Archives

Here Comes NaNoWriMo…

… and all the panic that comes with it.

Don’t get me wrong, I love NaNo-season, but this year it feels even more out-of-control. I’m still looking forward to giving it a try though!

I’m hoping for 50 hours of butt-in-chair time, just like last year. I fell woefully short of that last year (but was still happy with the progress I made) so hopefully I can do better!

I had a list of all the things I was going to finish before NaNo this year: my Christmas cards were going to be ready for mailing on December 1st, my house was going to be relatively cleaned/picked up, the photobook (a Christmas gift) I’m working on was going to be done and ready for printing, and hubby and I were going to have finished watching Stranger Things 2… at the minimum. (He hooked me on Stranger Things about a week before the second season released.)

I was also hoping to be caught up on letters to all of my pen pals, some of whom have been waiting for months now because, you know, life exploded. And I was hoping to have a few other side projects caught up too.

I finished absolutely none of those things as October turned in to a rough patch with me feeling frequently run down and then right about the time I started to feel better, I began nursing my best friend at the hospital. At least she is out of ICU now! Autoimmune disorders are a bitch, ya’ll. Then again if you have one or know someone who has one… you already know that.

So I’m going into this NaNoWriMo season with the goal I’d already set for myself, plus a long list of other goals to juggle in addition to a full-time day job and my own likes-to-run-down-this-time-of-year health. But is that going to stop me? NEVERRRR!!! So nothing should stop you from trying your best either.

Want to see what the rest of my writing group is up to for this November? 5 of the 6 of us are being rebels! Check us out at this post.

*Photo by user TesaPhotography at Pixabay, creative commons usage

Advertisements

Submissions and a Collection: A Poetry Headache

I last mentioned where I was at in writing my first poetry collection about five months ago with this post. I’m still very much in the early stages. Where do the early stages end, anyway? I figure there will just come a point when I look around me and go, “Yeah, I’m in this one deep.” I’m not quite there yet.

(I’m laughing at the me that once said “I’ll make sure to spend at least a year on this so as not to rush it.” Oh you sweet, summer child.)

I’ve been doing a lot of reading this summer, which means not as much writing. After trying to juggle both for several years and failing at getting much read OR written I finally figured out that the best possible thing I can do is work hard on writing for a month or two, then switch to spending all that time on reading for a month or two. It keeps me from getting burned out on the blank page, it helps refill my brain when I’m starting to feel emptied of ideas, and it means that I get to more thoroughly enjoy reading and writing when not doing them together at the same rate. This is, at least, the system that works best for me. (For now.)

The time I have given to writing this summer has been productive… technically. Meaning I know it has been productive. I have the notes and pages that tell me this. But when it comes to finished content? Very, very little.

Nothing wants to wrap up for me. There’s a particular piece I’ve been working at rather hard that I finished back in July. Sort of. It reads in finished style, but the rhyme and meter is all wrong for not only what is in my head but also how the collection has begun to develop. It doesn’t fit. So I put it away for 2 months, let my mind clear some, and have been at it again this last week only to find Continue reading

Still Around, Still Writing, Still Figuring This Whole Thing Out

This photo has nothing to do with this post other than it makes me happy and I’m trying to stay positive in life and with goals!

Personally, politically, and being-kind-culturally this just isn’t the nicest of years. All of the insanity (both that which I’m involved in and that which the news keeps telling me about) has slowed me down, not just in writing but in keeping up with all the aspects of this crazy thing we call life. I’m learning that keeping the end goal in sight is more important than hard-and-fast deadlines (at least the self-imposed ones) and that self-forgiveness is a pretty important thing.

* No more blog schedules around here. I’ll aim to post at least once a month whenever possible, and that will usually be possible, but if I disappear for a month or two I probably won’t be posting apologies. It’s just me feeling super guilty that I’ve ‘messed up’ another self-imposed goal and those begin to eat me up more than help me when I do that.

I hope I have regular readers of this blog, but I’m the first to say I don’t really know how to market this blog to readers, especially while I don’t feel like I have much to offer yet. But here I am, floundering at the blogging thing all the same! I feel like many of my posts are probably uninteresting and I want to improve on that front. I will always keep trying to do better here so we’ll see how it all works out on the long plan, right? Continue reading

The Early Stages of Writing a Poetry Collection

If you’re following this blog, amidst the random posts on letter writing, kid lit, and other assorted things, you’ve seen a few posts about me working on a poetry collection. This is my first. I’ve written single poems for prompts, competitions, and personal ideas off and on for many years now, always thinking that one day I’d like to create a collection but never really sure what that would look like.

More than a year and a half ago I had an idea for a poem that slowly morphed into an idea for a themed collection based on the instrumental music of a single artist. I sat on the idea for quite a long time, thinking over possible ways I could approach a larger project like this, before I picked up the pen and began writing November of last year. (I also realized that a poem finished earlier in 2016 fit the collection, so wooo head start!)

But here’s the thing… while there are lots of wonderful blogs and vlogs walking writers through the process of novels, there isn’t so much material out there for poets writing a collection. I have articles saved with suggestions for submitting your work, organizing a collection (once the work is done), and promoting your book. Noooot so much the ‘here’s a blank page, now start your collection’ sort of references. Continue reading

A Few Days of Crippling Self-Doubt

Writers (and other creative people) have this thing where we usually doubt ourselves. A lot. I can’t even quite explain to someone who doesn’t fight with this just how much we doubt.

This is me. Except, you know, without the book deal to soften the feelings.

I love Debbie Ridpath Ohi’s work. SO MUCH. Everyone should be reading her stuff. (Click on the comic and it will take you over to her site.)

My confidence in being a writer and in trying to become a well-published writer has its hills and valleys. There’s pretty much always a quiet voice in the back of my mind that asks me what I think I’m doing. Couldn’t my time be spent on something with a more guaranteed outcome? Like theoretical physics?

About a week ago that voice got really, really loud. Continue reading

Tracking Creative Progress and Becoming a Writer

2017… the year I’m trying to get serious about being a poet. And about allowing myself more creative time in general.

I’ve been using the awesome (and incredibly simple) app Timesheet to track how much time I’m giving to writing and how much time is going to a given project. In January I tallied an impressive 35 minutes. Total. But in January I also gave most of my creative time to a photo book project. Many, many hours in fact. It was something I was passionate about creating and have been putting off because I’ve been terrible about allowing myself time to work on creative projects at all. I’m thrilled with the end result. And I’m learning how to give myself time for the creative projects I really want to work on, not just writing… and how to gently let go of the projects begun that became a burden instead of a joy.

I’m doing better with writing this month, and even though I haven’t clocked a lot of hours yet I have seen definite progress on my project. I’ve also taken on a commission for the first time. A small project for a friend who needed some poetry in her story. I’ve got a good start on it and am waiting for more notes from her before I launch into finishing it up. I’ve never tried to write something that isn’t a vision in my own head before, so this is good practice, even if not something I’d normally do.  Continue reading

NaNoWriMo 2016 in Review

You may have noticed I dropped off and didn’t keep up with updates (on here OR Facebook) as intended. This November was… rough. So here’s a few thoughts on NaNoWriMo for 2016:

  1. This November was determined to not be cooperative. At least in the realm of writing. In the first place, I’ve taken a few years off NaNo and honestly forgotten just how much I have to learn to say no both to others and myself in favor of having the time to write. Also that this is not something to feel guilty over… it’s 30 days out of the whole year. But here are a few reasons this November was extra topsy-turvy:
    1. My best friend’s car met an already-dead woodland creature on the road and thus died itself. I am happy to help be a ride, offered right away and don’t regret it one bit, but it does require extra time.
    2. I also heard from friends who found a newly-orphaned baby kitty who needed a home right away… and put best friend in touch with them. Baby kitty now has a safe and happy home!! The story couldn’t have a better ending. But baby kitties, especially ‘found’ ones, require things to help get them in perfect health, and this also takes time.
    3. Hubby has been having increasing back pain for months now and this month it finally hit a peak that has kept him from working all but the absolutely-required hours at work. We’re in the process of helping him get better and may finally have some answers, but less money + his inability to help with housework has taken away writing time as well. The only thing I regret about this is that he doesn’t feel better. I want to see him pain free. Hopefully that is on the horizon.
    4. I have been dealing with a resurgence of my own health issues. Thankfully none of the severe ones, but mostly the ones that cause low-level all-over pain as well as higher levels of fatigue. The extra responsibilities at this time contribute so that there isn’t much left over at the end of the day. I’d rather sleep than write. And sometimes that’s how it has to be.
    5. ALL OF THAT BEING SAID… that’s life. I regret none of it. Feel animosity toward none of it. This year especially seems to have beat up nearly the entire world. I only list these things as examples that sometimes there are other things that need taking care of in life, and it’s okay to give over to handling those things. Just don’t forget yourself when ‘other things’ begin to calm down once more.
  2. I finished at 17 hours, 1 minute. A far cry from my 50 hours goal. I honestly had no concept of 50 hours in regards to normal daily life, let alone the messy side of life I’ve been dealing with lately. That’s a LOT of time in addition to a full time job and other responsibilities. I will likely try for it again in 2017, but I now have a better understanding and appreciation for how much time that is and what it requires me to do.
  3. I may have only hit 34% of goal, but it was a wonderfully productive month for me. I feel like I absolutely did the right thing in waiting to begin this project during NaNo.
    1. I finished 1 poem, full edits, and am nearly done with a 2nd. This is not going to sound impressive. For me, I’m pleased. I’ve never tackled a full length collection, let alone with a theme, from scratch. I have recently been going MONTHS without picking up a pen at all; I’m out of practice.
    2. I am learning to sit and work at writing even when I don’t feel incredibly inspired. This is the ‘magic’ level of being a writer I’ve never really hit before. No inspiration has always equaled no writing. I’m learning to wake inspiration up by sitting down with my pen before she shows up on her own.
    3. I’m learning my own process of creating poetry, especially from a blank page / free writing stage. Notably I’m learning to NOT give up on the poem when I go from messy free write to really, really bad rhyming verse. This seems to be a common ‘second step’ for me on my way to the end product. It’s just a sign that a poem is beginning to form, not that it will be stuck there. Don’t give up.
    4. I’ve discovered that the more I work on my own poetry, the more ‘hungry’ I get for reading the work of others. I absolutely have to refill the tank. It’s even more satisfying to read the work of amazing poets when I feel like my poetry tank is empty. The best words and lines spark that much brighter. Most recent read? “The Robot Scientist’s Daughter” by Jeannine Hall Gailey. Highly recommended.
  4. This project is going to take a year at best. Any less and I will have rushed through it. I know me and my abilities (at least as they are at this time) and know this to be true. It is likely it will take longer, and if that is what creates the best work I am capable of, then so be it. I don’t want to hurry this and mess it up. But I got enough momentum going this month that I trust myself to not give up. Even taking a week away from writing gave me the itch to sit down for at least a couple of hours one afternoon and work.

Continue reading

NaNoWriMo 2016: Week 2 Recap

This post is a couple of days late, but I’m here! I’m still kicking! At this point I don’t see how 50 hours will happen, but I’m certainly not giving up.

The weekend saw a couple of good writings days, but I’m woefully behind. So far behind that at this point, my more serious goal is 25 hours. (Though the insane part of me does still whisper in my ear that 50 could happen…)

I finished day 14 at 10 hours, 38 minutes of time logged.

Keep in mind that I’m not counting any time my brain wanders to thinking about my project during the day. Or any time I may be vaguely thinking about it in between more serious writing sessions while I do other things. I’m only logging focused time on the project. Butt in chair, pen in hand, total focus. My brain is getting tired… I forgot how much creative focus can be a mental drain!

I’m also starting to feel ‘hungry’ for other poetry. I’m draining so much out of my head that I need to replenish it with the awesome words of others. Thankfully I own at least a few poetry books and have been rereading through those, plus I picked up a new book from the library just yesterday. There’s some poetry books on my Christmas list (*fingers crossed!*) and a friend just got me a subscription to Southern Poetry Review for my birthday so I’m very excited! Not to mention the second issue of Outlook Springs should be headed my way soon too. Plenty of new words to consume in 3, 2, 1…

I’ve been very scattered with my writing this last week. Working for 10 minutes here, 15 minutes there… having difficulty getting any one piece to talk to me strongly, but making sure I take the time to be quiet and focus on each one in case they’re just being quiet. This is a change for me, and a positive one. I’m trying to stop writing ‘only when I’m inspired’.

The good news? I finished a new poem! Edits and all. It’s the second complete poem of the collection. (I realized that one of the poems I finished in the spring was actually the beginning to the collection I thought I hadn’t started yet. Funny how that works sometimes.) Two poems hardly make a collection, but they are a beginning. Perhaps I can finish at least one more before the month is up? Retraining your brain, your creativity, and your motivation is hard…

NaNoWriMo 2016: Week 1 Recap

And so November has begun! I’ll be posting once a week with an update on how the writing is going for the month, and I hope you’ll check in for that! You can also follow my Facebook page for daily (or near-daily) updates.

Note: After November my blog may not be quite as busy for a time, but I’ll still be around. I don’t want this blog to turn into what my previous blogs have been, a race just to post something within a certain time frame. You may have noticed there are a few categories on this blog with no (or few) posts yet. I promise they’re coming. Some of them are just much more time intensive and why would anyone want to read a post that I don’t feel like putting my heart into writing? Those categories are place-holders and will slowly be filled.

This year, NaNoWriMo is not only about starting a new project for me, but also learning to allow myself to do something I love. I’ve known for a long time that I’m holding myself back, but it hasn’t been until the last couple of months that I’ve worked out at least part of my mindset behind it. This NaNoWriMo is a small step in taking back part of my creative self.

In case you haven’t read this post yet, I’m being a NaNo rebel and working on my first poetry collection. I’m not about to write 50,000 words of poetry (even really, really BAD poetry), so my goal is to commit 50 hours of time this month to working on that collection.

It’s been a slow start. But I expected that. As of the end of Nov 7th I have given the project 3 hours and 41 minutes of time. I have some serious catching up to do! Keep in mind that I only count completely focused and dedicate time. Idle wandering as I think things over, internet researchings, etc. are not being counted. I don’t think that’s fair.

Want to follow 5 writers (and not just me) this November? Make sure to check out the Rabid Rainbow Ferret Society’s blog (my writing group) for weekly updates too! Here’s the first week: NaNoWriMo Week One! – Ferret Updates

Are you participating in NaNoWriMo or any other writing project this month? Tell me about it in the comments!

 

NaNoWriMo 2016: Poetry Collection, Coming Right Up!

I finally have a solid idea for what might be my first collection. Certainly my first consciously themed poetry project. It began as an idea for a single poem. Specifically, a title. When I couldn’t pin down what I wanted to write, having too many options, I thought perhaps it would be a few poems or a poem in many parts. Before long I realized that the concept I had was not for just one or two poems, but a theme for a collection.

I’ve been tossing it around in my head for well over a full year now, and seeing as how it won’t go away I think I need to work on it. Unfortunately wanting to write it does not immediately make it appear as a bestseller on the shelves of Barnes and Noble tomorrow. I can daydream all I want about it, but if I think about all of the steps it will take to get it into published form I won’t even start. There’s simply too many. (And this is where a lot of writers in all genres get stuck.) Instead I’m working on a game plan to get around to writing it in the first place.

I’m afraid if I tackle it now, while I’m still only writing in fits and starts, I won’t stick to it, no matter how much this project means to me. So instead, I’m using NaNoWriMo this year to kick off. If I can dig my claws in deep, I don’t think I’ll let the project go even if I can’t devote time to it at a consistent pace after November. In the spirit of 50 (since NaNoWriMo’s goal is 50,000 words), I pledge 50 hours of “butt in chair” time, all to this project (unless another poem that doesn’t fit just insists on not waiting, you know how it goes).

Does that mean I’ll stop at 50 hours? Of course not! I hope to spend more time! But I will do everything in my power that month to see that I devote at least 50 hours. If I spend that much time focusing, I know I will get something written. Even on my day-dreamiest days I can’t spend a full hour staring at an empty page without writing SOMETHING before I give up. 50 hours will equal progress, even if I can’t guess how much.

journal and pensSo until November starts I’m quietly working on the logistics in my head. I have a few different ways the collection could be arranged, and while I won’t worry too strongly about that until it is nearing completion, the core ideas for arrangement in my head I am trying to sort because they will at least partially determine how I go about writing.

All I can say is that my favorite pens and a shiny new journal (picked up during last year’s writing retreat with the Ferret girls; I told you this has been in my head for awhile) are ready to go!