Distractions

A veritable myriad of them. There’s the coverage of the trial here in CT that has everyone’s attention; the prosecution of the animals who destroyed a family three years ago in Cheshire. There’s all the cooking that I like (love) doing once the cooler weather sneaks in. There’s the Big E, calling to me with promises of maple cotton candy and lots of other food, food, food.

I have a secret weapon now, though, taped up in plain sight so that I can see it every time I sit down here. It’s a business card. It has an agent’s name on it. It was given to me by my dad, who happens to have known this person since he was a kid. The agency is in L.A. – I’ve heard of it before – it’s sitting and cheering me on to finish writing more, lots more, so that I can then pass it along to him.

Sometimes I put Pippi:

A really great piece of art by a fab artist named Sarah Mensinga

 As my profile picture when I’m feeling rebellious.

She bravely charges into any situation, scowling at naysayers, and ignoring the opinions of those who don’t matter. I try really hard to be like that, but I often end up with the other half of her personality: distracted by the urge to go on a pirate adventure.
I did manage to get out about 5 pages yesterday. I have a new means of keeping myself from being totally distracted by the internet (and facebook), at least. I am writing everything out longhand, and then transcribing it. It also achieves another purpose; I can edit and rewrite as I’m typing from my penciled pages.
I just have to keep looking up at that card. I need to remind myself why I’m doing this, but also that I now have a ray of hope.
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Updating the goals…

After yesterday’s ennui-flushing, in which, I confess, I felt a bit like a teenager afterwards, I have through about it a little further. “Rebuff” was probably the wrong word, if not too strong a word. It’s more like me bouncing off the plexiglass of my own making.

Fellini's sense of humor....

As I mentioned, navel-gazing is not a wonderful pasttime, as opposed to Naval-gazing, which very often can be, particularly if dress uniforms are involved. One of the things that happens with writers, or with people who find blathering about feelings in the written, rather than spoken, word, is that we let it all go. Sometimes we forget that others may be wondering what the hell we’re carrying on about. I’m not saying that’s what was completely at play. Part of my meandering in that post was, indeed, wondering whether anything would answer besides my own echo. I guess that’s ego, in the Jungian world….

I think we all have our own particular worries and self-doubts. They show up at the most inconvenient of times. They take a perfectly decent day and make it addled and uncomfortable. And yes, they drag us right back to the upheaved hormone imbalances of our teenage years. I wish I was immune from it – I wish I could stop worrying, fretting, overanalyzing…but I’m not. Maybe accepting some of these things that are too expensive to fix at a therapist’s office is like accepting that, short of a tummy tuck, pregnancy has left some of us with a lasting gift on our bodies….

Anyhow – once I got past thinking like I was still shopping at the Express and wearing a can of hairspray every day – I was thinking about my goal that I’d set a while back. 10 finished writing projects before year’s end. I think I can still manage, since I was nice and vague about the parameters involved. But I began to think further ahead, to the point when our younger child starts full days of school.

For some moms out there, having a career and a life outside is really a high priority. For me, eh, I never liked the office environment…I’d like to work on my master’s and get certified in the state as an archaeologist. I’d like to just work privately, and contract out. Beyond that, I’d rather be available to my kids. So…I think my goal for next year at this time is to have sold some of the things I’ve written. I’m going to worry about something productive, if I can, and build my writing resume. And maybe look into a class here and there. Online.

Open head; empty onto page.

It would be easier than the current mode of getting everything out there.

Or a usb feed, plugged straight into the noggin, downloading everything. It might not be coherent, but you could edit.

I have promised myself a long day of writing, probably taking a day off of running/biking to do so. I have finished the second draft of another short story, the one I previously mentioned, based on one of my great-grandmothers’ childhood experience of being put into an orphanage. I don’t know if it’s any good yet – I am letting it rest (like a ball of dough) – and will go back to it next week.

Today, I’m hoping that the writing process will be cathartic. I’d love to stop feeling so…buffeted by life today. One of the least favorite aphorisms about writing is that it’s a “lonely job” or whatever you want to call it. Yes, fine, I know it’s easier to physically write when you don’t have someone swirling around you asking for another piece of toast, or what you’re doing on the computer. But I don’t think I would prefer to exist in a hermit state. That said, I find myself considering that, perhaps, life as it is might be better somewhere else. We’ve stayed where we are for a number of reasons, not least of which are the people who teach our autistic child. I’m personally reluctant to uproot, mostly because I dislike moving and changing, but it seems like a constantly repeating scene of reaching out, only to be rebuffed. I try to tell myself that it’s not the case, but that’s not easy when you’re prone to self-doubt. I’m just a little tired of feeling like I’m taking the risks I told myself I needed to (when I realized I was becoming a hermit), only to keep perceiving a message that everything that comes back in return is out of pity, or something.  Stir that up with a nice measure of betrayal of trust and unresolved anger, and you’ve got yourself a drama in three acts. 

I have struggled with unhappiness, the self-created kind, previously in life. At this point, I’ve come to a place where I really work not to allow it to take control of me anymore – something my husband misreads as foolish optimism from time to time. There are still moments like this morning, of being completely overwhelmed by yet another rebuff, as well as home stuff, when I find myself going to pieces over my omelet not behaving itself. I’m sure I’ll be fine in a few hours, but I keep thinking that the only solutions are: cut myself off again, or we go somewhere else, where things make more sense. We’ve been saying now for a few years that our next step, what we really want to do, where we really want to be, is to find a small farm. I can envision the whole thing – especially since we both hate cities (at least to live in) – but I’ve also dug in my heels about making premature moves. I’m a believer in the idea that the right thing will come at the right moment – or at least the moment when you realize you’ve got to get up and get on it.

Somewhere, lurking off in the distant dusk, is this sense that I have, though…that we’ll get there, and that will be it. Just us. Nobody will care that we’ve faded out of the hustle and bustle. That’s my little monster that I still kick back under the bed. I see the danger of letting this post go on for much longer, it’s like staring at the sun; dangerous and alluring. And it could go on forever, cycling around and around, while I get nowhere. Phooey.

Whoosh!

Just like that, everything, the summer, my intentions, my memory, has blown right by.

I know what I said I am going to do this year – the blog part of is has simply fallen through the cracks for a few months.

So, to recap, I said I was going to have TEN PROJECTS completed by the end of the year.

Where am I with that?

Well, I finished drafting and editing one short story about a guy in 1876. His name is Augustus Purce, and he’s the town drunk, but he’s got a secret. I got a tiddling bit of input on that one, rewrote it a couple of times, and zing-zanged it off to Glimmertrain’s semi-annual thingie for new fiction. Who knows. Maybe I should send it off elsewhere as well, but I have to check on their rules for that. This little story came about from watching our own neighborhood drunk bumble up and down the street on a regular basis. He likes to blather at anything that doesn’t hide fast enough, and swills from a coffee cup. I sort of took that, and wondered what would happen if he wasn’t really what he seemed. And then had to wonder why someone would do that.

Now, just today, I finished the first rewrite of a story that is loosely based on what happened to one of my great-grandmothers as a child. I had to make her older than her brother, which was not the case in reality – she was younger than he was, and only a baby when the general facts of this story took place. Her father died of TB when she was 6 months old, and her mother, being a practical sort of woman, put her and her brother, Millard, into an orphanage until she could find either work or a new husband. This story imagines what would have happened if the children had encountered someone who was as wounded as they were, and who decides to take matters into her own hands. In reality, my great-grandmother was retrieved by her mother. It just wasn’t a terribly pleasant time for her, nor was her mother’s next husband, who sexually abused her. It’s a sad fact that the way she grew up probably turned her into a needy, terrified woman who married an alcoholic.  I plan on touching into her life again for a another story or two.

I have some more things that I have started, but if I count correctly, I’m about halfway there. I think I’m going to try Zoetrope again soon, but until then, I’ll be back.

The plot sickens…and dies.

(If you’re like me) You’re cutting along with a general, vague idea of your storyline, unless you’re one of those type A people who graphs it all out in advance damn you. You let the story float along on the currents, with no precise mapping, no idea where you will make landfall next (hey, most of the time it works for me…), when you pick up the spyglass, only to detect the distant, misty roar of Charybdis up ahead, threatening to take the whole thing down.

What next, then, when something doesn’t work? If it’s only the little bit that you just wrote, you can gently pick it out, as hardened tar from jute…it may not unravel everything. The really painful, difficult situation comes when something POPS into the narrative (you know, that little bit you just wrote) and changes the map completely. You find that you have to go back through everything – do you start over, culling out the bits and pieces that still fit, preserving those parts that are so good they cannot be lost in the wreckage? Or do you haul the thing into the shoals, and effect repair?

Being the recycling soul that I am, I tend to go for the latter maybe it’s just laziness, even though I may read through later on, and find that I missed something…s.

Even worse, though, is when you get underway, only to have the winds leave you, luffing and heading for the shallows, which bristle with rocks – the story founders – there is no remedy- all hands are lost. I have a virtual graveyard of sunken stories that never went anywhere…but of course, they stay, just in case….

progress report….

Well, I’ve managed to get a little completely off track since, a) deciding that my kids need less time on the computer and television (I may be a little nuts, but it had to happen, but it means less time for me as well: guess who’s entertaining them!) and, b) a case of food poisoning knocked me on my ass, and apparently breached the castle walls for a really bad cold (which felt like pneumonia for a couple of days).
I’m still trying to get my head back in the game – especially after a random case of the blues hit…nobody ever expects Pablo Picasso!!

And then, spring (against the odds, man) seems to have arrived – adding further distraction in the form of blue skies and temperatures that don’t make you want to immediately run back inside. But this happens every year, so that’s why I’m countering it with goaltending. My writing being the puck, and distractions being the jerks on skates trying to steal it from me. On target…yeah…here’s what else is on my mind as the warmer weather looms:

  • Finally getting all the unused, garbage-y, purposeless (to us) stuff out of our house – really. Well, I’m not going to go all minimalist or anything,  but a purge is overdue. And I’m a magpie, so it might be hard….
  • Get the garden back in running order – going to ditch the hesitancy in planting, and go ALL OUT. Just need more dirt and maybe another raised bed. Maybe a LOT more dirt.
  • A camping trip from our New Englandy roost down to Missouri, where 3 of 7 of my hubby’s sibs reside – one of whom will be a first-time dad with his wife (yay!). I foresee traveling through North Carolina (where I went to school), and finding some awesome barbeque – I do love a pig pickin’…and it’s why I can’t ever be a vegetarian.

Through all this, I must find a way to stay on course, somehow, so…yeah, that’s why I do this blogging thing. To remind myself of what I’m supposed to be doing. Yeah. Thank god the kids aren’t home yet!

not over the hill, yet….

This is one of those birthday years that ends in a “5” for me. Maybe I should do like my neighbor and stick to the anniversary of the 29th birthday…. I’m trying to get used to the idea now, so that, in June, when it hits for real, I won’t get run over by it. I don’t know what I’m going to do in 5 more years, when the really big one hits…hopefully spend it in Mexico, plastered a little bit by cactus juice. I’m definitely not ready for the calendar to start tipping that direction yet. I could be like my husband, who is looking forward to the potential end of the world in 2012. And I do mean looking forward. He thinks it could be fun. Probably he’s talking about the idea of living in the woods and living it up between now and then.

The 35th birthday is one of those milestone years that gives you a slap in the face when you look around and see how many people there are, now younger than you, in positions of authority and success. I mean, seriously, the Facebook guy is 25!  Ten years ago, when I was turning 25, I was driving around the Florida Keys with two dogs in the car, and no ending in sight to a book I’d been trying to write for five years.

I guess that’s why this year has turned, for me, into a taking stock year, a year where I’ve set myself this crazy goal of trying to write so much. I don’t want to let another year slip by – which is what those years do when you slip into neutral, hunker down, and try to avoid looking at the scenery.

So, where am I at…? Well, you should be able to see those little word counters off to the side of the blog, —-> and notice, if you’ve been here before, that there hasn’t been much of a budge lately. I’ve had a lot of little things crop up, and that’s why I’m back to this point of shaking myself a little, to say, “Hey! Wake up, remember you have a lot to do…!” I’ll stop short of smacking myself, because it’s a little self-indulgent (feeling the Simon Cowell vibe), and because it hurts.

I should say that I probably need to go back and rediscover the art of the short story, even though I have not written one of those in over ten years, probably because of the myopia involved in book-length writing. I used to be okay at it…except for that one I submitted to Zoetrope, only to have them say, “but it doesn’t actually seem like a story.” Oops. Well, maybe that was why the title was Dream, people. I thought it was pretty good. I have a good reason to try this year, because there’s a little fellowship out there for parents who write, and have a child under the age of ten. So, here I go…the deadline is April 17th.