I’ve been doing some odd-job writing lately, like a handbook for our homeschooling co-op. I jumped at the chance to write it. The looks I received made me wonder if I had fuzzy antennae on my head. I did, so I took them off. Still, it occurred to me that writing a mission statement, requirements, and policies aren’t something most people like to do. So, I asked myself the question, “Why did I want to write this handbook?”
The diplomatic answer? I like details and structure. I was a receptionist for an architect/engineering firm when I was 19. It was okay, but I wanted to do more than answer the phone and greet people. So, they let me type up specs. I loved typing up the specs! Requirements down to 1/64 of an inch? How wonderful!
The real answer? I’m bossy, and writing a handbook is being bossy on paper. Have you ever read a student or an employee handbook and wondered about the writers of that handbook? Mostly, I’ve just wondered how they missed those typos. Now that I’m in the writer’s seat, I wonder if they rub their hands together and laugh maniacally while they work. I do. Mwahahahaha!
On the down side, guess who gets blamed when the handbook doesn’t fit the situation? 😦 Ah, the pitfalls of dictating policy. *sigh*
People jostled against her as they passed. The music from half a dozen different bands engulfed her. She felt smaller than ever. Smaller—and more vulnerable.
The groups of people on the street were too loud, too large. What had, moments before, seemed a good-humored crowd of San Franciscans enjoying a weekend street fair now seemed a threatening mob. A man stumbled against her, and Violet gasped as if the contact had been an assault. I’m lost, she thought in sudden panic.
Violet Jackstone’s fear really gripped me as I read it. I’ve felt this way before… and I wasn’t lost. I’ve felt like this in a store or at a party. I deal with social anxiety. I don’t do well in groups of people, and the more they invade my personal space, the more unresponsive I become. Confronting so many in one setting overwhelms my natural tendency to want to get close and know what makes a person special. So I clam up. I don’t respond readily when someone addresses me. During one of these overload moments, I trip over the simplest conversations. It’s like my brain has hives.
I’ve been treating my anxiety for six months now, hoping I can learn to be more responsive. Now I’m more relaxed, and that seems to bring more opportunities into my life, more interaction, more—I hate to say it—drama. I was oblivious to a lot of it before. Is it insane that I kinda miss being oblivious? It was so much easier! Now I’m learning how to respond patiently to drama.
So I’m not the anxious introvert anymore. But I’m still an introvert! I’m pleased that being myself in groups is easier, but part of being myself means stepping out of the crowd and taking a breather. I’m not unhappy with being an introvert, I’m unhappy with the pressure put on me to react like an extrovert. It affects me when I am perceived as cold or dismissive, or undemonstrative, when I’m oftentimes trying to give the space I would want someone to give to me.
In the book PaperQuake, Kathryn Reiss writes about thinking laterally, connecting the dots in a different configuration than the conclusions we jump to. She isn’t discussing human interaction, but I think it’s great thought to carry over. It means giving each person the benefit of the doubt. I shouldn’t interpret someone’s actions according to my experiences or my personality. I want to make thoughtful decisions about how I relate to those I love and am learning to love more deeply. Then the crowd stops being a crowd and becomes a great big family.
The title is deceptive because I’m doing no such thing. Like everyone else who begins the summer thinking it’s actually going to be a ‘break,’ I’m being swiftly disillusioned by the hectic, flyby nature of July. So much to do, so little motivation. 🙂 I’ll be brief about a couple of things I learned last week so you, too, can get back to running around like a chicken with your head cut off.
Remember that teensy-weensy rant I made about the bats with white-nose syndrome? Well, I retract the harsh words I used. Okay, I didn’t use any harsh words; and I didn’t rant on the bats but, rather, the practice of erecting metal gates to keep people out of the caves.
Last Monday, my family and I were at the mouth of Sauta (a.k.a. Blowing Wind) Cave at dusk to watch the exit of the largest known summer population of gray bats in the Southeast. While we waited for the sun to go down, our guide discussed what the endangered gray bats would face should white-nose syndrome be introduced into their colonies. The illness spreads rapidly with a bat mortality rate of 95%. Ninety-five percent! The first cases of WNS were documented in New York, and the steel bars at cave entrances are the only means researchers have come up with to hamper the spread of white-nose syndrome in various bat species. No one seems to have a clue how to manage the illness or the bats that contract WNS.
Can you tell I’m feeling a little more forgiving about the barriers that keep me out of the caves now? Amazing what a little knowledge can do. One more thing I learned about bats: It is not their natural practice to swoop out of a cave en masse. That’s only if you scare them. They stagger their exits, circling around for a bit and winging away. At least the gray bats do.
Now, on the 4th I learned that if I allow my son to attempt to steer me down a small river in a kayak, there is an 100% possibility that the kayak will flip over; and I will come close to losing my sandals, my lunch bag, and the oars. And there’s the same probability that I will shriek and thrash around like the crazy woman I am for a good ten minutes before I realize, yes, I can stand up in the water.
Point 2: It happened. I had a whole week on my own…where I did everything but sit down and write. Go figure.
Point 3: June 30th was my deadline for finishing Dragonfly Prince. Well, I edited like a madwoman, chopping out chunks and chunks. I had to keep a document open to paste what I cut out because I knew I was going crazy, but it was the good sort of crazy. The ending became more succinct and action-packed because of it.
But did I finish it? I did. I did it! No lie: it was down to the wire, though. On Saturday, June 29th, I completed the last ten pages, cleaned up the paragraphs and phrases trailing at the end, and printed it all out…452 pages.
Now I’m reading the physical copy and making touch-ups. As I’m reading it, I keep thinking, How cool is this story? Then I question, Why I’m being so conceited? Is it really that good? And then I giggle to myself, answering, Yeah! It is! And the fact that I’m answering my own questions makes my opinion altogether suspect. 😛
My next goal? (So glad you asked.) Finish the touch-ups and hunt for a beta/critique partner. Any takers?
Point 4: My baby sister is married. I’m still reeling over that statement. It was a wonderful, wonderful ceremony and reception. The highlight of the wedding was an awesome TARDIS groom’s cake made by Kristen of Home Slice Cakes. It was other-worldly. I’m serious. The cake part was melt-in-your-mouth fudge-y chocolate with thick layers of rich fudge frosting. And there was no fondant involved in its creation. All buttercream artistry. Talk about true cake decorating genius. I was enraptured. I ate five pieces in the week I was home. (That’s ‘pieces’ and not servings.) So…one of my goals for July is to do more cardio and cut out the sweets. Otherwise, I’m going to be exploring more dimensions than Doctor Who.
Point 5: Did you enjoy going with me on my research trip for Book 2 last month? I hope it was a pleasant experience. I’ve noticed a good amount of blog friends are taking a break from posting over the summer. I completely understand. I’ve thought about doing it myself, but I think I need the accountability right now. Since I plan to place my book on many agents’ virtual desks this fall, I’m intent on keeping to my posting schedule each month—to the best of my ability. So, expect updates on Wednesdays. I’m still here…writing, reading, and commenting.
(Point 6 is missing. 😦 Hopefully, I’ll be able to tell you more about it later.)
P.S. The newlyweds actually called home during their honeymoon to request someone freeze some TARDIS cake for them—you know, like that top layer of the wedding cake? Request denied. The TARDIS will have no foreseeable future visits.