In the Midst of Life

My days are a whirling blur coalescing into weeks, months, seasons. Summer drags Orion across the sky, and I am wearing my favorite sundresses one last time before it is too cold. The nights are coming earlier, clouds are scudding in on winds that bring cooler air, and I am the sum total of everything happening at once.

I am still crafting “Fluffy,” the first book in my series. There is a coherence to the draft that was not there before, and that feels good. I believe that I am getting close to the true shape of the story, and I am trying not to fret over timelines, deadlines, or that fact that I don’t have a working title. Hopefully, when I come up with a title, it won’t sound like the name of a torrid romance novel like Stolen Climates does!

In addition to the novel, I am also working on a short story to be included in a speculative fiction anthology. I haven’t written a short in years, and those were all “literary.” My plan is to take an older story, amp up the spec and tone down the lit. Ironically, the story does have a working title, and it contains the word “goat.” Hence my inclusion of what would be an otherwise random photo of a goat:

Goat Song for a Joshua Tree

I’m reading Fate’s Mirror by M.H. Meade, and loving it. This is the best piece of sci-fi I have read in a very long time, and I encourage any of you who enjoy the genre or are interested in what the world might look like when network-born sentience arises to get this book! The philosophical issues raised by Fate’s Mirror turn out to be a fitting companion read for my efforts in writing “Fluffy,” which has also features a non-traditional consciousness.

The next book on my To Read List is an ARC of Hunter Shea’s upcoming novella, Swamp Monster Massacre. I’ve been a fan of Hunter’s writing since I read Forest of Shadows, and I am thrilled to announce he has invited me to participate in his blog tour to launch Swamp Monster Massacre. Look for my review in the first week of October… which also happens to be the first week of my favorite month of the year!

When I’m not reading or writing, I’m giving zazen a try. I have a longstanding moral affinity to Buddhism, and a lapsed meditation practice I am attempting to revive. I joined the Urban Zen meetup for my first time last Monday, and I cannot tell you how alert, connected, and peaceful I felt after the session. I have a long way to go in terms of posture and mental control during meditation, but it feels great to be finally (finally!) making an effort to discover more about meditation. With only a week of practice, I already feel more centered within the maelstrom of fast-moving daily life – a Very Good Thing!

And, when I’m not writing, reading, or meditating, I am trying to learn the stars. Mr. Aniko and I walk the dogs before the sun comes up – a necessity for most of the long, hot Texas days. I have developed a habit of noticing what I see, and then, if I can’t identify it and I notice it multiple days in a row, to look it up in Stellarium. The night sky, which I always treated as a static entity, is remarkably dynamic. It changes with adroit stealth, bringing me a new stars almost daily. Sirius was a pleasant surprise, winking blue and red with such intensity Mr. Aniko and I were fooled into thinking it must be man-made. Ah, the hubris!

Finally, I’d like to thank a few of the people who made this week special for me:

  • Edward Lorn: Surprised and honored me by writing a post explaining how I inspire him.
  • Lindsey Beth Goddard: Hosts the Author Interview Corner, which has amazing interviews and which also scored me a signed copy of her new book, Quick Fix: A Taste of Terror!!
  • Mr. Aniko: Insulated the roof of my Mazda3, giving me a quieter ride and better protection against the hot, hot sun. He also cooked dinner and breakfast every day to help me find time to fit in everything else I’m trying to do. Mr. Aniko, I love you!
  • Mo & Poppy: Who sent me postcards from their vacation, which was both thoughtful and made checking my mail fun!
  • Eric and Ivey (Urban Zen organizers): Welcomed me to their sangha with kindness and openness.
  • Greg and Rickey: Who encouraged me to have confidence in myself.
  • Brad: For being the person at work who makes me smile.

Xoxo,

-aniko

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22 thoughts on “In the Midst of Life

  1. Lately I have been totally fused with that maelstrom, and somehow, just thinking of it as that word is a bit helpful right now. I want to revive my sitting practice as well..I should make an effort to get to the Austin Shambhala Center. Thanks for the inspiration to move more in that direction!
    I, for one, am adoring this cooler air! But the rain did get me down in a way, as relieving as it was. I’m happy that more is coming- the sky has been so gorgeous lately with the many layers of clouds! Very glad that you are doing well and that things are coalescing in a beautiful fashion. Yay!

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    • That’s right, we’re both in Austin! I love the rain, mostly because the relentless sun and cloudless sky starts to make me feel like I am being stared at by a giant, unblinking blue eye. Yah, that gave me the creeps, too. 🙂

      Being “fused with that maelstrom” is one of the best ways to survive it, I think. An acceptance that life flows, sometimes more quickly than we would choose, is essential for avoiding the undertow of anxiety. The sitting practice is a great way to recall yourself to the calm center; it may be getting carried by the currents, but it itself is not the currents. I am not sure if that makes sense? Hopefully, you understand what I mean, though!

      Glad you stopped by – and now I feel like I should look up the Shambhala Center!

      -aniko

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    • You’re welcome. I only wish I had a stretch of uninterrupted time where I could sit and read from beginning to end. Unfortunately, I have to take it in chapter-sized bits! Great story, and I love the {[( punctuation for The Fates – genius!! When I am done, I would love to talk with one or both of you about the experience of writing as a pair, because the story is so seamless, I never feel that there are two voices and that is amazing to me.

      -aniko

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  2. Looking forward to your short story Aniko.
    As for meditation–I think I have some kind of issues because I find it basically impossible. Not only can I NOT calm or quiet my mind–my thoughts are MEAN! (Just the opposite of what happens when I have a few drinks…hmmm 😛 )
    And oh how I have tried…so any tips you might have could not hurt.
    May I recommend a book called A Trip to the Stars by Nicholas Christopher if you like the stars…and magic.

    http://www.amazon.com/Trip-To-The-Stars-Novel/dp/0743203305

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    • I love stars, and magic! Thank you for the recommendation. I will definitely add it to my TBR list.

      As for meditation, it is difficult to clear my mind, too. The difference between meditating and “regular” life, then, is that instead of becoming my thoughts, I simply notice they are there. When meditating, I try not to follow chains of thought, and to constantly bring my attention back to my breathing. It helps to sit with my hands resting near my belly, so I have a constant reminder of my breath moving through me. I’m still new at this, but I find that even if I can’t get my mind to stop nattering, I come out of my sitting practice feeling more at ease and less troubled by my own thought-patterns.

      I hope you like my story! I feel like you might be the perfect audience for it. 🙂 It’s no 100 Unfortunate Days, of course, but I think it’s got a similar vibe.

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    • I’m excited to be participating in your blog tour! I’m one lucky reader, to get the chance to help out an author whose work I enjoy. And as a writer, I’m very lucky to know you… and I might just have to take you up on that rant sometime! 🙂

      Take care,

      -aniko

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    • That’s funny, I used to be the opposite: I never thought I’d want to write longer pieces! I am having fun with this short. It was originally a writing exercise, but I always felt it could be more. I just wasn’t sure how until I needed to search out something to kick-start me into prepping for the anthology!

      Have a wonderful day!

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  3. A short story with a goat..now that does have me intrigued 😉
    I love that you are feeling in a better space this week – YAY! Thank goodness for new dawns and new seasons to freshen things up.
    Can’t wait to read “Fluffy” – Hint, Hint 🙂

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    • Haha, when you put it that way, having a goat in the story sounds a bit dirty! Giggling before seven in the morning, who would’ve guessed? Thanks!

      I need to get up the nerve to get a couple of chapters of Fluffy to you. I don’t know why I am so resistant to accepting the teaching that sharing can offer – especially since I know that your criticism will be thoughtful and not intended to wound. Fear of failure can be so isolating, hmmm… something upon which to ponder!

      xoxo

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      • Starting the morning with laughter is good for the creative soul 🙂
        I really can’t wait to read “Fluffy” firstly because you are my friend and I want to be there to encourage you and secondly because I know you are a first-rate first-class writer… Any time when you are ready…You have my details and know where to find me chick!
        xxx

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      • I am sorry it has taken me this long to find your comment in my spam folder! I only check my WP Dashboard when I get a notification that there is a new comment, and if something goes into spam, I don’t get a notification. I hope you know I’d never ignore you, Kim!

        Thank you for the support and encouragement. It means a lot to me. I will be in touch soon – hopefully this weekend – with a couple of chapters. 🙂

        And: after next week, I will have some time free, if you wanted to send me something of yours to read.

        hugs,

        -aniko

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  4. Funny, my story has the work “chicken” in it. Maybe we have a hidden theme in the making. I don’t have a working title, though.

    Your SF/Horror series sounds intriguing. I’m so ready to read some good SF 🙂

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