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Monday, December 12, 2016

Winding Down

OK, here goes.  Other than IWSG, I’ve been lacking in blog post topics for a long stretch.  Today is no different, so you are getting this.  A journal entry of sorts, I guess.

As I type (Sunday), I’ve got beans boiling on the stove to add to a turkey chili for dinner. The tree behind me is on, and the smell of the evergreen-scented candle I’m burning delivers a piney bouquet.  I’ve got the house to myself.  Our daughter is still down at school and my husband is over doing projects at his mother’s, although I’m hoping he’ll return in time for us to attend the annual lighting of this tree, before we sit down to a warming meal.  

Hubby and I got out before 8:00 am to shop, returning home by mid-morning, successful in most of our endeavors.  We’ve given ourselves a strict budget this year.  Not because we have to, but because we don’t really need anything.  We made a decision to take things easy, and that call is helping to keep stress at bay while adding to the joy of the season.

Last weekend, our daughter came home with a friend, and she, her friend and I partook in an annual holiday activity, the Festival on the Common put on by the local churches.  As has become our family tradition, while our daughter and I visit the common, God love him, the man I'm married to, aka Mr. Christmas, stays home and decorates.   

This year, the festival was smaller and more restrained than in other years, yet we enjoyed our annual bowl of clam chowder at the Congregational Church, followed by a concert put on by local instrumentalists at First Parish.  I'm not sure our daughter’s friend had experienced anything quite like our little festival—jumble sales, a meat raffle, silent auctions, book sales and the like, but seemed to take it in stride and rated the whole thing “charming.”  We returned home to lights and wreathes and nutcrackers all over.  Let’s just say we’re a three-Christmas-tree kind of family and I’m not sure whether our daughter’s friend was impressed or horrified overwhelmed. 

We start our festivities this coming weekend as we celebrate the season with my side of the family.  As a result, I’m not sure I'll get a blog post in again before the holidays. In case I don’t, please know, I wish you all a wonderful Christmas.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

IWSG December: Even Glaciers Move Forward

It's IWSG Day.  The goal of this blog hop is to share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds. The brainchild of Alex Cavanaugh, our brilliant ninja leader.  To read other posts, click here.

It’s been a decent writing month for me.  I finished my fourth revision of my current project, and then finally, picked up the novel I queried last year, to which I received some early promising response, but no takers.  As a result, before I sent it out to hundreds of agents, I made a decision to stop submitting it.  From the feedback I received, it seemed as if the story has potential, but isn’t all the way there yet, and I didn’t want to waste it.  Now, after analyzing the first few chapters, I feel glad to have waited.  Reading it with fresh eyes allows me to see where there’s room for improvement.  It’s so easy to convince ourselves our work is ready because we’re so keen on being published. Holding back is hard, especially since so many writers I follow have had multiple books published in the last five years, and here I am still plugging away.  But this exercise reminds me that everyone has their own pace, and mine is mine, even if it happens to be glacial.

Based on the above, this month’s IWSG question seems appropriate: In terms of my writing career, where do I see myself five years from now, and what is my plan to get there?

Truth-be-told, I’m not a fan of five year goals.  It’s not that I don’t set goals.  I do.  I attain them, too.  I just don’t plan that far in advance.  I plan a month in ahead.  Maybe six months, a year at most, because the fact of the matter is that life always throws a curve, and I don’t want to beat myself up for not accomplishing a thing, when so much of life is out of my control. It’s a coward’s way to move forward and I know it.  If I make plans, what if I fail?  But here’s the other thing I know about myself.  When I’m ready, I get where I want to be.

Okay, that said, where would I like to be in five years?  Writing, of course, only better than I do now, and with more appreciable success.  Golly, I’d sure like to have published a book. In a perfect world, I’d have a dedicated writing partner with similar standards who would challenge me to push myself, not only in my writing, but in my marketing, at which I struggle. 

How am I going to get there?  For now, I’m going to keep getting up early five days a week to write.  I’m going to keep attending my monthly writers group.  When I can afford it from expense and time perspectives, I’ll take more Grub Street courses. I’ll keep my online contacts, knowing that each encouraging writer I encounter helps me become stronger. 

If I look back to where I was five years ago, I feel pretty good.  Since then, I may not have had a grand plan, but I accomplished a lot, one step at a time.  That's something I need to remember.  Even baby steps get there eventually.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

A Day Late...Only Fifty Cents Short

I was all teed up Sunday, ready to go out with the rest of the world and get pictures of the super moon, but some reason, I didn’t.  It might have been because the actual full moon was Monday night, but still.  A photographer acquaintance of mine had advised me that Sunday, the moon would rise early enough that a fair amount of light would remain before sunset, allowing for good shots. Then, all of a sudden, it was 4:45 pm on Sunday, my sister-in-law was texting me to go outside and see the moon, and all I got was scraps of it rising through the trees.

Which was why I headed out an hour-and-a-half earlier than I needed to Monday to scout locations, while crossing my fingers enough light would remain at moonrise, an hour later than the day before.  I don’t have one of those moonrise best-place-to-be GPS apps on my phone. So, based on a stunning picture someone posted from Sunday night, I took a stab as to where I might get a shot of the moon rising over Minot Lighthouse. 

My first clue that I was wrong place, wrong time occurred when no one else showed up with a camera.  Still, I positioned my tripod, framed the image I wanted, took some test shots, and waited. Then I waited some more.  Finally, about ten minutes before moonrise, a group of people gathered on the beach.  Just enough light remained for me to feel stupid uneasy, when I realized they weren’t looking toward the lighthouse at all.

Thankfully, this girl can take a hint.  I kept scanning the horizon, and just on time, a red thumbnail appeared at about a 45 degree angle beyond where I’d focused the camera.  Oops.  After a bit of a scramble, I got a few photos.  It was too dark.  What I caught with the camera says nothing about what I caught with my eyes.  

Nevertheless, a mild afternoon by the ocean, witnessing a mirror-still low-tide is a blessing.  Award-winning moonshot or not.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Picking Favorites - IWSG November

It's IWSG Day.  The goal of this blog hop is to share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds. The brainchild of Alex Cavanaugh, our brilliant ninja leader.  To read other posts, click here.

This month's question: What is my favorite aspect of being a writer?

A long time ago, I read something about musicians feeling a kind of “high” after a performance.  Since I sang for many years, it makes sense to me.  Maybe it’s blood pressure, maybe endorphins, but after a good concert, I glowed inside.

Writing delivers a similar reward.  When the words spill out, something elemental stirs and I’m engaged and engrossed.  Of course, words don’t always flow, but even one good sentence helps, and when the job at hand is editing, I get sucked in while pondering the exact turn of phrase, the nuance of detail. If I'm interrupted by, say,  the alarm I set each morning so I leave the computer in time for work, or a phone, or maybe my family, I blink a few times as I return from where I mentally was.  It’s always difficult to depart that place, but warm coals of accomplishment burn for having traveled there.

Sometimes, I go a day or two without a focused period of writing.  Invariably, on the third or fourth day, I wake up with a craving, the need to sit down in front of the computer and spill it.  For me, the act of writing is medicinal.  It makes me whole again.  Without it, the puzzle of me remains incomplete.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Spectacular? I'll say!

Real autumn arrived this weekend with a whoosh of wind, pelting rain squalls and an overnight drop in temperature to the point the heat kicked on.  Thankfully, the waterworks let up for the field trip we’d planned Saturday, a quick visit with the busy-attending-school-and-working-daughter, followed by a trip to the Jack-o-Lantern Spectacular at the Roger Williams Zoo, in Providence, RI.  Said industrious daughter took a break to scope it out with a friend last week.  Her pictures were so stunning, my husband and I decided to give it a go.

The two of us don’t often do big crowds or tourist-type attractions, but this one made it to the exception list.  For anyone who has been in previous years, you’ll be happy to know that they organized it differently, so weekends aren't the mad-house they were apparently, in the past. Crowded? Yes.  But controlled, and worth the bit of patience required to traipse the zoo grounds in the dark, to view thousands of pumpkins, carved and painted into pure art.