dusting off the blog

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Flinging the curtains open. Blink. Blink.

Wow. I've not posted anything since August. Boy, is it dusty in here.

I can't say I've had much to post about. I've been battling recurring neck and lower back pain sustained from a car accident at the end of December 2011. That's halted a lot of projects in their tracks, especially writing, which is frustrating. I've been experimenting with a standing desk at home, since I seem to have less pain when standing. I've had acupuncture and zero balancing treatments to help with pain management, so I only resort to pain meds when I really have to. You wouldn't think a tiny 10 mg Flexeril tablet could pack such a wallop, but it can. Whenever I take one, I feel as though I'm walking through thick heavy glue for about 12 hours. Supposedly, the muscle relaxant effect of it only lasts for six hours.

Consequently, everything is more of an effort than it used to be. I used to brush off a stiff neck after hours of sitting at a desk or a sore shoulder after a long cello practice session and just push through it to keep going with things. Now, I can't do that. I have to be more mindful of the first stirrings of pain because they can quickly get worse and become debilitating.

I have been celloing and writing and knitting though, just in smaller bursts. I'll take that to not doing anything at all.

I'm well into thumb position and sixth position on the cello, and I'm starting to hear more notes that sound right. My vibrato technique has improved as well - first finger isn't so troublesome these days. Progress!

I've knit a lot of lace and a lot of socks this year, and I even started a cardigan. I would love to get the cardigan done in time to wear it this winter.

My next book will be released any day now. I'm just waiting for the various sites to review and approve the files to make sure I've formatted everything correctly. I'm working on the next novel for release this year, and I hope to expand to more venues where I can release it.

I was looking at the list of revolutions I'd planned for myself for 2012:

I thought I'd be well into the Breval Sonata by now. Instead, Ben put me through most of the Popper prep book, which I really enjoyed. I'm now working on some Lee etudes. I'm not as fond of them as Popper, but they're still interesting. I've also developed a taste for fiddle pieces. There are several in the study books I'm using. It's my Celtic blood, I tell you...

I had planned to go to Scotland in May, but my job situation took a turn for the worse early in the year, so that trip got nixed, as I wasn't sure I'd be able to finance it.

I did catalog my yarn stash and knit from it - eight pairs of socks, four shawls, four scarves, and one baby blanket. Ravelry has a nifty feature where you can set up a database of your stash, which makes pattern searching on the site a lot easier. I also re-organized the stash closet. It's lovely and tidy and easy to find stuff in it now. The only yarn I bought last year was at the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival. I also acquired a few skeins from a couple of yarn swaps.

I've done a lot of revision on novels-in-progress, plus I've started outlining new novels. I've resigned myself to the fact that my novel writing is a lot like my novel reading - I apparently can't work on just one at a time. This is good in that it's evidence that I have a lot of story ideas, but bad in that it's hard to let just one take center stage to actually get finished.

My job situation was dismal all year long, so another degree got put on hold until I get things sorted. I've worked steadily, but not happily or productively. I seem to have had a knack last year for finding precisely the wrong jobs. I hope to fix that this year.

Other things I hope to do this year:

 - Take a knitting class. I've never done this. I'm mostly self-taught, which is fine and works, thanks to great books and youtube videos and whatnot. However, the camaraderie of a group of knitters is a beautiful thing, and I would love to take a lace blocking class or a sweater design class or something.

- Publish another novel. Also, investigate making physical copies available, as well as physical copies of the previous ones.

- Continue to lessen the severity of the back and neck pain. If it weren't for acupuncture and zero balancing, I'd be a crying, stiff, and inflamed mess all the time and might not be able to work or even be semi-functional. I've gotten back into yoga recently as well, and all the stretching is really helping. I'm determined not to become dependent on pain meds.

 - Take another trip to Europe. Rome, I think, this year. I've missed Europe.

-  Re-mulch the front garden. The derecho in July and the hurricane at Halloween really did a number on my garden and blew all the mulch away.

- Get a certification or start another degree. This depends on my job path this year. I've been looking into the Certified CME Professional program, the Project Management Professional program, and a biomedical writing program. All would be useful, but I'm just going to focus on one this year.

- Get back to blogging regularly. What should I blog about? Keep going with the cello and knitting posts? More about the books I'm reading? My continued fling with paleo-style eating? What are you blogging about or wish people would blog about?

Read. Reading is one thing that helped me keep my sanity last year, and I'm so grateful for that. Mainly, I gorged on books by and about the Lost Generation - they are my people. Sylvia Beach and Janet Flanner are my new heroines.

This year is the 50th anniversary of the publication of The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath and the 200th anniversary of the publication of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice. I'm going to re-read both of those.

Also, thanks to a gift certificate from my mom, there are six books that will be published this year that I've pre-ordered - Neil Gaiman's new novel and a new edition of F Scott Fitzgerald's novels are among them. It will be a nice treat to get a new book in the mail every few months.

I've been downloading e-books like crazy in the past six months, and will continue to do so (I'm in the middle of a biography of Gertrude Stein; I'm at the part where she and Alice B Toklas meet for the first time). I've got the e-book version of the new Bronte biography as well, and Flora Segunda, and a couple by Terry Pratchett and Jasper Fforde...

I've also been fueling my book habit with a couple of podcasts - CraftLit and ChopBard. It's great fun to re-visit books and plays I've read or dive into ones I've never gotten around to and get a little guidance along the way.

And of course, reading something really good always makes me want to write. Must fuel the writing regularly.

While I wouldn't wish bad anything on anyone, it's comforting to know I wasn't alone in having a crap year last year. I don't see 13 as bad luck, so let's have a better, happier, and more productive year, shall we?


Full Passport said...

Glad to see you writing again Cate! Sending happy thoughts and good vibes for 2013!

Read a book recently that made me think of you: Shakespeare's Tremor and Orwell's Cough: The Medical Lives of Famous Writers a bit dense and speculative, but still an interesting read.

I look forward to reading more about your publishing! Stay strong and be well!

cate polacek said...

I'm going to look for that book.