So much for regularly scheduled anything…

You may have noticed that, in spite of the promises I made in my last blog post, there was no update this past Saturday. That’s because, as per usual, my carefully laid-out plans have gone completely awry. (sidenote: this is probably at least partially the reason I’m a pantser. Why bother outlining when it will never go that way anyhow?) Anyway, a number of things came up that veered me right off course. First, I had my writing group meeting on Monday. I was on vacation and missed the meeting before that due to packing, so I’d been away for about a month. Apparently in that time they had decided that the reading night we’d talked about doing would be at the end of this month. Then it was decided that rather than having these readings just amongst ourselves in our cozy little meeting room, we’d do it somewhere public. On the plus side, it might be at a bar. On the down side, that gives me far less time than I’m comfortable with to prepare something. This is not going to be quite as public as the reading I did in December. It’s just going to be us and anyone who happens to be in the bar/cafe/wherever it is, provided they decide to stick around. But it’s still a public place. As nerve-wracking as I find this, I really should try to get the practice, so I don’t want to bow out. So that means that I have to have something prepared.

Which brings me to the next thing that has messed up my schedule. My short story has now come back from all readers with WILDLY differing suggestions (though overall positive feedback which is nice). This means that I have to go through everything, decide what I’m taking and what I’m not. I’m getting through it at about a page an hour and they are exhausting hours. My deadline on this is mid-April (thank god), so I’m concentrating fully on this one and on a friend’s novel edit. Once those are off the table, I can go back to the other things where the deadlines are more of the made-up variety.

And the last two things to throw me off – March Break last week which mean Kid A was at home and that meant babynaps were usually spent playing with him. And, on top of it all, I caught Baby D’s terrible cold on Friday so I have not been able to focus quite as much as I’d like.

So there are all of my excuses. I do plan to get back on schedule, just as soon as the short story is sent off, this reading night is done and my friend’s novel is edited. But being able to breathe would definitely be a good first step to getting back on track.

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Now back to my regularly-scheduled blogging. I hope.

Geez, you walk away from your blog for upwards of two months and apparently someone thinks it’s okay to go in and completely change the updating format. Some nerve. I’ll try to adapt. 😉

So, yes, once again I find myself apologizing for a hiatus. I’m sorry. I really am. Maybe in a few years, when both of the kids are in school, I’ll be able to update more regularly. My hope is that the new schedule I’ve set for myself will lead to my wandering onto this site a little more often (I hope). More on that later.

Actually, more on that now. (See? I’m such a pantser I don’t even plan out my blog posts :P) . Part of the reason I’ve been away from the blog for so long is just how many projects I have on the go at the moment. I’m nearly done the long edits on the novel. I’m rewriting a chapter in that novel from another POV. I’ve started the sequel. I’m working on a query and a synopsis. I’m polishing up a short story for submissions. Plus I’m editing, not only my own work, but a novel for a friend and occasional projects for people in my writing group. And on top of all of that, I’ve been very strict with myself about working out, trying to keep the house in some semblance of order (hahaha) and, you know, not ignoring my kids. Up until a  couple of weeks ago, my method had been chip away at everything a little bit every day. A chapter on the novel. 10 pages of editing for my friend. A page of a short story. Etc. Etc. While I thought this meant that everything would get done at roughly the same time, what it actually meant was that I was forcing myself to switch creative gears rather often during my “writing time” segments during the day. And since those segments are only during Baby D’s nap and sometimes an hour or two in the evening, I barely let myself breathe between those switch-overs. And if there happened to be anything that I was less interested in working on – query letters, say – it was very easy to just work a little bit longer on everything else until the baby woke up. Oh darn, guess I’ll have to work on it tomorrow.

This all became very apparent to me while I was on vacation. I managed to escape the Canadian winter for two weeks this February and I had big plans of all of the writing and editing I was going to do while away. And you know what? I didn’t do much of it. A little bit, yes. But not anywhere near as much as I had “scheduled”. And, at a time when I was supposed to be relaxing, I found myself stressing out about everything I wasn’t doing, everything I had to do when I got home. Especially when my husband pointed out that it was probably really time to get started on that damn query letter.

And once I got home, things didn’t get better in that regard. I continued on my every-project-every-day schedule until I realized that all I was left with at the end of the day was a feeling that I’d accomplished pretty much nothing, nothing was completed and I was still completely stressed out. And that was worrisome. I actually have the opportunity to be pursuing my passion and, while I understand that everything is stressful some of the time, it wasn’t a good sign that the thing I most love to do was stressing me out all of the time.

And so I reset my plans. 6 projects, 6 days, one day off. On Monday I work on the novel edits. Tuesday, short stories. Wednesday, query and synopsis (read: housecleaning). Thursday, editing my friend’s MS and any other editing-for-others on my plate. Friday, since it is #writeclub on Twitter, I’ve slotted in chapter rewrite and sequel work. Saturday is social media and blogging, since I’ve also been remiss at actually following the blogs I follow. I’m also using Saturdays to catch up anything I’m feeling especially behind on. And Sunday is my day off. It might not always work out that way, but that is the standard schedule and I’m giving myself permission to mess with it as necessary. Just last week I had to switch two of the days because I was waiting for an edit to come in. And so far the new process is working well.

And how are those many many projects working out, you ask? Pretty well, I’d say. On the novel – and yes, there is a tentative title, but it’s still pretty tentative – I’m nearly done my “long edits”, then I have to comb through for consistency errors. I’m rewriting one chapter from a different POV (on the advice of a CP) to see which I like better. And yes, I actually have started the query letter writing process, as daunting as it seems.

Short story work is going well too, I think. It’s done, the first round of comments are back and it has been sent off to a few other people. Once I hear back from them, I’ll start polishing it up.

I guess the only other real writing-related “news” is that I’m taking my writing class again next semester! We managed to squeeze it into the budget and I am so excited to get back to it! The only drawback is that a lot of the ‘regulars’ aren’t taking it, but one of my closest friends is for the first time. And I’m definitely looking forward to meeting a bunch of new writers too. 🙂

So hey, I managed a blog post (and yes, Baby D is up. Sigh.) With any luck, I’ll have some time to comment on some others and then I’ll see you all again next Saturday. 😉

Oh, but before I go – proof of Reading Night. 🙂

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Excuses, WFC wrap-up and finding my tribe

I know I haven’t updated in a while. I meant to. There were lots of things I wanted to blog about. Finally finishing the WFC report. How my writing is going. Review of 2012 and thoughts on 2013. And I’m sure there are others that I can’t think of right now. But several factors threw off my blogging “schedule” (and yes, I do use that term loosely).

The first is the topic of my last post: Sandy Hook. Right now, almost a month later, I still get a little gasping sensation just from writing those words. When the tragedy occurred, I actually had about half of the WFC wrap-up post written. And I just couldn’t bring myself to go back to it for quite a while. Up until pretty much now, actually.

Then, of course, there were the holidays. Kid A was home for two weeks which cuts down on my “me” time drastically. That meant that whenever I did have time to devote to my various projects, I put it towards writing and editing rather than blogging. On top of that, we really left the holiday stuff until the last minute this year, so there wasn’t much time for writing or editing either.

Then there was the writing and editing itself. I had been hoping to get a short story finished for submitting by mid-Jan. I had given up on the assumed deadline of Dec 31, but then found I had until Jan 15 so I decided to try to push it. Bad idea. This story really needs a week or two in “the drawer” and I was poking at it so much I can’t be certain that I was actually improving anything. And it was driving me crazy because it is *almost* there. But not quite. And the more I thought about those few parts that needed work, the more frustrated I got that they weren’t just sorting themselves into beautiful lines of prose in my head. During this time, I also re-read my novel manuscript to re-familiarize myself with it before I pull it out of its drawer. A couple of days ago I took a bit of pressure off – the short story is going into the drawer and I can submit it to the next issue in the spring. Which means that during the babynap today, I can actually update my blog.

(another win is that I can listen to David Usher while I blog; I try to stick with instrumental music when I’m writing but especially when I’m editing).

So that brings me to the updates. I’m not going to try to cover everything here because that will lead to a 5000 word blog post and no one will bother reading to the end. One thing at a time, right? (RIGHT?) Okay. WFC days 3 and 4. Here goes…

When we left off, all those weeks ago, I’d just spent an amazing afternoon and evening with Carol Berg and her friends and wandered about getting autographs from some of my other favourites like Charles de Lint. But the next day my shyness started to get the better of me again, at first. I saw Carol right away, surrounded by the people I’d met and some others besides and I realized that I still felt a bit like an imposter. And so I took myself into the dealer room and texted my friend L about it. L’s response: “Well when you get home I won’t ask about any cool “hanging out with Carol” stories since you won’t HAVE ANY.” Which was not exactly fair, but it was exactly what I needed to hear. Duly chastised, I first went and introduced myself to horror writer Mark Leslie Lefebvre, who happens to know my husband and whom I hadn’t introduced myself to at the autograph session because of the shyness. We had a chat (he’s very friendly!) and then it was nearly time to go to my first reading. I went over to Carol, ensured she was going to stay put and headed off to see That Author do a reading.

That Author is the one I mentioned in previous posts – where I have tried to read his books but they have just never jived with me. Anyhow, I found him to be a very smart speaker so I decided to go see his reading. If I hated it, fine. But I thought it might be a good way to see if I’d like to give his books another try.

And I do. He was brilliant. He’s back on the list. It’s a long list, but before that reading he wasn’t even on it.

Then I hurried off the Charles de Lint presentation, which I really enjoyed. He had his wife and artist speaking with him. (Yeah, you read that right. He has an artist. Why don’t I have an artist?) At the end he and his wife pulled out some instruments and began to play. And they were incredible! De Lint mentioned that they had played until 1am the night before and that was not the first time I started kicking myself for not staying at the hotel. Fortunately, he said that they would play again that night. After the presentation I had a chance to chat with him a bit and got a photo with him.

Then I ran back upstairs to find Carol right where I left her. She said hello, pulled out a chair right her. I sat down and she stood up. “I’m just going to go have a drink with Bob.” That was the last I saw of her until that evening.

And that was how Carol Berg forced me out of my shyness. And thank god. The group “adopted” me, as they put it – they adopt one or two at WFC every year apparently. I spent the afternoon in the lounge, chatting with people about books, kids, writing, politics, pretty much everything and met a bunch of new people including last year’s adoptee, Krista. We all headed out for dinner and then back for an evening of readings.

First Krista invited me to a reading of the “worst book ever written”. (and I won’t give you the actual title, but that accolade is well deserved). Then I attended the “flash readings” by the Broad Universe group (that I intend to join) where I heard some brilliant stuff. Carol also had her long reading that evening and all I can say to that is “What do you mean I have to wait until 2014? What the hell?”. Then back to more of the Broad Universe flash readings. After all that, I met my husband up in the lounge and about fifteen minutes later we were joined by Carol and the rest of the group and we all had drinks and continued the night.

Sometime around midnight I realized that I still hadn’t gone to see de Lint and no matter how late I stayed my kids were still going to get me up early so we said our goodbyes. My husband and I wandered over to where de Lint and his wife were playing and hung out there for a while – I wound up buying both his and his wife’s CDs. When we got back into the car I was completely blissed out. Even more so than I had been the night before. I texted my friend M and said “I found my tribe.”

I texted M about this because a while ago M wrote a blog post about “finding one’s tribe”, a concept she had been reading about and was pretty sure she had managed at the time. (note: I may be remembering this completely wrong. Maybe she just told me about it. Maybe she read it in a magazine. This was a couple of years ago). Anyhow, the point is that people are often searching for their “tribes”, a group of people where you all share a thread that ties you together (M, correct me if I’m wrong here). Anyhow, this tribe can include some friends and family but it doesn’t have to, and it will generally never include all of your friends and family. But you still feel a part of this group even with those that you don’t know very well because you all have this connection. And that was how I felt going home that night. R (husband) and I started discussing when I could go to another con (probably not until 2014 with the limited funds 😦  ) but I truly believe that I’ve found my tribe.

The next morning was quick – there was a banquet that I didn’t pay the extra for and then an award ceremony. I didn’t know most of the writers up for the awards (well, I had heard of a lot of them, but hadn’t met them), so instead I met Carol and those of her group who hadn’t already flown out, and I brought the kids in to meet her as well. The last time Carol and I met, R and I were just dating (possibly engaged). Now I have a five year old and a baby and I love that she got to meet them. We chatted some more over coffee and then she headed off for the banquet and we headed out.

And that was it. There, I managed to cover WFC and it only took me three months. Since then, I’ve started reading an unpublished proof one of the aspiring authors gave me (it’s very good) and I’ve stayed in touch with a lot of the people that I met there. Hoping I can make it to another one soon – need to get back with my tribe.

Cheers!