Refocusing, again

I’ve been really struggling to get back on top of things (namely any kind of routine) since we all got sick over a month ago. I got behind on absolutely everything I possibly could have, and have been struggling ever since to catch up.

I’m still not finished ticking tasks off my to-do list. But I’m getting there.

Unfortunately, I still have no routine, and since getting my most recent assignment in a week ago, I’ve been floundering. Well, I’ve decided that a week is enough and it’s time to get back to work. Perfect timing, really, because my writers group had a critique session on Friday night which means I can now get stuck into the revision of Burn with those notes in mind.

I’m excited to work on Burn for several reasons – it’ll mean I get something ready for submission (and gosh it’s been so long!), I have a fond feeling towards the story which I’ve not even read since finishing it, and it’s also great practice for when I start work on Sun-Touched. I’ve finally settled on it as the novel I’m going to finish, and it feels really good to commit to something after spending so long undecided.

The next few months will see a whole lot of change, which I’ll talk about in a post of it’s own, but I need to make sure that I’ve got some kind of routine down or I am going to find myself falling off the focus wagon again. And I don’t want that. I have another assignment on the horizon, submission deadline up ahead, and my health and well being to balance as well.

But let me assure you that life is grand. I’m sitting on a good deal of excitement and that’s an awesome place to be. I have so much hope inside. And I know that I can do this, do everything that I have chosen to include in my life.

Reflecting back, I had such high hopes for July. But that’s okay. I got my novella finished, and I got my assignment in. Those were the two most important things that needed to happen. August is just around the corner, and I’m looking forward to it.

How has July been for you? Did you achieve your goals? Or did you have to shuffle things around a bit?

Round 3*

I now have 2/3 crits back for Mocha Nihilism, and while I am tempted to completely ignore them (not in the way you might think!) I will be a good girl and read through before launching into my massive reworking.

Because rework, I shall! I am so excited. I’m finally going to be one of those writers that hacks their MS up and rearranges it.

I’ve been reading Plot & Structure by James Scott Bell, and it’s really helped me to figure out how to make a work stronger. As it stands, Mocha Nihilism is a fun story, it’s a decent read – but it’s not as good as it could be. I feel like I am graduating from one level of ‘writer’ to another, because now I can see that if I rearrange things, if I up the ante, if I push the work harder, I can make it the best it can be. And then, I’ll be satisfied.

I’m aware that in part this is because I have more energy. The further away from that newborn stage I get, the more drive I have to work harder at my writing. I’m done with ‘good enough’, I’m done with settling, with being a lazy writer. The only way to grow, and learn, is to experiment and put new information into action.

I’m not going to wait until February to get on with this. I have a lot of new material to write – but I am going to have a much more in depth plan this time, and a lot of what I have can be re-used.

Exciting times, folks!

*you know, whenever I think ’round 3′ or 1, or 2 for that matter, the voice in my head is ALWAYS that from Mortal Kombat. And I think I might have mentioned this before… I feel like it’s been said. And then the mortal kombat music starts playing…ah those were the days…

Huzzah!

I finished the second draft of Mocha Nihilism today *grins*

I’m going to bask in the glow of another completed stage in the process for the rest of the year, and push aside any niggles and doubts I have. I’ll ignore the fact that I think I rushed the ending again, and that there are inevitably bits missing. It’s not at it’s final self yet, so it doesn’t have to be perfect.

It is a lot of things: a hell of a lot better than the first draft, a fun story, light and enjoyable, another learning experience, another step closer to having work out in the world. Yes, a lot of good things.

Merry Christmas to me – I’m taking tomorrow off! I’ll be back to some form of writing on Boxing Day, reading through the first short story on the list and making notes for how to improve it. I’m excited about that, which feels good, and have started making notes (hand written even) for Saving Tomorrow, which also feels great.

I plan to spend January dedicated to Saving Tomorrow, with Mocha Nihilism out for critique, and the aim of reading through all the feedback and getting my bearings at the start of February. Christy, Wes and the others should be well out of mind by then and I can look at it with fresh eyes.

Ah yes. A good way to go into Christmas. I feel fantastic!

A public ‘thanks’

I just wanted to take a moment to publicly thank Merrilee Faber.

For those of you who don’t know her, she is awesome, as pretty much everyone who does know her will attest to. She is a fabulous writer, and an amazing supporter of other writers.

And she managed to help me avoid miring myself in a swamp of writer misery this morning, for which I am very grateful for.

I’ve been sick for too long, and it’s now school holidays. Time is so very limited and to be honest, as much as I really want to write, and I DO REALLY WANT TO, my brain is a mess. I’m overloaded with gunk and it’s just not happening. Not easily, not well.

Merrilee, however, has this uncanny knack of telling me what I need to hear. No matter my mood, she can get me to see the positives and help me get my brain firing in more creative ways again. Not only that but she is one of the few writer friends I can trust to be totally brutally honest with me. I appreciate that more than anything else.

I have friends and family who can make me feel good, who can tell me that they love my stories, but only another writer can really get to the heart of what the problems are, and only a writer who really wants to see you do your best can be honest enough to tell you what you might not want to hear.

Merrilee does that for me on a regular basis. She’ll tell me when I’m being cliched. She’ll tell me when I’m letting myself down, and more importantly, she’ll challenge me to do better.

If you have a writer friend who is totally honest with you – thank them now. They will do more for your development than 100 kind souls. It’s critique which pushes us forward and drives us to create amazing things, not praise. Besides, it also means that when she does tell me something is good, I know I can trust her on that 100%.

So thank you, Merrilee. Keep on being your honest self – I’ll always appreciate it.

20,000 views!

It was a quiet goal that I wanted to reach 20K views before the baby arrived and yay, thank you everyone who has been reading because somewhere in the last day I crossed that line!

I remember when I first realized that people were actually reading my posts, and then the first time my mother commented on my blog was another one of those ‘wow’ moments. People are actually reading… sadly, I never took that on board much so I still just mostly post what I feel like when I feel like it ;-)

Anyways, some of you will know its been another one of those weeks. I mean, I really need to catch a break! All good though. I finally got some decent sleep last night (consider me an amber teething necklace convert – nothing else was different but the girl only woke at 2am for a quick feed, after sleeping 7hrs straight and hell, that almost never happens even when she’s not teething). I’m filled with hope that perhaps this means she’ll be sleeping better for the most part from now on, but she IS a toddler, so nothing is definite and I wouldn’t put money on it just yet lol.

I’m feeling more alive this morning, more positive in general, its good. And, I’m going to get my hair cut this morning which is very exciting! Just at a walk in place because last time I made an appointment while pregnant baby arrived the day before and I really didn’t want that happening again. More on baby stuff tomorrow, which is when I hit 36 weeks!

I have done some writing this week amazingly, and the story is coming together slowly but still forming and thats the main thing. I’m not getting a lot closer to being finished with my crit work due to extreme tiredness (going to be at 7pm? Not really conducive to getting anything done at all! lol). Fingers crossed this necklace continues to help and I continue to feel more alive. Considering the news I got about a family member yesterday, a little sleep deprivation is looking pretty minor right now anyway.

Okay! it’s almost 7am, and the kids are fed and dressed, so it’s time to launch into operation ‘housework’. I’m hoping to get the bulk of it done so that when we get home from our morning in town I can just… well, do a lot of nothing other than writing/critting should the urge hit. Or maybe I’ll nap again, it actually worked out reasonably well yesterday.

On form again

And I’m feeling gooooood!

I completed the rewrite of a story yesterday, and just polished it a bit now. I’m going to submit it in a couple days when I’m sure that there is nothing blatantly obvious that needs working on. I also sent off my flash fiction piece this afternoon after polishing that up as well.

YES!

By the end of the week I’ll have 3 pieces out into the world, and I’m really thrilled about that. Now to pick the next piece to work on and get stuck into it. I’m hoping it will be an easy pick and that I don’t get derailed somehow. Something to mull over for the rest of the day while I try and get some critique work done and out the door.

Balancing these things is something I’m still not fantastic at – it seems to be an all or nothing kind of thing. I’m either just working on my own stuff, or just looking at other peoples. I’m very aware of the fact that I need to clear my desk though, and to that end I’ve mostly stopped saying ‘yes’ to the people asking me if I have time to read stuff.

Mostly… *grins* it’s hard to say no to some people when I can pretty much guarantee I’ll enjoy the story!

Anyway. On with the critiquing while the baby sleeps. I’m counting down the days of school holidays (three, including the weekend, but not today as it’s more than half done). YES!!!!!!!!!! I can’t wait to get back to our normal routines, even though the beginning of Term 2 marks the downward count to baby’s arrival. 11 weeks to go folks!

Just had to edit to add that after declaring 11 weeks, baby started kicking the hell out of me as if to say ‘if you’re lucky!’

Things that give me a buzz

I’m talking about writing here, not substances or events, just so we’ve got that out of the way ;-)

Lately a few things have been happening that just make me go ‘yeah!’ when it comes to writing, and the fact that I’d been feeling flat for a week meant that it was really good timing.

I sent quite a hard critique to someone and had no idea how they might take it. I’ve worked with this person before on a novel of theirs, but this was the first time I’d had to be quite harsh. I hoped that it wouldn’t ruin our writing relationship, and was pleasantly surprised when the email I got back was enthusiastic and appreciative of the comments I’d given – it’s so great to know when you are working with people who are eager to learn and improve their writing, gives me such a buzz and makes me want to try even harder myself.

I also read through one of the stories I finished last week and realized it was nowhere near as bad as I originally thought! Then I sent it off to a relatively new writing friend to get their take on it. Testing out the waters as such – what I got back was a really great set of comments which really honed in on where I could make the story better and where it worked well. Love it when I get a good crit! (By good I mean helpful, someone telling me I’m awesome is not helpful or good).

And Merrilee read Snow White for me and gave me some good feedback there too, though I’m still trying to hash out how to improve that one. I know it’ll get there soon enough! I have some other notes from Karen and another reader, so it will get there. I have hope.

I’m feeling like I’m getting back on track. I have four short stories that are complete and need reworking, which is a damn side closer to the 6 I wanted than I thought I was. Somehow, within a few days and with very little actually happening I went from feeling like I was never going to reach my goal to realizing that I wasn’t too far off it and might even manage to have more than 6 short stories to submit by the time this baby makes it into the world.

That’s a pretty awesome feeling. Sometimes I guess all it takes is a little bit of buzz from the other writers in your life to make you look at your own pile of work in a different light.