Books, Writing

On writing and reading

As I have worked on my writing these past few weeks, I have discovered something interesting. I have always been the type of writer who wrote as I went. Now, I’ve never been a terribly great writer when it comes to things like fiction but I could bang out a paper, have it be well researched and get a good grade. Many an English teacher has touted the importance of outlining before you write. I always scoffed at this because I could write papers fairly quickly and very well without an outline. Not a written one anyway. I’d have a vague idea of what I wanted to do in my head. Sometimes it changed course as I wrote but generally it worked well. I have always tackled fiction in much the same way and it’s readable but I usually had trouble getting things to coalesce. Then I started to write down an outline.

Oh. whoa. Suddenly I can see why people talk about outlines as being such important things. I could write a lot more effectively with an outline in place than I could without one. Even though I knew where I wanted my story to go. Even though I have characters in my head. This worked so much better. I will admit that it took a little time. In fact, putting one in place retroactively may cause it to be more time consuming because I have to go back and fix things but it helps a lot. So, I will admit defeat. Outlines are useful things and I can probably see a use for them writing regular papers too, if only to get an idea of where the paper is going before I start writing so I don’t have to rewrite my thesis a dozen times. It means that some of what I write earlier requires some edits but that’s ok. I don’t mind editing. As long as I’m not looking for grammatical errors. That is still a bane of mine.

I still haven’t done my bullet journal post. I keep meaning to and then something else comes up. Like finishing another book or needing to do dishes or going for a run. So it’s still on the list. I’m hoping to be able to use the new layout I have as a more effective tool for watching what I eat, studying, working out and writing. We’ll see how well it goes since Tuesday has me back in classes and with little time to breathe. Also, work, so my whole weekend is pretty much consumed too. Although the last few weeks have been strange with me ending up on the floor a lot. I don’t mind being on the floor. It’s just unanticipated, especially given it’s been more than a month like this.

As a brief aside, I like reading books that nobody else is reading. It makes getting said book from the library much easier. I had wanted to start rereading Outlander because I got halfway through the fourth book and then put it down and never pick dit back up. Now I’ve forgotten a lot of plot points and I feel like instead of picking up book 4 and starting there, I need to go back to the beginning. However, getting ahold of the book is nearly impossible. I’ve had it marked as to hold at the library for weeks. I can only imagine there are a million people in front of me wanting the book. So, you know I may or may not get to that anytime soon. I still have other things to read. It’s just annoying that everybody wants to read it all of a sudden. Honestly, more people need to pursue libraries and bookstores. There are lots of good stories out there but apparently if it’s not on tv, it’s not worth reading which is so silly.

So that’s it. Attempts are being made at lots of things. I still don’t have a post schedule. I really need one. Like seriously. I’m working on it, I swear!

Books, Fitness, Healthy Eating, Running, Writing

It might be a miracle

It’s been several months since I began running again in earnest. It does a soul good to be able to pummel the ground repeatedly with your feet. Unfortunately, I live in an oven. Or at least that’s what it feels like from (usually) May until September. That’s almost half the year if you’re keeping track. And generally it isn’t the heat that is the true problem here. It’s the 90% humidity that accompanies it. That can make breathing hard when you aren’t doing anything. Then put exertion in the mix and you have a recipe for crawling rather than running.

Our weather this year has been odd. It hasn’t been as hot as it usually is and it didn’t warm up until much later than usual. So you can imagine my surprise when I went running Sunday and did three miles with all negative splits. I’ve never run all negative splits, since I started running years ago. I could get the second mile negative but then the third would be a disaster or the second mile would be awful and the third would be better (but not better than the first). Now part of this is a poor ability to pace on my part, which I’ve been working on. But part of it is the horrible heat.

When the weather is cooler out, I can typically run about even splits, a second or two over or under for each mile. Sunday was remarkable because the second mile was almost third second faster and my third was a few second faster yet. It wasn’t a ten minute pace (it was around 10:30) but it was a vast improvement over the 11:00 to 11:30 that I’ve been running. I have no idea what I did differently and could not replicate it today. I’ll keep working at it though.

I have also made efforts to get my food healthy again. I was lax during the last few weeks of school due to stress, so I wasn’t eating as much and some of it was not the best choices (there was a lot of pizza… pizza is my kryptonite). So I’ve really put effort into ensuring that I’m eating a good breakfast and getting lots of fruits and vegetables in, especially while they are really good. I was good about not resorting to eating out all the time. So while my choices weren’t the best choices at home, they were at least choices that I largely controlled the portions and sides for. Small victories, right?

As a brief aside, I will also add that I am working on two more books currently, as I move forward on my day zero project. I have also started a book with a full complement of characters, a brief outline and somewhere around 12,000 words. This is progress and hopefully it will continue. I have research notes and may actually get a notebook to keep details in so that I don’t have to keep flipping to different computer files (it’s easier sometimes to have paper!). I haven’t decided yet what to do with the book once it’s finished. First I have to finish it but I can say with confidence that this one is the most likely yet to actually reach a point where it would be complete. Of course, I’d also need an editor because I am bad with grammar and can make mistakes that are very amateur. A person with good editing skills would need to look over this thing before I even contemplated publishing it.

See what I can accomplish when I have time off?

Books, Writing

About writing

I can get attached to fictional characters. This probably sounds pretty silly to most people but it has always been true for me. I have been reading since I was very small and often those books were a place of refuge for me, letting me go to places that I couldn’t actually go to and meet people who might have been friends. Since I have always had a fairly creative imagination, I would think about what might happen to those characters after their book ended. Eventually, I discovered tv shows that engrossed me as much as my books and I would find myself contemplating what happened to those characters as well.

Somehow, I never thought about creating my own characters until I was much older. As much as I loved books and to write I never felt as though I was a writer. That was a purview for other people who were better at it than I was. In fact, throughout most of school I felt as though I simply wasn’t good enough at anything for it to be important or valuable. That’s how I ended up graduating from college long after I should have with absolutely no direction. I was lost. Mostly within my books because at least those people were nice to me. Which makes it sound like I had no friends which isn’t true. But often I felt misunderstood and like a background character. I had issues.

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve gotten more attached to characters because I can see so clearly who they are. I have television shows that I’ve watched now for so long that I know everything about those characters (two shows come to mind, NCIS and Criminal Minds) because I am invested in those characters. That happens when you watch a show for more than a decade, I guess. There are also books that I’ve gotten invested in, where I know those characters and love them. This to me, is very different from being a fan of a director or tv show. As an example, I am a huge fan of Kevin Smith. I’ve seen all of his movies. Some of them were not great but I still love him as a director. I am not invested in those characters though. I mean, I can tell you a little about the characters but I’m not invested in them. NCIS – that I am invested in. I have cried over that show (like when Ziva was killed or when Tony met his daughter). I feel as though I know the personalities of those characters and could write stories that involve them.

I mentioned yesterday that I was using fan fiction as a way to work on my prose. Mostly what I mean, is taking those characters and trying to learn how to be invested in them. Sometimes when I work on writing stories of my own, I have issues with keeping an interest in the characters, which shouldn’t happen since they’re my creations. So I’m working on finding ways to learn more about the characters when they seem to be at their worst. Fan fiction is letting me do that without creating a world for those characters because that world already exists. I’m just playing with it. I feel as though it may be working. I have written more in this particular fan fiction piece than I have in anything else. I don’t know that I have the character personalities down yet but I’m making progress. I’m trying to use their voices and speak as they would. Again, work in progress. But there is progress, so that’s good.

As a side note, I have almost completed one of my day zero goals: complete a 30 miles challenge. If you’re unfamiliar, the goal is to run 30 miles in one month. For a lot of people, this is probably a monthly accomplishment. I don’t think I’ve ever done it… maybe once when I was doing half marathon training but that would be five years ago now, so I’m not counting it. I’ve got about five miles to go for July and it’ll be done. I’ll actually run more than 30 miles but I’m good with that. It means I’m back on track. I took time off last week and only ran once so I thought I wouldn’t reach my goal but I have 6 days, so it should be doable. That would be my first official goal crossed off the list. Of course, I still don’t have 101 things on the list but I’ll add some more eventually. I’ve still got 2 years and 11 months.

Books, Life, Nursing School, Writing

School’s out for summer

This is officially, the beginning of ten days of vacation for me. I started my job just over a year ago and since then, I have worked every weekend and have been in school almost every week. So as of now, I am working on several things all at once. We shall see how successful I end up being.

First and foremost, I worked on cleaning today. That’s not to say that I haven’t cleaned in over a year but aside from little daily tasks like sweeping and dishes, lots of things get neglected day to day. So I scrubbed a bathroom today (1 of 2), took out some garbage and folded the laundry that had piled up. I have one basket still left to do but I thought I’d sit down and write first.

Speaking of writing, I have been practicing my writing. What I mean by that is I have been writing fan fiction (nobody needs to read that though cause honestly, it’s fan fiction). This seems like a silly way to practice but it really allows me to focus on things like prose and point of view without having to think about characters and backstory because none of that is mine. I have started a new story in my head but it’s in the very early stages of thought. Sooner or later, one of these stories will stick and I’ll actually finish one. I have so many bits and pieces that don’t go together, it’s kind of funny. Creativity is fickle like that, I guess.

I spent time working on my bullet journal. Not a lot of time, mind you but some. I got August going and while I have a few spreads to still work on I could put next week in if I didn’t get any further. I am still seeing how this new weekly spread works for me. It’s a little wishy-washy right now. That’s probably a result of my not being sure how to best use the space which happens when I try a new way setting up. That’s ok though. This spread may work a little better, in terms of functionality.

July is almost over. I’m not quite sure how that happened. I suppose the fact that I was in school for the first half of the summer explains it. I have started filling in my day zero project list but at this point it’s mostly books that I’ve read or planning for bigger things. I have been considering a few of my photo projects that are on the list. I will update that tomorrow. For now, I’m going to put away the rest of the laundry and then watch another episode of NCIS (because I’m watching last season and I’m LOVING IT!!!). See you in the am!

Writing

The Prophesy is made

Disclaimer: This is a story that has been forming in my head. This is all I’ve managed to get on paper so far, so I’m putting it here. If you want to read it feel free.

Queen Dana looked out at the party and smiled. Summer solstice had always been her favorite time of the year. Still, she had an uneasy feeling that something would happen tonight. The fae’s predictions had unnerved her. She shook her head, trying to shake the fog away and enjoy the solstice celebration. She turned, hearing a step beside her and came face to face with a tall, red haired elf. He had her green eyes and her sharp cheekbones, the only indication that they were brother and sister.

“Eldan,” she said cheerfully, “I thought you weren’t going to be able to be here.”

He shrugged and looked at his sister.

“Change of plans. I had a fairy tell me I needed to come instead of patrol the border.”

“Since when do you heed the warnings of the fae?” she asked seriously.

“Since this one was so insistent. He seemed sure that if I wasn’t here that you would be in danger.”

Dana frowned. That would make two fairy folk that had warned her family of danger. The dark cloud came into her mind again as she began to worry.

Eldan sensed his sister’s concern and patted the long sword at his side.

“Don’t worry. No harm is coming to you or anyone else in our family,” he said sternly.

Dana simply nodded. She had no doubt that her brother could protect her. He was a master swordsman, having spent years learning how to wield the sword. Their father had ensured that he could protect their lands and Eldan took that duty seriously. The summer lands were everything to him.

Eldan scanned the party and gave his sister a pat on the cheek.

“Don’t worry,” he said as he strode off.

But the queen was worrying. The fae normally stayed out of the elven affairs. The two groups were hardly friends and often there were issues between elves and fairies when the two groups came together. When the fae came to the elven royalty of their own accord, it meant something serious was about to happen.

Eldan’s red hair was fairly easy to spot amid the crowd of elves. It was a unique feature and nobody was surprised when he turned out to be adept with fire magic. Any elf that had that hair color was almost always a fire adept. Dana’s own magic was also fire but she was not as skillful with it. That was part of why she always looked for someone to protect her. Her brother and her husband were the two people she relied upon.

Marrying the elf who would become king of the elven lands had not been Dana’s intention but somehow Galdren had fallen in love with her. He was powerful and Dana had been drawn to that. Now that they had been together so long, she truly did feel a deep affection for him, although not really love. She was excellent at playing her part though, and only two other people were aware of her true feelings for her husband. So now she was here, a queen and occasionally a target for others. She had a feeling that she was in crosshairs tonight.

The summer solstice celebration was picking up and the music was incredible. The group playing was enchanting the crowd and the large ring of dancers was growing. As the night wore on, Dana became more comfortable and was starting to feel that she had been silly for worrying. Nothing had happened and the night was beautiful.

As soon as she had the thought, she felt the air change. Before she could move, she felt her brother’s presence at her back. Galdren was at her side a moment later. The crowd felt the change in the air too and the elves were looking around, trying to find the source of the cold. Stepping out of the shadows, a dark fairy moved into the ring of dancers. Her clothing was dark and her skin was purple but so dark it almost looked black. She looked around, finally finding the queen.

“Milady,” she said tauntingly.

Dana wasn’t queen by accident though and played the royal she was.

“What do you want fae?”

The fairy sneered, “You speak very brusquely considering I know secrets that could destroy you.”

Dana drew back, looking as haughty as she could.

“I don’t have any secrets. Now go from this place. This celebration is not for your kind.”

The fairy shook her head and stood her ground.

“Not before I give you the prophesy.”

“We do not need your prophesy, fae,” said Galdren angrily.

The fairy laughed. It was an evil sound and the elves closest to her drew back.

“I have come to tell you this and then I will leave. A plague on this land and its people. There will come a day when the queen of the elves will have a child. That child will be born this midwinter.”

The fairy leered at the queen who looked taken aback. She hadn’t even told her husband that she was expecting their child. She shook her head, confused.

“You can’t know that,” Dana said.

“You already know,” the fairy sneered again.

“This child is going to bring forth a period of woe for the elves. A period of drowse, where no progress will be made. The lands will shrink. The end of the elven age draws near.”

As suddenly as she appeared, the fairy was gone.

Galdren turned to his wife. “Is this true?”

Dana nodded her head, still in shock.

Galdren frowned. He was unsure of what to do next. Eldan put his hand on his sister’s arm.

“The fae don’t know what they speak of,” Eldan said. “How can she know that a child will bring woe? This child may bring in a new joy for us and the fae are trying to scare us.”

“We all know that the fae prophesy. What fae prophesy have you ever known to be untrue?” asked Galdren.

Eldan shook his head.

“Our first child,” sighed Galdren. Finally he spoke.

“This child can not be allowed to become royal. They will have to be given to another family, raised as a common elf. The child can not become a leader of the royalty.”

Dana looked at her husband angrily.

“Are you suggesting that we banish our child?” she asked him.

“What choice is there? The kingdom must be protected.”

Dana shook her head. “No.”

Galdren looked at her carefully before speaking.

“There is no choice Dana.”

“There is,” replied the queen.

She reached to her head and pulled the crown from it. Eldan grabbed her hand.

“Dana, what are you doing?” Galdren asked her.

“You can find another wife then,” Dana replied.

She jerked her hand away from her brother’s grasp and dropped her crown on the ground.

“I won’t allow this,” yelled Galdren.

Dana simply turned and walked away from her husband and walked to the castle. She did not stop until she reached her room, where she promptly started changing her clothes. She pulled out an old gown, from before she had married. Eldan and Galdren chased after her.

“I command you to stop,” shouted Galdren.

Dana felt an anger unlike anything she had ever felt before blasting a wall of fire up between her and the two male elves.

“I will not give away my child to some family as if they were nothing,” she said, “and if you would do that, then I want nothing else here.”

She continued to pull things out of the trunk, eventually finding a bag that she stuffed full of clothing. She turned and stared at Galdren, waiting.

“I won’t risk the kingdom,” he said calmly.

“Then you lose me,” Dana replied.

Galdren shook his head. Dana walked past him with the pack and headed to the kitchens. She had her horse and she would get some rations before leaving. She would not give up her child. She had thought that her brother might follow her but when she paused to stuff some cheese in her pack, she saw she was alone. Sighing, she added some bread, apples and carrots before heading out the kitchen door. She saddled her horse quickly and urged him to go east, toward the spring lands. She has no idea where she was going exactly but she needed to put as much distance between herself and Galdren as possible. She had a feeling she would be riding for a long time.

Bucket List, Bullet Journal, Life, Nursing School, Travel, Writing

Day Zero Project

So, I am an adventurer of sorts. When I graduated from college I decided that I needed a fresh start. I moved from Rhode Island to Boston. Granted, this isn’t a huge move but I was going from a place where I knew a lot of people and the area to a place where I really didn’t know anybody. Just because. When I picked a college, I deliberately picked a school where I would know nobody. Just because. I have a desire to go to places that I don’t know and where I don’t know anybody. I feel a need to find new places and explore new things. And in the past several years I haven’t been able to do those things. Or at least, that’s how I’ve felt. But I had no idea how to get out of that rut. Until I found this.

The Day Zero Project, as I’m working on it is to do 101 thing in 1001 days (or just under three years). I have started working on a list of things that I want to do. These are not all things that involve travel but they are things that are pushing me to do things that I never would have done otherwise. So, as of July 1st, I am officially on the path to completing 101 tasks by February 26, 2020.

Now, honestly, I don’t have 101 things on my list yet. I actually only have 51 things. So I need to add 50 things still. But some of my tasks are not exactly earth shaking. However, I tried to pick things that would push me to do things that are different. For example, one of my tasks is to ask 20 friends to choose a book for me to read. That’s 20 books that other people think I should read. Some of them may be books I don’t like, but I think it’s important to see other people’s ideas. Hence, the task. Other goals are ore challenging and will require me to get creative. For example, run a 5K a month for a year. I don’t think I can do that while I’m in nursing school, so it needs to wait until I finish (which granted isn’t to much longer, but still). Some things are travel related, like sleeping in a travel train and eating a lobster in Maine. But others are simple like perform five random acts of kindness for strangers.

If you are interested in the project, you can visit the site for ideas at Day Zero Project. I am hoping that this will get me jump started on my bucket list as well. My bucket list is a source of consternation for me because I have done almost nothing on it and I’ve had it for quite awhile now. I keep using nursing school as an excuse but it honestly does eat a huge amount of time since I have to work on the weekends and have school five days a week. This will get less difficult once I finish this first part but that’s still eleven months away.

As an aside, I have almost finished week three of eight. There is very little of this first class left – just next week, really and then it’s on to a second class in another four weeks. This is a hard road since it’s almost no time to think about what we’re learning and that frustrates me but I keep reminding myself that I just need to get through this. The fall will be better, with less stress, even though the work load may be heavier. More time always means a little less stress.

So that’s it, my lovely readers. Take a gander at day zero, if you’d like and see what kinds of adventures you can embark upon. Find yourself and be that. Until tomorrow!

Writing

The first bit of writing

Ok, I have started my writing project. It’s a little different from what I originally was thinking but as Elizabeth Gilbert would say, you have to take what you get at the moment. Sometimes an idea slips off to someone else and a new one comes to you. So, the new story is started and I am writing little bits at a time. I am not at all implying that this is a great literary work. Feel free to comment, just be constructive if you criticize.

Mary stood looking out at the water as the ship sailed northward toward Scotland. She thought it was strange that she felt more at home on the ship than she did on land but as the family had moved three times in as many years, perhaps it wasn’t surprising. She had no close friends to leave behind in Ireland and she liked the adventure of a new place. Perhaps this time she would get her new life.

Mary Rodgers was the daughter of Captain John Rodgers. Her father was from a well off family with a proud tradition of serving the crown. Her father was no exception. In his quest for perfection, he went to wherever his commanders asked him to, whenever they asked. His wife, Elizabeth, simply went where her husband went with her six children in tow. Mary was the third child and the only girl, a fact her father never let her forget. He had never wanted a daughter and Mary was a source of irritation. He generally pretended that she didn’t exist when they were at home. Only out at parties did he speak of his daughter and pretend that he was excited to think of her marrying some well off gentleman.

Mary, however, was steadfastly uninterested in marriage. Most girls her age were sent to governesses to learn how to be proper wives. Since her father took no interest in her, he hadn’t thought to send Mary and she was fine with that. She spent her morning doing the chores her mother set her and after dinner she would take her notebook and sketch plants and animals. She then took those drawings to people who knew about plants and took copious notes about them. Her notebook was her greatest source of pride. She hoped that the knowledge in it would be useful to her someday. At fifteen, she had grand dreams of running off with a young man who would appreciate her mind and love her.

Her father’s new command was at Fort William and since Inverlochy was nearby her father decided to move the family there. Several times when she was younger, the family had returned to England when her father went to a new command but this time he decided to take them with him. Mary was vaguely confused by her father’s decision since he often referred to the people that lived there as savages but she was also sure that part of his decision had to do with his eldest two sons. George was soon to be eighteen and Stephen was sixteen and she knew that her father expected both boys to join the army. George would be joining his father at his command when they arrived and had already done training with the troops in Ireland. Stephen could hardly wait to join and the two boys followed their father around excitedly learning everything they could.

The wind changed slightly and Mary could tell they were close to land. Sure enough, when she looked out over the rail and squinted she could make out the coastline. Tom came up beside her and looked out over the railing.

“We’re nearly there now,” he told her.

She nodded. Tom was also fifteen but he was a seaman on the boat, a member of the Royal Navy. He had been aboard a boat since he was eleven, as a servant. When he was old enough, he was allowed to move up in rank. He was never going to have a high rank but he simply wanted to be on the water so he was happy. The moment he saw Mary he was enchanted by her. To the other men on the boat he referred to her as his own personal mermaid and he often had to be reminded by the other men to make sure her father never heard him say that. Mary knew that she didn’t like Tom. She enjoyed listening to his stories but she had no interest in a husband and Tom didn’t make her think any differently.

“How much longer until we get there?” she asked him.

“Couple of hours, probably,”

She smiled at him.

“Then I should probably get below and get the little boys together. I’ll say goodbye before we go,” she told him politely.

She didn’t see the wistful look he gave her as she walked away.

Below deck, the younger boys were excited to hear that they were almost there. They had been confined to the ship overnight and it was making them crazy. Mary helped her mother gather the boys together and got them sitting so they would be out of the way. Her father came in with the older two boys.

“Elizabeth, you’ll have to set up the house on your own. We’re going straight to Fort William. I’ve gotten a young man to help you with the large pieces.”

“Of course, thank you,” she replied to her husband.

He scowled a bit at Jacob, the youngest, who had started to fidget.

“Do I need to whip you boy?” he asked.

“No sir,” replied the little boy quietly.

“I can’t hear you,” barked Captain Rodgers.

“No sir!” he replied more firmly this time.

“Good. Now sit still and do as you’re told.”

Jacob promptly sat up straight and stared straight ahead. All of the boys were aware of what Captain Rodgers meant when he asked if he needed to whip them. He meant exactly that. He intended for all of his boys to do exactly as they were told, when they were told to do it, without question, just as a good soldier would. Mary sat down quietly at the end of the bench and tried not to attract her father’s attention. She sat stiffly with her hands folded in her lap trying to make no expression. Her father looked at her, scowled and turned away.