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?

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.

My NaNoWriMo Delcaration

While it shouldn’t be all that shocking at this point, I have finally decided on what I am going to do for National Novel Writing Month this year.

I am going to reboot the novel I worked on last year. I lacked serious preparation skills in that I had forgotten several important members of my main cast in favour of jumping ahead to the big war that I was apparently really eager to write about. Now, I’m all about cutting to the chase and getting down to what really matters, but when you have nine heroes and you’ve only introduced four of them, well, um… Huston, we have a problem here. So this year I’m going to try and focus more on making sure my other heroes get their fair shot at getting an introduction and good development so that these characters aren’t just showing up out of the blue and everyone, reader and characters, aren’t all, where the hell did you all come from and why are you here?

Of course, that’s also going to mean that I have to do some planning ahead of time. If there’s one thing that I’m almost notoriously bad at doing at this point in the month, it’s planning, especially if there’s a shortage of employees and I’m having to work overtime as a consequence. But that’s the point of NaNoWriMo after all.  It’s a horrible time to be doing this, but damn it, I’m going to find the time to get it done this year.

Sometimes an accidental file deletion is a blessing.

It turns out that working in retail full-time is not conducive to creativity when your store is chronically short staffed and you’re in management. Which is why I haven’t been online and blogging in over a year. As much as I’d like to say things are going to change for the better, having stepped down from my shift lead position, I know better than to say that at this point in the game.

I wouldn’t have made a second attempt at reviving my creative juices though if I hadn’t been in the process of relocating my Scrivener files (so that everything was conveniently saved to a Dropbox synced folder). It appears at some point when I was performing last rites on my last laptop and going through my files to determine which files were worthy, an entire trilogy I had worked on during NaNoWriMo either slipped through the cracks or I deleted the trilogy out of pure embarrassment of its existence. It’s probably the latter since the whole execution of it was a disaster and a half by the time I got to what should have been the third installment. I probably deleted it knowing full well that if I went back, the only way I could salvage anything in the novel was if I started from scratch.

It’s probably the latter that ended up happening since the whole execution of it was a disaster and a half by the time I got to what should have been the third installment of the trilogy. I probably deleted it knowing full well that if I went back, the only way I could salvage anything in the novel was if I started from scratch. Almost everything was either a mistake or something that wasn’t working at least within the framework that I had willing constrained myself with.  It was a great idea, don’t get me wrong. I was in love with the idea, but I just managed to have shitty execution of that idea. Maybe if I’m feeling ambitious I’ll revisit it for a different NaNo. Right now I can only try to remember what I did wrong so that I don’t make the same mistakes a second time.

Happy 31st Birthday, Reading Rainbow!

Today is kind of a big deal. If you don’t know, today marks 31 years for the popular show, Reading Rainbow, which is in the middle of a massive Kickstarter undertaking. Aside from Wishbone, and a family that fostered a love for reading, Reading Rainbow is why I love the written word so much, and is probably one reason I ended up excelling at English as a subject during my academic years from First grade on up to High School, and beyond. For those who are unaware of what Reading Rainbow is, let me explain to you what it is, what it isn’t, and why it’s important.

  • It is a show that inspires kids to love reading.
    They do more than just read books to kids on this show, although that is part of the programming. But even when I was a kid, aside from the occasional Reading Rainbow video in class, kids aren’t taught to fall in love with reading. They’re shown how to read, spell, write, but it’s never about fostering a love for these things because simply having a love for reading isn’t going to get a kid to pass a standardized test.

    Most teachers, especially these days, are too focused on getting kids to pass tests both state and nationally, to nurture a love of reading in their students. Unfortunately, when teachers develop the tunnel vision that only has them thinking “how can I get these students to pass this test?”, the “how do I get my students to care about this and carry this throughout their lives?” gets lost in the teaching. When students are forced to learn something for a test, however, they are more inclined to detest and forget what they learn, because “it’s all just for some stupid test.”

    What made Reading Rainbow so revolutionary when it began was that it met kids where the technology was. For the longest time, that was the TV. But the world is getting increasingly digital, which means that kids are moving to mobile devices, gaming consoles and tv boxes. Right now the Reading Rainbow app is on the iPad, even though they want to expand to other platforms and devices. That’s why the folks at Reading Rainbow are doing a Kickstarter – so that they can continue to be relevant and meet kids where the technology is, and unfortunately, they can’t do that without money, because decent app developers don’t come cheap.

  • It doesn’t teach kids how to read.
    I don’t know how this misconception started, but apparently some people at some point thought that Reading Rainbow was going to save the world from illiteracy by teaching kids how to read.  That’s not what Reading Rainbow is designed for. Reading Rainbow isn’t intended to teach kids how to read, or give them critical thinking skills. Those are still skills that are best left to be taught in the classroom.

    Reading Rainbow is all about giving kids a reason to read. Most kids these days would sooner pick up a “shoot ’em up and blow ’em up” video game over a book any day. I’m not saying that all video games are bad. (I believe that MMORPG can have value, since those kind of games are generally built around a storyline developed by the game developers. It can be a great, hands-on approach to storytelling.) However, given the alternative, a kid is more likely to complain and bitch about having to pick up and read a book, even for class. Even at the high school and college levels, it’s becoming increasingly common for people to “watch the movie or tv-series version”, and not trudge through a wall of text for a class assignment. (If you think I’m inventing this, I took a course in English literature for fun during my last spring semester in college. There was one girl who would always tell me, when we met in the hallway before class, that she watched the movie version or the tv-series version because she didn’t want to be bothered with actually reading the book.)

  • It’s important because writing and Reading go hand in hand.
    I haven’t heard a single author who hasn’t said that writers read. And it makes sense. Because it’s more than just fully immersing yourself in your genre – it’s about a deeper love for the written word. English, for all its infuriating contradictions, spellings, and nonsensical rules, is beautiful. And as a storyteller, it’s not good enough for us to simply enjoy arranging them in a way that delights us as individual writers. Language, by its very nature, is creative, and to not read is to limit your enjoyment of your creativity.

    Additionally, we need to know how to write so we can comprehend what we read. Writing is how we learn sentence structures, parts of speech, and grammar. As a generation comes up that is more fluent in text abbreviations than grammatically correct writing, writing and reading comprehension are becoming increasingly valued skills in the work place.

So if you have $5, or even $1, maybe consider donating to the Reading Rainbow kickstarter. It will be the best investment you ever made.

But you don’t have to take my word for it.

How easily we abandon things.

Online journaling used to be a thing of mine. I loved doing it, and the gratification I received from the few faithful followers I used to have on Livejournal made the whole exercise rewarding.  We’d chat about life, work through whatever issues I might about, and occasionally we’d talk about movies and books. I blogged about everything. I wasn’t self-conscious about my content and whether I’d get comments. I got into a really awesome writing habit when I blogged regularly.

Lately, though, it hasn’t been a priority. Even blogging about personal things has become a non-existent priority. It actually amazes me how easily I abandoned blogging on Livejournal.

In some ways I miss it, because I’ve become so self-conscious of what will happen to my will to blog if no one replies. What if no one reads my posts? All the self-doubt about something I used to love has somehow sucked the love and fun out of it.

So I’m going to do something about it. I’m not going to try to do something, I’m going to do it.  I’m going to start up my personal blog again. I’m going to continue blogging here about writing. And I’m going to start doing it to the point where I can get my head past all the self-doubt and just do it, and fall in love with it all over again.

Because blogging is writing, just as much as noveling is writing, and I won’t settle for excuses for not doing any kind of writing.

So you’re probably what’s happened to me that caused me to fall off the face of the planet. The truth is, I’ve been focusing on picking up any extra hours I can get my hands on so that I can pay down my private loans (at the very least). Fortunately, over the next few weeks, I should be getting back into the habit of blogging semi-regularly so that I can start getting into the habit of writing daily again.

“What’s the occasion?” You ask.

What would be going on in writer’s land that would inspire Allyson to get writing again. Truth is, this year Camp NaNoWriMo is in session in April and July. For better or worse, I’ve signed up for the April session. Largely because I really want to finish Myth of the metals, but also because I’ve got a ridiculousness plot bunny that I want to test out in November, but I want to finish Myth of the Metals first before I start venturing out with that plot bunny.

OLL is doing a few things differently this year with Camp NaNo.

  • We have customizable goals! So if you want Camp NaNo to hold you accountable for writing 100K in thirty days, by golly, Camp NaNo will hold you to it. Only want to manage 30K or 10K? No problems! What ever your gal is, it will be considered every bit as acceptable as the traditional 50K goal for NaNoWriMo!
  • Additionally, since OLL has retired Script Frenzy, they’re now allowing scripts, and other NaNo rebels to join in the fun. So if you were looking forward to Script Frenzy this year, there’s a place for you at next month’s Camp event!
  • They’ve also introduced finer controls in the cabin selection process so that you can request a cabin that has people who have similar word count goals, or a cabin with a certain level of activity.

I’ll probably try my best to get ahead since I know for a fact that I’m going to be spending 3 days in the middle of nowhere, northern Michigan with no internet connection. Is anyone else going to take the plunge this April?