Sunday, December 31, 2006

Post-Submission Depression

Today's Mood: Strangely let down. Music: n.a. Writing: Article for Inklings about this blog. Quote:

Writing gives you the illusion of control, and then you realize it's just an
illusion, that people are going to bring their own stuff into it. -David Sedaris


Saturday morning I mailed out my manuscript to the Delacorte Press Contest for a First YA Novel. I should have been dancing. After all, I had spent the last three days in a writing induced coma. Grandpa and Nana had the kids, so I wrote non-stop, either skipping meals or eating leftover lasagna (it was an Italian Christmas on the Sirianni side) at my computer.

But instead of the expected elation, I felt (and still feel--although now it may be the ugh weather) strangely let down. The day was already Saturday--almost the last day of 2006. Things were growing in my refrigerator. The piles of laundry almost obscurred my desk (which is conveniently located between the cat literboxes and the washer and dryer). The children wanted my attention when I got them home--and needed to be fed meals, and bathed, and have their fights referred so that no one got bit or squeezed. It all seemed... anticlimactic.

Now, however, as I sit writing this (the laundry washed, the moldy items thrown out, the children quiet--which probably means a big mess is forming somewhere) I realize that this is the normal way of things. I labored and delivered, but that's not the end. The book (kind of like a child sent off to college) will come back to me (one way or another--although I'm hoping it's in a positive We want to publish this way!) and in the meantime, another story has been growing in me, waiting for the right time to be born. It's getting close, I've already been feeling a few twinges--names, descriptions, a few scenes....

So, as the end of the year rapidly approaches, I make the resolution to accept the labor of writing as on-going. I will never be done. I look forward to another year of writing (even more than in 2006--if I can manage to get out of bed on time!), and submitting, and marketing. Best of all, I go into the new year with a fresh reminder of how wonderful it is to be part of such a great writing community. Thank you so much to all the Peninsula Writers who have labored alongside me, giving me advice, encouragement, and support.

Keep writing!

Monday, December 25, 2006

Post Holiday

Today's Mood: Merry. Music: Christmas carols. Writing: This is it. Quote: Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!


Merry Christmas!

I just wanted to jot a quick note since it's been a week since I last posted. I'm on my Mac and for some reason there are not as many options (centering, size, color....) as there are on Windows. Generally I don't mind going back and forth between the two platforms, but I do find that each one has its quirks. Just recently I moved my whole manuscript from Appleworks into Word for Mac. I like it. Again, it seems to have a few more options (or at least I know how to use a few more options).

Does anyone use another type of writing software? I've seen different ones offered, but wonder if they would help or hinder when it came to writing.

Anyway, I hope that you had a wonderful Christmas (or like in my case--several wonderful Christmas parties that I am glad are now finished.) and that you are writing. I've missed it and look forward to having some time to write in the next few days.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Balancing Act

Today's mood: high-strung. Music: Tori Amos--Tales of a Librarian. Writing: stared at chapter 16 for a half hour before deciding I need to read chapters 14 through 17 to see how I can fix the time problem. Quote:
Curse, bless me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light. -Dylan Thomas

I'm in a quandary. Do I work my keister off trying to get the revisions done on this second MS in time for the Delacorte Press contest, or do I bag it and mess with the structure of the first MS to make it fit the page limit? Or should I skip both for that matter? What first looked like minor changes to the second MS has snowballed into some major rewriting--funny how that happens! But I so want to finish this revision while I'm immersed in it. I just don't have enough time!

I was talking with a co-worker about how to balance writing and life--you know, motherhood, job, cleaning the house enough to not have it declared condemned, even cooking well-balanced meals occasionally. Oh, and then of course this time of year you can add Christmas shopping, wrapping, and cleaning up the talcum powder that my four-year-old spread all over her carpet to make it look like snow. (We need snow for Christmas--that was her reasoning.) Top all that off with dealing with colds and the resulting crankiness, and it's enough to drive a sane woman mad--and I'm not totally sure I qualify for sane on a normal day!

Does everyone struggle this much to find a balance between writing and everything else? I'm starting to think I might just be neurotic. My sister told me I need to prioritize--decide what I really want to do and then make time for that. The problem is that I want to do it all. I want to be a good mom. I don't want to live in a total pit. I do want my kids to remember the joy and wonder of Christmas (okay, maybe not the snow part--but the rest) and I still want to write. Every day. Lots. How do I do that?

On my Christmas list I asked for more time. Do you think Santa will give it to me? So okay, my quote of the day. Dylan Thomas was exhorting his father to fight against dying. I'm way more shallow than that. I just rage, rage against the children waking in the night or against dirty laundry that's in sight, or against the dress that is now too tight, or against the children that do fight..... you get the picture. It's all about the struggle to balance life as a mom, woman, wife, human being--and the life of a writer.

Friday, December 8, 2006

The benefits of taking a shower

Today's Mood: Exhilarated. Music: Alan Parson's Project: Vulture Culture. Writing: revising Katie's notes to self (each chapter starts with one). Quote:
The uncreative mind can spot wrong answers, but it takes a creative mind to spot
wrong questions. --Anthony Jay

If I could take 5 or 6 showers a day I would be so much more creative. For some reason, I get my very best ideas in the shower. Maybe the warm water unclogs my brain cells or something. Heather Sellers in her book Page After Page talks about doing some task like driving your car that keeps the monkey in your mind busy but allows you to think--like taking a shower! You should try it if you get stuck.

So last night I'm taking my shower and I get this cool idea of how I want to do the chapter headers--for lack of a better word. Each chapter starts with a note from Katie to herself--sort of a what she learns from the events in the following chapter kind of thing. Anyway, my readers thought I should make those stand out somehow--distinguish them from the regular chapter. So I got this great idea (or at least it seemed so in all the steam of the shower) to have those notes to self appear on lined paper with a hand-writing type font. That way they look like real notes.

For awhile I thought I was going to have to do the old fashioned get a piece of notebook paper, write the note, tape it on the page, then photocopy it. But fortunantly, I found out it could all be done on the computer. Find an image of notebook paper, insert that in word, put a tranparent text box on it and pick a hand-writing like font. How cool is that?

I still have to see what my small group says about it, but I was pretty psyched this morning--even got out of bed without hitting snooze! (that's big for me)

I also have an exciting idea for something I want to do in my next book--but I can't tell you about it now. It has to perk awhile (like a good batch of soup.) So, I'm going into the weekend jazzed up and hoping to sneak some time to write--although I only have 17 days left to buy the rest of the Christmas presents.

Online shopping here I come!

Tuesday, December 5, 2006

Swimming hard just to stay afloat.

Today's Mood: Industrious. Music: Train-My Private Nation. Writing: revising chapter nine. Quote:

It is just as well that it came to an end. The endless cohabitation with
these imaginary people had begun to make me not a little nervous. Henrik
Ibsen (1828-1906)


Hey-ho, check out the new links list! If you have a blog, or cool--even useful--website that you think should be on this blog, let me know and I'll add it. I check both the comments and my email so you can reach me either way. The Gliffy site I added because I've used it to make a floorplan of my MC's dorm room--I get a better picture of it in my head that way. After all, I can't have them doing something that would take twenty feet when they only have ten. (plus my memory isn't swell, so if I design a floorplan, then when I get to chapter thirty, I'll remember how the room was arranged in chapter twelve)

Okay, this is the fourth time I try to publish this post. Each time I do it cuts half of it out--not that I don't need editing, but hey! I don't want some computer editing me. Anyway. I tried to send a link to this video clip called Vision 2020 but it seems to screw things up, so I'll try putting it in the links on the side. Vision 2020 is a hypothetical commencement speech in the year 2020 and it looks at how education, technology and the world has changed in the last 15 years. Frankly, I find it both frightening and exhilarating. I'm not a technophobe, but often I feel like I'm swimming just to stay afloat. The thought of how to keep my kids not only floating but swimming in the changing future scares me. Yet the possibility of unilateral access to information appeals to me. Take a look (if I can get it working). It's about 16 minutes long.

On the home front we have managed to recover from the stomach bug AND get the christmas tree up and decorated. Not bad for the weekend. However, Friday's snowday meant that I played catch-up all Monday and therefore did no revising at all. So today I got up in the dark, freezing cold to come to work early and revise. The ONLY thing that got my little butt out of bed that early--THE DEADLINE. Seriously, what a great motivator! December 31 lurks closer and closer and fear of not finishing the revision works as effectively as a cattle prod for getting me out of my nice warm bed and off to work. This particular deadline is for the Delacorte Press first Young Adult Novel Contest. 25 more days to revise 22 1/2 chapters--and no, my math isn't that bad. Dec. 31 is a Sunday so I have to send it out on the 30th. Can she do it? Yes she can! (see, television isn't all bad!)

How's your writing going? Writing every day--even if it's only ten minutes? Is there any contest you can enter to create a deadline for you? (I'll make one up if it helps)

Oh, one last thing. About the quote, I'm been in Katie's head so long that I'm regressing back to adolescence--and it sure the hell isn't comfortable this time either!

Saturday, December 2, 2006

December Already!

Mood: Relaxed. Music: Robert Pollard, From a Compound Eye. Writing: finished revising (rewriting) chapter eight. Today's quote: "I have made this [letter] longer, because I have not had the time to make it shorter." -Blaise Pascal (1623 - 1662), "Lettres provinciales", letter 16, 1657

Winter was right on cue this time. December 1 and we had a snow day. This is the view out the window by my desk. Unfortunantly, I didn't get a whole lot of revising done because my daughter got sick--stomach flu. Ugh.(How Murphy's law is that?) But things are looking good today and we are going to bag our christmas tree. It is our tradition to go hunt down and kill (cut down) our own tree, so this is more of an expedition rather than just an outing. After spending 3 hours driving around last year--lots of whining from the kids and a spilled coke on the car seat--we found Stibitz, a christmas tree farm up in Whitehall. They have lots of great trees, goats to feed, chickens to chase, and coffee and hot chocolate. Plus they shake and bundle the tree. How cool is that!? We are heading up there again this year (and feeding the kids BEFORE we go this time)

I wanted to point out a couple of new features on this blog--the links to other blogs of interest and the links to other websites of interest. If you have one you want me to add, just let me know via email or add it in a comment on one of my posts--I do check them.

All this snow--great reason to stay inside and write!