Monday, November 26, 2012

Of All the Things I've Lost, I Miss My Attention Span the Most

I hope everyone had a lovely Thanksgiving holiday and got to spend time with those they love.

I've had something on my mind lately. I wanted to see if anyone else in the writing community is experiencing this particular issue.

Back in my salad days (in the Golden Age of the 80's), I was able to read for hours at a stretch. I could read anywhere and tune out the world for as long as I wanted, spending time with Laura Ingalls and Bilbo Baggins and exploring far-off worlds that enjoyed a long life in the boundaries of my imagination.

I can't do that anymore. After a few paragraphs (if I get that far), my eyes and my brain start wandering off the book's track.

I'm not sure why. Is it that now I'm a dreadful adult and have more responsibilities tugging away at me? Do people feel more comfortable interrupting someone who is "just reading" now? Is it my attention graying along with my hair? Is it that I've run out of good books to suck me into those worlds? Or have I simply lost the ability to focus and sit still for that long?

If I lost it, where did it go? How did I lose it? I remember tearing through Kevin J. Anderson's "Saga of Seven Suns" not too many years ago. But now I have problems even finishing a much shorter Y.A. novel. My husband and I devoured the Harry Potter series as we read them aloud to each other. Now I can't seem to finish the side of a cereal box. What happened?

It bothers me deeply that I am having trouble doing something that i used to love, that used to be such a central part of my life. I was a bookworm! I still have many of those books lounging around the house. I say lounging, as I haven't touched them in many moons. It also bothers me that this lack of focus is affecting my ability to write as well. I find that I can only sit in front of the keyboard for a few minutes at a time. I can only blame so much of the distraction on my Furry Companions. Even if they aren't dancing on my keyboard because it's Kitty Nap Time, I can't seem to focus on my story for more than a few minutes before I have to be moving again. I've gotten this far by doing what I call "drive-by typing": typing for a few minutes, rushing to another part of the house to do something else, thinking of something, then typing only long enough to get those words saved on my flash drive.

Does anyone else have this problem? Has anyone seen my Attention Span? I think I dropped it somewhere and replaced it with the span of a gerbil somehow. If you happen to see it wandering by, please drop me a note.

Monday, November 05, 2012

Current Shenanigans

Happy November, friends! It's going to be a busy month here at Twin Cedars. I'm still plugging away at my first novel, "Twenty Million Leagues Over the Sea". The outdoor cat has decided that it's the time of year to transition to "indoor cat", at least at night. Currently Hobo is comatose on the credenza behind me, and the other indoor furries are actually letting her sleep. For the moment, peace reigns.

Free College-Level Classes

Some friends introduced me to a new web site this week: Coursera. This site is part of the new college trend of offering a selection of courses for free to the public. This site offers a wide variety of classes from various big-name universities. It's a little different from some sites where you just pick a video and watch it (though those are still very cool). These are actual classes with a start date, a finish date, some course work, and a letter of completion from the professor. It's more like an actual class. It does not grant actual credit toward a degree, but it can be a good way to introduce yourself to a new topic for personal learning. I have signed up for an Astronomy course that begins later this month and an Astrobiology course that starts in late January. I am very excited about them, and I think the work will help me in my quest to write solid science fiction.
Some of the course offerings are quite exciting and off the beaten path:
  • Bioelectricity: A Quantitative Approach
  • Writing in the Sciences (I may consider this one in the future as the current one is in progress now)
  • Computational Neuroscience
  • Control of Mobile Robots

Some of these classes are for the beginner; others are aimed at people with specific backgrounds. The class descriptions describe the intended audience. Looking at the course list, I kept thinking, "Ooooh! Story fodder. Like it. Cool. Story fodder. Story fodder! Story fodder!!!!" and "Where was this when I was in college!" But, you know, it's never too late to learn. I'm 42 years old, and my brain is still hungry.

Astronomical Events This Month

Speaking of astronomy ... we do have a few interesting Astronomical Events coming up this month - a couple of eclipses and the Leonids Meteor shower are on the menu for our skies in November.

November 13 - Total Solar Eclipse. Oh goody! Eclipse! Oh no, it's only visible from the South Pacific area. Never fear, in the Age of the Internet, everything is broadcast! The SLOOH Space Camera will broadcast the eclipse on November 13 starting at 2:30 PM Eastern. I intend to log in and have a gander. If you do live in the area where it will be visible, please take the normal eclipse viewing precautions with filters and glasses.

November 17 - 18 - Leonids Meteor shower peaks after Midnight; bundle up and makes some hot cocoa. I'm going to drag out my favorite viewing chair and a warm blankie.

You can see more events for the rest of the year on the astronomical events calendar at the Seasky web site .

Indie Author Newsflash

When I'm writing, I don't get a lot of time for my first love -- reading. However, I did take advantage of the recent free downloads from Amazon to pick up a few books from fellow indie authors. At the moment, I'm reading the YA novel "Cassidy Jones and the Secret Forumla" by Elise Stokes on my tablet Kindle app. I am enjoying it a great deal. I've been a comic book/superhero fan since the 80s (Titans Forever!!!), so I always enjoy a good teenage superhero tale. I'm still reading it, but I have really enjoyed it so far. Cassidy is a fun young lady. I look forward to reading more about her; I just wish she'd been around when I was 13 to read! :)

Ok, back to the keyboard for more writing! (*whipcrack*)