writing writing writing….

Having been awakened on less than six hours’ sleep by overzealous recruiters, our intrepid hero discovered that while she was visiting the necessary one of the dogs had thrown a vomit festival all over the bedroom floor. She tackled that issue with gusto (“gusto” being a foreign word that meant “total disgust and much grumbling at said dogs), suited everyone up for a trip to the surprisingly mild outdoors, dodged UPS Man / dog interactions, greeted the neighbors, and cleaned up all the poops.

Now it was time to battle with her nemesis: the way-behind NaNoWriMo Draft.

Or maybe a shower and a coke and some form of chocolate. Yeah, maybe that first.

Camp NaNoWriMo Winner!

Last night at way too early in the morning, I hit 50,000 words.

That’s 107 pages, 276,010 characters. And one main character currently bleeding from his ears on the floor.

So I’m not done.

But I hit my goal and I am a very very happy kirabug!

One last plug: you can help kids and adults who want to have the opportunity to write, but don’t have the equipment, by donating to the cause. It is a life-altering positive experience to say, “I made this”. Please consider a donation.

Camp NaNoWriMo in 4 days – sponsor me?

It’s August, you’re thinking. Why’s kirabug going off about National Novel Writing Month already? That’s November

Yes. Yes yes yes true. But this August – four days from now – I’ll be holed up at Camp NaNoWriMo, a virtual writers retreat that essentially follows the same rules as NaNoWriMo. So yes, I’ll be writing a 50,000 word novel in a month. In August. In my house. (Or my car. Or my parents’ place. Or wherever I happen to be when I pull the iPad out of the bag.) I’m working on the same book I’ve been working on since I was 13, and this time I swear I think I know what these characters are up to. I even took the first 3 days of the month off of work to kick this thing off right!

So, I need your help. See, NaNoWriMo is definitely not cheap for the folks who organize it. They send out kits to schools to encourage writing, help organize and fund writing events in communities all around the world, and build libraries in developing nations. All good, and expensive, stuff.

Camp is much cheaper (and much smaller) – and also our opportunity to do some early-year fundraising to make sure NaNoWriMo is spectacular this and every November.

Just like sponsoring a marathonner, you can donate on my behalf as I write toward the 50,000-word goal. I’ll receive some truly nifty prizes for my fundraising efforts on behalf of The Office of Letters and Light, the 501(c)(3) nonprofit that hosts Camp NaNoWriMo. More importantly, Your donation will help provide free writing resources for even more kids, teens, and adults around the world!


There are a number of inspirational items in the online Camp Store (store.lettersandlight.org/merchandise) that will help get me through the month. You could send me a Camp NaNoWriMo Care Package full of campy encouragement, a Camp NaNoWriMo T-shirt declaring my goal for the month, a Campfire Mug to fill with writer fuel, or whatever… really though, it’s not about the stuff, it’s about funding NaNoWriMo. So skip the stuff, unless you think it’s cool and you want it for yourself. (If that’s the case, go buy it by the truck full, because all the profits also go toward NaNoWriMo.)

OK – that’s me, done groveling. Go, sponsor, buy cool stuff, and wish me luck.

Blue haired crazy person: present

So, I had originally planned to dye my hair blue right after vacation in September… bought the dye right before we left, figuring the stuff would be there when I arrived home.

Except it wasn’t. One of the packages was shipping a lot slower than expected.

But that turned out to be OK, because by the time everything arrived, I learned of a posting for a UI Designer position at work. So if I had gotten my stuff on time, there’s a good chance I would have been in the uncomfortable position of interviewing for the job with freshly-dyed blue hair. (In many jobs this wouldn’t be an issue. I’m not sure it would have been one in this situation either. I work for a very conservative financial company, but they’re a very conservative company that’s well aware they can’t do a thing to you for hair color. On the other hand, this was an interview, and one does like to make one’s first impression as an individual of relatively sane tastes… even if one is a bit looney.) So the hair dye got put off a few weeks… and as soon as they said you got the job, I started making plans for the bottles of blue dye in my cabinets.

I learned a few important things this time that I hadn’t learned last time, such as:

  • Everyone who said the hair is brighter when you bleach it first is correct.
  • The blue hair dye itself really doesn’t damage your hair (in fact, in a sense it strengthens it because it fills in cracks in the hair cuticle) but boy the bleach beats the crap out of your hair
  • It takes a damned long time to bleach one’s hair properly, and it’s not easy — so much so that if I do this again, I’ll pay someone else to do the bleaching bit.
  • I really really REALLY REALLY don’t like the way I look as a blonde.
  • My hair is naturally mouse-brown. When I look in the mirror as a brunette, I think “meh, I could do better”. When I dye it red, I’m usually grinning before it’s even dry. There’s something about red hair that, when I see it in the mirror, makes me recognize myself. I’m that girl with the red hair. Only sometimes, maybe once every year or two, when the red has been fading for a while and I’m frustrated with life in general, I need more than just red to pick my spirits up.And when I’m in that frame of mind, blue suits quite nicely.

    (Why blue? Dunno. But I can tell you this – I’ve been writing short stories and novels all set in the same universe since I was 13. And in every one of them, since I was 13, the protagonist’s hair was blue.)

    Strangely, when I bleached my hair, which resulted in a relatively natural color that most people would have accepted, I HATED it. Hated hated HATED it. Even when I got compliments from the neighbors, who thought it looked great on me. HATED. Every time I looked in the mirror there was this freak staring back. So when I dyed my hair blue this evening, watching my hair go from blonde to purple (the color of the dye) was extremely relieving.

    Yes, that’s right, I’m more comfortable with blue hair than blonde. Extremely more. I can live with that.

    Anyway, for all y’all who have been harassing me for pictures, here you go:

    Friday’s faded-out half-brown red hair
    red hair front red hair back
    Friday night I bleached it, took the pics Saturday
    blonde hair front blonde hair back
    Saturday night was time to go blue
    blue hair front blue hair back

    It’s worth noting that all the pictures were taken with a light directly above me, AND the flash on. The blue is much closer to black when it’s not sunlit. (It’s 1000% awesome either way.)

    We are 7-days-and-change from National Novel Writing Month, when I’ll be spending a month in the same universe as the blue-haired characters I started developing when I was 13. I, for one, feel prepared.

Needs, or, pruning in order to grow.

The world is trying to shake me at my roots, and I’ve been resisting.

I read an article years ago called The Sex & Cash Theory which says, in short, that if you want to be happy with your life you have to balance the things that pay the bills against the sexy, creative stuff. If you let your life swing one way or the other too far, chaos will ensue.

I’ve never had the problem of letting my life swing too far into the creative endeavors.

I get up, take care of the dogs, go to work, try to solve problems and occasionally create things that are useful. I sometimes feel like I’m genuinely making things better. Whether I succeed or not, it’s exhausting work of juggling competing priorities, competing egos, varying interpretations, and menacing deadlines.

When I’m done working, I come home, take care of the dogs if Nighthawk hasn’t beaten me to it (some days run, well, loooong….), source and prepare some sort of foodlike objects, and try to find something that will take my mind off of the work I left and the work I’m going back to the next day.

If I’m lucky, I get six hours of sleep. If I’m really lucky, it’s not filled with nightmares about work. Then it starts over.

(As an aside, have you ever tried to type around a dog? Chance says hello.)

Even as little as two years ago, I had the energy and drive to create after work. I drew a comic. I worked on the five novels I’ve got written in various pieces around my hard drive. I knit. I cooked crazy-ass things. (I’m pretty sure the peanutbutter fish story has never actually made it into this iteration of the blog. Someone remind me someday…)

But slowly those things have been sliding out of my life. The novel writing was displaced by the comic authoring (except for every other November). The comic was displaced by martial arts. That, in turn, has been forcibly displaced by injuries, health issues for Nighthawk, the holidays, more back issues, more health issues for Nighthawk, a conference, family vacation, and just when I thought I’d be going back, a strained shoulder. And a work deadline schedule that pushes and pushes and pushes. Oh, and more health issues for Nighthawk.

Slowly I’m coming to the conclusion that I’m not where I’m supposed to be, mentally, physically, or emotionally.

Nighthawk’s health has recently provided me with an extremely large burst of nervous energy. On May 12th he’s having oral surgery, but not like the nice friendly “let’s pull a tooth” surgery. More like the “let’s put the lung patient on a respirator, do all the work, take you off the respirator, and give you soft foods for at least a week while trying to keep your calorie count above 3000/day and your blood sugar normal” oral surgery. Not. My. Favorite. Kind.

What do you do with a nervous breakdown on the edge of your peripheral vision? Well, if you don’t have a creative outlet for it, you take it to work and try to get it to be useful. This is somewhat akin to putting a bellman’s uniform on the most violent rabid dog you can find, and chaining him up outside your cube, where he’s in charge of greeting everyone. Not necessarily successful, and generally requires a mop.

The universe has decided to combat this insanity by making April into “Kirabug reassesses her values” month.

The first shake-up came from the conference at the beginning of April. An Event Apart re-fired my desire to create, but not my ability to find an outlet. The inspiration-with-no-outlet problem made everything else worse.

The next shake-up came as a Studio Ghibli movie watched on my iPhone while I was feeling burnt out and sick and tired. Whisper of the Heart reminded me that creation is hard work, and you don’t get better from hiding from it.

When I started writing the thyroid cancer part of the comic, which Christ knows I’d never intended to write back in 2004 when I started the comic, it got hard. No, let me reword that. It got haaaaaaard. I lost the enjoyment of the craft because I was frustrated at my lack of skill. And I lost focus when a new sexy toy (martial arts) caught my attention.

But creating stories is what I was born to do. I create stories in the shower, on the way to work, in the comic. Some of my best web design was expressed in a comic strip, not a wireframe. New ideas are literally scrawled in every file and on every note of every piece of paper I get my hands on. I haven’t stopped creating stories, just because I lost time and motivation. I just started drowning them out in news feeds and bad TV and RSS feeds and comic strips and timewasters.

(By the way, Whisper of the Heart is my new favorite movie. It requires two things: one, that you remember how it felt to be sixteen. Two, that you forget how it feels to be your current age. If you get those two reversed you’ll think it’s horribly corny.)

So I threw out a bunch of distractions. I cut from 78 webcomics to comics folder to 36 core stories I’ve been following for years and still love. I threw out all but 15 RSS feeds (down from 50-ish.) Repeat ad nauseum through Twitter and Fark and Facebook ad nauseum.

Progress. Still, I felt lost, like I’m not sure what I’m creating for.

But tonight Nighthawk and I watched Train (or How I Dumped Electricity and Learned to Love Design. Now, Nighthawk turned me on to Brenda’s twitter feed months ago. He happens to know that I’ve wanted to write RPG video games ever since I discovered Final Fantasy in high school. And game design is a bit of a passion for him as well.

Brenda reminded me tonight that I create to grow. Not everything I create is going to be pretty. Not everything I create is going to be valued. Certainly not everything I create is going to be useful. But everything I create helps me step forward.

I have neglected the pruning. The grass has overrun the garden, and the important branches have been left to wither.

I need to walk away from martial arts. It’s a great experience I will return to, but I can’t fit martial arts, work, and my home life all in the same jar. I certainly can’t do all those things and add any other form of creativity into the jar.

I need to leave work at work.

I need to do hard things again, not because they are easy, but because they are hard.

I need to reconnect with my characters and find out what they have to say, before I forget how to speak their language.

I need to give this nervous energy someone to chase that doesn’t wear a tie. Figments of my imagination are suitable candidates.

I need to listen to the earth, stop resisting who I am and what I do. At least for a little while.