It’s Nano Time

We haven’t done Nano in a while. For years there, it was our staple, and we did Camp Wrimo in April, too, but that has been some time as well.

With all the struggles we have had in getting things going again, it seemed like a good time to try it again.

For anyone unfamiliar with what Nano is, it is the National Novel Writing Month. Your goal is to write 50,000 words of a novel in a month. I did it from 2009 to 2012, and I did succeed each time. The second nano I did became Just a Whim. A few other novels not yet released are also nano projects.

This time I plan on doing what I did with the last nano, posting each day’s progress (or nearest complete scene) as I go along.

I admit, I have a bit of a wacky mashup in mind this time, but I enjoyed its inspiration so much I hope it will go well in this version.

The Need for Outside Impetus

I think we all know the feeling. We have something we need or want to do, but we just don’t have it in ourselves to do it on our own.

I say a lot that writing is my coping mechanism. It’s a lot of things for me. Relaxation, productivity, sanity. I write not just because I want to, but because I need to. It can be close to a compulsion.

There are times, however, when that need to write is not enough on its own.

There are times when as much as I try, I can’t get myself unstuck or focused enough to write something, even if that something is a short scene. I try, but it’s not in me. Sometimes the stress of everything is too much, sometimes I’m feeling guilty about all the stories I want to work on and can’t, and sometimes it’s complete lack of inspiration. It’s other things, too. I could list other reason, but it doesn’t change the main point, which is, of course, that sometimes it is almost impossible to get stuff done without help.

Sometimes all we need is a bit of encouragement.

Sadly, that is usually not enough for me, though I do appreciate the moral support.

I have been forced to admit that I don’t make much of any progress on my own. I tend to hate everything I write and think it’s nowhere near good enough. I need help to get past that and finish things, which is why I’m always looking for someone who will read the story as I go along and tell me it’s not as bad as I think.

I also am almost always looking for prompts. I love prompts. I can’t always use them, but I so often need something outside of me to get me writing, and prompts are wonderful for that. Sometimes they help me find the bit I’m stuck on. Sometimes they get a bit more backstory out of me. Or sometimes I just get to revisit characters whose story is already done.

(Or I get tempted into new stories, which is not as good, but writing is writing.)

Of late, I had been so stuck it was painful. I couldn’t write. I had been making some progress on one of my old starts that had stalled, but that died out between horrible work schedules and stress and the usual suspect: depression and anxiety.

Fortunately, a friend had mercy on me and arranged a promptathon, and while I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to give any useful prompts, I found some lyrics to share and passed them on. And I’ve made an effort at filling a few prompts myself. I haven’t really felt like what I did was much good, but I tried.

I’m writing again, that’s the main thing. I needed help to do it, and I got it. For that, I am very grateful.

Even if I am currently afraid I won’t be able to do anything for the other prompts or keep going after I’ve run out of prompts.

The Part of Eccentric Writer Will Be Played Unsuccessfully by Me

I woke up this morning in dread of my upcoming book signing. I had a headache, and I was slow moving and prone to many bouts of panic over the morning alone.

I didn’t know what to wear. I had a hard time talking myself into a shower.

Eventually, I found a dress I’d worn before for memorial and renaissance fair, and I tried it on to be sure it still fit. It did, so I had a dress that looked awesome, if a bit over the top. (A lot over the top.)

I did the showering and even ironed the dress, as it had gotten very wrinkled. Maxwell helped so very much by jumping into my dress while I was ironing it. That gave me a bit of a panic as I felt sure that he was going to rip it. I got it on, and I wandered about, hours before the signing. I even attempted to fix the windshield wiper problem with my car (one is too long, it’s odd) and put on a new Grumpy Cat decal, all in the dress.

I even put on a flower headdress, as I was without any other idea what to do with my hair.

I told my nephew that I was embracing the role of eccentric author.

I even took along Bill, my bag that is shaped like a buffalo, to complete the look.

Alas, things went rather badly at the signing. At first the room Mom booked was still in use until after the scheduled time and they didn’t clean it afterward. We organized things in the room, got all set up, with a few disagreements about certain pictures (I do not photograph well) and we waited.

People passed, lots of them, as we were in the walkway, but no one came in.

No one came at all until the other part of Kabobbles, the cover artist, showed.

So I did not sign any books. I did not sell any books.

I did tell a man outside the place who asked if I’d gotten married that I was there to sign books and showed the proofs to him, but that was it.

I drove home uncertain what part might have fallen off my car earlier, took off the dress, and did my worthy best not to curl up in a ball and cry.

We ended up getting supplies for Skip and Go Nakeds, and so ends my day of being an eccentric writer. I suppose I have that last part down, you know what I mean, right?

The Ability to Wreck Nearly Everything

So I have talked a bit before about depression and how it affects me, not in any great detail or anything, but I think people are aware that I have it. It’s something I’ve been officially diagnosed with for fifteen years now, but it probably goes back further than that. It’s also not alone.

I have depression with anxiety. What does that mean?

I’m not going to give the medical explanation, that’s something google can tell you. I’ll tell you what it means for me, though.

Nothing I ever do is good enough.

For a writer, this means that even things that are published are not worth it, should never have seen the light of day, should be burned in protest of how horrifically bad they are. There are thousands of other ways this has manifested itself by either cause (depression or anxiety) but as relates to the writing, it’s a hard thing to finish anything, harder to edit it, and publishing can be nearly impossible. The amount of stress going along with publishing usually means actual physical symptoms, showing up in stomach trouble, migraines, and insomnia. There’s also some very, very dark thoughts that go with it.

Being around people is incredibly stressful.

I am an introvert, and people are draining on my best of days. That said, I am also socially backward, and while I can occasionally fake being okay, ninety percent of social interaction makes me want to panic. Meeting new people is terrifying. Being in crowds leads to panic attacks. I’m constantly on edge and tense around people. As my main job these days involves retail, I have pretty much nothing left when I get home, even on days with a short shift.

Obsessing over past mistakes or criticism is endless.

I have a tendency to remember the bad, not the good. And the bad will come up and replay with all the same emotions that it had at the time. Did I embarrass myself twenty years ago in school? Yes, and I can still feel every second of it if that memory surfaces. If someone says something harsh about me or my stories, I can almost always repeat it word for word. That thing you said you thought was helpful? Not so much. It’s been rattling around my brain tormenting me for fifteen years, so thanks for that.

Adding the social missteps to the obsessive bit creates huge problems.

I am a lightning rod. I don’t mean to be, but I am. I don’t tend to speak up at first when things bother me. (When ninety percent of what goes on bothers you, there’s no point in saying anything.) I try to let things go or get some distance from them if I can. However, that thing that got said that hurt and damaged me… that never went away, and so then it can resurface, and if it does and I’m talking to you… Then there’s a good chance I’ll make things very much worse, whether it’s about that or not. And since I’ve buried other things, they can add to it. I might lose my temper. I might lash out. I might just crawl off to hide and cry bitter tears because I can’t handle it anymore, but usually the hiding comes after I realize I’ve done a bunch of hurting others myself, and it wasn’t what I wanted, but it happened.

When I say I’m fine, it’s more often that I just have no way of explaining the things going on in my head.

I don’t vocalize these things. I’ve tried, and those efforts seem to always backfire spectacularly (not just because I lightning rod, but because people who haven’t been in this situation don’t understand, people who have been and are past it seem to think they know the cure, and others really never wanted that much detail in the first place.) It doesn’t help that I’m a chronic multi-tasker who has the unfortunate tendency to obsess over multiple things at any given moment, whether it be story stuff or personal crises or even the mundane and ordinary.

When it is bad, it is really bad.

There are times when I have absolutely no desire to be in my head. When that stuff scares me. When I shouldn’t be left to my own devices.

So that is a bit of life with depression and anxiety, for me. In the past week, it’s made a real mess of things, again, per usual. I almost didn’t get all the work for my day job done. I had migraines all week. I got into a couple arguments with friends. I just about burned one of the proof copies without even reading it because I can’t get a negative comment out of my head. I stressed out about every step of publishing new things, be it laying things out or proofing them. I haven’t written anything in two weeks. I was supposed to go somewhere important today, and I didn’t make it. I stayed home, and my efforts to distract myself ended up being futile… I broke the sewing machine, ordered the wrong part for my car, and couldn’t fix more than one of the other problems with it even after going to multiple auto parts stores.

And I’d rather die than do a book signing, but I have two coming up.

In spite of myself, there is a new book out in print. It was just an ebook before, but now it’s both. The plan was to have them all done, all the older releases, but obviously, that hasn’t happened. One isn’t quite to the proof stage, and the other is the one I can’t even look at, so… yeah. That’s where things are with me and my ability to wreck just about everything.

When in Doubt, Dance

So due to some personal circumstances that I’d rather not discuss, I was a rather useless mess when I got home from other work today. I was trying to do responsible things like cleaning, or if not housework, then it should have been writing.

Alas, it still was not to be. The flawed legal system really let us down today, and while I hope the evening goes better and my latest insanity will be at last appeased by a vehicular sacrifice, it was a rough afternoon.

I felt almost like crawling back into bed and giving up. After yesterday’s set back in getting another print version ready and the overwhelming sense that I won’t have all I want done in time, again, I did not need for the other stuff today to go wrong.

Still, I’m one of those people that always has music on in the background. I don’t like silence. So I put on iheart radio (I like streaming music to find new things to listen to or make huge lists of old favorites) and was trying to distract myself.

Wouldn’t you know, it worked? Not in the way I thought, not really, but periodically as I moved around I found myself starting dancing. Just random, few bits of steps and bounces (okay, I can’t dance,) but it seemed to help and I keep doing this little bounce as I move. It’s not that I’m all better (I’m not) but dancing a bit helped.

Current State of the Kabobble

Where are we at?

Honestly, we’re not sure we know.

Back home now from vacation, working to take steps to increase production and distribution of the books. We have another one off in the proofing process, and more waiting in the wings, though that will take time.

For people who have been looking for a print version of past releases, it should be exciting to note that those are among the priority projects we’re working on these days (one of them is the proof I mentioned before) and they will be available as soon as they’re ready.

Some need more work than others, including some cover revisions, which are either started, completed, or yet to be agreed upon, but we are working toward fixing them all.

Other things that we want to do, as I may have mentioned before, include improving the website with a whole new look, the release of serials in both formats, updates to some current epubs, and new serial publication. Things are still settling down after the trip, so time will be needed, but progress is being made and we are doing all we can to get things back on track after the long absence.

Vacation Adventure Part Eight: The Mysterious Squeak

Most of the time after the run is a bit quiet.

This would be a bit of an exception. We unloaded the Maxwell from the trailer, and Grandpa set to work trying to repair the light for the oil gauges. I had the fun of wiping down the entire car post run, where lots of grease and oil had gotten all over it. Yes, I was quite dirty by the time I was done with my work, covered from head to toe again, though at least this time I’d used my bluetooth speaker to give me some music while I worked, making it more enjoyable to a point.

Grandpa managed to fix the light (after breaking it) and the short that was causing it to fail after he’d replaced the washer.

We then started the Maxwell up, and Grandpa backed the Maxwell into the garage. He went to step down, and that was when he heard it. The squeak.

It had squeaked on the run, according to Grandpa, but we hadn’t noticed it. So then we tried to identify the source of the squeak. It kind of sounded like it was coming from the back on the driver’s side. Only it sounded like it was coming from the rear passenger side. And then it sounded like it was coming from the front.

Grandpa said maybe it was the springs, so he got underneath the car and oiled them. We checked. Still a squeak, still no clear sign of where it was. So he went to the front, took the bolt off the springs, and found signs of wear, aka a squeak. So he was going to switch it with the other bolt, but it was still good on the one side. Both sides got oiled, the bolts and pins were put back in place.

Check, and there is still a squeak.

Mom had come out to check on us and asked what we were doing. I explained there was a squeak. Grandpa told her that it moved.

It kind of did, in a way, as it was impossible to pin down.

We went back out, took off the bolts on the rear of the spring, and the process repeated itself, with the oiling and putting back in place. We had it all done, and I went to check the squeak.

The loud squeak? Gone.

Only there was still a squeak. Grandpa said it might be the running board, but currently, it remains a mystery.

Vacation Adventure Part Seven The New London New Brighton Run

I’ve been a little remiss in updating the past few days. It was a long, long day Saturday, and I suppose I’m still recuperating some from that day and the weekend. I’ll get into a bit more of what happened after we got back in another post.

Back to Saturday. The day of the run. Day starts at five, getting us ready, the car repacked, and the Maxwell up and going. Well, we were a bit late this time due to a slow funnel for the oil, though I should add that the Maxwell pretty much started first try. The oil took so long that people came over to make sure we were going to make it.

We did. We got over to the church before the starting gun.

Joe had decided that since he was replacing Grandma in the Maxwell, he was wearing her hat, so he put it on right as we were driving out, much to everyone’s amusement. He said he’d put it on at all the stops, though we missed a few along the way.

We explained to him about waving to the cows and statues, and he even neighed at some horses.

We made it to the first stop okay, about paced with the group, though we got slowed down along the way. After Litchfield, I was driving, and it was a little bit awkward as I’d gotten no practice until then. So I’m up front with Joe embarrassing myself by grinding the gears, but we made it. (The guys in the car in front of us did look back at me, and I’m not sure if they were trying to figure out who Joe was or if they didn’t understand why I was behind the wheel.)

I drove to Kingston, and there was a trumpet player there going along with hits by Johnny Cash and CCR. That was neat, never seen that before, so I took a little video of him on my phone.

We took off kind of late from Kingston after stopping for sandwiches for Grandpa and Joe. As we were leaving, this guy was crossing the road and not paying attention. I had the brakes going and honked the horn but still had to swerve to miss him. We made it out fine, and he wasn’t injured.

I drove almost all the way into Buffalo, and then Grandpa took over just before there. The tow truck stopped when we switched, thinking that we were in trouble, but while Shadow was lagging a bit, she still made it.

Lots of people made comments as Joe and his hat came into Buffalo, and we went in to eat again. I sold my last of the books I’d brought with me.

I ended up driving after Buffalo for a bit, to my surprise. We had to find a gas station, and there was a bit of confusion as to where we were supposed to stop, if it was the one listed in the directions or just any of them. It was a little nerve wracking, thinking I was to run out of gas at any second, but it turned out we had three gallons, so we had plenty.

Grandpa drove the rest of the way. We stopped in Crystal, and they gave the driver free corn. We headed on to the last bit, thirteen miles of winding paths to avoid city traffic, ones that Shadow didn’t care for much as it was a lot of stopping and starting.

At last we reached the finish line. Grandpa told Joe not to wear the hat, but the mayor of New London asked him where it was, so Joe put it back on. The Maxwell almost died just before the finish line, but we made it. Grandpa completed his thirty-first run.

Snippet from a Possible Sequel

Author’s Note: I don’t know for sure that this is a part of the next book or if I can manage to finish the next book. However, I did start a second one and did write some random pieces for it, so this exists. I’m sharing it in honor of the first one being published.

The Process of Rebuilding

“You’re staring off into space again. Kind of thought we were all done with that now that you remember everything,” Mackenna said, and Carson looked up at her with a grimace. Maybe she was wrong about that. He knew he feared it, though he hadn’t said anything about that to her. Yes, he finally had most of that terrible day back, not just the scattered pieces that had created so many nightmares for him over the years, but was that actually all of it? He wasn’t sure, and he didn’t know that he was strong enough to find out.

He forced a smile, shaking his head as he did. “I’m just… not sure about this.”

She put a hand on her hip, reminding him that she was in her work overalls again, and he could have groaned when he thought about how he’d mistaken her for someone else—a man—when they first met. She’d been under a car then, but that didn’t change things much.

“This about manual labor again? I know you aren’t above it. You told me you used to help out at your grandfather’s farm, even if you did become a suit with a degree and a stuffy office cubicle later.”

He laughed, though his heart wasn’t in it. “More like… back to thinking I’ve got no business working on cars. Antiques, at least.”

She shook her head. “You are not breaking anything here. You’re sanding a bit of rust off so that we can fix this axle properly. It needs to be rebuilt, and that’s not something you did or that you can avoid. It has to be done if Phantom’s ever going to be drivable again.”

He put a hand on the running board, pulling it back when he realized how close he’d come to the bullet hole. “Yeah, but is that even a good idea? This car is so old, and it was in bad shape before Grandpa hid it for twenty years, and I don’t know that we should—”

She put a finger to his lips, and he grimaced when he thought he tasted grease. “Don’t talk like she’s not salvageable. This car comes from a time when things were built to last, not to be discarded. This is history. Your family’s and the world’s, and it’s worth preserving. Restoring. We can get Phantom running again. She won’t just drive, she’ll fly.”

Carson snorted. “This is not Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.”

Mackenna grinned, and he almost lost himself to that smile. She was incredible, really, tough as she was, and it wasn’t even in her slightly tomboyish ways or the Scottish heritage Mac would claim it was. That gave her her hair, maybe, but Carson knew the rest of it was her.

She touched his cheek. “All kidding aside, I do believe we should do this. I believe it’s worth doing, and don’t start in on the money or how you don’t have a job or how you have never done this before. None of that matters. Phantom was your father’s last act. His way of returning to your family and rebuilding what he broke when he left. It’s worth it.”

Carson turned away, breaking contact. He took a breath and let it out, putting his hands on the Maxwell’s door. “I’ve never rebuilt anything. Not even myself.”

She shrugged. “You’re a work in progress, maybe, but that doesn’t mean it’s hopeless.”

“You have,” he said, looking back at her. “I’m not even talking about the cars. You overcame losing your parents and then what happened with your uncle, with your aunt…”

“Not all at once, and I had help,” she said, wrapping her arms around him and leaning her head against his arm. “Coming here was a big part of that, and Mac was another. The cars, yes, a huge piece, but that wasn’t all of it, either. You gave me one of the pieces, too. Don’t forget that.”

He nodded, though part of what scared him was that she’d given him almost all of the pieces, and if he didn’t know what he’d do without her. He’d be completely lost, and it terrified him.

Vacation Adventure Part Six How to Clear a Parking Lot

Some car issues today. We will call them issues as Shadow may just have been persnickety and not necessarily having any real trouble. It’s hard to be sure.

She had a bit of an incident in the parking lot prior to the Green Lake tour. We call this one how to clear a parking lot. Mostly because it kind of did… by smoking the place up. The Maxwell was parked in the middle of the antique cars at the Legion, almost right smack in there, and Grandpa decided he needed to run off the oil. I’m not entirely sure what the issue was, if doing the valves resulted in a spill or if the oil in the car itself was suspect, but he held down the gas and let the car run for a while. The result was a rather large cloud of foul smelling smoke that was kind of all over everyone.

People started leaving for Green Lake early.

We had to go back to the trailer for air and then repeated this process some. The run around Green Lake seemed fine, at least from what I could tell as a back seat passenger. We made it around, stopped for rootbeer floats, and that was when things took a bit of a worrisome turn.

The car would not stay started. I got it to start, much to the surprise of people watching who did not believe I could crank it (I can, but sometimes it doesn’t work and it does hurt a bit, too, at times.) Grandpa said it wasn’t getting enough gas.

So we checked, had plenty in the car, and so he checked it going into the carburetor. Grandpa got under and started trying to fix it, and I’m not sure entirely what he was doing, I couldn’t tell, but we thought we had it fixed. I put the tools away, he tried to start it. Nothing. I reminded him we didn’t turn the gas back on, so I did and woosh. Gas puddles under the car, and it turns out some line was disconnected. Whether that was the line Grandpa tinkered with or not, I am uncertain, but it was a bit of a new disaster as at first it seemed like it needed a new part. It didn’t. Grandpa put it back in place, the car started, we drove back to town.

(I will add that the parking lot was rather deserted at this point.)

It did not want to start again when it was time to do pictures. I got it started after that, a bit in advance, and we were off to the nursing home.

And the car seemed to start fine the next few times, so here is hoping that bit of finicky behavior is behind us and all will be good for tomorrow’s long run.