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Trundling

I’ve started walking again. I’m trying to do it every day. And it’s awesome, actually. The animals I’ve seen on my treks around my neighborhood have included:

– A bunny
– Groundhogs — I startled one today as I was walking on the sidewalk, and as I was passing a bush I heard this rustling…I thought it was a cat. Big guy was running off into a meadow. No, not running. Trundling. A wibbly, wobbly badump badump badump, his long body trying to slink along but having such stumpy legs that it can’t happen. Do I look like that, out here?
– Several deer — these are my favorite. Last week I saw a doe with her fawn and I swear I felt like I won the lottery.
– Dogs
– Many cute sparrows

Some days, it doesn’t feel like much. The ritual of getting dressed in clothes you don’t mind sweating in, finding socks that won’t get eaten in your shoe, lacing the shoes so you won’t get blisters…it can feel like eternity just making it to the other side of the front door.

As I’m sure you’ve read I have started my 500 words per day for the Clarion Write-a-thon. I wrote on Twitter a few minutes ago:

Aiming at 500 words per day is like rehab. But it’s something, though, and it feels good. Every night is a little easier.

Walking and writing: they go hand in hand. It’s all a matter of not thinking, not letting those crippling thoughts stop you from just showing up. It’s simple to give in to gravity, to not fight against it, but at the end of that mile, at the end of the night, the feeling of being so alive is worth the baby steps.

It’s not a marathon…yet.

It’s not a book…yet.

But it all adds up.

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Clarion Write-a-thon 2014! And reblog challenge!

So this year, I will once again be taking part in the Clarion West Write-a-thon. That was the fun time we had last summer, with the stories from the Black Carnival.

This time, we’re doing something a bit different. From my profile, which can be found here:

This year, I’m starting a new novel. Working Title: Working the Dead. I wrote part of a version of it a while back, but unlike then I actually have an idea where this is going.

Here’s the test jacket:

When Daisy died, she wasn’t expecting clouds or choirs of angels or even brimstone. But she also wasn’t expecting this.

Living in the Thenatopolis – Dead City, everyone calls it, one of many names – could just seem like L.A. or New York. But there is magic here. And rules.

Everyone is still getting judged by some higher power – who is He or She? Wouldn’t you like to know.

But what Daisy knows is that something bad happened between her and someone she loved before she died. Now she’s going to find out what, and not even miles of eternity are going to stop her.

My goal for the Write-a-thon is 500 words per day. I can definitely go over that, but this is something I know I can commit to. I mean, 500 words is just a really, really long tweet. Or a bunch of tweets. Or a fantastic email.

It’s the summer of love, people! Let’s do this!

As you may recall, the Write-a-thon aims at raising money for the Clarion West Writers Workshop. Pretty awesome, right? As incentive, for every $10 donated to me, I will post a complete chapter of Working the Dead. For every $50, I will complete a piece of digital artwork, such as a sketch of one of the characters, a scene from the story, etc. This is in addition to all the normal stuff I will be posting here about my writing process.

Here’s the exciting bit: anyone who reblogs this post between now and June 30th at 11:59PM EST to encourage folks over to my Clarion West Write-a-thon Profile will be entered into a random drawing. One July 1, I will pick one name. That person will appear in Working the Dead as either themselves, a character, etc. I will work with you to create an interesting story of your (dead) character who will interact with the other denizens in the Dead City.

Awesome, right?!

So get reblogging, and I’ll see you all on the 22nd!

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Writing Tip: Relax Before Everything Explodes

Image

This picture was taken at the lovely Japanese Garden in Washington Park Arboretum, when I visited Seattle, WA.

I know these used to be numbered, but is anyone keeping count really? (This is not a challenge to go back and check the last time I did this or to express that you do, in fact, know how many of these I’ve done. You’ll just make everyone feel BAD.)

Recently, I’ve gotten a few inquiries from fellow writers who have been curious about the process of publishing. I’m always flattered, and as much as I want to say, “I’ll tell you all about it after I use the facilities” and slip surreptitiously out the bathroom window, I do share the knowledge I have. One of my tips is always looked at as extremely counter-intuitive, especially in our culture of ‘keep going, drink coffee, never stop doing what you want AND what will pay you money AND take a spa day with your Blackberry.’

Relax.

Take it easy.

I know, I know. It’s fun to get into that momentum where you’re hurling yourself through every twist and turn like you’re in a foam forest while wearing one of those crazy padded Sumo bodysuits. Look at what a powerful force you are! You can’t stop now! You have to get all of those words out there into the world before they get stale! Every story, article, book or essay is a souffle, and if you let it sit too long, it’s going to sink and nobody is going to want it.

Now, this tip is not to discourage goal-setting – you should definitely set up a GPS when you start out on the wordsmithing roadtrip – but give yourself some space. Take a look and say, “If I really went through this at espresso speed, how fast could I get it done?” Then, multiply that time by two. Slow down. Recognize each step. What’s your rush, cowboy?

When you take your time – when you stop and take a look around the beautiful path you’re on – magic happens. Mindfulness happens. You are more present. You are more aware. It is a peaceful feeling, not going 90 miles-per-hour. Try it.

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Permission to Dare

The following is part of an exercise I’m doing with Tama Kieves, who is a lovely and brilliant coach. I highly recommend her book, Inspired and Unstoppable, if you feel like you are struggling in owning your life’s work. This is my letter permitting myself to dare: dare to dream, dare to try, dare to come up short and try again. It was a very emotional experience, just letting it all out. I hope you get something out of it — I know I got quite a bit putting into it.

https://i1.wp.com/static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/wildthings.jpg

For some reason, as I was writing part of this, I felt like Max in Where the Wild Things Are.

I am allowing myself to do it all. I will have the whole cake, thank you, and if I want, I’ll have the carton of ice cream too. And when I’ve doubled over in agony, I will blame no one – not even myself – because I did what I wanted and there is no greater joy than the pain of succeeding.

I will not allow the way I survive to make me think less of myself. I am a success in that I have shown my strength. I’ve lain down on the bed of nails and I haven’t leapt up, letting the weight of my foolishness drive the points deeper. I’ve remained, and one day, when I’m ready, I will calmly stand and walk away.

I am allowing myself joy and happiness. I am making a suit out of my adulthood that I will hang on the back of my door when the day is done and change into my footy pajamas, my paper crown and play. I will do the business tomorrow of selling the happy scribbles I make at night. I will hold the child within me and let her be inspired.

I will not allow the past to dominate the present. The false gods of anxiety, depression and self-doubt may knock at the door, cold-call me at all hours, but I will not let them in. I will not surrender myself to a shadow of time that tries to pry at my consciousness and shake old photos and calendar pages in my face. I will climb the stairs to my room and be still.

I am allowing myself patience and space. I am allowing myself dates and good chocolate. I am allowing myself funny t-shirts and pats on the back. I am allowing myself comforting hugs. I am allowing myself gratitude and attaboys and a list of all the awesome things I’ve done. I am allowing myself forgiveness. I am allowing myself tonight and tomorrow and the next day and every sunset and moonrise there could ever be.

I am allowing myself to be and rest in the comfort that I still am.