Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Demotivational Talk

I received a call from The Store the other day.

(Don't you just love the posts that start with that statement? It means something truly absurd is bound to follow.)

Anyway, my boss called and left me a message (because no way in hell was I actually going to answer the phone), asking me to please come in and pick up my self evaluation form because it's review time again.  (Oh joy.)  She also mentioned a need to have me sign something.  She didn't say what the something was, just told me when she'd be at The Store so I could stop in and get it taken care of.

When I got there, she took me in the office (never a good sign) and asked me to have a seat (another bad, bad sign).  Then she read to me a memo from the corporate office that said that in The Store, someone with my job title could only earn so much money per hour and that I had reached that glass ceiling.  As a result, I would not be eligible for any further pay raises, regardless of whether my performance merited one or not.

Then she handed me my self evaluation and asked me to get it back to her by Friday.  I told her I could fill it out right then and there in about thirty seconds because it wasn't like I was going to put any real thought or effort into it.

Because, seriously, what's the point?

My pay increases at The Store were always laughable at best (I think last year's was a whopping thirty two cents an hour) but at least they were a pay increase of some kind.  Now I'm really not sure what my motivation to do my job is.  I could be the model employee (well, maybe in a parallel universe where Altera-me is not a surly, sarcastic, pain in the ass).  I could precision fold every display on the sales floor every day.  I could sell $500 of product to every customer.  I could sign up 100 people for credit cards and still, I won't get a penny more for my efforts.

Not that I'm rolling in the dough as it is.  My checks of late have been über pathetic.  Like, more so than usual.  So much so that The Man looked at the last one and said, "why do you even have a job?"

And you know what?  For the life of me, I can't remember.

Must be time to publish my book and get the frak out of retail.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Fluff And Fold

Gather 'round, children, because it's Extended Metaphor Day on My Pet Blog! (Please hold all applause until the end...)

One of the more tedious aspects of my retail life is precision folding. If you're unfamiliar with the concept of precision folding, pat yourself on the back because obviously you didn't go wrong in life the way I did. But seriously, it's when one poor sap (i.e. me...) is tasked with taking a display of some article of clothing (in my current retail setting, that clothing is jeans. Piles and piles of jeans) and folding and refolding them in a perfect uniform way. Hence the picture on the left. But please note that when I precision fold displays, they look better that the picture on the left but that picture is the best a Google search could offer me.

I used to have a picture of the towel display I folded at The Store Before The Store. It took me six hours to finish. Sure, some of that time was spent discouraging customers from touching the display (I got what they wanted from the stockroom) but most of it was devoted to making sure that each and every towel in that wall was folded perfectly.

Because the thing with precision folding is that you can't half ass it and still consider it precision folding. You just can't refold the messiest three or four piles and call it good enough because the rest of the piles then stick out like very sore thumbs. If your objective is perfection, everything in that display needs to be retouched. Every single towel in that display had to be taken down, unfolded, shaken out, smoothed out and then refolded. That newly folded towel needed to be fluffed and carefully placed in its stack. Then each refolded stack had to be shifted forward, backward, left, right— whatever to make sure that all rows are uniform and the spaces between them are the same and so on and so forth.

It's time consuming (it seriously took six hours) and it's tedious and your back hurts and you want to punch your co-workers in the face because they're all standing around watching you fold and refold towels while not folding anything of their own and you want to trip up that one customer who's making a beeline for your display because no matter how many times you ask if you can help her, she still says no while she's pulling the middle towel out of the stack, destroying all your hard work while being completely oblivious of the Medusa stare with which you're fixing her. Then you start screaming about stupid Sisyphus and his stupid rock and his stupid hill and make plans to build a barricade in front of the display out of the folding tables in order to keep everyone away from what you're trying to accomplish. Then you stand on top of the barricade waving the French flag around until your boss calls the nice men with the giant butterfly nets to come and take you away (to the funny farm where life is beautiful all the time).

 Or is that just me?

Anyway, it— the process— sucks. Big time. But eventually, it does come to an end. Maybe you've finally snapped and killed that one customer or maybe you've just finished. And then you stand back and you look at the whole display and just as you're about to congratulate yourself on a job well done, you see that one stack needs adjustment. So you go back and do that then stand back once again. And see another stack that needs just a little more attention (any of you savvy, savvy writers see where I'm going with this?), and then and then and then...

Lather. Rinse. Repeat.

This is my current predicament with my writing. I've finished all the scenes and filled all the empty spaces and gotten rid of all the post-it notes requiring my attention. So this should be the part where I'm running through the streets with a boombox over my head blasting "We Are The Champions" because at last I have reached the promised land. But instead it's become the part where I'm looking at other scenes that I thought were good enough until I refolded the scenes surrounding it. So I give those scenes a fluff and then then the next crop of "not good enough" pops up.

I think we've been here before. I recognize that tree. (Name! That! Reference!)

This is my current plan to deal with my current predicament: Stop. After today, stop. Take a nice long weekend where I do not look at my manuscript in any way, shape or form. Then, after the weekend, give Effigy one last read through. Tweak anything that obviously needs to be tweaked and then (and this part terrified me, but not for the reasons you might suspect) put it in the hands of my betas. Or beta. I'm not exactly sure how many betas there are. Or will be. Or even if I'll work up the nerve to give the whole beta thing another go.

But that's a problem for another time. Like June.  Until that time, I hope everyone has a fabulous weekend. And to all you Americans out there, have a wonderful Memorial Day.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Song and Dance

I like singing.

Yesterday, I was in a Broadway state of mind so I spent some time in my bathroom (best acoustics in the house) singing my favorite Broadway standards.  (Yes, I'm weird like that)  Some days, I sing songs from Joss Whedon musicals but yesterday was all about Broadway.  I ran through my favorite numbers from Miss Saigon, Les Miserables and Chess before managing a near perfect (or so I think) rendition of "Gimme Gimme" from the musical Thoroughly Modern Millie.  If you're unfamiliar with this song, here's a clip of Sutton Foster signing it on the now defunct Rosie O'Donnell Show:

Anyway, I find it to be damn hard to sing well so any day where I can come close to mastering this song is a good day.  And yesterday was one of those days.  I'll admit I did screw up the final note some but only because I didn't have enough oxygen going into it.  (The trouble's always in the details.)

I used to sing a lot in high school and during my first four years of college. (I was on the six year plan. That's what you get when you don't declare a major and stick with it, kids!)  Then I fell out of performing because the classes I needed for my degree (you know, the one I don't use) conflicted with my singing opportunities.  So I stopped singing.

And once you stop singing on a regular basis, you can't just jump back into it.  It's kind of like running.  Or so I imagine because I'm a crap runner.  You can train and be able to run a marathon or a 5k or whatever but then, when you stop running on a daily basis, you can't expect to be able to run those 26 miles five years later just because you feel like it.  (insert writing metaphor here)

So I'm trying to get back to my fighting weight, if you will.  I miss being able to belt out all those songs and I'd like to be able to do it again.  Plus, it's a great new way for me to procrastinate on that whole writing thing I'm supposed to be doing (one scene more, I swear!).

Another way I shall be procrastinating will be in front of my television tonight when my favorite summer show, So You Think You Can Dance returns.  I love dance.  I do not, however, think that I can dance.  I got no rhythm (though I can sing a song that suggests otherwise...).  Or coordination.  And the only time my stance on my dancing skills changes is when I've had too many Long Island iced teas (and, sadly, when you're as much of a lightweight as I am, one Long Island iced tea is too many).  When that happens, I don't think I can dance... I know I can dance.

My favorite performances on SYTYCD come from the contemporary family.  They always seem to have the best music.  Not to mention the best tortured love story lines.  Yep, that's right.  No one will ever accuse me of being Little Miss Sunshine.

So I'm going to close today's blog with a clip of one of my favorite tortured souls dance routines from the show.  It's done to Sara Bareilles's song "Gravity" which just so happens to be a part of my unofficial Effigy soundtrack:

Now if you'll excuse me, I have a scene to finish.  Or some songs to sing. I haven't decided which... Until next time, all.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Something To Blog About

Well, yesterday I made a plea for someone to give me something to blog about and once again, the blogosphere comes through in fine fashion.  I received not one but two different blog awards from two different people.

Thank you, ladies.  I am, as always, flattered to have been thought of and quite thrilled to have something besides chocolate croissants (as delicious as they may be) to blog about today (hence my very clever title).

First up is the Stylish Blogger Award, courtesy of Rachel Pattinson over at Rachel's Ramblings.  Each recipient is asked to share five things about his or her blog.  I honestly found this to be rather difficult but here's what I came up with:

1.  I started blogging back in January 2005.  I don't know why I thought I should start a blog but I did.  I'm sure writing had something to do with it but my very first post was about the New England Patriots defeating the Pittsburgh Steelers in the AFC Championship game. 

2.  My most popular posts (views and comments wise) ever both came from last month's A to Z Challenge (a great way to grow your blog if you're interested in doing that).  The first concerned my big ass storyboard.  The second was about the Animaniacs.  Both took over the spot from my Justin Beiber movie post.  Sorry, Biebs.

3.  The first non-relative to comment on my blog was Ava Quinn from Tongue in Cheek.  If you don't already follow her blog, you really should because she's hilarious.

4.  At the beginning of each month, I post a review of all the books I read during the previous month.  Since I have a tendency to read a lot of books, these reviews are usually short little blurbs giving you all the essential information (did I like the book or hate the book) you need without any of those nasty spoilers.  It's been pointed out to me that I am occasionally brutal to the books I don't like (and I don't like a lot of books).  This will probably come back to bite me in the ass someday when someone hates Effigy but I'm not going to say I like a book I don't like.  Honesty is the best— if not nicest— policy.

5.  Joss Whedon (and the Whedonverse) is the most frequently mentioned person/subject of this blog.  (Effigy is a close second.)  It's like I'm obsessed or something...

My second award is the Versatile Blogger Award.  It was bestowed upon me by Tara Tyler from Tara Tyler Talks. 

When one accepts this award, one is asked to share seven facts about oneself.  But I'm sure I have seven facts left to share (after all, I have been blogging since 2005) so I'm going to share the seven television quotes I have most recently scribbled down into my notebook. 

These are quotes that I have found to be hilarious or clever or inspirational (as in 'hey, wouldn't that be a cool concept for my novel' inspirational, not 'Stuart Smalley's Deep Thoughts' inspirational) or some combination of the three.  So here are the seven most recent scribbled down lines:

1.  Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?  No, a summer's day is not a bitch.  (Nick from New Girl)

2.  You're not alone.  You have friends.  Somewhere.  I assume.  (April from Parks and Recreation)

3.  I always hear 'punch me in the face' with you but it's usually subtext.  (Watson from Sherlock)

4.  Beer, other drinks may get me drunk but only you intoxicate me.  (Bobby from Cougar Town)

5.  I haven't been judged by this many people since I forgot my canvas bags at Whole Foods.  (Mitchell from Modern Family)

6.  I've got a pantomine horse disguise you could use.  Do either of you have experience being a horse's ass?  (Veronica from Veronica Mars)

7.  I may be on the side of angels but don't for one second think that I am one of them.  (Sherlock Holmes from Sherlock)

I'll leave you to work out which is which...

Thanks again to Rachel and Tara.  Go visit their blogs and I'll see y'all next time.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Give Me Something To Blog About!

I've written three titles (give yourself bonus points if my chosen title made you sing a certain song from "Once More With Feeling") and four opening sentences for this particular post today.  Each time I started one, I made it as far as the first period before I stopped, put my chin in my hand for a moment and then deleted everything.  Once, I didn't even make it as far as that first period.  This is a clear indication that I am still not feeling this whole blogging rhythm thing.  I never should have taken that post A to Z Challenge break.  The day I did was the day I lost my groove.

Plus, I don't have much to blog about.  Over the weekend, our hot water heater broke and flooded part of our basement. I also got my first sunburn during the Gator Girl's agility class but neither of those are really blog worthy (which explains why I just told you about them in my blog, I know).  But the truth is, I'm still in my limbo state of mind (maybe Leonardo DiCaprio will come looking for me) which means I am still working my way through my backlog of Supernatural (ten episodes to go!).  I have, however, switched from inhaling chocolate croissants to inhaling devil dogs.  I did this mostly because someone's been getting to the bakery before me in the morning to buy out the entire stock of chocolate croissants, leaving me with only danishes and I don't like danishes.  I find this to be such a jerk move.  Forget the fact that I, too, was buying all the chocolate croissants in all the land (all right, in that one bakery) but I didn't mind it so much when I was the one going home with chocolate croissants (I have spent so much time blogging about chocolate croissants lately that Klout is going to name me influential on this subject, along with pizza and cookies. I am definitely doing something wrong here. If only I could figure out what...).  I mean, I like devil dogs obviously— I wouldn't be inhaling them at such a rapid (and slightly alarming) rate if I didn't— but they weren't Plan A.

Not that sitting around watching television while stuffing my face with pastries was Plan A.  But if one can't do what one wants, it does make for a solid Plan B.  Or C.  Or whatever letter I'm up to now.  I've kind of lost track.

Plan A would, of course, be writing.  I've done some.  (Pause for shocked gasps)  I'm pleased to report that for the first time in a long time, all Effigy scenes are complete.  There are no more "Insert Plot Here" notes kicking around.  That doesn't mean that I'm happy with all scenes.  It just means they're complete.  Complete but not finished— is that an oxymoron? Or just moronic?  Anyway, since they weren't complete at the start of the month, I'm choosing to count it as progress.  And if I can finish the tweaking portion of the editing process by the end of the the month, I'll be downright giddy.

This makes a halfway decent segue to this, my theme song (and yeah, I know it's a Glee recording but, love or hate the show (and I honestly do both), this is still a kick ass recording of a kick ass song):
See y'all next time...

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Wacky Wednesday

Today I am the featured author on The Writing Nut's Wednesday Writer's Workspace series.  It's my first such feature/guest post/whatever it's supposed to be called.  While it's a little weird to see me on another site, it's quite cool too.  I'm honored to have been included.

Please, if you have the time, go check it out.  And, I mean, not just my thing.  The whole site.  She has a terrific blog that any writer would appreciate.

My First Feature


Tuesday, May 15, 2012

A Post With No Name

Allow me to state the obvious:  I haven't blogged in a while.

And, to be honest, I don't even know if this post will see the light of day.  I won't know until I either hit the 'publish' button or the 'logout' button.  I've sat down to write a post a couple of times during the last almost two weeks now only to find myself struck with a sudden and overwhelming case of Not Caring.  And since I wasn't interested in what I was writing, I could hardly expect anyone in the blogosphere to be interested in reading it.

So I didn't write it. 

My gift to you.

Instead, I've spent some time being lazy (no point in denying it) and eating chocolate croissants while catching up on my backlog of Supernatural episodes.  I've spent some time at The Store.  (There's a rumor I could be fired.  I really wish Management would just make up their minds already because I do so hate getting up early.  Especially to go there.)  I made some vacation plans for this summer.  I was excited about them for a little while but that went away when I remembered that now I actually will have to go bathing suit shopping.  I cleaned the house (well, parts of it anyway) and I read a trio of books that just weren't all that interesting.

I even did some work on my own book.  I don't really want to talk about it because the last time I talked about writing, I came off like this woman (I imagine my wonderfully patient commenters are the people waiting in line):
Now, I happen to be more like this guy (and not the one in the hat):
But for all of you Doomsday seekers, no worries.  My shift in attitude is not a sign of the impending apocalypse (although I can understand why you might think that).  The Dude(ette) won't abide for long.  I know sooner or later, the winds will shift and I'll be back to being my usual insane self.  Something to look forward to, right?


And, just in case I totally flake on this blog again, tomorrow (Wednesday), I'll be taking my crazy on the road when I'm featured over at The Writing Nut as part of her Wednesday Writer's Workspace series.  She has a great blog and I'm honored to be a part of it for a day.  If you're a writer, you should definitely check out her site.  Lots of great stuff to be found there.

Until next time...

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

The Song Remains The Same: An IWSG Post

It's the first Wednesday of the month which means it's time for another installment of the Insecure Writer's Support Group, the brainchild of über blogger Alex J. Cavanaugh. (click on the link to find a list of all participants)

So, the 'inspiration' behind this post is two-fold.  The first came from an A to Z Challenge blog post by fantasy/romance author Susan Gourley/Kelley in which she writes "I've met writers who work for years on their manuscripts, polishing, rewriting, getting advice and yet never quite feeling ready to send it out into the world. They don't seem to want to take the next step and fight to get their story into the hands of readers."

I might as well have been looking into a damn mirror because I can't think of anything that better describes me than that.

I have worked on Effigy for years.  I have been polishing and rewriting it.  The advice part never seems to work out as well as I hope it might but it's been there too (kind of) and yet, I never do feel ready to send it out in the world.  Sure, currently there are two big gaping holes in Chapter Thirteen because there are two new scenes (part of that whole rewriting thing) I have yet to finish so right now would really be a terrible time to send Effigy out into the world.  The world would end up thinking that I don't know how to construct a sentence properly.  Well, I don't know— y'all have read this blog long enough. It's quite possible you already think that.

But anyway, it left me feeling kind of weird.  Sad.  Depressed, even.  I don't like feeling that I'm not fighting for my book.

It got worse later that day when I tuned in to watch a rerun of one of my favorite sitcoms How I Met Your Mother.  It was the season four episode "Mosbius Design" where Ted starts his own architecture firm and spends most of the episode procrastinating on calling potential clients.  When Robin finally asks him what the hell he's doing, he responds with, "What if I don't think of the books?"  And then he goes on to explain that some architect somewhere designed a beautiful library that sank into the ground a little more each year because the architect forgot to account for the weight of the books (apparently the library was not filled with eBooks...).  This led to Ted's admission that "the longer I put off starting my own firm, the longer it can remain a dream and not something I screwed up."

Why could've they have rerun the Robin Sparkles/Slapbet episode?  I identify far less with that one.

Hey... look at that.  I'm getting sidetracked.  The point is, I guess, that even when (if?) I do finish those two chapter thirteen scenes and fix the other post it note edits awaiting my attention, and then fix the ones that'll inevitably pop up after that, chances are I still won't feel ready to put my book out in the world.

I just... I don't want to screw this up.  I don't want to screw this up.  I don't want to screw this up.  I screw a lot of things up; I mean, it's practically an art form at this point but I don't want Effigy to be one of those things.  And as long as I keep procrastinating, as long as I keep writing and rewriting, Effigy isn't something I've screwed up.  And I love this project too much for it to become something I screwed up.

Yesterday was my In Real Life writers' group and as it was Poetry Month, I shared a poem I'd written and it was well received by all.  One member of the group (the man I not so affectionately refer to as 'Ego Man') made several unamusing jokes (at least I assume they were jokes) about how he was going to steal my work (So. Not. Funny.) but a couple other group members talked about me becoming a huge success as a writer because clearly I have talent.  I thanked them, of course, because it was really very kind of them to tell me that but told them I wasn't going for huge success.  I'd be thrilled with a small success.  I'd be thrilled with the "someone who wasn't me nor related to me bought a copy of my novel" success.

But maybe I should've said I'd be thrilled with the "I finally have the confidence in myself and my work to take the plunge and see what happens!" success.  Because that's probably more where my head's at right now.

So yeah, I am that writer who keeps writing and rewriting and then does some more rewriting before she rewrites some other stuff but I don't want to be.  I don't want to be that girl who keeps saying "This year's gonna be the year!" only to have it not be the year (you know, like I do every year in January when I post my yearly goals) but I don't know how to be any other girl. Not yet.

But I hope I figure it out soon.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Are You Writing Now?

Are You Writing Now? is a group I stumbled across during my A to Z wanderings this past month.  Its purpose is accountability.  Each member sets writing goals at the beginning of each month.  At the end of the month, we blog about how well we did with our goals.  Did we accomplish what we set out to do— that sort of thing.  Since I am still working on the goals I set for myself in January, I thought I might give AYWN a try.

So this is my first official AYWN post.

My goals this month are simple: (Ha.  I'm pretty sure I said that back in freaking January but here I am saying it again. Some people— namely me— never learn.)  FINISH THE REWRITES AND EDITS FOR EFFIGY.  They've been hanging on for far too long and I need to be done with it.

In more detail, there are three post it note corrections remaining on my monitor.  Yesterday, there were five.  This would mean that I have, in fact,  made progress.  It's been so long since that's happened I'd forgotten what it felt like.  Now I just need to make a little bit more progress.  Hope that's not pushing my luck.

Here's what's on the three remaining post-it notes:

1.  Chapter Thirteen needs finishing.  There are two scenes still unfinished.  One needs a unifying thread.  The other needs... well, pretty much everything as it's only two sentences.  And the last two sentences of the scene at that.  My writing process is weird.  I know this.

2.  There's a fight scene in Chapter Fifteen that may contain some POV switches and general lameness.  I need to make sure neither of those things are actually there.

3.  There's another fight scene in Chapter Sixteen that needs a new opening because the current one is beyond lame.  It's just plain dumb.  But in my defense, that's only because of changes made in Chapters Twelve and Thirteen.

So that's my goal.  Finish those damn edits and rewrites.  If I can get rid of the last post-it notes from my monitor by the end of the month, I will be... well, shocked but happy.  Very, very happy.