A Visit to the Vet

One of the joys that goes along with being a pet parent is that eventually you will find yourself taking a trip to the veterinarian’s office. For most people this just means wrestling their critter into a carrier, or loading them safely in the car and driving down to the local office at a convenient time.

Oh how I wish that was true here… Today Sammy, our 7 month old puppy had her first visit to the vet.

Our adorable pup posing nicely for a family photo!

Our adorable pup posing nicely for a family photo!

Now, out here in the village, most dogs are never seen by a vet. We don’t have one in the village, and the attitude towards animals is less cuddly/family oriented than in the lower 48. Most dogs are work dogs, or strays. Overpopulation is a problem, and that was how we came to adopt Sammy. With the holidays coming, we decided that we wanted her to travel back to the East Coast with us, where we will be spending just about a month with families during the Christmas break. If you have ever flown with a pet before, you know how much goes into this. You have to have the correct carrier, a reservation, and most importantly be up to date with all shots and have a health certificate.

I had everything in place for Sammy to fly, except the vet visit. Now the vet comes once a month from Anchorage to the hub town of Bethel for 4 days. You can only call for an appointment when he is in town. Two others from our village (both teachers) are planning on flying their dogs home as well, so I talked with them, and became the point person for our little adventure. So Monday morning I called the phone number at 9am. No one answered. The voicemail said that the vet would be in at 3pm that day. So I called back, praying that I would be able to get 3 appointments this week, and all at about the same time. We all have flights before the next time the vet will be in town, so it was crucial that we were seen. Thankfully at 2:58 the receptionist took my call and was able to set up the appointment for late afternoon, so the teachers didn’t have to miss much of their day.

It’s over now right? Wrong. How are we going to get to Bethel the next day? I had been out on the frozen river the day before, but it has been warming up again, and the snow all melted. River travel is happening, but it is very dangerous. If you fall through the ice, you may not come back up- and because it isn’t a real road, no one is going to come out and help (police, EMTs, etc.) So we have to charter flights. Bethel is only 7 miles away, but without roads, you don’t really have any options. I called and set up two separate charters, and was told we had to take the 207 plane which was more expensive because it was too warm to take a 3 seater if there were 3 of us and dogs. Awesome.

So adorable while she is sleeping!

So adorable while she is sleeping!

So we’re all set! …except no. I wake up Tuesday morning to a phone call from the airline that they had mechanical issues and needed to cancel all 207 charters for the day. So I scramble- do I change the vet appointments and reschedule the charters with the airline that is the cheapest and I’ve always flown, or do I try another airline that is going to charge more? I ended up booking charters with another airline that was extremely accommodating. It ended up costing more, but so goes life in the Bush right? Nothing is cheap.

Our super-pup was certainly very brave today- and didn't complain at all during shots, even though she was scared.

Our super-pup was certainly very brave today- and didn’t complain at all during shots, even though she was scared.

In the end, the flights went well, and the puppy is now vaccinated and certified to fly- thank goodness! You might wonder how much this costs? Well, like I said everything in the Bush is more expensive and this goes for vet bills too, I guess. Overall, the vet visit was about $280 and the chartered flights were $130 (per person- we split the bill 3 ways!) At least I got airline miles right?

So in the end, it’s worth it to have our puppy with us for the holidays, and we were prepared for the cost, but our ‘free’ adopted puppy sure is costing us a bunch! Be thankful next time you have to visit the vet- and don’t have to take a plane to get there!

Post Mortem (NaNo Wrap-up)

Nano Post Mortem


• An examination of a dead body to determine the cause of death.
• An analysis or discussion of an event held soon after it has occurred, especially in order to determine why it was a failure.

When I was attending college studying theatre, we would always hold a Post Mortem after each production. It was structured where we would ask three questions of ourselves and the department:

1. What worked?
2. What didn’t work?
3. What did I learn?

I think that this can be an excellent exercise for almost any project that you take on- whether you succeed or fail, it is important to be able to identify what things contributed to the outcome and learn from it.

My final word count as of 11/30 was: 60,577. I was a winner of NaNoWriMo, and met my personal goal of 60,000. I have not however, finished my first draft.

So, in this vein I will examine my first experience with NaNoWriMo:

1. What worked?

-Prep and Plotting
I did a lot of Prep (you can read about it in my previous blog posts) before NaNo started. I explored several different methods, and in the end, it paid off. I was able to sit and write without worrying about where my plot was going, or who the characters were. I had enough space to play and develop, but I had a roadmap as well. It also helped slow me down and not skip ahead to the next super exciting plot point. I have a good pace going where things are developing nicely.

-Writing in the morning
I have never been a morning person… but I can say, my best writing happened in the mornings. When I was in my routine and fully focused I could write and write. Not to say that I didn’t write at other times, but I had so many other distractions later in the day.

I turned to Twitter in the third and fourth week. Wordsprints and timed writing sessions were never about the high word count for me, but rather a focusing tool. I was being held accountable… sure no one would chastise me for not writing, but it was a little push I needed. I also followed a lot of different resources for writers, finding inspiration and great advice.

-Forums for Research
The Nano forums are a dangerous place… it is very easy to lose track of time reading there, but when I used them correctly they were great. Occasionally I would hit a place in my writing where I had a hole in my knowledge, and hadn’t researched. Usually it was something that a quick Google search couldn’t solve, so I would post to the forums and be able to breathe, go back to writing, and get some great responses.

-Writing goals were reasonable
2,000 words a day was a good goal for me. I picked it arbitrarily, but mostly because it was easier to do the math than with the standard 1,667. This goal kept me ahead of par, and I was able to take two days off this month for personal things, without falling behind and feeling guilty. Some days reaching two thousand words felt like scaling a mountain, but others it was so easy that I wrote above and beyond.

2. What didn’t work?

-Vague areas in my outline
I’m not sure how to fix this, but there were some places in my outline where I had ideas, but no actual scenes. I had written things like “Stuff happens here to show the disaster.” Great, but that doesn’t help when writing. I need to pay attention to where the characters are, and what the conflict is in each scene instead of just what it needs to accomplish. I had only some of the pieces and this made some parts extremely difficult.

-Microsoft Word?
I use Word for everything. I’m typing this blog post up in Word right now. I have used it when freelancing in the theatre, and school for forever. I utilized a lot of the cool tools available, and yet, this is the first project I’ve attempted on this scale. It is getting unwieldy, but I’m not sure about switching to Scrivner or some of the other programs out there. I may try the free trial for the planning of my next plot and see how I feel about it.

I started the month sharing daily updates in several places- Facebook included. However it started to feel like a nuisance and I was worrying more about what people would say, etc than it was worth, so I ditched the overshare, and just kept it to my daily e-mails to my family.

Procrastination is an ugly beast, and I don’t think it will ever leave me alone. Sometimes it is just hard to sit down, focus and write, even with the best intentions in the world. Does that make me a bad writer? No, I think it only makes me human. I will continue to strive to do better.

3. What did I learn?
First and foremost, I can do this. I can easily write 2,000 words most days and write well.

Even the best plans are not a complete thing. I thought my outline was as good as it was going to get and couldn’t be any more specific, but when I started working it was vague in a lot of areas- This showed me that I can’t plan everything out and it’s okay. Sometimes you have to slow down, and the plot will unfold. Stephen Kings talks about this in his book On Writing as the ‘excavation’ of the story.

I still like to write. I have something to say. This is exciting. I don’t want to throw it all out, or never type another word again.

I work very well with goals/pressure. I always did in theatre and school, and because I have a relatively open schedule nowadays, the daily writing goals were great motivators.

In conclusion…
NaNoWriMo was overwhelming at times. I thought I would breeze right through, and I didn’t. I did meet my goals and persevere however. It was a great jump start to my novel writing and I will be forever grateful.

You will find as many opinions of NaNoWriMo as you will find people on this planet. I won’t bother to list the myriad of articles and blogs that love or hate it. You can procrastinate on google for a good long time doing that (believe me.) I would recommend someone try NaNo if it sounded like a good idea to them, and something motivating rather than crushing, but it depends a lot on your own personal reasons for participating. It isn’t really a competition against other people, so if you want to use the month as motivation to help you write, you shouldn’t really worry about what other people are doing. Is a fanfic writer really going to ruin your literary fiction novel? No. The point is to write. And if you were going to write anyway- great! Other people writing (whether it is quality or not) doesn’t hurt what you do.

Finally, I have upped my personal goal to finish this thing before I arrive on the East Coast for Christmas. That gives me 10 more days. At my current rate I should reach about 80K before edits which is still within the recommended guidelines for my genre (New Adult). Hopefully I will have one final update when that is complete!

How did your NaNo go? What worked/didn’t work for you? What did you learn? Let me know in the comments below!