Time to Reclaim the Narrative

 

It is 10:30 on Friday night and this is the first time in the entire week that I haven’t had to answer to anyone or do anything for anyone else.

I am a mother and a wife. At any given moment, I’m under pressure to change a diaper, give a kiss, give a hand job, make a dinner, prepare a lunch, make an appointment, chaperon at a park, be a good listener, scrub a floor, fix a television, queue up a children’s show, give a critique, look beautiful, stop snoring

satisfy

satisfy

satisfy.

All week long my duty is to satisfy a need. All week long, I defer my wants and dreams in order to satisfy the needs of a 2 1/2 year old, a 1 1/2 year old and a husband. Peripherally, I am sometimes asked to satisfy the needs of my mother, step-father, sister, father, step-mother friends, former co-workers, neighbors…. anyone who I know who has a need.

and it is 10:30 at night all three of the men in my life are in bed, sleeping, not needing me.

So I’m sitting here, blogging, exhausted, wondering where the hell all of my creative energy went. Wondering how in the world I am going to get creative this weekend and keep on moving forward toward this dream that I’ve been dreaming for a very long time.

I’ve decided that I’m going to change the tempo of this narrative. When it comes to how I think about writing and how I write about writing, it is time to change the pace.

I love blogging. I have a mommy blog next door that I post to three times a week. I’m going to continue to blog over there regularly because I’ve built up a cool community that I don’t want to let go of. I’ve been sitting here wondering about what I want to do with this space–right now, it’s serving as a weird task list on the internet. That hasn’t garnered much of a following, and quite frankly, it’s getting depressing. I get the impression that this is how early writing careers really start: With fits of brilliance and success and longer periods of not meeting goals. If you are a regular reader, you’ve seen this. I’ve had a run of a few really good weeks of pumping out a short story and a flash fiction and getting stuff edited and feeling accomplished.

But I’ve had many more weeks of making excuses and biting off more than I can chew.  Then coming to this blog and having to write about my failures doesn’t make me want to write… that’s not true. It does make me want to write and be better, but not for positive reasons. Not for reinforcing reasons. The tempo and melody of this narrative must change if I’m going to transform myself from a stay-at-home mommy dreamer into a published author.

Essentially, this blog is a dead space. I really hate that, because I love blogging and I want to share my process with you.

So I am, but just not as frequently and not in the way that I have. The task list will look different and the posts will be reduced to once a week. I’m going to blog in this way–a narrative way, a way true to my voice and my reflections of the week rather than a bullet by bullet weekly power point.

Because when I look back, success or failure, on this blog, I want to know that my voice was shining through for the entire time. That hasn’t really been the case, but the power of this space and this larger journey is that I can change it when and how I want to.

I know that there are a few of you, (I see you, Jeff Kent!)  who read me regularly. To you, I say Thank You because it means a lot to me that this space is something to someone. I know that some of you read my mommy blog and found your way over here (or vice versa), and I’m going to admit that some of the mommy blog is going to bleed through over here. But not totally. I want this space to be about my dream and about my ideas and about my struggles and triumphs, not about my life as a stay-at-home mother. But Ursa Major and Ursa Minor are a huge part of my day-to-day life (and the two biggest excuses for why I haven’t been writing) so their development is going to come up more over here.

Because my day job (and night job) are important and they aren’t going to change. So instead of divorcing them from this dream that I am dreaming, I’m going to integrate them into the narrative.

Because my narrative is powerful, and a driving force for why I’m here and why I’m working so hard. And my narrative is going to be the reason why I’ll keep writing and I’m praying that you’ll choose to read.

So thank you for your time. And your thoughts. And I’ll see you every Friday from now on. I’ll post excerpts of work that I’ve done, I’ll post full flash fictions because I love Chuck’s challenges, I’ll tell you where I triumphed, where I failed, and why.

and if I spend less time blogging, I should have more time to write fiction. And writing fiction is what I want to do…

and if I get better and more consistent with writing fiction, well then, I’ll blog a little more. Because I really love blogging.

So see you next Friday, and every Friday here after. And thank you for reading my blog. And if you are curious about a crazy black stay-at-home mom and her two beautiful bi-racial sons, please feel free to pop over to my mommy blog.

Writer’s Wednesday: Moving + Toddlers +Editing a short story = Pipe Dream

 

 

An Excerpt from a conversation with my muse:

 

Me: Hey.

Muse: Hey.

Me, looking down, sheepish: Want to work on that short story that we wrote a few weeks ago? Members of the group are waiting for the rework.

Muse, hands on her hips: Are you fucking high? Aren’t you moving on Saturday? Aren’t there only a million items on your task list?

Me, abashed, still not making eye contact: Yes…But I thought that we could steal away a little bit of time….you know, to stay sane?

Muse, not impressed, stepping forward menacingly: Girl, I can hear your boys in the nursery not sleeping right this second. How much time did you really think you were going to steal?

Me, looking up with doe eyes: 30 minutes, maybe?

Muse: [maniacal laughter] You really are high!

Me: [Turns and walks away, defeated]

 

I am moving on Saturday and I can tell you, my apartment is in shambles. It is very difficult to think under these circumstances, let alone create. And when I’m doing doing the packing on this side, I have to do all of the unpacking on that side. So, you know, my life is awesome.

So don’t expect to hear from me. I’ll check in on Monday or so to let you know that I’m alive. But at the moment, I’m going on a bit of hiatus so as to lighten this stressful load.

I’m sorry to disappoint, but I promise that I’ll write on the other side of this!

Optimism Monday: Moving to an apartment, purchasing a house, and writing?

We are moving in two weeks, and I’m trying to keep it together. After having such a productive week last week, I’d like to keep the momentum going, but this might have to come to a full freaking stop in a few days. We’re moving to a really great new townhouse next week in preparation of my eldest son starting preschool in September. I am so excited and worried I can’t keep my head straight. To make things more complicated, My husband and I encountered a house last week that I’m absolutely in love with. I can’t stop thinking about it. Of course, signing a lease for an apartment only to turn around and sign up for a mortgage makes things interesting… lots to think about. In the meantime, I still have to keep appointments and entertain little babies. My life is a hot mess. 🙂

Let’s go to the boards:

1) Accountability, the prequel for Before Her Time, was well received and torn to pieces by my writing group. I have a lot of work to do this week, and that will be my first priority.

2) If I can, I’d like to rewrite and expand Before Her Time, and have that ready for posting to the group by Friday.

3) Chuck’s weekly challenge involves the plot generator this week. I’ve hit that button about 100 times in the course of 3 days, and I encountered about 3 viable ideas. I’m going to try to find a prompt, but if something doesn’t pop and speak to me by tomorrow morning  his might be a wash.

That is seemingly short, but that represents about 8,000-9,000 words worth of work. Let’s hope I can pull it off!

Hope you have a word-packed week ahead of you!!

Best Practices: Going Analog to Get The Story

I absolutely love my Moleskines. I have three: My “home” journal that keeps all of my various notes and things regarding running life as a family of four. My “project” journal, which contains most of my major projects (including my blog organization and sometimes story outlining). I recently discovered a larger 8×10 Moleskine of mine that had been buried in a box and it is perfect for just dedicating to story writing. Super portable, it fits in my diaper bag and my purse, so now I can take it with me when I’m walking around with the boys. They play, I write. It’s perfect!

I’m currently writing a prequel for Before Her Time, and I’m having a hard time not being distracted by technology. The main character, Tori, is a fictional duchess, and I want to make sure that I get enough details regarding English peerage right so as to not take readers out of the story. Her nobility isn’t central to the story, but people will make enough assumptions that they’ll have certain expectations about behavior, language, location and so forth. Well, I don’t live in England and I’m not schooled on nobility (I actually find it distasteful), so I have to go looking for just the right detail to make it work.

Being lost in Wiki/Google doing research cane sometimes be exhausted. While I’m certainly learning, I’m not writing, and writing is the goal.

So I’ve turned to my trusty story Moleskine to help, even when I’m at home. No research, no google, no wondering…just writing. It is very satisfying to see a few pages full of my chicken scratch in this notebook. I also like having an analog record of my thoughts and inspirations.

I am by no means abandoning my computer. Writing digitally has its own satisfaction, but going old-school has a lot of perks. My Moleskine doesn’t crash….though it can get lost, or blend in with all of the other notebooks in the universe. I love the color Black, I really do, but I wish that had different and more rad colors! I also have a thing about ink stains on my fingers. I know, that’s silly.

I have 2,000 words more of this story to write. Then I have to perform a preliminary edit before I can think about submitting it for critique. I have two little boys that really need to get out and run around this week, though it’s hot at balls outside. This is the life of a woman trying to do it all.

What do you do to “get the story”? What are your favorite tools of the trade?

Writer.Mama: Every Minute Counts

 

My eldest son has been boycotting the daily nap all week, and I gotta tell you, it took all the wind out of my sails.

That twoish hours every day is so crucial to my life. It’s a time to engage in adult stuff–like writing, or reading, and evacuating my bowels without company. Usually, my golden two hours starts with a shower and ends with a blog post (and a few paragraphs of fiction, if I can muster). But not this week. This week, it’s been about chasing, and chatting, and changing diapers. This boy, literally, had three poopie diapers in a 2 hour span during what was supposed to be his nap time. I was like, you’re killing me!!!!

Today is the first day this week that he’s taken a nap, and oh my God, it’s such a wonderful day.

And do you know how I’ve spent my time (other than watching closing arguments of the Zimmerman trial)? I washed my hair.

I’ve been locking my hair for a little over a year now. I’ve been natural for almost 5 years now, but I didn’t start contemplating locking until after Ursa Major was born. I was trying to grow out my hair, I didn’t really want to deal with it all the time, so I started with two strand twists that I would take out every two to three weeks. My hair grew like gangbusters… and when I became pregnant with Ursa Minor a whole 7 months after I’d give birth to Ursa Major, well, I just decided to keep it up.

But two babies and trying to do major hair projects every three weeks was not sustainable. It was time to come up with something else. I liked the way my hair looked when I had it in twists, so why not make it permanent? Here we are thirteen months later and it was the best decision that I’ve ever made. I make my own mixes of organic creams to put in my hair, I put it up in pretty twists when I’m going out, I keep it wrapped in beautiful fabric when I’m at home…I feel beautiful and powerful all the time now. My hard work has brought me shoulder-length hair… a freaking big deal!

But washing the hair is a weekly/bi-weekly treat, and I had to keep postponing because someone wouldn’t nap. So today was the day, and damn was it energizing!

That time with the steam and the sound and the smell of my organic lavender conditioner…that time with no little questions and no slamming of toys… that little tiny bit of time unburdened is absolutely essential to life. It’s liberating and wondrous. It’s uplifting for the soul. Comfort food for the skin and hair and mind.

It’s the little things that can burden the mind or set it free. Two little extra hours of my toddler can actually zap all of my energy for the  rest of the day. The taking away of the renewal periods, the breathing periods, the relaxing periods… it can take away any and all hope of clear thinking and creative energy.

I love motherhood, and what I’ve found is that motherhood has given an extra urgency to my day. Every single minute of my day counts: Toward their needs, my dreams for them, my personal goals, and the daily obligations running a household. But that last 30 minutes of my life that I dedicated, selfishly, to only me was just as important as the time I’m spending writing this post, or the time I’ll spend preparing tonight’s dinner, or even the many minutes I’ll spend wiping dirty fannies.

So cheers to every single minute. The selfish ones, the productive ones, the ones in devotion to those who you love. I hope that you, too, will find a serene moment today. I’m off to add shea butter, jojoba oil, castor oil, and monoi oil (all organic) to my hair and wrap it in beautiful fabrics. It’s the things that make us feel powerful that bring out the best of our creativity. It’s not vanity.  It’s honoring the temple where our mind and muse reside.

Optimism Monday: Another week of writing, another week to be grateful…

 

I write with the reflection and understanding that I wouldn’t be able to enjoy this beautiful day and the freedom to write the words that I want to if not for the many men and women who willingly choose to stand guard in hostile places so that we may all be free. I write in gratitude this week, for the men and women who devote their lives to this wonderful country, and to their incredible families who wait for their return. Words cannot fully express my gratitude to you, but the least I can do is say Thank You.

So Thank You.

Here is my writer’s task list for the week. We had success last week, so let’s do it again!

 

1. 3 Blog posts plus a bonus. We’ll slowly build to five posts a week.

2. Put up Missed Opportunity for critique and integrate critique into a true final.

3. Write a Flash Fiction for this week’s challenge, which has to do with psychics and what not. I chose Divination… I’m not going to lie, I’m not wholly excited about this challenge (paranormal doesn’t turn me on as a reader, so it isn’t singing to me as a writer.) We’re gonna challenge ourselves and make it work! (And my offer still stands. I’ll link to yours if you link to mine!)

4. Dedicate this week to Junia and Tinsley, the last two characters of my novel to work on. I’m excited to be finishing this phase of character building. Gotta try to stay on schedule so that I can start writing on August 1st. It’s so close and yet so far and there is must more to do!

 

It’s a “short” week, but I feel like the weeks are never short for writers. There is too much to do! Let’s try to complete our task lists together. What are you working on?

Inspiration from two places today

 

After I put the boys down for a nap, I got real cozy with my laptop, left over muffins from breakfast and a glass of water. It was go time: Time to re-write Never a Day, the story that I decided that I was going to rewrite from scratch.

I opened up a Gchat window with my sister, who is an artist (like, a real one, with a real degree from a real art school. She’s amazing). My line was pretty easy ” ’bout to start this rewrite.”

“Good luck and Godspeed.” She wrote back in encouragement.

I wrote two sentences and went back to chat. “How has your week been?”

“Pretty good. I’m working on some master classes. Watching the Xbox reveal right now.”

Now, I’m a gamer girl. I’ve been all my life. Next Gen consoles have been in my peripheral, but not really because I know that they are crazy out of our price range right now (We’re about to slap down major money for a house and then a preschool for my son. $500 consoles is not currently in the budget). Nonetheless, I’m a gamer girl, so I needed a link immediately to watch.

And boy was I mystified. I was late to the Xbox bandwagon. I’ve never lived in a house without a Nintendo in it, and indeed, we have every Nintendo console in this apartment. For our “core” games, we’re more Playstation people. But from time to time, the Xbox 360 gets turned on for this or that. I pay more attention when Sony starts talking mostly because my favorite franchises happen to be on that system…but today, today, I was really impressed by Xbox One.

But this post isn’t really about Xbox One as a console. This post is about the idea of XBox One. This notion that this little box is going to be the new filter between me and media content. That filter is going to monitor everything that I do while I consume media–be it gaming, watching a sitcom, watching breaking news unfold…this box is going to know.

and that got me thinking about Sci Fi. Is this the beginning of that centralized Vid box in just about ever sci fi novel/movie in the universe? The sole source of all entertainment?

And what about happen if the box really did listen to us while we watch television? What if it watched us? What if it fed back that data to companies in real time? What if it fed it back to government?

My mind is racing with an awesome short story idea: What would happen if a Katrina-like event happened, and a device like this new Xbox monitored the national reaction to it on an individual level? What if government actually made decisions (like if certain parts of an effected city would get aid) based on that reaction? What would that look like?

I’m going to find out by writing it on Saturday. I’m so freaking pumped. I don’t necessarily know if the disaster will be a hurricane (that’s a bit obvious) but the confluence of race/class/government/media really interest me, and I’m going to play with them in this context. Can’t wait! Will post an excerpt this weekend!

My second source of inspiration came from Never a Day, the short story that I sat down to write in the first place. Victor, the character who has survived all of the re-writes of this thing, found himself sitting in the principal’s office reading his class assignment in Animal Farm. I loved it when my students started reading Animal Farm in their reading class. I taught history, but the reading teacher and I were close friends, so I often popped into her classroom when she was reading Animal Farm with the kids. I went for my copy of it to find an appropriate quote to put in this short story. And I started reading. Ohhh the parallels between urban charter schools and Animal Farm. Ohhh the new possibilities for this little short story that I keep trying to write. And what a short little book! I’m going to breeze through this in an evening.

There are good things happening here. The mind is working over time. It is so nice to feel good after a week of significant setbacks. I hope to have an excerpt of my newest edition of Never a Day during this weekend as well.

 

What is inspiring you lately? What makes your Muse whisper to you?