Thanks for all the Fish

Allow the pictures and flattery to hypnotize you into thinking this blog post is NOT boring. You’re going deeper…

Dear readers, followers, and random people who stumble upon this page,

Hello, again, and thank you.*  Why am I thanking you?  Why, because you’ve been helpful, of course.  Let me explain.

Yes, I know I’ve been absent for a while.  Some of you are probably wondering where I’ve been, or even who I am, since you may have forgotten you followed me in the first place.  So here’s an update of sorts on life in general.

Gulp, indeed.

Gulp, indeed.

Much like this blog, I’m behind on everything.  I have “To do” lists in six different places, including my bathroom mirror (thanks to Tommia’s Tablet for that idea and making my fingers itch for my guitar).  The system is working, but more than ever I’m aware of how little time I have in a day.  It seems incredible that fifteen years ago I found time for hiking, flute practice, homework, video games, chasing rabbits around a yard, writing, household chores, and reading all in one day.  I never estimated in the time cost of daily house maintenance, bill paying, work (and the fatigue that comes with), and basic hygiene until I was an adult.  I’m grateful lately if I manage to get to the dishes and comment on blog posts.  I’m still wondering if I’m sick or if this kind of fatigue is (gulp) growing up.

Despite my seeming inability to get anything done, I volunteered myself to beta-read another writer’s fantasy novel.  I’m honored that they’ve entrusted me with their passion and hope I’m living up to the challenge of giving them an honest critique that focuses on their strengths and helps them improve any weaknesses.  They have beautiful prose, an engaging story, well thought world rules, and intriguing characters, so for the most part it’s fun!  I feel confident that their story has great potential and can succeed in the market once it’s been fully polished.  It’s exciting to be one of the people with an opportunity to read it before that happens.


There’s a bonus to beta-reading I hadn’t expected, though, in how I approach and view my writing.  Rilla Writer has an excellent piece on how beta-reading can help us improve and see the snafus in our own work, and it’s part of a larger set of articles on how writing fan-fiction can improve writing skills.  Beta-reading has helped me see the positives in my writing while simultaneously helping my inner editor focus on what’s really important, and that it’s not the end of the world to have to go back and fix something.

I also learned something else about my writing process from Nanowrimo, where the lovely 4amWriter was gracious enough to keep me company (pssst…she also writes some useful posts on overcoming writing block and the dreaded inner editor that have been useful as well).  It’s true (too true) that I often write long-winded passages of explanation, and that particular fact drives me crazy and often stops me from writing.  Yet if I let that part of myself do the writing when I’m not sure what the exact words of dialogue are, I can see what I want to express and how to reach that point with greater clarity.  I’ve come to see my “telling” vice as a way to create a detailed outline, and to get to the point of what I want to say faster than staring at my computer screen hoping meaningful dialogue and action will spill out of me.  I’m starting to see my first drafts as fleshy outlines, and I’m finally okay with the fact that this is how my process works.  Having these two experiences means that I’m ready to face Camp Nanowrimo with less dread, and that I can tell my inner editor to be silent (for now).


No more of this timid bunny stuff. Although, he is adorable.

I’m facing the “adult life is scary” terrors head on for the first time in years.  Not just with lists, mind you, but with verifiable action.  Maybe I am tired, but a recent vacation has helped me focus on what really matters.  I recently got a retirement plan in place, and I’m submitting to a health physical for life insurance tomorrow.  I cannot express what a relief it is to feel as if I am doing something to secure my chance of a future (or Mr. Wonderful’s in a less than desirable scenario) where I won’t have to work until I die.

Some of my nearest and dearest are also buying houses.  I’m excited for them, but I’m a bit envious, because I’ve been putting off saving for one until I’ve reduced my student loan debt further.  The tie-up of a recent story (hurray for archeology and character building!) by jmmcdowell solidified my longing and resolve to start saving, and a sudden urge to dig out my chalk pastels and rekindle my past led to obtaining a newspaper and wistfully eyeing the market, which was when I realized while staring at an ad (and a bit of internet research): I qualify for those home-owning programs.  All this time I thought I had to be, well, poorer.

I am a bit nervous.  With this spate of life changes, I also went to the doctor.  They called me a week and a half ago in one of those “Call us back, now,” fashions, but I haven’t been able to get ahold of them since.  I suspect that means one of my tests came back and that all is not rosy on the health front.  On the other hand, everything I was tested for is treatable/fixable, and it’s nice to know that maybe this “tired” junk isn’t what getting older is supposed to feel like.  Hopefully I’ll be able to contact them tomorrow and see what the ruckus is about.  Let’s hope that whatever is going on doesn’t kill my ability to obtain life insurance.

It's a book cover.  With a scary needle...that inspires me to get a flu shot so that I can avoid more scary needles.

It’s a book cover. With a scary needle…that inspires me to get a flu shot so that I can avoid more scary needles.

Well, at least I’m sure that I’m not the victim of a flu epidemic.  Thanks to Carrie Rubin at The Write Transition who tipped the balance with a timely Facebook posting after my parents chronic reminders and being sick of being sick failed to inspire me, I did get a flu shot this year, so while my coworkers call off work and stumble about desecrating trash cans, I’ve been symptom free.  By the way, have you read The Seneca Scourge yet?

Then there’s life in general.  A special thanks to Goldfish, who is truly a Fish of Gold, for reminding me that it’s never too late to think about other careers or moving, even if I am stubborn and afraid of change.  I believe you can surmount the worst, Goldfish.  Oh, and it’s your fault that my chalk pastels and sketch books are coming out.  You post so many pretty pictures and descriptions of art that my pessimistic jerk-brain can’t come up with excuses fast enough.  Thanks for all the fish, without the so long part.  You know what I mean.

You light up my world, in your uh, water bulb.

You light up my world, in your uh, water bulb.

I blame all of you.  You know, in a thankful, you’re all awesome sort of way.


*There are more of you, of course, and I’m sorry if I missed you or didn’t manage to squeeze you in.  Some of you are really prolific and it’s hard to keep track!  You’ll get your day soon, I promise.

18 thoughts on “Thanks for all the Fish

  1. Great to hear what you’ve been up to, and thanks so much for the mention. An unexpected surprise this morning. Always the best kind!

    Interesting to hear you talk about your first draft being a fleshy outline. I discuss that very thing in next week’s post. I, too, think that’s the way to go. Get the ideas out first, then weave them into pretty sentences.

    Thanks again! Have a great day!

    • I only wish it hadn’t taken so long to come to the realization that I should spill my words out and then clean up later.

      Silly perfectionism making me think everything has to be perfect on the first try! Ah, well, I’m learning slowly.

      I hope your day is lovely, too!

    • Hopefully I’ll find something new to write about soon! I really need to circle the campfire, though. Two days passed before I realized I was supposed to be writing, and I still haven’t written a word. Tonight, I hope.

  2. Yay! I’m glad that so many exciting things are going on right now. Good for you for reading, writing and drawing! I believe you can surmount the worst of it, too. I wish you the best and hope the health part of it works out. xoxo.

    • I’m apparently running low on vitamin D and iron, but ’tis the day of supplements, so I think I’ll feel better than ever soon. Thank’s for the well wishes.

      I enjoyed Meghan’s latest adventure (it’s over so soon!); I hope she drops another story your way in the near future.

  3. This is a fabulous post, mainly because you mentioned me. 🙂 Seriously, you touched on some things that really resonated, especially the wordy, let-it-all-fall-out-of-my-head way of writing that my lovely Inner Edie can’t stand. (And Carrie’s scary needle book. I always shiver when I see that cover.) I don’t think you were trying to leave your readers in suspense about that callback from your doctor, and the results probably won’t be made public, but just know I’m thinking about you and praying it works out for the best for you. And thanks!

    • I’ve been meaning to bring others into my posts and give them their due for a long time, and I’m always reading posts by others I mean to go back and reference, but I haven’t been blogging enough, so I keep losing track. I need to start keeping a list of all the things I’ve read and like with their dates so that I can find them again! So hopefully I can highlight other people more often.

      As for the health, all is well, and actually more positive than I hoped it would be. I’m deficient in a couple of nutrients, so I get to go buy more vitamins and try to replenish the supply. We thought my thyroid might be off in an initial test, but the second test was normal, so it’s a relief to have an answer and know that everything is probably fixable.

  4. Thank you for your lovely mention. 🙂 Reading the comments above, sounds like your health issues aren’t too serious but I’m glad you’re taking it seriously. I have to take vitamin D and cod liver oil because I’m anemic, and now that the sun is shining I’m a much happier person.

    Hope Camp NaNo goes well. Can’t wait to hear all about it!

    • Thank you. The supplements are wonderful and I feel much better already. I’m so glad to hear you’re feeling better and enjoying the sun. Happy writing to you, as well, Camp Nano or not!

  5. So I’ve finally gotten around to stopping by here after seeing this post in my email a while back. Just as well, I suppose, since I got some answers in your more recent comments about your health concerns. You don’t mention your celiac disease in the post — which makes me hope I’m not suddenly confusing you with another blogger! If I am . . . well, ahem, never mind. My mind is even worse off than I thought. But if you are that blogger I really like who has celiac disease, then I wanted to tell you that I also have to take vitamin D supplements long term, and that my celiac disease was finally diagnosed when doctors were trying to figure out why I had become mildly anemic. That in itself was quite odd because I had also long been known to have hemochromatosis, which causes one to have especially HIGH iron levels. So my celiac disease and hemochromatosis had been battling it out with my iron for years, and the celiac was only discovered after it finally started to win the battle. So anyway, this is a long-winded way to remind you that your celiac disease can really wreak havoc on your body, especially if you’re not able to really keep your gluten exposure to extremely low levels. Have you had your celiac antibodies checked recently, or even had an upper endoscopy and biopsy repeated lately? I want you taking care of yourself, you hear? I don’t want to be constantly worrying about you over here! 🙂

    • Hi, Joseph!

      I haven’t had either of those tests recently, although I have been increasingly strict about cross-contamination and other factors in the last year. My doctor will see me again in a couple of months, though, to see if my levels are improving, and if they’re not, those might be options we’ll pursue. I am a bit worried about the vitamin D thing, because I’ve been powering down protein drinks to regain my weight, and when I checked the label, half of the intake of D they recommended I “add” was already in there, in the form they told me to take, plus what was in my daily multivitamin. So I’ll probably bring that up the next time I see her, because I think that is a less than ideal sign. Either that, or levels of other vitamins are interfering with my absorption? Who knows. I’ll take the whole kit and caboodle to the next appointment so she can see the levels for herself.

      I am feeling much better with the supplements, though, so that’s the upside.

      • 🙂 Great to hear you’re feeling better, and I’m very glad you’re on top of the rest of it with the celiac! One thing that popped into my head when I read this post was something you’d written about in the past about how difficult it was for you to avoid certain workplace environmental factors that are nothing for most people but are environmental hazards — toxins — for you and me…like simple flour dust floating in the air.

        To my knowledge I don’t think you need to be concerned about levels of other vitamins interfering with absorption of any other nutrients (as long as you’re not heavily overdosing on any of the other fat soluble vitamins or other minerals or nutrients, and I highly doubt you are), but why I bring up the celiac so heavily (and forgive me here if I’m restating a bunch of stuff you’re already well aware of) is that if your small intestine remains damaged from incidental, even microscopic, gluten exposure — even if you’re doing great with what you purposely put in your mouth and consume, that intestinal damage from the celiac will prevent your body from absorbing various nutrients including vitamin D and iron — no matter how much you consume or how many supplements you take. And your mention of being underweight or at least trying to gain weight with protein drinks, along with the new knowledge of your specific deficiencies, makes me think your gut may not be as healed as it should be, and so many of the nutrients you eat are not even being absorbed into your bloodstream. Mind you, I’m not trying to freak you out or anything. It’s certainly great that the supplements have started helping you feel better, and I’m glad you and your doc are on the case. Mind you as well that I’m not a doctor or other health expert myself, although I did stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night.

      • I’m worried about still damaging my villi, too. I try to stay away from the pizza making (which is the worst, and the hardest to avoid getting any in my airways), but sometimes I can’t avoid it. I swear that stuff wreaks havoc on the lungs in a terrible way. I’m honestly considering bringing a medical mask to work, or at worst bringing a doctor’s note to work expressing that I cannot make pizzas. A while back there was discussion of making gluten free pizzas, but unless they switch over the entire station I will never trust my workplace (and coworkers) with that responsibility. I can’t even remember the list of potentially hazardous ingredients to avoid, and I’ve seen them try to make a gluten free meal. Disaster! They apparently don’t include much, if any specific allergy/auti-immune disease, or nutritional information in culinary school (and most of these guys don’t even have that). I’ve been meaning to write a blog post about that.

        My doctor said, “Shouldn’t you do a different job?” But I have student loan bills, and all that other fun stuff, and I honestly am not sure I could even afford a doctor’s visit if I had to do something else, because I’m not really qualified to do anything that would make me more money right now. I’m still thinking about that (okay, I’m dwelling). I don’t have to taste things much anymore, because I’ve been working there so long that I know from color and smell and consistency if something is right or not, and if it’s something hazardous I make someone else taste it.

        But I’m okay, and I’m working on improving things, and hopefully finding a better and safer career path. Maybe I’d make a good phlebotomist. Do they train for that at the Holiday Inn Express?

        Oh, and don’t worry about giving me information I may or may not already know. I don’t think a lot of doctors have caught up yet; most of us have to do a lot of research or find a great nutritionist to get complete information, and stuff still falls through the cracks. We might as well make sure we pass on the news when someone else might need it, right? Which reminds me that I need to find out if that legal push to get gluten fillers removed from medication ever went through. As if we don’t tend to come down with enough conditions on the side before we even find out what’s screwing us up, it’s in the medications we need to treat it. Gah!

  6. Ah, you said “villi,” and I knew from that moment I didn’t need to worry about you any longer. I’m happy you’re feeling better and glad to know you’re taking care of yourself. After all, we need to sick together!

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