Tuesday, April 22, 2014

The Fat Fatwa: Recognizing What's Really Important

I knew that last week was going to be a bad week for weight loss. I didn't lose a single pound.

Why? I was traveling.

People who are living a fit and active lifestyle take advantage of things like on-site fitness centers while they travel. However, I had not done any really intense exercise in a while and knew that while on vacation was NOT the time to start. While maybe someday I can be one of those people who makes sure they hit a treadmill before leaving for the day, right now I am not that person. Right now I am that person who hasn't quite gotten past periods of being tired and ill and injuring too easily. Right now, I have to focus on the larger goal of getting healthier as my first priority.

So what do we do? We sort of toss the dieting aside for a few days when we're down. Really what matters most in such times is getting ones health back before we start trying to toss some pounds aside.

However, this doesn't mean we totally give up. We don't continue to shrug off recording our food, our exercise, and watching what we eat. But there is an inevitability isn't there? We cannot be sticking to our programs rigidly every moment. Sometimes we have to let it go just for a time to get through.

But that doesn't mean we abandon our project altogether. Our lives are too short, too wonderful, and too precious to give up on our goal of self-improvement.

Why am I saying this? Because I had lost a few pounds, gained some back and then stayed there between this week and last. And this is mostly because I was traveling and then sick.

I also say that we must press on, because this week I found out my big loss was of a long ago friend whom I had lost touch with, who succumbed to cancer. He was a year older than me. He was always a vibrant individual, but to know he suffered and died is tragic.

For the living it reminds us of why we are losing weight. Why we are fighting this fight. Why we must not give up.

Because life is too short to waste any precious moments.

Monday, April 7, 2014

The Writing Process Blog Hop

Thanks to a delightful blog I follow by Dallas Dyson, known as The Crazy Train to Tinky Town, I found out late yesterday that there was an opportunity for a blog hop. Ever since my attempt at NaNoWriMo for the first time this past year, I have had the pleasure of bonding over Twitter and Facebook with an incredible array of writers and people in the publishing industry to glean wisdom and insight from.  In the spirit of bonding and passing along positive spirit and sharing the  joy and pain of a writer's life, I couldn't help but participate. Without further ado, here are my answers to the fantastic blog hop questions, four in total: 

What are you working on?
Currently I have a few irons in the fire outside of this blog, which I have been writing about what interested me in the moment. Now I'm realizing with The Fat Fatwa series that my blogs about weight loss are really bonding and encouraging for my friends, so who knows where that will lead. I am also trying to figure out how to do all of this in such a way as to bring in income soon. Luckily I have a very supportive family but I could use some bacon on the table.
But outside of that I am working on the following:
1) I am working on a memoir/creative non-fiction book about my grandmother whose life we have unearthed mostly through her belongings.  She was one of those people who was so secretive that there were huge aspects of her life that we just simply have had no clue about until she started suffering from dementia and we had to start putting her in care facilities. She turned out to be a secret hoarder, with things jammed away in closets and attics that had value and history and have given us glimpses of her real life that she never ever told us. As we have gone through her things, I also realized that not only did we not only not know her well, but that my research of her life would yield good material for her eulogy when she passes away. And I know that I am the best one to do that eulogy. I'm about 40 pages in, and it's a slow process, but it's a story I'm telling because I believe it is a rather fascinating story. 
2) I have a back burner project about writing a Master's Thesis. After the myriad of books I read trying to muddle through the process of getting my Master of Arts in English Literature, I discovered a dearth of materials pertaining to the subject.  There were many books on writing a Doctorate, but I know many more people who have been going on for the mid-range Master's who don't really have any guidance. While I got some, I found no one really told the real story of what you go through as a writer during that process.
3) I have research to do on two different WWII stories that no one has told yet. And I aim to research and detail both of them. I shall refrain from talking about them however, because I don't want anyone stealing my thunder.  I have trust issues as a writer. 
How does your work differ from others in the genre?
1) The memoir/creative-nonfiction piece is different from many in that it's less purely my memoir, and more of a memoir and biographical piece. None of the guide books that I have read yet have really touched on the kind of book I'm writing, and I believe this may be a very good thing.
2) The MA book I feel will be broad and lighthearted.  The few books that I read were very very narrow how-to books that didn't apply to hardly anyone.  I am definitely not one who believes that writing should be that strictly regimented, and couldn't possibly work that way. So I felt like writing a book that made more general sense and offers different approaches and ways to not beat yourself up for not knowing what you are doing.  Because really no one who is completing their thesis knows what they are doing. I discovered that everyone is winging it.
3) I have found two aspects of WWII that are virtually untouched in books or cinema, and these true stories are begging, clawing, and scrapping their way to the surface. I feel that if I can tell these stories they will blow people away.  
Why do you write what you write?
I used to think that what I should be writing is novels. I have a very creative extended family including writers yet to be discovered, and thought that I would just be following in their footsteps.  However, as time goes on, I realized that my wheelhouse and my passion is for telling true stories.  The ones of real lives that otherwise would be lost to time and buried somewhere as generations are lost and people don't pass things down to the next generation telling family legends and stories the way they did in prior generations.  This is a tragic loss, and I want to do my best salvage some of these pieces of history before it's too late.
How does your writing process work?
You know how some people methodically plan out every aspect of their work in an outline and the meticulously work at the same hour from 6-8 a.m. every morning, always write in a journal, and follow all of the rules writing instruction has been dishing for decades? 
I'm not one of those people. And I struggled for years fighting against the extreme doubt as to my own ability to write simply because I couldn't follow it to the letter the way all of the experts told me I had to in order to be a success.
Successfully finishing my thesis actually helped me realize that my writing process didn't have to have the iron structure laid out for me. That, in fact, I could be as crazy, haphazard, and unstructured as I wanted to be.  The most important part was to write.  To get it all out of me, on paper, and thought out.  The writing process became another version of my thought process and allowing myself that freedom was a huge revelation to me. 
Now I work in a way that works for me.  I recently acquired Scrivener which admittedly I don't totally have the hang of yet.  But what I like about it as a program, is that it very much parallels the kind of writing-in-chunks process that I do in a word processing program.  And it makes it really easy to move whole sections around and see your writing in blocks.  Also, it's fairly easy to export into MSWord when I'm done with each draft, so it's really a winning program.
Honestly, when I get really stuck, I often return to writing segments with a good stack of college-ruled notebook paper, and a soft-rolling, fine point, ballpoint pen.
Obviously the editing process isn't skipping merrily through tulips, but is actually considerably better than when I was trying to confine myself to the straight-jacket of regimented writing.

So anyone else that wants to follow along this blog hop, feel free to comment here with a link to yours, and if you want to, leave a link over at the Crazy Train... to get all sorts of hopping going.