june in january

I don't make new year resolutions. I find that I make enough goals throughout the year that when January comes around, it's unnecessary.  My trouble is I have ongoing goals that I never seem to master - things like finish my book, do yoga everyday, exercise at least five times a week and eat less processed foods. These are my constants and sometimes I achieve them, sometimes I don't. The bottom line is you need to want to change. And just because it's a new year doesn't mean it's a magical time to begin your new life or start a new you. 

Around ten years ago, I fell under something akin to depression. Although I was never diagnosed with anything (I never asked, to be honest), I'm pretty sure I was dysthymic - which is a low-grade depression that affects your everyday life, but isn't debilitating. Anyway, in order to quell this new crappy feeling, I began eating my way out to make myself feel better. Naturally, I gained weight. I put on around 18 lbs within a two-ish year span. Previously I had always prided myself on being fit and lean. I ran 20 miles for fun, I ate my greens and I felt great. But then I was stuck in a living situation where I became desolate and I sort of lost myself. I was in a job that I loathed, had moved to a new place where I had no friends and I felt empty and alone. I became anti-social, barely making it out of my quarters to talk to anyone, which I'm sure only made things worse. I was miserable doing what I was doing and I hated myself for falling down that wretched hole. Yet, I couldn't seem to bring myself out of it. It wasn't until I connected with some new people that I began to feel myself again. I lost about eight pounds because I stopped eating trashy foods to lift my mood and for the first time in a long while I had people around whose company I enjoyed, even grew to love. I still wasn't where I wanted to be physically. I took a picture of myself in the mirror and seeing myself that way made all the difference. It made me want to change. Once I had made that decision, the rest came easy - at least with losing those unwanted pounds. 

This may come across as saying that I bounced out of depression in an instant, therefore anyone could. No, that's not it at all. I do not dismiss mental illness or in any way say that quelling these illnesses are easy. But for me I know it was all related to this certain period in my life. In experiencing it, I now know what to avoid. I'm certainly no psychologist or even close, but I do know myself. And once I wanted to make a change - once I could - I did.

Aside from that, there was a time not too long ago when I was concentrating mostly on my photography, and then I moved on to art and ceramics. All that time I'd been simultaneously writing my book and had written a draft that was so far removed from the one I'm writing now, it's almost like a new story. Then I realized I can't do it all. I have to pick one thing and do it. I chose writing. Once I made that decision, my progress catapulted enormously. Again - this was a change I wanted to make. 

Finishing (and publishing!!) my book is on a short list of ongoing goals alongside daily yoga and trying not to turn into a tub of unfit jelly. And while I am not the lean machine I once was, I am definitely not where I was ten years ago. Not even close.   

And my book? I have a new deadline - but once I realized how much I wanted this, I have not ceased moving forward. I sometimes have to push myself a little. Sometimes I need to search for inspiration. But nowadays those moments are rare - I want this. That's the bottom line. January be damned. 

I don't normally post images that aren't mine, but I couldn't resist this one. From The Hours of My Life.

I don't normally post images that aren't mine, but I couldn't resist this one. From The Hours of My Life.

the woes of not getting it right

In some ways, writing a novel is easy. You have a concept, theme, conflict, plot, a kick-ass protagonist and all those other goodies that drive the story. All you have to do now is put it down on paper. The first draft is practically effortless. It's when you read that pile of papers you'd like to call a manuscript and discover just how far from a manuscript it actually is.

I know my writing needs work. I have a habit of over-explaining, writing too much and not leaving a whole lot to the imagination. It's almost like I'm writing a screenplay, as if I have to describe every piece of furniture in the room, every move my characters make. Okay, I'm exaggerating a bit. But! Something I've noticed is that my writing has improved with every cut, every, re-write, every edit. Within all these edits, I've become aware of this flaw, among others. Editing is never, ever wasted time even though sometimes it might feel that way.

I have written the first draft of my novel, a while ago it seems - that was the painless part. Once I started restructuring it, I saw my book for what it was:  A Mess that Needs a Helluva Lot o' Work. However, in restructuring it, it seemed as if the end was that much nearer - at least it did seem that way. On my second draft, I've encountered a lot of stop and go time. I stop because the structure's not working. I stop for superfluous characters. Delete, delete! Goodbye, David, Goodbye, what's-her-name. I stop because the midpoint and first half of the book is all wrong. Rewrite again and again and again. I stop to flesh out the background, to set up my world of magic. You get the point. Much stoppage, not enough advancing. I finally got to the point where I was somewhat happy with it, like hell yeah, this is it! Just on Sunday, I reached the midpoint again, and ahead of schedule! Then I realized I miscalculated and I had to cut lots and lots of words out. In the meantime, I found a few writing websites that made me see some detrimental mistakes I was making with regard to, well, everything. Well, maybe not everything, but at the moment I'm feeling like I need to start all over. And I mean allll ovvveeerrrrr. (Insert cry face.)

This is why I can take the time out to write in this dear lil' unused and lonely blog o' mine. Because I am stopping yet again, restructuring. This has been happening a lot right at the midpoint. I wonder how common this is. I would ask my readers, but I don't think anyone even knows this blog exists. I am THE WORST when it comes to self-promotion. I don't know why this makes me chuckle. It shouldn't. 

At least my cats are helping. 


nearing the middle

I have yet again revamped my website. There is actually an element of logic behind this and it has to do with the fact that I'm writing a book. Any of you who know me or follow this lonely little blog will know that I'm writing a young adult novel. I've been writing it on and off since about two years ago, but things have always gotten in the way of me finishing it. Excuses, procrastination or laziness perhaps? A large part of it had to do with my belief in thinking that I could do it all. I could go to school, start a business, make art and write a book. Well. Sometimes I wrote, sometimes I didn't. I did finally finish the first draft, but to be honest, it needed a LOT of work. 

This is what I do: I explode onto a scene, all full of passion and promises and dive in without actually doing any research. I am also one of those people who never read the directions until I have to. Naturally, that was how I wrote my first draft. I was a literature major in college, I didn't need to learn how to write!

And then I realized, um, yeah, I do.

My second draft has been analyzed, sectioned, pulled apart, thrown away and shoved back together in an artful little pile. Hopefully it's done in a way that engages the reader, keeps them guessing, stirs their emotions - and of course keeps them reading - all the while beguiling them with my witty, yet thoughtful prose. In doing this, I took all these scenes that I had initially squished together in my mess of a 1st draft and put them into some semblance of an order. I had so many scenes and subplots that I had to divide them into three books. Yep. A trilogy.

Trilogy in the making - cutting up rectangles helps my brain

Trilogy in the making - cutting up rectangles helps my brain

Even now, while writing the 2nd draft, I still stop and make changes - like big ones. I deleted characters, I switched the timeline around (at least 3 times), and I even changed the POV. Again. It was in 1st person, I changed it to 3rd, now it's back in 1st again. 

This all sounds like a big Pain in the Ass, doesn't it? It kind of is, but only because I'm impatient. I wish that I'd been more disciplined the past couple of years so that I wouldn't still be figuring all this out. However, it's been a learning process and each time I alter the course of my book, my writing improves. At least that's what I tell myself (no, really, it's true!).

Now, I am on the path to Finishing My Book. I have a goal of at least 2500 words a day so that I can finish by the end of the month. Yesterday I wrote over 6,000, today, well... the day's not over, yet.