Struggling

Lately, I have been struggling to maintain a positive disposition. I have gone into a deep funk. Today, I felt sad for no reason. I think the fear of getting two fillings redone tomorrow overwhelms me.

Since it was Sunday, I decided to clean my desk and pile the crap into my inbox in order to make the rest of my week more productive. That helped for a while. Editing my short story brought me hours of peace. This evening, I shared the story with my writing critique group for my 6/14 workshop. So I’m not exactly holing up in bed and pulling up the covers.

Morning writing is still on hold. Maybe I will try again on Tuesday. This makes the second post in a few days, also a positive sign.

I wish I knew how depressed artists manage to be productive. Maybe they aren’t. Maybe they drink and drug their way through it because it’s unbearable any other way.

I feel like an engine stuttering to come to life after a deep freeze. Writing here kind of keeps me accountable. I no longer feel the need to write every day here. I justified it by saying I was doing morning writing daily, but now that’s not happening, either.

On Friday, I went to see a new therapist trained in EMDR (eye movement densensitization and reprocessing). I am hoping that we can work towards excavating the remaining negative experiences and traumas that are embedded in my psyche. I want to move forward and meet my dreams as they arise, hand in hand on the road ahead.

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NYC Writer’s Group 1st 2014 Critique Session

Yesterday I attended the first critique session of the NYC writers group that I joined late last month. A longstanding group member, who I will call TS, had shared two chapters of a romance story. I read the story twice and decided to make “big picture” comments, which is what I tend to notice when giving feedback. This is one of the reasons that being an editor has appeal for me.

Approximately 30 people showed up today to give TS feedback on the story. We started by stating our names, our preferred genres, and our writing goals. At least five people said that their goal was to “finish something” by the end of the year. I was so happy to hear that I am not alone.

Each person had two minutes to give one positive and one constructive comment to the writer. In addition to the written feedback that each person contributed, TS wrote as she heard our feedback. A few pauses were needed. Almost everyone kept under the two minutes. And then the floor was opened up for discussion.

Wooo-whee!! Was that ever intense!? And I’m not even the writer! I was surprised at how many people, including myself, felt so passionately about making TS’s story work. TS did a great job of explaining her reasons. The story and characters are well rounded, for the most part, and the dialog worked very well. Two intense hours later, the session finished. I was a bit worried that I would be in tears when my time to share came.

However, I left with somewhat excited feeling that I have a lot of work to do on my Butterfly Wings rom-com story that I wrote for NaNoWriMo 2008. BW is my “to do” that needs to become “to done” for 2014.

Writing can be improved. Dialog can be made believable. Characters can be flawed human beings without being too stiff or stereotypical. I can see that, in the frenzy of writing 50,000 words for NaNoWriMo, a lot of extra words made their way into the story as I was figuring out where to go with it.

I have to keep trying. To keep trying is to keep writing is to keep improving is to keep living. I can not imagine my life without writing being a part of it, whether it is this blog, fiction, or in a journal.

Can you?

Today’s Top 7 Done List

One way to adopt a positive mindset is to end each day by making a list of all the things you managed to accomplish that day. Once your brain is faced with the raw facts that you did not waste the day, you get into a right cheery old mood. Do this every night and your mind learns how to think in positive terms even during the day. My top 4 on the Done list include:

  1. Obtained 2 tickets on pre-sale to see Eddie Izzard at the Beacon Theater in NYC on May 14, 2014 for his Force Majeure tour.
  2. Completed turning my 156-page story into a lean 22-page outline.
    • Next steps: group my lists into scenes that I can shuffle and/or cut from.
  3. Read through 138-pages of an amazing 500 page HTML+CSS visual textbook. I have already learned some basic HTML+CSS, so this is for review and continued learning.
    • Next steps: Complete the HTML section.
  4. Survived 3 hours at the Starbucks After-School Program with headphones.
    • Next steps: Visit a list of NYC coffeehouses tomorrow until Mark can meet me for a birthday dinner.
  5. Participated in an interactive online webinar about how to edit a story. Ordered an editing book so I can get a 20-minute free consult from The Book Doctors. That’s gotta be dead useful.
    • Next steps: Wait for book to arrive so I can apply their advice to my story.
  6. Listened to my friend Jack’s incredible Goth Industrial radio program on WKFU for only 1/2 hr. out of 2hrs. because of webinar.
    • Next steps: Look forward until next week when I can listen to his program for 2 hours.
  7. Completed this my 26th daily post so I can keep my promise to myself to blog every day.
    • Next steps: Go to sleep. Wake up tomorrow. Blog all over again.

Tonight, I have a list. Tomorrow, I have a plan. Tune in tomorrow to find out!

Butterfly Wings: My 2008 NaNoWriMo Story Revisited

For those of you who do not know, NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month, which occurs every November. The goal is to write a 50,000 word story in 30 days. No editing, just from the creative part of your brain, without editing or backspacing or anything (Not that I was actually able to not do any of that). It is easier than it sounds.

When you spend time writing a story, you find it hard to forget about it. Even if you try via a life dedicated to procrastination, some things just will not leave your mind. Writing a story is one of those things.

I started off writing about some feelings and ended up writing a romance novel about a Boston librarian who is trying to get her dating life in order after a nasty divorce, but her parents and ex-husband have other plans. Hilarity ensues. I’m not sure how good that premise is, but that’s what I wrote. It started pouring out of my brain, and I just ran with it.

Writing a story makes you want to do something with it instead of simply looking at file sized 317kb dated November 30, 2008 and remembering that you wrote something. You don’t want it to sit there like an animal that has been left on the side of the road to die. You want to rescue it, apply first aid, and get to the doctor’s office right away.

For starters, I printed out my first draft last night. This is what 3/4″ of single-sided, double-spaced, left-justified story typed in Times New Roman 12pt. looks like printed out in all its raw glory:

Image

First, I will reread the story from beginning to end without lifting a critical pen. More than four years is quite a long time to let a story sit in your computer basement. I will remake my acquaintance with Butterfly Wings (the working title), before I start marring her beautiful white dress with my editor’s blue ink.

After I get to know her better, I will go through my draft again and draw an outline so I can get an idea of the flow and understand where gaps and boring prose may be lurking before I turn on the editing side of my brain and have at it.

As I am beginning a technical writing business, editing my story will help give me more structure to actually being the writer I want to be. Even if all I do is self-publish and sell 20 copies of this story to my friends, I will have accomplished something concrete with my words, which is another way of saying I will get an acknowledgement for the words I speak. This is all I have ever wanted.

Once soon after I wrote Butterfly Wings, I tried to follow the ideas at the end of NO PLOT? NO PROBLEM! by Chris Baty, the founder of NaNoWriMo. Except for school work, I have never been able to look back at what I have written in stories or poems and analyze them without considerable anxiety. When I sat down to do the steps in Baty’s book, I only went so far and then I had to abandon my editing. The fear overwhelmed me, and I ran away, per usual.

As I have said before, 2014 is about embracing what I have learned through meditation and therapy: breathing when fear arises, waiting until it passes, and then moving forward anyway. The old amygdala is trying to save me from pain, but it also has been saving me from joy. Time to learn to deal with one so I can experience the other, too. A life driven by fear-avoidance is a poor one. I know that only far too well.