Everything Update 09/25/2018

Pardon my disappearing act for the last few months. There have been changes and slight upheavals in my life but things are starting to settle down.

Writing: I purchased another class from Holly Lisle. It’s called How to Write a Novel. I already know how to do this of course, but I bought the course anyway for a few reasons. First, I like trying other authors’ processes. I find myself picking up bits and pieces and making them my own. Every writer has a Frankenstein’s monster of a writing process. It’s how we learn and grow.

Second, I’m never more productive than when I’m doing a writing class. Since I accomplished very little this summer, I look forward to making up for it with the novel I’m working on through the class.

Third, I have a new novel idea, so it’s the perfect time to experiment with a different way of doing things.

Bonus reason: Holly Lisle uses lots of worksheets. I adore worksheets! Maybe it’s silly, but they work for me. I’m so scatter-brained these days and using her worksheets helps keep me on track. The downside is I go through a lot of paper and printer ink. This is an acceptable trade-off for getting my novels written.

Let’s talk about my new novel idea. It started a few months ago with the idea for a character. Actually, it goes all the way back to two summers ago when I plotted a story at the West Texas Writer’s Academy. I had written most of the novel before that class but something wasn’t working for me and I didn’t know what. So when I needed to pick a story to plot, I chose that one.

It was about a woman who worked with a ghost to save the world. The problem was the scope was too big. So I considered scaling it down to the duo saving a town. Great, onward and upward I thought. We had to discuss elements of the story in class and when it was my turn everyone seemed really interested. I was thrilled and knew I was on the right track. Comments and suggestions abounded. I wrote everything I heard down and started incorporating the more interesting ideas.

I was excited to have the story plotted at the end of the week and happy I took the class. Then I got home and tried to rewrite the story. There was one problem. I hated the story. It was a terrible idea for a story, but it was no longer MY idea. I was so enraptured with all the enthusiasm from others that I inadvertently changed the story idea into Their story.

I’m still glad I took the class but I regret getting lost in what other writers wanted. That novel, all 60,000 word written, is a bust. Then a few months ago, I ‘new’ idea struck me. As I wrote down my thoughts I realized there were a lot of elements from the original ghost story. At first, I thought I was reworking it, then realized I was only drawing inspiration from it.

This new idea inspires my muse more than the other ever did! Since I pulled strings from what I called The Ghost War, what I wrote before was not wasted. I’ll call it a practice novel, the kind you write and realize you need to trash it. It’s not my first novel but it still taught me a lot. The most important lesson is to write for myself, and not what other author’s think I should. Their ideas were great, but not for my style.

The Ghost War turned into something bordering on romance, which is not what I do. I’ve thought about trying my hand at other genres and if I ever decide to do something more paranormal romance then I have that story on my hard drive. And my external drive. And a thumb drive. And Dropbox and Google drive, lol.

So, back to my new story idea. I spend the summer working on characters and major plot points. What I came up with is a series, hopefully. I’ll write the first book and see. At this point, what I thought would be book one and book two merged and made a better, fuller story. I’ll keep you all updated as I go along.

Writing Goals: Above I mentioned how I’m more productive while doing writing classes. If things go the way they did with other courses, my muse won’t be happy unless I’m working on several things at once. This led me to make some goals.

  1. Finish the class. This should be obvious but I have a few class I started but never finished. It wasn’t laziness or fear. The problem was I wasn’t ready for the particular classes. For example, I have one called How to Write a Series. At the time, I wasn’t prepared to work on my middle-grade series (stupid muse) and I didn’t have a solid adult series idea. I do now but I’m going to do the new class first. I could be wrong about the idea’s potential and I’d rather learn that before I get into the series class.
  2. Flash fiction. I’ve written around one hundred pieces of flash fiction. Most were written in the same year. Burn-out stopped me in my tracks. Also, back pain, but that’s another story. Now, I think I’m ready to try again. Most of my time will be taken up by my novel, but when I get tired of it or need to shift focus a bit I can switch to flash. I might even use the shorter stories as a morning warm up. Even if they suck I’ll have something to work with later!
  3. Blog. I want to get back into the habit of posting regularly. Some writers get distracted by blogging. For those, it’s either posts or fiction. Not me. I stay more on track if I’m doing both. Like switching to flash fiction, blogging is a small break from the obsession of novel writing. It saves me from crashing and burning on a story.

Medical: Pain sucks. Long-term pain sucks more. However, as sad as it is, chronic pain forces one to adapt. You simply get used to the pain. It doesn’t hurt less, but it becomes part of your life. If you’re smart, you’ll get on with life instead of feeling so sorry for yourself that you end up doing nothing (guilty).

I’m tired of letting my back pain decide everything I do and don’t do. I’m still not going to ride a roller coaster but I am going to suck it up and write more often!

For a while, I wasn’t going to the gym regularly but I’m getting back on track. This will help my pain level a lot, which translates to helping my ability to write more often. Plus the bonus energy levels following a workout. I always try to get some writing in during that time.

Changes and Upheaval: I had a kid move out! My four offspring range in age from 18 (barely) to 24. My twenty-one-year-old daughter was the first to go. It was a strange, upsetting, and cool time. I was so happy for her but sad to see her go. I didn’t realize how much it affected me until weeks later. I miss her like crazy but still get to see her semi-often. I’m over the sad part. Now I’m starting to see how our household changed.

Alyssa, if you read this, sorry but I’m going to rat you out.

The biggest change is the amount of toilet paper in the house! I went to Sam’s and bought a huge pack and when I got home I went to put some in the hall linen closet. For the first time, ever, there was another big pack, unopened, and some left from another. I wish there was a video of my shocked reaction. Who knew she was the one who used the most. I bet her siblings knew, but I didn’t.

Another change or lack thereof was the amount of food in the pantry and fridge. There were fewer items in the deli drawer but I couldn’t see a difference in the pantry. That kid adored ramen and chicken noodle soup.

My living room is cleaner. She always left piles of her stuff everywhere. Not all her junk has been moved yet but at least the stacks are smaller.

The garage is the biggest change. Somehow after being given a small corner to do art, Alyssa managed to take over most of one side of the garage. She would have taken more but I park in there and we keep the lawn stuff on ‘her’ side. As I mentioned, she hasn’t moved it all but I can see the floor! Since she got her packrat tendencies from her mother, I’m not mad about the massive amount of things she has but I’ll be glad when she finally gives me room to store my equally large around of stuff, lol. I have a feeling many shelves are in my future.

The next change hasn’t occurred but soon will. My oldest plans to move out. I don’t know when, but he put in an application for an apartment on Friday. They told him it would take several business days to hear back. I’m happy for him but I’m positive I’ll be sad too. He’s the type to only visit when he feels guilty that he hasn’t in a while. He loves his family but he desperately needs a space of his own. He’ll finally not have to share a room with his brother.

One last soon to happen upheaval: My youngest child, Cairie, is a senior. She will attend college after she graduates and her plan was to live at home until she finishes. However, my older daughter offered to let her sister move in with her in May. Since my baby is the most independent of the kids, this appeals to her. Alyssa even told Cairie she wouldn’t have to pay rent until they upgraded to a two bedroom, and offered up the bedroom so they would have separate spaces. What 18-year-old would turn that down?

Calling all of this upheaval may seem to be an exaggeration but you have to understand how much of a creature of habit I am. And they are my babies!

Nanowrimo: I’m going to participate this year. Not only that, I’m going to drag others in with me. There is a group of people who have felt left out of the group due to some choices by previous leadership. There are new leaders this year and they know the problems and want to fix them. I offered my assistance and together we’re going to get those people back in and feeling part of the family.

I’m talking about the people over 30. The last leader worked so hard to get college kids involved that the older ones of us got pushed aside and forgotten. This wasn’t on purpose but still happened. Since most of the people who felt left out feel comfortable with me, I’m going to use that to get them going to events. If I go, they will know at least one person who will talk to them so they’ll do it. That means I’ll be going to almost every event and most of my attention will be on the others. I probably won’t ‘win’ this year but I’m thinking long-term for all of us.

The young people won’t be neglected but I left that in one of the ‘ML’s’ hands. I’ll have enough on my hands trying to convince twenty or so people to come back to Nanowrimo. (Jesse, that mean’s you too!).

It took me about 30  minutes to write this post and it’s over 2000 words. If I can do that, then I can write 1500 words a day (some days) for Nanowrimo. I might not get the 50,000 but I bet I can get half! That’s a hell of accomplishment too.

If this post seems scattered, with many errors, then just know you are seeing a glimpse of my brain. Grammarly certainly doesn’t like the way I wrote it! I’ll post more updates soon.

7 comments

  1. I get the idea you’re close to all of your kids. I envy you.
    Is there any certain way you sit while writing that keeps the back pain manageable? I ask because I have light back pain now that is bound to get worse because it’s from arthritis. Just another aspect of getting older. I have a hard time sitting for more than 20 minutes. I don’t have to be on my feet long before I can sit down again but this is getting awfully distracting. Anyway, is there a way you sit that allows you to stay put for a while?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The best way to sit is the neutral position, where you’re not super straight but not hunched either. Unfortunately, I am mostly incapable of doing this one I get into writing. Getting up every 20 minutes is exactly what you’re supposed to do when you have back problems. It may be distracting now but eventually, you get used to it. I try to do the same. Thinking of it in terms of writing sprints is helpful.

      Experts say that writing (or doing any work that requires sitting at a desk) in shorter bursts leads to being more productive. Twenty to twenty-five minutes of work, 2-5 minutes of break. It tricks your brain into thinking you’re getting a reward for working. Also, I’m sure there are times you get lost in what you’re doing and don’t get up after the 20 minutes. I bet on those days you get less done because you’re in pain and distracted by that.

      When I get up, I walk a little circuit inside my house then come back and get to work. Sometimes I’ll stretch a bit or give my dogs some attention. Switching it up keeps me from being bored.

      I also have arthritis in my back and it sucks. I’m sorry you have to deal with it too! I hate to agree with you, but it probably will get worse. Being in the habit of moving around often will help you immensely in the long run.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Gosh, I haven’t done Nanowrimo in a few years either. I have a draft of one book that I’m editing, but I have another idea bouncing around in my head. Maybe I should step back into the Nanowrimo arena! I hope you are able to get many of us “seasoned” folks involved again! 🙂

    Like

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