Monday November 6

Diary entry, just an update on life, things, whatnot.

November 6

The view from my office today around 4pm

This morning the sun came up at 8:57am and it set at 4:11pm. The high was in the low twenties while the low is in the single digits.

So NaNoWriMo started. I didn’t get the surge of creativity on November first like I’d hoped. I managed to write a few hundred words, and immediately got a monster headache.

Haven’t touched it since.

Like so many things, I like the idea of having written, but not so much the actual work of writing. I haven’t been able to have fun writing in a long time. I was hoping that NaNoWriMo and my crafty composition notebooks would at least make me want to write, but I honestly haven’t wanted to write in a long time.

Probably I picked the wrong story for NaNoWriMo. And probably I should have just tried typing instead of writing longhand. And I probably should have remembered the lesson from last year–if a thing is supposed to be fun, but there’s a time limit and/or daily goal, I’m not going to do it.

I know I could write 50k words in 30 days. But trying to write 50k in 30 days brings out my stubborn, toddler brain that only knows how to say NOPE.

Preptober 2017

nanowrimo crest

National Novel Writing Month starts November 1, tomorrow. If you too are attempting to write 50,000+ words in the month of November, feel free to add me as a writing buddy. My username is kristykristymckinnon. Last year was my first attempt at NaNoWriMo, and I did not win. May as well try again, right?

This year I’m going to be writing a brand new novel. If I had to pigeon-hole it into a category I’d call it a supernatural mystery. Basically my heroine hears things and accidentally figures out that she’s hearing other people’s thoughts. One night she hears someone plotting a murder, and later sees a story on the news about a famous person who supposedly committed suicide via the same method as the murder plot she overheard. Did I mention that my heroine is a tired, divorced grocery store clerk? Cue the moral struggle/sleuthing theme music!

That’s a thing, right?

Because my job requires me to sit and stare at a computer screen all day, I have a hard time making myself sit and stare at my personal computer after work. In an effort to give myself every opportunity to win NaNoWriMo, I decided to handwrite my novel this year. This way it will be portable, I’ll get to practice my handwriting, I won’t be tempted to rewrite the same sentence over and over, and I have an excuse to buy new pens and notebooks!

So I picked up a few cheap composition notebooks. I tore the shiny paper off the covers to expose the brown paper. This makes it easier to use glue. Using double stick tape and glue, I attached thick cardboard to the covers to make them into hardcover notebooks since I’ll likely do most of my writing sitting on the couch. In hindsight, I should have just spent a few extra bucks to buy hardcover composition notebooks. Oh well, live and learn.

Attached cardboard

I attached a piece wide elastic to the back cover of each to make a pen loop. Then I wrapped the notebooks in sherpa. My thinking was that it would make the books soft to the touch, which would make me want to hold them. But I’m probably going to regret this decision. The sherpa is shedding worse than my kitties, and now my kitties think the notebooks are cat toys.

Finished

Finally, I glued some pretty paper into the front and back for a flyleaf.

Flyleaf

Flyleaf with penloop

See the pen loop?

Almost all of the supplies came from Michaels, and the rest was just stuff I had in my stash.

Acquiring the materials was the fun part. Now comes the work.

I have a general idea of the plot, but I haven’t done any real planning or developing of my story. I want to have the entire story fleshed out and divided into thirty parts before I start so that I’ll know exactly what I need to write each day. Alas, I have been procrastinating.

Writing should be fun, especially the plotting stuff. There aren’t any rules. You get to make up and choose everything. If you don’t like the way something turns out, you can change it to whatever you want.

But to date I’ve had more fun daydreaming about potential cover art and my old abandoned scifi novel. Drat.

But I did make this:

Word count countdown

See? Every time I cross a word threshold I get to color in a box! Hooray for visual goals!

I don’t have to work tomorrow, so I’m keeping my fingers crossed that in the morning I’ll feel a surge of creativity, finish drafting the outline, and still hit my 1,667+ word goal. It could happen.

Monday October 16

Weekly check in, overview of last week and plans for next week.

October 16

The view from my office at 5pm, actively snowing.

The sun came up at 8:48am this morning and set at 6:23pm. The high was predicted at 33 with a low of 24. We had some sun this morning, but it has been snowing steadily since about 4pm.

LAST WEEK

Between the weather changing, overtime, and Inktober, I spent a lot of time sitting down last week.

We rewatched Passengers, Liar Liar, The Goonies, and the first season of the animated Spawn series. We also binge watched Stranger Things again so it will be fresh in our brains when season two starts next week.

And then there’s this…

2bg 6

Season six of 2 Broke Girls (Amazon affiliate link). I loved the first season of this show, and I enjoyed season two. Season three was just okay, but it’s been downhill ever since. The show has finally been canceled, so season six is the last. Because I adore Kat Dennings, I’m forcing myself to watch the entire series. I got season six last week and it’s been a painful slog to get through all these episodes. Today I’m just over half way through, but I know if I don’t finish the thing it will bug me. If I didn’t love that first season so much I wouldn’t bother, but it’s like I have to know the thing is dead before I can bury it and move on, you know?

THIS WEEK

I’m putting in twenty hours of overtime this week. Between work, sleep and Inktober, I’ll blink and it will be Saturday again.

Bye!

Monday October 2

Just an overview of last week, my plans for this week, and some talk about living in Fairbanks, Alaska, movies, books, and maybe the occasional home improvement project. Read at your own risk.

October2

View from my office window at 5pm

This morning the sun came up at 8:07am and it will set at 7:13pm. The high temperature was in the upper 40’s with a low in the upper 30’s. Mostly cloudy, little bit of wind.

Last Week

Having finished most of this year’s home improvement projects, Jason and I have been spending more time crafting on the couch with a movie playing in the background. Last week we watched The Shawshank Redemption and Poltergeist.

Piedatre 2

We rented Predator 2 (Amazon affiliate link) from Blockbuster. I hadn’t seen the movie since it came out, and I was curious to see Bill Paxton’s part. (Still cannot believe he’s gone.) We were halfway through when the disc stopped. That’s one drawback to renting physical media–it gets pretty beat up! But we figured we’d seen enough anyway.

My two cents: the original Predator is a masterpiece; the extended cut of Alien Vs Predator is a decent movie; and Predators was pretty good, too. I have no love for the other sequels, and I have no interest in Shane Black’s upcoming version.

georgians interplanetary

Saturday night we watched Guardians of the Galaxy. Sometimes you just want to enjoy a fun, entertaining movie, right?

Sunday was our 12 year wedding anniversary. We’re still in the cute phase.

IMG_1034

As a treat we went to see It, you know, the one with the clown?

them

I’m terrified of clowns, but this version of Pennywise didn’t bother me at all. Maybe it was because we were in a crowded theater with smelly people and whispering kids, but I spent most of that movie bored. Bummer.

Afterwards we splurged on some more fun crafting stuff from Michaels, then did our best to relax the rest of the night.

 

This Week

We’re both participating in Inktober this year. That’s the one where you take the daily prompts listed on @Inktober and complete an ink drawing every day. Check out my Instagram if you want to giggle at me.

I’ve also started doing “preptober,” for NaNoWriMo next month. I plan to devote a separate post to preptober.

But right now, I’m going to cut this short. Today has been a heart-wrenching day, and I want to hold Jason’s hand and snuggle with my cats. Please be safe and considerate, wherever you are.

Bye.

Monday September 25

This is my first entry in what I plan to be a weekly update. Just an overview of last week, my plans for this week, and some talk about living in Fairbanks, Alaska, movies, books, and maybe the occasional home improvement project. Read at your own risk.

September 25

The view from my office window at 5pm today

This morning the sun rose at 7:46am, and it set at 7:39pm. The high temperature was in the upper forties with a low in the upper thirties. And it rained, straight down, all day.

Last Week

Metropolist

I showed Jason the movie Metropolis (Amazon affiliate link), and he enjoyed it. This movie gets better every time I watch it. Like most older movies, it’s reassuring how much things haven’t really changed.

Wonter Womyn

We rented Wonder Woman (Amazon affiliate link) from Blockbuster. It’s the best DC movie I’ve seen since The Dark Knight, but I wasn’t exactly blown away. It felt very paint-by-numbers to me. Enjoyable but forgettable.

And I see James Cameron’s point about it being a step backwards. Sarah Connor and Ellen Ripley were heroic badasses who paid no attention to their appearance and were attractive anyway. Every Amazon lady in this movie looked like she was styled for a magazine shoot. Sort of like the airbrushed abs in 300. Hey, I understand the aesthetic. Pretty people are much easier to look at. But I don’t think a gorgeous woman running and wearing an outfit like that is especially groundbreaking, let alone a victory for women everywhere.

Debt Mtn

I wanted to read this book, Dead Mountain (Amazon affiliate link), ever since Caitlin Doughty (of YouTube’s @AskaMortician and on Instagram @TheGoodDeath) recommended it.

It’s the story of nine mountaineers who died mysteriously on a mountain in Russia in the 50’s. Was it aliens? Government conspiracy? Yeti? Alien yeti working for the government?

The local library has the ebook to borrow via Hoopla, and I happily checked it out. Then I found out that Hoopla isn’t available on my Kindle. So I got the app on my phone, opened the book, and the margins cut off the first few letters of each line. No big deal right? Adjust the margins and read! Until I turn the page and the margins move back. Again. And again. Every time I turn a page. Crap.

I don’t know if it’s the way this ebook was formatted or if it’s a Hoopla thing. If anybody knows how to make Hoopla behave on the iPhone, please let me know. Or better yet, if you know of a way to get Hoopla books onto Kindles, I would love to hear it!

In the meantime, I started re-reading the Sookie Stackhouse series by Charlaine Harris. Once I start reading that series I compulsively burn through all thirteen books. So I’m forcing myself to only read it while walking on the treadmill.

Yes, I have to trick myself into exercising.

Last week we sold our old Volvo. We bought it when we got here in March. It was going to take nearly a month for our Civic to get up here, and then it wouldn’t be ready to drive until it warmed up. A rental car would be incredibly expensive (Alaska!) so we bought a twenty year old Volvo. It was still pretty nice and took great care of us, and even though stuff kept breaking Jason was able to keep it running. But when the transmission started to fail, that was too much. I was worried we’d have to just scrap it, which would be like putting down a pet, so I’m glad Jason found a buyer. And yes, the guy knew exactly what he was buying.

I also attempted the keto diet last week. I didn’t make it past the keto flu. I have a very tender tummy and irritable bowel. Any change to my diet is tough, but trying to eat so much fat was just too much for me. Oh well.

 

This Week

Settling into a new place seems to take longer the older I get. We’re nearly settled into this house…seven months later. Our bedroom closet is the last real disaster area. It’s the only place in the house truly off limits to the cats, so it’s overflowing with all kinds of junk. The bad thing is, there’s a single shelf with a single bar, and that’s it. It’s a good sized walk-in closet, but the space is wasted (which was definitely this house’s theme).

I’m going to empty it out, try to get rid of the stuff we never wear, find new cat-proof homes for the breakables (my poor knitting needles and yarn!), and see if I can’t make better use of the space.

Next weekend is our twelve year wedding anniversary. So far the plan is to finally go see It and then go to our favorite restaurant, Taco King. Fairbanks is not known for great restaurants, and this little Mexican place is so far the very best we’ve found. Who doesn’t love tacos?

 

Bye!

Just Another Drop in the Ocean

Lately I’ve been spending my life watching YouTube.

On YouTube, you get a nugget of information (taken with a grain of salt), a giggle, a cringe, and then suddenly it’s three hours past your bedtime. There’s something compulsive about watching just one more five minute video. Not a ten minute video. Ho no! Ain’t nobody got time for that. But a dozen five minute videos?  Sure, why not?

So it’s no surprise that as my creative bug starts to wake back up, my gut instinct has been to start filming content for my little YouTube channel. A vlog, maybe, or I could talk all about bullet journaling, or writing, or maybe just make hundreds of cat videos. Better yet, I could do it all! Unboxing, product testing, pranks!

I went so far as to buy a little tripod for the old digital camera and started brainstorming script ideas. And then I procrastinated by watching more YouTube videos.

procrastinate

Recently I found out that something like 300 hours of content are uploaded to YouTube every minute of every day.

Yeah, I have zero interest in producing YouTube videos now.

It’s the same with my writing. How many millions of books are available to read on Amazon? How many magazines and blogs are desperate to get a single reader? The competition is fierce, and I’m just not competitive.

Anything I do creatively, I have to do for myself first. If I wanted recognition of any kind, I would have to change the way I do everything. And then I would be beholden to strangers for their attention and approval. It would be like reliving high school, and I am not doing that.

I have to ask myself, why bother? Why spend the time and energy to create a thing if I truly do not care whether or not others will enjoy it, especially when it means that my video/novel will just be another drop in the ocean?

Screen Shot 2017-07-08 at 8.51.11 PM

We recently moved to Fairbanks, Alaska. One of the few remaining open Blockbuster Video stores is here, and I love it. We usually visit once a week. Yeah, returning the discs stinks and yes, they don’t have everything. But there’s something to be said for wandering through the aisles and picking out something to watch.

Netflix and Amazon online video services are great, but there is no real browsing to be done. They use algorithms to point out content that you’re likely to enjoy, and sometimes they’re right. But what about the genres I don’t normally watch? What about that amazing movie that was released before I was born and isn’t even available digitally yet? And who wants to spend hours surfing through thumbnails of “related” titles when you really want to watch something new and different?

It’s like book stores. Sure there’s a big selection, but it’s strictly curated by the business owner. They want you to spend your money, and they fill the shelf with things they think you want to buy. We actually canceled our Netflix subscription. Having DVDs shipped to our house in Fairbanks was prohibitively time consuming, and their instant view portal is obnoxious (via the Playstation anyway). I would much rather wander through Blockbuster.

This is why I hope Blockbuster makes a comeback and used book stores never go away. Variety is the spice of life, right? But the algorithm depends on your tastes being consistent. I said it before and I’ll say it again:

angtft

 

P.S. After re-reading this, I realize that if my point is “why bother?” in addition to “variety is the spice of life,” then wouldn’t that mean that my creative offerings are “spice” and not just another drop? *shrugs* The ocean is already pretty polluted.

Short Story Exercise: Light a Match

(using the book Playful Way to Serious Writing, set the timer for ten minutes and wrote a short story relating to the phrase, “light a match,” lightly edited)

Carol swiped the paper book of matches from the ash tray on the table. Smiling slyly at the handsome man seated next to her, she tore off a match and hit it against the striker on the back. The paper match folded in half, unlit. The man, fresh cigarette waiting between his lips, winked at her.

Carol tossed the wasted match to the floor, flipped her hair over her shoulder (she’d read that men love that), and grabbed another match. Unfortunately when she tore it she managed to leave most of the match in the packet. With a nervous giggle she doggedly pulled yet another match from the pack.

The man leaned forward, presenting his unlit cigarette. Carol smiled then tapped the gray match head on the striker. It did not light. She tapped it again. Then again. She tried holding the match sideways, then tried sawing the match back and forth. She smelled burning and brought the match to her eyes. The head was black and dull. She blushed and shrugged at the man. He leaned back in his chair and began searching his pockets for his lighter.

Quickly Carol ripped three more matches out of the pack. She bunched the heads together between her fingers and forcefully pushed them across the back. They lit! And the bright flame immediately burned her finger tips. Carol cried out and threw the lit matches onto the table. Chuckling, the man quickly pinched out the small flames, lit his cigarette with the Zippo from his pocket, and excused himself.

Carol glared down at the book of matches on the table. The bar’s logo was printed on the flap in tacky gold lettering. The Bar Room,” she muttered. “Stupid name for a stupid bar.”

A few minutes later the man returned to her table, smiling and carrying two pints of beer. He placed a glass in front of Carol and resumed his seat. She was elated…until he casually pulled a match from the book and lit it with his thumb nail.

Short Story Exercise: Have a Drink

(using the book The Playful Way to Serious Writing, set the timer for ten minutes and wrote a short story relating to the phrase “have a drink,” edited a bit)

Jarys was pleased with his disguise. He wore carefully inked Chuck Taylor shoes, stone washed blue jeans, a shiny silk T shirt, and two gold chains. His curly silver hair was gelled into the exact same shape as that popular boy’s from the TV show. On each wrist, he wore the biggest gold watch he could find. He completed the look with skull rings on his pinkies.

And so it was that Jarys, an adventurous creature from a planet somewhere in the Andromeda galaxy, strolled into a biker bar in South Dakota. The bar patrons quieted as Jarys sauntered through the bar. A few snickers sounded from the pool table and the bar fly raised her eyebrows at him.

Jarys was confused. These people looked bizarre with their black leather, tattoos, and wrinkled skin. And no one on his TV screen wore bandannas on top of their head. But Jarys reasoned that he had only watched the one channel. Perhaps these people were on another frequency. So he gamely waved at everyone staring at him and smiled, baring his pointed cerulean teeth.

“What’ll you have?” the bartender said, unfazed.

“I will have a beer.” Jarys said, then slapped his hand on the bar for effect.

The bartender popped the cap off a Budweiser and placed it on a napkin. Jarys ceremoniously handed the man a one hundred pound note. Then he raised the bottle to his lips and drained it.

No one could have predicted what happened next.

A high pitched, abrasive shriek ruptured the eardrums of everyone still in the bar. Jarys fell to the floor, his legs kicking the air as he continued to scream. And before anyone knew what was happening Jarys’s abdomen exploded, drenching everyone with his acidic, black innards.