Hoopy New Year!

It’s the last day of 2019 and the final day of the decade, which feels like an awful lot of pressure. What exactly have I accomplished in that time?

I quickly realized that contemplating this past year and the previous nine years was not morale-boosting if I only focused on my quest for traditional publication of my novels. So. I shifted my gaze to another aspect of my life.

Self-portrait, December 31, 2019.

I just went through my calendar and added up all my 2019 hoop-dancing sessions. And you know what? I hooped for 1,162 minutes this year (and there’s still time to add more today)! All those minutes translate to just over 19 hours of hoop-dancing this year. Nineteen hours of me dancing, whether I felt like it or not, knowing I always, always feel better after a hoop session. I didn’t sell the novel about my beloved character Poppy Valentine this year, but I danced myself through that disappointment (and the overall fog of hard-times-on-the-planet) and drafted another book.

Hoop-dancing and drafting? Not too shabby. Turns out I did accomplish a few things in 2019.

Happy New Year to everyone! May we all keep dancing in 2020!

On cultivating bold freedom

State Forest State Park. June 13, 2019.

How does the Meadow flower its bloom unfold? Because the lovely little flower is free down to its root, and in that freedom bold.    ~ William Wordsworth

So it’s after 5:00 pm here in Colorado and I haven’t yet added one single word to my work-in-progress. Why? In part, I had much to do today. But in greater part? I’ve reached the point in which I need to write BIG climatic scenes and I’m intimidated. It was easier to tend to other business today.

I need to make like a Meadow flower and feel free to try and fail, all the way down to my roots. Otherwise, what’s the point?

Didn’t mean to turn my back

I’m pretty consistent about posting here, not because I have a following that waits with bated breath, but because this blog is like a record of my life. The documentation helps me keep my memories in order.

Western/Woodhouse’s Scrub Jay. December 8, 2017

I didn’t post the past two days and it wasn’t because I turned my back on this ongoing life project. But as a result of not posting, I feel a bit anxious about those holes in my “official record.” I’ll do a quick update.

Friday, December 6, was another Global Climate Strike. I rode the light rail into Denver and then met my fellow Sunrise Movement (Colorado) activists at 10:30. We marched to the capitol, chanting and singing songs. There were maybe five hundred people total? The rally was inspiring and informative, and I loved hearing perspectives from a diverse range of young voices.

Afterward, our Sunrise group went to Governor Polis’s office to deliver climate action demands and request a meeting. Earlier efforts have been ignored. So this time we stuck around for a while. Three hours of a sit-in that included more storytelling, chanting, and songs. We left his office peacefully at the end of the day, walking and singing out to the rotunda where we slowly collapsed to a die-in. As we lowered ourselves in silence, we covered our faces with black bandanas that said either TIME’S UP or WHAT’S YOUR PLAN?

It was my first die-in and I loved it. It was a meditative and profound experience to lie on that cold marble, motionless as capitol activity continued around us.

And Saturday? I spent much of the day reading Running With Sherman: The Donkey With the Heart of a Hero (Christopher McDougall). The book inspired me to run that afternoon for the first time in two weeks. (Note: Denver metro air quality is frequently too unhealthy for running. See “Friday.”)

I’m back at my regularly scheduled life today, taking care of things that need doing. Answering emails. Worm bin maintenance and feeding. Adding words to my work-in-progress. Posting on this blog. Wishing everyone a good Sunday and much good stuff in the coming week.

Thankful Thursday: No sun means writing fun

Loki on Oct 3, 2018

Here’s Loki more than a year ago, basking in sun so bright his pupils are slits. None of that toasty warmth today. It’s gray. Cold. Drizzling and threatening snow. Soul-crushing, if I’d allow it. BUT. I’m parked at my standing desk, drafting my new novel.

Maybe if it was sunny and warm, I’d be curled in a patch of sunshine. Napping instead of writing. Guess that’s my silver lining on this miserable day. Color me grudgingly grateful.

In which Emma keeps me in line

I’m drafting my way through this new project and am past the halfway point, which certainly feels good. I’m noticing, though, that the “mushy middle” angst is suddenly alive and well. And I find myself thinking about jumping. Or running away. Or maybe abandoning this particular ship for a different ship .

“Don’t jump, Tracy!”

But that’s silly. Because as Emma and I both know, every project has moments in which it ceases to feel like great fun /  feels less shiny than another idea / intimidates the crap out of me.

So I’m gonna stay on the beam and keep drafting. I promise, Emma.

Got to have the terror

Today is cold and icy. Again. Unlike two weeks ago, I am not venturing outside because I very much do not want to slip and fall again. Instead, I went in search of an appropriate quotation for this ice-encrusted day. I found the following . It speaks to me, despite never having directed a film. I read it as “Writing a novel is mystifying…”

Directing is mystifying. It’s a long, long, skid on an icy road, and you do the best you can trying to stay on the road… If you’re still here when you come out of the spin, it’s a relief. But you’ve got to have the terror if you’re going to do anything worthwhile.
~ Mike Nichols

Image by Hans Braxmeier from Pixabay

Suffice to say, I’m firmly in the white-knuckle, can-I-pull-this-off portion of the writing process right now. First drafts can be simultaneously exhilarating and puke-inducing.

Reflections of my creative mind

I just finished reading a young adult (YA) novel that was recommended as a good example of multiple point-of-view (POV) characters. The book recommendation came weeks ago as I debated whether I wanted to write my new project in multiple POVs rather than my usual first-person, but I just got around to reading it. It’s a very good book and I’m glad I read.

Except. One of the POV characters in the book has a home situation and coping strategy that very closely mirrors how I’m writing one of my characters. AND, there are some general similarities to the plots.

Photo by Lucas Pezeta from Pexels

Panic! Doubt! OMG, should I stop reading this? Do I need to rework my character? Rethink my plot? Drop the project altogether and buy a sailboat or take up harmonica lessons?

Well. As mentioned, I did finish the book. And the panic has (mostly) subsided because the draft I’m working on isn’t a YA but a middle-grade (MG) which means it’s for different readers. Plus, the book I read was published in 2012. So, I’m putting on my big girl pants and resuming my project.

 

I will admit, however, it was very unsettling to come across a reflection of something I thought existed only in my mind.

One bad case of editing eyes

Oy. I’ve been working all afternoon, trying to finish the edits on my work-for-hire project. I’m this close to being done and wanted the satisfaction of waking tomorrow morning to a clean slate (aka, time to pursue my own project). Alas, it’s not to be.

Image by Alexas_Fotos from Pixabay

Instead, I’m admitting it’s time to call it for the day. I’m off to wash my face and have a cold beer. Tomorrow is another day and COMPLETION WILL BE MINE.

Fox sans socks

It’s currently 22 degrees outside.

November 11, 2019

If I were a nicer person, I’d offer this fox a couple pairs of warm, woolen socks.
As it is, I’m staying inside where I can absorb the heat from my laptop as I work on my new writing project that makes me happy, happy, happy.

It’s a whole new week, people. Let’s do this!

Rolling with the punches

I got some bad writing news this afternoon that wasn’t unexpected, but was still difficult to hear. I had tears in my eyes. But because my agent is so kind and supportive, within minutes of our conversation I felt okay. (The two slices of butter-and- strawberry-jam toast definitely helped). And not only did I feel better post-toast, I felt a renewed resolve.

A few minutes ago I finished drafting 1,062 words of my new project. How do I feel? Pretty damned good.

Knock down this clown and I’ll just bounce back for more!

Coffee shop writing

Last year I officially signed up to participate in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) and so am getting emails from the Colorado NaNo people. As noted earlier, I’m taking a modified approach** this year, so when I received an email about a write-in happening at a coffee shop near me I decided to attend. Big deal, right? Wrong.

I do about 99% of my writing at home and wasn’t sure it’d be a good fit. But I liked the idea of all that collective energy, so packed up and went. I arrived two hours into the session today and people were busily writing away. I found a seat in back, put in my ear plugs to muffle the loud music, and got to work.

Wow. I wrote 2500 words (many of which were keepers) in about three hours. Part of my success was because I didn’t ask for the wifi password which meant I couldn’t procrastinate online. When I’m at home, closed off in my writing room, I find all sorts of ways to waste time. Despite all the sounds and movement taking place around me, something about writing in public kept me more focused. It felt all official-like or something.

I thought I’d be writing this novel at my standing desk, but will most definitely be going back to that coffee shop for more writing sessions!

** My goal is to finish a draft by the end of December.

What a difference a day makes

The conference stuff continues to marinate in my back-office brain and this afternoon I had a breakthrough on a book idea I’ve been playing with. For a variety of reasons, I haven’t much felt like committing to writing another middle-grade novel. But today’s epiphany gave me a jolt of excitement that I haven’t felt in months. And now I’m seriously contemplating doing NaNoWriMo again this year.

Image from Pexels.com

What?! Last year’s experience nearly broke my body from all that sitting and writing, and I wasn’t sure I’d try writing 50,000 words in one month ever again. Which is why I’m thinking a modified version might be better. Something like working at my standing desk to write 1,000 words per day for 50 days. From my perspective, that’s still fast-drafting (and I hope the NaNo police don’t show up at my door to issue me a citation).

I need to ponder this idea, but no matter what I decide I’m grateful to feel excitement again.

Inspirational aftermath

Image by Alison Innes from Pixabay

I spent this weekend at the SCBWI-Rocky Mountain Chapter’s fall conference. Two days filled with 240 creative people and lots-o’ conversations. I took copious notes (which became less lucid as the weekend wore on) and felt many pings during motivational keynotes and informative breakout sessions. It was an awful lot of extroverting for an introvert who needs alone-time to refill her well.

On Sunday morning while I was conversing with several women, someone confessed to being at a point of overwhelm. We all agreed it was getting more difficult to process what we were learning. I said, “By the time I left last night, I was almost crying.” A woman replied, “I did cry.”

I’m past the crying stage, but am still refilling my well. I hiked alone this morning and spent some of the day in a patch of sunshine with a middle-grade novel. I’m slowly coming back to myself and hope to resume writing in the next day or so. In the meanwhile, I’m like a candle that burned brightly and is now a slightly different shape/different writer as a result of the experience.

Red Eyes R Us

My one last act before stepping away from the computer today is to post this photo of a boxelder bug. I didn’t realize when I photographed it this afternoon that it has red eyes. Guess what? So do I after all that computer work.

Solidarity, Boxelder!