NaNo

Projects, Procrastination, and Self-Censorship

If you’re keeping tabs, more work was to continue in the kitchen. A dishwasher wasn’t exactly promised, but darn close. Anyway, that has been shelved because of a touch of mold in the bathroom has led to chaos, repainting, and tile. Or will soon.  *Sigh.*

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I completed Kathy Fish’s fabulous Fast Flash Workshop and highly recommend it. In the writing I was doing there, I went deeper than normal, which was a little unsettling. I didn’t post the “object” prompt because that led into something longer.  I thought I was being brave when I sent it to the incredible Nina Fosati for her thoughts. Her response was to go even deeper . . . so I’m considering it.

Let’s say it involves a messed up situation and I’ve self-censored about it this week already. Seriously, I had trouble with one piece that I really liked, but couldn’t get to end right. I imagined someone and it fell into place. Great. But then, it was accepted and someone quoted a line and this thrilled me and I went to post a link on Facebook .  . . and realized I shouldn’t. Luckily, I had a three-year-old memory pop up and pimped that instead.

It’s a miserable drizzly day here and I’m struggling to find bright spots.

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The baby waterfalls was the best I could do. I’m behind in my work count for Nano, my reading at both magazines and the extra reading I’m doing for the Best of the Net awards and a new member of Hamburg Writers’ Group sent a book that I said I’d read the first chapter of . . . and haven’t opened. So, thank you for stopping by. I know it wasn’t much, but I need to get back to the work I love and ignore the impending torn out drywall and paint drips.

*These are my creekside reflections and I hope your experience varies.

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Happy Holidays and I hope you don’t have angst like mine.

So, I went to Gina’s last night. I thought I’d be late–Husband had filled the gas tank this time, but I wasn’t on the road two miles when a stupid light came on about the tire pressure and the squall was limiting my sight and I wondered if I was going to get there at all. I did, and I don’t know, it’s always awkward for me to go anywhere anymore. I feel like an intrusion with all my thoughts and insecurities.

In my head, everyone is a thousand times more pulled together than I could ever be.

Anyway, we were all sitting around the dining room table talking and discussing our lives, then went into the nuances of our current works in progress then back to real life matters.

Does anyone else get how comforting it is that Mary admitted that she sat there and had a panicky bit of time when she was talking about my novel to me? She said she twitched, but I didn’t see it, but when she said that, I got it exactly. It’s how I feel when I think about writing a book review.

The thing is that no matter my thoughts on another person’s work, it’s only my opinion, and who am I to judge PLUS they have a book published. Whether or it’s by a big house, a small press, or even self-published, it’s out there. Someone had the testicular fortitude to print it. Isn’t that an automatic 5 star review? I enjoy reading, but the writing about what I’ve read, not so much, which is funny because I don’t feel people are attacking me when they comment on my work–they are just talking about the story I’m trying to tell.

Don’t mind me, I had another rejection this morning so the career self-esteem isn’t there. And I feel like quitting. Not the writing, just the agent queries, the short story/essay/poem submissions, etc. Which is bunk. My hopes haven’t been completely dashed. Yet.

I will be taking a break as it is for the weekend. If I wrap up this post and the holiday letter, I’m done for the weekend, which is good since a slew of people are slated to arrive, dine, sleep and be on their way. After, I’m looking at a quiet few weeks where I’ll be assessing Mary’s comment that I put too much plot and too many characters in my books. Luckily, I was feeling that way about the latest that I scribbled out during NaNo–about having too many characters anyway.

I feel a bunch of colored index cards are about to be taped to the glass door soon. I may want to start with one as it is so someone doesn’t run into the damned thing, though it is so funny when it happens–mostly because it hasn’t happened to me. Yet. It looks painful.

 
(These are my creekside reflections. Your experiences may vary.)

My problem with travel

I love going places. It relaxes me to go to other realms, walk around, and see how other people live. It thrills me to hear about other people’s way of live, see the sights they’ve grown accustomed to, and buy things from their local stores.

Ctrip

Being a tourist, I love that.

My problem is that I live in those moments fully. That means that I remember it, but not in the way others might.

Husband and I recently went slightly west. This year, we had planned to travel east and attend the huge summer party in Binghamton as a guest of Jefferson Rose, but that party was cancelled so our (and when I say “our” I mean Husband’s) vacation time was up for grabs. A “Hey I was remembering when we were there” email to my ex sister-in-law led to a “Buddy Guy is giving a concert in October, why don’t you come then” response and we had rudimentary travel plans.

Much was discussed, things were ruled out, but what we ended up with was a beautiful reenactment with variations of our first slightly west journey when the cat was a kitten. I think.

Anyway, when we went to Cleveland, we saw Michael Burke again. This time, it was calmer and less hurried. I got a tour of Berea, saw the house where Husband grew up in, walked around the town, bought a hat and explored this amazing riverside walk by myself.

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Gtrip

 

I met a woman who I may-or may not-have previously encountered in my dreams. (Coming out of the Berea Historical Building as we were walking by, she arbitrarily started talking to us. Come to find out, she’d been big in Berea Theater scene and knew my mother-in law. Fine, right? Except I had a dream a few months earlier about running into one of Carol’s friends who asked me how she was doing and I thought, ‘well, you’re not such a great friend if you didn’t know she died almost a decade earlier.’)

The Barking Spider was frequented, as was The Cleveland Museum of Art.

 

Atrip

 

(Yes, that is a falling angel giving the finger) In the Cleveland Museum of Art, I did not heed Michael’s advice to take in a small amount of work, instead I ran from picture to portrait to sculpture and immersed myself with the almighty depth, breadth and longevity of the pieces and bought a lot of postcards. It is an amazing place, inside and out.

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I wasn’t aware of the chandelier (bad picture, I know) or that Cleveland had the largest bank lobby–The Huntington Bank. Cleveland’s nightlife is far more “happening” that I would have thought.

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From there, it off to Indiana. We saw Buddy Guy in Elkhart’s Lerner Theatre. Great music and a beautiful space. (When I find the right cord, I’ll get the pictures off the camera.)

 

In Plymouth, we spent time visiting with Sue and Kevin. I got to see my niece and her family, my ex mother-in-law and the brilliant nurse, Nancy Coney. Husband and Kevin got the glass doors on the bookcases while Sue and I toured downtown. We got to listen to albums up in the sunroom and because life is just too funny, their neighbor’s Ford Galaxy 500 convertible started up and I got to take a ride in it to the Dairy Queen, which sadly, I’d forgotten about until I saw the picture of the car.

Btrip

On our way home, we stopped in Fort Wayne to see Chyo’s new place, then headed east. Cat was not impressed with our leaving, but I think she’s finally forgiven us–at least she isn’t as loud.

So, that’s the problem, I start to lose the details and nuisances that made the trip so interesting. *Sigh* I know, I’ll recall them when I write (I’m only down a day on NaNo) but the story I’m writing this time–the one that I plotted out, well, the characters have decided that the people I saw them ending up with don’t want anything to do with those people and there’s very little from my trip that relates to this new novel.

In my absence, the last round of edits from my editor arrived, so now I’m feeling out XO man to see if he and Girlfriend will have time to read it before they take off on a trip of their own.

Ah well, that is a sad little glimpse into the gorgeous problems (ones she loves) that this writer has gladly endured recently.

 

*These are my Creekside Reflections. Your experiences may vary.

 

 

 

 

Catching up with the normal

Last month’s post should serve as a warning to all–if you’re in my view or thoughts while I’m writing my blog post, you will end up being written about. Husband can once again attest to that. Some writers threaten that you’ll be put in a book or a story, but I don’t write that way. How I write is crazy. I made my word count for National Novel Writing Month, but I don’t have a novel. I have a rough draft that ended up sputtering. I got so far in, went so deep and what happened needed to happen, but I wasn’t ready to write about it so I backed off until I could face those things in a later version of that tale.

And if that makes sense…you might be a novelist.

This has been awesome. I know more about of the characters now. I found out a few things that surprised me, so hopefully (knock on wood) after revisions and rewrites, if you ever read that story, you’ll be as surprised as I was to find out who Henri turned out to be–and trust me–it is surprising.

Otherwise, I’m still hanging on to hope. *Sigh* The agent hasn’t responded after I sent the requested material. He asks for an exclusive month. The day after Christmas, I should have an answer.

Either way, I’ll carry on with what I do. Read, write, revise, repeat. I’ve also been nudged into a not quite new thing: Review

So, if you’re into that sort of thing, I recently posted a review of a book on–get this–the Book Review page of this blog.

I can’t say I’m comfortable with this. “Don’t judge, lest you be judged” was rammed into my head growing up. *Sigh* Regardless, my thoughts and comments on other people’s work are mine–honest, true and as there is enough negativity in the world, I doubt you’ll see me rating a book low. That a person can get a book published at all ought to be celebrated. I’ll take my Grandfather’s stance on my Grandmother’s cooking. When she made something he didn’t like, he’d say, “Well, you don’t have to make that again.” My—most likely private—thought will be, “Well, I don’t have to read that again.”

There’s laundry to do and a grocery list to make.You know, the “normal” things that slip to last place during NaNo.  Outside, most of the snow is gone. This is the view of the creek from my kitchen window this morning.

Creekside

*(These are just my creekside reflections. Your experience and reading taste may vary.)

Counting Down to NaNoWriMo

This week has been filled with social functions: There was writer’s group on Tuesday and I volunteered at the library on Wednesday. Later today I’ll be donating blood because apparently that’s something I do now, and I’ll be back at the library on Saturday for another shift. It seems I either have a million things to do or nothing. *Sigh.*

As a rule, I hate talking about writing projects I haven’t completed a rough draft of yet, but this year I’m thinking of doing things a bit differently for NaNo. I have two stories I’ve been kicking around for a while now. Each began with the idea that they were going to be short stories but they quickly outgrew that form, and since I was certain they didn’t have enough steam to be novels, I gave up both of them for other writing projects. What I’m thinking is to concentrate on these two stories and turn them into novellas. That’s my theory of what I’ll be doing for NaNo, but it’s early yet. I may change my mind.

I had been thinking about a different project, one where “Bess No More,” the story scheduled to appear in Rosebud Issue 54 (still loving the sound of that!) would serve as the first chapter in the novel–and I have a vague story arch I want to explore–but I don’t think I’ve sat with that book long enough to write it, so that’s where the novella idea stepped in to be considered.

And as a cool aside, my daughter-in-law asked me to review her research paper, which is kind of neat–though I quickly remembered why I didn’t like college: Writing research papers. Also, why I didn’t want to become a prof: Reading and grading research papers. Luckily, I didn’t get near the toxic part: Publishing research papers or perishing. *Sigh.* DIL did a good job on her paper; it just needs a few tweaks which I’m happy to provide.

Otherwise, it’s a matter of wrapping up as much as I can and simplifying where it’s possible before the first of November. Putting in 1667 words a day consistently is stressful enough. I don’t need a stack of papers to file staring me in the face while I’m working.

Ah well… Let the writing challenge begin!

(*These are just my Creekside Reflections. Your experiences may vary.)

October. Decoration Time

I love October!

This is the view from the middle of my labyrinth, looking up and to the South. The colors are even better than this picture.

We haven’t had much rain here, so a few weeks ago, when we did, I found a fairy ring in my yard. The long shots don’t really do the ring justice, so imagine a ¾ circle of these:

 

Too cute!

The Sweet Gum is starting to turn all sorts of colors:

And my marigolds–planted from seed–are still blooming:

Sunday morning, I got out the sailor’s skull that moans and vibrates creepily when the motion sensor is triggered. Husband knew it was out. I even told him where I was going to place it. He reported that he set down his coffee cup gently and it went off, catching him off guard. Too funny.

Yesterday, the flying bat went up. I have more things to hang, but I’m busy writing—NaNo prep!

 

 

 

 

 

*These are just my creekside reflections. Your experiences may vary.

Spent

Alright, I’ll fess up. I didn’t make the NaNo goal this year. I could beat myself up, but I won’t. Part of it was that NaNo changed its notifications and some other bits that worked in the past didn’t work the same way this year. Plus, the two best ever ML’s dropped out and let the Buffalo group be led by N. Seriously, that’s her name. N and I never clicked. Sarah & Madeline were such great ML’s, so ‘spoiled me’ didn’t want to go to the write-ins and midway parties and the kickoffs because they weren’t going to be there. I had myself somewhat convinced to go to Perry to the write-in at Burlingham Books on the 20th, but that didn’t pan out.

On top of that, I went to my first workshop. It was on 5 November and the presenters were Mary Akersand Kim Chinquee. I had the best time! I learned so much! It was SO awesome. I’m beyond grateful to Husband for taking me to The Hodge Podge in North Tonawanda–what a brilliant choice for the workshop location. It was beautiful and inspiring. I’m so grateful I had the chance to attend.

So now you’re thinking I must have been slacking since I wasn’t creating new work? Oh contraire!

I worked my ass off this month. While still piling words into the latest NaNo novel (and had I gotten a fat letter from NEA instead of the thin one, I so would have changed gears since ‘Finding Forest’ was the project I wanted the NEA grant I applied for to fund.) I got my entry form for the Minotaur Books/ First Crime Novel Competition and dug into revising ‘Campus Crimes.’

Did I say revise? Oh, I hacked away. I took that beauty from 101,842 words down to 81,843. As Marko Fong commented, I was doing a reverse NaNo.

It wore me out. Strung me out. Made me hate the person I was when I wrote ‘Campus Crimes’ since I didn’t know squat then. (Not that I know anything now, mind you…)

Anyway, I slashed away, printed it out and sent it to a reader who had it delivered to him on Tuesday. Now, it’s in his hands. Could I have done better? Yes. The point is that I made the revision a priority and reached a deadline.

Goals and deadlines can be interchangeable, but sometimes it takes a person literally sitting themselves down to figure out which actions are most important. That’s what I had to do. That’s what I did. I think I made the right choice.

Neglecting NaNo also allowed me to concentrate on other contests I wanted to enter, and after I wrap this post up, I’m off to tackle the Buffalo News contest, cause you know, I‘m not competitive enough…

Last night, I attended a Grand Opening/Ribbon Cutting Ceremony for a bar and be the designated driver in exchange for the drive up to North Tonawanda. Seemed more than fair. It was pretty alien though. Husband turned into chatty Cathy social butterfly and I spent the night mostly alone. I mean, I was sitting at a table with some very nice people, I’m sure, but the band was right there and so conversation wasn’t possible without shouting. I still have traces of a malingering cold/flu. I didn’t want to shout.

I relearned two lessons though. 1) ALWAYS bring a book wherever you go–if I have one I never get to read it, if I don’t I wish I had. 2) Trim Husband’s moustache if eating/drinking will be done in public–self explanatory.

Ah well, I’m sure the experience will find a place in a story somewhere some day…

Speaking of which…I AM SO PSYCHED!!!! The Amazing, Awesome, Incredible Copyeditor Extraordinaire–Teresa Tucker will soon be done with Ellie’s Elephants. I am SO excited to get my baby back. I’ve missed her so much and am eager to see what she looks like now. I bet she’s even prettier than I imagine her to be, and I thought she was a great looking baby when I sent her to the equivalent of ‘finishing’ school.  SO PSYCHED!

*These are just my reflections. Your experience may vary.