Nanowrimo update #1

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Just to touch base, I am chugging away at Go Bite Yourself. Im not really able to keep you up to date on my work count at this point, because most of my writing is being done in a notebook by hand while I’m on my daily commute. I will type it and imputed it to the nanowrimo.org page before the month is through. hopefully several times, but let’s keep our expectations realistic here people.

 

In the mean time,  enjoy this sample cover I made while procrastinating. Interested in reading it yet?

Coming To

I’ve been pretty hard on myself lately about how much I haven’t been writing. I take being my own worst critic to award-winning levels. I read all sorts of articles and blogs about writing, how to get published, etc. I try to immerse myself in all things literary to try and stay focused; admittedly not my best talent. Many of the things I’ve read say that if you are not feeling inspired to “just write”. Doesn’t matter if it’s crap or gold. The act of trying will produce something, and you can always work with something rather than nothing. Seems pretty sage to me, so I tried it.

To get back into the swing of things, I reared my novel start to (un)finish. As I read, I tweaked a word here or there, which developed into a sentence, which by the end became a rhythmic tapping on the keys. Huh. Go figure. It helped me feel a small sense of pride as I realized my storytelling skills have been improving while I wasn’t paying attention. I’m starting to like what I read.

So I’m sitting there typing away, and I glance up and three hours have gone by. I should have been asleep two hours ago, and I don’t want to stop, so I reset my clock and start calculating how much time I can shave off my morning routine if I skip the non-essentials, like straitening my hair or ironing my uniform. I’ll let you sort out how well that worked out.

I swear I am waking up from some sort of anti-writing spell. I’m feeling motivated, and I just might get around to finishing what I started.

What am I doing talking about it? Great question.

 

Back to writing!!!

New Schedule

I have been working strange and varied hours lately, which has made blogging a bit of a challenge. I have decided my new post days will be Sundays. I know it is less often than I was posting before (not counting the missed weeks of posts since I arrived in Chicago) but it is a schedule I may have an easier time adhering to.

As far as Chicago goes, I am settling in. I have learned which trains to take, which areas to avoid, and where the best shopping is. I am earning a regular paycheck-something I have not had in several years- and am enjoying life in the city.

I have had adventures that I would not have had back home, such as apple picking, shopping in the loop,

Seeing random, beautiful sights while wandering the city, and of course a brand new experience for this SoCal native: living in the snow.

The first snow was quite an experience for me. It is so beautiful, and I seem a bit touched in the head when it falls, because I can’t resist stomping through it to leave my footprints, all the while giggling uncontrollably. My roommate is also from Cali, and so we share this ridiculous and childish desire to play in the stuff. His boyfriend thinks we are very strange, and tells us so, which leads to the inevitable snow fight. I say “snow” and not “snowball”, because we just scoop up handfuls and fling it at one another. We end up wet and freezing, but somehow it still makes me happy.

I thought Christmas would be a sad day for me, but my mother, in her infinite motherly wisdom, knew I would have a rough time my first Christmas alone and sent me a box of Christmas cheer. She sent a miniature tree, a strand of lights, and some stockings along with a box of presents. It warmed my heart and made me feel so very loved, even from so far away.

Though I worked on Christmas day, I put a pot roast in the slow cooker, and had a wonderful Christmas dinner with my roommate and his boyfriend. It was the first time that Chicago felt like home.

Now, as the snow sticks to the ground, and I finally have a day off, I am catching myself daydreaming about Jeremy, Fairies, and what is in store for Sidhee.

Like any storm that catches us unaware, my writing block is passing, and I find myself ready to open the shutters, pick up the pieces, and rekindle my literary efforts.

Happy writing.

apples

Apple Picking in the orchard

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Inside the Macy’s that used to be Marshall Fields. Quite a bone of contention between Macy’s and Chicago natives. Still, it is beautiful.

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A dramatized image of my first snow day. I took this with my cell phone on the corner of my street at the bus stop.

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The Gluten, corn, and soy free Christmas dinner I made for my Chicago family.

my buidling

The view of my building from the street. I never though I would live somewhere so tall.

my view

Just across the street from my apartment is a walking path that leads here. It is one of the best views of the city I have seen so far.

What is the real problem?

It’s funny, I moved to the big city to be inspired. I wanted a fast-paced diverse backdrop to help shape my ideas. I also wanted the exposure that advertising to such a huge population might bring. Travel and change of scenery has always inspired some decent page turnout for me. And yet, I find I have writer’s block.

There are exercises that can help a writer push past writers block.  I know them. In fact, I’ve blogged about it, back in April 2014 in a post titled Wherefore art thou, inspiration?

So what I really needed to figure out is not why I’m blocked, but why I’m not even trying to write. I haven’t even opened the file in Word to stare at that ominous blinking cursor for at least two weeks; maybe more.

Sometimes it is a question of time. I’m busy. Who isn’t? We all get caught up in the day to day, but that’s what a schedule is for. Making time isn’t hard if you get a calendar and make a schedule for yourself. I haven’t been doing that- instead I’ve been finding chores to do to fill my time. Sorting out bills, cooking, laundry- that sort of thing.

So if it isn’t a lack of ideas, and it isn’t an issue of time, then why am I not writing?

I know why, when I get right down to it. Recent events are getting me down, and I’m letting myself get moody and disinterested in the things I love (such as writing). I’ve been thinking about it a lot this week, and I’ve come to the conclusion that this will only spiral down from here if I don’t do something to change it.

I’ve decided to use my angst- which is a combination of being at an employer’s beck and call again after so long writing my own schedule, the loss of a couple dear people, and being so far away from friends and family in an unfamiliar place- and channel it into the piece I am writing. I’m skipping ahead a few chapters in Fayling (which should be done by now, but read above) and I’m going to schedule time to pour how I feel into my work. Hopefully it helps create a believable and powerful scene, and it will help me work through my crankiness.

I’ll let you know how that turns out.

Updates and Reflections

Dear Reader,

I know I haven’t been on much. I apologize for the silence. If you have been following along, then you know my move to Chicago could only be permanent if I found a job. I am very pleased to announce I have found said job, and internet service (and my life) has been restored. I celebrated my 30th birthday last week, and I have decided the universe gets credit for my birthday job (I got the call for my interview on my actual birthday). The first step in finding my happy place in the world has been taken. Let us hope more leaps forward are forthcoming.

As for my books, I wish I could say I have been writing up a storm. Unfortunately, I seem to be completely out of synch with my creative inner voice. Perhaps it is that I am preoccupied with the enormity of how my life has changed in the last month- or perhaps that is what I am telling myself to let myself off the hook. Either way, my mind is in a different place than I would like it to be right now.

Recently, a writer friend of mine passed away. She was elderly, and she knew it was coming. Still, at my age is comes as a shock when someone leaves your world. More so when you learn about it via e-mail. Since I am not feeling particularly creative, and since my friend is on my mind, I will tell you the parts about her that left a mark on my life.

The woman who I will miss was named Evelyn McGraw. When I met her, she was already 90 years old. She attended the first writing group I was a part of, a group focused on indie writers that are new to the world of serious writing.

Evelyn wrote lovely, old fashioned poetry. She often wrote about growing up on a farm, the novelty of her grandmother’s home when she was a child, or observations of the beauty in nature all around us. She had a great fondness for than changing of the seasons. Every piece she wrote was a lovely, positive reflection on the world. Her writing really made you appreciate the world through her eyes, though she never gave herself a single ounce of credit for the craftsmanship of her words.

I often sat next to Evelyn in class. She was hard of hearing, and so I would repeat the advice and critiques that her peers offered up for her from out of hearing range. She always took advice and criticism gracefully, and applied that advice to her works. Some of those works can be found in A Tapestry of Verse, published by The Word Weavers Guild- edited by our fearless leader John Kelly. I was told they put out a second book this summer. I have yet to get my copy, so I am uncertain if Evelynn’s work will be in that book.

click to find A Tapestry of Verse on amazon.com

click to find A Tapestry of Verse on amazon.com

Sitting and talking with Evelyn helped me to get to know her. I found out she got her pilots license in the 1930’s, when women rarely did such things. She never made a big deal of it, but when she spoke of flying it was always with fondness.

One of my favorite things about Evelyn was that she seemed to get me. I’m a bit weird, and I write bizarre poems and stories (which you know if you have read my work). It’s always made me feel like I don’t quite fit in, especially with a traditional writers, like memoirists and historical writers-which is the predominant style of writer in the town where I am from. Evelyn never once made me feel anything but appreciated. She always smiled and said she was glad to see me every time we came to class, and I often got a hug as if she were a favorite aunt or grandmother. She praised my work, and more than once wrote on the top of my submissions not to change a word.

I adored Evelyn, but it never occurred to me that I mattered to her too, until last April.

Evelyn told the class she wasn’t going to be attending anymore, because it was getting too hard to make the trip. She wanted to have a “Christmas rehearsal” party, because she said she did not think she would live to see another Christmas. I wish she had been wrong, but I’m glad she had the foresight to plan it.

John asked everyone in the group to write a piece in their own style for Evelyn, and I was asked to made a cover image for a notebook we gave her to keep all of our gift works in. Most people wrote really touching letters to her about all the reasons we thought she was awesome. It was like a birthday party, where she was the guest of honor. She was happy, and you could tell she was very touched by how much we all cared about her.

I, as I so often do, deviated from what everyone else did. I was asked to write a piece in my style for her, and that is exactly what I did. I thought about all the things Evelyn talked about in the couple years I knew her, and I recalled a poem she wrote based on an experience she had playing with old antiques in her grandmother’s attic. And so, I invented a story and set it to poetry about a little girl named Evelyn pearl (a play on the old fashioned term of endearment for someone you love or treasure) who goes up to play in her grandmother’s attic. I have posted it on my blog before, but I have included it at the bottom of this post so you can reared it in context of you would like.

After we all read our contributions to her, and she tucked each page safely in her notebook, Evelyn brought out presents she had gotten for everyone. She gave me a beautiful figurine of a fairy dancing around a rose branch. While people were eating, Evelyn walked up to me and said, “Do you know why I got that for you?”

I smiled and said, “Because it’s a fairy?”

“Because it’s a fairy, just like you. Every time I see a fairy I think of you. And when I saw that, I knew I had to give it to you, because she looks like she came from one of your stories.”

My eyes watered, and I gave her a huge hug.

That’s the last time I saw her, and it is a beautiful memory to me.

I love that fairy, and I still have her. She is all wrapped in bubble wrap back in California, soon to be sent to me here in Chicago.

It’s funny how much a single person can impact your life, and how you don’t even realize it’s happened.

So here is the message I want to share this week, reader:

Cherish the memories; even the small ones. Even if you are young. They always matter.

 

Evelyns xmas

 

The Attic of Evelyn Pearl

Tiny young Evy,

A six-year-old girl

Was named for her granny

Miss Evelyn Pearl.

She hasn’t young cousins

Her own age for play.

No brothers or sisters

To fill up her day.

When her family visits

Her grandmother’s home

She goes to the attic

Where she plays alone.

She’s never caught bored

When she goes up there

‘cause mystical wonder

Hangs loose in the air.

A porcelain doll

Becomes her best friend.

She tells her big secrets

For hours on end.

On Grampy’s aged flute

She’ll blow out a tune

And fancies they hear her

Out there on the moon.

Old buttons and beads

Become long lost treasure

That salty sea captains

Can count at their leisure.

A toppled old shelf

And a discarded oar

Becomes ship and rudder

That washed up on shore.

With musty gold curtains

She fashions a tail

And waves are comprised

Of granny’s old veil.

Stuffed teddy bear people

Play folk of the sea.

They go on adventures

‘Till afternoon tea.

When the moon starts to rise

And it’s time to head out

Tiny young Evy

Won’t grumble or pout.

Exotic vast kingdoms

Will wait for our girl.

‘Till then it’s the attic

Of Evelyn Pearl.