4 Things

Sunday, 30 January 2011

Well, I finally had a browse of the forums for my next 2 classes. Would you believe it? They don't start until February 5th and people have already started the first assignments-- some have even finished! The classes haven't even started and I'm already behind the pack. Good thing I don't really give a damn. Along with my 'new life' came a new attitude-- by God I will not feel pressured! I'm moving at my own pace these days and loving the freedom. Right now I am living for what makes me happy RIGHT NOW. To that end...

The top 4 things making me happy RIGHT NOW:

1. A pair of black cowboy boots. I'm bidding on them on eBay and I want them SO bad. They remind me of home. North Carolina mostly, with a bit of Virginia thrown in (riding bareback at a good friend's house out in the country). I'm such a loser. I just keep pulling up the pictures so I can moon over them.

2. Knowing that I have a clear plan for my next 3-4 months of writing. I'm going to start as soon as I finish this post. I can't wait to sort out my plot!

3. The fact that my darling hubby spent the day playing with our monster so that I could make breakfasts and lunches for the next 2 weeks! I'm back on the diet, but it's a diet I love so no drama there.

4. The fact that my dearest did such a good job wearing the monster out that he passed out on the couch watching The Pirates of Penzance just after 7pm. Lately that child has been getting a second wind come 6 or so and we're still begging him to go to sleep at 9!

So, I'm going to sign off now and get some writing done. Here's a little snippet of wisdom for all of my writing buddies out there. This is written on the first page of my writer's journal. Enjoy!

"One written word calls forth the next.  All we have to do is begin." - Author Unknown


Finished the short story...

Sunday, 23 January 2011

Well, I've done it.  I have finished my first short story in eighteen years!  It's called One for Sorrow.  It's the last assignment for the course I am taking, which is the only reason I wrote it.  You may have read earlier that I was terrified of writing this piece.  I'm really glad I did. 

One for Sorrow has taught me a lot about myself and my writing.  All of the writing I do is in third person using multiple (2-4) character views.  For some reason, I wrote this in first person.  It felt strange, kind of like the main character was telling ME the story.  Now, I've heard many writers say the characters take over, or that the characters speak to them.  Until now, I've just shrugged my shoulders and thought 'yeah, okay, sure'.  I'm not sure I ever believed such a thing was possible.  Now I do.

So, here I sit with my favourite WIP (BTW) in front of me wondering.  It is half done (about 40k words).  And, I'm not really sure how I feel about it now.  I still love the characters and the story, but I may need to rethink the way it's told.  I think I have really found my voice with One for Sorrow.  Now I want to have a look at what I'm working on and make sure it's really 'me'.

I have a second favourite WIP which right now is a bunch of notes and one paragraph.  I think I'm going to have a look at it.  I sat down a few weeks ago and pretty much changed the whole plot.  The fresh new plot has been enticing.  And then there is One for Sorrow, I love the characters in this story and I'm desperate to work with them some more.  So, what next?  Who knows!  I'll have a look at plotting out both and see where I end up.  Or maybe I'll re-examine BTW.  Which ever path I choose, I will definitely have another glass of wine.

As to One for Sorrow, it will be a little before I can release it.  I have to wait until after it has been marked (which is okay, a bit like sending it to an editor).  I have seen much contradictory information on copyright and blogging.  I even got a bit of a dressing down by a fellow classmate on the subject.  But I think I'll give it a shot.  Once I get the all clear, I'll post it here and see what my followers (I have 4 now!  I'm so excited!!) have to say about it.  In the meantime, I'll be dreaming of home and needing that glass of wine...
This is my favourite place in the world, Twin Lakes State Park in Virginia where I spent my mini-moon (there wasn't time for an actual honeymoon).

Lessons learned...

Wednesday, 12 January 2011

Today, I feel somewhat enlightened.  I have spent the last couple of weeks a bit depressed.  Well, more than a bit, hence the 'break'.  And now that I have decided to chuck my past and start over, I was a little afraid to go back to work.  It's not that I don't like my job, on the contrary, I kind of love my job.  Without going into too much detail, I have a job in cancer research based in the operating department which requires me to be highly skilled and educated and allows me to hang out in the surgeon's coffee room where all of the expensive chocolates are hidden.

So, yeah, I love my job.  And I'm damn good at it.  The first thing you are wondering is probably why I'm giving it up.  That's easy.  In about 2-5 years, I will finally be able to move home to the US and the job I do now isn't really transferable.  I'll need a new career and since my registrations from before I left have long since expired, I'll need to start over.  That's why I'm taking the chance and starting over in a new field. 

Now, you're probably wondering why I was afraid to go back to the operating theatre today.  That's not quite as simple.  Each day I stand in theatre and watch as surgeons, who I have lunch with and gossip with, perform these amazing procedures and save lives.  And each day I think, 'God I can't wait until I'm a surgeon.'  Yeah, that was the direction I was going in (and had been for nearly 20 years).  I stand there knowing that I can do it.  I'm smart enough.  Part of my job requires me to cut, so I'm excellent with a scalpel.  I'm even already a part of the surgical team and quite respected as such.  Being away from theatre for two weeks gave me time to forget how much I enjoyed it and gave me time to fantasize about a different life.  I was afraid that when I went back today I'd realise I had made a huge mistake deciding to leave medicine.

But the strangest thing happened as I stood there watching a Whipples Procedure for pancreatic cancer.  I didn't feel anything.  All I could think about was how I was going to expand my current short story into a novel.  Weird.  Unfortunately, this didn't make me feel better.  It made me feel worse.  Had I wasted 20 years chasing a dream that was never the right one for me? 

When I walked into my second surgery of the day, a liver resection this time, I was quickly assured that I hadn't wasted my time.  Beaming across the room from me was an anesthetist who was one of my first real friends when I started.  Thanks to the holidays, I hadn't seen him in weeks and as soon as I got within arms reach of him he grabbed me and gave me the biggest hug.  The people that I spend my working days with are fascinating and every single one of them has made my life richer in some way.  Over the last 20 years there have been quite a few.  The first lesson I learned today was that time spent making friends is never wasted. 

The second lesson I have learned today is one I should've known already.  Several people commented today that they hadn't seen me in weeks, but they just figured I was busy.  A couple asked about my son, school, etc.  Everyone always tells me they don't know how I do everything I do.  I always laugh and say I don't sleep.  Truth is I do sleep, I just don't do many things that I want to do.  I barely knit or crochet or spin these days.  Most of the time I can't even find time for a bubble bath.  In the coffee room, a twenty-eight year old surgeon who I work closely with started to tease me.  It's what we do, harass each other.  I told him I had decided to take on less, slow down a bit.  He alluded to my growing older.  Then he came right out and called me old.  I called him a jackass.  I'll miss him so much when he finishes his fellowship and goes back to Italy.   The second lesson I learned today I really should know since I remind my three year old, who has become quite mischievous in the last few months, of it daily.  Just because you CAN do something, doesn't mean you SHOULD or that you HAVE to.

I managed to sneak out of the hospital early today and I've come home to write a little before I have to pick the monster up from preschool.  That's where I learned my third and hopefully last lesson of the day (my brain can only take so much in 24 hours).  Battery-operated pencil sharpeners are crap.  Oh well...

Jingle Bells and Psychotic Breaks

Monday, 10 January 2011

Here I am again.  It feels like weeks since I've posted.  Oh wait, it has been weeks!  So, a lot has happened.  Let me fill you in...

First there was Christmas.  I pitched a fit just before hanging the first tree decoration about how I hated our old, cheap decorations (mostly bought at the pound shop during our first few 'poor years').  So I went out and bought all new decorations.  I went with a red and white theme.  I found various glass balls (one of which was smashed before it even made it in the house), red and white jingle bells, and hung candy canes.  Let me be the first to warn you-- jingle bells and candy canes do not mix well with three year old boys and big dogs.   Fa la la la la....

Next came New Years.  We went to my mother-in-laws for a lovely, quiet New Years.  Just the MIL, hubby, monster, and dog.  It was nice, it was quite, but something in me snapped sometime around midnight.  I had what I am jokingly referring to as a psychotic break.  My best friend is a 5th year med student and she tells me something probably did snap.  Whoopsies! 

I always cry on NYE, but I don't think much of it.  This year it hit me hard, real hard.  Maybe it something to do with the fact that I'm 35.  Hell, it probably has a lot to do with that.  Anyway, I obsessed for the next few days over why I cry at NYE when everyone around me is cheering.  And the most horrible thing occurred to me.  The last 35 years have gone so fast and let's face it, the next 35 will, too.  And there went 2010.  Another year in which I feel like I've accomplished nothing.  Damn.

I don't want to bore you, but you're gonna need a little back story here.  I have always written.  I wrote my first 'book' when I was 6-- I even bound it!  And I read.  Constantly.  Everywhere.  I even read in the truck on the way to my MIL's even though it made me feel like dying (motion sickness). 

I decided at an early age that I wanted to be a writer.  I knew it was a tough career to break into, but I also loved to teach, so i figured on teaching literature and creative writing while I slogged away at manuscripts at night.  When I told my dad I wanted to be a writer he laughed.  'You'll never make a living writing.  Do science instead, you're good at that.'

And so I set off to be a doctor.  It never happened, of course.  I couldn't really afford an undergrad let alone med school.  I started college in 1993 and I'm not proud of it, but I still haven't finished my bachelor's.  Instead, I worked full time and took classes here and there when I could afford to.  Now I am in a job that isn't bad and gives me time to study and write and allows me the luxury of taking a degree with the Open University. 

I sent my transcripts in to OU and for 3 1/2 years worth of classes (taken over 11 years) they offered me 20 points at Level 1.  I was going to have to start over.

I decided to do an open degree and take mainly science courses.  I figured they'd be easy A's.  And the first few have been.  What I didn't count on was the fact that I would hate every minute of it.  Sure, the assignments are easy, but I can't bring myself to do them!  The only course I have enjoyed is the fiction writing course which I took because it would mean I HAD to write.  I didn't have to sneak around and feel guilty when I should have been cleaning the kitchen. 

On 6th January-- the last day to register for courses starting in February-- I had my 'break'.  I looked at the books sent to me for my up-coming Infectious Diseases course and thought about the Molecular & Cellular Biology books which hadn't come yet.  And I cried.  I started to surf the OU web site looking at courses I wished I could take instead.  Approaching Literature required that you read Pride and Prejudice and The Color Purple.  I couldn't think of a more delicious way to earn points.

On a whim, I called OU.  I cancelled my 2 science courses started in February.  I withdrew from the Psychology course I was a few months into and hated.  And I enrolled in Approaching Literature and The Arts Past & Present.  I even changed my goal from Open Degree to BA (Honors) English Literature.  For the next hour I was certain I'd be sick.  I was terrified. 

Once I got past the shock of what I had done.  I went on Kindle and downloaded all of the set books which are classics for free.  I couldn't wait to start reading!  For the first time in I don't know how many years, I was excited!

So, yeah.  In the space of about 2 hours I chucked nearly 20 years of education and experience in the medical field to start over.  But hey, I'm 35.  If I don't do what I want now, I never will.

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