Fragmented thoughts on a busy Monday

I’m living in a world of post-it notes. Almost every available space on my computer hutch has a note plastered to it. I have notes pasted to a copy-edited version of RMS, which I need to enter into InDesign. I have notes about Penguicon, and Balticon, and GenCon. I’m starting to acquire notes about events in the fall. The notes are really helpful, because my brain is too full. I can only keep track of things if they are written down and stuck somewhere I’ll see them again.

Around noon I washed up on the couch in our front room. I was not done with work for the day. Not by a long shot. But I sat there, drifting inside my own head, waiting for some thought to feel urgent enough to make me get up. It took awhile. It was only when Howard came upstairs that I was washed out of my repose and back into work.

I think dinner tonight will be something easy, like frozen pizza. I need my creative energy for book layout and homework management and family home evening. I feel a little bad that so many of our dinners have been easy ones lately. But I don’t want to spend emotional energy on food. Not when so many other things I enjoy are getting shoved to the edges.

We could be done with the book this week if we push. I’m aiming for April 10th which gives us two weeks. Every day we add a new piece. Every day it gets that much closer. Almost done. Almost done. Almost done. I have to keep reminding myself when I get tired.

Recovery Day

My facebook status this morning declared my intention to practice a lack of ambition and to sleep. So far so good. Aside from communicating with some people via the internet, I have done nothing today which resembles work. On a normal day this would be worrisome, but I can’t even muster the energy for a good worry. I used up all my social and emotional energy for three days at LTUE and then hosting a farewell party on the day following. I loved all of it. I love talking to adults who listen to what I say and carry their part of fascinating conversations. I love inviting people into my home and providing food. I love watching group social interactions and making sure that everyone has someone to talk to. I love getting to talk, and listen, and participate.

So it was all wonderful, but now I am tired. Coherent thoughts have been sparse. Mostly I’ve spent the day staring at nothing in particular while thoughts and memories dance around in my brain. Sometimes the thoughts and memories form themselves into sentences or into proto blog entries. Then I move my heavy arms long enough to scribble notes in the book I have laying conveniently nearby. It is amazing how physically exhausting socializing can be. Notes written, I go back to watching the show in my brain.

When I first encountered this post-event lassitude, it concerned me greatly. Now I know it is simply the price which must be paid and I plan time in the schedule for it. In some ways the recovery day is nice. I spend so much of my life running, striving, reaching. I like having the experience of just drifting. Besides, by tomorrow I’ll be less tired. Then I’ll get bored and I will be off and running again.

LTUE a success, but now I am tired

Conventions are wonderful and exhausting. I always come home thrumming with thoughts to process. So much is packed into such a short span of time that it is a bit overwhelming. To give you an idea, I present this incomplete description pulled from the experiences of the last two days.

Attending a convention is:

Carting piles of stuff into the building and setting up a table and trying to arrange merchandise attractively.

Greeting friends I haven’t seen in months (or years) and being greeted in return with hugs.

Explaining the process of printing things in China and handing out contact information for our printer.

Sitting on a panel and feeling unqualified, but talking anyway because I’m already in front of people with a microphone in my hand.

Sitting behind a table while no one comes by or stops to talk.

Scrambling to cashier for a line of people who all want to come to our table to buy our books or Brandon Sanderson’s books, or Dan Wells’ books.

Making conversation with people who stop by the table. Talking with friends who sit down to keep us company.

Looking out over the audience as I speak and realizing that I have exactly the right words to say, words which are important and may make a difference for others.

Shuffling merchandise on the table so that Howard has room to draw.

Shuffling things back so that I have room to cashier.

Pulling books from boxes under the table to restock the arrangements on the table.

Eating dinner with friends and laughing until I nearly fall out of my chair.

Fielding phone calls from kids during dinner and trying to talk them into going to bed nicely.

Being glad when Howard volunteers to be at home so I can stay out a little later.

Driving home very carefully because I am aware how tired I am.

Finding my six year old still awake when I come home and listening to him as he tells all about his valentine’s party.

Hugging my little boy tight when he says he wishes I did not have to be gone the next day too.

Laying awake in bed unable to fall asleep because my brain will not stop thinking loudly.

Getting up in the morning and really wanting to just stay home while also wanting to go back to the event.

Having my two youngest kids wish that everyone could just stay home. Especially me. They want me at home.

Hugging them tight and sending them off to have fun at the neighbor’s house while I’m gone.

Knowing that they did have fun and that three days of mixed up schedule will not hurt them, but still feeling a bit guilty about leaving.

Walking into the dealer room to discover that Howard bought me a flower and put it on our table.

Howard coming in after his panel is over and asking me “So do I win at husband?” Yes he does.

Stumbling over my own words in front of an audience because my brain is so tired I can hardly put sentences together.

Having people come up to me and thank me for things I said on panels, I’m glad I said good things. I’m too tired to remember what they were anymore.

Introducing my oldest daughter to many of my friends because she came along for Saturday.

Having hundreds of brief conversations, being introduced to dozens of people, trying to remember names, being grateful for name badges.

Not being able to talk to all of the people I want to have time to talk to, not being able to attend all the events I wished to attend.

Packing up the table and hauling everything out to the car while Howard is busy podcasting.

Having people volunteer to help with the packing and the hauling.

Fielding phone calls from my six year old during dinner wherein he tells me small things about his day just because he wants to hear the reassurance of my voice and because he wants to know when I will be home.

Listening during dinner because I am too tired to actively participate.

Being one of the first to leave because I am tired and my kids at home need me.

Driving home carefully while trying to mentally sort all the conversations which need follow-up email or phone calls.

Pulling off my high-heeled boots and feeling my feet creak as my heels sink into the softness of the carpet. Shedding the nice clothes for shapeless comfortable pajamas.

Blogging because so much happened and I don’t want to lose any of it. Knowing that I already have forgotten things because my brain was too tired to retain them all.

Creature of habit

Two weeks ago the sign on the front of our local Albertson’s store was removed and Ridley’s Family Market was hung in its place. I stopped going to the store. This was not because I’d heard anything bad about Ridleys, or because I felt an obligation to the vanished Albertsons. It wasn’t even that I expected everything to be different when I walked in the door. It was the simple fact that something familiar had been changed and now I had to think about it instead of being able to ignore the store name while I got on with my shopping.

I experience a similar feeling when a product that I use changes the packaging. I have to look twice to make sure that I am actually getting the thing I want because now it looks different. Sometimes I can’t even tell exactly what changed. I just know that it didn’t look like this before. Companies do this on purpose. They want to catch the eye of new customers while retaining their old ones. But as a consumer I’m taken aback when something that was so familiar I could ignore it, becomes something I must focus on.

I don’t have enough time to pay attention to every thing around me. If I pay attention to every package in the store, shopping would take forever. Instead I pay attention to a type of product once, after that I just buy the same thing again unless there is a compelling reason to change. This habitual behavior saves space in my brain for thinking about more important things like what I’m going to make out of this stuff that I am buying. I need my habits and routines. They keep me from going bug-eyed nuts.

So I avoided Ridley’s because going there would require me to think. I would have to process what was different about the store and what wasn’t. Instead I shopped at other familiar stores which had not changed their signs. This worked fine until it was time to renew prescriptions. We’ve always gotten our prescriptions filled at Albertson’s. They had our patient records. So I either had to go to Ridley’s, which would require me to think, or I had to go to a new pharmacy, which would require me to think.

I delayed for two days before finally trundling myself into Ridley’s. They used their computers to fill my prescriptions with no trouble, but they put the pills into a green bottle instead of an orange one. I’m certain that there is no innate superiority in orange bottles as compared to green, but my instant reaction was to dislike it because it wasn’t familiar. I’ll get over it. And I’ll probably shop at Ridley’s now that I’ve been inside, and done the thinking, and discovered that it really isn’t all that different than it was.

So that was today’s adventure in exiting my comfort zone. Tomorrow I shall take myself to a symposium where I will talk to many people that I have never spoken to before and I will love every minute of it because symposiums are supposed to be full of new things. I just like my grocery stores to be familiar.

My LTUE Schedule

Looks like my statement that I had no events at LTUE was premature. There have been some schedule additions and shifts in the past weeks and I am now going to be part of 4 panel discussions. I’m very excited about all the panels I get to participate in. I may type up presentation notes after the panels are over. When I am not running panels, I’ll be running our table in the Dealer’s room. Hope to see you there!

Friday Feb 12, 9 AM
Paths to Publishing: When is traditional best and when should you choose an alternative.
This will be a fascinating discussion between people who have taken all sorts of publishing routes and who have been in the business for years.

Friday Feb 12 3 PM
Living with the Artist (writer): Functioning as support personnel to a creative person.
I’m really excited about this one. At the moment the only panelists are Dawn Wells and I, but we may shanghai some of the other artistic supporters we know. Since the topic of this panel is going to be my life focus for the next month as we drive the next Schlock book into print, I am very passionate about the topic. If nothing else come to hear us tell stories about our more-famous-than-we-are husbands.

Saturday Feb 13 3 PM
The Experience of writing a good blog
I’m glad I’ll get a chance to discuss blogging with these panelists. They are all excellent writers and I expect to learn a lot.

Saturday Feb 13 5 PM (2 hours)
Making a Living as an Artist
I remember when this panel first appeared at LTUE. It was about 12 of us in a room, so we just pulled the chairs into a circle and chatted. Last year it was 10 panelists in a packed room and there wasn’t enough time to talk about everything. So this time there will be two hours. The wealth of artistic experience on this panel is incredible. I recommend it to anyone who wants to pursue a creative career, not just to visual artists.

Life the Universe and Everything Symposium at BYU

The Life the Universe and Everything The Doc Smith Science Fiction and Fantasy Symposium is an annual event held on BYU campus in Provo UT. This year it will be held Feb 11-13. It is Free to attend. I highly recommend it to anyone who lives nearby and has an interest in genre fiction. I know most of the people who will be presenting and they are all highly skilled professionals who are happy to share what they’ve learned.

Howard and I will both be there for most of the symposium. Howard is on 9 panels, so there will be plenty of opportunities to hear him speak. You can check the schedule online for details. I wasn’t put on any panels this year, but I’ll still be around talking to people. I can’t stay away from such a large gathering of people with whom I love to hang out. Howard may drag me up to participate in the Making a Living as an Artist panel at 5 PM on Saturday, but that panel is already heavy with qualified people, so time will tell. I should note that most of the panel topics tend to serve as jumping off points for fascinating and nuance conversations about various subjects.

Come by and say hello.

My travels this year

It seems strange to me, but I have an “appearance schedule.” Really it amounts to a list of stuff I’m going to get to do this year. Take a look at the list and if you’re near one of the events, feel free to stop by and say hello.

At the end of this month I am going to go visit my parents in the California Bay Area. This trip is primarily for my Grandmother’s 90th birthday, but also for mine and my daughter’s as well.

Feb 11-13 LTUE the Science Fiction symposium on BYU campus in Provo UT. This is an excellent venue for any aspiring writers as it is filled with presentations and panel discussions about the process of writing and getting published. Best of all, it is completely free. Both Howard and I will be presenting along with a host of other amazing professional creators. This one is well worth your time.

April 30 – May 2 Penguicon in Troy, Michigan. This is a geeky convention which combines science fiction, fantasy, and computer programming. I really want to come and the only reason I can’t state my attendance as certain is because I have not yet arranged with relatives to take the kids.

May 28 – 30 Conduit in Salt Lake City. I’ll be attending this event solo because Howard will be off at Balticon. It is a solid convention with an incredible pool of proffessionals who will be giving presentations. I’ll probably be on a panel or two, but I’m not sure yet when or what they will be.

June a family vacation.

August 5 – 8 GenCon Indianapolis. Howard and I intend to run a booth along with Tracy Hickman. It should be a crazy/busy time. I’ll have a pair of my kids along for the adventure. We’re all looking forward to it.

And that is probably more than enough for one year. Howard has further events in September and November, but I’ll be waving him off and staying home.