Going for a walk

Those who know me know that walking is a biggie. I touch on this on my About Me page. I had a major accident, and as a result, I had to relearn to walk — more than once. Before my accident, I walked everywhere, and afterward, I remember telling my roommate that I resented her put-upon attitude about having to walk four blocks. I was on bed rest at the time and would have given anything to be able to get up and walk.

Now? I don’t walk as much as I used to. Part of that is because, despite the fact that we’re technically within city limits, we might as well be living in the suburbs for how close we are to anything, and there aren’t a lot of sidewalks between here and, for example, the closest supermarket (both Wegmans and Giant are about 2 miles away on busy streets). It’s not like living in Berkeley and popping over to Andronico’s or Berkeley Bowl. I don’t walk because there’s not a lot of places to walk to.

Part of it, though, is habit. Over the years since my accident — especially the years before I got my ankle straightened and fused — I stopped walking. It was painful, it was difficult, and there didn’t seem to be a lot of point. So even though I now can walk, I still haven’t as much as I used to.

Last year, I worked at running again. Even tried to start up again in December, which is a bad time to try to make a new habit with all the calls on my time. I will run again this year — I probably won’t aim for a half marathon, just another 5k in September, most likely, with the goal to finish in less than half and hour this time (cutting my time in half!). On days when I’m not running, though, and to work up to it, I’m going to walk and remember how grateful I am that I can walk, that I still have my own leg, that this is something I enjoy.

I leave you with this video, and the usual question: what are you grateful for this week?

short, long, and other fictions

I apologize for the general lack of bloggery last month. I probably should have mentioned that I was doing NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month, writing of 50,000 words during the month of November), as I have done every year since 2003. Between that, the day job, and lots of family time, writing blog posts kind of got put on the back burner.

First: did I win NaNo? Yes, I did, with the amazing feat of writing 17,607 words on November 30 to both finish the book (middle grade book, first in a projected series of five) and win. I’m fleshing out the outline for the next book in the series already. Very happy with how this is shaping up.

Second: what about Touching Time, my Mayan novel? That’s been indefinitely back-burnered, as Moongypsy Press has been temporarily closed. I may still work on finishing it up over the next couple of months, but it’s not a priority right now.

Third: any new short stories coming out? I haven’t sold anything recently, and the two anthologies I have sold to (Assassins: A Clash of Steel anthology and Spells and Swashbucklers) have had changes in their publication status. Spells and Swashbucklers has had some contract revisions, and I’m hoping to hear soon that there’s an actual release date (hoping, not expecting). Assassins, along with other books from Rogue Blades Entertainment, will be published in a joint venture with Black Gate, and further details on that are forthcoming.

Fourth: what’s up with “no excuses” in writing? Well, I haven’t done very well with that this year — managed less than 30,000 words total January through October, I think. Part of it was Touching Time, actually. I sent my entry off, not really expecting anything to come of it, and then discovered I was going to have to deliver a complete novel. So that moved to the top of my “to do” pile, and any time I started to work on something else, I’d tell myself I should to the Mayan book first, but it wasn’t coming together . . . so nothing got done. Excuse after excuse, but no writing.

I added another 10,000 words to Touching Time at the beginning of the month, realizing there was a whole subplot that would make the story much richer. I’m now feeling more like this is something I want to get done, but not yet.

When I switched to the MG book, though, and especially at the end, when I knew what was happening and what was going to happen and how disaster was going to strike and I kept typing and typing, it reminded me of something I’d read in a comment on Dean Wesley Smith’s blog recently, that we make our own speed limits (a phrase he attributes to Nina Kiriki Hoffman). Thinking about this as the slightly altered, “The only limits on my writing are the ones I put there,” I felt incredibly liberated. I’m excited by the writing and the projects I’m hoping to get done over the next year. I also found great inspiration from Rachel Aaron’s post on going from 2k to 10k a day.

(I know that there are limits that we don’t put there, really. My friend Dawn recently broke her hand, which makes typing hard and slow. But the hand will heal, so taking the time to try to learn and implement Kevin J. Anderson’s dictate-a-story method probably isn’t worth it for the time she’d be using it. I mean this phrase in terms of when I say things to myself like, “Oh, I’d never be able to write 10k two days in a row,” or “I can’t write in that genre,” or “I don’t know how to do this, so I won’t.”)

Fifth: what’s up with “no excuses” outside of writing? I did the Couch-to-5k running plan earlier this year, then fell off the band wagon with a foot that hurt, sick kids, son out of school for the summer — and other excuses. Then we went on our family vacation, and despite packing my running shoes, I didn’t run once. Then there was the disastrous 5k in September, which I completed in just barely under an hour, and left myself feeling unable to do most anything for a week or so afterward.

Since then? No exercise, and lots of eating the wrong kinds of foods. I’ve put back on a chunk of the weight I lost earlier this year, and I’m feeling tired and drained all the time.

Solution: Today, I started over. Back to basics, week 1 of the Couch-to-5k plan. I’m also going to be reading the book Chi Running, which Dawn recommended to me. (Due back at the library today, and I’ve got a hold on it, so I should get it later this week.) I don’t know how long the weather’s going to hold, leaving it reasonable for me to keep running outside three times a week, but I’m going to go as long as I can, and if I have to switch to running in place in front of the TV downstairs, then that’s what I’ll do. I liked being in better shape.

Last (What am I up to, sixth?): I’ve set my goals for next year. They’re simple and easy to track:

  • Finish something each week. (Novel, short story, article for Vision, drabble, haiku, paying work project)
  • Have something new up for sale each month.

So that’s it for this update. I’ll be trying to blog more frequently going forward. How are you doing as you wrap up this year and prepare to move into the next?

It takes time

Just thought I’d drop a note in to say I’m doing better this week. Taking most of last week to recover really was a good move. I’ve been running several times, and I’m up to being able to run 30 minutes (not necessarily fast, but that’s okay) at a time. Proofreading has been my focus this week, with some progress made on the book for Moongypsy. I could tell my burnout was fading when I started getting ideas for new stories, and I have one idea for a short story that I’ll probably get written next week.

My big revelation this week has been that everything takes time. It’s something I know and am okay with when gardening — I planted a rhododendron six years ago that finally bloomed this year, and of my two clematis, this is the first year the maroon one has bloomed. (The purple one has been blooming for three years now.) Peonies also take a few years between first planting and blooming, but then they produce profusely every year.

Yet, even though I know I’m getting into better shape, sometimes I get depressed when I look in the mirror and see how far I still have to go. Then there’s writing — from idea to completed project can take seemingly forever.

So it’s good that I can look out at my garden and see that even things that take years to yield results are worth it.

maroon clematis

First bloom, after five years.

Clematis flower, partially opened

A regular showpiece in the garden.

white rhododendron blossoms

Six years' wait

Pale pink peony

Steady performer, every year.

N is also for No Excuses

You didn’t think I’d forget my mantra, did you?

What am I not making excuses for now?

  • Running — I’m two-thirds of the way through the Couch-to-5k running plan, and I’m contemplating entering a 5k race on May 7.
  • Paperwork — Not only does it have to get done now, but I’m spending time tweaking my system so it’s easier to deal with papers as they come in (at least once every week or two, when I’m paying bills), rather than letting them just pile up.
  • Planning ahead — I’m thinking about a five-year plan. Not in detail of what specific projects I want to have done when, but in more general terms of where I want to take my career and its different aspects over time.
  • Writing — Not a lot done on that this week, but that’s because (to refer to Tuesday’s post) I’m juggling, and those balls are in the air while I deal with taxes and so forth. They’ll come down again, though, when it’s their turn, and I’ll write. That’s not an excuse; it’s the reality of how I work.
  • Family — My work day is limited by the time I spend with my husband and kids, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

What about reasons, instead of excuses?

Well, the water transmission main that broke this week put a crimp on housework, with dishes and laundry stacking up for an extra day. (That was a little problematic for the boy, who needed a clean pair of sweats for his gym class. I figured a little dirt in the water wouldn’t hurt the wash for those, so he had them, and then they were washed again after the water was clean.)

What about you? What commitments are you holding yourself to?

As always, thanks for reading!

Sneak peek at things to come

I tried to do a post by e-mail last night, but it doesn’t seem to have gone through. Nothing important — just my recipe for chicken noodle soup, which I made last night as the whole family’s under the weather. If anyone’s interested, I’ll be happy to put it up again later.

No running this week. Woke up a little wheezy last Saturday, but went for a run anyway. Huge mistake, as I barely had the breath to go up and down the stairs after that. Rather than risk making myself worse — or giving myself a relapse as I’ve started to recover — I took the whole week off. I did finish week 3, though, which puts me 1/3 of the way through the training regimen.

What’ve I kept myself occupied with this week while not running? Continue reading

Running on empty

Empty of excuses, anyway.

Those of you who don’t follow me on Facebook (Hi, Mom!) may not know that I’ve started a running program, the Couch-to-5k. This is a nine-week program designed to take people from being couch potatoes to running for 5k (about 3 miles or 30 minutes). This is accomplished through interval work — alternating jogging and walking — while gradually increasing the total amount of time jogging or running. I’m now in the second week.

Physically, I’m doing better this week than last week. My first run (in the pouring rain) I could barely finish, even walking two of the running intervals. My legs felt like rubber, and my entire body was sore on Tuesday. I’m now managing to complete all of the intervals, and the only portions that tend to stay sore are my hips.

That’s probably not going to change, even at the end of the program. I am handicapped. My left ankle is fused, and I’m missing most of the calf muscle for that leg. I can’t push off with the ball of my foot, and I can’t land properly either — so most of the work is coming from the hips. Yesterday, my ankle felt sore all day, and my foot hurts.

Let’s be honest. My foot almost always hurts. I can’t walk barefoot around the house because of the pain. That’s just life. Even if I can run for 3 miles, 5 miles, or 20 miles, I’m always going to be handicapped.

Which is okay, as long as I remember it’s no excuse to stop trying.