Category Archives: Recommendations

Just Focus on Doing the Next Thing — September 2019 Month in Review

*Peeks head out of hole*

Did we make it?

Are we in October?

*looks around*

Ah. Greetings, you apple-pickers, you plaid-wearers, you imbibers of spiced coffee drinks.

We made it.

Shoo, September, you summer wanna-be, talking out of both sides of your mouth. Oh! Fresh beginnings – many of them, and you’re already behind! Oh, it’s fall! Still 90 degrees out, but now you can’t necessarily prance about in a bathing suit for some reason.

Come into my warm embrace, October! Bring your slight chill, your moodiness, and your utter dearth of seasonal optimism. I shall enjoy your Halloween and its ample irony and nougat.

I tell the kids throughout the September grind to “just focus on doing the next thing.” That’s what September is. Thirty frenzied days of focusing on doing the next thing. October loosens the strap.  We’re in a sort-of groove and/or have begun to KonMari that which just won’t work.

September makes me feel like a grump. October…also makes me feel like a grump, but the alignment is better. Grumps in September are vilified. Grumps in October receive the emotional equivalent of the trucker wave. We hold grumpy space for each other.

(Grumps go into hiding in December.)

I’m finally able to really focus on the writing again – summer is a bust for the necessary shedding that is writing/rewriting/editing. Summer was better for research and requisite self-flagellation over not writing.

I’ve been eyeballs-deep in research about fascism, which is a part of my (dark, yes?) comedy novel. It’s been upsetting and imparted a sense of urgency to the work.

The final phase in research and prep before cracking open the draft and skinning it alive is sitting down with my characters and finding out what makes them tick.

As this is the first time I’ve written a book, I am simultaneously trying to figure out the book itself and also how to write it. Probably for the next go-around, I will outlining and fully develop characters before launching into a draft. (Planner v. Pantser: Planner Victorious), but I don’t consider what I’ve been doing for the last year to be a waste of time or ineffective, which is more merciful than I usually am with myself.

My characters are weirdos and I love them all in their glorious pandemonium. I love my Wicca artist-activist. I love my smart-assed radio producer. I love my passive-aggressive, dumb-dumb neighborhood nemesis. I love my completely power-ravenous antagonist. I love my awkward, screwy, self-sabotaging, self-conscious yet reckless protagonist. Getting to spend time with them every day is a joy and a complete pain in the ass. I’d hang with them IRL.

I should probably work on cultivating more real-life friendships, though, because I prefer to fill a booth when I go out with friends, rather than a seat at the bar.

My biggest fear is that the writing won’t be at the level it deserves, that, in a weird way, I won’t reach my potential. It can be paralyzing, but something that is tamed by rolling up my sleeves and going one paragraph at a time, one writing session at a time.

And embracing the inner grump.

*pops back down into hole*

Highlights from September

Succession is about as far from Biggest Little Farm but both are worth your while if you like to cringe and laugh and cry.

Speaking of cringing and crying, this article about young girls’ insecurity is a must-read. 

October is my favorite month of the year, and I hope yours brings you lots of things to conquer, hugs, and a need to get a booth when you go out with friends.

And nougat.

Ready to Burst — July 2019 Month in Review

Buried under ketchup-smeared faces and the haze of multiple applications of sunscreen is the suppressed sorrow of July’s end.

August, once a time of overheated laziness, is still a time for yes, but the yesses now feel pushed by impending schedules and starts. There is a preemptive nostalgic ache for idle moments, although they’ve not come to pass. Continue reading Ready to Burst — July 2019 Month in Review

Writing is Like a Rice Krispie Treat — June 2019 Month in Review

Every spare moment when I’m not feeding little people or unleashing my fury (productively or otherwise) over some of the incredible injustices in the world right now is a moment spent on the first rewrite of my novel.

Hours upon hours are spent in the shop-prep-feed snack cycle for the little humans, so what is sacrificed is the time on the smaller pieces and/or time spent getting dog fuzz off the floor.

But the first rewrite is almost done. This process is like  Rice Krispie treats: messy and gooey and I’m working hard to put all the pieces together and also this is a terrible analogy.

In this first pass, I’m taking out what doesn’t belong and trusting my reader more. There were giant parts I skipped writing, and I’m skipping them right now as I just make sure I’m in the correct narrative voice and POV. Then before the next rewrite, I’ll add those scenes and characters. That looms large, but now that I’ve done the work this first rewrite, I see better what’s needed and can retrofit those sections more cleanly.

A large part of the work involves inquiry into the characters, plot, and theme. Deeply. It’s slow and I feel like I’m at my best as it volleys between creating and analyzing, left-brain and right brain. But it’s SLOW, man.

And…goodness, I don’t hate it. It’s just not what it needs to be yet. It will get there. I know how many drafts it takes for me to work a 2000 word essay into shape. This book is going to be 45 times that length. I have dozens of pages of “to do” based on this second go around.

Here are some great things I stumbled upon in the interwebs this month.

See you next week as I share more about Surviving Summer Funtimes