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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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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Second Drafts and Details Details Details

Slowly but surely I’m getting the second draft of my novel finished. Mostly what the second draft has shown me is how much work I have yet to do. Two more chapters and I’ll be done, then I can begin adding in all the details I’m lacking, pick up slow moving scenes, delve farther into my character’s personalities, and cut anything unnecessary or redundant. That will be the hard part.

But it’s starting to take shape. All the elements are there, I just have to fine tune and adjust. Add and cut. It’ll be fun. Sure it will. I’m looking forward to it. No I’m not.

Finishing up is always difficult. It’s the point where you just have to put your butt in a chair and do the work. The writing is easy. (mostly) it;s the re-writing and revising that will get ya. Part of me loves it. Part of me hates it. Part of me looks forward to it. Part of me wants to procrastinate. But when you are finished – truly finished once and for all – there is no feeling like it! It’s all worth it when you are looking at your final draft and you know you got it right. You know that it’s the best it can be at this time and you are happy and proud yet sentimental and lost all at the same time.

Writing is emotional. It’s personal. And it’s an amazing journey. The best part is that the journey is always new. It’s different each and every time you have a story to tell. The emotions are different, the feelings are different, and yet somehow familiar. Your art tugs at you and you have to respond. You have to see it through.

Writing is my sanity. It’s my safe place. It’s the best parts of my soul. It’s everything I love and it’s everything I loathe.

Two more chapters, then the real fun begins!


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Doing the Happy Writer Dance!

Dancing is not my forte, so you had better be glad you can’t see me right now!

I love it when you pick up a first draft that you’d given up for lost and that magical moment hits when you realize – Wait! This isn’t as bad as I thought!! Determined to finish the story, I’d picked up the draft that I was going to let simmer. Okay, even calling this a first draft seemed a bit optimistic, and by “simmer,” I really meant that it was going to sit on a shelf collecting dust because I was sure it held no promise whatsoever.

Not true!

Once I got back into the story I realized it had some potential. The work I’d already done had pretty good bone structure. All might not be lost after all, and the story I thought was going to continue to bore me started speaking to me. Turns out the characters had some things to say. So I got to writing. Soon, I found myself swept up and enjoying it. I was having ideas for ways to expand scenes, add new ones, take away old ones, and make the words tighter. I thought of ways to improve the main character’s interactions. So I write and I write into the wee hours of the night. (er…morning.) And I’m enjoying every second.

Finally this work is starting to come together for me. It has a long way to go, but it is showing me the promise of my original idea. That’s pretty exciting stuff when you had believed all was lost!

So I’m in my happy place right now, feeling my story and writing what I’m calling my second first draft! Lots of work ahead but I see it coming together in my mind and I can’t even describe the satisfaction.

And back to writing I go!!


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The (chaotic)Writer’s Life

As an ADHD’er things can get pretty chaotic in my world. Chaos just happens. Like breathing. That doesn’t make me the most organized writer in the world.

I’m fairly new to the world of deadlines, but I’m managing them. Haven’t missed one yet, anyway. 😉

I’m learning how to incorporate being a freelance writer into my world with all my other obligations. I’m confident it will get easier. I’m a work in progress, but I always will be.

One thing has definitely changed. I used to have loads of stories I had begun, then discarded as I jumped to another idea. In fact, I still have most of them, a gigantic box full in the closet. It’s comforting to know they are there, you know, for when I need some ideas, or a spark. How many of them will ever get finished or turned into anything, I have no idea. I used to be good at starting, but not finishing. But that was in the years where I was only toying with my writing – the years that I couldn’t actually write, had in fact given it up – just couldn’t completely let it go. Now that I’ve been writing again for a few years, I have found that I can’t just let a story go. I can’t NOT finish.

Recently, I had to pick among several projects. I had a very rough first draft of a new novel, an idea for a new book, half a first draft for another book, and then I had a project that I needed to work on for a specific market. My big idea was to let the rough draft simmer for a while, shelved, take notes for the new book and set it aside for another time, lose the other work in progress altogether because it was boring me, and work on the project that I had a specific market for.

It sounded like a great idea. I went to work on the new project, only to find that I had three different ways I could do it, and I couldn’t decide which way to go. I started working on plot planners for all three to see which would jump out at me as the way to go, only to decide I could turn the project into three distinctly different works. Hm. Sounds fun. But when I picked the path I was going to start on, I started writing away, only to find that I just kept getting ideas for the OTHER two paths. At the same time, I really just couldn’t get into the writing. I’d sit, day after day, manage a few sentences, but it was all so stale.

And all the while, that shelved first draft? It was calling me. Softly at first, then it started steadily getting louder until it was screaming. What I found? I can no longer just abandon a project and hop into another. I have to finish it. I have to see it through to the end. Every time I start to write on the project that I had deemed more pressing, my mind is filled with ideas for what I need to do with that first draft.

So I pulled it out. I started working on it. The world feels normal again. Turns out my writing self is not too fond of chaos. It doesn’t much like running amok, abandoning a project for another one just because I decided one was more pressing than the other.

Who knew that I needed a method to my madness? Who knew I was learning to finish what I start and not give up until I did? Maybe my chaos can be tamed just a bit after all. Maybe if I learn to trust the process, and not get all distracted by the new, shiny idea in my head I can actually get more work done. I’m learning to trust that the new idea will in fact still be there when I’m ready for it. (and that half finished draft that I thought I’d just dump? Nah…I also started getting a few ideas for that one too. You know, for another time. But it’s in line.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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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.