Archive for March, 2012

This has been a tumultuous month to say the least. Every few days I’ve been in meetings for various reasons and my life is in such upheaval that I should have been using my writing as the anchor to keep something in my world constant. Sadly, my writing is too unstructured and abstract. So what has been happening in the world of San? Let me fill you in.

1. Going back to school That’s right. This little chickadee is trying to upgrade her undergrad degree from a 3-year general to a 4-year honours (can I even get an honours? Pffft I don’t know but we shall see!). All I’m missing is ONE measly 4-year seminar. Of course it had to be a big course, it couldn’t have been oh say a first year intro to Freudian thinking or something like that. And to compound matters, I’m not even in the same province in which the university I graduated from is located! My life is never simple. So at the moment I’m balancing the requirements of two different universities and trying to weasel my way into one so I can get an upgraded degree from another. I feel like a little circus poodle jumping through fiery hoops.

2. Quitting my job and finding a new one What’s life without the adrenaline-producing, eczema-causing stress  excitement of starting over in a new job? With that comes the delicate splicing of two different schedules and requirements. It’s been a very tough balancing act and while it’s going to be hard month coming up, it will be a relief to establish a new routine and start a new chapter in my life. It will be bittersweet but something I know is very much needed. I think it’s a good sign that on my way into work after signing my new contract the radio station I had on started playing Lynard Skynard’s Freebird. It’s a good sign. This bird is free!

3. Apartment hunting As if there wasn’t enough to juggle I’m now literally itching to find my own place. After 4 years of living on my own, the novelty of a roommate has long since run out. There’s nothing like coming home to a quiet apartment with the freedom to do whatever I want whenever I want to do it. My allergies are already driving me crazy. It’s more than time to find my own little place closer to new NEW JOB and the rest of my life in Halifax.

4. I’m back to not writing as much as I know I’m capable of accomplishing So obviously my writing has nose-dived through this free-falling, haphazard existence of mine. I wish it didn’t; the ideas and stories aren’t drying up. I just don’t have the energy to sit down and transcribe the movies playing in my head. I get caught up in details and god forbid things actually click. There’s too much happening for me to keep up with it because my typing skills are crap. On average I probably delete 2 out of every 6 letters I type. That’s pitiful.

So, it’s March 23rd and I haven’t even reached 2,000 words I think but I still have just over a week to give it an honest go. Now that work has been resolved, apartment hunting can be relegated to just being monitored and school has been researched satisfactorily, I can get back to my little abstract world of stability. It’s reassuring to know that my life might be in upheaval but I can always bury myself in my imagination and for a while forget about what has to be fixed, accommodated or juggled. Better late than never, eh?

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I’m a huge procrastinator. While I generally love waking up early, well early-ish, around 7:30 each morning, I’ve been struggling with actually getting out of bed. When I put off starting my day, I lose hours each week when I could be writing. But I prefer staying warm under the covers with the dog rather than going into work already having accomplished a goal for the day.

So here we are in the middle of tax time. I joke with my Mom that I’m guaranteed at least 2 dates a year with a really great guy- my accountant. I think a sense of humour should be a requirement when becoming a CA (certified accountant) or any other professional who has the ability to rip your financial life to shreds. Just like I want a dress designer to be friendly and happy when she’s measuring me for a piece of clothing she’s making. My accountant sees all my dirty financial secrets and dealing with an easy-going friendly person sitting on the other side of a giant desk makes it a little less scary. So, true to form, I stayed in bed this morning rather than get everything organized for my first date this week.

As I’ve blogged about in the past, my writing probably takes the brunt of my procrastination. I have missed so much in life because I’ve become apathetic and lazy not to mention there are so many stories that haven’t been completed because of my lack of follow-through. The old maxim is so right when someone says “if you want something done give it to a busy person.” There’s been a whole lot of nothing going on in my life so do I really want to sit down and expend more brain power when I could either be out exercising (even more unlikely) or sitting and watching t.v. shows or movies (sadly the winner almost every night)? The frustrating bit is that I know what I’m capable of when I’m busy and I miss that energy. I want to get it back but trust me, it’s so much harder to get it back than to maintain it.

When I look at procrastination this way it disgusts me. I moved from Toronto because my life was passing me by and I didn’t want to merely exist anymore. I owed it to myself to fulfill the needs I had regarding other aspects of myself that were mere centimeters away from disappearing forever. Now I’m struggling with the same problem just different variables. I don’t know if these changes I’ve started to my life will get me out of this rut of which I constantly find myself riding the rim but it’s a start.

So until then, I have plenty of necessary evils to accomplish and with the buses back in action I have no excuse not to go to yoga or the gym not to mention beautiful spring weather to take the dog out for walks. Suddenly my previously empty day has miraculously filled up and I have a feeling that’s what is supposed to happen.

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I was in the car with my Dad and sister one day and I was thinking random thoughts, as per usual. Suddenly my brain clicked in and before I knew it, I was asking “Dad, do islands float?” I was in grade 11 at the time and I have yet to live this down.

Logic has never been my strong suit. The only bars I’ve ever passed serve alcohol and will likely remain that way. Yet there’s something intriguing about my thought processes. I adore thinking outside the box. And what’s wrong with asking “why?” questions or wondering about something that people take for granted. There’s something intriguing about asking questions about universal truths and uncontested teachings.

(I’m getting to the writing bit in a second, hang in there…)

I was so lucky my father is a genius when it comes to math. Where most teachers would get frustrated with my “why does it work that way?” or other precocious questions (that I think were stalling methods to avoid homework as much as curiosity), Dad would explain the rationale in as many ways as it took. I usually caught on years later. Lucky for me there are calculators.

Anyways, the point to my post is:

These epiphanies are far from over and no area of my life will ever be exempt from their sparkly “Ah ha!” moment. Last night was one such event. It might not have been as sparkly as usual because this realization has been floating in and out of my consciousness for quite a while now. I just usually forget about it.

This project has been so difficult because to isolate an entire genre is almost impossible. That’s right. I’ve rediscovered the universal truth about literature. And it’s only taken my 8 months and 8 different genres to brand this into my little brain. Do you know how hard it is to keep something completely adventure related? Or romantic? I’ve come to think that there are only a few umbrella genres- adventure, mystery, horror, romance. Everything else falls within one of those 4 categories. (I may be missing one or two).

Even with a compressed classification system, there will always be overlap. Are books now becoming more complicated in that they encompass more genres or have the books we classified as the classics still fall into adventure/romance or gothic horror/adventure, etc. but the label as “classical literature” bear more weight so everything else becomes pretty much irrelevant?

Thinking about the project in this way has made me understand the recipe for disaster this has produced. It’s so easy to get discouraged about the work when you see other elements creep in. I don’t know if a purist could keep a hold on their sanity if they ever began thinking about labels and categories. The beautiful aspect about writing is that you really have to trust the story’s direction and your characters. The creative process is mercurial; there’s no way to keep it confined and bound within an arbitrary classification system. And that is what genres are. They are guidelines that give you some semblance of progression.

The weight of success and expectations of 12 pure novels has been lifted. Perhaps the guidelines have been unrealistic for this year. I thought that a big part of the problem was that I had no experience with some of the genres I was working in (like SciFi) but perhaps it was just that SciFi is really just an adventure set in the future or in space or with machine-grown babies. It’s like having triplets and dressing them in different clothes suddenly gives you 9 kids instead of the 3 you actually have. I suppose I’ve been working in sub-genres when you look at the world of literature. Each genre depends on another one to support it and there’s too much going on within your main genre to address every aspect. Just as one person can not put on a Broadway show, one book can not encapsulate the breadth of the main category of literature selected. There will always be supporting styles required to complete a story.

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In 2 hours I woke up, had a shower, put makeup on (which means I’m good for another 6-months now since it tends to be a semi-annual occurrence) and had a meeting. I left ridiculously early and put a ridiculous amount of money in the meter so I toddled off to find a Starbucks to get my daily dose of super-unhealthy apple cider and whipped cream. Since I neglected to bring a coat  I figured the venti was acceptable. I needed calories to stay warm.

What does all this have to do with writing, you ask? Uhhh, pretty much nothing really. Since I finished early I thought it would be nice to crawl back into bed with the dog for some bonus snuggles before my day legitimately starts. Instead, I pull out Lucille the laptop. So here I am. Yes, I’d love to be in bed with Yesterday but there’s nothing quite like writing in the morning. With Furry Little Bum Cheeks resting in her crate and the roomie and her dogs in her room, I can pretend for a while that I live on my own.

I haven’t written in days and sadly I think I’m running out of steam. I had the horrific thought yesterday that I can’t wait until this project is over. *Gasp* There I said it. As much as I love the creative process and dreaming up new stories, I’m looking forward to going through a month where I’m not upset over feeling apathy towards my writing and the disappointment of not completing ANOTHER book. I can’t wait to find a new project to start.

Will I stick with this blog? For sure! I’ll still be tinkering with the stories and I’ll keep on writing but maybe it’ll turn into 4 novels in 12 months. Or perhaps a novel a year but that will include editing. It’s hard to say what the future will hold for me. I’m certainly not giving up; the end is so near I would be doing a huge disservice to all of you who have supported me (as well as to myself) if I were to quit. And goodness knows, when I’m serious about an endeavour, it takes a lot to force me to throw in the towel. I’mfar from that point.

So I’m determined to go out in a blaze of glory. I have a chance at 4 more successes. I am looking forward to seeing a pile of manuscripts, in various stages of completion through the bottom of a bottle of champagne. Stubborness has gotten me this far and Brut force is going to carry me the rest of the way. It has a way of making things Cristal clear.

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So my dear WordPress & Twitter friend from across the pond and fellow nerdalicious novelist, Ali (of 12 Books in !2 Months- http://12books12months.com/) passed along this amazing writing tool that can be yours for 10 peasly bucks. That’s right, it’s called Write or Die and it was programmed by Dr. Wicked. (Why do I feel like this is an infommercial written by Tim Burton? It must be the subject matter, not the actual write-up…)

Dreamed up to help all those NaNoWriMo participants as the deadline quickly zoomed up to demolish their attempts at noveling success, this program is devious in all the right ways.

Why would I subject myself to this you ask? It’s pure genius. I like to think of it as Lucifer’s Typewriter. You can’t use the computer for anything other than writing and bad things happen if you stop working. With this kind of propulsion from an external source that really doesn’t care if you succeed or not, there’s very little stopping it from annihilating your work if you choose to give it that power.

Of course I had to jump on this bandwagon- I’ll try anything to meet my 50,000-word goals from here on out. It took a few days to get it but so worth the wait! A few pointers if you happen to succumb to your masochistic side:

  1. Turn off your messenger programs. There’s nothing worse than hearing pings as people send you messages and you can’t even close the program! Trust me, it’s hard to think when the messages are getting angrier (you can usually tell by the frequency of their arrival)
  2. Start off with 1/2 the time you actually want to try. I’m pretty sure I’ve fried a few brain cells from the stress of starting my writing session and keeping it up. It’s best to let your brain get used to the amount of focus this will require.
  3. Don’t pick the kamikaze option right off the bat. Just like the length of time you pick, start off slow. There’s plenty of time to play russian roulette with your work. That’s right. Stop writing and it gets erased. Oh try it for 2 minutes if you want. Go ahead, I dare you but don’t cry when you hear me say “I told you so!”

At some point I’ll get up the nerve to really push myself with this program and see what my little brain can come up with when it’s subjected to this torturous pressure cooker. Until then, my settings are staying on normal with an easier grace period before the evil violins start playing.

At this point with the count down in full effect, drastic times call for drastic measures.

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A ginormous thank you goes out to maedez of “A Small Press Life” for nominating !2Novelsin12Months for a Versatile Blogger Award.

This comes as a huge shock because when it comes to working in my blog I thought it was pretty uniform. This just goes to show you that you never know how others perceive you and that there can be unexpected depth, uncontrollable deviations from your plan and little nuggets of life that will weave their way into a post.

A huge thank you to each and every one of you who take the time to stop by and check out my newest post. It’s been more sporadic than when I first started so thank you for hanging in there with me as I move further on into this adventure. I couldn’t have done half of what I’ve accomplished without your help and encouragement!

The rules of the award:

  1. make a post and name 15 nominees
  2. inform the nominees that they’ve been nominated
  3. share 7 previously unknown facts about yourself
  4. thank the blogger who nominated you

As the rules go for this award, here are some bloggers I’d like to nominate:

Now onto 7 previously secret tidbits about me:

  1. I had to repeat grade 1 because I couldn’t read or write English.
  2. I got my license at 18 and never owned a car until I was 29 because to this day I still would rather take the bus.
  3. 9 times out of 10 I look forward to the traveling part of a trip rather than the destination.
  4. I taught myself how to tie my own shoelaces and ride my bicycle.
  5. I fractured my elbow skiing recklessly to impress a ski instructor. I was 13.
  6. Speaking of skiing, I learned to ski in the Swiss Alps.
  7. At 12 and 13 I swam on the high school swim team and consistently ranked high in the 250m front crawl.

I’d like to thank maedez once again for the honour of being a recipient of the Versatile Blogger award. I’m humbled that my little contribution to WordPressland  has been noticed and appreciated in this way. Thank you!

If you haven’t checked out “A Small Press Life (http://onetrackmuse.com/) or any of the blog I’ve nominated, please do! They’re all super awesome.

Happy Tuesday!

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A Day of Potential

It’s Sunday again and you know what that means. My only weekend day off that I dedicate to writing. Only for too long it’s been dedicated to anything BUT writing. Today, however, is the perfect day to get  chunk done. It’s overcast with a threat of rain, it’s early enough for me to fire off a few thousand words before it gets too late in the afternoon and there’s incentive to finish my work  early in order to catch up with friends or take myself out for dinner at one of pubs downtown.

With all this going on, I’m looking forward to getting started and working on uncovering the story that I can feel is simmering along the edges of my consciousness. I think it’s going to be pretty exciting and a lot of fun to write. I’m sure the story arc will work out and the timing will be fine. All I need to focus on is working on it one day at a time and keeping the story progressing. As long as it’s moving along, things are going well.

Hopefully I’ll be back for another little post later tonight to say I caught up. We shall see! The challenge today is… 4,589. A lot but doable!

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I get tired of being an optimist. Reality always comes as a rude shock and I’m sure the peanut gallery in my life is tired of chanting “I told you so” like the chorus in a Greek Tragedy. Yet, it’s impossible to stop imagining the best and striving towards it.

I thought this month would be different and I’d finally start off the month on the right foot. What ever made me think that?! True to form, I completed a whopping 250 words on the 1st and nothing yesterday. That’s right. I’m already 2976 words behind and that’s not counting today’s contribution. Can I catch up? You bet. Will I? In reality probably not. Knowing me, I live in Fantasyland and not the good kind of Fantasyland either.

I had no idea what I was going to do for my Adventure novel. I was a Nancy Drew kind of girl growing up. I never read Gulliver’s Travels or Treasure Island and I just read The Lost World within the past year. I was afraid that I knew just enough about the adventure genre to mash together some of the classics into an epic tome of plagiarism.

Much to my delight though, just as I sat down to start writing (if in doubt, free write and something’s bound to materialize, right?) the story began to take shape. Now considering it has pirates AND bootleggers, I don’t hold high hopes for 1. originality and 2. non-redundancy (is that even a concept?). I just hope that I make it this month and reach the sparkly 50,000 words again.

As with each month, I think this is going to be a ton of fun and the genre that will bump me back on track. I’ve been taking the project much too seriously for too long, it’s time to get back into the fun bits. I really miss the mad scribblings and the flurry of creativity as I fall into the writer’s world. Ah, who am I kidding? I miss holing up in my apartment all day, never getting out of my jammies, getting writing cuddles from Yesterday and watching the story unfold before my very eyes. When it comes to adventures, that’s the kind of exhilaration that I crave on a daily basis.

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Thank goodness for February 29th because did I ever need that extra day! It feels like a twilight zone moment when I think about all the work I did on a day that doesn’t exist 75% of the time. It seems pretty surreal now, actually.

I know you’ll forgive me for being absent from WorldpressLand because I DID IT! I finished the CYOA and it feels wonderful! I think I needed to just shake things up a bit and get away from the NANO pressures. Whatever the reason, it worked and I now have 3 beautiful manuscripts. I’ve reached the 25%-completed mark and it’s a spectacular feeling.

I basically wrote 1/2 of the book last night. Until yesterday afternoon, I had only finished the beginning and 1 full story line. I had almost finished the 2nd one but the last two were only rough little ideas in my brain. I had no idea what as going to happen or how they’d split and branch off. I thought my fingers were going to fall off because I was writing like a maniac. Then my eyeballs starting getting super tired, you know the kind where it feels like they’re wrapped up in sandpaper. Well, at that point I knew it was a mad dash to the end and that I was running on fumes. There was no more time to visit with my roommate (who wouldn’t stop talking!) and no more time to work at a leisurely pace while enjoying a movie or an episode of Murder, She Wrote. It was all business.

Unfortunately, it’s turned into a fairly lumpy, uneven CYOA. The first story is well rounded, engaging and enticing but by the time I got to the 4th one, it was basically a stick figure. No more than bare bones and a frame to work with when I go back to it. You know what though? I don’t care. It’s something more than I had even on the 15th and that this story is in the process of being purged from my imagination. I certainly can’t write a story that is perfect from the start and maybe it’ll be easier to edit something when there’s just the skeleton to work with. There’s no agonizing over whether to cut something out or to change it. Working on it with fresh eyes will add a new dimension I may not have seen otherwise.

There is so much work to be done on the CYOA, I think I’m actually only half done with it. Why do I consider it finished though? The stories are sketched out, the different directions are plotted and there’s a basic skeleton to work with and fill in. It was a scramble last night but I hung in there until it was finished. Am I tired today? You bet. I would love nothing more than to crawl back into bed with the dog but that’s not going to happen.

So, today is March 1st. Besides paying my rent, what is there to do? Why, start the Adventure novel, of course! I was thinking of doing something dealing with dinosaurs or traveling, maybe involve a pigmy tribe in South America but I have no clue. Space has never been my thing but then Westerns weren’t either. So maybe I’ll write a space travel book. I don’t read adventure stories so I’m kind of at a loss at the moment with this project. The best thing to do is to just start typing but I’ve tried that in the past and it hasn’t worked out too well.

The main thing to do is to use February’s success as encouragement and as a pep-talk for my spirit as I sprint my way through the next 4 months. I know I can do this so I’ll work my hardest. I want to make the last 4 months the best out of the entire year. Who knows what the rest of the year is going to hold for me so I need to take this opportunity and make the best of it!

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