Get EXCITED: reblogging Mhairi

22 06 2012

I love Mhairi Simpson’s blog, and this post, “Get Excited”, made me laugh, smile, and nod in agreement.

(Isn’t she a doll?)

The woman has so much going on in her life right now – she’s such an inspiration. As soon as I get this blasted THING that I’m doing out of the way, I’m going full blast with the fitness thing. Couch to 5K? Maybe. Boot Camp? Maybe. Crossfit? Maybe.

Mhairi, you’re my hero(ine). xox, woman, love you!





Sharp Left Turn on the Road of Life

15 06 2012

By Julia Indigo/@juliaindigo

Just when I thought that I had all my Row80 ducks in a row, life gives me lemons. Oh, wait. ::grins::

Yes, I’m a professional musician – it’s my bread and butter.

 

Since the Recession of 2008 it has been thin sliced white bread with margarine – many symphonies have undergone difficulties during this time. Our orchestra declared bankruptcy in 2003 before returning in 2004, so the lean times have been with us even longer.

In the meantime I’ve done myriad things to keep body and soul together, but I recently learned of an opportunity to audition for another orchestra: the Piccolo Chair.

The chances of me winning this audition are slim, even though I’m quite talented. First: it’s been years since I’ve taken an audition, and auditioning is an art unto itself. The more you take, the better you get at it (hopefully, that is). Second: According to the conventional wisdom, auditioning is a young person’s game. I’m fifty-four. That in itself makes it very unlikely that I would be hired, even if I was the ‘best’ player that day. Third: It’s in two weeks, and I just pulled out the excerpts and started to practice on Monday. You read that right. On Monday.

I thought that I wasn’t going to take it, mostly because getting ready for an audition is bloody awful. I absolutely HATE the preparation for an audition: the same X number of orchestral excerpts that I’ve practiced off and on for over thirty years – and they still aren’t perfected (that’s how tricky they are). Not to mention the same solo concerto. (Here’s an AWESOME performance of the one I’m working on. That guy makes me want to cry. He’s amazing.) I have places to go, people to see, A NOVEL TO WRITE… but I found a way (via my Parental Units’ ™ Reward Points) to take the audition for free. How can I not do it? I have no excuse for not practicing – right now my time is my own.

Generally speaking, people will prepare for an audition like this for two-three months. My audition time is June 25th during the 10 am hour. Needless to say, I’m excited. Can I do this? More importantly, can I do this DIFFERENTLY than I’ve ever prepared for an audition before? In the past I ended up tied in knots, and even though I mostly made it to the final round, I didn’t win. I’ve been in the finals/runner up more times than I can remember, for great orchestras: Philly, Boston, Cincy, Dallas, Los Angeles. Orchestras where people make in the six figures.

But this isn’t a six-figure orchestra. That’s fine: it’s still twice what I make here.

The upshot? Row80 goals are out the window. I need my hands for the piccolo this week, and next. I’ll be back for the July 2 opening of Round 3: Row80, the 2012 Edition.





In Which I Become Productive: Row80 update

13 05 2012

By Julia Indigo/@juliaindigo

This has been a week. Well, yes, that’s true. More than that, it’s been a week that went from OMG to YESS!

Last Sunday I finally got on board with the whole Row80/blogging thing, and it solidified my Social Media preferences. That is, I’m a Blogger. Not a Tweeter, or a Facebooker. I went to the Row80 homepage, and took the time to actually read and comment on a good number of blogs, and while that could have deep-sixed my email (I subbed to all the comment threads!), I kept that window open and was diligent with scanning and deleting comment emails. I discovered that the blogging community means the most to me, and is more to my taste than Twitter. As far as Facebook, I’m keeping my personal FB for friends (including my writer friends, yay!), and eventually, when I get to the point of publishing something, I’ll go with an author fan page. Yes, I found Row80 and other writing friends on Twitter, and will still be there from time to time, but for now, I think that blogging is where it’s at for me.

So, on Sunday I was on the computer for hours – FUN hours. Then work started to intervene. Let’s just say that rehearsals this past week were pretty hellish, and though I played well (mostly), it was damned stressful. Beer helped, specifically the new Shiner brew: Wild Hare. I’ve been alcohol-free for months, but this brew made the week go better. Now that the 6-pack is gone, I’ll get back to my teetotaling days. My stomach acid is relieved (but wishes I’d also deep-six the coffee. Oy.)

Then came Friday, and my muse put her feet back on the ground and started running. 1,100 words, in a scene that I may use. Not sure yet. Because yesterday I fired up Scrivener (which I love with a mad, passionate, and completely inappropriate love) and printed out all my chapters and scene headings. While I’m still not convinced that my WIP is one novel (as opposed to, say, THREE), I went to Starbucks with the file, and organized it into three acts (including three intermezzos and two entr’actes). That took over two hours. When I got home I fired up Scrivener on the iMac once again, and re-arranged the file per my earlier work.

With that, I’ve taken my writing to another level. You see, it’s been driving me absolutely crazy that I hadn’t settled on the shape of the story. I’d written scenes from my protag’s entire life, and there was no way that anyone would buy a chronological book of that magnitude. I hadn’t determined where to begin, and how to incorporate some earlier scenes (if at all), and it had me in knots. I knew that I’d eventually figure it out – though I may not have it completely figured out just yet – and you cannot imagine the relief I feel.

Until last night.

I woke up several times, reminded of scenes that I’d intended to write, that seemed to be quite important to the novel, but wouldn’t fit into this structure. Ahem. But I’m not back to square one. Maybe square three. The important thing is that I have a huge smile on my face. This is such FUN!

Onward to my goals.

This week has been a bust in the Better Life Habits department. Too much stress, too little concentration. In addition to my work stress, my Mom had a lumpectomy on Thursday (she’s fine, just waiting on the final pathology report. Looks like Stage 1 and five days of radiation therapy), my Dad is having an angiogram on Monday (he had three stents in ’03, I’m hoping they’ll just put in a couple more, versus bypass surgery). They are 81 and 82, respectively, and in excellent health, except for the above. All this has affected my sleep – I’ve been waking up in the middle of the night, unable to go back to sleep. That’s very unusual for me. I’ve walked some, but I live in Texas, and the recent rain and storms put a dent in that (though we really need the rain!). The house is not spotless, and won’t be for a while. Oh. Well.

My Creativity is flourishing, as above. Too much music-making to do any knitting – it’s too hard on my hands. I’ll get back to that soon enough.

Social Media goals are working out well, as above, though I’m not going to meet with my writer friends this month. We are all too busy – or rather, when one of us is free, the other two are busy. June, for sure!

I’m adding a second blogpost series, Tuesdays will be for quotes that spark something in me. I inadvertently started that last week, with my post on the Cambrian Shoreline. I’ve got to get cracking on Tuesdays’ entry in the series, because I’ll be with my parents all day Monday… and Tuesday is full of (stressful) work.

Oh, and here’s a fabulous link for writers. Raelyn Barclay’s current Row80 update has a great link to Jami Gold’s post on Scenes and Sequels that you must read. Oh, and cute pics of Raelyn’s family’s three new members, Sonic, Neptune, and Poseidon. Squee! So cute!





A successful week: Row80 update

29 04 2012

I feel a sense of satisfaction, glancing over my list of Row80 goals. I’m happy with my progress in almost every area under Better Life Habits, so much so that I’m adding a couple of other goals.

While I haven’t been religious about walking every single day, I’m well on my way to establishing the following habits: turning off lights, making my bed, shutting cabinet doors, having a clean kitchen sink, so I’m adding the following: keeping the bathroom clean, and brushing the dog 1x/week. My canine is a miniature poodle, so brushing her is essential… and I’m a bad doggy mom. I let her go, and then it’s a huge chore when I get around to it… which is a task that I’m still putting off. TODAY, Ms. Blossom – I promise! I’m sick of the science experiment that is my bathroom, oy. Enough said, or perhaps too much.

Creatively, I’m now officially unblocked! As I blogged two days ago, I had a major realization, and the ideas (if not the words) are flowing again. Yay! Unfortunately, I haven’t been practicing, knitting, or starting on the mask-making project, because I’ve been rather out of control re: Facebook, Tiny Wings, and Stoneloops of Jurassica. And instead of finishing my scarf, I’m thinking of starting on a sweater. Or a weaving project. I must have creative ADD.

I posted a non-Row80 blogpost (linked above) this week, and have another planned for next week (yay), this is my Sunday check in. I’ve been on Twitter and reading blogs, and did the monthly get-together with local writer tweeps. Come to think of it, we need to schedule one for May.

Next week will be more of a challenge, because my houseguest will be back on Tuesday for 5 days. I hope I can have some boundaries with her, and get some stuff done while she’s here. I know she’ll understand – and she has a couple of projects to work on, too.

Row80 is turning out to be a positive thing for me, this time around. Last time my health issues got the better of me, but that is more or less in the past, and I’m looking forward to the next several months. Except for the temperature part. Summer is tough here in South Texas.

How are you doing, at the end of April? Have you made Row80 or New Years’ Goals that you’re struggling with? What are your success stories?





My First Anniversary: My First WIP

20 02 2012

Today is my First Anniversary… my first writing anniversary! I have been writing for one year.

February has historically been a questionable month for me. After all the darkness of winter I’m left in a deep depression, waiting for spring. I hit my lowest of lows in February 1994, when I had a nervous breakdown of sorts. I still have my struggles with depression, but for the most part, I’m okay now.

So it’s a blessing to put a gold star on February 20th, a star to brighten an otherwise bleak month.

My bestie is a writer, among other wonderful things. Sometime last winter she sent me a few pages of the novel she was writing, and I was blown away. Then it was as if a tiny angel whispered in my ear: you can do this too, Julia. Just give it a try.

I sat down with my laptop and opened up a word processing file, and started to write about Steven. I am character driven, but already had a scene for him. Boom. There it was. I opened up skype and read it to my bestie. She said, “Oh my god, Julia, you’re a writer!” I took on the mantle from that moment.

My life changed in an instant. Today I’m a happier person, more focused, more passionate, devouring everything I can about the craft… and, of course, WRITING.

I plotted out Steven’s life, and wrote out of order. For almost a year I had no idea how this book would end, but I kept on writing in fits and starts, until I had 90k words. Then I put it on the back burner for NaNoWriMo, and only returned to the Story of Steven Canelli in the past three weeks or so. I finally figured out the ending, which brought his life back full circle. Last night I wrote that final chapter, with a short epilogue planned.

But… and it’s a huge but… the book is nowhere near finished. I’ve cut out huge swaths of material (perhaps for a reader freebie in the future), and am seriously considering a complete rewrite to first person.

Even with that, I don’t know if I’ll ever publish this story. It is, after all, my first novel… and I hear that most writers have four or five of their first work in a drawer somewhere. But you have to start somewhere, and I did. I am a writer. One of the Creatives!





1/11/12 #Row80 update

11 01 2012

I have been up to my eyeballs the past several days, so this will be brief.

1 – I will use the Dvorak keyboard layout exclusively by February.

Yes and no. I’ve been back and forth between Dvorak and QWERTY, doing most of my writing in the latter. But I am getting faster with Dvorak… but I’m not going to make my deadline at this rate, and I’m not sure if that’s important or not.

2 – I will finish the first draft of my current WIP, likely getting it to 80-90k words…That equals 500-750 words/day, not counting worldbuilding.

Ahem. Real Life has intervened, and I’m seriously off track. Between “cedar fever” and my work schedule I have had absolutely no energy for any writing. But I have spent a lot of time worldbuilding, which counts!

3 – I will blog at least 1x/week, plus two Row80 check-ins, and post one book review/month.

I’m on track with this, thank heavens! Oh dear… I forgot about the book review! :o

4 – I will be on twitter 6 days/week, 2x/day, to continue building my network, and FB as I remember to do it.

I’ve managed this, as well.

5 – I will allow myself to work on my other book if the spirit moves me.

The spirit has not moved me!

So, there you have it. Nothing fancy this time. See you Saturday!

 





Inventing a Religion

10 01 2012

My Writing Process™ strongly tends towards the free-form and whimsical. (God, is that the worst sentence I’ve ever written or what? LOL! I’m LEAVING it.)

Here’s a ‘for instance’ for your edification. The other day I was thinking about Naweetan, one of the Umgonnan characters in my Nanowrimo fantasy book. He is a warrior/defender/career military guy… single, in mid-life, childless. He becomes a pivotal character in the book when he falls in love. I was in the shower, thinking about his motivations.

“Whirling Dervish”, said the muse.

“What the heck? Whirling dervish?”

I have no idea where that came from, but I’m willing to consider it. Umgonnan are dragon-like proto-birds, living 55 million years ago, some 10 million years after the Cretaceous extinction which wiped out their cousins, the dinosaurs, and they fly, so ‘whirling’ makes some sense. I’m soaping up my hair, thinking about Umgonnan religion.

I’d been mulling over Umgonnan religion for a while. At this time their major religion is rather Taoist, something to help these newly-sentient beings remain rooted in their natural world. There is a ‘goddess’ of sorts, who may be a ‘demon’ of sorts to other Umgonnan tribes, but I’m not married to that thought yet. I hadn’t considered that there could be another religion, which could be completely different.

My musings led me to Mithraism and the worship of Mithras (I thought that he was worshipped by military men only, the link doesn’t confirm that). I started wondering about some kind of officially-forbidden military cult worship that Naweetan would be involved in. It would not resemble Mithraism at all, except that it would be a cult for military men only.

At that notion, I happily jumped into writing a nighttime scene around this, and it failed miserably, a waste of time. Actually, not a waste of time, because I figured out that I needed more background before I could write anything about his religion.

So tonight my meditation is this:

What needs would a Umgonnan Defender have? And…

How could a spirituality/religion meet these needs?

Umgonnan fight using three weapons – teeth, claws, and breathing fire – they have no spears/shields/arrows. So any battles would likely be fought tactically, avoiding clashing armies, because hand-to-hand fighting would result in severe injuries and death… and none of the Umgonnan tribes are heavily populated. However, his people’s sworn enemies, the Rodannerra Umgonnan, are primitive by comparison, and more likely to go all ‘Brave Heart’ on the Udunoa (Naweetan’s people).

That suggests that rituals/spells for protection, for concealment, for confusing the enemy would be useful. Perhaps veneration of a militarily talented ancestor, invoking his/her help. Even some sort of ritualized cannibalism – eating the heart or brain (why am I thinking entrails? Must be important!) – which could account for the religion being banned. Then there’s also the Whirling Dervish meme – perhaps some kind of ritual practice that puts the warrior into an altered state before going into battle? Which gives him access to telepathic communication with the fore-mentioned ancestor?

I like most of the above – nice to add meat to the story  - a source of conflict between Naweetan and his lady-love… and his boss, the Qingann (Qi is pronounced ‘Chi’, as in Pinyin. Why? Because I like it that way!). Tomorrow I’ll break out the notecards and plot!





What? Me… Writer?

24 10 2011

Hi, my name is Julia Indigo, and I’m a writer. Sort of… I mean, I am a writer, but that isn’t really my name; it’s close to it.

If you’d told me this time last year that I’d be 100,000 words in to the first draft of a novel today, I would have said that you were nuts. I never wanted to be a writer. I’d never even considered writing at all. I’ve been a professional classical musician my entire adult life, and I started playing music in the fourth grade. That profession has been my bread and butter ever since, though through increasingly leaner and leaner years. Thank you, Wall Street, for this collapsing economy. But I digress.

For whatever reason, long about February 2011 a character leapt into my consciousness, full-blown. Where he came from, I don’t know, but Steven is almost as real to me as my ex-husband is. My very best friend and sister-by-choice, Jennifer, is a writer and a marvelous poet; she sent me a handful of pages of her (unfortunately, stalled) novel back in late January. I was gobsmacked, but then a wee small voice spoke up “I wonder if I could do this, too?” In an instant I’d fired up my laptop, and BOOM, this man’s life poured onto the page, in a torrent.

Yep. It was a deluge. 40,000 words in just under a month, before I cried “UNCLE” and quit for a bit. I was hauling the Dell Mini everywhere with me, words pouring out of my fingers. I woke up in the morning and grabbed the iPhone and fired up the dictation app as I headed to the bathroom, because ideas were flying out of my head so fast that I would’ve never made it to rehearsal if I’d tried to type it all up. Steven went on walks with me, re-living his life story, episode by episode; I had to run back home and fire up the computer to brain dump that bit, in order to make more head room for subsequent ideas.

I read scene after scene to Jennifer, who encouraged me again and again to keep on writing. “What? Me? A writer?” “Yes,” she would say, “You are a natural! Keep going!” … so I did. Actually, it wasn’t as though I had much of a choice in the matter; I had to write. And the scenes were often out of sequence, one instant he’s twenty-two and in love, then next he’s thirty-nine and in the middle of an awful divorce, as I page to and fro through the manuscript to find the proper place in the chronology for the scene I just wrote.

And it is so much FUN! I absolutely adore writing – there is nothing more satisfying than putting fingers to keyboard to see what happens next.

By now the story of this man’s life covers almost 50 years, and I’m not done yet. I know that I’ll have to ditch much of what I’ve written, but that seems inconsequential to me right now. He’s having his way with me – his story WILL be told, one way or the other.

It’s fascinating to me that when I’m deep into writing, I can practically feel his presence. I’m a visual and tactile person – no, that’s not exactly right. I’m visual and kinesthetic, if that is an actual word. I can sense his energy.

Is his story worth telling? I think so. The bigger question is, will I be able to tell it in a compelling enough manner for his story to be published and sent out to the wider world? Perhaps. But until I pull up that file and start in again (it’s been over six weeks since I’ve written – life got in the way), we’ll never find out.

How have your stories come to you? Do you start with a premise, a scene, or a character like me? Do you write chronologically, or not? Do you outline first, then write scene by scene, or do you let the story take you where it will? Let me know in the comments, if you like.








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