Saturday, December 27, 2014

Guilty pleasures

I guess this is heresy for a writer, but ... *whispers* ... writing is neither my first nor my only artistic love.

*Looks around shiftily, expecting the Spanish Inquisition*

Whereas most writers that I know have had stories bubbling out of their heads for as long as they can remember, I only started writing ten years ago. And I can hardly pretend to have a logjam of story ideas bursting forth.

On the other hand, I was practically born with pencils and crayons in my hands. I think I could draw a pretty mean Dalek long before I could spell it.

So, on to a related confession. I haven't done much writing this month.

I had been on target to finish revising Tiamat's Nest by the end of January. I started the month over 60% done, after an intense three months' work, then hit a tough spot and came to a screeching halt. I've drafted a few sections of The Critique Survival Guide, but I think that's something I'll need to take in easy stages. Non-fiction writing is very different from fiction.

So, rather than beat myself over the head, I'm indulging in some guilty pleasures this month. You can see examples of my paintings on this blog and on my website, but for pure self-indulgence I like to draw plans and maps. I have a fascination for architectural drawings and for ship designs, so I'm having a go at drawing up one of the spaceships from Ghosts of Innocence. Here's the side view in progress, and I'm also working on deck plans. When they're done, I'll post them up to the website as part of the package of background information I'm slowly assembling.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

On anniversaries

Anniversaries, on the whole, are celebrations. But some bring sad memories, some bring anxiety. From a cosmic perspective, anniversaries are arbitrary points in time. Why attach significance to the orbital period of a small planet around an average star? Yet they are psychologically powerful.

Yesterday, an anniversary passed which released a build-up of anxiety in the household that had grown so stealthily we didn't notice it until it was upon us.

Yesterday marked one year since my (luckily very minor) stroke. A year ago, my body gave me a warning. What it was trying to warn me of remains a mystery. A year has passed in which batteries of tests showed no obvious cause, which is good in many ways. The most likely explanation left is a culmination of stress and fatigue at that point in my life. So stress, presumably, is the obvious risk factor I need to manage.

Yup. So what did I do?

Started a new job in March, which I'd applied for before the stroke and which I didn't want to pass up. Stressful much!

And published my first book.

Nothing like taking it easy :)

Well, I'm still here. After the early weeks of complete disorientation, the new job has been a good move on balance. It's exciting, challenging, great people to work with. The only persistent down sides are the hideous cost of downtown parking, and the extra 15 minutes commute each way (which doesn't sound like much, but when it was previously 25 minutes it's a noticeable addition).

And keeping on the positive side, we recently marked our tenth anniversary since landing in Canada as new immigrants. Now that's what I call an anniversary!

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Shopping bags

Every Saturday, I go grocery shopping for the family for the week. I take an armful of shopping bags with me to load everything in to. These are large and sturdy cloth bags bought from the store and which have served us well for many years,

Yes, it's a greener option than getting and discarding paper or plastic bags each week, but it's also convenient. It makes everything easy to carry from the car into the house in three or four trips. I take shopping bags with me, and I expect to use them, because it makes life easier for me, the paying customer.

So why do I have a battle every week with the cashier trying to leave items out of the bags for me to carry individually? They seem to be on a mission to use as few bags as possible.

I wonder if it's in their cashier training manual, because the store offers 3 cents per bag incentive for shoppers to bring their bags in. Well, I've brought mine in and I'd like to be allowed to use them. I honestly don't care about pitiful incentives, keep those few cents if that's what you're worried about, just stop trying to make life awkward for me.

A 5lb bag of potatoes, a similar-sized bag of carrots. "Do you want those left out?" No I bloody well don't. What an asinine question. You can get both of those into one bag and still have room for other things on top.

But while you're at it, stop trying to stuff one more item on top of that already-overflowing bag, I have plenty more here. No need to overload them so that they spill their contents all over the car on the way home.

Even that family-sized carton of cereal can go in. Yes, it's pretty much the size of a bag on its own and there's not much chance of getting anything else in there, but yes, I want it in a bag. You see, rather than tucking an awkward box under my arm to carry, a bag has handles!

So don't roll your eyes at me. Have you ever shopped for a family of four? If you did, you'd know what I'm talking about.
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