The Artist’s Way – Week 3 Check In / Recovering a Sense of Power

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The Artist’s Way – Week 2 Check In / Recovering a Sense of Identity

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The Artist’s Way – Week 1 Check In / Recovering a Sense of Safety

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Blogging is not for me

My blog has purposely been silent for the past year and a half. The entire reason I bought a domain name and created a website was to learn how to do it. But a website needs content. So I started blogging, just to see what all was involved. I stopped for a combination of personal and professional reasons. Basically though, blogging took time away from everything else and it gave no rewards.

So why am I back? Well, I’m not.

Due to a series of health issues and other major life stresses, it’s been a  struggle to achieve my goals in the timeframe I’d expected.

I consider writing to be an art, and since I was having trouble doing that form of art I decided to branch out into other forms. I bought a “Color Your Own Renoir Paintings” coloring book and one full of impressionist paintings. The art is after the Regency time period, but Liam Ainsworth is a painter, so perhaps I’ll learn some things about how it feels to be a painter as I learn about color.

A friend later gifted me an awesome fantasy coloring book and I started looking for video tutorials about painting and mixing colors, which lead me to makeup and nail art tutorials.

At some point I decided to start a Pinterest account. I’d heard authors talk about how nice it was to have a board for each book and boards for the hero and heroine or research boards filled with period clothes, architecture, and everyday objects.

So today, as I took videos on my cell of me trying water marbling for the first and second time, I thought I should look into getting a GoPro camera and post videos or links here. I am still serious about becoming a full-time historical Regency romance author, it’s just taking longer than I’d anticipated, and I’m finally okay with that.

The Avery family trilogy is coming! It’s just going to be awhile, I sort of have this side thing-called life-going on right now too, so please, be patient and kind. I want to release a great debut book and it’s going to take time to get it to that level.

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The Great Pumpkin er,…Sort

I recently read and commented on Kim Smith’s author blog Is this book DOA? Five Ways to Know and it got me thinking. – love when that happens –

Is the Heyswood novel DOA? Two years ago, when I was tired of the manuscript I was working on and was about to start off with a new set of characters and new story idea, I realized I was working on my 13th manuscript and something clicked in my brain. This was not cool. To have too many unfinished manuscripts to be starting a new one, again.

The unsettling part wasn’t that there were so many, it was that they were ALL unfinished.

I pushed the loveseat against the wall, moved the kitty cabana to the window, fished out my camping sit-seat, and set-up my laptop in the living room. I turned Pandora on to a Brittany Spears station and poured myself an adult beverage. Then I proceeded to sort through every scrap of paper, notebook and computer file I had. It was a huge mess.

I sorted by book idea, craft notes and miscellaneous. The electronic files were the most difficult. Apparently, my nervous nature combined with believing if something bad can happen then it will probably happen to me and my write-aholic/burn out habitual cycle, created a poorly organized electronic filing system. There were a lot of duplicate files with minor changes on each version and the only way to know which was the most recent was by the last modified date. I shuffled everything into its corresponding Book Title folder and figured I’d deal with it the next time I start writing those stories.

What I gained from The Great Sort of 2012 was a snapshot of my writing to-date. I picked the story that had the most material and as I read through it, my passion to tell the story sparked. And here I am, two years later, still tinkering with it. Is it DOA?

No, I don’t think it is. Heyswood isn’t actually one book. At The Great Sort of 2012 it was Jane and Colin. Jane a widow, and Colin inheriting the dead husband’s title. But Colin was already a titled gentleman, he was Lord Trentworth, and Heyswood was a lesser title he was inheriting. Jane was staying at the country estate, carrying on her husband’s work of renting horses to local smugglers. Colin came to visit the property and the two most certainly did not get along. They were supposed to move to the London townhouse, but then I couldn’t figure out how to tell the story so that it would be acceptable to readers to overlook them living together in town. And I stalled. For months. It was quite sad actually.

But I was determined to stick with it. I refused to start a 14th story. But in many ways I did. The Heyswood novel as is it today is a totally different story. Now, it all happens in Town. Colin Shelby, a tradesman, inherits the Marquidom upon Lord Heyswood’s sudden and bloody death. Julia is traumatized by her husband’s death, she is living with relatives and chaperoning her cousin. There are no smugglers and the love is different, it is a quieter love.

Kim’s article offers helpful analysis. For the Heyswood novel:

  1. Yes, it physically, mentally and emotionally hurts to work on the book. But – I think in this case it is because physically, I am uncomfortable in my chair thanks to physical ailments I’ve been dealing with; mentally, I have a two year on/off relationship with this story, disillusionment gathers since I’ve re-envisioned it multiple times hoping that I’m making the story stronger while I hone my craft; and emotionally, writing scenes to bring emotion to the page is draining, especially when I’m digging through memories of strong emotions from personal experience.
  2. Yes – Just. Cannot. Do. It. – say hello to one side of my write-aholic/burnt out cycle.
  3. No. – I see the beauty.
  4. No. – I don’t have questions, I know what I need to do. (butt in chair, fingers on keyboard, go.)
  5. Yes. But – while I know some of my tinkering is procrastination, part of it is genuinely editing the work. I like to study craft. When I’m having trouble getting out of burn out I often start re-reading craft books, inevitably I open the manuscript and magic happens, I’m a write-aholic again.

Read Kim’s article. What do you think about DOA books? Is there a spectrum, with a point of diminishing returns based on time investment? How long do I continue to work on the Heyswood novel until it has just been too long – and if I walk away from this book, will I ever complete a manuscript? How long do we hold out hope to hear a heartbeat before pronouncing a manuscript dead?

>Author’s liberty: I couldn’t resist. I have nostalgic memories about The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown.

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Active Pursuit = Messy

The time has arrived. The Emerald City Conference is this weekend.

For the last two months I’ve been in the panic stage of, — “Oh my gosh! This will never be ready for the Emerald City Conference! I should give up writing and just play video games and watch tv!”

So of course, I’ve watched both Seasons of Bates Hotel, and am halfway through the second season of Alphas. I’ve also made many new people in Sims 2, put together all the jigsaw puzzles I own and learned how to play Rivals of Catan. Although, I have gone through several drafts of what I plan to say during my pitch. Pitchfest is this Friday night and my pitch appointment is sometime Saturday morning.

The knee-jerk fear and anxiety is so much more than putting my best foot forward at the conference. The stress of having knee surgery, moving to another state, starting a new dayjob, and moving in with my boyfriend for the first time, are all highly stressful life events, and they all happened in the same two month span. Add my tendency to want order (err,…control and perfection) in my life and – wham – self-soothing takes center stage. Hello tv, videogames, and way too much caffeine.

>>>Note:  I almost wish someone would nominate me for the 3-Day, 3 Things You Are Grateful For Challenge I’ve seen floating amongst my extended family’s posts on Facebook because the Ikea delivery arrived on Monday, and I am so very grateful I made putting my new desk chair together a priority last night. Finally! My new writing space feels complete again.

The Heyswood novel continues in the revision and editing stages. I am done with revisions, just filling in holes due to the re-envisioned material, and adding layers and polish. And while I am not happy that the manuscript is still unfinished, I cannot take my inner-chastising seriously anymore. A lot of life just happened and I’m glad that I’ve again re-convinced myself to, again, recommit to my career goal of being a successful, multi-published Historical Regency author.

My first recommitment step is to be a charismatic fool at the conference to enhance my network to pave the way for amazing opportunities in the long-term. I don’t just write for fun anymore, I’m actively pursuing this goal.

Which brings us to Nanowrimo. It is creeping up on all of us. I want to participate, but I don’t want to write a jumble of 50k words just to hit a number count. Editing that jumble is a nightmare.

But for now the plan is: 1) to get enough sleep to be safe driving to and from the conference, 2) emerge on Sunday with fistfuls of author and publishing industry business cards, and 3) have a request for a partial of the Heyswood manuscript.

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Cat Lady?

A cat, a car and a suitcase.

Actually, it is a cat, a car and… two suitcases, two boxes, two backpacks and two bikes. All of which have been my sole possessions for the last three weeks. One more week and I will have my life back. Namely, my boyfriend and our belongings will move into the spacious, nearly empty, two-bedroom apartment that I’m currently in.

When I moved away for college I was excited. It quickly turned into loneliness and boredom. The same experience happened over the course of this multi-phased move. Thankfully I have Oliver to chase away both, but it doesn’t require my psychology degree for me to know that I talk to the cat WAY too much. Since “The Man” and I decided to move in together on this, our second out-of-state move, I think he knows what he’s getting into, but a little part of me wonders if he really knows.

<Note to self : Air-mattresses ARE better than the floor, but they are not as great as your mind imagines.>

<2nd Note to self: …especially after recent knee surgery. Remember this for the next time you move and think this scenario is a “great idea”. >

Meanwhile, on the writing front, I attended my first Greater Seattle RWA meeting this month. There were plenty of networking opportunities and I volunteered to moderate a session at the Emerald City Writer’s Conference.

My Raffle Goal for next meeting: To finish transitions between all of the scenes in the Heyswood novel.

Update: The Heyswood novel continues in the revision and editing stages. I’m pretty much done with revisions, just filling in holes due to the re-envisioned material, and adding layers and polish.

I’m in the panic stage of, — “oh my gosh! this will never be ready for the conference! i should give up writing and just play video games and watch tv! — But I’m pushing through it and working on the WIP anyway.

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