Who Am I? Why Do You Care?

I am a woman on a journey. Where I'll end up is yet to be discovered.


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November is for First Drafts

Some of you may know that I’m a fan of NaNoWriMo. I know people who love it and people who think it’s absurd – but personally I was hooked from the time I heard there was such a thing.

The first year I participated I had no idea if I could finish or not. I wasn’t used to putting out that many words in a month. Writing had always taken a back burner to everything else going on around me. I wrote whenever I found some time. Doing NaNo that first year taught me something. It taught me that if I wanted to be a writer, I had to stop treating it like a hobby. I had to make time. It’s not always easy to do and sometimes I don’t succeed. But now, for the most part, there is writing time carved into each and every day. I learned that first November that I was more than capable of writing at least 50,000 words in a month.

I’m smart enough to know those words written with wild abandon in November are just a first draft. There’s lots of work to be done in the months following November if I really want to turn those words into something, but getting that first draft out is monumental. It’s vital. You can’t rewrite or edit words you have yet to write.

I was grateful to NaNoWriMo for helping me see I could do it. So it just naturally happens now that I think November is the month I have to write a first draft. Maybe it’s the ADHD in me, or the slight OCD, but as October winds down, I find myself giddily anticipating the new draft I will write in November. It’s a ritual now.

I’ve been at work on Finding Home. I’ve been re-writing and changing, editing and polishing. It’s not quite there yet. BUT – come November first, Finding Home will be put aside as I write my next first draft. I’m okay with this. I still have time on Finding Home.

I’m excited about this new draft. It’s a quirky story with an ADHD heroine. Something I’ve been wanting to write for quite some time. It’s going to be loads of fun to get inside her head.

This evening I’m getting ready to sit down with Finding Home and work on those edits. But come Tuesday, I’ll be joining the masses for NaNoWriMo. The fall air is screaming that it’s time to write a new book!

The best part about being a writer, or any other creative pursuit, is that I get to do so on my own terms. We all have our own ideas about how it should be done. We all find our own writing rituals, quirks, schedules, and philosophies. It’s a craft we get to bend to our own needs and desires. I love that about writing.

So good luck to any of you that are doing NaNoWriMo this year -especially any first timers! I hope you meet (and exceed!) your goals. I hope you have fun, and I hope you learn something about yourself along the way.

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Writing is the Most Amazing Difficult Thing you will Ever do

I was on a good roll with the editing of Finding Home. Life happens sometimes though, and the writing time that gets set aside each day finds itself being pushed aside. That being the case I’ve gotten very little work done this week. I sit here tonight staring at my WIP and thinking of how far I have to go. I read a bit and cringe thinking how awful it is. But you know what? It’s on paper. It’s out there. I can work with it. And it’s there because I started.

Starting is sometimes the hardest part of writing. It was especially that way when I first began to write seriously. I was so afraid to put pen to paper, thinking what if this idea turns out to be garbage? What if it isn’t good enough? What if it isn’t what I envision it to be? All those thoughts racing through my mind threatened to stop me in my tracks before I even began. But then I realized that yes, it was going to be garbage and that was okay. If you are going to learn to write, or if you are going to hone your craft and get better – you must write. It’s okay if those first works never see the light of day. If they help you to find your voice or teach you discipline or help you to get better – those awful first works serve their purpose.

I’ve  said before I do not believe in being an “aspiring” writer. If you are putting pen to paper (or keystroke on screen) then you ARE a writer. Published or not doesn’t matter. If you write you are a writer. Own it. Be proud of it. Just make sure that before you put your work out there that it is the best work you can do. Make sure it’s something you can be proud of. And if you ARE aspiring; if you have not begun because you are afraid that the idea in your head isn’t going to be good enough – you are only hurting yourself. We write because it is a passion. We write because words and worlds consume us and demand to be recorded. We write because to not write is agony. Writing is hard. Writing is hell. Writing never gets easier because with each new first draft you begin at the beginning.  As writers we are just twisted enough to enjoy the torture.

Do you know what? That first recorded idea ISN’T going to be good enough. But what are you gaining from never writing it? You can’t move past that first bad draft and become the writer you aspire to be if you don’t write. It’s as simple as that. To improve you must practice. You must write. Write the drivel. Don’t be afraid of it. Write it and move on to better things.

And that first draft? A first draft is always just that. A first draft. Its supposed to be awful. You aren’t human if it isn’t! But that first draft introduces you to your characters. It gets them out of your head and on the page. Learn from them. Let them tell you all their secrets. Get them all down. Then you get to decide how to deal with them. Second drafts. Third drafts. Fourth drafts. Each one gets you closer to the ideal world you created in your head. Don’t be afraid of writing garbage. Don’t be afraid of the first thing you ever write being crap.

Sometimes we all need reminding that we really don’t choose the writing life. It chose us long ago. Sure, we can ignore it. We choose to sit down and empty the words onto the page, but I think we do so more because it is a compulsion than a choice. Those years I spent not writing seemed hollow. I was ignoring the very real call of what I was meant to do. I was born to be a writer, but I will never get to be the kind of writer I wish to be unless I do one simple thing. Write. With each story, with each new draft I hope I get just a bit better. I hope I learn something new about myself every time I sit down at the computer or sit down on the back porch with a cup of tea and a pen and paper.

I’m not where I want to be. Not by a long shot. I have much to learn. But I won’t learn it unless I dive in and do it.

So today I’m telling you to write. Just write. Don’t worry about how it’s going to turn out. Don’t worry about it not being what you envision. Just get started. Write.


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Progress! Finding Home.

With a bit more determination and maybe just a bit of luck, my new novel, Finding Home will be out in the spring. I’m excited. And just a little scared. I still have some work to do but I think it’s coming along nicely. I spent today editing/repairing holes/rewriting bland sentences and got through 23 pages! Pretty productive if I do say so myself!

This story has been with me for a very long time in one form or another. It’s changed a lot since its initial conception, but the heart of the characters has remained the same. I’ve been drawn to this story for some reason, even while I was working on other things – but it demanded to be written. I’m glad I finally got down to business and put it on paper.

I love this time of year! Maybe it’s the routine of the school year which I find somewhat comforting, maybe it’s the promise of cooler weather, or maybe, just maybe it’s the anticipation that November and National Novel Writing Month will be here soon. I can’t help it, I love NaNoWriMo. I love the feel of a brand new story to write and November always seems like a good opportunity to get out a rough first draft of a new story. And this year is no different. I have my idea in place, so all I will have to do come November first is put aside my editing for Finding Home and let my new characters lead the way for a while.

 

I’m glad to be in a more productive frame of mind right now. Things had been going, well….slowly, but my brain seems to be revving back up again. Phew!


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Big Plans for 2017! The Writing Continues…

While my writing is going a little slower right now than I would have liked, I am making progress, so I’ll take it.

I finished the second draft of my latest novel, Finding Home, and now I need to let it sit a few weeks so I can come back with a fresh eye and a will to fix all the holes and redundancies.

While I wait, I’m working on the final two stories that will complete the book of short stories that I started almost two years ago. The stories still need revision, but once the final two are written I can go back and work on the editing and rewriting. Some are farther along than others. I’m hoping for a mid to late 2017 release date for this one, Thoughts from Chaotic Minds.

I’ve also started roughing out my next novel idea. I’m jotting notes, doing character sketches, and a bit of research. While fiction, the book will center around an ADHD/Anxiety Disorder heroine. I’m really excited to write about her! She’s a lot spunkier than I am, and I like that about her! 😉

Summer is coming to a close and school will be back in before I know it. My daughter’s vacation has absolutely flown by and high school awaits her. That will be one more interesting journey for us!

In the meantime I plan to keep writing and to enjoy the few weeks we have left!

 


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Don’t Aspire to be Something. Be it.

Being a writer is awesome. Next to being a mom, I’d say it’s definitely my favorite thing. I love how things changed the day I decided I was no longer an “aspiring” writer. No more dreaming, there was only doing. I’ve learned a lot along the way.

Every writer chooses their own path based on what they want to gain from writing and also from their own personal experiences. Being a writer means different things to different people. Writers are as diverse a group as anyone else.

For a long time I thought of myself as an aspiring author, because I wasn’t quite “there,” wherever “there” actually is. With the help of others (many of them being amazing writers I’ve had the good fortune to get to know, either in person or online), I learned that I wasn’t “aspiring” to be anything, I already WAS.

My writing has changed along the way. I’ve changed along the way. My goals have changed along the way. That’s a good thing. With any career you reach forks in the road and you have to pick one. You don’t get to see what will happen down each of them, you just trust your instincts and choose. You keep going til you reach another fork then you make another choice. It’s the journey.

I’m lucky to have had some articles published recently. It was something I applied for on a whim, and it’s been an incredible part of my journey. I get to write about something near and dear to my heart (ADHD), and I wouldn’t trade the experience for anything. I’m always reluctant to reach out for opportunities like this, always that little part of me that still feels like I’m learning, and so have no business applying. Another great choice I made once I got rid of the “aspiring” author kind of thinking.

I reached a point last month where I just felt stuck. I wanted to write – had so many ideas for things I needed to write – and yet it was all becoming difficult. I’d changed my priorities, reshuffled my projects, and yet something was still off. I needed to get to work on a project that had once had potential and had garnered some interest, but now I wasn’t so sure. I needed to shake things up, separate my work life from the stresses that were in my personal life that I thought was causing this lack of inspiration. So I signed up for a writing course.

I love writing courses. I’ve taken a few over the years, whenever I could. I love learning about writing, gaining new insights, seeing things in a new light and becoming better at my chosen craft. There is always something you can learn from someone else. Always.

I obviously love to read. But let’s be completely honest. A single parent with ADHD and Anxiety, parenting a child with ADHD, Anxiety, OCD, and Depression, while trying to shuffle a day job and a freelance writing career- it now takes me forever to finish a book where I used to go through them like water. One of the first tasks I was given in this writing course was to read roughly twenty books in different sub-genres of the genre I was interested in. There is also a reading form to be filled out for each book. It was just questions to be filled out on the plot, the characters, ect.

At first I just thought, twenty books? It will take me a year. I’ll never manage it. I knew the reason for reading the books. I knew filling out the forms for each was a learning experience. You study literature to create literature. You learn all you can.

Then the craziest thing happened. I picked up the first book and read it in three days. As I took notes on my form along the way, then sat with it when I was done and filled it all in, I couldn’t wait to reach for the second book. By the third book, that form was my best friend. I knew that dissecting these books was helping me to become not just a better writer, but a better reader. I was reading differently. I was a more active participant in the book. I had definite opinions. I was enjoying them more.

Funny how a writing class and a reading questionnaire have transformed how I read. I believe I’m getting more out of the books, just because I’m looking at them differently. I’s hard to explain, but I’m enjoying becoming a better reader. I’m enjoying learning what other authors can show me through their work. I always thought I was an active reader. I always noticed things, would copy down bits I especially liked as well as bits I didn’t. I’d try to look at the work from several different ways. Maybe I just wasn’t asking myself the right questions while I was reading. Maybe I just wasn’t asking enough. Either way, something has kind of clicked with the way I’m reading. Maybe it’s just because I’m more mindful, knowing I will have specific questions to answer when I’m done.

I have a few projects of my own still on hold. They may be there for quite some time, but I’m okay with that. When the time is right I will be able to work on them. I’m trying hard to concentrate on one specific goal right now and work toward it. Even if it doesn’t work this time around, doesn’t mean I’ll quit trying. Writing is my life. It’s part of me. And it’s my job.

It’s Sunday. It’s my one day off from my day job. I used to spend it cleaning and doing laundry and all the other things that got pushed aside during the week. Then I decided no more. Sunday wasn’t made to play catch up. And today? Today is a gorgeous, warm, breezy, bright sunshiny kind of day. I haven’t scrubbed my porches yet; haven’t tackled those spring cleaning chores, but that’s okay. I spent an hour this morning cleaning out the garage, and now, I’m sitting on my front porch, getting ready to tackle some studying, and then some reading. It’s a beautiful day and I can’t think of a nicer way to spend it.

 


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New Project Excitement

The first draft of the novel I wrote in November for NaNoWriMo is safely tucked away breathing before I start on the second draft. In the meantime I’ve begun a new project. This one promises to be an adventure, full of ups and downs, tears and joy for me as a writer. I have grand plans for this book – I see it through rose colored glasses of epic proportions. I know what I want it to be, I know how I want it to sound, I know the essence and the feel of it; now I just have to see if I can deliver.

As far as first drafts go, I’m extremely pleased with what I have so far. I’m only about 8,000 words in though, so that is subject to change rapidly. This book is near and dear to my heart, and has a lot of special meaning to me. Although fiction, it contains some real life mysteries that I’m taking artistic license with and coming up with my own answers. Some of the characters are straight from imagination only, and some are loosely based on people I’ve known. Some I’ve taken traits from several people and rolled them all into one character.

Maybe that is the way with writers whether intentional or not; to mold and fashion characters from our own roster of familiar faces. Some of the scenes in the book will be taken from things that really happened, but it is fiction, a web of stories brought together by a few strands of truth.

I have a feeling this story is going to tear at me, turn me upside down and leave me raw. I’ll even say I’m looking forward to it. I believe it needs to. I think only when it rattles me and forces me to dig deep within myself, will the story come to life. If I do my job correctly, the resulting product will be worth the pain of creation.

I have much I want to accomplish with my writing this year. I think I’m off to a good start. I’m looking forward to seeing how it all unfolds.

 


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Going Nowhere Fast. And Starting Again

I tried. I really did. But the novel I was working on for NaNoWriMo just wasn’t going anywhere. I weighed my options and dove into another idea. I’m not saying this one is going much better, but I’ve muddled through and I’ve gotten a little over 40,000 words. I’m going to finish this thing.

First drafts are supposed to be horrible, right? First drafts tell us what we are writing about. Second drafts start to turn that into a proper story. So all I am asking of myself at this point is to get the words on paper, or screen as the case may be, and keep at it. It doesn’t have to be a good novel. It can be a bad novel; a very, very bad novel. I just can’t stop.

Part of the creative slump is the fact that I tried switching to a genre I normally don’t write. I wanted to try something new. I’m not sorry I did. It just takes time to switch gears.

Paired with what I wrote on the first novel, I’ve written about 60,000 words this November. Not bad. I could paste that all together and feed it into the word counter to claim a “win.” But I’m not. For me, I want to have a finished product. I can’t use pieces. It may need a lot of work, and it may never really work, but end of November I will have a completed first draft.

Time go get writing.