Jan. 24th, 2012 10:33 am
aamcnamara: (Default)
Back on campus. Settled in, and almost surprised at how settled I've been feeling. Less stressed about almost everything than I was during January. Whew.

This may have something to do with the fact that I decided Not To Worry this weekend. On Friday I listened to the Swordspoint audiobook on the plane instead of freaking out about A Returning Power. I lazed about. I saw the Tennant and Tate Much Ado (aaa, their faces) and the Tennant Hamlet (...his face). I bought groceries in Northampton and made oatmeal-raisin cookies and ate most of them. Yesterday I had a to-do list but I only did half the things. Today I have done some more of the things! Someday soon I hope to return to full Alena functionality.

Meanwhile, it is the 24th. Going by my original goal--of "send query letters out by the end of January"--I have a week left for polishing A Returning Power and its query letter and its synopsis. And deciding which set of agents to query first. Today I realized that the first two scenes have to be combined. La.

But, well. Today's the first day of classes, but somehow I only have one class each day for the rest of the week. So I will have time to work on the novel, and then it can be out in the world and off of my mind. And then I will write something else.

(I may or may not be auditioning for a production of Midsummer Night's Dream this weekend. Um. Theater! I like it! It's not writing, but it involves lots of awesome people.)
aamcnamara: (Default)
Thanksgiving break has, this year, been not so productive. But that's okay.

I'm staying with Kate and her family and the two foster kids they've got for the weekend. Though I haven't interacted with the kids a ton, the forced perspective is interesting: how do you explain to a five-year-old the similarity between ice cream and sorbet? It has the same sort of texture, or maybe consistency, but are those words she's going to know? My vocabulary avails me naught!

This evening, I have had writing time. I didn't do anything last weekend, so me being into Part Three now is just catch-up from that; I'm currently at the end of the first chapter in Part Three and, having hit a scene that needs to be completely rewritten, that may be where I end for tonight.

I have this odd double vision: I know I am making the novel better, I can see where I am trying to take it, but I also have the distinct impression that even if I get it where I want it, it'll be vaguely boring and no one will really be interested to read it.

...then again, that may just be the middle of the novel talking.

Back to campus again tomorrow. It feels like I barely left yesterday, but it also feels like I've been gone for an age. Not looking forward to the run-up to finals--I just want it to be winter break, with a good three weeks where I don't have homework--but I am fairly well prepared for them, I think. Nevertheless, I will probably vanish again after I hit "post" on this. Such is life.
aamcnamara: (Default)
We have all managed to move in on campus again, hurrah hurrah. It involved me sitting in a car for a couple of hours with plant in my face, but that's okay.

The Mob and I have an apartment in a dorm. We moved all the furniture and unpacked and bought groceries and then discovered that our stove and oven don't work. Um. They are electric; they are plugged in; we're not sure what we're doing wrong. Facilities management, of course, had Labor Day off.

The other oddity is that apparently the groundskeepers thought this summer was a good time to put in a barren wasteland outside our windows. We figured maybe wizards did it. A friend eventually explained to us that there had been a large crevice and that that might have been why the basement of this dorm flooded last year. Okay; I accept "not flooding dorms" as an excuse. But I still really hope they plant some new stuff there.

...since then, apart from the exploration of our kind-of-awesome kind-of-creepy all-confusing basement, the flailing about stoves, the cleaning of everything, and the having of a tea party (we had to borrow electric kettles and make no-bake cookies), we've all been watching Doctor Who pretty much continuously. Namely, the second half of season five (to catch Kate up); and the Christmas special (to catch Kate and Anna up). Shaaark! Next up: all of season six so far.

Aaand we may just all skip convocation today--it's raining and wouldn't be very pleasant in the amphitheater--and have a lesbian movie marathon. I am deeply appreciative of my friends' taste, and am happy to be back on campus with Everyone Ever (except all those people who graduated and left), but am getting kind of eye-achy from watching laptop screens so much. Maybe we can purloin the TV room.

Actual productive-on-classes things done: very very few. I figured out this morning that the western-encounters-in-Afghanistan class (which starts with Alexander the Great) at Smith won't actually work because the buses would conflict with things I'm already taking. Which means I will probably be taking a history class on the Italian Renaissance as seen from the perspective of the populace, which is at MHC and therefore much easier to get to. Figuring out my class schedule: definitely progress. Of course, I have bought precisely zero textbooks so far... ah well.

Off to get dressed so I can go eat breakfast. At least the weather's cooled off. I could almost believe it's September now.
aamcnamara: (Default)
Back in Massachusetts. Been working on various useful things, since I have a few days to spare while other people pack their belongings before we all move back in on campus. (I have started to suspect that the reason I didn't need to spend a lot of time packing for college is that I never really become unpacked.) Much of this is writing-related. One of these was: I submitted two stories to markets today. Out the door again has got to be worth something! Another was rewriting the second act of the short story now called "Lightening".

Queen of Spades is alas still resolutely refusing to come together. I know the plot and setting and characters, at least vaguely, but although this is often enough to get me bowled into the project, this time it... isn't. What do I need? I might need a first-person narrator so I can worm my way deeper into the main character's head.

Non-writing-related news: res life says when my roommate goes abroad for spring semester, I have the choice between convincing someone to move into the apartment in the middle of the year... and getting placed with a random roommate. Full of win, guys. (I'm hoping I can talk with them and disability services when I get back on campus, and see if there's anything that can be done.) Also, moving toward switching up my schedule for the semester--I registered for a history class on the "little people" during the Italian Renaissance, but haven't dropped my extraneous physics class yet. Should probably talk with people about that, and about actually signing up for a minor, but that will all be easier when I'm on campus.

In the meantime, we went raspberry picking today. The mosquitoes seemed to enjoy our presence; the bees largely ignored us, pushing sleepy faces into flowers, but the flies--not best pleased--buzzed sharply around our heads. My jeans now have smears of berry juice on them, but it was worth it.
aamcnamara: (Default)
Whoosh. Let's see.

Spring break was, as previously mentioned, wonderful. The last day of it, Kate and I stopped by Harvard Bookstore and I got to say hi to Ellen Kushner and Delia Sherman--and hold a Bordertown ARC, memorialized here--and pick up a few Bordertown postcards. Eee! Bordertown! I am very excited.

When I got back I found that my copy of Steam-Powered had arrived, but I have only had time to dip into it now and again, because when I got back I also plunged straight into production week for Play Dead.

Lookit me being a man:

(From here)

The mustache was a late addition so that I didn't look like a fifteen-year-old Dickensian orphan in my other costume. I remain startled every time I see that picture at just how much I look like a man.

The show was, overall, fun. Cast and crew were awesome, script was funny, my role was neat (cheerful gay actor from the 1920s who dies in the play-within-a-play in the first scene!). There are pictures of me wearing plus-fours in the school newspaper this week. (What year do I live in again?) Production weeks, however, not meant for Alenas. Rehearsals until midnight (or later) most nights for a week... not so good. I got tired, slightly cranky, and sort of sick.

This week was "finish all the work that I didn't do last week", which was also kind of stressful, but is over.

Other things I have done include: fill out and turn in study abroad forms; sign paperwork for summer physics research; send in my housing form; start thinking about classes for next semester. Oh, and I'm not sure if I should take the train home/to my research/back this summer. Hmm.

This weekend I have a concert with Voces Feminae, the early music choir I joined this semester. We had an extra rehearsal last Friday. I couldn't go because I was onstage. Um. But I think I will be able to help the group more than I harm it by singing with them at the concert, so that's good; and we really do have some nice pieces. It's been a while since I was last in a singing group, and I do enjoy it.

Other than that, I plan to read the rest of Steam-Powered, catch up on slush, and maybe (dare I say it?) work on something writing-related. As I said: whoosh. It's good to just sit down for a little while and listen to the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain on youtube and not have to jump up and go rushing off somewhere for once, or be thinking I should be working on homework.
aamcnamara: (Default)
I have the Internet again! I have arrived at college, and am (mostly) unpacked. We've already had a tea party--we need to get much better at teapots (pouring from, keeping from making rings on tables, maintenance of, etc), but we will work on that.

Soon there'll be the flurry of textbooks and classes and and and. With luck, we'll still find time to invite all our friends over for tea.

It's going to be... well, a different year. A lot of things will be more awesome than last year (or already are), but they'll also be different, and figuring out exactly what all of that means should be interesting. Also, like [livejournal.com profile] mrissa said before I left, there will be things like internships and study abroad and jobs, and pretty soon I will have to start making those decisions and those choices will affect my life, where I live and how and with whom and maybe my relationships, friendships and all that. And that's scary.

But I have a coffeetable laden with teacups and two teapots, and a comfy chair to sit in, and my plant returned to me, and will have strawberry seedlings on the windowsills, and really that should be enough for anyone. At least to start with.

(edit: The Internet informs me that LJ is being silly again. I assume that you all are not planning to cross-post comments here onto Facebook or Twitter, but I will mention it anyway. La.)
aamcnamara: (Default)
301 / 350

49 pages left (or so) and I will finish this before the end of August, I swear.

I realized that part of why I didn't want to work on it was the thing that happens at this point of writing a novel--"I don't have enough stuff left to fill all that much space!". So I sat down and wrote out all the things I needed to happen before the end, and look at that, there is at least one event for each chapter left.

With luck I will also finish the redraft of the other novel by the end of August, but that's shakier. Mostly I want this done.

Yesterday was the sort of busy day in which I did no writing: by the end of it I was all peopled out and had no brain left. But I had a birthday party, and we rode the carousel, and I got some comments to someone relatively on time, and I ate a lot of berries and talked with neat people.

Today was the sort of busy day in which it all gave me energy to write--I went kayaking this morning, did laundry, fixed my bed so it will sit upright as a couch (I've only had this bed for what, four years now?), et cetera. And read the new Shadow Unit, because I could. Now it is time for bed.
aamcnamara: (Default)
1. I biked a couple of miles to renew my permit today before I realized that license centers are closed on Saturdays. Now I know! At least I then was pretty close to the pharmacy to pick up my prescription, so I'm calling that a general win.

2. I read A Degree of Mastery, which is... narrative non-fiction, I guess, about book restoration/conservation. It was a fairly slight book, a bit about the author's relationship with her mentor and a bit about the actual techniques of book conservation and not a ton about anything, but enough to make me long for my rare book room again. Thought process basically: Ooo, pretty books. I miss working with my pretty old books. I would love to learn how to restore/conserve books. I wonder if UMass Amherst has any programs... something to look into, anyway. (A quick search indicates, Not really. Oh well. Someday!)

(edit: Hey, there is a book conservator in the Pioneer Valley, though! Neat. No, I'm not plotting anything...)(edit: Or this. The power of the Internet!)

3. Later on, I briefly attended this event Red Bull was hosting, where (apparently) people had built contraptions to sit in, perhaps intended to glide, which were propelled off a 30-foot platform into the river. By "attended" I mean stood on a bridge far enough away that you had to squint to see the contraptions themselves. It was interesting, though, to watch the trajectories of their nosedives. (And to see the vast crowds of people down by the river itself. Sheesh.)

4. An art car parade happened around Lake Harriet this evening. It was short, but all the cars (and decorated bicycles, and various other vehicles) were pretty awesome. Led by a motorized couch, it moved slowly enough that my sister and I could race around behind the bandshell and catch up to see most of it again.

5. The Blue Phoenix Circus Troupe has a show--well, will have had a show, after tomorrow (3 pm, I think, is the last performance)--called Between Earth and Sky, which I attended after the art car parade. Aerial arts are one of the things that can nearly always make me catch my breath, and especially in such a small space (it was at the Old Arizona, 28th and Nicollet).

Every time, the strength and the elegance get me. That, and the way that they throw themselves, like they don't care if they fall, and the way that they always catch in time. Even when it looks like they're slipping, even when they twirl in the air, the other person's hands are just exactly in the right place at the right time. And then they come out of it to balance impossibly--on a trapeze, on silks, on someone else's hands or feet or chest.

Every time, I say.
aamcnamara: (Default)
Today, my family had Adventures.

These involved going to a hardware store, cleaning up a garden plot, having brunch, stopping at a tea store, going to a grad party for a couple of my friends from middle school, walking around at an arts festival/old car show for a while, and buying groceries.

It was hot out. I drove everywhere. I don't have my license yet, and not endless amounts of driving practice; also, driving everywhere means I had to park everywhere and I'm not so great at parking; and I went on the freeway today for the First Time Ever Omg. We crossed the Metro area at least twice.

After I got home, I did the week's slush for Ideomancer. Tomorrow morning I will get up and go to the library and work there for most of the day.

So, in conclusion, I wrote about two sentences today. Possibly less than that. And I am going to bed.
aamcnamara: (Default)
Some highlights of the rest of my spring break:
- Pretty Concord library and old old graveyard!
- We tried to go to Walden Pond, but it was closed
- So much good food (spoiling me for dining halls, I fear)
- Hanging out with [livejournal.com profile] vcmw and talking books (and going to aquariums and wandering and watching Buffy)
- Maple syrup! Maple sugar candy!
- Maple cotton candy is a ridiculously awesome idea and also well-executed
- Train! Traaaain!

...and then beautiful weather when I got back to campus. Next weekend is ConBust, which I plan to drop in on at some point or other; next week is lots of tests and papers, hooray! This week will be catching up with my life after spring break.

Less awesome: my plant got bugs while I was gone. I hope that it's all right.
aamcnamara: (Default)
65 / 350

This progress is not all today; also, I got up to, I think, 61 pages before, and then deleted most of them, because it turned out I needed a different scene there.

I haven't been writing much on break so far, overall. Instead, I have been:
- seeing friends, notably [livejournal.com profile] mlt23, who I hadn't seen for ages; we hung out and she graciously gave me her paperback copy of To Say Nothing of the Dog, and it was Awesome;
- visiting museums;
- visiting the Providence Athenaeum, which is oh, so pretty;
- and, of course, reading books (the aforementioned To Say Nothing of the Dog, and I picked up a copy of Blackout which I have started to read).

The rest of the break, I suspect, will continue apace. With luck I'll get some more writing done, et cetera. This is my last day in the Boston area. It's been fun. If I end up here this summer, I definitely will enjoy exploring the city more--I have hardly scratched a corner of a fold of a surface of it.
aamcnamara: (Default)
Yesterday was the first day of spring break. Getting off-campus in mid-morning was a relief; I'd been around since early January with not much of a break. Leaving the five-college area was a relief, too. My father and I wandered into Boston by mid-afternoon, checked into our hotel and looked at theater listings for the evening.

Othello was sold out, sadly. However, as Boston is not a one-theater town, there were plenty of other options. We decided we would go and see We All Will Be Received, which was up in the South End at the Boston Center for the Arts.

All the times I've been in Boston, I've been in cars. So while I have faith unto the skies that Boston is awesome, I never quite like it as much as I feel I would on foot. Neither of these feelings were changed by the half-hour we spent circling blocks in the vicinity, looking for a place to park. (In the dark, in the rain.) However, once we did find a place, it was a lovely walk to the theater despite the wet, and we were only fifteen or twenty minutes late for the show.

Which was also lovely. The website had said it was about a road trip and drag kings and Elvis and Dolly Parton and gender identity construction, and it was all of those things. It also incorporated several elements of different media. The three performers--the members of the road trip, two drag kings and a filmmaker--did scenes live on the stage; there were videos and, at one point, a kind of powerpoint presentation displayed on a screen behind it; and at least once the filmmaker's camera was used to put live footage from the stage onto the screen in real-time. The production company involved, Queer Soup Theater, has a stated mission of "using laughter to smuggle ideas across society's borders", which I can definitely agree with as a tactic.

At any rate, it was awesome to see some real live theater, see some queer theater, see people doing fun and interesting multimedia things that actually worked within the context of the show. And it was also great to walk around a little bit of the city at night. The rain made everything look more glamorous: it smeared the light down the street, pooled underneath the curbs so that flying leaps were necessary to reach the sidewalks.

Today is the St. Patrick's Day parade, so we purpose to avoid that part of Boston, but I am glad we went.
aamcnamara: (Default)
One of the things I like about myself is that, if I have a long and dreaded list of Things To Do and some time to do them in, I can sit down and just do them.

Oh, my attention wanders sometimes, but I can always catch myself when my mind wanders away, say, "No, Alena, we are doing this now" and set myself gently back on the path. The first step is always the hardest.

Sometimes, of course, the next thing is not something my brain is ready for, so I do a different thing. But I do something, and then I do another thing, and another. And then somehow I have just been sitting here all weekend, writing essays and math papers and novel critiques, emailing professors, talking to my parents, doing physics homework. Being ridiculously, disgustingly, determinedly productive.

I scheduled in off time for myself, sure. (In which I made a terrible notacake--[livejournal.com profile] vcmw, I tried adding buckwheat flour but I was changing too many things at once and it failed.) I know my limits. That is part of the beauty of it: knowing when you will just slip through your fingers again, be away and over the fields, and watching yourself go.

... sometimes I really hate being Responsible (don't make me be Beezus, I want to be Ramona!), but y'know, sometimes it is really handy. After all, it's not even dinner on Sunday, and my List is nearly empty.
aamcnamara: (alena)
I have been keeping daily lists like this recently. Somehow it has taken me quite a while to realize that I am allowed to post them on LJ. At any rate, just writing them down makes me happy, because I remember all the good things about right now. And the bad things, but that list always seems to be very short.

Things that make me happy right now:
- Today was one of those really excellent winter days--you know, the ones where it's clear and sunny and beautiful when you look outside, and you step out of the dorm and it's freezing, frigidly cold, and it makes you unutterably happy just to be alive and in this world.
- My dad sent me a care package of homemade cookies for finals. (My dad rocks.) He doesn't tell me when he's sending them, really; I just get an email from auxiliary services telling me I have a package to pick up, and I go over, and there's a package with my dad's handwriting on it. And then I open it up, and there are cookies.
- Finally having wishlists for all of my family members.
- Organizing hanging-out with various friends for over break.
- Other things about which I will remain quiet but pleased.

Things that do not make me happy right now:
- Actually having to study for finals.
- The cold air that keeps wandering through the window to say hi.
- The realization that my first-year plant will probably die over winter break, as it got pretty dried out just over Thanksgiving. (It is a papyrus plant, which wants a lot of water, and I don't have a very large bowl to stand it in.)

Now maybe I will make myself some tea, and see how this Hume guy looks from there.
aamcnamara: (Default)
Now I have 5000 words on the new novel. Still fun to write. It feels a lot like a lot of things I've read, but I am definitely putting some new plot twists into it, at the very least, and the style is easy to write at least.

I keep not having homework in the evenings. It's disconcerting, because a bunch of my friends do have homework and so it's difficult to figure out who's around to hang out with. However, it gives me time to write, which I am all for.

Also, my classes continue to be good. My calculus professor explained vector properties much more clearly than my math teacher last year did; my sociology professor talked to us for a while about what we would do if he threw a chair at us; in philosophy class we debated about virtue; in physics it's still review, but still interesting.

I finally got my calculus textbook off reserve from the library to do my homework, only to receive the copy I'd ordered online the same day. At least I have it now? It's a very pretty textbook, slim with a nice-feeling binding and some tasteful violins on the cover. Physics textbook still not here, but I can deal with that.

Hanging out with one's college friends is an entirely different matter once classes start than during orientation is entirely different from during pre-orientation, I've discovered. I keep having to wander across campus to see if people are in, and have a backup plan (usually a book to read) if they aren't. Also, uncertainties about if they are trying to do homework. I'm sure I'll get used to this way of life, but it's something new to get used to.

I procured a hat just before leaving for college, and have assimilated it thoroughly into my wardrobe. I have learned that hats are handy for keeping the sun out of one's eyes. Sometimes I forget I'm wearing it.

...yes, this is my random updates post for tonight.
aamcnamara: (Default)
So today I got crowned Queen by a flock of bees while at a rest stop.

First it was just the one bee sniffing around me. It flew around, too little to make any audible buzz, and hovered near different bits of me, as if investigating. Then it landed on my hand and seemed quite content to stay there.

Usually my theory with bees is "stay still and they will discover you are not something good to eat and go away". Unfortunately, in this case, it turned out, I was in fact something good to eat. The bee started nibbling at my hand with its little black bee mouth bits, which was a distinctly odd sensation.

Then there was another bee, hovering by my other arm. It landed, too. And then another one. My family, concerned, suggested trying to shake them by going into the rest stop building. I thought this was a good idea.

Unfortunately, by that point they had decided to crown me their Queen.

Have you ever had a bee nibbling your ear? It feels extremely strange.

Unfortunately for them, I did not reciprocate their interest. It turned out that "walk fast into the rest stop building" was a good theory. Then I made a mad dash for the car, and luckily did not trap any bees in with us for the rest of the drive.

(For the scientifically minded, the theory was put forth that they were interested in my sunscreen. I investigated it, and discovered that it contains both oil of sunflower and lavender essence--both things that bees may, in fact, have decided were good to eat. And, as my 1/8th of an inch hair is completely ineffective at keeping my ears from getting sunburned, I put sunscreen on my ears. Ironically, earlier in the day we had stopped and I had acquired some new sunscreen, which contains neither of those ingredients. But I was still wearing the old stuff.)

Also, I am home!

I had a few brief forays into LJ while gone, but I may have missed interesting posts and/or comments. There are a couple of posts I am intending to make about the trip, but not tonight.
aamcnamara: (Default)
Tomorrow I am leaving on last family road trip before college. (Woo?)

Will be back the 22nd. May or may not have Internet access along the way.

Don't wait up.
aamcnamara: (Default)
Today a friend and I went to the Walker Art Center Free Thursdays thing. They always have some sort of event, too. This week it was reinventing and recycling toys, so they had all these toy bits and you could put them together with glue guns.

I only burned my fingers with the glue gun twice! And only one of those grew a blister, which has even now stopped hurting.

The resultant toy, anyway, turned out to be a butterfly-dog-bear-cthulhu-something that glows monster.

So life is good, and I have one of these:

(Awww. Isn't it cute?)
aamcnamara: (window)
So there was no writing yesterday. It was one of those days. It felt like autumn, not the middle of July--cool and chilly and overcast. I got up too early, was in rural Wisconsin for the morning picking basil and peas and generally helping out around a farm, hung out with my friends and drank scalding tea to chase away the chill in the afternoon, and went to see the new Harry Potter movie in the evening.

The movie was all right. It never really drew me in, which probably has something to do with how it was made and something to do with where I am right now in relation to the Harry Potter books. Overall, I was okay with the movie, which is intriguing because the sixth book was the one I disliked the most.

I had an hour to myself between the afternoon and evening engagements, and spent it mostly staring at the walls, as far as I can tell. Objectively, I could have gotten some writing done then. Subjectively, it wouldn't have been a good idea. My mind was too full of other things, and I didn't have enough time to lay all of them aside; and right now I'm in the middle of writing a Large Active Scene which will soon come to a Big Decision. And I have no idea which way my character will choose.

So those are all the reasons that I didn't write yesterday.

Today, however, I have nothing whatsoever to do. So far I've eaten breakfast and read the rest of the fifth Dark Tower book. (Soon I should go to the library and check out a few more of those.) At some point today I think it is safe to assume that I will be outside somewhere in the sunlight with my laptop, writing.

I get the feeling that I will not be working on this first draft for very much longer. Yesterday was a nice break, and potentially a much-needed one. Now I am taking in the deep breath and diving for the end.
aamcnamara: (Default)
Today I feel productive.

So far I have gotten up far too early, read a hundred and fifty or so pages of the fifth Dark Tower book, written out the rest of my thank-you notes for graduation presents, and ordered photo prints online of my senior picture so I can send them to my far-away relatives.

Now I just need to call my college and inquire about a form, write some, go pick up the photo prints, and mail all the thank-you notes.

This post about the writing workshop at Anticipation makes me want to go to Worldcon. Unfortunately, it is a. too expensive, b. too far away, c. I don't know enough people, and the stories I have heard of Worldcon convince me that I would have much more fun if I had lots of friends who were going, and d. all of the above.

Of course, I don't really have anything to get critiqued if I did go--except for a little over three-quarters of a first-draft novel--but the want-to-go is not paying attention to that.

Good news: I have a title and a few snippets of the short story, one of which has made it down in words so far. Usually I just sit down and write the story out from beginning to end. Apparently this one is more nonlinear. It'll probably turn out to be nothing much, at any rate, just something to twiddle around with while I try not to write my novel too quickly.

May 2017



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