Life and Stuff

How Do You Handle a Setback

wide open door

Some weeks ago, I hit a wall. I’d just recovered from a deeply frustrating lack of enthusiasm and motivation for my writing (actually, the lack had crept into most everything I was working on) and begun to pick up steam again. Then, boom, there was the wall…in the form of lost work.

When I write, I alternate between the computer and old-fashioned pen and paper (sometimes my phone if my notebook isn’t handy). For long stretches, I work almost exclusively longhand. The rhythm of writing by hand, though it’s much less efficient and more time-consuming than typing, often frees my creativity in a way the keyboard can’t. The challenge for me is making sure the longhand stuff makes it to the computer, where it can be backed up and synced.

Earlier this year we were burgled, and my current writing notebook, which was in my computer bag, was taken along with our laptops and a couple other things. Amazingly (it felt like a little miracle, especially because we weren’t expecting it), the police found the laptops and returned them to us. The notebook was not. While I was initially sad about not getting the notebook back, I didn’t fret over much as I thought I had most, if not all, the scenes it contained already transcribed to Scrivener.

Sadly, this was not the case. I had several of the scenes transcribed, but many of the important ones were only in that notebook.

Still, I thought I could power through it anyway. I’d written the scenes once before. The info was all still in my head. I’d write them again, better this time.

I couldn’t. That lack of enthusiasm I thought I’d conquered came raging back. After a lot of savage threats to my muse, digging my heals in and mental hand wringing, I realized the wall I’d hit wasn’t going to budge. And it wasn’t losing the notebook, although that was the final straw. It was that I’d lost too much momentum on my WIP over the last year. Moreover, powering through it wasn’t going to work in this particular case. I had to step back.

I’d invested a tremendous amount of time and heart in this project. I thought it’d be my first published work. Putting it on the back burner felt like losing a friend. Yet, the need for it had been there for a good long while. I’d just been desperately trying to ignore it. All that struggle to write even a little these last few months was the folks in the basement of my brain telling me it was time to take a different path. But it took a big setback to get me to see it.

Once I got over the initial shock of putting the project aside, I found I was deeply relieved. I felt free, my creativity revitalized. Another story idea that’s been bouncing around my brain for months surged to the forefront and is now in the planning stages.

I hope to return to my previous project. The story’s a good one. I loved it enough to stick with it for years. But it’s also okay if I don’t. I’ve learned so much about the process of writing. I morphed from a full-on pantser to  a mostly plotter. I now have a more visceral understanding of plot structure, character and theme and how to apply that to a story. None of that is wasted stuff, even if the story that earned if for me never sees daylight.

So, triumph out of tragedy. The optimist in me knows that good can come out of the crap life throws at us, if we look hard enough. But the cynic in me sometimes has a tough time believing it. I guess I just needed another object lesson.

Oh, and I’ve also learned to transcribe the handwritten stuff at least once a week. That might be the most important lesson.

***

A brief note about ROW80: I’m taking a break for the next couple weeks or so. I may not rejoin this round at all. I need to get a firmer grip on the new stuff I’m working on first. However, I still plan to cheer all my fellow ROWers. Good luck with all your goalishness.

***

Have you ever been in a situation where you realized the best course of action was the one you least wanted to take?

Photo Credit
Open the door by Mark Dries, on Flickr | CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

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Life and Stuff

Thankful for the Crummy Stuff

turkey running
Hang on, hang on. I’m coming.

It’s almost time, my friends, for the annual ritual of stuffing ourselves silly and the mandatory reflections on gratitude. Over the years, I’ve learned that gratitude is largely (maybe entirely) a choice. It’s hard to be thankful for everything life throws our way. Some of it’s more than simply crummy. At the same time, so much of it hides a good surprise, if only we can look at it in a different way. For that gift, if not for the wrapping, we can be thankful.

It’s been awhile since I last posted. I’ve been working through a setback. I’d set out to look at it optimistically but feared it would be difficult to move beyond the decision to be optimistic to really feeling it. Within the last few days, I discovered an unexpected reason to feel optimistic. More on that next week.

Today, I’d like to wish y’all a Happy Thanksgiving. If you don’t celebrate the day, I still wish you a warm day with good food, people you love and enjoy, and much to be thankful for.

Happy Thanksgiving!!!

***

What are you thankful for? Have you ever found something to be thankful for in a crummy situation?

Photo Credit
Turkey-1 by Shelly Prevost, on Flickr | CC BY-NC 2.0

ROW80 Check Ins

ROWd Awakening

screaming kittty cat

You know how you’re cruising merrily along sometimes…then you plow into a wall you really should have seen coming?

Yep, that sums up the writing part of my week.

Fortunately, everything else is (mostly) going according to plan.

Here’s whats ROWing on:

You can see last week’s goals here.

Writing

Last Week

Three scenes and most of a fourth reworked.

The goal was eight. That probably would have been a big stretch even if I hadn’t hit that wall I mentioned earlier. A more reasonable goal would have been five.

And that wall? Yeah, about that… Continue reading “ROWd Awakening”

just for fun

A Little Musical Magic, Vol. 4

From time to time, I like to share with you music that inspires me. Here’s a song with very sharp teeth that goes right for the throat.

Foy Vance’s Make it Rain:

You might be familiar with Ed Sheeran’s version for Sons of Anarchy. It’s powerful, but the original is my favorite. Foy’s vocals are so raw and expressive, it gives me chills every time I listen.

I’d love to hear a cello arrangement for this. Maybe I’ll come up with one once I have the skills. Which should only be, you know, in a few years.

Previous installments of Musical Magic

What inspires you?

 

ROW80 Check Ins

I See Your ROW is as Big as Mine

vader's lightsaber

About a week ago, in a ROW80* not so very far away, goals were set and met (for a pleasant change of pace).

Here’s how it’s going:

You can see last week’s goals here.

Writing

Last Week

 

2/2 scenes reworked. One scene essentially needed to be written from scratch, the other was short and needed little reworking. Still, it’s more than I’ve accomplished with writing in weeks. It felt very good.

This Week

I’m seriously questioning the likelihood I’ll get the rest of my manuscript reworked before the end of the year. 8 scenes a week? I must be nuts. Still, I’m going to give it a go this week. Actually, it should be 9-10 scenes, given that I worked on 2 last week. Yeah…I’m going to stick with 8.

Continue reading “I See Your ROW is as Big as Mine”

ROW80 Check Ins

On the ROWd Again

road

The ROW has come ’round at last, and a new round lies before us.

By “at last” I mean “almost two weeks ago.” The latest round began Oct 2, but it’s never too late to join. Actually, once the round is over, it’s too late to join. But there’s always the next round.

By ROW, I mean ROW80, the marvelous bloggy challenge that offers us a platform to create goals (writing and otherwise), a cheering section to keep us motivated (while you, in turn motivate your fellow ROWers) and accountability  (since goals are publicly announced).

Also, there may be a very small chance that, upon failure to meet your goals, you will be set upon by zombie hounds…okay, okay, so that last part isn’t true…but, if it keeps you motivated, go with it.

Anyway, you can read more about ROW80 here and see the latest check in post here.

On the to goal stuff: Continue reading “On the ROWd Again”

Life and Stuff

A Day in the Life of a Procrastinator

Procrastination, my old nemesis (sometimes friend), has reared its head the last couple of weeks. I found a video that pretty much sums things up:

In my current procrastinator mode, I don’t know whether I’m giving myself a break to replenish my creative reserves (writing-wise), brewing something great (sometimes procrastination episodes have worked out like that for me), or just plain slacking off (which is a distinct possibility). At the moment, I’m just riding it out.

How’s it going for you? Are you a procrastinator? Do you embrace it or fight it?

Life and Stuff

There is Always Light

Be the light in the world

Many of us are still reeling in the aftermath of the massacre in Vegas. When something like this happens, we tend to question everything. We’re in pain, sad, afraid and angry. We want reasons. We want fixes. We want to make something like this never happen again. But we know it will. History tells us it will.

It’s so easy to give in to the dark emotions, to look at ourselves and say there’s something fundamentally, unfixably corrupt about human nature. We can point to all the horror we can inflict on one another and say: see, that’s what we are. When the chips are down, and the masks are off, we are the monsters we should fear most.

But I don’t agree. Most vehemently, I do not agree. It’s times like these, in disasters both human made and natural, that we see how good we can be. Yes, we’re profoundly flawed, all of us. But we are good too. Continue reading “There is Always Light”

writing

How Do You Get Unstuck?

cat in a tree
Climb the tree, they said. It’ll be easy, they said. There’s a tasty bird’s nest…Oh well. At least the view is nice from up here.

Stuck. Blocked. Out of juice. We’ve all found ourselves there, especially creative types (how we do like to get ourselves in trouble). How is sometimes, in the middle of being stuck, you can’t seem to remember how you ever got unstuck before? You think, I know I’ve gotten myself out of these situations somewhere along the line. Sure,  maybe it’s not the same exact situation, but there must have been something similar enough to help out now.

And, in your head, all you hear is crickets.

And maybe the occasional giggle.

Or maybe that last part is just me. *shrug* Continue reading “How Do You Get Unstuck?”