I truly want it.

I’ve recently decided to join this century and get a Twitter account. And by ‘recently’ I mean a couple of weeks ago and by ‘decided’ I mean a friend talked me into it. So I gave it a shot and discovered, much to my chagrin, that “Fictional Impulse” is one character too long for our friends at Twitter. As such, my Twitter account is @FictionImpulse (and eventually this blog might change to reflect that depending on how it goes). So please feel free to come follow me. And I do update it more often than I do this blog. I promise.

Last week (I think, the days are starting to blur), I also finished the first edit of the manuscript! I settled in to edit a single scene and when I realized how close I was to the end, I decided to just keep going. That meant that I stayed up far too late, but I stay up far too late most nights anyhow – and surely this is a better reason than watching TV. This does not mean, in any way, that I’m about to be sending my work off to a publisher. There is a lot of minor rewriting to be done (highlighted paragraphs here and there that need reworking) as well as one major rewrite section (Chapter 2). I need to go through it with a broader comb now and look for content edit questions. And I also need to put it through a few readers, only one of which I’ve selected. Oh, and I’d like to have all of that done by the end of the summer at the ABSOLUTE latest. What with all of my free time, that’s a totally realistic deadline. Right?

Since I finished that first pass edit a week ago, I’ve also done the first draft rewrite of Chapter 2. Am I thrilled with it? Well, I’m not sure. I wrote it whilst killing time in a bad mood with a few glasses of wine and haven’t looked at it since. But even if it needs to be completely rehashed, I do know that I like the *idea* that is now committed to paper (screen) and that’s most important for me. I can massage the words themselves later. It was the idea that needed to be reworked.

Other writing related stuff…my crit class is done until the fall but in the meantime several of us have decided to run a little writer’s group over the summer which I’m quite enjoying. I’ve received a few more copies of my rewrite of Chapter 1 back and everyone seems to think I pulled it off and pulled it off well.  And scenes from Book 2 are slowly starting to pull themselves together. On the one hand, I’d like them to pull themselves together a bit quicker. On the other hand, I don’t see myself having time to even start the thing until September.

Despite all of the time I spent worrying about how on earth I was going to write while Kid 1 was on holidays, I can already see that that’s not going to be the issue. Kid 1 will leave me alone for an hour if I ask him too. He knows how to play by himself, he just doesn’t always want to do so. The problem is going to be my sweet little baby who I love to bits and who has decided that napping is for suckers (that being said, he is napping right now for once, which is why you’re getting a post).  He’s teething, of course, and is therefore more often miserable than he has usually been. And when I can manage to get him down for a nap it’s usually not for more than half an hour tops. Even less if I happen to get him napping in his crib. He does sleep most nights though, so I suppose this is what I get for having that luxury.

To top it all off, I’d really like to get back into painting. I’ve been feeling a rather desperate need to re-centre as well, which means I should start exercising and taking yoga again too. I feel like, especially with the writing, I need to carve out a time to do it, but every time I settle down and try to figure out how I’m completely flummoxed. Get up really early like 4am writer or go to bed really late? Neither seems doable…I’m not a morning person at all and by night I’m just exhausted. I do stay up  too late most nights but I tend not to expend any more energy than it takes to watch some television. But the days are so unpredictable. Even if I do get the baby on a schedule, how much am I going to accomplish if he only sleeps for twenty minutes??

This is my mantra right now and believe me when I say I’m clinging to it: If you truly want it, you’ll find a way. If you don’t, you’ll find an excuse.

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And breathe…

It’s time to knock off some of the pressure, I think.

Lately I’ve been finding it very hard to relax…hard to sleep, hard to concentrate on things.  Things that I find fun are too tied up in anticipation, too tied up in what they might be taking time away from.  Obviously, none of this is healthy.

Last night I received some sage advice: “You’re doing great with your writing.  But I hate your wordcounts.  Why are you putting so much pressure on yourself?”

And it’s true.  It’s entirely true.  If I look back to when I was writing ALL the time (let’s go with university and right after), did I ever have wordcount quotas?  No.  I sometimes did a wordcount for interest’s sake if I felt like I had had a particularly productive day but I never had a quota around it.  And why should I have?  I had no idea how long the finished product was going to be. I just wrote for the sheer enjoyment of it.

Writing has always been one of my favourite things to do, one of the best ways for me to relax.  But over the past little while it hasn’t felt that way at all.  The process has become a “chug out as much as possible in every single spare second”.  And even on days when I have extraordinarily high word counts (yesterday: goal of 2000, wrote over 5000) it’s not enough because the book isn’t done.  And apparently there is some voice in the back of my mind that if this doesn’t get 100% done by the time baby 2 arrives, it will never get done.

And maybe that’s where this pressure is coming from.  When Kid 1 was born, I wrote while he was an infant…but once he started napping less and needing my attention more, I very much fell away from it.  Now that Kid 1 is older, I’m not always going to be able to sit down at my computer while Baby 2 is napping.  And maybe, in the back of my mind, I feel like if I don’t finish this now, I just won’t.

But at what price?  Writing has become more of a pressure/stress thing for me these days than a pleasure.  And that, to me, is even worse than the thought of never getting this manuscript done.

So, with that in mind, I’m going to try (TRY) to eliminate some of the pressure.  No more wordcount quotas.  Or, if there are some, they will be very low.  Instead I am simply going to ‘write’ every day.  I’d rather spin off a brilliant short vignette of 500 words than kill myself trying to dredge up 3000 on a day when I’m not feeling into it.  I don’t know how successful I’ll be: today I tried that method and was still all proud of myself for blowing the original wordcount away.

But I clearly do need to re-centre.  And I need to put writing back into the middle of that as something I turn to for relaxation – not something that has become a huge stress-factor in my life that I need to find some relief from.

PS – One of my favourite websites, Zen Habits has in-depth discussions about how living without goals can be a path towards happiness and meaning.  After last night’s conversation, I went and re-read some of the posts on it…it seems so hard to imagine living that way but also doable and well worth it.  We’ll see how this goes.