Assessing Time

Assessing Time
Image provided by skyler817
https://www.flickr.com/photos/sky817/

Back when I was in high school writing short [very short] stories and poems in a spiral notebook while sitting on my bed Indian style, I wrote until I had nothing more to say or until I heard my mom yell for help in fixing the evening meal. I didn’t give one inkling of thought to how many minutes equaled a “good session of writing”.

Most of my poems were free verse with three parts to them. Sometimes I’d write at feverish speed as if I might forget the complete thought before I got it all down. There were instances when this only took five minutes at the most, and then I was done. I’d open the bedroom door and go spend time watching TV with my brother or go offer a hand in the kitchen.

Other times, I’d painfully struggle to get those poems out of me. I’d have to write the first stanza, stare out the window for I don’t know how long, and try for the next one. Those poems could take me days to write.

The short stories were done much the same way, though I always had some idea of where I was going with them. I knew where I wanted to start and end.

No place during those years did I worry about what constituted a “good writing session”. I just wrote. When did all of this change?

Life got busy and complicated until I was in my late forties. At that time, I decided to take a correspondence course through Writer’s Digest. The class was based on the assumption that I knew grammar up past the level of high school, which I did. It was designed to get the creative juices flowing and teach me how to submit my work.

Within all those pages and lessons, there wasn’t one indication, tip, or hint about how long a “good writing session” should be. I can only surmise that I should write until I was done for that day, that morning, that afternoon, or whatever.

It was in 2013 that I felt the urge to get serious about writing again and hopefully stick with it for more that three or four years. I subscribed to a hoard of blogs owned by writers in the hopes of learning the finer points of the craft/art.

Most of the blogs I followed talked about the writing process, writer’s block, and gave prompts and exercises. A little over a year ago though, I’ve seen a shift in a few of these blogs. I’m not sure I agree with the switch. I’ve come to know these bloggers and think of them as reliable for information, yet I’m reading something, not every time of course, about what establishes a “good writing session”.

Although good habits are bound to make life easier in many ways, when it comes to most activity requiring creativity, some of these habits can be too restrictive, making it almost, if not completely, impossible for a person to be imaginative or resourceful.

I tried taking the advice I was reading, but found myself getting stuck as if I was thrown into a bin of glue. I’d sit myself down at the time I had deemed to start my session and begin to write. Within twenty minutes at the most, I’d find my muse refusing to cooperate and flying off into space. The damn thing wouldn’t come back until the following day, and that was only if I was lucky.

Should writers have a strict schedule? Maybe some need it. Maybe some were raised with rigorous rules set down by their parents and have kept up the habit. However, I don’t see how this should apply to every writer. Many writers are the free spirit type. They may not start a project until three in the morning, work frantically for a half hour, and go to bed and sleep until noon. This does not mean they’re lazy. It means they have an unconventional life style.

I consider the above example a little extreme, but I’m certain some writers work that way. I was brought up with rigid rules: set meal times, set bedtimes, laundry day, meatloaf on Tuesdays, and so forth. I only make meat loaf about four times each year now so I think I’ve moved away from the do-or-die schedule.

Most days I want to write as soon as the house is quiet in the morning. I sleep regular hours when I can sleep so morning is when I have the most brain energy. However, while husband watches sports channels in the evening, I’m known to sit my butt in the chair to pound on the keys furiously for a couple of hours. Still, I don’t have a set number of minutes I gauge.

I write until I feel done.

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How do you feel about writing sessions?

“Dance above the surface of the world. Let your thoughts lift you into creativity that is not hampered by opinion.” ― Red Haircrow

 

Emerging from the Past

Image provided by Jase Hill https://www.flickr.com/photos/jasohill/
Image provided by Jase Hill
https://www.flickr.com/photos/jasohill/

The new calendar year is coming upon us. There’s no way of stopping it, no matter how much we may love to regress for one reason or another.

How often have you wished you could go back to an earlier time in your life, either to revel in the pleasure you had or to change what you, now, believe was wrong, a mistake in some way? Approximately twenty years ago, I was in the habit of reminiscing way more often than I should. At the time, there seemed to be so many things in my past I wanted to change; things that could have easily been changed at the time they happened with no prior knowledge of the outcome. If I had just paid better attention to what was going on in my life at the time and about life in general, the changes I, later, thought I should have made would have greatly enhanced my life. What I didn’t want to change, I wanted to relive. This type of retrospection can only lead to living in an illusion of the past.

Some people think we get a second chance in our lives. My question: How can that be? You never ever have the chance to fix anything in your past. To get a second chance at a situation required you to go back in time. None of us are time travelers so this notion is completely bogus. What’s done is done, period. It can’t be reversed. It’s a bitter lesson for many to learn, I’m afraid. The best we can do is to be more vigilant about what is in our individual futures.

During these last few days of the current year, many make plans — resolutions. Although I’m not one to partake in this activity, I certainly understand the reasoning behind it. Drawing up plans for success is, most definitely, a smart thing to do. In my case, I do engage in preparing for short-term goals, but I leave long-term goals in the abstract because I’m so acutely aware of all the unseen twists and turns in life. This is, also, one of the reasons why I don’t make year-end/beginning resolutions, of course. There are too many unseen variables that can and usually do happen in that length of time.

The other reason for my rejection of this yearly activity is, so often times, these aims are based on failures from the past, in an attempt the rectify these missteps. Again, it’s getting into delusions that should be avoided at all cost. Those blunders cannot be fixed. They’re part of the past and will always stay the same. All that can be done is to take heed of how to avoid them in the future, if possible.

Nonetheless, having a set date used, January 1st, to “let go” of the past, at least to some extent psychologically, and move forward with anticipation and hopes for the future can be liberating. During most Januarys, you will find me doing “spring housecleaning”. I figure I’ve got the entire month to get it done so I don’t end up feeling rushed. Everything I can throw away or put away that reminds me of the cold months, including the holiday season, brightens my spirit. I bring out items that are more in line with the feeling of spring, in hopes of doing away with the seasonal blues that may still be lurking around after the furor of the winter festivals. The dreary weather, unfortunately, lingers for a few more months.

In my writing, I’m a pantser. There isn’t anyway I can demand an outline to work with the way my brain assimilates data. I find that I approach life, as a whole, the same way, although with little pieces of schedules and planning so I can, more easily, adapt to the lives of the people around me.

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Are you a pantser or planner of life?

I believe we are solely responsible for our choices, and we have to accept the consequences of every deed, word, and thought throughout our lifetime.  – Elisabeth Kubler-Ross

One’s Lot in Life

One's Lot in Life
Image provided by
Brian Del Vecchio
@ https://www.flickr.com/photos/hybernaut/

Perfectionism is a vice. Many try to camouflage it by using a different word or phase to describe it. For instance: particular, precise, wanting thing the way I want them, and even calling it a virtue. What perfectionism really boils down to is refusing to accept the messiness of life. Of course, this is a ludicrous thing to do because life is one of those things that isn’t going to change no matter how much you may want it to.

What’s infuriating about this personality trait is it’s near impossible to get rid of because it is a trait and not just a habit. Those of us who have it weren’t told not to be that way as kids. In fact, it was smiled upon. Who doesn’t want their children to come home from school with all A’s? We get sucked right up into believing it’s a virtue. We’ve been praised for it at our jobs once we’re adults being caught up in the notion that life will be so much better if we can achieve perfection in everything.

The thing is, life is already perfect, has been that way all along. It’s us humans who have screwed it up, and not just by nasty habits. How many of us really and truly take life as it comes? I would guess that the number is less that one in a million. All though it’s agonizing for me to admit, I’m definitely in the majority. I want life to be the want I want it.

Undoubtedly, I’m not going to get what I want, no matter what I do or how hard I try. I’m trying to change this trait in me. At my age, it’s high time I let it go. Moreover, it’s making my life more miserable than it has to be.

Growing up with neat freaks has put me at a disadvantage now that I’m a ‘senior’. As a young adult, I got myself believing the rest of the world would change in time. After all, we’re all watching TV. The commercials show sparkling clean houses with the only thing missing is the right dishwasher soap or the right fabric softener. Surely everyone is getting some brainwashing and will have their houses looking as good as they do on TV eventually, right? Wrong!

Hubby thinks our home looks just fine with the stack of… whatever it is on the printer in the ‘computer room’ (actually the smallest bedroom). He thinks the perfect place to leave the mail is on the kitchen counter where some sort of liquid or food could be dump on it. And there’s a whole list of other things that are similar in nature that goes on in my house.

I must learn to let Hubby be who he is, but let me tell you, this is a hard lesson to learn. Of course, by the same token, don’t you think he should learn to let me be who I am too?

Anyway, I guess I’m back. The personal issues are still here causing havoc, but I’m figuring out how to get around them. The weekly recap post is going bye-bye. Having that small bit of pressure hanging over me was not, in any way, shape, or form a good thing. I am still writing my first novel. I’ve gotten past the 60,000 mark. I’m still doing the tap dance between outlining and just going by the seat of my pants.

I hope all of you who live in the northern hemisphere are enjoying your summer. You have a little over one month left. I hope those of you who live south of the equator are getting all hyped up for your Spring, which is just around the corner.

Life is painful and disappointing. It is useless, therefore, to write new realistic novels. We generally know where we stand in relation to reality and don’t care to know any more.  — Michel Houellebecq

Weekly Recap 3/28

Weekly Recap 3/28
Image provided by
Percita @ https://www.flickr.com/photos/dittmars/

This week seemed like it last for three — at least. Yet, it wasn’t all that much different from the week before. One thing was certain. The weather is now saying, “It’s Spring, people!” Although the high yesterday was only 46F, the rest of the week was temperatures in the 60sF. I have daffodils growing in the flowerbed on the side of the carport. I’m still waiting for the iris.

  • Hubby is healing from his surgery. He chopped up some the branches that fell during the ice storm we had a few weeks ago. The doctor still doesn’t want him at a job for another three weeks. We just keep on pinching pennies until they squeal.
  • The WIP is coming along but slowly. I’ve completed the first scene, written my summary for the second scene, and have started writing that one. I need to write a couple more character development sheets, which I’ll be working on later today and tomorrow if necessary. I was hoping that writing in long hand would work for me, but I’m finding it hard to make my hand keep up with what I’m thinking. Typing allows me to write what I think more easily. It would be even better if I could type with both hands but that would take an act of God. So, I’m back to using yWrite5. I wish it had a thesaurus. Maybe it does but not in the free version. Word count: 2017, Hours: 4 — Yes, I know, I need to get the number of hours up to between 10 and 12. That will automatically make the word count go up.
  • I’m still aloof from the norms of society. I feel a little guilty about enjoying all of this alone time. I even find myself listening more and talking less during conversations with Hubby and my mom. I think Hubby is liking this. I’m sure he considered this a break from my usual overactive chatter. My mom, on the other hand, has even expressed some concern, thinking something is wrong.

I’m determined to make this next week more productive. For several years now, I’ve been in the bad habit of waiting for someone else’s lead. If I’m going to march to a different drum, obviously there isn’t anyone to follow. I’m it, all of it. Still, I am hoping that I still have your moral support. If it’s possible for you, keep on pushing me forward. 🙂 ❤

 

Bickering with Writing

Bickering with Writing

I’m told that anyone who has a passion for writing goes through periods of confusion, hatred, utter disappointment, focused depression, and the list of negatives goes on and on. I’ve been going through this since before Christmas.

Everyday at approximately 6pm, I sit at my computer desk trying my damnedest to keep writing on my writing project, what I now call my novel project. I struggle with words, phrases, and sentences until 8:30. The way I figured, all I had to do was keep plodding along and something in me would jiggle loose. The words would start flowing as they had with my first page.

Did it happen for me? Well–no, but if I hadn’t pushed myself for almost two months, I don’t think I’d have ever seen any light in my passion again. All during this distressing time, the concept that writing is hard work never left my thoughts; and there’s no getting around it either. Still, by the time New Year’s Day had come and gone, I was feeling some serious doubts about my capabilities.

It was about that same time a friend blogger, Cat started giving me moral support. At first I thought he was just being a friend and trying to boost my spirits. By the third post I had written since the first of the year, his uplifting comments began to sink in as being sincere. I’ve never quite believed in compliments before. This isn’t to say that I don’t like myself. I do–but I also believe that I’m not any better than anyone else. Additionally, although I have talents, they aren’t the kind that will make me stand out. Now I wonder if I could stand out eventually as long as I keep on pushing forward.

I’m still bickering with my writing as I head toward the end of February. Some of this is due to habits that have been ingrained in me since childhood. I am having a terrible time looking beyond misspelled words when writing a draft. This slows down my progress to a snail’s pace. Somehow I have to get out of this habit and just keep on writing (typing). Using Word, Docs, LiveWriter, or whatever other writing software, the mistakes are going to be underlined. I’m not going to miss or forget them if I jump over them during the drafting. There isn’t any reason to have this habit of correcting every word as it’s mistakenly typed when using a computer. Sure, some errors will still be missed, but with diligence, I’ll find and correct them–later.

A couple of things I didn’t dream would affect my approach to writing is personal complications and health.

My husband wasn’t working for three weeks, part of January and part of this month. We do have some savings and he has a small military pension, but I knew we couldn’t live on that for very long. I was handling it okay. I was able to continue to keep my anxiety level relatively low. I had a little problem sleeping but it wasn’t major. He’s been back to work for a week now and seems to be doing well at his job. I no long need Tylenol PM to get to sleep now. It did affect my writing, which I didn’t recognize until after the fact. My focus and motivation are elevated from what they were before as well.

The stomach issues I’ve had for over a month now haven’t been causing a lot of pain. Still, I guess enough underlying pain or ache does affect how I do some things, and unfortunately, this includes writing. It does distract me. Just think how much better my writing will be once this trouble is taken care of.

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My message to you–If you’re a writer, do not give up. Find a way to muddle through the difficulties. And let someone be nice to you.