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Happy Happy Joy Joy–Row 80 check-in

Fresh off my morning walk, I’m feeling really good today. In fact, I’m feeling like this……

Ahh the Zen of Ren & Stimpy. I used to love that show. “You stupid idiot!”

Anyway, here’s my midweek report:

Progress has been made. I’ve written every day. It’s starting to feel as normal to me as brushing my teeth or taking a shower. That excites me because it means the habit is forming. I’m not missing that “I’m not writing” guilt at all.

Happy news on the novel analyzing side as well. I’m half way through the Jim Butcher novel Storm Front. It has been a much better experience than Undead and Unwed. Though I do find myself wondering about the reason for that. Is it that Jim’s writing style is clearer? Did I just hate the writing in Undead and Unwed? Or was it just fatigue from trying analyze three novels in a month? I guess I’ll find out when I go back to it later.

For now, I’m on schedule to finish this novel on Friday. That’ll give me three days to finalize NaNoWriMo prep. Am I the only one who is both anticipating and dreading NaNo? Until Sunday! Hope the rest of your week is filled with happy happy joy joy moments. 🙂

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Never Thought I’d See the Day–Row 80 check-in

I woke up this morning with soreness in my thighs. I winced, simply because I didn’t know it was there. Then, I smiled. Want to hear a confession? I LOVE the soreness in my thighs. It’s a sweet pain, an earned one. It wouldn’t be there if I hadn’t put in work. It wouldn’t be there if I hadn’t done something good for my body. It wouldn’t be there if I wasn’t exhibiting self-discipline and perseverance. I’m showing myself who I am capable of being. It’s a whole new world and I absolutely love who I’m becoming…who I am.

I can see that same progress with my writing. I’ve kept to my writing every day with no real thought to anything else. It’s just something that has to be done. I didn’t get back to analyzing the second novel until yesterday. I find the scene by scene analysis to be tedious, but well worth the effort. Going from Laurell K. Hamilton to Mary Janice Davidson is quite the dramatic shift. Laurell writes in thick, passionate detail. Mary Janice is thorough, but concise. Barely into the second round, I can see why the plot drill calls for six books. It’s an education that I doubt you could get any other way. Loving the journey.

P.S. Kettle bells rock!

Row 80 Check in

I am totally excited to say that things have been rocking and rolling. I’ve kept up with my ” writing EVERY day” goal. I am averaging about five hundred words a day, mostly prompt writing.

As far as the novel analyzing goes, I’ve been getting that done too. I’m currently working on one of my favorite books (A Kiss of Shadows by Laurell K. Hamilton) which is proving a little difficult. I find myself wanting to just curl up and read rather than getting the job done. I am hoping to be done with this book by Wednesday. I’m sure the analyzing will go faster now that I’m getting used to the system. Hmm, if I could just curb that urge to kick back and enjoy…

Also, I would love a Row buddy.  I am a paranormal romance/fantasy writer. I have a Twitter account, but I am more active on Facebook right now. I tend to be more social in the evenings. I will be doing NaNoWriMo next month as well. I am totally open though, just looking for someone motivated.

 

Catch you guys next check in!

Row 80 Check-in

Well, this is just the second day. I got my words in both days. I need to get crackin’ on analyzing novels though. Stopped by the Twitter party. You guys are fun!

Shaking Off the Dust–Row 80 Goals

Sooooooo…I’ve been away from this blog for a while now. Things haven’t quite gone as I would have liked. But the fourth round of Row 80 starts on October 4th. I’m using this challenge to get myself back on track and end the year on a writing high. I am very excited to get started. Hi fellow Row 80ers! *smiles and waves*

On to the goals:

My overall goal for round four is to write EVERY day. No specific word count, no particular project. I just want to put my butt in the chair.

October– I will analyze the plot of three novels using the method outlined in Plot & Structure by James Scott Bell.

November– NaNoWriMo

December– Revamp this blog. That means choosing a new focus, a new theme , and committing to a regular posting schedule.

I think that’s enough ambition for one round. Let’s get it!

The Death of Perfectionism

I’ve been agonizing over the decision of whether or not to keep this blog. I haven’t posted in quite a while. That’s mostly due to the fact that I started studying social media and platform building for writers. And so this blog started to look like a glaring mistake. I’d pretty much decided to trash it and start a new one. After all, this one hasn’t been around long,  hasn’t developed much of a following yet. It’d be easy to just pretend that I’d done it all right from the beginning– start fresh, shiny and new.

Then, Thursday morning, I found out that my grandfather died. He went out for his morning walk and didn’t return. They searched for him and found only his body. Everything else that made him him was never coming back. He was less than two months shy of his ninety-second birthday.

He was a happy, fun-loving man. He was independent in spirit and always smiling. My fondest memories are of him in his little beige truck, the bed filled with fishing gear. I remember playing along the edge of the water as he and my father fished for hours on end, barely talking, soaking up the sun. He was solid, self-assured.

I am sad that my grandfather is no longer with us, but I can’t say that I feel a particular loss. He lived a long, eventful, fruitful life. And I don’t think anyone could ask for much more. So, I won’t dwell on his death. I choose, instead, to focus on the way he chose to live his life.

With that said, I feel an overwhelming need to let go of perfectionism. As unrealistic and deflating as perfectionism can be, it has been a pursuit of mine for longer than I can remember. At times it was a conscious pursuit, but mostly it wasn’t. It’s manifested itself in more ways than I can count. The most recent being my itch to give this blog the axe.

Even now, the idea of keeping a public record of what feels like a mistake to me, makes my stomach turn. It’s silly. I know that no one is perfect and that mistakes are a part of living. Yet, somehow my standards for myself have always been higher than those held  for others. The side effect has been the unwillingness to take the risks necessary to pursue my dreams.

My granddaddy always did the things that made him happy because that’s what made life worth living. I have generally been doing what’s easiest instead doing what works or what really makes me happy. I think its time I followed in the footsteps the great man I’ll always love. To celebrate the life of David Early Sr., I choose to let perfectionism die.

The first step– the blog stays.

Your Focus Needs More Focus

The lovely Amy Sundberg wrote a great blog on the role desperation can play in undermining your goals. It really stuck with me. There’s no doubt that we want what we want, and we want it NOW. Ahhhh…. the lure of instant gratification, also known as “The Dream Killer.” While it is important to have a clear vision of what you want to achieve, you can’t let that vision blind you to all else.

Desperation is the dark side of ambition. It’s the side that scares small children and little old ladies.  It’s the side that brings out ugly characteristics like crazy and lazy. Crazy and lazy are desperation’s hellhounds, sent to slow or halt progress altogether.

When crazy bites, a toxin seeps into your blood stream. You become a puppet with crazy holding your strings. You’ll do pretty much anything to get what you want despite the consequences. Hello impaired judgement! Crazy will make you call someone at two-minute intervals until the person answers. Crazy will make you eat cabbage soup for a week to lose five pounds before your high school reunion. Crazy will make you pay obscene amounts of money for headshots from a kiosk at the mall. Enough said.

Lazy, on the other hand, is more of a trickster. Lazy will convince you that you are a prodigy just waiting to be discovered. It says, “You don’t need voice lessons. Audition for American Idol. Again.” Lazy implores you to cut corners. “Send out those stories. They don’t need revision.” Lazy makes you feel like there’s not enough time to get it all done. “Haven’t worked out in years?  It doesn’t mater. Take that three-hour kickboxing class every day this week. You’ll see results faster. No pain. No gain.”

So what do you do when crazy and lazy are nipping at your heels?

That’s easy enough. Ignore the sycophants. Take out the big boss. Desperation. If you are feeling overwhelmed by desperation. It can only mean one thing …

“YOUR FOCUS NEEDS MORE FOCUS.”

In the 2010 version of The Karate Kid, the student, Dre, sees  a woman who charms a snake. She stands on a ledge, strikes a fearsome pose, then uses only her inner reserve and the hypnotic rocking of her head back and forth to keep the snake’s attention. The snake mimics her every move.  So does Dre. He’s fascinated by what he sees.

During his next lesson, Dre tells his mentor that he wants to do what the woman did. The mentor, Mr. Han, tells him to focus on the lesson at hand. Dre only wants to learn what he saw and continues to babble about it. It doesn’t matter that he’s just beginning to learn Kung Fu and that move requires mastery. It doesn’t matter that he has a tournament to prepare for or risk daily beatdowns by the neighborhood bullies. Dre is focused—on the wrong thing.

That’s what can happen to us all.  Somewhere along the journey, you become captivated by something bright and shiny. You forget where you were going or how to get there. Maybe you decided to use someone else’s map and you can’t make it out. The point is, you have  to regroup.

In the movie, Mr. Han does something drastic to get Dre’s attention (see pic above). He guides Dre gently back to the present moment and the day’s lesson. Han utters that brilliant line, “Your focus needs more focus.” Then he continues with the drills Dre needs to become proficient at Kung Fu and to meet the challenges ahead of him.

If you don’t have someone to keep you grounded, then YOU have to be your own Mr. Han. Slow down. Give yourself a good shake if need be. Break major goals down to smaller, manageable ones. Bring your focus back to what you can do right now. Don’t think too far ahead. Celebrate the little successes and don’t forget to have fun. It’s hard to feel desperate when you’re having a good time.