Fresh Air & Sunshine

The weather in my corner of North Carolina has been rather rainy these past few weeks, and I hadn’t realized how much the lack of sunshine weighed me down until yesterday, when it was sunny and mid-60’s and my S.O. insisted we get out of the apartment.

I resisted at first. There was yarn in need of knitting, words in need of writing, and clothes in need of washing. Plus I hadn’t taken my anti-anxiety medication in a couple days, so the idea of venturing into public put me on edge. But I let him prod me into going out, and so we headed out with a dog, TANK, in tow.

The first dog-friendly bar was a bust; the fenced-in patio was nearly bursting at the seams with people and dogs. We brought TANK to work on her socialization, and while she did awesome and even made friends with an Australian Shepherd puppy, we decided it was too much stimulation.

The patio at the next dog-friendly bar was empty. Like tumbleweeds rolling between the picnic tables and benches empty. S.O. popped inside to get us drinks, and we spent the next hour basking in the fresh air and sunshine. TANK showed off her new-found ability to climb onto picnic tables; she occasionally took breaks to let me take a dozen pictures of her cuteness.

I did something during that hour that I haven’t done in a long time: I enjoyed the moment. Life has been one thing after another, one to-do after another. I regularly try to knock a week’s worth of items off my to do list in the four hours after work. It’s a lot, and I recognize that. But that doesn’t mean I don’t find myself disappointed by a perceived lack of productivity.

Writing is work. Blogging is work. Knitting is work. REDACTED is work. Each one requires my full attention and brain power, which works until I’m going for two weeks straight and don’t have the spoons to do more than feed the dogs and myself.

Time to recharge, to enjoy this moment happening right now, isn’t time lost. It’s necessary if I want to keep writing and blogging and being creative, and not burnout.

S.O. and I grabbed a bite to eat at a nearby restaurant. The sun had started going down by that point and the wind had picked up, making me glad that I’d brought my parka but also wishing I’d put a sweatshirt under it. Even so, we had fun. Especially TANK; she really enjoyed the fried pickles.

TANK passed out when we got home, and I nearly did the same. It was a good day.

TANK enjoying fresh air and sunshine

A Brief Pause

The world is demanding sometimes, wanting more of me than I can spare. But I oblige because that’s how it works for me.

I put one foot in front of the other because that’s how problems get solved and bills get paid.

Contrary to popular thought, memorable stories don’t come from starving writers. So this writer is putting a pause on things this week and giving myself permission to sort life out.

Magenta flower

What I’ve been reading…

I haven’t read nearly as much as I would’ve liked over the past few months. Sure, I’ve added plenty of books to my bookshelf through trips to Books-a-Million and orders from Barnes & Noble’s website. But the book-buying has far outpaced the reading side of the equation.

Even though I haven’t read as much as I would’ve liked, I’ve still been reading. Plugging along through books. This is what I’ve been reading:

26792189The Geek Feminist Revolution by Kameron Hurley
~A collection of feminist essays dealing with writing, the science fiction and fantasy genres, and life itself.
I loved, loved, loved this book. It spoke to me not only as a writer but as someone who writes female characters. I’ll be rereading select essays–if not the whole book–in the near future.

1702013 Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson
~Ginny’s eccentric aunt has given her strict instructions that the 13 blue envelopes are her only road-map during a European adventure.
Despite the premise, this wasn’t as lighthearted of a book as I’d hoped. But it delivered on the reality of being sent through Europe by a family member you haven’t seen in years.

27272506The Glittering Court by Richelle Mead
~A countess escapes her suffocating life in the old aristocracy for a new world in the frontier.
This book covered a lot of time in a short amount of pages. I would’ve liked to have seen more of the Glittering Court itself, but I did like the characters. And I’ll be picking up the sequel when it comes out in April.

32145Stiff by Mary Roach
~A non-fiction book about human cadavers.
There were chapters that fascinated me, like the ones about car crash tests and grave robbing. Others didn’t hold my attention as well. But overall it struck me as an informative book that provided a few plot ideas.

24819482Wake of Vultures by Lila Bowen
~Nettie Lonesome wants nothing more than to be a horse wrangler, but her whole life is turned upside down by a man who can only be killed by a stick to the heart.
This western made me itch to get on horseback and start hunting monsters myself. It has just the right mix of fantastic elements in a realistic setting. I’ll be buying book 2 soon enough.

What have you been reading?

#GSList (10 things that make me happy)

I want to say a huge Thank You! to the lovely Hannah Brown for tagging me in the #GSList tag a few weeks ago. There are four rules for the tag (though I’ll be breaking one of them).

Rules:

  1. Make a list of 10 things that make you happy
  2. Tag your post with #GSList
  3. Use the #GSList picture in your post
  4. Tag/nominate 5 blogs to complete the tag

And, without further ado, here are the 10 things that make me happy:

  1. Sitting down with my laptop and writing something fun
  2. Carving out an afternoon to read a book from cover to cover
  3. Standing in front of Cinderella’s Castle at the Magic Kingdom and watching the evening fireworks show
  4. Getting into my car and driving down the highway without a destination in mind
  5. Coming home to find a package of books from Barnes & Noble or Amazon
  6. Starting a brand new book straight after bringing it home
  7. Exploring a new place, whether five minutes from home or in a distant state, on my own
  8. Enjoying the company of my family and friends
  9. Cuddling on the couch with my dogs
  10. Watching 90’s TV shows after midnight

So here’s where the rule-breaking comes in. I’m not going to tag 5 blogs. Instead, I’m going to tag everyone who reads this post to do the #GSList tag if they so wish. If you do make a post, let me know in the comments so I can check it out!

Looking Back: Two Years of Sampson

After I finished work in Plymouth on July 17, 2013, I rushed home to get changed and drove over to a farm/kennel for 6 PM. There I handed over a check for $500. In return, I got a scrawny, black and tan German Shepherd. He was ten months old and named Sampson by his first owner.

The two years since then have been nothing short of an adventure.

Sampson likes to work. He’s flashy in his obedience, athletic enough for makeshift agility courses, and bounces whenever he sees a tennis ball. Add in a stubborn streak, and I’ve got my hands full. But Sam is fun. 

Even though we’ve still got work to do with his manners around new people and out in public, he’s a fantastic pet. Always tolerant of hugs, a persistent shadow, and ready to help me eat whatever’s on my plate. He’s also a cuddler, which is weirdly exciting for me. Neither my first dog nor Grace did/do so. Grace demands to be pet or she’s out of there. Sampson is simply content to lay his head on me and be by my side. 

While looking back through the photos on my phone for this post, I was struck by how much he’s grown. He was all leg and not much else. Now he’s almost a different dog. Here are a few pictures of him from the past two years.

photo 1 (7)

July 2013

photo 1 (6)photo 2 (6) photo 3 (4)
photo 4 (2)
photo 5 (1)

The First One

“Pen, Paper, and No Plan” is a blog about writing and reading. I’ll blog about what I’m writing, what I’m reading, publishing, writing tools, writer’s block, inspiration, markets, and anything that has to do with writing. Occasionally, I’ll also blog about real life as that tends to slip into writing.

The title of this blog is “Pen, Paper, and No Plan,” and I chose it because of the way I write. I approach a blank page with a pen in hand and an idea. Outlining has never really worked for me until after I finish the first draft. I don’t know my characters well enough to say what they’ll do or say. My narrator usually goes over and over back story for the first twenty-thousand words until she–and I–figure out the story. New plot lines surface halfway through the novel. Characters appear ten thousand words from the end that should have been there from the very beginning.

All in all, the first draft is rough. The plan doesn’t come together until I write the final words. And then, revision works magic on the once bumpy sentences. I realize my plan through the pages of draft marked up with black and blue ink. It comes together in the end, and I have on my hands a polished, coherent piece of writing when I finish.

Writing is a a process. It can hurt and frustrate. It can also create a magnetic force so strong that a writer falls into her work. She doesn’t want to put up the fight to extricate herself when the real world demands her attention. I fight my way through every draft. I wrestle with my words. I sigh in frustration when things don’t come easy. But I love it, and I don’t think I can ever stop.