Pages

Monday, July 1, 2013

A Time to Get and A Time to Lose...

Hey Hello Blogpeople,
So, um, yeah. The blog is on hiatus for a while. We're all okay here at Hubris House but life is kind of beating out art these days (I aim for a careful balance of the two) and blogish things are not on the horizon. Not that this blog is very artistic at all... but anyway.

Writing is also not really happening here- this is probably part of the blog problem- so there's nothing to report on that front either. A lot of writing, at least for me, happens when I'm not sitting in front of a monitor but I don't really even have that excuse right now. If I'm thinking about my book it's going on in some mysterious, inaccessible part of my brain.

One of the great things about being an unpublished writer is that I'm able to take my time if I feel like that's what I need to do. I'm able to write what I want to write, to take chances, to write something that's meaningful to me even if it won't appeal to anyone but me. I'm able to step away for a while. I kind of need to step away for a while. 

It's time for me to reevaluate where I want to go with this writing thing. My current five year plan is set to expire in January. It's a good time to reassess stuff.  

Really, I am not the same person I was five years ago. My old plan doesn't fit the new me. My goals now are not the same as they were then. I'm just not super sure I know what I need to do yet, but I have some ideas. One idea definitely has to do with the way I approach the query process. Until the book is complete it hardly matters. These maintenance issues are all consuming- to me- but they aren't exactly interesting to anyone else. I'll spare you the details. 

Anyway.

The blog will stay on hiatus for the remainder of the summer or mid-August, whichever comes first. If anything interesting or exciting happens I'll post. Otherwise, have a wonderful summer.

Yours,

M.B.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

An Unsettling Turn of Events at Hubris House

Hey Blogpeople,
Many things have happened since you last heard from me. So many things. Horrible things (like utterly horrifying), good things, disappointing things... we've had just a ton of stuff happen at Hubris House and environs. And they are still happening.

I have been writing (and deleting) posts- this is like post twenty-eleventy-twelve- but I'm going to publish this one because everyone knows that twenty-eleventy-thirteen is a lucky number.

Writing, in a way, hasn't even been on my list of concerns. Strange but true. Every time I turn around it seems like some new awful thing has happened. The worst though?

I now know what it's like to actually find someone who has died unexpectedly. It is worse than I had ever imagined and not as bad at the same time. Weird. It's weird. And indescribably awful.

And I learned that the stuff that happens afterwards is much, much worse than books and TV make it out to be. This guy wasn't murdered or anything so it wasn't like that, but he was a friend and that made it... difficult. He was also deeply involved in other aspects of our lives (I simply can't be more specific) and that has created a very real uncertainty about our future.

I can't write about that stuff here.

But I'm here. I'm alive. My family is alive and they're doing as well as can be expected. I haven't sunk into some kind of writerly funk (or any other kind). To be fair though, I haven't touched my WIP in two weeks. Considering all that's happened, writing a paranormal kind of book centered around what happens to people after they lose someone unexpectedly is both untimely (or super timely depending on how you look at it) and unfortunate.

But I'm finally able to get back to work. Maybe it'll suck, maybe my new experiences will help make the book more realistic (I, frankly, hope not. It's about as real as I can stand right now) but, at the end of the day, it doesn't matter. I just need to finish this book. Sucky parts can be edited but unfinished parts are just nothing. 

And that's the news from the Subtle front this week. As much of it as I can talk about anyway. The writing stuff. Sorry. More news will be forthcoming once things are more settled. Maybe.

Best,
M.B.








Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Only the Essential Facts of Life

Heya Blog People,

A sad part of writing full time is that one has great difficulty doing it and something else. This one anyhow. No music, no walking on the treadmill and writing, very little movement. I get up every so often and let the dogs out or do some thing that must be done (usually refilling the teapot) but the time I spend writing is mostly just spent wiggling my fingers around and talking to myself.

To be fair, I only write for a small fraction of my day (a third maybe- sometimes more sometimes less.) I could certainly work in thirty minutes of exercise. Probably I should vacuum more frequently too. I could fill up every non-writing waking hour with movement. And cleaning. 

But I don't. 

At least, I didn't.

My daughter has decided that we are too sedentary and it's time to make exercise a priority. She's right, of course. For her I will do this thing I despise- exercise just for the sake of exercise. I have high hopes that it will spark some kind of untapped fitness mania that will overcome my desire to not overwork these old bones.

So far all I have is sore knees and asthma. 

But I get to spend time roaming the neighborhood greenways with my kid. That's pretty fun. Walking on public paths behind private houses is interesting too- you get to see the messy side of peoples' lives and also many, many old Christmas trees. Of course if one has a good imagination one also sees poisonous snakes, lurking malefactor shadows, and possible shallow graves pretty much everywhere. These lazily imagined, dangerous potentialities make  walking so much more interesting. 

Nature, though I am allergic to all of it these days, is wonderful. It's all good. Well worth the effort. We have slacked in the hiking department since we moved south because it's so darned hot here all the time. And also bugs. And snakes. And poison everything. I'm glad my kid won't broker any excuses anymore because I miss being out in the woods. And exercise is important. 

Plus, and this is super sappy but true, it's really nice to spend actual time with my kid in these last few months of her childhood even if a lot of it is spent hearing about how we can't just come back at Christmas and pick up a still green tree from the neighbor's old Christmas tree pile, or how a compost pile is not a lazily dug final resting place for a neighbor we haven't seen for a while. I think she's going to miss me next year when she's in college.

Yours,
M.B.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Technical Difficulties

Heya Blogpeople,

We have been having trouble with our internet here at Hubris House. It isn't an excuse for not posting- I don't actually need one. No, it's more the circumstances surrounding the internet trouble that are interesting.

So I am a keen observer of all things outside the windows in my office and kitchen (the same view just from different floors) because this is where I spend the most time doing things that require me to wish I was outside (writing and washing dishes). 

One prominent feature of my view is the pole that holds my internet cable. Since I live in a place where heavy snow isn't a problem we have an... interesting cable installation. At one point the cable is only about six feet off the ground- the roof of our glider swing holds it up sometimes. Er, to be fair, the back yard is about 20 feet lower than the house- maybe more though it could be less; I'm not great at estimating height. It's a very steep hill for a wire to stretch over a long distance. That's where I was going with that.

Being a keen observer of things I noticed that (a) our cable developed a slouch that made it fall off the glider roof and (b) squirrels- very fat and obnoxious members of the species- liked to climb the wires and chew on stuff at the pole and (c) when the wind blew or it rained heavily we lost internet service.

Over the last month or two I called the cable people fairly regularly and tried to explain the problem. Our conversations were polite, as I try to be as friendly as possible when talking to others, but the conversations were very frustrating and not at all productive.

"Yes, I'm having trouble with my internet. I was wondering if you could send someone down?"

"Did you have the automated system send a restart signal?"

"Yes but it didn't work."

"I can see that your modem is connecting and reconnecting. You need a new modem."

"Actually I don't- the modem is fine." And it would go on like that until the wind blew just right or the cable dried out and we had internet again. For whatever reason they wouldn't send anyone.

Then it started going out all the time. I called the cable company and insisted that the problem was out at the pole and they needed to send someone to actually look at it. The last time I called I spoke to someone in the local office.

"Sir, I need the internet. I make my living from it and I can't get paid if I don't send stuff out."

"What do you do?"

"I'm a writer." I hate saying that because the conversation that follows can go in any direction.

"What do you write? Have I heard of you? Let me look you up." Then I explained that I'm pretty much invisible on the internet because I work in print media. I didn't mention that I also haven't worked for a while but whatevs. I listed out my publications and their websites in case my stuff has actually made it online then said something dumb about focusing on fiction. He was very excited. 

"When you are famous I can say that I fixed your cable and helped get your book published." People always say this kind of thing. It takes a village to sell a book I guess. Frankly my village seems to be slacking a bit, but.

"You have to actually fix it first," I reminded him. I can be very focused.

"I'll take care of it but, just so you know, it's a problem in your house. I don't think it's squirrels but you're the creative type, bless your heart." And he laughed condescendingly.

I was pretty sick of the guy by the end of the conversation but he did send a cable guy down to look at the cable.

Actually he sent a fleet of cable guys down. Not kidding or exaggerating. Every damned cable guy in the area showed up at my house.

"Don't put this on the internet," the head cable guy said to my husband as he shot a photo of the fleet. C promised that he wouldn't. "We like to help each other out." C just nodded- I assume. I was trying to keep the dogs from lunging at them (they keep treats in their pockets and the dogs really like treats) and couldn't really see beyond all the fur. 

Within the space of about five minutes they discovered that squirrels had eaten through the cable wires at the pole.

And now, thanks to an art appreciating customer service rep, I have the interwebs.

Also I was right. Ha. And it isn't actually that unusual for squirrels and chipmunks to eat wire insulation. I guess it's like rodent chewing gum until they chew an electric wire- then it's like being fried but they don't often live to warn their buddies bless their hearts

M.B.




Monday, March 4, 2013

Be Excellent

Knowing the right thing to do and actually doing it are two different things. 


This has kind of been the theme at Hubris House lately. Not in a moral sense- in a "I want to be X so I need to change Y" kind of way.* Knowing what you need to do to solve a problem/ change a situation is one thing.Taking the giant leap- the life changing humongous dive- required to actually make the change is another.

An interesting little facet of this life changing leap thing is that it takes a while to do it. Maybe we hop a bit, make a couple doomed little skips into our new lives- get our toes wet in the sea of change- then retreat. We of the Hubris persuasion need to try every possible other option before we commit to the scary new changes that need to be made. But we make the changes (in our own time,) meet our goals, run into the edge of another body of water and  start all over again. Veni vidi vici rinse and repeat, dude. 

Choosing to make the leap is often the biggest challenge in the whole life changing process- for the most part the rest is a tumble down a rolling, prickle covered hill (not writing though- that's like rolling up and down a mountain chain but maybe only for me). Change is a process and a lot of stuff has to happen to get a person to the leaping part.

Oddly, and I'm always shocked by this, many people won't change at all. I mean, in a way I get it- Why bother? Change is difficult and failure sucks. Life goes on whether we try really hard to be better or not. Just do what's easy and, in an attempt to make yourself feel better, castigate those that try, but fail, to reach their goals in (what you consider to be) a timely manner. Giving up or not even trying in the first place can be a kind of comfort blanket knit with soft fuzzy "if I wasn't so lazy I coulds" and "I know I could do it if I trieds" and some nice knobby "someday I wills" edged with sparkly "I don't have the time fors". 

That blanket is easy to knit and it gets bigger every day. Before you know it there you sit, huddled in your pretty comfy blanket on the shore. Once in a while you scoot a little closer to the water and just as often you scoot back. We all spend time on that shore and possibly start a maybe-someday blanket of our own. There's lots of company there and everyone is saying the same thing: Later. Maybe someday. I don't want to fail. Where's the remote? 

You can buy this here
But you should never lose sight of the big goal- the shiny everyone-says-it's-impossible goal- that shimmers just there on the horizon. Aim for greatness- worst case you hit pretty-goodness which is, like, way above where you started. Plus it gets you off the shore- you don't want to be there at low tide and all anyone ever does is talk and knit. Which actually is a lot less fun that you'd expect. Knitting outdoors is fraught with complications. Anyway.

This blog exists, in part, to let you see that greatness (or pretty-goodness in my case- at least at the moment) doesn't just happen. You have to take potentially painful and scary leaps into the unknown and you have to let yourself fail. You have to understand that you can only aim to be better than you were but if you keep getting better all the time you are *that* much closer to being great. Just doing something to improve your life  gets you off that unchanging shore and into the sea with the big fish.

Quit accepting what you do as "good enough." Take a chance, get out there and fail spectacularly at something that really matters to you. Keep on failing, faltering, crashing, until you succeed more than you fail. Try to be great at something because, when you give up on greatness, apathy takes you and drags you around by the hair. It's never good when that happens. Or you get stuck on that weird shore on the sea of change. Neither option is all that appealing.

Going outside what feels comfortable and safe isn't easy and it isn't always fun- sometimes it's flat out terrifying- but what kind of life will you live if you keep doing the things you've always done? Don't let failure be your comfort blanket. Don't let failure stop you from trying. Don't let failure define you. Don't do it, not even when it really, really hurts.

I went through a time in my life when all of my friends were 75 or older (I was a very young housewife and these wonderful women were home during the day and had time for me- unlike my peers who were in college and busy doing not-kid-friendly stuff). The one thing they all talked to me about was regret. Some had few regrets and some were plagued by them, but none of them wished that they had taken fewer chances in pursuit of their dreams. Not a one. These incredible people told me to stop talking about maybe someday doing something and to get my ass in gear and actually do it because time keeps moving even if I don't. And now I'm telling you. Be excellent. You only get one chance at this life blogpeople, make the most of it.

M.B.

* The kind of change I'm talking about is the kind that needs to happen in order to become something. It could be the lifestyle changes needed to lose a lot of weight. It could be the habit changes needed to become a successful something (student, writer, dog groomer- the specifics don't matter). For most people little changes (boxers to briefs, dark roast to light, Mac to PC) aren't that difficult. They don't require giant leaps of anything though I know that these are big life changing events for others- in that case they are what I'm talking about too. Mostly though I'm talking about following your dreams and taking charge of your life but that's kind of twee so maybe you should just infer it from the text.**

** I also ignore the journey after you leap. I mean, okay so you decide to change, you make this leap into a metaphorical sea of change and then what? Dude. The rest of it is your thing and not mine. You can read this blog to see the crap I run into but your goals are different from mine. Your successes and failures are going to be different. Your journey is going to be different.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Happy Valentine's Day Blogpeople!

This is a day when we tell the people we love that we love them so much we have to buy stuff for them. Something about that bothers me, but then again I always appreciate gifts so I try not to think about it overmuch.

In my real life I tell the people I love that I love them pretty regularly. Every day in fact. But I don't often, or maybe ever, tell you Blogpeople how much I love you.

And I do. Well, I love the idea of you. You are absolutely my favorite audience- my preferred invisible reading public. Thank you for being awesome and not haterish. Especially since I haven't really been posting all that much and what I have been posting is mostly shite.

Content has been an issue lately. I don't want to write about the new book. It's coming along, that's really all I want to say. I tried writing about my personal life but frankly didn't care for the experience. 

Which is interesting.

But probably only to me.

Thus the content problem.

I appreciate that you check in anyway. When I'm all famous and stuff you can say "Oh I read her first blog and it was boring but I read it anyway just in case she maybe said something good." I'd rather you didn't actually but you can do what you want.

I'm in a weird place with regard to the whole writing thing right now. My focus has shifted a lot and my attitude has changed accordingly. I don't know what this means for the future or anything else. What I do know is that, right now, this particular book is the one thing I really need to do. Selling it or finding an agent or selling something else doesn't matter right now. It's all about shaping this particular story into the book I want it to be.

How frigging boring is that?

So there it is. Thanks for being loyal Blogpeople even when I don't have anything to say. I'll be finished with this book pretty soon- writing it anyhow- and I'll have more bandwidth for stuff that may possibly be of interest to you.

With Love,
M.B.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

What, What?

Yeah, as it turns out I wasn't super comfortable posting stuff about myself in my actual non writing life. Odd, since writing is made of writers (and the lives that they live) but there it is. 

So that leaves me without new content for weeks. All three of you will be heartbroken I'm sure.

The sad truth is that I have nothing to discuss. Nothing. My life has become very, very small. Mostly it has involved cleaning and sorting and organizing. I'm bored just typing it.

Normally I don't let things like lack of something to say stop me but I dunno.

It's probably the cleaning fumes that are getting to me. Sure. That's it. So, here's a post, not a good post or an interesting post, but a post nonetheless. Next week will probably be more interesting but I can't promise anything. You should have checked in earlier.

TTYL blogpeople. 

M.B.



Tuesday, January 15, 2013

And It's A Writing Post

This comes from here- check it out this guy is amazing
Apparently Tuesday posts are a thing now. Whatever. I'm like a blog Ninja. You never know when I'm going to kick out a post. Except, possibly, you may expect them on Tuesdays now. Or not. Heeeeya (or whatever ninjas say).

Oh so yeah the new book. I don't really want to talk about it in any kind of specific way. I will say that it's there running in the background of my mind all the time. I am consumed by this story. The characters will not leave me alone. Like, okay, there aren't real voices talking to me. It's more like, well, listening to a story and I think about the characters when I'm not listening to the story. Er. Something like that anyway.

I am excited to sit down and write. I can't wait to see how this story unfolds. I have an outline, I know the big plot stuff, but some of the details that make up the story are really surprising. To me. It's great. 

My last book was work. It wasn't unenjoyable but it wasn't a happy rainbow picnic or whatever. I'm not foolish enough to believe that the next book will be this fun to write, or that the rest of this book will be so enjoyable, but I was really afraid that writing was never going to be like this again. 

Of course all this free "surprise me" writing is going to come at a cost. I'm going to have to get unattached to it before I can start editing. Some scenes will look better to me in my imagination than they do when it's all written out. A lot of stuff is going to have to be smoothed out and some will have to be cut entirely. It'll probably hurt my feelings when it gets rejected but, know what? I'm not going to worry about it. If I'm not doing this for money (and so far all my fiction has been, uhum, less than rewarding financially speaking) I may as well do it just for the self indulgent joy of it. 

Oh and it is wonderful. 

Have you ever lost yourself in the world of a book or a movie? To the point where, when the story stops, reality is almost jarring? That's what this kind of writing is like only even more so. Better than a dream- it's nothing like a dream- it's like nothing else but writing. It's also a somewhat rare event and it just happens like a wonderful gift from wherever creativity congregates. I have learned to never expect it, take it as the gift it is and bask in the wonderfulness of it while it lasts.

Someday I hope to have enough skill to write something that transmits even a little bit of that feeling to the reader. I'll be a millionaire. And also really super skilled. 

In other news.

The kitchen? Still waiting for the countertops. Stillllllll waiting. If we ever do another kitchen renovation we're going to do our own laminate stuff. This is nuts.

The kids? They're okay. K sent out all her college applications just before they were due. It was very stressful for all of us, but now it's mostly just stressful for her. T is busy doing robot stuff and being 15. The dogs are the dogs. Ditto the cats.

And that's life here at Hubris House. Not especially exciting or horribly dull- just the way I like it.

Until next week or whenever I decide to post again (heeeeya).

Yours,
M.B.






Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Reflections and Resolutions Revealed, Readers

Photo (C) K. Brick 2013
And vacation is officially over.

It was a good vacation. A great vacation even. The kitchen is almost done. We had to work 12 hours a day to get it to this point (top cabinets up, lower cabinets installed, a lot of finish work to do) because we took all the walls down to the studs, insulated the outside wall, and tore down two walls. It was not a small project. Removing walls kind of added a lot of other projects to the whole thing. Uhum. My point is that we are pretty close to done.

The only real complication we had was due to a communication error. We communicated that the counter order needed to be put in and the home center lady neglected to communicate that to the counter fabricators (although she did take our money x3 - that's another story) and now we're waiting an additional three weeks for the counters. 

Without a counter I have no sink. I also lack any kind of work surface. Considering that I cook meals for my family every single day, and we don't eat much in the way of processed or pre-prepared foods, it makes life... interesting.

You know what though? A major kitchen renovation is a lot like writing a book. I mean, okay, I've never hit my finger with a hammer while I was writing, and I never had to think about the right word when I was holding cabinets up or whatever, but the process is the same.

The best thing about this long vacation was, well it was two things. My husband and I worked together pretty much constantly throughout the process and it was incredibly wonderful to work *with* someone for a change. 

I never really thought about it but I spend a lot of time working on my own. Even when I'm freelancing I work alone. The client gives me an assignment, occasionally I ask a few questions, I do the assignment and wait to be told if I have to change anything. Working *for* someone isn't the same as working with them. It was fun.

Oh, the second thing. I didn't write. Anything. A couple dumb FB posts but other than that- nada. It was the longest I've gone without writing in years. I usually write at least a thousand words a day- give or take- on various things. 

But what I did do was think about writing. What I wanted to get from it, where I wanted to go as a writer, what I wanted to create as an artist, and what I had the ability to create as an artisan.

Every January I make a career plan. I evaluate last year's plan, make new goals, change longer range plans- that kind of thing. 

This year? I have one goal. This year I am going to write a book of which I am so proud that its saleability will not be an issue. I am going to do, not just my best work, (I do that every time I write- the best work I'm capable of at the time anyway) but work that results in a feeling of pride and accomplishment in the story itself. 


Not just "I wrote a book" but "I told one hell of a story well". 

I have no intention of selling this book. None. If it seems marketable maybe I'll send it out but I'm not going to worry about it. When this book, maybe my magnum opus, maybe just another also ran, is done I'll re-re-re-edit the book I couldn't sell last year. Maybe I'll write the second book in the gnomely series- I don't know yet. This year's business goal is singular in its intention- to bring me up to the next level in writing.

I noticed something else during this vacation.

I have become so focused on trying to be personable and non offensive to people who, frankly, don't give a crap what they say to (or about) me and the things I care about that I am left with nothing to say. It's also costing me a mint at the dentist since I clench my teeth all the time.

Seriously, I simply can't win. My neighbor across the street is so angry at me that she turns her back whenever she sees me and I have no idea what I've done. None. I think it was because we put a political yard sign up this year- something we've never done before- but is that really enough to make her be that mad? She won't even give me a chance to ask what the matter is.

This has never happened to me before. 

Usually, if someone is really mad at me, I know very well why. Heck- I usually deserve it. I hate hurting other people- why add meanness to  the world? But I don't mind having an opinion that isn't the same as whoever's. I certainly don't mind it when people disagree with me- I thrive on that kind of thing. But I don't think it's a great idea to let hateful people be hateful to the world, or people I care about, or me, while I sit there and say nothing in an attempt to protect their feelings. Why? Because I'm better than that? I'm not. I try to be but when someone is attacking, say my kid or, say a much admired other human, I just don't think I should be all big minded about it anymore. Fuck. You. Not *you* but, well, that undefined other you- the *them* you- the loud one over there in the corner- see, the one that is giving you the one fingered salute.

I don't know. Anyway. I've tried really hard not to be offensive and have managed to piss off an extremely old lady- and other people- anyway. I'm just going to be myself again. At least then I know I deserve to be ignored.

So, in short, I built a kitchen. Well, mostly C built a kitchen and I did the gross or boring stuff. That was good. I thought about writing and reevaluated where I want to be. That was good too. 

I've also decided to quit trying to be non offensive and normal. Forget that. It was messing with my life, and my writing, and didn't work anyway. I am absolutely 100% me and, while I do care what you think- to an extent- I'm just going to do what I do and you can like it or not like it. If I am talking about you specifically I promise that I've already said this thing to your face(book message page).

And, on that note, I bid you a fond farewell for this week. My beautiful story? Outlined and begun. We'll (I'll) see if I have the skill to make this raw material into the fabulous and fascinating final product, er novel, I hope to achieve.

On the whole though it's fair to say that it's going to be a good year. 

Best,
M.B.