katernater: (misc • (shakespeare))
Just a quick update to let everyone know I'm on term break, not dead. I spent last weekend with Tim in Muncie, then came back home to Fort Wayne on Sunday evening. I've made some progress on my NaNo project this week, which was kind of a big shocker, because I usually just say I'm going to work on something like that and end up watching back-to-back documentaries about giant jellyfish instead. But no! Real progress! I admit that I'm kind of daunted by the idea of actually starting to write this thing, though. I'm pretty sure I'm not going to be able to finish by the November 31 deadline. To be honest, I'm just going to be glad to start the project. NaNo just gives me an excuse to pretend I'll stick to deadlines.

Today I am going to hang out with my dog and read Game of Thrones.

I am also going to try to watch Third Star without crying so much that I throw up.
katernater: (movie • (tech))
My shoulder is nearly back to normal, thank god. It was a rough weekend. I thought I was doing better on Saturday but midway through the evening I turned my head a particular way and felt something pop again; I managed to drive to the store to pick up a heating pad and a bottle of extra strength pain reliever. I've been doing a series of stretches with it every morning and every night before I go to sleep and I've pretty much decided that I've not torn anything. Not irreparably, anyway. It seems to get better the more I use it, and the only time that it really gives me any grief is when I wake up in the morning. In any event I skipped yoga on Saturday and gave myself another day off from the gym today. I might go back for Zumba tomorrow, depending on how it feels. At this point, I'm so relieved it's not as bad as it was on Saturday. My mom was worried I'd torn a rotator cuff, which freaked me out a little because she's a nurse and I'm nowhere near as cognizant of how my body works as I should be. And because our conversations about the injury almost always devolved into her thinking that I might have permanently crippled myself and me imagining my future as a one-armed panhandler who sells picture post cards and flattens pennies between her back molars for tips.

Panhandling future averted. For now.

I'm making slow but steady progress on The Transformation of Things. The details of the story change in my head from day to day but I have a pretty good idea of the overall plot, and think I will be ready to start outlining in the next couple of weeks. What really lets me know I'm on the right track is the fact I've set up an iTunes playlist and have started adding songs to it that I think fit the mood/characters of the novel. So far there's a lot of Muse, Pulp, and Michael Giacchino on there. And this stage of the writing process is my favourite, because it's the beginning and you're generally optimistic about everything and every idea is a good idea. It's like going to the grocery store when you haven't eaten anything; everything looks and sounds good and you must have it all.

I think I'm going to continue my trend of retiring a bit early with an episode of The West Wing and a book. I'm about halfway though Anno Dracula and President Bartlet just creamed Governor Ritchie in the presidential debate. If this show had corporeal form, I'd marry it.
katernater: (misc • (books))
Photobucket

200 years into the future, medical science has progressed to the point where dreams are no longer necessary for healthy human brain activity. Sleep cycles have been reduced to three or four hours a night, with no perceivable adverse effect. For the nostalgic, however, the escape of dreams is something that can be achieved -- for a price. The ultra-rich may purchase "dream furloughs" -- periods of intense REM sleep that may last between twenty-four hours and six months -- that give them an opportunity to act out their wildest, deepest fantasies and desires, all without fear of consequences. When they awaken, they return to their normal lives.

The Dreamers are looked after by Cogzants: members of the working class who, themselves, have no hope of ever dreaming. Dreams are big business and it is the responsibility of the Cogzants to safeguard the minds and bodies of their Dreamers while they slumber. For Elliot, a young Cogzant working in the heart of the metropolis, things are not so simple. He has fallen in love with his Dreamer and has found a way to share her dreams. As their subconscious relationship deepens, Elliot discovers that his actions may have far-reaching consequences beyond the world of the dream. In a desperate race to evade capture and save the woman he loves, Elliot will plunge into the heart of a nightmare that could change the very definition of human consciousness.



So, there it is. My novel idea. This is what I will be working on for the next few months, until the writing start date in November. I'm really excited about this. I've already started to assemble a cast list in my head (Cillian Murphy is an early frontrunner for the role of Elliot) and I'm having a great deal of fun looking into the history of dream research. The (tentative) title comes from the Zhuangzi, a Taoist work from the 8th century:


'Once Zhuangzi dreamt he was a butterfly, a butterfly flitting and fluttering around, happy with himself and doing as he pleased. He didn't know he was Zhuangzi. Suddenly he woke up and there he was, solid and unmistakable Zhuangzi. But he didn't know if he was Zhuangzi who had dreamt he was a butterfly, or a butterfly dreaming he was Zhuangzi. Between Zhuangzi and a butterfly there must be some distinction! This is called the Transformation of Things.'


Because if I'm not hitting you over the head with symbolism, I'm not doing my job as an author.

I'm not sure where I am going to post updates about my NaNo project. I would post them here, of course, but given LJ's track record lately I'm reluctant to start storing things and then have to deal with the fallout of losing them when the site crashes. I've got my bulletin board and in all likelihood I'll probably just throw everything onto a flash drive and make sure that I know where that flash drive is at all times.

Whew. It feels really good getting that synopsis up there. That might have been the hardest part of the process so far.
katernater: (doctor who • (tardis))
I had horrible insomnia last night. Which is weird, because at seven o'clock I was leaning on my arm while typing up student evaluations, literally a minute or two away from faceplanting into my laptop. I went to bed around ten thirty but couldn't fall asleep. I eventually got up and tried sleeping on the couch, like a change of venue was the problem. It wasn't. (FYI: If any of you ever get up here to visit me I'm not making you sleep on that couch; it's like a topographical map with a slipcover.) I went back to my bedroom and toughed it out and I guess I fell asleep around two or two thirty. The good thing about the whole thing was that the sleeplessness gave me a chance to think and I essentially reworked my whole NaNo concept for this year. I mean, to the point where I've scrapped my original idea entirely and gone in a wholly different direction -- right down to characters, setting, plot and time period. I decided that, to do justice to my original idea, I'd have to build a time machine out of used dishwasher parts, travel back to 1970s Britain and make friends with glam rockers. It's hard to explain. I could do it, but I feel like I actually need to live over in the U.K. before I start aping their slang and mannerisms, you know? So I'm putting that idea on the back burner and working to develop another project I've been kicking around in my head. It's kind of Philip K. Dick meets Inception meets the general tone of any Pink Floyd album. I'm going to start all over with the outlining process and, fingers crossed, I'll be ready to start writing at the beginning of November.

Work has been kind of stressful this week but it's the last week of the term and that's to be expected. I've been cheered up by my co-workers, though, and it's really great to have that kind of support system at the ready. It's also great to be around people who come from so many different backgrounds and levels of experience but who, at the same time, are a lot like me. My boss found out that I was a Doctor Who fan today and we spent, like, twenty minutes talking about which Doctor from the "classic" series was the best. My boss grew up with Four. I told him that I liked Two. We both agreed that Ten was awesome. I finally feel like I'm becoming part of that group. At the beginning it was a little hard for me to acclimate to my new job. I mean, everyone was terrific and very helpful, but there was still that stigma, like, "You're still a newbie and we're not completely comfortable with you yet." I feel like I'm starting to really make a place and an identity for myself. I feel more comfortable joking around and offering my honest opinion about things; generally when I'm new I like to keep my head down until I've earned the right to say something. After almost eight months I think I'm at the point where I can show a little bit more of my personality and weigh in on things.

I am really lucky to be where I am. It's stressful at times and I'm still not completely sure what I'm doing (and probably won't be completely sure for a long time), but I feel happy here. And, my gosh, you know when prospective teachers give you that line, like, "If I can help just one student learn something, that will be enough."? That's mostly bull. Teaching is a numbers game. A lot of the time, if students are just meeting the benchmark you're happy. If they get the concept and can prove that they can follow through with it, hallelujah. If more than half of the class can string a sentence together without too much trouble? You're doing pretty damn well. But I had one student in my writing class this term who struggled and really had to work on her skills. I worked with her one-on-one, got her additional help outside of class, and her skills really improved. She turned in an awesome research paper to me today. It was worlds better than her writing at the beginning of the term. I almost got choked up reading it. Seeing her succeed made my entire term. It was as close as I've come in my life to knowing what being a parent is like -- if being a parent involves long explanations about punctuation and subject-verb agreement.

It's still hot outside but I'm going to try to run anyway. I didn't run last night and that might have been part of the reason I couldn't sleep. Apparently I just need to exhaust myself to the point of collapsing if I want to get a decent eight hours.
katernater: (actress • (poehler))
Oh my gosh, have you ever had one of those naps that's, like, "Hello, I'm going to fix everything that was wrong about today that you totally didn't know about, so you're welcome"? I have gotten out of the habit of taking naps. It's my schedule, I'm sure: get up in the morning, go to work until about three or four in the afternoon, come home, run, eat dinner, plan for the next day; there's not a lot of room in there for napping. Well, today I took a nap for the first time in months. 'Did it "classic style," too: I pretty much just faceplanted on the couch and didn't move from that position for an hour. It was awesome.

The term is clipping right along. We're already into the middle of Week 6, which leaves just three weeks until the end of the term. I finally feel like I'm hitting my stride with this research paper class. Last week was so revealing: I just let go of a lot of expectations and started focusing on what my students needed. I was putting a lot of (unintentional) pressure on them (and myself) and it just started to burn us all out. Last Thursday I brought in donut holes and green tea and we all sat around for the first part of class, discussing the research paper and fielding questions from one another. It was fantastic and I think it really helped overall class morale. I'm learning (sometimes painfully) that this whole process is really a complex balancing act and that, in the end, it's impossible to control everything. I've got to let some things go. I've got to give my students the information they need, but it's up to them to follow through on it.

Things are going well for me. Without getting too into it, I continue to develop myself spiritually and see daily improvement in my overall attitude and outlook on things. I'm learning to trust my instincts and to rely on my emotional barometer; if something upsets me, I allow it to upset me. If I'm happy, I'm comfortable saying that I'm happy. I am not doing as much free writing as I would like, but I think that's probably because I'm stacked to the ceiling with work stuff right now. My plan, by the end of summer, is to put some serious time into the rough scratchings of my novel. I would like to put together an outline by the end of August so that, if possible, I can do NaNoWriMo this year. I've always wanted to participate and I feel that the structure would compel me to write on a regular basis. Even if I end up missing the 50,000 word goal I will still have made some progress in the right direction. Is anyone else planning to participate this year? Can we be NaNo buddies? I can ply you with Oreo Balls and iTunes playlists.

Right. Off to grab a bite to eat and then grade some papers.

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