To start off the new year I’ve decided to do a little digital cleanse. In other words, I’m cutting myself off from Twitter, Facebook, & all media sites (i.e., gossip, entertainment, & actual real news) for one week. This is similar to my one week news blackout last year.

I heard about this idea via Twitter–a retweet of a tweet linking to this post. I like the idea of starting off the new year with a little less garbage & distraction. Also, it’s a great way to figure out just how much time I spend on all those sites. While I can live with a week of no Facebook, Twitter, & media, the proposed no texting idea just isn’t going to work for me. There are certain people in my life who it’s just better that I only text & not talk to. Not texting would not be good for my mental well-being like the rest of this digital cleanse. So, in lieu of the no texting, all add in a TV news blackout. So, this cleanse will be a more extreme than my only news one.

So far, I slipped once–clicked on my Facebook page; & have an overwhelming urge to look at my Twitter feed. In my defense, the FB click was out of habit. I momentarily forgot about my plans.

I’ll be curious to see how I spend my time on the internet without those sites, because I have the sinking feeling–30 minutes into this–that I spend A LOT of time on those sites without realizing it. So, hopefully this will be conducive to writing & reading this week. We’ll see. At least I’ll still have this blog & email. (Maybe I’ll add those two to my 2011 digital cleanse.)

And as always, if the world ends & I miss the news story…feel free to email me or comment here just to let me know. Otherwise, I’ll reenter social-networking & media world on January 8th.

So, for 2010 I’ve been able to come up with one word that I want to define this year, my “action word”/mantra if you will.

MOVEMENT

2009 helped me figure out what I want & need. 2010 is about making it happen. Besides, I’m really done with the emotional roller coaster of 2009. I have learned much in this past year, even from the difficult moments. But I’m ready to move forward & to put what I’ve learned to work.

I’ve learned that to make things happen I need to focus on the steps rather than the end product. I need to do the little things that would result in the big thing. I need to stop freaking myself out with the enormity of a project or task & instead just look at the smaller steps/pieces that would get me there. Yes, taking one step at a time might result in completion taking longer, but honestly, I have a better chance of completing things. Every day, I need to take some kind of action, some kind of movement on the things I care about, the things I want to do in my life whether it be finishing this novel, doing more freelance work, or getting a full-time job that I like and that gives me financial security and stability. If I do just one thing every day, I’ll be one step closer to these things becoming a reality. Movement creates. Procrastination, fear, & inaction create stagnation.

So, I need to move every day. That’s the goal for 2010. MOVEMENT.

Oh, and if you’re looking for help on figuring out your word for 2010, check out Christine Kane’s blog and her free worksheet on finding your “Word of the Year.”

As 2009 draws to a close, I decided to look back at my post for January 1, 2009. In that post, I decided in lieu of New Years’ resolutions I was going to come up with 4 words that would define my life in 2009. I chose:

CONNECTED

CENTERED

ACTUALIZED

PROSPERED

I’d say that 2 out of 4 is where I’ve ended up at the end of the year. (more…)

Currently listening to: Cloud Nine by Ben Howard

I just tweeted:

Yes, still up & writing. Going w/it. This week: all abt going w/what feels good. My mind & soul r a bit beat. Being careful w/them.

If I’ve learned anything in the last 15 months of dealing with loss & grief, it’s to go slow, to take my time, to go with what feels right in the moment. Believe me, I’ve had more than a few people in the last year tell me to hurry up and move on, to dive into work, to drown myself in it until I’ve managed to forget. The problem is the death of a loved one cannot be forgotten. And avoidance only avoids your new reality. (more…)

Tonight my dog Leo lost his battle with cancer. Last November he was diagnosed with mast cell tumors. In May, he completed a round of chemo with flying colors. Unfortunately, as was expected, the tumors came back in August. We elected not to put him through another round of chemo knowing that it would only buy him another couple months. We wanted him to enjoy the rest of his time. Despite the tumors, he was a happy, hyper-active dog these last four months. But, tonight it was time. He was 12-years old. He will be very missed.

Monday I had lunch with a writing friend who has read pages of my novel-in-progress. She’s been a great sounding board for this story. Out of nowhere, she asked me if I had a title yet. The timing was a bit funny because only in the last week had I started to think that I had finally found something that was perfect. So, I floated my idea by her and she said it sounded perfect. (Yes, at times, my need for validation can be a bit ridiculous. I’m conscious of it and will be seeking therapy to deal with it once I finish this damn book and everyone tells me they love it.)

I had worried that I’d never come up with a title and would be submitting it to agents as “Untitled” or at worst, offering up prize money to a blog reader who could give me a good one. When it comes to writing, titles are the bane of my existence. Whether it be a title for a school paper, an article for the school newspaper, or hell, a title for a post on this blog, I suck at coming up with anything original, informative, funny, or witty. The only thing worse has been helping a friend come up with a name for her soon-to-be-born daughter. (Although, thankfully, I get final say on this one and won’t be resorting to a nickname to make the name palatable. Ok, the name isn’t that bad. There were worse ones under consideration. But I guarantee you, this kid will be spelling/explaining her name for the rest of her life.)

But, thanks to a song on my iPod, I think I’ve got a title.

So, my novel has a name, and it’s…Unraveling.

Music is such an important part of my life. Almost every pivotal moment–for better or worse–has been marked by a song. So, of course, I write with music. A certain song can get me in the right frame of mind for the emotion of a certain scene or into the head of one of my character’s. But more often than not, music serves as nothing more than white noise.

I can’t write in silence. I’ve never been able to write in silence. For as long as I can remember, whether it be doing homework in high school, writing a research paper in college, or a report for work, I have had my headphones on and a song playing in the background.

It occurred to me tonight as I was writing that more often than not, I play one song on repeat for the duration of my writing session. Tonight it was Bat for Lashes’ “Daniel.” Last night, Sarah Jarosz’s “Can’t Hide.” And the night before that The Swell Season’s “High Horses.”  Occasionally, I’ll go with pure instrumentals (Zoe Keating’s album is always a favorite.), but for the most part, lyrics don’t get in the way. The beginning of every writing session involves at least 10 minutes of me trying to find that one song that I want to hear, but that I can also completely tune out. I’ll sometimes spend 2 hours listening to the same song over and over again. I finally realized this is part of my writing ritual. Everyone has their own unique routine that helps them get in the mood and get focused. Apparently, those 10 “wasted” minutes and iTunes on repeat are mine.

…oh, by the way, the writing is going well. And most recent comments on second submission of pages to class were largely positive. The issues pointed out were the issues I was already conscious of. So, moving in the right direction.

Currently listening to: Can’t Hide by Sarah Jarosz

Today marks the halfway mark for National Novel Writing Month (i.e., NaNoWriMo), which means I should be at 25,000 words. Hmmm…well, let’s just say I’m a bit short. No need for specifics. I’m not counting myself out quite yet. I have made movement, but any significant advance in my word count was curbed by some serious editing & preparing for my second submission of pages for my novel class last week. Comments have started coming in on those, but I haven’t yet looked at them. No, I’m not having another anxiety attack about being liked, but rather, I don’t want to get sidetracked. If I look at them, I’m going to want to go back right now and work on whatever needs fixing when my focus needs to be on moving forward. So,  I will refrain, at least until tomorrow when they will demand my attention so that I can ask follow-up questions and issue some thank you’s to classmates & instructor for reading. (more…)

Nanowrimo 2009 largeYes, I’m doing National Novel Writing Month, otherwise known as NaNoWriMo, or NaNo for short, again this year. This marks my 5th year. The first three years I succeeded and hit 50,000 words. Last year, I failed miserably. But all things considered, the fact that I even ventured to try to do it last year was an accomplishment.

Day 1 is off to a good start. Met up with a group of NaNo-ers this morning & spent 4 hours writing. Got just over 1,800 words–making the daily word count goal of 1667 words. Admittedly, my writing was a little slower going than a usual NaNo as I am being a bit of a NaNo rebel this year. Instead of adhering to the original NaNo principle of starting a novel from scratch on Day 1, I am doing this 50K as part of my WIP. So, I’m reluctant to just spew words out in the hope of making my word count every day. I’m trying to make them quality words in the hope that upon revision few will need to be hacked away. The goal is to work forward on the WIP and be closer to being finished on December 1 than I was when I started.

In the midst of all this, my next submission for my class is due November 10. I’ll be submitting the next 30-pages. Some of them are already written, some need to be heavily revised, & others need to be written from scratch. And I’ll be doing all this while working on NaNo.

So, if you hear from me even less than usual this month that will be why. But you can always find me wasting time on Twitter.

So, those comments I was so anxious about…

Well, they really were nothing to be afraid of, even though it took me another 3 days to finally look at them. (When I get a bit irrational, I get really irrational.)

So, FWI* raised 3 issues:

  1. One of my supporting characters is too much a shadow right now. He needs to be filled in.
  2. I’m spending too much time in some scenes. I’m being a bit methodical—showing every movement in a scene. I need to cut into and out some of the scenes more quickly.
  3. There is no stated geographical setting.

None of these issues surprises me. They’re all things of which I’ve been aware. (more…)