Novel Writing & Procrastination

How many words, books, articles have been written about the actual process of writing a novel? How many lectures have been given by teachers, authors, researchers, brainiacs,or idiots about this topic?

imgp4242Yet, writers tackle their work in a variety of ways, just how we can each see a different image in the floating clouds. Some authors start with outlines, some the themes, the characters, or the essence of the idea.

I have been frustrating myself, diving into this endeavor. I have written in many formats, but my goal is to craft a novel. I could procrastinate further, simply researching the methods people use to complete their novel.

Do I create new characters, the theme, the tone, flush out a character already created in a short story?   Do I write it in long hand or type it on the computer? And how do I make it MY story, without turning a real event or person I know into a blip, a chapter—especially if it’s going to hurt someone? Do I write when the mood hits, or set aside time each day to write, amongst all my other responsibilities?

It’s so easy just to get lost searching online, trying to find the ”best” way to write a novel.   But, we are all artists. We all have our own creative flow—so when that story comes, we need to capture the words and mood before they vanish from our thoughts.

We also need the discipline to actually finish the draft. It’s a lonely process. Then be unafraid to show it to someone. Even if it remains unpublished, sometimes creating the beginning to the end is enough.

How many unpublished manuscripts sit in drawers, closets, on DVD’s, in notebooks?

Now, I better stop procrastinating and start writing. My notebook with my character sketches is waiting to be further filled out.

C

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As Seen On My Kayak

With summer quickly waning in the Midwest and a limited time for working out yesterday, Bob and I took our kayaks out on our neighborhood lake.  I also took my underwater camera for the first time.  Here are a couple of the shots I liked, with more to come after future rides…and now I will remember to wipe dry the lens after each water shot.  Those water spots ruined a couple otherwise-good pics.  I was often shooting into the sun, so I couldn’t see the photos until later.  Surprise!

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Picture perfect morning
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Ethereal empty spider webs

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Abstract view, taken holding camera under the water

 

 

 

 

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reflections

 

 

Books and Bucket Lists

Reading. Friends. Cocktails. Discussion. Learning. Debate. Snacks. Laughter. Maybe One.More.Drink.

I so look forward to my monthly neighborhood book club meetings. While our families joke that we do not actually discuss our varied selections, we do!   The amount we talk about the book may be proportionate to how relatable (or debatable) the book is, whether there is a difference of opinion about the quality of the characters-plot-writing, and if the host has good discussion questions.

Through others reading choices I have discovered authors and books I never would have picked up, lived vicariously through a variety of eras and locations, expanded my life views, made new friends, and become a better writer.

Sometimes we even have homework assignments.

For our last book club we were asked to bring our bucket list of 5 things we wanted to do, typed and unsigned. We then tried to guess who wrote out each sheet.   (this “homework” went along with our discussion, nameless but light romantic fluff).

It was eye-opening to see how similar some of the items were on our lists: a lot of travel, learning new skills like writing and knitting, re-learning old hobbies, more travel, and spending more time with our families.

We will continue to share, learn, cry, discuss life in each meeting. Hopefully grow individually and as a group. And prop each other up outside our ongoing gatherings.

And my bucket list, in case you are interested:

  • Travel to Iceland and Australia.
  • Research family history to learn my mom’s family when/why they came to US.
  • Do travel and photo exploration of large swath of Route 66. (maybe Sante Fe to Flagstaff or CA).
  • Write a novel.
  • Sky dive.

What is on your list? (bucket or reading)

C

Twilight Bliss

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A mural
of muted rose to pale gold to
midnight blue
reflected from sky to water
then seemingly back into the clouds.

A pair of ducks sits on the color-splashed surface
taking in the night sky,
diving for dinner.

The lone fisherman,
snaps his line
as he casts into the lake
causing a ripple of movement
then gently pulls on his rod,
reels in,
casts again
and again
his meditation for the day,
his release.

A silver crescent of moon
brightens the darkened corner
of the sky-
the cicadas calling
the frogs humming,
barely visible waves lapping the shoreline.

I sat serenely on the still sun-kissed bench
to just absorb
listen
and breathe,
empty my crowded, jumping mind
and fill it with calm. And beauty. And respite.

C

Inspiration was the boardwalk at Lake Zurich, IL. Pictures taken there 8/8/16 on iPhone 6.

Become a Child Again, Time Permitting.

Schedules, lists, calendars. They rule our daily lives, with some deadlines and events unmovable and others set arbitrarily in our minds. (you know, the to-do lists and laundry that MUST get done on a gorgeous day).

As we become adults with more responsibilities, I think it’s easy to become more rigid in our routines, our expectations of completing “tasks” and reaching goals. We can easily lose our sense of childlike adventure and impromptu schedule changes. I am starting to reclaim that whimsical side, and the results have been….fun.

Be spontaneous—take an opportunity to change your course. What will you find? It can be a simple reward, the hummingbird who enjoys my flowers while we sit on the front porch. It can be so much more, too. Freedom. Memories.

This weekend we stopped into a new distillery in town that was extremely fun, warm, welcoming, and served up some delicious cocktails. We will be back.

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The Copper Fiddle.  Lake Zurich, IL

And an unplanned invitation to ride on a neighbor’s boat after kayaking turned into an extremely fun evening with new and old friends.

Realistically, I know that I won’t be able to grab these moments every day. Heck, even be offered them that frequently. Some days truly are scheduled from before wake up to bedtime. But I have become more flexible when I CAN change my schedule. I find that the more I do the unexpected, the more moments of chance encounters appear.   Or maybe I am just more aware of them.

Perhaps wanting to embrace new opportunities has even subconsciously encouraged me to handle those “to do” lists in a more effective manner. Summer is arriving soon—make it a summer goal to be more free spirited. Find some chance moments to explore your locale—solo, with friends, with family. Hopefully, you won’t end up wishing you had done more this summer when autumn arrives. Summer will feel well-lived.

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Often my fave moments are found on that road less travelled.  Photo taken by me outside Scottsdale, AZ.

C

Living Authentically

Is it possible for someone like me, to “live authentically” right now, today? I have been asking myself this question recently, reading the novel The Red Book by  Deborah Copaken Kogan.  This novel takes place over a 20th graduation anniversary weekend of Harvard graduates.  A quick read with a somewhat predictable storyline, I felt the characters were diverse, relatable, and interesting.  My favorite part of the book was the actual Red Book entries, where the graduate tell of the last 5 years on a page.  Insights and false realities to introduce the characters.  We all have the lives we show the public and the dreams which have been put on hold, forgotten as we march through the day-to-day.

We spend the years of our youth and early adulthood being molded by society, our parents’ demands and expectations, our teachers, our peers, where we fit in the family hierarchy, the location where we grow up, our interests, the media, our religion, the family beyond our house, and the unexpected events—sometime crises- that are thrust at us.

It can be years until we peel off the layers of expectations set upon us. When we are open enough to learn about ourselves, admit our dreams, possibly think about what WE really want—free of the plans others have laid out for us—we can be busy in that gerbil-on-a-wheel life of kids, mortgages, spouse/partner, aging parents, a stash of lovely friends, our health issues, bills, and the other minutia that comprise a life.

Our abilities and work experiences have perhaps led us down an unexpected and now-monotonous path. But in this economy and where we are in our family lifecycle, we cannot afford to change drastically.

I’m not sure there is a way off that path right now, so I will grasp the moments of joy, of exploring my dreams, while I can.  I will continue to morph my business into something that brings greater satisfaction.  Hopefully I can increase the “moments of authenticity” until they feel a more-integrated part of my life, not simply escapism.

As for my kids, I have been talking to them about me understanding the pressures around them, but they should think about the paths they want to take.  Make their study, work, activity choices based on what THEY want to do to succeed, not what they think that we, their friends, their educators, the media, their peers (not always the same as their friends), and guilt think they should do. Not an easy feat.

And if you have a chance, pick up The Red Book. It might make you think about how to make your life yours, not someone else’s expectation. C

Thankfulness Journal, Week 4

This Lenten Journal of finding three things to be thankful for each day is becoming more difficult, when the weeks are filled with routine, seemingly mundane activities. Especially since my goal is to not repeat the same item more than once.  It’s made me become more aware of what is around me.  At least we will soon have a vacation to break it up!

3/14/12 I am thankful for 

the cacophony of  frogs. 

Devon voted “Team Wolf Pack” award by her volleyball teammates. 

Escaping the pool party with Mary for an hour of successful shopping in Lake Geneva.

 3/15/12  I am thankful for

Heavenly cloud sculptures.

Middle school choir voices—especially boys with changing voices.

 Managing work projects.

 3/16/12 I am thankful for

all-clear to exercise, post-op!

 things running on schedule. 

Tara dancing with the Shannon Rovers.

 3/17/12 I am thankful for

 flash mob Irish dance teens, having fun between shows, making others smile.

Dancer moms I enjoy spending time with. 

an incredible dance with original choreography at the Genesee Theatre! 

3/18/12 I am thankful for

One more year of Irish dancing around St. Patrick’s Day.

 A glass of wine on the porch, after dark, no coat on. 

 Coyotes talking to each other.

3/19/12 I am thankful for 

Tracy and Theresa stopping by unexpectedly, then joining them for a walk.

 Shrimp tacos.

 A quiet night at home after an extremely busy weekend.

3/20/12 I am thankful for

a well-needed massage, to ease a pinched nerve.

The whimsy and selection of Trader Joe’s food.

Blossoming forsythias and dogwood.

 C