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Archive for January, 2012

Curious Monday

I had a list of random questions to ask but they seemed to have fallen out of my head via my ears last night while I was asleep. So the only one I can remember (probably because I never  thinking about it) is about these blog posts.

I’m a slap-together-on-the-fly, post-then-forget-about-it kind of person. I don’t even usually read what I’ve written before sending this zipping out into cyberspace. If I’ve fixed all the red squigglies then I consider the editing process completed and I’m free to carry on with the rest of my day. Do most people work this way or do you spend a significant amount of time tweaking and editing and perfecting your posts?

I thought I’d make a great editor one day but somehow I don’t think this is the case. How could I make it through someone else’s work when I can’t even be bothered to review my own scribblings? This is one of the many areas I’ve discovered I need to tighten up. Sadly, I’m still very much a hack at this. It’s like working at a law firm and I’m still wearing clothes from Forever 21. Pretty unacceptable.

I thought that I was on the more talented side of writing but the further into it the less I’m convinced that’s the case. It really is its own universe and I’m a tiny person floating around aimlessly. Perhaps I’ll bump into something (i.e. a workshop, a mentor, a fellow crazy 12-novel-in-a-year writer) but these are rare occurrences. More likely I’m drifting along in my own little bubble, happily assuming that I’m talented. Perhaps I am and perhaps I’m not. For now I’m happy to drift but at some point I’m going to start feeling the pings of stagnation.

Growth is inevitable if you take pride in who you are. There will always be new things to absorb into your current repatoire of abilities. Growing lackadaisical  is a pitfall that is important to avoid but into which is easy to slip. It’s hard work to stay focused and moving forward. It’s been an overwhelming time for me but in the end there’s no excuse for slacking off. The goal should be to writer something, anything, each day. I’ve even forgotten my amendment regarding a 500-word short story a month if the novel isn’t working out. How naughty is that?!

I wish this wasn’t the case and I regret not having been more structured with my writing (both the novels and the blog) because I’ve really enjoyed reading my posts from back in the summer and wished there were lots more. I think I may need to make a collage of some of the more positive, upbeat ones for inspiration. I’ll try anything to step my game up again. I really don’t want to let another month go without a victory trip to Staples to get my manuscript bound. It’s been too long and I miss the heady atmosphere of an office supply store.

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Just In Case

It’s a quickie this morning in case I don’t get around to completing the post later on…

This week’s been a struggle. I don’t know if it’s the weather, my own body or the fact that it’s been quiet at work but it’s been tough. I jokingly said to my co-worker that I should’ve taken the week off since I’ve been so bad at maintaining my regular schedule. And my writing? Pfft.

I think this story has a lot of potential but it’s intimidating. In fact, this entire project has been daunting. Maybe I would still have my rosy glasses of optimism on firmly planted on my face if I hadn’t completed the first two novels. I wouldn’t know the seductive taste of success and the realization of what a wild-eyed ogre I become the closer I am to completing the novel. And then, there’s all that hard work each month, EVERY month. It’s hard.

I feel like a writer-wannabe. It feels like Pascal and Josefiend are on a carousel in my head criticizing my lack of effort thus far. They gleefully point out my shortcomings and taunt me with “if you were a real writer you’d be giving up everything in your life for this cause.” Then they shriek “But nooooooooooooooo!” as they whip around. They’re pretty awful.

I want to get back into the story and at least give it an honest attempt for the few remaining days. February is Romance (of course) so that should be interesting. Hopefully my long history of sneaking my grandmother’s Harlequin books will serve me well. I’ve since graduated from them but if in doubt, go back to the basics, right? They’ve been around forever for a reason.

Anyways, have a very lovely Saturday and if you’re working like I am, don’t work too hard. I won’t be and I really don’t want to feel like a slacker all by myself!

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I have no recollection of writing that post yesterday. I honestly thought that I had a better track record over the past couple days but skipped a day or two between this post and the latest one. Apparently that’s not the case or my calendar is lying to me.

My writing has floundered once again. It’s not looking promising for this story and to be honest, I’m wearing out. I love writing, I really do but this pace has been so difficult to maintain. Is it a case of practice makes perfect? Or do you have to really work hard on pacing yourself? I’m feeling like a shooting star here- starting off in a blaze of glory only to end up fading as time goes on before eventually winking out. Hopefully I’ll at least look better than a shriveled up piece of space rock.

I don’t want this to happen. It makes me upset to think that I’m getting close to throwing in the towel. I’m not comparing myself to any other writers out there who have done this kind of project before because I have the conviction that I’ll try this again at some point and succeed. Maybe I do have to relinquish some of my activities until I’m at the point where I can move into my own apartment. We each have our strengths and our weaknesses and I’ve lost sight of what my strengths are. It’s easy for that to happen because whatever you excel at comes naturally. There’s very little struggle to make it work and if you’re learning new techniques or expanding your knowledge base, you’re usually pretty quick to grasp the concepts.

It’s the weaknesses or struggles that stick out. There’s nothing worse than feeling like something that is your strong suit isn’t as spectacular as you thought. Now this perspective is almost always due to comparing yourself with someone you admire, look up to or try to emulate. Chances are they’re a professional and well-established in their area of expertise. You know what though? There are very few people who were able to bypass the crappy beginning stages and move right into expert-land. And the vast majority of people who have become the best have struggled and worked hard but you don’t usually see that. It’s the seductive lure of success that blinds you to what goes on in the background to make that happen. It’s easy to forget this because their first attempts that didn’t succeed are kept secret. They don’t trot out their rejected manuscripts or include their failed experiments in dinner-party conversations. So there’s no balance and very little humbling compared to the sheer volume of successes that are out there. That makes it really difficult for us little ones to carve out our niche and get out from under the great ones’ shadows. They’ve been put through the paces and have completed the rite of passage, it’s my turn now.

 

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We all have dreams. Some are attainable (such as my inexplicable desire to drive a Zamboni), others are a little more over-ambitious. I’ve had the good fortune to be born with a healthy dose of flightiness or as my Mom calls it, fickleness. Why am I lucky, you ask? I have optimistically determined that I am lucky to count these dubious traits as part of my charcter because I can never be disappointed. Before rolling your eyes, hear me out.

When you’re fickle, you’re always living half-in the moment. You may not know what you want to do with your life and change carer paths more than your college roommate changed his/her underwear. You’re always dreaming and scheming and over time I learned that I can never be disappointed with my life because out of all the wild and wooly plans I’ve sketched out and lived through in my imagination, statistics dictates that at least one will be seen to fruition in some variation. And if something side-blinds you and completely knocks you off your trajectory, hopefully your mercurial life has taught you to go with it.

I’ve recently realized that a situation I’ve adamantly vetoed in the past has reappeared in a different form and I’m in love with this new prospect. It’s not going to happen overnight or even within the next few years so I can safely indulge in planning out every last detail without having to apply for a loan or sell my first-born. That’s the beauty of dreams- they’re cheap, encourage creativity, stimulate your imagination, and have the power to push you through the tough times. They’re important to have, even if they fizzle out before they’re fulfilled. As is the case with this newest passion, all it takes is finding the right source of inspiration to send you off in a direction you never thought you’d ever consider.

This writing project never started as a dream but it has certainly encouraged and fostered small and large ambitions. Will I succeed in any? I’m not sure but I sincerely hope so. All I know is that I hope I continue to live in a world full of wonderful projects to pursue and dreams in which to indulge because they make life exciting. I have no direction which way my life will go but I would be happy with any of the 100 or so I envision myself falling into.

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Subliminal Sabotage

I wanted to get some work done yesterday since I had a ridiculously open schedule at work. It would’ve worked if I had BROUGHT MY COMPUTER. You can’t work if you don’t have your tools, right? I didn’t even have my paper I usually cart around with me! It was a sad, frustrating and disgustingly wasted day, in terms of writing. Work on the other hand picked up. Like I’ve said in the past, I’m always busy, either not making money but writing or working and earning my pennies but not writing.

I’ve had some support over the past few weeks that I really appreciate but it’s not the kind that is encouraging for me. Namely, sacrifice. I know, I know. I can’t have it all and if you really want something to succeed, there is usually sacrifice involved. In the past I’ve listed all the activities I have in my life and it was stressing me out thinking I couldn’t do it all.

Then I had the epiphany.

Why should I eliminate the things in my life that promote, health, growth and satisfaction when I could cut out the extras? And the extras primarily consist of watching movies and TV show marathons. I’ve forgotten that when I’ve had those successful months, I spent very little time reading or watching movies or TV. It’s very tempting to sit down in front of my computer (I don’t have a TV) and zone out to Grey’s Anatomy or pick up the next book in the Outlander Series by Diana Gabaldon.

Now that I’ve entered the writing circle of novelist, I have an entirely new appreciation of the art. It’s important to read others’ work and learn from their style but what good is that knowledge if you don’t apply it? So, thank you to all those who have sent me notes of encouragement and support. The advice may not have sat well in the beginning but I understand it now and realize there are so many other options in my life t which it could apply.

Thank you to all of you who have spent the time reading my posts and have taken the time to send me a note. It’s been so appreciated.

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The Write Spot

Once again, I’m hunting for an inspiring spot to work. Home worked well for a while, then it was too busy and annoying and fraught with distractions. Like my tweet said one day, I have less personal space there than a gnat in full bondage leather mask and all.  Scary, I know. So, I’m on the prowl again. What constitutes an ideal spot? Let me outline the requirements:

1. a balance of quiet and background noise- coffee shops are ideal for this. If it’s too quiet I start looking for distractions. If it’s too loud, I spend more time shooting dirty looks and passive aggressive stares.

2. the right company- Yesterday is has perfected the art of unobtrusive cuddles and cheerleading. She knows when I need a break and is happy to have a nap when I really get into the story.

3. it’s not too comfortable- I can’t be falling asleep because I’m on my bed or in my room working or on a couch that swallows me up in all it’s luxuriousness. Think wing-back chair and a little lap table (a là breakfast-in-bed variety)or a desk and comfortably-padded chair. NO recliners!

The rest has to do with self-control such as internet, food, movies and housework. In all reality, writing is one of those pursuits that have the luxury of being able to be accomplished wherever you are. It’s one of the lowest-maintenance activities out there as well. As long as you have something to write on and to write with, you’re good to go. Just watch Geoffrey Rush in Quills. Everyone has their own level of dedication. I wish mine was higher than it seems to be.

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Breathe & Let it Be

I’m probably one of the guiltiest people out there when it comes to jumping the gun and anticipating the worst. Life’s thrown me a vast array of curve balls- some were small and easily deflected and others knocked me backwards and I fell hard.

When I moved to Halifax, I didn’t have a job or an apartment and I knew no one out here to help me. With $3,000 saved up in the span of 2 and a half months, I took the plunge and left my old life behind. Looking back, I finally understand people’s incredulous reactions when I told them my story. But in the moment? It wasn’t a big deal because I was sure that it was going to work out for the best. I’ve discovered the confidence and conviction that religious people have. They call it faith in God and I understand. My religious beliefs are neither here nor there but there is something wonderful about letting go of the situation and letting things happen.

I can tell when I’ve lost that sparkle in my life but only when I’ve fallen pretty far down the well of despair. I know that the last half of the year hasn’t been the smoothest for me in any section of my life and this is when I need to let go the most. I’ve been struggling with my writing because I haven’t made it a priority and I’ve let my time constraints get to me. With the stress of writing a new novel each month, there are times when I’ve asked myself why I’m doing it or forcing myself to work on a story that’s obviously not working. Then I get frustrated with myself because I’m not the Linda Carter the literary world.

It’s so much easier said than done. Practice makes perfect in so many things but this is one of those exceptions that will take a long time, if ever to come naturally and easily. This post has become more reflective than I expected. Sometimes you need to remind yourself that your world may be set on a tilt-a-whirl and you have no idea how you’re going to accomplish  what needs to be done but you just have to breathe and just let it go. It’s amazing how things work out.

You. Just. Have. To. breathe.

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Feelin’ Normal

It was an awesome start to the day. Well, not really until 6:10 am when I slipped into the pool for some laps. I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve swam in a 50-m pool. This would be the second. There’s something wonderful about paring down 1 k from 40 lengths to only 10 laps in an Olympic sized pool. It sounds much more manageable, right? As with most things in life, it’s all about perspective.

That’s the case with my writing as well. I could hit a point in the story that is a roadblock and a difficult problem to solve, or it could be an exciting, unanticipated plot twist. My characters could be causing difficulties or it’s just that I’m not listening and trying to force them in directions that they’re not meant to go. The key to staying optimistic and able to work on each novel is to remember that each situation can be seen in a positive light or a negative one. It’s when you start focusing on the damaging, critical perspective that things can quickly start slipping away. It’s hard being positive and optimistic all the time (trust me, I know) but at the end of the day, you can sit back and look at all you’ve accomplished. Life will be hard but that doesn’t mean you can’t learn to find the silver lining. There will always be some positive aspect even though there will be times when you have to look a little harder for it. This is a lesson I’ve forgotten over the past few months.

The story is still intriguing and I’m still wondering where it’s going and what’s happening but I haven’t encountered the main problem yet. This is a little worrying due to the fact that the month is whittling away. I spent some time working last night and I think I’ve discovered the challenges my characters are going to have to face but I don’t want these issues to be the purpose of the story. They’re too gritty and graphic and depressing. I’m leaning towards making it the catalyst for the real hurdle instead but that won’t make the story any more enjoyable.

I’m too much of an empath and optimist to spend much time thinking about the darker side of human nature. It hurts and makes me sad but at the same time it’s a part of life. I shied away from it in October’s horror story so I’m going to do my best to confront these social troubles with this story. Nothing says it ever has to see the light of day or leave my computer. We’ll see how it turns out.

So, with this resolution, I have to mentally steel myself for the coming challenges and work through this barrier of wimpitude. The days of being a buttercup are over! It’s time I learn to be a marigold- sturdy and resilient yet fragile enough to ensure I will never turn into a cactus.

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It’s slightly snowy and very cold here, I woke up late so I missed the gym and I’m cranky. I’m feeling decidedly NOT perky or sunny. I had such a promising start to the month and it’s fizzling out faster than a dollar-store sparkler.

There’s a lot I want to change in my life and it’s going to be tough. Maybe the weight loss will be the easiest so you know that’s saying something about the rest of my goals. I know life it full of difficult times and this is far from dire straits, the soundtrack to Les Misérables doesn’t feel too far off. People right now are having trouble staying steady. The world is a house of cards at the moment in every aspect of life. This means that professionals, especially young entrepreneurs and those in the healthcare field building their own practice (like me) find the balancing act precarious. I have no doubt that each day another popsicle stick is added to reinforce my own tiny world and the support and stricture from that tiny addition will add up. So I think the best thing to do is to work on supporting that as best I can and forget about the unsparkly aspect of the endeavour.

This is why the other components of my life are so important. I wish I could give up most of them to do my writing but I can’t. The writing is another massive project, and while it doesn’t pay the bills, I would love for it to contribute a but to them. This obviously won’t happen overnight. The world of writing is very much a gamble and a game of paying it forward. You really have to love the profession and pour your heart and soul into what you’re creating. The hard part is that there’s no guarantee that something will ever come of it. It’s like a poker game- the pot’s unknown and you’ve gambled the most that you think you can afford. When the river card’s turned over, will it make you or crush you?

So, in my poker game, I’ve got some distractions that help dissipate the tension and keep things sane. These are:

1. the gym- the government should make gyms free. They’re worth every penny because they help alleviate stress and encourage a healthier lifestyle. It’s a great place to brainstorm and work out plot problems or not. Sometimes it’s nice to just get away from living in your head and focus on your body. You need that down time.

2. Irish Gaelic lessons- I started learning Irish in the summer and I’m hooked. I find it’s enough of a challenge to keep my mind flexible and sprightly but not so taxing that it’s not another struggle that makes for a lot of work and energy. Plus, there’s a social aspect that gets me out of the house, out of work and into another group of people where our interests and passions for Ireland, the language, the culture is shared. I’m still determined to move there, you know. Consider this another poker game.

3. Yesterday- where do I begin with her? She’s my little rock. I completely understand being a mother now. We go everywhere together and coming home to her little furry body is the best part of my day. We go to play group every other Friday and it’s quickly become one of those sanity-saving moments in life. It’s another time when Im not constantly thinking of work or writing. Those breaks are necessary to recharge my batteries. Now we’re also volunteering so there’ll be a whole new social circle to settle into.

4. Dance lessons- This is a combination of #1 & #2. I love everything about the 30’s and 40’s (well, aside from the Depression and WWII, obviously) but everything else… I was most definitely born in the wrong era. Or maybe in my previous life I was a WAC. Whatever it is, there’s an undeniable link the Charleston/Swing/Big Band era and me.

So in short, there’s plenty in my life to help keep me grounded. The beauty of this is that not one of those items has to be accomplished every single day. The trick in balancing is realizing that and when the time comes for dance lessons or an early morning swim, is to actually do it. Nothing is more frustrating than not going through with plans because of laziness. And let’s face it. I’m a lazybones.

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This post comes from a place in which m no writer wants to find him/her-self. The almost-writers block stage. Writing is intimidating. I’ve been caught up in doubting my ability, my storyline, my pacing, and the direction of the plot and pretty much anything other problem you can find. I don’t suppose it could really be called writers block if you still have an idea of story potential but I would consider the mechanical freeze and one of the components of the dreaded W.B.

I wish I could moderate my life a lot better. I’ve talked to writers who have to sequester themselves from life and just focus on their work and others who find inspiration happens on the busiest days when they have to cram a zillion and one things into 24 hours. I need the schedule of the former when I really wish I was the latter. There are a lot of things in my life that I just can’t give up. In reality, there isn’t too much happening. I’m lucky- I don’t have to juggle a family and a job as well as my writing, I don’t even have to worry about anyone in my life other than Yesterday. Trust me, she’s more than enough some days. I’ve been trying to get to the gym super early so that I have some time to work on my story in the morning before jetting off to work. Sadly, that is still a work in progress. Other than that, the rest of my activities are piecemeal- Irish Gaelic language lessons, volunteering with Yesterday, and dance lessons. You’d think I’d have enough time in the day for the gym, work, writing and one other activity. How is that not the case?

I wish I was a better multi-tasker. There’s a lot in life that is more difficult to accomplish because I can’t work on two projects simultaneously or some things that are impossible and hat’s frustrating. What it really comes down to is building a schedule and sticking with it. It should be easier once I get my diary pages for my Filofax and can see my week and month outlined for me. ANNNNND, starting next week, I’ll be getting Mondays off as well! I’m hoping that with 2 days off, I’ll be able to recharge my batteries more completely and be ready for the week and all its craziness. I would love to have one day that’s mostly dedicated to writing. Perhaps then my Sundays won’t be a pipe dream for my creativity. I’m tired of saying “we’ll see.” It’s time for something to happen! I’m sad to say, but I need Pascal back. That little fiend really knew how to whip me into shape. If the army ever needs a drill sergeant, they can rent him.

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