Not Wordy Today

The toddler got me up early again – presumably the nasty ear infection is still causing her some pain – so I’ve been awake since four AM and I am not delighted or creatively stimulated by that. All the coffee has achieved is to make me feel queasy, as it often does when I’ve dropped below the Minimum Rest Threshold.

I’m also a little drained because I actually had a very small paying gig yesterday. A friend commissioned me to write a little piece of fan-fiction for his lady’s birthday, which I did. Even though it was just a small thing, it made me feel pretty good. I got something *done*, and I did it fast and, I think, reasonably well. And someone thinks I’m worth paying a small fee to, which is also a lovely validating experience.

But today my hands are a little tired. Typing 2500 words in two hours is apparently hard on my old-lady hands. Damn wussy knuckles. When I was in my teens, I could type all day without my knuckles twinging!

If you are a young writer, enjoy this time you have with strong, resilient knuckles, and get as much wordcount banged out as you can. Your hands won’t always be this sturdy! I mean, not everybody gets aching knuckles when they get older, but you might, so appreciate your hands while they’re at their best.

Oh, good, the kid’s gone back to sleep. Goodnight, all.


Writing Away From Home

John Scalzi says that you’re not fooling anyone when you take your laptop to a coffee shop, and insofar as taking your laptop to a coffee-shop to write in order to get laid is a fool’s endeavour, he’s not wrong. (I do recommend the book –  it’s fun, informative, and a steal at $6)

But coffee shops aren’t a bad place to write, all the same. My NaNoWriMo group meets throughout the year at the Milton Coffee Club, where they are extremely nice to us and let us take up half the back area and all the powerpoints for most of November and sit there for eight hours taking up tables and making noise. They even donate prizes for our November competitions, which is just lovely of them. But even if you don’t have a close personal relationship with the staff, a coffee-shop can be a good place to write. They often have power-points, they supply caffeine and meals, and if you scout around a bit for a place with comfy seats, you’re good to go.

I personally like writing in the library, though I can’t do that as often now that I have a small child. But I used to go there a lot – again, they have free power, air-conditioning, comfy seats, and reference books galore. You can’t get coffee there, but it’s still pretty nice.

Writing on the train is another favourite. I used to get a lot of work done on the train going to and from work, when I was working. It’s a pre-blocked period of time in which your range of available activities is pretty limited, so if you do get public transport to work – especially if you travel in off-peak times when trains and buses aren’t so crowded – it can be a great time to churn out some words with few interruptions.

Parks can be nice, if weather permits, but the seating isn’t as comfortable, there’s more bugs, there’s no power, and nobody is going to bring you a vanilla latte. You can bring your own, of course.

Where do you write, if not at home?

Little Details And Coffee Fandom

Little details are important. A little thing out of whack can get the attention of someone of someone who knows how things are supposed to be.

I used to work for the Queensland Police, and I really impressed them once by identifying a counterfeit twenty dollar note from across the room, while it was in a bag. I couldn’t tell that the note was printed on paper instead of plastic, or that the holograms were missing… but I could see that it wasn’t exactly the right shade of red. (Australian twenties are orange-red) I’d worked for years in a supermarket, and one of the few things I do remember well is colour. I see a scarlet red instead of an orange red on a twenty and I know something is wrong.

Someone who handles money all day – and pays attention to it – is much more likely to spot a forgery than someone who only uses it to buy things. Someone who spends all day taking care of kids will notice the signs of illness, especially in a kid they know, before a non-expert. Someone who spends all their time in a particular place – the woods, the city, whatever – is going to notice something out of place that no visitor would.

… I had to get up and deal with the kid and now I have no idea where I was going with this.

So, I really like coffee. But I don’t like good coffee. I like cheap instant with way too much sugar. I’m really bad at liking coffee, or so I’m told by *real* coffee-lovers. But I don’t care. I like it how I like it and it works for me.

Coffee fandom is a lot like most other fandoms, when you get right down to it. Everyone thinks their flavour preference is the best, people get really passionate about what sweetener their coffee is shipped with, and they can be very judgemental of other fans who don’t like coffee properly. Seriously, walk into a Starbucks and order a plain black coffee, or ask for a mocha frappucino in a nice cafe, and see how people look at you. It’s Avengers Movieverse vs 616 all over again.

So it can be a good way of explaining fandom. A lot of people drink coffee, and they understand that drip vs instant is a whole big thing, and sometimes if you can find a comparison they understand, people can transition from ‘god, you’re so weird for being so obsessed with fictional characters’ to ‘God, you are not seriously comparing Captain America to a cappucino how does coloured ink on paper compare to SWEET CAFFIENE’.

Well, it’s not perfect.  But if you’re trying to explain fandom to a Muggle, coffee isn’t a bad gateway obsession.



So I Forgot Again

I forgot to post again. I’m sorry!

I forgot a lot of things yesterday, number one being ‘drink coffee’. Once I’ve failed at coffee, a lot of other things get forgotten – and in short order, since I left the house early yesterday.

If you have a bad memory, a good routine makes life a lot easier. Get up, shower, drink coffee, sit at computer, write blog, have breakfast – if you do it all in the right order, nothing gets forgotten. But if you think ‘hm, I’ll be busy tomorrow – I’ll shower tonight to save time in the morning’… well. It seemed like a good idea at the time. (I didn’t get breakfast either)

That’s the blessing and curse of a good routine – it keeps me from leaving the house without brushing my teeth or picking up my phone, but I have to do all the steps every time or it doesn’t work and I forget things and wind up missing the train. On one memorable occasion I wound up at the station with 1) no wallet, 2) no phone, and 3) the book I’d already finished, not the one I’d just started.

Routines are good. But don’t mess with them in the name of efficiency! It never ends well!


I hate multitasking.

I really hate that it’s expected of me because I’m female.

Some women multitask just fine, and good for them. But if you’re insanely forgetful, like me, multitasking rapidly turns into ‘wait, was I doing something else? What am I doing now? Did someone just talk to me? What?’ and getting distracted and having a half-dozen half-done tasks instead of four finished ones. I have learned that it is a very bad idea to go put the kettle on while the laundry tub fills, or to answer one email while the kettle boils, or just play one little flash-game while I think about what to write next in an email, because I will invariably forget what I was doing, and then I’ll flood the laundry, realize an hour later that I still don’t have any coffee, or realize two days later that I never finished answering that email.

I can mix related tasks just fine. I can make Kielle’s lunch and my coffee simultaneously. I can answer work emails while answering the phone. But I usually can’t leave the room and remember to come back. And it drives me mad when I get yelled at because of it, as has happened often both at work and at home. My sister once took shameless advantage of the fact that I don’t register sound very well or very fast while reading to walk up to me and say quickly and loudly ‘Hey, Sarah, can I hit you?’

I looked up and said ‘yes?’ because all I’d heard was my name.

She punched me in the arm.

I responded with “OW! Why did you… wait (her earlier words finally registering)… that was mean!”

Our dad, who’d seen the whole thing, nearly passed out laughing and refused to punish her for hitting me because she’d asked permission first.

I have no idea why, but it’s very difficult for me to read and process verbal input simultaneously. My mother has the same problem but even worse – she is literally incapable of reading and talking at the same time (she reads out loud just fine, but can’t read and talk about something different), and has to stop and do a mental reset every time she’s interrupted.

So if you have trouble multitasking, and have been told that you’re just not trying, or not paying attention, or whatever, then I am hugging you in my mind right now. Because I feel your pain.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go to the bathroom, put my e-reader on the charger, and find my phone. I am confident that I can get at least one of those done before I forget what I was doing and wander back to the computer.

Edit: I got distracted and played five games of Candy Crush before even getting up, and only just now remembered to charge the e-reader, but I got there eventually.


Accentuate the Positive

Negative: I have a heel spur that makes even putting my left foot on the ground super-painful, as it has been exacerbated by walking too much in insufficiently padded shoes.

Positive: Iron-clad reason to spend scarce money on new shoes.

Negative: Tired and cross.

Positive: Despite being tired himself, husband made me coffee and is chasing the toddler for me today, because of my sore foot.

Negative: My bread went moldy.

Positive: Because my foot hurts, my husband has offered to not only go shopping for me, but take the tot with him. Precious time alone to play Dragon Age!

Negative: I need to do laundry.

Positive: I only need to put the laundry into the machine – my husband will hang it all out for me.

Negative: I want to go shopping for assorted small things but can’t because my foot hurts.

Positive: Have plenty of uninterrupted time in which to shop online.

Overall, despite or perhaps because of the sore foot, I’m not doing too badly today.

Calling in semi-conscious

I’ve been sticking to the regimen – up at six every morning, in front of the computer by six-thirty, theoretically ready to kick some textual butt.

In practice… yeah, not so much. In practice I spend at least an hour staring at the screen, trying to remember how to play Candy Crush because it’s just so complicated when I’m half awake, remembering I haven’t had coffee yet and maybe that will help, looking at Tumblr then forgetting I was looking at Tumblr and spending ten minutes asking myself what I was doing, remembering again that I should have some coffee, playing with my phone,  looking at a couple of comic strips, finally getting up to get coffee…

Well. You get the idea.

I hadn’t realized how completely I’d lost my early-morning mojo. I used to be a total early-morning badass, getting up at four or five AM every morning before school, then later having little trouble cruising to my 7 AM start at work. Then I married a night owl, who kept encouraging me to stay up late. Then I birthed a night owl spawnling who at two and a half freaking years old cannot be induced to sleep before ten PM for love, money, or cookies. And now I lurch out of bed at six AM and can suddenly no longer function during mornings.

I’m going to keep at it. It took years for me to lose the knack, it’s going to take more than a few weeks for me to get it back. But I am too sleepy to be interesting today. I’ll try again tomorrow.