Where I’ve Been

So it’s been a few weeks since I last checked in and there’s a good reason for my disappearance.

About three weeks ago, I noticed I was having pain and tightness in my hands after working out with hand weights (particularly in my thumb joint). It only got worse, to the point where the pain was there even when I was just sitting and not doing anything. You can imagine how writing, using the computer and everything else took a backseat.

Ice packs, Epsom salt soaks, heating pads, massage — I tried everything and anything but the pain was still there. After a doctor’s visit, I now have some meds and a brace on my right hand. Recovery has been slow, and I’m still going through it.

Needless to say, I’ve made no progress on my writing in almost a month, which has been equally as frustrating and depressing to say the least. Some days, the pain was so much that all I could do was lay there and mope and other days when it wasn’t so bad I wanted to continue doing nothing so wouldn’t flare up again.

I still have some pain when doing certain tasks but I’m slowly getting back to work, even though I still have to take it easy. Opening or carrying things, doing dishes, dude… I even needed help cutting a piece of chicken one night at dinner. Frustrating, maddening, temper tantrum-inducing! :)

Hopefully I’ve now turned the corner and things will only continue to get better both for my health and for my sanity (because not being able to write has been a real test my patience, my sanity, and a blow to my sense of self). I feel like I lost a month of my life and without writing, like I haven’t really been “me” these past weeks without it.

I started the Million Word Challenge at the beginning of the year with a group of other writers, and it’s been really hard seeing how they are progressing so well and I’m sitting here unable to do the same.

But now that the pain isn’t so bad, at least I’m able to sit at the computer and do some work even if it’s slower than I normally would be. I am really utilizing my voice recognition software now to save my hands (even though it can be kind of slow for editing, but I can’t afford to upgrade to the newer version).

Either way, at least I’m a bit better than I was a few weeks ago and hopefully it will all be behind me soon. and I finally managed a decent word count yesterday, which felt pretty good.

WIP Wednesday: BIC HOK TAM SODA

Confused? Don't be! Those crazy kinds on the interwebs are coming up with new net-lingo all the time! And now, us writing geeks can get in on the fun.

New writing buddy Thomas McAuley turned me on to the school of BIC HOK TAM SODA and I’m quickly becoming a convert.

Lemme break it down:

BIC – Butt In Chair
HOK – Hands Over Keyboard
TAM – Typing Away Madly
SODA – Story Only, Dumb Ass

In other words, to get any writing done, you need to plant your butt, assume the position, let your fingers fly across the keyboard and turn off all distractions while doing so.

The thing is – it’s not rocket science, people. It’s common sense. But giving it a fancy acronym makes it seem all cool & easily digestible for procrastinators, rule breakers and even the writing equivalent of the punk rocker – pantsers!

We all have our writerly rituals. Lighting incense, listening to a specific playlist, putting on your hat complete with brain wave conductors…I don't judge.

But if you need a little reminder on how to get things done, put your BIC, get your HOK, start TAM and for the love of Mulder, SODA!

Know what? It works! I've been showing up in my writing nook every day lately, turned a blind eye to the siren call of Twitter and my word count has taken off. Sure, I dip in for tiny chat morsels every now and then to keep my needy side sated. Gotta keep some of the fun! After all, I've said it before and I'll say it again. If it's not fun, you're not doing it right!

Fellow WIP Wednesday posse:

If you’re a writer participating in WIP Wednesday, post a link to your blog in the comments! More info on the WIP Wednesday initiative can be found at Kate Karyus Quinn's blog.

World Domination

MissWrite.netIn an effort to further my plans of World Domination, I have secured MissWrite.net.

Right now it forwards to my articles as Toronto Writing Examiner, but I hope to expand it and build a full website, highlighting all my writerly pursuits (including my fiction & copy writing).

You would think all of these endeavors would burn me out (and occasionally they do), but I love writing ever so much, and being able to explore it in all its facets makes me the happiest girl!

Today, I'm working on that totally-crazy-so-not-me-yet-devilishly-addictive story idea I mentioned. Chris (my fiancee) gets a little impatient because when I'm working on something new, I don't like to share many (read: ANY) of the details until I have at least gotten the first draft down.

By then, I am usually stuck, and like to bend his ear for tidbits to unstick myself, but right now, I am holding my cards close to my chest because I lovelovelove this idea and really want to find the words to make it work. Eep!

When you get a story idea, how do you keep yourself from falling too much in love with it (just in case it doesn't go the way you hoped or envisioned)? Or do you think you do have to have that level of intensity about every story to make each one a success?

Jumping On My Own Bandwagon

It's about the journey not the destinationWe all have those moments when we doubt ourselves, get in a rut or just generally lose motivation.

I seem to go through phases where I am super-productive, and then fall victim to one, if not all of these things. Other than a few sporadic editing sessions and some frenzied writing by the seat of my pants (which is something I never do), I'm still in that rut.

But the good news is I have finally gotten to the point where I am sick of the rut and ready to kick some butt!
So, I am doing what I often hear is what NOT to do. I'm going to toot my own horn! I'm jumping on my own bandwagon. In fact, I'll jump into the driver's seat and DRIVE the damned bandwagon if I have to!

I know I can get wordy when I write. But that just means I sometimes get lost in what I'm writing and can't help but yammer on about it until my pen runs dry. And while I love getting the words down, what I love even more is polishing and rearranging and adding layers of tone and suspense and skin-twinging, spine-tingling creepiness.

I don't have a million stories published. But I have 1 (with a 2nd & 3rd on the way), along with what seems like a billion ideas and snippets and works in various stages of progress that will some day see the light of day. I have written just over 90,000 words on my first novel (editing is another story…), 25,000 words scribbled on a short story collection, and when I see all of these stories lined up – finished or near-completed – I realize that half the fun of writing is in the journey, not the destination. But I still won't quit taking steps to get there, either.

I realize that I have an amazing group of writer-friends who constantly amaze me with their talent and their support. Even if they don't realize it, their constant efforts towards their own goals keeps me on my toes and inspires me to keep evolving and growing.

I realize that I am good enough whether I have a good writing day or not; that I don't need to compare my success to the success of others; that I am on my own track and as long as I keep striving for what I want, I RULE!

So, there. Incredibly self-indulgent blog post over. We all need a little pep talk now and then. What's yours?

[NWC]

The Secret Lives of Scribes

My fiancee, my friends and family, god bless them. They are supportive. They hoot and holler just as much as I do when I get a piece published. But…they don’t write.

Only other writers get it. The roller coaster ride of being a writer. How, as much as we deny it, we love the valleys as much as we do the peaks.

Because there’s a feeling you get…a tingling from your scalp to the very tips of your fingers as the first ideas of a story begins to spark; the mystery of imagining and the piecing together of ideas to create a new world, character, etc.; those first few pages that seem to have been plucked out of the ether to flow magically from your pen to paper; the tension you feel when you’re stuck, and you push and pull with yourself until finally you break through and have that “A-ha!” moment and suddenly are swept back up into the romanticism of it all in a frenzy of scribbling as ideas rush at you all at once.

See? To the outside observer, this may sound like torture. But to the writer – it’s Utopia.
[NWC]

TILT – May 14, 2009

For the uninitiated, TILT (Things I Love Thursday) is a weekly column started by Miss Gala Darling in which she professes her love of things big and small, sparkly & sequined.

These are the things that made me happy this week:

TILT May 14, 2009

Being productive, cutting out stickers for my Writer's Accountability Chart, a new Rimmel eye crayon in Tribal Punk, looking forward to the long weekend (even if it's going to rain!), meeting so many cool new people on Twitter, seeing that the landscape has really begun to bloom, more Egyptian Hieroglyphs on Lost, 2-hour season finales of some of my fave shows, that feeling in my stomach when the masked man showed his 'face' for the first time in The Strangers (though I did feel the movie dragged a bit), finally seeing a special on Egyptian Mythology on Discovery Civilization Channel that I haven't seen before, red grapes, hair scarves, window shopping, dreaming about owning a pair of Fluevogs, my new Moo Card holder from Dear Sukie, planning to get together with long-lost friends.

So – what about you? What are your TILTS?

[NWC]

Road to…..Somewhere

Road to SomewhereSo, I'm working on my first novel.

After much planning, but not completely finishing my original outline, I originally started my then-unnamed project for NaNoWriMo 2007…a week late. And I still managed to "win", getting in my 50,000 words in 24 days flat.

At the end of November '07, I was drained. As in – I put my WIP on the shelf and didn't look at it again until that spring. I puttered around with it, in between working on other projects, and then went back to shoring up the outline, adding in new plot twists, an extra subplot or two, and prepared myself to get back to it for NaNoWriMo 2008.

Again, I "won", writing just over the required 50,000 words again. Woo! Go me!

And now, here I am again. After a few months of letting the story settle, I'm back to the book again.

It now has a (tentative) title – Thicker Than Water. But I haven't really added to the outline at all (which, to tell you the truth, clocks in at just over 100 pages – the book itself already groaning under the weight of its nearly 100,000 words).

And therein lies the dilemma. After plotting and planning the majority of my book for countless hours…I don't have an ending yet! I have a general road map of how I want to tie things up, but as I sat down today to get back into the swing of things, I realized that for once, I don't have detailed sketch of where I should be going or what I should be writing.

My only plan right now is to not let this hinder me. Granted, this is my first book, and there is no right or wrong way to write a novel. But I don't want to get into the mindset that I need that point-by-point breakdown of each chapter in my outline to move forward.

We're entering uncharted territory here, folks. Buckle up!

Today's Soundtrack:
[Oxycanta] Winter Blooms – Track: Waters by Sgnl_fltr

click below to listen!


Prose By Any Other Name – Part One

Prose By Any Other NameI'm not sure if this is a quirk, a hindrance, or simply my own personal style, but when it comes to naming a piece that I'm working on, for the most part, I almost can't name it until that last word has been written.

Not until all is said and done; not before every last plot thread is woven into the tapestry of my story; or at the very least, not until I'm well into the writing of it all. Only then do I feel that I can give it a title that, after much personal debate, perfectly spells out what lies beneath.

I would love to be one of those writers prolific enough to come up with a title in those very beginning stages of writing. I can't help but wonder if being able to do so offers some extra sense of relief along the lines of, "Yup…I know exactly where I'm going with this one. Now I can just relax and get there."

But for me, unless, by chance, something strikes me right from the get-go, I usually need to go deep-down, forage for the plot a while, carefully unearth character motivation, and dig my fingers deep into the muck and mire of the piece, pulling the story out from whichever stone it's been ruminating under and hold it up in the sunlight (or moonlight, as the case may be). 

Until then, I'll be foraging.

Music: Mystical Sun – Dark Energy


[NWC] 

Checking In – Feb. 22, 2009

Back in January, when I was all gung-ho with plans to get more organized, take my writing more seriously and network with other writers, I started sending a weekly check-in to some of my favorite inkslingers in an attempt to stay on track and to build a community for those of us living the often times singular life of a writer.

Well, I think I lasted 2 weeks. And then life's little distractions (and responsibilities) took over, and I lost momentum.

While a weekly check-in may seem a little ambitious, I've decided to start posting my check-ins here – to maybe bring a few more of you along for the ride, to invite you to share your own goals and hopefully help keep you on track with them and/or, as I put it to my writing group, "at the very least, inspire you to write me into your next story where I die a gloriously melodramatic and bloody death!"

So, here's how I fared this past week:

How My Week Went
All in all, it was okay. Even though some people may think "Planning to write is not writing. Outlining, researching, talking to people about what you’re doing, none of that is writing. Writing is writing,” I managed to do a little bit of all of the above. And it all helped me in one way or another.

What I Did Well
– Finally, FINALLY finished The Lockwood Collection and sent it to my writing group for critique
– Moved on to another piece I've been thinking about for a while, with hopes to submit it to Sand
– tried to stay on track with 1KDay, thanks to the poking and prodding of fellow writers on Twitter

What I Can Improve On
– Continue updating my Daily Word Count on my blog to keep me on track
– Get back into the swing of updating the NWG website
– Update my blog more often so people remain interested and as JLK said, "I now do my blogs over at my website.  Frankly, I need the traffic to justify having the damned thing"

Sidenote #1: NWG is Nocturne Writers Group, my online critique group
Sidenote #2: for some reason I tend to abbreviate friends' names with their initials. Just a little quirk of mine

Goals for This Week
– finish the Sand piece and submit to NWG for critique
– read over The Lockwood Collection once more and send it to market
– finish my 3 other works-in-progress and find places to submit them
– continue with NWG updates, at least twice a week
– source some freelance projects
– keep posting to my writing blog, get more readers, more return readers!
– stop checking my inbox so often to see if my copies of Northern Haunts have shipped

What About You?
So, how was your week? Any big things in the works? What have you got planned for next week? Feel free to share, fellow scribes!

[NWC]

January Reflections

January ReflectionsInstead of simply writing when the mood strikes, I made a decision that in 2009, I would take my fiction writing more seriously, treating it as much as a business as I do my freelancing.

And while I was not as accomplished this January as some of my favorite writerly people I like to watch, I did manage to write 22 days in January.

Here's what happened:

Works-in-progress

  • The Lockwood Collection: currently pared down to just over 2000 words, working on it as we speak
  • The Hanging Garden: put on the backburner at 6775 words, I plan to get back to that one when The Lockwood Collection is finished

Ideas Brewing for:

  • Sand: A Journal of Strange Tales
  • Raw Terror Antho.
  • Return of the Raven

Since most of these stories are being written with specific markets in mind, I really need to get them finished and submitted before the deadlines!

Publications:

  • Northern Haunts was finally released and so far, I've had one person's feedback. I'm looking forward to more people reading it, and to receiving my bog box o'books that I ordered for my entire family!

If you've read Creepy Crawleys, please feel free to send me a little note and let me know what you thought about it.

I imagine my output will be much better this month, as I've decided to join an online writing buddy of mine (and a host of other nutters!) in his February Writing Challenge, in which we each try to write at least 1000 words a day, every day, no matter what. If you want to get in on the challenge, join us on Twitter and look for the posts tagged with #1kday

I'm looking forward to the challenge! I find I do well with clear-cut goals, like NaNoWriMo, though I might go a little insane, as I plan to finish/edit my book next month for NaNoEdMo.

But this is what I love. I can't say that enough – I LOVE it. I could never see myself doing anything else. And to think – I stopped writing for like 5 years there. No wonder I was so miserable (the photo above is proof positive!).

[NWC]