darkemeralds: DarkEm self portrait in magenta cowl, left profile, against a black wall (Default)
Until I came along, my new critique group was just four nice ladies copy-editing each other's draft chapters.

Well, I've been languishing for years on that turd-polishing plateau, and fixing a troubled novel doesn't happen there. Sure, that's where I put in my 10,000 hours learning to wield the language, but I should have moved on ages ago. This critique group wasn't helping, and I was ready to quit.

Two weeks ago I found a path to my next level. It appeared in Shawn Coyne's The Story Grid: What Good Editors Know*.

Coyne's highly analytical method comes from 25 years as a developmental editor at big New York publishers. He's giving away his trade secrets now because even if you get a book contract at Random House, there are no developmental editors left there. It's a DIY game.

Infrared Writing Goggles )
darkemeralds: Photo of fingers on a computer keyboard. (Writing)
I've just joined a writers' critique group. I don't think it's a great fit for me, but before I go shopping for something different, I thought I'd ask here.

Have you ever been part of a critique group? How about other writing groups (like beta partners, writers' organizations--places where you work on your writing "out loud" as it were, with other people)? What kinds of writerly interactions have helped you become a better writer? Finish something? Polish something? Has a critique group been valuable to you? In what way? Or in what way did it fail expectations?

I'd love to hear about it.

Critique groups )

Also...

Jul. 29th, 2015 09:08 pm
darkemeralds: DarkEm self portrait in magenta cowl, left profile, against a black wall (Default)
...who else thinks Impastor is hilarious? Because I do.
darkemeralds: Naked woman on a bike, caption "I don't care, I'm still free" (Bike Freedom)
*taps mic*

*peers out past the lights into the auditorium*

Is this thing on?

*clears throat*

I have missed personal blogging! My online life has dwindled to Twitter (@darkemeralds), where I get all my news, including fandom news. I think I'd like to expand back onto the internet again. Maybe.

Dipping a toe back in )

Okay, not exactly a mic drop. Just life. What's new with you?
darkemeralds: Purple patent leather Doc Martens against a multi-colored carpet with the title True Colors (True Colors)
Can you believe it? IKEA discontinued my pink couch and sold the very last one in the Pacific Northwest yesterday!

Read more... )
darkemeralds: Old black and white portrait of DarkEm at the age of three (Little Me)
There are whole communities for this stuff. "Theming." It's a thing. You buy an Android phone and you make it TOTALLY UNIQUE AND PERSONAL through the medium of extremely finicky, detailed customizing apps. We're talking nudging things around pixel by pixel and copy-pasting eight-character color hex codes into font settings. And stuff like that.

What I really want is JARVIS, you know? Never touch the damn thing, just speak my wishes and desires and hear the answer. Failing that, I like a homescreen with almost nothing apparent on it.

Theming. Because I have the time. And the inclination. )
darkemeralds: Old black and white portrait of DarkEm at the age of three (Little Me)
One of my great teachers sent out her quarterly newsletter the other day, and in it she recommended a little exercise for the new year:

Consider in a playful and loving way what symbol or image arises when you imagine being YOU, fully and completely. When you are expanded and unlimited, joyful and brilliant, ask, "When I am my True Self, I am like...?" Notice what comes to mind. It could be a feeling, a word or a metaphor.

She provided an example from one of her clients, who discovered in herself "a Guardian, a Healer, an Architect."

Me? Not so much. )
darkemeralds: DarkEm self portrait in magenta cowl, left profile, against a black wall (Default)
You might remember the great bedroom remodel by means of which I transitioned from working into retirement beginning around this time last year. Once the big work was done, I had a punch list of little finishing details to take care of, and I kept doing them and thinking okay, now the remodel's done.

Starry starry ceiling. )
darkemeralds: Photo of an empty room with caption "Imagine an Empty Room" (Empty Room)
I think I'm gonna buy a new couch.

I've never had any kind of guest accommodation in this house. The living room is too cramped for a traditional sofa bed, and there's just the one bedroom. In the past, visitors have slept on a twin mattress on the living room floor, on my undersized couch (she was unusually small), and in a tent in my side yard (sorry, sis!). Others have been directed to moderate hotels not too far from here.

I think IKEA has come to my rescue at last with a sofa-bed that will fit, if a bit massively, into this space.

It's pink. )
darkemeralds: Photo of Downtown Portland, Oregon USA in twilight (Portland)
As [personal profile] ravurian pointed out when I sent it to him in the UK this afternoon, this picture might have been taken almost anywhere in the world.

A view of an IKEA store across a stretch of wetlands, from inside a commuter light rail train


Spoiler: it's in Portland. )
darkemeralds: detail of beaded purse, caption One Bead At a Time (beadwork)
Today my niece came and took away my collection of beads.

Farewell, my little beads. )
darkemeralds: DarkEm self portrait in magenta cowl, left profile, against a black wall (Default)
I've been wanting to say authentic things here: deeper, truer things, stuff that makes me uneasy to share (not because it's necessarily bad or dangerous, but because I have a highly-controlled personality and my people place a premium on self-containment and shame-avoidance).

So I'm sort of working up to talking about my long trek through the desert of reductionist materialism into a tentative anatheism, or about transformative experiences that have left no mark on my skin, my address, or my income, and therefore may not look real to other people (and may sound loony).

I want to talk about these things, but I still worry about being cast out of what few communities I can claim connection to, for being something (it could be anything--unacceptable, ill-informed, backward, too far-out, not articulate enough, stupid, outdated, wrong, and, most recently, too old).

So for today I'll leave this as a placeholder, and move briefly on to more mundane things.

Like, OMG was Backstrom as awful as I thought it was? It was, right? Cliché, offensive, derivative, how-the-fuck-did-this-get-greenlit, pretending-to-be-Portland-can't-save-it bad. Right? But maybe the 12 unbearable minutes I gave it weren't enough. Does it deserve another chance?
darkemeralds: DarkEm self portrait in magenta cowl, left profile, against a black wall (Silver Magenta)
The ice must breaking up or something, because I made a thing today, after months of making no things.

I got out my heavy old sewing machine, a magnet bristling with pins, my shears, my cookie tin of threads, and an extra task light, and put two pieces of fabric together.

Just a big rectangle, but still. Making a thing. )
darkemeralds: DarkEm self portrait in magenta cowl, left profile, against a black wall (Default)
The one-year mark in the don't-work-no-more phase of my career has come and gone, and I find that I want some structure back in my life. I feel ready to emerge from my cave a little and reconnect, too.

So maybe I can do a post a day for a month.

Boy, am I rusty. Whew. Let's see... [self-censor kicks into high gear: "No, that's unoriginal. No, that would be whiny. No, that sounds like a commercial..."]

Screw you, self-censor. )
darkemeralds: An old book whose spine reads Signsls and Cyphers, with the text DarkEmeralds (Cyphers)
I've just finished listening to the audiobook version of Julie Sondra Decker's The Invisible Orientation: An Introduction to Asexuality (narrated by Reay Kaplan).

I book-reviewed it on Audible, but I wanted to make a few notes about my more personal reaction to it.

Aces. )
darkemeralds: Naked woman on a bike, caption "I don't care, I'm still free" (Bike Freedom)
It's been five years since I got the sudden wild idea to buy a bike. Since then I've lost 65 pounds, sold my car, reduced my transportation expenses to $75 a month, let my driver's license lapse, and, in a not-entirely-unrelated development, retired1.

Five Years By Bike, in lists )
darkemeralds: Naked woman on a bike, caption "I don't care, I'm still free" (Bike Freedom)
The only real downside of non-car-ownership (for me) is that one's orbit contracts significantly: every now and then an urge to get out of the city strikes, and it's not easy to satisfy.

So when my good pal [personal profile] roseambr invited me to go with her to Montana at the end of September, I said yes, yes, and yes-indeedy. She's taking a four-day art glass course in the small and apparently picturesque town of Hamilton, and I'm going to go along and treat it as a writing retreat.

Since our lodging is seven miles outside of the town itself, and since I've actually let my driver's license lapse (whoops) and so can't use [personal profile] roseambr's car during the day, I'm going to rent a Brompton to take along. Hamilton being a ski-resort-y kind of place with at least one bike shop of its own, I'm hoping that a gray haired lady on a folding bike won't raise too many eyebrows.

Hamilton is a nine-hour drive from Portland, and from what I hear, late September is an excellent time to visit: pre-snow, post-summer-heat. I'm more of a Left Coaster than an American West-er, so the farthest I've ever been into the interior is western Idaho; Montana is a vast, Big Sky mystery to me.

Should be fun.
darkemeralds: Manga-style avatar of DarkEm with caption Hee (cartoony me)
I know I'm 45 minutes early, but I want to be the first to wish a very happy birthday to [personal profile] ravurian, whose presence in my life is among my chiefest joys.

Peace and love to you, my friend.

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