Blog Domain Update

30 01 2012

Just a note – I updated my blog to If you’ve previously subbed to, you are no longer subbed – that’s a glitch in the domain-updating process.

If you’d still like to get notices when I post, you’ll have to re-sub. Sorry for the headache, but hey, better late than never! I ❤ my followers!



Beethoven, Julia, and creativity

29 01 2012

By Julia Indigo/@juliaindigo

Those of you who know me from twitter may have figured out that my day job is actually a night job. A weekend night job. A job that has me working while the rest of the world is playing.

I play in a professional symphony orchestra, a job that I have held for over thirty (gulp!) years. It’s fun, it’s horrifyingly awful, there are moments of great beauty, and moments where you want to either 1) scratch someone’s eyes out, or 2) scratch your own eyes out. In my experience, this work has a larger helping of ups and downs than many other lines of work. But that’s not what I want to write about today. I want to write about an epiphany that I had last night during the concert.

This week was Beethoven, his Symphonies 6 and 7, to be precise. If you ever saw the original Fantasia you may remember the centaur scenes, which were set to Symphony 6. And here is the Finale of Symphony 7 (which is much more of a Baccanale than the Scherzo of Symphony 6, no matter what Disney thought!)

I was listening and waiting for my next entrance when something occurred to me: Here I was, sitting with 70 of my colleagues, playing one of the absolute masterpieces of Western Music, a piece that scandalized the audience at its first hearing, and continues to surprise and delight generation after generation of music lovers. But what if Beethoven had not believed in himself? What if he hadn’t shouldered his way through learning his craft? What if he had listened to his critics? What if he had succumbed to his deafness, which was profound by the time he wrote these two symphonies? What would the history of Western Music have been without this towering compositional Master?

In a word: unrecognizable to those of us lucky enough to have lived in this world, where Beethoven slaved over his compositions until every note was perfect. (Get a load of the pic!)

In the same manner, what is literature without Shakespeare?

Or Horror without Stephen King?

Or Forensic Murder Mystery without Patricia Cornwell?

(Or Fantasy Eocene Illicit Romance Among Great Big Lizards With Feathers without Julia Indigo…)

Yeah, right. But you get where I’m going? At any time, in any place, the people you idolize for their creativity, whether a Beethoven, or a Brahms, or a Shakespeare, could have called it quits… and the world would have become a colder and less friendly place in consequence.

Last night, as I waited for my next cue, I realized what being a writer means to me. It means standing on the shoulders of every human being who has ever put pen to paper, or brush to canvas, or chisel to marble, or sugar and butter and soft white flour to cookie sheet; standing among this mass of The Creatives, the humans who have striven against the odds of their times, to birth something that the world has never before seen.

I have found my tribe.

Jan 25: My last Row80 update this round

25 01 2012

Yesterday I spent a couple hours getting Scrivener up to date with my WIP (work in progress). I’m dying laughing at my four parts, tentatively titled:

Part I: What are these things? (Large, rather intelligent proto-birds, that’s what!)
Part II Things get complicated (Guess who’s coming to dinner – and bringing his temper along.)
Part III Things get completely fubar (Ooooh. You’re so pretty! Never mind you’re married to Anger Guy…)
Part IV Everybody DIES!! (self-explanatory)

I don’t know that Part IV will actually result in the death of the whole lot, but those two words send me into gales of laughter.

Scrivener is TEH AWESOME, as they say – and now even you PC-heads can use it, as it’s available for Windows. If there’s anything that can put a smile on my face today, it’s playing with my WIP in Scrivener.

When it comes to Row80, I am a complete failure. Perhaps it’s Seasonal Affective Disorder or something – as I’m not capable of following through on these goals right now. It’s not me, per se, it’s the time of year. Considering that I wrote 50k words in 30 days just a few months ago, when I was every bit as busy as I am now, indicates that I have what it takes to do this.

But it just isn’t happening this time, and discretion is the better part of valor, so I’m calling it quits. Yes, I will continue writing, reading, blogging, walking, and playing with the dog. And I can definitely see myself attempting this again in the future! But right now? It’s a no go.

Have fun, y’all. Keep the faith! See you in April!

January 22, 2012 Row80 check in

22 01 2012

From a Row80 perspective, this week was a total failure, except for one thing: I walked every single day, between twenty and forty-five minutes. I had a houseguest who will be staying with me several more times in the next few months. She is a dear friend, and we had a blast: cooking, chatting, walking the dog… think ‘pajama party’. Big fun.

I’ve also been dealing with some health issues, and had no energy to do anything that wasn’t required. So writing went right out the window. So did Dvorak, Twitter, Facebook, you name it, I didn’t do it. I didn’t even make the mid-week Row80 check in! I worked, had fun with my friend, and slept.

I’m absolutely fine with the above, because I realized that if I don’t simplify, I’m not going to see my fifty-fifth birthday. My life resembles the variety show act where the guy has fifteen plates spinning in the air. You just know that they are going to come crashing down… but then they don’t, because the guy knows how to keep them spinning. Or they do, and you get a sheepish smile from him.

Though I don’t know what to release from my life just now, I did learn a thing or two during the week.

1. Stretching + relaxing on the floor, flat on my back with knees bent, feet on floor + deep breathing can completely change my mood, and remove any vestige of anxiety that I might be feeling.

2. Even if I don’t manage to accomplish a lot, getting started on tasks that have to be done (think ‘work on finances’) also completely changes my mood, for the better.

3. There is nothing funnier than my dog when she’s begging. I taught her that she has to be sitting in order to get a treat, so when she begs she walks up to you and then plants her behind on the floor, looking up hopefully. And if you don’t respond, she’ll take a couple of steps and plant that butt again, as though to say, “Hey! I’m SITTING!!! Gimme a treat!”

4. Even though I’m a nervous wreck before a concert, nothing is more fun than Beethoven.


Belated row80 update

16 01 2012

Yesterday was a wash, so here’s my belated row80 update!

Writing: I managed about 1600 words or so yesterday, which is all I wrote since the last update. At this rate, I’ll complete my 40k to finish the novel in October… which is several months after my ‘end of this row80 round’ goal. There are several reasons for this. I’m still using the Dvorak keyboard, and it’s a trial, though it’s getting faster. Right now I’m writing using QWERTY, and flying through the writing. :\

The second reason for my slow writing is that I’ve been distracted, and the book is mucked up in ‘omg I need to sit down and do some #amplotting’ mode. So though I want to write, I’m disheartened with the novel right now. When I sit down to plot, I’m lost. I have subplots that have sunk below sea level, and every one of my chapters needs fleshing out. The first 50k were written in 2011’s NaNoWriMo, and read like it. However, I do like the story, and I think that it has merit. There are twists and turns that will keep pages turning.

I did manage a blogpost last week that I liked, and am having fun on twitter. I have an open tab on the iMac to Kristen Lamb’s ‘Twitter Tuesday‘ category, and am putting into practice many of her suggestions.

I have been successful with my walking goals, and have put in 20+ minutes most every day.

I am going to set aside the rest of today for some #amplotting. Time to get out the notecards and Just Do It. I have another day off tomorrow, and I will get to 3k words by 11:59 pm CST 1/17/12!

Have a great day, and keep on #amwriting!

1/11/12 #Row80 update

11 01 2012

I have been up to my eyeballs the past several days, so this will be brief.

1 – I will use the Dvorak keyboard layout exclusively by February.

Yes and no. I’ve been back and forth between Dvorak and QWERTY, doing most of my writing in the latter. But I am getting faster with Dvorak… but I’m not going to make my deadline at this rate, and I’m not sure if that’s important or not.

2 – I will finish the first draft of my current WIP, likely getting it to 80-90k words…That equals 500-750 words/day, not counting worldbuilding.

Ahem. Real Life has intervened, and I’m seriously off track. Between “cedar fever” and my work schedule I have had absolutely no energy for any writing. But I have spent a lot of time worldbuilding, which counts!

3 – I will blog at least 1x/week, plus two Row80 check-ins, and post one book review/month.

I’m on track with this, thank heavens! Oh dear… I forgot about the book review! 😮

4 – I will be on twitter 6 days/week, 2x/day, to continue building my network, and FB as I remember to do it.

I’ve managed this, as well.

5 – I will allow myself to work on my other book if the spirit moves me.

The spirit has not moved me!

So, there you have it. Nothing fancy this time. See you Saturday!


Inventing a Religion

10 01 2012

My Writing Process™ strongly tends towards the free-form and whimsical. (God, is that the worst sentence I’ve ever written or what? LOL! I’m LEAVING it.)

Here’s a ‘for instance’ for your edification. The other day I was thinking about Naweetan, one of the Umgonnan characters in my Nanowrimo fantasy book. He is a warrior/defender/career military guy… single, in mid-life, childless. He becomes a pivotal character in the book when he falls in love. I was in the shower, thinking about his motivations.

“Whirling Dervish”, said the muse.

“What the heck? Whirling dervish?”

I have no idea where that came from, but I’m willing to consider it. Umgonnan are dragon-like proto-birds, living 55 million years ago, some 10 million years after the Cretaceous extinction which wiped out their cousins, the dinosaurs, and they fly, so ‘whirling’ makes some sense. I’m soaping up my hair, thinking about Umgonnan religion.

I’d been mulling over Umgonnan religion for a while. At this time their major religion is rather Taoist, something to help these newly-sentient beings remain rooted in their natural world. There is a ‘goddess’ of sorts, who may be a ‘demon’ of sorts to other Umgonnan tribes, but I’m not married to that thought yet. I hadn’t considered that there could be another religion, which could be completely different.

My musings led me to Mithraism and the worship of Mithras (I thought that he was worshipped by military men only, the link doesn’t confirm that). I started wondering about some kind of officially-forbidden military cult worship that Naweetan would be involved in. It would not resemble Mithraism at all, except that it would be a cult for military men only.

At that notion, I happily jumped into writing a nighttime scene around this, and it failed miserably, a waste of time. Actually, not a waste of time, because I figured out that I needed more background before I could write anything about his religion.

So tonight my meditation is this:

What needs would a Umgonnan Defender have? And…

How could a spirituality/religion meet these needs?

Umgonnan fight using three weapons – teeth, claws, and breathing fire – they have no spears/shields/arrows. So any battles would likely be fought tactically, avoiding clashing armies, because hand-to-hand fighting would result in severe injuries and death… and none of the Umgonnan tribes are heavily populated. However, his people’s sworn enemies, the Rodannerra Umgonnan, are primitive by comparison, and more likely to go all ‘Brave Heart’ on the Udunoa (Naweetan’s people).

That suggests that rituals/spells for protection, for concealment, for confusing the enemy would be useful. Perhaps veneration of a militarily talented ancestor, invoking his/her help. Even some sort of ritualized cannibalism – eating the heart or brain (why am I thinking entrails? Must be important!) – which could account for the religion being banned. Then there’s also the Whirling Dervish meme – perhaps some kind of ritual practice that puts the warrior into an altered state before going into battle? Which gives him access to telepathic communication with the fore-mentioned ancestor?

I like most of the above – nice to add meat to the story  – a source of conflict between Naweetan and his lady-love… and his boss, the Qingann (Qi is pronounced ‘Chi’, as in Pinyin. Why? Because I like it that way!). Tomorrow I’ll break out the notecards and plot!

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