Fiction, Process, Random

Process and Parenting

I’ve read some really neat articles lately that feature the offices / work spaces of the “famously creative.”  This article “The Writer’s Room” is from the New York Times. The other one is from BuzzFeed and features “40 Inspiring Workspaces of the Famously Creative.”

When I was a kid, having an office seemed synonymous with Being a Big Deal.  I’m not sure where I got that from – my father was a farmer, the farm and its 100+ acres was his office.  My mom later worked in an office, but since she owned the entire building – well … my mom had an entire building.  Somewhere in my mind and in my existence, I thought to myself that if I had a space with a working door and a desk – I’d have an office.  And it would be good.

Here’s my “office.”  I ended up claiming this space as my own after turning my old office / spare bedroom into a nursery.  To be honest … it’s a pretty great space and really gets me away from it all – with the exception of the Cat.  He is perched on my worktable right now, purring.  And likely plotting.

office illustration
Click on to enlarge and view the madness!


Anyway, as I’m doing edits on my first draft of my novel (the working title is “After Life” [AL]), I bought a pad of those easel-size Post-It notes.  Right now, I have three up and they represent some of the main characters that are in my story and will eventually have their character arcs sketched out.  As I’ve finished my first draft of AL and its initial read-through, I realize that there’s a story there and that there are some good moments, but that there are some things that are missing. I’m hoping that if I can physically SEE the arcs and can stare at them for awhile, they’ll jolt something into being.  So yes – that sounds like a bunch of mumbo jumbo, but it’s already working.  Last night after I affixed the current Post-Its to the wall, I had a couple thoughts regarding the backstories of a couple pivotal characters.


The revisions to my first draft of AL have taken longer than I originally anticipated – I don’t remember what my exact deadlines were, but I adjusted accordingly.  I want the first set of revisions to be done by end of first quarter (April) and ready for beta readers by fall (October).  To be honest – I think I might be able to hit the April deadline, but I think it’s going to take a little more love and attention before I set this child out into the world to get her first round of critiques.

Part of the reason that my edits are taking longer is because my “real life” – i.e., my job as a proposal writer, has been taking a lot of my time lately.  Not only from my writing, but (more importantly) from my family.  And then there’s the reality that I’m the mom of two children under the age of 2.  God, I love them and while they are my best inventions – they are marvelously exhausting.  But here’s the thing – even though I’ve lived solo on this earth longer than I’ve been a mother, I have found that motherhood has done some interesting things to my writing.  One of the biggest things is that motherhood has helped me prioritize my time.  It’s pretty easy for me to pick and choose what social obligations I’d rather skip in favor of spending some time with AL. I’d also say something about how it’s given me greater depth of feeling, but you know?  That’s probably a bunch of bullshit.  Motherhood is part of a larger whole of me – I draw from being a mom, just like I’ve drawn from being a reporter.  I’ve even got a couple stories that came from the time that I worked as a phone operator at a cab company.  Every writer is different.  We all bring something unique and personal to the mix.


Writing / Doing: Setting up the Post-Its were a step in the right direction.  I got a couple ideas jotted down last night that I need to play with and see how they work in the overall arc of my story.

Reading: Still going through Geneen Roth.  Picked up a copy of J.T. Ellison’s latest novel “When Shadows Fall” on my Kindle.  I’m looking forward to reading her latest.  Also, I’ve linked to my Goodreads account on this page.  This also reflects what is on my bookshelf – both physical, Kindle, and virtual.


Running down a dream

I was standing in the shower today thinking about how I wanted to utilize this blog.  Basically, I’ve blogged about debt reduction, my personal life, my fertility journey (Holy Hannah!  I had two kids in two years – I’m fertile), and cooking.

So – this is a writing blog, in a sense.  I write for a living – I spent seven years in newspapers and I am a proposal manager for a software consulting firm, so much of what I write is not my own creation.  But what do I want to be when I grow up?  A writer.  More precisely, I want to write fiction that is consumed by the masses.  Or, I just want to write and write and write and someday, I want my great-grandchildren to come across my words and think to themselves “wow, she wasn’t just a batty old broad after all!”

This is a writing blog.  You’d think that after 20+ years of writing, I’d be chock full of expert advice on writing, but that’s not so.

So what did I do today to further my dream?  I entered a short story that has the working title of “Sanctuary” in a short story contest for a respected publication.  I have no clue what the odds are of winning.  But it’s a story that I like and it’s a story that I’ve polished.  I’m probably going to shop it around to a couple other publications / contests because it has a suspense / paranormal bent to it that might fit better elsewhere.  But it’s a start.

Another thing that I’m doing, which comes from my world as a professional writer (and I’ve found that my mind seems to really respond to spreadsheets and tables … it helps me think and process), is that I’m keeping an Excel spreadsheet that tracks what contests I’m entering or publications that have my various stories in hand.  This was partially inspired by reading about Kresley Cole’s process – her “rule of 25.”  USA Today had an article that mentioned this method.  Here’s another blog post where this method is mentioned.

I am not there yet.  I’m pretty far from it, but it’s a start.  2014 is my year.  It will be a year of finishing projects, getting feedback and continued efforts to grow as a writer.


Reading:  “Breaking Free from Emotional Eating” by Geneen Roth (why yes, that isn’t fiction and no, I’m not zipping through it like I’d be zipping through something by Deborah Harkness, but I have food issues.  I admit it.)