Thankful Thursday: The I-Didn’t-Procrastinate-(Much) Edition

stevenwrightquote

I’ve started working again on a project that I put on hold in 2012 because I didn’t feel equipped to do it justice. I’m still not insanely confident about my abilities (after all, I am a writer), but I’m pushing ahead.

Last night my Writing Roosters critique group got together, and one of the members spoke of her current process as she drafts another book in a series. She said that for her, outlining and research could turn into a form of procrastination, and that it was important to just get writing and trust that that other stuff will sort itself out along the way. I realize that isn’t a new concept, but it was one of those right-comments-at-the-right time things, and it went ping in my brain.

That’s exactly where I’ve been with this project; reacquainting myself with the characters and plot, doing more and more research. Thinking I had to get most every detail nailed down. Obviously, that’s false. Because as it says in STOP THAT BALL! : Could this go on all day and night? It could, you know, and it just might.

stopthatballcover

One of the best read-alouds EVER!

So today I stepped away from the outlining and research rabbit holes, and started writing. I didn’t get a whole lot of words down, but I accomplished more than page numbers.

Take that, Steven Wright!

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About everything

Fiction is too beautiful to be about just one thing. It should be about everything.
~ Arundhati Roy
sedum

I absolutely agree with Ms. Roy. Fiction should include the smooth, the rough, the soft, the sharp, the bright, the dull, the everything. Right now, however, I’m struggling with a bit of overwhelm in regards to the EVERYTHING I’m contemplating for this current project.

The good news is that I’ve (temporarily, at least) eluded my panic, and am whittling away at one piece of EVERYTHING that I hope belongs in the story. If it turns out this piece doesn’t belong, I will still have learned something.

Disclosure: That mature sentiment will fade if this project turns into one long-ass process of elimination.

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All thumbs

I’ve written lots of stuff over the years and have quite a few thumb drives.

thumb-drives

Going back to locate an old project used to be a pain in the ass. Well, not anymore! I FINALLY took the time to index my various drives and to move files around so that none of those projects are on multiple drives. (In case you’re judging me, I challenge anyone to work on a project off-and-on over the years and still maintain a pristine filing system. And yes, I do know about the cloud. Much of this stuff’s out there, too, but that’s a task for another day.)

Right now I’m very satisfied with my little box of thumb drives and index. Never underestimate the power of organizational wizardry. The world feels very bleak right now, and little victories such as this can stop me from running into traffic.

 

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Friday Five: The Kathleen Duey Edition

ONE:
So what do you do when you’re more than a year into a project yet
still confused regarding the viability of said project?
Hire Kathleen Duey – Writing Consultant Extraordinaire.

Kathleen Duey pic

TWO:
And how does that consultation take place?
Via Skype in which you’re face-to-face across the miles,
looking into Kathleen’s friendly face below those flaming tresses,
as she shares her reaction to your opening pages and synopsis.

THREE:
Will she automatically like what you’ve written and advise you to
continue in that vein?
Not in my case. But that’s good because the reason
I contacted Kathleen was to jar myself from the space I was in with
that project, and to get me thinking in new and different directions. If she’d
told me I was on the right track I would’ve wanted my money back.

FOUR:
Did she share brilliant insights and suggestions?
Yes and yes! Kathleen offered a plot device I hadn’t considered which
will make the storytelling easier while adding complexity to the plot. She also
had oodles of general insights and if I had to choose a money quote from our
session it would be “I don’t really know this kid yet and I’m thinking you
don’t know him much better.” That was painful to hear but not unexpected;
it was the wake-up I needed. (She then shared techniques for
getting to know him, getting to know all about him…).

FIVE:
Well, it kinda sounds as if your project needs a major overhaul so aren’t
you a little overwhelmed?
Absolutely. But I also finally, finally feel as if I might be able to do this concept
justice (a concept Kathleen very much loved) and so am trying not to look
too far ahead as I begin at the beginning (again). This project is my Grow
and Learn and Mature as a Writer project, and I want to embrace the
experience.

BONUS:
If you get the chance to hear Kathleen speak at a conference, do it.
I heard her years ago when my energy and drive were flagging and
she made me not only want to write again, but to write well. She’s smart
and passionate and incredibly supportive of other writers.

Thank you again, Kathleen!

New Running and Writing Perspectives

           

I'm developing new perspectives 
regarding running and writing,
perspectives I hope will sustain me.

I am a creature of habit
and while there's no harm in my many years 
of ordering aloo gobi at Indian restaurants
or my drawer filled with black shirts,
black shirt   black shirt   black shirt

I'm realizing I do myself a disservice when I,
for example, get so focused on how fast I can run a certain
trail that I get locked into that one workout.

Last summer I ran three or four times a week
on the trails in the open space,
trails that include lots of rocks and inclines.
When it came time for the annual road race 5k to benefit my kids'
high school I was sure I'd kick butt.
Well, I did cut some time but nothing close to what I'd hoped for,
and I didn't know why.

Now I think I do.

Every run was on the same couple loops,
starting from the same place 
and ending at the same point.
My muscles got used to those runs and settled in at that level.

Here's what the trail system looks like where I run:
Hayden Green Mountain trail map
image from BigDaddyMaps.com

While it's true there are many trails, 
not all those trails are great for running.
Many are so steep I'd be faster hiking them than "running."
So I gravitated to the trails that had long sections of tolerable inclines,
wanting a decent-length workout. 

This summer I'm trying something new:
I go off on tangents, even if those trails are short or quickly turn steep.
I'm keeping my muscles on their proverbial toes as I mix up my workouts.
As a result, I'm not obsessed with my time and allow myself the luxury of 
watching coyotes or jumping sideways at the sight of a snake.

Jim Fixx cover
Every step I take is a good step.

So what does this lengthy screed have to do with my writing?
I'm back working on the project I set aside in April in order to focus
on other revisions, the project that's different from any other book I've written.

This project intimidates me and I really have no clue whether I'm hitting the mark.
But I'm using new writing muscles and that can only make me a stronger writer 
(assuming I don't run screaming into the night).

Something else I've learned?
New perspectives are not only good for the muscles but nourish the soul.

                       

Friday Five: The Catching Up Edition

1)  Zebu turned 16 this week and got his driver’s license.
Knowing him, that’s what he was dreaming about in this old photo:
passport Harlan 001

2)  Zippy is training for the MS 150 Colorado Bike Ride next weekend
and has been going on looong rides in the 90+ degree temperatures plus
commuting to work via bike which means a return ride of 12+ miles uphill.
(It’s a good cause and he’s low on fundraising so if you have a couple bucks
to toss his way he’d be thrilled).

3)  Wildebeest is living with Casa Bonita workmates and enjoying
the freedom of a home so messy he temporarily lost his phone.

4)  I am waiting to hear back from a critique partner on my revisions
before I can finally, finally send them off. In the meanwhile I’m revisiting the project
I set aside several months ago and tweaking the synopsis with a new perspective.

5)  The nest cam is still running at Cornell University and here’s the youngest
hawk looking quizzical on her return visit to the nest the other day:
Hello #3

I’ve been out of the loop here but hope everyone is doing well.
Wishing you all a great weekend!

A Tip from John Irving

“A writer’s job is to imagine everything so personally 
that the fiction is as vivid as memories.”   ~ John Irving                        
                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                          

Snowy Day Visitor

Most days the Dark-Eyed Juncos are chased from the feeders
by the other birds (mostly House Finches) but today the juncos
are holding their own.

I had great fun watching this one hop and dance about the tree
(I know it’s crazy but it seemed as if s/he was clogging).

© Tracy Abell 2012

And now I’m headed back into the revision cave although I’d prefer hanging out at the feeder. . .


Snowy Day Visitor

      

Most days the Dark-Eyed Juncos are chased from the feeders
by the other birds (mostly House Finches) but today the juncos 
are holding their own.

I had great fun watching this one hop and dance about the tree
(I know it's crazy but it seemed as if s/he was clogging).


                                                                                    © Tracy Abell 2012

And now I'm headed back into the revision cave although I'd prefer hanging out at the feeder. . .