I gave myself the day off and spent it in bed reading adult fiction (Tana French’s THE WITCH ELM). Self-care without guilt. Write my 1,000 words? Only if it felt right. I wasn’t going to butt heads with myself and turn it into a negative situation.
Photo by Hans Lindgren from Pexels
I’m happy to say I’m now in the head-space to crank out my daily word count. Thank you to these adorable goats for their role in helping me get there. And now I’m off to write . . .
Each morning, I play loud, upbeat music to help me get going (one of my go-to songs is What’d I Say by Ray Charles) and yesterday it worked like a charm. I was singing and dancing as I washed my face when suddenly, the reality of what we’re enduring hit me. I froze, staring at my tear-filled eyes in the mirror. I felt a crushing weight, the despair pressing down on me as I remembered all over again that we’re truly on our own. Then I blinked away the tears and sang more loudly. When one day at a time feels like too much, I take it one breath at a time. That’s how I cope.
Squirrel friend out my window. November 20, 2020.
Please take care of yourselves and hang in there as best you can. My enduring hope is that we the people will rise up together to demand better. In the meanwhile, sing, dance, or do whatever carries you through those especially tough moments.
I’m adhering to the 1,000-words/day schedule I began on November 1st as I write the first draft of a new middle-grade novel. That’s the very good news. One other piece of good news is that as I draft, I’m learning more about my characters. Hooray for more well-rounded characters, right?
Yes, except for the fact that those character revelations frequently punch holes in how the story’s written thus far. Holes that slightly alter the plot. Holes that put the entire timeline in question. Holes that shake my confidence about how to best proceed. Forge ahead? Or, cut and paste so the entire draft reflects what I now know about how the story plays out?
I’m 29,000 words in and some of what I wrote/figured out yesterday should come much earlier in the story. Go back? Move forward? Insert notes in earlier chapters that will (hopefully) help me sort it all out after I’ve completed a 45,000-word draft?
One thing I know for sure is that it’s important for me to maintain momentum on first drafts. So, I guess that means forge ahead. Apologies in advance to me when I frantically work to shape this tangled mess into a semi-cohesive manuscript for my critique group to read in January.
One day last week, son Wildebeest and I had our cameras out to practice photographing a black cat and a white cat at the same time. It’s difficult to land on the correct settings that will allow the black cat to have definition without also blowing out the white cat’s fur. This photo is proof of my ongoing struggle.
Marcel and Loki basking on their box condo. November 20, 2020
However, capturing the moment Loki launched the attack on his brother from below was a small victory. And if you look closely, you’ll see a hint of trepidation on Marcel’s face. Every picture, even a poor one, tells a story.
December 10, 2019
The despised starling
invasive and destructive
no rump so lovely
Bockman Campground, State Forest State Park. June 12, 2019
A few minutes ago every tree was excited, bowing to the roaring storm, waving, swirling, tossing their branches in glorious enthusiasm like worship. But though to the outer ear these trees are now silent, their songs never cease. ~ John Muir
It’s a beautiful day in Colorado on this, my birthday. The snow is melting due to sunshine and a balmy 50 degrees.
August 4, 2020.
Late November always presents a mental health challenge and I struggle to summon the enthusiasm for these days. However, I got up and hoop-danced this morning which felt very good. And, as always, it lifts my spirits to gaze upon a cheery sunflower. This one bloomed several months ago and I award the image bonus points for that busy, busy bee. Happy birthday to me.
We woke to 8-9 inches of snow this morning after a high of 58 degrees yesterday. I should be used to Colorado’s swiftly-changing weather patterns and yet was still surprised to see that beautiful white blanket outside. We’re in desperate need of moisture so it was with happy hearts that Wildebeest and I shoveled all that heavy snow (although he might define the experience differently).
Zippy and I just walked Emma through the slushy streets of our neighborhood.
It was a bit chilly in the shade but nice in the sun. And those dry patches of pavement were especially welcome. This low-quality photo taken with my phone doesn’t do justice to how good it felt to be outside in the sunshine, breathing clean, crisp air.
ETA: Zippy sent me these photos right after I’d posted.
This morning I dodged another dental bullet. After nearly two months of dread, fear, and anxiety hanging over me, the endodontist sent me on my merry way without any invasive procedures. Woot! Woot! Woot! (or Quack! Quack! Quack!)
Clearwater, FL. May 5, 2019.
I am one very lucky duck.
I’m struggling to focus today so it feels very appropriate to post an out-of-focus flower from my garden last spring.
Cranesbill. May 23, 2020
Even though it’s not a sharp image, the bright pink and the various shades of green are soothing. And I have nothing but admiration for a bloom that stands tall while others hunker down.
As anyone who has ever been around a cat for any length of time well knows, cats have enormous patience with the limitations of the human kind. ~ Cleveland Amory
Loki on November 20, 2020
And we’re really stretching their feline patience these days. Come on, human kind. We’ve got to do much, much better.
Root hairs of leek. November 20, 2020.
Plucked from compost pail
composed an artsy still life
next stop the worm bin
Yikes, I missed one day of writing and am now suffering an acute case of Lost Momentum. Per my NaNoWriMo goals (45,000 words in 45 days), I need to get a minimum of 1,700 words down today if I’m to remain on schedule.
*sob* That feels like SO. MANY. WORDS.
*deep breath* Here I go, getting started. This is me, starting. One-two-three, write! Come on, Tracy, you can do it!
Black-billed Magpie in neighbor’s yard. August 29, 2019.
*exhale* Even though completing my words feels less likely than the magpie pushing that wheelbarrow, I’m going to write those 1,700 words. Right now. Truly.
Today I’m in solidarity with this daffodil that bloomed last April before being buried by wet, heavy snow.
April 25, 2020
After the snow melted, the daffodil retained its vibrant colors but required support to keep its head up. A pretty apt description of me and my day. As ever, I’m grateful for my loved ones who prop me up.
Yesterday, Zippy told Wildebeest a story from when we lived in Alaska (before Wildebeest was born). It was a summer night, and Zippy and our dog Packy were out in our large yard where there was a pile of branches and grass clippings left by the previous owners. (We, being basically lazy people, had left it there with the rationale that it provided wildlife habitat). Zippy noticed something white in the branches, something he thought was a volleyball.
He proceeded to poke at the “volleyball” with a stick. (I know, I know. Who arms themselves with a stick when approaching a piece of sports equipment?)
Well, you can guess what happened. BEES!
Zippy yelled, “Run, Packy! Run!” The bees swarmed them as they ran to the safety of the house.*
As I listened to his story, a memory tickled my brain. And then I remembered: Have I Got a Story for You. Read it and weep (with laughter).
*Zippy wasn’t stung and as far as we know, no stingers penetrated Packy’s thick fur.
Zippy accepted my invitation to run on the trails with me this afternoon. It turned out, lots of people had the same idea so we ran our regular route in reverse to avoid the hiking couple we saw as soon as we got on the trail. I’m so glad we did because as we ran along the ravine, we were gifted a wildlife sighting.
Photo by Jim Kennedy. Metzger Farm Open Space, CO. January 19, 2019.
Four coyotes on the opposite slope. Two loped off to our left and the others sat next to the trail where we planned to run. We debated turning around so as to not further stress the remaining two and then decided it was a stress for them either way. So on we went, and the coyotes melted into the brush at our uphill, huffing approach.
I’d thought my coyote-sighting days were behind me as I’ve mostly seen them early in the mornings and I’m no longer an early-in-the-morning runner. But this here Monday played against type and started the week with a wonderful surprise. Definitely a good omen.
As I walked into my writing room this afternoon, determined to add 1,000 words to my new project, I felt pretty good about facing another day’s word count. Because not only am I keeping pace with my NaNoWriMo goals, I’m a wee bit ahead of schedule. But when I saw the prism-created light display around my computer, my confidence evaporated. Instant pressure!
November 15, 2020
What if my words didn’t shine? What if they landed on the page, cold and lifeless? How would I possibly produce anything approaching this level of magical? Waaaah.
Fast forward to a couple minutes ago when I closed my Scrivener file after adding 1,000 words to the story. Are those words cold and lifeless? Absolutely not. Are they shiny? Some of them, yes. Magical? Only time will tell. The only things I know for sure are that I met my goal, the pretty lights have vanished along with the sun behind the foothills, and I’m grateful I didn’t cave to the pressure.
It’s been a day and when I went in search of an image to perk me up, I thought of my love for mannequins. I’ve posted lots over the years (unfortunately, I wasn’t great at using tags in early blogging days so can’t readily locate them now), but none tops this photo. However, that unbeatable image didn’t stop me from searching for another that would steal my heart today.
I’m going with this one because my emotions have been all over the place and this seems to encompass a few of those feelings.
Now I’m off to apply some lime-green lipstick . . .
Emma & Marcel, November 13, 2020
everyone craves the sunshine
Clearwater, FL. May 5, 2019.
There’s a very good chance you can’t tell the bird in this blurred photo is an Osprey. It is, trust me. Looking closely, I pieced together enough info to make the identification. White undersides. A white head with a dark band running through the eyes. Sharply hooked beak. The way it holds its wings in flight. This is an Osprey.
Why post this low-quality photo today?
Because it’s a fair representation of the new middle grade I’m drafting via my modified NaNoWriMo efforts. I’m 11,000 words into the story and while much feels blurred and unidentifiable, specific and undeniable elements are guiding my way. When the panic and doubts set in (as they are today), I want to remember that I know the basic elements of this story. I want to remember I will find my way through the blurry, messy collection of words.
I want to remember to trust in the process.
Life’s a particularly hard row to hoe these days. BUT. Today is a very good day because I just finished making congratulatory phone calls to the applicants who’ve been accepted into the Michelle Begley Mentor Program. There’s much joy that comes from being the program coordinator, and a big piece of that joy is getting to be the bearer of good news. Woot! I do love spreading happiness.
And now I think I’ll take the doggo out for a walk in the sunshine.
Lucky, lucky me.
View from my front step. November 10, 2020.
. . . relatively clean air.
This is Denver as seen from my front step. For much of the past several months, the buildings were obscured by wildfire smoke and ash. Downtown was a hazy mirage.
Yesterday, it snowed. Today? I ran and breathed freely. Deeply. Happily.
Face the week
Embrace the challenges and opportunities
Agitate for a better world
Fight for someone you don’t know.
American Robin. November 3, 2020.
Confession: I’m still in my pajamas and am working from bed today.
Gathering my strength for Ready, Set, Go!
I’ll be there soon, I promise.
Last Sunday was Day One of my modified NaNoWriMo efforts. For a very short time, I was ahead of my goals. Hooray, I thought, I have a little padding for those inevitable days when the words don’t come so easily!
In one week, I’ve changed a major premise of the story. All the original elements remain, but the plot line has shifted. What does this mean for my goals? Well, I dumped much of what was written and now have a grand total of 4,430 words when I should have 8,000.
Guess I’d best get to it.
Cooper’s Hawk, July 4, 2019. Photo by Zippy.
Take time to exhale
then steel yourself for the fight
we’ve much work to do