Tree Branches, Clem Onojeghuo

So I Had a Bad Week

Last week was a really hard week for me.

I got sick for the second time in a month. While it wasn’t the awful flu that took me out a few days while on vacation in Walt Disney World, it was still not much better. An acute upper respiratory infection plus two ear infections. I’ve never had a cough this bad before that I can remember. It’s all-encompassing and worse when I sit up which made sitting and concentrating at a desk all week incredibly difficult.

I took off work Tuesday and left early on Wednesday. I made it through all of Thursday, just barely, and my emotional well-being deteriorated due to some things that happened at work that I wish I could go into but have done so privately enough to keep myself from doing so in a public forum. I went to urgent care where I got my diagnosis, four medications, and a doctor’s note to miss again on Friday. Then I went to sleep.

Despite being off work on Friday, I still took care of some things at home because I care about my job, knew I left some things open, and because I’m good at my job. But that apparently wasn’t enough and I had a minor breakdown about my job late Friday night into early Saturday morning that only succeeded in making me even sicker.

Sometimes there are things that you can’t control in the moment. I can’t control my job right now. I love my job. I love where I work. There are just some aspects about it that are making it difficult to remember all the things I love about it. I don’t want to look for another job. It’s an additional stress I don’t want in my life right now. Right now I’ve marked that the part of my life that is my job – a bit part considering that working 40 hours a week is pretty much the overarching feature of my job for the majority I’m awake – isn’t controllable at the moment. I can’t immediately change or fix or better that situation.

So my sickness, low moments, and frustration forced me to ask, what can I control right now?
Continue reading →

Bricks, Seref Yucar

I hit a brick wall

It comes and goes but most of the time I feel like I’ve hit a brick wall. I’m stuck. The story is there but it won’t come out. I try to force it and nothing happens. Write, I say. Just write. Whatever comes out, let it out. Just let the words come out even if they are awful and nonsensical and don’t get me anywhere.

The worst of it is, I know where I want this novel to go. I have it planned out. I have a very loose outline that tells me that, barring any unforeseen character actions, I have 10 scenes left to write at about 1,500 words each. That’s 15,000 words which puts me at my ultimate word count goal of about 75,000 words. I wrote 50,000 words in one month last November and I can’t write 15,000 words right now.

Maybe I’m looking at it too clinically. Maybe I’m being too pragmatic. As I’ve said before, I’ve never been the type of writer to outline. Outlines make me feel claustrophobic, boxed in. Outlines kill my writing. That’s what I did here, I know it. But I thought I had to. I want to finish this book. I thought if I just gave myself a deadline – March 31 according to my day planner – then I’d be able to complete the draft. I need to complete this draft.

I’m tired of feeling stuck. Stuck not only in my writing but in my life. I know that plans don’t ever go the way we anticipate them to, but I guess I thought I’d be published by now. I thought that I’d have an agent and a book deal and a book on the shelves at the local bookstore and library. I’m tired of writing and failing again and again.
Continue reading →

My 8th birthday cake, photo by Sarah Reck

Leap Day: Thoughts on my 8th Birthday

I’ve always had trouble putting into words precisely how being born on February 29th feels to me.

It would be easy to say I have a love-hate relationship with it but that would be inaccurate; I don’t ever hate being born on February 29th. For the most part, I love it. It’s unique. There are a heck of a lot fewer people in this world who share my birthday than any other one. Every four years I get an extra special day to celebrate. It’s a topic of conversation for parties and small talk (this tends to only happen in leap years as otherwise it feels a little sometimes like I’m bragging, though that doesn’t necessarily stop me). And it’s a great truth to include in the getting to know you game, “Two Truths and a Lie.” Spoiler alert: People almost always choose it as my lie.

Most people tend to remember this about me once they learn it. Which means that while some people can’t remember their friends’ or sometimes family members’ birthdays, they nearly all remember mine. I would wager that my birthday is one of the most memorable things about me, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
Continue reading →

Lightbulbs, Josh Byers

What I’m currently terrified of

All right, it’s time to admit that I’m flat-out terrified.

I’m terrified of finishing this book – SWEPT AWAY – because there’s a very real chance it’ll be just another novel I finished and couldn’t find an agent with. This isn’t my first novel. It isn’t even my second or third. And sometimes it feels like I’m in a holding pattern. Write, write, write, revise, revise, revise, finish novel, query, query, query, rinse, repeat. Every time I’m close to finishing a novel, I have this same experience, the one where I ask myself why. Why am I writing another book? Why am I bothering? Won’t this just be the same as the last time, and the time before that … and the time before that, etc. etc.?

I know I go through this every time. I think, what if this is it?, and then in the same breath say, it won’t be. It’s a defeatist attitude, yes, it is, but it’s the honest reason why I’m lagging on finishing the novel. I always get to this point and think, why should I keep doing this to myself? Why, why, why.

Probably in an effort to make myself even more defeatist, but possibly also as motivation to finish this novel, I re-organized and updated my QUERIES spreadsheet. I’m a spreadsheet nerd, and I started keeping track of my queries and the responses three novels ago. I had two before that so I went ahead and added them to the spreadsheet. It was my way of seeing my successes, seeing which agents requested what from me, who didn’t, and to hopefully kick me into gear with finishing this one. How? Well, if I have a tab on the spreadsheet for SWEPT AWAY with agents I’m anticipating querying, then maybe I’d work double time in writing and editing and revising.

Of course, nothing ever goes as planned.
Continue reading →

Frosted Leaf, Aaron Burden

Editing: the re-read

The first step with any edit is to re-read everything you’ve already written.

I tend to go through a lot of varying emotions during that initial re-read.

It’s an ominous start because while I remember writing, I always have a feeling that the writing is crap. I don’t know what I’m getting into as I open it up and start on page one. Will this be awful? Will I have to toss it all and start over? Will I be surprised that it isn’t awful? Will I never want to write again?

Going into this re-read, I knew what to expect: the first half of what I wrote in November is really solid. The second half? Not so much. However, I was still surprised at just how solid that first half is. Sure, it’s wordy – I was trying to write 50K words in a month, after all – and slightly repetitive, but you know what? It’s really good. Like, really good. Like, even though I wrote it and knew what was happening, I still felt like it’s a page-turner and felt invested in the characters and the story. In fact, re-reading it is fueling my drive to want to finish it.

During a re-read, I do minor editing. Mostly for my typos and awkward word choices and unnecessary sentences or words. In the first half, I ended up cutting a lot that just didn’t need to be there anymore. However, I didn’t see any major edits that I need to do. I could probably add another scene or two, but I don’t want to add a scene just to up the word count. It needs to make sense and move the story along and right now, I’m not sure what that would be.

Then I got to the second half of what I have written.
Continue reading →