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  • Radical Rituals at B ...
    This year I’m
    doing something
    different than my
    usual tradition of
    pithy punch list of
    lessons learned to
    wrap this series of
    entries up.
    I’m writing
    this last entry
    exactly two weeks
    after we got home
    from the burn, b ...
    Readmore...
  • Radical Rituals at B ...
    Monday morning I
    woke up early and
    decided that I
    wanted to do one
    more personal ritual
    before we had to
    break down and pack
    up our yurt and load
    the truck and leave.
    So I took my handpan
    and one of our
    little chairs and
    walked ou ...
    Readmore...
  • Radical Rituals at B ...
    Sunday is always a
    tough day at the
    burn because we have
    to strike
    camp—it’s
    tough physically of
    course but
    it’s also
    tough emotionally
    because it feels
    like the setting and
    the vibe we worked
    so hard to put toge ...
    Readmore...
  • Radical Rituals at B ...
    Saturday was my only
    day with nothing
    pre-planned and
    nothing I had
    committed to do. The
    burn was almost over
    and I was starting
    to feel nibbles of
    FOMO (Fear Of
    Missing Out) so I
    was determined to go
    see some more art
    (especially ...
    Readmore...
  • Radical Rituals at B ...
    Because I had
    actually gotten
    enough sleep, I woke
    up reasonably early
    on Friday morning.
    Josh was still
    asleep, but I wanted
    to take advantage of
    the relative
    coolness of the
    morning and go do
    something. So I
    decided to take my h ...
    Readmore...

Parentheticals

A blog in which Our Heroine records, reflects and wrestles with meaning. With lots of asides.
Tags >> metaphorical

Pinball Wizard

Posted by: julia

Tagged in: solipsistic , reflect , metaphorical , life

Please insert ritual apologies for having not posted in far too long here. There haven't been any crises or upheavals preventing me, just the usual struggle to cram the too many things I want to do into too little time. I've mostly been spending my time writing fiction rather than blog posts, which is a great change of pace and I'm glad for it, but I do feel the tug of wanting to produce more content for poor Parentheticals. All of which leads me to today's metaphorical musing, about being a Pinball Wizard.

I started thinking about pinball the other day as the perfect metaphor for the two-sided feeling of bouncing back and forth between two tendencies, with all the shiny noisy rewards and perilous pitfalls one bumps into in between. Specifically, I was thinking about how I'm constantly flipping the little silver balls of my time and attention back and forth between a driving desire (and sharply-honed ability) to Get Things Done, and an appreciation of what's already been accomplished (not to mention an appreciation of all the little pieces that had to align in order for those accomplishments to happen, whether or not it was me that aligned them or they Just Happened). Sometimes my balls run into obstacles and head off in unexpected or unhelpful directions, and sometimes they let me rack up tons of GTD or Appreciation points, and sometimes no matter what I do or how masterfully I flip (or shake the whole game while cursing and railing against fate and luck), that ball just vanishes into the dark void and I have to start over. 

Now, I am a pretty good "pinball" player, but I still have to think about it too hard. (Do this, do that! Appreciate how far you've come! Try to head for that corner over there, it'll give you way more points. Head up that ramp! Now down! Hey look at that shiny light! Cool, by doing this I got even more points! Can I do it again? Aw, look at how many points I've already racked up, I really am a wizard!) What I want is to get to the point where I'm like the Pinball Wizard from the Who song, who plays by intuition and wins because he doesn't get distracted by all the shiny noisy. I want to get to the point where I just *know* when it's time to push and use my Juggler superpowers to get things done, and when it's time to be my own cheerleader and hang out in appreciation mode. Of course, the only way to get to that point is to wean myself away from the shiny noisy distractions, or at least to pay more attention to the flippers (that actually *are* under my control) than to the variety of things my balls collide into or the unpredictable ways the balls bounce. Hey, Pinball Wizardry isn't a school of magic for everyone's tastes, but it's what I'm studying right now...


I recently found out that a big hairy audacious dream of mine just moved one huge important step farther towards reality: my novel Ice Will Reveal has been accepted for publication by Hadley Rille Books, with a tentative publishing date of early 2013. I am, how can I put this...oh hell, why not: verklempt. It’s actually kind of hard to describe exactly what it feels like, but I kind of want to, which is why it’s taken me a week to actually blog the good news. I know...metaphors to the rescue! Ok, then: my feelings about finally becoming a published author are a spicy, complex goulash: there’s a good solid base of lots of “squee! I’m gonna be a REAL author!” type excitement, of course, and a decent amount of pride; but also a good splash of anxiety (will anyone buy my book? will anyone like it? will anyone even read it?) and a generous dollop of trepidation around all the new things I’ll have to learn (marketing, self-promotion, blablabla). Spicing it up further are a sprinkle of validation and relief that the next phase of this long journey has finally been achieved, mixed with a pinch of amazement and a bit of self-chastisement at how long the process has taken so far and how much longer it will yet take before the book is printed and in a bookstore or library (or someone’s e-reader). And I’d be lying if I didn’t acknowledge that there’s also a zest there of nervousness about going the independent small press route instead of continuing to try to break down the doors (or glass ceilings, or whatever) of the big publishing houses.

But enough about goulash, let’s switch metaphors, shall we? (It’s my blog, I can do what I want to!) It’s been such a long and winding road to get to this critical juncture of “yay, someone wants to publish the novel I wrote”, and it feels important to take a look backwards and see how I got from “writer” to “author”. So let me lay out some of the journey, both as a hopefully useful reminder for myself and in the vague hope that perhaps it might be useful to other people for whom this kind of project doesn’t go quickly or easily either. (I know I suffered at first, and still do in my more gloomy moments, from the “I must not be very good at this if it’s so hard and it takes so long” syndrome. It’s a sucky syndrome. Try to avoid it.)

Ice Will Reveal (which used to be called something else entirely until it was pointed out to me that I’d unintentionally used a double entendre as my title—doh!) is my first novel-length work. In fact it’s so long, it’s practically two novels, but that’s a whole other blog post. It’s my newbie novel, my MFA equivalent: it’s the project with which I learned how to elevate my craft from “unconsciously incompetent with the occasional flash of competence” to “conscious incompetence with slightly more frequent flashes of competence”. I started writing it sometime around the end of 2003, triggered by a series of entertaining emails back and forth with a friend of mine where we each recounted the ever more epically heroic and over-embellished achievements of our individual characters from a D&D game we were playing (yes, yes, I’m THAT kind of geek...but in all fairness I can say that this novel bears only the very smallest resemblance to either D&D or to that long-ago game). At that stage in my life, I had a fairly absorbing day job as a Licensing Manager for a calendar company and was the mother of a young preschooler. I didn’t write very often or very much at a time, but I was determined to try to produce a longer piece of work. I had always been interested in and good at writing (in fact, I started out as a Creative Writing major in college before getting wildly distracted by academia for oh, roughly a decade), but I’d never written anything as big as a novel before (though I’d read a half a zillion of them already.) In what I used to sarcastically refer to as “my copious spare time”, I started reading books about writing and participating in online critique groups. Eventually I found myself some in-person writing buddies too, all of which helped a lot.


Seeing Clearly

Posted by: julia

Tagged in: solipsistic , reflect , metaphorical , life

I’ve recently gotten new glasses. Not just new frames, but a whole new prescription. These days, I apparently need help seeing both far away and close up, so for the first time, I’ve switched to progressive lenses (which is a fancy kind of bifocals). The need for close up vision correction is something new (hello, 40s, what delightful new experiences you keep bringing me!), though I’ve been noticing that something is different for at least a year now.

So as I’ve been going through the new glasses process--going to the ophthalmologist, picking out frames, adjusting to wearing the progressive lenses--it has occurred to me (‘cause, you know, writer) that perhaps all this physical vision-related stuff is happening now for a reason, an “as above, so below” kind of reason. In other words, there’s a pretty damn obvious metaphor happening here that I want to call out. Let’s go metaphor diving, shall we?

In general, I’m at a stage in my life where things no longer look quite the same, where what previously seemed like clear assumptions and expectations have become fuzzier and harder to see. And I’ve finally gotten to the point where that fuzziness is no longer acceptable--I’m tired of adjusting, of compensating, of waiting for things to reveal themselves to me. I want to take more ownership of the process and see if I can make things clearer. I think that my recent resolve to finally go and get new glasses has been a physical manifestation of trying to own this process of soul-searching and identity work that I’ve been in the midst of. It’s not like now that I have new glasses I will suddenly “see the light” and know firmly and exactly what it is I’ve been put on this earth to do and be able to start doing it with great ease and satisfaction (and compensation)--but I am at least now taking another step and claiming responsibility for my own clarity.


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