Just Write: Self-shaming Sunday update

We all want progress, but if you’re on the wrong road, progress means doing an about-turn and walking back to the right road; in that case, the man who turns back soonest is the most progressive.” – C.S. Lewis

Progress is a relative term, subjective, and in the eye of the beholder.  If you take a quick peek at my notebook, it will tell you that I have worked diligently this week in an effort to nail down a set up for my work in progress.  However, if you delve a little deeper, you will see that I’m floating untethered in a turbulent sea of uncertainty.

I’m sure this is a normal phenomenon in story planning, and I have no doubt that it’s the natural order of things.  It’s a learning process, after all.  However, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t feeling frustrated.  It’s a dizzying thing to take two steps back for every step forward.

On Friday, I was convinced that I had come up with the perfect midpoint plot twist that would turn the entire story on its ear.  It was fabulous.  The greatest idea I’ve ever had.  I was blinded by my own brilliance.

One step forward.

Today, I hate it.

So, I changed it.

Now the midpoint doesn’t jive with the set up.

Two steps back.

Okay.  Enough with the whining.  Let’s get down to it, shall we?  How did I stack up this week?

Last weeks goal:   Finish up character profile for Ivan and continue working on setup outline.

Goal = met – I guess.  I did finish up my character profile, though I think with the new midpoint, I will need to make him less douche-baggy.  

Next week’s goal:  Figure out this midpoint thing and get it to jive with the set up.

Did I make progress this week?

Yes, I believe I did.

(Cue the obligatory golf claps now)

Things I learned this week

I learned this week…

…that Nadya Suleman has finally figured out that prolific reproduction is a costly endeavor.

…that my daughter is turning into a girl.  I know this may sound strange, but if you knew her, you would know exactly what I mean.  She is the epitome of tomboy.  So much so, that I often forget that she is indeed a girl.   It’s not a bad thing.  She is who she is, and we love her unconditionally.  It’s just that sometimes we catch a glimpse of her elusive femininity, and it leaves us speechless.  This week we were treated to a full moon.  My daughter loves the moon and in an effort to get a better look at it, she dragged her telescope out into the backyard.  She invited a couple of her friends to join her.  One of them was the boy she likes.  When she had confirmation that he would be stopping by, she barreled into the house and up the stairs announcing as she went that she only had a few minutes to change her clothes and brush her hair.   Exactly one minute later, she reappeared with her hair freshly coiffed, wearing a brand new pair of shorts, and her low top Converse sneakers – her idea of dressy.  As she disappeared out the backdoor, I was left feeling a little shell-shocked.  I don’t think I’m ready for what lurks right around the corner.

…that it seems I will never learn that studying just before bed will lead to strangely disjointed dreams that seem to mock my efforts.  I diligently studied for two tests, back to back, and was rewarded with a night filled with images of Stalin chopping off Trotsky’s head as Darwin preached of natural selection and social stratification with a finch perched upon his shoulder.   Otto von Bismarck stood atop a trench and expertly choreographed the slaughter at Verdun while Milgram and Durkheim argued the importance of imperialism as an innate function of society as a whole.  This dream was almost as strange as the one I had about Jen Garner and the lady in the orange overcoat.  Almost.

…that sitting poolside for three hours on a warm spring day will yield three things:  convincing conflict between Anna and her father, a crudely drawn map of cities Anna will have to visit during her crusade for vengeance, and sunburned knees.

…that some people have something to say about everything, even if they don’t really have anything to say at all.  This annoying habit will provoke me to say something that might be construed as snarky or spiteful.  I’m not proud of myself, but sometimes sarcasm is the only viable alternative to homicide.

…that the misuse of quotation marks is on the rise in social media.  I’m confused by this epidemic and wonder what makes this particular outlet so susceptible to ignorance.

…that last but not least, this week’s awww moment is brought to you by this cute little bunny.  I can’t help but wonder what he’s up to.  Is he bashful?  Did someone say something funny?  Oh…I know…he’s allergic to Easter eggs.  Somebody get this bunny a tissue.

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Source:  http://v-o-g-u-e-i-s-a-r-t.tumblr.com/post/13590455052

Bees

It’s spring time in Texas.  That means fields and fields of glorious Texas Bluebonnets.  In the last couple of weeks, I’ve been out to take photos in my favorite field.  Flipping through the fruits of my labor, I discovered a recurring theme.

Bees. 

Lots and lots of bees.

Who knew I liked bees some much?

Not me.

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Picture Perfect Thursday

I’ve discovered that I am falling in love with photography.  I am still trying to figure it all out, but here are few from the last week…

 

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Things I learned this week

I learned this week…

…that inversion poses are where it’s at in yoga, and the handstand is king.  A notch down from the handstand is a head stand.  I can do neither.  However, this week in “yoga for a grade” I learned a pose that serves as a stepping stone toward a true head stand.   Tripod balance pose.   It’s not the most comfortable pose, certainly not the most elegant, and I wasn’t able to hold it for very long, but I did it.  And that’s all that matters to me.

…that sometime when I wasn’t looking, my daughter discovered that she likes my t-shirts.  I’m not sure which I’m more upset about, the fact that she is borrowing my clothes or that they actually fit her.

…that traffic will invariably flow contradictory to my immediate needs.

…that my daughter has been asked to the Spring dance at her middle school – and she’s going to go!  Last time she was asked, she declined because she was going to have to – EGADS – wear a dress.  This time around there is a more relaxed dress code.  Good thing, too.  My daughter’s idea of dressing up is a white button up shirt and low top Converse sneakers.

…that as I age, the fit of a good tennis shoe trumps aesthetic.   Recently, I spent two days scouring athletic shoe stores looking for replacement sneakers.  It was a trying process – it always is.  I can’t just walk into a store and buy the first shoe that strikes my fancy.  There are important factors that must be considered.   Do my prescription orthotics fit?  Are they made from natural material or synthetic?  Are they lightweight?  Breathable?  Cross trainer or walker?  Is the tongue thick?  Does it ride too high?  Too low?  Are they narrow across the bridge?  Do my bunions cry out in agony with every step I take?  These are all valid questions that must be asked before committing to such an important purchase.  After torturing a half a dozen salespeople, I finally settled on a pair of Nikes.  I usually steer clear of that particular brand because of their tendency toward a narrow bridge and a thick tongue, but I found a pair that fits all my requirements.  Of course, they are neon pink, likely glow in the dark, and are perhaps the ugliest things I’ve ever put on my feet, but who gives a shit.  They adequately serve their purpose.

…that I didn’t win the Mega Millions Jackpot.  Bummer.

…that five little words of criticism – “not as complete as usual” – written on an in-class discussion assignment will cause me a great amount of internal suffering – indeed, eat at my very soul.  I will obsess over this negative review until it encapsulates my every thought and I’m left with no alternative but to email the professor in an effort to explain my shortcomings as a student.   Of course, the realization that he likely never gave the note a second thought just adds to my level of frustration and humiliation.  I need to learn to let these things go.

Yeah, right.  Who am I trying to kid?

…that I am becoming a photography junkie.  I want to take pictures of everything.  Here’s one I took a couple of days ago of the Knock Out roses in my backyard.

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…and last, but not least, this week’s awww moment is brought to you by this little miniature schnauzer named Bear.  I had the pleasure of spending my Monday with him.  He was rescued from a puppy mill and is up for adoption through a local schnauzer rescue group.  Photograph is courtesy of Efrain Sain, a local photographer, attorney, and musician, who office shares with our law firm.

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What if?

I am outlining my novel, Retribution.

And when I say outlining, I mean outlining, outlining.

The real deal.

I’ll give you a minute to digest that bit of news.  I don’t want to be responsible for causing anyone to go into shock-induced cardiac arrest.  I’m pretty sure my homeowner’s policy has no coverage stipulation for that.

I am no great proponent of the outline.  I think it’s a big old waste of time, and have successfully avoided squandering precious minutes of my life doing it.  I like to go with the flow, see where the ideas take me.  To do this, I employ a simple shell method.  I think of it as something that perhaps contains an aura of an outline without actually being an outline.

  • Topic
  • key points, usually 3 but sometimes more depending on the document (one word each)
  • Conclusion

That’s it.   I write these three little bullet points on a blank page and then proceed to fill in the paragraphs.  I’ve done it this way for…well…ever.  It has never failed me.

Until I started writing Retribution.

It turns out that it is impossible – for me, anyway – to write a well constructed novel by implementing this tried and true method of leaping before I look to see what lurks at the bottom of the canyon.  I hate it when I’m wrong.

It took a year for me to accept that I was going to have to suck this one up.  It was a year filled with several crying fits, a lot of self-loathing, and a couple of toddler worthy temper tantrums.  In the end, I seceded.  I am stubborn, but I’m not stupid.  I can admit when I’m beat.

As we speak, I am working on that outline.  I’ve received a lot of good advice from my fellow writers.  Some have recommended a few of their own methods, others have suggested certain reference books.  All great ideas which I’ve taken to heart – purchased a book or two.   Somewhere along the way, I came across someone or something – a blog, a writer’s manual, a professor (I can’t remember!  Ugh!) – who used the “what if?” method to dig deeper into their story.

What if Anna did this?

What if Anna did that?

What if Anna’s father said this?

What if Anna’s father injected her with this? And then told her that?  And then died in a fiery ball of twisted metal when a mysterious motorcyclist attached a bomb to the bottom of his moving car?

This intrigued me because “what if?” is a game I love to play while people watching at the gym.  I’ve used it as a prompt, but never considered doing it in this context.  So, I thought to myself:  Self, what if I used this method to write my first quick pass through in preparation for a more thorough outline?

My self agreed that it might be a decent idea.  I tried it out.  I wouldn’t say that I would recommend it for a hard-core outline, but it does get the creative juices flowing.  I’ve breezed my way through to the mid-point of the novel, in just two days.  I even sketched out the climax scene because, in the midst of all of this, I had a stroke of brilliance that could not be contained.  If nothing else, the “what if” exercise was rejuvenating – creatively speaking – and reconnected me with my story.  Just a few months ago, I thought that was an impossibility.

Should I dare to hope?

Could it be possible?

What if…what if I actually make all the way to…

…the end?