Tag Archives: writer

In Which I Retire.

Thirty-nine might be a bit young to retire, but I kind of did that yesterday.

After much debating with my wonderful DH, I sold off my preschool and retired from real-life work.  Okay, I’ll still advocate for divorcing families and kids when the need arises, but for the most part, I’m now a full-time writer.

And to that end, I sat in my newly dusted office with my mug of hazelnut coffee and my net book for most of the day.  I got two chapters written on my WIP and all of my critiques completed for my crit partners.  I also coerced convinced a writer friend to beta for me and already got her amazing and helpful feedback. 

My YA is thisclose to getting sent off to Agent Awesome.  And my chapter book WIP is thisclose to being a complete first draft. 

Retirement couldn’t be better…well, not until DH retires, that is.  That is when we’ll tour the world on his golf cart while I pen amazing novels. 

Anybody else have retirement dreams?  Anyone living them?

 

Writer’s Training

Today Dear Daughter begins driver’s training.  She’s thrilled beyond words to start this part of her life’s journey.  For two weeks she’ll learn the basics in the classroom portion.  When to stop, when to yield, when to merge.  Upon her 15th birthday, she’ll have the pleasure of taking her written test.

A straight “A” student, she’s already passed the exam in her head.  She’s not worried about her ability to answer the questions correctly so she can receive her permit.  Then watch out world, she’ll be road-ready–with a parent–until she completes behind the wheel in another year and takes her actual test.

She’s five foot nothing and fearless.  To her, driving is coveted.  It’s something she looks forward to doing in a way Eldest never did.  For DD, her permit and license represent freedom and success.  For Eldest, it was simply a natural part of growing up.  Something you do so your parents don’t have to drive you to band practice. 

He’s conservative: DD is ready for a cross-country road trip–or cruising the square, at the very least.

Our writing journey is similar.  At some point in our lives, we look at books in a different way.  We see them as a vehicle to another future, and so we begin our own training.

Writer’s training.

Some of us are fearless and just know we’ll succeed.  We never doubt that our novels will take us on a cross-country trek, so we begin the journey with a grand road trip in mind.  Others fall into writing as a means to an end. 

Regardless, we all go through writer’s training. 

Do you remember the moment you decided to write?  How have you trained for your journey, both in the classroom and behind the wheel?  What kind of driver writer are you: fearless and bold or quietly clocking the miles to success?

Curious minds want to know.

Editing: laundry style

Those of you who know me get that laundry is my nemesis.  If somebody came out with affordable, disposable clothing, I’d be the first to buy.  If I could, I would hire Dobby and pay him handsomely in socks–clean ones, not those recycled from the dog–and my life would be great.

But no, every morning it’s the same thing.  “Mom, where’s my sweatshirt?”  “Mom, I need my baseball pants.”  “Mom, I have no clean socks.”  “Mo-om.”

In my defense, most of these much-needed items are in a pile on their bedroom floors.  Floors I do not pick up to make sure I have sweatshirts and socks and baseball pants.  Floors I can’t see until my darling children scoop up armfuls of clothes which they dump, unceremoniously, into the over-flowing laundry baskets.  And expect that now–right now–their socks (minus the dog-eaten ones) and sweatshirts and baseball pants will be clean.

We do that as writers, too.  We litter our floors with little mistakes–a secondary character who goes nowhere, a plot that stops, a flat MC, dumpy dialogue–and happily keep writing, ignoring the detritus until we need, Need, NEED a clean manuscript–like a baseball shirt two hours before the big game.

Everybody has their own laundry editing methods. 

  1. Some edit as they write, changing front chapters to match twists in the second half of a manuscript.  This would be the every day washer–yeah, DH, I’m lookin’ at you.   The only drawback to this method is that sometimes we get so wrapped up editing that we never finish the story.
  2. Others wait until their WIP is done before going back and methodically sorting out the jeans from the whites, each editing pass targeting a different aspect.   While this seems like a balanced approach, it can take vast amounts of time to edit one manuscript.
  3. And still more simply scoop up the entire mess off the floor and power wash their stories all at once.  This is a fine approach that works well for some writers–for instance, those who wrote from an outline–but may feel overwhelming to others. 

I’m a wait-until-the-last-second washer, but a sort-and-edit kind of writer. 

How about you?  What works about your approach?  What doesn’t?

Now where are those baseball pants…?

Bad Dog: train the writer in you.

When Sock-dog gets caught with a Ked in her mouth, we take it away and scold her.  She cowers and slinks away–likely to look for another sock that she’s not quite so willing to give up.  What we should do is scold her WHEN she digs them out of the hamper so the punishment is linked to the behavior we want to change. 

As it is, she associates “Bad Dog.  No.  Naughty.” with giving us the sock.

Hello, yes we’ve raised other dogs, as well as four children.  It’s amazing they all don’t piddle on themselves and have more tic(k)s than a crazed coon hound running through the forest. 

Sometimes parents–and dog trainers–are just dumb about certain things.

Writers, too.

We punish, not reward.  Our consequences rarely fit the crime.  

As a writer, my biggest naughtiness is my desire to write.  I could sit with my manuscript from the second I wake up to the minute I fall asleep and be happy.  Seriously, it’s about as addictive as a tube sock is to our lab.

And so the training begins.  “Self,” I ask.  “What do you need to accomplish today?”

My answer: write, laundry, write, floors, write, work out and WRITE

“Self, what is the least pleasant of these activities?”

*hold on while I change out a load of whites*

And so I play games to reward my good behavior.

HERE’S MY SYSTEM

  •  Throw a load in, blog.
  • When the load is done washing, I will work on housework only until the buzzer announces that my laundry is dry and can be switched out–my cue to take a writing break.
  • During this laundry cycle, I will write.
  • Wash, dry, repeat until there is nothing left to do but write. 

If I don’t vac floors, cook dinner, put away laundry and shape up my tushy with a sweaty work out, I’ll hang my head and slink away when DH comes home.  The guilt will eat me up and I’ll feel crappy.  Then I’ll promise to redeem myself tomorrow by getting above list done, only to write my day away…again.  Because truly, writing is the reward and I got my fix by writing.

 It’s what makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside.

But I want to feel fuzzy without the guilt.  Just like Sock-dog does.  So today when she gets caught with a sock in her mouth, I’m going to praise her for giving it up, let her follow me into the laundry room where I will put the sock in the basket–deliberately in front of her.  When she leans in to sniff it–cuz that’s what dogs do–I’ll let loose my litany of “Bad dog.  No.  Naughty.”

I vow to be a better trainer from this day forth, whether I’m training my dog, my kids or myself.

I’ll try to reward the good behavior and make sure the punishment fits the crime.  That said, if you don’t see me around for a day or two,  you’ll know that I’ll be wallowing in heaps of unwashed clothes, a dog-hairy floor and a self-imposed punishment. 

How about you?  What stands in your way of writing guilt-free?  How do you plan to curb your inner, naughty-dog?

Curious minds want to know.