Update on Life-April Edition

I have so much to tell you since the last time I’ve written. I think I’ll put it in sections, so I don’t forget anything.

A. The Poetry

With the poetry book done, I got a notice my alma mater was having a poetry reading that weekend. Standing in front of people I may or may not know and reading something that comes from such a private, personal place sounded terrifying. So I did it. And it was terrying.  I choked the last line because I was trying not to cry.

But something good did come from it. A past professor, one I really looked up to, was there and after the event, she sat with me and went through every word of the chapbook and made sound suggestions that really made the quality of the whole project leaps and bounds better.

Though I’d settled on the title, it bugged me a bit. She helped me change it. I’ve already reworked the suggestions, and even submitted it to the first competition. There are two more that I’ll send to soon.

I’m going to write more on this, but I see merit now in choosing a smaller project to see through, beginning to end, before launching into a novel. I have tangible evidence on what “done” is like, and it is addictive. I believe the memory of it will carry me to completion on the next novel project.

B. Camp Nanowrimo

I have a goal of 25,000 words to get me to the end of a first draft of SongNovel. There is a new layout method that I’m in love with and am itching to put to action. (Dan Harmon’s story circle. Check it out!) I was doing really well, even exceeding word counts during the weekdays, so my weekends would be more family focused. Approximately 7,500 words in, my husband found a house that he loved. I love it, too, and through a series of emotional events, we’re…

C. Buying and Selling a House

After Hurricane Katrina (2005), the apartment the newly wedded Smiths (that’s us) lived in became too expensive. Not only my apartment complex, but also a host of others who sustained damage from the hurricane raised monthly cost $100 or more. We also had a pet, which meant most affordable complexes would not rent to us, even before Katrina. So we bought a little baby house, in hopes that we would be able to move to a toddler house about two years or so after.

For the past, 11 years, we have shared 1 bathroom about the size of an office desk. And we have grown from a 2 person family to a 4 person family as well. There are no secrets where there should be secrets. My friends, it’s time for a second bathroom. Please, Lord Jesus, let it be time for a second bathroom.

So we put a contract on the house that we love, contingent upon the selling of our current home.

Relatedly, on January 21, 2017, a tornado hit our small town, and I am still in conversations with contractors to complete/start work on our house. AND NOW WE HAVE TO SELL IT.  Per our contract, we had to list the house asap.

I cleaned the house to take pictures of the inside of it before the sheetrock gentleman came to fix spots in two ceilings and a section of carport. Then I cleaned more when people wanted to see the house before the work was done. I will also have to deep clean the house again when the workers finish. (I don’t know when that will be because they are on contractor time, which I found out recently is different than Mea time.) There is a daily tidying situation that has to happen before work everyday because you never know when you will have to tell your realtor, “Sure, these potential buyers can see the house without the 24 hours of notice we asked for.” (Daily tidying wouldn’t be difficult if my two toddlers weren’t sleeping on a pallet in the living room because their ceiling is getting worked on, and–I have two toddlers.)

And then there are…

D. Kittens Residing on my Front Porch

My sweet kitty is the best mom and wants her babies to see the world, but not from the cozy confines of our outside laundry room, as I had hoped. Instead she’s set up shop on our front porch, so anyone who would like to look at the house must first pass five tiny, blue-eyed, toe-biting guards and their mother. (They are adorable and we’re keeping two of the five because we love them so.) (I just wish I could love them so from the house we want to buy instead of the house we want to sell.)

E. Conclusion

I know this is just a season of life that will be fine in some months. It’s just messing with my creative life so I’m a little resentful. I can adjust with this unexpected change because at the end of the day, it will benefit my family. The house is a fixer upper, too, so I hope to be posting some before-and-afters of rooms and projects. I’ll tag them something clever in case you don’t care to see.

So…this is my life currently. Anyone else going through a big change?

Sig

March ’15 Update

I have Critique Partners!!! There are two lovely people who have consented to work with me on getting this novel to the query stage, in spite of all my Me. (Just kidding. I’m awesome.) Already I’ve seen such a huge difference as I critique their writing and get a new perspective on mine. (And, dang, they’ve got some good stories!) I am overwhelmingly thankful to have met such lovely writers. Because of their thoughts and experiences, I have grown soooo much this month! Ah, I just….can’t….even…. YAY!

Here are the stats:

Total hours: 23 hours 20 minutes (20 hours was the goal)

Total days: 8 days (20 days was the goal)

I have Big Decisions to make on this book, and I wish I had more consecutive time to make these decisions, but we deal with what we have. I just feel like, when I have to break it up like this, I’m taking 2 steps forward and 1 step back. On the bright side, I’m still one step closer to done.

I wanted to clean out the office area of my kitchen this month. I got all but the overhead shelf done. I consider that a success. I am also ready to start putting together my bedroom table that I’ve been working on with MY OWN HANDS, slowly but surely, for the past three months.

Oh! AND Husband moved ugly furniture out of my bedroom to its new and desired location, and I moved the pretty furniture out of the dining room (where it did not belong) to the bedroom and it looks sooo much better. I got paint samples this month, too, and I decided what colors I did NOT want my bedroom walls but had much success with the kitchen color. These were things I didn’t have on my To-Do list, but I’m impromptu like that.

One day I will have time to write a thoughtful, endearing blog about life metaphors and licorice. Today is not that day. Hope y’all’s month was stinkin’ amazing!

Laters!

-Mea

February ’15 Update

The four weeks of February threatened to kick my butt. I seriously felt rubber to ass, but somehow, I managed to be productive. For the entire month, someone in my household was ill. Mostly, more than one of us at the same time. AND just when I thought we were so very close to well, my parents visit and my step-mother has the flu. She didn’t know until we took her to the ER at 3am, and it’s not her fault, but dammit, she has the flu. Which means that there MIGHT the flu in the Smiths future. I’m praying March will be the Month o’ Health and we will all be at full strength as we choke on Lysol and chaff from using all the soap in Mississippi.

I had a monthly goal to revise at least one hour a day, Monday through Friday. I laughingly thought that this would be enough time to revise the entire book. It was not. I am 4 chapters shy of finishing Part I. But also…….I’m 4 chapters shy of finishing Part I!

Here are the numbers:

16 work days (I wanted 20)

21 hours and 15 minutes of work time (I set my goal for 20) (Yay!)

Revised 19 chapters (out of 23 for Part I) (I already told you about my unrealistic thought process above)

I also cleaned out my closet, a bigger task than one might expect. I’m pleased but really want to finish revisions in March. I’m keeping my goal grand, just in case…

Good luck to you in your life endeavors, writing or decluttering or whatever!

<3,

Mea

The New Year is Upon Us Continued

Okay, here is the promised Goal Post (haha) that I promised in January. I have, in fact, been late on this post because I have been über focused on completing said goals and have forgotten to share with y’all where my efforts have been.

I hope I’m forgiven.

I really hope to have my book to my beta readers by the end of February. I’m getting nervous about this deadline because even though I’ve been working diligently, I’m not near through and I’m 10 days into the month. I’m on chapter 3. Please get faster as I get more practiced, Revision. There are big Things to be done.

Something that I’m pretty excited about (yet feel super vulnerable about) is my goal to write a short story once a week, starting last week. I’m sharing them with you guys even if they are horrible. I posted the first one on Friday. (It’s pretty horrible.) Here’s the reason for Short Stories: I want to practice getting ideas to paper faster and smarter, so I’m trying short stories with a limit on the time I spend on them. I spent two hours on the one from Friday from the time I found a prompt I liked until I finally MADE myself stop writing/editing. Maybe at the end of the year I’ll pick a few to edit and submit to things, but that’s not the initial goal.

I have my Writing goals planned out, an idea for Things To-Do with the Family, and a super skinny skeleton for things I want to do personally. This month, I’m cleaning out my closet for me. It’s not wild or crazy, but I think I’ll feel better when I can see my clothes instead of treading on them. 🙂 I’ll pick these person to-dos month-to-month. One can get overwhelmed, you know. Ha!

I hope y’all are inspired and inspiring!

Onward and Upward!!!

–Mea

August Update

August is over and the end of the year is getting CLOSER! How are you guys getting through your Goals? I’m truckin’ along! Some have been changed due to circumstance and pregnancy, but that’s life, y’all. We deal, right?
I’d like to tell you a little of what I’ve learned since I’ve started to finishing Part II of the First Daft. Before I even started writing, I drafted an entire back story, all the while creating the nuts and bolts of this story. I have an ENORMOUS amount of paper and files that will never see the light of day and that did not have any effect on what I am currently writing. (I reserve the right to change my mind about this as my first draft and first revision isn’t done, but right now I feel like I wasted a whole lot of time dreaming.) So I resolved to start writing and to worry about back story issues along the way. For Part I of the book the only thing I knew when I seriously started writing was at what point the section needed to end and the end of my book all together. These are two super good things to know, by the way. (Well, maybe I had an idea instead of a specific scene about where Part I needed to end, but as the end drew near, I had a specific scene.) But from here to there, I had nothing but a foggy image in my head, y’all. I made it up on the fly and, can I just say, there is a LOT of revising that is going to have to happen in Part I. A. Whole. Lot. I finally got to my ending scene. Reread the section once and got it to CP knowing that it was going to change shape completely, but she had it, and I had my milestone, and she loves me unconditionally, so I knew I would eventually be forgiven. But something had to change for Part II. I wouldn’t survive another almost-fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants section. This book would never get done that way. I know me.
So for Part II, I spent time drafting an outline-ish type thing. It was something like a timeline and felt like a lot of “Oh! And then THIS!” with a sentence or two or clever dialogue that sprang up or something. Originally, I wrote it on a flow pad. I think better with a pen in my hand, and when it was done, I transposed it to a document. This worked so very well. I had a starting and a stopping point not only for the second section, but also for each writing day. I’d open up the outline and know what I had finished before and what needed to be written that session. If I’d written something that made the story more interesting, no worries! I’d just alter my outline a little in retrospect, do a quick read through to eliminate plot holes, and move the heck on. I also starting keeping track of how much I wrote, when, and for how long on a chart, which is how I’m able to write these Monthly Update posts.
So now Part II is done, and I’m outline Part III. I have 10 scenes with sentences and I know where I want to end. While I was thinking, I wrote on the first scene and have it completed now. I like that I still feel the progress of writing while I’m in a bit of a holding pattern (outlining), seeing how to get to the end. I still hope I can get through Part III by December 10th (baby’s due date), but we’ll see.
I look forward and dread Revision. There will need to be some major overhauling. My hope is that by the end of it, I’ll be proud that I finished the effort. Because this has been such a HUGE effort.
In short:
Break your story into three sections, know where each section starts and ends, and loosely outline each section before your write it. This formula has worked for me so far, and I hope it saves someone who is starting from scratch months and years of my frustration.

STATS:
Words-2,632
Days with writing in them-3
Hours: 3 hours and 55 minutes
(Not including outlining days, lots of article reading, and a webinar)
Words to Date: 42,631

I hope y’all are pressing on toward the goal! Gotta go pick up my sweet son, now! Later!

April Update

Meeting goals is fun, y’all. Soooo much fun.

I didn’t think this month was as writing productive as last month, to tell you the truth. I got a little distracted. On April 9th, I found out I was having a baby–YAY!–but with the nausea and sleep issues (I want it ALL THE TIME) and mind games that hormones play, I felt so lacking in this area. Still, though, I trudged along when I could, fifteen minutes here, thirty minutes there, lunch breaks, down time, and

LO AND BEHOLD

when the minutes and words combined, I found that I had MET MY WRITING GOAL for the month.

YEAH!

April had 12 hours and 33 minutes of writing time over 14 days. I completed 9 scenes and 8,862 words found a home. The yearly total ramps up to 26,783.
And the kicker… there are 10 scenes left in Act II.

I am so ready to get this first draft down and to begin the next challenge–revision. Dum Dum Dahhhhhm!

I’m totally geeked.

Hope your April lacked all the threats of vomiting mine had and that it was filled with sunshine and rainbows!

The “Write” Mind

I didn’t believe it.

I read a thousand articles and blogs by all these experienced writers saying that writing doesn’t have to be done in a certain place, at a certain time. I was skeptical because I had worked up an ideal writing situation. One that would involve me, sitting at a proper desk with a view of a willow tree blowing in the breeze, sipping a cup of fancy tea with a hand-woven afghan covering my shoulders, admiring the lines of sunshine crossing over my research and biscotti crumbs, my glasses resting on the peak of my nose while I tuck flyaway wisps of hair behind my ears from my handsomely messy chignon.

Those authors with published novels and book events, they didn’t know how I needed to write. I was so snotty, embarrassingly so, especially for not even owning a hand-woven afghan.

Here’s the thing about the dream scenario v. real-life writing. In the dream, did you notice ANY writing happening? No? Me, neither.

I’m a romantic at heart, and it is totally like me to romanticize the job. As a disclaimer, I’m not knocking dreams. Believe me. If it weren’t for them, I wouldn’t want to be a Writer. But I’ve learned a lesson as I’ve set writing goals and forced words out while waiting for a doctor’s appointment or ravaging fifteen minutes of my lunch break. The lesson: Novels don’t magically appear from your mind into querying form just because you position yourself exactly as you are in your dream.

Do you feel like you just learned the Tooth Fairy doesn’t exist? Me, too.

I don’t know why I couldn’t have learned this lesson from the above-mentioned thousands of articles that have basically said the exact. Same. Thing. Other than the fact that I have always been hard-headed. As it is, I’m learning it now. Maybe you’re not as stubborn as me and I can save you some pain from disillusionment. I’m writing this for those pliable minds.

The truth?

Maybe, in the future, there will be some days that look like “the dream”, which is why I am planting a willow tree this fall, but for the most part, life gets messy and unpredictable, and writing can happen EVERYWHERE.

It’s freeing. Suddenly, I’m not tied to a squeaky desk chair.

Don’t believe me?

I’ll give you an example. A computer breakdown thwarts my one hour grocery store trip, and there is only one cashier who can’t move to another register. (I live in a small town.) When I lived in the dream, I would be angry at the world for wasting my time and come home flustered, splatting negativity all over Husband until he was in a bad mood, too. Now, I have my book loosely plotted by scenes and I work one scene at a time, so if I get stuck in this type of situation, I pull out my phone app or the notebook-pen combo and just…start writing. It takes a few moments to think of what I’d last written, but that’s all. It helps, too, that I’m a more consistent writer, so I don’t have to struggle to remember what I was working on or how the scene is supposed to “feel”. When the computer magically starts working again and check-out resumes, I’m not mad. I can genuinely smile at the nervous employee, who expects to be yelled at by those in line, and return home with groceries and a happy heart because I’ve got more words to add to my draft.

See? All because I let go of the dream and got into my “write” mind. Bahaha! Cheesy, I know.

To further the cheese, here are clichés I begrudgingly use in this post because they are true:

1. Practice makes perfect- The more I switch mindsets from Mea-the-Mommy/Wife/Daughter/Full-TimeEmployee to Mea-the-Writer the less time it takes and the easier it gets.

2. Don’t sweat the small stuff- In a perfect world, every word I write expresses exactly what I want, preciously detailed, and elicits the feelings I want the reader to feel with no revision necessary. This beautiful, broken world, my Friends. If I get ten minutes, I can’t worry if that was the exact word I needed or if MC wore a green or purple cat sweater in the last scene. I write my best and give myself something to revise later. You can’t edit Nothing.

3. If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.- I’m still learning the best way to keep my wits about me, to let go of the romantic image of Mea-the-Writer, and to revel in the slow but steady pace in which I’m able to carve out writing time. Early in this revelation, there were lots and LOTS of times when all I could do was stare at the paper/phone app, reread the same sentence over and over, and declare myself too verklempt to produce anything new. I had to figure out how to Get Over Myself and write what popped into my head. Though the words were not always usable then, I can now keep a significant number of words from the original impromptu writing jaunt. I’m so thankful that something (and sometimes someone *Shout out to CP!*) pushed me forward when I needed it.

I see this transformation, and I’m amazed at how this whole writing adventure bleeds into other aspects of my life–organization, attitude, relationships…

Just finding something you love and going after it full-force…

I have never been so driven. I have never been so happy.

I can’t wait to see what will happen next. I’m my own experiment!