Thursday, September 2, 2021

I Don't Want to Write Today

So this is my warm up.

My goal this week is really manageable. It's just 400 words per day. If I start, I'll be finished. But I feel tired and slow, and I don't want to start.

I should be riding high. I showered this morning and got dressed and left the house before Mac's alarm rang at our ideal departure time. A victory!

But after I dropped him off, I touched my face for a moment and realized I'd forgotten to put on any makeup. I do this about once per year, usually when I get ready in an out-of-order sort of way.

We wear masks at school, so it's almost no big deal to forget one's make-up, except I think a little mascara goes a long way, and I'm new to my job, and I want to make a good impression.

There's a Walgreens near the building, and I teach in the afternoons while writing in my classroom in the mornings. So, what was an extra ten minutes to stop by and pay thirty dollars for the concealer, eyelash curler, and a new Voluminous? I did the touch up using the sunshield mirror.

Nothing bad happened except it continued my discombobulation, and now I don't want to write. 

But it's just 400 words, and it's my job.

I'll do it.

I'll do it.

I'll do it. 

(Cue Cameron Frye in his car wanting and not wanting to let Ferris boss him around.)

Thursday, August 26, 2021

A Magic Carpet Ride

We're in a new reality now where I am a schoolteacher at my alma mater.

Yesterday, I stopped on my way home from school to walk with Nicole. I told her it had been a million years since I really sat down and worked on GCMB (that's Golf Course Murder Book. Book 4), or really on any writing.

But then, I realized that statement wasn't true at all. I turned in my final revision of Home or Away at dinner time on August 15th, about 15 hours before I was due at this new teaching job for my week of workshops. In between, I've written a couple of thousand words and thought about which of my suspects might actually be a murderer.

Sometimes, when I feel like I've been lazy, I really haven't been lazy at all.

And, in the meantime, I've learned a new course management system, planned a month of lessons, organized my classroom, reacquainted myself with Catholic ethos (the school is Catholic and all-girls), and optimized my cheery disposition. 

So it's not like I've been lazing around.

But still, routine is good, so I'm excited to slide into it on Monday. I teach in the afternoons, so I'll be writing in the mornings. Although I only teach afternoons, I have well-lit and comfortable classroom to myself all day, so I'm going to use it as my office. Noise-canceling headphones and a desk and I just know GCMB is going to flow out of me.

I actually do think it will. It doesn't hurt to practice joyful optimism. In fact, it's one of our "little virtues" at school, so it's sort of my job.

Wednesday, August 4, 2021

Olympic Champions

It's time again to write on my blog. I will tell you the story of the new first chapter of Home or Away, a book I wrote that will be out in March of 2022.

A few things happened:

First, my two pals Bradeigh and Alison read the second-most recent version of the novel, and each felt Chapter 1 wasn't quite right. They offered the same potential solution (convenient!). I attempted it.

"Not quite," said Alison when I showed it to her. I made a few of the additional changes she suggested and then handed it in.

Next, my editor read the newest Chapter 1 and said, "I think we need a slightly different tone." She did some cutting of some hockey jargon, but left me a note that it still needed a magic something.

Lee then also read that version and said, "I do not like Chapter 1. I started liking the book in Chapter 3." You can see now that we have a theme here. Chapter 1 cannot stand as is. Lee offered another strategy, but I couldn't quite figure out how to make it work.

I discussed my predicament with Nicole. It was our whole topic for "stretch and talk," a time on the days when we work together when we simultaneously--you guessed it--stretch! and talk! "Ok," Nicole said. "Let's think about the promise you're making to the reader in Chapter 1 and why that's not working." She asked for some themes of the novel. Competition, I said. Forgiveness. Sisterhood. Commitment. 

Nicole offered another possibility for the chapter based on my answers. I attempted it. Breaking news: I have now sent Chapter 1 back to Lee and Nicole now for review. We can only hope I'm on the right track. If not, the team will go back in the dugout for some more strategizing.

Wednesday, July 28, 2021

I'm Doing Okay: A Status Report

 Here's how it's going:

Revisions on Home or Away: This is my third novel. It's a massive departure from books 1 and 2, and I'm proud of it, tbh.

Also, the process of writing this book has more or less decimated me. It was ridiculously hard to write, and I needed countless pep talks from various friends. I think it was so hard because there was no way in this story to skirt vulnerability and emotional depth. 

My usual fare, quips and banter, require a little less of me in terms of resilience.

Anyway, we're doing one last round of revisions, "we" meaning my editor and me. My goal is to be done in two weeks, and I think I can do it. There might be some crying, but I actually think I might be past that part. Anyway, it's all part of the process.

Progress on Book 4: This is the one I'm calling "Golf Course Murder Book." It's fun and different and there's a dead body. I'm going to learn a lot while writing this because plotting a crime requires more planning than does a suburban dramedy.

Also, it's weird to talk about "usual" since I've only written three books so far. "Usual" seems more like a ten or twelve book thing.

Chores: I don't make the children do chores. But, it's nice when things are picked up. This afternoon, we will all pick up for 7 minutes or so at the same time, and I believe our kitchen family room will look nice after this exercise.

Update: Only one child did the clean-up, and I would say his attitude could be described as "reluctant."

Wednesday, July 21, 2021

Writing Is Easy and Fun for Me

This is a little mantra that comes back to me from time to time. I'm sure I've written about it before. 

(I just checked, and yes, I wrote about it and my guffawing high school English teacher in 2007.) 

"Writing is easy and fun for me," pops right into my head when I'm struggling. I'm currently struggling, and let me now enumerate the ways:

I'm working on a new idea and getting to know new characters. I'm writing lots of scenes that will hit the garbage can. You would think that knowing I'm going to throw it all away would free me, and in some ways, it does! But other times, it just feels daunting. Because I know I'll have to write 200,000 words before I land on the 90,000 right ones.

But, also, I worry that I'm not finding the right ideas or learning the right things about the characters or exploring the right facets of their personalities. Maybe I identified the wrong "five pivotal life moments" that I'm now excavating for the first of five or six main characters. Maybe I haven't gotten the right connections drawn between one character and another.

The young woman I'm writing about right now isn't coming to life in all the right ways yet. One problem is that her name is Felicia. I should probably change that immediately because #ByeFelicia.

I just paused the writing of this blog entry to watch a video about the origin of the expression "Bye Felicia." I had no idea, and it's possibly appropriative for me to use since it was originated by Ice Cube's character in the movie Friday.

So, this is a lot of struggle. Let's start with the easiest problem and rename Felicia. I'm going to switch it right now to Victoria. Do you think that'll help?

I'll keep you posted.

Thursday, July 15, 2021

The Water Heaters. We Have Two.

Just yesterday, I was bemoaning the publishing pay structure. You don't get paid on a bi-weekly basis. Rather, you get largeish sums of money at irregular intervals, the frequency of which is mostly beyond your control.

I was thinking about how I hadn't been paid in a while, and then I had the thought, "Well, at least we don't have any pressing home repair projects at the moment."

Everyone knows what happens next. 

The goddamned water heater imploded not two hours after I had that thought. It was the right water heater. We have tandem ones because our house is big and old. In any case, both of them are beyond their life expectancies, and so both are getting replaced today. If I didn't do it that way, you know I'd be calling back in seven days or less for them to do the other one, paying an additional visit fee and also losing my double-heater discount.

To be frank, this whole blasted operation is costing a pretty penny. There are four guys here doing the work. It's ruined my day. I had plans. I can't execute them. I'm dirty because we had no hot water last night. Dan Facetimed with the guy to turn it off, lest it continue to leak all over the basement floor. I wanted to go running. I can't. The dogs are upset and loud. I was supposed to go write in Nicole's studio. I didn't. 

With my overly sensitive nose, I detected a natural gas smell. 

"I'm surprised you can smell it," the guy said. "I replaced the connection, and opened the door."

I can, in fact, smell it, even though I've been assured I'm not going to blow up. It's giving me a migraine. Everything sucks.

Well, not everything. But, this water heater situation for sure.

Wednesday, July 7, 2021

Summer Status Report

 I like to update on various things sometimes. This is one of those times.

Hydration: I need to be doing a slightly better job of drinking more water on a daily basis. This is a constant struggle. I've tried to solve my water problems by getting cuter water bottles and fun flavored things to dump in them. I've also tried cute stickers for my cuter water bottles. All of these things work somewhat.

Mechanical Keyboard: I bought a mechanical keyboard for Mac for his birthday. Mac is a keyboard expert and addict and enjoys the various sounds and feels of different types of machines. Right now, I'm using the keyboard I bought for him because I love it, and because he is indeed very generous. It does this wonderful clackity clack thing and makes you want to just keep typing forever. Combine the mechanical keyboard with some good ole comic sans draft font, and I'm churning out a thousand words in no time flat.

Novel Writing: I turned in my third novel for the second time. The honest to goodness truth is that I'm exceedingly proud of it. I need to hold on to that feeling. Now, I'm starting something new and completely different. "Departure" doesn't even cover it. But, just this morning I typed a thousand words of it with the aforementioned clickity clackety magic keyboard. There's murder and revenge and wacky personalities and Lili Pulitzer, I'm pretty sure. 

Dog Ladydom: I'm still a part of it. Three dogs. Can't escape; can't go back.