25 May 2013

Down the rabbit hole

I've been deep in research and background work for the coffee house book lately. Character biographies have been one aspect of that, but I've also been doing research into certain aspects of characters' personalities, including religion/philosophy, cultural traditions and the paranormal.

I have one character who is into the paranormal, so I've been reading about UFOs and ghosts and Bigfoot. (And it's a good excuse to listen to episodes of Mysterious Universe.)

I was reminded in the midst of this research that research for any character can be a bit of a rabbit hole. For example, as I was doing research for this particular character, I was reading about encounters with spirits, which led me to reading about both near-death experiences and shadow people, and I ended up reading about UFOs and Men in Black (the men, not the movie).

Research can be that way sometimes. You start somewhere and the research leads you elsewhere. For this character, it's been helpful, but I've also found that it can be a bit of a distraction. I could spend a lot of time reading about things I'm interested in "for research," but not really doing anything productive for the story. Research can, in fact, be procrastination, even if you claim it's for the story.

One thing that helps me is to keep my character bio sheets handy. That way I can be aware of what specific areas I should be researching and keep from veering off too far in one direction or another.

Although, some of what I found out will be useful for other characters in the collection, so it wasn't all procrastination, so I guess it wasn't all rabbit hole research...!

12 May 2013

Renew your Spirit Sunday with family

Today is Mother's Day. I am blessed to be able to spend the day quietly at home with Puck and Tink. They're napping now, which is good since they didn't exactly sleep last night. When they get up, we'll continue a quiet day at home, interrupted later by a trip to the store for a few grocery necessities and a trip through the car wash, which Puck has been begging me for since he got back from Monty's house.

Mother's Day is weird to me. I read numerous blog posts today that say that today emphasizes the stereotype that a woman's life is not fulfilled without children, and that mothers are somehow better than other women in society. I don't necessarily disagree, and while I love the opportunity to remind my mother how thankful I am for her, and for our incredible relationship, I think it's much more important to instead celebrate families, whatever that term means to you.

Not everyone is a mother. Not everyone knows their own mother. That doesn't make family any less significant. So today I am celebrating my children, my parents, siblings, cousins, aunts, uncles, and the friends I consider my family. I would not be where I am without each and every person in my life, and I love them all. I celebrate them all.

Happy Family Day.

07 May 2013

The scope of the collection

I've been thinking a lot lately about the role the collection has (and has had) in my writing career.

  • The bulk of my non-work writing files are notes, research and background work for the collection.
  • It was the coffee house book which introduced me to the publishing process because it was the first work I considered publishing.
  • It was the development of the collection that led me to realize that my dream-of-all-dreams is to be able to write the collection full-time.
  • And it is the collection that is the focus of my non-work writing.

It's important. And I feel like the collection, as a whole, is important for me to share. These characters needs their stories told.

The problem--if you want to call it a problem--is that because of the nature of the collection, and what it means to my writing career, I could very likely be working on it for the next 10+ years (depending on how many titles I end up with in the end). And I've already devoted almost ten years to the coffee house book (I began the first ramblings of the first draft in November 2004).

This might be what I do. The collection might very well be my writing career. So I've had to ask myself if it's important enough to me to spend the next ten years on it.

It is. At least, I think so. I believe so.

There are some stories that need to be told in certain ways. The collection is one of those stories. If I compromise the way I'm telling the story in order to write it faster, I know I'd be doing it a disservice. Yes, it's going to be hard to write, especially for some of the later books in the collection, but it will be worth it. So I'll keep working on it, and let the collection become even more of who I am as a writer.

But what about you? What if the book/play/collection of poetry you're working on right now became your defining work? Would it be worth it to you? Is whatever you're working on worth telling?

I'm not trying to imply that if you don't think something is worth defining your career by that you shouldn't write it. But I do think it's important for writers to carefully examine how they spend their writing time. I don't know about you, but between my day job and my munchkins, my fiction-writing time is limited. And I don't want to look back years from now and feel like I've wasted precious time working on something that doesn't matter or shouldn't have been written.

I'm sure that the collection is worth the time and energy I'm putting into it. Can you say the same about your work?

05 May 2013

Renew your Spirit Sunday with a party!

Today we're celebrating my mom's graduation with her BSN (from my alma mater, in fact). She's worked long and hard, and truly earned her degree.

So we're getting together at Granny's house for food and congratulations.

I love getting together with the family. It's a chance to catch up on everyone's lives, spoil the munchkins a bit (Granny always has sweet treats!), and renew your spirit. Being surrounded by people I love and who also love me is just what I need to feel re-energized for the week ahead.

In past years, I was far from my family, and felt alone. Now that I'm back home, I want to be sure to be with my family as often as I can, and be sure that Puck and Tink get plenty of time with their aunts, uncles and cousins, too. Family is very valuable to me; I want the kids to understand that value, as well.

How are you renewing your spirit today?

04 May 2013

Congratulations, Nanny!

Today my mother is walking across the stage to accept her Bachelor's of Science in Nursing at the same place I earned my own Bachelor's degree (same stage, too!).

Congratulations, Mom! May this be the first day of a whole new world for you!

You might notice some changes....

In the coming weeks, I'll be making some changes here at the blog from a content standpoint. I hope to make the changes slowly and subtly, and I hope you like the new direction. These changes will better reflect who I am, as well as the direction of my writing career.

I'll, of course, still talk about writing, and I plan to talk more about the process of writing the coffee house book (and the collection) as it progresses. However, I'll also be talking more about some of the other aspects of my life that impact my writing career, such as motherhood.

Keep an eye on things, and I sincerely hope you keep reading as I share a little bit more of myself with you.

And happy scribbling!

01 May 2013

Writing what you don't love

When it comes to fiction, I adore what I write. I mean, I have to in order to put that much into it, right?

On the other hand, there are times I'm writing for work and my heart is not fully in it. It's kind of inevitable when you're writing for clients instead of for yourself. You're not going to be excited about every piece you write, and that's okay.

So how do you slog through content you're not passionate about?

One of the overwhelming aspects of projects I'm not excited about is the size. If it's a bigger project, it can seem to go on forever. Breaking it into smaller sections helps. Instead of knowing I have to push my way through a big project, I can focus on pushing through just this section of it, take a break, and move on to the next section.

Breaking it into smaller pieces also helps give yourself breaks to work on other things. I know that if I take a break in the middle of a project I'm not excited about to work on something I like, it's easier to come back to the other project. I know I don't have to spend all day on a project I'm dreading.

Finding the best time to work on those projects, as well. I used to be a night-writer. And while I still do a lot of writing at night, I find that I do better on projects I don't like if I tackle them first thing in the morning. My mind is sharper, and I make better progress. Then, if I end my day on "fun" projects (or fiction), I end my day better. It's easier to make my tired brain work on something I'm excited about than something I'm dreading.

You're not going to be ecstatic about everything you write if writing is your day job (unless you're a full-time novelist, in which case I'm incredibly jealous of you right now). But you can power through those less-than-awesome projects and get back to the fun ones.

For my daughter after her birthday

April 2013
Tink turned two this past Friday, and we celebrated on Sunday.

I can hardly believe my little pixie is already two! It's gone by so quickly, and we've had so many changes in our family already. Some good, some bad, and through it all, Miss Tink has been growing into her personality.

As my grandmother would say, she's "spunky." She's sassy and fun and full of energy. She definitely a girly-girl, but she isn't afraid to get dirty for fun. She loves princesses and books and cars and hats, and has a slight addiction to purses/bags.

Happy (belated) birthday, my sweet girl! May your life be full of as many blessings as you've given me! I love you!