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.

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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!

Accountability Friday: Excuses, Excuses

 

I wish I had been as productive this week as I was last week. Unfortunately, life got in the way. I’m not a girl who likes to give excuses, and I don’t even think that the excuses that I have are terribly legit this week. But I’m preparing myself for being a bit unproductive over the next few weeks. I’m moving. With 2 toddlers. and I’m traveling alone this weekend. I’m hoping to get a lot of writing done during the down-times that I’ll have over the next 24 hours. We’ll see what the brain cooks up.

 

In the mean time, Accountability was not totally reworked this week. It’s close, and it has ballooned by almost another 1500 words (good words), but it isn’t complete yet. This weekend, I’m going analog to rewrite Before Her Time. 

 

See you next week!

Accountability Friday: Accomplished and feeling good.

 

I wrote somewhere in the ballpark of 6500 words this week. More if you count all of the times I just wiped out 500 words of progress. I can’t believe how much I did this week and I can’t wait to continue the positive momentum.

Let’s go to the boards:

1) I freaking must finish the prequel for Before Her TIme. I am 2,000 words into this thing, and it shows no signs of stopping. I think that I’m allllmoooosssstttt there, but I think that I have another 2,000 words more before this story is complete. Excerpt by Friday. EXCERPT BY FRIDAY!!!! (roar!)

Done and done. I feel sooo goood about this.

2) Flash Fiction for Chuck this week? Let’s pick a line right now… Here we go: “That plan didn’t fly, superhero, and now we’re short a bazooka.” I liked this line the first time I read it and it has been with me all weekend. I envision a wedding. Let’s see.

Done and done. I actually got some positive feedback on what I created for this one, too.

3) Write out 1000 words of a YA concept that I have. I’m going to guard this one close to the vest because I think that the idea is interesting and viable. I might share this with my writing group before I put it on this blog. Well… maybe I’ll share a little bit. We’ll see. :)

1000 words were written, unfortunately, they aren’t really getting my motor running. This story is going to be my big project next week while I’m still garnering feedback from Accountability.

4) Start the rewrite for Before Her Time. Notice I said “start.” Very ambiguous! Let’s see if we can make that a 100 word minimum, just so I don’t get cute and write only one sentence.

Annnnddd done.

 

I’m out of words this week. I’m going to write a little bit tonight just so I can get the YA story off the ground (and I might work on the Before Her Time remake, too), but I have come to the end of my words this week. I’m feeling so good this week.

I hope that you had a productive week as well. Let’s have inspiring weekends so that we can get back to it on Monday!

Writer Wednesday: Tripped Over that First Hurdle

 

Ohhhhmygoodness it’s Wednesday. Already. How the hell did that happen. I swear, I have been writing, but clearly I’m not accomplished! Too much left to do this week!!! Roar! Let’s go to the boards:

 

1) I freaking must finish the prequel for Before Her TIme. I am 2,000 words into this thing, and it shows no signs of stopping. I think that I’m allllmoooosssstttt there, but I think that I have another 2,000 words more before this story is complete. Excerpt by Friday. EXCERPT BY FRIDAY!!!! (roar!)

Can I tell you, I’ve written somewhere in the ballpark of 5,000 words for this short story. Unfortunately, I’ve deleted about 3,000 words of work between Monday and now. I kept writing things, losing steam, staring at my computer, feeling stuck, and then deciding to go in a completely different direction. I did this a good 4 times, writing an average of 800 words before deciding that I went down the wrong path. I think I found the right direction, but I’m at 2079 words despite all the work I’ve done!! SO FRUSTRATING!!!! This story will be finished. By Friday. Come hell or high water!

2) Flash Fiction for Chuck this week? Let’s pick a line right now… Here we go: “That plan didn’t fly, superhero, and now we’re short a bazooka.” I liked this line the first time I read it and it has been with me all weekend. I envision a wedding. Let’s see.

*sigh* What the hell, man… I have a good idea for this one…but I am not going to do it unless I finish this short story. The goal is to get to this tomorrow night…

3) Write out 1000 words of a YA concept that I have. I’m going to guard this one close to the vest because I think that the idea is interesting and viable. I might share this with my writing group before I put it on this blog. Well… maybe I’ll share a little bit. We’ll see. :)

 

Yeah…studies show this isn’t going to happen given the pace of what I’ve accomplished so far this week.

4) Start the rewrite for Before Her Time. Notice I said “start.” Very ambiguous! Let’s see if we can make that a 100 word minimum, just so I don’t get cute and write only one sentence.

augh!!! So much bitten off this week. There is, like, NO FREAKING WAY this is going to happen!!!

 

Ohhhhhhhhh the pain! The agony of faaaailllllluuuurreeeeeee!!!!

SOMETHING is going to get done this week!

I’m done whining. Time to go write!

Accountability Friday: Ohhh the Indignity

Man, I don’t even have any excuses for a week. This week was just a hot mess for fiction. Let’s go to the disaster:

1) At least 4 posts this week.

Ok, so I did that.

2) Continue World Building, producing some material that will be good enough to use for plotting.

Not even a chance. And now that I know that I’ll be moving the first week of August, I don’t know how I’m going to be capable of starting this novel August 1. That’s fine, because I can’t plot in July because I’ll be flippin’ packing. Looks like we might be moving everything back to October 1 at this rate!

3) Develop one of the two short stories that I found inspiration for over the weekend.

Now, I did do this. I’m 1381 words into The Hand That Feeds You, a concept that I’m really excited about. I’m on draft zero right now, but I’m hoping to have something done and ready for critique by next Wednesday or so.

4) Work on a Flash Fiction, but not the one that Chuck posted. Work on another one.

Nope. Didn’t happen. Didn’t even come close to happening. But I’m super pumped about this week’s challenge!

5) Finish personal market spreadsheet, pick a few magazines, send off my two lit fic short stories.

Didn’t happen. All of the windows are still open, didn’t even glance at them.

 

So, fail failing fail? I shall deny myself beer this weekend as penance for my actions…and since Sam Adams Summer Ale is my second favorite beer, and the window for drinking it is so damned short, this is a high price to pay indeed!

 

The Power of Critique and My Funky Writing Week

 

I know that it’s Accountability Friday, and I really should break out my task list right now to show my failures.

Fuck it. Let’s just go ahead and do that:

1. Aside from the 3 progress report posts, write 2 blog posts about my writing and who I am writing for.

I didn’t even get through my normal 3 this week! I am going to be thinking more about this blog and platform, and figuring out a way to make it more doable as well as successful.

2. Write a 1000 word Flash Fiction for this week’s challenge. My rolls: Weird Western and Haunted House. I have such a great idea for this!  Post fiction by noon on Friday.

I DID manage to do this! and I feel like I created a cool idea, too! Unfortunately, horror/scary really isn’t my gig, so that idea is going to die with that story. Maybe someday I’ll genre bend again and return to that world. There might be a way to save Richard…if Richard is worth saving?

3. Work on Escort Mission and start another work, 6:45. 

I didn’t work on any short stories this week beyond Never a Day and that Flash Fiction.

4. Polish current edit in progress: Never a Day Quiet. Already got some great critiques for this.

I was given two great Critiques this week on Never a Day, and while one of them was interesting, the other was devastating. I am considering rewriting the story for a second time. The majority of my writing/editing efforts this week went into this piece instead of other works. To realize last night that I will probably need to whip the slate clean and try again was simply heart breaking.

5. Work on Haley, a secondary character in my novel, A Terrible Thing to Waste. Post excerpts (along with the other excerpts from previous weeks) on Sunday.

did work on Haley this week and I love her. She is going to be one of my more fun and stronger characters in my novel. She was probably the only highlight of my week. I’m almost ready to put up excerpts. As soon as I’m done developing characters (there are 6 characters who I want to highlight and follow), I’ll put up all of their excerpts at once.

6. Critique at least 3 other short stories in the forums of my two writing communities this week.

I got 2 powerful critiques this week, yet I wasn’t able to replicate the same sort of commitment to other pieces. I did read one…and it confused the hell out of me. I couldn’t decide if it was because of my own stupidity or if it was because the author missed something. I couldn’t bring myself to write the critique because I was a coward. I do want to commit to reading more of my peers’ work and critiquing them, so as to get more critiques for my own work.

 

I realized this week how hungry I’ve been for critiques. I submitted a work for an anthology two weeks ago and wasn’t accepted–the notes were very positive, with only a few minor edits suggested. But one of the notes made me angry. Instead of finding the nuance and subtlety in the conflict, a person wrote “nothing happened. No conflict at all.” What made me angry was not that the person didn’t like the work, but that her note was not helpful. I realized that I needed to go searching for more people, more eyeballs on my words.

I found two great writing communities–one that I had sort of forgotten about and rejoined, the other a totally new one but part of a corner of the internet that I’m familiar with. Both welcomed me with open arms and both have given me a lot of great feedback.

And then I made a mistake.

I gave a family member Never a Day because I consider her to be a brutal editor and I wanted her to tear it apart grammatically. Instead, she tore apart the content in a way that has made me re-consider the entire piece.

Before you say “you should just ignore her critique,” you must understand that her critique was very specific and insightful. It wasn’t about content, it was about message. Where I thought that I was writing about something specific and important, my reader couldn’t get passed the message that she had found on her own. Once she gleaned that message, she couldn’t get passed it. Indeed, she said that the message that she found made the story “fucked up” for her.

At first I thought that I had done something right. The story is designed to make people thing. She was thinking and it moved her.
But it moved her in the wrong direction about the wrong things. She got distracted somewhere.

And now I feel compelled to rewrite and try again.

I don’t mind re-writing. Indeed, I relish the opportunity of rewrites. I recognize that first drafts, even second drafts, suck. But in this case, I’ve been working on this story for a month and I thought that it was in a great place. I thought that it was ready to submit or be put aside for some e-publishing.

So now this story is a time suck. It’s taking away from my novel, from other pieces that could garner me more opportunities to publish and grow. I’m anxious to get beyond this piece, as much as I appreciate the process that I’m going through.

So that’s why my task-list is all sorts of fail.