I just spent the last several hours tying up some loose threads on the YA project I’ve (most recently ) been working on since last fall. Basically, I wrote pages of notes in order to have a map for the next time I pick it up. The thing is, I cannot put any more energy into this project right now. My critique group gave me feedback last Wednesday on the first 30 pages and it’s still a hot mess. My words, not theirs. Their feedback was spot-on and they offered some great suggestions, but my heart isn’t in it anymore. This is a project I drafted ten years ago and over the following decade revised multiple times. It’s definitely a better story than it was before, but it’s still not where it needs to be.
So. I’m setting it aside because the characters and plot have become a jumble in my mind. I can’t see the forest for the trees and I’m sick of trying.
Whew. I’m feeling a mixture of emotions right now, but there’s a whole lot of relief in letting go.
Today is one of those days I’d prefer to interact with plants and animals rather than contemplate the mind-boggling awfulness of some human beings. I can’t think of one instance in which a clematis bloom caused me a moment’s pain or anxiety.
Until they flower again, I’m basking in the memory of their quiet beauty.
Yesterday, I wrote about my gratitude for the snowstorm.
Today, after trying to walk Emma who seemed so determined to make me fall on the ice that I was forced to abort the effort after only three minutes, I’m over it.
I took this photo in October 2015 and never looked at it closely (I recommend clicking on the image for full efffect). After deciding to highlight it here today, I went in search of a fitting quotation.
The artist is a receptacle for emotions that come from all over the place:
from the sky,
from the earth,
from a scrap of paper,
from a passing shape,
from a spider’s web.
~ Pablo Picasso
That quote feels particularly apt because today has been emotion-filled. SO.MANY.FEELINGS. coming at me from every direction. It was like being surrounded by a sticky web trapping every single one of them.
It’s cool, though. I’d much rather feel it all than be numb to it all.
It’s been a murky day filled with emotions, confusion, and an overall sense of TIRED. But I finally succumbed to cute Emma the Dog’s wriggling reminder that it was time for our daily walk, and went out to do just that.
Movement plus a smiling, happy dog by my side brought clarity to the day.
I’m feeling so much better. Today, Dog is most definitely this woman’s best friend.
If we were to lose the ability to be emotional,
if we were to lose the ability to be angry,
to be outraged,
we would be robots.
And I refuse that.
~ Arundhati Roy
Today is the day, I thought. Today, the photo of me with the Stabby bus will make its blog debut. (The image was captured our first day in Uppsala. Zebu spotted the bus coming up the street, and I quickly handed off my phone and posed next to it when it stopped. Those who know me well know that I quite frequently “feel stabby,” which is why I was thrilled when Zebu captured the original Stabby bus image for me.)
Today is one of those “I’m feeling stabby” days. So I went back and found the photo.
Huh? That woman does NOT look as if she’s feeling stabby. She’s smiling, happy, and, aside from the claw-like curve to her right hand**, looks pretty damned relaxed. Not at all stabby.
I almost gave up on today’s stabby theme. And then it hit me: this photo is perfect for today’s post. Why? Because the reason for my stabby feelings is that I’m struggling with two characters’ friendship in the opening pages of my new project. I’m struggling to smooth out their interactions so as to establish their relationship and character arcs, and suddenly, it feels as if the first 60 pages are a steaming pile of mixed messages.
So what better photographic representation of mixed messaging than this photo of the smiling me next to the Stabby bus?
HA! I’m suddenly feeling slightly less stabby.
** me simulating holding a pointy object in preparation of stabby motions.
I was very tired and so didn’t accomplish much. I felt a bit, you know, pointless. So it’s weird that this is the photo that jumped out at me from Morguefile.com when I went cruising for photos. But somehow these pointy-headed mannequins capture my mood.
Two positive notes regarding today:
- Loki and Marcel took turns curled up on me as I read and napped on the couch.
- No one used my head to play Ring Toss.
This old Get Fuzzy strip does not represent any personal animosity toward poets.
Rather, it’s more a statement on my current state of mind.
Specifically, my desire to punch something.
Although, stabbing would be equally therapeutic.
As Zebu would say, “Mom’s feeling a little stabby today.”
“Stabby and punchy.”
Shouldn’t there be a t-shirt or bumpersticker?
Thoughtful and slightly wary. Ready to take flight should the need arise.
This is NOT me.
image from morguefile.com
The photo, however, represents how I feel right now.
Just one week ago I was a weepy little mess as I struggled to learn Scrivener.
Today I’m thrilled to announce I understand the basics of this writing software,
AGNES by Tony Cochran
In my family, pie also works for Sad, Glad, and I-Think-I’ve-Been-Had issues.
I love roller coasters.
But I also panic at the thought of roller coasters.
I’m feeling those same mixed emotions as I prepare to embark on this revision.
I’m thrilled at the thought of finally creating the book I’d intended
but also a bit nervous about what I might experience along the way.
I know there will be thrills and spills.
And undoubtedly this revision will involve some screaming
and white knuckles.
Followed by more screaming.
Let’s just hope I don’t ever wet myself,
not even a little bit.
Okay, here goes . . .
The sky is gray.
The temperature is below average.
The sun is nowhere to be seen.
I’m feeling something today.
It makes no sense.
And I’m almost afraid to admit all this.
But I’m going with the optimism.
EDITED TO ADD: The sun just came out. Hooray!
It’s been one of those weeks.
A week-long funk.
Yesterday I felt crushed under the weight of it all.
But I forced myself to spin my hoop
while Zippy did his treadmill workout.
As we twirled and walked, we listened to an album that came out 25 years ago.
And I thought about where I was 25 years ago.
I remembered listening to that album (tape) in my car during lunch hour
when I worked for Giant Turd Enterprise (GTE).
I’d eat my fish sandwich from McDonald’s
and think about, well, I don’t remember what I thought about.
Probably not much.
Maybe I thought about the sweltering parking lot and
how my boss was the world’s biggest asshat.
Or that maybe the next day I should pack a lunch.
Fast forward to this week
in which I’ve had feelings of being that gerbil in a wheel,
always running and moving,
but never getting ahead.
It’s no fun feeling that way.
It crushes your spirit.
So I say to myself:
Tracy, you have made progress.
For one, you’re no longer spending time in a paint-peeling ’64 Ford Falcon Sprint,
sweating and ingesting questionable food.
And you don’t have to answer to that horrible boss-man ever again.
Give up the funk, Tracy.
Friday night I had a conversation with two parents from Zebu’s basketball team. We don’t know each other very well so I was thrilled when the dad wanted to talk about books. The conversation moved from books we’ve read to the kind of books I write. I’d told them upfront I’m a writer and also said I hadn’t yet broken through but that I knew I was close to getting published. The mom wanted to know if I’d made any money from my writing. I said no. The conversation continued with the dad asking questions about my current book out in the world. The mom stared at me and then stated, "You write but you’ve never made any money."
"Not yet," I said. "But it’ll happen because I’m not giving up."
At that moment I probably should’ve been a little nervous. Or depressed. Or angry. Something. But I wasn’t. I felt absolute confidence in me and my work.
This whole exchange couldn’t have been better timed since Nathan Bransford recently linked to this analysis of writerly confidence versus delusion. And now that I’ve reread it, I can say without a doubt that while the basketball mom undoubtedly considers me delusional, I know the truth: I’m a confident writer.