Scribbles and thoughts ...

These are ramblings from J L Wilson, published author of romantic suspense, mystery, and paranormal -time travel fiction....

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Zip code stress

I am suffering from zip code stress.

I really noticed this time, when I came home from a visit to Mom in my home town. Just about the minute I entered that zip code, I relaxed. I slowed down. I laughed more. I didn't have to remind myself to 'be patient, take your time, don't let {whatever that is} bug you'.

When I got home (in my home zip code) I felt a bit of stress creeping in. I set myself some mental "to do" lists, I looked at what's coming up this week, I made a mental roadmap of how my week would work out.

When I got to my work zip code, it was as if my time away vanished. I was back to full blown stress: do this, do that, wedge this into your week, finish this, wrap up that, make time to do this.

I need to figure out a way to maintain hometown-zip-code relaxation with work-zip-code life. If anybody out there has it figured out, tell me, okay?

Back to work.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Yep. It's summer.

I'm in Iowa right now, visiting my mother. I grew up in this town and have visited here, off and on, for decades. There have been subtle changes but nothing major since I was a child.

The biggest change (to me) is the municipal swimming pool. Gone is the long rectangular structure, shaped like a truncated "L". The short bar was the diving end, the long bar was for swimmers. At the one end it was 8' deep, at the other it was 3'. In the diving part it was 12'.

Now there's 3 squarish pools. There's a kiddy pool, I think. Lots of young-uns and parents. And there's a pool with folks jumping around. And there's a diving area: diving boards and slides. I know that lap swims are allowed at certain times of the day (off-peak times), but for the life of me I can't figure out where a person could swim a decent lap.

Swimming has been on my mind lately. I grew up learning how to swim and I love doing it. I go to the pool at my local gym at least once a week to do laps. But it's been a long, long time since I just romped in a pool. You can't romp in hotel pools: they're too small. And you can't romp in the gym pool: it's too shallow. And it looks like I can't really romp in the municipal pool (it's too crowded! The temps are in the 90s here and high humidity, which means the pool is jammed).

Yep. It's summer. I'm thinking about how great a nice, long dip in the pool would feel...

Sigh. Back to the air conditioning.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

New challenges

I'm starting -- SLOWLY -- to get my writing enthusiasm back. My new book is taking some unexpected turns, which happened once I threw out the initial draft (written years ago and truly bad) and started fresh. So I hope it will be fun to work on.

The new challenge? I'm working on a book of essay about Crap That Bothers Me. This is going to cover the gamut from the so-called "Zen" people I meet, to the wealthy who act like asses, to the publishing world. I figure if nothing else it'll make me laugh.

Traveling again tomorrow, but I'll be online here and there. Something like a vacation but not quite. I'm looking forward to a change of scene.

Friday, July 16, 2010

To zen or not to zen

I've been reading several different blogs, Facebook updates, etc., that are written by people who are trying to de-stress their lives. Let me hasten to say: I think this is a laudable goal. Stress is endemic today and I'm all for de-stressing.

One thing that strikes me reading all of these blogs is just how foreign their lives are to mine. Here's one: Zen Habits. I read this and I thought, "What planet does this guy live on? How can he take an hour or two or three hour walk every day?" And how do you start "Working less"? For many people that just isn't an option. If we work less, we earn less. If we earn less, we have less money. If we have less money, then we are forced to make changes, some of which are not pleasant.

The same is true of some other blogs I've read. These are written by people who seem to be permanently on vacation. They take 2 week long trips here and there. They take long walks in the mountains. They don't appear to have to work for a living. Another person whom I know is constantly playing: sports, hobbies, relaxation...she doesn't work for a living.

This has been bugging me for weeks now. The most precious thing I lack right now is TIME. I don't have all the TIME I want to do things. I work full-time. I write almost full-time. I have an hour or two a day to spend with my husband. And I have 5-6 hours to sleep. I can't take vacations here and there. I have to plan mine and save up time for them and, well, earn them.

So reading these updates, and reading these blogs has been irritating to me, not enlightening because these people don't live on my planet. They don't live in reality. They are living somewhere else that has little to do with how most people live their lives.

I need to find someone who is de-stressing who is living in the Real World. When I do, I hope I can learn from that person. Because life is a juggling act, and sometimes I'm just waiting for the balls to fall all around me...

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

In praise of Rom Con

I got back from a 'new' conference on Sunday. RomCon was held in Denver, and it ROCKED! It was an absolutely great conference where readers got to meet authors.

Most conferences are all about the authors, but this one was all about the readers: what they like, don't like, what they want to see in books, etc. It was just great. I had a blast.

Now I'm energized and ready to write write write. And I'm definitely going next year -- it's one of the few conferences that focuses on readers, and hey -- that's why I'm doing this, right?

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

New life for an old project

I was struggling in June to work on a book (re-work a book, actually) that I wrote 5 years ago. The writing was all over the map -- POV shifts, too much exposition...the usual stuff for a beginning writer. Since I've started publishing I've learned how to tighten up my prose, stay on track, etc. so this book was a shocker.

I finally decided the plot was too flimsy to really carry the book so I tried to devise a new plot line with these characters, but it just wasn't coming to me. I'm the kind of writer who has to get the first 3 chapters down in order to continue, and I must have written and re-written those chapters four or five times (that's a lot for me).

I finally set it all aside and decided to edit another book to prep it for submission. This new book was much closer to being ready, so I figured maybe it would give me some incentive to finish. I took a nice long walk yesterday morning, early in the a.m. (my favorite time) and while out and about I came up with a great idea for Book 1 (the book that gave me fits).

So now I'm working on 3 books at once: writing a new one, prepping an old one, and doing editorial changes for a third one that will release next year.

I'm back to juggling -- and I think that's what was missing! I need that feeling of having a bunch of projects on the fire. We'll see if that's the nudge I needed to get active again with my writing.

I'm out of town this weekend, so may not post again until next week. If you're curious where I am, check my Facebook page to find me (

Monday, July 05, 2010

I need a challenge

I've been feeling bored lately. Bored? Me? I know. Sounds like an oxymoron. I always have a million irons in the fire.

But here's the thing -- I'm the sort of person who dives headfirst and face-most into projects as I'm learning them. I immerse myself in whatever I'm doing. This was true of my sewing (years ago), my school work, and then my writing. Once I learn how to master it, I know longer have much energy for it.

I think that's what's been bugging me lately. I no longer feel the challenge. Yes, I could aim for the Kindle best-seller list, or the NYT list, but those are artificial. Those are lists created by people regarding sales and that doesn't mean much to me. It's nice to have sales, but the challenge for me is the writing. And I'm not sure I feel that challenge any more. I think that's why I've been struggling with my latest book, that's why I've turned to my SciFi series to write (now *that's* a challenge!) I doubt if I'll find a publisher for it and I don't care -- the goal is the writing not the publishing.

I've been skimming through various topics that interest me, looking for my Next Big Challenge. Maybe we'll move and I'll have a chance to garden again (our current garden is perfect. I can't change it. But a new house? Oh that would be fun!) Maybe I'll take up yoga or Tai Chi -- something new to master that would be good for me. Or maybe I should switch genres, go to horror or thrillers, or ...make up a new genre.

There are a world of possibilities out there. I need to find out what draws my focus again...

Sunday, July 04, 2010

Oh, the horror! The angst! The ... bad writing!

I recently decided to tackle a Big Project -- cleaning out my old files.

These aren't files tucked away in a file drawer. These are the Old Files, the ones stored in a box that is stored in a disused well room (cool and dry, but so out of the way even the spiders don't go there). My husband is the one who tucks things into that room. I refuse to go in (think "Root cellar" and you get the idea).

So he dragged out 3 boxes and a trunk full of ... stuff. Some of it is scrapbooks. Some of it is work-related (old writing samples, resumes, etc). I spent most of 2 mornings sorting, tossing, weeding out. I ended up with 2 boxes and a trunk and I told him, "When I go, just toss all this stuff. Nobody but me would care about it." Old letters, pictures, birthday cards. I had fun going through them, and suspect I'll have fun going through them in another 10 years or so.

Now I'm left with a stack of 3 or 4 notebooks that has my old writing in it. Some of it is surprisingly good, but the plots are very weak. I'm going to peek through them in my spare time this winter (ha! What is spare time? Who has any of that?!) The one thing that struck me as I skimmed through them was that my style is somewhat like my style today -- mostly first-person, casual, direct, straightforward. I would have thought with all the 'craft' classes & workshops I've attended, that maybe my real Voice would be changed. But it isn't.

That's sort of a relief to me. Now if I can just wade through the asinine plots ....