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After days and days of wishing I could get back into my love-o-lee routine of blogging first thing in the morning, here I am! Granted, it’s not first thing, it’s more like mid-morning but it’s the first thing I did since having a shower. There’s something so soothing about about a quiet house, a strong cup of Lapsang Suchong tea from David’s Tea and fruit while writing. It’s like my brain’s finally been switched on. Until now it’s always been set to the energy efficient mode. Tell me, how can you fully enjoy life when you’re not completely functional?

The story is coming along nicely. I’m getting to the point now where my character enters the setting where the murders will happen. That’s right. She’s got her work cut out for her because I’m already planning on 3 characters dying, possibly more. It’s going to be tricky and certainly where I’m going to get creative but that’s half the fun. I’ve never thought before about whether my stories ar reasonable or not until this one. I have a feeling this is going to be a wildly entertaining blood bath. Just sit back and enjoy the ride!

My arch-nemesis has been resurrected- t.v. Even though I don’t have cable (or my own t.v.) I’m constantly sucked into watching shows online. The list seems to grow longer and longer every few weeks. Currently I try to watch:

Sunday: Once Upon a Time, Desperate Housewives, GCB

Monday: Castle

Wednesday: Criminal Minds

Thursday: Grey’s Anatomy

Friday: Grimm

This is utterly unacceptable. Damn you, ctv.ca! I miss out on all the background aspects of the creative process when I passively enjoy the boob tube. Maybe that’s why I had so much success last summer. Most shows were re-runs and with a natural lull in my work cycle, I could really focus on my stories. I need to find somewhere I can just read the synopsis of Grey’s. Criminal Minds can be delegated to inspiration when writing scary/twisted stories and thank goodness Desperate Housewives is finished for good! I was never a super-fan of it but I’d follow it off and on when I could. After this season of the rest, I think I’m going to stick with Castle and GCB. The other two will be best enjoyed by renting the season on dvd.

It’s amazing how far you can slip into bad habit before some inkling of self-preservation kicks in and gives you a little slap. aS I’ve freshly rediscovered with losing weight and saving money, paring back on my t.v. time is a painful process. It’s so much easier to maintain a healthy body/bank account/t.v. habit than it is to fix what you have. Nothing is impossible because there’s always a silver lining.

So, with my shows on break, the beautiful weather of Halifax in late Spring and a delightfully busy work season, I’d be a fool not to take advantage of the perfect conditions to get me back into the shape I want to be. Who knows. I may even succeed my revised goals of finishing 5 of 12 novels. Wilder things have happened!

Ooops. Sorry about forgetting about you, WordPressland! I’ve been so busy with work and have been squeezing in my writing when I can so I completely forgot about updating my blog.

But here I am.

I had a really great observation the other day but true to form I didn’t have a pen and paper handy to make notes. When I sit here and actually think about what it was of course it fades further into my subconscious. I’m sure next November I’ll remember. I can, however, say that I’ve been reeeeeally enjoying the writing process. I’m back to craving entire days off so I can hole up and plow through an entire chunk and get down a few thousand words. I’ve rediscovered the taste of that heady addiction. In reality though, that’s not likely going to happen because I’m such a ridiculously slow typer. Mum’s been pestering me about getting the Dragon software so I can dictate my story but that hasn’t been possible yet. *sad little frowny face* I’m still lusting over an iPad. So one thing at a time.

The typing is going slowly and my beginning is a lot more sparse than I wanted but I’ve still got that silly hang up about putting into words the rated R (and above) material. There’s no getting around the fact that I am a YA writer. That’s great but I want to delve into the more adult aspect of writing as well. There’s so much more I want to explore but it involves swear words, salacious scenes and all sorts of tawdry bits. I feel like a prim old nurse maid in 1597 being dragged by my charge to go see Shakespeare’s “The Merry Wives of Windsor. ” I can’t decide if I’m horrified by the naughtiness or that secretly I’m enjoying it. Prim and proper have their place in life but honestly. I miss Saucy San. She was fun.

While I ignore my writing hang ups, it’s been hard to pin down the soundtrack to write the book to. Considering there’s a strip club involved, I’ve been listening to a lot of Chemical Brothers and Nine Inch Nails and pretty much anything else I can imagine a routine to but the setting’s changed and the music choice is much more ambiguous. When this happens, Classical is my go-to choice. Currently my favourite is an amazing piano virtuoso whom I saw play live in Toronto; Gabriela Montero is utterly brilliant. I’m currently addicted to her cd of improvisations but every cd she has put out is spectacular and inspirational. If she can create something so complex and layered as she goes, surely I can construct the framework for a novel. It may be rather ragged and rough but even that has its own unique beauty.

So, thank you, Gabriela for your inspiration and your beautiful music. It’s a joy to be writing while listening to a cd that drowns out Pascal and Josefiend. I am eternally grateful.

So for you to enjoy on a late Monday night or Tuesday, I’m pleased to introduce you to Ms. Gabriela Montero!

 

I’ve written enough to start forming chapters again! This is pretty great progress. I finish a writing session and I can see the immediate future and have a bit of a game plan for when I get back into the story. That hasn’t happened in a long while. I’m still struggling with getting my daily word count in (ideally 2,000) but I’m writing every day. A big chunk of the battle’s been won.

Yesterday I had a mini break through. Granted, it just involved changing the reason my character was getting on a plane but still it could have a huge impact on the story; I don’t know yet. It does make it feel a little more solid though. I was super early to my language lesson last night so I curled up in the car with Yesterday and pulled out the laptop to write. If I lived in the neighbourhood I’d be a little concerned, some random girl hanging out in her car working on a big old laptop. I really am in desperate need of an iPad now. I keep telling myself it’s a want not a need but I’m not so sure anymore.

So far I’ve spent more time focusing on a secondary character than I have on my protagonist. I don’t know why this is the case but I keep coming back to him and adding little details that aren’t necessary. He’s starting to become real and concrete. I don’t know why I like him but I just have a good feeling about him. The more I think about him the more convinced he’s going to show up later but how? It’s going to take quite a bit of juggling to sort that out. I have no idea what’s going to happen with him, hopefully nothing bad. I really like Too-Late Charlie.

Once again I’m super lucky to have found bosses that are supportive of this endeavour and I can work on the stories in bits and pieces at work. Granted, it’s pretty impossible to get much done but half the battle is keeping the idea and story line in the fore-front of my head whenever possible. Work comes first as it always has but it’s fantastic to have the opportunity to let my imagination go a bit indulge in some creative writing. It’s a pretty amazing balance.

Writing a mystery is a little intimidating. Do I just write the story and whatever comes out of my imagination comes out or do I try to plan and structure and set it up so that readers have a chance to figure out the whodunit?  It’s one of those times when I wish I could ask a famous mystery author how they do it. Do they write the story then fix it up and slip in the necessary details? Do their subconsciouses do the work for them? Do they purposely try to make it so that an astute reader can figure out the crime or do they omit a critical piece of evidence so that the best anyone can do is suspect? Long ago I gave up being an active murder mystery reader so I have no clue how clear to make the trail. Scooby Doo clear? “Murder, She Wrote” clear? Or P.D. James clear ( which means I have no chance in figuring out her killers)?

The best thing for me to do is to forget all this and just write. Obviously there is a huge range of sophistication in the genre and I have my own style to sort out and get comfortable with. Who knows… I may be a genius when it comes to writing mysteries or I may be better suited for the level 4 easy readers. The point is to get back into my writing and to fall back in love with the creative process. My inner drama queen (we’ll call her Viola) is lethargically laying back on her crimson crushed velvet chaise lounge fanning herself just biding her time before she can recommence with the theatrics. There’s nothing more thrilling to her than the struggles of a budding artist. She’s eagerly waiting for the moment when she can convince me to dramatically fling myself onto a couch because I’ve hit a road block or some other foolishness like that.

So, after settling down with a pot of tea, warm slippers and a beautifully quiet house, I can start working. Perhaps I’ll meet my quota today and begin to play catch up! You never know what the day has in store for you!

Happy Friday!

Final Word Count May 1, 2012: 446 (1 page)

How long has it been since you’ve seen that format?!

Well, I may not have started off with achieving my word goal yesterday but it’s something and 446 words more than I’ve written on the 1st of a month in a very long time. (It’s going to be  run-on sentence kind of day I think, sorry!) I’m not feeling the beginning of the story at the moment but I don’t give a crap about it because it’s all going to change. It’s pretty hard to write about a stripper when you’re anywhere but home (so you can listen to strip club music to get the atmosphere) or an actual strip club. And writing at a strip club is just weird. I know if I was performing on the stage I would hate to see someone’s face illuminated by a glowing screen. An iPad is bad enough (which I don’t have) but to trot out a clunky old MacBook, not only can’t I see the keys, the little apple on the front glows too! What a social eejit and uncouth person I would be! Luckily I won’t need to check out the local clubs for inspiration since I already have enough music to set the mood for me. But I digress.

I had this story sketched out for months but true to form, 2 days before I was to begin I began thinking of another one. Why do I always do that?! So when I was having my nightly phone call with my Mom I asked her which one I should do. She recommended the first one because “we all know how you like to complicate your stories.” Ah a mother’s wisdom.

So, my cozy mystery novel is about a stripper. I don’t know how cozy sequins, PVC clothing and pasties are, but she does qualify for the genre since she has no crime fighting experience. No grannies or spinsters for me! I like the hot, leggy heroine much more. Why write about a little old lady when no one can surpass Miss Marple? That character type has been claimed long ago. Good thing I excel at thinking outside the box. Agatha Christie has Miss Marple and I have Candy.

 

 

I am appalled with this month. Yes it’s been crazy and a bit of a roller coaster but that’s no excuse. At least I hadn’t tried to write posts about my writer’s block, artist’s angst and general frustrations. Thank goodness for small blessings, eh?

April was supposed to be ChickLit. I wrote 600 words and none of them good. I had no inspiration this month and that makes me sad. The struggles have been getting more and more violent over the past few months. My pile of attempts is quickly growing and ideas have been cast aside with carelessness and abandon.

It’s frightening yet incredibly liberating to realize that ChickLit isn’t for me and I DON’T CARE. I love reading ChickLit but some things are better enjoyed than in which actively participating. This whole year has been an interesting exercise in discovering my creative style and what I enjoy most. It’s been a challenge, one I’ve wondered how I’m going to accomplish. As with every other difficult project in my life, I will see it through to the end.

May’s attempt is going to be a mystery. This is one of the most intimidating ones because I have never been able to figure out the formula or the tricks. For a smart person, I’m pretty obtuse sometimes. I was a pitifully old child before I figured out the villain in Scooby Doo before Velma did. And it just gets worse from there. I have no idea how I’m going to accomplish this one but I’m hoping that with a new job and schedule I’ll be able to make an honest go of the last two months. It’s the best time for me to get this done before I have to start apartment hunting and packing for the inevitable move.

So I’m going to stick with my original plan because I had scrapped ideas at the last minute and that hadn’t ended well. It’s going to be a bit of a wild ride but I’m looking forward to it. I’m actually pretty excited because I have no idea how this is going to turn out. At this point, I don’t care how crappy my writing is, I just want to get something back on paper. I’ll have to write every day because skipping a day is just not an option. The beginning seems to be the most important because that’s when everything is set up and the structure is developed. If I lose interest then, well pfffft. Forget about getting back into the groove of the story! I’d much rather lose steam halfway through because at least at that point i’ll have something to work with in the future.

So as with the beginning of each month, I have the best intentions to get my writing back on track and the routine going again. It’s a new start; this time I’m going to take it seriously. I want to succeed and I truly mean it. So fingers crossed!

April 11, 2012

However do you expect to write about the art of writing if you don’t practice it yourself? Oh the ugly, ugly question. No wonder my blog entries are more sparse than hair on a naked mole rat (don’t google it, it’ll give you nightmares, I promise). I only hope that my writing is more pleasing to the eye than the sight of a fleshy, wrinkly, toothy mole with tiny squinty eyes and giant toenails. *shiver*

It has to be more enjoyable than that, right?

So the story is shaping up to be okay. I’m not too sure where it’s going or what’s going to happen but things are moving along finally and I’m getting back into the groove of things. Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t a miraculous Easter-holiday event. The zing is slowly returning, perhaps not as brightly as in the past but still, it’s there.

Since it’s ChickLit this month, I thought it’d be a given that I’d make it. After all, all my bookshelf is missing is a box of chocolates to complete my Girl’s Night In collection complete. I routinely warn people who peruse my DVD collection that they’re mostly ChickFlicks so you’d think that with this genre being among the top that I gravitate towards it’d be a slam dunk.

Yes, it’s going a little better than most of the other months, it’s still not flying by and each day is a daily struggle. No one said writing is easy; in fact the pursuits that are most enjoyable are sometimes the most difficult to maintain. At the end of the day though, the satisfaction of being a part of the creative process and the pure, childlike wonder of frolicking in your own imagination makes the stress and struggle worth it.

April 20, 2012

Disregard the post that I forgot to post AGES ago. It’s all a lie. The story’s not shaping up at all. It’s laying in my head like a lump of charcoal. Rattling around in the most distracting way. It has been so awful this month. The genre has so much promise; I have a great idea and love losing myself in the story that’s unfolding when I give it the chance and breathing space to do so. The problem is that with my working two jobs and the stress of transitioning out of one practice and into another. I’ve forgotten how grueling a 6-day work week can be.

I really wish I could carve out the time I want to get back into the my story. The little bit I’ve done is a tease to my imagination. This project has been a luxury for me. I don’t know why I haven’t realized that yet but it really is. Doing something that makes you happy and indulges your passion shouldn’t be a luxury but it is. I would love to have hours at a time to wallow in the complex world evolving with every keystroke but alas, that’s not the case.

There really isn’t much more to say, no pithy remarks to wrap up the ending of a post or a zinger to leave you with but seeing as I’ve already forgotten to post this once, I suppose a quick addition to the original post is better than nothing at the moment. So for now, adieu.

 

April 5, 2012

I haven’t written a word yet.

*Hanging head in shame*

I’ve said it. It’s rounding onto April 6th and I have yet to write a single word. I didn’t even check my “schedule” to make sure this month is ChickLit month. Even if it isn’t I’ll stick with that plan. It feels like a ChickLit kind of month. Perhaps it’s the turning seasons- Spring is in the air and with Spring comes flirty dresses and strappy shoes and all sorts of romantic deliciousness. So I can’t waste that ambiance. Sadly, though, that’s exactly what I’m doing.

I don’t know how people do it- write novels while living a regular, every day life. It really boggles my mind. Writing a novel is a part-time job at the very least and to complete one in a month is a fool’s errand. I’d gladly play the fool then but it has never paid the bills.

April 8, 2012

I feel like I’m writing  Captain’s log on a sinking ship. With the “Mayday” plea sent out, I’m now reduced to writing about the next few moments. Will I be saved or will I disappear? Will I swim or will I be eaten? I’m hoping I can still save myself because if I can’t rely on me, I’ll be in very sad shape. Before fulfilling every other expectation, you should master 3 things:  you are 1) your own shining knight 2) your personal comedian and 3) your best friend. If you succeed in all three then you’ll survive life and enjoy it. (FYI: Chances are you will also be someone else’s knight/comedian/best friend because they’ll see how awesome you are and will want some of that awesomeness too.)

I finally started writing the story on the 6th. It’s coming along slowly because as usual I start thinking about the detail I want to include so I freeze up. I am not Diana Gabaldon so there’s no need or expectation for me to write a 800+ page book. Maybe if my last name was O’Driscolova I’d feel more comfortable writing novels that could act as counterbalance for weighing newborns. So, I can’t keep comparing my work or my expectations to The Outlander Series or War and Peace. That’s not where I am at the moment.

When you write 50,000 words, it’s disconcerting to think that that 100+ page manuscript is really just a template for the finished product. I don’t know about you but I was always used to working with an outline that was maybe 2-3 pages and could get a solid 10-12 pages of finished produce out of each outline page! No wonder I feel like I’ve embarked on writing an entire set of Encyclopedia Britannica! I think I have to reconfigure my expectations and be a little more realistic.

It’s quite enjoyable to live with grand schemes floating around in my imagination but it’s hard to maintain the momentum to achieve those starry-eyed goals and even harder to achieve the quality of work that satisfies Pascal.

To give you an idea of what kind of critic Pascal is, the closest example I can find is Colin Mochrie on Who’s Line is it Anyway?

With a critic yelling at me that something is crap then telling me to try a whole new direction. I don’t know about other writers but Pascal can be a royal pain. Or am I teetering on the edge of insanity? I suppose any creative person has a touch of the crazies, otherwise how can they come up with the stories and ideas they do? I’d rather be the eccentric person than the boring, straight-laced, uncreative one. Life can always use a extra sparkle. It comes back to being your own comedian and best friend. Who else can you expect to amuse you at the drop of a hat? That, my friend, takes constant practice in order to do.

So, I’ll continue working on the story and perhaps today I’ll make some good headway. I’ve been thinking about it and I have a feeling I know the direction it’ll veer off into but who knows, Pascal my yell “CUT!”, tell me “I found your laptop in the backyard covered in CRAP” and I’ll be shunted off onto a new tangent. That’s the beauty of working on something for the first time. You have no idea where things are going or where the story will take you. I love this stage of the creative process.

Since this post is originally from March 31st, make that 2 bubbles.

Thank goodness it’s popped as it floats over me drenching me with hope for the next  this month. As I mentioned in a previous post, life seemed to get away from me a bit and take over. Now that life has settled down into a new rhythm for the moment I’m looking forward to putting more emphasis and focus on my writing.

I can’t believe I lived a whole month like I had before this challenge started. There were very few days when I actually thought about the novel and I may have sat down 6 times to work on it. I’ve been bad in the past for not finishing but never to this degree. I wonder if it gets easier or harder to stick with the project as the finish line becomes clearer. I really want to finish but do I have the stamina? Im not quite sure.

With the prospect of working 2 jobs for April, we’ll see how true the old maxim is because without a doubt I will be a very busy lady. After a long day on Sunday at a workshop for the new job I was drained. I was barely able to drag myself out to get some necessary doggie stuff and when I passed the cheapo movie bin at Wal-Mart I couldn’t resist. So, with my defenses temporarily destroyed I walked out with 4 movies.

It was fairly late when I got home so I decided to give up on starting April’s selection in favour of doing some research. Lucky for me this month’s genre is mindless ChickLit! Hooray for the 20-something heroine and the trouble caused by miscommunication! Of course that’s not all the genre is based on but with a pretty clear-cut formula it should be a little more straightforward. No more struggling through a plot and wasting time and energy making sure it’s right. Get ‘er done is the plan from here on out!

It would be lovely to b able to work on a story that really sucks me in and consumes my attention. It’s been so long since I’ve felt that. Maybe I’ve fought the free fall into my imagination or perhaps I haven’t come across another story that has been as intriguing as the few I’ve finished. Just like there will be people you will never click with, there are genres out there that I’ll never get or will never be interesting for me. The trick is to stick with what I like and what I know. There’s nothing wrong in working purely in one style or genre. Maybe it’s a good thing to become an expert in one specific area rather than a jack of all trades.

I have no idea if ChickLit will be a success for me or not; goodness knows I read enough of it! I have a rough idea of the plot but who knows what may change or in what direction things will head. So for now I’m just going to go with things and do my absolute best to put in the effort this project needs. I’m tired of not succeeding and I miss the wildly excited victory posts at the end of the month.

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?

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.