Does It Bring Me Joy?

So, all this, that as well as the other thing, have left me stewing a bit for a few days. As I approach my work week and try once more to get on track, this question is now being applied to my work, and creativity as well.

A discussions with my grown daughter concerning illustrations grew leaps and bounds as we discussed tweaks to the layout and perspective of views. What is my perfect ideal and what I feel competent to attempt are sometimes at odds; but as always, she advises me to follow my own intuition and gut, try to do it and only settle as a last resort.

So, somehow one afternoon while staring out a window, it occurred to me that this question that I have been putting to myself as I cleaned out another drawer of things, could also be asked when I approach my list of to dos regarding my work, my writing work.

How far from my original voice have I wandered in the name of becoming a better writer? And has any of that brought me joy? Something that while I know this or that is the way to go, just grates against my nature. What am I talking about? Oh, I am questioning my focus this year to submit. I know, without any doubt I have rejections behind and ahead of me. I know without a doubt that my writing still needs work.

My question is whether how I am going about practicing is making that work harder or easier. To whom am I pandering? Me, the reader, or some great unknown that may or may not have bearing on the favored storytelling of the future?

If I revert to bucking the system, going my own way, is that going to be better than continuing to conform (or attempting to conform because my efforts aren’t all that dedicated)? Sometimes the hard path is also the path that you learn the most, but it is a very personal decision. I know writers who are succeeding because they are taking a traditional approach and some taking what has become traditional for self publishers and I have considered what they have accomplished and wonder if that is right for me.

Truth is it just isn’t how I want to do this. And my lame reason is that those paths, don’t bring me joy. In fact, it sucks the joy right out me. So maybe that isn’t lame after all.

Finding my own way to success is what my path is, seeing others succeed only encourages me to do my own thing. Thank you to my fellow writer friends who are also my mentors. You are encouraging my joy.

(Credit to the Konmari Method)


Free Form Post

So, back to workout routine. Well, its more like attempting a routine. Problem is that while most of my range of motion has come back, my stamina level is still lacking. Being older, the recovery pace is a gazillion times slower than what my expectations are. This does not help with motivation.

On the bright side, my illustration schedule is on track. Learning to color them is off track a bit, but my production schedule should still have it ready in time for Christmas 2017.

These new fangled phones have given me the low down on my sleep cycle, which since my phone upgrade and accident went from sleeping at 2 hours a pop to nearing a more functional normal of 5-7hrs. Decent rem sleep went missing for several months (my sympathies to those insomniacs among you). The return has been most delightful.

Weather, another topic on my mind. It really hasn’t been much of a winter this year. Which has helped fuel my push to get back in running shape; if the weather was really awful it wouldn’t bother me so much. My happiness at staying in, bundled up would outweigh any desire to get outside until warmer weather. It has been in the 20s overnight and by the next day up into the 60s and 70s. Weird.

Writing habit is back, now if the words would flow a little more freely more headway would occur . . . or maybe not. That is still a toss up, until April when the backstory work and research has to be complete and story writing should be in process.

Then there is the illustrations. Some weeks are easier than others, and some extra times is needed to work the skill more than the necessary drawing. Right now adding in adding color to the drawings. This is very new to me using acrylics, but I am learning.

Moving at a Snails Pace

It was 60 degrees this winter when it should be in the low 30’s. I took a meandering mile long walk in just a hoodie.

After attempting an outline for the next children’s book (struggling with the story and the dialogue) more research might help me flesh out the story. Efforts so far have included recording myself telling the story, but that sounded murky. The story itself is muddled. Truth is the story isn’t clear in my own head. Maybe some more back story work is necessary before it can really be told.

Over on the blog for my children’s books I wrote about Lauren Graham’s recent memoire, Talking as Fast as I Can. She wrote about Don Roos and his kitchen timer method. I have been trying that as well. That’s when I realized that my previous work on the story has been haphazard, leaving holes.

All of these projects are helping me learn about not just writing but book production. Believe me, there is still a lot left for me to learn. But along the way, my grandchildren will have personal gifts that I have made for them.

All this has slowed my progress at finishing Sinister, which has stalled; not because I quit writing, but am currently writing something entirely else. You see, I have five (currently) grandchildren of varying ages.

Living by my grandparent rule: “What I do for one, I must do for them all.” The first book finished and published was an early reader chapter book Snowball, for one of my granddaughters’ tenth birthday. One down, four more to write.

Now working on illustrating a picture book, number two in the works. The current writing project is a second picture book. The first should be completed in time for Christmas 2017 and beta reading the second picture by summer so while I am marketing and selling the first, work on illustrations for the second can be started. This should make the second picture book ready for Christmas 2018. Numbers two and three done by end of 2018.

The last two books are in concept and backstory stage. One will be an older middle grade chapter book and the final will be a young adult. That YA may end up being a sixth book instead of the fifth, a bridge book from all the children’s work back into the adult mode. Maybe, my mind isn’t quite made up yet.

Last year going back to college to study creative fiction threw another kink in getting all the projects currently in play complete. Truly, this path for me has been a meandering, lost in the woods at times, awkward journey.

Thank you to those of you who have been with me from the beginning. Keep hanging in there. I will get back to finish Sinister posted here and it will be a much better book from all the experience I am gaining.

While it looks like I have been stagnating, I have been growing as a writer, publisher, and now novice artist. In order to complete goals, it really helps to be in touch with a strong motivating source. I found my source to help me conquer my fears and lack of confidence. Writing for my grandchildren was and has been the contract I could sign and the motivation to finish.

I also found a source of strength and encouragement in my husband. He contributed untold hours and conversations cheering me on, as well as doing what he could to help me make this all happen. My grown children have contributed as well, helping me directly and indirectly with the follow through actions. This has been a family effort.

I thank my grandchildren for the inspiration. My kids for the umph to carry me over the doubt. And my husband for the belief.

This may be a snail’s pace, but it is progress towards my goal.

Before Re-Reviewing

Before I re-review the Gilmore Girls reboot, I am going to divert your attention to Lauren Graham’s (aka Lorelei Gilmore) first non fiction Talking As Fast As I Can. As a fan, it was a fun book to read. Well, I didn’t read read it, I listen to Lauren, herself, read it to me. Audio books are great for things like this. It was most enjoyable to hear her voice, it made the diary entries more personal and intimate; like listening to your bestie confess all over the phone.
Besides being a fan thing, this book also speaks to writers. Graham divulges into her other creative side, writing. She shares with us her secret to finishing work in progress on time—actually it is Don Roos’ secret. A method in-sync with some creatives and our natural weaknesses; it is genius. So, I am sitting here now, as I write, utilizing this method.

The Kitchen Timer
There are various sources on the internet should you choose to search it. However, if you are a fan, and love Lauren Graham, aka Lorelei, just buy the book. You will get far more than just a lovely connection to a beloved television show that was timely and honest. And if you are a writer, you get a copy of Don’s method. Really, this is a big deal here.
I personally loved the show and spent many episodes watching with my daughter. We even watched A Year together. So a fan before? You betcha. About midway through the book, Lauren herself made me an even bigger fan of her written work because, as a writer, she gets it. An English major in college, this is no wanna be writer like myself who is still struggling to get that BA under my belt. She has the education, experience as an actor and author of both fiction and non fiction. Lauren has worked on creating screen plays for tv as well. By the time this piece is exposed on the web, no telling what else her creative mind has brought to fruition.
So, no, I am not just mentioning this in passing. It was refreshing to hear her talk of her writerly struggles. It was beyond that, it was encouraging. I send a big thank you to Ms Graham and Mr Roos for sharing how to get writing work done in a method that not only sounded good, but as of this moment is working pretty well for me. The difference between it and my methods of the past is this is written down and has firm guidelines. Something I hadn’t quite come to on my own.

Now it is time to write.

The Arm

I am so sick of . . . the arm. It has been a very slow process. Far slower than I have been able to accept at times. Argh!

Thankfully I am now sleeping a whopping five hour stretch on a good night. Up until New Year’s Eve, things seem to have been getting on an even keel. It was, workable, doable. I could reluctantly get with this status.

A day or so after the new year and it all went pear shaped. New sensations emerging, yet again; nerves, muscles, lack of patience, you name it. I am not complaining, just surprised. After six and a half months I had finally begun to accustom myself to the numbness and lack of sensation in parts of my forearm. Places where the sensation wasn’t quite precise other than you feel . . . something.

Now there are sections of muscle where I previously couldn’t sense movement that are, surprisingly, coming to life. Some sharp, some dull, but definitely more than what they were. Some a bit uncomfortable, and all this wears me out.

I keep a journal because, well, as a writer, my experiences are open to use in defining and expressing a character. When or how I will utilize this knowledge I have no clue. I just want to be able to go back to it and remind myself of what it was like. How it made me feel. Then I can be in the moment, mood, of a character. See through their eyes for a brief moment.

What we say, how we say it and even the why can all be lumped into attitude and perspective. That is a fact of life. So to write a character that comes off the page and has a voice that you can identify and hear in your head as you read the words, helps to obtain as much of that inner stuff as possible when writing said character’s dialogue or thoughts.

So here today, when I thought I was moving along nicely. A huge improvement that contains set backs, sleeping, movement, better and worse at the same time. Then comes in that frustration of the cycle beginning again. A cycle of improvement, adjusting to the improvement, it all saps energy and need more sleep, pain that will be easing as my brain and nerves start working together again. More range of motion means muscle fibers not accustomed to the movement letting their discomfort known. It is just, well, it just is. A good is, but also vicious at the same time. This is an interesting emotional state to document, and I wonder how I can use this in a story somewhere.

Well, that is how it works for me; may not be how anyone else does it.

Happy New Year

Happy New Year

Wasn’t 2016 crazy? Damn.

I read more, was busy more, handled more stuff, but really did I accomplish anything meaningful to me? Eh, some, but not what I thought it was going to be. So it was in all a pretty good crazy year.

So what is in store for this year?

1. ILLUSTRATIONS for a children’s book is PRIORITY 1.
Writing will again take a back seat in the daily scheme of routine, habit and life, but hopefully not seated as far back as it was in 2016.

2. Good health habits
Have had them, dropped them, picked them up again, and lost track of them again, and again. Sound familiar? Well, that has to stop. I am getting old. I would like to become ancient; I have to be in better health to do that.

3. Writing
A little further down but, hey, that illustrating thing is only for two books, so I need to finish the YA story so to edit after the picture books are done. Which leads to number four—

4. Sales
Years ago in another life, I was a sales representative for a variety of companies and products. Now, I need to do that for myself. Something that I am self conscious about. Promoting others is no problem neither are there stumbling blocks promoting products I believe in. My writing? While I love it, and am working hard to improve it; it isn’t where I want it to be. So this one has a few parts to it.

A. Get over the fear and hold back that is keeping me from writing the good stuff.
B. Get over the fear and hold back of self promotion.

I suppose you could say this is my New Year’s resolution. To me it is just a big old ugly list of what I didn’t accomplish last year or the year before. I know there are writers out there who feel like this as well. I talk to them every day it seems.

So, what are we going to do about it?

Friday the Thirteenth

Friday the thirteenth, and showing up the first month of the year! This is going to be a great year! Talk about “Lucky Seven.”

Not exactly sure why, but I have a feeling this year is going to be fun and interesting. Writing progress instead of continuing to circle the bowl of bad writing in a vain attempt to avoid writing from my gut.

That is a scary thought. Going with my gut— when it comes to writing. It’s an internal nakedness in a way, writing that is. Why? Because writing requires observation, reflection as much as inspiration, both internally as well as externally.

As I tried to explain to a friend of mine why I let loose with rough drafts far more easier than polished edits— it’s all about hiding behind the misspelled words and awkward grammar, creating distraction with improper punctuation. That and a way to weed out those “that’s good” or “I like it” polite comments that are more comfortable to say than: “I don’t get it,” “I don’t like your style of writing,” or cutting to the quick with a straight forward, “this is awful.”

All of which I, myself have thought or said about my own, as well as, other’s writing. Haven’t we all? I have read some literary greats that I honestly just didn’t understand much less have any positive comment regarding. Writing is a subjective art; for the writer as much as it is for the reader.

Finding the audience for what I write is tough, too. It’s complicated. Settling into a specific genre would help, but that is so difficult to accept other than bad, horrible, awful, difficult, etc. Those I am comfortable with! This conundrum is my own fear inciting horror story. Where we come back to scary things, for some Friday the thirteen falls in that category. To me, it’s just another day to write.

Grace Period

Bonus Material (i.e. unscheduled post)

It occurred to me while reading another author’s Facebook post that the time between Christmas and New Years was our annual grace period. The post in question had asked on Christmas Day since Santa had come to call, could they for one day be not so good Christmas Day.  It made me think about that, and about New Years Day coming up.

So many other things have grace periods, these six days between December 25th and January 1 must be grace days. Either to catch up or breath a sigh of relief. Either way, this is a chance to work some magic on what is to be.

In 2016 I picked up some good old habits and lost some. Why aren’t those good habits a part of my life? How can I make them easier to do? So far, half way to 2017,  things are getting moved around to make the good stuff easier. That is how I am using my grace period.

How do you use your grace period?

Ego Be Damned

So, another thing I did this fall was take an online writing course. I was very challenged and outside my comfort zone. Through the course there were discussion questions, these were divided into two groups.

The first group was where I thought I belonged — beginners, first time writers. I participated in some discussions there. The second group’s questions intrigued me more, they were questions for seasoned, experienced writers. A group I didn’t identify with at all, but am now considering.

I have, after all, published my writing in one blog form or the other since about 2003. I have self published one book, and am included in an anthology as well. I am not a novice anymore. Maybe, I am now an intermediate?

One of the questions in the last week of the course discussed art, specifically the art of writing, touching upon this idea of validation of a writer’s work. Something new to me, not just regarding confidence but ego-wise; not only am I a writer, but my work is art.

Knock me over with a feather! I am getting there.

I am behind my schedule of what I should have published and where I should be as a writer. My dream plan path is off track. It is going to take some work and dedication to get back on. The one key element is that I have to have respect for my work.

Respecting my own work, more than anyone else’s opinion, matters most.

I think that struggling to not only create, but follow the path that is my own journey is one many others struggle to follow as well.

As I look forward to next year, I am thinking what will the focus be for 2017? If 2016 was all about seeing possibility, what will my priority of perspective next year?

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