Thursday, August 29, 2013

"If It Ain't Broken, Don't Fix It!" - Time for a Reality Check

Before: Don't tell me I need to write every day. I can't write every day. It's a setup to try to write every day. Therefore I am deciding that not writing every day is okay. I can do that. Right.

After, note to self: That was a dandy idea. Really. Take some pressure off. I still support that decision. But, hey. Look. Really? How successful was it?

C'mon, be honest!

It really was a great experiment. And some days, I just can't do it. Really. Well, unless it's NaNovember. I seem to find time to write practically every day in November, no matter what. No matter how much VRS I'm working and how much freelance work and shows and even teachingt on top of that.


So I'm easing back in to the "daily writing." It's not daily, yet. It might become daily. It might become daily except weekends (and my weekends don't mean Saturday & Sunday; I work every Sunday). It might be three or four days a week.

It might be like "choose your own adventure" except that mine will be "choose your two days off this week." For times like when I'm preparing to interpret a play. Or maybe those are excuses, too, and I still need to write no matter what.

It was okay to give myself permission to not write every day. And the reality is that I haven't generally been getting as much writing done as I'd like. At least not on the books (memoir and novel) and the short stories. Although I have picked up the pace.

And I was doing some other writing. For the professional standard practice paper for our national organization (that one still isn't done; it's in the review before getting member feedback phase). And business correspondence, though most of that doesn't really "count" in the way I'm talking about writing at this moment.

Anyway, rambling aside... Right now I have a weekly writing date with another writer/author and I have a weekly meeting with a writing group. And last week I wrote on three other days. Pretty good, huh?

It feels great. And if you're following me on Twitter, you maybe saw that I broke another of my "rules" today. See, I'm what is called a "pantser" in NaNoWriMo; I write without an outline. For me it doesn't matter : short story, novel, memoir, poem, script. I write it as it comes. Sometimes it flows and sometimes it's messy. And, yes, editing can be a pain when the writing doesn't flow. But I swear - really, really swear - that some of my best writing wouldn't have come to light if I tried to plot and plan it out. I wouldn't have thought of it. And I am fine with being a pantser; totally okay.

But today I did a mind map, which looks a lot like an outline, for this book project I've been thinking about for about six weeks. An outline! Me! I'm okay with that, too. It's a non-fiction book, so maybe that accounts for some of the difference.

We'll see.

So the adage about "if it ain't broke, don't fix it?" I'll still hold that thought. And be open to the possibility of change. At least for change in the right circumstances.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Word(s) of the Day

When I met with a weekly writing partner today, I decided to go ahead and connect to the internet. I wanted to be able to upload the story I was working on, so I would be able to access it from my desktop later.

As I was revising, I used the word "flotsam" and decided to make sure I was using it correctly or that there was not a better word. Recently I was working on a different story and ran across a different meaning for a familiar word. I've learned to follow my gut if something feels off or like I should do a little research. I was confident in my use of "flotsam," but there was that tug to double check.

"Flotsam" does have a specific meaning in maritime terms - and although a ship doesn't play a part in the story at all, I am still confident in my use. I also was okay on the meaning of "jetsam," not applicable to the short story, but there it is.

But the new words are lagan (also called ligan) and derelict. Well, derelict with this meaning; not an unfamiliar word, but a new meaning. I did cross-reference with other dictionary sources on flotsam and jetsam and there are additional definitions.

So - the short wiki overview of these four types of maritime debris is below.

And, yes, I did immediately close my browser and return to writing.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Flotsam on a beach of Terschelling (TheNetherlands)
In maritime lawflotsamjetsamlagan and derelict describe specific kinds of wreck. The words have specific nautical meanings, with legal consequences in the law of admiralty and marine salvage.[1]

Flotsam is floating wreckage of a ship or its cargo. Jetsam is part of a ship, its equipment, or its cargo that is purposefully cast overboard or jettisoned to lighten the load in time of distress and that sinks or is washed ashore. Lagan(also called ligan[2]) is cargo that is lying on the bottom of the ocean, sometimes marked by a buoy, which can be reclaimed. Derelict is cargo that is also on the bottom of the ocean, but which no one has any hope of reclaiming.


Saturday, August 17, 2013

Acceptance and Integration; Moving Forward

detail of Heart Connection collage by Dot. 2013

...recent conversation...
P: so is it fair to say that creativity has been present all your life?
Me: well, not really, I mean. Sometimes.
P: okay, so most of your life?
Me: I've had writing. But time off, sometimes years between. Theatre, long periods of involvememt,  a couple years off. Some art, but...
P: and
Me: yeah, okay. I guess really, sure.
P: (raises eyebrows)
Me: okay yes, I've had creativity present throughout most of my life. Okay, all of it that I remember.
...there was more to the conversation, but this is the part which is relevant to what I want to write about right now...

This conversation did start my brain tossing neurons around remembering times when I didn't write, for example.

Oh, but when I wasn't writing creatively, meaning fiction and poetry, I was Newsletter Editor and Staff Writer for the college newspaper, a women's crisis center, a drama troupe (two of those, actually) and then at my Office Manager job at an alternative health care clinic - and more.

Oh, and when I wasn't being stage manager/director/assistant director/poster designer/general tech crew, etc for a play but I was writing skits for a child abuse prevention drama troupe and learning to throw pottery and making silk paintings and silk scarves.

Then I was writing.

Then I was making visual art. And crafts.

Then I was doing theatre.

And making music when I played the piano. Playing other people's music and making up my own when I felt like it.

Or working in the yard and completely redoing the structure and the plants and making a cement sun walkway from the street across the grassy area to the house.

And more.

I guess creativity *has* always been present in my life nearly as far back as I remember. Coloring within the lines, though not always. Making mud pies - yes, I really did. "Flying" by jumping off the neighbor's picnic table with sheets tied around our waists, wrists, holding them over our head. Writing my first book, all 72 pages by hand, when I was ten years old; my first play for my class at age nine. Learning piano (thanks, mom) and violin and being in the orchestra; second chair in Junior Symphony. Taking up cello one year when we didn't have one; viola another year when we were missing that instrument. School plays, community plays. Collage and clay and sketches and making sand candles and scrapbooks. Teenage angst poetry and short stories and more sketches. Speech team and drama and choir and and and.

I get it.

Now let me take a little time to integrate.

Creativity - not just writing, although writing has probably had the longest running engagement in my life. As much as I remember, anyway. Unless you count the mud pies.

Yes. I've carried my creativity with me everywhere. I promise to look at it more often and bring it out, or at least not hide it. Because creativity is me and creativity is my blood and my bones and I don't have to hide it.

Creativity is breathing for me. And we all know that deep breathing is calming and restorative.


Thursday, August 8, 2013

Returning to the Up Position of the Seesaw

photo from Seesaw of Life - a nice article about failure and success

Writing - and I think creating, in general - is a seesaw ride for some of us.

Or we think it is.

I do, at least.

Today I feel I'm back on the upswing. Yesterday I was holding onto the edge of the dark pit, slipping and yet not letting myself fall, wondering if I could haul my ass out one more time. Wondering if this in and out, up and down - the excited energy of new ideas, then the plummet of self-doubt with or without external ignition - will ever end. Thinking, no, it won't, so what's the use of trying.

Except I do try.

I return to the things I love and I don't give up. The time between the flow of creativity, the sagging lack of confidence or lack of sleep or lack or validation, and the return to writing is shortened; sometimes hours or maybe a day or two. No longer weeks or months of wondering, waiting, trying to ignore the sense that maybe this time writing or theater or art-making and I won't find our way back together.

But I do find the path.

And today I know that this is a cycle.

That periods of not writing don't mean I'm not writing - what I mean is that I'm not putting the words on a page. Paper or computer screen it doesn't matter. If I'm still thinking and open to what surrounds me and ideas are being sparked, then I'm in the process of writing. And rewriting and editing is writing.

I think this lift of the creative teeter totter I've found that little bounce as my butt hits the ground and I rebound into the air, with creativity intact. And realize I've only dipped; not lost.

It's good to be airborne again. To have words back in my pocket and on my screen.

Thank you to writing partners and writing group members and friends. And my partner and Pamela and Bonnie. And all of the other people in my life who help keep me moving forward and help me remember that I can and I am.