Friday, January 31, 2014

Blog. Even When Your Head Is In A Fog.

So I'm writing this post with absolutely no idea where it's going.

That's a new one, even for me.

Usually, when I feel this aimless and my head is this far in the clouds, I try to get it down before attempting to put pen to paper, or in this case, fingers to keyboard. Nevertheless, here I am, because it's been two weeks and my head is still foggy.

Winter is my least favorite season, and if you asked me for a list of reasons why, it would probably look like one of those cartoon lists, the kind that come in a small scroll that unrolls all the way to the ground and then keeps on rolling out the door.

Picture from
I sympathize, sir. Truly, I do.
But the worst thing about winter, for me, is how depressed I get. I don't know if it's Seasonal Affective Disorder (appropriately nicknamed SAD), cabin fever, the really short days, or just holiday and post-holiday stress, but December and January always seem to drag.

I had all this writing energy in November, and even the air seemed electric. The chill seemed to tingle along my spine and fingers as I typed, and I really felt like I was pushing forward. It didn't hurt that the little word counter kept filling up and turning green when I hit my quota for the day. I need that counter for every day. I even wrote NaNoWriMo an e-mail asking for it for next year.

But now, I'm sitting here in front of my keyboard, writing an aimless blog post because I can barely remember what part of my story I was at, let alone what to do with it next. Everyone keeps saying that the only cure for writer's block is writing, but that doesn't make the page any less blank, or my brain any less stressed about having no idea how to fix it.

Anyway, I think what I'm trying to get at, oh viewers who have yet to materialize, is that I'm looking forward to spring. In the meanwhile, I'll continue to cough up words here and stubbornly drag myself another day, another hour, another minute closer to being done. Edited. Published. And moving on.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014


So I can finally breathe through my nose again. What a relief!

Everyone I know has been sick, although most of them appear to be on the mend by now. I'm back at work, and the rest of my life is progressing nicely. The cat is settling in - happily destroying our brand-new revolving chair and other furniture - and is so cute that we don't mind our home looking like a tornado blew through. I'll post pictures soon. I've finished "Write. Publish. Repeat." and really enjoyed it. More, I found it informative, inspirational, and useful.

See above for a really good book. Image taken from
The Creative Penn blog, another really great site for writers.

Although a lot of the advice isn't necessarily useful to me right now, since I'm not at the publishing stage of the game yet, it does make clear that the formula for success isn't in writing one great novel, but in several really good ones. And in writing consistently, not just publishing one book a year. There wasn't much advice on finishing books, but I'm starting to come to the unfortunate conclusion that there really is only one remedy for that problem.

It's what many writers refer to as BIC, or Butt-In-Chair, time. For some writers, myself included, this can sometimes be excruciatingly long and painful. It shouldn't be, especially when you love your stories as much as I love mine, but sometimes looking at your own work and realizing that you're not getting the words right is just horrible. It's like trying to talk to a boy you've got a crush on, and all you can do is stammer. You're trying so hard to get it right that everything seems to be coming out wrong, even if it's really not.

Inevitably, I'll look back over my own work later and have two trains of thought, running simultaneously towards each other on the same track from opposite directions. One says, "You know, this really isn't so bad after all." The other says, "You know, this really isn't particularly good after all. What were you thinking?"

That's what I'm going to be working on this year. In 2014, I'll be installing a switch on the tracks, and the bad-thoughts train will be sent on its way. Because I'm starting to realize something: it is not she who dreams of writing beautifully who gets ahead, but she who writes. Period. And if my first books go out into the world and aren't the best things I've ever written, that's not just okay, it's normal. But you can't get better if you never get started...

Inspiration: the thought of actually being a writer, and having actual people read my stuff. Including this blog. Maybe. Please?

Music: lots of Sara Bareilles that I can belt at the top of my lungs as I drive to work. "Say what you wanna say/and let the words fall out/honestly/I wanna see you be brave!"

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Best-Laid Plans

"The best laid schemes o' Mice an' Men, Gang aft agley," wrote Robert Burns, in his impeccably Scottish dialect. In other words, have an idea, start to follow through, and something will inevitably waylay you.

In this case, I made a New Year's resolution to be more healthy...and promptly came down with the flu.

So in addition to adding "GET A FLU SHOT!" to this year's list of resolutions, I want to talk about the push and pull of struggle versus the writer.

I've been reading a lot lately about how to become a published author, and much of the advice boils down to "Write. Publish. Repeat." (Incidentally, this is the title of a book I'm currently reading, by the charmingly funny Johnny B. Truant and Sean Platt)

This advice dovetails with advice I've been hearing from friends and reading in other books about how to live your life - "Think Positive. Act Confident and You Will Become Confident."

Well, that's just the problem.

I wonder, how does one take the first step? Is it a memorable Moment that demarcates one side of your life from the other - Before and After? Or is it a series of quiet steps, unremembered but vitally important, all stacked together to form a jagged, dragging line into the person you want to become?

I never know if I'm moving forward on days like these, or backwards, or not moving at all. Looking at it objectively, I know that I'm not the same person I was a year ago - married, living on my own. And yet, in terms of my dreams, I'm not necessarily sure I've taken a step forward. Yes, I finished NaNoWriMo, but I didn't actually complete my novel yet. Yes, I'm learning more about self-publishing, but I'm still not published.

When I'm ill, as I have been for the last several days, it brings me back to my childhood, when I was often ill - usually with no idea what I'd done to cause it. I've managed to iron out most of my health problems over the years, but there are still days when I believe I'll always be the sickly little girl who's missing out on something important.

I think what I'm trying to say is that being sick has given me one more resolution to add to the list:

Be well not just physically. Be well mentally, spiritually. Don't be the girl looking out the window, waiting for life to happen to her, waiting to be strong enough to go outside and brave the world. Don't miss out on the important things in life.

That said, the view out my window isn't terrible, considering it's the dead of winter.
Resolution: take picture again in spring, with me sitting outside.