Tag Archive: support

Well, I’ve definitely learned something. I was doing exactly what I thought I was doing. It’s annoying to have to tell myself I was right and that I was wrong and that I was being stupid. Yes, that probably sounds crazy, but keep in mind that it’s a conversation with myself, and I’ve told you before, writers are crazy. It’s what we do.

You might recall I said in my last awards post that I was never satisfied with my word count, that if I did 3k last draft, I would be pushing myself for 4k on the next? That’s literally true.  It’s what I’ve been doing, and I think that’s been part of the problem. 4k every day is a lot (especially after an 8 hour work day), and some days it isn’t there, but do you think I let myself understand that? Heck no. Yes, this means I’ve berated myself on the days it isn’t there, tried to wheedle and coax myself into getting there anyway, and I keep giving in to myself on it instead of saying “Look self, I’m over 3k, pace was 2.5k, enough. We’re good for the day.” And that only gets worse on the weekends, where the line is “If I can do 4k on a weekday, I should be able to do a lot more than that when I have all day. 6k minimum, and I should keep pushing even after that.” It’s never enough for me, it seems.

That is not to say I was wrong in my last post about the wall being related to a story problem. That was the wall, but when I got that problem sorted, I still had some trouble getting the engine to turn over and realized that it’s because I hadn’t even started it and already had the pedal matted.  Not good, only floods the engine. I was sitting there and seriously telling myself that I had to make sure I hit at least 4k every day now, and that this weekend I should use the time to make up for the lack of writing after I hit the wall.  After a moment, I realized exactly how stupid that sounded and went off to read for a while.  It was a delicious thing to turn away for an hour and do something else.  I won’t say it’s easy to resist the pressure I put on myself, but I think it’s worth doing sometimes, if only to me back on an even keel.

It’s great to drive myself to finish the book, but if I drive myself to the point of wanting to walk away, that’s just counterproductive (and the above mentioned stupid). Then I end up quitting over not meeting some artificial, self-imposed quota or deadline that wasn’t reasonable to begin with.  In a way, I’m laughing at myself right now.  I’ve told a number of people to take the pressure off of themselves, to be reasonable in their goals, to dial it back to where it’s still about loving writing. Do you think I take my own advice? Yeah, right, that would be sensible, which I rarely manage. So I am going to do that, I’m going to take my own advice. I’m going to dial it back, tell myself that 3k, which only a couple of months ago would have thrilled me as a regular achievement, is perfectly acceptable. I’m still over 20k ahead of pace and even that isn’t the point.  I need to let myself be a little sane (don’t laugh too hard, we’re talking my version here), do some things that aren’t writing the book or I’m going to do myself some harm here.  I don’t think I could quite make myself hate writing, but if I keep this up, it may become a job in the less pleasant sense, rather than the job that doesn’t feel like work as it has been for the past few months.

I’m the one who keeps talking about maintaining balance, so it’s time to bring this back into balance. What’s funny about that is I have this feeling that if I can rebalance this, the numbers will probably jump again on their own, if I’m not trying to force it anymore.  That’s just the way things usually work in my life.

I haven’t reported numbers on Possession for a while now, so I am going to do that now, so that maybe I (and the rest of you) can really see that it’s not like I’m in danger of not hitting my goal or not finishing the draft.  I know where I am with the outline, and the chances are excellent that, like the second draft of DM, I will finish the book at or before the end of my February NaNo, even with me dialling it back.  As of the end of the day yesterday, the manuscript stood at 62,151 words. I’m about to start chapter 16. Even with the problems this week, not including today because I haven’t gotten started yet, I’ve put in a total of 13,396 words. That’s fantastic, and I really should be happy with that.  I’m trying to be, trying to ignore the totals from Thursday and Friday (though Friday at least wasn’t bad, especially if you realize that I was rewriting a not so small section that wasn’t right when I forced myself to write it in pursuit of the artificially inflated finish line).  I really need to maintain some perspective here, something I’m spectacularly bad at doing myself most of the time, for all that I can help other people do it.

I do want to say a very, very big thank you to all of you who have taken the time to read, like and comment on the posts in the last few days. Your words of encouragement, support, and advice have helped more than I can tell you.  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, the supportive community is what makes WordPress a wonderful place to blog.

In closing, today’s picture. I thought we could all use some sun and colour on this February morning.


Measurements, Goals and Progress

It’s almost kind of funny that I ended up posting this after the incident of Wall vs Writer. I had planned this post even before I did the one for the VIB award.  I ‘m not sure whether this is a case of self-fulfilling prophecy or the kind of coincidence that you never find in fiction.  But I promise you that this post is not actually a result of yesterday, really.

You see, I was thinking the other day about how we set and measure both our goals and our progress toward them.  More specifically, I was thinking about how I do these things, because by now you all know I never claim to be the wise old expert on anything.  There are definitely different ways one can measure progress on almost anything, but I find that there are two major ways with writing in my experience.

The first, the one that so many of us use, is word count.  Word count is nice because it’s one of the few quantifiable things in a field that is generally highly subjective. Word count is relatively absolute, especially when writing a first draft NaNo-style because you’re supposed to just keep blazing forward, and then the counter coughs up a number.  If you’re keeping track on a daily basis, then it’s a simple calculation to know how much you have accomplished.  Then you have something to measure against that quantified goal for that period of time, so you can tell readily if you are on track for your goal.  Of course, I never know for sure how long the story will be on first draft, because I always think you let that draft be as long as it needs, regardless of any other considerations, so it would be hard to give a percent to completion expression of this progress. But I definitely know how far I’ve come in a day.

While this is a great way to feel accomplished (I won’t lie, I love seeing the giant numbers), it does ignore the fact that writing is about far more than just writing X number of words, so very much more.  As I said, it’s a subjective field, where “good” and “right” and “correct” get tossed around a lot but mean different things to everyone.  For a while during university, I worked in a book store (lit major working in the fiction section, there’s a no brainer).  When customers would express that they felt like they should be reading certain types of fiction, usually literary, because they were under the impression that those types were automatically “better,” I would point out that we have so many different types of books and authors because there is such a variety of taste in books, that no type is better than the others. I might be a little biased because I’m a committed reader of fantasy, mystery and to a lesser extent, science fiction, but I do stand by the statement to this day.

So, if this is a subject field, is there a way of making goals and tracking them that acknowledges that and works with it? This is what I was thinking about the other day that made me want to post about the subject as soon as I had my thoughts on it straight.  Despite my saying that this post wasn’t caused by my afore-mentioned little difficulty, I do think that the wall and the fallout from it has helped to clarify my thinking on the subject, making it easier to write this post than I had expected. You see, I didn’t feel bad so much about hitting a difficulty, because those happen, but I felt (and still feel) a little bad about not making my word count goal yesterday. The only thing that stopped me from trying despite the way I felt was the realization that anything I tried to write at that point would be a pure waste, that I’d just be deleting it as soon as I had the problem sorted in order to move forward in the story. That leads me to think that purely number-based goals put undue pressure on us to perform even if we know we’re writing drivel.  The number of times I’ve seen in the NaNo forums that someone just had to go through their whole book from November and put in all the contractions that they deliberately left out during NaNo purely for higher word count, or something similar in the name of word count, well, it drives me a little nuts.  I mean, it’s good to hit the goal, don’t get me wrong, but what’s the point when you’re only writing it to add words you know, for sure, you’ll be taking out later?  You’re  making more pointless work for yourself, really.  This is not the same as editing, where you might be tweaking to better express something. I’m talking words put in the manuscript purely for the count’s sake. There has to be another way, I thought to myself, something that lets me feel accomplished without driving myself batty on a rough day, or just a day that didn’t have a high number, but got me through something important. This thought led me to where I’m leading all of you.

You see, I do think there is definitely a more fluid, qualitative way to judge progress, though it’s far harder to set concrete, achievable, measurable goals. This would be measuring it by general progress through the story itself. Note to all the pantsers out there, this probably won’t work for you because you’re still discovering where your story is going, so it would be impossible to judge progress toward the end.  But for those of us who plan and outline our way through the story, and then draft it, this is perfectly possible, if somewhat unpredictable.

I’ve done this method before. Because of the way I outline things, I tend to be able to say that I’m doing events A, B and C today. Those would be then 3 of a set number of events as laid out in my outline.  Some of you who were reading this blog as I did the second draft of DM might remember me referring to entries in my outline, how many I had and how many I had completed.  That’s basically what I was doing, trying to judge my progress by the amount of the story I had written, but in a fairly qualitative sense. The reason I find this subjective is that there are a number of factors at play in the length of draft an entry or event will turn into, including importance, intricacy, how much I need actually describe, things like that. Some of you might recall me first worrying that the second draft of DM would be too long, then that it would be just right, and in the end, it was about 30k shorter than I had anticipated. This is what I meant about it being unpredictable. But it feels like a way of measuring that is more fair to myself and the story. Why? Well, as a reader, I rarely care how long a story is, unless it’s either fabulous or crap.  If it’s crap, well, I probably put it down before the end anyway, so maybe it doesn’t matter then either.  When it’s fabulous, I don’t notice word count, but I do notice that I don’t want it to ever stop.  🙂  In other words, what I really care about is the story, so shouldn’t I, as a writer, be judging my work based on that same yardstick? I mean, I can’t be the only reader who views books this way.

I’m still not sure, given the unpredictability this method, how I would set about creating, maintaining and judging progress on goals in this fashion. All I’m certain of is that I have had days where I’ve struggled to put as many words on the screen as I feel I should, but when I look back at the section I did write, I felt accomplished anyway because it was either important or intricate to the point of requiring careful work on what words I used.  That should count for something. Maybe there’s some hybrid of the two methods possible, if I can ever learn to maintain a sense of perspective and not drive myself into the ground wanting to eternally go faster and do more.  Hmm, it’s a thought.  I’ll probably be mulling this over still when I get to the point of setting the goals for The Nine.  Maybe I’ll even post further thoughts on the subject if I have them.

Before you ask, I did get some writing done tonight. I have the problem licked, I think (edit stage will have the final say on that), and even managed to hit pace tonight. It’s not nearly as much as I had been doing, but it was important to me to climb back on that horse, and to feel out the solution. Green lights all the way. Now to rebuild the momentum, as I told someone else once. 🙂

Also, feedback on DM continues to be good. I’m thinking that the pace it’s being read through is probably a good sign.

And, before I go, I did promise a picture, so here it is. My mother loves growing these things, has had one at every house they’ve owned. I love the way the light plays across the leaves in this one.

My friend Amber, at Conversing with Novels was so thoughtful as to pass me the Very Inspiring Blogger Award.

The funny thing is that I am the last person I would ever point others to when looking for inspiration, but I think that has to do with a rampant case of it’s-not-impressive-if-I’m-the-one-doing-it. I’m in treatment, the doctors say it’s not life-threatening and that I can safely live the rest of my life with it if treatment doesn’t work.  They have, however, informed me that it’s not covered by any Healthcare system, and so they have been forced to mail me my invoice for services rendered.  Wait, what’s this slip of paper in the envelope with it? It looks a bit like a prescription.

  1. Thank the person who gave this to you.
  2. Write 7 things about yourself
  3. Nominate 7 blogs

Oh, wait, those are the instructions. Apparently they found them when they were researching my case. Curiouser and curiouser…

So, many more thanks to Amber for thinking of me. Now, for the (not very) juicy tidbits of information about the (very) crazy writer-lady.

  1. The first SLR camera I got to use was my Aunt Sandy’s, a Minolta X-700 that’s more or less been on perma-loan to me since she found out I wanted to get into photography. I’d still be using that if Agfa hadn’t stopped making my favourite type of film, more or less turfing me into the digital photography age.
  2. I talk to the characters in my books.  A lot. Especially when I hit a road block in either the notes or outline stages. Sometimes they tell me surprising secret things, sometimes they just tell me off.  They’re a loudmouthed, mutinous bunch, but I love them, and talking to them has so far gotten me out of every jam since I started writing all the time last fall. Thank god I live alone, though sometimes I get funny looks from the cats.
  3. Many of the writing inspirations I’ve shared on here were so shared for two reasons. First, I wanted to make sure I recorded them somewhere other than just my wall of lessons learned, and second, I’m not so much trying to inspire people as save them from bashing their heads into some of the walls I’ve bashed mine into. I know it hurts, and I’d like to try to save someone else that pain if I can.
  4. I’m never happy with my progress. In anything, really.  It’s never enough. If I write 2k per day for an entire draft, I feel the need to top it, even if that’s not reflected in my goal. The actual stated goal this time, as I write Possession, is the same as when I wrote the second draft of DM (which is ambitious to begin with since I wrote most of that draft of DM while on vacation from the day job) but I’m not satisfied with just writing 3k per night (my average at least during the portion of last time that included going to the day job). No, this time, I’m not entirely happy with myself unless I’ve written 4k, despite the fact that pace is only 2.5k.  That’s just a little sick and I’m wondering when it will be forced to end by a serious case of I-don’t-have-any-more-hours-in-the-day-for-this. I’m pretty sure you can’t get treatment for that.
  5. I rarely plan posts out ahead of time. I mean almost never. Okay, I think it happened once (not including the one I have planned for after this award post). I find it odd that they don’t ramble more because of this. I mean, I edit them. Trust me, I even tend to edit my comments on other blogs.  But strangely, all of these unplanned posts seem to stay more or less on subject, and even usually have a nice flow to them. I’m a bit amazed at that.
  6. Though I have trouble being inspired by anything I do, even when I know intellectually that it should be viewed as inspiring, I often find others very inspiring and love to tell them so, to encourage them to keep doing whatever they’re doing that I find so awesome.  In that spirit, I’m looking forward to the nomination section.
  7. If I were successful enough to do so, I probably would quit my day job and just write. It’s not because I don’t like my day job. I do like it most days. But I think that by the time I became that successful, I would need to quit the day job just so I could feel like I had time for things other than work.  Currently I work 37.5-40 hours a week on the day job and somewhere in the 55-60 hours a week range on writing. I really do dream of having just one full time job again one day, and I know I can’t give up writing. The implications are obvious.

And so, now we move on to the main event, the Inspiring Bloggers I wish to bring to people’s attention:

  1. Though I don’t wear jewellery myself, I love her work as being beautiful in their own right and, as I know her in real life, I know exactly how inspiring she is, which is to say tremendously.
  2. This gentleman often says the things I think out loud (out word?) for me or prods me into thinking about something differently.  I think that’s good for my brain, which I need for all this writing.
  3. This lady lives her life with such honesty and a beautiful mix of self-confidence and self-examination that I find it inspires me to do the same.
  4. This fabulous photographer also writes wonderful accompanying pieces that never fail to touch me.
  5. This lady makes me look back at myself at that age and realize how little I had my stuff together. But that inspires me to keep it together now, so it’s all good to me.

Yes, I know that’s only 5.  I’m cheating. Again. I’ve just done enough of these things to realize that the number they ask for is arbitrary.  I would rather people just nominated those they feel it’s appropriate for, rather than adding to the list just because it isn’t long enough. That and several of the people I would love to give this to already have it, which just means other people have good taste too. 🙂

In closing, I want to leave you with this link, which made me laugh and think at the same time, my favourite kind of inspiration. I couldn’t not share it.

Daniel Abraham’s Private Letter From Genre To Mainstream

Of Sunshine and Steam Engines

Oh, wait, there’s that light at the end of my perpetual writing tunnel, and I think it may not be a train… this time.  No, it’s the swanky Sunshine Award!

My friend Amber was kind enough to nominate me for this as she called me a writing machine.  I think that has more to do with the inescapable nature of being trapped in this tunnel with my story ideas.  Wait, what do you mean this is actually my brain?  Then what was that train I saw earlier that nearly ran me over?  Um, never mind.  *chants* If I have to ask, I don’t want to know. Well, back on topic after that small diversion. I’d read the instructions, but this thing is blinding me.  *grabs industrial grade sunglasses that look just like sexy Oakleys*

Much better.  I’m amazed those instructions haven’t caught fire.  I mean, how do you even pin them to sunshine?

  • Thank the person who gave you the award. Check!  Thanks Amber!
  • Write a post about it. Check!
  • Answer some questions down there. See below
  • Pass it along to ten people and let them know they received the award. Hmm, we’ll see how many I can get this time.

So, questions and answers for the curious.  The rest of you will just have to suffer. 🙂

Favorite colour: Fake Grape Purple.  You had to have seen that coming.
Favorite animal:  Horses.  I miss riding (from when I was a kid)
Favorite number:  13, because it’s my lucky number.  Good things usually happen to me on Friday the 13th
Favorite non-alcoholic drink:  Hot Chocolate.  Anyone surprised by that has not been reading this blog. Alternatirely, Citron Tea (for those of you who needed a surprise).
Facebook or Twitter? Facebook.  I have trouble with the idea of expressing a complete thought in only 140 characters.  I don’t think I can do that…
My passion:  Writing. In all it’s aspects, oddly, I love it.  I’ve figured out that I average 50 hours a week working on writing, and yet it never seems to make me tired or feel overworked.  I think that’s what the day job (37.5 hours) is for.
Getting or giving presents? Giving.  I’m actually terrible at accepting presents.  Or compliments, which are like verbal presents.
Favorite pattern:  the veins of leaves.  In clothes, solid, because I don’t do patterns!
Favorite day of the week: Saturday.  It’s post-work without being pre-work, which is why it’s better than Sunday.
Favorite flower: Lilies, of any sort, really. You might have noticed that a bit in my pictures.

So, right, ten blogs, let’s see how this goes.

  1. I’m sorry, but anyone who makes me nearly snarf my coffee as often as this lady does has to be up for a Sunshine Award, because that’s happiness right there (less so for the monitor or lost coffee, but she’s worth it). Let’s everybody love the Kiwi. 🙂
  2. This lady of images and words often makes me reach for my own camera, which, in winter, is a hell of a feat.  I have yet to see her post something that didn’t make me smile and feel a sense of wonder.
  3. Sometimes it’s the journey and struggles shared that can bring a smile to our face, and help us keep perspective on any off days.  One of my fellow writers reminds me of that often, and I really look forward to her posts of progress, learning and deep thoughts.
  4. Another source of laughter and shared wisdom, I know I just nominated her recently, but I really want to add this one.
  5. I love the insightful posts this lady makes, and it doesn’t hurt that she made my whole year recently (a bold statement in January, I know, but I stand by it.  Most of the good things that might happen this year are now gravy).
  6. More laughs and head-shaking happen from his blog (on my part at least) than any outside that of my favourite Kiwi
  7. Because I don’t think a list of amusement and hilarity would be complete without him.  There’s nothing I can say that doesn’t give him away, and I’m dying (figuratively) to see what he’s going to do with this.
  8. She’s going to hate me for doing this to her shy, introverted self because it’s my spotlight and not hers, but I have to include her, because she makes me smile so often.

Well, I got most of the way there.  Eight’s a good number, nice and round.  And I can manageably let them all know.  I have to remember to do that.  I believe that’s enough of me trying to get a sun tan from my award, so I think I’ll head back to my world of words.  Thank you again, Amber.

The Beach Writer was so very sweet to nominate me for the Versatile Blogger Award, which she recently received herself (well deserved, I might add).  I would definitely like to thank her for the recognition.  It’s always nice to know that others like the things you have to say, rather than just smiling and nodding at the screen when they see your post.

Now, I think I still have the instructions around here for this one. Right, here it is, I took a charcoal rubbing of the engraving last time, just in case this came up again (reading engraving is hard in the darkness of my blog theme, you know).

  1. Thank the award-giver and link back to them in your post. (Done)
  2. Share 7 things about yourself. (Thankfully, I’m not one of those shy writers)
  3. Pass this award along to 15 others. (I’m going to cheat a little here, as I’ve done this once before, so I may not get 15)
  4. Contact your chosen bloggers to let them know about the award (I really should remember to do that more often)

So, now, talking about me… What don’t you already know?

  1. I’ve recently discovered Gotye, fabulous musician.  His song “Somebody That I Used to Know” has been spinning since I bought it last night.  Non-stop.  This may go on for a few days.  Sometimes that happens to me.
  2. When I’m not writing or gaming, I have a tendency to crochet, which a friend of mine and I call “Playing with Yarn.”  This term also applies to knitting.
  3. On the subject of knitting, I’ve been informed (repeatedly) by said friend that I knit “wrong.”  This is probably a result of teaching myself.  According to her, I knit a beautiful, single-sided pearl stitch (I think that’s what she said), but that I do it totally wrong.  It drives her into fits every time she sees my knitting, which I almost never do anyway.
  4. I’m rarely impressed by the things I do, but I still think the title of this blog kicks ass.  It’s also highly appropriate for the current state of my writing life, which is funny, since it was thought of while I was working on a now dead novel-attempt (55k, on a vast plain with no idea where I was going with it)
  5. I have a writing charm, a wonderful chain maille key chain with a dragon charm on it.  It was a Christmas gift this past year from my friend SJ and now it’s always at my side when I write/outline/make notes/do anything writing related.  I think I’m becoming almost as superstitious as baseball players (I promise, I change my socks regularly)
  6. A song I write to a lot, which I have spun for as much as two or three days straight (I lost count) is “Mmm, Skyscraper I love you” by Underworld.  And before you start doing the math on just how many times in a row that means I listened to it, keep in mind that the song is 13 minutes long. 😀
  7. I am unbelievably glad to be back to rain here in Vancouver, even though I forgot my umbrella at home yesterday, the day of the worst rain we’ve had in my area all fall and winter.  Figures. :p

And on to my own Noms, keeping in mind that 15 is entirely unlikely.  I do, however, have some new blogs I’ve discovered that I haven’t had a chance to share, so it works out in my books.

  1. Kayjai’s Blog
  2. On Diversion
  3. p u t n i k
  4. The Digital Bookshelf
  5. Simon Read
  6. jmmcdowell
  7. Ben Shotter’s Blog
  8. Gayle Francis Moffet

Well, I made it a little over halfway, which isn’t bad since I did the full 15 last time, so I’m up to 23 people I’ve nominated for this award.  Thank you, again, Beach Writer, for the award. Now, back to the grind.  Silly stories not writing themselves as I think of them…

Going To Need A Bigger Mantle

Now here’s an award I never thought I’d win, in large part because this blog is mostly about my writing.  Except now that I think about it, I’ve been including my photography and I do touch on other things as they come up.  *realizes she’s been turning herself into a pretzel lately* Wow.  It’s probably a miracle I can type with my body in that kind of shape.  I didn’t think I could bend that in that direction.  Hmm.

My favourite Kiwi has very kindly passed on to me a Versatile Blogger award, which caused surprise and delight in my over-worked brain last night.  I would have written up a post immediately, but exhaustion wasn’t even my big problem last night (but definitely present).  You’ll have to see my next post about writing to find out what the real, primary reason was for the delay.

Now, these things always come with instructions on how to not blow yourself up with them…  *turns it over, sees nothing, checks around clothing and shoe bottoms for a fallen slip of paper but finds nothing*  Um…  Well…  Wait, there’s an inscription on the ring… I mean award.  If I squint right I can read that.

1. Thank those who nominated me.

2. Nominate 15 other bloggers who I think deserve it.

3. Share 7 random facts about myself.

4. Add a picture of the award to this post (see above)

Wow, that’s some seriously fine print.  Well, LifeInTheFarceLane, you are most thoroughly thanked.  I suspect that this is payback for that hot chocolate recipe.  🙂  That stuff’s evil in it’s wonderful deliciousness, isn’t it?

I have to say, I feel so loved every time someone gives me an award.  I think that’s universal, but it’s also one of the surest sign that I joined a wonderful community the day I decided to set up my spanky writer’s blog on WordPress.  That’s one of the best parts of being here I find, is the other people you find and get to know.  On that note, my 15 Bloggers:

  1. Conversing With Novels never fails to make me laugh, and also feel less crazy about the amount of time I have spent talking to my characters when trying to figure out a difficult or unruly section of story.
  2. Maggsworld is a recent find for me, but as I have read back through her posts, I am very glad to have found her.  She makes me smile and it’s always wonderful when you find someone who sees on their own the simple wisdoms that you’ve found.
  3. Objects Gross & The Unseen Soul is a photography blog I discovered recently and love.  His work is beautiful and makes me want to go tramping around with my camera every time he posts.
  4. Improvisations on Reality discovering the blog of another writer who is editing while you’re going through the task yourself is a great experience and one that can bring a bit of solace and make you feel better about scary decisions you make as you wrestle with the beast of your own creation. And that was just the first bit of amusement and wisdom I got.
  5. Winsomebella has a little bit of everything and I always find myself smiling when I see a new post by her in my feed of blogs I follow.
  6. Dex Raven always amazes me with their Flash Fiction, something I know I could never write.  I don’t have that kind of brevity in me.  I can’t even do a short story.  Maybe that’s why I write novels…
  7. 4amWriter often says the things I’m thinking about writing but don’t always know how to get out unless someone else says it first.  Thanks for saying it first for me.
  8. MrTinney often makes me laugh so hard with his posts that I have to stop, grab a tissue for my streaming eyes and clean up before I can finish reading.  Usually it manages to come on a day when I needed that too.  Bravo.
  9. Of A Writerly Sort makes me smile, commiserate and laugh, and I always enjoy people who can do that.
  10. Coldfire Writer is never one to mince words, and I always look forward to her next post, about writing or anything else.
  11. Fictional Impulse is the only person in the entirety of WP that I know outside of the blogosphere.  Though her blog is new, I know how versatile she really is and the way she writes about the fun of trying to balance family and writing is always amusing.
  12. Johnsep has been sharing with us his experience in his new military life, and it’s been both eye-opening and fascinating.
  13. Novice Journal shares with us her poetry and sometimes makes me see things from a different perspective.  It’s often inspirational for my own writing, for which I am grateful.
  14. Peggy Isaacs is another recent find, but I find her insights and honesty about her own journey in writing something both relatable and a little inspiring.  I also love the included pet peeves, as many of them are so familiar.
  15. Tim Kane Books because I love anyone who refers to themselves as a word wrangler.  Also, humour is the best thing in the world in my less-than-humble opinion.

Wow, that was way harder than it looks.  Now, where was I in my to do list?  I think I’ve lost my place… Oh right, random facts.  Some new ones preferably, I think, since most of you seem to have read the last one.

  1. I have friends scattered all over the world largely because I prefer to socialize with people online (not sure why), but it drives my mother crazy because she thinks I spend too much time alone.
  2. I am the designated bartender at all family functions I attend because, after a couple of hours, I at least still remember how to mix the drinks because I don’t drink myself. I prefer Kahlua-filled chocolates if I really need alcohol that badly, and chocolate does the trick for me better than booze.
  3. I’m getting entirely annoyed.  After blissfully enjoying a winter thus far sans snow, I have now woken to fresh white crap on the ground for two days running.  I am presently refusing to open the blinds of my apartment window in hopes that the snow will take the hint and go away.  Preferably immediately, leaving no trace but moisture I can pretend came from rain.
  4. I like to treat my apartment as my own personal gallery for my photographs.  I have a bunch of framed 5×7 prints of my pictures up, and more prints that I need to buy frames for.  I really should do that sometime this year.
  5. I am blessed with two of the most awesome best friends in the world who are there whenever I need them, even though I now live across the country from them.  Can’t wait to see you guys this summer!
  6. Sometimes I like to turn my face to the sun with my eyes closed and let the energy soak into me.  I refer to myself as solar-powered whenever I do this.
  7. In spite of the title of my last awards post, I hate wearing dresses, to the dismay of the above mentioned best friends.  I’m an unrepentant tom-boy, always have been, always will be.  In fact, after a quick check of my closet, I just realized I don’t even own a dress anymore.  Cargos are very much my preference, even though my current pair hardly fit anymore due to weight-loss.

More difficult things on a Sunday.  Thank you very much for this award, LifeInTheFarceLane.  I always knew Kiwis were awesome.  Now to do laundry for the weekend and think about writing.  Why don’t we live in the world of my imagination, where there would be roving bands of house-work fairies who come in and do all housework for you for no better reason than that they enjoy it a hell of a lot more than I do?

2011 is dead, long live 2012

As I prepare to put 2011 into the book of Years I’m Done With, I really do want to pause to reflect. This one goes in as the year when I started doing things, instead of just dreaming and talking about doing them. It hasn’t been an easy year. On the contrary, it’s been a year of big, scary changes, but I am ending it in a much happier place. Not everything is quite where I want it, but many of the things I do want are in motion. I feel like a better version of myself than I started the year with, and that would be the most important part. The progress upward in life is really all you can ask, I think.

I’ll start on the downside of things, just because I find it’s better to get these things over with so I can end on a good note. The only really bad thing is, well, getting divorced. After trying to make the relationship work for 6 years and the marriage work for 4 of those years, my now-ex and I have called it quits. I am happy to note that we are doing it before we start hating each other and, after some initial pain, I’ve come to the conclusion that it may be the best thing for me. I will fully admit at this point that I married the wrong person. So did he. Now we can both go off and find the Right Person with each other’s blessings. It won’t be official until later in 2012, but it’s close enough for me.

Now, that said, the divorce and attendant reconsidering of everything in my life has led to pretty much every good thing I want to talk about, so I’m not too sad about even that bad thing. Yes, this means that the latter half of 2011 was better than the first half, but I can live with that. Go out with a bang, right?

For one thing, the biggest thing, this is going down as the year I committed to myself as a writer, to the writing itself really.  A lot of my accomplishments this year are, in fact, writing related.  I participated in National Novel Writing Month for the first time and won (winning is writing at least 50,000 words within the 30 days).  Winning NaNoWriMo comes with no prizes, really, except self-esteem, lessons learned and a major jump in my writing output.  Wait, those are all very real prizes, and ones I needed.  It also seems to have set me on a path where writing is not something I wait for.  I don’t wait for inspiration, or the right words, or the feeling that I can do this.  I go out and do it regardless, I sit down and write, I work on something writing related every day.  I no longer let my brain off with the excuse that it doesn’t feel like writing.  I sit in front of my netbook and start.  And keep going, usually carrying myself unintentionally well beyond any point I had hoped to get to.

I’ve learned so much this year as a writer that it would be hard to encapsulate them all in this post without it becoming excessively long.  Suffice it to say that I feel like I grew a lot and am on my way to at least becoming a publishable author.  Published is a question for another day.

I have, this year, completed now two drafts, beginning to end, for Dark Mirror.  This is a phenomenal achievement for me, as I had never managed to get beyond about 30,000 words on a novel draft before this year without losing the story or my drive or something else vital to getting through it all.  I will be editing the recent version in early January (maybe sooner) then printing it up and sending it out to my two test readers (you know who you are) for comments and then turning my brain over to one of the many other projects that have been trying to distract me from finishing Dark Mirror.  This will serve two purposes.  A) to keep me writing and B) so that I don’t pester my test readers.  They have lives of their own, I’m fully aware of that, but I’m not long on patience when I have enthusiasm instead, they know it and I know it.

There are also signs that this is the year I finally found the process that works for me as a writer (see last paragraph if you really need me to spell out what those signs are), and that is even better than the finished drafts, if you can believe it.  That’s something I have struggled with for years, so it’s welcome.  I’m sure that, in the next few years there will be tweaks, largely for changing technology, but having a functioning core in place is an awesome feeling.

Finally, this is the year that I have let go of my need to be perfect on first draft, to reread and edit as I write the story.  This is the year I gave myself permission to be a human being and understand that writing is very much an iterative process, but that I have to get to the end of a story in order to fix it.  Letting go of the need to be perfect and the fear of not being good enough that went hand in hand with it has done something amazing, it made the ideas and words flow in brain in a way I never expected.  I really do have more ideas simmering right now than I could possibly have time to write, and more show up every day.

I also found out this year that I did actually miss some elements of being single, and am adjusting to my new life better, faster than I expected.  That might be because my head is always stuck in a book lately, either one of mine or something by someone else.  I love living a life of words.

2012 will be the year of more writing.  It will be the year of querying, one way or another.  It may be the year of self-publishing, in electronic form at least, depending on how I feel when I come down off the high of finishing the new draft.  I will be doing NaNoWriMo again, and, if I have something ready at the time, I will probably also do one of the two summer WriMo camps.  I doubt I’ll have stuff ready enough to do both, but I won’t rule it out entirely.

I will, of course, continue posting here about how it goes through the year.  I find amazing the supportive community that exists here on WordPress.  Every comment, every like, every follower is a delight for me.  Thank you all for caring, sharing and for the laughs.  I will see you here in the new year.

In A State Of Flux

Okay, back to our regularly scheduled semi-almost-kinda sane author. I must apologize to, well, a few people, for what happened on Sunday. I know, the post doesn’t look that bad, but I think by the end of the day, I was in full panic mode. Maybe it’s because I’d never gotten to the end of the novel before, but I really expected The End to feel more like an end. Instead, it felt like this overwhelming beginning, and I panicked about how much there was to do.

In retrospect, it was a familiar feeling, because it’s what I used to get mid-way through first draft when I’d look at how much more I had to write, and then revise and then…. You get the picture. So really, I was kind of advancing a step, but it does get better. Because I remember why I didn’t do that this time, how I got all the way to The End without panicking. That’s good because that (along with soothing phone calls and words of wisdom from friends) helped me get past it.

I have to remember to take this one step at a time, one piece at a time, and not let me get ahead of myself. Keeping that firmly in mind, I’m only doing notes and stuff on Dark Mirror right now, asking myself a lot of questions, finding unexpected answers and thinking about the implications of those answers. Dark Mirror is shifting, and I’m not entirely sure where it will come to rest, but I know it’ll be better for it. Major changes, though, and I probably won’t even end up using the old manuscript as reference. Sad, I know, 107k words that will likely never see anyone’s eyes but mine, but it’s for the good of the story. Part of the process, so some wise person told me lately.

Funny thing is, I’m not letting that make me stop working on The Ailing Tree at all. I’m letting lessons learned and learning from Dark Mirror instead go into the process of prepping The Ailing Tree. I’m hoping for a better first draft, a better overall story coming out of first draft when I go to write The Ailing Tree.

On another note, I can tell I haven’t been actually writing lately. I’m tired, though some of that might also be work stress. Only Tuesday and it’s been a crappy week, probably partly from panicking on Sunday. Sometimes I think everything in my life is a bit circular, or maybe just elliptical…

There are no words to describe how I feel right now. An odd thing for a writer to say, I know, but it’s true. I’m sitting here staring at my NetBook’s screen, seeing the magical words I just typed and all I can manage is a kind of stupefied amazement. I did it. I wrote it all, beginning to end, it’s all there. I made it to The End. Dark Mirror, first draft, is complete.

Wow. I mean, just… Wow.

It’s been a busy few days since November ended, officially ending NaNoWriMo. I’m still tagging this post for that, since it’s only a few days into December, and Dark Mirror is still very much a creature of NaNo in my mind. Life, as always, tries to get in the way and I came home and wrote anyway. Last night was the most mind-boggling yet, mostly because I wrote the major climax scene and sat there beforehand telling myself, “it’s all been building to this, don’t screw it up”. Way to take the pressure off, huh? But I wrote it, and I think it’s pretty good, not that I’ve really read it much. Today was wrap-up stuff, which I found harder. A character I hadn’t anticipated added himself to the story only a few days ago, and he ends up figuring heavily in the wrap-up, so I had to completely revamp that part this morning. I’m not completely happy with the ending, but it’s first draft and that’s allowed. The important part is that it’s done! 107,454 words and complete

So, the question is, what will I do with all this free time I now have, with the first draft done? Well, I still need to do some rewriting on the first half (thanks Tavis) so I may at least assess how bad that is and, if not too daunting, I may do that before sticking Dark Mirror in the drawer to age a bit. And if I don’t do that, or afterward if I do, there’s another idea kicking around, that I’ve been making some decent headway with, and I may start outlining that. The Ailing Tree has some serious promise, and the characters are starting to make themselves clearer to me every day. I’m looking forward to that one, possibly more than I’m looking forward to editing Dark Mirror.

I want to again thank you guys, everyone who reads this blog and my friends and family on Facebook. You guys were a big key to getting through this whole first draft, to writing every day and getting it done. There was something about having an audience and a place to report my progress that was very motivating to me. On the nights that I didn’t feel like writing, what got me pounding away at the NetBook anyway was the thought of having to confess to you guys that I hadn’t written, or hadn’t hit my goal for the day if I felt like quitting with less than 1667 words for the day. I don’t think I would have managed without that. It would have been too easy to tell myself that I’d catch up later and get into the habit of letting it slide, then not succeeding. Thank you for helping me keep on target.

So now I give my poor brain a little bit of a break, just notes for a couple of days. I think I deserve it. I’ll update you guys when I get started editing this beast. I’ll need some place to cry about it anyway. :p

What a Way to End NaNoWriMo

The final day of November is upon me and yet still I sit here, bashing away at the keyboard. No, not done yet, but tantalizingly close. I’ve got about 24 more hours or so of story time to write up, but it includes the big big conflict, difficult choices for a couple of characters and an unmasking of one. I think I’ve got about 15-20k left, so I might be done by the end of this weekend, early next week at the latest I hope.

It was a very busy last couple of days, which is why there was no blog post yesterday: I was too busy writing (and today seemed a better day for it). I remember thinking that 5,208 on Sunday was good, but I must now re-evaluate that, or at least invent a new more awesome category. Why? Because Monday, I went all out, pedal to the metal, and wrote my way up to 5,741. I was thrilled not to be totally brain fried at the end of that, but ordered myself to bed in hopes of having a decent amount left for the final day of my big last-weekend-of-nano push.

Decent does not describe what happened yesterday. Doesn’t even come close, not in the same universe as what happened yesterday. I wrote, I wrote some more, I played God of War for an hour, then wrote some more. I kept expecting to come up empty. I wrote until I had no more notes for what was coming up next in the chapter. I finished that chapter and wrote the next one anyway, and the one after that, until I found myself in the middle of Chapter 20! I stopped only because I had work today, and seriously considered for a minute continuing anyway and calling in (brain) dead today. I didn’t. I was a good girl and went to bed, but I did manage to get all the way to 6,615 words!!! This awesome push brought me up to 92722, which is phenomenal, even if it does not constitute done.

Tonight is shaping up well too, though I’m not done for the night, just taking a blogging break. So far though, I’m up to 2,311 today in the few hours I’ve been working since I got home tonight. As I said, more on the way, but it brings me up to 95,121, and that makes me happy.

This has been a better, wilder ride than I had ever anticipated when I told myself that I would do NaNo this year if I had the outline of Dark Mirror done before November 1st. I have been more successful in it than I had any right to hope, given how little I’ve written in the last few years, and I see in what I have made the start of something amazing. It’s going to take some work editing to whip it into shape, even once I’ve done the Herculean task of finishing this, but even getting this far feels wonderful. Add to that all the lessons I’m taking away from this, and I feel like I have done nothing more worthwhile in my life to this point than NaNoWriMo 2011. I can’t wait until next year. 🙂

What, you might ask, are my plans immediately following writing the end and stewing in the glowing satisfaction that will be a finished novel manuscript for the first time? Notes and ideas for at least one other project. I’m starting to see the shapes in the mist that is the sequel to Dark Mirror (which I should mention might get a name change soon), plus there’s another idea, the Ailing Tree, that’s starting to burn up my brain and fingers, with characters making their presence known and my mind investigating questions around the idea and framework of story that is emerging from that puddle of inspiration. I’ll have to pick one at some point, and of course there’s the even mistier form of a third book in the Mirrors set sitting behind the sequel. The writing future looks petty bright right now. I just have to be patient and see which sun is rising on yonder horizon. I’m just happy that there’s light.

This may or may not be my last blog post until I write The End on Dark Mirror. I haven’t decided yet. I know I want to concentrate on finishing the book, but this is a nice place to come pat myself on the back and feel all the other hands joining mine. Thank you again everyone, friends, family and new friends, for your support, interest and enthusiasm. I don’t know that I could have gotten through some of the tougher days without it.

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