Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Home for the Holidays
It's going to be just us four (five, if you count the dog) this year for Thanksgiving, and I find I'm very happy about that. I know a lot of people value this time with their larger family--aunts, cousins, grandparents, etc. I usually do, too. After all, I don't see them often. I miss them.

But I find myself feeling very grateful for a few days at home with just my own little family around me. For people who all share a home, it can feel like we don't get to see each other that much. School and work take the bulk of the day. By the time, we're all home, it's dark outside.

Then, we all have homework. Even the seven-year-old has responsibilities to keep up in terms of homework. The high schooler sometimes drowns in it. The people who employ my husband seem to think they have the right to demand his evening hours, too, all too often. I've been doing better at leaving work at work, but, since I've taken on more with my writing, it's almost like working a second job.

Life moves so quickly these days that I blink twice and another week has passed. Most of the time, I feel like I'm running as fast I can just to stand still.

So, the idea of several days where we might sit on the couch and watch a movie or play a board game, or just talk around leftover pie and a fire? Heaven. Those who know me know that these sentiments are strangely homebody for a the girl with a wanderlust that took her to Alaska as a younger woman. I'm normally up for anything that starts with "Do you want to go . . .?" It's a new feeling to me to say, "You know, I don't want to go anywhere."

So, this year I am thankful that my larger family has plans without me. I'm looking forward to time at my own hearth.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Fall into Winter

I used to love fall. Crunchy leaves under my feet and cooler weather--sweater weather--was my idea of a perfect day. Part of me still does . . .I just want different things from the days than life is offering. This fall, I'm not loving it.

Maybe it's just that I had made the decision to leave the classroom last year, but failed to find a financial option that let me do so. Maybe it's the new responsibilities that my first significant successes as a writer have brought into my life (without taking any of my old responsibilities away).

Either way I'm grumpy, and trying to shake it.

Daylight savings didn't help. It never bothered me to go to work in the dark, but it bothers me a lot to come in the dark and feel like I never got to see the sun.  Getting extra-cold super-fast didn't help either. There's frost already! It makes my hands, knees and foot ache with that deep internal pain that we're not yet admitting out loud is arthritis. (I'm only 43!) I may have to buy a coat. I haven't owned a real coat since I moved to North Carolina.

There are compensations, though.

Since it's cold, I get to sit next to the fire warming my toes under a blanket and drinking cocoa, often with cuddles from husband, child or dog. I get to wear jeans to work as part of our holiday fundraiser at school. It's not hot (if you think I don't like cold, you should hear me kvetch and moan about hot). I look cute in sweaters.

I think it's time to find the joy of fall again. If I can get home during daylight, I'll rake up a pile of leaves and jump in with the kids. There's a special sort of joy that comes only when you have colorful leaves in your hair. You wanna come? I'll make the cocoa.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

NaNoWriMo 2014--Week Two

design by Elizabeth Doyle
NaNoWriMo is in full swing. This is my second year. Last year, I ended up with a historical fiction piece that I feel really good about (It's third in the queue for rewriting right now). This year, I'm writing a young adult magic and friendship novel. My working title is Rat Jones and the Lacrosse Zombies.

For those who haven't done it. NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month. It's November every year. The idea is that you write 50,000 words in one month.  It amounts to a little less than 2,000 words a day to make it on time. People either love it or hate it.

This year, I'm doing both.

What's great about NaNoWriMo is that it keeps me from overthinking things. I can't stop and research a lot. I have to keep moving forward even when I'm not at all sure what might happen next. That can be really good for a story, giving it a sense of spontaneity and leaving room for the characters to surprise me.
What's bad about NaNoWriMo is exactly those same things. It's not my natural process to barrel through, ignoring flaws and plowing forward. I'm a pantser, which means that I don't outline or heavily plan before I begin writing. But, I also am not comfortable with what people call "the vomit draft." I do what I call a "discovery draft." I write, just following the characters and story until it makes itself clear. Once, I know where it's gong, I do more planning.

I also edit and write at the same time . . .circling back and adding scenes to support a subplot when it comes up, going back and changing a detail as soon as it changes.

For where I am in my writing life right now, though, I'm still glad I'm doing NaNoWriMo this year. A little success has put more time pressure on things, and it feels really good to set aside this one month for exploring a brand new idea. It'll give me a mental break from the world I've been creating for Going Through the Change and its sequels and let me come back to that sequel with fresh eyes.

Sometimes, you just need to play with some different imaginary friends.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

It hurts a little less now . . .

Ah. Rejection.

I got eight in the month of October (and one acceptance!). It was a pretty good month.

The first few times I sent my work out into the wilds of the publishing world, when I was a mere whippersnapper of twenty or thirty years, I pinned a lot of hopes on the results. I would wait anxiously, checking the mail multiple times a day. I didn't create new work while I waited. When my poems (I was mostly a poet then), came back with broken wings and rejection notes, I took it to heart. I doubted the value of my own work. Each rejection stung.

When I reinvented myself as a fiction writer as I began my forties, it all began again in new markets. But, you know, it's less painful this time. Maybe it's the genre, maybe it's my age, maybe it's just time and experience, but, these days, when my work comes back rejected, it just doesn't hurt like it used to.

I think it's in my attitude about the work. These days, I don't wait watching the mail. I send my work out there. Then, I turn back to my computer and write something else. I don't invest my heart in the opinion of this or that editor. After all, that work is done. I'm worried about the new thing I'm creating.
Of course, I'm thrilled if I can get an acceptance (the acceptance/rejection ratio is still pretty darn skewed towards rejection), but a rejection, especially a form rejection, just makes me shrug, choose another venue and send my work back out there again. After all, no one can accept it and publish it if I leave it sitting on my hard drive unread by others.

I've also learned to value the small victory. A very long wait time must mean that they spent a lot of time considering it, right? (Humor me). A quick rejection means that I can turn it around that much more quickly and find the venue that will love my words.  A personal rejection with a helpful comment glows like a diamond in a pile of dark coal form rejections. It promises future victory.

So, here's to rejection! It's the first step towards acceptance!

This posting is part of the Insecure Writers Support Group blog hop. To check out other posts by writers in a variety of places in their careers, check out the participant list. This group is one of the most open and supportive groups of people I have ever been associated with. You should check them out!