The Words Pile Up

I don’t know about you, but I can’t believe it’s August already. It seems a cruel trick that the older you get, the faster time seems to pass. I have so many projects brewing, but they all have to wait, now. As you can see on the progress meter in the sidebar, I’ve reached the 75% mark in writing the first draft of my next novel. It’s time to hunker down and finish.

If you’ve wondered why I never refer to my WIP by title, it’s because I don’t have one. I did. I felt it was perfect, and then I thought to check how many other books have the same title. Too many, I’m afraid. Now, as I write, the title question is always in the back of my mind. And whether my new title will work with the cover image I’d already chosen.

But now, all that really matters is writing. Writing. And writing.

I’m trying not to think of what comes next—editing. I love that process, but I anticipate more of it on this book than I had on The Brevity of Roses, simply because I worked differently this time. I got the idea for this novel while I was still writing Brevity, but it was not the next novel I started. This story idea marinated for a year and a half, during which I would occasionally pull it out and turn it over.

Then, last June, I felt ready to begin the writing. I started fine with notes, a basic outline, an opening scene. By August, I’d the first three chapters and some disjointed scenes based on the outline. Then, for several months, illness limited my writing time. I made brutally slow progress. Yadda, yadda, yadda, and now I’m nearing the finish.

What have I learned this last year? First, “the best laid plans of mice and men” applies. Second, the process of writing a novel is somewhat different each time—or maybe I haven’t perfected a system yet. Three, if you don’t give up, even if you can write no more than a sentence or two some days, the words pile up and you write a novel.

Now, it’s back to writing for me. What are you up to?

This writer is looking forward

Looking back at my life during the past year, I can see losses and gains, but I can’t yet judge the long-term effects. Every year at this time, psychics make predictions for the coming year. I have no such gift. I can only make resolutions, affirming to myself and all, my intent for the future.

Looking back at my life during the past year, I can see losses and gains, but I can’t yet judge the long-term effects. Every year at this time, psychics make predictions for the coming year. I have no such gift. I can only make resolutions, affirming to myself and all, my intent for the future.

New beginnings are hopeful. This year I’m excited about opportunities to advance in my writing and publishing career. One change I hope to make that will affect not only my writing, but my life in general is obtaining—and maintaining—a balance.

In 2011, I neglected not only the usual housework, but gardening as well. I don’t think my roses will survive another year of the same kind of neglect. In general, I spent too much time in my cave. Since my 2012 plans include publishing one book and writing another, it’s imperative that I improve my time management.

This doesn’t mean I’m creating spreadsheets, but it does mean I’ll be working to conquer my habit of letting doubt (fear) derail my writing. In 2011, I probably wasted a good 30% of my writing time hand-tied by indecision. I vow not to let that happen in this next year. I will boldly write what no woman has written before.

In her recent blog post When You Allow Others to Decide Your Dreams, Michelle Davidson Argyle said:

“Nobody’s goals and rules are ever going to match up to my own on the unique path I’m on. Even if I met all those goals I see floating around online on so many blogs and Facebook statuses and Twitter feeds, I still wouldn’t be happy because I would not have met the deepest desires of my own heart …”

And this:

“I think we authors often forget what we really want. I think we often delude ourselves into thinking we want what everyone else wants, and it’s creating this insane sense of urgency in our heads. We pump out our work faster and harder and less carefully than we would otherwise. We feel pressured, more than anything else, to meet certain criteria, follow the lists and rules and advice others post, and it hurts us deeply when we can’t meet that criteria at breakneck speed. For me, at least, this urgency transformed itself into an energy-sucking, emotionally-draining need.

Until I realized that for me it was an illusion and unnecessary.”

Michelle expressed my dilemma. My lack of self-confidence leads me to compare everything I do to what other writers do, seeking a stamp of approval. At best, that works only temporarily. Sooner or later, doing what others did leads to frustration, doubt, fear because their plan, their path, their dream doesn’t “fit” me.

Let me toast to the New Year. New beginnings. New opportunities. Another chance to get it right.

In 2012, I vow to follow MY dreams. What about you?

I’m back … sort of

Just dropping in from the longest break I’ve ever taken to let you know I haven’t given up blogging. I didn’t plan to leave the same post up for ten days. I just couldn’t find enough quiet moments to sit down and write something new. I’m rushing now to get this written and take a shower before the crowd returns again.

Just dropping in from the longest break I’ve ever taken to let you know I haven’t given up blogging. I didn’t plan to leave the same post up for ten days. I just couldn’t find enough quiet moments to sit down and write something new. I’m rushing now to get this written and take a shower before the crowd returns again.

I hope your year is wrapping up well. This year was certainly the worst of times and best of times for me. This time last year, I was struggling with a choice between continuing to seek a traditional publishing career and going the self-publishing route. I chose the latter, of course.

Because I only have one book out there, it’s too soon to tell if I made the right choice. It’s certainly been a learning experience though, and that’s never a bad thing. Now, I’m reevaluating everything concerned with writing, so I can make better progress in 2012.

Right now, 2012 is set to start on a positive note concerning my work, so I’ll claim that as a good sign. I guess I should start working on something for February. Goal setting has never been my strength, but I’m determined to “hit the gym” on that this next year.

Your turn: Let’s end on a positive note. How was 2011 a good year for you?

Help … I’m trapped in a tunnel!

I’ve been unusually overwhelmed lately. It’s summer, so that means time spent trying to keep some semblance of order in the gardens; more time spent with local family; and considerable time spent preparing for visits to and from distant family. I fear I’m heading toward a time bankruptcy. Worse yet, I’ve discovered I have creative tunnel vision.

To preserve any writing time at all, I’ve cut down on distractions—which means even less Twittering and blog commenting than before I started the Creativity Workshop. But my writing productivity has gone down, down, down. I no longer have enthusiasm for writing any of the short stories I had set as workshop goals. I get set up to start, then sit there blank-minded. No. Not exactly true, I sit there thinking about working on my next novel. I end up not writing anything at all.

To ignore this, I grab one of the books I’m trying to finish reading before the world ends. You can’t write, if you don’t read. Right? I am not suffering from writer’s block. I know I could write like crazy, if I gave myself permission to work on the novel. But that’s not what I’m supposed to be doing. I signed up for a workshop. I challenged myself to work on a schedule. To set goals and accomplish them. The idea was to increase my creativity. Hmmm …

I admit I’m weak on self-discipline. I thought the workshop would help with that problem. Instead, I’m now questioning whether I have what it takes to be a writer at all. Can I be successful writing only what I want to? Is the real problem that I’m just not creative enough to be a writer? Do I balk at writing something I don’t want to because I’m not clever enough to do that? Or did I just sign up for a workshop at the worst time for me?

I feel like my writer’s mind has splintered into shards. As a mother, I learned long ago to be a multi-tasker, but I think I’m the complete opposite as a writer. In theory, devoting one hour a day to the workshop should have left me plenty of time to work on a new novel. In reality, one hour actually typing might be all it takes, but I need a lot more time than that to conceive and gestate before I birth a story. It might sound ridiculous that writing one short story a week makes it impossible for me to work on the novel the rest of my writing time—and yet, it has.

I’ve been able to balance blogging and writing for almost two years, but then blogging is non-fiction writing. Before the workshop started, I was trying to write short stories, while polishing my last novel and even that didn’t work well. But now that I have a new novel begging for attention, my problem has become obvious—I can’t juggle two new creative works at the same time.

I suppose my primary motive for signing up for the workshop was that I would end up with at least solid first drafts of some short stories. But now I’m questioning:  Do I really need to write short stories? Can you get an agent’s interest without previous short story publishing credits? Or should I focus my creativity on novel writing?

Have I made a decision? *sigh* Does a bottle of wine and a long nap count?

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She Writes and She Updates

Another brief post and more questions for you today. At least I haven’t resorted to  repeating posts from last year.

Okay then, topic of the day is She Writes. I joined this group within the first week of its inception … and then I pretty much forgot about it. This morning, I read that it will celebrate its one-year anniversary later this month, and I started wondering how many of you might also be members. If you are, I have some questions for you:

  • Are you an active member?
  • If you are, what exactly does active mean?
  • What benefits have you received from She Writes?
  • In other words, what am I missing out on?

Now, for a brief update on my Creativity Workshop progress. My goal this week was to write the fourth, and last, poem for my first set of goals. This week’s poem was to depict Autumn as a middle-aged woman—the second half of motherhood. So, on Monday I compiled a list of appropriate words and phrases. Then, a life situation derailed me for the next three days, and I resigned myself to marking this week as a fail. But on Friday morning, as I sat in the cool of my backyard with a cup of ginger tea in hand, words started aligning themselves. Autumn spoke to me for a while, and then I came in and wrote the poem. It’s in prose form. I’m not completely satisfied with it, but I’m grateful I got something written this week.

From this first set, I learned that I can write a poem on demand, possibly of the same quality as my other poems … of course, that’s not saying much! 😀 I also discovered that there is far more to learn about writing poetry than I imagined. I have a new level of admiration for those who are able to write a poem that moves me.

The next set of goals, is to write four short stories. Originally, these four were to be horror or psychological suspense, but I don’t want to be thinking dark thoughts right now. My last set was to be four stories centered on the theme of place, so I’m switching the order.

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