depressed over the past few days but now I'm getting angry. Anger is good. It's like the liquid oxygen that when ignited pushes tons of metal and ceramic and glass through the heavy embrace of the earth's atmosphere and into the black void of space. Anger is the emotional sati that burns away sentiment and fear and depression.

That is all. Disperse.