Lucky Me … the Lucky Meme

Forgive me because I feel like I need to provide some background.

I decided almost a year ago to write a novel. Finally.

I was so optimistic. August 31, 2012 was my projected end date. The goal was 90,000 words. My reasoning:  if NaNoWriMo participants could produce 50,000 words in 30 days, surely I could achieve my word count goal in one year.

It didn’t matter that I hadn’t written creatively in years. It didn’t matter that I didn’t have training or education in the discipline of writing. All I had was an idea and a desire, which should be more than enough for a writer to get started.

Shortly after beginning, I decided that I needed an accountability partner. I have two writing partners that encourage me. I’ve allowed them to read segments of my novel in progress, which at times could be called a novel interrupted. However, the idea of letting others read what I’ve scratched out makes me nauseous.

But I am about forward motion. Momentum. I am game …

Here’s what’s required:

  • Go to the 7th or 77th page of your work in progress.
  • Go to the 7th line of the page.
  • Copy the next 7 sentences or paragraphs. Remember, they must be as they are typed.
  • Tag 7 authors.
  • Let them know they’re it.

Here’s me … taking a leap … an excerpt of my novel. I am not brave enough for seven paragraphs. Not yet. The working title, based on the initial idea and summary:  Momma’s Heels, which has morphed into so much more than I expected.

“The summer where she could rid herself of this stupid nickname and take on her given name, which is very grown up. Being treated as a grown up is her definition of happiness. But as the summer comes to a close she can feel that happiness has been absent from the season.

For a long time now she’s hated being called Baby Girl, but no one would listen to her requests to be called Chloe. Baby Girl started out as a term of endearment; a way to convey how special she is because it had taken her parents so long to conceive a little girl. Because she’s the only daughter in a family of five children. Unfortunately, Chloe considers being dubbed ‘Baby Girl’ as an eternal marker of youth that she doesn’t want.”

I appreciate fellow blogger and author:  Whitney of A Serendipitous Happenstance  for helping me take this leap in sharing my work with a broader audience, even if only a small snapshot. Her excerpt for her novel, Rain, will have you hooked and wanting more. Don’t miss your chance. Check it out.

Tag you’re it:

Expressing Gratitude for the Inspiring Blog Award

For almost a year, I’ve been searching for new ways to express gratitude. I’ve learned a lot but most importantly, I’ve learned that a simply saying thank you is enough.

Thank you to my blog world friend Whitney of A Serendipitous Happenstance for nominating me for the Inspiring Blog Award. Congratulations to you for receiving this award as you well deserve it. Your blog is an inspiration to me as I work on my writing journey. I am glad that it’s reciprocal.

Accepting the award calls for:

  1. Listing 7 things about myself
  2. Nominating 7 blogs/bloggers who inspire me

7 Things:

  1. I have a pile of unfinished projects and crafts next to my bed. I commit to completing one of them by the end of the year in addition to everything else I am trying to do.
  2. I am still uncomfortable in my own skin but I’m working on it.
  3. When I travel, I always over pack but I never know what I’ll need. I only use a quarter of the stuff.
  4. This summer I dedicated time to gaining wisdom so I am studying the book of Proverbs.
  5. I am starting an electronic/gadget diet i.e. less time plugged in. Moderation. Maybe I can accomplish more if I unplug for a bit.
  6. My goals are often lofty and my follow through lacking. But it doesn’t stop me from trying to have it all.
  7. My favorite pens are BIC Cristal Bold and now they come in colors other than blue and black which makes me happier than it should.

My nominees … (I must confess that I haven’t had time to explore a lot of blogs and the ones I read regularly are just coming off of nominations. I truly love them but I don’t want to overwhelm people either so if my list is short, I hope you’ll be forgiving.)

Congratulations to all bloggers who inspire others with their words.

Accepting Praise & Recognition …

Last week before I left on vacation I was surprised to receive nomination for the Versatile Blogger award. First I must apologize to Jenni of newsoftime.org for taking so long to respond. It’s not because I wasn’t excited. I am truly honored to be recognized by someone whose blog I admire.

Accepting praise and recognition can be difficult; especially without qualifying it with statements like, “Oh you shouldn’t have,” and “I don’t deserve it.” I find myself in that difficult place right now. But I will say thank you without adding a qualifier.

To Jenni of newsoftime.org, I say a special thanks for the kind words and encouragement. Your blog inspires me to stay informed. You share thought provoking topics that are in the news in an engaging way. One day I will find the courage to jump into the discussions. For now, I will continue to hit like.

RULES for The Versatile Blogger Award:

  • If you’re nominated, you’ve been awarded The Versatile Blogger Award.
  • Thank the person who gave you this award including a link to their blog.
  • Select 15 blogs/bloggers that you’ve recently discovered or follow regularly.
  • Nominate those 15 bloggers for The Versatile Blogger Award – you might include a link to this site.
  • Finally, tell the person who nominated you, 7 things about yourself.

And the nominees are:

Bravo to you all for giving me wonderful things to read.

Seven things about me

  1. I am a creature of habit and not in a good way.
  2. It’s hard for me to talk about or promote myself, despite the fact that I put my life out there on a blog.
  3. If I could travel any where without worrying about money, I would go to Spain, Greece, Italy, Buenos Aires, and Australia.
  4. This year is about deepening relationships but I am still figuring out what that means.
  5. I am a writer who is working on her skill in hopes that it will one day match my desire.
  6. I am an introvert. My next non-fiction read will be Quiet:  The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain.
  7. I love the support and sense of community that exists for bloggers and writers.

Thank you again to Jenni. I consider it a privilege.

Graduation: An Earned Right of Passage and Change Catalyst

Graduation or Commencement Season is here. We know it by the rocking romantic notes of “I’ve Had the Time of My Life” from Dirty Dancing fame. Or by the coming of age movie marathons that include:  Grease and Say Anything.

No matter what music or movie marks the occasion for us it means the same thing. Graduation represents the end of one stage of our life and the beginning of another.

We say goodbye to something familiar whether it represents good things or not so good things. We say hello to new opportunities and the possibility of something completely different or exactly the same. Which ever we choose.

We face this transition with an odd mix of remorse and anticipation.

I remember the graduations of my siblings and me. Graduation is a memorable event.

When my older sister graduated I was really scared of being left behind. I begged her to stay. To put her plans on hold. To wait for me. At that point in my life all I wanted was out but she made it all bearable for me. I couldn’t imagine life at home without her.

Surprisingly, she did what I asked. She gave up her opportunity to move on in order to assuage the fears of her younger sister who “needed her”.

How did I repay that act of love and selflessness? Two years later when I graduated, I packed up and headed off to the college of my choice. Leaving her behind even if only for a little while.

Within six months I convinced her to move to where I relocated. She lived in the dorm with me that semester because my roommate moved out (having joined a sorority). Then she got a place of her own, a job, and started living life the way she wanted.

I had convinced myself that she had stayed for other reasons. I wanted to believe that it wasn’t about me so that I could move on with my life. I wish that I’d been mature enough, respectful enough, and wise enough to encourage her to go when she first had the chance. I wish I’d come into my own sooner so that I could be an independent woman (like her) and not need her the way that I did. She was always my hero. She still is.

Again, it’s that odd mixture of emotions. With my sister’s graduation it represented loss. Mine represented renewal. I hope one day she can forgive me for being so selfish that I asked her to put her dreams and goals on hold. My sister has taught me a great deal about putting others first. About sacrificing. And for that I will be forever grateful.

Now we are on the eve of her watching her oldest son graduate high school. He is preparing to leave behind his brothers.

I know that she will be the great equalizer for the tension and emotions. I know that she’ll usher her oldest out of the nest while keeping them all connected. She will help her younger sons cope with missing their hero. She will do all these things because we’ve both learned that you have to take care of yourself before you can be any good to anyone else.

Graduation means that things will change. But it doesn’t have to mean that they change for the worst like I initially thought. Everyone has his or her time. For my sister and her family the time has come to embrace the next leg of the life journey.

Congratulations to my nephew for his accomplishment. I am so proud of him. Best wishes to my nephew as he heads down the road. Savor the moment of mixed up emotions.

Much love, much respect and much thanks to my sister for how she has always cared for me. Sister – I love you ALL ways and Always.

Show some love to those who have helped us transition from remorse to excitement!

Congratulations and best wishes 2012 graduates!

 

Writing: I Can’t Believe I Wrote This!

Am I bored with my own story? I created the characters, the worlds they live in, and the things they do, but I’ve been stuck at 26,300 words of my novel for about 2 months now.

I’ve been ignoring my manuscript because I am mildly obsessed, okay I can’t lie, I am completely obsessed with blogging. It’s a fun distraction. And, as I’ve said before blogging allows you to write and you have a finished product at the end.

Usually, reading through the words I’ve already written (good, bad, or indifferent), helps me reconnect with the story and find new inspiration. It allows me to rewrite and edit what’s there which can take the story in new directions.

The most recent attempts to read through my own words have found me abandoning the task quickly. Only making it through the first 10-20 pages before I give up and find something else to do.

Writing is an emotional business. It’s a love-hate relationship.

I found great advice in How to Write Science Fiction & Fantasy by Orson Scott Card:

The Writer’s Image. Writers have to simultaneously believe the following two things:

1. The story I am now working on is the greatest work of genius ever written in English.

2. The story I am now working on is worthless drivel.

It’s best if you believe both these things simultaneously … Of course, believing two contradictory facts at the same time is sometimes referred to as madness – but that, too, can be an asset to a writer.

When I am most unkind to myself about writing, these words (along with those of my loving and supportive husband as well as my writing partners) come to mind and encourage me through the rough patch.

But I find myself riding the pendulum of indecision right now. Swinging between these two extremes of loving my work and hating my work and waiting to be centered and still.

I am riddled with doubt about my skill to bring life to my cast of characters so there is identification with readers (including me). I am gripped with fear by the thought that I will leave behind a great story that needs and wants telling. Yet, I am hopeful for having a renewed energy and sharpened creative skills to finish well even though the break seems to be dragging longer and longer.

Fellow authors, if there is any advice you can give me about picking up where I left off and moving forward, please pass it on.

Because one thing I know to be true:  I haven’t abandoned this story and its characters won’t let me go!

The Promise of Summer

Fudgsicles. Red, white and blue Bomb Pops. Orange Creamsicles. Nestle Drumsticks. Late afternoon shouts, “Ice cream truck. It’s the ice cream truck.” Children running and waving money.

Riding bikes, roller skating or playing ball in the street with friends; these were the best ways to pass the time. We would play all day but reported home when the streetlights came on. Sometimes we’d play a game of hide-n-seek under the cover of night with the neighborhood kids while parents sat on porches and listened to the sounds of stealthy children.

We would make trips to the local pool or play in the sprinklers for the sake of cooling off from the heat. Taking frequent trips to the library to find new adventures to fuel our fun.

The smell of fresh cut grass. Clear blue skies. Golden sunshine streaming through the gaps of the clothes on the clothesline. Laughter in the distance as kids enjoy their freedom.

Veggies from the garden:  summer squash, tomatoes, and zucchini. Eating peaches, plums, and nectarines right off the tree. My Dad often paid me to be a human scarecrow and ward off birds from his precious fruit trees. Chicken and burgers on the grill. Family and friends laughing as we prepare the evening meal together. True community.

Sleeping in till lunch time and watching soap operas all afternoon:  Search for Tomorrow, Days of Our Lives, and Another World. No set bedtime.

Even though I was a little bit of a nerd and enjoyed school, these are the things that summer always promised to deliver for me. Can you see it? Close your eyes and imagine …

Summertime!

Now as a mom of two small boys summer represents some new things …

Ice cream is still involved, just not from an ice cream truck. They are few and far between. When I was young you could set your watch by the arrival of the ice cream truck. Now we’ll stop by one of our favorite ice cream shops.

As the school year comes to a close for my boys, I see that they are in need of a break from the regular routine. They are crabby and annoyed. Counting down the days hasn’t helped. They need a vacation. I am excited for them to have one. I want them to have memories like mine.

The mom in me is excited that I won’t have to remember to pack lunches. There won’t be a need for clean school uniforms and arguments about being in dress code. We can say goodbye to Manic Mornings where tired children meltdown over things like eating breakfast, getting dressed, and brushing their teeth.

Summer can’t get here soon enough. I will fill it as best as I can with:  Fudgsicles, Red, white and blue Bomb Pops, Orange Creamsicles, and Nestle Drumsticks, for my boys.

We will laugh and play in the sunshine. I will put on running shoes or find a bike path. I will stand in the heat and blow bubbles for a game of “Bubble Wars”. I will step outside of my comfort zone and do outdoor things with them. We’ll celebrate the promise of Summer.

Get ready because here it comes …

Humbled, Surprised, Grateful …

Thank you so much to goodoldgirl for the nomination. I was surprised and humbled when I received word that you’d passed this on to me.

When I started blogging a couple of months ago I thought that the people who would read my blog were friends and family. I thought that it would be a way to reveal more of who I am to the people who already love me.

So, I am so grateful for the wordpress world where so many people will take a moment to just stop by and see what I am up to …

The Liebster Blogger Award rules are:

  1. Thank the one who nominated you by linking back.
  2. Nominate five blogs with less than 200 followers.
  3. Let your nominees know by leaving a comment on their sites.
  4. Add the award image to your site.
 Following the rules:
  1. Again, a big thank you to goodoldgirl who’s blog feels like the comfort of home and makes me introspective.
  2. I am nominating the following blogs for this award … I wasn’t able to identify the number of followers they have but I enjoy them so I am extending recognition to them:
  3. Complete
  4. Complete

Thank you so much for the recognition. I am truly humbled and honored for the acknowledgement.

Gail

Writer’s Block: A Breakthrough in Progress

When I started blogging I thought I would write about writing more frequently than I have. I guess I don’t have a lot to say about writing.

One benefit of blogging is that I am writing almost daily. I realize writing comes a little easier when it happens frequently at least for me.

Blogging allows me to write in burst and have a completed story at the end. I like finished projects that are ready to share.

This is different than novel writing where I have a burst which is immediately followed by a block. I walk away from these writing bursts with more questions than answers, especially because I am following the story instead of leading it.

Blocks force me to turn to my writing resources looking for motivation:  books, online articles, events, bookstores, and my writing partners.

My hope? To better understand the writing process. But sometimes that’s not enough.

I am reading a book, Imagine:  How Creativity Works, by Jonah Lehrer, which breaks down the creative process. This work of non-fiction intrigued me because I thought if I could just figure out the process of creativity and what it means to be creative, then I could figure out how to write.

Creativity is the header and writing is the subcategory. So, if I understood creativity than maybe writing the novel would come a little easier.

One of my favorite lines from the book, so far is, “The first stage is the impasse: Before there can be a breakthrough, there has to be a block.”

I’ve shared this quote with my writing partners. It’s a good reminder and it takes the pressure off. It gives me permission not worry about putting words down. It tells the story that no matter what I do there will be a block and I should just go with it.

So my focus today is not on the block but the pending breakthrough. Just around the corner waiting for me are the answers to the questions, the decisions on direction, or the epiphany about how to finish.

Writer’s block is part of the journey and I am learning to be grateful for it.