Tomorrow

Right now that Annie song is chorusing through my head: Tomorrow, tomorrow. And really, there’s nothing spectacular about tomorrow. But it’s the promise of what it could be.

In the morning, I travel with my close friend who has been helping me job search to his place of work once again. I have a shadow day appointment with the analytics department. The man who is coordinating is a tier two level guy (two sets of peoples below him). We set up the appt last week.

Tonight he takes the time to email me at 10 pm to check to make sure I am coming. I, of course, smacked myself as I realized I should have checked earlier, but I’m learning. I emailed him immediately with a yes.

It’s not a job interview, it’s just more opportunities to network and learn. Yet the promise is there.

So, for now I will let Annie sing. And we will see what actually comes to pass. Now, it means that I have a goal and a purpose.

To really mix things up, in short, I will not go gently into that good night. I am determined to rage, rage against the dying light. 🙂 (Yes, I think that sums it up nicely.)

Last Week

Tomorrow marks the beginning of an end. As poetically cliche as it is, this chapter of my life has found its ending. The last week of school.

And instead of dwelling on that, I found myself unable to sleep tonight (slept in way too late this morning) thinking about all the beginnings I still have occurring.

  • I have an amazing husband working his butt off so I can find my own path.
  • I have written in less than a year, 74,224 words to date.
  • I have started an Etsy store that has sold 2 pieces in 3 months (only one was a friend).
  • I have met and networked with amazing people who were willing to take time out of their schedule to meet with a teacher trying to change careers.
  • I have a friend who has been standing right next to me through it all.
  • I have a mother, father, and sister who are proud of my accomplishments and rooting for me.
  • I have a mathematics degree that I might get to use a little bit more.
  • I am working myself out of debt.

Just a tip of the iceberg. But this isn’t a list of things to be thankful for. It’s a list of things I’ve begun, have and will succeed in. It’s just strange how sometimes modesty overrides our ability to actually stand up and say, “This is what I am good at, and beyond that, this is why I am absolutely awesome.” I mean, who actually likes answering that question in a job interview, “Why would you be good at this position?” or the even better one, “Why should we hire you?” It puts you on the spot to defend yourself wholly about why you would rock their socks off if they hired you. Sometimes it easy to answer, other times we get to do a little acrobatic reasoning. But the result in the same, if we want it bad enough, they be able to tell in our voice and our mannerisms.

I joked to my friend the day he helped me network, “They don’t have any idea who they are hiring. They aren’t just hiring some girl who needs a job. They are getting a woman who is literally giving up everything she knows to jump headlong into a new project. They have my undivided attention, and I am a very fast learner.” It was spoken in jest, but rings true in hindsight. I am a very fast learner and I can do what I set my mind to. Hell, first time out of the gate, I wrote 50,000 words in 30 days (even starting 4 days late).

So, in imaginary toast as I finally crawl into bed, I salute new beginnings. May they be ever so exhilarating and ever so enlightening as always.

I’ve never taken the easy road yet, why start now?

The Art, the Book, and the Way

So a few ideas to address today:

First, yes, I am still writing. I have recently decided to change careers. And, so as if I wasn’t doing enough previously, I am now job hunting for a new career. It’s exciting and super scary at the same time. I am leaving the comfort of what I know for an unknown. And worse, an unknown that I don’t wholly feel prepared for. Either way, I am doing it. My resignation paper was turned in two days ago. I am not changing my mind now. Teaching, sad as it is to say, is for someone who cares a little less than I.

Second, the book has morphed in a series. I had the sneaking suspicion that it what is was going to do to me. Not so worried though. It may mean the the end of Ceara’s story is farther off than I expected, but it finally feels like the book is more than a one shot, shallow, cliche paranormal story. Now I just need to write it like it is that unique. Thankfully, someone new, a Nephilim by the name of Nathaniel just walked into the book the other night. So I am going to wrap up book one, set down notes and outlines for book 2/3 (November is coming on fast…), and be prepared to finally read through my first manuscript beginning to end. Ceara, Jean, Koma, and Derrick need a little more flesh on their bones before I go running off half-cocked into a deeper truth. Can I do this before the next Nano? I have no freakin’ clue.

Third, I was able to read an article about the downward spiral of the Arts. That article refers to the original Salon article here. Are we really losing so much of our respect for the arts? The sad part is it might have already been gone. The Greeks and Romans revered their art. I remember sitting in class once, Anthropology 1101 if I remember correctly, stating how societies grew and evolved. My professor mentioned that you could measure a societies achievements in their leisure. Not laziness, mind you — there is a distinction. But the ability to not have to spend every waking second never ceasing towards finding where food would come from, shelter, safety. I agree with the Etsy article point of view that too many people think that art is just a hobby. Music, painting, photography, metal working, glass blowing, we are all considered eccentric crazies that have too much free time. People see us and think, even worse for those that may do it full time, unable to get, hold, or want a REAL job. It’s the same reason I listened to my parents, went to college and received a degree in mathematics instead of trying my hand on Broadway. In the end, I’m still happy with my choices, but it has the same connotation. Now, I’m a writer, a jeweler, a photographer. I am quitting my teaching job to work a 9-5 somewhere closer to home. A job where I won’t have homework to do and I can spend my time at home with ME. The job is a means to an end. Hopefully, one day, enough people with accept self-publishing (respectable self-publishing I will add) and homemade crafts as willingly as we proudly announce our Made in the USA stickers.

Until then, fellow readers, writers, artists, musicians, dabblers, entrepreneurs, experts, and pedestrians we will continue to ply our crafts and find the little joys in the kind words we receive from friends. Coveting the thrill of compliments and critiques of strangers who at least saw our work. For now, that is good. Even if it isn’t nearly enough.

 

The Slow Grind

The days are crawling by, yet as I turn to look over my shoulder, all I see are distant days that felt like they would never end. It’s getting to be Spring Break here at the school and everyone from teachers to students to administrators are becoming stir crazy. One more week of classes after today and then 9 blissful days of no students, papers, and lesson plans.

What there WILL be instead in writing and beading. Yes, unfortunately I cannot lay sole blame of me not writing on work. My other hobby has reared its beautifully seductive head. I bead and make necklaces, etc for fun. Well, the fun morphed into an Esty shop. I’ve always been building for about 5 years now as Rounds and Roses, but this is my first aggressive foray into selling my work to more than family and friends. Therefore, all the hype associated with that has occurred as well. From twitter (@RoundsandRoses) to Facebook (Rounds and Roses) I’ve been dutifully trying my best to build more than just casual interest in my necklaces. My luck is probably normal for right now, but so depressing when actually in the middle of it. Forest, tress, yadda yadda yadda.

So, the writing has been growing in small fits and spurts. I finally compiled all the hand written notes from the last few weeks into my Scrivener file – 67k words altogether. But I am looking forward to a quiet apartment and no work.

Yesterday, on the drive home (an hour one way) I had an epiphany for how the next scene was going to go. Not the best time when both hands are supposed to be on the wheel. So, thank the Stars for iPhones. Headset – check, voice memo app – check, record on – check. Of course, if  you had passed me on the road you probably would have been a little intrigued to see a person gesturing and getting emotional. Thankfully, from outside the car, no one would ever know I was literally talking and acting out an entire scene to myself. It’s more than likely a carry over from my theatre days, but talking and acting out certain scenes is much easier for me than thinking in epic novel format. The novel comes together through drafting and notes. In my head, its dialogue and blocking. But don’t ask me to write a script. I would put that italicized block in to no end.

With an empty apartment, I can do both quite happily. I can bounce from computer to pacing and shouting and gesturing back to typing without any questions as to why I am doing what I am doing. That’s the plan anyway.

 

Whole Plan:

Finishing jewelry commissioned by friends

Write another 15k on the novel (at least ~5 scenes)

Get new job that isn’t teaching

 

It’s doable, right? Gotta give me some credit for at least still being hopeful at the end of all of these. Haven’t quit yet and don’t plan to.

The Criticism

The book isn’t done yet. Odd place to start an argument, but I had to throw that premise out there before I went much further. To reiterate, in case you missed it. The book is not done — yet.

Anyway, toddling along as I am in my writing. The fits and spurts that give me a few hundred words everyday are great. I’ve switched to long-hand almost constantly now. It gives me time to look at my writing without feeling the negative connotation of self-editing into making my progress slower. I feel like my writing has definitely grown since the first words were put to paper in November.

Speaking of November, I have a friend who had been reading my writing as I go since then. Some will say shame on me, but having been immersed in that red-headed stepchild of writing (re: fanfiction) I know how great a motivator it is to simply have someone waiting on the next installment of my book. And it helped. I made it to 50,000 words, didn’t I? The best part was the agreement we had previously. He would read it, he wanted to read it, but he wouldn’t give me hints, suggestions, criticism or anything until I was done. Flash-forward a few weeks, I thought he meant until the book was done, he meant until November was over.

So he gives me a critique on the phone as I am driving home from work because I brought up a conversation of the debate in writing in First Person present or past tense. Different post. Anyway — he tells me that a very climatic part of my book didn’t read very well and the important piece of information that needed to be revealed then fell flat (my words). I will then put my reaction mildly: I didn’t take it very well.

Looking back now, I know the majority of the next hour long, upsetting conversation was because I have never taken criticism well. Especially to personal, creative projects. And my writing really embodies all of that. I’m a math teacher for crying out loud. I only write because I have since I can remember and enjoy it too much to fall prey to the old cliche of left-brain/right-brain people. So I’m a little sensitive…a little. In my defense, refer to earlier. I was under the assumption we were doing the critiquing stuff later. Like when the book was done.

All of this leads to one large, arcing question. How true is the myth that once you begin to edit during a first draft, the story will probably end up unfinished? Two recent books about writing I’ve read, No Plot? No Problem! by Chris Baty (creator of NaNoWriMo) and On Writing by Stephen King both speak of simply writing all the way through. Don’t look, don’t think, just go from beginning to end letting the story grow and contort until you reach the end. Neither completely disregard an outline for those that are protesting in their seats. They advocate just disregarding the desire to check, read over, and edit what you have just written each time.

I, personally, am torn. I feel that I have to go and keep going because I’ve already slowed down too much. But, my friend argued with me that if it truly bothered me so much, that I should just go back and fix it. Then stop and continue writing the rest of the story. I couldn’t quite explain all the intricacies this one plot point effected, but the simplistic premise is to go back or not…

Reading this post from Leo Baubata: How to Accept Criticism with Grace and Appreciation, I realized that I wanted and will need my friend’s criticism later. And later, I will simply have to swallow my fears, mistrust, and low writing self-esteem to get the information I need to be better at what I want to do. But does that mean I have the right(?) to completely shut him out now and the suggestions he offers?

Is it truly so bad to not touch the beginning of the book again until The End is printed?

 

Best Laid Plans

Today is the start of a four day weekend for me. The school system took the opportunity of President’s Day and added a Furlough day on the preceeding Friday. Poof, instaneous four day weekend, even if a day without pay is kind of cheesy excuse for a vacay.

The plan was to leave at noon today for Hilton Head. Didn’t happen. Long exhausting explanations of why notwithstanding, let’s just say it didn’t work out. So the plan of sitting in a rent free condo on Hilton Head island while it rains and the beach is still in winter hibernation writing my little heart out isn’t the reality now. Instead, I’m still in my little apartment with a half-decided but as yet uncreated writing space with Thank you cards to write, photo business to help with, and all I want to do is run away with my husband and my friend and my dog.

Thus, the new plan, not to let circumstances get me down. I’ve cleaned the apartment to a bearable standard again. I have a clean cover on futon and the kitty asleep next to me. I write my blog post as my starting point (word count same as yesterday’s post) and another at the end to see how far I’ve gotten. Moving forward. Walk before you run. Every little bit helps. And all that jazz.

 

 

The Last Post was When?

Alright, it defintely didn’t feel like the last post I wrote was back towards the end of January. January 26th to be exact. And things were rolling so smoothly. Still, I need to just accept the fact I am not a linear writer and quit trying to make myself write from beginning to end and let the gaps extend to insurmountable behemoths while I wait for an epiphany.

It was a lull though. Reminds me of the episode of The Big Bang theory where Sheldom references a problem in physics he just couldn’t seem to work through. He ends up quoting Eistein saying that sometimes genius needs menial labor to percolate (or some such Sheldon speak). Either way, I think my brain was working in the background while I continued on the menial task of teaching high school children things they couldn’t care less about.

Either way, I like the way the story is going again. I like the tension that is building and the climatic parts I am forshadowing at this point. I’ve been reading a lot of, well, the best thing to call them is probably “How to Write” books. Characterization, setting, description, dialogue, paranormal genre, etc. I finally had to start a notebook of all the information because it was way too much to try and process now WHILE still writing.

What I Have Learned:

 — my Characters need more umph

 — my Settings are too vague or too expository

 — my Dialogue needs a little “playwright” editing

 — my Entire Novel needs an overhaul — Oh, wait, its a first draft

And yes, that’s how my brain works through it all as I sit down to write and I re-read just that last few paragraphs to re-immerse myself. Not perfect, but the words are slowly builing. I’ve gotten to at least 63, 000 now.

One thing I have noticed as well is that I bounce quite regularly back and forth between computer writing with Scrivener and free-handing in my story notebook. I think my prose is better hand-written, but I defintely go for much longer stints on the computer. Which is completely logical. I think I might just stick with whatever I have. I am looking forward to Scrivener on iPad though so I can take my work with me easier. Especially with access to save things to the cloud, multiple backups are great. Thankfully, having a husband who is a photographer means that I am already super paranoid about backing things up in multiple locations prior to losing a huge amount of work.

Finally, we’ve been reorganizing a little bit again. I think the dining room table is going to storage and we are going to convert the dining nook to a sitting space. The living room is too “lived in” for a writing niche, and completely overrun with tax paperwork now. We are also using the new space for a chest freezer to save some money and eat at home. In all, the dining room table (read flat space to pile stuff) is going and new hotness is coming in. I love the cozyness and cost of my little apartment, but I miss my fireplace especially with as rainy as this winter’s been.