Friday, January 28, 2011


I have this Super Cool notebook. It's green with little line drawings of trees. All different kinds of trees. And peeking out from behind one of the trees is Big Foot! You have to search for him because he's tiny. And hiding. I'd take a picture, but I can't find my camera so look here instead. Mine is green. I said that. It has the picture below stuck on it and several Chinese restaurant fortune cookie fortunes that struck me, like "The world will soon be ready to receive your talents" (you know that's true!) and "You will make a name for yourself in the field of medicine" (HG said, "Are they going to name a disease after you?") and "Don't underestimate yourself. Your social skills are needed by others at this time" (very desperate others, apparently!). Also, a fortune appropriate for the career I've chosen to wrestle with, "You will make many changes before settling satisfactorily" (ah... revisions...).

Before I started reading One Year to a Writers Life, this notebook was just randomness and Follies. I mean literally, Follies - it was the notebook I took to the writers meetings for Follies last year. I don't have a good post to refer you back to that isn't from 2009 so I'll just remind you that Follies is the little show a group of talented people puts on at my church every fall, and in 2009 I stole the show and then in 2010 I wrote it and Pete stole it! Anyway, after I started my reading, I decided to make this book my journal and to date the things I write in it and to make them go consecutively from one page to the next instead of just writing wherever the book opens to.

I love my little notebook. I loved it the first moment I saw it and just had to have it. Little did I realize then that this would be My Notebook, my journal, my First Official Journal. Full of images from the ice storm and the sensory garden at the girls' school. Full of whining and complaining about having noplace of my own (yes, I meant that to be one word - Firefox doesn't like it - I don't care). Full of character descriptions and short scenes and, believe it or not, a couple of feeble attempts at plotting (not my thing, not finding those helpful yet). Nope. When I grasped it and wrestled it from the weird basket shelf thing where they keep the notebooks at the store, I had no idea what I would do with it; I just knew it belonged to me and that I could do great things with it. I knew it so certainly that I bought the matching 2-pocket folder.

How sad will I be when it's filled. Well, sad and proud.

And inspired.

I just mean that I hope my next notebook is this cool.

What do you think? Should I buy another one just like it now in case I can't find them when I need my Second Official Journal? Or should I just trust that, when the time comes, I'll be able to find another, perhaps different, equally awesome volume?

(This post was inspired by Charmaine at Wagging Tales. I often find her inspiring...)

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Legitimacy and Randomness

How does it happen? How do you get to that point where you don't feel like a kid or a wannabe when you say, "I'm a writer"?

How do you write a compelling bio or query/cover letter when you still feel like you should be saying, "When I grow up, I'm going to be a writer"?

How am I supposed to find time to clean the bathrooms and fold the laundry and cook dinner and take everyone to the dentist/doctor/groomer/vet/soccer and still read and write as much as I'd like to? Maybe if I leave 2 hours early for carpool...

I submitted a very short story (I know it's called flash fiction - I just like very short story better) to AROHO's Orlando contest because they didn't ask for a bio (and because I like the idea of AROHO). That makes 3 things on my submissions tracking spreadsheet.

It's raining, and I'm supposed to be baking.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Reviving Revising the Dead Bad

Last year, I spent a long time, months really, working on a story. I wrote it out in my notebook so I could squelch the urge to edit as I wrote. Then I finished it, and when I went to type it up, I discovered that the story was so bad that I couldn’t even stomach pressing the keys on the keyboard (you can read about that here). I did finally get it typed, and then I tried, I tried to breathe some life into it. I read and reread it. I thought about it in the shower, where I get some of my best ideas (why don't they make waterproof paper? - I'm sure I'm not the only one who needs to make notes underwater). I changed the secondary character to someone who would provide more conflict. I poked and prodded and pounded the story's chest. But it was stubbornly lifeless. BOOOORRING... So I abandoned it, left it to fester on my flash drive. Sad, I know, but it had to be done.

Best. Idea. Ever. Leaving it alone. Because, even though I was pretending it didn't exist, my miserable, timid, yawn-fest was always there in the back of my mind, with its glimmer of potential. Then I wrote another story with a similar main character. This new story spawned my Big Project Idea, a collection of short stories about the new character, and when I was thinking about possible stories I could write, I remembered that other poor, lifeless Blah, and I sought it out and pressed Ctrl+H and replaced the old MC with my new MC and it was way better. I had to change the style of the story and the MC's attitude about a couple of things, and I have to rewrite the whole middle. I can't wait!

And when it's finished, I'll have 3 stories in my collection. Maybe I'll throw together a tracker widget for the sidebar there --> so you can keep up with my progress...

Monday, January 17, 2011



That’s me . What you can’t see (because I didn’t feel like editing clip art today) is that the hurdle is labeled “PERFECTION”. And in my imagination (because the picture of me leaping over the hurdle isn’t imaginary, right?), under the hurdle is a big puddle of failure.

And the thing about Perfection Hurdles is that they don’t seem to end. Have I lost you? This was my plan BWAH HA HA! I mean, sorry.

Each step in the writing process is a Perfection Hurdle for me. I had to leap the first one (and knock out my inner editor) to finish my manuscript. And now that it’s done and riddled with imperfections, I have to leap another one and accept the fact that the first revision will make my stack of papers better but won’t be anywhere near perfection.

I’m not a track star (or even the slow kid who everyone cheers for because they always finish, even though they’re always last, not yet anyway). And the path full of hurdles is turning out to be kind of daunting. Instead of hurdles, at the moment, I see walls.

So I’m going to do what I do when I don’t know what I’m doing. I’m going to put it off. Just not do it. Because I don’t know how.

The difference, though, between me putting off revising and me, say, putting off calling up to Investments to ask about dividends or some other investing word I’m not certain of the meaning, is that while I’m ignoring this task, I’ll be reading, searching, researching advice, tips, tools from other writers who’ve found themselves behind this particular hurdle.

So? Any advice for me? Got a good place for me to look or book for me to read? Any tricks you use when you’re revising?

In the meantime, I’ll be over here, at the side of the road, retying my shoes.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Pantsing from my Right Hemisphere

Recently I learned 2 things that I found interesting about me as a writer. Since this blog is about me, and recently frequently about me as a writer, you're going to learn them too.

Charmaine Clancy over at Wagging Tales posted about right-brain vs. left-brain the other day. She included this link, which I immediately clicked and was totally surprised to find that the figure is turning clockwise. For me.* Which way do you see her turning? I always thought I'm a left-brained person, but I suspect that many people would disagree. Including you, dear reader? I'm not good with the abstract stuff right-brained people are supposed to be good at. I like the concrete, the logical, the scheduled, the patterned, the safe. I wonder if she would have been turning the other direction 3 hours ago when I wasn't right in the middle of my creative time. Which is scheduled. And therefore left-brain. Right?

On the other hand, when I write, I find that I am most comfortable when I'm writing by the seat of my pants. I learned recently (after reading Shannon McMahon's interview with Elana Johnson) that this is called pantsing (right brain) and its opposite is plotting (left brain). You can click the word and learn more about it (I had to). Isn't it funny that there's a term for it? I rarely go into my writing with a plan or an outline of any sort. I usually have a vague idea of what I want to say or where I want to start or about what or whom I want to write. Then I just start and write until I'm done. Or dry. Whichever comes first. Even in my college writing classes, where I had to turn in my outline and rough draft with my final draft, I would write the paper first and go back and draw up an outline from it to hand in (sometimes I'd change the paper backwards a little and hand that in as my "rough draft"). I always did very well on my papers. This is why I chose to get a degree in philosophy, I think. All the writing made it easy for me. I didn't learn anything useful, but WOW! can I write!

So now you can say, when you're talking about something brilliant I've said or done (like you frequently do, I'm sure), "My Right-Brained, Pantsing Online Friend Bel said/did..." and no one but us will know what you mean!

*When I concentrated, I got her to switch directions.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Just Wondering...

Here, in The South, when there is the threat of "winter weather," everyone (except us and our level-headed friends) rushes out to the grocery store to buy milk and bread and eggs. What is the point? I mean, aside from the fact that winter weather here is often ice, resulting in power-outages and no refrigerators and the potential for the shiny new milk and eggs to spoil, why eggs?

Are we supposed to make French toast?

Saturday, January 8, 2011

A Scenic Detour

Yesterday I spent some time working on something for me. Poets & Writers has weekly writing prompts. I've been heavy into prose recently so I took the path less traveled and tried the poetry prompt.

The exercise was to take a favorite poem (by another author), delete every second line, and replace it with something you wrote. After that, you go back and replace the lines you left the first time, and what you end up with is an original poem.

I chose Vespers by A. A. Milne. I love the image of the little boy trying to focus but not quite succeeding. This is what I ended up with:

Hide & Seek

He crawls under the covers to the foot of the bed.
It’s time to be sleeping; he’s playing instead.
Quiet now, like he’s saying his prayers.
Here is Mommy, coming upstairs!

She’s out in the hall, turning off the light.
Is she coming in here to say goodnight?
She’ll never see me. I won’t get caught.
Hide and go seek! Ready or not!

Here it comes now, what I’m waiting for:
I hear Mommy come through my door.
She thinks I did what she said I should.
She won’t find me here, though; I’m too good!

She’ll never guess that I’m hiding in bed.
I’ll keep the blankets up over my head,
And I’ll shut my eyes, and I’ll curl up small.
She won’t see me. Not at all!

Mommy says now that it’s not time to play.
She thinks that I’m trying to run away!
She’s going back out. She didn’t see!
I’m silent and still and she’ll never find me.

Under the covers at the foot of the bed,
Soundless, unmoving, dozing instead.
Mommy picks him up and tucks him in right
And smooths his hair, and whispers “Good night.”

Friday, January 7, 2011

A Milestone!

You guys, I finished my book! The one I started during NaNoWriMo.

And by "finished," I mean that the manuscript now has a beginning, a middle, and an end. It also has about 3x more words than it should and is riddled with inconsistencies. But it's written!

I think I'll set it aside for a week or 2 before I start revising it. This is a different plan than I had yesterday when I finished it, but now I'm thinking that letting it stew might be a good idea.

Now what should I work on?

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Soccer Shots


One nice thing about living in the South is that it’s not unreasonable to sign your 4 year-old up for soccer in January. I do miss real winter, but Lulu absolutely had a blast yesterday afternoon running and dribbling and making penalty kicks and scoring goals. One time, when the yellow team was headed toward her goal, Lulu took off running toward them and her coach yelled, “Way to play some defense, [Lulu]!” She glowed later when I shared that with Husbandguy.

Also, my little girl is the ONLY girl in this little group of potential future soccer players and she doesn’t mind at all!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Ups & Downs, as Expected

Here we are, Day 5 of the New Year, Day 2 of my New Schedule. How's it going, you ask? Well...

There are Ups: Yesterday I worked for 2 hours on my children's chapter book and made real progress.

There are Downs: Today I realized that while I know how it ends, I don't quite know how to get there. Also, all of my writing today in general was disappointing. My Inner Creator was napping, apparently. My Inner Editor was awake, though, and cranky! Maybe she'll wear herself out and take tomorrow off...

There are more Ups: Yesterday, I started reading One Year to a Writing Life: Twelve Lessons to Deepen Every Writer's Art and Craft by Susan M. Tiberghien, and I didn't get all the way through Chapter 1 yet because every other page or so, there is an exercise. I love that! I thought that it would be read-the-chapter-do-the-exercises-at-the-end, which would have been fine, but practicing as I go is a way better choice for me.

The first lesson is about journaling, a thing I admit I do not do on a regular basis. What?! you exclaim, How can you be a writer and not keep a journal?! Well, I suspect that has something to do with not believing that I know how, and, being Me, I just didn't do it, rather than risk doing it wrong. Funny thing (and you probably know this), the only wrong way to keep a journal is to not keep a journal. But yesterday I wrote an entry (about what tools I'd like to have to help with my writing) and I chose an image from that entry (a space of my own) and I expanded on that image (including windows with sunshine and a door that closes) and I drew a mandala of that expansion:
(I am not an artist...)

I am looking forward to finishing the chapter today.

I can't think of any more downs. Except maybe I need more time allotted for housework. But an hour is 60 minutes more time than I had been doing so I think I'll keep it for now.

How are your resolutions going?

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

All the New Stuff

Holy Moly!

If reading and talking about writing has any effect on being a writer, I'm destined to be a writer really soon!

I told you about the 2 new books the Grandpa and Meme gave me. One is all about practicing my craft for the next year and the other one, which it appears I didn't mention in my other post, is about balancing being a mom and being a writer. I have already packed the first one in my pile of things to bring to carpool (really just that book, my notebook, my phone, and my keys, a little bitty pile...), and the second one is at the top of my to-be-read book stack.

Then yesterday, Husbandguy had the day off. He said it probably had something to do with being more cost effective to give everyone the day after the day after New Years off, since it was a new year, instead of the last day of 2010. Who knows. Regardless, we went out to breakfast after we dropped off the girls and then we did a little birthday shopping for Pete, who turns NINE next Sunday. NINE. More about that later... When we were in Borders I checked out the new issue of Poets & Writers, which the Grandpa gave me a subscription to. It looked really interesting so I told HG that I hoped my subscription starts with this issue (he said we could go back and get it if it didn't), and when we got home, there it was in my mailbox! Yay! More reading. That's folded open on the coffee table to be read while football is on.

And football will be on tonight. Go Bucks!

And then at church last Sunday, 2 other people initiated conversations about writing with me. They brought it up! People know me as a writer!! One wanted advice about self-publishing. I'm no expert on this, but I did have a lot of fun creating a little book for Meme a couple of years ago. It's filled with photos of and poems about my girls. It's really cute (and not for sale to the general public (it needs work)). The other just asked how it was going. I'd say, considering that I just started this in September and was only halfhearted about it for the past month-and-a-half, it's going pretty well. You know?

And today I started my new schedule. I wrote for 2 hours. I made real progress on my children's chapter book that I started during NaNoWriMo and will probably write the actual end tomorrow.

Are you a writer? Or other type of artist? How did you know when it happened that you became a Real [insert artist here]? Was there a blue fairy involved? Or, like me, did you just talk a big game enough that you started to believe it yourself and then everyone else had to too?

Sunday, January 2, 2011

I Resolve…

I have a couple of resolutions this year. Usually I don’t bother with them, but I thought maybe I’d give it a shot this year.

For one, I have resolved to teach Lulu to eat vegetables. My plan is a veggie a month, but I think that if I can get her eating 4 veggies by the end of the year, that will be a success. Right now she eats carrots. That’s it. I have no idea how I’m going to do it, but I’m going to try to get her to eat peas too. Then maybe beans? I also thought I’d try having her grow her own lettuce this spring and see if that makes it more appealing…

And I am resolving to stick to a daily schedule during the week.

New Year resolution 003

(I stuck it to the side of the computer so it would be in my face all the time.) Obviously there will be days this won’t work. Vacation or sick days, for example. But if, when my dad calls and says, “Are you writing every day?” I can honestly answer, “Sometimes,” I’ll consider that resolution a success.

There are other things I’d like to do, run a 5k with Pete, get published and then get published again, clean the house, train the dog. I’m just going to try to accomplish these things, though, and not resolve to do them. That way I won’t fail…

Have you made any resolutions? Or any just-want-to's?

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