Tag Archives: writing

Let the Creativity Begin!

photo

Amazon delivered my books a day early & I’m thrilled! My brother gave me Keri Smith’s Wreck This Journal last Christmas and while it’s fun, there isn’t as much creatie writing involved in it as I’d like. After checking these out, I think they will be just what I’m looking for.

My primary goal with these “diaries” is to 1. get to know myself a little, 2. let loose a bit & have some fun with something silly & superfluous, and 3. to get over myself. I’m sick of being depressed. I’m sick of being rigid and structured. I’m sick of being unproductive. I know that I’m my best self when I’m being creative, even if it’s guided creativity.

I’ll periodically check back with my creations and a review of these two new buddies.

-Cheers

Advertisements

Broken Finger

The good news is that I didn’t lose the first three chapters and complete outline to my novel. I finally found the flash drive it was saved on before I had to reformate my computer a few months ago. The bad news is that my hand injury is still causing too much pain to write.

I broke my finger a few weeks ago by slamming it in the car door. Yup, crushed the end of my right pointer finger. And I’ve come to learn that I use my right pointer finger an awful lot! Because even the slightest bit of weight or touch is enough to bring tears, I’ve been using my right hand in all sorts of weird ways, which has caused me to develop a bit of tendonitis/carpel tunnel in my right wrist. Yaaay for double pain.

Life in general hasn’t exactly been too encouraging in the writing department either. The constant snow storms (and snow days for the kids), extreme temps (-30 degrees in CT!), and continuing to struggle with chronic headaches is just doing me in. But, I’m going to see if I can force my mojo back. I’ve ordered a few writing prompt journals off of Amazon and I’ve been keeping a running journal with a creative voice. (Hey, maybe I can make my marathon training into a fun story?!) I’m hoping that if I can’t bring myself to write my novel, then perhaps I can still fight off the lethargy and depression with some writing prompts…and perhaps even prompt myself to get back to work!

I have been trying to focus my creativity in other ways too. I’ve made a couple of “dress shirt” dresses for my daughter out of my son’s old shirts and turned a few maternity shirts into running skirts. I’m also working on finally getting around to editing the images from the kids’ photo shoot we did before Christmas for the grandparents. Hopefully I can get those finished up and framed before Easter.

Basically I’m oozing back into regular life. I’m still slow & foggy, forgetful & sleepy, but I’m pretty much “normal” again. It just takes a lot more planning and scheduling than it used to. If I don’t keep a to-do list and write down the day’s goals I will stare at the wall for hours, completely lost on what I should do with myself until bedtime. Maybe in a few more weeks I’ll be my true productive self again.  If not, then I may need a little redirection.

Time to Get to Work – But First, Must Organize…

School started less than a week ago for the kiddos and now even #3 is off to the great world of education! Okay, she’s in half day preschool, but still! That’s almost three hours, five days a week of ME TIME. Which means, finally Momma can get to work —  you know, that thing called writing?

I have been experiencing all sorts of excuses for the past, well, for a long time now, when it comes to the writing gig. At first it was the kids underfoot and being too tired to commit to it at night. Then it was the computer crashing issues. Then it was because my keyboard wasn’t good enough. Then, then, then….let’s face it, I’m just not as motivated as I’d like to think I am. I did get back in the right direction last Spring and worked most days, even on the weekends to keep the word count going. It wasn’t great, but hey, that’s what editing is for, right? But then school let out and I had all three kids home all the time. And then Hubs had to take his laptop to work on a regular basis. And then we opted to forgo cable & Internet (except for our phones) to save some money over the summer. All blogging, journals, and manuscript writing came to a halt.

Hubs is great. He saved up several pennies and got me a new laptop. All mine. No games downloaded for the kids, no keyboard issues, no sharing with work. BAM! Like, six excuses were taken care of with one purchase.
wpid-wp-1441130270654.jpg Yay!

I played with it a bit here and there. I got Windows 10 loaded up (still not sure how I feel about that). I got a new phone and figured out how to use it as a WIFI hot spot and get online. I set up a cute background and screen saver. I really looked forward to the first day of school so I could devote my “free time” to writing again. So I could be “productive” again. My goal is to finish the manuscript before school is out for the summer next year and use the summer (evenings) to edit and re-write. I made notes in my head, organized my outlines, came up with some awesome plot lines. Finally the first day of school rolled around!
wpid-wp-1441128899549.jpg This was the most welcome sight!

But you know what? I got nothing done. I didn’t know how to readjust myself to this new routine, even though I’d been obsessing about it for three weeks! I tried to get all my chores done in the morning (while my daughter was still home) and tried to sit down right after I dropped her off at school. But there was always something; a load of laundry needed to be folded, chickens needed to be dealt with, supper needed to be planned out. I’d run errands instead of coming straight back to my desk. It’s easier to go to the farm to pick tomatoes or forage for wild grapes if you aren’t dragging a three year old along. It’s faster to return those over due library books and DVDs by yourself. The canning, pickling, baking, etc. needs to happen sometime, right?
wpid-wp-1441128930115.jpg About to be ketchup.
wpid-wp-1441129010331.jpgThe cuteness of homesteading.

My goodness. I’ve created even MORE excuses due to my “free time”! So, before I do anything, I am going to knuckle down (while my tomatoes are simmering on the stove) and create my own plan of attack. My kids have a schedule. My husband has a routine. Heck, even the animals have a check-list. Since I’m the ring master running this show, I suppose it is only wise if I adhere to one as well. I will be putting my calendar reminders and list making skills to good use so I can get a lot of the distractions out of the way and keep my time on the clock actually focused on writing, and getting that dang story on paper and out of my head!

Procrastination is an Evil Monster

I am a writer. Or, so I’d like to think about myself,  and how my husband introduces me. But the thing is, I haven’t actually written anything aside from a few great outlines and lots of notes.  Sure, I had come close to completing my first novel years ago before my hard drive was maliciously ripped from my computer.  Since then I have found every excuse to not sit down and write.

At first I thought it was the children. I blammed them because they were noisy so I couldn’t focus. They were little and needed attention with toilet training, reading, fixing toys, food, etc.  I kept saying, well,when they are older and a bit more independent I’ll start and just take notes for now.  But I have to admit, it really isn’t them. I mean, two of them are at school giving me three full hours and my third spends most of the time quietly playing or drawing on her own.  I know I could write around her (and I often am productive).

Then I started blaming it on the house and chores.  So easily I would get distracted by the “need” to dust, vacuum,  or fold yet another load of laundry.  Dinners would need to be planned and prepared.  Toys picked up, items arranged, windows washed, walls scrubbed, and so forth.  Even as I sat down to write this afternoon I left a blank white page to scoop up abandoned Legos.  Was I really irked by the Legos or by the lack of words on my page?

Other things are the culprit as well.  I’m always distracted by the need to go brush my teeth, or grab a glass of water, or put more food out for the cat, or check for mail, or email, or Facebook, or read just one more paragraph, or or or…

Now I’m pointing a finger my my hardware.   I have a transformer Asus tablet with keyboard, but it is old and slow, and doesn’t charge up well, and the keyboard doesn’t really work anymore.  I have a newer Samsung Galaxy Tab tablet without a keyboard (what I’m using to write this) and apparently no USB ports to add one.  I also have an Asus notebook loaded with Umbuntu.  It is ok, kinda slow in booting.  A strange layout and operating system, but maybe only because I don’t have the password and am always logged in as Guest.  Writing without an actual keyboard drives me bonkers.  It also makes my shoulder hurt (rotator cuff injury,  probably some kind of tendonitis), as well as my hands (carpel tunnel as well as arthritis).  I end up sitting hunched over, wreaking havoc on my posture, causing an array of other issues.  What I have just isn’t up to snuff.

Riiiight.  Suck it up Mazy and write already!  I decided to make an attempt by writing for 25 minutes at a time.  I figured, I could ignore all other chores, my daughter will not have a monsterous toilet attack, and I could focus for a mere 25 minutes, then go back to regular household and mom duties.  Once I got good with 25 minute blocks, I could lengthen the time or add more later.  So I downloaded a fun little tracking app with a timer and set it to go.  Theni started booting up my Asus notebook.  After 5 minutes and running bios twice,  I got to the home screen and Office opened.  Then the breaker for the living room flipped.  Space heater, lamp, and laptop instantly went out.  After trugginng to the basement to flip the breakers back and restore power, my timer was now telling me I had used up over 8 minutes of my time.  The laptop refused to reboot.  13 minutes gone.  Fired up the old Asus tablet.  No go.  Stuck on the home screen with a fun swirly emblem. “Mommy! I need to go potty!!” 22 minutes gone.  Decided to just deal with it and opened Polaris Office on the Samsung tablet,  keyboard or no keyboard,  I was going to make use of my remaining three minutes!

Nope.

Despite my resolve, I got nothing accomplished.  And now it is too late because it is 2:37pm and I need to be at the school by 3 to pick up the boys.  And then I need to go over homework, and prepare dinner, and beg for them to clean up, take showers, brush teeth, wash the dishes, mop the dining room, and set out lunch for tomorrow.  I know I could write after everyone is in bed, but we all know that’s not going to happen.

Turning Down the Dream

I am currently a stay-at-home, non-income-earning mom and I have been for nearly four years now.  Sometimes I love it, sometimes I hate it.  There were lots of reasons why I quit my “part time” job to stay home with the kids, and there have been lots of reasons why I’ve played with the idea of going back to work several times since quitting.  The biggest reason, in all areas, has been boredom.  I was bored at my job.  Financial aid at a cosmetology school was just something I never really wanted in life, so the stresses of it just stressed me out more than it should have.  And, I’ve been incredibly bored at home; washing the same loads of laundry and wiping the same snotty noses day in and day out.  My personal dreams have yet to materialize because life just keeps happening.  Sometimes I get mad at myself over it.  Sometimes I get depressed about it.  I know I made a series of choices that have lead me to where I am now, and sometimes I am dissatisfied with that.  I know I SHOULD have taken that internship when I was in college.  I SHOULD have kept in contact with a whole bunch of folks that could have helped move me along.  I SHOULD have sought jobs in the field I wanted instead of just taking the first paying gig that came along.  I SHOULD have had more confidence in doing what I loved.

While all the shoulda-woulda-couldas get me down at times, I am well aware of the fact that I can still do all of those things.  I simply have to take the imitative and put in the effort.  Most days I am willing to do that.  I know I am not so far gone that I can’t make my dreams come true…eventually.  And I know I would not have the family I have now if I had done things differently.

Not working has been good for me for the most part.  I do love being able to home-school my kids and maintain my household.  I’m less frazzled and less depressed than I was back when I was trying to do it all.  And, we’ve been lucky enough to be able to pull it off on one income…sort of.  While Hubs does make a pretty decent living, we have been battling back our debt from our younger (and stupider) days, relaying on our credit cards a little more than we’d like, and having to suck it up and pay for two vehicles at the same time (not fun).  Things aren’t dire just yet, but a second income would certainly help.  I decided rather half-heartedly to put some feelers out to see what was available for work and signed back into CareerBuilder with a revised resume.

Of course there were a lot of spammy Emails that flooded my Inbox with positions that I would never accept or were down right pyramid schemes.  But, within a week I had landed an interview for The Perfect Job.  It was for an assistant producer position at a publishing company.  Despite not having worked in publishing, I still fit the criteria, which was why I went ahead and applied.  I was flabbergasted when they called me to set up a meeting, and I was nervous in the days leading up to it.  All of those should haves kept plaguing my thoughts and squashing any self esteem that I had.  But, I’m a decent enough actor and sailed through the interview with all sorts of faux confidence.  I left the place feeling great about the interview, about the job, the company, my potential employer…I knew I would get the job, and that was why I cried on the way home.

My dream job was an hour’s drive through mostly New England back roads from my house.  That would mean committing two hours (or more depending on traffic and weather) a day, giving me at least a ten and a half hour day.  That would leave a time crunch for things like dinner, kids’ homework, chores, etc.  But I knew it could be done.  With planning and a crock pot, with my husband’s somewhat flexible hours, with (hopefully) the help of childcare it could all be covered and I’d have income to contribute AND I’d finally be working in the field I’d always wanted.  It could be done. I could have it all; the career, the family, the house…

The day after my stunning interview I went for a walk through the woods with my two year old daughter. I kept thinking about how I’d miss not being able to spend this time with her and what that might mean.  Sure, she would adjust to daycare just fine and grow up being no worse off —  or would she?  Someone else would be there to help her discover the joy of the world while I was busy plugging away at a desk.  I nearly cried for the loss of my toddler and I hadn’t even missed a thing yet!  I felt so conflicted; it was important for my daughter to see her mother be successful, productive, and happy, but it was also important for me to be there for her and to help her grow.  Would I be able to find that special balance?  I felt like I was at a junction and didn’t know which way to turn.  I wanted both things, the stay-at-home-mom life that was going so well and the new adventures of being a publisher.  I wanted things to change, I wanted to talk to adults, to make a difference and do something special.  I also wanted to stay the same, keep the routine, and be safe.  Some moments I feared not getting the job, other moments I feared getting hired.

Then came the issue of childcare.  My oldest, a Kindergartener, is in school for a full day, but my middle child, a Pre-schooler, has only a half day from noon to three and there isn’t a bus service available for him.  My oldest takes the bus to school in the mornings and they are both picked up at the same time in the afternoons.  If I needed childcare, then my middle son would have to drop out of Pre-school since there wouldn’t be a way for him to get to and from the school.  In our area, this meant that daycare would cost $110 per day for the three of them, more for the days that my oldest wouldn’t be in school like holidays or summers.  Late pick-up fees would also have to be added on at $10 per child per hour after 5pm.  There wouldn’t be a way for either Hubs or myself to get back before then, so it would be, at best $140 if we didn’t get hit with traffic or any reason to be kept at the office past 5.  The cost would sky rocket during summer vacation.

I quickly realized that between taxes, gas for the commute, and childcare, the paycheck from my dream job would be depleted before I even got to buy a latte.  I would be working to work, and possibly not break even.  It just wasn’t going to pay for me to go back to work, even if it was for a job I really, desperately wanted.

I was still conflicted about what I wanted.  I still wanted to find a way to make it work so I could take the job.  I really wanted that position with that company and I wanted to work for that woman.  I wanted to do it.  But I also wanted to be home with my children, especially my small daughter.  I wanted to wash their clothes every day and make their dinner every night.  I wanted to fight with them over showers and clean up and struggle to make everything fair.  I couldn’t decide which one I wanted more and I was heart broken when something as dumb as money went and made the decision for me.  Perhaps if it were closer, or paid more, or it was another time it could all fall into place, but not now.  It hurt to turn down my dream job.

I knew not taking the job would cut off potential contacts.  It would put even more of a gap in my work history and further me even more from the industry I was trying to break into.  I could sacrifice a lot and take the job to better my future prospects, but leaving my kids in the lurch seemed selfish.  I know I did the right thing by staying home and possibly looking for something part time around town, I know I can still write and publish in the future.  But doing the right thing doesn’t always take away the sting of walking away from something before you even got a chance to try.  I didn’t reach for the golden ring because it’s not my time yet and there will be more opportunities, I just have to be patient.  I’m trying to not be bitter about it because I know I will get another chance, but for this week, and until those bills are caught up, it’s going to be hard.

Thankful #9: Fellow Writers

Sometimes I have to take a break from writing. Writing, for me, is like a roller coaster ride. I start off slowly inching my way up the first big hill, clickety-clacking all the way as anticipation and excitement mount. I hover at the crest for a moment, weightless and giddy. And then the plummet back to Earth begins. The coaster rattles on it’s track as it picks up speed and I fear derailment. When I sling shot through a loop-de-loop I wonder if I’ll make it back through or fall out of my seat. The ups and downs and upside downs of writing can be thrilling as well as traumatizing. While I may be the writer, I am most certainly just along for the ride.

Sometimes I get really stuck with writing too. I occasionally get writer’s block or write myself into a corner. Other times I’ll end up lost within my own plot and have to stop & ask for directions on how to get back out. If I find myself struggling with writing for any reason, I find that a book is almost always the answer. In fact, I have found that reading is a writer’s greatest tool. I’ve always had some issues with writing and sleeping. When I really get going on a story I can easily get carried away by it. I’ll either be up at 2am, furiously tapping away at the keyboard, or I’ll be up at 2am trying to shake off the sweat from a bad dream. Either way, it keeps me from sleeping which, as you can guess, causes problems with day to day life as well as the quality of my writing. And it means that I really need to take a reading break. I am thankful for everyone who writes, especially those that publish, because reading the work of others inspires me to write. It helps me get going when I’m headed up a hill, but it also brings me out of my own works, and encourages sleep. Just reading a book reminds me that I’m not alone on the ride, and that others are up late too.

Thankful #1 Writing Challenges

I will have to say that my first thankful post is also going to be about writing because, well, I’m just thankful for it.  I am thankful for these writing challenges because they are making me think and they are making me write, and those are two things that I really haven’t been doing a lot of lately.  I am thankful for NaNoWriMo because, even though I think I may be throwing a good story away, at least I am FINALLY writing down that story.  It’s a dirty way of doing it, but I honestly don’t think I’d ever get around to it if it weren’t for the challenge of it.  Some writers I know aren’t participating because they are busy, which I find funny only because the year I finally suck it up & join is the busiest year of my life!  I’m a stay at home mom to three children (two toddlers and a newborn), so it’s not like I have a lot of free time on my hands to write.  But I am good at crunch time and I’m super excited over challenges and dares, so this is just right for me.  I am so thankful for this push because the story I’m writing is important to me.

I’m also thankful for the blogging challenge because I do need to reflect on the good things in my life (and it doesn’t hurt to have another writing exercise on the side).  Not a lot of people know this, but being a mom is stressful!  And when you get into mom-mode, parts of your brain tend to shut down while you read and re-read the same board books and eat the same play food sandwhich for the umpteenth time.  After my children are sent off to bed, I generally flip on the boob-tube or veg out on Facebook.  I turn into mush until I turn in for the night and resign myself to a four hour coma.  I never reflect.  I never just think.  Pondering, philosophizing, wondering, writing used to be some of my favorite things.  They made me feel smart, like I could come up with some answer to some worldly problem or question.  But thinking is work and at the end of a very long day I just don’t want to work anymore.  Motherhood has made me lazy in that sense.  So, yeah, I’m thankful for these challenges because my brain desperately needs the workout.