Today, tomorrow, maybe next week…

I’m thinking about how easy it is to get distracted from a project, to lose the perspective that the commitment is worthwhile. There are certainly enough events going on in the world today to knock me off the singleness of mind I need to polish my NaNoWriMo novel and get queries out there.

But if the news ribbon wasn’t buzzing with the stuff leading up to a classic dystopian future previously only caught in the imaginations of great writers, I would still have plenty to be distracted by.

I’m not talking about the usual stuff; is everyone in my life happy? Can I stand another day of my job? Will we figure out how to get a new shower installed? It’s the philosophical spears that slice through my brain.

Did I miss my life calling thirty years ago? Have I changed at all or am I getting used to my mediocrity and it doesn’t feel uncomfortable anymore? What will I do with the perceived time I have left? Will my time be up tomorrow?

In light of all that, how can sitting in my closet editing and re-editing a novel, planning blog posts and tweaking a website be meaningful?

I’ve been down this path before. I’ve set aside projects. I’ve ‘lost interest’ which just means I’ve allowed my interest to evaporate into the air of life. Months, no actually years later, I’ve pulled out projects and I’ve found oxygen in my mind setting it on fire with a ‘whoop’ of re-connection, followed by thoughts of regret.

What am I saying in all this? Press on. Fight for what you’re working on. Don’t give it up too easily. Don’t give it up even if it is slipping away with the winds of conflict, uncertainty, and troubles. It’s like the lottery, you’ve got to be in it to win it. (This is not an endorsement to throw your hard earned money away on the very unlikely chance that you’ll hit it big and retire in joy and happiness.)

Write on. I know there are some famous authors out there just waiting to hit the bestseller list. Let me know when it’s you!

Running the Writer Race

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

I’m a wanna-be marathon runner as well as a wanna-be published novelist. I run almost every day a mile or so. Not enough to give even a mini-marathon a chance…yet. I’ve been going faster and further for about five years. Sounds ridiculous to some of you but progress is progress. I’ve found that I can plateau and feel good at where I’m at but when I remember what my goal is, then I’m ready to push myself again; deal with the discomfort of going beyond, when I’m willing again to pay a price that feels like loss at the outset.

The work, the trouble, the aches and pains come before the joy, the bliss, the deep satisfaction of overcoming my own weakness. I was running with a bunch of runners, on a video (ha! ha!), pretending to be the runner who was videoing a race. I found my self rooting for my guy, urging him to pass person after person. It was a seven plus mile run so I had to drop off, live a day of work and pick up next morning. The second day, my runner passed everyone.

How great to be the lead runner, the one who left everyone else behind, the one who had to figure where the trail actually was through pastures, over hillocks, through gates and muddy paths. It occurred to me that being out front has its glory but eventually it feels a little lonely. Running with the group felt like we were all doing something. Making a stand for resilience and strength of the human body. Running out front, it was just the open space ahead. I’m generally not happiest in a crowd but maybe small crowds focused on the same goal are okay. Just when I was missing the sensation of being part of a united people, in the true fashion of real life, suddenly there was a person in front me, then another. They must have been just a few steps behind but out of view. (I run to my own music track). Isn’t that the way it often is? We think we’re alone in our successes, alone in the ground we have to cover, figure out, alone if we fall or fail. But then, just like that, the very reality we’re struggling in shifts and it comes to light that we were never alone.

When I get back to running with this video I’ll learn if the videographer wins or not but I’m a fan anyway. Why? Because I’m feeling like I can run this race and if not, I can cheer on those who pass me and love every mile of it.

Day 1 NaNoWriMo 2020

Hope you’re having a great day and especially a great Day 1 of NaNoWriMo. Everything about 2020 is epic in good ways and not so good ways. Will NaNoWriMo be epic for you? Only one way to find out. Give it a go! I signed up on the official web-site. I’m starting a new novel; a young adult suspense. I committed to 1000 words a day and I’ve met that goal for today.

I want to encourage you if you’re still on the fence about it. You can quit any time. You can miss your goal any time. You can change what you’re working on, ANY TIME. No judgement! No penalty!

Anyway, last night I went on the web-site, started a project called “Virtual Truth”. I went to “Writers Resources” and picked the prep work character questionnaire. It was great to answer the questions about my progranist, supporting character and antagonist. I was reminded of something I was just taught: The protaganist needs to have a desire to do/be something that is in direct conflict with what they need to do.

In my new novel my protaganist Maisey desires to be out on an adventure, fully living her life. That is in direct conflict to her upbringing and family’s expectation that she’ll get married and have kids and be a successful teacher. The protaganist doesn’t always know their own inner desire. The very beginning of the story Maisey is concerned about getting married and having kids but that changes very quickly. 😊

Hope you all have the time and inspiration to jot a few words down every day this month towards a project. Write on people!

Practice Makes Perfect

Writer’s Tip#2

It’s no secret that running every morning, taking time at the ball field to swing or pitch, playing scales on a piano, riffing through chords on a guitar, or well, any skill that requires physical coordination, improves with practice. But practice writing? Not just writing and revising a project, but actually just writing for the sake of practice?

I had the first ten pages of my current project critiqued by Eric Witchey (http://www.ericwitchey.com/). I have to give a plug for his critique service. I’ve not had a review of my work done more professionally and thoroughly, ever. Worth every penny and then some. I gleaned several tips and recommendations but one that surprised me was to practice writing techniques.

I’m not very good at casual writing. My current project started with the intention of writing a short story to enter in a contest so I could build credits. I don’t how it turned into a novel except that I couldn’t stop writing my character’s lives. There was more to tell than a few thousand words.

So how does a novel writing addict reign it in and just ‘practice’ creating characters and scenes? Before I answer that question, I need to mention that studying characters by putting them into the same situation and writing the scene of how each would respond is a tool I have truly enjoyed. There’s no separation anxiety with that exercise. The characters are on my stage and I’ve got a plan for them.

Back to the question, how to practice without engaging the passion of a project. I found a way by accident. I’ve been known to wander through flea markets with tables piled high with junk, true junk. Chipped coffee cups, mustard yellow electric can openers, rusted adjustable wrenches frozen a quarter inch open, five crock pots in a row and then, if I’m lucky, I’ll find the mother lode, a dirty, ragged cardboard box of books.

Last time this happened, I plucked out three, would have been ten but my husband was hovering nearby and although he would say nothing if I bought ten, he would have shook his head all the way home and mutter ‘you don’t have time to read all those…”.

One of the books I bought was “The Gazebo” by Patricia Wentworth, a British author. I started reading it in the car on the way home from the flea market. The set-up of the story was stellar. Then it hit me. I’ve only read the first thirty or so pages. I’ve met the main characters, but I don’t know exactly what they’re going to do. Why not practice with these? Write them into the scenes I think will happen. I don’t have any other connection to this story except my entertainment.

So, that’s the tip I received and the way to make it work. Pick up a book. Read the first thirty pages or so then play with someone else’s kids. Write on! The world awaits your voice.

Didn’t Expect That

Have you ever watched a show with funny video clips like “America’s Funniest Home Videos”? If not, picture these scenes and guess what comes after the first few seconds of footage:

Fearless
  • A man is vaulting through the air toward a horse, arms stretched
  • A teenager starts down the handrail of a flight of concrete stairs on a skateboard
  • A grandma dressed to the nines with a plaid skirt, bleach white top and sneakers, raises a golf club

Did you guess that in all three scenes, the unexpected happened? The man does not make it onto the horse, he misses and lands in manure. The teenager slides off the handrail and saves himself in a somersault. The grandma raises the golf club and swings like her life depends on it, does a couple of spins only to find the ball hasn’t moved.

What do all these instances have in common? Someone is trying very hard to go beyond the typical, pushing themselves to do the amazing. I’ve noticed in these video clips that when people really want to do something and believe they can do it, they put it all out there. Though that is oddly (dare I say uncomfortably?) the source of the humor. Watching a person focus like a pro and then fail tickles the funny bone. Still, a person that intends to jump on a horse from behind must leap with all his strength. Same for doing a crazy stunt on a skateboard or swinging a golf club at eighty years old.

All these funny video clips chronicle the diehard spirit of humans to give whatever they truly want to do, the best shot ever. It’s inspiring. That is exactly my point. Be inspired. People make themselves the brunt of a ten second joke that at best might win them a T-shirt from a television show. They do it again and again because if it’s worth trying, it’s worth risking failure, even laughter, even the mocking of a gaggle of naysayers that seem to be at the periphery of everyone’s lives.

So put your all into whatever project you’re working on. Don’t worry about if you’re the right stuff or not. You are part of a community of people who jump high, slide fearlessly and swing like champions.

That’s something to be proud of.