When I was in school I hated American History. I thought it was boring. I thought that since other countries had been around so much longer, they were obviously much more interesting.
Now that I am older, I am no longer so excluding. For the past few weeks I’ve been focused on the American Civil War. My attention was peaked last year when I did some family history research. It was more recently that I received a book of local ghost stories that pinged that interest again.
Then I spoke with another writer who I greatly admire. I told him that I had been thinking about writing a book that takes place during the civil war. I recounted what I had found out about my family, and he said: That sounds like a good place to start. Why don’t you?
That “Why don’t you?” Has been echoing around the empty cavern of my skull for weeks.
I tried to use the excuse, “Well, life has so many changes going on right now, with the new job and going back to school…”
My inner writer answered with, “You don’t work on the weekends and part of your degree is going to be in History anyway.”
Then the dragon of self doubt raised its head and said, “Do you really think you can find the time to write a book? Look how well that has worked in the past. You have three unfinished novels sitting on your computer right now. And remember that rejection letter. The one that hit the mark so well.”
The dragon almost got me. Then I remembered the rejection letter it was reminding me of was the catalyst I needed to pull up my boots and march back to school. The three unfinished novels reminded me that my current way of writing isn’t working very well and I need to try something new. (Not that those three will never be finished. Two are honestly in a rewrite stage but I changed things and got stuck in the muddle in the middle. Then proceeded to wallow in the muck.)
So now, with so many things already on my plate and with so many new challenges to face, I find myself stacking yet another task on top. I’m going to write a book.
I met this Monday morning slowly and with heavy eyes. I was awake before the sun but refused to get out of bed, hoping for a few last minutes of sleep that never came. I don’t really dread Mondays. It is just that there is so much to do on them. It seems like all of the things I was unable to accomplish from Friday just swell until the wave of errands breaks over me on Monday.
I’ve accomplished three tasks already, four if you count taking a shower. (I am not above padding the number of my accomplishments where I can. Especially if it helps me get motivated.) I fetched paperwork I need to fax off, found and acquired coffee, then took the trash down to the curb because it is collection day. All mundane tasks that have nothing to do with writing.
As far as writing goes, I’ve not done much. I checked my email and discovered another rejection slip. After that I showed up here to write a blog post. I really didn’t feel like writing this morning, but it is Monday so here I am.
I showed up. It isn’t much but they say 75% of writing is showing up to the computer even when you don’t want to. (I made that number up. There is a percent that is routinely quoted but I don’t remember what it is right now. 75% sounds about right to me.)
I have a long list of tasks that need to be accomplished today. I will be very surprised if I
get to them all. Many of them are boring things that take me out of the house and out among people I don’t want to talk to. However, if I am good and get at least half of my list done then I will reward myself by reading a book.
My daughter and I went to the Georgia Renaissance festival yesterday and I am longing to read a good fantasy novel. I am still tired, a little sore, and a little sunburned but it was worth it. We had a great time. Maybe I will write a fantasy story too.
Recently I was reading a book of short fiction by an author with more experience and success than I. The stories had interesting ideas driving them but then they fell flat. This author has been published traditionally and has marched the independent path. This particular work was indie published.
I am a big supporter of indie publishing. It gets more of what I like to read in my hands and provides writers with another way to get there stuff out there. It is a tool for the tool box. However, I am not sure I can finish reading this book.
It isn’t bad. Not really. I see some of my own mistakes made by this author and it irritates me. Also I doubt the author uses beta readers. That is a mistake I try not to make. (Not saying I’ve never made it, but I try not to get impatient and toss out stuff that isn’t ready.)
Beta readers are one of the most important tools a writer can have. You really do need that second pair of eyes. I know I have written about this before but it is still true. Fresh eyes and a fresh brain see things you will miss. If you spell the wrong word correctly, spell check isn’t going to catch it.
Often writers will read what is supposed to be there rather than what actually is. So get a beta reader. Two or three if you can. Bribe them. Beg them. Whatever it takes. I find coffee, the occasional lunch, or a free book work well for mine. Some will even do it just because they love to read. Make use of your bookish or grammar Nazi friends.
Those personality quirks that may annoy you in everyday life will be indispensable for your writing world.
There are days when I wake up refreshed and sit down at the computer with a smile on my face. Then there are days where I wake up from dreams of being ridiculed for daring to call myself an author. Days where the cat has knocked my glasses off of the night stand and I have an unexplained splinter in my palm. Days where I trudge out of my room on sore feet and step in cat vomit.
Hello Monday. Where is my coffee?
The sun hasn’t been awake long. It is just now kicking off the last of its night blanket. I feel like I have a long list of important things that has to be done today but right now I can’t name a one. I know it is trash day. I will have to roll the cans out to the curb. I haven’t let the dog out yet…I guess the rest will come after I’ve had coffee. Or after the kids wake up.
That is the thing with kids. You can have a whole plan free day and then your kid gets sick or wants to go to a friends house, or needs something and then suddenly the whole day is full.
I also had a post planned for today. It was something informative about writing. I didn’t write it down as I plotted it though, so now it is gone. Replaced with: “How did I get a splinter in my hand? Was it there yesterday and I didn’t notice? Or did I somehow manage to acquire it while I slept? How?”
Questions like that aren’t of interest to anyone else but I know it is going to bug me for the rest of the day.
It is a chilly Monday morning. The sun hasn’t risen yet but the moon sits heavy in the sky. The air is active, blowing the wisps of clouds across the still dark sky like wraiths flying home to beat the sunrise.
The wind chimes on my porch chink and twinkle sound. Nothing on my street is moving yet. It would be different if this were a typical Monday. Kids would be waiting at the bus stop and the houses would be lit from within as the people rushed around preparing for the day. But there is no school this Monday.
The bus stop kids are probably still snuggled in their beds, enjoying their last day to sleep in. Adults are probably still wrapped in blankets thinking five more minutes won’t hurt.
Right now, in this moment, everything is still except for the wind and the clouds. Right now everything is quiet except for the ring of chimes. It is cold standing on my front porch, still in my pajamas and bare feet, but this is a moment I am glad I didn’t miss.
I didn’t sleep the last twenty four hours of 2014. I did work half of it though. I also wrote one new short story and plotted another. All considered, it wasn’t really a bad way to spend the last day of the year. My kids came home from their dad’s house and we sat on the couch together this afternoon watching Myth Busters. At 15 minutes until midnight we changed the channel so we could watch the ball drop in Time’s Square and witness the birth of 2015.
Now we are taking our first steps into the New Year. Well, not physical steps. The kids and I are chowing down on pizza and watching cartoons. I guess that is not the healthiest start but we are all together. I hope being close with my kids and sharing moments is something that continues throughout the year.
I can’t predict how this year will go but I do hope to spend my time more wisely. I hope to not be as wasteful with my minutes and hours. I hope to laugh and share joys. I hope tears are short lived unless they are from happiness.
Here is to a brand New Year, may we reach worthy goals and share our happiness so that it is multiplied among those we hold dear.
I am sitting on my couch with a warm cup of tea to my left and a cat taking up most of my lap. The cat, Casper, is making it very difficult to type; but in typical cat fashion he is ignoring my problems and attempting to shove his head under the keyboard to keep the light out of his eyes.
My son is also asleep on the couch and he occasionally kicks me. This makes the task of writing even more interesting. Both kids have been down with the flu. They are starting to feel better now though.
I am not yet caffeinated and it is a quarter to five on a Sunday morning. I should be asleep but my face hurts. My sinus are acting up. I took medicine but it has yet to kick in.
So why am I posting here on this dark cold early morning? Heck if I know. I sat down and needed to write and this is where I ended up. Maybe it is guilt for missing last Monday.
I’ve been having one of those “I am an awful writer” moods, where I want to give the whole thing up, toss in the towel, and let the writing ship sail off without me. I have these from time to time. I doubt I’ll actually “give up” but I am depressed about it. Eventually, I will give myself a swift kick in the pants and get back to work. Hopefully it will be sooner rather than later.