Saturday, February 22, 2014

Day #9314 - Going for Goals

The Sochi Winter Olympics will soon be coming to a close, and what a ride it has been. I seem to be in the minority of people that absolutely loves the Olympics - especially the winter games - but I always have. When I was little, I probably could have named everyone on the 1992 US figure skating team. I wanted to be Kristi Yamaguchi so bad! I remember in 1996 when Keri Strug landed the vault that won the US's Magnificent Seven team gold in women's gymnastics. I watched Tara Lipinski and Michelle Kwan in awe in the '98 Nagano games. I became obsessed with curling in '02 Salt Lake, the Italian culture in '06 Turin, spent my 20th birthday watching Michael Phelps win gold in '08 Beijing, sat through a nail-biting USA-Canada hockey final in '10 Vancouver, and fell in love with London (again) in 2012.

For a non-athlete, my life has been influenced and touched by these grand Olympic moments. For these Sochi games, I was particularly struck right away how artistry meets insanity. Think about it. Skiing aerials, moguls, the half-pipe, skating, and plenty more of these events are all a blend of making something look beautiful, easy and pushing the absolute limits of the human body and gravity. I've lost track of the number of times over the past two weeks that I've asked "How can they do that? How is that even possible?"

The answer I've been hearing over and over is consistent: a lot of hard work, plus if there was ever a time to go big, it's the Olympics.

Being exposed to this kind of attitude so often for the last has been good for my writing. Since I only seem to post here once a month, I guess it's update time. The last WIP I mentioned has been set aside for the time being. It wasn't right. As I tried to push that idea, I found there wasn't enough there to make a full story of it right now. It's frustrating - I haven't finished a first draft in quite a while now - but sometimes it's just about timing. Rather than get upset about it, I combed through some of my old files and notes, wanting to write something just for me. I reread an idea I actually spent a few months on last year, still really liked it but now I could now recognize why it didn't work the first time I tried it.

So I've gutted it almost completely, but with some changes right from the start it's completely different. I can't remember the last time I had so much fun writing. I've been going slowly and taking my time but day dreaming a lot, having fun building this world, been putting together a secret Pinterest board, adding to this idea's notebook from last year, the whole works. But the biggest thing has been that I'm keeping this one to myself for now. I'm going big. My characters are doing and saying things I've never tried before. And I have no idea if it's good, but it's finally fun again.

Who knows how it will end up. Maybe I'll hit 10,000 words and freeze up again. But that's okay. Because the goal right now is to keep on writing, and if there was ever a time to do it, it's now.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Day #9275 - Frozen

I know it's terribly to cliche to talk about the weather, but for once in a long while, it's actually quite worthy of the level of conversation it's been getting. A week ago, it was -20 F. Today it was 50 degrees warmer - a downright balmy 30 degrees.

Take a minute to let your brain wrap around that one and explode if absolutely necessary. It's weird. It just is.

Anyway, Chicagoland has been covered in snow for quite a while now and the windchills last week were borderline scary (at least for this part of the country). A good remedy for this? Seeing the movie Frozen and then listening to the soundtrack on repeat.

Seriously. Great life choice.

So frozen is an adequate word to describe my physical environment. It's also a pretty good choice for describing how I'm feeling about my current WIP. I've discovered a pattern that frightens me. Simply put, I have a tendency to hit 10,000 words on a project and then freeze. Even though I know where I plan on the story going, even though I adore my characters and know them inside-out, I still get stuck. 

I've been stuck on my current scene for the better part of a week because every time I sit down to the keyboard, the doubts come floating back in. About how despite all the queries I sent to agents for my first manuscript, I only got two or three requests for a partial or full and no offers of representation. What makes me think this story will be different? If no one wanted that story, who would want this one? Is it good enough? Or am I waisting my time? 

But then the earbuds go in to try and drown the doubts out. Because the truth is, 10,000 words isn't half bad. It's a something. And As for this story, I love it. It's the kind of story I would have loved to find on a bookshelf when I was 17. And sure, I'm still in the dreaded first draft and there's a very, very long way to go, but I need to keep reminding myself that there's a reason that of all the plot bunnies that were in my brain, I followed this one for a reason. I need to give myself the benefit of the doubt. And yes, it may very well be that I'm the only one who ever reads this story. But it's mine to tell. I have an obligation to myself. So I'm not technically an author, but I am a writer as long as I keep trying.

So here's to being frozen, and here's to the thaw.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Day #9263 - New Year, Same-ish Me

Happy 2014! In some ways, it's hard to believe it's already here. In other ways, it couldn't have gotten here soon enough.

As usual, I've been terrible about posting regularly on this blog. But in my defense, I didn't really feel like I had anything worth saying. "Hey guys, it's me. And things are exactly as you'd expect." Why write it and post it if we all felt like you'd be waisting time reading it? But still, I'm lucky enough to be in a position where I can express my opinions and all that jazz, and this blog has been such a part of my life for so long, I'd hate for this to be the year that I let it down.

2013 wasn't a bad year, but it certainly challenged me in ways I could have done without. But you don't want to read about that and I don't want to write it, so let's look at the the positives! Back in March, my winning short story entry to Lisa Burstein's diary contest was printed, putting my words and by-line out in there in a book! I'm still very proud of that. It was also the year that I got to go to my first ever conference. I spent about four days at the end of June/beginning of July at McCormick Place in Chicago for the American Library Association Annual Conference where I went to some amazing panels, had fun with my awesome roommates, met fabulous people (including a few favorite authors!) and came home with ARCs to spare. Thirdly, my brother got married! I was a bridesmaid for my gorgeous sister in law and the day was fantastic from top to bottom. It also became the third wedding in a row where I caught the bouquet (not that my friends really put up any sort of effort haha).

So yeah. Lots of good happened! Writing wise, apart from my short story, things were a bit harder. I found fun in short stories in the blog I started with my critique parter, Stories by SaM, but my longer fiction was a bit more troublesome. I finally understand what authors mean when they say that sometimes they need to write themselves into a story for a while to find out if it will be a good fit. I had two different projects that I loved, but the timing or something was just off so I made the tough decision to put them to the side. However, I'm working on something right now and so far, I'm feeling good.

I also made the choice at the end of the year to give the manuscript I'd queried back in 2012 one last shot through Swoon Reads. This is an imprint of Macmillian and how it works is kind of cool: writers can post their novels to their site and readers can vote for the ones they like. Swoon Reads actually plans to properly publish novels that are submitted here! So if you make an account (it's free), you can read my manuscript, and if you like it please vote for it! (Click this link - you know you want to!)

It's only day 2 of the year, but I've already been busy and have a full calendar coming. Let's keep our fingers crossed for more good things for one and all!