Writing Excuse #10

I churned raw milk into two pounds of butter and then succumbed to the fear that it would spoil if not eaten immediately, therefore I spent the day eating, not writing.

(Prompted by what I actually got to do today which was attend a Homesteader’s Conference–excellent writing material, but did not inspire me to live off the grid anytime soon. Except they made incredible butter.)

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It’s the (damn) Journey!

Did you ever get the advice that it’s “the journey not the destination” that matters? Whether you succeed or not is irrelevant, it’s what you’ve improved or created or learned or mastered along the way? I wonder who coined that phrase?

It wasn’t a runner. (or a writer, but that’s another story)

Me? I like results.So, right now as my torn calf muscle has me grounded from running for two weeks (and counting) right before my already-paid-for half marathon, I am struggling with The Journey. I’m pretty sure there is a life lesson and God-leaning mantra I am supposed to be chanting. Somewhere deep down I’m supposed to be enjoying the rest and waiting patiently for God’s muscle-rebuilding miracles to happen on their microscopic level which is actually very amazing if you stop to think about it. But my Journey has taken me from the race with a huge, happy finish line with thousands of like-minded people to a lonely computer desk with my leg propped on a heating pad.

Kids? Grab Mommy a drink, will ya?

Here’s to The Journey.

 

 

The Delightful, Dreadful Deadline

I’ve been pondering lately about the power of deadlines. They are rather tricky blokes, aren’t they? (I’ve been reading several blogs from the U.K., the British are influencing my speech.) Deadlines can be good and bad, motivating and oppressive, and occasionally pointless or absolutely necessary. Where they become even more questionable, is when you place the burden of a deadline on yourself instead of someone else doing it for you (i.e. school, work). I would argue that self-inflicted deadlines are what separate the achievers from the spectators, the doers from the dreamers, and, yes, the crazy people from the people-who-will-call-you-crazy.

My 13-year-old daughter is about to host her very first craft fair table at a festival. Two years ago, she had a mild interest in sewing, took some classes, and, with moderate encouragement, decided to make multiple somethings to sell. The idea started without any deadline to shoot for. First she piddled with a few Teddy Bears and tote bags, but after making self-designed stuffed monster pillows for Christmas gifts, she found her niche. She signed up for a festival booth at the beginning of summer, made almost 40 monster pillows and several sets of mother-daughter aprons, designed a booth with Dad, and now we are five days away from show time. Oh, and she came up with a name for her product (with a little help from me); the monsters are called “Pillow Frights.”

Pillow Frights. Get it? Instead of “fight”? I had to explain it my husband. (shaking head)

This morning, I inquired about her preparations:

Me: On a scale of 0-10, how hard has this been to get ready?

Hannah: 10

Me: Really? That bad, huh?

Hannah: If I hadn’t signed up, I would have picked another fair later on and had more time to get ready.

Me: Oh, please. You would have done the same thing. Aren’t you proud of yourself?

Hannah: (awkward smile) I guess.

Me: Well, I’m proud of you!

I am absolutely convinced that signing up for the festival is what made her move. It made her sit her cute little butt down at her sewing machine, turn on some music, and SEW. Did she have to? No. But without it, I think she would have chosen other (electronic) pastimes instead of buckling down to get it done. A later festival would have just shifted the work over by a few months, but would have still been a painful “10.”

Don’t we all do that? Whether set in stone or tentative, deadlines move us.  Outside of work or school, I have to set rigid deadlines or sign up for events or competitions with end-dates. I know each time I meet with my very, very helpful beta reader, we both have two chapters critiqued. I look for free short story competitions with submission deadlines to help motivate me to write regularly; otherwise I might just edit my novel until doomsday. I know when the next #Pitmad is on Twitter, so I have a date set to have my manuscript ready to go in case any brilliant agent thinks my book sounds amazing—I’ll be waiting.

And the reason I haven’t cleaned out my dried-up tomato garden yet is because I haven’t set a deadline. Oh sorry, it’s not on the calendar, guess it will have to wait.

Got any self-inflicted deadlines looming? Tell me about them! (After you look at this awesome picture of Hannah and her Pillow Frights!)

My Inner Critic is a B–

I debated about writing a post today for the word “critical,” because, truthfully, that word describes me so well it’s uncomfortable. I treated the word as if it could get too close to my personal bubble; it might even pop its little head inside and say, “Aha! I found you!” And then I’d have to let the word in and try to smooth it over into another word like “patient” or “forgiving” which takes a lot of effort.

Of course, I’m talking about my inner self-critic who is forever critical. She never seems to be quite satisfied with my work or my progress or my decisions and, most-especially, she’s disappointed with what was not accomplished by the end of the day. She’s not happy after a shift at work if I didn’t have time to walk every ambulatory patient or get to sit down during a discharge and take my time, or didn’t get all the charting done by 10 a.m. She’s not happy that I haven’t published a book yet and that my writing doesn’t sound like John Green or J.K. Rowling. She’s not happy unless the house is spotless and the dog has been brushed and walked and the laundry caught up and dinner is already in the Crockpot. She’s not happy until lunches have been made before the kids even come home from school. She’s not happy with the state of my purse or closet. She’s a bitch, really. Why is she even around?

I know the advice out there—the same advice I would give anyone else with a thunderous inner-critic—don’t listen to it! Be kind to yourself. Be gentle. Be forgiving. Do your best and that’s all that’s expected of you.  Yada, yada, yada.

But the inner-critic’s messages fall into my head so easily. And changing what falls into my head into something else takes time which inner-critic says I don’t have. With that, I must go set up the Crockpot and finish the dishes and catch up on laundry. And walk the dog. And publish a book.

By three o’clock, preferably.

 

BTW–my inner critic didn’t want to hit “publish” on this one, but I chose not to listen.

If I’d Met My Husband In High School . . .

Sometimes I wonder what I would have done if I’d met my husband in high school. What a funny/frightening notion. From what I can gather—which is mostly snippets of him when he did foolish things (like lower an emu into the courtyard for a senior prank) or who he dated (needy girls–blah)—he was oh so slightly on the nerdy, awkward side. Therefore, I probably wouldn’t have been all that interested in dating. Sorry, my radar was programmed for, well, not nerdy. I’m sure he was just as amusing as he is today, but a little reticent in his teenage years, so I would have missed his funny side which is one of his most attractive features. I bet we would have been operating in separate, parallel worlds, only to briefly meet at National Honor Society meetings or show up at the same math class. But maybe, just maybe, I would have glimpsed that mischievous smile while passing in the hallway—the one that our middle daughter inherited, or he might have given me a humorously hard time about getting my nose pierced (yes, I did that), and he would have made me stop to think—what if? 

You know, before I headed to the bathroom to check my nose ring.

What about you, readers?

 

Supporting a Good Word

You know what’s odd? I wrote a 71,000 manuscript for my YA novel (yet to be published…yet to be accepted by an agent, actually), and searched for the word “shimmer.” I had no doubt the word was used at least once. And I needed inspiration for my blog. But the search function spit back, “The search item was not found.” How disappointing. Such a great word—makes you want to look at whatever it is that is shimmering, doesn’t it? Whether it be undulating water or a taffeta evening gown or freshly shampooed hair or even a car with a spotless wax job. Nope, didn’t use it. Maybe it’s because my protag is a 17-year-old male, and shimmer not a dude word. At least as a 29-year-old woman, I can use it in my blog today. (Oh, did I tell you I stopped aging at 29?)

The shimmering crown of diamonds and sapphires sat upon Queen Emily’s head as she greeted her guests.

There. Nailed it!