Time Stretches

I thought I’d do a blog post to check-in since it’s been a while. I thought I’d be taking a break for a week, maybe two, but time has pulled away from me, and even though it’s a month later I find I still need the downtime.

I’m in the midst of trying to find summer work and looking for full-time work for the fall. Writing is haphazard and solely focused on writing practice right now. I am still in Lull mode, resting, trying to do what I need to do. Reminding myself that I will have more writing time after I take care of the employment stuff and get all of that sorted. For now, writing practice and resting will do.

Creative Cleaning

 

A shelf in my favorite bookcase, clear and waiting for me. My grandfather made this bookcase for my mother around the time I was born, and it has always been my space for my special and favorite books and things.

Cleaning has never been my forte. I avoid it. I ignore the need until things are so awful that I have to clean just to find my stuff. I may be changing my mind.

This past week, I participated in a Get Back to Creating challenge led by Jen Louden. Each of us picked a project to focus on for the week. Before we began, I thought I would work on my revisions or perhaps on a short story I have hanging around. Day One came along, and I found myself writing that I was going to work on organizing my studio. That wasn’t even what I meant to say! But I guess it was. The clutter and boxes still unpacked after two years and general chaos have been bringing me down more and more.

I wanted to back out after the first day, change my mind, quit the challenge. But Jen said to work on the same project. And it was for such a short amount of time! I was only doing one little section of the space each day. So I did it again. And again. And at the end of Day Five, Friday, there was a noticeable clear space. And yesterday and today I found myself doing a little bit more. And today, there’s even more noticeable clear space.

So what does this have to do with creativity and writing? Everything. By Thursday I was flooded with new ideas for my novel. On Friday, sitting in a 7th grade band class, I dreamed up an entire embroidery series in my head, and it was vivid and complete enough that I was able to write it down after class, and I’ve started working on the design. Today while I was emptying a box, an entire scene that really belongs in my novel popped into my head.

Does this mean clean space is required for creating? No. My space is far from clean. But it is getting cleaner and more organized. I think having spaces you’re comfortable in while working are important. But I think doing something physical also stirs the mind, especially in this instance where I was surrounded by my creative toys and supplies and touching them and moving them around. I also think that taking the next small step you can see and doing your best not to try to see what might come later lets things unfold and open up whereas trying to force yourself to figure out what’s going to happen further out closes things off. It’s too much pressure. The slow, small steps? No pressure.

I still don’t like cleaning. I haven’t changed my mind about that. But I’ve changed my mind about wanting to do it. I hope I can keep this going and move through my house and my novel creating things just how I want them. But for right now, at least I have one completely clean shelf waiting to be exactly what I want it to be.

Pause

Today I finished the read-through and note taking of “Haunt,” just in time for the final 2017 check-in for ROW80.

I’m planning to not do much of anything before the next round. Mostly some reading and playing with character sheets. It’s the end of the year, and I like to spend this time dreaming and writing and making lists, and I plan to do just that.

I am reining myself in and not doing plans or outlining or anything for the next 11 days. I can already tell this is going to be hard. I am really worried about losing my momentum, because that happens to me a lot. But I have a specific plan of what steps are coming next, and I know when I’m going to start them, so this time really is different. I will remind myself of that often and fill my time with other pursuits, and I am going to pick this story back up and do the next steps without months in between!

Meanwhile, while I let the story stew, I’m going to plan my 2018 year-long embroidery project. More about that later, though. More about all the plans after some time to pause.

Looking Ahead

I love this time of year. I love the planning bug that hits me every time the calendar is about to change. I love the possibilities of a brand new calendar. This time, though, my writing work is coinciding with the change of years, and it feels good. New year, new part of the work to do. I’m not just continuing writing an in-progress story. I’m starting a whole new part of the writing process.

Meanwhile, I’m still working on the “Haunt” read-through, which feels like a wrap-up of the first draft more than an actual part of the revision process for some reason. I’m about 3/4 of the way finished with it. It’s kind of fitting that I’m hitting the end of this part of my plans just in time for the end of this round of ROW80. I just hope I’m going to be ready for something new when the next round starts.

To help with that, here are more plans for the ROW80 break:

  • Study revision techniques
  • Character building (my three characters are too similar)
  • Make a list in one place of next steps
  • Pick a date for starting revisions
  • Possibly do a loose narrative-style outline of the story as it stands to help find the holes and weak spots

Okay, now I feel a little more ready to tackle whatever’s coming next in this writing life.

 

NaNo Wrap-up

I’ve started this post numerous times in my head. I have so much to say! It’s all still tumbling around excitedly inside my brain. This might call for a list!

  1. I won NaNoWriMo with 52,513 (52,527 in Google Docs) words.
  2. I finished the story! This one is huge. Immensely, amazingly huge! I have never done this before. Not just during NaNo, either. I have only ever finished short stories before. Every long work I’ve started up until now remains unfinished. But not this one. This one has an ending!
  3. I’m feeling niggling worries about whether or not I know how to do the next steps to add scenes, clean things up, do revisions. It’s all going to be my first try for my own work. I’ve helped other people do theirs, but I’ve never done this on my own. It feels completely different and like brand new territory. I have to remember that finishing a novel felt that way, and I did it by just figuring out and doing the next thing without knowing what I would do after that. I have to let go of wanting to know how every part of it will look before I get there (oh so hard for me!).
  4. I have a plan for what I’m doing next. During December I’m going to be reading through about 4 pages a day and making notes about things that need to have more info or different info, marking places where I need another scene, marking places where a scene needs to be removed or replaced. My plan is to be ready to do the writing and clean-up starting in January. I’m trying not to try to figure out how long that might take right now (oh my control issues!).

 

Slogging

I’m struggling to get to the writing today. I’m exhausted and headachey. But I am so close! Just under 3,000 words left to write to win NaNoWriMo. And I think that’s going to bring me to the end of my story, too, so it’s really exciting. Except I can’t get off this couch!

There are too many of these exhausted and not-quite-well days. But at least the fire is going again, I am not freezing like I was earlier, and I have a plan to put together a quick dinner and get it into the oven so we will have food. Things could be much worse, right? If only the motivation fairy would come and get me on my feet!

NaNo Meets Thanksgiving

This week has been really hectic. I’m trying to clean things up for Thanksgiving, and that’s not going well, and I’m really behind. I’ve kept up with my word count–I’m even still a day ahead–but everything is kind of foggy. There’s too much going on in my head, and it’s keeping me from being fully engaged with anything I’m doing. I’m getting writing done, but the having fun part has slipped away.

I don’t know if I’m going to get back to really enjoying it until Thanksgiving is over. I’m really looking forward to not having to prep for a holiday! Thank goodness Christmas is at someone else’s house!

I’m going to set a pre-New Year’s resolution–next year I am *not* going to wait until November to start getting my house in order so that I can have people over. Now I just have to figure out how to actually get myself to get organized enough to not do this again.

Meanwhile, back to my haunted world. Things are easier there.

In Medias Res

I’m feeling in the middle right now.  Of a lot of things. And why am I writing? Probably because people want connection and conversation and to feel like they have community and like minded people around them. And I’m a people.

Every time I think of restarting a blog, I freeze because I feel like I should explain where I’ve been or try to catch up on things. But I’ve decided I’m not going to do that. I’m just going to write. Like a good novelist, I will start with the current action and filter in the backstory as it’s needed and pertinent.

So right now, I’m in the middle of NaNoWriMo. (That picture at the top of the page is my novel notebook.) Of course. It’s November. I’m doing things a little differently this year, though, mostly because I’m signed on to a Habitica challenge for NaNo. Writing and updating the NaNo site are on the Dailies list, and I can’t stand losing any digital points for not completing my dailies, so I am actually writing every day. I don’t usually write every day, even for NaNo. This is turning into an interesting experiment.

I don’t know if I could ever be an every day writer all year round. But this challenge has given me a better idea of how to structure the way I write. For the challenge, you can check that you’ve done “some words” although the goal is to get the full 1,667 each day. I added a “reward” where I pay 100 gold coins for days that I write but don’t meet that goal. And it’s working really well. I’m ahead on word count and getting some good writing sessions in. And this made me realize that the way to get writing to be a stronger habit is not to schedule it for certain days of the week or put it in the non-daily habits list so I get points for it whenever I happen to get around to it. The way to do it is to put it on my Dailies list but give myself the option of buying a day off from writing. I like my digital points, and I know I won’t pay coins too many days in a row to skip, so I think this will really prod me to sit down and write more regularly even when I don’t feel like it.  The only thing I need to decide now is what a writing session will entail. I think it’s going to be word count oriented–that’s working really well for me.

Another thing I’m doing, although I’m just starting it so not exactly in the middle of it, is reading Shawn Coyne’s The Story GridThis is going to be especially helpful for editing. So far, from a brief overview and watching the YouTube videos, this looks like an excellent system. I’m looking forward to getting to know it better.

I’m also in the middle of a lot of life. Trying really hard to find a way to make my house organized and welcoming for myself and maybe even for visitors. Bringing a new kitty fully into the family (and there’s this third lovely boy in the backyard whom we feed and who is now letting me pet him, and I don’t know what to do about that sweetie). Getting ready for Thanksgiving. Figuring out health stuff. So much, but life is always like that I guess.

I’m also not in the middle of a book. I just started a new one today–The Tower by J.L. Bryan. It’s the ninth in the Ellie Jordan series, and I’ve enjoyed all of them. They had some fabulous settings and fun ghosts, and they’re fast and fun reads. This one is looking to be the same. It breezes along and pulls me right in.

This is the stuff I want to talk about here. There are so many books I’ve read and loved, but I can’t go back and try to catch up, so I’m going to go forward. And I’ll talk about writing. And probably exercise as I attempt to be a more healthy and mobile author. So much to talk about. Not all today, though.

Brushing Off the Cobwebs

cobwebs
It’s been a little bit, hasn’t it? Life took over (lots and lots of heavy life), and I let everything slide for a while.  But October and the approach of NaNoWriMo stirred me, so I’ve decided to dust things off and get things going around here.

Right now I’m trying out several online writing apps, so keep an eye open for a review soon. And I’m getting started on some NaNo prep, so I’m sure I’ll have things to say about that.  For now I just wanted to pop in and restart things.  See you soon!

Rollback Point

Taking a little paws

Taking a little paws

A rambly ROW80 check-in.  Possibly only vaguely coherent. Sinus infection and dizziness make for a fuzzy brain, plus I’m really trying to figure out what to do with this story I’ve been trying to work on.

Trying.  That’s the thing.  I took several months–most of a year–off from writing.  I needed to make sure it was still my big thing (it is).  When I realized I was still thinking about writing and stories and story ideas all the time, I decided to get back to writing and really give it time and attention.

I decided that I was going to restart the last thing I had been working on.  It’s a good story, has some nice bones to it already.  Needs quite a bit of fleshing out of the characters, and some work to help me see the details of the setting.  But it’s good, and it’s a ghost story, the kind I really love.  So this should be a great idea, right?

Apparently not.  Monday I was listening to a video from Morgan MacDonald of Paper Raven Editing about re-motivating your writing. She asked why this project is important, and my answer was, “It isn’t.” Argh!

How did I come to be working on an interesting and good story that I don’t care that much about?  It all started with NaNoWriMo.  This was my 2013 NaNo novel.  I wrote it because I needed a new story to write for NaNo, and I do love ghost stories and haunted houses, so I started one.  And when I came back after my writing break, it seemed to make sense to go back to the most recent thing I was working on.  Also, it’s not one of the stalled novels that I really love and am not sure how to restart.  I thought writing the ghost story first would help build my writing muscles and get me ready to go back to the others.

What this all boils down to is that I’m just not that into this story.  I should be–I love haunted houses and ghosts and family curses.  I just can’t seem to get really into this.  I’m not sure what I want or need to be doing about that.

So, while I figure it out,  I’m going to take a little break from the story.  Just a little pause while I sort out what I want to be doing. I’m going to go back to one of my rollback points–short stories.  That’s where I started, and that always seems like a good place to go back to when I need to remember that I actually like writing.

I’m going to write some short fiction, try out some flash fiction even (as soon as I decided this yesterday a story came to me just about fully formed!).  I’m going to let myself play with stories without getting too fully committed to any one story right now until I know which one I really want to be writing.  And, I’m going to do some outlining of what I have written so far on an old story, Ordinary Girl, because that may be the one I go back to.

This needs to be for fun and joy and love.  That’s how and why I started storytelling and writing in the first place when I was a little girl.  So if I’m not having fun, and it’s not just a temporary thing, that means it’s time for a reshuffle.  That’s what I’m going to do now.