Last night I met with my critique group (Writing Roosters) which always results in renewed energy and inspiration. What was different about last night’s experience is that I came home with a whole new game plan for my work-in-progress. A kinda scary yet exhilerating plan!
Laura Perdew and I were talking before the others arrived and after describing where I was at in my new project (outlining, figuring out stuff, writing VERY VERY slowly), she suggested I do NaNoWriMo. For those who don’t know, National Novel Writing Month takes place in November and participants set a goal of writing 50,000 words in 30 days. I’ve never done it before (although back in the glory days of LiveJournal I used to participate in writer Jo Knowles’s modified JoNoWriMo+1.5 which ran September 15-November 30).
Normally, I’m not a proponent of banging out a whole bunch of words in a short time because I know how easily I can get off track. Fast-drafting can also lead to SLOW revising as I struggle to make sense of the “story” I created. However, I think I can get myself set by November 1 so that I have a strong outline and characterization in place before writing this book. I realize that part of the reason for the SLOW writing on this project thus far is due to me second-guessing every other word. I need to give myself permission to get the story down as outlined and then revise from there.
So. Today I’m grateful for my critique partner’s kick in the butt.
I’m in for NaNoWriMo. Anyone else participating this year?
I just completed five days of a fasting-mimicking diet in which my caloric intake was greatly reduced. I embarked on this deprivation adventure because I’ve been feeling the effects of stress on my body and wanted to give my system a reboot. My sister and her husband have been doing the diet and their experiences convinced me it was worth a try. (Shout-out to my sis for all her guidance!)
Day One wasn’t bad. Day Two was rough. Days Three-Five were not too bad (my foggy brain went away and I was able to resume light exercise/walking).
And today? Day One of my return to normal eating? A happy day, indeed.
Anyone interested in trying this, go here for lots of good information. Also, the Cronometer is an absolute must for calculating calories and percentages of protein, carbs, and fat.
Today I am exceedingly thankful that I do not have to measure every bit of food that goes in my mouth.
Popping online quickly to express my gratitude for the natural world. Today’s image is the Elk Range as seen from Crested Butte, Colorado.
It’s a spectacular planet, wouldn’t you say?
Today I am grateful for:
(1) Laura Perdew who invited me on a hike to Herman Gulch Lake near Dillon, Colorado,
Laura and me before we sat on rocks to eat. Photo by kind hiker-passerby.
and (2) spectacular vistas.
The friendship, exercise, and scenery did my heart good.
I started the day grumpy and dissatisfied with various aspects of life and when I got to work on my revisions, my grumpiness and dissatisfaction grew. BUT. I stepped away from my desk to do some cleaning before Wildebeest arrives this afternoon and I’m happy to report feeling more centered. More calm. More whatevs about life.
Today I am thankful for my dirty kitchen sink that provided an outlet for frenzied scrubbing and J. Roddy Walston and The Business for the soundtrack for said scrubbing.
Not my kitchen, but rest assured my sinks are equally shiny.
CREDIT: Photo by Matt Wignall
Sometimes taking the most simple action can quell my anxiety. Yesterday as I worked on this revision and felt overwhelmed by the many, many details of my madcap story that must be explained by the end of the manuscript, I started a list.
LOOSE ENDS / EXPLANATIONS NEEDED
Whoa. Behold this literary rocket scientist at work!
I’m trying hard to stop kicking myself for not creating the list at the outset of this round of revisions and, instead, be grateful for my peace of mind in the here and now.
I’ve spent the day working on the third draft of my work-in-progress. Thanks to three reads (partial and full manuscripts) from the wonderful Writing Roosters critique group, the book is in pretty decent shape, which makes for a pleasant writing experience. I can see the good that’s already there and can easily envision the good to come. I’m about sixty pages from the end and hope to have the draft completed by the end of the month.
I feel incredibly fortunate to have this creative outlet.
This morning Zippy and I went for a run on the trails. Trailrunning is great fun because it usually keeps my thoughts focused on the rocky, uneven terrain. My mantra is “Feet on the ground. Feet on the ground.” That helps keep me in the moment so I don’t hook a toe and fall on my face. However, today I struggled with the nasty voice in my head, telling me I was slow and tired and really-Tracy-you-should-just-walk-because-you’re-not-a-real-runner.
So I fought back with two new mantras.
The sky was blue, the temperature was a perfect 58 degrees, and the Western Meadowlarks were out in force, warbling their beautiful songs. There was no reason to feel anything other than pure joy and gratitude for my time out in the open space. Today’s mantras became “Beautiful day, beautiful day. Birds are singing. Birds are singing. Beautiful day, beautiful day. Birds are singing. Birds are singing.”
Once those went on repeat in my head, the nasty voice was nowhere to be heard.
Sometimes the universe gifts you a tin filled with popcorn kernels. And sometimes the gift comes in the form of a writing project that transports you away from life’s challenges and makes your heart sing.
I’ve kept a gratitude journal on and off for a number of years, but am currently in an off phase. I hope to resume my bedtime ritual of listing five things I’m grateful for, but in the meanwhile:
Today I am grateful . . .
- my sister helped me feel more at peace about a friend’s death.
- my critique group gifted me another week to finish the draft of my work-in-progress and that
- I am, indeed, making progress on that work.
- I enjoyed a calm, non-aggressive walk in the warm sunshine with Emma, even though we passed other dogs.
- I completed my four-minute plank despite learning the hard way that Led Zeppelin’s Four Sticks is absolutely not a good motivational song. Nope, not even close.
Wildebeest, Zebu, Tracy, and Zippy on this New Year’s eve.
It’s been a hard year on the planet, but we’re still upright.
There’s definitely strength in numbers, and I’m grateful we have each others’ backs.
Happy New Year to you and yours.
Here’s hoping we kick every ass that needs kicking in 2018.
I beg-your-pardon goats,
and goats that recognize revolution’s a-comin’ and they’d best get out of the way or risk getting mowed down by angry mobs.
Thank goodness I still have access to a free internet and all its goat images.
Art is a lie that makes us realize truth.
~ Pablo Picasso
Portrait de Dora Maar, 1937 Print hanging in my writing room.
I guess that’s basically what I strive for with my fiction: to write lies in such a way the reader realizes some truths.
I loathe liars, but this kind of lying is a pretty good gig.
If I look closely,
world’s filled with tiny details
I was just getting ready for bed when I realized:
(1) I’d neglected to blog today and
(2) it’s National Cat Day.
So, here’s Marcel from two years ago:
I can’t imagine life without the lovable drooler.
I love writing.
I love the swirl and swing of words as they tangle with human emotions.
~ James A. Michener
And now, back to it . . .
Last night I met with my critique group, The Writing Roosters. (Yes, we’re aware that it’s funny for a membership of six women and zero men to be roosters.)
Our mascot that oversees every meeting.
It was my turn to receive a critique and the group didn’t disappoint. I’m grateful for their willingness to point out holes and weak characterization and plotting improbabilities in my novel, and also to let me know what they felt I’d done well. It was my first draft and I now have a pretty firm grasp on how to revise.
I received lots of guidance last night, but want to give a special shout-out to Claudia Mills for using Track Changes/Comments a whopping 429 times! Thank you for getting down and dirty with my manuscript, friend!
Today I’m thankful for these awesome shoes that carried me over the rocky and uneven trails this afternoon:
I’m also thankful I had the trails 100% to myself as I ran, never seeing another human during those 35 minutes, not once, not even off in the distance.
I am thankful for the company of the 80 million grasshoppers, the occasional butterfly, the what-I-hope-was-a-hummingbird-and-not-an-enormous-insect buzzing in my ear, the one bunny that allowed me a glimpse before disappearing into the rabbit brush, the sunshine, and the unidentified bird with the black tail.
I’m thankful for the strength in my legs, the power in my lungs, and the lack of ego that allowed me to walk when I felt like it.
Finally, I’m thankful that the rain didn’t fall until I was already home.
This is Zippy’s indoor weather station. As you can see, it’s sunny and 65 degrees outside. Granted, the outdoor thermometer is in direct sunlight right now so it’s really only 65 degrees against the bricks on the south side of the house. But still. Sixty-five degrees in January!
I’m going out for a run around the neighborhood and am looking forward to cruising past the snow piles lingering from last weekend’s storm.
Gotta love Colorado and its split-weather-personality.
If you happen upon this, writer-friend Linda Salzman, you might be happy to know that yesterday I finally, finally wrote the final scenes of the YA I’ve been wrestling with since the beginning of time. Are they perfectly written scenes? Hells no. Are they fleshed-out scenes? Absolutely not. Are they even close to being what they’d need to be in a final draft? HAHAHAHAHA.
In which Linda is the pug offering encouragement (“Do it!”) to the tortoise-slow Tracy.
The scenes I wrote yesterday are, at this point, a collection of placeholder words. A roadmap for the next draft (should I ever have the inclination to wade into the manuscript that right now feels like a horrible, torturous place to spend time). I learned about the value of using placeholder words from writer-friend Laurie Schneider, and I must say it’s one of the most liberating tools in my writing kit. The pressure is off when I’m creating placeholder words; all that’s required of me is to literally hold the place in the manuscript with clues for my authorial intent. The details come later.
So after writing those scenes, I printed out a hard copy and wrote out a few notes for myself before packing everything away in an accordion file. At the soonest, I’ll read that manuscript again in a month. But I have a feeling it’ll take longer than that for me to muster enthusiasm. After finishing, I’d gone back to read the opening chapter, thinking it would fire me up by reminding me the rest of the book is stronger than the ending. *insert hysterical laughter* Turns out, I’d arrived at the THIS BOOK SUCKS MORE THAN A HOOVER stage, and it’s gonna take some time for those feelings to fade.
The good news? I’m already reacquainting myself with another project. This one has huge potential and fills me with excitement. So take that, nasty voice! (Also, I was very grateful for the distraction of this “new” project when I woke up in the middle of the night thinking about Debbie Reynolds dying the day after losing her beloved daughter.)
There are sad and horrible things happening all over the planet, but I’m grateful for the fictional worlds I create in my mind. Sometimes the pretend is the only thing keeping me from being crushed by the real.
Zoey has lived with us for the past eleven years and for the majority of those years, remained in either the house or yard. She (and Coco) didn’t get to go on neighborhood walks (or open space hikes) because they were out of control on leashes. When they saw another dog, no matter how far off in the distance, they’d bark, growl, lunge, and generally behave in a bat-shit manner.
Zoey right after we got back from today’s walk.
At one point early on, we spent a whole lot of money to have a personal dog trainer work with us. That strategy ultimately failed because of a lack of consistency. The dogs responded to me as the alpha, but couldn’t care less about pushover-Zippy’s commands or young Wildebeest and Zebu with their high voices and unassertive attitudes. The dogs still believed they were the alphas who needed to protect the pack.
It all came to a head years ago when I took Zoey and Coco for a walk. They went nuts when they saw another dog, and in their ensuing barking / twirling / lunging, knocked me to the ground. Both my knees were thoroughly black and blue.
That was it for me. I no longer felt guilty about having two dogs that never, ever left the yard.
And then Coco died. To help Zoey through her grief, we started walking her once a day. I’ll admit that it hasn’t been an entirely pleasant experience (one walk lasted a full three minutes because I had to drag Zoey home after she went ballistic at the sight of another dog), but I am pleased to say we’re having some enjoyable walks. Today’s, for example.
Zoey still has an alpha attitude, but she’s older and wiser (and a little less strong). I’m grateful we can give our old girl the gift of a daily walk.
There’s a snowstorm headed this way, and the finches and chickadees are very busy at the feeders and heated bath. I’m grateful for my warm home and wish I could open it to my feathered friends tonight.
Then again, it’s probably not very cool to invite birds into a household that includes two cats.
Tracy with Zebu and Wildebeest.
Today’s my birthday,
lots of gifts over the years.
Love these two the most.
When the shriveled skin of the ordinary is stuffed out with meaning,
it satisfies the senses amazingly.
~ Virginia Woolf
My senses are doing all right today, I guess.
Not what I’d call amazingly satisfied, but well enough.
I’ll gaze on those old rose hips a little longer.
Happy Thanksgiving to friends in the U.S.!