Pandemic Update

So I didn’t win Camp Nano, even at my 40K threshold. Covid-19 took a really bad mental toll at my workplace, and many of my dear work friends got laid off, and people started freaking out about a potential second wave of lay offs (fortunately, this hasn’t happened).

My hours have been significantly slashed, so I’ve been doing a lot of mask sewing. I have enough inventory now to start a small face mask making business if I wanted to. I have been ordering fabric fiendishly because, well, everyone is making masks (No seriously, I’ve seen people bragging of making between 500 and 700 masks, and to those people, I salute your endurance).

I’ve been trying to scrounge up any fabric I’ve been able to from etsy, fabric.com, Joann. Now that restrictions are loosening in Michigan, I’m probably going to go next week and buy some more fabric that I’ve been wanting to buy for months, I’ve just never had a reason to buy it, other than it’s pretty colors. So far I’ve managed to find a few yards of Frozen fabric, Avengers fabric a little bit here, and a little bit there as it pops up (for some funny reason everyone is buying up super hero fabric).I’ve got some plaids I’ve been raiding for fabrics. Today I’m washing green fabrics before they get cut and sewn into masks.

It’s exhausting. But I want to help. I want to do something that doesn’t involve me sitting on my ass feeling bad about my situation. So I sew on.

The burnout is real

It’s been awhile since I posted an update. It turns out between writing and making masks I have no time for blogging. Makes sense in the large scheme of things. I’m taking a break from making masks though because I’m burned out. And it probably is the exhaustion that comes with assembling 20 cloth masks. It probably has a lot to do with trying to maximize the amount of good I want to do and realizing the amount of good I am realistically capable of doing in my limited capacity.

So I’m trying to focus on just one thing as I go back to work tomorrow. Since I’ll only be working 4 days a week I figure I can spend 4 days dividing my time between writing and working, and then on the 5th day I’ll use it for finishing my current mask projects that just need the ties attached to them.

Depending on how my wrists are feeling at the end of the week, I might start a second batch, but if my wrist pain gets to be unmanageable, I’m not going to worry about the masks. It’s easier to stabilize my wrists as I’m writing and working. It gets a bit more complicated when sewing. It requires some repetitive wrist motion that starts wearing on my wrists. It’s the one down side to having tendeonitis, and in times like this I wish it wasn’t an issue, but self care is important.

Camp Nano Day 3 check-in

Camp-2020-Writer-Facebook-Cover1

I’m on day three of Camp nano, and I’m overall pleased with how the story progressing. Beginnings are usually easy for me, it’s normally once I get deeper into the novel that it starts getting harder, because I have to start thinking about pacing and when to introduce conflict, and making sure I’m not moving too fast. I’m on pace though. Actually, if the site is to be believed, I’m ahead. I decided to aim for 40K, but I would absolutely love it if I could hit 50K in true NaNo fashion. I’m just trying to have some does of realism amidst this pandemic and the fluidity of everything.

I”m going to have to slow down my daily word count ambitions for now. Not only am I noveling, but, at least until I can get back to work, I’m also going to be working on cloth face masks. I’m largely making them for people in our factory because we will be expected to wear them on the factory floor once we get back to work. Gentex has a whole bunch of them stockpiled, but I don’t want to risk disruptions in the supply chain at this point. We very nearly had an issue before we were dismissed for the stay-in-home order.

Now, the distance between what I want to achieve versus what’s realistic is probably the size of the Grand Canyon. But hey, you have to start somewhere, right?

Cue the Soundtrack

Decided to go into my Spotify playlist for my Camp Nano novel and tweak it so that I’m ready to hit the ground ready. It’s become a trend to create and post playlists, or a “soundtrack” that have inspired a specific project, whatever it might be. I just enjoy having the music in the background, so it might as well fit the project.

I got inspired to go back to my playlist for Camp Nano after stumbling across a Trans-Siberian Orchestra album on Spotify I never recalled hearing about. On a side note, I will probably be purchasing it because several of the songs have a delightful creepy vibe to them. Probably not what I would consider some of their better work, but it is still satisfying listening music. Spotify is such a delightful streaming service, and I wish I wasn’t so broke that I can’t afford the monthly fee for the premium account.

When I’m putting together a soundtrack for a novel I don’t always go for exact thematic songs, I might use songs to capture a mood or an emotion. A lot of my music is instrumental, so it makes theming a playlist easier and trickier at the same time. If it’s a heavier topic or setting like the pandemic setting in my novel, I try to balance out more intense and pulsating songs with calm and relaxing songs. It helps have something for the lighter or calmer moments in a novel. It also helps to dial back the intensity mentally, so my brain gets a bit of a break. If it has a unique vibe that I think fits a character or a situation, I might include it just because it feels right. Other times, I might be tweaking the playlist in the middle of writing because a particular song just doesn’t hit the right note like I expected it to, or it becomes too distracting to my writing to be beneficial to my process.

Connecting with Community

There is one thing that I like about the newly renovated Nanowrimo website, and it’s the writing groups function. It’s a nice way to keep people plugged in with writers outside of the nano season, especially during it’s camp sessions.

A lot of times the chat rooms die after the main nanowrimo event (don’t get me wrong, I love logging into Discord), but the writing groups offer a simple place for writers to get together and chat while writing in the off-season, whether you group by genre, interest, location, or (if you’re a potter nerd) you group by your Hogwarts house. Also, you’re not confined to just one writing group. You can join several writing groups if you want to, as long as you are invited by the writing group’s admin, or if you decide to create one (or two) for yourself.

This Camp event, I’m looking forward to some responsible social distancing via writing groups with local wrimos, and also globally connecting with fellow Hufflepuffs. It’s a great opportunity to commiserate with fellow writers while safely meeting new people via the web.

Write safely. Write responsibly.

Casting Call

I’ve always been a pantser when it comes to writing, but I’m trying to go in with a pretty solid idea of where I want to go with the story. In all honesty I wasn’t planning on doing Camp nano, but I’m not playing video games for three weeks straight. Not to mention, I love my mother, but three weeks with her is going to get boring after awhile. And my brother-in-law wants to talk about the pandemic and frankly, I’m at a place where I need to remove myself from those conversations.

I have a coworker on my line who spent two weeks telling me that six years ago she did all of this pandemic research and how prepared she is for everything, even a nuclear or radioactive apocalypse, and I am sick of talking about pandemics.

I have another co-worker on another line who has come to wear the most ridiculous outfit. On top of the standard PPE for our work in a glass area, he brought a gas mask, swimming goggles, a hazmat suit that apparently has no hood on it (and he doesn’t wear it during the full shift so I don’t know how that’s going to save him from the virus, let alone, if he’s wearing the same suit every day, it’s self defeating), and he wears a trash bag over the parts of his head not covered by the googles and the breathing apparatus.

People have arrived at the hight of absurdity, to the point where it creates needless panic and fear. Our cleaning ladies have also gotten slightly freaked out by Hazmat guy.

I want to incorporate a lot of the experiences I’ve gone through, the people I work with, but I don’t want it to be so obvious that if this ever got published someone would recognize I made a character of them and proceeded to portray them in a way they might find offensive (or even get upset that I included them at all).

I’m sure I’ll figure it out. I have until next Wednesday to have that stuff locked into place.

 

Stay-in Wrimo

Yesterday the Governor of Michigan issued a stay-in-home order for three weeks. I told my mother this is what I get for joking about needing two weeks of self-distancing from a co-worker that was stressing me out. There was also that one co-worker that was showing up in a hazmat suit, gas mask and swimming goggles, and a trash bag over the parts of his head that weren’t already covered. On the bright side, I can at least focus on my writing more for the next three weeks. Not how I was planning on getting all of that writing done, but you take what you can get in a once-in-a-century type situation like this.

I also have several things around the house I can do that I’m always complaining about not having time for.  *nervously looks over at pile of unfolded laundry* So plenty of things to fill the next three weeks with. But writing will definitely be a priority each day. I will at least be attempting to blog daily about all of my writing adventures over the next three days, but that assumes I don’t get lost in my fictional worlds.

Unplugging and refocusing

I’m unplugging from Facebook for two weeks. I never realized how much I used it until I made the decision yesterday to walk away for two weeks. Right now it just feels like too much stuff going on and something has to give, and at the end of the day, Facebook is nonessential to my life. My anxiety levels are pretty high right now – about where they were when I quit my gas station job – and I need a happy place right now.

Writing is my happy place.

I’m going to be doing Camp Nano in April.

I’m sure with time and perspective we’ll find out that we did our best given this is a once in a century event. But right now I’m surrounded by panic, anxiety, and fear and I just need some place to escape from it all. Writing makes sense to me. Maybe not to most, but it’s an easy solitary activity for me. It makes sense to me to retreat into my fictional worlds, so that’s what I’m doing right now.

It’s already that time of year!

It’s only September, but NaNoWriMo Prep season is already in full swing. I am determined to finish this novel that I’ve been working on for ever. I am determined to make NaNoWriMo work this year, and if that means I have to double down on my efforts to find a new job. I’m determined to finish this novel that I’ve been working on for so long. I’m sure my characters are ready for me to be done with this story. I’ve put them through so much uncertainty I think they just want this boss fight to be done and over with. I’ve just been teasing it for so long, it’s time to finally bring everything to the climax and finale.

Day 3 – A Brief tale of Wi-fi, heartaches, and headaches

Today was supposed to be a day of jubilation. I just needed to introduce one last hero to get this novel off the ground. All did not go according to plan.

Let me explain.

Deep in the land of Nano Rebeldom, there was a write-in at a cozy Culver’s in Holland, Michigan. I had gotten there early to secure our writing fortress and to enjoy some tasty food for my lunch before diving head first into the last section before finally returning to the plot – that thing that every good novel allegedly has. My last hero to be introduced was Emma, a slightly naive, but capable woman who may not have had all of the answers, may not have know what exactly she was getting herself into, but she was optimistic that she would be able to fare well in battle as long as she knew who had her back.

As the clock turned 1pm, the time for my write-in to start, I began confidently typing away on my tablet’s Bluetooth keyboard in Microsoft Word because the Dropbox sync was not syncing over the Culvers wi-fi. Words were flowing trippingly from my fingertips, but there was one small snag that I was not counting on thwarting me was the Culver’s wi-fi which is not reliable in the least bit. In fact, it was not working at all and the only reason I still had internet access on my phone was that it was on the LTE network. So when I went to save my handiness on my dropbox account, Microsoft word gave me the spinning wheel of doom. I naively thought that the wi-fi had somehow kicked in since my tablet was showing a wi-fi signal. But alas, it was not meant to be, and over two thousand words lost in the abyss of my tablet memory, never to be seen again.

And just when I thought all of my headaches and frustrations had reached a point, I had finished writing a section for the day on my laptop, and I decided to save and sync my Scrivener project so that next time I wasn’t caught with my pants metaphorically down. I don’t know what happened, but when I synced between my tablet and my laptop, I lost three sections – including the section that I had to rewrite at the write-in. In total, over 5K had disappeared in one sync.

One minute of unfettered panic.

It eventually dawned on me to go digging through the project files on my laptop to see if there was any chance at recovering the lost sections that way and lo, and behold, there they were in the project folder.  I don’t know what I would have done if I had lost that 5K+in the depths of Dropbox, except maybe cry a lot. Maybe even scream.

Today was not my day for writing.