Friday, December 30, 2011

Things of note:

1. Finished editing, reread, polished... done. Let me tell you, I loved, loved, loooooved it. For a short period of time I convinced myself that it's my masterpiece (ha, snerk). The "after book high" lasted, eh, four hours or so. Then I was like: ZOMG! I HATZ IT.

*deep breath*

So. Yeah.

It's not really the book. The book is good. At least, in my less self-conscious moments, I think it is. I'll feel better tomorrow.

2. Starting a new book is always hard for me. I know there are a lot of you who love writing beginnings. I find them harder to deal with. Mainly because, if you mess up from the start, the middle and the end will never come together.

The voice is the hardest thing to nail down. It tells everything about the character, at least, it does for me. How the MC thinks, acts, and talks will determine her choices throughout the entire book. There is nothing -- NOTHING -- worse than reaching the 30K mark and realizing your MC is a psychopath (or some other such nonsense).

And me, being me, I will finish the first draft regardless (though, why I do this, I'll never understand). Then I'll dump the book at the start of the next edit (draft 2 is when I take into account things like plot and structure).

3. I also find it hard to get in the swing of writing again. In the first draft you write crap (everyone does, tis the way it is). But. Coming off extensive editing, it's hard for me to allow myself to do that. It's especially hard that I struggle to write above 200 words a day when I know I'm capable of 2K. ;)

I've already restarted this book three times. Each time is just NOT right. Wrong starting point, wrong motivation, wrong voice.

I WILL get it. Hopefully by the end of the day. *crossing fingers*

Friday, December 23, 2011

Winter Break, So far

1. Bekah got her jacket. Steven stopped by the school on his way home Wednesday. He found a janitor who was kind enough to let him into her classroom. She's one lucky chick.

Steven asked, "What were you going to do? It wasn't like you could let her run around without a jacket."

"No, I was going to keep her inside for two weeks. I figure that would be a fitting learning experience." ;)

But she got out of it, of course.


2. Steven and I were sitting in the living room the other night, and I looked over at the tree. And then I looked again because something wasn't right.

An entire section of the tree had burnt out! I'm really glad I took a picture of it!!! *So upset.*

He asked me what I wanted to do about it.

That was a good question. "Here's the thing... I'm cheap."

His eyes got large with fake surprise. "No, REALLY?!"

*cough*

Needless to say, the tree is still dark. I really should do something about that. The "plan" is to hit the after holiday sales for a new fake tree!


3. I've been doing an awful lot of sleeping. I'm quite proud of that fact. hahaha.

Today I woke up at 9am (don't worry, I went back to sleep and didn't actually get out of bed till 1pm). It surprised me that Steven was in bed with me.

"Don't you have to go to work?" I asked.

He laughed at me. "Yeah, I've already gone and come back."

Huh, interesting.


4. We're two days into our vacation and the kids are determined to drive me insane. They asked on the first day if they could pull out the couch bed and have a slumber party every day of winter break. Or, if I said no, how about just a few nights?

On Wed night, Steven put them in their own beds (so sorry, no pullout couch), and promised that if they behaved (not likely) they could have a slumber party on Friday night.

Well.  I woke up on Thursday to a complete disaster. Granted, it was quite late in the day (see item #3). Being that they couldn't pull out the couch by themselves, they made a bed in the den anyway.

A couple of things to note: the coffee table/chest has been moved, the shoes and socks strewn across the room, and the DS games thrown about (really upset about THAT one)...


I got my camera out to document it (because, you know, that's what I do). Only, when they saw me snapping pictures, they did everything in their power to hide their faces.

This became a recurring theme. Later that day, I saw them reading together in Seth's room. I thought, oh, how cute! But when I grabbed my camera...

 5. I'm about 50 pages from the end of my manuscript. Sweet Christmas Bread, I need to finish! That being said, I haven't done any of it today and it's 4pm.

I am really lazy during the holidays. Must. Work.


Wednesday, December 14, 2011

How is it Wednesday already?

I've fallen in to my habit of writing blog posts and not actually posting them. ....! I should go back to see if there's anything worth saving/posting. Eh.

In the meantime, I'VE BEEN EDITING! I know, shocking. I hadn't worked in several weeks. It almost came to the point where I felt myself incapable of it. Then I woke up Saturday morning and POOF! I started working.

Other than that, life is pretty boring. Christmas is coming way too fast. I've been trying to figure out what I'm missing on my to-do list. Like, er, now that I think about it, I haven't ordered the ham yet. It might be nice to have Christmas dinner.


Thursday, December 1, 2011

This Year

I’ve made several references about how this has been a year of change for me. I wasn’t ready to talk about it prior to now (I can’t publicly talk about details regardless), but I think I’ve made it to a point where I’m really happy and can open up a bit.

I had reached a point at the beginning of the year where I was dissatisfied. NOT about my real life. NOT about the people with whom I chose to surround myself. It was about things that I couldn’t control, namely my writing career, or lack thereof.

I began to internalize things. Everything that went wrong would be a reflection on me. Stupid things that people would say, situations that didn’t work out, I took the weight of the negativity on my shoulders.

Writing, that had once been fun and had been my place of peace, had morphed into a painful exercise for me. Every time I’d sit at my computer, the internal monologue would start. How I wasn’t good enough and would never be good enough, because – see? – another thing didn’t work out.

I was raised in a family that has a very strong work ethic. We’re achievers. We set a goal, we work, and we get what we want. The fact that I couldn’t make this work ran so much deeper than disappointment. It began to cut at the heart of who I was.

I was frustrated that no matter what I did, it never worked out. EVER.

I think a lot of my dissatisfaction had to do with the fact that I didn’t feel like a contributor to my family. My kids are older and in school all day, I have a degree and, yet, I wasn’t working. My “work” still has no definable reality. If I had sold, well yes, THEN I could say that my pursuit was worthwhile.

Not that my husband EVER said this to me. He is supportive (I think over the top sometimes, because he thinks I can do anything) of whatever I do.

It was all me, me, me. I was the one making myself miserable.

I walked away from writing. Not forever, just… for then. I needed a sabbatical, time to regroup and recharge.

I walked away from agent #2 (for several reasons that really don’t matter to this post), and also, from what I was writing. This was a huge move. Essentially everything I’d worked on up to that point, the NUMEROUS books that are completed and not shopped, were all being set aside. It wasn’t a direction I knew would make me happy.

There I was mid-March with NOTHING. Not one page of writing that I was happy with and not represented. AGAIN.

It was the right decision. The sense of relief was tremendous. I knew it then, and I feel it now. I don’t think I could have made the journey to who I am at this point without a clean break and accepting that a lot of my frustration has stemmed from being on the wrong path.

I turned to photography to connect back to me. Photography didn’t have that hurt that I’d begun to associate with writing. I hadn’t tied myself up emotionally with it. I used it to figure out who I wanted to be as an artist. I DO consider myself an artist. No matter what medium I choose, writing or photography, it’s about creating a piece of art that I can be proud of.

I look back at that post and I cringe a little because – GAH! – the white balance on those pictures is off. I hadn’t mastered WB yet, let alone shot in RAW at that point. I bring this up because it’s reflective of my writing. It’s why I can chose to walk away from what I’ve written in the past. Is it good? Yes, to some it’s fantastic. It was to me at the time. But it isn’t where I want to be in the end. I’m on a journey and I get better every day.

It’s easy to skip steps. It’s just as easy to self-publish, as it is to buy a DSLR and set up a photography business, without working on your craft first.

The question is: What kind of artist do you want to be? – This question is what I have focused this year on, figuring who I want to be.

Is it wrong to self-publish? Of course not!

I’m simply making the argument that sometimes there can be a great learning experience to walking away from something. Yes, you love it. Yes, it’s good. But often it’s not as great as it could/should/will be if given time.

I admit, I’m scared of failing again – and look, I said “failing” even though I haven’t failed! I continue the self-doubt and internalizing things that are not in my control. It’s an insidious thing that makes me unhappy and takes away from the REAL things I do have and love.

This is probably why I have several new projects finished and, yet, not queryable. Because I can’t bring myself to get them to that point. I will be there soon.

Why am I writing this now? Well, because I’m in a really good place. I haven’t worked on my book in two weeks and I’m okay with it. Progress.

Steven worked mid-shift today. He went in at noon and will be home sometime late tonight. This morning I got up with the kids, got them off to school, and then crawled back in bed with my husband and snuggled, sleeping the morning away.

I was not in the least guilty about it. I would have felt guilty for the last number of years. There I was, sleeping away time that I could have focused on writing, on GETTING SOMEWHERE.

What really mattered this morning? Spending time with Steven. Everything else is secondary.

I smiled at him when I woke up and said, “I love my life. Sleeping all day, it really is easy.”

He laughed, kissed me, said he loved me, and then slapped my butt and told me to go bake him cookies. :) This was, of course, before he walked into the kitchen to start coffee for me (love that man!).

I guess this whole post is to say: In the scheme of life, a year sabbatical is not a bad thing. You don’t have to quit, you don’t have to give up, but there is no shame in saying, “I’m not satisfied anymore and I refuse to live my life that way.” Then take steps to GET HAPPY.

My goals for next year are going to be different. I think I’ve hidden long enough. It’s time to start trying again, this time with joy.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

My Office

Has it really been a week since my last confession blog post? Dude.

Not surprising, I guess. I've been editing, which means a general lack of connection to the outside world. I realized yesterday that I hadn't called my mom in nearly that long. I typically call my mom every day. So, yeah, I'm distracted.

And because I'm editing, I don't have a whole lot to say. My day consists of lots of edits during the day, and then reading at night (because I'm too burnt out to do anything else).

You can tell I haven't been plugging in 100%. My kids are taking advantage of my distraction. I find things like this:




My parents will be here in a week or so. I'm excited. Just in time for the fair! Woot! ;)

The plan is to try to finish this edit (there may be another after this) before they get here, so that I'll be free to participate in NaNo this year. I'm not committing to NaNo yet, though. Just kind of throwing it out there. I've never been successful at making the 50K goal (my inner editor is too loud). We shall see if I'm willing to brave it this time around.

I also need to finish putting away these boxes of office junk:



For the most part, my office is put together. I promised pictures, so here they are.

Before the walls were a yellowish-white. Blah.


I painted the room Industrial Grey. LOVE it. ;)




I moved a rocker into the room as well so that I can lure Yuki to hang with me.



I shall leave you with the editing snack of champions. Yum!


Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Tuesday 5

1. It's been hard to think in terms of a blog this week. Today I came home from walking the kids to the bus stop, got back into my pjs and back into my bed. *yawn*

2. I'm editing. Which means in Heather-speak: I'm cranky, overwhelmed, exhausted... and cautiously happy with where this book is going.

3. I've completely given up on that stupid desktop. It's dead. I need to accept it. Humph.

4. I tried something new with my edit this time. I wanted to read through my draft before I started tinkering. That didn't work out so well. I made it halfway. There are so many scenes that I need to completely rewrite, that I began to wonder if there was any purpose to rereading the last half. I'll end up changing it anyway. *snort* So I gave up, and now I'm officially tinkering.

5. During editing breaks I'm reading photography books. Partly because reading fiction is impossible when I'm in this state of mind. And it also doesn't hurt to get some photography tips! I started with a book that came highly recommended. At first, I didn't understand why people liked it. I think he does a terrible job describing the exposure triangle. Not to mention that his pictures are awful. Seriously, I kept thinking (1) this is supposed to be a famous photographer, huh?, and (2) why would I want to take pictures like him?!

Thankfully, I pushed through it. Because yesterday I had one of those epiphany moments. I can't wait to see how it plays in my photographs from here on out. Now, of course, I'll have to finish the book. I can't let any other gems get away.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Embracing Failure

Last night I was hanging with Steven. We were looking through movies and, inevitably, ended up in a discussion about Jonny Depp.

I always end up talking about Jonny Depp because his career is amazing to me. I admire his choices. He's never chosen roles because a movie would be a blockbuster, or because it was it was "the hot role" to go after. To him it's art. His characters are always quirky and they never fit into the same box as anything else he's done.

I like the idea that our art doesn't have to be commercial. It can be about creation and self-expression and still appeal to a wide audience.

This year has been about finding that place for me. I made a concentrated effort to let go of a lot of things. Most I haven't discussed on this blog, and probably won't. At least not any time soon. The journey has left me feeling adrift.

I haven't been struggling with my writing. Quite the opposite. I've been in a very creative place (if you don't count the anxiety surrounding my move).

I haven't finished anything, though. I have a book that is 3/4th edited. I set it aside because I started to get anxious. I've another that needs a second draft -- I can't open that one. I have the one that I'm working on -- that has been pouring out of me -- almost ready to go. And yet, I'm hesitating.

Doubt lurks. These pieces I've been writing are so much MORE of me than anything else I've ever written. Because I've intentioned them to be from the beginning. Telling myself: no one will ever see them. What is it you're meant to write? DO IT.

But I know if I finish them, someone will see them. The thought makes me a bit panicky.

I don’t believe in coincidences. I think that the messages we need to hear are there at the moments we need to hear them.

My friend, Kelly, posted this video featuring Milton Glaser on her Facebook page:



Milton Glaser – on the fear of failure. from Berghs' Exhibition '11 on Vimeo.



“Understanding development comes from failure. People get better when they fail. They move towards failure, they discover something as a result of failing. They fail again, they discover something else… So the model for personal development is antithetical to the model for professional success.”
“The real embarrassing issue about failure is your own acknowledgement that you’re not a genius. That you’re not as good as you thought you were. And doing a project that is truly complex and difficult tests your real ability.”
“You must embrace failure. You must admit what is. You must find out what you’re capable of doing and what you’re not capable of doing. That is the only way to deal with the issue of success and failure. Because, otherwise, you simply will never subject yourself to the possibility that you are not as good as you want to be, hope to be, or as others think you are. But that is, of course, delusional.”

First of all: Oh. My. God.

Second: I watched it four times and I'm going to watch it a few more.

I fear failure. I do. I've had some success, but also enough failure to make me a cynic. And, probably, I'm too hard on myself because of it. But it has made me a better writer.

After I watched this I came away asking myself what I learned from writing the book I'm currently working on. It turns out quite a bit. I felt instantly better about failing. If it helped shape me, that's a win no matter what.

I took a few deep breaths and kicked ass today.

Now if I can only permanently affix this message in my brain.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Head Space

Have you ever had so much on your mind that you couldn't talk about it because none of it would make sense to anyone else? That's how I feel right now.

[God, that's a long first sentence. Shows how bouncy and convoluted my mind is at present.]

Everyone left me. My husband is gone. My friends are either on vacation, moving, or otherwise busy. My mom wasn't available...

That's not a sobby point. It's only to say, no one was around this week to talk to me. Therefore, I had to entertain myself and I wrote 20K words of a brand new book. Like. A. Beast.

[I should have been editing my other book. la.. la... la...]

It makes me wonder how much work I could accomplish without other distractions. Like, say, Twitter, Facebook and Google Reader.

[That was a crazy thought. I'll never leave you, social media! xoxoxoxo]

Not in order of importance, the things that are taking up my head space:


  • How to get ink off my brand new leather couch. My almost seven-year-old thought would make a beautiful canvas. I've used everything I could think of.
  • Pack for Korea? Probably should do the laundry first.
  • Then if I do laundry, I have to fold the damn stuff.
  • Speaking of laundry, where did all the kids underwear and socks go? Seriously. How can they freaking disappear?!
  • Crap -- need to get my passports stamped so I can come back into Japan. That might be nice.
  • This book won't let go of my mind! I need to finish it. My brain will focus on little else.
  • Figure out what I'm going to do with said book when I'm done. Because I'm thinking my path is going to be a little different than I assumed.
  • I ordered a camera strap from a Japanese dude who speaks no English. He makes these beautiful custom straps -- they are to die for. He called me to come pick it up at his shop. A shop that I spent close to six hours in a car trying to find. Now we're playing phone tag in broken English (his part) and rudimentary Japanese (my part). It's been an experience.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

This Year Is For Me

I didn’t talk about my resolutions at the beginning of the year. The thing is, I knew this year is going to be a high stress one. At the time that meant moving back to the USA and all that entailed. I hadn’t yet realized that my dad was going to be hurt. Hopefully, that’s all that will happen this year. *knock on wood*

But I knew that I didn’t want to stress this year. I just wanted to be. To create. To live. Most importantly, I wanted to remember why I loved writing so much. Why telling stories gives me a high. And why I want to do this until the day I die.

Because I’ve kind of lost myself along the way. I’ve never lost the desire, but I lost the joy. It got twisted somehow, becoming more about how I didn’t measure up rather than being a pure expression of myself.

I ended last year beginning to see who I am as a writer. For the first time I let go of my preconceived notions of what I should be writing and instead concentrated on having fun. I wrote (what I think is) a pretty damn awesome novel. First draft and all that – rough, rough, rough – but still a kick-ass book.

The resolution for this year is simply to create. I'm not going to worry about submitting anything. If I send anything to my agent, great. If I don’t, equally great. I don’t want to focus on anything beyond creating.

This year is for expression.

Still, the old habits kicked in. I admit, I’m pretty despondent that it’s the end of February and I’m not even a quarter of the way through the second edit. It’s like I can’t even acknowledge the fact that I’ve lost a month to endless hospital rooms. God, if I never see pukey yellow-white walls, pink barf bowls or pee cans again that would be awesome.

I had a hard time even putting a sentence together after that. I resorted to the pen-and-paper method because at least there I could get a feel for the rhythm of the words. But I wasn’t satisfied. I got on myself about how fast I should be going. And what should be doing. Should… should… should!

My mom asked, “Why are you messing with your process?”

Er, right. Exactly. Why?

I began to write and guess what? I didn’t suddenly plow through the edit. No, instead I had an epiphany on a book I put away about a year ago. I knew something had been missing. It irritated me to no end. And I never touched it after the first draft because I couldn’t figure out what exactly the missing piece was.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned through this wild ride it’s don’t touch it until you KNOW what needs to be changed. Because, my god, the damage you can do.

Now I have the percolations of what needs to be done. It’s working it’s way though my mind. Sprouting. I’m hoping by the time I do come back to it, the seed will be a lovely plant that will bloom.

In the meantime, this second draft... *Grump.* I managed six pages today. It felt like a miracle. I kid you not. And then…

I opened up a new document and began a new book. Because the idea was suddenly there. And I want to capture it. After all, this year is for me.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Thoughts for a New Year

Where to start? I’ve fallen back into my habit of writing blog posts either on the computer and never posting them. Or I talk them out in my head as I take a shower. Usually the latter. They’re pretty funny, and I have a chuckle as I rinse the soap out of my hair – and then, yeah, it seems as if I already told that story about the hilarious thing my kids did.

Meh.

I’ve been writing (I know, imagine that?). I finished the first draft of the project that’s currently holding my attention: 200 pages of complete drivel that I will not allow anyone to read at the moment. It’s a historical romance with paranormal elements. Er… yeah. There’s lots of sex in it too. It’s kind of hot. *wink*

Starting draft two was like letting out a big whoosh of air. I love editing.

God, I can’t believe I wrote that. I certainly didn’t feel that way a few years ago.

Really, though, once I realized that I didn’t write a perfect first draft (snort) it was a freeing experience. For me, my first drafts are about roughing out the story. The second is when I fall in love. I get to dive into the characters and figure out what makes them tick, rewrite scenes to make the language flow, and challenge my original vision.

I’ve made some key changes in my thinking these past few months. I was quite serious when I blogged before about going on a journey to find who I am as a writer. I do think I’m making progress. At least, what I’m doing at the moment feels right. It feels like it’s me tapping into that creative part of my brain, rather than pushing my head against a brick wall.

Although that means that there are times when I’m confused as to where my imagination is taking me. A few days ago I was feeling frazzled with my manuscript so I decided to do a bit of exploratory writing on a new idea. My intention was a third-person contemporary romance – straight up, no frills. My fingers began moving on the keyboard and suddenly I’d written several pages of a first-person, cultural woman’s fiction. Gah.

Whatever, you know? If that’s what comes out, then it does. I’ve decided it’s about the writing this year, allowing myself to write whatever the hell wants to be written. Because no one has to see it. If it makes me happy, that’s all that matters.

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