Currently listening to: Frozen Angels by Zoe Keating

Turned in my second submission this afternoon for my novel writing class. A total of 22 pages. Four chapters. A little short of the goal of 25, but close enough. The first 10 pages were a revision of what I submitted the first time. So, we’ll see if they read any better. I think I smoothed out the transitions which were the major complaint. And I think I’ve worked out the structure for the first part of the novel. Those chapters will open in the present, then flashback for the bulk of the chapter, & then come back to the present at the end of the chapter. Hopefully it’s not too confusing and works. I really hope it works. I really really really hope it works because I’ve grown attached to this structure. I don’t know if I could go back to a totally linear timeline. This structure lets me do so much more setting up of one of the key relationships.

As for the other 12-pages, all new stuff. Well, not entirely new. The plot movement is basically the same as the 1st draft, but there were a few unexpected twists this time around. I’ll have to see if it works out as I go forward.

So, now I wait for comments. And then it’s onto submission #3 in 3 weeks. I need to hit 50-pages for that one. I definitely can’t leave that to the last minute.

Off to twiddle my thumbs. Actually, I need to work on an assignment for the grant writing class I’m taking. A completely different kind of writing, & a tad less fun. But, a good skill to have.

avlxyz via flickr

Image: avlxyz via flickr

I’ll gloss over the fact that today is Valentine’s Day. I don’t buy into it. Ok, I’m currently single which could be coloring my view of the whole thing, but I digress.

21 Saturdays now. Not any easier. I made an effort today to try & do something I would normally have done on a Saturday afternoon. More often than not the last 21 Saturdays I’ve found myself at home around the time that I found her. My writing group ends at noon, & I’m usually home by 1 to check on the dogs, & then I just tend to get stuck at home. I don’t have the motivation to do much on Saturday afternoons–especially right around that time. If someone invites me out for that time period, I’m fine. But if left to my own devices, I seem to find myself here. Sometimes I’ll read, sometimes TV, sometimes just sitting outside, sometimes on the laptop; but here. So, today, I made an effort. I went & wandered around a bookstore for the afternoon; something, I oddly don’t think I’ve done in months. I know I have been in bookstores in the last 21 weeks. I have the books & magazines to prove it. But I don’t think I’ve just wandered as I would have any other Saturday afternoon before. So, today I did. I found a couple books to add to my to read list: (more…)

Dey via flickr

Image: Dey via flickr

Got back into my routine today. With my brother & his girlfriend here for the holidays & my injury, I haven’t been able to do my usual Saturday thing. So, this morning I went to my writing group. No writing today. When we finally did stop talking, I couldn’t get anything out. I went back & reread what I had (big mistake). Thought it was crap & didn’t know where to restart. I’d planned to stay a couple hours after we usually end. I’d fed the dogs early, before I left, & let them spend some quality time outside; so, I would have been safe til about 2. But promptly at noon, I gave up & packed it in.

On the way home I stopped off & got some flowers–yellow gerbera daisies. I’d missed not buying flowers on Saturdays the last couple of weeks. But it wasn’t something I could really pass on to someone else to pick up for me. It’s something I have to do.

Came home, put them in a vase & then opened up the windows & front door & hung out outside with the dogs. It was about 80 today. Absolutely beautiful. I love 80 degrees in winter, even if it is wrong on so many levels! Then, I put the stereo on, hooked up the iPod, and played The National & read. As I was sitting there struggling to write this morning, it dawned on me that one of the reasons I’ve been struggling with writing lately is that I haven’t been reading. I’ve been reading non-fiction, but I haven’t been reading fiction. I realized, I need to be constantly reminded how other writers do it. I need to be reminded that 1st person POV works. I need to be reminded that a reader can care about a fictional character’s life. I’ve read that some writers can’t read fiction while they’re writing; too worried that they’ll be influenced by it. But, I think I’m the opposite. I need to read fiction. I need to get lost in made-up stories, so I can get lost in my own. So, I sat down in the big leather chair, propped the bad leg up on the ottoman, & sat down to finish reading The End of the Story by Lydia Davis. I started this book before my mother died, & hadn’t picked it up since then. For the past 16 weeks I’ve had trouble sitting down & reading fiction. Maybe a fear of letting my mind wander; even if my mind was supposed to be wandering in the author’s world, I was too afraid it would wander somewhere else. I also haven’t been such a big fan of the quiet that I usually require to read. But today, it felt alright. I don’t know why or what was different today. But I could sit down & read & I wasn’t afraid of my thoughts drifting off, & they didn’t.

So, we’ll see if reading gets me back on track with writing. (more…)

Image: Leo Reynolds via flickr

Yeah, still counting.

Managing the crutches much better. Discovered yesterday that my kitchen is ideally laid out for them. I can pretty much reach all surfaces when standing in the middle, which is ideal for moving pots from the stove to the counter to the sink. I made oatmeal yesterday morning with no problems, & will venture to cook for myself tonight as I’m on my own.

I’ve taken to carrying around a backpack when I move from room to room. That way I can carry my own stuff around & not have to constantly ask someone to get me or bring me something. I look like I’m running away from home. It amuses me. (more…)

You know, I’m really still waiting for all of this to sink in. Yes, there are constant reminders; and in those moments, there is a realness to it. But for the most part, it just feels like she’s on a long trip. When does that stop?

Today was a good-weird day.

Started it off at my writing group. I haven’t been in 3 weeks, so it was nice to get back. Most of our time was actually focused on writing, but I really only got a paragraph done, and I’m not even sure I like it. I’m struggling a bit with the beginning. I think I’m trying to get it right this time before I go too far forward. Right now it’s between one day & the next. I could jump forward or around & work on something else, but I really want to get this figured out because I don’t want to have to restart again. Also, I guess I’ve been having a little trouble focusing & getting in tune with my character this week. I really want to be over this lack of focus thing, & every time I think I am it just comes right back and kicks me in the ass.

At the end of the day, I guess I sould just be happy that I got 2 hours in of thinking about my story, even if there wasn’t much in the way of word count.

So, after writing group, I had lunch with an old friend from high school. We haven’t seen each other since we were 18. Yep, 15 years. So weird to begin with. Anyways, we reconnected through Facebook. I swore I’d never get on that thing, but I have to admit, in the 5 months I’ve been on I’ve reconnected with 2 friends that I had lost contact with & really had no clue how to get in touch with otherwise. So, very cool. Anyways. It was nice to see her, but it was weird. Right before a 3rd mutual friend showed up to join us (someone who I still keep in touch with, but whom she hadn’t seen), she tells me that her mother passed away 2 months ago. I hadn’t mentioned that my mother had as well until she said it. Before I got there, I wasn’t sure how to mention it or if I would need to. It’s definitely one of those weird things to bring up & just drop in a conversation. It’s kind of mood killer. We really didn’t talk about it because the 3rd person in our group showed up. The only thing I learned was that her  mother’s death was also sudden. It’s just weird to be sitting across the table from someone who really understands what you’re going through & who’s kind of at the same point in processing it. Yes, I have friends who have lost parents, but they’ve lost fathers. And not to devalue fathers–I love mine, but there is a diffrence. And there is something to losing someone suddenly. It’s differnet from losing someone due to long illness. With illness you get to say goodbye; there’s time to process what is about to come. I’m not saying it’s any easier; but it’s different. So, even though we didn’t talk about it today, it was just incredibly strange & comforting. I’m not sure where our relationship is going. We exchanged numbers & talked about getting together again soon. I did send her a message on Facebook saying if she needed to talk, to call me. So, we’ll see. It’s just weird that we’re both going through this & meet up again now.

I do believe there are no coincidences & people come into your life for a reason. So, we’ll see what this reconnection means.

One thing that did come up in our conversation was the fact that this new/old friend mentioned she was ready to get back out & date. I don’t know how much this has to do with the loss of her mother or to a relationship that ended a while back, but it brought up something I’ve been debating. The last deep conversation my mother & I had was the week before she died. The Saturday before we had gone to lunch & she ended up bringing up the fact that she really wanted to see me in a relationship & thinking about marriage. Now, usually my mother doesn’t butt in; but for some reason that weekend she did. There was even a comment about her being willing to fix me up. I said no thanks. Since I moved back here 5 years ago, I haven’t dated anyone seriously. Except for some ill-advised hook-ups with exes, who need to remain exes, I’ve been on my own. I’ve spent a lot of the last couple of years trying to figure out who I am, without needing to explain myself to someone new. I’ve met a couple of people & while I went out a few times with one of them, nothing really stuck. Just really wasn’t my type when it came down to it. So, now, I’ve been debating this whole dating/relationship thing. Yes, there is a part of me that wants to make a more concerted effort, but another part of me that is very conscious of the fact that I’m considering it because I don’t like being alone right now. And for me, that seems like a really bad reason to want a relationship. I don’t trust myself to make good choices right now. Even though I’m very self-aware, I could see myself choosing to be with someone just to be with someone, not because they’re the right person. So, I don’t know. Something to think about. At this point, I’m not going to over think it. If it’s meant to be, it’s meant to be. But I’m a little wary right now.

My brother comes home for Christmas break in 3 days. I’ve never before been so excited to see my brother. It will be nice not to be in this house on my own for a couple of weeks. As okay as I am here, I am alone & as much as I used to love alone time, I’m over it.

Image: Leo Reynolds via flickr

Yesterday I spent sometime reading the little that I managed to write on my 2nd draft last month. I like some of it, but I feel like I’m about to fall off a cliff with it, or at least run head-on into a wall without braking. I don’t think I chose the right entry point this time around. My first draft runs chronologically, with flashbacks thrown in. For my 2nd draft, I got the idea to come into the story later–the question now is: how much later?

I think I might have gone too far into the story. I think I need to step back time wise. So, I spent the better part of my writing session today writing out scenes on post-it notecards (wonderful find!) & sticking them on the wall to try and figure out a timeline. I think I’ve found my in. It comes a little earlier & leaves more to be revealed over time. I think the problem with my first attempt was that I entered at a point where I’d have to reveal everything right up front for the reader to get hooked. Whereas, if I rewind the clock a bit I feel like I have more–more to actually make it to 300 pages.

So, while I didn’t exactly get a mentionable word count in today, I do think I made some progress in terms of thinking this out. And now, I can stare at the wall next to my desk & see it all laid out & move the pieces (notecards) as I need to until it makes perfect sense.

I realize this blog has been hijacked, sidetracked, just like my life, by recent events.

It’s been hard to work on my novel. Case in point, my abysmal attempt at NaNoWriMo this year.

I can’t really put my finger on why. The lack of focus. The inability to be alone with my thoughts. The distaste for silence. All are factors. But the reality is, if I don’t write, I struggle. So, I need to get back to it. I need to get back to draft #2. I need to figure out where this story is going. I need to see if 1st person POV is really the right POV for this book. I need to see how it all plays out.

I need to finish the fucking thing.

So, I done with life hijacking this blog. I’m rehijacking it back. This is me writing a novel. This is me getting the damn thing done so that my mother’s death is not the only defining event of my 33rd year.

Image: athena via flickr

Today is my half-birthday. This used to be incredibly important when I was younger. Really, when does the half birthday lose it’s significance? I kind of like the idea. It’s kind of a mid-way evaluation point. A sort of review point to see if you are on track with another year of your life. Awfully useful.

Actually, the reason I tend to remember mine & take note of it is because my brother’s birthday is the day after.

Anyways, I’ve decided that I’m taking note of this opportunity to look back on the last 6 months & take stock. Pretty much, they sucked. Well, not all of it. The summer was fine. Just the last 10 weeks of it sucked for obvious reasons. I will acknowledge one good thing to come out of the last 6 months: I finished the 1st draft of my novel. That’s definitely an accomplishment. And, I’ve actually moved ahead with the 2nd draft, even if it hasn’t been given the attention it deserves or requires.

But, alas, I resolve to put the last half of the year behind me. Ok, not really behind me. There are plenty of reminders that will never let me do that. But I choose to move forward & to get working on the goals I’d set for myself in this my 33rd year of life. Namely, my freaking novel!!!

So, I have 6 months from today; 6 months until my 34th birthday, to get it done. And I mean done. No more drafts. No more edits. Done. Finished. Either submitted or ready to be submitted to editors & agents.

I really need something else, something good, to remember this year for.

Image: Crimsonically Yours via flickr

Even I’m starting to wonder when I’m going to lose track of how many weeks have passed.

Well, didn’t really get any more details today on what’s next for Leo. The vet got called into an emergency, so only could remove his sutures & give me a call later. She did call this afternoon, but somehow I missed it. I think I was outside at the time. She did say that she wasn’t going to give me timelines on voicemail; they aren’t good. Not sure what “aren’t good” is–weeks, months, a year? She did say that the timeline with chemo was better. She’ll give me a call on Monday to go over everything in more detail. Honestly, I don’t mind waiting. I know I’ve been wanting to know what’s next, but now that I should know it, I really don’t care to know. I know I can’t avoid it entirely, but I’m in no rush. Although, I guess it would be better to get started on whatever comes next sooner rather than later. But I doubt waiting until Monday is really going to change anything.

One thing that did come out of today’s vet visit, Leo now has to take Benadryl–25mg, twice a day. Apparently, the tumor produces histamine or his body is producing it to fight the tumor. Not quite sure. Didn’t really understand the vet tech’s explanation. I’m just going with it for now, & will follow up with the vet when I talk to her. It was fun trying to get him to take the pill. Leo isn’t a pill taker. He’s well known in the vet office for his ability to spit out a pill even after you’re sure he swallowed it. It took about 6 attempts before I got it down his throat. I lucked out with finally hiding it in some canned dog food; this usually doesn’t work, thus it was not my first method. But before this worked, he actualy spit it out & it fell down my shirt. My white t-shirt is now stained hot pink from the coating on the pill. Lovely.

When I take 25mg of Benadryl, I’m a zombie. So far, he seems to have faired much better than me. Yes, he slept a good solid 4-hours earlier today. But he was up & alert for dinner & a little indoor play, but now he’s back to sleep. I’ll know whether or not it’s really affecting him if he misses his 9 PM whine session. This is a nightly occurrence when he likes to howl/sing to you for a good 10 minutes to get your attention. I can’t tell if he’s telling on his brother, my other dog Teddy; or bitching me out for not spending my entire day throwing his toy around. Usually it ends in me chasing him around the house for a bit to get whatever excess energy he has out, & then him going off to bed. Yes, he’s weird.

So, today was benign. Just hung out at home. I didn’t want to leave Leo home alone since I wasn’t sure what the Benadryl would do to him. I ended up watching the Christian Slater movie, Bed of Roses, on cable. Not bad. I vaguely remember seeing it years ago. But must say, it really was predictable in its timing. I was watching the clock during the last half-hour & could totally tell when key plot points were going to need to happen to provide some resolution. This is the problem with writing seriously & studying the mechanics: you over analyze every story. Yes, a great learning tool, but can really kill a film or book.

Oh yeah, NaNoWriMo ends tomorrow. I think all 4 of my writing group members are going to hit the 50K mark this year. I alas am not. But I’m fine with it. Life just got in the way, & slowed me down a bit. Slowing down isn’t a bad thing. I know what I need to do & I’m sure I want to move forward with this story & draft #2. So, I’ll just plug away through December and January & see where I am by February.

So, overall, benign day. I’ll settle for that.

Image: Leo Reynolds via flickr

As the day dragged on, my anxiety level has definitely amped up. I’m completely positive that Leo’s surgery is going to go fine tomorrow, but still…. It’s surgery & it’s not like I can really explain to him that I’m doing this to help him & that he’ll be fine–even though I keep doing exactly that. I just want tomorrow to go as quickly as possible & get him home.

I’m coming to terms with the fact that my chances of winning NaNoWriMo this year are quickly dwindling. And I’m okay with it. I thought doing NaNo would be a great distraction & return to normalcy, but I don’t think I’m ready. Throw in everything that’s been going on with Leo & I’m amazed I’ve even gotten 7,500 words in. I’m happy with the direction I’ve taken with the rewrite, but the reality is I can’t rush it if I want to do it right; & doing it right is going to take vast amounts of focus & concentration that I just don’t have right now. So, I’m letting myself off the hook. I will keep working on it. I still want to get draft #2 done (hopefully by the end of the year) and will continue to work on it. But, I’m going to be a little more lenient with myself & be ok with not being ready to dive in completely.

Image: Magitisa via flickr