Thursday, March 30, 2006

Give life

Yesterday I gave blood. I've given blood regularly ever since Hurricane Katrina. It makes me feel good. Our dear friend Lauren who died in January, needed many transfusions throughout her fight with breast cancer. When you're close to someone who's seriously ill, or has been critically injured and needs transfusions, you realize just how important donor blood is. So, if you've ever thought about donating, call and make an appointment with your local blood bank. It's an easy way to make a big difference. Plus you get free snacks!

However, since it's important to get a little extra rest after you've donated, I slept in this morning and didn't write. Today's my day to work at Kyle's preschool, so I won't be able to write then either. But I will write during the kids' rest time this afternoon. Rest time writing isn't typically the most serene experience, but it's better than nothing!

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Why can't it always be like this?

This morning, I simply wrote.

No agonizing, no fear, no doubts.

Why it went so well today, I have no idea. (Did you catch the Yoda-like sentence structure there? Kyle's still on his Star Wars kick!)

Up swings rock!

Monday, March 27, 2006

Not so terrible

This morning, for whatever reason, I had a good writing session. Not one of those glorious, exhilarating highs, but not one of those filled-with-fear, torture sessions either.

Maybe that means I'm on the verge of an up swing. Here's hoping!

Sunday, March 26, 2006

New Title--Same Content

I changed the name of this blog. I really doubt I'll finish by May 9 (although I will finish soon), and so I didn't like seeing "6 Months to a Finished First Draft" staring at me every time I logged on here.

But the content of the blog hasn't changed one whit.

Down, down, down is where I am--again! It appears the closer I get to finishing, the bigger the struggle.

Phbtbtbt! (That's a rasberry and I'm blowing it at myself!)

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Baskin-Robbins Blues

And now for something not related to mood swings or writing. Tragedy has struck! One of my favorite free day treats during my last year's Body for Life challenge was Baskin-Robbins Peanut Butter 'n Chocolate ice cream. For someone like me who looovvvesss chocolate and looovvvesss peanut butter it is beyond divine.

Well as I mentioned a while back, I'm doing another BFL challenge this year--trying to keep it low key so I don't lose the writing focus--but still exercising and eating clean 6 days a week and having one day where I can kick back and eat up. Today was that day and Kara and I headed for Baskin-Robbins to take advantage. And...they didn't have it! No chocolate/peanut butter. I was crushed! Why would they do away with the best flavor ever?!

I just checked out the Baskin-Robbins web site and it appears that Chocolate/PB is a "permanent flavor", so I haven't lost all hope. Maybe my particular BR was just out of it temporarily.

I hope! I hope!

Know of a good antonym for ataraxis?

Sadly, the peace from early last week is gone. I'm floundering again.

I realized something, however. It's not just writing-related insecurity that sends my spirits plummeting; it's also the story itself. Last week something appeared in the story that I hadn't anticipated. It's very powerful and adds a lot of richness and depth, but it's also disturbing. The day after I wrote about it was one of my lowest yet and I know I was reacting to this new element. Always good to know why I'm depressed, I guess, even if that knowledge doesn't seem to help me feel better.

I think all of my ups and downs are more dramatic right now because I'm getting so close to the end. I'm excited, I'm scared, I'm proud, I'm filled with doubt--basically, I'm just a big ball of emotion!

Pity those around me who get to experience my moods first-hand.

We miss you, ataraxis! Come back soon, okay?

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Remember your reader

I'm still clipping right along with my novel. Thankfully, there's not much new to blog about it. I continue to be in an up phase--enjoying the process as well as that sense of peace I wrote about in my last two entries.

But I do have a writing-related thought to share.

One of the most important lessons I learned from Words Fail Me: What Everyone Who Writes Should Know about Writing is to always write with the reader in mind. You want to make it as easy as possible for the people reading your writing to understand your meaning. If your language is unclear or distracting, whether too flowery and jam-packed with impressive vocabulary words, or peppered with misspellings and bad grammar, your reader is going to focus too much on the words themselves and not the meaning behind them. My goal when I write is for the language to be invisible--for the readers to be so engrossed in the story, they don't pay any attention to how it's being told.

So even though I keep a list of new-to-me vocabulary words, I rarely use such imposing language in my writing. I also try very hard not to use words incorrectly. I want to make things as effortless as I can for the reader.

For example, take the word "anyways". It's an informal term, and some might argue, an incorrect version of "anyway". That doesn't mean, however, there aren't times where it might be perfectly appropriate. If you are writing a scene and one of the characters is a teenager, or someone without much education, the person might utter a phrase like, "What does it matter anyways?" In that case, the usage of informal, nonstandard english makes sense.

But when someone is trying to make a criticism, using an informal, arguably incorrect word like "anyways", is distracting. It makes the reader focus on the writer's weak language-skills, and ignore the substance of the writing.

Keep the reader in mind and use language that's understandable and appropriate. If you do, your readers are much more likely to give credence to what you're trying to say.

Monday, March 13, 2006


I added a new word to my list: ataraxis. It means, "the absense of mental stress or anxiety".

Gotta love ataraxis!

The peace from yesterday is still with me. I know it won't last forever, but I'm sure enjoying it right now. The writing I did yesterday afternoon and this morning was both pleasurable and productive.

What a nice change after all those days of self-imposed stress!

Sunday, March 12, 2006


I've been floundering around for the past couple of weeks. Feeling so much stress and pressure about finishing by May 9. Trying to find more and more time to write, as if that were the only answer. It's not.

Lately, every time I sit down and try to write, the pressure to go as fast as possible has paralyzed me, and prevented me from losing myself in the story. It's been frustrating and upsetting and not what I want writing to be. Lately I've felt I have to rush so I can finish by this arbitrary deadline I've imposed upon myself. Ironically, that desperation to go as fast as possible has frozen me and made my progress even slower than usual.

Yesterday, Scott took the kids out on errands for a couple of hours. It was my time to get a lot done, but I just couldn't find the words. I started and stopped and started and stopped and the longer I tried, the more panicky I felt. I knew I had to write as much as possible, but nothing I wrote sounded right and my fear and paralysis grew and grew.

But then I had one of those flashes of insight that seem to come out of the blue. I remembered I'm a slow writer. I can't force myself to go quickly. It comes as it comes and it can take a long time. It's nothing I can rush. This realization filled me with peace. I started the section again, and once more the story spoke to me and I knew which words to use. Strangely enough, once I allowed myself to take my time I was able to write more in one sitting than I have in weeks. And this morning the peace was still with me. I'm moving forward fluidly now and should finish the current scene tomorrow or the next day. It's all coming relatively easily again, because I'm not trying anymore. I'm letting it happen as it happens.

I know I will finish my novel--maybe by May 9, and maybe not, but I will finish.

I can't force it. I can't rush. I have to let it come as it comes.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

And now for something completely different...

I had another discouraging morning. But I'm tired of blogging about my fear and self-confidence issues. So instead, here's a list of interesting words I've come across in the last year. Gotta love that Virtual Thesaurus!

Tramontane: on or coming from the other side of the mountains

Strident: harsh, loud, grating, or shrill

Umbrageous: providing shade and coolness; easily offended or likely to become irritated

Pulchritudinous: used of persons only—having great physical beauty

Crepitus: the grating sound heard when the broken ends of a bone rub together; a crackling sound heard in the chest of somebody who has a lung disease, for example, pneumonia.

Crepitate: to make a crackling or grating sound; to make the crackling or grating sound of crepitus.

Crepitation: the sharp sound of snapping noises

Cresylic: relating to or containing creosol or creosote

Vituperation: an outburst of violently abusive or harshly critical language; the use of violent abuse or extremely harsh criticism.

Vituperative: marked by harshly abusive criticism.

Stertorous: of breathing, having a heavy snoring sound. Full of or characterized by loud and nonmusical sounds.

Stertor: noisy or laborious snoring, heard when somebody is deeply unconscious or when there are obstructed air passages.

Limen: the smallest detectable sensation

Obstreperous: noisily and aggressively boisterous; strongly objecting to something or noisily refusing to be controlled

Iridesce: be iridescent

Etiolate: (adj.) weak in color, developed without chlorophyll by being deprived of light; (v.) make weak by stunting the growth or development of, bleach and alter the natural development of a green plant by excluding sunlight, make pale or sickly

Rodomontade: vain and empty boasting

Oscitant: showing boredom or lack of attention

Rive: to tear something apart. To split or become split.

Novercal: relating to or said to be typical of a stepmother

Zaftig: with a full-figured body

Embonpoint: a body weight that is above average and causes an impression of roundness

Attrited: worn by rubbing or friction

So don't resort to vituperation if someone calls you pulchritudinous! Now you know...a simple "Thank you" is much more appropriate! ;o)

Friday, March 10, 2006


I finally finished the section I've been working on forever. It ended up being 16 pages! But, yay! It's done at last.

Less than 2 months to my May 9 deadline. I'm starting to feel pessimistic about finishing by then. I'm still going to try, but there's quite a bit more to do.

As Dory would say, "Just keep swimming, just keep swimming, just keep swimming, swimming, swimming..." (If you haven't seen Finding Nemo this won't make a lot of sense.)

All I can do is continue pushing forward. I'll finish eventually, no matter what!

Wednesday, March 08, 2006


I haven't had any daylight, non-rest time, writing time in over two weeks. Today I actually have several hours kid-free and I'm freaking out. This morning I tried to write and it went horribly.


I could potentially get a lot done today, but not if I'm in one of those phases where it's all a big struggle.

*deep breath*

Please let me bust out of this funk, so I can make some good progress today. Please!

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Rest time writing

Rest time writing yesterday went surprisingly well. In fact, I realized why part of the scene I'm currently working on wasn't working and made a change that reads much better. Often I feel like I can't concentrate fully during rest time since part of my brain is listening for the kids, but yesterday that didn't seem to matter as much.

I'm frustrated though, because I've been tinkering with this current scene for what feels like forever. One of the reasons I've had a hard time with it, is because of that part that wasn't working, but the main reason is the darn thing is 13 pages long!

Remember my intention to keep the scenes shorter so I wouldn't have to spend days on each rewrite/polish? Didn't happen with this one. I guess that's okay. I want to do the scenes well, and some of them are going to end up longer than others.

I'm going to write again at rest time today!

Monday, March 06, 2006

Final Stretch

There is only a little over two months until my May 9 deadline. I need to write more if I'm going to make it. I've said this before, but I'm going to follow-through this time. We will do rest time every day this week. It will give me an extra 7 hours of writing time!

I'm in the final stretch. I've got to do all I can to get to the finish line.

Sunday, March 05, 2006


I slept through my alarm this morning!

That's a first.

Oh well, I guess there are worse things in the world than getting over nine hours of sleep in a night. (Can't remember the last time I slept that long.)

So I don't know that I'll get any writing in today. Bummer!

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Masochistic Tendencies

Kyle was pretty sick last week, so I couldn't write as much as I would have liked; it's hard to get up early when you've already been up multiple times in the night with a sick child. Fortunately (for both of us!) he's better now, so this morning I dragged myself out of bed at 4:30 to get back to it and had one of those painful, crappy, discouraging writing sessions that makes me question the wisdom of attempting something so difficult and beyond me.

Predictably I'm now wallowing in yet another gigantic, self-indulgent, muddy funk. Charming.

Logically I know one of the reasons I had trouble today was because I haven't written much this past week and have gotten out of the habit. And I also know that soon (maybe even next time) I'll have another one of those exhilarating creative experiences, where I'm so jazzed about how it's all going. But logical, rational thought doesn't drive away my current feeling, which is that I am ridiculous for spending so much time and energy and hope on something that's never going to be as good as I want it to be.

Still, the masochist in me is eager to sit down and work on it again. Even if the process is painful and discouraging sometimes, I can't wait to get back to the story. (If for no other reason than the hope that a more positive, productive session will obliterate this nasty funk.)

Up and down up and down on and on and on.

Here's hoping that the next up lasts a good, long while!

Friday, March 03, 2006

I need to do both

I haven’t written an entry in awhile, but I’m going to try to start blogging more often. It really helps me stay in the writing mindset, and I need to do all I can to stay focused on writing because I’ve taken something on that could easily get me off track.

Last week I decided to do another Body for Life challenge. Just about a year ago I began my first BFL challenge. It was a great thing for me to do in so many ways. After 12-weeks I ended up really fit and strong, and felt much less stressed in general. For the past year I’ve been exercising regularly and eating much healthier food, and I never would have made all those good changes if I hadn’t started BFL.

There was a big downside to doing that first challenge, however. When I was in challenge mode I spent so much time thinking about nutrition and fitness, I stopped focusing on writing and I didn’t make any progress on my novel.

I think in a lot of ways it was good for me to have another goal to strive towards—something that was more concrete. If you eat right and exercise, you get in much better shape. That’s the bottom line. Novel writing, though, isn’t nearly as cut and dry. A lot of times you feel like you are spinning your wheels and it’s hard to feel a sense of accomplishment when the process takes such a long time. It was refreshing to have a goal like a BFL challenge that I could achieve in just 12 weeks. So I understand why my thoughts and actions drifted away from writing, I just don’t want it to happen again.

Now I need to focus on writing. I can’t get obsessed with food and exercise and seeing my abs, or I’ll lose my drive to finish the novel. Consequently, after our trip to Mexico in November I eased up on nutrition and exercise, because I didn’t want to get off track again with writing. I didn’t stop exercising completely, and I still ate relatively healthy most of the time, but I wasn’t nearly as “clean” as I’d been when in the midst of a BFL challenge. However, one huge benefit I’ve gotten from BFL nutrition and exercise is that it really helps minimize my migraines. And with easing up on the exercise and nutrition, the headaches were returning. When I have a bad migraine it’s hard just to get through the day taking care of the kids—getting up early to write and staring at a computer screen is out of the question.

What I want to be able to do is strike a balance. I want to be a really healthy and fit writer. I want to do both. I hate how awful I feel physically and emotionally when I’m not in challenge mode—and minimizing the headaches makes it all so worth it, not to mention all the other health benefits. So I’ve decided to do a challenge, but I’m going to do my darndest not to obsess about it.

Whenever my thoughts stray to:
• exercise
• food
• wondering how much fitter I’ll be by the end of the challenge
• hoping my shoulders and biceps will continue to look more developed, etc.

I’ll try to nudge them back to writing-related thoughts like:
• my characters and the story
• plans for my next writing session
• visualizations of how incredible it’s going to feel to type “The End”
• hopes that I can get my manuscript in good enough shape to pitch it at a writing conference in the fall.

Today while I was doing interval training on the treadmill I kept repeating to myself: “I’m strong. I write. I’m fit. I write.” I can’t forget that I’m a writer. Even when I’m exercising, I want to be thinking about writing. I won’t finish this novel if I don’t push myself. There are too many excuses and reasons to slack off.

After one week, I think it’s going pretty well. My energy level is right back up again, and I haven’t had a headache in five days. When I get extra hungry, it’s hard not to think about my next meal, but I try not to focus on it. And I think continuing to blog about writing and the final stages of this first draft will help keep my mind back on writing—which is where I want it to be right now.