The Muse of a Busy Person

I've been too busy and brain-fried to do any writing.  I've been heading into work early and leaving late. Then dinner and vegging out – on the internet, chatting, watching the Mets, etc.  But too tired to write.

The Muse is apparently not amused.

For the past few nights I've been having vivid, vivid dreams, complete with turning points and twists. Last night, or should I say this morning's, dream involved the actress who plays Emma in Once Upon a Time.  It involved changing a turning point in time and what it does to the characters in this little drama. And a ferret named Moxie.

Emma and her friend, an older man who's a teacher, are no longer friends, she's got a new romance and Moxie doesn't know her anymore.  When Moxie bites her and runs, that's when I woke up.

I cannot wait until next week, when I can write again. (That's when work settles down. A little.)


The Myth of "Free" Time

Work is very busy and we're short-staffed. I've been working like a demon and it seems to be holding together.

But I'm tired.

I also know, from past experience, that I get sick when I'm exhausted.  And I can't get sick right now. Not at all.

I have one full day off this week – today. I've already done laundries during the week, I started my weekly cooking binge last night and I've chosen very quick and/or easy foods to cook and I'll take a shower this evening instead of in the morning.

This is all so that I can schedule some free time. Only it's not free. It takes work to free it up, for instance.

I've used some of my free time to watch TV this morning. I try not to judge – down time is important, too.

But a good chunk this afternoon was spent playing. I observed a bookbinding class and now I've got the bug.  I worked on that for part of the afternoon.  Blogging is play and so is writing – I've done that, too.

Play is important for me and for all of us. I need to create, to make things.  I'm not sure that scheduling downtime and playtime will keep me from getting sick, but I hope so. It *will* make me happier.

What do you do when you "play"?

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Forty Years

I've been reading a book on energy called, Reinventing Fire. It's an interesting book, and one of the most interesting parts is where the author supposes how we'll get energy I forty years.

Now, it's almost impossible to figure out what the furuter will look like 40 years into the future. But it got me thinking about how far we've come in the last 40 years. And then 40 years before that:

Forty Years Ago

In 1972, traffic deaths peaked at 59,589.  Seatbelts had been mandated in new cars since 1968, but their use wasn't required by law until 1984.

In 2010 (latest available), traffic deaths were the lowest ever recorded, at 32,708. While some safety measures, such as air bags were also implemented, that's still a difference of 26,881 lives saved. Do you wear your safety belt?

Just before the Oil Crisis of the seventies, a gallon of leaded gas was 36 cents, in 1972. In 1975 – 57 cents.  Although we laugh at it now, that's a 58% increase.  Yesterday, I bought gas for $3.59.

In 1972, a Chevy Nova got between 8mpg and 15mpg. My Mazda3 (roughly the same size) gets between 28mpg and 32mpg. So efficiency has risen between 300% and 400%. And that's not with a Prius.

Eighty Years Ago

In 1932, the US was in the depths of the Great Depression and unemployment was 24.1%. Franklin Delano Roosevelt was elected president by a landslide. And problems with agriculture lead to mass starvation in Russia.

The average cost of a new car was $610 and a gallon of gas was 10 cents.  But the average annual income was $6,510. The most popular car was the Ford Model B.

For some context: Al Capone was convicted of tax evasion in 1932 and Radio City Music Hall opened. Oh, and the parking meter was invented. Now we can pay for parking with our Smart Phones in NYC, at least.

TV had been invented in 1926, but shows weren't broadcast until 1935 – in Germany. TV wasn't broadcast in the US until 1941. And the first programmable computer wasn't invented until 1938- again, in Germany.

Forty Years into the Future

No one really knows what we'll have in the future – sometimes just thinking up what we want spurs it to happen. Star Trek had cell phones in the 23rd Century. Star Trek aired in 1968 and I bought my first "communicator" in 1995.

Maybe we'll be wearing batteries or have the internet in our eyeglasses. Maybe we'll grow our own food again, maybe not. Maybe we'll double our lifespans, or maybe we'll cause massive floods. Or we'll colonize Mars.

This, for me, is what's so intriguing about Science Fiction – what can be.




chain links.jpg

"Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it, they just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after a while. That’s because they were able to connect experiences they’ve had and synthesize new things."

 - Steve Jobs    

This theory also applies to the theory of knowledge that I like best.  You learn facts, but you don't know about something until you can understand how those particular facts relate to other things that you know about.

What does that have to do with writing?  Good question.

Well, nothing exists in a vacuum.  You have to have experiences to know about them, to write about them.  Some writers call this "filling the well" - a way of recharging so you can write.  So, if you're feeling blocked, drained, but you want to write, try telling yourself that you'll "write later", then go for a walk, watch a movie, cook something new - have an experience.  You can't connect experiences if you're starved for experiences.

Excuse me, please, while I take my own advice :).

What have you done lately?


Forward to Spring

Sorry for the silence recently.  I've been busy with work and have been laid low by a cold for the past two weeks.  Still very stuffy and  have a lingering cough.  Apparently, it's something that's been going around.

Here in the Northeast US, we've had hints of an early spring - pretty much all winter long.  We had snow for Halloween and one other snow "event", it wasn't even a storm.  It's felt like spring, even though it hasn't quite sprung, yet.

My mom has some crocuses and daffodils that have decided to blossom, but the trees are still in the budding stage.  And I've got some story ideas that I can feel the shape of, but they're not quite ready to bloom yet, either.

For some reason, the stories I have to tell need to simmer or ripen.  If I try to tell them too early, they don't work.  Golem, for instance, was simmering for a couple of years, then, when I saw it was ready to go.  Lawgiver is ripe, but the archeologists' story that runs alongside it is slowly ripening.  Hopefully, it'll be ready to go soon.

It's tempting to rush it, to pick the fruit before it's right. But that has never worked, at least not for me.  It's almost spring, but not quite.  All it needs is a little patience.


Software Review: Scrivener

In trying to think about something to blog about, I found another list of blog post ideas: 101 Killer Blog Post Ideas: http://

And there, on number three, was "Review Software".

How did they know??  I downloaded Scrivener's trial version and have been using it for the past three days.  So, let me tell you about Scrivener.

First, it's fairly easy to use.  It can be used as a word processor and it can import and export to several other word processors.  It can also export a file into .pdf and the different ebook formats.

It's also a notecard program, as simple to use as Supernotecard. And it toggles BACK AND FORTH between the notecard and the wordprocessor.  It also takes those notecards and sets them up in a really nice outline form.  Although I don't outline before I write, I find that outlining *while* I write helps me to figure things out.

Do I like it enough to buy it?  Yes, in fact, I'll probably buy it this weekend.

Note: If you "won" nano, go to the nano site:

For Winners, there's a code to get 50% off a copy of the Scrivener program, but you need to have won and validated your story.

Photo credit: photo by Flickr user Cranium, used under the creative commons license


Worry: A Habit I Wish I Didn't Have

Worry is like running on a hamster wheel.  You go round and round in circles, but you never get anywhere.  

And yet, I worry.  Mostly, I worry about things that I cannot control.  And that gets in the way of things that I can control.

I can't control the fact that there's an accident along my way to work.  I can control the fact that I left a little late, cutting it a bit too close.

I can't control what my significant other does.  I can control my reaction to it.

I can't control how my mother is doing.  I can control my own health.  But not if my energy is spent worrying about hers.

I can't control whether someone will ever buy my book. But I can get it out there – submit it to agents.

I'm not big on resolutions, but here's one: I'll try to focus my energy on those things that I can control.  And let go of the things I can't.

Photo Credit
“Hamster on wheel”  sualk61 at  Creative Commons. Some Rights Reserved.


What Makes Me Different from Everyone Else


This is from that list that Tambo pointed me to:

Normally, being the science type, I'd say my DNA.  But I've got this identical twin, so that's out.  Not that we're exactly the same.  She's shy.  I'm… not.  She doesn't cook.  I do.  And our fingerprints are different.  Even though fingerprints have a basis in genetics, how they're expressed/ formed is different for every individual.

But being a twin meant that we were often lumped together.  My form of rebellion, growing up, was pushing to be an individual.  So, everything that I do has some basis in that.  I want to be different from everyone else.

For example: I created my own undergraduate major (Science Communication).  I have a Masters in Museum Education.  I do a LOT of crafts and have a lot of hobbies.I consider myself a Creative.  If I need a dish towel, I'll crochet it.  If I want pizza, I'll make it.  I make most of the gifts I give, if I can.  If I can't, I do *something* creative with it.  My sister tells me that it's my gifts her kids pull out on a rainy day. <big grin>

So that's what makes me different from everyone else.  I look to create the most original thing.  Even me.


My Favorite Song

My favorite song would have to be Bridge Over Troubled Water, by Simon and Garfunkel.  Hands down. No question.

At the darkest points in my life, this song either came on the radio or I put it on the CD player.  I hummed it to myself in the dark when I needed someone to tell me that it would be all right.  I knew, in my rational mind, that it would be, but the emotional part of my mind doubted it.

When I was 19years old I went to the Concert in Central Park and, at dusk, Art Garfunkel sang this song.  And half a million people sang along, under their breaths.  We could all hear Art, but we also added our voices.  It was unbelievable.

Paul Simon once said that he hated the bridge "Sail on silver girl" part.  It had nothing to do with the rest of the song.  I must disagree – it makes the song so much stronger.

With that shift, that change of key, the song moves from "there, there, it'll be okay" to "you're okay now.  Go. Do."

I love this song.

What's your favorite song?

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    Bridge Over Troubled Water ;)
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