Category Archives: The Writing Life

Ups and Downs of the Writing Life

There is a huge drawback to writing on the computer. You can get dependent on the technology.

I was riding a high wave on my CampNaNo project. I was above and beyond the number count every day, averaging about 1700 words per day. Then the worst thing that could possibly happen happened. My computer decided it didn’t want to start.

I spent the next couple days trying to decide if I really needed a computer or not. While they are getting more affordable, how much computer did I really need? The more computer, the bigger the price. I realize that what I really do is I write, surf a little bit, and that’s pretty much all I do on the computer. I don’t need huge graphics. I hate the idea of a touch screen.  But I did want a cd/dvd drive as I’m still partial to my cds so a “flip” computer was pretty much out.

I had been riding the high of CampNaNo and suddenly came to a screeching halt. With the finish line  in sight. I tried writing on a pad and simply couldn’t get any words out. So I went from almost 2k words higher than the goal to 5k below the daily goal in just a couple days.

Now it’s the last day. And I have only written a handful of words since this happened. I went from writing 1700 words a day to less than 100 words a day. I totally lost myself, my enthusiasm and my story in trying out a new computer.

Bear with me here. I’m going on a tangent. I have recently reconnected to twitter, just like this blog. I check it two to three times a day, sometimes I tweet, sometimes I don’t. Since rejoining I have added 40 new followers and am following almost 100 more than I was previously. I have no idea how, but I came across Joanna Penn and followed her.

A few days ago she tweeted about an interview podcast that she did with author Rachel Aaron/Bach.  She wrote the Eli Monpress series and a few other series. In this interview she talks about how she writes TEN THOUSAND words a day. And I thought oh. my. god. That’s insane!

MyAnd only watching a decade later will we understand all the other jokes... first reaction is there was no way I could possibly reach 10k a day. She and I have drastically different lives. She’s a full-time writer. I’m a full-time mother and homemaker. She has one young son. I have triplet toddlers. She’s been published both traditionally and self-published. I have only had a few articles published in a college magazine.

My second reaction was: “Well why the heck can’t I?” If I say I can’t, I probably won’t. And I may not be able to make the 10k every day, but if I could religiously do 4k would be amazing! So I listened to the podcast again. I found her blog and in particular the post where she talks about how she increased her writing from 2k to 10k a day in about a month. I’m not going to go into detail about how she did. But if you’d like to read it you can here.

Getting back to my original idea. Writing has always been up and down for me as I write in an organic way allowing the story more or less to write itself. Doing this, I’m probably never going to get published, self or traditional. I have started more than 5 novels. Although I love them all, I ride the high and when I get stuck and the story stops writing itself, I stop.

This CampNaNo I was insistent on “winning” right up until my computer crashed and I lost all hope. But now I can take what worked for her, find what parts work for me and apply it to my writing. Just because I only have a few hours a day to myself doesn’t mean I can’t break 2k every single day.

Time to start the experiment. I’ve more or less used up all my writing time today to get this post done. Awful I know. Since NaNo was keeping track of my writing, I’ll be able to use that as my “before” numbers. I’ll apply what I can to my writing and I’ll track what happens. I’ll let you know about my progress in a week or so. My goal is to reach 4k a day in my 2-3 hour writing period every day.

Stay tuned.

 

 

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Filed under Inspiration, The Writing Life, Writing, Writing Challenges, Writing Tools

Happy Birthday to Me.

My birthday is coming up. And I’m not entirely sure how I feel about it. I’m no where close to where I once thought I’d be at this particular point in my life. It’s not even a “milestone” age. I just once thought I’d be, if not a published writer, then at least successfully pursuing a career somewhere.

But I’m not. I’m a stay-at-home mom of three little ones. And this is something I have never dreamed that I’d be. There are days that I love being able to stay with my kids all day. Then there others where I really don’t want to share a room with them by 10am and I have them to myself for another eight hours.

stay-at-home-mom.jpg

But I really shouldn’t complain. There are many people who want to be able to stay at home. I’m lucky that we can “afford” for me to be here with my kids.

And what I mean by that is the cost of childcare for my children is currently more than most jobs I could get. So it’s more affordable for me to stay here. Originally I thought “Yay! Lots of free time to work on my writing!”

What happened was: change a diaper. burp baby. wipe up the mess. Rock them gently. Teething! Then when they turned a year. Oh My God! They’re walking. No you can’t go there. Put that back. You’re going to break it! Now they’re two. And it’s potty training all day. Don’t you dare sass me. Put that back. You took your diaper off…AGAIN! And pooped on the rug. Sigh.

Still. The more independent they get, theoretically I get more time. Most of my writing even now is a sentence here. A few words there. If I’m lucky I’ll get a whole paragraph down.

But I’ve realize that if I really want to write I’ll make time for it. I’ll get up a few minutes early. Even an hour early doesn’t guarantee a full hour writing though. I’ll try to stay up a little later.

I have been participating in Camp NaNoWriMo. And I said this is the year that I win! I said that every year. But I’m making it a priority this year and I have stayed more or less on track. Yes there was one day that I only wrote 100 words. But I’ve also had a 2000 word day. And multiple 1800 word days that more than made up for it. I have sixteen days left and I’m siting at 25810 words of all brand new story.

Smiling Mother And Daughter

I’ll also write while they nap. This is my heaven time. They’re all asleep and I have anywhere from 1 to 3 hours of ME time. I often don’t spend all of it writing. I’ll do a little of everything during this time. But my two favorite activities: a nap, and writing.

But back to my birthday. No I’m not where I thought I’d be. I’m in a completely different world. However, I am making finally making this world work for me. And all I want for my birthday is a day. Yep. One whole day where I don’t have to lift a finger for housework, or taking care of kid and I can sleep and write to my hearts content.

Yeah. Like that’d happen. I suppose I’ll have to settle for the composter I’ve had my eye on for years and a new book. Maybe a little bling for my car. So happy birthday to me.

 

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Filed under Parenting, Personal Life, The Writing Life, Writing Challenges

Procrastination Sation

I am probably the world’s best procrastinator. I’m so good that I started this particular post years ago, left mid-sentence and never came back. Today is the day that I finish it. Maybe. I’ll give it my best. But what if, instead of procrastinating, what I’m really doing is letting life tell me what I should be doing. I need to do dishes. Fold clothes. Put the kids to nap and/or bed. Change diapers. Vacuum….again.

The list never ends. And that’s why this post and blog died. Let’s face it, no posts in three years? Yep. Dead. Maybe it’s not dead dead, just kind of dead. Like a rechargeable battery.

But to get back on point. I procrastinate in a number of ways.  I can be completely happy staring at a blank wall, watching life in another reality unfold around me. In fact, I can do multiple things at once while putting of what I should be doing. For instance, I can watch TV while I make a phone call that I didn’t need to make and look at random stuff on the internet, while I put off filling out a background check so I can work on base.

While in school, I often thought that procrastination was good for me. I put off everything to the last minute. Then I’d plunge ahead  and write a paper in record time. And the adrenaline is pumping. I think I just wrote the BEST paper ever. It never was. Perhaps the best paper written in record time like that.

Even now, although I’m writing, I’m actually procrastinating. I’m procrastinating the editing of the novel that I wrote, house work, my camp nano novel (which I’m liking so much more than my previous novel)…and a couple of other things that I’m putting off as well. My point is…I finished writing the first draft of my novel. But now I can’t seem to make myself edit it. I haven’t picked up since December of last year. Some time and distance is good. I’ll admit, but I think I’m actually scared to finish it.

And so I do everything I can to keep myself busy from writing, or editing. Or anything that might further my novel.

Okay, that may not be the only reason, but it definitely is one reason behind all of these things. I’m so busy, and I procrastinate on all of it so I don’t “have time” to work on what really matters to me.

When I was working in the archives at school. I met a British guy who was pursuing a degree in art. He is, what I call, absurdly rich. He wears a kilt. He’s blunt, and says things that made me laugh so hard I actually thought I might burst sometimes. But he’s completely serious. He loaned the archives a collection of medieval manuscripts and illuminations worth well over a million dollars. And all of this is irrelevant, because he’s also passionate about art and philosophy and history.

Passion. It’s like the opposite of procrastination. It lights a fire in your soul. In your mind. And you can’t let it go. And I love writing. I really thought I was passionate about it. But if I am passionate about writing, why do I let life and everything else get in the way and procrastinate?

I’m afraid. Not that I might finish something, but that I’ll get to that one point, ready to jump into publishing and…there isn’t anything to jump into. That I’ll send off letter after letter to get rejection after rejection. The abyss of being unpublished because I’m simply not good enough.

I have had family, friends, teachers, even complete strangers complement my writing. And yet I’m terrified that once it’s done I’ll find out everyone lied. In fact, nobody likes it, I’m a terrible writer. That is my fear.

And so I let life get in the way. And I let things slide. Because if it’s not finished, then it can’t be rejected.

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Filed under Personal Life, The Writing Life, Writing

Long time no see

It’s been a while since I’ve written on my blog. I kept meaning to and I kept putting it off. Procrastinating is something I’m very good at.

I consistently let life get the better of me. And unfortunately, I feel the affects. I got married. Bought a house. Graduated with a Masters degree. Had three kids who have completely overrun my life (I’ll call them J, F, and P). So. I’ve been busy. I kept feeling as if my life wasn’t quite complete.

Don’t get me wrong. I love taking care of, talking about, and generally spending time with my triplets.

But my other children were suffering. The stories I wanted to write. The ones I started. The ones that I was meant to write.

Last month, I got an idea about a new story. And I wrote it down. It was a compete scene. And I turned the idea over in my head for several days. I finally decided that it was worth pursuing. And I started the story at the beginning of July as a Camp NaNo story.

I haven’t felt better. I have more energy. I feel happier. And when I’m really stressed from three children who have cried non-stop for five hours, I have somewhere else to go without even leaving my home. And I think this is why I won’t stop this time. Because I just have to write.

So hello again. Long time no see. And I’m here to stay.

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Filed under Inspiration, The Writing Life, Writing

How the personal affects the professional

We’ve all seen it. That point in your life where suddenly everything is happening at once. And that’s kind of where I am right now.Graduate school is still in full swing, work is going well at 20 hours a week.  I’m married, but we’re having a ceremony so all the family can come down. As if that wasn’t enough, I’ve got the personal/professional goal of finishing several short stories, and starting to edit my completed novel. Somewhere, something has to give. Either that, or I need to invent a time machine, so I can go back and relive several days so that I can complete everything that needs to be done. Oh, and taxes need to be finished too. Sigh.

While I am more confident in my schooling, I still have five more classes to go before I graduate. Since my GA position pays for 2 classes a semester, that makes three more semesters after this one is over. Oh, and my GA expires at the end of the year. Time to start looking for a job in the real world.

I’m told that planning a wedding should be fun. I don’t even have a budget yet. But I do have a date, and  a theme. Medieval. Full regalia. On the plus side, that could actually lower the cost of the wedding dress. But we definitely are looking at this thing from two sides. I’m practical, and cheap. He wants something grand and memorable. I wouldn’t mind grand and memorable, if I won the lottery and could afford it. The average cost of a wedding these days: $27,000! That’s more than twice what I make in a year (minus the tuition waiver). I’m constantly thinking of ways to cut costs, and he’s constantly thinking about ways to make an impression.

Since May of last year, I’ve lost 30 pounds. Not too shabby for someone who never seems to find time for exercise. I do try to walk (and by the way: I did make it to Rivendell last year, just one day before my deadline). After talking with one of my best friends, who looks amazing after losing 50 pounds in far less time, I realized the secret is movement. I’ve sort have always know that. But she rides her bike 3 miles 3 times a week. And has lost 50 pounds since October. Looks like I know something else I’m adding to my to do list.

With that on my plate, I’m not sure how I’m going to find time to write, although I have been writing. Google docs is my best friend. I can write from anywhere there’s a computer and internet access…which means…just about anywhere. I did finish one short story, but haven’t had the time to edit it yet. Or the much bigger project of editing my novel. And that great idea I swear I had, still have it. But I haven’t started it. Sigh. I know that if I want to make it as a writer, I need to make time to write. And I do. Just not nearly as much as I’d like.

Sometimes, when my personal life gets too full, I feel my writing slipping. And when push comes to shove, the writing falls completely by the wayside. I don’t want that. Something has to  give. But does it really? The more I think about everything that’s going on right now, the more I feel like I’m drowning. Maybe things will get better if I don’t think about it. Maybe, if I take a few calming breaths, I’ll realize that things are not nearly as crazy as they seem. And maybe I’ll actually get everything done, while keeping my “me” time, staying sane, keeping up my grades, losing weight, planning a wedding and keeping up with my writing. It’s possible I’m sure. I know some awesome women who have full-time jobs, are going to grad school and have children at home as well. With that in mind, it must be possible to do everything I am trying to do.

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Filed under Graduate School, The Writing Life

Reviving the barely living blog.

West Hall, Valdosta State University

West Hall, Valdosta State University (Photo credit: jadjadjad)

In a couple more months it will have been almost a year since I have written a blog. In the interim, however, not all of my writing has gone half so wrong. And much has happened, although not all of it is of note.  But before I get into everything else, allow me to apologize for my absence. I had to sink myself wholly into my graduate studies, and if I didn’t I may not have continued. I seem to be slightly obsessive compulsive when it comes to doing one thing. I can do that one thing fully and completely, but then everything else falls by the wayside. While it may not be o/c, this is not the first time I’ve noticed this tendency in myself. I hope that when I have a full-time librarianship, and hopefully more time, it means I’ll throw myself into my writing with abandon.

And here’s the important news, I’m just about half-way through my graduate studies. When I first started in the MLIS program, I had no idea what APA, let alone how to use it. I’d never taken a fully online class. And to be honest, I felt like I was drowning. I’m quite afraid if I hadn’t given up everything, for a little while at least, I was going to fail. I very nearly did barely scraping the two “B”s that I needed to continue my studies. Since then, my grades have gotten better. I can at least understand APA, even if I am still wrestling with how to arrange my time in fully online classes.

As things with my online classes have gotten better, my writing has improved. I have a new best friend: Google Drive. Yep. I save almost everything in Google now. From ideas, to bits of inspiration, to excerpts from stories, and full short stories. The only thing not on there, my novels. Google Drive is the most accessible, travel-ready storage in the universe beyond the human brain. And for some reason, my brain can’t always keep what I “write” in my head especially when I’m awake. Gradually, as I’ve become more accustomed to my studies, new home (almost one year here), and job, I’ve been able to “find” more time for writing. Something for which I’ve been grateful as life without writing is a drag.

But it also seems that my interest has shifted from fantasy towards speculative and science fiction. My husband says I’ve been watching too many movies, he made that comment an hour ago when I told him of my dream that I had to write down before I forgot. But the most recent movie I’ve seen in the theater is Les Miserables, and the most recent at home is Brave. In fact, I haven’t watched a science fiction movie since…I’m not really sure as I don’t watch many movies anymore. Even my TV watching is more geared toward fantasy and/or contemporary fiction rather than science fiction (Once Upon A Time, Monk, and a few oldies that I grew up with thanks to Netflix).

I now have a new project. Thanks to my acid dreams that I’ve come to welcome as inspiration. My most recent short stories have all been inspired by dreams. I have one complete short story, roughly 5K words, that was started at the end of January. I finished it a few days ago is about humans becoming the abducting aliens causing terror among other beings. That was quite fun to write. But now that I have wasted enough time babbling to everyone who will listen, perhaps I will spend my next hour or so before sunrise to start hashing out last night’s dream into a real story.

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Filed under Graduate School, The Writing Life, Writing

Compulsive Creative Writers

I apologize for the gap in my blogging. Most of my writing has seen this gap. Between midterms and finals my school work, plus work, plus everything else, was just too much and I gave up a lot. Not just my writing, my walking suffered a severe drop as well. I’ve found a way to fix that, but it was a little late, and I’m embarrassed to say, I did not meet my Walk to Rivendell goals for the month. And before we go on to the main attraction a few quick words. First: Happy May Day! Second: We bought a house! Yay! One thing down, a million more to go.

I read an article recently that compulsive liars may be creative writers in disguise. And while I can no longer find that article, it got me to wondering. Why do people lie? It turns out that there is a “disease” called compulsive lying, which is completely different from a normal lie, I suppose, and it’s also different from people who lie because they are sociopathic. But does that mean people who have an “overactive” imagination (not to be confused with psychosis) are automatically liars? Well, the first step is define what a compulsive liar is and what is an overactive imagination.

Compulsive liars are creatures of habit. Lying is an addictive trait, much like drinking and smoking, and has similar effects on people and relationships. A compulsive liar is someone who feels best when lying rather than telling the truth. According to the Truth About Deception, compulsive liars often experience a time early in their life where lying has become necessary, the child of an abusive parent lying about their bruises for example, and from that they start lying about everything.The website futher states that “Lying feels right to a compulsive liar. Telling the truth, on the other hand, is difficult and uncomfortable.” Unlike manipulative sociopaths, compulsive liars are simply creatures of habit. This problem can be a symptom of a bigger, and more distressing personality disorder. In addition, this habit can ruin a relationship. There is help for compulsive liars, however, like most addictive behaviors, getting the person to see their own problem is difficult and often leaves them at rock bottom.

Overactive imagination, on the other hand, isn’t easily defined. What is overactive to one may not be active enough to another. The definition of imagination is the ability to “think of clever and original ideas, possibilities, or solutions.” Whereas the definition of overactive is being abnormally excessive. I suppose that there a certain amount of “normal” imaginative abilities, we all have dreams don’t we? And that does take some imagination. The ability for people to dream is only a small step into the deep waters of the imagination. The way I would define an overactive imagination is a person who, while they can tell what is reality, they can experience the imaginary on a sensory level. They can, willingly, see the worlds they (or another) have created, smell the flowers and feel the breeze. They can feel the emotions of invented people. And it is a person with an overactive imagination, in my opinion at least, that makes the best writer.

What does all this mean? I suppose that this could mean different things to everyone who reads this. To me, all this means is that compulsive liars were in some way unhappy with thier lives and fell upon lying as a way to make up for it. I believe that compulsive liars have overactive imaginations, and if it could be caught early enough it could be steered towards more productive, artistic, means. I believe that the article I read could be right, and that with the proper direction liars could stop lying and start writing, or painting, or finding another outlet for their feel-good fix.

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Filed under Just for Fun, The Writing Life, Writing