Coneflower as metaphor

Parts of this photo are in focus, but much of it is not. And that sums up where I’m at with this first draft of my new manuscript. Several key elements are firmly in place while other elements were either abandoned along the way or inserted later in the narrative. In a few places the draft reads like a jumble of characters and motivations.

But the moments of insight counteract that blurriness, giving me faith it’s all gonna be okay. I will prevail.

Thankful Thursday: friendly NaNo nudge edition

Today I’m thankful for critique partner and friend, Laura Perdew, who encouraged me to try NaNoWriMo this year. I’m positive I wouldn’t even have considered fast-drafting if she hadn’t suggested NaNo as the cure for my exceedingly slooow outlining and drafting of this new project.

Today is the halfway point for NaNo and here’s what I’ve accomplished thus far:

I’m more than halfway to my target of 52,169 words for November (I’d already written 2,169 words and didn’t want to “cheat” on achieving 50,000 words in 30 days so included them in my final draft target). I am thrilled. Absolutely over the moon with my progress. Hooray! Etc.¬† ūüôā

It’s amazing what I can accomplish once I banish my internal editor to a corner with tape over her mouth.

Sunday Confessional: sometimes I want to head for shore

It’s Day Eleven of NaNoWriMo and while I’ve managed to achieve my word count each day (a minimum of 1700 words), I’m still susceptible to panic and overwhelm. For example, yesterday as I drove home from my solo writing retreat in Estes Park I wasn’t congratulating myself on the progress I’d made. Instead, I worried that I hadn’t yet found my narrator’s true voice. Then I switched to agonizing over my “too many plot lines” I’d never be able to connect, followed by the certainty that my first draft was such an irredeemable mess it would take years to revise the manuscript into anything coherent.

I felt like a poser. I wanted to run away from the whole thing.

Those feelings mirror what it’s like when I stand in the ocean and watch a huge wave come my way. I experience a slew of emotions. Panic. Exhilaration. Awe. Fear.¬† An urge to run for shore.

While I frequently do run from big waves, I don’t like to run from my writing commitments. So this morning when I woke with those same angsty feelings, I looked for some online support and wisdom to help me reel in negative thoughts about my first draft. I found this:¬†¬†7 Things NOT to Worry About During Your First Draft

All my worries are addressed in that article which makes me think I’m not the first writer in history to freak out about her shitty first draft. Newsflash, huh?

Today I continue working on my NaNo project. And as the words add up I have those same big-wave feelings I experience when I choose to dive into the wave and then come out the other side. Exhilaration. Pride. Awe.

The desire to do it again.

Thankful Thursday: writing retreat

As the election results came in on Tuesday night I was seized by a sudden urge to get away. So I went online and found a good deal for two nights at a lodge next to a river. The room has a woodburning stove and a table for my laptop and big monitor.

I’m leaving in about an hour to drive to Estes Park. The temperature is hovering around freezing and I’m looking forward to hunkering down in my tiny room. Just me, my NaNo project, and a crackling fire.

I’m very grateful I have the means to make this happen and plan to enjoy every moment of creative solitude.

Mother Earth ain’t subtle with her hints

Yesterday I spent four long and very cold hours in a library parking lot. I was there to educate people on Colorado’s Prop 112. I was hoping voters would support the proposition which would’ve created safer setbacks for fracking sites. I was hoping they’d agree that industrial oil & gas operations don’t belong nears schools and communities, and that public health and safety is paramount.

Some of the people I spoke with definitely cared. Some, however, didn’t think children’s health was at risk. My most gut-wrenching interaction in those four hours was with a young woman holding an exceedingly smiley and cute toddler. As I explained to her I was out there because of my concern for children’s well-being, she unzipped her son’s hoodie and showed me the shirt underneath. Someone in their household had dressed that small little boy with the beautiful smile in a NO ON PROP 112 shirt.

The oil & gas industry dumped millions of dollars into defeating Prop 112 and yesterday it succeeded. And today? Well, I just logged onto Twitter and saw this:

The site that is now on fire? It’s¬† owned by Noble Energy, one of the biggest contributors to the No on 112 campaign.

It’d almost be funny if the whole situation wasn’t so horrifying.

Deerly Beloved

As the nervousness and anxiety mounts regarding the outcome of tomorrow’s votes, I turn to my default emotional-health tool: nature.

This deer showed up in our front yard just over a year ago and today I’m grateful for its grace, beauty, and calming demeanor.

Breathe, Tracy. Breathe . . .

Sunday Confessional: I’m not feeling very neighborly

So many people in my neighborhood have signs in support of candidates and policies that are destructive and greed-based.¬† Candidates who want nothing more than to strip away our health care. Strip away protections for those with pre-existing conditions. Strip away health insurance coverage for young adults under their parents’ plans.

I tried explaining my family’s health care needs to a kind neighbor displaying a campaign sign for one such candidate, telling him it was hurtful to see that sign in his yard. He listened to what I had to say about my family’s medical needs and how that candidate’s policies would change our lives for the worst. He listened and then said he’d talk to A and D, two men in our neighborhood. Well, apparently my female opinion wasn’t enough in the face of men’s opinions because my neighbor still has the sign for the candidate backed by the Koch Brothers in his yard.

Then there are the many anti-Proposition 112 signs in the neighborhood. All of them saying it’s more important to save a few oil and gas jobs in Colorado rather than protect the health and safety of its citizens. Every time I see one of those signs I wish I could put a drilling rig/fracking site on their front lawn. It’s so easy to vote against public health and safety when you’re not at risk. There is zero chance we’ll ever have oil and gas operations in our neighborhood, so fuck everyone else around the state, right? Not to mention how insane it is to ignore the fact that the planet is on a crash course to extinction due to fossil fuels.

I apologize for venting here. I just wish my neighborhood was filled with people trying to behave less like ignorant greedheads and more like Mister Rogers. I’m gonna go back to my fictional neighborhood now . . .

Let’s hear it for volunteers

This weekend many, many people are volunteering their time and energy and money to political candidates and causes. I am grateful for the collective passion and commitment aimed at turning this ship around.

This cotoneaster was a volunteer in my yard. I didn’t plant it, one day it just showed up. And now it’s among the most beautiful and vibrant bushes in the garden.

Volunteers are the very best, whether flora or fauna. Thank you all.

It’s my party and I’ll celebrate the way I want to

Today was Day One of NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) and I came here with the intent of posting an image that celebrated the 1900 words I wrote today (and, possibly more importantly, the fact that I wrote past my doubts and ended up having genuine fun working on those scenes). However, when I went to Pixabay in search of SUCCESS or CELEBRATION or HIGH-FIVE images, I found:

This photo makes me happy. I love cows and big nostrils and whiskers. Plus, my novel is set in Wisconsin. It’s practically written in the stars that I celebrate today’s work with a cow’s nose.

Don’t fear the pumpkin

Zebu and I carved pumpkins last night. When he was little Zebu had some tactile issues that made it unbearable for him to do stuff like fingerpaint or clean out a pumpkin’s innards. Carving pumpkins wasn’t a positive experience.

We remedied that last night. Zebu and I talked and laughed as we grabbed handfuls of pumpkin guts, squishing stringy orange pulp through our fingers. Zebu handled the sensations just fine and turned down the offer of a wet rag. I was the one who felt compelled to rinse my hands during the process. (Pumpkin makes the skin feel tight, yo!)

And here are the results. Zebu’s Jack Skellington on the left and my triangle head on the right. Here’s hoping they look as scary in the dark as they do in the light of day.

Happy Halloween!

Twofer Tuesday: the chill-canine-friends edition

This photo was taken last February, but I’m posting it today as a reminder. Because dogs get it. They totally grasp the importance of taking the time to¬† just be. Sure, there are squirrels to chase along the fence, scents to decipher, and holes to dig, but there’s also sunshine, light breezes, and listening to birds.

I’m going to follow Roscoe and Emma’s lead, and grab a little time today to just be.

Humanity First

Right now I’m hiding away, parked in front of my computer as I get organized for NaNo. For the umpteenth time, I’m so grateful for the fictional worlds I can disappear in when the real world provides example after example of ignorance, cruelty, and fear-based behavior.

My work-in-progress isn’t a smash-the-capitalist-patriarchy story. However, it will be (I hope) funny and provide glimpses of shared humanity. This manuscript is me fighting back with my humor and heart.

As the Dalai Lama said: Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries.
Without them humanity cannot survive. 

Finding the balance

Some days are so hard that I’m tempted to give up and assume the fetal position. Over the last couple days a¬† young relative was diagnosed with a health condition and then a neighborhood family suffered a heartbreaking tragedy. I’ve felt overwhelmed and weepy. But I’ve also experienced joy as I hugged my son, watched a magpie take flight, and listened to my snoring dogs as they snuggle together in their bed. I’ve made progress on my new writing project and shared laughter with my visiting brother-in-law. I didn’t give up and curl into a ball.

Life is a series of sunshine and shit-storms, and as long as I remember to think of it that way, the better I cope. The key (for me, anyway) is tapping into the light amidst the dark. Finding the balance. I was reminded of that as I struggled to balance the light and dark in this photo of Marcel.

The result is nowhere near perfect, but then again, neither is life.