Ten days ago I took a bad fall while running on the trails. I’m healing and this morning decided it was time to get out there again. I’ll admit to being nervous, but once I was out there amidst the wildflowers, butterflies, grasshoppers, meadowlarks, magpies, and robins, I was so happy.
However, happy doesn’t equal not-nervous. As I got closer to where I’d fallen, images of that fall popped in my head and I tightened up. So I chanted, “Feet on the ground. Feet on the ground. You are connected to this trail. Feet on the ground. This is your happy place. Feet on the ground.” My body relaxed.
I intended to run past the scene of the fall, but decided it was important to stop and examine the site. I immediately spotted the rock I believe was the culprit. It was dark and partially submerged, hard to see. Damned rock. But now I know it’s there and will forevermore lift my feet high as I run past it. I also know there will be many more joyous runs on that trail because today I got back on the horse that threw me. Yeehaw!
Or better yet, chocolate. Lots and lots of chocolate to keep me going on these edits of my work-for-hire project. As Warren Zevon noted, the shit has most definitely hit the fan.
If you are born an artist,
you have no choice but to fight to stay an artist.
~ Lana Del Rey
Per my experience, this feels like a true sentiment. There’s an inner urge/drive/motivation that doesn’t seem to ever go away. No matter what.
However, some days it’s harder than others to put on those boxing gloves and assume the fighting stance.
I’m at the Tampa Airport for my flight back to Denver. I arrived early, early Friday morning and later that day spotted a Roseate Spoonbill swirling its bill in the irrigation ditch running through the community where my mom lives. I was thrilled! I’d never seen one and ran back to my mom’s for my camera. The spoonbill was gone by the time I’d returned.
Later that day I saw one flying high overhead (the pink was the tip-off) and the following day was driving past when I saw a spoonbill in the ditch. Again, I didn’t have my camera but drove home, grabbed it, and sprinted back. Gone.
I went out early in the mornings and in the late afternoons during the time slots the locals suggested held the highest potential for a sighting. I brought my camera in the car.
No more spoonbills.
So now I’m headed home with nothing more than a couple mental snapshots of that unusual species. PLUS this photo of a Pileated Woodpecker I spotted at Kapok Park yesterday. The image isn’t anywhere near sharp, but I’m very happy for the sighting and this photographic memento.
I’ll be back for the Roseate Spoonbill.
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.
And in case you’re wondering about the significance of this happy little robot, the book is about Artificial Intelligence. Not exactly in my wheelhouse.*
Okay, I’m off to celebrate with some Robot Dance moves . . .
*understatement of the year
As mentioned before, I’m feeling huge regret about a work-for-hire project I accepted. But I’m trying to make the whole thing more palatable by giving myself strict guidelines for how I work on the book. Each day this week I’ve worked for three hours. No more, no less. Yesterday was a particularly difficult session and by the time Zippy came home and asked how it was going, I burst into tears. Later in the evening I asked Zebu if he’d grab hold of my hand and twist it in such a way as to make it impossible for me to type any more and therefore get me out of the assignment.
I know, I know. Fortunately, Zebu was thinking more clearly and refused to injure me.
Better news: today’s work session went surprisingly well. I kept my head down and put in my three hours. I accomplished a lot and can see the end in sight. I will prevail.
The End is still a ways off, but if I squint real hard I see it shining in the distance. And for that I’m exceedingly grateful.
Yesterday I made the decision to crash-land my manuscript rather than agonize over the ending. As a result, I wrote 3700+ words in order to achieve 50k words and be free of the NaNoWriMo intensity that felt as if it was destroying my body and melting my brain. Kidding. Except, not really.
Here’s the certificate that landed in my inbox after I validated my novel:
And here’s my Project Target counter at the end of that writing session:
- NOT writing
- Reading, reading, reading
There are seven writing days left in November and I’m confident I will have 50,000 words by the end of this month. That is not to say it’s been easy. I’ve written every single day — many more words than usual — and fatigue is starting to set in. I’ve never done rock-climbing or even climbed a wall, but this image sums up how I’m feeling today.
While the end is in sight, I’m still smack-dab in the middle of things. Reaching for toe and hand holds as I navigate this first draft. Novel-writing is an endurance activity and my brain and sitting muscles are feeling the strain. Good thing I’ve got the reserves to get me over the top because quitting is not an option.
I will prevail.
Parts of this photo are in focus, but much of it is not. And that sums up where I’m at with this first draft of my new manuscript. Several key elements are firmly in place while other elements were either abandoned along the way or inserted later in the narrative. In a few places the draft reads like a jumble of characters and motivations.
But the moments of insight counteract that blurriness, giving me faith it’s all gonna be okay. I will prevail.
It’s Day Eleven of NaNoWriMo and while I’ve managed to achieve my word count each day (a minimum of 1700 words), I’m still susceptible to panic and overwhelm. For example, yesterday as I drove home from my solo writing retreat in Estes Park I wasn’t congratulating myself on the progress I’d made. Instead, I worried that I hadn’t yet found my narrator’s true voice. Then I switched to agonizing over my “too many plot lines” I’d never be able to connect, followed by the certainty that my first draft was such an irredeemable mess it would take years to revise the manuscript into anything coherent.
I felt like a poser. I wanted to run away from the whole thing.
Those feelings mirror what it’s like when I stand in the ocean and watch a huge wave come my way. I experience a slew of emotions. Panic. Exhilaration. Awe. Fear. An urge to run for shore.
While I frequently do run from big waves, I don’t like to run from my writing commitments. So this morning when I woke with those same angsty feelings, I looked for some online support and wisdom to help me reel in negative thoughts about my first draft. I found this: 7 Things NOT to Worry About During Your First Draft
All my worries are addressed in that article which makes me think I’m not the first writer in history to freak out about her shitty first draft. Newsflash, huh?
Today I continue working on my NaNo project. And as the words add up I have those same big-wave feelings I experience when I choose to dive into the wave and then come out the other side. Exhilaration. Pride. Awe.
The desire to do it again.
Today was Day One of NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) and I came here with the intent of posting an image that celebrated the 1900 words I wrote today (and, possibly more importantly, the fact that I wrote past my doubts and ended up having genuine fun working on those scenes). However, when I went to Pixabay in search of SUCCESS or CELEBRATION or HIGH-FIVE images, I found:
This photo makes me happy. I love cows and big nostrils and whiskers. Plus, my novel is set in Wisconsin. It’s practically written in the stars that I celebrate today’s work with a cow’s nose.
I’m working on my revisions and mostly succeeding in ignoring the nasty voice in my head that says “this is crap” and “why even bother?”
What’s the key to my (mostly) success?
Remembering there’s no such thing as a perfect manuscript. Perfection is an unattainable ideal that just so happens to also be highly subjective.
From my perspective this purple coneflower is perfection. Flawed petals and all. I love it and have spent quite a bit of time gazing at its loveliness. However, your mileage may vary. And that’s okay.
With great writing there is great clarity.
~ David Costabile
That is precisely why I’ve got my notebook out again, jotting down elements of the manuscript I’m revising in hopes of making connections I’ve missed so far. It’s hard to admit, but my story lacks focus. How that can still be true in the fourth draft I do not know. What I do know is this:
With mediocre writing there are muddy waters and confusion which result in the reader not knowing exactly what she’s supposed to root for or why any of it matters.
Word of the day (and probably however long it takes to finish this draft) = CLARITY.
It’s a new week and I’m in fake-it-’til-I-make-it mode. There are seriously messed up things happening on the planet and my gut instinct is to stay in bed reading books and eating toast for the rest of my life. But that’s exactly what all the horrible people out there wreaking havoc right now want; they’re counting on wearing us down so that we start averting our gaze.
Nope. Books and toast are good, but constant vigilance is essential.
Today I’m gonna make like a prairie dog . . . and keep fighting the good fight.