To Write…or Not to Write

The dishes need washed.

Laundry needs to be folded.

It’s too sunny to be indoors!

My computer sucks.

Just 15 more minutes on Pinterest…followed by 15 more. 

If only I had a decent office.

I’ll get to it tomorrow…

Lately, I have been using every excuse in the book to avoid writing.  I sit down at my computer with the best intentions and before I’ve even touched my manuscript I’ve come up with something that needs to done RIGHT NOW.  

My husband appreciates my new found love of tidying up the house, but I can feel myself loosing sight of my goals.  The initial rush I had from the excitement of writing my first book has worn off and now I’ve realized, “Oh, shit!  This is really hard.”  

Hard, but worth it.  

Anyone else in the same boat?  How do you rekindle your motivation? 

 

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Revision Massacre

My helpless novel is currently sprawled around me in tiny, bloody pieces.  It’s been hacked, chopped and ripped to shreds.  The remnants are scattered about in no logical sequence, leaving me staring at the mess with bloody hands.  

I’ve accepted the fact that it was bound to happen some time.  It was basically dead to begin with.  Luckily, even as my inner critic tells me it’s not worth saving, I still feel a slight heart beat.  Like a surgeon carefully and methodically saving a life,  I’m determined to piece it back together, stronger than it was before.  

There is one slight problem.  This surgeon never went to medical school.  For the past couple of weeks I’ve been trying to mash the mess together with out the proper tools and hope it miraculously comes back to life.  The harder I tried, the worse it got leaving me overwhelmed and my beloved characters begging me to save them.  

I knew I had to change my plan or risk destroying it even further.  

First, I had to take a step back and regain my focus.  Because I wrote the first draft so quickly, it’s filled with inconsistencies and serious structural problems.  

Next came the tedious task of reading it from beginning to end (no matter how painful), figuring out the problems, and plotting out a new, detailed outline.  I had to remind myself to trust my instincts and not be afraid of making big changes, which I did.  I added characters, removed characters, and changed a major part of the plot.  What I was left with, was an organized system for putting the pieces together.   

My manuscript still remains in critical condition, but I can finally look at it with out a sense of dread.  

How do you approach the revision process?  Do you find it daunting or exciting?

 

 

 

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One moment to the next…

I sat at my desk today, staring blankly out the window of the temp agency I work at.  It was uncomfortably hot thanks to an over active heater that never seems to work right.  My sweater was itchy and I regretted wearing it like I always do.  It’s beautiful, cream and delicately stitched  but makes me feel like I’m covered in prickly hives.

The phone was ringing persistently and the lobby was full of people waiting for their appointment.  Despite a growing pile of work, I was bored and distracted by a lone leaf blowing across the parking lot.  As I watched it dance around, a cool breeze hit my face, pulling me out of my internal complaining and leaf watching, and towards the welcomed fresh air.  A grungy, old man entered and looked around before catching my eye.

The man, dressed in an over sized coat and ill fitting khaki pants, walked straight towards my desk.  He didn’t have an appointment, so I forced a smile to hide my annoyance, and he responded with his own that lit up his face, despite exposing a few missing teeth.  His eyes crinkled happily in the corners, drawing me to his brilliant blue eyes.  They sparkled under the florescent lighting, perfectly complemented by his tan, worn skin and an unshaven face.

I spent the next thirty minutes interviewing this man, surprisingly engrossed in our conversation.  He had a beautiful way of making me feel like I had been too or done the things he was describing.  I could smell the metal at the steel mill and feel the heat from working in the fields under the hot sun.  He weaved the tiny details together effortlessly, recalling the moments from his past like he experienced them yesterday.

When we were finishing up the interview, I asked him, like I do most interviews, why he wanted to work for my company.  Most respond with, “I want to make money,” or some exaggerated explanation about how great they are and why I should be so lucky to hire them.  I expected a similar, simple response, but was pleasantly surprised at his response.

He said, “I’ll tell you a secret.  Life is short.  You are young now, but one day you wake up and you’re old like me.”  He let out a raspy laugh and then continued, looking down at his worn, hard worked hands. “I wake up every morning grateful for another day and go to bed knowing a didn’t waste a moment of that day.  For me, that means working hard, loving my family, and enjoying a cold beer or two at the end of it”

We finished up the technicalities of his interview shortly after.  I found my lackluster attitude had shifted during the course of our time together and thanked him.

I worked hard the rest of the day, kissed my baby more than he cared for when I got home and now I “cheers” to my new friend and all of you.

I know I’m not the only one that is guilty of carelessly floating threw the day, but I hope to always remember his advice.

That leaves me to ask:  Can you look back on the day and know you lived each moment the best you could?

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Why we write

I’ve always been curious as to why writers write.  What drives them to the computer or notepad to carefully craft out a story and painstakingly choose each and every word?  It’s a question that has been asked before to writers of all kind.

***

Some famous authors have confessed the reasons why they write:

“The only thing that makes me crazier than writing is not writing,” Sara Gruen

“I write to dream; to connect with other human beings; to record; to clarify; to visit the dead. I have a kind of primitive need to leave a mark on the world. Also, I have a need for money.” Mary Karr

“If I don’t write to empty my mind, I go mad,” Lord Byron

“My aim is to put down on paper what I see and what I feel in the best and simplest way.” Ernest Hemingway

“Writers write about what obsesses them. You draw those cards. I lost my mother when I was 14. My daughter died at the age of 6. I lost my faith as a Catholic. When I’m writing, the darkness is always there. I go where the pain is.” Anne Rice

***

Sometimes I’m not sure why I write, and other times is so clear that I can’t keep myself away from it.  I write to sort out my thoughts, to find myself, to create, and because frankly it’s a sick obsession.  I love being able to string a series of words together and feel something after I read it.  That feeling brings me back to writing again and again.

We all have different reasons for writing.  What’s yours?

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“The years are short…

…but the days are long.”  

Normally, that saying is switched around, but today this is more appropriate.  I read this a couple of years ago, while sifting through a book on happiness.  While the rest of the book left my mind in about a week or so, this has stuck with me.  I try to remind myself as much as possible to live in the moment, let go of the past, and stop worrying so much about the future, but none of that really meant anything until I had my baby.  

That 5lb 13oz bundle of joy of mine, turns ONE tomorrow!  Never has a year felt so short.  It has definitely been one of the most difficult years of my life, and like a clique mommy, I admit, I could never imagine the amount of joy he brings to me every single day.  

Of course, my first year of parenthood I decided to start my novel on top of trying to figure out how the hell to raise a child.  While I sometimes feel guilty for reading over my manuscript instead of playing with the little one on the floor, I also have to give credit to him for giving me the “push” I needed to actually follow my dreams. 

I want my son to be proud of me and grow up knowing that he can be/do anything he wants in this life.  

For that reason, I write.  I dream, and I write some more.  

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Deadline…PAST DUE!

After a brief lack of motivation at the beginning of January, and taking care of a sick baby for the last week and a half, I am so far behind on my novel.

In most areas of my life, I have to set deadlines or else nothing would get done.  Seriously.  My mind is usually buzzing a million miles a minute so it helps me prioritize and actually cross items of off my ever-growing to-do list.

I knew I would either have to stick a deadline on my writing or watch it end up in a pile with the rest of my half-assed, unfinished project.  After sadly realizing how much work I still need to do to turn a messy rough draft into an even coherent story had me bowing my head in shame and questioning my approach.  Luckily, I didn’t let it get me down for too long.  I am so determined to turn this dream into a reality, that I had to come up with a better game plan.

I originally dove into this novel head first and naively believed that my passion for writing would carry me through.  Right now you are probably laughing at my stupidity or giving an acknowledging nod, because you too thought it would be a piece of cake.

“Sure, I can get the revisions done in a month and off for reviews and onto an agent right after that!  I wrote it in a month, why not right?”  I can’t believe I ever thought that was a “realistic deadline!”  It was insane.

I instantly whipped out my trusty planner, favorite pen and started jotting down an ACTUAL plan that won’t leave me feeling like a failure, totally overwhelmed, or submitting a horrible novel just because I want to meet a “deadline.”  … hopefully 😉

I thought I would share a couple of key points I came up with in case anyone else was in the same sinking boat:

  1. Set realistic, SMALLER goals that are attainable. –  After admitting to myself that writing isn’t always fun and it certainly isn’t always easy, I have a better idea what kind of time I need to create something that I’m proud of.  It’s important to know your own personal limits to avoid getting burned out and discouraged.  
  2. Schedule, schedule, schedule –  Plopping down at my computer or notes when ever I felt like it, clearly wasn’t getting me very far.  After work, taking care of a very energetic baby boy, cleaning the house (this is where my husband would laugh), and what ever shenanigans is going on at the moment, the only thing I want to do at the end of the day is relax… Solution?  Write in the morning when I have energy and focus.  I also have to write every day or I fall into the habit of saying, “Oh, I’ll write tomorrow…”  Try to find time that fits naturally into your schedule, whether that means writing daily or every Tuesday at 3:00 am.
  3. Measurable accountability – People always say if you want to accomplish a goal, tell others about it.  I am new to the writing and blogging world, so I don’t have many write buddies (yet!) so for now, I have given my husband a general idea of my goals so he can help motivate me to keep going.  We usually sit down every Sunday and talk about what we have coming up in the week, so I decided to add a “novel update” to review my progress.  He’s not a writer, so I expect some interesting conversations.  The more people you have in your cheering section, the better so reach out to people you know will help you to keep reaching for the finish line.
  4. Remember why you write –  There have been so many occasions when I have stared at the computer screen  and wondered what the hell made me think I could write a book!  With out fail, as soon as I pick up a brilliant novel, I’m reminded how much I love writing.  It sounds cheesy, but isn’t reading a really great book the best magic trick around?  I love being about to care so deeply for a character or story that I’m instantly lost in another world.  That is what brings me back with renewed faith in myself.  I want to spread a little of that magic!

If you have any other tips that keep you self motivated  or if you could use some writerly support- I would love to hear!

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Growing Up

Remember, when you were a little kid and the years seemed to drag out?

If I could tell my younger self one thing, it would be to “Slow Down.” Back then I was so eager to grow up. My parents felt like enemies and I couldn’t wait to get out on my own.

Almost 10 years ago to the day, I moved out on my own and spent the next several years racing carelessly through life. Before I knew it, I was on a slippery slope of self-destruction. This led to a lot of wasted years, shame and guilt.

I’ve been watching the clock today, wishing it would take my advice too. Naturally, the minutes keep passing one at a time, inching me closer to tomorrow – my 27th birthday, which should be exciting.

Turning 27 doesn’t make me feel “old” necessarily, but has left me reflecting back on those lost years. I believe there is always time to change the direction of your life, and I’m trying to remind myself that I’m doing just that. Today, however, it just feels hard to remember…

I’m sure I’m not the only one who has felt this way about a looming birthday. What did/do you do to cheer yourself up? I’d love to hear!

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Voices in my head…

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This sums up how I’m feeling today. My characters are shouting all at once while I try to capture everything they are telling me before it’s lost. It’s left me feeling a little crazy…and tired.

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A taste of my novel…

I keep waiting for the day when I no longer see her. Fifteen years after her death and my mother is still as easy to find now as she was then.

I close my eyes, and there she is; dead, wrist perfectly slit, soaking in a tub of her own blood.

Red.

I feel her  buzz relentlessly around my head, like gnats on a sticky, hot summer day.  She’s there, happily swarming aggressively around me until I can no longer breathe.

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