Tuesday, August 30, 2011

2466 Words and Voluntary Delusion

So the last few days have been so crazy that I didn't take time to blog. There were a few days on which I only did 1200 or so words, but with the exception of last night (I was absolutely beat and I knew I needed to get up early for the first day of school this morning), I always wrote. Tonight I was resolved to get back to building up my stamina. I did a little bit of writing this morning while BabyGirlDoll slept and then a little more tonight after I graded my daily quota of student papers.

I so hope this all works out and isn't just a waste of time, ya know? I've never wanted anything this rawly, this unabashedly, this hopefully before. I've never worked this hard and consistently for anything that wasn't reasonably guaranteed. No, wait. That's not true. I took years of voice lesson and worked my guts out in order to make the elite choir when I was in high school. Never did make it.

Well, rot. There's a thought I wish I hadn't had.

Nope. I can't give in to that train of thought. Embrace the fantasy. Choose the delusion. Make yourself believe.

Because that's what it is, really. I suspect most people who are competent writers to begin with are smart enough to realize that they've got a snowball's chance in hell of getting published and an even smaller chance of becoming popular. I know this. I've known this for years. I've told myself and my mother and my grandma and my aunt and my in-laws and my husband and my friends and my students, all of whom have asked me where my novel is, this very thing for years and years and years. I really, really, really wanted to not want to write, and I hoped that by mocking and ignoring and again mocking my desire to write a novel, it would eventually go away.

It didn't.

Finally one day I heard that quote that's always attributed to Einstein, that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over while expecting different results, and I realized that I'd been trying the same thing over and over for years. Suppress the desire to write and when it becomes unbearable do something small and non-committal. Hit a rough patch. Use this to remind yourself that writing is for dreamers and wannabees, and quit again.

Trouble is, that never got me any peace. It never got me to the point where I felt content. I realized it wasn't going to, so I thought I'd try actually pursuing the "dream" (can you tell that I feel a little sarcastic about dreams?) of writing a novel. I have no idea if this will eventually lead to some kind of contentment either, but at least it's something new. But in order to spend an hour or two a day writing instead of sleeping or reading or sleeping or spending time with kids or cooking or sleeping, I have to delude myself that I'm going to get published. If I don't make myself believe that for at least as long as I'm in front of the keyboard, I'll give up.

Today I wrote 2466 words.

Thursday, August 25, 2011


I have this compulsion to make things perfect. Here's an example: the other day, I bought a box of Legos for CrazyKid (4) at a yard sale. In the box were a few random cards from a game apparently called Gulp. Because BookBoy (6) is obsessed with a) anything that has words on it and b) anything that involves fish, he immediately snatched up the cards and began playing a weeks-long elaborate game with the cards and his cooking books. (He is also obsessed with cooking books and word and number games.)

He's happy. He loves the cards. He's learning. That should be good enough.

But nooooo . . . . every time I see him carrying around that quarter-stack of raggedy cards, I have this overwhelming compulsion to scour Ebay, Amazon, Craigslist, anywhere to find him the actual game, complete with 52 crisp, shiny new Gulp cards. I haven't been able to find them anywhere. That's probably good for me.

The perfectionism is good when it makes me obsess over making my classes, projects, lectures, or decorating better, but it's bad when it paralyzes me or makes me fixate on something to the point that I waste hours on something that doesn't really matter. It's what stopped me from trying to write for years.

Tonight I wrote a little more than a thousand words. They were far from perfect. Even the word count was far from perfect. (My goal was 2400 words.) But it's late, and the baby has been waking us up a lot, and I'm so tired, so tonight I'm going to set my perfectionism aside and say that even though the writing wasn't perfect, at least it was.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Last night there was much family drama and a very harrowing situation, so I copped out and only wrote 1200 words. (I have to say, though, that I love the fact that I now define only writing 1200 words as a copout.)

Tonight I forced myself to get back on track and wrote 2330 words.

I need to come up with more things to blog about.

Monday, August 22, 2011

I am Bullheaded

Today was the first day of the gauntlet. I refer to my small petty challenges as gauntlets because it makes me feel cool. The gauntlet was to finish three hours of teaching English, make the forty minute commute home, and then, staring at 10:45, do my writing. If I can do that all semester, I may not have to abandon my noveling in order to do the whole mothering by day, teaching by night thing.

Done, done, and done.

I can't believe that all these years I thought consistent writing was about inspiration or genius. Turns out, it's mostly about being bullheaded. Ha ha ha ha ha. Bullheaded I can so do.

Tonight I wrote 2,202 words.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Watching the Hugos and 2100 Words

OMG. I watched the Hugos streaming live until 11:30. Why? Because I am a moron. I was really, really, really tempted to just go to bed after that, but I couldn't very well watch this totally inspiring writing awards ceremony and then wuss out on doing my own writing, could I?

I am cogitating positively. Cogitating positively. Cogitating . . . snore.

I wrote 2100 words today. So tired. Must sleep.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Pinterest and 2,025 Words

Again exhausted. Again powered through. One more night, and I'll have finished week two of consistent, increasing amounts of writing.

Wrote 2,025 words tonight. I'm hoping this draft feels more cohesive than the last one did. It certainly has more direction.

Hey, here's a cool thing that I do, and I'd love it if other writers did the same thing, because I think it's fun.

I don't know if you've heard of Pinterest, which is basically an online bulletein board for images. I've got about 20 boards, but one I use is the "Creative Inspiration," board. (I would call it my "Novel Writing," board, but then my friends and family would know that I'm actively writing a novel, and I'm not sure I'm ready to come out yet.) Whenever I have an object or character or setting that I need to get a better visual grasp on, I do a Google image search, and when I find the right image, I pin it to that board. Sometimes when I'm writing I have my Word doc open on one half of the screen and the board open on the other half. It helps put me in the mood I'm trying to evoke and the pictures serve as visual reminders of where I'm going.

What about you? Do you have a Pinterest board? Do you use it for novel-writing stuff?

Thursday, August 18, 2011

August 18-1911 Words. Starting Over.

I started my WIP over tonight. I know, I know. I swore I wouldn't do that, but sometimes you get far enough down the rabbit hole that you realize you've taken a wrong turn somewhere and you need to back up and start over. There were so many things that weren't gelling. Plot holes and threads that got dropped then picked up again or appeared out of thin air in the middle of the novel. Several characters whose entire personalities and backstories changed mid-novel because I realized 20,000 words in that something else worked better.

Plus, after reading Weronika Janczuk's article On Compactness for Write On Con, I realized that my story had absolutely no voice. I went back and re-wrote my opening in first person, and while I didn't love the first-person part, I liked the voice that emerged. And changing something as pervasive as the entire voice of a novel involves a massive rewrite. With all these changes that need to be made, I'm pretty sure starting over is actually the easiest way to go. And really, I was only 31,000 words in. At the rate I'm going, I can make that up in two or three weeks.

If I can keep up the rate I'm going. My stomach just squinched to remind me that I start teaching night classes this Monday. And my stomach just double-squinched to remind me that I still need to compile quite a few documents in preparation for my first class.

Also, my husband's computer just sprang to life and turned itself on. Why do these types of things always happen when I'm alone at night writing a supernatural thriller?

Tonight I wrote 1,911 words.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

August 17--1813 Words

1813 words. My goal was 1600. Guess I met it.

Had another hard time tonight. It's all so clear in my head, but for some reason it's just not coming together. Hubs told me that if I was that gridlocked, I should give myself a night off. He had a point, but right now putting out a WIP is only part of my goal. The other part of my goal is to increase my creative, emotional, and physical stamina so that I'm strong enough to make consistent, significant progress toward my goals. I have to. I'm 30 years old. I don't have any time to dink around with low output. So while this is definitely a creative exercise, it's also a stamina building exercise. That's why I kept at it tonight. But darn. Doing 1800 tonight means I have to do 1900 tomorrow night. I'd've preferred to have stopped at 1600. I like slow, steady progress.

You know, every author says that their first draft of anything sucks horribly, and I'm sure they believe that's true. But I have to wonder as I look at my WIP--did their drafts suck this much? Doesn't really matter, I suppose. They kept writing and got where they are. I'll keep writing and get where I want to be.

PS: I do have a life outside of writing. It's a vibrant, active, busy life, which is why I do my writing at ten o'clock at night. According to Neil Gaiman and Robison Wells, I should be blogging about that, too. I'll get on that just as soon as I--yawn--get some sleep.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Wow. The universe is conspiring to see how serious I am about writing consistently. I burned my finger doing a craft today, and by seven o'clock, I still wasn't able to put the ice pack down long enough to type a Facebook update, let alone 1500 words of a novel. Since I thought I was out due to an injury, I agreed to watch some 90s comedy with hubs and his bros, and by the time the movie ended at 11, I realized that my finger didn't hurt anymore, which meant that the 1500 words must go on. I wanted to go to bed instead.

They're not great words, I can tell ya that. I've got a huge ol' freakin' list of all the things that suck about this entire scene. Heck, the entire story. But. But. I am trying really, really hard not to listen to that voice. That voice has kept me from writing for 15 years. Not that that voice is wrong. That voice has extremely good taste and is very insightful, but during creating time, it needs to be quiet. As much as I'm not loving the character voices, the action, or the monologue-nature of this scene, I am getting some good character discovery and background information, and I think that as clunky as this scene is, it needs to be allowed to unwind.

This novel is weird to me. I feel like I know the characters and the story and the plot so well, and in my head they're absolutely brilliant, but I'm having an incredibly hard time getting all of that onto paper. It's weirding me out a bit because usually when I know something, I can express it.

Another thing that's weird? Realizing that for the first time in my life, I'm honestly working as hard as I can toward the one thing I've really wanted since I was six. That feels really weird.

I wrote 1521 words tonight.

Monday, August 15, 2011

I was at high risk for wussing out tonight. I want to the library to listen to a visiting writer speak, and it ran really long. Like three hours long. Plus, the writer spoke about self-publication and how difficult it was to find a traditional publisher, which put me in a weird headspace. AND yesterday was my day off, and it can be difficult to get back in a groove after a day off. AND the sky was full of the smoky remnants of summer, which always makes me want to get in a car and tear off to a mountaintop somewhere where I can stare at the stars and cry and wish that I were 12 or 21 again.

But instead of doing anything irresponsible (okay, I did one irresponsible thing: I ordered a McDonald's meal with a strawberry shake and I ate the entire meal), I sat down and started rattling away.

I wrote 1330 words.

Okay, can we talk about that please? Why do my word counts all end in 5s or 0s? It makes it seem like I'm rounding or making up word counts, but I'm not, I promise. I just do Microsoft's word count and subtract yesterday's word count to establish that day's word count. Nevertheless, it's weirding me out. Tomorrow I will not have a word count that ends in 0 or 5.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Wow! Was sorely tempted to skip writing tonight, mostly cause I was just so darn tired.

I slept badly last night, and then today I took the kids yard saleing (got an 11 piece set of Christmas village decorations for 18 bucks, which was satisfying), then went to a parade. Had a quick lunch break, then went to the library and finally to the zoo. I did all of this in strappy wedge sandals and 90 degree heat, so by the time we stumbled in the door at 8:30 pm and I tucked the baby in bed (hubs handled the boys), I was ready to collapse in bed. "Plus," I told myself, "with feet and a head that ache like this, your writing will be terrible. And you've done so well all week long."

But I was really afraid that if I took an unscheduled break, I'd go back to sputtering and stuttering along, and I just couldn't afford to do that, so I put lotion on my feet and icy hot on my neck and shoulders and attacked the keyboard. Wrote 1240 words.

Just to recap, this is what I've done this week.

Monday: 565
Tuesday: 735
Wednesday: 835
Thursday: 901
Friday: 1170
Saturday: 1240

I like the upward trend, but I'm not sure I'll be able to maintain it. School starts in two weeks, which means that starting this Monday, I have to re-don my college teacher cap, which always takes up a lot of time. But I'm too tired to worry about that tonight. For now, I'm just going to consider it a week well-played and call it good.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Well fancy that! If you go to bed a decent hour, then the next day when your baby is sleeping, you can actually stay conscious and write instead of passing out on your bed. Just wrote 1170 words. Unfortunately, most of it was landscaping wish fulfillment (really, how long should it take an MC to find a house and check to see if anybody's home?), but hey, at least she actually did locate the Essential Secondary Character Who Holds Many Ancient Secrets, and I can call it practice writing.

Now it's off to make dinner and wonder what the heck to do with the rest of my night. Toodles! (Or something less annoying.) TTYL.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

901 words tonight. I'm stunned at how quickly they came. I know it won't always be this easy, but I'll enjoy it when it happens.

I told hubs the plot of the story and he says it's a hard one to tackle for a first plot. I'm not sure if he's right, though he does have an uncanny sense of narrative cohesion, but I believe in this plot so much. I love the seed from which the idea sprang. I love the characters. I love the story. I hope I can do it justice.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Eeeked out another 835 words and found enough tiny plot holes to make it look like wasps have built a nest in my story.

I think my biggest problem is that I'm not good at juggling multiple story line or subplots or background character arcs, so when I reach the point where one of those subplots or character arcs is supposed to intersect with the main plot, which I'm currently writing, I realize that the character motivation or subplot that drives the next event in the main plot is missing. I keep having to put little notes in the margins to remind myself to go back and add this and that, and I'm hoping that I actually catch them all and am able to make a cohesive novel.

Today I'm asking myself why in the world I'm doing this. I always knew that writing a novel would be incredibly hard work, which is why I spent so many years resisting the urge to do so, and now I'm discovering that it's about ten times harder than I thought it would be. And about 80% of the time I don't really believe it will go anywhere, which really makes me wonder what in the world I'm doing this for. But then I come back to the harsh answer: I spent 12 years trying to grow up and get over the desire to write a novel, and it didn't work at all. I'm hoping that at least this way I'll know that I gave it my best shot and find some kind of peace through that.

Then 20% of the time I'm totally delusional and start believing I might actually write something worth reading someday.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Freaking, Cleaning, Writing

Today I am freaking out because I cannot find my Ipod. I'm going through major NAME OF THE WIND withdrawal, and I can't get my Writing Excuses fix. I'm in danger of missing my Appendix fix tomorrow! Aaaaaahhhh!

I thought the Ipod might be on the top shelf of my craft closet, which looked like this.

I cleaned the closet and did not find it, but at least the closet now looks like this. Still jonesing for WE, though. They did Orson Scott Card's M.I.C.E. quotient in this one!

In other news, I cranked out 735 words. I felt like I could keep going, but lots of authors say to stop when you feel like you're rolling, so I stopped. I'm hoping that tomorrow I can pick up with a decent head of steam.

Monday, August 8, 2011

The Cat. The Chair. The Word Count.

Today, in between dinner and diapers and making playdough and a marble run, I managed to eek out 565 words. Tonight, instead of eeking out another 500, this is what I did instead.

Oh wait, before I can show you what I did, I need to show you what the wretched beast I call my cat did.

Exhibit A:

Exhibit B:
Just to be clear, that is not one, but two different pieces of furniture.

So, I got to spend my night with some 8 pound fishing line, a needle, and a desk lamp in orde to do this:

Exhibit A:

Exhibit B:

He's cute and I love him, but there was a brief moment when I wondered if I had accidentally sewn the chair shut with him in it. Then I wondered if that would really be so bad.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Oh, The Irony

See! I swore that I would be a responsible poster and post on Thursday, but I did not. I've never been very good at schedules.

Here's the thing. I've always wanted to be a novelist, but I treated that dream like one of the whac-a-moles at a kid's pizza place. Every time it popped its head up, I'd say, "No! Stupid dream!" And I'd smash it down hard with a padded club.

I still had a writing jones, though, so I started a frugal living blog several years ago. I got responses and praise and a little money right away instead of scribbling in broke, unresponsive silence for eight years, which was the fate I knew awaited all fools who tried to write novels. That was sort of nice, but after a few years, I realized I didn't love it anymore. I wanted to be writing stories, not articles on the seven steps to maximize credit card offers. Plus, I was using WordPress (such a big mistake), and I couldn't keep up with all the updates and widgets and gadgets and twidgets and links and finks and tweaks. I wasted so much time trying to learn Wordpress. I still cringe when I think of it. And there was the networking. The linking and blog circling and the daily submissions and guest posting and the affiliate coordinating and blah blah blah blah blah! I realized that I kind of hated blogging.

So after I confided some of my blogging frustrations to hubs, he said, "Stop blogging and do what you want to do! Try to write a novel!" (He was actually telling me to quit blogging and start noveling from the beginning.) It took several years, but I finally agreed with him.

So, I put blogging behind me and started attending conferences and listening to "Writing Excuses" and "The Appendix" and Farland's Author's Advisory. And you wanna know the first thing those meanies told me? (Stop laughing! Stop it right now!) Those mean published, professional writers all agreed that if I wanted to be a successful novelist . . . I was going to need a blog.

Oh, the irony.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

The Liebster Award!

Look at that! It's been nearly a month since I posted. See, this is why I hope that self-publishing doesn't become the norm. I suck at the whole networking/promoting/getting out there thing. In fact, I have a story about my suckage at that, but that's for later.

Anyway . . . I got an award! I've never cared about blogging awards, but I do like Robin (who has a freakishly high amount of freakishly positive energy, can I just say?), so I was pleased to receive it. When Robin gets published (which she totally will), I will say that I knew her when and that she gave me an award!

Now presenting . . .
It's for bloggers who have under 200 followers. It may also have a subtle tint of "Get your tail in gear and blog more often," but that could just be for me.

Now here's the hard part. I have to find five other bloggers who have less than 200 followers and give them the award. The challenge? Blogs with less than 200 followers are kinda hard to spot, given their relative visibility to other blogs and stuff. Lemme see here . . .

Shoot. I just checked my blogroll. They all have more than 200 followers. Now I feel lame and guilty of false consciousness.

So, in the spirit of the award, I commit to begin following five blogs with less than 200 followers. I can't give them the award, mostly because they've all already received it. From Robin, which is how I know about them. But I can add them to my blogroll and shower them with love.


And Then She Was Like Blah Blah Blah
Writing Without Regret
Nancy S Thompson
and . . .
J. Scott Savage! (Robin directed me there.) You knew she'd come through for me!

Oh shoot. Robin linked to five under-200 bloggers, but one of them was me. Okay. I will add four under-200 bloggers and next time I stumble across a fifth, I will add it. But for now I have to go stop my children from eating the poisonous mushrooms in the front yard.

Much love,