Sunday, January 22, 2012

Analysis Paralysis

There I was, merrily typing away this weekend - 2K+ each on Friday and Saturday - and got up this morning to try to put in at least two more today.

I'd had a long dry spell that I always blamed on the day job and lack of time/energy, etc.  But the truth was that I just didn't know where the stories were going. I was afraid I couldn't create a believable, exciting enough plot. I got tangled up in doubts and couldn't seem to extricate myself to move forward. The harder I tried to force it, the worse it got.

Until this past Thursday evening.

While thinking of something else entirely, a line I'd read somewhere flashed in my mind. "Plot is simply what the characters have to go through to reach their goal."


I'd been fretting over action, intrigue, etc., but it all hinged on goals. What did my characters want? What were they trying to achieve?  Simple, right?

I suddenly felt very relaxed and simultaneously energized. I let that epiphany settle in for the next several hours until I was totally at ease with the idea. Lo and behold, Friday evening, after already having worked twelve hours, I sat down and easily added another 2K+ words to a manuscript. Didn't even break a sweat. Got up Saturday and did the same thing. In fact, I could have written more, but I deliberately held back so I wouldn't wear myself out.

I got up this morning, determined to do it all again... until I read this blog on believable characters. 

It's a great blog, it really is. But things like that tend to bring me to a screeching, doubt filled halt.  Suddenly, I was hung up again on not being good enough. Were my character flat? Cliches? Unoriginal? 

Oy vey! How could I possibly write a novel? I'm not nearly good enough!

Now I'm trying to recover from the doubts again. It took me the past two YEARS to come to grips with plot. Now I have to deal with character, too?!

You know what?  I'm just going to try to not worry about it right now.  Just keep writing until the darn thing is finished and then go back to see if the characters need more work. At that point, I can use Rick's great blog as a thermometer to see they're ill. And I'll be grateful for it then.

Right now, I just need to stop worrying about it and get on with the process. Like Nora Roberts says (I think she said it) "You can fix a bad page, but you can't fix a blank page." 

Though, actually, I think you fix the blank page by filling it up with stuff - even if it's bad. :)

Friday, January 20, 2012

Winter is Coming...

So said the Starks.  (For those of you who don't get the reference, it's from "Game of Thrones")

Anyway, it's currently 12 degrees and snowing here.  I thought it wasn't supposed to snow when it got that cold?  What gives?

I think it also speaks to the winter of my life - I swear that last night I came up with a good topic for posting today, but for the life of me, now I can't remember what it was! Getting old...

What's new in your neck of the woods?  The weather treating you ok?

I'm thinking of doing another "boob wish month" - anyone want to join me?

Monday, January 16, 2012

The Man in the Red Jacket

This post may ramble a bit, because I haven't thought any of it through, but am just going on the feeling that I want to mention these things.

From the window my desk faces (as well as from my balcony) I can see the apartment building next door.  For the past five years, an older gentleman in a worn, red jacket stood in one of the doorways there and smoked.  We would watch each other, he and I, but never say a word.  A small smile or nod of acknowledgment from time to time, but neither of us knew anything about the other - other than he smoked in the early morning and evening, and wore a red jacket.  I wrote in the early morning and evening, and sometimes took fresh air on my balcony.  Over the years, I somehow came to feel very fond of this old guy, as did my daughter, Emily.  She would see him in the afternoon, riding his bicycle around the parking lot and found him charming as well.

The day after Christmas, he was working on the roof when he suddenly fell off and died from the impact.  My daughter and I didn't know right away it was him - only that someone had fallen and died.  We both said the same thing at the same time: "I hope it wasn't the old man in the red jacket."  Sadly, it was.  And even though it would have been tragic no matter who had fallen, our first thoughts went to him.  There were other people living over there, but he somehow touched our hearts without ever having spoken a word.

We later found out this poor man had no family, and the other people in his building didn't know what to do about the body. He was originally from Mexico, and his remains were left to the state of Illinois.  Emily and I were heartbroken when we heard this news, and I have been saddened ever since.  Just yesterday, I thought I saw him in his doorway and in a flash of a second was so happy to see him before I remembered he was gone.  I started crying and couldn't stop.  It was just too sad that this poor man lived and died alone, far from home and whatever family he started with.  No one to say goodbye to him, no one to mourn him.  As I cried, my cats gently walked up to me, eyes worried, then climbed on my lap and started licking my hands. I realized they were upset because I was, and so I began to soothe them as they soothed me. 

In that moment, I realized that even though I never knew him, the man in the red jacket did not go unmourned or unmissed.  He is still remembered fondly.
May he rest in peace.

Monday, January 02, 2012

And now for the rest of the year....

I've heard that how you spend either New Year's Eve or New Year's Day is how you'll spend the rest of the new year.  Not that I believe it or anything (grin), but so far, it has always proved true for me.  So, this past weekend I made sure to be productive. :)

Of course, NYE wasn't as productive as NYD, but I'm telling myself it was still time well spent - mainly relaxing, getting caught up on blog friends' posts, spending time with my daughter, and planning ahead for the following week.  Yesterday involved a lot of cleaning, organizing, reading, plotting, budget forecasting, cooking, and making healthy food choices.  If the rest of the year goes the same, I could live with that. :)

Sidney Williams had a nice blog about the challenge of keeping the old tooshey in the chair and the hands on the keyboard, and I took away some good tips from his link to the Pomodoro Technique.  I'm putting them into practice today.

Also, if you haven't read Edie Ramer's Cattitude yet, it's available free until tomorrow.

Charles Gramlich also has a new, humorous book out:  Days of Beer: A Memoir of a Beer Drinkin' Man.

And I'm happy to report that Avery DeBow is planning to get back into the writing and publishing scene this year.  I look forward to seeing what she comes up with.

These are just a few things off the top of my head - I'm sure there's much more news.  How are you hoping to spend this year?