Four Years and Four Weeks

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Four years and four weeks ago, I sat down at a table in a local family restaurant, not knowing for a moment that my life was about to change.

 

It had been a rough year for me, you see: I had moved from Grande Prairie back to my hometown and I was struggling to fit back in.  I was still living out of boxes in parent’s basement (until I found a place of my own) and my former high school friends had their own lives.  A lot changes when you haven’t lived at home for seven years.

 

I wasn’t going to do NaNoWriMo that year.  I had decided it.  It was too much trouble and too much stress.  The last two years had been marginal successes, at best.  And I didn’t need that kind of stress in my life.  Or so I had told myself.  Of course, my friends, and fate, had other plans.  When I expressed the above to a good friend, she immediately shut down all of my rational excuses why I wouldn’t be writing a novel in a month.  Instead, she gave me a new challenge: “write 5,000 words and meet new friends.”

 

I wrote 5,000 words that first weekend and just kept going.  You see, for the first time since I had started NaNo, I was spending a significant amount of time around people like me: other Wrimos.  That changed everything, including my outlook on writing.  Of course, I was writing a horrible Mary Sue fanfic that shall never see the light of day… but I was writing.  And having fun.  And meeting people!

 

And then, November 14, 2008 came.  The day when I innocently sat all alone at a table at the Ricky’s.  You see, fate had plans for me that day; thank goodness it’s more clever than I was.

 

I wasn’t alone for long.  One of the other Wrimos that I had sort-of-befriended came to keep me from feeling too lonely.  Then the Municipal Liaison at the time sat two “shy” girls at the table.  Of course, the four of us ended up singing songs from Harry Potter Puppet Pals, but who cares?  We were having fun, and I was hanging out with people that got me.  I was smiling.

 

And then someone else joined the table.  A young man with an amusing shirt, a hat, and an engaging smile.  I don’t really remember much else about what he looked like then, but I do recall that I couldn’t seem to stop talking to him.  I still haven’t stopped.

 

Three weeks ago, four years and one week to the day that we had met, that man asked me to marry him.

 

Of course, I said yes.  The last four years have been among the most amazing and life changing years ever.  He has laughed with me, cried with me, grieved with me, and grown with me.  He has challenged my beliefs and everything I thought that I wanted from life without ever making me feel like less of a person.  He has supported me without question no matter what was going right or wrong in my life.  He stood by my side when my world crumbled around me, and he was still there when the chaos stopped.

 

He constantly inspires me to aim for new heights, both as a writer and a person, mostly without even trying.  He pushes me to be better, to do better, and to set goals that I never would have otherwise considered.  He always listens to me vent when I just need to vent, but offers amazingly insightful advice when that’s what I need.  He likes my friends and loves my family (and I love his).  He completes me in nearly every way that it is physically and emotionally possible to do so, and I find myself loving him even more every day.

 

I don’t have the words to express how honored and humbled I am to have found him and I cannot wait to celebrate the next phase of our lives together, in front of the family and friends that have helped to shape us and our relationships.  I love him more than any mere words can say, and I cannot wait to see what other plans fate has in store for us.

So… This Happened

So…

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This happened.

 

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Then this happened.

 

All in all, it’s been a pretty amazing week so far (and it’s not over yet!).  Some highlights include:

  • Tea with friends new and old
  • Meeting an adorable pair of newlyweds and some newcomers at the Meet and Greet
  • Writing in a neat little bagel shop we discovered
  • Reaching my 50K in NaNo (and promptly doing nothing for 48 hours afterwards)
  • Overdosing on candy
  • Finding the perfect gift for my ML Secret Santa
  • Petting a shark and a ray
  • Eating my first sushi boat
  • Visiting the Office of Letters and Light and learning that I look great in a Viking hat
  • Watching a beautiful Pacific Octopus charm the employees of the aquarium
  • Baby Ostriches!!!
  • Dim sum in China Town
  • Meeting colourful characters on the streets of San Fran

 

Watch for more pictures and updates next week, as I’ll have more to share soon!  Tomorrow, we bike across the Golden Gate.  Wish my rear end luck (it’ll need it).  Until then?

 

Have a baby ostrich.

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Sorry, it’s been a while…

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Image from Dreamstime

 

But I have been BUSY!

 

It’s NaNo season, which around here means I’m trying to keep order at meets, frantically trying to confirm events with venues, bemoaning how they keep losing our reservation, and spending my work days overcaffinated.  Also, writing.  I have to do that somewhere in there.  At least I’m on track with my goals and the story is even starting to turn into something I kind of like.  It’s not proceeding exactly as I planned (what story ever does?), but I like some of the twists that it’s taking.  Lots to consider for the re-write.

 

NaNo is a different energy every year, and I’m still trying to figure out this year’s energy.  Personally, it’s been a year of fits and starts – I started my new job on November 5 so I spent the first four days getting my word count to 25K.  It’s a good thing that I did, because apparently working for 8 hours a day is something I am no longer used to.  But I think it’s going well.  My Project Engineer advised me to “sparkle”.  I think I can do that… where’s my glitter?

 

Seriously, the new job seems like a good move so far.  I’m learning a lot already, mostly about the specifics of the project and the team, and it’s a very exciting project to be involved with.  Fraught with challenges of the non-technical sort, of course, which is not something I’m necessarily good at solving, but I’ve done it before./  I’ll be working under a Senior Project Engineer and the Project Manager, and they both seem very reasonable to work with.  A lot like people I’ve worked with before, so I feel like I already know what they expect of me.  Right now, I’m still getting my feet wet and learning all that I can.  I get to meet the client next week!  Should be fun.

 

Anyway, you can sort of see how I’ve been busy.  Busy and tired.  And I apologize for not checking in here more regularly.  I wasn’t foolish enough to try the Epic Month of Blog posts in addition to NaNo and MLing.  I think the idea is really cool (write a blog post a day during the month of November), but I did something like it in April along with Script Frenzy, and it was too much.   So you’ll have to live with the little bit of me that you have here!

 

I promise to try and find some time next week to come back here and update you all.  I’m hoping that I won’t/shouldn’t be quite as worn out by the day job, now that I’m starting to get used to using my brain again!

Welcome to the Batcave!

… okay, not really.

 

But since NaNoWriMo is on the way, I thought I would take you on a quick tour of my writing lair/office (I prefer lair).  Mark and I have been preparing the house and our lives for November, so I actually spent the last few days tidying it up and making it workable.  I expect I will be spending a lot of time here over the next few weeks.

 

Here we go!

 

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My office!  From the doorway you can see (from left to right) the cat house, my shelves, my cupboard and my desk!

 

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A closer view of the shelves and all the books that I have (not so many as you’d think, and recently pared down) and some of my precious treasures.

 

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My desk, with my bulletin board of writerly motivations.

 

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My crafty zone (with all my knitting) and my sewing machine (mostly used for now as a holder of tea things and, apparently, my lightsabre).  Also, my filing system that needs a better home.

 

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And my cleverly hidden printer and writing books!  The drawers are filled with more craft stuff and other things that still need a home.

 

And that’s my lair!  I hope you like it as much as I do.

A Big Decision – Redux

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 Image from Dreamstime

 

Last week, I spoke of a decision that I had to make.  At the time, I couldn’t talk about it, but I can now.

 

On Monday, I quit my day job (but not, as I mentioned, to be a full-time writer, I have another job lined up).  It was a difficult decision to make, as I’ve worked there for the last four and a half years, and I really enjoy and respect the people that I work with.  But I haven’t been as happy there as I once was, and I feel a little like I’m stagnating career-wise (mostly because of a lack of work in the last few months).

 

Today I packed up my worldly possessions (three boxes, 9 plants, 1 fish) that I have gathered at my job over the last four and a half years with a slight sense of sadness.  I will really miss my co-workers and the flexible and fun environment that I have gotten used to, but I think that this change will be good for me.  It may not be the ideal job, but it will be a change and will force me to learn some new skills and strengths.  And definitely new experiences to include in my writing (judiciously changed, of course :-).)

 

I want to thank you all for your support and encouragement after I posted my last entry.  I really appreciate it and I’m excited for this new adventure.  My last week at work will be bittersweet, but I’ll be looking forward to new experiences too, and I’m glad to have you all along for the ride!

A Big Decision

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Image from Dreamstime

 

I have a big decision to make that I can’t really talk about.  I know, I know: way to be vague, Candice.  I promise that I will share the details as soon as I can.  In the meantime, I ponder.

 

Well, that’s not true, I know exactly what I’m going to do, I just need to convince myself that it’s really the right answer.  And sadly, it doesn’t involve whether I should quit my day job to be a full-time writer.  Maybe soon, though.

 

It’s a decision fraught with emotion that’s been sapping away my energy for writing and has made me second-guess everything that I thought I knew about myself, everything that I thought I knew, and everything that I desire.  And that’s hard too: to try and re-recognize what you really want and what’s really important.  And it definitely hasn’t been easy: that’s why I’ve been so quiet lately, and making so little progress on the writing front.

 

But soon, things will be settled again, and I will start to become productive.  And hopefully that will happen sometime before November!  I do know that, as I come closer to actually making the decision, that the overwhelming uncertainty that I have been feeling is starting to subside, only to be replaced with grief at the things I will be losing.

 

I need to do what’s right for me, I know that.  But what’s right for me isn’t necessarily the easy thing.  In fact, this decision is one of the hardest things that I’ve ever had to do.  And I’ve had to do a lot of difficult things in the last couple of years.

 

I hope that you’ll all cross your fingers for me and wish me luck and strength as I make this choice.

 

How do you process difficult choices?

“Real” Writer – Part Two

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Image from Dreamstime

 

So… I have an update on my last post (delay courtesy of Thanksgiving weekend!).  I heard back last Monday from the editor and learned that my story wasn’t accepted.  I’m trying to see this as an opportunity to send the story to another market and maybe hear back more quickly, but it’s my first rejection and I can’t pretend that I wasn’t a little upset.  Still, all I can do is move on and keep trying.  One day, I’ll get my first yes.

 

Fortunately, I didn’t have to think too hard about it over the weekend, as I spent some time with my parents, helping them build a deck and playing with their new dog Gypsy.  She’s six and was rescued from a broken home, and she’s the sweetest little girl that I’ve ever met.   Only time will tell if she gets along with my cats (they have yet to be introduced).

I’m Writing Again!

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Image from Dreamstime

 

 

I am writing again!

 

I know, you probably think that’s an odd statement for a writer to make, but I’ll level with you: I haven’t been writing very much in the last three weeks.

 

There are reasons for that, of course, but they are really more like excuses.  Sure, I’ve been busy with NaNoWriMo stuff (helping to re-write the ML Guide, for new and returning MLs, planning this upcoming year, working on a new Calgary NaNo Website), with my house (finishing a two-year renovation that is SO VERY CLOSE to being done, organizing and tidying, purging), and with my day job (that is finally keeping me busy again – woo!), but there’s been a lot of time left for writing.

 

So why haven’t I been writing?  That’s a good question.  A part of me needed a break from Camp NaNo and from things going on in my non-writing life.  A part of me has been re-focusing on critique group and a couple of short stories that I am submitting for publishing (cross your fingers for me).  And a part of me hasn’t been sure what to write, exactly, given that NaNo is coming up and I am still hoping for a winning idea for a new experiment that I want to try in November.

 

But really?  I’ve been lazy and unmotivated.  I think I have been overwhelmed with the sheer amount of STUFF that I have to do before November (both writing-wise and house-wise) and I’ve let the things that revitalize me slip.

 

But this weekend was the break/wake-up call that I needed!  My partner and I went camping for three days, where there is power, but no internet or cell reception, and it was a glorious three days of writing, reading, knitting, sleeping-in, and watching the leaves fall.  Autumn has never been my favourite season, but it is slowly becoming so: I love watching the colours change, feeling a slight nip in the air, and needing warmer clothes (some of which I have knit myself).  It was a great break from the day to day at home, especially on a year when I feel like I have completely missed summer!

 

I returned from camping last night with renewed determination, and have finally turned the heel on the second sock of a pair I have been working on for three years.  That’s kind of sad, really.  But they will soon be done (I’m knitting them toe-up and they have a short cuff, so only about an inch and a half of knitting to do) and presented to the ever-patient partner, who has nearly worn through the last pair of socks that I knitted him.

 

I have also been doing some editing and have worked through 4.5 chapters of Fighter One.  That’s more writing in one weekend than I’ve done all month, and I can feel things starting to come together on the story.  There’s lots of work left to do, but they won’t get done if I don’t work on them.

 

All in all, I’m somewhat pleased with what I have done lately, and feel much better having dedicated some time on the things that make me happy.

 

Now I just have to keep up that pace.

 

What makes you happier than anything else?  Do you make time to do that?

An Organized Life is a Happy Life

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Image from Dreamstime

 

 

About a week ago, I got a bee in my bonnet.

 

Not literally; I don’t wear a bonnet.

 

I finished Camp NaNoWriMo and suddenly realized that my house was a disaster.  I’m sill working my way out of the aftermath of a renovation, not to mention having ignored my home during both June and August.  It was time to make a change.

 

I’ve spent most of my free time since then tidying, organizing, and cleaning.  I’ve spent way more time and money than is probably healthy in the local dollar store (buying baskets/cleaning gear/equipment/etc.) and the house is finally starting to approach a state of livability that it hasn’t seen in months (okay… years.)  It’s not done yet, but it’s coming along.

 

I have a bad tendency to focus a little too much on my current project, and Camp NaNo has been no exception.  In fact, I haven’t written anything since I started the cleaning wave.  I’m not sure if that’s entirely healthy (I do need to learn ways to focus on more than one thing at a time) but it’s what I have to work with right now. Things are going to get busier in the next few weeks (the start of fall means work will start to pick up and then NaNo will start) so I’m taking the time now to make sure things are in order.

 

As much order as my life ever sees, anyway.

 

Do you find organizing things gets a little difficult sometimes?

The Zone

Originally posted January 29, 2012 (before the disaster)

 

I woke up today, filled with determination

 

 

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I was ready to take on the world!  Or, more importantly, the mess in the basement…

 

My house has been more or less a disaster for the last year, ever since I got the brilliant idea of putting in hardwood upstairs (with only my dad and I doing the hard work!).  Finally, after thirteen months, I’m starting to put my house back in order.  With the help of my handsomer half, I’ve spent the last month organizing the upstairs, including getting a functional kitchen back again (yes, there’s still work to do up there, but it’s useable now).

 

The next task on the agenda?  The basement.  The place where all of my junk was dropped until the renovations were done.  The place that is small and tight with all of the furniture, boxes, piles, etc. in there.  The place where my office will be.

 

I spent four hours today setting up my new writing/crafting zone and, while it’s not yet perfect, it’s at least functional (I’m writing this very blog post from it).  I’ve even gotten rid of a few things I didn’t need anymore.! Now, I just have to keep going through the boxes, sorting through books, and hanging things on the walls.

 

Then I will take pictures to share.  Because what fun is completing something if you can’t share the result with the world?

 

Where is your special writing zone?