Yesterday, we drove Moby the Great White Campervan to the mountains for some rest and relaxation. Our intention was a few hours of peace and rejuvenation. We’d never been there before and were thrilled to claim a small parking area next to Buffalo Creek. I explored with the camera and captured some nice shots. This is where I sat to work on my novel revisions.
Buffalo Creek. June 22, 2022
I sat in a chair on the little patch of beach at the bottom of the photo and revised a chapter on my laptop as Zippy and Emma napped in the van. Rushing water. Clean air. A shiny, green hummingbird buzzing in for a visit.
The entire experience soothed my spirit and, as I type these words, I’m already looking forward to a return visit. May each of us experience peace and rejuvenation in these very difficult days.
I am overflowing with joy right now after finishing the latest round of revisions on my middle grade novel. One full day ahead of my self-imposed deadline!
July 15, 2021
I love this book. But for the next little while (two weeks, at the absolute minimum), I’m not going to think about those characters and their problems at all. I’m gonna soak up some of the life that takes place away from my standing desk and refill my well. Starting with our first camping trip of the season later this week. Woot!
Joyful tidings, indeed.
P.S. Did you know that a flock of magpies is called a “tiding”? Me, neither. So how cool is it that this morning’s oracle card drawing from my feathered messengers deck was . . . MAGPIE!
These are incredibly hard days on the planet and I’m overwhelmed. But as I revised my middle grade novel this morning, I felt a renewed sense of purpose because this story matters. It’s about community, friendship, mass incarceration, and taking one step forward on the long road to abolition.
This story matters and my voice matters. I cannot crawl into a hole and give up.
March 13, 2022. (Photo by Zippy)
I am on this earth to shine my light and lend my voice to the fight for a better world. This post is a reminder for when I begin to falter again. 💓
When the brothers began a joint grooming session this morning, their synchronized licking (back legs held high) made for a great photo, and I hurried to grab the camera. But by the time I returned, the session had come to an end.
Loki & Marcel. March 22, 2022
They’ve been napping there for hours (surprise-surprise) and the entire time, Marcel has kept watch over my project notebook. When I gently removed it from beneath his sleeping body just now, the pages were warm. I choose to interpret that as a positive review for my latest middle grade novel.
Life’s hard on a personal and global level these days, and I’m trying hard to find the joy.
- Here are this morning’s writing session partners (Emma in the front row while Marcel sits in solidarity behind the laptop). The three of us made good progress in our middle-grade novel revisions (and we now have over 100 revised pages).
- A much-needed zoom therapy session with Sara, who I now refer to as Saratonin (thanks to another client who bestowed the nickname).
- Twenty minutes in the sunshine after the therapy session, in which I bundled up and stood on the south-face deck as I breathed in cold, clean air, listened to twittering birds, and felt immense gratitude for the natural world.
Snow-laden Mountain Mahogony. February 24, 2022
Golden Yarrow. 2.24.22
. . .a writer who finally, finally figured out how to revise a certain knot-ridden chapter to her satisfaction. Huzzah! Way to go, Tracy!
September 28, 2020
Peanuts all around!
Here it is nearly 5:30 of the p.m., sun gone for the day as temperatures drop and daylight slips away. I’ll admit, this is my least favorite time of winter days because of the increased risk of gloomy feelings that often involve beating myself up. As in, “you squandered those precious hours and what do you have to show for yourself now that it’s cold, dark, and dreary?”
Not playing those reindeer games today.
Bouquet from BB. February 2, 2022
Right now I’m basking in the glow of my accomplishments: Coffee and Wordle. Exercise. Smoothing out trouble spots in my middle-grade novel, revising chapter 8, and falling in love with the manuscript all over again. A thoughtful phone conversation with Zebu. Laughter. Laundry. Email plus research for climate action meeting later this week. Finishing the excellent We Are All Birds of Uganda by Hafsa Zayyan. Healthy eating. Sharing snuggles with dog and cats (with special shout-out to Loki for lying down next to me while I did foam roller stretching).
It is true I respond best to blue skies and sunshine glinting off snow. But on this Monday evening, I’m content.
This image of our Christmas Cactus (aka Schlumbergera) is sharp in places and soft in others because the camera’s focus wasn’t evenly distributed. In other words, a perfect image for today.
November 17, 2021
- I’m experiencing ptsd-related issues in which my eyes struggle to process detail**, which means this mixture of sharp and soft feels familiar and
- while rereading my critique partners’ notes during today’s session of revision work on my latest middle grade novel, their comments revealed that while some parts of my story were in sharp, undeniable detail, other components were so soft around the edges those readers were unable to interpret intent.
This lovely bloom is a reminder that I need to keep working on my focus.
**for which I’m doing daily vision therapy to bring my eyes back into balance
Only 16 days to finish these revisions before I send the middle grade manuscript to my critique group. It was a bold move, requesting that critique slot when I’d only revised slightly less the half the manuscript, but I needed an incentive. And because I’ve been making solid progress, the last few days I’ve congratulated myself for imposing a deadline.
August 4, 2021
Today, though, I feel tiny in the face of all the work that remains. Onward I fly.
Okay, I’m being a big dramatic. But something’s gotta give here in Day 4 (or is it Day 5?) of working on the same damned chapter. I’m stuck.
Each time I think I’ve sorted things and gotten some momentum, I come to another screeching halt. It’s part brain, part exhausted-by-reality, part lack of confidence, and part what’s-the-freaking-point.
Maybe I’ve jinxed myself by repeatedly expressing my gratitude for being able to create during these incredibly difficult days. Earlier this week, I did just that, sharing with a non-writer friend how grateful I was to be able to immerse myself in my project. I told her many creatives aren’t functioning as they’d like these days.
And now I’m not, either. Instead, I’m stuck between the rock and a hard place. Send lawyers, guns, and money.
This Rocky Mountain Bee Plant feels like a symbol of where I’m at with the revisions of my middle grade novel. Some aspects of the story have fully bloomed and won’t change much as I continue revising.
August 7, 2021
Other aspects are still revealing themselves to me. Slowly unfurling their blossoms to become beautiful, integral, and incredibly obvious how-did-I-not-already-know-that components of the whole.
It’s an exciting and gratifying place to be in the process.
I was working on revisions in bed this morning when Marcel decided to check out the happenings. In true feline form, he chose to curl up on the very document I’d just set next to me.
As gently as possible, I removed it from beneath his vast bulk. Not to be dissuaded from his mission of chaos, Marcel began noisily licking the plastic bag containing my highlighters and post-its. I was less gentle in that removal.
A few minutes later, I relocated to the patio. Marcel is an indoor-only cat.
P.S. While they didn’t directly obscure my materials, a couple hummingbirds got into multiple dust-ups as I worked outside, distracting me with their darting aggression.
It’s pretty obvious that I deserve a medal for getting any work done today.
I get where Patti Smith is coming from in this quote: “In art and dream may you proceed with abandon. In life may you proceed with balance and stealth.” And I think when I originally drafted my work-in-progress, I did approach my art with abandon.
But today, as I continue to revise, I’m feeling a bit stealthy as I sow bits and pieces of backstory throughout the first 50 pages of this middle grade novel. I need the reader to know certain things, but I don’t want the reader aware of my presence. I very much do NOT want those bits and pieces to scream
WARNING: HEAVY-HANDED AUTHOR ON THE LOOSE!
Instead, I’m trying my best to adopt this squirrel’s attitude.
July 30, 2021
No sudden moves. Only careful and deliberate revisions that I hope won’t call attention to my presence.
(Note: Patti’s quote resonates with me so much I previously used it here.)
Bees, blooms, and butterflies.
Showy Milkweed and pollinators. July 9, 2021
I’m posting this photo as my reward for all I’ve accomplished today:
- Exercise (indoor, again)
- Revised a chapter
- Healthy (mostly) eating
- Finished Shirley Jackson’s LIFE AMONG THE SAVAGES
- Swept the floor
- Stayed the hell off Twitter (mostly)
- Focused (mostly) on things within my control
- Played with Emma and snuggled with Marcel (and allowed Loki to nap without interruption)
Yes, I’m one of those people who derive great satisfaction from checklists. And they’re especially important to me on days in which I feel very close to the edge.
Well done, Tracy.
I feel a bit like this today as I work to fully realize one of the main characters in my work-in-progress:
Marcel. February 5, 2020
I know who the character is and what he’s about. And yet, two drafts in, he’s still a bit of a mystery. Most of his petals have unfurled, displaying his basic essence, but others remain closed to me. But just as this geranium flower eventually bloomed in full, so shall my character. And like Marcel, I’ll be there. Ready and waiting to absorb all that’s revealed.
[Update on Please don’t be dead . . . my laptop isn’t zombie-infested ! When I called to verify the computer doc was open for business, he asked a couple questions, then diagnosed and prescribed treatment over the phone . All is well!]
In other good news: after letting my manuscript sit for 10 days, this afternoon I read it in one sitting and am very pleased with the draft. My work-in-progress has good bones AND most of the flesh on those bones is also good. There’s still much work to be done, but the middle-grade story is definitely much closer to my vision.
How did I know it was time to read and get back to work? When I shut off the light to go to sleep last night and then moments later, turned on the light again in order to jot a revision note to myself. Up until then I hadn’t thought about my novel at all.
But I’m now back in the thick of things and it feels quite nice.
Cooper’s Hawk by Zippy. Sept 18, 2020
I’ve been driving the struggle bus lately and haven’t been disciplined about working on my latest book. In the past, I’d work hours and hours at a time on my projects, coming up for air only to discover it was late afternoon and that I’d done little else. These days, I don’t have that drive. Sometimes I’m at peace with this change. Other days, not so much; those critical voices can get pretty damned loud in my head.
Yesterday I realized it felt worse to not work on my book. So I opened the document and reworked a critical early scene between one major and one minor character. Page-wise, I didn’t make huge progress. But characterization and plot-wise, that little bit of work moved the revision forward in a significant manner. Plus, by taking action I was able to douse my angsty-guilty feelings. I hope to do the same today. However, whatever happens I’m going to try hard not to judge myself. It’s hard times on the planet and we all deserve some grace.
Last night I was reading ECHO MOUNTAIN by Lauren Wolk, basking in her gorgeous prose, when I felt a pang about my work-in-progress that isn’t progressing very quickly. I set down the book and closed my eyes. And then it came to me. I reached for my project notebook and wrote:
This is what I think needs to happen if I am to finish this book.
I must let myself write WITHOUT checking facts & figures. Write this story as I feel it and know it and believe it. THEN I may check facts and figures, and revise accordingly.
Cooper’s Hawk out my window. January 22, 2021
I know, I know. Pretty basic insight. That doesn’t mean it’s not also liberating and kinda profound.
And now I’m off to write/revise without scurrying off in search of confirmation, validation, or procrastination.
As mentioned before, I have a new middle-grade project that I (mostly) drafted in November and December. My critique group read it and offered excellent insights in mid-January. Since then, I’ve jotted many thoughts and ideas in my trusty notebook. But I didn’t start working with the actual manuscript until last week.
When I began reading it again after all that time away, I fell in love. One critique partner commented that the draft has good bones, and I totally agree. I’m so grateful for this project and the enthusiasm I feel when working on it.
However, various difficult Life issues are taking up lots of head space lately so I’m following the lead of another critique partner who writes one hour per day (and even has her own hourglass). I’m reading through the draft, making revision notes that I highlight in yellow. There are still a bunch of plot issues I need to resolve, but I’m making progress.
I will prevail. One hour at a time.
As I stand here at my desk, revising a beloved manuscript (yet again), I’m feeling prickles of doubt about the direction I’ve taken. I’m wondering and worrying and feeling a bit shaky on my writer-legs. There’s one eternal question:
“Are you making things better or worse, Tracy?”
Muse-dog Emma on November 20, 2020.
I’d dearly love the answer to this question in the right-here-and-now. However, only time will tell. And only if I complete this revision. So, best get back to it.
Hard days on the planet, yo. However, this morning I sent my revised manuscript to my agent and that feels so very good. While that project has definitely been my refuge, there were times it was hard to focus because of *gestures* everything. But after two months, the revisions are complete and I’m very proud of my tenacity (call me Tenacious T) and the finished product. Huge shout-out to all the readers who offered their insights, suggestions, and support at various stages of the process. ❤️
Blue Jay, Florida. May 3, 2019.
I’m also grateful for birds. They never, ever let me down. No matter what — watching them, listening to them, studying them — always soothes my soul and returns me to balance. More birds, please.
I’m revising my middle grade manuscript and am having one of those HOW WILL I EVER DO THIS? days. Today’s revision session felt like one cold, hard realization after another. As in, “Wait a minute, if I move that chunk earlier in the story, that will blow up this part of the story” or “When I cut this scene, where do I put this one snippet that absolutely needs to remain in the story?” or the evergreen “Damn, if I tug this thread it will *sob* unravel throughout the entire story.”
The good news is that I wrote a tight draft. The bad news? The tighter the draft, the larger the repercussions during revision.
I’ve been moving back and forth in the timeline so much today I’m not even sure what’s what anymore. Definitely time for me to stop and let my brain reorient itself.
I got out of bed at 7:20 this morning, which is early for me (I know, I know), because I had a call scheduled with my agent to discuss revising my middle grade novel. The good news is that although there’s much work ahead of me, I’m excited about this book again.
Bee on Fern Bush. August 4, 2020
Before the call, I felt zero enthusiasm. I couldn’t imagine how I’d revise this book in a way that would satisfy my agent’s (valid) concerns while remaining true to my vision. Fortunately, my agent has a keen editorial eye and made several excellent suggestions that give me a path forward. I’m so relieved! So happy!
Now, all that’s left to do is the actual work. HA! This busy bee needs to get revising.
I’m gearing up to do another round of revisions on my middle grade novel and realized it would be helpful to have a chapter breakdown of the latest version. Enter the spreadsheet! While I do love being organized and having all that information in one place (chapter, POV, setting/day/time, summary, page #s, revision ideas), I’m not exactly oozing enthusiasm right now. Not, say, like this pup.
But when I went in search of a free image of a spreadsheet, this smiling doggo was on the home page and I challenge anyone to resist that face.
I’m sure we can all just visualize a spreadsheet.
Finished my revisions! Time to do the Emu!
Wait, do the what? Well, according to Wikipedia, emus spend their day:
- preening their plumage with their beak
- dust bathing
Two out of four ain’t bad.