100

My 100th Post.

Thank you. Anyone reading this- I appreciate it.

I’m shocked to realize I’m at 100 already. This is the fifth or sixth blog I’ve started and none of them have gotten anywhere near to this point. It’s… crazy.

Here’s to the next 100!

Ready to write a novel?

NaNoWriMo starts today!

Want to write a novel? This is the best chance you’re going to get.

Is the timing bad? Working overtime? Babies underfoot? Three jobs?

Still the best chance you’re ever going to have.

It’s an entire novel in one month.

It’ll NEVER be convenient. It’ll never be easy. It’ll never be the right time.

And if you keep putting it off it’ll never get done.

Go to their website and sign-up. Put your pen name below and I’ll friend you, or you can find me- Shather.

Recap: Week 10

One Million Words Challenge

Recap: Week 10

OK, so I’m not doing so well at this. I know this is my common theme but it’s still true. I’ve been neglectful of my writing, and I am falling further behind. I’m still committed, still going to keep striving forward. I will do this. It’s just harder than I imagined.

Writing is fun for me. And reasonably easy.

Not this past month. It’s been hard to hit the totals this whole time, yes, but over the past month writing has been incredibly difficult. I’m struggling to write anything. I’ve journaled almost daily my entire life and last week I only wrote once. The words are stuck in my head. Additionally I feel scattered, distant, lethargic. My mind hops from one thought to another with no connections or warning, it’s hard to hold onto a train of thought. I can’t finish books, follow movies, have long conversations. It’s like the part of my head that keeps my attention in one place has been removed.

I have dealt with this my whole life- ADD, ADH, any set of initials they can throw at someone to say that their brain is active have been thrown at me. I’ve learned a lot over the years about how to help myself focused, how to pay attention, how to help myself stay on track.

But lately none of my tricks have been working and it’s frustrating. I feel like if I just had more discipline I would be OK, but I don’t have the discipline to get disciplined. Plus, discipline had never really helped me. I do best when I’m playing. Competing or taking a class work too- when I can convince my brain that something else is going on it will cooperate. I’m a loner, but I need people to stay on track. If I didn’t have such a busy summer ahead of me I’d form a writing group in the area, the closest ones I’ve found are over in the city. Still, even if I’m going to be moving soon it might be worth driving over for one even just for the next few months. I know from past experience that it does help to talk to other people and to feel like I have to keep up.

Also, re-reading The Artist’s Life reminded me about the idea of filling the well. Cameron talks about how if we do nothing but draw from our mind it will eventually run dry, especially during a very productive stage. It made me think- I’m demanding that my brain give me 3,000 words a day but I’m not giving it much to work with- few books, few movies, few events or fairs or new things to look at. Plus, I adore improv but I often feel mentally tired/drained after, as if it has sucked off my top level energy. The same energy I need for writing. So I’m writing and acting and creating and I’m not putting anything back in. And that is undoubtedly part of the problem.

On top of all that I am putting too much pressure on myself. I want to write something good. Something entertaining, fun, exciting. I’ve forgotten that all first drafts are shit, and that my first million words are practice. Hopefully I’ll get something good out of them but if I don’t it doesn’t matter, I’m learning. I need quantity, not quality. I tell myself that but remembering to believe it is a little harder. Maybe with enough repetitions it’ll eventually sink in.

That’s a big part of why I’m doing the million words challenge. I want to learn to make myself produce work even when I don’t want to, don’t feel like it, or have nothing to say. One of my career goals is to write for a TV series and if that is my job I won’t have the luxury of waiting until I feel inspired or have a great idea- I will have to sit down and write on a deadline and make it worth reading. This is my deliberate practice.

Here are my totals this week–

  • Journal 692
  • Brazil 4,505
  • MPs 6,804
  • Total 12,001
  • YTD 126,016
  • Where I should be 191,800

Pretending for $$$

This week I earned money for doing improv for the first time. It wasn’t a lot, and it’s not even a big deal, I have a lot of friends who routinely get paid to do shows.

That wasn’t the point.

The point was I realized it was the first time I’ve ever been paid for any kind of creative effort.

I got paid to make things up.

What a weird and amazing concept.

Recap: Week 6

This was a stressful week, but also an exciting one. Stressful because I had planned to have my novel ready to go out to readers this week but it’s going to be next week. And even that is going to take a lot of work, if I’m going to get it done on time. The actual edit is almost done but I still have to type all the changes in. On the upside, that will let me finally count all those words into my totals.

Exciting because I started a new project. I was looking for something I could work on that was larger than short stories, so I won’t have to think up new projects every couple of days. And I came up with one. Not quite ready to get into details but I’m excited about it and it will be a long-term project so it should keep me busy. Not so busy that I can’t work on blogging or side projects, even short stories if I have a great idea, but overall it should hold most of my attention for awhile.

Here are my totals this week–

  • Journal 1,496
  • Out Spaced* 4,683
  • MPs 6,804
  • Blog 1,467
  • Total 14,450
  • YTD 90,559
  • Where I should be 115,080

*This is my new project!

Too easy?

We have a mythology that tells us that writing is a torturous activity.

Believing that, we don’t even try it or, if we do, and we find it unexpectedly easy,

we stop, freeze up, and tell ourselves that whatever we are doing,

it can’t be “real” writing.

~Julia Cameron

The path... (3327236923)

Writing my novel (Raising Trouble) brought this phenomenon to life for me. I enjoyed writing the book. Loved it. Not every single word every single day but overall it was a great experience and a lot of fun. I didn’t feel like I was “missing out” on other stuff, like watching movies or tv. I was excited to be writing. And when I let myself write, instead of thinking about writing, it was easy.

Too easy. I was convinced, still secretly feel inside, that anything which flowed that easily cannot possibly be anything worth reading. That if the words come out without any trouble than they are no good. Never mind that my favorite art in the world is made up on the spot. Never mind that the speech I gave that got the best feedback of all was the one I dashed off a couple of hours beforehand. Never mind that the piece of writing which moved more people than any other piece I’ve ever written was finished and edited in one go, late at night. Yes- let’s forget all of that and assume that if something comes quick and easy it is worthless.

Not that there isn’t a place for editing and hard work to make something the best it can be before it goes into the world. I’m not talking about sloppiness. But rather the feeling that if it isn’t painful in can’t be good. That if I’m enjoying the process I must be messing it up somehow.

I’m trying to relax and trust that even if it feels too easy, and doesn’t take a lot of time, it still has a chance of being good. Or of being terrible. But whether it’s good or bad had nothing to do with how easily it flowed out.

So, I printed a book tonight

Tonight I printed out my book, working title is Temps, at Office Max. When the man helping me walked over I thought he had picked up a ream of paper to refill the machine. Then he sat it down in front of me and asked for my money. I stared at him, deer in the headlights.

 CAM00093

     My naive idea that it wouldn’t be too hard to do this thing was destroyed tonight. I knew it would be a lot of pages. I didn’t know it would be stack heavy enough to kill someone if I drop it on their head.

Where are all the good ideas?

 

When someone says to me, “I don’t have any good ideas… I’m just not good at that,” I ask them, “Do you have any bad ideas?”

Nine times out of ten, the answer is no. Finding good ideas is surprisingly easy once you deal with the problem of finding bad ideas. All the creativity books in the world aren’t going to help you if you’re unwilling to have lousy, lame, and even dangerously bad ideas.

The resistance abhors bad ideas. It would rather have you freeze up and invent nothing than take a risk and have some portion of your output be laughable. Every creative person I know generates a slew of laughable ideas for every good one. Some people (like me) need to create two slews for every good one.

One way to become creative is to discipline yourself to generate bad ideas. The worse the better. Do it a lot and magically you’ll discover that some good ones slip through.

~Seth Godin, Linchpin

 

This applies to every creative area of my life. And yours too, I’d wager. I immediately thought of improv and of how very often I freeze on stage. I don’t know what to say, nothing in my head sounds right; I shuffle through eighteen different phrases and then I realize it’s been too long and now the pause is awkward. I will say nothing rather than risk saying the wrong thing.

But while I was typing up the paragraph I realized how many other areas of my life this applies to as well. Blogging, for one. How often do I lament that I can’t think of any good ideas for posts? (answer? Every day) Yet how often do I sit at the table and write 25 terrible ideas down, just to see if a good one slips in? Almost never.

It’s too scary. If I have a good idea then I have no reason to not write. And if I write I have to post. And if I post you can read it. And if you read it you might not like it, or might think it was a bad idea, or might criticize it, or might even laugh at me (meanly). And if you do those things I might go into a spiral of hysterics and never recover. So simply avoiding having ideas at all is a much less mentally and emotionally dangerous.

 

2012

This is going to be an exciting year! Admittedly, most every year of my life is exciting but I’m extra pumped for this one. Last year was a year of major changes and I am continuing to follow through on them this year.A few of my favorite memories form last year-

  • Moved 1,500 miles, from TX to MN
  • Learned to knit
  • Wrote a short story I’m actually happy with
  • Discovered improv
  • Got my teeth fixed
  • Joined a church

Most of those carry over to this year as well. I’m not planning to move again this year, I miss the South on a regular basis, especially New Orleans, but MN is my home for now. It’ll be weird to stay in one place for more than a year but I’m going to give it a try.

My knitting is coming along nicely but I’m not very good at finishing projects. And unfinished projects are useless, so I want to focus on getting things done. I got a drop spindle for my birthday from my folks so a goal for this year is to learn to spin yarn. We’ll see how that goes.

I have several more short stories in the works, at various stages of completion. I’ve dug out a couple I started in the past and I’m attempting to finish them. Again, I’d like to work on completing things instead of just starting them and moving on. My ADD side hates that, I love to dabble but sometimes I need to finish what I start. And a few of these old stories have good bones, they just need to be finished.

Improv. What to say? Improv was the number one surprise of the year, and possibly the highlight. I saw my first show in March, having NO idea of what to expect and hated ¾s of it. But the ¼ I didn’t hate captured my imagination and sparked this crazy passion I now have. I signed up for my first class, started in April, as something fun to try but with no thought of ever doing anything more with it. It has turned into so much more, and I love it. Expect to see a lot of posts this year about improv and what I’m learning through it.

My teeth were a big deal. I broke a notch out of my front two when I was in elementary school. They’d been broken so long that when I finally got them fixed this summer I felt shy and hesitant, convinced they were too big. They certainty felt too big! Now I’ve adjusted to them and love them, it’s amazing how such a tiny thing can have such a massive impact on my self-image. Seriously, I’ve spent my entire life smiling in a way to ensure that they didn’t show. Now when I smile in a picture I try to remember to not do that, and I feel like a different person. This spring I’m supposed to have all 4 wisdom teeth taken out, something I’m not looking forward to in the least. And then we’ll talk about braces. I’m still on the fence about those.

I joined Sovereign Grace Community Church this summer. First time I’ve been a member of a church since my teens. Sometimes it still feels weird but it’s a good weird. I’ve had to adjust to people caring about me and noticing if I’m there or not. Honestly, the first few times someone asked why I’d missed church the week before it made me angry. It’s none of their business. But God has been showing me that it’s OK to let people see me, to notice me. It’s part of being in community. Not an easy part for me, Ms Independent to the extreme, but it’s a lesson I need to learn.

I have a lot of big goals for this year, crazy ones. Sometimes I look at them and I look at how many hours are in a week and I shake my head. Still, I’ve wasted a lot of time in my life and I don’t want to look back at 2012 and see the same pattern. I want to do stuff!

So…

What did you do last year that changed your life?

What are you doing this year to change it even more?

Stellar Stella

My project this weekend is the Stella Hat. This is my 5th cast-on of the same hat, the first 4 were ripped out with extreme prejudice. But this time round is coming along nicely. Also, I switched yarns. My first attempts were with acrylic and I just didn’t like it. This is a bamboo/wool blend I’d been wanting to try and I LOVE it. Super soft and easy to work with, plus it shows the stitches clearly.

Below is a chair my sister Sara painted this week. Such a great idea! One I’m going to steal if I ever move somewhere large enough to have furniture.

Are you working any any crafty projects this weekend that you’d like to share?

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