A Busy Spring

I’m behind in my ambitious writing goal for the year, which is no huge surprise given that I set the bar very high at 240,000 words. I’m counting editing and revision at 750 words an hour, which is three-quarters of what the NaNoWriMo site recommends, but it jives with the amount of work I usually get done in an hour when I edit/revise my work.

It’s a busy spring for me so far. I have nine writing-related projects on my desk this quarter, including encyclopedia articles on the Scott Antarctic Expedition and the Indian Howdah for ABC-Clio’s The British Empire: A Historical Encyclopedia; a biography and a cultural and historical context article on Ray Bradbury for Salem Press’s Critical Insights: Ray Bradbury encyclopedia; my first draft for Corrugated Sky’s second anthology.

I’m also going to present a paper at the Mid-Atlantic Conference on British Studies annual meeting, which is coming up the beginning of April, so I need to delve back into my research for that. Which brings me to another project, which is turning my master’s thesis (about 100 pages) into a full-length book. But for that, I need a lot more research, so it’s a time-intensive project.

And the last two items on my list (so far this year) are my novel, Seacombe Island, and a book on writer’s prompts. I’ve spent quite a bit of time organizing my calendar and to-do list so I’m not having all the deadlines at once, but it means working ahead and I find that soft deadlines (ones I impose on myself) are easier to let slide by than hard deadlines (drop-dead dates, or dates imposed by the publisher). I pride myself on not missing hard deadlines, although I’ve had to ask for two- or three-day extensions in the past when an article has proven to be troublesome, or when holidays muck up my scheduling.

And so I’m avoiding working on articles right now by, well, writing about my writing. I guess that counts as words toward my yearly goal, so I’ll gloat on that for a moment and then clear my desk and get cracking on today’s list of things to work on.

Almost a New Year

I found this red armchair out in the middle of a stream in northern Maryland while on a trip to photograph covered bridges.

I found this red armchair out in the middle of a stream in northern Maryland while on a trip to photograph covered bridges.

This year has been mentally exhausting, and when I think about what I’ve actually accomplished I’m not sure that I’ve gotten enough bang for my proverbial buck. I’ve written a short story for Corrugated Sky‘s first anthology and started brainstorming a second, and I’ve completed a few encyclopedia articles. I dragged myself through NaNoWriMo and ended up with something that I will likely gut or trash rather than try to fix.

And I’ve worked. And worked, and worked some more. There have been so many projects at work I can’t keep track of what day it is. Can I sleep in? Yes, it’s a weekend. That’s about all I can manage to think about right now.

Here’s hoping that 2017 will start fresh with some energy for writing projects and getting things done. I’ve spent some time today setting some goals and listing the things I want to work on next year so I can keep them in sight. After all, nothing gets done without a deadline.

And speaking of deadlines, the office just closed so I am FREE! Until Tuesday. Until — next year! Happy New Year’s Day! I hope to be back with new writing prompts and perhaps some photo tips or artwork next year. But for now, it’s time to relax and play Guild Wars 2.

No Peace on Thanksgiving

I don’t normally write blog posts about politics or current events here on Focal Plane, but today I’m just so angry that here it comes.

I hate leaf blowers. I hate the shrieking noise, I hate the filth blowing off the nasty things. I hate the pollution leaf blowers cause. I hate the excuses people give for using those things, and I hate the hypocrisy of urging people to ride bikes to reduce pollution and then giving a free pass to the pollution produced by lawn equipment.

Did you know there are no anti-pollution requirements or noise controls on lawn equipment? Why not? Leaf blowers are loud enough they can cause hearing damage, and loud noise contributes to high blood pressure, too, among other issues. It’s especially bad for children. Aren’t we concerned about people’s health and the environment?

“Leaf season” here in College Park is year round, but it’s worse during the fall, of course. I’ve spent the last two days listening to the leaf vaccum truck trundle around the neighborhood sucking up leaves. It sounds like a helicopter it’s so loud; black smoke was coming out of the truck’s exhaust and it was blowing so much leaf debris up into the air that it formed a brown cloud — which promptly traveled half a block up my street made me choke. I’m not exaggerating.

And here it’s Thanksgiving Day, and I have at least one neighbor who thinks it’s fine to be out there with an industrial backpack leaf blower (the loudest type) on a holiday. This guy has already spent the last two or three days cleaning his yard, and the leaf piles were picked up by the vacuum truck for the last two days. But he has to be out there again — on a holiday. What is he doing? The leaves are gone.

I hope you have some peace where you live; I hope your neighbors aren’t the noisy, thoughtless kind that excuse what they do by claiming they’re “cleaning up.”  They’re blowing dirt in the air and making a lot of noise. That is not clean, and it’s not healthy.


It’s October?

The last post I made on Focal Plane was in August. That means September went by without a peep or a single Thursday Writing Prompt to keep you busy. Well, I’ve been so overloaded at my day job and trying to get some encyclopedia articles done that the blog just had to take a back seat for awhile. Yes, for real, I write encyclopedia articles. You can see the covers for some of them on my Pinterest “Publications” page, but the newer ones still in production don’t have cover art yet. Encyclopedias typically have a very long lead time for publication, maybe two years.

In the meantime, I’ve been working with a group of writer friends to get a new publishing company up and running. It’s called Corrugated Sky Publishing LLC. We expect to release our first title the end of this month, just in time for Halloween.

I’ll have more information for you about Corrugated Sky in an upcoming post, so stay tuned! Meanwhile, I have to go and hyperventilate for a bit and then figure out what kind of business things I need to get done.