Monday, December 29, 2014

Rough Draft. Finished.


I typed the final scene of my novel this morning. Lastima the mermaid is happy, everything is resolved (okay, not everything, but those things will have to wait until later novels in the series), and my first draft is over 65,000 words, as projected.

I feel so light, as if I've also lost the 20 pounds I've been wishing to lose for the last year and half. As if part of my brain has disappeared. As if my clothing is made of mist, my hair is a balloon, my blood is mere air.

Now I sit on the draft… but I am on the fence about something, and I need input. I have several new readers--readers who have never read a word of my stuff except perhaps news articles or Facebook postings--and they want to read the draft. Now. Not in a year, after I've completed two full revisions of it (which is usually the first time I allow anyone to read ANY of my stuff), but NOW.

What should I do? Should I risk losing all three as readers by giving them a recent draft, one with countless holes, and erratic narrative voice, and goodness knows how many errors? Or do I force them to wait anyway, until I take a month off from the work, return to it, and revise it?

What would you do?

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Hard Endings

I could write over 50,000 words in November, but can't seem to finish the last 15,000 in December! Ugh!

Of course, part of the reason has nothing to do with writing. I've been baking about 15 kinds of cookies, wrapping presents, etc. I did finish all the (lame) Christmas verses for my Advent calendar, with mixed results… but I'm still short an ending for my novel.


It's not because I don't know the ending. I have it in my head pretty vividly. And I'm only a scene and a half from finishing. It isn't even because I don't sit down and writing. I have my novel page up RIGHT NOW, only I'm here online posting a blog update instead of FINISHING THE DAMN THING! UGH!

If any of you have a suggestion as to WHY it's hard to finish this, I would love to know. I'm at a loss.

But I HAVE to finish it! I need it DONE! I'm ending this blog post RIGHT NOW so that I can go back and work on it!

(Really, though, if anyone can offer insight, it would be more than welcome…)

Monday, December 1, 2014

Winning is Sometimes Everything

I've always loved goals.

Not the seemingly unobtainable goals (weigh less than 125 lbs., be famous, rule a kingdom). Not the goals that do not depend on me (be professionally published, be discovered as an actor).

I love the finite, fixed goals, the ones that come in all shapes and sizes, short-term and long-term. Goals like:

Finish the laundry today
Paint a picture for Christmas Cards

or, say

Write 50,000 words on a novel in November!!!

I write during National Novel Writing Month because it gives me a very specific, finite goal to accomplish, and it puts just enough pressure on me so that I make writing, for one month out of the year, a priority.

And I won! I did it! I set out, worked hard, and accomplished my goal! Yay!

But it's not over. Now I have new goals, for the month of December:

1. Write at least once per week on each blog.
2. Write a new verse each day for the advent calendar (did that last year and the year before).
3. FINISH the mermaid novel rough draft.
4. Revise my play from a 45-minute one-act to a 2-hour full-length play.

Notice how each one of these is a WRITING goal. That means, for the month of December, I will STILL keep writing a priority. And I will make sure I have writing goals set up for January, too, so that writing stays a priority all year round.

If I don't set goals, I will let the rest of my life take over, and I won't write. I can't let that happen.

What are your short-term and long-term goals? What have you won at lately?

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Just Keep Writing (or Painting) (or Playing) (or Whatever)

If you've been checking out my word count on the left hand side (and why would you?) you would have seen that my count is steadily going up, up, up. I'm almost halfway through NaNoWriMo, and I'm buzzing along, working on the novel almost every single day.

But I have a friend who is not so lucky. She's a painter, but she has not painted anything in months. This week, trying to put a fire under her, I told her we were going to eat lunch Friday, and if both of us paint on a given week, we go Dutch. If one paints and the other does not, the one who didn't paint pays for lunch. If neither of us paint, we don't get to go to lunch at all.

I had really hoped she would paint on Wednesday, her one day off this week… but she didn't. I haven't painted either, but I was hoping to paint my Christmas watercolor for my Christmas cards. I have to get it done VERY soon so that I can scan the artwork in, order cards on Vistaprint, and get them back in time to send out for Christmas.

I've also been diligently working on the costume for my friend's role in A Christmas Carol, and it should be finished this weekend. And I'm also probably going to hit 30,000 words on my novel by Saturday afternoon.

I'm no better than my poor non-painting friend, but we have an inherent difference, and it's one I've changed just recently: I am no longer willing to put off all the things I love so that I can finish all the mundane, boring have-tos of my life. I am putting my loves ahead of other crap.

My beleaguered friend is the opposite, finding all sorts of mundane crap to pile onto her work desk so that she never gets to paint the way she really wants to. So she's miserable.

Even as I keep sewing, and writing, and painting, I will keep working on my friend. And one of these days, very soon, we'll go Dutch. I can't wait until that happens!

Tuesday, October 21, 2014


I have reached an epiphany:

All this time, through years of writing, I have been distracted from doing it by countless other things. Sometimes work pulls me away, sometimes household chores, sometimes family needs… in reality, EVERYTHING seems to conspire against me, to pull me from writing.

Now, as my husband begins his second week of chemotherapy, after a month of surgeries, recovery, weakness, and countless adjustments and upheaval, the epiphany has come to me.

All these things--my husband's cancer, the house, homeschooling, cleaning, etc.--will kill me if I don't have a distraction. And that distraction, my dear friends, is writing.

Walking Man says I shouldn't write if I don't need to. "When you need to write, you will," more precisely. And now, caught up in all these things, I need to write. You will notice that my novel progress has been moving steadily. I wrote nearly 3,000 words over the last two days, despite trips to Tallahassee for chemo and countless other errands.

Writing has always been my therapy. I can only hope it works that way now, keeping me sane in an insane world.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Don't Forget NaNoWriMo--or Find Your Goal

Although I'm going through a BUNCH of unplanned stuff this year, I am also planning on participating in National Novel Writing Month (November 1-30)! And you should too!

Even if you don't write novels, sign up for it. It's FREE, and you can use the e-mails and inspirational articles from the Office of Letters and Light to use for any of your efforts--from painting to music to drawing to reading to weight loss to pretty much any goal for anything you have in mind. Just sign up, and everything comes to your e-mail… and it's more helpful than you might realize.

I have found it hard to keep going without goals, without a plan for the day, for the week, for the month, for the year. Without goals, I am unsure what to do next. With goals, I have specific tasks automatically ahead for me.

Remember, too, that we are 2 1/2 months away from the new year. Why wait until January 1 to set a goal? Why not begin that resolution soon?

My resolutions (BEFORE January 1):

1. Finish my mermaid novel.
2. Lose the weight I've needed to lose for more than a year.
3. Find a happy place with Richard's cancer treatments.
4. Sew several costumes (three planned so far--Elsa from Frozen, Queen Elizabeth I, Antebellum dress)

Not a lot, but one of these would probably keep me busy. What are YOUR resolutions before January 1?

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Time to Focus

I have not been able to focus in some time.

Wow, one sentence in, and I'm already lying. OF COURSE I can focus… I can give fifteen minutes to loading the dishwasher, without losing focus. I can sweep the house (takes about 30 minutes) and only lose focus when I find a piece of trash too big to sweep up. 

I can watch a TV show for 45 minutes (that's skipping the commercials, since I rarely ever watch shows live). I can even manage to read the kids a story at night, which might run 10 minutes, or might go as long as an hour. And I can read, too, late at night, before sleeping.

But so many of the things I love DON'T happen because focusing on them for 15 minutes doesn't get me anywhere. 

WRITING: I really need a good HOUR to work on my novel. Microsoft Word has an awesome button on it, though--down at the bottom left. It looks like a black screen with white corner bars, and it's called, of all things, "Focus View." Click on it, and everything on my screen disappears except for the page I'm working on--no icons at the bottom, no distracting stuff, not even the toolbar. Just text, as if I'm reading the novel page by page in real life. But it only works if I have the TIME to focus.

PLAYING PIANO: Time is not my real enemy here, for my hands ache if I practice more than 45 minutes at a time… but it's been hard to do lately for other reasons. The hubby's been home recovering from major surgery, so he's been sleeping a lot, and when he's not sleeping, he's vegging in front of the television. And the piano gets in the way of his sleeping, AND it drowns out the television (if you don't have a piano, you may not realize how loud an instrument it is). Besides, I usually don't have time to play until late at night, when the kids are in bed and trying to sleep (or looking for any excuse not to sleep). Fitting it in while not annoying everyone is the challenge here. And this activity invites interruptions like talking on the phone. Suddenly people sit next to me, ask me questions, ring the doorbell, call, hug, and otherwise keep me from focusing on the sheet music in front of me. 

SEWING: This one is hard, for I can sew for days at a time, but I always have a ton of repairs and alterations stacked up, which I have to address before the fun sewing can begin. Right now it's altering the hubby's new suits when what I really want to do is make my Halloween costume. I'm slowly getting the alterations and repairs out of the way. Another problem is that the sewing machine is portable, and I don't have a dedicated sewing room, so I always have a big mess on my hands when I'm sewing things, and the mess makes me feel guilty and stresses me out.

PAINTING: The hardest to focus on time-wise. Set up alone can be complicated, especially if I'm working on more than one canvas at a time (I'm painting a five-canvas panorama right now). Stopping is hard, too, for paint dries, brushes might get ruined, water cups need to be dumped and refilled, etc. At least my kids know to leave it all alone--such was not the case when they were younger. 

So there they are… all my stupid excuses. I've put them all here, and now I need to get started on something despite them. Time to focus on projects, not excuses. 

Would love to know what gets in the way of your focus… what excuses you make… 

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Fighting On

I'm here! It's been nearly a full year since I've posted on this page--and I'm sure all sorts of friend bloggers have assumed I've given it up for good--but I'm here.

I posted on my Not Writing Anything Anymore blog a few weeks ago, resolving to make blogging on both blogs a priority. But then life threw in the biggest of big wrenches, and I had no choice but to switch to what is more important: my husband's welfare.

My husband, on his way to run an Olympic length triathlon in Arkansas, ended up in an emergency room in Alabama with acute pancreatitis. Three weeks later, after a CT scan, tons of blood tests, and two ultrasounds, doctors concluded its cause was a 3 cm cancer tumor in the pancreas. Filled with anxiety (for the prognosis for pancreatic cancer sufferers is extremely bad), we went to the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, FL, where they determined his cancer was operable (thank God!), and where, a little over a week ago, he underwent the Whipple procedure. (It's a BIG surgery--look it up online, and you'll see how serious it is). Through his fight, he's adopted the mantra of his favorite college football team: Fight On! I've even ordered shirts and hats with the saying on them, for him, his friends, and our relatives to wear.

A week later, we were heading home from Jacksonville when the doctors called, and the news is now much more positive. The cancer was caught far earlier than it usually is, and after six months of chemotherapy, Richard will most likely live a long life without pancreatic cancer ever returning. Yay!

Our lives have been turned upside-down, though, and I found that even reading was impossible while I watched over him in the hospital. It was only when tests of the tumor were complete and we were given the great news that I could even concentrate on reading a book again. Now it's time to put my focus back on writing.

Richard was told by a friend who had beaten ovarian cancer that he had to concentrate on more than the cancer, and she told me the same--I had to have more to do than support him and rehash the cancer stories over and over. So that is what I am doing. I'm getting back to my mermaid novel, back to painting (I have accumulated several castles I want to paint), and back to playing piano. All three will soothe my soul through this, making it easier for me to soothe Richard's.

If you've read through this whole thing, thanks for visiting! Hopefully I'll have worthwhile stuff to share with you in the future!