Day by Day

I haven’t posted any weekly goals for a while, and for the time being I’m taking a break from it. The practice of posting my goals for the week and reporting on them doesn’t seem to be serving my any more, as I tend to post the goals and still not complete them, which is not very beneficial.

Instead, I’m just going to keep doing what I’m doing. I’m working my way through this 30 day letter writing (and for me poetry) challenge and right now that’s my main goal — to get that done, so I can seriously look at it as a potential collection. It’s an enjoyable process of coming up with these (even though it’s taking me far longer than 30 days), and I’m enjoying what I’m learning about myself and my writing as I continue it.

In other areas, I still have quite a few things that I want to accomplish, but for them I’m going to day-by-day it. If I make progress, great, if I don’t, it’s probably because I’ve been doing something else enjoyable, so that’s great, too.

I’m sure at some point I’ll want to lasso myself back into seriously attacking all these personal projects with more concrete goals (probably in the new year), and at that point I may go back to weekly updates or maybe some other form of goal creation that suites me.

But for now, I’m going to allow myself the mental break of saying, “It is what it is,” and just enjoy what each day gives me.

[Cross-posted to my livejournal. If you feel inclined, you can comment either here of there.]

One Word…

I saw this on [info]ying_ko_4‘s blog, and thought I’d do it, too.

One Word for 2010? I’m going to go with growth, or perhaps development.

I suppose I say this mostly in relation to the second half of the year. My memory seems to be confined to shorter terms (i.e. within the past few months) or to specific events which are vivid, but loose all but a vague sense of when it actually happened. I’m really having a hard time remembering at the moment what “important events” happened from January to June.

However, I do feel that I’ve grown this year. I’ve made several leaps and bounds in my personal life that I’m rather proud of — paid off my car loan, earned enough money to start lowering my debt, moved into my first apartment. I also traveled to Germany on my own and enjoyed being lonely in a foreign country. And (shhhh) the big shocker, I’ve met a guy that I would actually consider dating (don’t know yet what’s going to happen with this one, maybe nothing, but it’s fun to imagine).

In my creative life, my progress has been a little slower. Novel and fiction writing has not gone so well, but I’ve kind of decided that that’s okay. There’s been a lot of other things going on. I’ve been a busy, busy girl, so I’m going to let it go. I could have also submitted more work this year, and that one, too, I’m going easy on myself with.

Jumping back into art, sketching and drawing, has been fun and beneficial for me. I don’t do it daily like I should (but then, I don’t do anything except getting dress and brushing my teeth daily like I should), but I can already feel how it’s slightly easier than before to create pictures that please me. I have tons more learning to do in order to get where I want to get with this, but for the moment it’s a fun pastime.

Where I’m really pleased creatively is in my poetry, however, and I really feel like it’s going well. I’ve written a lot of poetry this year — some of it’s bad, some of its okay, and some of it I’m proud to have written. Discovering blackout poetry was a great boon for me. It combined art with words into a meditative process that helped focus me into a writerly frame of mine and helped to inspire me with my original poetry.

The 30 Day Letter challenge, even though I’m not nearly done with it after several months, has also been a great thing. For a while I’ve thought my poetry too disjointed in subject matter and style to be able to pool it together into a collection. Silly writer, indeed. But this challenge has helped me through that by not only keeping me writing, but also with the knowledge that when I finish all 30 prompts I’ll have enough poems to attempt to publish as a chapbook. How awesome in that.

I hope my one word for 2011 will be thrive. Like a vine that’s continually growing and climbing up the wall, I want to thrive in heath and joy — to live each day fully. I want to continue to be abundant in money and love, and heck yeah, abundant in sex, too. Why not.

I want my words to flow like Niagara falls. I want the patience to sit and plan a novel and work through a draft from beginning to end. I want the courage to submit my work for publishing. I want to be paid for my words.

So many wants, and all within the realm of possibility.

Thriving doesn’t mean that the days will be without challenges, of course. There will always be challenges and long days in which I wish I had just stayed in bed. It just means that I take it all in and live it. That I weather the storms and if all goes well come out a little beat up, but also a little stronger after wards. Oh, yes, I want to thrive.

[Cross-posted to my livejournal. If you feel inclined, you may comment either here or there.]

The Path

You may or may not have noticed that I’ve posted no updates about my novel progress since the beginning of November. That is easily explained, because there has been no novel progress at all. In fact, there has been more a novel pit of despair, especially in the last few days.I started thinking about how I was going to approach my Untitled Alternate World Fantasy (UAWF) novel for November, and I realized quite clearly that I have no real idea where I’m going with it. I kept running through different approaches, ways to start the book again from a different angle, a point of view that might make everything come together and function. But then I came up against the fact that I don’t have even the foggiest idea how large the whole thing is supposed to be. Part of the problem is that I’m afraid the vague notion I have for an ending would not give the proper sense of resolution. It might not be enough — well, it would be enough for the character perhaps, but not enough for the reader. So my UAWF might constitute two books, or even a trilogy. And how the hell am I going to figure out how a second and third book works, if I can’t even figure out how the first one works.

It was all to big to think about, and I could picture myself writing and rewriting those first few chapters that I’ve already written in an attempt to find pathway through the plot, but never finding it. This endless loop of chapters that never amounted to anything.

So, okay, fine. What other novels can I work on? There are plenty of ideas vying for interest in my head, surely I could work on one of those. But there again, I ran up against the same problem. I didn’t know where I was going with them, and if I couldn’t find my way into a real plot with my UAWF, then what made me think that I could possibly get a different result simply by jumping to another storyline.

It began to feel utterly pointless to even try. I will never be a published novelist, I began to think. Why, oh, why do I bother? It’s all just such a waste of my time. I should just give up completely. This fatalistic feeling began to infect even my poetry and my poetry journal, which is normally a safe haven for me.

But of course I won’t give up. All these feelings come and they will go. I know this feeling is only temporary, and even now it is already beginning to dissapate.

There is no such thing as a waste of time in writing. All writing is good writing, if you believe that even the crap is a necessary part of the process and practice of writing. I know this. Unfortunately, I just can’t feel this right now.

I’m still not sure if I want to continue to focus on my UAWF or if I want to try out a different novel idea. If I stick with the UAWF novel, then I definitely need to sit down with a stack of notecards and map out the plot, so that I don’t feel so stuck in this loop. I don’t know if the novel works. I don’t know if it will be any good. But I know I need to keep writing. I need to keep going whether I finally finish this novel or another. There is nothing else to do.

[Cross-posted to my livejournal. If you feel inclined, you can comment either here or there.]

In the Woods

Last night, after doing some sketching, I tried to put some words down on the page. Normally, I write something down and, whether its good or not, I just keep going. but last night, I just couldn’t stand what I was writing, so I started scribbling violently all over the page.

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It doesn’t happen very often that I react so strongly to my own writing. Not that everything I write is good — far from it — but that I understand that crappy drafts are a natural part of the writing process. Last night, I just couldn’t take my own words. As soon as I put them down on the page, I had to get rid of them. If I hadn’t scratched them out, I would have torn out the page.

I tried to write something down this morning and got the same result. It was NOT coming together, and I couldn’t force myself to keep going through the crappy draft to get to the good. It was just bad and so again, I crossed it out.

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This kind of thing happens sometimes. (This is probably tied to my frustrations around the novel I’m supposed to be working on this month.) I will keep writing of course, even though I may end up with more pages like these, because I know this feeling of frustration is temporary. I’ll pull out of it. I always do.

So I’ll keep writing and keep writing, and eventually I get to open fields of words again, but right now, stuck in the muck of the forest is where I am.

[Cross-posted to my art blog. If you feel inclined, you can comment either here or there.]

How to Handle Critiques

A friend on another blog is in the process of writing a novel (I believe it’s her first) and was feeling rather nervous about having to present the opening chapters to her critique group. I know how rough that can be (I’m sure all writers do), especially if someone starts tearing apart some of your favorite bits that you’ve written. Even knowing that the feedback can be a great help, it doesn’t keep it from being rather hard to hear sometimes.

So I sent her a list the things I do to help me get handle a writing critique, and thought I would share it here, too.

1. Take deep breaths and just listen. I try not to argue of explain. I just listen until they are finished and it’s my turn to talk.

2. I say, thank you. If someone didn’t understand something, I may explain what I was trying to get at in the hopes that talking it out with someone will help me figure out why the writing wasn’t clear and how I might improve it.

3. If someone really lays into my writing hard, I allow myself to feel hurt and raw about it for a little while — but there’s a time limit. I’m only allowed to mope and obsess for about an hour or two, and then I very firmly tell myself to let it go.

4. I remind myself that the critique is of my words and not of me as a person, that personal taste and opinions vary vastly, and that all writing is a progressive learning process and every piece of writing can be improved.

5. Once over any hurt feelings, I sit back and seriously think about what was said in comparison with my writing. Either (a) there is some truth in what was said and an opportunity to change and improve my writing, or (b) I disagree with what was said and will decide to leave the story/poem/chapter as is.

6. Get back to writing, because that’s what really matters.

Do you have any techniques you use to help you handle a critique session, especially one that’s particularly rough?

[x-posted to my livejournal. If you feel inclined, you may comment either her or there.]