"There's no point in spending your life in the pursuit of something that's easy." - Alice Kuipers

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Feeling Ambitious

This week, I'm feeling ambitious. I've already submitted my piece for the week, but I think I'm going to go for the gold. I'm going to submit again before the week is done. No, this will not be my new standard. That would be too hard to maintain for the rest of my life. BUT, there are a number of deadlines cropping up for several places I'd like to submit to. AND, since I'm feeling mildly energetic this week, I figure might as well go for it.
It's definitely been a challenge to produce as much material that's required for my weekly submission goal, but I"m also having a lot of fun with it. Having a reason to be creative helps get me to sit down in front of the computer and write. Not everything is my best stuff, but that's not the point right now. I'm just building a habit, getting in the rhythm of putting words down on figurative paper.

Sidebar: still loving my new job. My boss and her husband bring their dog to work with them every day. I love it. There's no better way to shake off a bad mood (or even just slip away for a small break) than having a friendly pooch waiting for affection. Today when I pulled up she kept trying to follow the car (making it difficult to pull in) because she was so excited to see me. And when I left? Even harder to pull out of a parking stall when the dog remains less than two feet from the side of your car, walking alongside it. I was worried she'd try to follow me out of the parking lot. I think she just enjoys having someone pay her a ridiculous amount of attention. It's mostly men where I work, and they usually just ignore her and well, work. Not me. I've always got time for a stream of baby talk and a tummy rub. And in return, she brightens my day, every day. Yep. This sure beats customer service

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Why is There a Naked Man on my TV?

Synchronizing - although great in theory - often comes with a downside. A little over a year ago, my husband decided he wanted to switch over to Apple. He wanted an iPhone, a Mac laptop and an Apple TV.
"It's amazing, Mel," he'd say. "They'll all automatically synch up with each other. I can control the TV with my phone!"

I'd shrug and smile, not really getting the appeal. Who cares if you can control the TV with your phone? I can do the same thing - with the remote. I didn't really understand why he'd want everything to synch up either, but there are some things that aren't worth arguing about. I kind of figured he'd get over the idea and move on to something else within a month or two, but he didn't. He didn't let it go and eventually he got his Apple trio: the phone, the laptop and the Apple TV.

I will admit, the laptop is nice. And the Apple TV is nifty. The iPhone is understandable if you're really busy and need access to the web on a near continual basis. All in all, he was happy and I was happy that he was happy.

The only times his new toys annoy him are when they're too synchronized. For instance, if he's using his laptop in the family room and I use the Apple TV remote, it also causes things to pop up on his computer. Mildly irritating, I'll admit. The other day, however, we realized the major downside to a phone that synchronizes with the TV.

My husband uses his iPhone to take pictures, which is great. The picture quality is good, and due to the wonders of synchronization, all of our photos have become a slide show for when the Apple TV is asleep. However, it doesn't just import photos that he's taken. It takes whatever photos are stored on his phone. So, when he was at work a few days ago and sent a truly disgusting photo of a naked man to one of his coworkers as a joke, he didn't realize the other repercussions. He forgot to delete the picture off his phone before he came home, and without his say-so, the phone synchronized with the Apple TV. And now, unfortunately, every once in a while, in the midst of our family photos, a picture of a naked man with an obscene amount of piercings through his testicles and an even weirder tattoo on his thighs and buttocks appears on the screen. We have since deleted the photo from his computer and phone, but have yet to figure out how to remove it from the photo stream on the TV. (Did I mention that my husband and I are not technically proficient? That's part of why my husband wanted the Apple stuff. No set up required).
Yep, can't wait to have my parents over. It'll be a great conversation starter. And of course, we should probably invite some neighbourhood children over. Might as well get the emotional scars over with early, right? I never thought I'd have to close the blinds for a photo stream.

And that, my friends, is why synchronization is not always as convenient as they'd have you (or your husband) believe. Because the Apple stuff is great, but I'm not enjoying playing Jack in the Box with a picture of a naked man in a photo stream. Every picture switch makes me cringe.

Friday, January 27, 2012

It's Friday

Well, it's Friday and I'm officially wiped out. I've never had a Monday to Friday job before, and I think it's going to take some getting used to. Working regular hours is new to me.

It's been a tough go this week. I've managed to write every day but not as much as I wanted to, and I'm leaving it until tomorrow to make my weekly submission. I'm too tired to give a piece my full attention. I'm going to get a good night's sleep and get it turned in tomorrow. Trying to submit every week does not mean turning in shoddy work, after all.

I love my new job, but I can't believe how tired I am when I get home every day. I start looking at the clock, wishing for bed, at 7:30. I'm sure part of that is because it's winter (I require an obscene amount of sleep in winter) but I think the rest of it is because I'm finally doing something all day.

When I was working retail, there were always long periods of inactivity, stretches of time filled with boredom and trying to look busy. At my new job, I have tasks to work on all day. And I love it. But man am I ever tired. I'm hoping this weekend will restore me, as well as allow me to catch up on my writing. I've fallen behind on a few projects, and if I don't catch up now I'll just keep falling further and further behind. The hard part is being productive when all I want to do is watch tv and sleep.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Writing in the Dark

Do you like my title? It's an homage to "Dancing in the Dark" by Dev. It's also literal. I have most of the lights off because I was at the optometrist this evening and he dilated my pupils. For most people, this gets done every couple of appointments. For me, it gets done every time. My retina is really thin in my right eye so they have to check and make sure it's not torn or damaged every time I come in. The result? My eyes feel like they're a little too big for my eye sockets and typing is slightly difficult. I just want to shut my eyes and go to sleep, but there's too much to do. Also, it's only 7:30 in the evening, and as much as I love sleep, going to bed now would make me feel a little sad.

Instead, I'm staying awake, writing (and dancing) in the dark. I've managed to keep my new year's resolutions so far, now twenty three days in. This Friday will mark the fourth Friday in a row that I've submitted a piece of writing and I'm excited about that. I didn't do as much work as I would have liked to on my novel on Monday evening, but other than that I'm feeling pretty good. It's definitely a little more difficult now that I work full time, regular hours. I know, you'd think it'd be easier having a set schedule, but when you don't know when you'll get more time to write, you tend to take advantage of whatever time you can get. With this job, I know exactly how much time I have every day. It takes the urgency out of it just a little. It'll be an interesting adjustment, but I think in the long run it'll be for the best.

I leave you now with Dancing in the Dark. The video is stupid but the song is infectious. Enjoy!

Monday, January 23, 2012

My First Day at the New Job

Today was my first day at my new job and I know you're all at the edge of your seats waiting to find out how it went. (And if you aren't I don't care, you're going to hear about it anyway).

Honestly? It was fantastic! My brain hurts from the amount of stuff I'm going to have to learn, but finally I have a nice, quiet desk job. My days of customer service related hell are over. It's going to take some time to master the various tasks I'll be responsible for, but once I do I think this new job is going to be exactly what I'm looking for. That might sound inconsequential to you, but having worked three previous jobs that I couldn't stand, I have to tell you that it's not. It's HUGE.

My favourite highlight of the day? The company I'm working for is adding on some extra office space and when they're finished I'll have my own office! I'm so excited! I've never had a desk job before and I was already so delighted that I'd have a work space to call my own, a desk I could decorate with pictures and what not. And now, I'll have my very own office! I can't tell you what that means to a hermit like myself!
In conclusion, my first day was great. Everyone was super nice, the work is challenging but definitely doable and - knock on wood - I think this is a job I could stick with and enjoy for a long time. Hooray!

Saturday, January 21, 2012

The Birth House

Yesterday I read The Birth House by Ami McKay from cover to cover. And it was ridiculously good. I loved every last bit of it and I have to say, I had the hardest time putting it down. I would read a few chapters, go put in a load of laundry and come right back. When I could force myself to put it down again, I would write for a while, and then I'd get sucked right back in. I just couldn't stay away from it. What a fantastic read.

Ami McKay has a new one out too. It's called The Virgin Cure, and I can't wait to run out and buy it. The depth of research she puts into her work is astounding. She makes everything so real, so accurate; without feeling like you're reading a textbook. Basically, you just feel as though you're there.  Her characters are so vivid, so perfectly real. The Birth House was a real work of literary art and I know The Virgin Cure will be too.If you're looking for another good read, for the love of God pick it up!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Winter Reading

Winter. The weather outside is indeed frightful, and it's true, the fire really is delightful. I'm not the biggest fan of winter, but it has its high points. For one, it's eerily beautiful outside; with thick, foggy steam rising from every available chimney, the entire world blanketed in white. From the warmth of indoors, the frosty exterior is truly lovely to behold. Especially in the morning, when dawn casts everything in a shade of pink and the air is thick with fog.

Yes, winter makes me poetic. Winter has a great many effects on me, from my intense need for sleep and comfort food to my voracious reading habits. Over the past couple of weeks I've gobbled my way through a staggering amount of books. It was only today, when I ran out of books to read and had to make a trip to the bookstore that I realized how many I'd gone through. Santa had been good to me this year in the book department, and having run out after only nineteen days was a little surprising. So, I've decided to give you the highlights of all the best I've read so far this year. Winter is definitely a time for reading, so grab a soft blanket, pull your chair up close to the fire and get ready for some good reads.

The Secret Lives of Dresses by Erin McKean
A girlfriend suggested this one to me, and I'm so glad she did. It was lovely. It tells the story of Dora, a young woman unable to make up her mind on what she wants out of life. When her grandmother (who raised her when her parents died), Mimi, has a stroke, Dora drops everything and drives home to see her. She ends up taking over her grandmother's vintage clothing store while she's in the hospital, and discovers a whole new side to herself when she indulges her grandmother's longest wish - for her to wear vintage. She discovers a whole new side of her grandmother as well, when she finds out that Mimi has been writing stories to go along with the dresses she sells.
It's a wonderful tale, full of the power of vintage and guaranteed to get you perusing vintage shops. Seriously, not long after reading this book I found myself shopping on websites for vintage dresses. There's nothing more enticing than old school glamour.

The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender
I'd wanted to read this one for a very long time, so I was extra excited to find it under the tree for me this year. This novel tells the story of Rose, who on her ninth birthday discovers she can taste people's emotions in the food they make. Unfortunately, it has a rather eye opening effect, and Rose discovers that her mother, who seemed happy and content, is actually rather hollow and unfulfilled. Her gift reveals a world of secrets to Rose, secrets she's not so sure she wants to know.
This book was written in a very unique style, with no quotation marks around spoken words. It was a little confusing at times, but gave a nice flow to the story. It was such an interesting idea, I really couldn't put it down. It's the kind of book you'll think about for days afterward. Not to mention, it really makes you hungry for lemon cake with chocolate icing.

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
I first heard about this book while I was competing in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). The author had written a pep talk for those competing, in which she described her own trials while working on The Night Circus. She had several mysterious characters doing mysterious things very mysteriously, but it wasn't going anywhere. So, to shake things up, she took all her characters and put them in a circus, just to see what would happen. And what happened was a masterpiece. It is a book so intoxicating to read that you never want it to end. It's so visual and stimulating, so imaginative and fantastical. I really can't say enough good things about this book, but since I refuse to give anything away, I'll have to leave it at that.

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs
Filled with strange and disturbing old photographs, the story itself is just as strange. It tells the story of Jacob, who goes on a search for answers after the horrific death of his grandfather. It turns out that the fantastical tales his grandfather told him about his childhood are true, as are the dark, nightmarish monsters that had hunted him all his life. And those same monsters are now hunting Jacob.
I loved the sheer strangeness of this book, particularly the photos. It was such a creative idea, with a new take on the idea of mutants and strange abilities. I had a really hard time putting this one down.

And there you have it. These are the best of what my winter reading olympics have so far had to offer. I hope they offer you many a comfy and cozy evening of reading, inside by the fire. Spring will come one day, but until then, there's always good books.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

It's Freezing

There's something about the icy cold of winter that makes me extra lazy. Keeping my new year's resolutions has become doubly difficult now that the weather has descended into a frozen, icy hell. I'm chilly constantly. All I want to do is crawl under my down duvet and sleep until days are a normal length and I no longer have the compulsion to wear long johns. Unfortunately, that is many months away and I have work to do. Important work. Work that may one day allow me to stay home in my comfy jammies during the winter while the rest of you shiver in near frozen vehicles on your way to work.

I haven't faltered yet, though. And I don't plan to either. I'm just moving a little slow these days. The cold has frozen some of my creativity and ambition. But I just have to keep persevering, at least until it gets warmer or I've slept enough to do a hibernating bear justice.

Tomorrow is submission day, and I have a piece all ready to go. Yes, I might be moving a little slower, but I'm still moving. And I'm not going to stop.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Three Days to Go...

I just realized something when I went to write my blog post today. I never told you that I quit my job. That's right, my days at the makeup counter are numbered. To three. I have just three days left starting tomorrow. Thursday will be my final day and on Monday I begin my new job.

Now that I only have a few days left, I thought it would be a good time to reflect on my experiences working there.

There were definitely some perks. I know I'll miss the free products from my counters more than anything, not to mention the discount. And I did become rather fond of several of the girls I worked with, but it was definitely the right decision.

For one, the money sucked. FYI to anyone out there who's thinking of applying to a Beauty Advisor position, if it isn't one of the main counters (Lancome, Estee Lauder, MAC, Clinique), it isn't worth it. It's retail, so your base pay will be horrendously cheap, and unless you work for one of the heavy hitters, your commission will amount to nothing. Which mine did.

It didn't help that I had to pay for parking. That's right. The department store where I worked was in a mall downtown and we got absolutely no discount on parking. Which meant $12.00 a day during the regular season and $25.00 a day during Christmas (and by Christmas, I mean November 1st - February 28th). So, in order to make any money at all, I've had to beg loved ones for rides to and from work for the entire winter season.

The other problem with working downtown was the clientele. Downtown is basically the hub of activity for weirdos, hookers, drug addicts and shoplifters. Despite seven months - almost to the day - of working there, I just couldn't get used to drug addicts and hookers shamelessly trying to put their makeup on at our counters. I wasn't a big fan of chasing them away either. That seemed like more of security's responsibility, not mine.
In conclusion, obviously this job wasn't for me. There was just no way I was ever going to be a lifer. I worked with some women who are, and I just don't get it. But what do I know? Maybe it's their calling. Maybe it's what makes them happy. Not me.

I'm very excited about starting my new job. Sadly, it's not a writing job, but I don't mind. It pays a lot better than retail, and I won't have to deal with customers on a regular basis. That's right. I found myself an office job. I know this means I probably won't have as many funny stories for you, but I'm looking forward to a little more peace and quiet. I've always enjoyed working on my own, putting my head down and just losing myself in the zen of a repetitive task. For me, it's like meditation. I've never appreciated having my thoughts disrupted by customers.

I promise I'll give you the run down of my new job after my first day next Monday, but in the meantime I plan to soak in all the weird my makeup counter has left to offer. Just in case I'm low on writing material one day.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Maddie the Unsung Hero

I've been trying to get around to writing this blog post all day and the problem I seem to be having is this: I've got nothing to say. Nothing interesting has happened to me over the past two days. I haven't been wrestling with any of the universe's mind bending questions, I've had no issues that needed resolving. If you want a sum up of the last two days, here it is: bad tv and ridiculous amounts of sleep. That doesn't add up to much of a blog post.
I haven't done too much professionally speaking either. Yesterday was submission day, so I spent the day finishing my edits and submitting the piece I was working on earlier this week. That's two weeks in a row so far, so I will admit I'm proud of that. I even picked out an old short story I will be editing this coming week and turning in this coming Friday. And of course I've continued to work on my HerStory stuff, trying to get it all finished and turned in before I have to go back to work. Which got me to thinking about my dog, Maddie.
I know what you're thinking. How does a publication dedicated to praising the accomplishments of Canadian women remind me of my dog? Well, the other day I was working on a profile of a woman, and I honestly wasn't that impressed. Not that she hadn't accomplished a lot, but it just wasn't as comparable to some of the previous women we've done. It didn't help that it was an especially frustrating profile to put together, and at the time I was rather annoyed. As I thought about her accomplishments, I began to compare them to one of my sisters. My sister is an accomplished athlete that counsels young people with eating disorders. I couldn't see what made my subject any more worthwhile. The more annoyed I got, the more I started to compare her to others. Until I even compared her to Maddie. And I decided that not only does my sister deserve a place, but Maddie does too. After all, Maddie is Canadian and female (maybe not human but let's not get too picky), and in my opinion, she's accomplished a lot in her short three years of life.
First of all, Maddie is very active in making her community safer. She participates in the neighbourhood watch, always looking out the window and loudly pointing out suspicious looking strangers. Sure, some of them are children and women with strollers, but really what's more suspicious than unaccompanied children or a women and a mysterious stroller? Her dedication to safety doesn't end there. When we're on walks in the winter, Maddie insists on scratching icy surfaces with her claws, trying to create traction for other pedestrians and cars. My girl always has safety on the brain! But that's not all. Maddie is especially dedicated to the protection of women. Whenever a woman is getting attacked on the tv, Maddie becomes outraged and starts snarling at the screen. So, let's sum up. Community watch, pedestrian safety, protector of women. I think my Maddie has a shot at the history books, don't you?
Okay, I know. I need to get out more. I promise to lead a more interesting life so you won't have to read any more blasphemous comparisons of my dog to heroic Canadian women. But in the meantime, you have to admit, she's pretty accomplished for three. What were you doing at her age? That's right, nothing.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

A New Chapter

Today is a momentous day. Today I started writing a new novel. I'm proud of that. I've been dancing around it for a couple of months, unwilling to take the plunge. I'm not sure why, maybe I'm a little gun shy after the plot problems with my last one. I haven't been keen on the idea of all the editing that will await me when I finish either, but that's counting my chickens before they're hatched. I've been avoiding starting, trying to fool myself that I'm just busy working on other projects but you can't lie to yourself. There's always time, no matter how small.
I told myself that I'd start in the new year, and I finally sat down and did. Granted, I've only written twenty five words, but for me the hardest part is just getting started. Getting those words down was like turning on the faucet. Now that I've started, the rest becomes a lot easier. Of course I'll still have my hiccups and snags, but today I'm celebrating my victory. I've started a new book.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

The Search for Passion

I wouldn't say I always have the best of luck, but in a lot of ways I do. I'm particularly lucky to have a loving husband, an adorable dog and a house I will one day own. I'm also lucky enough to know what I want to do with my life. Writing is not yet my day job, it's something I do on the side, and it's not always easy or entirely pleasant, but I know that it's my passion; not everyone knows what their dream job is. Writing is mine.
That said, I'm still refining my idea of writing as my ideal job. I've learned that I'm not a journalist, nor do I enjoy phone interviews or really any interviews for that matter. I'm just not as fascinated by articles as I am by fiction. Novels will always thrill and delight me in ways nothing else can. I've also learned about new areas in writing that I didn't realize I'd enjoy. I love blogging and personal essays, opinion pieces and columns. (Not that this should come as a shock, I am, after all, pretty self centered). My ideas about writing and how it will function as my future day job are always evolving, but my passion remains the same.
Others are not so fortunate. The road to one's dream job is rarely an easy one, but I think it's harder when you don't know what your passion is, when you're still trying to figure out what you're good at (or could be good at). It doesn't always hit you over the head like a bag full of bricks. It's not always obvious. It can take a lot of inward reflection, or happen completely by accident. However we find it, I think it's important that we do. No job will be perfect, there will always be aspects of it that we hate, but it needs to be worth it. I'm not a big fan of editing or the overwhelming sea of rejection that comes with putting your work out there, but it would never stop me from continuing. I love it too much. I'm a writer. Although I know I'll probably never be a journalist.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

The Death of the New Year's Resolution

I read in a newspaper once that as few as two percent of those making new year's resolutions are able to meet their goals by the end of the year. In fact, I'd say the same figure probably matches those that make it past the first two weeks. What is it about new year's resolutions that make them so hard to keep?
Just two days ago I almost broke my new year's resolution to write at least 1500 words every day. I hadn't written a thing all day and it was late in the evening. I was exhausted. I got ready for bed, fully resigned to the idea that I would fail to write. I climbed into my big, soft bed, so warm and inviting. It called to me, offered me the utter bliss of sleep and I came to close to turning the light off and accepting. But I didn't. At the last moment, as I was reaching for the light switch, I realized what I was doing. I was failing. Already. Only six days into the new year and I was already giving up. I couldn't allow it. The light stayed on (much to my husband's dismay) and I wrote for the next hour or so, until I'd done my allotted words.
It could have been so easy - it is so easy - to just quit. All I had to do was just cut myself a break. After all, a girl needs sleep right? I did have to work the next day, so having a decent amount of shut eye was important. But as I went to switch off the light, to break my resolution, I felt ashamed. I was only six days in! How could I possibly give myself a break after just six days?! And so, I couldn't give in. But had it not been for that flicker of shame, I would be mumbling my excuses to you now. Which got me to thinking, why is it so hard to actually follow through on our resolutions?
Let's look at the setting. It's so grandiose isn't it? Only hours (or minutes) before midnight, we write down our list. The list of everything that will be different this year, everything we're going to do better. As the seconds tick down, we wait for that transforming moment, when we shed our old, ragged year for a brilliant new one. When we become new. I always believe that somehow I'll feel different. That I'll feel stronger, more powerful, that suddenly I'll be wiser and I'll see clearly what I need to do. But that's not how it works. I won't be any different in the new year. How will I have become a completely new person in just a few hours? How does switching out the old calendar for a new one make me any different? It doesn't.
I think the whole point of the resolution is not for a dramatic change in a single moment. The stroke of midnight won't turn me into a brilliant writer, capable of producing fantastic tales with the flick of a wrist. But working to keep my resolutions might. Keeping our resolutions is what creates the change. Slowly, day by day we evolve, our resolutions become habits. We don't even realize it's happening until we've looked back months from now and realize how far we've come.
But how do we get there? My experience on Friday was very enlightening as to how easy it is to quit. All it takes is one day when you're tired, when you're stressed, when you just feel like taking a break. Just for one day. And BAM, it's next new year's eve and you're writing the same resolutions down all over again. I think the most important thing is to make it through the first two months. It's easiest to quit in the beginning, but once things become habit it takes a lot more conscious thought to quit. If we can make it through that first bit, the trial period, then I think it's safe to say our chances of success are far better. So what do you say? Shall we hold each other to it? This blog functions as a great way for me to stay true. Just the thought of having to admit failure was enough to keep me on the straight and narrow for now so benefit from my own bout of near quitting and hold yourself accountable. And if you've already quit, try again! You don't have to wait for next year to get back on the horse. There's no law against making goals the rest of the year.
New year's resolutions may (more often than not) be doomed to fail, but if I must go down, I'm going down swinging. Are you?

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Writing Advice

There's a lot of writing advice out there, and I do mean a lot. From books to blogs to conventions to websites, if you're looking for advice, you'll find it. Some of it is good, some of it is bad. Hell, some of it is bat shit crazy, but I guess that depends on the person. We all need to figure out what works for us, and I do mean what works for us, not what we like.
Personally, I like numbing my brain with hour upon hour of television, but that isn't going to get a successful writing career off the ground. I like giving myself excuses for not get anything done, to let myself off the hook constantly and to plain out go into denial mode when there's something I don't want to do. But again, that's not going to get me very far.
The point of this seeming abundance of writing advice is to try it out. Picture yourself in a clothing store trying on different kinds of pants. There are some you assume will fit, and instead they make your butt look big or show a truly indecent amount of crack every time you bend over to tie your shoe or pick up your purse (if you aren't checking for this before you buy a pair of pants, you really should. You'd be doing the rest of the world a big favour. I don't care how cute your butt is, I don't want to see it hanging out of your pants. It's not sexy, it's disturbing). And then of course, there are those God-awful, make you laugh out loud parachute pants that you would never in a million years try on, but you should. You never know how something's going to work until you give it a try. (Although please stay away from parachute pants... and spandex... and ankle biters). I for one, am not a big fan of the more hippie-esque techniques sometimes boasted about in books and magazines. But every once in a while, those techniques are just what I need to loosen me up and get me writing again.
Now, conversely, you also have to realize when some techniques aren't working for you. Maybe you thought that mapping out your entire novel before you began was a good idea, but six months later your "map" looks more like a disfigured Jackson Pollock and you have no idea how to actually write the thing and therefore never get around to it. Or perhaps you thought the fly by the seat of your pants style, where you allow the novel to evolve as you write sounded ideal, but you're so busy letting it evolve that it goes nowhere, because you have no idea what your story is actually about.
So, here's my advice. (Oh come on, you knew I'd get around to it eventually). You can take it or leave it, I'm not a guru and I don't claim to be an expert on anything except maybe on being judgmental, but here it is. Be open minded, try anything and everything that sounds interesting at least once, and be willing to recognize when something isn't working. No one's going to find their perfect method on the first try, there will be many hiccups and adventures along the way. Write first and worry about getting the rest right later.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Back to Work

These past three days have been absolutely wonderful. I've had the time and the energy to get a lot done and its given me a glimpse into the kind of life I want. A life in which I write full time, when my time is my own to use as I see fit. I used to wonder if I'd be up to the challenge of writing full time, if I'd be able to get anything done at all. Sometimes it's a lot easier to write in small constraints of time, in stolen hours between work and sleep then it is when you have the full day stretching ahead of you, seemingly endless, as though you have all the time in the world.
But these past three days I've surprised myself. Instead of pushing my work away and numbing my brain with hour after hour of television, I've jumped into my work each day. Sure, I've also spent a few hours watching tv, reading my book, walking the dog and etc, but I've accomplished a fair bit.
I have to go back to work tomorrow, and I'm not looking forward to it. When I think of all the wasted hours spent looking busy when I could have been at home being busy, it makes me frustrated. True, I've found a lot of inspiration in working at a makeup counter, seen more than a few interesting and flat out weird characters, but I'm ready for my hours to be filled with writing, not watching. Unfortunately, I still need to eat, so that won't be happening for sometime. Not until I either establish myself enough to live solely off my writing, or find a way to transform pure sunshine into energy within my body like a plant. (I'm working on both).
In the meantime, I'll have to get used to writing within stolen hours again, instead of waiting for inspiration to strike and taking breaks when necessary. I'll have to fit it in when I can. There's no option of waiting for inspiration. The choice is only to find it and use it, or just begin writing and keep going till it finds you. Not a bad habit to get into, I'll admit. But I will miss waking up on my terms, instead of an alarm's.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

It's Not a Sprint, It's a Marathon

I know you're all hanging on the edge of your seats, dying to know if I've been able to keep up my New Year's Resolutions so far, so I won't keep you in the dark any longer. Yes. It's been three days and so far I've written every day, at least 1500 words, and I'm grooming a piece to submit by the end of the week.
Which reminds me, how long does it take to make something a habit? Is it two straight weeks without fail? Or is it two months? Either way I have a long way to go before I can hold my head high and proclaim my resolutions habits. I have faith though. After all, I have managed to turn my skin care routine into a habit. I literally can't go to bed without washing my face and applying the various concoctions and creams that will hopefully keep me young forever. Can't do it. Can't even put my head down on the pillow. Same thing happens in the morning. I step out of the shower, dry my face and then absolutely must apply toner, various serums, moisturizer and eye cream. Won't leave the bathroom without it. And I have to brag, my skin is very appreciative. I get compliments all the time.
My point? It sure as hell isn't easy to take that extra time for my skin care routine when I'm exhausted and desperate to climb into bed, but I do it. I think if I can hold that same standard with my writing, I will have turned my resolutions into habits in no time. Or, more precisely, in the amount of time this sort of thing takes.
How are you all doing with your resolutions? Are you off to a smashing start or are you pressing the snooze button on getting going? Trust me, as irritating as it may be to get started, it's better than sputtering out before you've even begun. And those of you off to a roaring start? Remember, don't let yourself off the hook even once. Then the habit making begins from scratch again. We must be as vigilant as we are determined. And that's my rousing pep talk for today.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Happy New Year

It's here. A brand new year, and I'm both daunted and excited. Last year was an especially good one, although I have to admit I cheat a little when I say that. You see, I count December 2010 as part of last year. I guess because I didn't seriously start thinking about a career as a writer until the beginning of that December, when I met Alice (my Wizard of Oz) for the first time. I'm proud to say that the twelve months that followed were incredibly productive. I wrote two novels (mere manuscripts, but still), got employment as a local food writer, graduated up to writing for HerStory Calendar - for which I contribute only a small part but it's published nationally, as well as taking four writing classes to help improve my technique. That's a pretty good year, and that's also why I include the previous December. So I've decided to call 2011 my thirteen month year.
Anyway, with such a good year under my belt I'm a little daunted about starting a new one. Mostly, because I'd like to do even better in 2012 than I did last year. And that means setting some pretty ambitious writing goals, which I will now share both for your amusement and because I'm hoping that announcing them publicly will shame me into keeping them longer than two weeks. Here goes.
1. Write a personal essay once a week
2. Pitch/Submit something once a week
3. Write every day, at least 1500 words
4. Write a new novel
5. Take more writing classes, if possible attend a conference or workshop
6. Edit old works aggressively for re-submission
8. Enjoy every minute of it.
What do you think friends? Can I do it? Only time will tell... (by the way, was that 1500 words? Doubtful. Very doubtful...)