I Can Has Allergies

I really, really, really need to move. Since mid-March I’ve had a stomach bug, allergies, and a sinus infection. After battling the sinus thing for three weeks and coughing so hard that I pulled a muscle, I realized that I needed more than vitamin C. So, I went up to a local walk-in clinic for antibiotics and some nasal spray. Well, that helped a lot, but I still have allergy headaches, and now I’m having eye strain headaches. I need a vacation, and I need a paradise to escape to. It sure looks pretty outside, but … achoo!

In March and early April I’ve so busy that I’ve had to let the blog “rest” for awhile. I had an encyclopedia article on howdahs to complete by the end of March, and then I had to prepare a paper for presentation on Victorian detectives, detective fiction, and journalism for the 2017 meeting of the Mid-Atlantic Conference of British Studies. And this week I just wrapped up an entry on the cultural and historical impact of Ray Bradbury for another encyclopedia. And all this stuff is in addition to my full-time job.

Yes, I do sit at the computer for a very long time every day! And this is a problem, so I’ve joined a local gym and signed up for four training sessions. My second one is today, and I’ve actually worked out twice so far this week.

I’m slowly catching up on my writing goal of 240,000 words for this year, despite a couple of very unproductive weeks. With this blog post, I’m just about 700 words behind where I want to be, but I still have two days left in my writing work week. On the fiction writing front, I’m starting the revisions to my Steampunk story for Corrugated Sky’s second anthology, to be published in late spring or early summer. Seacombe Island is next up; it’s getting a final revision and should also be published this year. I have several nonfiction projects in the queue as well, including a proposal for a chapter in a book on World War I, a book of writer’s prompts, and extending my research and writing about Victorian detectives. Oh, and there might be a cocktail book in the works, too. But that’s for after hours!

Losing Momentum

Nebble Lighthouse, which I photographed on a trip to Maine several years ago.

Cape Neddick’s Nubble Lighthouse decorated for the holidays. I photographed this on a trip to Maine in 2003.

This November didn’t exactly fill me with the drive to write, but I made myself go the distance and put in the requisite 50,000 words for NaNoWriMo. My draft isn’t something that I’m happy with, so I put it aside for other writing that’s on my active project list, which includes a short story, a novel, encyclopedia articles, and a nonfiction book (maybe two).

So I’m sitting here with a basic sketch for a short story that will appear in Corrugated Sky’s spring anthology. I have the characters already, and a basic premise for the story, but I’m trying to sketch an outline for the plot before I start the writing process. I tried a bare-bones outline for NaNoWriMo but ran off the rails at chapter three. This time I’m doing a bit more planning, and the scope of the short story should help me rein in the urge to keep writing and writing.

I’m blaming my lack of concentration on a mixture of boredom, stress, and frustration. We have noisy road construction in the neighborhood and I’m pretty much the only one “in” the office through the middle of the first week of January (I telecommute). It’s a recipe for boredom and stress, and this year has been a monster at work, too. No wonder I can’t get any writing done.

I can’t take a vacation right now, but I can look through my vacation photos and do something creative with them. The Nubble lighthouse photo was taken in 2003 and was one of the first photos that I scanned. This morning I played around with cropping the image and using some Topaz filters to add texture and ramp up the details. Leave a comment and let me know how you like it. Meanwhile, I need to get back to plotting an airship race for the spring Steampunk anthology.



Thursday Writing Prompt No. 80

photo of stairwell

Stairwell at the National Building Museum in Washington, D.C.

This time next week I will be in New Jersey for the Steampunk World’s Fair, which starts on Friday and runs through Sunday. I am going to be giving a presentation on airships in literature, which I have barely started putting together. Good thing I have a deadline looming over my head to make me get it done!

In honor of all things Steampunk and deadlines, this week’s Thursday Writing Prompt offers you five Victorian-era objects that you must work into a story. I’ll make it easy by giving you common objects instead of mystery items, and in some cases, Victorian things weren’t really so much different from the stuff we find in our homes or stores today. Except it wasn’t plastic, of course. Or polyester.

And you have a deadline, too: 30 minutes. That’s right, no cheating, set your timer for 1800 seconds and get writing. You must use all five of the Victorian objects in your story, which will be a Steampunk story, right? Okay, you can write whatever you want, but you get bonus points if you set the story in a Steampunk setting. If you don’t know what that is, do a little research before you start writing, not while you’re in the middle of crafting the perfect opening sentence.

Now, here are the five objects: a rug beater, a shilling, a candelabra, a stereoscope viewer, and a pocket watch.

File under “You’ll be sorry”

When I have a lot of things to do, I like to torment myself by adding more things to do to my already towering pile of commitments. I learned from freelancing and running my own graphic design business that the only way to stay busy was to market yourself for the next project while you already had several in the inbox. It seems that if you go looking for a job when you’re not busy, desperation seeps into your voice and manners and scares off would-be customers. I don’t know if that’s true, but freelancing has always been a feast-or-famine thing for me.

So, last night, in an effort to fend off the fearsome “I don’t have anything to do” doldrums, I filled out an application to give a talk on airships at the Steampunk World’s Fair in May. If it goes through, I’ll probably be a nervous wreck the moment after I get up in front of the group. Or on the drive to New Jersey.

In the meantime, I have a dozen encyclopedia articles to research and write, and a graduate paper on airships in World War I. And I have a finished NaNo novel to edit and a second NaNo novel to finish writing. Maybe I should look for an agent; that would also give me something to do. And a deadline. Can’t get anything done without them, anyway, right?

Want to help? Let me know what aspect of airships you’d be most interested in from a Steampunk point of view. History? Technical details? Airships in literature, movies, and art? How to build your own? Ha, just kidding about that last. No, not really. I have a model Graf Zeppelin to put together, once I figure out which paint I should use on it. I haven’t been able to find a color photo of the envelope color, so I may have to go by pictures of later airships unless I can find a good description.