It’s a Bug’s Life

I have a confession to make. I can hide it no longer. I am a Clutter-Bug.

What the hell is a Clutter-Bug, you ask? Well, what does it sound like? My life and my mind are filled with clutter. Mountains of it.

Don’t mistake me for a hoarder, although material possessions are a little bit of the problem. Physically I do have a lot of hoarder-type clutter around my house. I have an entire shelf on my bookcase that is nothing but blank notebooks I’ve never used, and there’s a whole stack of drawers in the dining room that are filled with good old fashioned junk, like rubber-band balls and dead pens. I have a bit of a hard time throwing stuff away, even when I know there’s no point in keeping them.

But the type of clutter that I’m talking about is the kind that distracts, the kind that disguises itself as disorganization and generally messiness. There are almost always clothes on my bedroom floor, for instance, even though we have a hamper in there. I leave my phone, my tablet, and my Playstation Vita wherever I happen to be when I’m finished using them. There are books on top of my headboard that I haven’t touched in weeks. There are boxes of baby clothes sitting in my hall that I simply haven’t bothered to put away, even though it would take five minutes to cart them down into the basement.

I seem to have a mental block that consistently keeps me from ever putting anything away, thus cluttering up my house. It’s an illness. A terrible, debilitating illness.

But it goes further than that, because clutter can be mental as well.

For instance, in my closet there is a huge stack of jeans taking up a good three square feet of space. None of them fit. They vary between being a size or two off to being so tiny that I would have to get liposuction and a stomach staple to ever have a chance of fitting in them again. And not only are these jeans clutter in the literal sense of taking up space and never being used, they’re clutter in the mental sense because I have to think of them every time I look at them. Every time I open my closet I see this stack of jeans and they make me miserable just for the sheer fact that I know I can’t fit into them. I know I could fit into them if I worked really hard and restricted my calories and stuck to a daily exercise regimen and completely stopped drinking anything other than water and so on and so on and so on…you see? Mental clutter.

Most people do this kind of thing to themselves to some extent, but I, my friends, am an expert. I am the Queen Clutter-Bug. May all lesser Clutter-Bugs bow before me.

Original pic via photoalbum.davison.ca
Original pic via photoalbum.davison.ca

For another example, I have this habit I call “self-fulfilling failure to fulfill”. Basically, I have a mental list in my head of all the things I want to do, or need to do, and no matter how many things I am able to cross off the list I manage to add twice as many more. In this way my list is never complete, and my internal list-maker starts twitching like a drugged-up jackrabbit. It doesn’t matter if I’m working my ass off or sitting back and trying to relax, I have this never-ceasing mental clutter of half-finished to-do lists gumming up my brain.

It’s a horrifying condition for a writer because while I should be writing and working on my platform, I’m instead obsessing about a million other things. I can’t get any writing done around my husband or daughter because I’m so easily distracted by everything they say or do. I can’t get any writing done in my own bedroom because I can’t stop thinking about that basket of clothes on the floor or those damn jeans in my closet. When I do get around to writing I’m plagued by a thousand non-work-in-progress-related thoughts like whether I should be planning some blog posts in advance to give myself more time, or whether I should scrap this fan fiction stuff and just concentrate on my original work, or should I log onto Twitter and see what the other writers are doing? It’s a constant barrage of voices in my head yelling at me about everything except what I’m supposed to be writing about.

“Why aren’t you more active on Twitter? How do you expect to gain followers when you never say anything interesting?”

“Why are you focusing so much on this stupid supernatural romance stuff…it will probably just ruin your image for when the zombie horror novel is done.”

“Oh crap, did I write a blog post for tomorrow? Crap, I didn’t… Crap crap crap!”

It spirals on and on, until I have so many thoughts in my head that I can’t pick out any one particular one. And then I get very, very tired. Queen Clutter-Bug begins to slow down. She crawls into a dark spot and the other Clutter-Bugs swarm around and begin to eat her.

Image via science.kqed.org
Original image via science.kqed.org

But there is hope! Or so I’m told. There are cures for rampant Clutter-Bug-ism, such as meditation, relaxation techniques, and – if you’re a particular kind of person – alcohol. Scour the internet and you will find a million different suggestions for calming the shouting voices in your brain, the ones that keep you from ever being calm or satisfied. There are methods, if only one chooses to seek them out.

Or if you’re like me you can find your own release; little joys that keep you from going utterly insane. How do I dispel Queen Clutter-Bug? I do things that are completely against her nature. I purposely pick something that I know is material clutter and I toss it in the trash, sighing pleasurably all the while. I snuggle up with my daughter and watch cartoons – great brain-blanking animations that somehow keep your mind from thinking about anything else. I watch B-movies with my husband – films so absurdly terrible that you can’t help but just sit and laugh the world away.

My methods may not be ideal, nor might they work at all for someone else with similar Clutter-Buginess issues. But we all must deal with our issues in our own way, and for me these things are Clutter-Bug Raid.

Which reminds me, my mile-long mental list includes spraying some Clutter-Bug Raid. Excuse me, I really must get to that ASAP.

Accountability Tuesdays – Week 26

Two things to mention before I get to the heart of the matter today. First of all, it’s week number 26! That means I’m halfway through the year! And while I’m nowhere near where I would need to be to be on track with my million word goal, I’ve written more in the past six months than in the previous 2 years combined! But more on that later.

The other thing I want to mention is that as you are reading this I am packing up my last couple of bits and bobbles from the control room at work, chucking it all in a backpack, and awaiting the bus that will return me to camp where I’ll giddily await my plane home. My last plane home. That’s not to say that I won’t end up back out in Alberta for work in a few months or so, but for now I’m heading home with nothing on the horizon except spending quality time with my family and maybe enjoying a number of alcoholic beverages from the comfort of my back deck. Look upon me and be in awe, for I am officially ON VACATION!

Okay, that’s enough of that. πŸ™‚

Health and Body Image Goal

I’ve been a bit on the ins and outs with this goal, unfortunately, but I’m still not doing too badly. As I mentioned last week I did, in fact, drag myself to the gym and try running on the treadmill. It wasn’t ideal, but acceptable. I figured that’s what I’d do until my stomach felt better. But then my stomach felt worse. I don’t know if it’s the actual physical exertion that’s bothering me, or if it’s the camp food (which, thank god, I won’t be enjoying any more of any time soon), or if I’ve been suffering from some as-yet-diagnosed condition inherited from my sickly parents (love you guys, really :P), but I’ve hardly been able to stand leaving my room in the morning and suffering through the bus ride to work, never mind exercising on top of that. Luckily, about two days ago, my symptoms seemed to subside and I’ve felt halfway decent since then, so here’s hoping all will be well when I get home and try to run around my neighborhood again.

All that said, I’ve still been managing to eat pretty well. I’ve had a cookie here, some pop there, but for the most part I’ve been eating decent food (or as decent as it gets on camp) and not too much of it. I haven’t weighed or measured myself recently because I doubt I’ve lost anything during my refusal-to-exercise days, but I’ve recently had an unusual number of coworkers tell me that I look like I’ve lost weight, so I’m just going to go ahead and say, “Woohoo! I look like I’ve lost weight!”

Editing Goal

I have a stupid, STUPID confession to make. I did try to get some editing done this week, I swear, I really did. But when I finally took out my tablet and opened up the files I transferred there for editing purposes, I discovered something idiotic. Of the four different word-processor-ish apps I have on my tablet, none of them open rtf files. Guess what format all my files are in? After two days of searching for an Android program that DOES open rtf files (for free, because screw that, I’m not paying for an app that I only need for a week) I gave up and admitted defeat. Apparently the world of tablets and smartphones does not believe in the existence of rtf files. So the editing will have to wait for this coming week. Grr.

1,000,000 Word Goal

I have been writing like a maniac this week, mostly due to my rediscovery of 750Words.com. I don’t know what it is, but I love just typing and typing and typing and watching the word counter go up. It’s addictive. Over the course of the week I’ve written blog posts, typed out a few scenes for Returning Hope, did a couple of writing exercises, and did a little bit of free-writing (i.e. writing whatever came to my head as it came to my head). Through all of this combined I managed to once again beat my best week score with a total word count of 16556. In addition to that, I’m happy to announce that I’ve reached a yearly total so far of over 165,000. Again, it’s nowhere near where I need to be for my goal, but it’s a heck of a lot more than I normally would have written, so I’m proud. Revel in my pride! Only six months to go to try and boost that total up as high as I can!

And with that said, I plan to spend the next several hours in the lounge at camp, with my feet up, reading A Dance With Dragons, and waiting for my final flight home. See you soon, Cape Breton!

Accountability Tuesdays – Week 24

Do I look super sweet and trustworthy? I only ask because today marked just about the hundredth time that an elderly lady picked me – out of an entire airport full of people – to ask where she had to go/what she had to do or to just sit down and start having a conversation with me like we were old pals. I’m not complaining, I just find it humorous. I’m a young adult wandering around an airport with a Batman t-shirt and “I didn’t get a wink of sleep last night” bags under my eyes, and somehow this translates to “ideal travel companion” to little old ladies. *shrug*

Oh wait, I’m traveling again… That must mean its time for more accountability. Huzzah! πŸ˜›

Health and Body Image
I’m sad to say that I tapered off on this one last week, mostly because it rained and rained and rained, and I just can’t deal with running in the rain. On that note, after my husband asked me what the hell I was going to do in the winter, I started working on cleaning up our basement so I can use the treadmill again. Not ideal (I find running on a treadmill really hard on my knees) but it’ll be better than not doing anything. In the meantime I’m on my way back out to Fort Mac, where it’s dry as a bone 90% of the time, so yay for getting back to running! The audial zombies have been waiting for me, I’m sure.

Editing Goal
As previously mentioned, I’ve been trying to get rid of my short supernatural romance before moving back to my zombie novel. It’s much quicker going – I’m already halfway through chapter 3 of 10 – so I don’t expect it to take too long. Though I much, much prefer to work within Scrivener, I’ve exported my files and taken them out West with me on my tablet so I can continue to pluck away. Hopefully I won’t screw up my formatting…that stuff drives me looney.

1,000,000 Word Goal
I did a silly thing this week. Namely, I forgot to keep track of my writing. Mostly I only did blog posts, and I can tell you that those accounted for 4329 words, but there’s some more in there somewhere from reworded romance scenes that I neglected to record. I can figure it out…but not without my laptop. So for now we’ll go with the 4329. I’ll add the rest at a later date and report my grand total instead.

And now, my friends, it’s time for another plane ride. Thank puppies I have a good book to read.

Accountability Tuesdays – Week 17

Another week has come and gone, and while work has been slow and sleep has been scarce, this one actually seemed to go by a little faster than usual. I’ve been often told that I shouldn’t wish my life away, but in these moments I’m going to go ahead and ignore that little anecdote because dammit, I’d rather be home. πŸ™‚

In all seriousness though, it’s been a pretty decent week. Not as productive as I would have hoped, but still better than I may have expected. So let’s get on with it, shall we?

Health and Body Image Goal

I won’t say I’ve been a saint over the past week because you’d see right the hell through that, but I will raise my head proudly and say that I’ve done pretty good. I skipped only one exercise day, due to a particularly rough two nights that resulted in some extraordinarily frightening black circles under my eyes, but I actually made up for that day later in the week. I am now into my third straight week of Jillian Michaels’ Body Revolution, and have been diligently eating salads, egg whites, oatmeal, and whatever other nonsense the program suggests. I’ve had a couple of small candies, and during the Saturday Night Hockey game I allowed myself some chips and pop, but other than that I’ve eaten really well and continued to exercise diligently. I’ve also lost 2 lbs, which doesn’t feel like a lot for the amount of effort I’ve been putting in, but I suspect that when I get home from this shift and take my measurements again I’ll found that at least some of me has shrunk a little. Looking forward to it!

Editing Goal

This…this right here is the bane of my existence. I got a little bit of speed up there for a week or two, but now it’s gone again. I have to go ahead and admit that I haven’t even glanced at my manuscript. There is just so much else to concentrate on, and I feel that I only have enough time for one: edit or write. Invariably I end up choosing to write because editing sucks. You know it, I know it, everyone knows it. No, it’s not an excuse. Yes, I’m using it as one.

1,000,000 Word Goal

The week did not go as I planned, but I really can’t complain too much about the result. Because of the little exercise I explained in yesterday’s post I got a good bit of word count built up. Unfortunately I also discovered something disappointing. It turns out that my tablet really really sucks at cutting and pasting. What does this matter, you ask? Well here’s the thing…since the beginning of the year some time I’ve been using my tablet to type out blog posts. Since the WordPress app doesn’t show your post word count at the bottom of the screen like the website does, I’ve then been copy-and-pasting my posts into a word counter app. Well I only just recently noticed, by complete fluke, that the copying and pasting hasn’t been working properly. I have no idea why it doesn’t work properly, and I have no idea how to fix it, but when I highlight a large chunk of text and copy it, apparently only part of it copies. Thus, I may have been losing significant numbers of words toward my goal since the beginning of the year. Even more unfortunately, the only way I could possibly fix the error is to go back and recount every single thing I’ve written since January 1st. I don’t know about you people, but Tracey don’t have time for that. Therefore, to help balance out what may be a significant chunk of lost words, I’ve started adding any technical writing I do for work to my word count. It’s not much, but it should help offset the balance a little. And with that large wall of text expressed, my word count for the week was 5777 words.

Accountability Tuesdays – Week 13

Technology is a wonderful thing, you know? Here I am, on a bus on the way back to camp from a long day at work, and I’m listening to music on my iPhone while typing up an accountability post on my tablet with my bluetooth keyboard. My coworkers are getting a good laugh out of it, but to hell with them. I’m multitasking!

Okay, I may be feeling a bit looney this evening, so let’s get to the important parts so I can get this post scheduled for the morning and enjoy my evening trying to make up for several nights in a row of poor sleep.

Health and Body Image Goal

As has become a tradition, I have to admit that I’ve been a very bad girl this week. Since I arrived at camp for this shift I’ve polished off a fair number of sweets and no fewer than two (large) bags of chips (with cream soda to accompany). I haven’t even been bothering to put together half-decent lunches for myself…I’ve been snagging the pre-portioned containers of spaghetti and ham-and-cheese sandwiches. I’ve been bypassing the salad bar and healthier stir-fry meals daily because, let’s face it, I’m lazy and I have no willpower. Neither have I been getting any kind of exercise because of the aforementioned laziness and because if I want to also get a decent amount of writing in I would have to give up sleep. If you were reading the beginning of this post you know that I’m not sleeping well anyway. Why is that, I wonder? Am I stressed? I might be stressed.

Anyway, I made a decent effort today and ate better at least. I stil had the spaghetti, but I had yogurt and an orange for breakfast and somehow refrained from indulging in the nanaimo squares that I (for some goddamn reason) took to work with me today. Are you proud? You probably shouldn’t be. I don’t deserve pride, dammit! When I can report self-discipline for at least 7 days in a row, then you can be proud. Stow your pride for later.

Editing Goal

It’s not much, but I finally have something to report. That is, I’ve been looking over my previously edited pages, refamiliarizing myself with my manuscript. It’s not editing in the strictest sense, but I’m pretty much caught up, so any day now we should see some real progress, I promise.

1,000,000 Word Goal

As mentioned in my special post on Sunday, I’ve begun participating in Camp NaNoWriMo as of this morning. I’ve set myself a word count goal of 30,000 which, while not as ambitious as I would like to be, will bring me up to 100,000 words so far this year (if I’m successful). For my first day I’ve manged to write a little more than 1000 words so far, which is right on track. Wish me luck, and if you’d like to join me at NaNo Camp (it’s never too late!), take a swing by the website. My username for all NaNo events is Toreshi.

As for my weekly wordcount, I actually had a pretty damn good week, if I do say so myself. Not my best, but much better than the last three weeks (in fact, almost as much as the last three weeks combined). I wrote a total of 7435 words, which came from a combination of scenes for Parallels, a bit of blogging, and a few writing exercises and prompts that I tried out over the last two days. As a matter of fact, one of those prompts may very well turn into a full blown work in progress because it’s been pretty fun to write so far. As much as I would like to plow on and finish Parallels, I’ve been having a major blockage as to where to go next, so I’m thinking I might use Camp NaNo as an excuse to try a few new things, get the juices flowing as it were. Maybe I’ll even share some of what I end up with on Fiction Fragment Fridays. Look forward to it! πŸ™‚

Accountability Tuesdays – Weeks 10 and 11

If you read yesterday’s post, you know that I’ve had a bit of a rough time this past week. In addition to that, there was a bit of a snafu with the WordPress app on my Android tablet. Although I scheduled a few posts in advance for last week, as it turns out this particular app does not automatically upload scheduled posts directly to the website. Instead, it saves the posts to local storage, and at the scheduled time it then uploads to the website. This, of course, doesn’t work if the tablet is not currently connected to the internet, and since I scheduled updates for Tuesday on, and disconnected my out-West router in order to pack it on Monday night, the tablet never sent the posts.

Don’t give me that look. It was an honest screw-up that was totally not my fault.

So with that all established, this accountability post will be for this week past, and the week before, for which the post lay rotting on my traitorous tablet.

Health and Body Image Goal

Things got a little out of hand the past two weeks, I’ll be honest. I was still doing fairly good before I left work, although the exercising ground to a near halt because advancing to new Jillian Michaels videos nearly killed me. Seriously, what a jump in intensity between the first set of videos and the second. Jillian, you are a right awful witch.

This past week, of course, has had it’s issues, and the husband and I have found ourselves at the wrong end of quite a bit of take-out and fast food. I’m feeling sufficiently bad about myself though, don’t worry about that.

I haven’t weighed or measured myself, because quite honestly I don’t want to find out that I inadvertently began heading back in the wrong direction. Straight back, gritted teeth, and let’s just move on, shall we?

Editing Goal

As previously mentioned, I’m seriously considering just not bringing this one up any more, and we’ll see if anyone even notices. Although the realization that I’ve gone almost a quarter of the year and not set pen to paper yet on this one has me reconsidering my approach. Amongst other organizational decisions, I’ve established that I’m going to have to set aside specific time for this one. I’m thinking possibly that this is an “on-the-bus-on-the-way-back-from-work” thing, and once early morning daylight catches up to Northern Alberta again, it can be an “on-the-bus-on-the-way-to-work” thing as well. Wish me luck on that one!

1,000,000 Word Goal

Week 10 wasn’t too bad, with a total of 4254 words (179 of those words for the blog, the rest for Parallels). Week 11 (again, understandably) was weaker, at 2795 words (912 of those for Parallels, the rest for the blog). Not too shabby, all things considered, but I really would like to boost that. I’m not really sure how, or where I’m going to find the time, but realistically speaking I’m unbelievably behind for the full-year look-ahead, and I’ll be extremely disappointed in myself if I don’t at least get half a million words. Wish me luck on that one as well.

And now that I’ve consolidated two fairly disappointing weeks, I’m going to go attempt to fix up the scheduling for this week’s posts (which should have been last week’s) and then I’m going to bed, thank you very much.

Fiction Fragment Fri- Er…Saturday: Pervert

My dear, lovely readers, I want it put on record that I have no idea what happened to my Fiction Fragment Friday post for yesterday. It wasn’t until I looked at my blog stats this morning and noticed a distinct lull in traffic for yesterday that I realized no post was made. Since I had scheduled the post over a week ago I looked into it and found no post anywhere in my records. It simply…vanished. I can’t honestly say that it was the fault of WordPress and not myself, but I am gloriously infallible, so I’ll let you make your own judgements from there.

Since I had (presumably) scheduled another section of Erased, but I don’t have a copy of that file out West with me I’m going to have to go with something quick and dirty that I can type out on my iPhone since I don’t have Internet access on my tablet right now. It’s a but of a ridiculous go-ahead really, but I want to give you something since yesterday got screwed up.

With that said, here’s a Drabble I wrote a while back:

Pervert

Jake liked to hang out at fitness gyms. He wasn’t particularly into weights or cardio, and he didn’t really need the exercise; he liked to hang out and watch the women. There were the chubby ladies in jogging pants, panting and practically sweating blood in their attempts to shed the extra pounds, and there were the super skinny girls in designer exercise clothes who looked like they probably ate wheat grass and soy milk for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

Both types had their own particular kind of…appeal.

Jake got kicked out of fitness gyms at least three times a week.

Accountability Tuesdays – Week 8

Okay, before we start with the tears and accusations accountability, I would like to take this moment to thank L. Palmer of The L. Palmer Chronicles, for the “High Five” she recently awarded me as per her recent Hello’s and High-Fives endevour. It was a very cute way to help bloggers interact and get to know each other, and as a result of both the initial post and the follow-up “awards”, I saw quite a lovely boost in visitors. So thanks again, L! We all enjoyed the chance to visit some new blogs and obtain some new visitors of our own. πŸ™‚

Now on to the tears and acc-, uh, I mean accountability.

Health and Body Image Goal

I can honestly say that this one is starting to get somewhere. As I’ve mentioned before I am not the best eater while I’m at home…I definitely took the chance to enjoy some foods I would have been better off without (oh garlic fingers, why do you haunt me so?). BUT, I can also report that I had an excellent week for exercise. I stuck with Jillian Michaels’ Body Revolution and I am currently halfway through week 2 of the 12-week program. It has been much more difficult than I had originally anticipated – whether because it’s a tough program or because I just am that out of shape – but I’ve stuck with it so far and I fully intend to continue on with it during my time out West these next two weeks. It’s only a half hour a day…surely I can handle that, right? Right? Well anyway, hopefully I’ll eat a little better the next two weeks as well. I look forward to being able to report either some weight loss or size reduction by the time I get back home again.

Editing Goal

You saw nothing. You never saw the word “editing”. It’s all some vague dream-like memory in the back of your mind that is rapidly disappearing into the land of the forgotten. You will not flog me.

Moving on.

1,000,000 Word Goal

This week hasn’t been one of my best weeks for sure. I got lazy, no two ways about it. The only writing I did was for this blog, and the posts I wrote amounted to 2224 words. Wow. Pretty crappy, actually. But I defend my choices to roll around on the floor with my daughter and watch every episode of My Little Pony instead of writing. Screw you, I maybe a mediocre writer but I’m an awesome mom.

Anyway, in addition to returning to my new habit of scribbling out as many words as I can in between tasks at work, I hope to get a bit more writing done during travel and while hanging out at camp now that I’ve picked myself up a cheap bluetooth keyboard. I just can’t get used to typing large amounts of text on my tablet (even just these smaller blog posts are painful) but the keyboard works great, so I’ve got high hopes. Wish me luck!

Just the Necessities

A reminder: This post courtesy of Julie Jarnagin’s 101 Blog Post Ideas for Writers.

31. I can’t sit down to write unless…

…I’m awake.

Okay, okay, I’m sorry; that was a little smartassish of me. But it’s more or less the truth. I don’t need any particular equipment, situation, reason, or emotional state in order to sit down and write. I just need to have some thoughts in my head worth writing.

BUT, there are a number of things that make writing easier and more enjoyable for me, so I’ll just go ahead and tell you about those:

– Obviously I need something to write on, and if necessary I can use pretty much any form of media, but if at all possible I prefer to use my laptop. I love writing by hand, but I find that it takes too long and a lot of times I’ll have lost the thought process I was relying on by the time I get around to actually physically writing the words down. I’m a pretty fast typist, so the same issue doesn’t apply when I’m on my laptop. Alternatively, using my iPhone or tablet doesn’t yield the same effect because I’m a traditional typist and holy hell is it hard to type with any kind of speed on a touch-screen.

– Silence is not necessary, as I’ve been known to write from the couch while my husband is killing video game zombies in the armchair two feet away, but some level of quiet is very helpful. I can, for instance, write while my daughter is watching Sesame Street, but I cannot write while she’s pitching a fit because she doesn’t want what I gave her for lunch.

– Some level of comfort is preferable. For instance, I’d rather write in pajama pants and a tank top than in jeans and a blouse. I’d rather write laying in bed, propped up by pillows, than at a computer desk. Comfort = happy = better writing.

– Just as a last little note, writing is always a slightly happier experience if I have a nice hot drink to sip on while I’m doing it. Coffee is nice, some kind of herbal tea is even nicer, and hot chocolate definitely tops the list. And while we’re at it, some kind of delicious snack doesn’t hurt either. πŸ˜‰