7.15.2018

Time flies when your writing life is full

Battery units to explore at Ford Worden State Park, Port Townsend, WA

If I haven't been up-to-date on my blogging here, it's because I've been blogging and writing everywhere else! 

2018 has been a full year


Travel

Since January, I've been two Phoenix three times, Philadelphia, and Port Townsend (twice now, if counting my stay here right now). 

Phoenix in February was about the Tucson Gem & Mineral Show, and I'm sure my suitcases were a few pounds heavier coming back from the event. 

Phoenix in April brought me to Tapatio Cliffs in northern Phoenix (Peoria) for the Association of Healthcare Journalists conference, which was a fantastic event, followed by a few days' stay with a long-time friend in Apache Junction. 

Phoenix in June and July brought my husband and I back again, to Mesa this time, to spend time with family and attend my daughter's DCI competition show as a new member of the elite drum corps, the Concord Blue Devils. 

I went to Philadelphia in March to attend the second ever Health Union Connexion conference, which brings together columnists and forum moderators from all over the country (and even Canada and the UK) to celebrate and honor our work in the field of healthcare journalism.  

But before all this, I attend the winter YAWP at Port Townsend, where I finally completed my abecedarian poetry book (it's about 48 pages not counting front or back matter). And I'm here again for the 2018 Port Townsend Writers Conference, a summer tradition I have enjoyed and valued since 2005. 

MS Walk

I finally was healthy enough to attend an MS Walk this year, the first time I've done so since my diagnosis in 2013 (yes, it has already been 5 years, can you believe it?). So far, so good on the remission portion of my life; aside from random strange occurrences (like vertigo that awakens me in the middle of the night), I'm feeling nearly normal these days (knock on wood). 

Camping

We've made two trips so far this year: one to Cape Disappointment (or Fort Canby, if you're old school), and one to Twanoh State Park on the Hood Canal. Both were fantastic with great weather and much to keep us busy.

Other fun stuff

This year, we spent a day in Seattle taking in three films as part of the Seattle International Film Festival. I highly recommend you see The Place. It's an Italian drama directed by Paolo Genovese based on a 2010 concept series in the US titled The Booth at the End. The entire film takes place in a cafĂ© but is peopled with 10 characters who are trying to make some sort of dramatic life change. 

Family news

Our youngest daughter is marching with the Concord Blue Devils this summer in her 4th year in competition color guard. My oldest is nearing completion of her Bachelor's degree in Special Education. 

And yes, I #amwriting

It's been a tough year, I admit. The distractions are considerable: political chaos is something I can't look away from, for one thing. It's hard to leave behind social media when it's so inextricably connected to your working and writing lives. I've also been hooked on some amazing television dramas (Goliath s2, all of Bloodline, etc.). 

And efforts to keep my blood circulating and to prevent the atrophy of my muscles (I have "sitting" disease) have ramped up. I'm walking about an hour at least several days a week now, breaking in tight, inflexible feet and calves and shaking out what I've discovered is an arthritis-riddled spine.

It has been a year of rethinking priorities, as well, and I've hit some dark lower levels where I've questioned the point of my writing life and reflected on what it is I want. Because even though I love the professional writing life I have, I still need the creative writing life to keep me balanced. And time and energy are just so difficult to cobble together and commit for this purpose, these days. 

Still, writing, publishing efforts, and incubation of narrative ideas are happening, and I've been going to bed nearly every night meditating on the details of the book I hope to work on while I'm here in Port Townsend this week. Meanwhile, 
  • I'm putting together a marketing plan for my abecedarian to start submitting it
  • I've attended the summer Hugo House Write-O-Rama, which helped me play around with some story ideas I have been entertaining for months now
  • I'm taking a class taught by Waverly Fitzgerald on submission strategies (also at the Hugo House) to jumpstart my efforts to find homes for my work
  • I've put aside my sleep and dreams manuscript started last summer at Centrum in favor of a novel idea I've been obsessing with for a while now. Let's just say it involves multiple sclerosis, the Lord of the Flies, and ferry boats. 
  • I'm looking ahead to several book ideas I can pitch at the Pacific Northwest Writers Association (PNWA) conference next September.
I blame all the reading I do on the inspiration to keep writing. Most recently: 
  • The Forgiven by Lawrence Osborne (probably my favorite book so far this year)
  • The Sheltering Sky by Paul Bowles (probably my second favorite book so far this year)
  • Nip the Buds, Shoot the Kids by Kenzeburo Oe (very much like Lord of the Flies and just as  compelling)
  • Soft Apocalypse by Will Mcintosh (a fresh take, probably more realistic but, in this day and age of fake news and Trump, sobering and depressing)
Drew Magary's The Postmortal is my current read. 

I also keep hearing and learning more and more about the growing interest in hybrid writing, which is encouraging as it makes me feel a little bit better about the fact that I am most comfortable outside traditional ideas and formats. My Bill Ransom workshop this week at Centrum should help spin out these concepts for me, as well.

Recent acceptances/publications

As for efforts to find publication, here's an update for folks who track such matters:

Poetry

"The Bridge," "Diagnosis," and "Hot Bath Test" in Something On Our Minds (anthology of MS writing)

Essays

"Gaze" in The Nervous Breakdown (with many thanks to Bernard Grant for inviting my submission and to Chelsey Clammer for her great care and support).

Submissions under consideration

Poetry - 5 poems (to 3 markets)
Fiction - 0 
Nonfiction - 0

With almost all the cows come home, it's time to start submitting again! 


Coming up

September will be a crazy month for me. I will be pitching four or five different manuscripts at the Pacific Northwest Writers Association conference. 

The following weekend I'll be soaking in some great films at the Port Townsend Film Festival, and just a week later, I'm heading to Indianapolis for the 2018 Sleep Meeting for the American Association of Sleep Technologists. 

Not long after, I'll be helping out the Washington State Sleep Conference as the board's secretary. 

There are some camping trips slipped in between these events through October, and I'm hoping to make a trip to Auburn, Alabama in early November to touch base with one of my clients. 

Thanks again for your reading and for your continued support!

~Tamara

10.22.2017

Autumn Updates and Winter Plans


The autumn is always a busy time, and this year's fall season is no exception. 


September was jam-packed


Annual Rib & Pie Fest

We hosted the annual shindig (12th one this year, not counting the skipped year) to fantastic weather and a host of new neighbors! It was probably our biggest block party yet, but they always seem like that. 


Jury duty

I participated in my first criminal trial jury duty in early September and hope to write about that experience in the coming months. It was an intense, enlightening, and overall positive experience. Spoiler alert: The dude was guilty. 

But let me say, I derived absolutely no pleasure from that outcome. It was a sad and sobering day when we arrived at that decision after almost two weeks in court. 


Hurricanes

Meanwhile, hurricane season hit with intensity and I was happy to do my small part to help deliver CPAP machines to people in need through the A.W.A.K.E. Angels effort launched by my peers at the American Sleep Apnea Association. 


Camping

Somehow, we also managed to sneak in some camping trips as well... In August, we visited the Washington coast right before the eclipse, kayaking in Willapa Bay and checking out Westport, and we also camped at Potlatch State Park, where we caught crab and ate our limit in fresh oysters. 

More recently, we camped at Dosewallips State Park on the Hood Canal, and more recently, to Potlatch on the Waterfront (also on Hood Canal). 


Other fun stuff

We attended the Port Townsend Film Festival, which was so much fun that we are already booked to go again next fall. The documentary film, "No Man's Land," is a must-see and may even be nominated for an Academy Award. It won the doc category at the PTFF. 

Coming back from that event, I attended the poetry reading of Gary Lilley and Tara Hardy at Eagle Harbor Books and was so glad I made it! Two fantastic writers and presenters!


Family news

During this time, we also moved both our daughters into new digs for the school year: one went from an apartment to a townhouse with twice the space and roommates, the other from temporary arrangements over the summer to a condo in the city with two roommates. 

We also bought our youngest her first car, a five-year-old Fiat that she's absolutely in love with. Check that one off the family milestone list!


Bye, Bob

My husband and I lost a good friend in September and said goodbye to Robert McNerney among friends from high school and college. 


Health updates

Folks are always sweet to ask about my MS. It has been very stable and we are even thinking about reducing my medication dosage (to give my liver a break). 

But probably most significant in the long term was my diagnosis of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). How ironic that the girl writing for the American Sleep Apnea Association is diagnosed with the very condition she writes about? 

I started PAP therapy (using an AutoPAP device) on the day after my birthday in late September, and the experience has been very positive. 

This will turn into fresh content for my blog at SleepyHeadCENTRAL, to be sure, and I have some multimedia ideas to wrestle with over the next few months. 


And yes, I #amwriting

I get asked this one a lot. Folks, almost every single day! 

I have my paid efforts for the usual suspects (the ASAA, SHC, both the blog and the magazine for the American Association of Sleep Technologists, Health Union, BioNews Services, and a private sleep clinic client). 

As for my creative writing, there are small moments where I tinker with:

  • my almost-complete abecedarian chapbook on my MS diagnosis
  • the manuscript on sleep and dreams I jump-started last summer at Centrum, and 
  • an outline has emerged for a collection of essays, also sleep related, that are part of a strategy for 2018 that, with any luck, will culminate in a book to pitch at the Pacific Northwest Writers Association (PNWA) conference next September. 

Meanwhile, I have been reading a lot. Most recently: 

  • Seed by CS Patton (great concept, iffy writing)
  • What Happened by Hillary Rodham Clinton (must read!)
  • Apocalypse Mom (not worth your time)

Stephen King's 11/22/63 is my current read. 

All of which to say that reading fiction again after a long stretch of nonfiction means that I can feel the coals to write short fiction stirring again. 

Goals for 2018 include reading more of my own writing friends' works and following a reading list I recently came upon this list by LitHub which cites 15 works of literary fiction they recommend for people who don't like horror. I actually like horror, but I also like literary writing and each of these titles seems super interesting to me (I have already read Kafka's The Trial—thanks, Mr. Shiflett!—and Atwood's The Handmade's Tale). 


Acceptances/publications for 2017

As for efforts to find publication, here's an update for folks who track such matters:


Poetry

"Racer's Edge" in Snapdragon: A Journal for Art & Healing (original from my current abecedarian chapbook draft)
"On the Day After Gary Ridgway's 48 Confessions" in The Broken City (reprint)


Essays

"Witches' Hearts" in NonBinary Review's Hans Christian Anderson tribute (original)


Submissions since Jan 1

Poetry - 37 poems submitted
Fiction - 6 story submissions
Nonfiction - 6 (4 essays, 2 flash nonfiction pieces) submitted


Submissions still under consideration

Poetry - 17 poems 
Fiction - 1 story 
Nonfiction - 0

More than half of these submission responses are due or past due, so I hope to have more good news about them shortly. 

Coming up

I cannot wait to attend the Autumn YAWP at Centrum in Port Townsend over Veteran's Day weekend. I will make one final trip in the RV to Fort Worden State Park before we pack the trailer up for the winter. 

At that time, I hope to finish the stragglers for my abecedarian chapbook on MS as well as make a few more submissions and start work on my essays for the book I hope to pitch at PNWA next fall. 

In January, I will also attend the very first Winter YAWP over the first full weekend in January, but will stay in the cozy cabins with my peers. You just never know what the ice and snow situation will be like, so I decided to skip the RV writing space as much as I love to work in it. 

That's it in a big, fat nutshell, the kind a squirrel dreams of. Thanks for your support as friends, readers, and peers!

~Tamara