28 June 2011

Waiting for Friday

Why can't I wait til Friday? Simple. It's the beginning of July and the start of Camp NaNoWriMo, a summer challenge to write a novel manuscript of 50,000 words in thirty days. NaNoWriMo traditionally takes place in November and has been going since 1999. Now, with Camp NaNoWriMo, participants have the option to turn any month into a writing month. This year, I'll be participating in July.

My NaNo record over five years of participating is 22k last November. I'm still very proud of that, but it's time to top my record. I already have a fantastic idea that I'm itching to start. Until Thursday, I will work on developing my characters and making a list of possible plot twists to incorporate when the story begins to lag. I feel that a NaNoWriMo in July will better fit my schedule this summer. I know my schedule fairly precisely and can easily carve a couple hours per day for writing before work claims me. In August, after my internship, my schedule will be more up in the air and November has never been the best month for me. There's always a play in the first two weeks and studying for finals is a must in the last week, then there's the holiday.

Scheduling conflicts aside, the whole idea of NaNoWriMo works well for me. With a strict deadline (30 days) and a set goal (50k) I don't have time to fret over tiny details or go crazy with editing when I'm still in the middle of telling the story. Who knows? Maybe this year will be my year. I've placed a widget on the sidebar to track my novelling progress.

I have heard a lot of criticism about NaNoWriMo, people arguing that writing must be focused on quality rather than sheer quantity. My personal philosophy is that there will be no quality without quantity. If there's not something there initially, there can be no judge one way or the other if it is quality.

Anyone interested in taking up a fun, crazy novel writing challenge, either in summer or in November, check out http://www.nanowrimo.org for more information.

27 June 2011

Internship - Good Things

I'm over halfway through this eight week internship and things are going well. It feels great to have confidence at work and to have that show for others as well. Some good things that have happened:

The directors of both shows know my name as do all the actors. The only people who call me my first name are front of house staff.

The actors thank the technicians most nights as they are leaving and we're cleaning up. Most of them thank us by name.

The tech director said I was one of the best interns they've had running the sound effects.

I can now carry the big, heavy backstage speakers down to the bunker without having to set them down and catch my breath.

I've been allowed to do several small jobs not directly associated with the position I'm there to fill.

The last piece of good news isn't really work related, though that is where it happened. I was up at the booth, helping out with another small not-related-to-my-position type job. After that was done, I jogged to the bunker to help mic actors. When the actors came down for their mics, one of the actresses I was miking commented that she'd seen me. When she told me she'd seen me and that I had a wonderful, smooth gait. I'm sure I beamed as I thanked her, told her I was flattered, and then told her I was trying hard to start running regularly. She then turned to another actress and said "you were right, she is a runner!"

Oh, sweet sweet justification, how I love it. Hearing those words, hearing myself described by a complete stranger as a runner, made my night. That little bit of non-work-related comment is probably one of the best things that's happened out here.

14 June 2011

Love that new blog smell

Hello there, readers! I see you've found your way to my new blog and, hopefully, you'll be following me over here soon. I can already hear you asking: why the change? And why so much blue?

The blue is easy to explain. It takes me ages to find pre-made templates that I like and even longer to get them installed. rather than spend a day on that headache, I used the template designer and I like the color blue.

The change to a new blog is something I've been batting around for a while now. I feel like this idea has been sitting on the back burner and only made itself known yesterday, but it's always bugged me that my url and blog name never matched. Besides that, the old url is a saying I thought of at the last minute when initially signing up for the blog. In truth, that lovely little tech theater pun doesn't really fit me anymore.

I've spent a lot of time these past six months in self-discovery, most of it unplanned, but all of it welcome and needed. Because I'm learning more about myself and becoming aware of who I am, what my future goals are, etc. I'm working to reflect those goals and changes in my personal life. After all, what's the point of gaining new insight if you don't somehow use it or let it change you? This blog, hopefully, will be a way for me to reflect and act on some of the changes I've been trying to carry out.

Other than that lovely bit of existentialism... I guess I got bored. My hair is already dyed bright red and I haven't got the money for any new piercings or tattoos. Something had to change. ;)

I'm already looking forward to this change, honestly. I think it will help me in a lot of different ways. If nothing else, it may get me blogging more. More blogging leads to more followers and, even more important for me, it means I'm writing on a more regular basis. Everybody wish me luck. I hope this change isn't too hard on any of my current followers. Have a great day!

10 June 2011

Fantasy can't last forever

Today, I'd like to write about a personal pet peeve of mine - one that I've encountered far too often. Worse yet, I've almost volunteered to run into it as often as I do as a result of the circles I choose to run in...but I'm getting ahead of myself. I am, as I feel I've said many times before, a writer. I am also a theater student and a role-player. While a good dungeon crawling session is always fun and something I've been away from far too long, most of my role-play fix comes in the form of PBP (play-by-post) forums.

An explanation, for those who may not understand: These usually take place on message boards/forums where each member writes for a different character. Everyone works together, writing through the eyes of their characters, to tell the same story. It is, in essence, communal story-telling and has been likened to a group of people, all writing the same novel. Each person brings their character and their own personal writing style to it; in the end, hopefully, you have a coherent, cohesive story. Of course, I can't say I've ever witnessed a PBP site reach an official end, perhaps because the characters always have more stories to tell.

All in all, PBP is my very favorite form of RP. It's a writing exercise, after all. By varying things like character types and background, a wealth of possible characterization is available for anyone to tap into. However, there are some who tap into it too much.

I can't stand it when the only thing people do is role-play, no matter what form it takes. Escapism is amazing and can be a wonderful break, but there are some out there who seem to forget about their real world responsibilities. Addictive personalities, perhaps? I've always wondered. In the past, even I have been guilty of this crime, spending a whole day working on a character application, trying to get inside their heads, but I have my limits. When the characters I'm writing for get to be too much, I'll get away from the computer, maybe go for a walk or a run. I'll read a book, something that has nothing to do with whatever universe my characters came from. After a few hours or days in the real world, I go back to the characters and find them fresher and easier to write for.

Excess, in anything, can be harmful to self and to others. I was once friends with someone and broke it off because all they ever discussed was our role-play characters. Frankly, it got to be exhausting. With no opportunity to distance myself from the character I was writing, the fun went out of it and the character was abandoned. I still role-play on various forums, including one I have been a member of since it's inception six years ago. I love it as much as I did when I first discovered role-playing over ten years ago. However, I urge my fellow RPers to take a step back every now and then.

There's a real world out there too. Remember to live in it and visit the others, not the other way around.

05 June 2011

Gone Running

It's time to go. My mind kicks into gear with no hesitation, but my body must be coaxed. I stretch, slowly, letting each muscle tense and lengthen. Muscles too tense, I've forgotten to breathe. As the air wooshes from my lungs, the stretch becomes easier. I can reach farther, curl in a few degrees more. Slowly, my muscles begin to revel in it, to cooperate and move as I want them to. Endorphines are flowing as my blood pumps. Another stretch, focusing on the muscles that always seem to seize up on me - my hamstrings, my sides. I check my laces once more and reach for my water bottle. Another drink, checking that at least eight ounces worth are in my system, and I'm outside.

Nature greets me in one form or another. The sun beats down; I put my shades over my glasses - no need to squint and tense up my facial muscles. The breeze runs past with all the care of a laughing child. I start walking at my normal pace until I reach the spot I've chosen. The cell phone comes out, the timer set for two minutes. I take a moment to survey my domain. Even if I'm in unfamiliar territoy, as I am now, this is something I know. Even if my feet have never before disturbed this ground, I feel it instinctively. This is where I will run. I push a button, my feet moving a second before the countdown starts.

My breathing comes easy, moving with the rhythm of my feet. Four count inhale, four count exhale. Before the two minutes are up, of course, this is completely shot. All I can do is keep my feet moving in time, my arms moving, eyes on the road. No need to look at the timer. When it beeps, I turn it off, drinking in air through burning lungs. My thumb taps a button, re-starting the countdown, as my brain forces my feet to move. This is a walk, a two minute cool down. Through most of it, I pant and gasp, trying to get my breathing back, slow in and out, through my nose. Yeah, right. Too soon, the beep sounds again. Inwardly, I groan. Just a little more walking. Thirty seconds or another minute, just until my breathing evens out.

My discipline won't let me. I tap the button again, feet moving in the same rhythm, seeming stilted and awkward. My run seems, to me, more like a hybrid of a jog and the desperate last minute sprint of the dead tired. Minute three of running passes a little easier than minute one. I hardly notice minute four, determined as ever not to look at the timer. The times I do cheat, I am proud of myself. The mantras for these cheats are one of two. "Only a minute left. You've done one, so do another." "Thirty seconds. If you reach that landmark, that sign, that tree, before the alarm, you can stop." It's all a mind game, of course. The landmark I've picked is too far ahead or so close I know I'll breeze past it and keep going.

More walking. I check my heart rate as I walk, eyes now glued to the timer as I count beats in my head. My pulse seems to be everywhere, my blood humming. I hear the echoing dull thud in my ears. I feel the beat in my shoulders, my legs tingling, aching in a positive way. Even my scalp seems to pulse with the beat of my heart. I count. One, two, three, four. My heart rate is up, where it needs to be. Another minute of walking, four total now excluding the journey to my running space. The next, I know, will be the worst. As always, I hear the beep.

 Why did I ever decide to do this? I push the button, my legs sluggish, objecting as I push forward. Minute five is the best part of my run - for about the first thirty seconds. I feel great, I'm getting fit, I'm doing something I love. All these thoughts are derailed as my focus rapidly shifts to oxygen. My whole world is the breath moving in and out of my lungs, moving too fast, giving no nourishment I can detect. There is very little feeling of relief tied to any inhale right now. It is an automatic thing, something I have to do in the same way my feet have to keep eating up the pavement.

This is the halfway point, my personal mile 20, my wall. Rhythm is gone now. There is no form to the run in my head, no feeling of my muscles working together, my body a well-oiled machine. I gasp and pant and will my feel to keep going. If I reach a hill, I feel the weight pulling at my feet, my legs. I want to slow down, to walk up the cursed incline. I want to lean forward to ease the gentle pull that feels like I'm moving through water. As always, I don't let myself. I count each foot strike, working on the most basic of the human body's actions. Breathe in. Breathe out. Keep moving your feet. One, two, three, four. Minute six seems as if it will never end, but it does. The beep sounds. This time, I come to a dead stop.

I lean over, still gasping, wondering how the hell I must look standing here, hands on knees, breathing too hard to talk. I can't swallow the saliva that has gathered in my mouth, as if my throat no longer works. I spit, just trying to get the collected moisture out of my mouth. Sweat has started. Another breeze comes by, just when I need it most. I start to walk.

My feet are sluggish and feel clumsy. Though there is no muscle ache in my legs, I don't want to move another step. One foot in front of the other. I plod now, breathing in harsh pants, pulling the air in with all the speed I can muster. I breathe through the stitch in my side, knowing that is the only way to work it out. Again, the beep. Again, the running. Minute seven is nearly as bad as minutes five and six. Minute eight is a completely different story. I've passed the wall. I find my rhythm again, or some shadow of it. Air is what it was when I started almost fifteen minutes ago, something that comes easily, in more generous amounts. I've passed the wall and run eight minutes. I walk, wishing, as I did in my walking minute four, that I could just keep running. That feeling, in minute eight, is why I run. In minute eight, minute nine, minute ten, I am invincible. In this time, I truly feel like a runner.

I toy with the idea of running another two minutes. No. Not yet. I know I need to quit while I'm riding the high; quitting a workout while I feel miserable could make me quit altogether. I head home, walking, taking my time, still pulling hard breaths, but I don't care. At home, I'm careful. I stretch, loving the way sweat covers me like a thin second skin. These stretches are slower, cool down stretches. I mentally tabulate the way each muscle feels, the way it moves. Is anything too tight? Did anything pull or hyper extend? Is there any pain?

I find water, careful not to drink it too fast, careful not to stand too close to the fan. Cooling down too quickly seems like a bad idea; my mind rebels against the idea of hopping in the tub immediately after a run or even of sitting down right after. Rather than read or research, I trust my body. My body says cooling down too fast is dangerous as wearing sandals in long grass when you know a snake is there. I take my time, walking, not settling anywhere. My pacing makes others edgy at times, but right now, I don't care. I listen to my body.

I'm home a good ten minutes before I dare to look in the mirror. The sweat is still a sheen on my arms and legs as I move to the mirror. Secretly, I dread the day I come in from a run and find my face bone pale instead of red. That would mean a drop in sugar levels. I can't afford that. Of course, my face is pink, as always. Pink, I can live with. It means I've exherted myself, but in a good way. I've taken care of my body's needs without putting any kind of a toll on myself. My hair is wild, sweaty, my eyes glowing with pride. In the mirror, I smile.

No matter my pace, no matter my rythym, my pink face and the sweat on my skin are a confirmation I find myself needing. Rhythym will come later. Breathing easily will come later. Speed and endurance will come later. I've taken the first steps. I feel great and am ready to face the rest of my day. I am a runner.

02 June 2011

Summer in Dallas

No, I'm not on a glamorous vacation. I got a call, very unexpectedly, last Wednesday, telling me that I was needed at Dallas' Shakespeare in the Park. Translation: I got my theater internship. This means I will graduate on time!

After some mad rush packing, Mom and I drove up to Dallas. She catches a flight out of D/FW tomorrow, more details about the trip coming on her blog. I've spent the past week working up at the theater and have loved it. I'm the sound intern, also known as the E3. It will be my job, during the run of the show, to cue up the programmed sound effects when they are needed. For now, I view myself as just another techie.

Tech work is the thing I love most about theater. Wires and cables, screws and nails, tie line and wood, I'll work with most any material and do most any job. So far, I've hung speakers, ran wires, built and positioned 20 and 30 foot steel towers to hang lights from, cleaned mics, and untangled more cable than I'd care to remember. It's all been a lot of fun. I'm keeping hydrated (it's an outdoor theater), eating well, and even gaining some muscle from helping lug around heavy equipment. My internship is supposed to end about a month before the fall semester starts; maybe I can keep whatever weight, muscle, etc. I develop out here. Fingers crossed!