When You See a Rock Coming, It Hurts Less

Getting ready to aquascape


For those of you who aren’t reefers, the backbone of most reef tanks is live rock.  Sounds crazy, I know.  Live rock (and sand) serves as the biological filter in a tank, it’s what coral reefs are formed from–basically the skeletons of long dead corals.  The rock itself isn’t live, but the beneficial bacteria and microscopic organisms that live in it are.  It’s also very expensive.  For this tank, I chose to go with reef rock that isn’t live, but “dry.” All those nooks and crannies in the rock are helpful, providing more surface area for the bacteria to colonize. It will take longer for the tank to cycle and be ready for livestock, but it’s a much more budget friendly option, and I will “seed” the dry rock with just a few pounds of live rock and many pounds of live sand.

I ordered 50 pounds of this rock, expected it to arrive today.  Surprise! It came a day early. My intercom phone rang yesterday, the guard telling me I should come get my package.  Of course this happened after my back was humming from doing a few loads of laundry, and right before I had to leave to pick the girl up from school.  The gloom and rain of the day just added that extra something. I assumed it was a small package, yanno, the two ounce heater, maybe the hose for siphoning water.  This guard is getting up there in years, and tends to get a little ummm, stressed, if you don’t come and take your packages right. now. I thought my back was humming after laundry? Bwahahaha!  I couldn’t even look at the fucking box to open it until this morning.  But now I have, and I had to immediately begin taking pictures because I’m a geek.

I spent last night and this morning thinking about the tank build and my writing.  Both are intense, bring me peace and joy and angst and tears.  Both endeavors I can and do lose hours in, often walking away feeling upside down and inside out. And I wondered, should I not have started this tank? I have people who seem to genuinely love my writing, several of whom have encouraged me to self publish.  I could have put the money I’m putting into the tank into self pubbing Astonishing.  Except it wouldn’t be enough.  I write, and I self-edit what I write, but I’m no editor.  I’m also not a graphic artist, able to design a book cover.  Nor a computer savvy gal, able to convert the file into something readable on Kindle or Nook. Nor a marketing expert, able to get it out there.  All things that need to happen if you’re going to self publish.  If I’m ever published, trade or self, I want it done well.

It’s funny.  Astonishing is magical realism, not a genre that’s popular or clearly defined in the adult market.  Seems like many have their own definition and expectations for it.  Maybe I should define it as written surrealism, instead of magical realism.  Or hyperrealism, based on responses I get in regards to my characters, based on those ordinary people we walk past every day, who are extraordinary in the impact they have on each of us, shaping our lives.  That’s what I love, whether I’m writing, reading, or reefing. Those small moments, how every creature–regardless of how many celled–affects every other around them, causing growth or a crash, it almost doesn’t matter.


  1. I always like how you often divide your posts in one fun and one serious parts.
    Since I don’t own an aquarium, I can only imagine the size and weight of the rock. However, as a writer, I fully get your feelings about the craft and appreciate your comparison between building your tank and your writing life. I also share your thoughts about the different ways to get published and love what you wrote about the title of your novel. Best to you!


    1. Thanks, Evelyn! Writing or reefing, both are crafts requiring patience, attention to detail, and willingness to accept setbacks.

      Also, I highly recommend starting a tank, it’s an amazing hobby. 🙂


  2. Great post, Mrs F! I love where you went with it. I was wondering a bit ago if you might consider self-publishing, and I do understand your choice. I hope to get to read that book one day, though. And I hope your back feels better!


    1. Thanks Kyla (and so nice to see you here) 🙂 I hope this book will be available for any and all who are interested, one day. 😉 If not, who knows? The first chapter is up here on Mrs Fringe, you can click on the header that says Astonishing. I may put it up little by little here on the blog, eventually. ❤


  3. The list of reasons you haven’t self published is very similar to my list of reasons for not self publishing. People who don’t know think it’s so very easy (and in some cases, some people who should know better also think it’s so very easy).

    I’ve wondered about reefs in tanks and things of that nature. My dad kept a freshwater tank for years and years, with a rotating cast of fish, other than the Gar, who lived for 29 years or more.


    1. Yes, SPing is definitely not as easy as it seems. 29 years for a fish? That is awesome! Unfortunately, a lot of people don’t realize fish aren’t/shouldn’t be disposable pets. I fell in love with reefing quite a few years back, it’s endlessly fascinating, always something new to see and watch, there’s nothing like it. A highly addictive hobby. 🙂


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