(It’s just Ginger Ale)
The smell of a Spirit Duplicator
Pressing ‘record’, ‘play’ and ‘pause’ at the same time
A fresh packet of Plasticine
Jumping off the swing
Hanging upside down from a railing by my knees
Swinging my feet
My English accent
My Scottish accent
The monkey puzzle tree
Bonfires on the 5th of November
The lucky dip at the Christmas fete
The Sealed Knot society
My red spangly roller boots
I had a little crisis this week.
And in the midst of it, I realised that spending time on Facebook was a, sucking hours of my life away in a fashion that would make Count Rugen proud; b, not making me happy; c, often making me actively unhappy.
So I mothballed my account.
But then I remembered I have a page that supports StoryADay.org. In order to have that running, I had to create a new FB profile associated with that email address. So now I still kind of have a FB account but people are trying to friend it and I’m ignoring them, not because I don’t like them, but because I’m not using FB. (My mailing list software auto-posts to the page).
Oh, technology. How I love thee, and how you tie me in knots.
So if you’re looking for me on Facebook and I’m not responding, that’s why. Sorry.
I’ve cooked three different breakfasts (none for me); got medicine into two boys; packed a lunch; dealt with The Mystery Of The Missing Sheet Music (outcome: it’s missing); prodded a boy to do last minute homework we didn’t get to last night because of Prep and dinner and other homework; and been one half of a team that got two boys up, showered, dressed, fed and out of the door with bags, lunches, percussion kit and smiles on their faces; filled in a form and an SAE for dental records for the school; finished a half cup of cold coffee…and it’s 7:35 AM!
And we live within a mile and a half of both schools.
Now I have to get the dishes done, shower, and start my day.
There’s an 8 AM mass I might go to. I know that sounds like I’m adding things to a crowded morning, but I suspect it might actually get me back on course.
P.S. How does a sheet of music evaporate overnight?!
Sometimes I beat myself up about not writing more. And I should be writing more, don’t get me wrong.
But I sat down to write today and it was 3:58 pm.
I knew roughly what I needed to write (because I’ve outlined this thing). I knew the characters I was writing about (because I’ve sketched them out). I knew that I was only really writing about one transaction and then throwing in a ‘wha—?’ at the end of the scene.
And I wrote it, pretty much that easily.
And now it’s 5:56. Just like that. Boom…two hours later. Time-travel!
It worked because I had no other responsibilities. No one interrupted me. I didn’t have to stop for anything, pick anyone up, make food for anyone, fill in any forms, or answer any phone calls.
Theoretically, I could do this every day, while my kids are out at school and my husband’s out at work. And that’s certainly the aim.
But I just wanted to capture this here. Because that was two solid hours of bum-in-chair, tippety-tapping away at the keyboard on a story that I’d already done most of the planning for. 1935 words. Two hours.
Writing takes time. And focus.
I can still write when I don’t have both, and when the stars don’t align, but it’ll be harder. And I’ll have to try harder. And I should be kind to myself if every day doesn’t go like this (which it won’t). Which is not to say, ‘make excuses for myself’. This was a good writing day. One to shoot for.
Bum-in-chair, lassie. Every day.
When you take your 12 year old to a book signing and the author is handing out rare Brazilian hot peppers (to celebrate the volcano in the book) things get weird:
I gave up Facebook for Lent when I discovered that I was frantically checking it to see who would wish my son a happy birthday, and getting upset when there weren’t enough ‘likes’ for my birthday-related post.
That was when I realized I was losing my mind. My FB use was unhealthy. It was Ash Wednesday. So FB had to go.
At first it was…weird not to know what was going on with all my neighbors and friends.
Then, people started sending me personal emails when they needed me. That was glorious.
Next, I discovered that pushing towards a hard deadline without the distraction of FB was a joy and a privilege.
Now that my deadline has passed along with four weeks of Lent, I’ll admit I’m feeling a little isolated.
The phrase I hear most often these days (from people who don’t live in my house), is “Oh, that’s right! You’re not on Facebook” before they fill me in on something that happened that everyone else knows about.
Yes, we’ve become so reliant of FB that no-one hardly anyone contacts friends directly to talk about stuff anymore.
I’ll admit it’s partly my own fault. I’ve come to loathe the telephone. But one nice friend did text me directly to ask if I’d heard the news about Terry Pratchett. The fact that she texted me (just me, not a random blast of friends on her wall) told me that she had thought about me and conversations we’ve had in the past. It meant a lot, and highlighted just how little we (I?) do this kind of thing anymore.
I have another friend who sends me things she thinks I’ll like *through the mail*. Not expensive things. Articles, fliers, books-she’s-finished-with. But things she knows I’ll like. Me, not some random subset of her audience of social media.
It seems very odd to be saying all this, given that I am the queen of the blog/social media network/text message. But I think my Lenten sacrifice is teaching me something. One-to-one interactions are meaningful. I shouldn’t assume that ‘putting something out there’ is enough. Sometimes a tailored, personal contact is exactly what someone needs.
I will stay strong. I will stay off FB. I will try to be better at taking the narrower path.
So far today I haven’t got very far with the actual *writing* stuff.
Lots of stuff that is “writing-adjacent”, not to mention booking tickets to see a touring Broadway show in June (that was surprisingly stressful. The tickets went on sale this morning and we had to get into an electronic queue and be alerted — by email — that our number had come up. Then K had a meeting to go to and IM-ed me the information, but I couldn’t take over his spot int the electronic queue of course, and had to wait for my own number to come up. When it did, the system told me it had expired, in spite of its only havng been up for 10 minutes not the much-vaunted 20 minutes they said I’d have. Aargh! So then I had to get into another queue and wait for that number to come up and all the while I was thinking ‘but what if all the good seats are gone?’ even though this is a pre-sale and only certain bona fide theater goers — as evidenced by previous ticket purchases — were allowed to be in this queue. Agree! So mumuch stress for 10:30 in the morning.
Now I’m faced with the eternal problem: lunch? Nap? Work?
Let’s have a look at what I achieved yesterday. Hmmm. I think it’s clear that the answer to the above question needs to be ‘work’, with a lunch chaser.
I spent some fun time after the stressful-ticket-buying experience, creating (templates for) graphics of inspirational quotes that will work well on Twitter, Tumblr and Pinterest, because everyone seems to like images these days. People allegedly are all about video now, online too, but I surveyed “my” people and it turns out they, like me, do not like everything to happen by video. So that’s good. I can forget about veering off into distracting video-producing territories and stick to the writing.
Ah, yes, the writing…
- Finish draft of the novel (so I can revise it for the critique group) – No progress. Boo
- Post weekly Write On Wednesday prompts to StoryADay – Yes! Posted three of these as well as five Reading Room Tuesday reviews of short stories I have read.
- Start prepping for April’s build-up to StoryADay – Some social media stuff. Lots of lists made. Reminders put in Evernote.
- Non-fiction book proposal – No progress
- Reading – Read 1 short story
- Regular column for other site – No Progress
Life is happening around here.
It’s interesting stuff. There’s been serious illness, hospital visits and rehab. Not to mention international travel insurance, car hire, and the whole Christmas and New Year stuff.
I was feeling quite good about myself, getting in some writing here and there, while waiting for a scheduled 3-week family visit to wind down, whereupon I would plunge back into the writing.
And it’s fine. Because it’s important stuff. And I am thrilled that things are now going well. And that I have all these new experiences to draw upon.
I do, however, have to figure out how to write amidst it all. It’s a challenge, but one I’m kind of enjoying.
Because I’ve finally realized that life will continue to happen (at least until it doesn’t, and I certainly won’t be writing after that!).
Summer vacations will be part of my life for the next 8 years and probably longer. I have to figure out how to not put my writing on hold during them. Busy times with the kids will happen. Jobs might come and go. And I have to figure out how to write during them.
Listened to a WritingExcuses podcast yesterday where the hosts were talking about what they and people they know do, to keep writing amidst life. It was eye-opening and thought-provoking. Still not sure I could write during a foreign-language lecture, like Neil Gaiman apparently did, but you never know: there have been times when I’ve been in the middle of a story AND in the middle of the family, with the TV going in the background, and still able to write because the writing was flowing.
Watch this space.
- Finish draft of the novel (so I can revise it for the critique group)
- Post weekly Write On Wednesday prompts to StoryADay
- Start prepping for April’s build-up to StoryADay (choose projects, pare down projects, write and produce stuff e.g. this year’s prompt book)
- Non-fiction book proposal
- Regular column for other site.
So, I’m gearing up to write this big climactic series of scenes in my novel. They’re set at a country faire, the kind where people enter jams and cakes and flower arrangements and knitted layettes into contests and are judged under tents by ladies in hats and men in clerical frocks.
Apparently I’m a little bit Method in my writing because I’ve been obsessively doing this for the past few days:
After a few false starts, I now honestly think I could give Mrs Pattmore a run for her money….