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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Throwing in the towel aka revisions or fear

I’m not actually throwing in the towel. I honestly don’t think I ever will, but two days ago I hit a wall of hatred. I hated everything about the Heyswood novel. For three hours I thought I was a complete failure and that I should walk away from this novel, cancel my Oct 18th pitch appointment and start over with different characters and a new plot.

At the three hour mark I had an epiphany, partially thanks to Dennis Palumbo and his book “Writing from the Inside Out” (who’s name inevitably triggers the image of Peter Falk shuffling through my mind, cigar in hand, one hand folded across his waist as he’s about to reveal the truth or deliver a thought-provoking line of questions). Dennis’s book is all the cliche metaphors that breathe fresh air into a writer’s sometimes solitary world. He rescued the Heyswood novel with the idea that I was experiencing a sort of writer’s block, a self-protecting mechanism. Fear.

I’m afraid I won’t have a good enough manuscript ready for the pitch appointment. Afraid the agent won’t like it and won’t ask to see some or all of it. I’m afraid the pitch will go great, the agent will ask for the manuscript, and will reject it, or that she will love it and want to be my agent. That we’ll start the editing process and get the novel shopped around. I’m afraid no publishing houses will be interested, afraid one or more will be and I’ll be juggling getting used to living in a new city, starting a new full-time job (note update – I have received a job offer and accepted it.), doing my best to recover from knee surgery, and trying to do my best with edits and deadlines and still maintain the peace of mind to keep me stable to be effective.

After acknowledging all of the above, and more, freaking out to the people closest to my life and settling down from the exhaustion of it all, I started to reenvision the Heyswood novel. The actual work has already begun. I have a sharper eye as I tweak scenes and ruthlessly remake the novel. The panic has transformed to inspiration.

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Temporary, full-time writer

I am moving to Seattle in two months. My wonderful boyfriend will be paying our bills when we get there while I look for a new day-job. Which means I will temporarily be a full-time writer. I’m excited, but also nervous. I have ideas for structuring the time as a 9-5 workday. There is pressure to prove myself, to myself and to everyone who believes me to be a writer. We’re all waiting for when I have something published. As the months and years pass the pressure increases.

The Heyswood manuscript is on its 6th or 7th draft, I’ve lost count, and must be ready to submit by Seattle’s Conference on October 17.  I continue to edit for scene continuity, write missing/new scenes, and do fact-checking research. The flurry of life around the time of the move will interrupt my editing focus, but the subsequent two weeks of being a full-time writer before the conference will let me make up for it. How long I get to continue writing full-time after the conference is unknown. I need a steady paycheck until my student loans are paid off and writing starts bringing in money.

What tips/tricks do you have for making your days productive without burning out or procrastinating?

What does the structure of your day look like?

——————————————————–

8-9am wake up, morning routine/ breakfast,

9:15am Scrivner open, begin writing

Write scene/XXX words, then 15 minute reward break

Research 20 minutes, edit next scene, then 15 minute reward break

Reward ideas

  • read/comment on a blog I follow
  • review tweets and tweet
  • play with cat
  • chores (these are oddly rewarding to me, lol)
  • take a 15 minute walk outside
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July Goals and Wierd Motivation

I struggle with consistent motivation. I get really excited and caught up in a project and then burn out on it. Motivation comes and goes. It’s probably like that for most people though.

Some of us who attend SLC Write-In’s on Thursdays have formed a Facebook group page (by invite only). It started out last year as our work-around for not getting the people we wanting in our Nanowrimo July Camp cabins. Since we already knew of each other through the SLC Writer’s group it was more fun to participate in our Faux Nano group. It creates authentic social expectations to keep on track and is an easy way to keep in touch outside of the official Thursday SLC Write-In’s.

We’re four days into the 2014 July Faux Nano Camp and while I’m off to a really good start I know each day will only get harder. My motivation is starting to hide under the bed covers, especially today. I’ve decided to revive the 15 minute focus technique I learned in The Book Factory class. I’ve been trying to pinpoint what motivates me and to identify rewards I believe in, and I discovered that the oddest things can be weirdly motivating.

Take for example this post. I told myself that for July I would write a post on Thursday’s while at the SLC Write-In. I skipped last night since I was in a good writing groove and didn’t want to interrupt it by packing up and relocating to the cafe. It just didn’t make sense to stop the good thing I had going. So today, I slept in (thank you day-job for giving me today as a paid holiday!). I got up knowing I have no excuse to not get my prescribed 8 page revisions done today, but I needed to eat breakfast, and feed the cat, and scoop the litter pan, and take a shower, and clean up the kitchen, and vacuum my bedroom floor, and and and and. AND write this post since I didn’t yesterday.

So as I took the vacuum cleaner out of the closet and plugged the cord into the wall I decided no. No I wouldn’t vacuum until after I’d written this post. I thought “you’re being silly, just vacuum and then sit down.” And then I thought, “No. Sit down, do the post now. Then vacuum.” And you know what I did? I sat down, my fingers flying over the keys to say something worthy of being read,… all so I can vacuum my bedroom.

What seemingly odd things motivate you?

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Write everyday. Really?

Hiatus complete. The plan was to not write while other areas of my life took center stage the last six weeks. Back then looking at everything that was coming my way I knew I couldn’t maintain a balance unless I stepped back from my writing. Thankfully I have plenty of cushion before the Greater Seattle Area Conference in mid-October to work on manuscript edits. I expected things to wind down by this week and planned to start prepping for July’s Camp Nano when this week came around. And here it is.

There is a lot of advice encouraging writers to write every day. To have a daily writing habit. There is also plenty of advice proclaiming that your process is good enough, whatever it is (caveat- as long as you get the job done using that process). I haven’t found a process yet, nothing consistent anyway. I’ve spent years reading craft books, absorbing the concepts, doing the prescribed exercises, and trying the processes published authors say work for them.

The only consistent thing about my writing journey is persistence. I take breaks. I get sideswiped and lose momentum. I do too much too fast and get burnt-out. I make plans, set expectations, and then I adjust them. That is my process. No matter what happens, I keep coming back. To write, to research, to edit, to play what-if games, to try. To do.

What is your process? Have you found one?

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Some changes are bigger

Change is a major part of life, but some changes are bigger than others. I’m generally the type of person who likes change. Change creates momentum, which I find refreshing and exciting. Though there comes a point where it is just plain exhausting.

Recent circumstances, details I will not divulge here, have me moving in with my best friend (of 10+ years) in the next couple weeks. We’ve never lived together before. We know each other’s home lifestyle enough to bet that we won’t turn into the statistic of best friends who live together that end up not being friends. Through all the housing tours and shopping excursions this past week we’ve zig-zagged between excitement for the future and pure exhaustion from all the planning.

Moving is often cited as one of the top three life stresses a person can experience (up there with death and divorce). Some writer’s are able to use their writing time to stay grounded when big changes are happening in their lives. Not me. When big stress waltzes into my life I’m not able to quiet my mind to focus on the story I’m writing. My mind resembles a blender, with my thoughts whirring and mixing together. I’m not able to compartmentalize the tasks or settle down enough to fully focus.

Do you like moving or dread it? How do you balance writing with the mental drain of dealing with stress?

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