Tuesday, May 5, 2015

A rainy Tuesday morning

I'll start this post as I'm waiting on the bus. I just spent the bank holiday weekend in the best way possible.
On Saturday, Steve and I went out to breakfast then met up one of his friends for a pre May 4th Star Wars LEGO shopping spree. Then we got my new iPhone 5C to use when I ditch this Windows phone. (It likes turning itself off, resetting the date and time to whatever it feels like, and can't keep saved emails for easy retrieval.) My contract with EE is over at the beginning of May, so I'm ditching their bad signal for 3. (With EE we get repeat texts from one another, or sometimes none at all.)
At Staples we bought a new Acer monitor which we greatly needed. Now I can actually see what's on the screen. I'm excited to try this out on a writing sprint.
I've started a Teaching Student with Special Needs course online to keep up my Florida Certificate. I haven't done proper homework and educational discussion for a while, so it's nice to think in teacher terms again.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Getting through a first draft

Blue typewriter

Get through a draft as quickly as possible. Hard to know the shape of the thing until you have a draft…when I wrote the last page of my first draft of Lincoln’s Melancholy I thought, Oh, shit, now I get the shape of this. But I had wasted years…writing and re-writing the first third to first half. The old writer’s rule applies: Have the courage to write badly. ~ Joshua Wolf Shenk

I’ve been working on a project that I really like, but can never get past the first section. I have changed the setting a few times, and I try to start again when the scenes all end up being pretty much the same. Basically, I’m stuck in first gear, and I can’t just get through a first draft, then clean up what I want later.

Since I’m usually busy with everything else in life and can no longer pay attention to the important writing stuff (seriously, I never have quality time with my computer anymore) I was glad that a cold snuck up on me and kept me home today. I did two sprints and worked on the outline.

Of course the original idea makes me want to jump in and start writing, but I’ve figured out the hard way that it has to settle. Different elements of the story jumped up in my head when I least expected it, so now I have a better grasp of where I want the plot to go.

Bottom line: don’t waste a bunch of time on the first part of the book. The book will change as you go, at least it does for me. By the time you get to the nitty gritty in the middle, you understand what the story is a bit better. When you’re tired and dragging yourself across the finish line of the first draft, you can go back and write the book how you think it really should go. At least with a first draft, you’ve got material to work with – otherwise, you’re punching in ideas and getting no where. Things are going to change too much in first gear.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Writing in stressful times

St. Thomas

April started off okay. We took a trip to York, and spent a nice day in town when the weather was very un-English like. Then things got a little crazy.

Work has started to get really stressful for me. One Monday morning, when I was motivated to keep working on a current project, I’d had plenty of rest, and was ready to tackle my writing whenever I had a spare minute, my colleague abruptly left.

I have been left to run the library with various cover staff every day after. This has left me with chronic heartburn, something I use to have when I was stressed out in Florida several years back, so I’m not really handling this change very well. In actuality, I’m sick, and I’m not one to say I’m sick unless I really am. I’m taking Nexium again, which I haven’t taken in six years or so, and it’s still not keeping my stomach feeling 100% normal. There’s a whole slew of worry that I have now. I’m unable to relax and wind down, so I become listless and frustrated.

Having my mind and body preoccupied with trying to handle everything has left writing on a complete back burner. However, it really should be my first go-to option for stress relief. Healthline recommends that in times of stress, “Do something that you enjoy, whether it’s playing a musical instrument, making pottery, woodworking, gardening, or another hobby that helps take you away from day-to-day stressors.” Writing certainly falls under that category.

So as part of my goal to curb stress and looking forward to what I want to accomplish this year, I’m making more lists. The list includes the usual such as getting edits done, having Steve make some book covers for me, revamping my author page, and doing some promotional book tours.

Since I get distracted so easily, and it take a while to recuperate when I’ve been social (and even more so when I have to be overly social) I find it extremely difficult to get in a comfortable headspace to write. But, in the midst of the world trying to get you down, keeping the things most important to you in mind. It helps maintain a good perspective of what you really want to do each day when life gets in the way.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Extroverts and writing every day

Good evening, Newcastle.

March has been ticking along nicely, and the idea of Spring turns up here and there. I’ve at least been able to put my snow boots away. (Well, at least moved them from the bottom on the stairs.)

Last week I was fairly busy at the library. There’s still lots to do, but I’m confident that something good will come of our efforts to revamp the place. It’s definitely along the lines of the job I wanted to have when I first started my MLS degree.

Now that I’m working, we’ve been doing some travelling. We went to Edinburgh at the beginning of the month, and next we’ll want to visit York. Steve has been to Europe before, so he wants us to go on some city breaks this year as well.

But the writing, oh the writing. It’s not been happening. The full-time work plus commute is just exhausting, so if I don’t write over lunch or before work, I’ll never get anything done. The problem is, without the consistent writing day after day, it’s hard to get back into the swing of the plot. As is, I can only type down a scene or two without really getting anywhere. On my days off, I can organize and plot things, but getting both the outline and the content to happily coincide is another issue.

Aside from the writing, I need to spend my free time at home with Steve. I feel so relaxed just watching Fail Army on Youtube, or Downton Abbey when I’m by myself. I’ll be super glad for the Easter holidays to turn up so I can have a few days to reboot my goals and feel more like myself again.

When I’m not writing every day, even a little, I do feel like the day’s been wasted.

So am I a “real” writer anymore? I don’t know. I don’t have time to really care. I know that I want to write and I do it when I can. When I’m not writing, I think about writing. I miss it, and when I get back to it, I don’t know where to begin again.

It’s tough work, especially for people who tend to be extroverted. I am an extremely chatty person, but it drains me to be on duty all day. Without the days off and quiet time without a need to leave the house, it’s ten times harder to settle my brain down to work in the middle of the daily routine. All the other important things just distract me way too easily.

Plus, all these books I wanted to get put online and get covers sorted for – that’s been on the back burner for ages. No idea when I’ll ever be able to get any of that done either.

Unfortunately or not, it reminds me of this Anne Rice quote I saw the other day:

I've often said there are no rules for writers. Let me share the WORST AND MOST HARMFUL ADVICE I was ever given by others. 1) Write what you know. 2)You'll have to polish every sentence you write three or four times. 3)Genius is one tenth talent and nine tenths hard work and 4) You're not a real writer if you don't write every day. --- ALL OF THAT WAS HARMFUL TO ME. ALL OF IT. IT HURT AND IT SET ME BACK. ----- So I say again, there are no rules. It's amazing how willing people are to tell you that you aren't a real writer unless you conform to their clich├ęs and their rules. My advice? Reject rules and critics out of hand. Define yourself. Do it your way. Make yourself the writer of your dreams. Protect your voice, your vision, your characters, your story, your imagination, your dreams.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

White Rabbits! It’s March!

IMG_3496

It’s not quite with it in terms of Spring weather, but we’re getting there. I’ve been missing my blog, and my writing, and my reading, and everything that keeps my head sane. The cold reminds me that we really haven’t gotten too far from Christmas, but March – March sounds so promising!

I’ve moved libraries as of February. Me and another MLS grad are trying to turn around a little branch in a middle class neighbourhood. There’s chipped paint, and a bit of an unkempt feel about the place, but it’s not bad by any means. I’m really happy to be there, honestly, because it’s my branch for now and having new events and new book displays pleases me to no end.

But I’m busy, as I always say. I have to get up at 6AM, get on the bus at 7 with Steve, then by 8 I’m on the Metro through the city. I’m lucky to have lunch to myself, so I can at least get something down on paper, or read a few pages of a book. I even thought about documenting my library experience, but I only get a few lines at a time before I have to put the diary away and tend to something else.

Sunday though, Sunday is for resting. So here I am, writing in my blog, deciding which book project I want to work on today. I’ve had some good premises for book ideas lately, but stopping and starting doesn’t make for a very satisfying experience. But I keep on keeping on, as we all do.

Hope everything has a good work up to Spring.