Sunday, April 26, 2015

When your life feels like a Lifetime movie

I like Lifetime movies…some of them anyway, so don’t get me wrong.  But lately, what I and my family have been going through the past few months has been so surreal, I sometimes feel like I’m watching or taking part in a Lifetime movie.

And I guess I'm still waiting for the happy ending.

I ended up taking a long break from writing for about ten days this month, from the 15th through yesterday.  Now, my reasons are all pretty solid…I’m working the day job, took part in an on-line writing conference from the 15th through the 17th, and spent my birthday weekend combing the beach, visiting seaside towns, attending a wedding, hanging out with friends and taking a chance on long shots at the horse races.  While I did my best to push down the guilt of not getting in my word count, my birthday weekend was some much-needed time away and I enjoyed every minute of it.

This past week I could have easily made up for the days I missed writing except that an event occurred which nothing in the world would keep me from missing.  I’ve shared very little about the incident surrounding my dad’s death and I don’t know if there ever will be a time when that subject is something I’ll feel I can freely speak about.  It’s just too raw and too emotional to share right now, as the loss of my dad has affected me and my family in ways I still can’t comprehend.  But this past week we were finally able to close one more door in our attempt at moving towards healing and while nothing will ever bring my dad back, I feel a little better knowing the person responsible for his death will not be able to heave another family into such a tragic set of circumstances.

Sometimes the difficulties we face in life do leave us feeling as if we’re stranded in some Lifetime movie.  The way of getting through the tough times is to take care of ourselves and try to find time to focus on what might give us rest or raise our spirits, if even for a little while. 

And sometimes, that’s difficult to do. 

You can freeze a movie on television to take a snack break but it’s certainly more difficult to freeze life if what you need is time to catch your breath.  The trick for me that I’m still learning is not to be so hard on myself when I have to make a choice that results in both a positive and a negative.  During my birthday weekend, I had to choose between giving myself that much needed time to catch my breath or spend the weekend at home writing to reach my word count.  I knew that the weekend away would screw up my word count, especially when the following week would involve even more pressing family matters.  However, while I love to write and I’m doing my best to focus on my goals, I also know that setting aside time to unwind is good for the soul and is especially important during the most difficult of times.   

Until yesterday, I honestly hadn’t realized that I spent so little time writing during those ten days but due to everything else I had going on, my writing (except for journaling) had to take a back seat.  Even if I had made a small attempt at writing during this past week, I just didn’t have the emotional energy to focus on anything other than the case surrounding my dad’s death.  The fact that Camp NaNo is continuing with or without me and will end only four days from today meant that when I finally got back to my novel yesterday morning, I was a little disappointed in myself for getting so behind in my word count.  But then, writers tend to easily disappoint themselves, even if everyone else continues to believe what they do is amazing.

So what did I do? 

I broke out of the fog I’d been in for over a week, dusted off my keyboard and read over the last chapter in my novel.  This novel has been enjoyable to write so it didn’t take long for me to get back into the story and for the characters to get back into my head.  Then I began to write…and I continued to write all afternoon and into the early evening.  I took a break here and there but by the end of the day, I’d added over 5,300 words to my novel and if it weren’t for the pain I was beginning to feel in my back and shoulder blades, I could have added more.  What I accomplished yesterday doesn’t make up for 10 days of big fat zeroes, but it’s a good effort and leaves me a manageable word count requirement for the next few days.

In addition, the results from yesterday remind me that time spent replenishing my soul also feeds the source of my creativity and ultimately, gives me the focus and energy I need to take on even the toughest tasks.  Right now, my toughest task is to complete Camp NaNo with the word count I committed myself to…so I guess it’s time to get back to it!

Sunday, April 12, 2015

F.E.A.R…to Face Everything And Rise

This was a busy week for me, not only with work and my personal life but also with my writing.  Considering that my schedule was all over the place, I impressed myself with the fact that I was able to maintain my word count by the end of the week so that I have continued to add an average of 1,000 words a day to my new novel.

It would appear my ability to remain focused has finally returned.

And I intend to keep at it.

That’s no small feat, considering the difficult time I’ve had with focusing lately.  But sometimes what it takes is finally just jumping in and hoping for the best.  I saw a quote recently, I believe by Zig Ziglar, which said: 

“F.E.A.R. has two meanings…
Forget Everything And Run
Face Everything And Rise. 
The choice is yours.”

I finally had to force myself to make the choice to face my fears when I realized after three months that I still wasn’t getting anywhere with my writing.  It’s why I joined Camp NaNo and committed myself to at least 30,000 words for the month.  It’s also why I joined another challenge involving journaling and photography so that I could continue to express myself creatively and use it as a means to continue to heal. 

Some days are easier than others when it comes to making time to write, but when I have been able to get in a good chunk of time to work on my new book, the results have been very satisfying.  I’m relieved by the notion that each day will continue to get easier and that also means that each day will allow me to move forward to meet my writing goals.  

I’m also pleased to have characters talking to me again.  J

My first full week in April has provided me with more confidence as I forge ahead and I eagerly look forward to what I will accomplish by the end of the month.  Next week I have a difficult hurdle to cross so it might not be the best week as far as productivity goes, but I will do what I can as I’m able, knowing the last two weeks of the month will leave me with plenty of days to make up for lost time. 

And I will remember the wise words behind the meaning of the word “fear” so that I’ll continue to make choices that will allow me to rise rather than cause me to run. 

Sunday, April 5, 2015

April is proving to be productive

We’re only into day five of April, and Happy Easter by the way, but even after only five days, I’m feeling pretty good about my creative progress so far.

I began Camp NaNo on Wednesday and after committing to 30,000 words for the month of April, I was able to get 1,500 tackled by the time I finally had to tear myself away from the computer and get to bed.  That’s after I’d already worked a full day and spent a little time with the family before I hid away in my office for the remainder of the evening. 

The fact that I should be writing an average of 1,000 words every day isn’t very difficult.  It’s just that I know I might not get to write every single day considering other factors that will come up during the month so I was very pleased with myself for doing so well the first day.  Thursday and Friday were off days…that didn’t take long did it?  But my excuse is a late parent-teacher conference on Thursday and time spent with my family on Friday evening.

I made it up yesterday, though.  I took on the bare minimum of household chores I knew I couldn’t put off and then I got to work on my book.  After a couple of hours I had another 2,500 words added to my word count.  When I realized I had reached 4,000 words, I took a much-deserved break and spent a couple hours outside in the sun, but afterwards I was still able to add about another 1,000 words to my word count before I finally called it a day.  It felt great.  Not just the number of words, although I’m happy about that, but what felt great was that I was already beginning to feel drawn into the story through my characters.  Due to the timing and the fact that I’m working in a completely different genre, I thought I’d have to work harder at it this time to hear what the characters had to say.  But it happened much sooner than I expected. I love it when that begins to take place because I know the characters are going to help me move the story along and I look forward to what happens when the characters begin to surprise me. 

It’s a good thing I put in that little extra work yesterday because today was spent with family for the Easter holiday and I haven’t had any real time to write.  Even so, I’m pleased with my word count after the first five days of camp.  I’m at just under 5,000 in five days, so at this point, I’m right on track with my word count goal.

You’d think taking part in Camp NaNo might be enough for me right now but I also decided to take part in another challenge during the month of April.  This challenge is easy in that I can do what I want, when I want, but I’m trying to take in all that’s being offered because it’s come to me at the perfect time as I try to sort out my thoughts.  The daily reflections and photo prompts provide inspiration and help me focus on some much-needed attention when it comes to my mind, body and soul.  I’ve really enjoyed the challenge so far.

I’m also posting again only a week later than my last post, so the beginning of April has proven to be a productive one.  This is a step in the right direction as I continue to get back into the grove of staying focused on not only what I want to do, but what I need to do to plow through the field of grief I’ve been stuck in for the past few months.  Any movement forward is good, whether it includes baby steps or great big leaps.  I’m happy either way.  With the progress I’ve made so far, I’m now even more excited to move into my second week of challenges. 

I’ll try to post an update with the progress I’ve made again next weekend.  Have a great week!