Saturday, September 27, 2008

Independent Film

Today was a busy day, and it's not over yet. First thing, my older daughter and I went to the farmers' market to get the week's food, which we stowed in a cooler in my car. Then we had just enough time to drive to our fusion bellydance class. Then we grabbed lunch and headed downtown to attend the first screening of an independently produced documentary on bellydance called "Belly", by Boise bellydancer and costume designer Cecilia Rinn. Despite the film's small budget, it was a beautiful work that aptly celebrated what the dance means to women here in the U.S., and the many ways in which it empowers them.

I'll be spending the rest of the evening working on the new Brenna book. Still haven't gotten to the edits for Shifts, but that's probably good, as the time I let it sit will greatly help the revision process. Some shelf time after completing a novel is extremely helpful for gaining the perspective needed for editing--and I'm still at the point where I can afford to give it that shelf time. After I get a publisher's contract, I may not get to let manuscripts sit more than a few days after they're finished, unless I get the book done way before a deadline.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Who Do You Call?

Idaho Spirit Seekers! No, really. Today was their first seminar, and it was a lot of fun and very informative. We got to see and touch ghost-hunting equipment, hear their various views from the skeptics to the psychics, and hear about why and how they do what they do. I met another writer there who has come to the spec-fic group a few times, and she actually went on an investigation tonight. I would have gone also, but was running on too few hours of sleep due to family obligations late last night, so I'll go during one of these next few months when they're doing one of their ongoing investigations. All told, today was a good piece of research for writing in the paranormal field, fiction or otherwise.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Something of Value

Our new local Spec-Fic writers' group has been meeting for several months now, and recently it was decided that we'd have someone offer a talk or presentation on a different topic every month so everyone could keep learning and progressing as we go along. It isn't a crit group--just a group of like-minded individuals who are all writing in the general categories of fantasy and sci-fi. Since I have an agent, they asked me to do a presentation on how to seek representation for an unpublished novel. Tonight was the night for that. It went smoothly and the information was well received.

I'm looking forward to whatever everyone else presents in this group; we have a diverse bunch of people here and I'm confident that everyone has something of value to offer.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Just Enough Time

Tonight I had intended to stop off at the Barnes and Noble and work on the laptop, but I had a couple of errands to run first. When I stopped by a friend's house to drop off something I'd borrowed, she and I ended up talking for a couple of hours, and by then, Barnes and Noble was closed. I think the conversation was something we both needed, and I think it helped us both in different ways. I'm glad it happened, even though I didn't do the writing I intended. I've been aware lately of how much we as humans get trapped by the clock and by schedules. I know that to some extent, schedules are necessary, but on the other hand, they can serve to limit what we can accomplish, and they can also contribute to our becoming inflexible. Had I stuck to my planned schedule, I might have gotten a lot more writing done tonight. But I also wouldn't have had a chance to talk to a friend who needed a willing ear.

I've read some helpful books recently that said just proceeding with the confidence that you will manage to meet all your responsibilities and the necessary things will get done helps in overcoming a dependence on the clock. They said that one day soon, humans will realize that we've completely mistaken the very meaning of time. I hope that's true. Time is something I never seem to have enough of, and I'm constantly having to neglect one thing to accomplish another. Wouldn't it be nice to be able to stretch time so that everything gets done and stress and performance pressure becomes a distant memory?

Then there's the fact that sometimes just a little time spent at something is enough. I did manage to write for twenty minutes or so. I got one paragraph written and ate dinner at the same time. Not much writing progress...or was it? It might only have been one paragraph, but it was the paragraph that helped me figure out how the scene needed to end, and the one that set things up perfectly for my next writing session. Given the results, I'd say that even if it wasn't as much time as I'd planned, for tonight it was just enough time to make a difference.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Striking a Balance

The road to creative expression is a bumpy one, with plenty of healthy ups and downs and long flat spots in between. I believe the key is to navigate them the best way you can at the time, and if you make mistakes, pick up and keep moving forward. I've heard plenty of stories of discouragement and frustration from other writers, but the ones who made it to publication were always the ones who didn't give up, even when the going got rough. Recently, I was reading the blog of a writer who has been seriously ill. For a while, she wasn't even able to post. However, she's determined to get well. I wish her luck and I'm sure she'll succeed. In the meantime, her new book comes out this month.

I think sometimes people fall into the trap of treating a blog like a confessional. Sometimes no matter how hard you try to sound upbeat and optimistic, the slightest bit of discouragement can creep into the words and give people the wrong idea. Not all people interpret the same words in the same way, and that's an important thing to remember when blogging about your life. It's hard to strike exactly the right balance between communicating a small bit of frustration and giving people the wrong idea. Apparently, even though I thought I'd kept things upbeat, I somehow managed to give one person the idea that last year was not so great for me. Actually, it was fine. I've re-read the posts for that year, and the few negatives I did express included the interminable wait for publication, (that's nothing new), a few ongoing problems with the car, and a few frustrations with the homeschooling. Other than that, the posts were positive, and my year was positive. (After all, I did most of the revision on the first Brenna book last year, and that rocked!) Nevertheless, I must have somehow managed to convey a different impression, though try as I might, I can't see it. That's why I try not to go into deeply personal issues on the blog; even the lesser ones are too easy to misinterpret, as I've seen happen far too many times with a couple other writers' blogs. At a certain point, the only response is to shrug and move on. Everyone has a frustrating day sometimes, but there's always a tomorrow, and that might be great. It's all about balance.

Yesterday I had some bad luck with getting the kids to their piano class on time, and then I forgot my phone at home and had to go back for it, wasting gas. I had to go to the bank to stop payment on a check that I wrote to my credit card company and that the Post Office then lost in the mail. Not only did the credit card company charge me $39.00 for a late fee, but the bank charged me $10.00 to stop the payment. Now, if I only posted that much of what happened, anyone might think that I'd had a completely rotten and negative day. But there was more to the story.

The bank teller actually thanked me for the humorous way in which I complained about the fee; she said that she wished all her frustrated customers handled things the way I did. She said handling this problem with me made up for all the other frustrated customers who didn't put any kind of a positive spin on their bad experiences. The rest of the errands went smoothly. Then today I went to pick up a ring that I'd sent out for repair, and the store clerk told me that there was no charge on the bill for the repair. They gave me my ring good as new and sent me on my way. After that, I was able to stop off at the B&N with the laptop, and wrote 5 1/2 pages on the WIP. The important thing to remember about passing frustrations--whether you're a writer or a reader--is that they are usually just as temporary as everything else in life. If either you or your favorite writer seems to be in a slump, don't worry. Like the weather, it's bound to change. The universe has a way of balancing things out, given half a chance.