Wednesday, May 13, 2015

The New Normal

It's been a year and a half since I last wrote on this blog. And, when I last wrote on this blog, I wrote this:

In a nutshell: so what if I'll end up submitting my book 9 months after I thought I would? What's 9 months in the whole of a lifetime? Even if it's a year late, what's 12 months? Nothing. Nada.

And I'm now comforted reading those lines, because I'm still not done with any of the projects I was working on when I last blogged. The article I mentioned? Can't even remember which one I was referring to back in Jan. 2014, but I definitely didn't finish it. However, I'm working on one now that's already been accepted. This is real, baby, and it's within a few hours (and a trip to an archive) of being done. The books? They're still there, unwritten. They're closer to done now, but not *that* close. But, it's not ridiculous to think I could submit them both in the fall. Only a few years off schedule, but I feel like my priorities are not out of whack anymore. The schedule doesn't matter. It really doesn't. It means "Nothing. Nada," like I told myself a long time ago.

And what did happen during that year and a half? Husband and I weathered the roughest patch of our marriage, and we celebrated our 10th anniversary. In fact, we celebrated so well that I'm now looking at the fruits of said celebration, our long-wanted second child, a beautiful son to grow up alongside our beautiful daughter. She is about to turn ten and had given up on having a sibling, and here he is showing us that we should all keep dreams alive.

So, now I'm off to write again. In fact, I started up again a few weeks ago, and it's felt great. The difference, I think, is in approaching writing time as an opportunity rather than a burden. Having tenure helps here, I think. Yes, I could really, really use the raise that comes with promotion to full. But, even without it, I'll still have a secure job, so the writing feels less fraught than it did pre-tenure. And, though some doubt me when I say this, having a newborn helps here as well. He helps me see time as precious, in so many ways. He helps me remember that we never know what the future holds. After all, I had no idea, a year and a half ago, of what I'd literally be holding in my arms today.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Just Watch Me

My struggle for accountability, to borrow Adrienne Rich's phrase, has led me to post two musings in a matter of minutes, after having been silent for so very long.

Of course, I'm diluting Rich's intent here egregiously, but bear with me.

I've re-read my posts here (I think I'm the only one who looks at them, so I may as well read them more than once). And, post after post, I'm writing about my goals, my deadlines, my determination.

Initially, I was so discouraged upon tonight's re-readings. Who am I kidding? I've been saying I'll meet deadlines for years, deadlines I haven't even come close to meeting.

And then I thought to myself, huh. I may not have met those deadlines, but I've done a LOT of work. I've come close to finishing two whole books in these two years, plus another co-authored one that I haven't even mentioned here. Plus drafts of a few articles. Plus some poems. I *have* accomplished some things. I *will* finish these books, and articles, and more poems.

In a nutshell: so what if I'll end up submitting my book 9 months after I thought I would? What's 9 months in the whole of a lifetime? Even if it's a year late, what's 12 months? Nothing. Nada.

Hey, I may not have met my goals yet, but I'm not just blowing sunshine up my own arse when I say that I WILL. It will happen. Just watch me. (Yup, borrowed that line from Claire Messud. Love that book.)

Midnight Musings

Back again, once more searching for accountability.

By March 2nd/9th (depending on group members' schedules): I will submit my entire novel manuscript to my writing group and writing partners for review.

By March 23rd: I will submit my entire academic manuscript to my writing group and writing partners for review.

Every day between now and these two deadlines: I will get off my damn ass (if I'm using my stand-up desk!) or get onto it (if I'm coffee-shopping, coffee-porching, or sitting on my couch) and WRITE. If that means researching, I'm going to be doing it. If that means revising, I'm going to be doing it. If that means creating prose from scratch, I'm going to be doing it. If that means I'm up, as I am now, at 1 a.m. before a 7 a.m. class, so be it.

Enough is enough. I'm sick of myself not finishing these projects. I'm sick of the damn projects.

Wait, that's not true. I'm still in love with the projects.

Score one for me! Maybe this really IS possible.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

The perils of writing from life ...

I'm writing a novel that's heavily based on two emotionally turbulent times in my life: my childhood and my college years. It doesn't bother me that the writing brings up powerful memories. I kind of like that, actually. I also love that the childhood parts make me feel closer to my daughter; they remind me of just how sentient she is at her age. 

But there's a problem.

I just can't judge the writing about the college years. Is it good? Is it bad? Who knows? Not me. 

My memories bring up such strong feelings that when I re-read my writing about them, I can't tell if the memories or the writing are triggering my responses. 

Even worse: the novel also imagines a situation in which the heroine meets her college boyfriend again, years later, in an unexpected way. It's all so real in my imagination--I mean, the potential that I actually could meet my real ex again in an unexpected way, something I never imagined before writing this book--that I get downright anxious reviewing my own work. And, again, I can't tell if the writing is genuinely suspenseful and intriguing, or if I'm just wigging out inside my own head and emotions. 

Even worse worse: I'm getting so anxious and heart-pumpy that I can't bring myself to actually write the pivotal reunion scene. I've written about five deferrals now: they see each other, but an actual conversation has been delayed, and deferred, and interrupted, and ... you see where this is going. Writing a story that hits so close to home has proven difficult, in short. 

This will be a challenge for the writing group, it seems. They have superpowers. They can help! 

Friday, October 18, 2013

Staying accountable, and keeping the dream alive

It's been almost six months since my last post. In that time, I finished neither my academic book nor my novel. This leaves me with a series of questions.

Am I a failure? 
No, no, no. I refuse to believe this. A [wo]man's reach should exceed her grasp, and I've finished about 70% of that academic book and maybe 1/4 of the novel. If I hadn't set absurdly unrealistic goals to start with, I might be feeling great about this progress right now, instead of beating myself up about it. 

Will I ever finish? 
Yes, yes, yes. YES. Yes. 

Will I be setting additional arbitrary deadlines?
Well, I probably shouldn't. But, yes. I will. 

I want to get a manuscript for the academic book to the publisher by year's end ... let's say January 7th to be kind to myself, as that's the first day of the next academic session.

 And, I promised a full draft of the novel to my writing group by mid-December (um, year's end ... a very busy year's end).  

Sabbatical is over, so I'm doing all of this writing while teaching and serving on way too many infuriatingly inefficient committees. So, it's now more important than ever (!!) to remind myself: 

1. I GET to write. I don't HAVE to write. This is a gift. This is a choice. The books could be a legacy. This is all worth it. 

2. No [wo]man is an island. My writerly friends are such inspirations. They are trucking along toward their goals (articles, dissertations, novels, memoirs). We are all in this together. 

Back to the grindstone. Whoosh! 

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

So, I just noticed this "Ticker" post:

My Old Ticker

The old goal? 2500 words per week.

My new goal? 2700 words per DAY.

Things were so much more leisurely then.

Of course, my old goal was also 80,000 words overall, and my new goal is 90,000.

But still.

Counting down ...

In the home stretch now. After all these months of thinking and outlining and mind-mapping, all mixed up with occasional bursts of writing, I no longer have the luxury of waiting for the writing to magically appear in said bursts. It is sitzfleisch time. 9 weeks until submission day. 9 weeks!!

Editing to add: I just reviewed my most recent posts ... which are about six months old. Then, I was invested in creative writing, which has gone better than I'd expected. At this point, of course it's a last priority until, you guessed it, 9 weeks from now!