Monday, January 30, 2012

January... Or as I Like to Call It "A Big Bunch of Fail"

I set out on December 31st with high expectations of myself and my writing. I laid out my goals ahead of me, breaking them down to manageable pieces and feeling confident set off into the great adventure that was 2012. Things were looking up!

And then it hit. Like a ton of bricks, everything I had been trying not to feel and/or deal with came at me. I usually try to keep my personal life out of here, mostly because it's not sunshine and roses, and partly because I'm not a emotion sharing type person. But the problem with doing that is one can only push it out of the picture for so long before it really bleeds into other aspects of life. Unfortunately for me my personal issues have taken control of my life and I am struggling to get it back.

Long story short, my sister and best friend died suddenly in October at the age of 33. I miss her with every fiber of my being and the pain of that loss is immeasurable. Two days before we had been talking about her coming to visit at Christmas and now I live with knowing that I will never see her again. She was my only sibling and we had just become friends a few years back. I told her everything, she was my cheerleader, my voice of reason, and the person to push me even when I didn't want to be pushed.

Which brings me to "A Big Bunch of Fail". I set out this month to stop making writing just a hobby that I do sometimes to it being a job. I set goals for daily, weekly, and monthly that were attainable and concrete which all goals should be. But what I failed to factor in was the sadness that I had been able to push aside for these past few months. My sister's birthday was January 11 and for some reason it was more difficult than Thanksgiving and Christmas combined. I think that the numbness finally wore off and everything I couldn't feel before I felt now. I stopped writing. I didn't care about it any more, I just couldn't. I couldn't do anything but wallow in grief and self pity.

Then, after a long conversation with myself over the past few days I realized that I shouldn't do that anymore. I felt as though I was letting my sister down. She wouldn't want me to be miserable, I think it was her goal in life to make sure that everyone was happy. Not being one to want to disappoint my big sis, I have decided to take back control of my life because I am the only one who can. So instead of December 31 being my New Year's Eve, January 31 is going to take that spot. I still have a chance to reach every goal and deadline I set for myself in 2012. And I'm going to do it! So that list of goals I wrote for myself in December is going to stand, only every date pushed back one month. I'm no longer going to beat myself up because I missed a thing on there (okay, all things). I'm starting fresh and only moving forward, no more looking back.

So tomorrow night I'm going to toot the horns and set off the firecrackers all over again. Happy New Year to me!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

On Why I Hate Outlines... And Other Sad News

So today is January 17 and a sad day for me. I was somewhat on track to reach my deadline until two very different yet not-so-great things happened at the same time.

As you know I actually wrote a bare bones outline for The Guardian and was moving merrily along. I struggled on a couple issues that were brought up in my re-writes, mainly introduction of characters at an earlier point but one where it made more sense. This little hiccup left me stuck a couple of times but I always managed to power through. I was about 70% into my draft and I did a quick check of my outline to make sure I was still on track. Guess what? I wasn't! Not even a little bit close. Somewhere around halfway I veered severely off track And I'm not talking off track but in a good direction that I could totally finish up with. I wound up so far off of what I had been intending to write that I really had no idea how to fix the story. It was turning out to be something that I wouldn't have been proud to write.

I wasn't doing my characters justice. Two of the more main characters were so weak I wanted to rip them right off the page. My main character didn't follow any of the rules set up by the world I had created for her. Her rebellion wasn't in the cute but workable type of rule breaking. What she was doing would have gotten her killed early on in the story. And the bad guy? Yeah, he ran more along the lines of Wile E. Coyote. It was awful!

I sat down with my outline, figured out where I had gone so far off the beaten path, and mapped out a way to get back to where I wanted to be with the characters I had originally intended to write. I, at that time, realized I didn't like my outline either. It had hemmed me in at a crucial juncture that I normally wouldn't have worried about. But I figured since I had the outline I may as well use it. One would think that I know enough about myself and my writing habits to know that outlines and I don't get along. So I scrapped it and set out to finish the book the way the characters wanted. I had a three day weekend coming up and a deadline to meet. I was all about getting this work done, I knew I could do it. And then...

I got the flu! Me. The flu. I couldn't believe it. I haven't been flu sick in ages. I get colds all the time but I pride myself on never being worse than that. Of course, it wasn't just a little 24 hour bug that I could push through. I was laid out in bed for nearly four days. Gone was my three days of solitude. Gone was my momentum that was going to carry me through to the end. Gone was my will to even look at a computer screen. And gone was my deadline.

Today, I shed a tear for my disappointing outline and my missed deadline. But I do not wallow in sorrow. As a wise fortune cookie once told me "You can't walk into your future backwards", so I move forward. No more sadness for what could have been only joy for what is to come. And now, I write!

Monday, January 9, 2012

Exciting News and an Update

I know the exciting news is listed first but I'm going to give you some updates instead. Don't worry, I'll come back to the news I promise.

Regarding my resolutions, I have been remiss. I said I was going to write every day, I haven't. I said I was going to do 3000 words a day for The Guardian, I haven't. I said I was going to post once a week, meh, I'm close. Hard to judge this one when we're just over a week into the year. So those are my negatives. I'm fully aware of them which is a good thing. I know that I need to change the direction I'm already headed in, which is a better thing. And I'm not going to beat myself up, just yet, for being behind. It's 9 days in to 2012 and I have plenty of time to make this all work out. As for my fast approaching deadline? I'll have to go all out but I think it's doable.

Now for the good news. I have completed my outline for The Guardian so I get to check something off my list. Having that very broad plot outline gives me a direction to go in and will hopefully  make it easier. I've been struggling with getting the words right in the actual writing but I've just crossed a big hurdle and I have some forward momentum. I'm extending my deadline just a tiny bit to the 16th instead of the 15th. I'm off that Monday and will (hopefully) be putting the final touches on it.

All that is the boring stuff I know. You're waiting for this exciting news that I promised. I shall not keep you in suspense any longer. I shared my work with other people!! Okay, that might not be all that exciting for you but it's a HUGE step forward for me. Until I met with my critique group last night I literally had not shared my work with anyone that was not blood related to me. And while my Mom is encouraging she doesn't quite give me the feedback I need. It was nauseating and I was sweating buckets the whole time but when it was over I felt relieved.

Taking that first step is so vitally important. It was something I have known for a very long time but I always said I'd do it later. I never thought that my writing has been good enough to let other people see it. And while it isn't perfect I got some really good feedback and it has given me the inspiration and courage to move forward. I actually feel like a weight has been lifted. Onward and upward my friends!