Today as I do research for the work-for-hire book assignment I’ve accepted, I’m trying to keep this quote in mind:
Regret of neglected opportunity is the worst hell that a living soul can inhabit.
~ Rafael Sabatini
I hope ol’ Rafael was right, because I’m currently experiencing some hefty regret over taking this assignment. There’s a slight comfort in thinking the alternative may have resulted in an even worse hell.
sky greets the water
clouds floating with lily pads
gators lurk below
Early this morning it was below zero and, despite the sun, the temperature is still hovering below freezing. I’m working on revisions right now from a chair strategically located in a patch of sunshine and just remembered this photo I took in Kapok Park last January.
I feel a kinship with this sun-worshipping turtle. If there was a big, warm rock for me to embrace, I’d be doing the same right now.
If the sun’s shining
close your eyes and soak it up
cloudy days ahead
The roses are dead
but daisies not quite that blue.
When you’re in the muck you can only see muck.
If you somehow manage to float above it,
you still see the muck but you see it from a different perspective.
~ David Cronenberg
Today as I work to revise my contemporary young adult novel that’s been in my life for what seems like FOREVER, I send prayers that the goddesses will grant me a different perspective on these pages and pages of muck. While an ibis thrives on muck, this writer does not. I’m ready for wings to help me float above it all and see this manuscript differently.
An intricate dance
many years in the making
Roses are red
violets are blue
my phone took this photo
and I haven’t a clue.
On a related note, Zippy just abruptly left the house after receiving two small tokens of love plus a handmade card from me. Unless he returns with, say, a tequila-pouring cabana boy or a box full of kittens, I’m thinking maybe it’d be better to let this one slide.
Marcel on Halloween 2015
I wish I could write as mysterious as a cat. ~Unknown
stomping boots on brittle ice
music to my ears
Revising a manuscript can be overwhelming, especially when your agent sends two pages of notes. I’m hugely grateful for her insights and feedback, but there are moments when I panic and think it’s gonna be impossible to bring coherency to this messy draft. That’s where the colorful fun comes into play.
Highlighters + sticky notes + bound manuscript = me forging ahead.
I’m holding tight to my color-coded revision process because it keeps me organized, but also because using different colors bring me happiness. Novel-writing should include joy and happiness as much as possible. And because coffee and peanut butter rice cakes also bring joy and happiness, they are equally mandatory to my process.
I will bring order to this messed-up draft. You heard it here first.
One of these things is
not like the others, one of
these things . . . is a sneak
This afternoon I sat in the chair I’d situated just-so in a patch of sunshine and remained there until the sun dropped below the foothills. January is always a struggle for me and in anticipation of posting something here, I went to brainyquotes.com in search of a quote about the excruciating difficulty that is January. Instead, I found this:
I like starting projects in January.
That’s the best time to start something.
It’s so inward.
~ Carolyn Chute
That quotation feels right for today because as I struggled emotionally earlier this afternoon, I kept returning to the two opening sentences I’d jotted in my ideas notebook. There’s a story in those two sentences, I’m sure of it, and my mind keeps going back to them in an attempt to figure out what that story might be. Those two sentences are like a lifeboat to me now and I’m grabbing on tight.
Who knows? This cold and dark January might kickstart something truly wonderful.
Tried to capture joy
of dog’s bouncing ears, pert tail
Delicate yet fierce
battered, tattered survival
no one gets out whole
Today I’m grateful for Mary Oliver who created accessible poems that were simultaneously simple and profound. Here’s one of my favorites from American Primitive.
Like large dark
butterflies they sweep over
the glades looking
to eat it,
to make it vanish,
to make of it the miracle:
resurrection. No one
knows how many
they are who daily
minister so to the grassy
miles, no one
counts how many bodies
and descend to, demonstrating
each time the earth’s
appetite, the unending
waterfalls of change.
wants to ponder it,
how it will be
to feel the blood cool,
the blaze of our own bodies
we watch them
wheeling and drifting, we
honor them and we
however wise the doctrine,
however magnificent the cycles,
however ultimately sweet
the huddle of death to fuel
those powerful wings.
Rest in beauty, Mary.
Mother and daughter
Looking beneath the surface
Share jewel eyed treasure
I’m revising a young adult novel I fast-drafted in 2009. Since that time I’ve, in a very on-again-off-again manner, written several drafts. I’ve known the protagonist’s emotional arc pretty much all along. The action plot has come more slowly, but I’ve also had a pretty good grasp of that for quite some time.
My struggle is with the climactic scene. I’ve written several versions and like each of them. Today as I wallowed in confusion and indecision, I decided maybe the best solution would be to make this manuscript a Choose Your Adventure story. That way, the reader’s choices would dictate how it all plays out and I’d be off the hook.
It’s either that or I flip a coin.
You gave me flowers
teased and loved me, laughed with joy
my heart is shattered
Sun behind the hills
the loneliest time of day
please hurry on back
Worked much of today revising a young adult manuscript. There’s still lots to be done, but I made progress and am beginning to believe I’ll meet my self-imposed deadline.
Today’s the shortest
we gain daylight tomorrow
Happy Solstice, friends!
Novels are such mysterious and amorphous and tender things.
~ Arundhati Roy
True that. And not only am I treating my novel gently today, but also myself. This revision doesn’t need to be perfect, and will never be so. No nasty voices allowed.
What will matter most at the end of the day is that I showed up.
Looked closer and found
brave blooms in midst of the drab
guess I’ll try the same
For the past twelve days I read a whole bunch (The Hazel Wood; The Secret Life of Anna Blanc; Storyworthy; The Truth About Twinkie Pie; Boys and Girls Together; The Infinite Pieces of Us;), did some de-cluttering, scrapbooked photos, watched college basketball and Netflix, exercised, and did ZERO writing.
The no-writing started out easy because I was pretty worn out from my NaNoWriMo draft and in serious need of a break from that kind of thinking. Then I began to notice an increase in grumpy feelings and overall anxiety, and realized it was probably writing withdrawal. But I still wasn’t ready to get back to it. I had a gut feeling I’d view any new writing as crap and any older project as crap, and sure enough, I read 20 pages of a YA I’d set aside in June and thought “This is irredeemable garbage.” So I went back to reading other people’s words and cleaning out drawers.
Last night I realized I was ready to write again. Somehow, I knew it was safe to go back to the pages and I’m pleased to report I was absolutely correct. I just finished reading the entirety of the aforementioned YA. I took copious notes and am excited about the project that is NOT irredeemable garbage. It’s a manuscript in need of revision and I just happen to love me some revision.
Back in the saddle again, baby.