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Posts from the ‘Bethany’ Category

Bethany: Bad Habits Are Hard to Break

I’d always wanted to be a writer. In my youth it was songs and poetry. Mostly because they were short, sweet, and easy to produce in the short allotment of time that my brain could focus. Being a nervous child, I was always full of anxiety, never sat still, and always had plans. Mornings would be planning time. I’d set small goals like: write three songs today, make a mix tape from the radio, worry about the boy in class that passed a note about me in biology, write a poem, watch television, avoid and then call my girlfriends, twice, to talk about all of this and more. Only, I didn’t talk about my writing much. For some reason I kept that secret, as if it might hide the “real” me from the rest of the world. Because then, and even now, I can’t write much without the truth seeping in. And God knows, when you are 13 and you are worried about joining chorus, or the hair growing under your arms, you don’t want the entire school making a judgement about you based on that. So notebooks were written in, hidden under the bed, in the drawer and tossed aside in backpacks throughout my childhood. Some were neatly kept hidden in the most safest of spots as it had the best handwritten pieces I could muster. Others were thrown aside in a massive upheaval (or cleaning) attempt made in my room. But the love of writing and being inside myself for extended periods of time was never lost. Even, when I hit college and “real life” when writing wasn’t a priority, I’d find myself jotting down phrases, paragraphs, a few pages of a story in the back of a notebook, only to be tucked (or thrown) away at the end of the semester.

Today, I wish I could say I finally found a way to pull all those stories together and collect myself enough to write endlessly without interruption. But the truth is, my life demands that I am scattered. I have a day job that demands constant attention, children who do the same, and a husband — that although he tries — loves a bit of my attention as well. And when you throw all of that together in 24 hour chunks, there still isn’t a lot of time for writing. Not like there was when I was a teen and my only responsibilities were eating, sleeping, dressing, behaving, and school (that I might add was somewhat easy for me). Though, thinking back, I felt just as scattered then as I do now. Just differently.

I’ve spent the better part of this month trying to regain the diligence I had only three months ago for writing. I’d write if I have 5 minutes or an hour — and time didn’t really matter. I’d take every word and add it to the count. I’d blog, write an essay, outline my next novel idea, and even hammer out a few marketing plans. All while juggling the rest of my life. But then suddenly I let one 15 minute chunk of time pass me by. And then another. Pretty soon I was just letting days and weeks slide where I writing dropped to the lowest priority. Thus, so did my stories/essays/blog posts and my general happiness about working toward my small goal of making my writing into a business after so many years.

One might think it easy to get back on the bandwagon of writing. I mean, I did it once right? How hard can it be to just keep the notebooks lying around, computers open and let the words flow… every 5, 15, or 30 minutes at a time? But have you ever gone on and then OFF a diet? How hard is it to get back on THAT bandwagon? Because really, when you take time that you once used to do one thing (in my case writing) and suddenly have it returned to you to do something else (laundry, diapers, nap, read, television, rest, thinking) giving that time up again to do something else… well isn’t as easy as it sounds. Just like the soda you’ve gotten SO used to having in the afternoon as a pick-me-up suddenly being banned on the new diet. So, alas I’m struggling. With writing. With eating. Thinking outside my normal routine. Becoming creative again. And becoming active again. All at once.

And I’m admitting (again) to being a sporadic type writer. Still writing phrases in notebooks, napkins, and in fragmented computer files on almost every computer I use regularly. Catching moments of brilliance into text messages on my cell phone. Waking before sunrise to sneak a few 100 words into the laptop. And stealing what I can from my creative side of the brain to weave a story, a message, a project together into “something.” I can’t and don’t write for hours at a time. Even when I crave that amount of time for long writing stretches, my mind might implode after 30 minutes or so. Who gets that kind of uninterrupted time? Unless of course you’re writing full time. Or maybe don’t have children or the Internet. But then again, I don’t get caught up in routines. And if writing in 15 minute chunks works for me, I’ll take it. As long as I can start writing again. Each and every 15 minutes I get.

[Cross-posted from Mommy Writer Blog]

Bethany: Ideas, they always seem better in my head*

As I lie in bed last night waiting for my daughter to fall into blissful sleep, I came upon a new book idea. I love those. In fact, I might go out on a limb and say I LIVE for those moments. The story idea, the characters, the plot lines all seem so clear. So exciting. Something akin to magical. The entire story makes sense in all the right places and so easy to just sit down and write. Well, when I get up and write them.

That is, until when I actually do sit down to type/write/stutter out the fragments of the idea into something more official. Whether that be in an electronic document, piece of paper or just verbalizing it to my husband. Then… it all gets ruined. The idea suddenly becomes real and I find holes in the plot that seemed so flawless only moments before. The characters, superficial. And well the idea, just not quite where it needs to be. And, yet, I still take the time to continue writing it all down. Every piece of inspiration. Just in case I need an idea to grow into something more.

Though the doubts that start when I start writing? Never go away. In fact, I think more and more of them creep up the more I write the story. I’m convinced it has to do with the fact that I am *actually* writing and progressing and doing what I want to do. The little old thing called FEAR has weird ways of trying to ruin your plans. And right now, I’m just going to blame him for how I feel about that idea. Because the other part of my brain–the better half–still likes it. And thinks with a bit more tweaking (and letting go), the great parts of it just might come out and play. If I let it. And right now, I have nothing else to lose. Except, the excitement that is all in my head.

* So I’ve been absent forever. And so has my writing and creativity. And really, my life (thanks to an over-bearing day job). This was one of my weak attempts at more committed blogging again. And Cathy asked me me to cross post from my blog. So, I am. Thanks for the reminder Cathy. And for always reading even when I barely post.

Bethany: Do What You Love Today

Today was one of those days.

Well, honestly, there have been weeks of “those days.” Where work takes over my life. I’m cranky. Or my kids or grumpy (or sickly). I have too many plates in the air and they all come crashing down at once. And then I wonder why parenting is so hard… and my writing even harder. And today didn’t make any of that go away, or better than it started. But, I did get an email that made me remember why I write. Or at least a reminder TO WRITE that hit home.

If you follow fellow author Holly Lisle you’ll know she’s been writing for a while. She’s got more books published than I can count and she publishes a slew of e-books for writers. Not to mention an awesome email list/newsletter thing… that literally saved my weary soul today. Here’s an excerpt:

Just because this is the thing I love even more than I love writing about writing, and I have been missing it, and not even realizing how much I’ve missed it. Fiction is the art I labored at for seven years, unpaid, in between bloody hours in the ER and heartbreaking hours in the ICU, while my kids took naps, while my life fell apart and then came back together. Even if I’d never gotten paid for it, I’d still be writing.

Never do for money what you would not do for love.

Because I finally remembered that no matter how busy you are, and no matter how much fun you might be having with what you’re doing, you have to make time for what you love most.

Write something you love today, just because you can.

So, in a moment of motivation and dreaming, in between my next batch of work meetings, I decided to have my lunch away from my desk. And not only was that an achievement (I haven’t done it in over a month), I would be damned if I didn’t write for at least 15 minutes. Minutes, I’d waste staring into space while waiting for food to digest or my mind to fade from my to do list… This time, I’d write.

And that I did. It wasn’t my finest work. Or my most creative. But it was writing. A new idea. A spark. Thoughts on paper. Written in longhand that somehow meant something. Even if it was just that I embarked on a new book idea and finally committed to it. Over my lunch hour.

My challenge to you: do what you LOVE to do today.

Bethany: I’ve been around

Really. I’m not dead. I’ve spent a night out drinking more glasses of wine than I have consumed in one year and I’m still paying for it. I’ve spent more hours in a car than one should in a given week. I’ve gained more responsibility at work that I care to even think about. And I’m considering weaning the Peanut sooner rather than later. I haven’t lost a single pound (maybe gained a few). And I bought a new shirt at Old Navy because I just wanted a new one.

Now that I got all that out of the way, I can give you the real scoop. The crap that I’ve been avoiding. I’m tired and still overwhelmed. That revelation no surprise to you? Me either. But I do know that the fact that I am not writing (and apparently drinking) is in direct correlation to the amount of tired and overwhelmed I am feeling. And it is a vicious cycle. For anyone that has tried to do something outside your comfort zone and takes a TON OF TIME… well you know you have to be dedicated. You have to love it. And, by God, you have to make room for it in your life. And as of tonight, I haven’t written a word in my novel in over 2 months. Maybe 3 if I am truthful about it. And it is killing me. Slowly. Softly. And hell, I cried a few tears over it last night at the bar (damn it! A crying drunk!).

But that embarrassment proves one thing. It really is bothering me that I am not writing. And I need to do something about it. Anything. So that I am not a blubbering idiot next time the Hubby and I decide to pay a sitter and go out (and have the Wine Flights at the local pub). Seriously people. By how much more did my geek factor climb because I was weeping over not writing at a bar? A BAR! [shaking my head] No need to tell me, I know how it sounds. And, regretfully, I know how it looks. Thank God my husband is also one who believes in dreams. And gets me. So, he just bought me a shot, gave me a hug, and told me he loved me. Then, as quick as I took that shot, I told him we needed to go home before I got sick.

So, today, after a bottle of ibuprofen and a long afternoon nap with the baby to rid myself of a hangover, I’m writing. Not the book (hell, that’s too much effort. I’m still recovering!). But at least a blog post. And a book review. I’m dusting off the virtual files for the book. So tomorrow, I can make grand plans. And write. I hope. But, let’s not let the doubt creep in. That just makes for more pressure. And right now, my head has all the pressure it can take (hangovers are a bitch).

[Cross-posted from Mommy Writer Blog. Thanks, Bethany!]

Bethany: The Fun of Letting Go

Life has been hellish lately.  And I don’t mean that in the Gosh-I-Just-Don’t-Feel-Right Sorta Way. No. It’s been hellish.  16+ hour work days, endless phone calls.  Teething baby.  Six Year Old Kid that feels neglected. And a husband who is still dealing with the unexpected death of his mother less than 4 months ago.  Not to mention a needless fight I had with my own mother… mostly due to my frustration with my current work situation. Does this have a thing to do with creativity?

You bet your ass it does!  When life is chaotic, my creativity goes down the toilet. In fact, one could say creativity just gets lost like everything else (routines, laundry, dishes).  And this spell with chaos is no exception.  So much so, I’ve decided to take drastic measures–I’m “quitting” all my works in progress.

Before you get all nutso on me, let me explain. I’ve been pushing myself to produce something (anything really) for a while now. Making myself sit at they keyboard and write until I felt I had written something decent, entertaining, and publishable.  And I think for the most part, I accomplished all three.  Though, from the rejections that I have received lately, apprarantly people in the industry don’t agree with me.  But that’s fine.  I’m all about going with the flow.   That is, until it’s no longer fun.

I started this book writing thing because it was fun.  I wrote fun stories, about quirky women, with lives as zany as my own and I hoped others like them.  Some did.  Other didn’t.  And still, more did. And didn’t.  In the end, I am right were I started.  Writing my fingers to a bone while my family sleeps and reaching for a dream.  Only in the last few months, I lost the fun part. I was so caught up in producing, I forgot fun.

Writing is fun. Most of the time.  And hell, if it is a really good story, it can be fun all the time.  At least until the 50th revision… but I am ahead of myself.  The point is, I’ve lost the fun.  And, man, if I am going to give up my blessed sleep for writing–I sure as hell better be having fun. So, all my current book ideas are headed for the file cabinet.  Virtual one that is and I’m gonna sit back and relax.  Let ideas come to me and see what will be next.

Hopefully a work schedule that finds itself a bit more sane, and a baby that will finally have teeth (and sleep!), and a son that enjoys being around his mom (instead of telling me, “Mom, you have your mean voice on.”).  Pray for me.  Because my muse doesn’t know a timetable. Nor does my work. And for this little “break” to work, they have to find a way to synch up somehow.  Or it won’t be any fun at all.

Bethany: Hi. I’m Bethany. I’m lowering the bar.

It’s my new mantra. Let’s hold hands, take deep breaths, and recite after me:

“I, [insert name here], am going to not push myself to the point of exhaustion.  I, [insert name here], am going to let others help me. I, [insert name here], am going to let the chips fall where they may AND stay focused on the long term goals.”

Really, it’s been a rough few weeks here.  If it wasn’t a sickness thing, it was work.  And if wasn’t work it was a family thing. Or an errand to run.  Or a work call to take. Seriously–does it ever end?

The short answer is no.   Life will keep throwing stuff over the fence at you all the time. It’s up to you whether to take it as it comes and go with the flow.  Or the alternative.  Which is stressing out and causing everyone around you to feel the pressure.

Naturally, I’m a perfectionist. I’m a Type-A (just like Miranda).  I want to do it all. Hell, I try to do it all. But these past few weeks, the plain truth is in front of me.  It. Is. Impossible.  Honestly. Take a look at yourself.  All that you want to do.  And that all that you can really get done?  Does it match? If you’re like me, you ask too much of yourself.

So this week–and hopefully more long term–I’m trying to be more honest with myself.  Take inventory. Look around. And see what is realistic.  And more HEALTHY in expectations. Can I not write this week?  Bummer.  But guess what?  I got to spend quality time with my family and friends without the guilt.

And I’d like to think a little less that the bar is lowering. It’s more about putting the bar at the level where it should be, and balancing on it the “right” way.  Anyone else care to join me?

Bethany: Plowing Ahead

Look at that! I just came in here, commented up a storm and am now writing a post. Hmm.  It’s very reminiscent of how my writing has been going lately.

Seriously, looking back at my other post, I was caught between story ideas.  Deliberating between the two, taking a mental scorecard and choosing the “best path” for success.  And somewhere between that post (on a Wednesday) and that following Sunday, I hauled ass.  Big time.  Wrote three chapters in one book and a synopsis of the other (yeah, I write from the 5000 foot view and then into the details).  By some holy miracle, it worked!  A whole 4 days later I had reached my goal.

I’m not going to expect the same output this week.  I’ve learned that I write in fits and spurts.  And when I’m in a writing flurry, if I make those same expectations week after week, I’ll only disappoint myself.  I’m completely inconsistent.  Which… well, isn’t so good.  At least if I am not honest with myself.

Which brings me to my point–this writing fit.  Well, it ROCKS.  And I can’t waste another second on this blog post (sorry!).  I’ve got to ride the wave and write as long as it lasts.  Right now, it’s through another chapter.  Maybe by Sunday (2 days away), I’ll have the goal (through the next 3 chapters).  Maybe not. Either way, writing… any writing is a good thing.  Happy Creativity All and keep plowing ahead!

Bethany: A Choice of Two

I’m constantly coming up with new book ideas.  Not that I am complaining, because one can never have too many ideas.  No. This is more of a preference.  Which book to I work on now?  See, I’ve been working on one book idea for a while now.  In fact wrote 100 pages, then scrapped them all and began another more detailed outline of the same book–but tighter, more suspense, and definitely more world building that makes the story have that much higher stakes.  This story’s been with me for a while.

Now the other book–let’s call it book 2–it is a newer idea.  One that I came up with during a chat with a friend not too long ago.  All that came to me was a title and an image.  But it was enough to fuel my imagination at 3am that night and get me out of bed.  Again, I have a page of notes to start.  Granted, it is nowhere near the outline the other has–but definitely enough of a plot line to get me started and get the book past the 100 page mark.

So the choice is this– book 1 or book 2?

Whenever I am starting a new book it seems that I am in this predicament.  I have idea folders (yes FOLDERS) on my laptop that I go to for inspiration.  Though I rarely need them.  The ideas, when they’re good, don’t go away.  They stick in your brain and and pick away until you write them down.  Completely.  Or to the point where I am with these two.  Now, it is just a matter of choosing one and getting it done.

But that also means I have to give up reading for at least 6 weeks.  Yep. I’m one of those, I give up one pleasure for the other.  So I can focus.  And I think it comes with the I’m A Mom With Little Time Role. If I am going to have free 15 minutes, I have to choose. And right now, my brain won’t let me read.  I. Must. Write.  But–which one?

Bethany: Shhhh… I’ve got an idea!

I get ideas anytime and anywhere. This latest idea, just as I was ready to fall asleep while nursing my daughter last night.  Only problem with that–is that new ideas energize me.  So much so, they consume my brain and sleeping in NOT an option.

Much to my dismay, last night at midnight, I spend over an hour jotting down ideas, character sketches, plot lines I knew about, possible titles, and even a few e-mails to critique partners soliciting a few initial thoughts, etc.  Well, I have 5 pages of hand written notes for a new project.  One I likely will have to back burner for a while–but one I have documented enough, I can jump back in at any time.  Which I love.

I can’t wait to get started!

Bethany: Dilemma, Dilemma

Remember that small little non-fiction project I’ve had in my closet for about 3 years?  I dug it out from under the virtual bed and have revamped it.  Proposal… done.  Sample chapters (this is the exciting part)… done.  And now I am knee deep into writing my query for agents.


Why am I nervous?  Well, see, I always wanted to go out with my fiction first. And I did.  But my book didn’t sell.  And I lost an agent in the process.  So now I am back at square one.  With a non-fiction book… essays.  Personal memoir-ish essays. And I can go out to query tomorrow.

So tell me, virtual friends, do I go with a new plan?

Bethany: Ah-Ha Moments

I’ve been sitting on this novel outline for months. Picking away at the plot when I had nothing better to do–and blathering on about how I should be writing it.  And then that’s when it hit me.  I was That Writer.  The one blathering and not putting in the time to write it.

Once I came to that realization, I figured I might as well hunker down and figure out the bigger deal–why wasn’t I writing that novel?  Pounding out blog posts, book reviews, and my day job writing projects weren’t causing me issues… why this?  Aside from the trama in my life, I had been waiting to write this novel for the past year and now that the time was right, why wasn’t my brain letting me get to it?

The answer was amazingly simple. I was afraid.  See, I lost an agent this year.  Not under bad circumstances mind you, but I lost one nonetheless.  And if you know anything about publishing, this crushes any writer.  Especially a new one like me. One who’s first novel didn’t sell. One who needs this novel to get back on the market–now for an agent AND a publisher.

At first it seems easy–all that pressure was causing me to lock up.  Or the new baby. The holidays?  How about the recent deaths in the family?


It was the fact that way back when my agent did mention leaving, she sent the first 100 pages of this one (rough, rough draft mind you) to a friend… hoping she would help me out.  She prompty said no.  And, honestly, that hurt more than my agent leaving.

But that seemingly bad circumstance made me rethink the concept and start anew.  Totally new.  And even revamp my process.  I started outlining.  Writing bits of dialogue.  Rethinking plot points.  Thirty-five plus pages later into this “outline” I stalled out.  Afraid that I couldn’t do the plot justice. I couldn’t pull off this new, better book.  Fearful that when I re-approached that new agent (again) she’d shoot me down AGAIN. And then where would that lead me?

I suppose right where I am now–not writing. And that really isn’t a way to keep working toward a dream is it?  And that in and of itself is the Ah-Ha moment of the day.  I’m proud to say, scene 1 of the book… now written.  Scene 2?  Waiting for the next 10 minutes of free time I have between dinner, children, diapers, and nursing.  It’s ready to be written now.

Bethany: Oh wait! I have a baby in the house

I had great plans for this weekend. Much like Miranda, I had plans–ambitious plans–to write.  Resurrecting an old plan for a nonfiction book I’ve had for years (as in 5 years of a proposal sitting in waiting).  It seemed pretty simple.  Open the proposal, refine, adjust, write chapter descriptions, re-read, tweak, save, and then move to the 2 sample chapters.  The chapters I had yet to write beyond the 3 sentence description.  My end goal:  proposal ready for the final edit. Draft of Introduction done (and by draft, I mean brain dump, rough form of chapter).

What really happened was–one run-through of the proposal with chapter descriptions.  Drafts of chapter descriptions.

Ready to let the tears gush, I sat on my bed last night sighing.  My long weekend was lost. Great plans waisted.  Just as I was ready to let the pity take over, the baby cried.  The 5-month-old baby.

That was when it dawned on me.  I’m a mom.  Of two actually.  And with all the mess that is our current life (we’ve just survived two deaths in the family which meant 2 trips out of town at the last minute)– I was taking care of what was really important, my family.  Sure, writing is my dream.  And I need to take steps to make that dream a reality. But, it’s okay to take a step back and take care of the other important stuff first.  Right now, it seems it’s my family.

So watch out next weekend, I’m coming at you strong!  Oh and for that little bit of writing I did do?  Well, I’m thrilled.  Really.  It is better than not getting any writing done.  So, it’s a step in the right directly.  Let’s getting ready for the next step.

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