Archive for September, 2012

Of fear and flying

As can probably be guessed from the complete lack of posts since the 17th — evil day job struck again.

The plus side is that evil day job involved going to Monkey C Monkey Do yesterday, which almost makes up for all the hellaciousness that came before. If you ever get the chance to go to Monkey — do.

At first glance, I think almost everyone was disappointed at how small it actually was in real life. What we didn’t realize was that it is built vertically rather than horizontally. So we had three levels of rope and challenge courses, just all stacked on top of each other. The 2.5 hours that they allot to you is actually not quite enough for a not-quite-fit pair of people to work their way through every single challenge. I skipped some of the tier 3 challenges in favor of using the Big Swing and the high zipline.

Both of which are amazing. Let me emphasize that again: AMAZING.

There are other, closer, rope courses in MA and so I was contemplating not going 3 hours to Maine for this sort of thing again until I  experienced the Big Swing. Essentially, you’re about three floors up, they hook you in, and you sort of lean over to the left until you topple off the ledge into a swaying, soaring, twirling, diving sequence of motions.

It’s not like bungee jumping at all, where from what I can tell, you just go mostly vertically up and down. In this, you really feel like you’re soaring, gliding, then suddenly diving to ground and back up again.

I have an unholy fear of heights. I really do. I don’t visit “highest building in the world” type tourist places, flying in planes is a nightmare, and I probably will never understand the appeal of something like sky diving or even something as tame as eating in a restaurant with a glass floor balcony on the top of a skyscraper. For the first part of the tier 1 to tier 2 challenges, my boyfriend looked at my set face, my shaking limbs, my hands cramping from gripping onto my harness too tightly, and asked me with all seriousness if I needed to stop because it didn’t look like I was having fun.

I was and I wasn’t.

I love rope courses. I love proving to myself that I can do highly physical things like that. But my fear was overwhelming, the sweat sliding down my spine cold from fear and not hot from exertion. My mind was clouding and blanking from stress, anxiety, and just sheer terror.

But then I did the lower zipline once, trusted in the harness to keep me safe, and it did. Things got better after that. Better to the point where I could go through to the end of the course.

Yesterday I proved to myself that I am more than just someone who reacts to her fears, rational or otherwise. I got to the top of the course, where it was 50 feet up in the air, with nothing between me and the air but a harness and a small wooden platform, and stepped off. I sat on a ledge, feet hanging in air, and let myself tip over and off into a gutwrenching, ecstatic experience where I could almost believe I was flying.

I’ve always been a fearful person, and I hated that about myself. I don’t walk alone at night. I quit figure skating lessons when we got to the jumping and spinning because I had an unholy fear of breaking something, anything. I didn’t say yes to spending my first year in Italy when NYU wanted me to attend, but wanted me to go to Florence first, because I was terrified of going alone, to a country where I didn’t speak the language. I’ve missed so many opportunities, so many possibly amazing experiences and people — because I’ve been so afraid.

You know what? I’m still afraid. I still won’t go walking alone after dark. But next time, when I have the chance to do something like stepping off a ledge into thin air with the promise of an exhilarating journey — I’ll trust that I have a safety harness in place in the form of my family, friends, and boyfriend — and take that step.

If you’re ever in the area, try Monkey C Monkey Do. Roland and all of his staff were amazing, supportive, and enthusiastic about being encouraging. Not only were they truly friendly, kind people, but I also appreciated that even though our numbers dropped from 35 to 15, they still gave me that group rate they quoted me. I felt terrible about our numbers dropping like that and I would have been completely willing to pay normal prices, but they didn’t even mention it. Stunningly lovely experience and if they weren’t shutting down for the year next week, I’d love to make the trip again.

I will definitely go back again, because I want to learn again that feeling of soaring, of flying, of being much more than I thought I could be.

Returning from crazy-land

So evil day job kicked my butt last week.

There was an over-protective father who dragged my agency’s name through the mud in a misguided effort to save his child from being kicked out from the school he currently goes to. There was a suicidal man-child of 18 who is engaging in self-mutilation because he was spoiled silly by his parents and never managed to grow any emotional calluses or developed the ability to handle stress. There were two school officials, who bought the father’s victim story hook line and sinker, who then proceeded to punch me in the face repeatedly albeit figuratively about how much we failed at being the kid’s agents and legal guardians. There is the host family of the kid, who don’t believe the kid is suicidal and who are hounding me to prove the kid is suicidal and is deserving of another chance as a result and also to fix the kid, now now now.

…that’s just the short version. I don’t even know how coherent that paragraph is for someone who didn’t live last week with me. But a long version doesn’t belong on this blog. Perhaps another blog, at another time, at another place.

Today boss-man and boss-lady implied that I might get canned. Despite the outrage, I almost believe that might be the best thing for my writing right now.

Despite all that, I got 3k+ words last week.

This week, I’m going to set the goal at 1k/day again and see how it goes.  Hopefully things will calm down enough (or I’ll get fired) and I can blog a bit about the phoenix books and why I changed it so radically from the original version.

Goals, goals, goals.

I made my goal of 500/day for the last week.

Today is Monday and I’m already behind on my 1k/week goal for this week. As in 1,000 words behind. No matter, the week is young and I have plenty of time to catch up.

Ultimately, to a certain extent, it boils down to time management and choices made. I will be away from home for the next three days, so it’s going to be a bit of a struggle to find the determination to continue my routine in a different place.

I liken it to my goal to lose 50 pounds by this time next year. The calorie counting is tedious and can often be frustrating when I can’t see the results — sort of like writing, where you build step by painful step at times, only to delete it all in a fit of pique because the writing went somehow awry. But you can only continue, even when you cannot see the point of the pain, because the alternative is unthinkable.

So, that 1k/ day. And the 1.3k cal limit per day. And the 30 min of exercise that I should really try to work in despite the evil day job kicking my caboose. And my goal to actually do something with my blog. And the reminder to tweet something useful or interesting or promotional  or anything, really.

If I manage all that, maybe I’ll reward myself with a 800 calorie triple chocolate meltdown this weekend.

I’ll try to post some sort of plan for my blog tomorrow. Or later this week, if we’re being honest.

The fragility of time and promises

I finished the third draft of my novel on August 11th, 2012. It was about 93k words long.

The first draft, finished at the end of NaNoWriMo 2008 was, I think, 62k, and bore very little resemblance to the plot I have now. There is a girl who finds herself in a foreign universe, but that is really about it. It’s pretty bad. Someday I’ll dig it up out of my Google Drive and wince my way through it to mine it for the little flecks of gold scattered throughout it, but not today. I am not quite that brave yet.

The second draft was finished around August 31st, 2011. It had a bit more in common with this draft, perhaps as much similarity in DNA as that between a chimp and a human and yet as different in phenotype as the same.

It’s still a bit painful to re-read and realize how much better my writing could get — but the massive difference between the first chapter, started over a year ago, and the last, which was written about a month ago, gives me hope. It gives me more hope that I do not re-read it and have a burning desire to run it through the shredder. I actually feel that it is editable. That I can actually whittle it into something that is worthy of publication.

It is done and I feel somewhat adrift while waiting for feedback to come in. I thought about it, and perhaps I should not have been so giddy as to send out so many copies of what is essentially a first draft, a splat draft, possibly using up whatever goodwill and faith my readers might have had in me. But it is done and I am awash in anticipation.

Something recently surfaced, something that prompted the remembrance of the fact that despite Twitter, blogs, chat rooms, all these many things that keep us connected — it is all a beautiful, beautiful illusion. Writing is a solitary craft. It is also, even when one is loved, a very personal and therefore solitary path. Decisions, your own. The writing, only your own. The ideas, the way you spin them, weave them, cut the cloth and sew it, then embroider it — still your own. Knowing that, it is too easy to take offense when someone doesn’t love what you’ve wrought. It is my lesson to learn how to get past that and keep on.

Whether readers love you or neglect you — all a matter of taste, of kismet, of that ineffable spark of attraction that cannot be pinned down or put to words. Even if they love one book, or even one of your series, that is no guarantee that they will love whatever you put out next. Oftentimes they will not even be able to tell you why they lost interest, why that particular book or series didn’t speak to them.

So I am trying to set up a crit/goals group. Perhaps we, as a group, can help each other accomplish goals, forge past disappointment and negativity, and keep each other accountable to our dreams. I’m hoping to have a dedicated circle of people I can bounce ideas off of, brainstorm with, and have a good beta/crit relationship going with.

Here’s hoping we’ll all find what we need in each other.