How to share a lane when lap swimming

If you happen to arrive at your pool for lap swim and find an empty lane, count yourself lucky and enjoy it while you can. As the sport of swimming (and especially triathlons) becomes more and more popular, you’ll probably find your pool getting more and more crowded during lap swim. This means at some point you’re going to have to share a lane.

Regardless if you’re the first one there and someone is joining you, or if you’re the one trying to join in an already occupied lane, sharing a lane is less fun than having a lane all to yourself. But, everyone paid the same amount of money to enjoy the pool. So, be a good pool citizen and don’t be a dick about sharing lanes.

There’s an etiquette to lane sharing that, once you know it and use it, can make everyone a lot happier. It’s not as good as having your own lane, nothing is, but it makes sharing a lane suck less. So, follow the lane-sharing tips I provide below, and I promise it will make the experience less awful for everyone.

I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that I think this advice applies equally to newbie lap swimmers and folks who have been swimming laps for a while and think they got this (spoiler: unless you are/were a competitive swimmer, you probably don’t “got this”…). I feel compelled to write this post because I’ve had three separate run-ins this week with folks who are regular swimmers at the pool I go to and who seem to be unaware of this etiquette to joining an already occupied lane. They’re not new to lap swimming, but they each violated one of the “don’t do this” bullets I’ve included below.

So, you, dear blog readers, get the joy of reading this blog post instead of my usual posts on writing and books…

My advice for joining an already occupied lane in a lap swimming pool:

It should go without saying, but if you are attempting to join a lane occupied by another person, it must mean that all the available lap swimming lanes are currently occupied by at least one person. If there is an empty lane, take it! If not, ideally try to find a lane with a lap swimmer who is swimming about the same speed as you. This will help immensely if the pool gets really crowded and you have to absorb a third swimmer into your lane and (horror!) begin circle swimming.

Once you’ve picked your lane to join, you have two options:

Option 1: If the person already swimming happens to stop at the wall, get their attention and let them know you’d like to share their lane. They may be in the middle of a set. So, they may not have time to stop and talk, but they will likely nod, spit out a few words of response, and move over to one side before resuming their workout. You can now jump in, take the other side, and start swimming.

If they don’t stop, or you can’t get their attention, don’t worry, just proceed to option 2…

Option 2: The person swimming may be in the middle of a long set, or just “in the zone.” Don’t worry, they aren’t (likely) ignoring you on purpose. Once you have all your gear on and are ready to get into the pool, wait for them to be headed toward you, then jump in and stand (or float vertically, holding onto the wall) at the end of the lane. This will make you visible to the other swimmer and they will either stop to acknowledge you and welcome you to the lane, or move over and just keep swimming. Either way, once they’ve made their turn at the wall and moved over, you’re free to start swimming, even if they didn’t stop to talk. (Note: you may want to give them a bit of room and wait a few seconds before you start swimming to space things out a bit so you’re not swimming right next to them.)

Now, a word of caution… For the love of the water PLEASE DO NOT do any of the following:

  • DO NOT jump in and start swimming toward someone who can’t see you. If you jump in and start swimming, and I’m not facing you, I can’t see you. If your body is horizontal in the water and so is mine, we’re both probably looking at the bottom of the pool which means that it’s harder to see you. Stay vertical at the end of the lane until you’re sure that the other swimmer sees you. If you don’t, you’re risking a head on collision at full speed and someone’s going to get hurt. Don’t do it.
  • In general, lap swimming rules specify NO DIVING. So, this one is simple. DON’T DIVE IN. I don’t care if you think it’s clear, or if you’re in the deep end, or if you’re a great diver. It doesn’t matter. The rule is “no diving” for a reason. If there is already someone in the lane, IT’S NOT SAFE. Diving in doesn’t alert the person in the water to your presence until you’re already in the water and swimming. You might miscalculate and accidentally dive on top of them. You might start swimming toward them and end up in a head on collision. Just DON’T DIVE IN. It’s simple.
  • Please try to avoid submerging a kick board vertically at the end of the lane and waving it back and forth to get the swimmer’s attention and make them stop swimming. For most competitive (and previously competitive) swimmers, this signals STOP! EMERGENCY! It gives them a minor fear-based adrenaline rush when they see that kick board waving. They expect you’re going to tell them to clear (get out of) the pool for an emergency. Joining a lane isn’t an emergency. Just follow Option 2 above and you’ll be fine. I promise. No kick board necessary.

One last word of advice… if all the lap lanes already have 2 people splitting the lane, you’re going to have to be patient and you’re probably going to have to circle swim (counter-clockwise, always, right-hand rule, like driving). Find a lane with a pair of swimmers that appear to be swimming about the same speed as you (this is critical for happy circle swimming), and wait until one or both of them have stopped. Let them know that you’d like to join them. Ask if they are comfortable circle swimming.

This is slightly more complicated to coordinate, so it’s better if you can be patient and wait for someone to stop swimming and talk to you. But, if you’re in a hurry, initiate Option 2. Getting into the lane and waiting patiently at the wall will let them know you’re there. Still wait for them to stop and coordinate before you try to start swimming. Even in this instance, you don’t need to resort to waving the kick board in the water unless it’s a real emergency.

And now… back to our regularly scheduled program of blog posts on books and writing. Hope this helped (or at least entertained) any lap swimmers who may be reading my blog. Now, if I could just find a way to send this to all the folks who swim laps at my local pool…

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Year in Review: 2016 Goals Recap

I didn’t accomplish all my goals this year. But, in Googley thinking (external perspective on what I mean by that here), that’s actually a good thing. It means I’m pushing myself. I feel pretty good about everything I accomplished this year. Not great. But pretty good. This sort of felt like one of those years where you work your butt off and don’t really see very much progress, but it’s all really important work that will pay off later. At least, that’s how I hope this turns out…

These were my 2016 (non-work-related) goals:

  • Swimming <– Total Score: 67%
    • swim at least 215 days out of the year (compared to 207 days in 2015) <– Score: 86%… I only swam 184 days out of the year
    • swim at least 400 miles (660k yards) total (compared to ~386 miles in 2015) <–Score: 94%… I ended the year with 374 miles total
    • drop time in my top five events, ideally trying for the following SCY goal times: <– Score: 20%…  I didn’t really race SCY this year, but I did race LCM Nationals and placed 9th in the Nation in 200m breast
      • 2:47.59 in 200 breast (current best = 2:51.65)
      • 1:17.89 in 100 breast (current best = 1:18.62)
      • 36.9 in 50 breast (current best = 37.75)
      • 2:55.36 in 200 fly (current best = 3:03.87)
      • 5:43.8 in 400 IM (current best = 5:59.11)
  • Writing <– Total Score: 83%
    • Finish my 2013 and 2014 NaNoWriMo drafts (both currently just over 50k words and about 60% done) <– Score: 50%… I should have revised this because plans changed when I got in to P2P and spent the first 4 months of this year working on “TLE” instead
    • Polish my 2015 NaNoWriMo first draft <– Score: 100%
    • Participate in NaNoWriMo 2016 as Marin County Municipal Liaison and write 50k new words in Nov <– Score: 100%
  • Reading <– Total Score: 70%
    • 50 books total (~1 per week) <– Score: 100%
    • Keep track of how many books I’m reading against the 2016 “Read Harder” challenge list <– Score: 100%… note how this does not say I needed to finish the challenge… 🙂
    • Read mostly books I already own and try to get my  to-read shelf (books I own but haven’t read yet) on Goodreads to less than 60 books (this list currently contains more than 100 books… ) <–Score: 0… Massive fail. I added at least as many books as I read this year… 
    • Write at least one blog post per week about what I’m reading and why (with photos) <– Score: 80%… I posted nearly 60 posts this year, which is more than one per week, on average. Not all of them were about what I was reading, but the vast majority of them were, and I did at least do a monthly review post through September.

Overall Score = 73%

I’m still working on goals for 2017. I am trying to make sure that I’m making them flexible, but specific enough that they keep me focused on what’s most important. For example, it’s unlikely you’ll see another “swim 400 miles” or specific goal times for races in 2017. I already know that competing isn’t going to be my priority next year, and not just because I’m now at the top of my age bracket. But more on that in a future post… For now, I’m just going to celebrate all I managed to accomplish this year, on top of working a pretty intense and demanding job with a ridiculous commute.

September in Review

September did not exactly go as planned. This is the first time in a long time that’s happened. I’d created some fairly ambitious goals for September, and I accomplished ~3/5, barely.

You may not be able to tell from this blog, but I’ve been pushing myself pretty hard this year. It’s gone beyond “burning the candle at both ends.” Between work stuff, writing stuff, and personal stuff (swimming, reading, social, etc.), it feels like I’ve cut the candle into a bunch of smaller pieces so I could burn each of those at both ends. As a result, this month I may finally have snapped.

Mid-month, I decided to dial it way back and re-set my expectations about what I want to accomplish for the rest of this year. More on that (maybe) in a future blog post. This one is just meant to be a September wrap-up.

Let’s recap each of my goals (since I posted them for ya’ll to see…)…

1. SWIM at least 4 x 3300 yards per week

This would have resulted in ~52.8k yards swum in September. I actually ended up swimming 15 days for a total of 53k yards. So, I did okay on the yardage, but 15 days isn’t quite 4x per week. Still, I’m considering this one accomplished, but just barely.

2. READ at least 1 book per week on average

There were four weeks plus three days in September, and I read three novels, one short non-fiction book, one comic trade, and one “quarterly almanac” of short stories and book/movie reviews. So, I’m calling this one accomplished as well, but also just barely.

Here’s what I read this month (links take you to my Goodreads reviews):

September2016

 

  • This Savage Song by Victoria Schwab (Kindle, pre-order) — Supposedly this is VES in her “YA” mode. It’s the first of her “YA” books I’ve read. That said, it didn’t really feel much more “YA” than her Shades of Magic series. This may have something to do with the fact that it had that gritty almost-real-world feel to the world-building, plus the dark complexity around what makes someone a hero vs. a villian that Vicious did. So, yeah. I loved it and want more, please.
  • The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers (Kindle) — This book is like if you took the anthropological world building of an Ursula Le Guin book and crossed it with the TV show Firefly. I had a few small quibbles with parts of this book when I thought about it critically (see my Goodreads review for more on this, if you’re curious). But, overall, I loved it and I can’t wait to read more stories set in this world. Apparently, there is a new one coming out in October! Woo hoo!
  • A Gathering of Shadows by V. E. Schwab (Kindle, library) — Book two in the series, and it ends on a massive cliff-hanger. Most of this story takes place around VES’s equivalent of the “tri-wizard tournament” in Harry Potter. In the process, we get to know our main characters better, and we learn a little more about magic in this world. I’m looking forward to the final book in this series, and I’m bummed that I have to wait until next year for its release. NOTE: my Goodreads review contains spoilers. Don’t click on the link above if you don’t want to be spoiled.
  • Black Panther: A Nation Under Our Feet, Book 1 by Ta-Nehisi Coates (trade paper) — I know nothing about Black Panther except that he was in the latest Captain America movie. I do know that I really like Mr. Coates’s writing (I took note of his articles in The Atlantic and started following him long before Between the World and Me). This comic was really dense and satisfying because of that. There is definitely a much more complex story building here than I feel like you usually get in most Marvel comics. This feels more like volume one of Bitch Planet or The Wicked & The Divine than any of the recent X-Men volumes I’ve been consuming. This is a good thing. Our superhero stories could use more depth.
  • Making It Right: Product Management For A Startup World by  Rian Van Der Merwe (Safari Books Online) — I’ve been thinking about my day-job a lot and realizing more and more that what I really want is to get closer to the engineering side of the world. I should have been a software engineer. I may still, someday, become a software engineer. But, in the meantime, I wanted to learn a little more about the difference between Program Managers and Product Managers. This book did a great job explaining what makes a great Product Manager and what great Product Managers do to ship great products. Highly recommend this one if you are considering becoming a Product Manager.
  • The Book Smugglers’ Quarterly Almanac: June 2016 edited by The Book Smugglers (Kindle) — This collection had a “superhero” theme. It included some excellent reviews for some books I want to read and some superhero movies (one I saw and one I skipped). Plus, there were a few short stories and essays. All were very good, a few were fantastic. The only hang-up I had was the copy editing. For some reason there were a ton of copy edit errors in my Kindle version.

3. NaNoWriMo Prep

Well, I picked which project I’m going to work on. But I didn’t write a plot synopsis for any of the ideas I was considering. So, I should maybe just get partial credit for this goal. I’m pretty excited about this idea though… and I’m excited to dive into prep and research in October. It feels good to be back in “creation” mode again after months and months and months of editing.

I’ve also been working hard on getting my region ready for NaNoWriMo. I’ve been scheduling write-ins and the kick-off and TGIO parties. I’m working on prizes and prep sessions. I’ve already hit my first fundraising goal, and now I’m trying to see if I can raise a little more so I can bring a guest. I’m probably completely over-committing, but I’d rather start strong and see how it goes. I think I can make it work. It’s just a month. How bad could it be? (Famous last words…)

4. Re-read “Falling” and decide next steps

I didn’t even try to do this. I had too much else going on and decided that I didn’t want to try to push another project through before NaNoWriMo starts. I decided that I needed a break. So, all non-NaNoWriMo writing projects are officially on hold until January.

5. “Good clean living…” (no sweets, no alcohol except for one “cheat day” per week)

Yeah…. this did not happen. I bailed on this one pretty early. I don’t know what I was thinking. September is my husband’s birthday month, and if he was eating pie and drinking a beer, I certainly wasn’t going to just sit there and watch him! Plus, I had no real solid motivating factor here to keep me on the wagon. It’s not like I’m trying to lose weight or anything. This activity is best reserved for January as a post-holiday “cleanse” of sorts.

Oh, and this wasn’t exactly in my goals, but I totally bailed on that Instagram challenge (#IGAuthorLifeSept) that I said I was going to do in September.

Still, for a month where nothing seemed to be going as planned, I got the important stuff done. And, I definitely learned my lesson. Sometimes you just need a month to relax and re-group. I’m making a note of this and mentally scheduling December as my next “relax and re-group” month. After NaNoWriMo, I have a feeling I’ll need it!

April in Review

April was supposed to be a huge month for swimming. In fact, right now I was supposed to be racing in North Carolina at US Masters Nationals. Instead, I threw all my competition plans out the window so I could focus on my writing. I’m a little sad that I’m missing all the racing fun, but I’m also really happy with the edits I made to The Lost Empire this month.

My April writing calendar doesn’t look super impressive, but those silver dots are hiding a TON of work.

Writing-April2016

Each dot means that I edited at least one chapter that day. Sometimes “editing” included writing new scenes and/or heavily overhauling old ones. By the time I was done, I think I added about 8k *new* words to The Lost Empire. That long break between 4/18 and 4/27 was my well-deserved, post Pitch to Publication contest, break. Now, on to the next manuscript…

Even though I spent nearly every spare minute in April working on edits, I did manage to read some books.

Reading-April2016

One sci-fi novella (Binti), one non-fiction audiobook (Pirate Hunters), one paperback ARC from one of my Indiespensible shipments (Fever at Dawn), and a contemporary new adult romance by one of my favorite romance authors (Trade Me). I might have given everything except the ARC five stars (but the ARC was outside my wheelhouse from the start, so it shouldn’t count). Either I was feeling generous (writing and editing a book is HARD, people), or they were amazing and hit me at just the right time to leave a mark. Highly recommend. Links above take you to my Goodreads reviews.

So, that was April, now let’s talk about May. I can’t believe it’s May already! In case you didn’t know, May is my favorite month, and not just because it’s my birthday month. I have a lot of cool stuff to look forward to this month, but I also have a lot of hard work in front of me, as well. As a reward for hard work and my birthday, I’ve gone a little crazy with the pre-orders…

So far, I’ve ordered these four beauties:

2016 Pre-Orders

A Court of Mist and Fury comes out on Tuesday. I had mixed feelings about the first book in this series, but the world-building was just amazing. SJM gets all the gold stars for building rich magical worlds that make you want to keep coming back for more. This is why I also have book five in the Throne of Glass series on pre-order (Empire of Storms <– what a great title!). I’ve had some issues with the romanic sub-plots in both of these series from time to time. But, book four in the Throne of Glass series made it all worth it for me and gave me hope that book two in the Court of Thorns and Roses series would be better (please let it be better…).

As much as I love SJM’s world-building and swoon-worthy heros, nothing beats Victoria Schwab for examining complicated aspects of human nature. Vicious was one of my favorite books I read last year, and I haven’t even started her most popular series (first book: A Darker Shade of Magic). Her latest, This Savage Song, comes out in July and I can not wait to read this book.

The blurb for Laini Taylor’s new book, Strange the Dreamer, sounds heartbreakingly beautiful. If her Daughter of Smoke and Bone series is any indication, I will love this one, too. Laini Taylor is another writer who is top notch at world-building and romantic sub-plots that add just the right amount of heat to an already edge-of-your-seat adventure.

You know it’s a good year for reading (and a bad year for your book budget) when three of your most favorite YA authors are all releasing new books!

Since only one of those comes out in May, here’s what I put on my May TBR:

May2016TBR

You may notice a few repeat offenders on this list… oh, who am I kidding? This is basically the same list as last month. I did add Lagoon to the list after finishing Binti this month. I’ve had Lagoon on my Kindle since October, and I’ve had my eye on it since around this time last summer. So, it’s about time I read it.

But first, I have to do some edits on Godda’s War (which may also need a new title…), and I really want to start working on the outline for a new book that’s been bouncing around in my head for far too long. Maybe I can add some stars to May’s writing calendar in addition to the silver dots…

Since this post is now epic-length, I should get back to work. Happy May, everybody!

March in Review

March was mostly a writing month. I didn’t get much reading done. In fact, I didn’t touch my Kindle for the entire month. Instead, I read one comic and one audio book.

Books:

March2016

I never got to read the one book I wanted to read in March (The Story of a New Name), and I had to return it to the library. 😦 I’m now going to have to go back to the bottom of the hold list at the library. But it’s okay. I don’t have time to read it now anyway.

My TBR for April is basically the same as my TBR for March. I’ve filled it with a bunch of short books that I think will be fast reads. I’m hoping I can use them as distractions from my writing projects when I need a break.

April2016TBR

TV and movies:

I haven’t had a ton of time to watch TV and movies this month. But I did manage to get caught up on The 100 and Super Girl. I’m not as worked up about The 100 and I LOVED the Super Girl / Flash cross-over episode. I don’t watch The Flash, but those two were so cute together I feel like this should be a regular thing. I’m still watching The Magicians, and I still think it’s better than the book (at least the first book in the series, which is all I’ve read so far). I need to get caught up on the rest of the season, and I need to catch up on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., if for no other reason then to finally decide that I no longer need to watch that show.

Swimming:

Something had to give this month. For the first time since I started swimming competitively again, it ended up being swimming. I’ve bailed on all the in-season swim meets this year (except for two ill-advised races at Rinconada). I’m still training hard, but I’ve cut it back to about 4x per week, and I decided that giving up my weekends for all-weekend swim meets is not the best use of my time right now. This means no more races for me until July or August. It’s not a huge sacrifice, considering that I plan to keep racing for as long as I’m alive. I’m planning on being one fast 90+ age-group breaststroker. But right now, I need that time for writing.

Writing:

Something unexpected (and really good) happened that has kept me VERY busy with writing this month. I entered The Lost Empire (my YA epic fantasy novel) into a contest, and I was selected to work with an editor (we’re name twins) in preparation for an “agent round” in April! I still can’t believe it.

I also started using a new way of tracking (and rewarding) my writing. I’m dabbling with the “calendar method” (borrowed from V. E. Schwab) where you give yourself a sticker on the calendar to represent writing days. Each sticker is supposed to stand for a certain number of words written. This is what March looked like:

Writing-March2016

I decided to give myself a foil star for any days with over 500 words written. I gave myself a foil circle for days I edited at least one chapter. I may be more generous next month and make each star worth 500 words and each circle worth one chapter of edits. Then I’d give myself more than two stars if I wrote 1000 words, or two circles if I edited two chapters, etc. But that just seems like overkill at this point.

As you can see from the calendar, I got some writing done in the first half of the month, and I spent the second half working on edits for TLE. I like the changes I’m making and I think the novel is getting better. But I probably won’t be done with edits until mid-April.

If I have time for writing in April, I’ll probably be working on a short story for Camp NaNoWriMo. But I also plan on trying to post more short blog posts in April. So stay tuned for that. In the meantime, I hope you are all enjoying your spring!

February in Review

Once again, I haven’t been posting much. Don’t worry. I’m still here. I’ve just been busy. Mostly the usual stuff (swim, work, read, write, repeat). Except, this month, I’ve been watching TV and movies a bit more than I’ve been reading.

Books I read this month (links take you to my reviews on Goodreads):

February2016

I’m not making any big reading promises for March. I have exactly one book that I really want to read/finish (The Story of a New Name). But, this is my full March TBR:

March2016TBR

You can see, I’m off my non-fiction kick and moving towards some serious sci-fi, with a little fantasy and contemporary romance to balance things out.

TV and movies I’ve been enjoying:

  • The 100 is back! Yes! Okay, fine. Maybe you gave up on this show sometime in the middle of the first season. But, something made me stick with it, and I love it. There’s just something about the world-building and the story that keeps me coming back. It scratches an itch in my story-writing brain, and the plot keeps going in different directions. Some people may think that’s a bad thing, but I like that it’s not entirely predictable. Like, I have no idea what they’re doing with this whole City of Light thing, and what the hell, Bellamy? And the languages! Did you know it’s the same guy who does the languages for Game of Thrones? He’s so awesome.
  • The Magicians show is so much better than the book. I almost never say that, but there it is. That said, I’m only a few episodes in. I really need some time to catch up on this show, but I started watching it with my husband and now I feel bad watching it without him.
  • I still love Supergirl. I may only be watching it for the Ally McBeal business woman truth bombs, but Calista Flockhart is amazing in this show, and that’s more than enough for me.
  • I watched the first episode of Fuller House. Nostalgia! That one episode was all I really needed, but I’ll probably watch a few more to see where they go with this.
  • Have you seen the movie Dope? It is everything. I loved it.
  • And the movie Chef almost felt like an ad for Twitter (in an awesome way), but it also made me want to pack up and hit the road following my dreams.

Swimming:

I swam more miles in February than I have in any of the past three years, but I swam fewer days than I’d planned.

I didn’t go to any swim meets this month. I haven’t wanted to sacrifice my weekends when I know I’m tired from training hard and not likely to swim as fast as I’d like. I’m going to do a mid-season meet in March, and based on that meet, I’ll decide if I’m going to travel to North Carolina for Nationals.

Writing:

I’ve been editing and polishing my YA fantasy novel and my NA paranormal romance novel. And, I’m getting ready to dive into something new in April. Originally, I thought I would finish “Augmented” or “Falling” (my 2014 and 2013 NaNoWriMo novels) before I wrote something new. But… I’ve had a story in mind for a while now, and I really want to write it. So, I’m thinking I may use the April Camp NaNoWriMo as a motivator and start work on a new WIP.

And there you have it. That was February. 🙂

January in Review

This will probably be a pretty long post… I’m dividing it up into sections, so you can just skip the bits you aren’t interested in.

I had two main goals for January. One was to finish my NaNoWriMo novel from November. The other was to turn up the heat on my swimming training because January is the start of the short course yards season and Nationals is coming up at the end of April.

I’ll recap on how things are progressing on those fronts, as well as recap what I read in January and talk about what I plan to read in February. I’ll also mention some of the other culture I consumed this month in the way of TV shows and podcasts.

Swimming

Spring Nationals is kind of a big deal for Masters Swimming. I’ve qualified in all three breast stroke events (50, 100, and 200 yards) every year that I’ve been swimming Masters. And, looking at my times from last year vs. this year’s qualifying times, I’ve qualified in all three breaststroke events, and I’m very close to qualifying in the 400 IM and the 200 fly.

My goal for this season is to swim qualifying times in 400 IM and 200 fly, and swim under 2:50 in my 200 breaststroke. These are pretty much the three hardest events in swimming and they all require a ridiculous amount of endurance. I started stepping it up in the fall, and now I have about ten weeks of hard training before the focus turns more to speed, in-season racing, and then taper.

So far this month I’ve had some pretty good practices. I’ve repeated a few “test sets” from last year and dropped time. And yesterday I swam The Olympic Club Mile, a 1500 meter race in their competition pool. I’ve never raced a mile in the pool before, so I was fairly conservative with my seed time of just over 24 minutes. But, I ended up blowing away my expectations and holding a strong pace through the entire race to finish just under 23 minutes. Now, if I can just keep this up for another three months…

Writing

The writing hasn’t been going as well as planned this month. I only managed to write about 3k words this month. I love my story and I’ve received some great feedback on the first few chapters. I’m inching closer to the end, but I’ve been struggling with my perfectionist tendencies and worrying about “sticking the landing” (I don’t have enough practice at endings yet).

I like to get things right the first time. I don’t really like “fixing things in revision.” Adding things in revision (description, layers, scenes, etc.) is fine. But I’m having to do a lot of world-building as I’m writing this story. So, sometimes I find I need to stop and figure things out so I don’t write myself into a corner and have to backtrack.

I’ve come to the realization that I need to stop treating this like a “creative outlet” along the lines of “I feel like coloring today.” I need to start treating it a little more like I do swimming. I feel awful if I don’t swim five or six times a week. Even if I don’t want to go, I make myself at least go and swim a warm-up. I tell myself I can get out after warm-up if I still want to bail (I never do). But on the days I skip writing, I let myself off the hook. I feel awful and guilty about it, but I just shrug it off. So, my strategy for February is going to be that I have to at least write three sentences every day. If I want to stop after three sentences, fine. But I have to write at least three.

Reading

If you remember from my TBR post, I was on a non-fiction kick this month. I don’t know where that came from. I read as many non-fiction books in January as I did in all of 2015. And I still have more on my TBR for this month. Here’s what I read this month:

January2016

I just noticed that four out of five books I read this month featured a woman on the cover. Huh. If you want to know what I thought of these, check out my reviews on Goodreads (One Good Earl Deserves a Lover, The Oregon Trail, Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?, The Art of Asking, and Lean In)

I like to read non-fiction when I’m writing. I feel like it interferes less with my story-telling brain. Or if it does interfere, it interferes in a positive way. But, sometimes, even when I’m writing, I find it helpful to read in the genre I’m writing in because I can see how other authors handled certain sticky plot problems. That’s one reason I threw in a romance novel at the end of this month. I needed a little help getting un-stuck on my current WIP.

I expect that the focus for February will still be on swimming and writing. So, I’m keeping my February TBR on a tight leash. These are the books I really want to read next.

February2016-TBR

I’ve already talked about why I want to read The Boys in the Boat and Deep. So, I’ll just make a few comments about the other three on this list.

I’ve had a feeling that The Magicians is going to be a series I’m going to fall in love with. Based on the blurbs I’ve read, it appears to have just the right mix of magic and grit/darkness that I love. So, I’ve been holding it at an arms length for some time, waiting for the right moment to dive in. Now that the series is complete, and the TV show on the SyFy channel has just started, I must read it immediately.

Similarly, I love the new Star Wars movie and I’m planning on diving into all the new extended universe books, novellas, and comics, starting with Chuck Wendig’s Aftermath.

And, we have a weekend road-trip planned in February. So, I pulled Kingpin (non-fiction) off my ancient TBR list, and checked the audio-book out from the library. Hubby and I just finished a binge watch of Mr. Robot, and I think this is going to be a great companion selection.

Other culture consumed

One of the other things that happens when I’m writing is that I consume more TV shows and movies. Sometimes it’s a mood thing (like I’m trying to portray a mood in my writing and I need to immerse myself in something that evokes that feeling). Other times it’s just a time thing (as in, I don’t have enough time to read a whole book, so I’ll substitute my fictional world craving with a TV show or movie). Whatever it is, I definitely watched more shows than normal this month.

The two shows that I’ve been obsessed with this month are Jessica Jones (Netflix) and Mr. Robot (USA Network, but we purchased from Amazon). I’m still digesting all the reasons I love these two shows, and I’m not quite ready to talk about them yet. But, I will say that I’m anxiously looking forward to the next seasons of both.

I’m also learning to love podcasts. Recently, I am most loving the Dear Bitches, Smart Authors podcast by the folks who do the Smart Bitches, Trashy Books blog. I could go on and on about my love for this podcast, but this post is already long enough. So, I’ll just say, if you like genre books, especially romance, and if you like author interviews and listening to smart, thoughtful people talk about books, you should check out this podcast. Just click on the podcast link (above) and read through the synopsis of the recent podcasts. It’s basically the only podcast I subscribe to that my husband will listen to when we’re in the car together.

Okay… that was a LOT for one blog post. Maybe I shouldn’t wait so long between blog posts, huh?

2015 recap: Goals

Every year I end up making some crazy personal goals for myself. Looking back on 2015’s goals, I’m a little surprised at how well I did. Taken all together, this is some pretty challenging stuff I signed myself up for this year, and I accomplished almost all of it.

  • Swimming
    • swim 20 days per month –> partial credit… averaged 17 days per month, but swam more days (and yards) in 2015 than I have since I joined USMS in Dec 2012
    • get SCY times on the books for 400 IM and 1650 free –> done
    • qualify for SCY Nationals in the 3 breaststroke events plus 2 more (200 fly and 400 IM) –> partial credit… qualified in the 3 breaststroke events and dropped time in my 200 fly and 400 IM, but I am still a few seconds off qualifying times in those two events
  • Writing
    • Finish at least one novel (“Empire”) and be ready to query by end of 2015 –> partial credit… finished first draft, but not ready to query… 
    • Participate in NaNoWriMo as Marin County Municipal Liaison –> done
    • Plot NaNoWriMo novel in October and write complete first draft by end of 2015, at least 50k in November with goal to finish complete plot arc, but must continue and finish in December if not done yet. –> still working on this one… 
    • Pick the next incomplete novel to finish first draft of (“Falling” or “Augmented”) and prep outline / notes in December so I’m ready to write in January –> done
  • Reading
    • 50 books total (~1 per week) –> done
    • Read at least 12 “diverse” books in 2015 (~1 per month) –> almost… I finished 10
    • Write blurb book reviews for books read on Goodreads –> done
    • Continue weekly inbox/outbox post on the blog –> done
    • Participate in Book Riot’s “Read Harder” challenge –> done

In a way, I want to go a bit easier on myself next year. This year was pretty intense and I pushed myself pretty hard trying to get all this done. But, on the other hand, I’m pretty proud of my accomplishments.

Everyone’s a videographer…

This morning, at the pool, I had an encounter with a woman I’ll call “the GoPro Lady.” She got under my skin and got me thinking about the ethics of video, given the ubiquitousness of smart phone cameras and the instrumentation of every damn thing. So, I’m going to put this dilemma to you, dear blog readers, to see what you think. But first, let me tell you the story…

The pool I swim at most mornings is frequented by a group of die hard swimmers of varying abilities. I call them “die hard” because you have to be pretty hard core if you’re going to get up every day (or nearly every day) except Sundays and holidays, to congregate outside the locked gate of the *outdoor* high school pool, and stand in line waiting for it to open at 5:30am. Now, this is California, but it still gets a little brisk on winter mornings. Most (sane) people are snuggled up in bed at 5:30am when it’s dark and 40 degrees (F) outside.

I’ve been swimming at this pool for about two years. At this point, I recognize most of the regulars. We don’t talk much. There is some chatter while waiting for the career lifeguard to arrive in the morning and unlock the facilities. But once we pass through the sign-in queue, the talking pretty much ends as we each make a bee-line to our favorite lane to stake out our territory. After that, everyone does their thing, eventually packing it in and heading home, pumped and ready to do it again tomorrow.

I’ve seen GoPro Lady once before. She creeped me out with her stealthy little video camera then, but I wasn’t sharing a lane with her. So, I didn’t make a big deal about it. This morning, however, she got in my lane. I was already most of the way through my warm-up when she arrived, and barely looked up when she appeared at the end of the lane. We exchanged a brief greeting and I acknowledged that she was planning to split the lane with me. Then I pushed off into my next set, as you do. No big deal.

I didn’t even see her face, let alone recognize her, at that point. Then I pretty much ignored her while I swam my various sets, single-mindedly focused on the workout I’d planned and prepping for the swim meet I have on Saturday. So, I didn’t notice the camera pointed on me the whole time.

As the seven o’clock pool-closing hour ticked closer, the pool started to clear out. A lane opened up next to us and she decided to slide over and take her own lane. Fine by me. I finished my second-to-last set and paused to drink some water and put my fins on for my kick set. That’s when I finally noticed the camera and realized I’d been sharing a lane with the GoPro lady.

She had moved the camera, with her, to the lane next to mine. But, instead of it pointing straight down the lane as one might expect, it was slightly angled… toward me. WTF. I grumbled, but she was swimming. So, I grabbed my kick board and began kicking down the lane, away from the camera. I went up and back several times, frowning at the camera every time I approached it, until finally, on one of my last lengths, I slowly pivoted my left hand until my fingers were no longer wrapped around the end of the kick board and my middle finger was extended and almost parallel with the front of the board.

Yep. I flipped off the GoPro. So mature. I know. Then I strategically placed my kick board back on the deck so that it was slightly obstructing the camera’s view of my lane. GoPro Lady didn’t say anything. She eventually repositioned the camera so it was pointed down her lane. But, when I was getting out of the pool, I noticed she had repositioned it, yet again. This time it was angled sharply, pointing towards a young, fit gentleman a few lanes over. Uncool, GoPro Lady.

So, here’s the thing… I don’t think there is any law or rule or anything that says she can’t video at the pool. But, what’s the ethical thing to do here? Let’s say I give her the benefit of the doubt and assume she just wants to film her stroke so that she can make improvements, and maybe she wants to film others, people who have good technique, so that she can see what they’re doing to help her improve. But, why not just *ask* first?

I mean, I don’t know what she’s going to do with that video. Maybe she’s going to just keep it for her own personal use (still potentially creepy). But what if she is putting that out on the internet. What if she’s making and selling training videos? Regardless of the purpose, shouldn’t you be getting the permission of the people you’re filming? Or is everything just fair game now because cameras are everywhere?

And here is my dilemma. When cameras are everywhere, what right do you have to opt out of being filmed? What responsibility does the everyman videographer have to get consent from the “innocent bystanders”? I don’t have answers for these questions. I hate that I feel all “get off my lawn” about this topic, but does no one care about privacy anymore?

I feel a tiny bit bad that I flipped off her GoPro. And, if I see her at the pool again, I’m planning on taking a more polite and direct approach. But I’m not a fan of videos without consent. If that makes me a curmudgeon… oh well. At least I’m a fit curmudgeon.