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Posts tagged ‘obstacles’

Kelly: Disappointments and Moving Forward


Those Brave Girls…I tell ya, sometimes they really hit the nail on the head. Remember my Surrendering My Superpowers post? Where I told you I was applying for a full-time faculty position? I was a finalist for that faculty position, and I was really hopeful; I felt really good about my chances. Well, I had my final interview with our campus president on Tuesday. This morning, I learned that I was not her choice. Disappointed? Most certainly. Grateful that I still have a job I enjoy anyway? Definitely. When I got back to my office after meeting with the dean this morning, just trying to wrap my head around the fact that I would still be sitting at the same desk when Fall term starts, I tried to come out of the fog by absentmindedly checking my email. And here was my Daily Truth from the Brave Girls Club:

Dear Fantastic Girl,

Just when you think you have things figured out, even in ONE part of your life….life throws you a curveball.

This is a place where you have a wonderful opportunity…many wonderful opportunities, actually. You get to decide right here, right now…what you will do next. You get to test those amazing skills you’ve been learning about concerning the power of your choice.

You have several choices ahead of you when unexpected things happen. Read more

Cathy: New favorite thing

Please forgive me if my sentences make no sense today. I had a cahrazy weekend, which included Honey’s birthday, on which I barely saw him. It was a good weekend, a celebratory weekend, but I have been having a cold coming on for a few days, and I think it hit me full force today, when I can finally rest, while catching up and critiquing two manuscripts for tomorrow’s writing group, that is. How’s that for a run-on?

Oh, and for some unknown reason, Captain Comic has decided that somewhere between 3 am and 4:30 am is primo wakeup and run back and forth with lights on and doors slamming time.

Anyway, in time for the December challenge, one of my old writing friends from my Boston days turned me on to a new writing tool. It works like Julie Cameron’s Morning Pages from The Artist’s Way, but it’s online. It’s typed. It’s private, and you can let your mind wander for 750 words, the equivalent of three pages. And you don’t have to find that notebook or pen. I think most of us are sitting in front of a screen these days anyway, right? And it gives me a community of people who are also writing, whether or not I make any more of a connection beyond just knowing they are out there somewhere doing the same thing: http://750words.com.

I am a horrible typist. It takes me about 20 minutes per day to meet the 750, averaging about 35-40 words a minute. all typos are left in place. I try not to go back and correct. I don’t think about what I’m writing, I just let the garbage fall out of my brain through my fingers tips and up onto the screen.

Usually about three quarters of the way in, I hit my stride and there’s at least a phrase if not an idea that I like or that I can work with in something else, later.

Here’s the thing:

When the boys were younger, and I was single and working three part-time jobs to support them, when I woke up in the morning, I put the baby gate across the kitchen doorway of our little condo, got the coffee started, and while it brewed, I started my morning pages with pen and notebook amidst the dulcet tones of Captain Comic hanging on the opposite side of the gate, rattling it and screaming for my attention, Mr. Cynic momming me, and the themes of Blues Clues or Bob the Builder running from the tv in the background. After a few months, they got that I was not going to give them the time of day during “Mommy’s morning pages.”

And that’s when I started writing my almost finished editing this draft manuscript — later in the day, somewhere between job number one and the first school bus arrival, I had 30 minutes in which I wrote the first thirty or so pages of this book. But I was only productive on that if I had been productive earlier by getting through the mess of my daily concerns to hit the subconscious, where the better writing sprung from, like an underground spring of fresh water. First I had to clear away the mud.

So why have I not been writing or editing what I really want to be working on lately?

I think the key is in these morning pages. I think it’s in getting the garbage out of my head. It only takes me 20 minutes, so why not? Here I am, doing it online. And this site has some interesting tools to help you see what mood you’re writing in, for instance. Or what words you repeat, or what senses you are using, and how dominantly you write in one over another. It also has a healthy dose of competition that fuels some of us to write. For me it’s much needed accountability. I highly recommend it: http://750words.com.

C’mon….you know you want to.

 

Kelly: What Shall You Do?

This little scrap of spelling list has been floating around the house for months. I find it here and there, and for some reason, I’ve just never thrown it away. Today I was thinking about everything that I have on my plate on right now, and when I came home, I saw this on the floor in the bedroom. Shall.

Sometimes things get so crazy that we lose track of all the things we said we shall do. The kids get sick (Olivia). You get sick (me). The cat goes on the lam again (Tink). You become over-committed, oftentimes because of things you cannot control (me, work). You stay sick because you’re over-committed (me, still). You follow through on obligations you make because you committed that you shall do them (me, participating in the Halifax Arts Festival even though I was still sick). You work one very demanding full-time job, one part-time job and try to manage a creative business, for a reason (you, um, I, want the part-time job to become the full-time job so you can have more time with your family and more time for creativity). So you keep going.  What shall you do to pull all this together?

Today, I shall try to remember that all things will fall into place where they shall, in their due time, as the Man above plans. And I shall be thankful that I got to get away for a brief 24 hours to reunite with my sorority sisters Saturday (45 of us), antibiotics and cough drops in hand (and a few beers to help battle the germs). And I shall decide that those custom orders can wait just a little while longer, and that will be okay. And I shall decide that I’ll get to my blog when I get to my blog, which obviously hasn’t been very often lately. And I shall sit on the couch and cuddle with my girls while watching Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy and then lie in the bed and snuggle with DH while watching Antiques Roadshow. And I shall try not to worry about all those things I’ve been losing track of. And I shall decide that everything will be just fine. What shall you do today?

[cross-posted from Artful Happiness…pictures from the reunion there :-)]

Cathy: oh writing, let me count the ways…

…you can frustrate me:

1. my new printer won’t communicate with my computer, so I can’t print out the edits I did at writing group to read and redline a bit more by pages in hand.

2. you come to me in fits and starts while occupying half my concentration all the time.

…you make me do cartwheels, figuratively speaking, of course:

1. I love a new idea, it makes my heart race and my arms want to write or type in that very moment to the exclusion of all else. I get that tingly feeling like a teen falling in love.

2. I love rewriting, reworking, getting it right.

3. (Please let there be a 3 so the positive side can win today.) That netherworld feeling of one foot here, in the house with the kids and the laundry, and one foot there, in my imagination with my character and his family and friends and dog. This week has been hovering around 100 degrees outside and in my manuscript, it’s Thanksgiving in New England — bare trees, the beginnings of snow, nose reddening winds.

Ah, thank you writing, for the cool, cool breeze!

[Crossposted from musings in mayhem]

Cathy: Results!

Remember this list?

I spent the previous two days at writing camp with my writing group. Two whole days dedicated to writing. Yesterday I had a different meeting in the morning, but then I headed straight to  my writing camp’s day two, and thought I was going to have trouble, but amazingly got right to it! I seriously surprised myself by what I accomplished in the last 48 hours!

The List now looks like this:

DONE~continue to edit Joe out/Mike into Thanksgiving and Observatory scenes

DONE~write observatory scene using A. H.’s notes

Fixed~pay attention to name changes for T. B. and T. N.

working on~characterize supporting characters more through action and physical description

working on~make ‘thought bubbles’ action scenes or move them to more fitting scene

working on~edit down cooking relevance

mostly finished, maybe a bit more at the end~more on comets

I also edited it a bit more in making sentences and paragraphs more succinct in the first 50 or so pages.

I need to edit the observatory scene now, but at least it’s on paper – er, computer screen. I think my next stage is to print and edit again by hand. I read very differently on paper than on screen, and can see needed changes so much better.

I obviously need to be in a different environment than my office with my home distractions to be able to concentrate on my manuscript edits.

The other five women I sat in quiet with for the past two days expressed the same thing. Here’s the funny part: I thought it was because of my kids, etc, but only half of us have children at home, and of varying ages. I am the only one with a toddler or a special-needs child, of course, I have one of each. Two are grandmothers who live with their retired spouses, who are both very good at busying themselves. And one is home while her husband still goes to the office.

We’re all at a stage of editing a large work we’re committed to. All of our projects are middle reader or young adult novels. Yesterday we planned that the rest of our usual twice a month meetings for the summer will be devoted to writing, no critique.

This way, when autumn comes around, we will all have work to critique. How’s that for commitment? I couldn’t do this without them. I am so grateful to my writing group and to the time we commit to working together.

[crossposted from musings in mayhem]

Cathy: Road Blocks

I went to bed last night and woke up this morning with every intention to write today.

I feel groggy and have a huge headache because we had big thunderstorm in the wee hours.

Toots is running around per usual.

The kitchen is a mess and I skipped laundry yesterday, so there’s more to do today.

Grandma, who is usually out of the house by 9am, is playing Farmville next to me, so I hear whinnies and moos and clucks along with Toots’s Sesame Street theme from the other side of the wall.

I opened both the new piece and the manuscript to work on, unsure which direction I felt gung-ho about earlier.

Then the highway that runs behind my house that has been torn up and repaved four times in the past six months is illogically being torn up again on this thunderstorm threatening Friday before Memorial Day weekend, when we all know, they won’t be back until at least Tuesday to begin to deal with the mess, and the trucks’ constant motors and grinding are hell on my headache.

Calgon, take me away!!!!

[Crossposted from musings in mayhem.]

Cathy: Breakthrough, lists

Some people are born list makers and some definitively are not. I fall somewhere in between.

I like to make a list then buck it; or avoid making a list, thinking I can keep this, that and everything else in my head.

The truth of the matter is there are some instances in which making a bonafide list is truly necessary.

Otherwise I go into the grocery store for lemons, milk, asparagus, dill, and artichokes, and I come out with ice cream, cookies, potato chips, and baking soda. Then we have no vegetable side dish for dinner.

In the case of working on my manuscript, I found, I had a good editing list “in my head,” but I wasn’t doing the editing. It became daunting knowing I had to look for, and keep in mind this variety of “to dos” as I read through the manuscript. So what I actually ended up doing was nitpick editing the first 20-30 pages over and over again, getting hung up on a comma or a sentence, or a preposition. Then let two weeks go by, until I hit my writing group again and could sit there for three hours and look at the same 20-30 pages over again.

So, when I was at writing group yesterday, this suddenly dawned on me. I mean, it wasn’t really a new concept. I had been vaguely aware that I was preventing myself from doing the real work that needed doing for a while, but I saw an honest to goodness bluebird out the window, which set me dreaming about the edges of things, because they live in edge forests by open fields. The next thing I knew, I realized, I had been on the edge of my manuscript for months now.

So, yes, I KNEW what I needed to do, and it was plenty the more I mulled it, so I decided to write it down.

First I wrote down the chapter headings, made a list of all the chapters, like a table of contents without the page numbers. While I was doing that, it occurred to me that I could combine a couple of these short chapters into one in a few places, which would simplify a lot, really.

Then I made a list at the bottom of that which looks like this:

Working on:

~continue to edit Joe out/Mike into Thanksgiving and Observatory scenes

~write observatory scene using A.H.’s notes

~pay attention to name changes for T.B. and T.N.

~characterize supporting characters more through action and physical description

~make ‘thought bubbles’ action scenes or move them to more fitting scene

~edit down cooking relevance

~more on comets

While it still covers a lot of tasks, some quite involved, to see them written down is so much less confungulating (hybrid of confusing and confounding and frustrating my non-writer Honey came up with, which I love!) than when I was trying to keep them in my mind.

This way I can separate out the tasks and work on them, one at a time, and maybe fix a few of those name changes along the way.

What a concept! And to think I used to counsel my tutorial students to do exactly the same thing in organizing their much shorter papers.

Crossposted from musings in mayhem

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