Gearing Up For Camp NaNo

The Evil Day Job and writing don’t always mix nicely, especially when you work in soul-sucking retail. Sometimes it seems impossible to be able to unplug from work and find time, or energy, to write once you make it home — hopefully in one piece. And other times…it really is impossible.

I am going to hate myself for saying this, but I have begun to associate this work week as a third Christmas. (Easter is the second Christmas when it comes to retail, and actually Back to School could be the third mini Christmas instead, so maybe this is like my fourth Christmas.) Essentially this week is Hell Week when my boss decided it’s a great time to take an eight day vacation — for what I swear is the third time in only a couple months, throw myself and the two other managers under the bus more than once, and leave all of us to pick up her slack the final week before the biggest boss visit of our store’s life.

Thanks, bitch! NOT! I don’t care what’s going on in your life right now, you should definitely be here for this.

I do not get paid enough for this amount of stress, frustration, and responsibility now sitting on my shoulders. I should also not be going into overtime this week, but guess what? All three of us managers left to deal with this bullshit are probably going into overtime, even when we’re technically not allowed.

You know it’s time to find a new job when you’ve got to the point that you really just don’t care anymore. You do what you get done and the rest… “Well, fuck it. It is what is anymore. I don’t care.”

I get it though. You’re the general manager and you’ve adopted an “I can do whatever the hell I want” attitude because of it. Whatever though. I don’t care anymore. I’ll look for a new job unless things start shaping up as fair again, or I’ll leave and laugh while I watch you scramble to fill an already shorthanded position.

Well no wonder I’m going into overtime then when I’m not supposed to!

*Rolls eyes* Idiot…

I shall forego a longer rant about work though and move onto writing. If there’s one thing overtime kills, it’s free time at home and the energy to do anything once you get home. It also doesn’t help when you work so many messed up shifts that you have to choose between eating, sleeping, or getting things done once you finally do get home.

The bad thing about all this happening right now is that it’s the week before Camp NaNo starts for me. By the time Saturday rolls around I’m going to be so fed up and exhausted that I’m going to need all of Saturday just to recover some sanity and motivation — maybe longer than that at this rate, which means I only have Sunday left in my request off days to get a head start on Camp.

I should have taken the first three days of July off for Camp, but then again, even if I did, my boss would be taking away the approved third day just like she took away one of my approved days — approved in FEBRUARY — this week because her life took precedent over mine.

I did not do it for you, bitch, I did it for the two other managers getting stuck with your bullshit too. Don’t you dare thank me for it, or I might just have the balls to finally say to your face I didn’t do it for you. (The other two managers know straight up I did it for them.)

Despite how much hell this week is going to be I did manage to start my Camp NaNo  project on Sunday. For the first time in two months I finally picked up some of my writing and got to work. Since I’m using Camp to work on the concordance and some minor editing of Fated to Darkness, I wanted to get a head start so I could play around with the best way to go about this project.

I’m glad I did get a head start because I spent a good hour and a half just organizing pages in my concordance and figuring out what sections/categories needed added yet, and making lists for what to include in certain categories (like character sheets, and chapter summary information for easy access to arranging plot lines, and so forth).

By the time I did call it quits Sunday night since I had to be at work early Monday morning, I had a better basis for how to do things, started a rough note notebook to keep track of things for said pages above, had managed to get through the Prologue of my story with the minor editing, and created a reference and question Word doc I can consult and use when I begin the major editing.

My hope is by making this Word doc I’ll better be able to organize the notes I left myself in my rough draft. I’ll be able to use it to answer questions of past events or miscellaneous things, or note that I need a character name, or a chapter title, or that this section needs more editing, or that I need to watch my “telling words” in this section, or this scene needs more description, etc. etc. etc.. By transferring and noting where those references and questions are in my rough draft, I should be able to eliminate lots of unnecessary words and some pages so I’m not printing — or paying — as much when I start paper editing the book. (I plan to put the Word doc on a flash drive and take it to an office supply store to print it instead of using all my own paper and ink.)

I think it’s going to work based on how things started out for me, and my hope is to get up to at least Chapter 11, which is about 146 pages, by the end of July. If I want to stick to my original goal of getting through the whole book by November, that gives me four months, and there’s about 40 some chapters in this book. Roughly ten chapters a month, not too bad — I don’t think. By doing it this way I can use the minimal free time of November and December to organize the rough notes I’m putting in the notebook into my concordance, and also print my reference Word doc and the actual book.

(Wait, what free time in November? That’s NaNoWriMo! And the start of the holiday!)

The more I think about this, the scarier it is to see how far I’ve really come. At the same time it’s exciting. It’s hard to believe I’ve really come this far.

Now if only I can figure out how to regain energy and motivation in the face of work’s hell to keep pushing forward this week — I would like to get through Chapter 1 before Camp starts — and in the future at this rate… Music only helps so much sometimes. I need another way. Like maybe taping the logo of my company — or maybe my boss’ face — on my target and practice shooting my bow at it. Bet you I’d hit a bull’s eye…

How do you unplug from work to shake off it’s exhaustion and frustration to be able to focus on writing and/or editing once you’re home?

Camp Journaling: Part One — The Notes

So yesterday I spent some time working on my camping notes for journaling, since, ya know, I’m so far behind on all of it. I didn’t get all of them done just yet. I’ve got one and a half left. I would have had it all done if not for the fact I couldn’t get motivation to work with me yesterday. Maybe because I knew starting with today I am going to have a long ass weekend and a long ass week coming up in terms of work and hectic nature. I guess I just wanted to relax finally.

Anywho, since I spent some time working on that and I’ve been saying for a couple months now that one of these posts was going to be about how I journal these trips, I figured that would be a good enough topic for today.

(Partly because I’m drawing a blank on what else to write about as well. I haven’t gotten any other writing done yet. I need to though, because it’s Friday. And Friday means I have to have proof for a group I’m in to show I’ve been writing. So I need to write something. Soon. Today preferably…)

So, yes, journaling.

I’m not going to talk of actually writing the entry in my journal, I’m more so going to talk about how I do the notes today, and perhaps next Tuesday I’ll talk about how I write the entry from them. That sounds like a good idea. (I should have done this a Tuesday into Friday post instead then. Oh well.)

So how do I take notes for camping trips so that I can journal them?

Well, first I have this small hand held notebook that I can fit in my bag and I carry around with me so I can do these notes anywhere. The first thing I do before we even hit the road is write down the campground’s name and the dates of the trip. Then I leave a space for Time, as in how long it takes us to travel there.

After that I have little abbreviations listed: F, Act, and Atr. As well as the word Average to the side of them. These are what I use for rating the campground based on three categories that I, if you haven’t guessed, average out in the end for an overall score. My rating goes on a scale of one to five, five being great and one being poor.

F stands for Facilities. When I think facilities I think just about everything the campground has to offer. From the restrooms, to a playground, to a pool, camp store, everything. I don’t just look at what they have and how much they have though, I look at how well-kept it is also. Are the bathrooms and showers very clean? Is the miniature golf course falling apart or are the greens playable? Do they have much to do for activities that aren’t run down?

Act stands for Activities. Some campgrounds will have activities planned throughout the weekend so when you show up they’ll hand you a piece of paper with some title of “Hawaiian Weekend” or “Splash Zone Weekend” with a list of title related activities and times for them. A lot tend to be geared towards smaller kids, but some places do have ceramics or DJ’s or sometimes you’ll see a volleyball or kickball game listed depending on the campground. There may even be an adult swim at night at the pool, and bingo is quite common. Not all campgrounds have activities planned though, and they can be what makes or breaks a good weekend and place to go — along with the weather. So I look to see if they have activities, or if the facilities they have are enough for some activities.

Lastly, Atr stands for Attractions. Not everyone goes camping to see the sights around the place, some simply go for the weekend of relaxation around the campfire with a drink and a s’more, but others do like to go visit the sights. So for this I look at how many interesting places are around the campground, and are within an hours drive. Am I out in no man’s land at this campground? Or do I have lots to go see and do if the weather is crappy for a game of volleyball?

I normally save rating those three categories until I have spent the whole weekend there and I have written the rest of my notes. Now the rest of the notes are just small reminders of what I need to include when I write my entry.

I start by writing the route in which we traveled, and then add how long it took to my Time slot once we reach the campground to check in. These two things, along with the campground’s phone number and address even find themselves in a smaller notebook, sort of like an index of places we can go back to.

After we’re all settled in and we’ve gone out to dinner, I take a walk or bike ride around the campground seeing what they have to offer. I record everything from activity places and how run down they are, to the camp store and what it has to offer, to how nice the showers and bathrooms are and even if they want to charge you money for the showers. I list all that they offer with some details. I even get pictures of the facilities as this is more than just journaling.

Once I have those I start adding other little notes. How level the sites are, is it swampy or muddy if it rains that weekend? Are the owners friendly and helpful? Is the place on the expensive side or decently priced for a weekend? Do they have Wi-Fi and does it cost anything to use, not to mention how reliable is it? How’s the cell service? Is there shade from trees or are you baking in the sun? Are the sites cramped or spacious? Are the bugs a royally pain in the ass that weekend?

Like I said before, I go into detail about these places. While I am out getting the notes of what the campground has to offer to do I make sure to stop in the office and look for any brochures of nearby attractions, which I then collect and store away in a folder.

While we were out at dinner, I made sure to note the restaurants we passed by and recorded them as well, with rough times of travel to them. Whichever we chose to eat at I gave a few details about the food and price as well, labeling them as Eateries within my notebook.

Sometimes I get time to note the campground before we head out to dinner, it really all depends on what time we leave and arrive at the campground, and the weather. Although, it seems to wait till after mostly when tradition in our group is sit back and have a drink after the long drive and set up.

Once the trip is over and we return home, I ask family if they have any notes to add to mine about the place, then I take my handful of brochures and my computer and start Google mapping these places to see how far away they are and if they are any good to include in my entry. For each one I check, I write down approximate times under the attraction name and then give a brief description of what it is or has to offer. Is it a gift shop, a museum, a natural attraction, a water park or other amusement place, a fun center, shopping within a town? Whatever I find within reasonable distance I add.

I put the brochures away in another folder once I’ve finished, save for the brochure of the campground that I keep out for when I write the entry, then I am officially done with the notes for that campground!

Over the next few days I’ll upload my camping photos to Facebook within the albums I make for memories and eventually I get around to writing the journal entry itself. I used to be really good at writing them before the next trip. I’ve slacked the past two years.

But as for how I write those entries, well, I’ll save that look into my mind for Tuesday’s post.

Little By Little, Bit By Bit

It’s been a good few days so far. (Now let’s hope I didn’t just jinx myself by saying that.) Doing things little by little, and not just throwing it all in at once is the right way to go about things. At least that’s what I’m finding right now.

I have Monday-Wednesday off this week. (Which is a total miracle that I have three days off in a row and I’m not camping. I’m not going to look a gift horse in the mouth on that one though.)

Somehow, I have finally found my groove, settled in and started steam rolling through things that I needed to get done. I have a list that has nineteen things listed on it that I hoped to get done by the time I go back to work Thursday evening.

(Granted some of those things are really small and easy and take like ten minutes. Example: Change bed sheets. Alright, well, that one took a tad longer than ten minutes since I had to was the mattress pad first. But you see my point. Things might also be added at random points, depends if I remember something else that needs done.)

So far, I’m doing really good on that list.

Of those nineteen things, I have crossed off nine and one thirds of those. I say one third because one of them I’m kind of just using as a continuum thing to do. As in, do some of it each day — considering I’m not going to read a whole book in one day. Granted, I could if I really wanted to, but I have other things to do as well. So, sadly, I can’t.

At the moment, I’m half way through crossing off another thing on my list. I’ve procrastinated far too long this summer on keeping up with my Camping Journal.

(I like to document the campgrounds we visit and the things we liked, disliked, what they offered/had to do, etc. That way, I know which ones are the better ones to go back to and can help our Wagonmaster determine where we want to go next year. FYI, I belong to a large group so you aren’t totally lost by what I mean by that. This probably just stems from the fact that I like to write and journal, I go a bit overboard with this though. Entries end up being six to nine pages long handwritten. I get a stack of brochures for attractions nearby. I have two smaller little handheld notebooks to take the notes in and one to document address, phone number, directions to the place, etc. You see my point.)

As I was saying before I went off on a tangent…

I like to document and write about the campgrounds and I have not written a single entry this year yet. I’ve kept the notes up, I’ve gotten the brochures. But I haven’t written the actual entries yet. I did really good last year, writing them only days after getting home. This year though…

*Shakes head*

It hasn’t happened.

Luckily for me, with certain issues, we’ve only gone to four trips this year so far instead of our normal six or so already. Which means I only have to write four entries at the moment. And there’s only one trip left in the season, which isn’t bad. As long as I get these ones down before I go on the last one. Or even just three of the four, I’ll be in good shape.

With that being said, I am currently buried under a pile of brochures, notebooks, and various pens and pencils strewn around me to finish up the notes of the last trip we went on. (It was only a week and a half ago so I’m not too far behind on this one.)

My iPhone that’s playing music is buried under here somewhere. I’m not quite sure where my pencil disappeared to, and at times I can’t see my keyboard but the technique is working. I’ve also got Google Maps thrown up in my browser to determine estimated time from campground to attraction to see if it’s worth putting in the entry, plus a tab for the campground itself to remind myself of things they offer. I also have pictures I take to help document so I start to flit through them for reminders. (If I can find my iPhone under this organized chaos.)

It’s going good though. I’m crossing things off, I’m getting organized, I’m doing what I need to get done finally. I just got to keep my groove going through another day and a half before I go to work.

Tomorrow is going to be the challenge though. My day will mostly be consumed by cleaning — and attempting to give my whining, paranoid dog a bath. That’ll be fun. (I am taking the fifth on how badly I need to clean to. I’m a writer though, what’d you expect?)

With that being said, I think it’s definitely safe for me to use this little quote:

“If you ever want to know what a creative person’s mind feels like, imagine a browser with 2,857 tabs open. All. The. Time.”