An unpaid part-time job

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I had an epiphany of sorts when I started considering a part-time job: It’s very difficult to schedule around my full-time job.  My colleagues who moonlight set their own hours; e.g. driving for UBER, making items they sell online, housecleaning, etc.

I decided to wait until a couple of months have passed at The Factory. Then I can re-assess whether I truly need additional income. And whether I’ll have weekends free to do so. (At the moment, no. The only reason I’m not typing away at yet another web-based tool  is that I’m awaiting a reply to an e-mail I sent an administrator; re: log-in problems.)

In the meantime, I began to fill in my schedule with writing, exercise, and housekeeping. Before long, I discovered that the hours dedicated to my health regimen – from preparing (and freezing) nutritious meals to swimming – will take 10-15 hours.

There’s a part-time job!

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Dealing with the Budgetary Crisis

No, not Congress. La crisis presupuestaria de la Casa de Tontería. To non-Spanish speakers: Need mo’ money in da House o’ Nonsense, eh? (I added the last word so Canadian and Yooper readers would understand.)

Last week, I got one bid (and another pending) to replace the driveway and the walk. The previous neighbors had trees growing right at the edge of the drive, which heaved the concrete. The husband was reluctant to cut them down until I pointed out that they would undermine his own house’s foundation.

Since they left and the bank sold the house, the decaying roots caused the cement to tip sideways, creating a dam where the downspouts pour out.  The summer has been very dry, but marked by torrential storms that made a shallow pool between our houses. Not only was the tar-like sealant washing away, but air bubbled up when even a child on a bike crossed the drive.

The walkway problem is typical for the builder, known affectionately as Jerkface MacGuyver.  Because the backfill around the foundation wasn’t properly tamped, the soil has compacted and the concrete tipped. Now the sidewalk leading to the front step tilts toward the house. As with the driveway, it pours water toward the foundation.

I had money set aside for the Garage Plan (a three-year project so well-thought out and  thus far so well-executed, government project planners would weep over their relative incompetence. Not that I’m bragging. I’m merely stating the facts with a sneer.).  Since I envisioned a new driveway leading to the garage, I felt comfortable using funds for this masonry project. I still have time to add to the Garage Fund.

Or so I thought. Continue reading

Word-count

Since last Thursday, I’ve written 7041 words. I should clarify that I include only coherent words in my word-count; that is, words that form a chapter or complete scene. That’s why I haven’t posted a total since the early part of the July.

My total includes scribbling I did last week and the week before. I filled plot gaps, such as why the protagonist would agree to assist a shady character (restitution!). I also added character interactions because I despise novels in which everyone adores the main character despite him being an ignorant savage, a know-it-all, and/or because he’s the Chosen One.**

I continue to build two subplots so that they’ll definitely drive forward the main plot. The little one is the reconciliation of young lovers. The big one involves double-dipping. The  main character Wall has been hired to do the same job by opposing characters, but he’s secretly working towards his own ends. How will this blow up and destroy his plans? I don’t know! But it will be fun learning how!

Of course, this is still a rough draft. I’ll have to split this into chapters, with proper transitions. It’s dialogue-heavy, so I’ll have to cut during the final-draft phase. (No, not the banter!) Also there should be more description in this post-technological crash world.

But later. Right now, I’m having fun.


**Lyra in The Golden Compass is a twofer. She’s an ignorant savage who’s the “Second Eve” around whom a trilogy eventually revolves. The trilogy, by the way, is where I get one of my everyday pseudo-oaths: Sloths on wheels!

Distractions from writing

Although this is my second annual DIY Writer’s Retreat, I wish I’d seen Kristen Pope’s advice, particularly this: “If you need to look something up for your draft, make a note and look it up later.” She refers to the Internet; I’ve found the same is true of physical sources. Continue reading

Quote of the day: Deadlines

Deadlines make us see deficiencies, not accomplishments. – Jean Balconi

I said this as encouragement to an acquaintance who beat herself up over an external deadline. She had an impressive list of all the things she’s done so far, but she couldn’t appreciate her own hard work. She reminded me of a game character running towards a goal while the timer is counting down in the corner and obstacles keep popping up in the path.

When I say something remotely profound, it usually applies to my situation. This case is no different.

My own deadline is looming: August 15. That’s the date for my rough draft to be complete. I’m not at the freak-out point yet, but I’m giving short shift to the reading and reflection parts of my DIY Writer’s Summer Camp. I returned Ender’s Game to the library unread because I’d rather write.

During the last two weeks, I wrote thousands of words in between day-trips, guests, and errands. Unfortunately, the content is slim: three versions of the same dialogue. I didn’t re-write, mind you. I wrote three different takes on the dialogue from scratch, each time implying a speaker’s intention or opinion.*

I’m quite pleased with the results, since each version has parts that will make a better whole. But I have thousands of words and a dozen chapters to go. And I must mention the obstacles on the horizon: my original antagonist has changed to a helper, the main antagonist hasn’t reared his stupid head yet, and the outlined ending stinks worse than the final entry of a series.**

Now I’m off to face the day – and the deadline.


*If you’re wondering where I got the idea, it’s not from any book I’m using. I was at a teacher’s meeting about reading and the facilitator asked us to look for different implied bias in the same text. So it’s a reverse-engineered writing exercise.

**I needn’t name one. You, dear reader, are already remembering a book series or a TV program that disappointed or enraged you.

DIY writer’s retreat: Setting goals

I read with interest the description of a 12-week course in writing a first draft of a novel. Pacing, plotting, building tension – these are familiar topics to me. I see the instructor intends to explore the writing theories of Chekhov, Hemingway, et al.

No me interesan. Seriously, these things interest me about as much as the driver’s manual interests a driver on race day. I want to move!  For me, the intriguing part of the writing course is the last two weeks listed on the syllabus: setting goals and maintaining a routine. Continue reading