Tuesday, June 19, 2012

12th ROW80 Check-In

A Round of Words in 80 Days
The writing challenge that knows you have a life
If this looks like the same one you saw last check-in--it's not, quite. I have copy/pasted the goal list each time from the most recent check-in going back to the original  post of intent.  Tweaking each time as well as crossing off finished goals and adding new ones. If you want to see the way it has morphed since the beginning you can use the ROW80 label.

___06-19-2012 --  Life stepped all over it with muddy paws since Saturday night when I was prepping the last checking.  Between Friday afternoon and Sunday morning I was prepping for the trip home from the five weeks at my Mom's and Sunday was the 7 hour trip, unloading the car and saying goodbye to my sister and hello to my husband and getting some of the stuff into its proper room.  All of that on 2.5 hours of sleep and being thrust into a muggy 88 degree afternoon with no AC from the AC in the car and the AC at Mom's that kept the house at 70.

At least Monday and Tuesday the temps here in Southern Oregon went back down to the low 80s/high 70s with breezes which made unpacking and catching up on sleep slightly better than bearable.  I finally got my office put back in usable shape this afternoon--crafts, notebooks, books and electronics all put away and set up and plugged in except for the fine tuning.

All fine and good.  BUT...

That pretty pattern I'd developed over the last several check-ins?  All those perky Ys on the goal list?  Nowhere to be seen this time.  It'll be all nasty, nervy Ns all the way.   So there is no need to scroll down to see the goal list if you saw it Sunday as there is nothing new to see.  Except those insufferable Ns.  No I did not spend 30 minutes a day reading on craft and work habits. No I did not spend thirty minutes a day with notebook at hand while daydreaming my storyworld.  No I did not spend 30 minutes per day tending to the fiction file task list.  No I did not do any line editing, any scene writing, any note jotting.

I can say I continued to daydream the story world but since the notebook was not at hand and wasn't even unpacked until this afternoon I can't claim a Y for that as I've always been able to daydream in the story world.  It was having the notebook at hand while doing so that was the crucial element in that goal.

I think maybe a solution to that problem would be some way of keeping the notebook on my person--in a pocket, around my neck, strapped to my arm--having it in my purse on the floor of the car between my feet meant it was out of reach once the seatbelt was fastened.  Note:  I did not have that problem with the crochet projects as I'd planned ahead packing them into little bags to hang off my wrist or a small box that set on the console between the passenger and driver's seats.

So.  New Goal:  Devise a similar solution for the storyworld note jotting as I have been perfecting for the crochet over the last three years.  Something that can be on my person as I move from room to room to porch to car to store to restaurant to...

Well.  I guess I can say I learned a valuable lesson that could mean progress going forward if I follow up on implementing a solution.

And so my first ROW80 ends.  And only half a one at that.  But even though there won't be ROW80 check-ins for a couple weeks I'm going to continue as if there were.  I don't want to let these new habits atrophy.  Besides I still have JuNoWriMo and June Camp NaNoWriMo which i signed up for when I thought I'd be home by the 10th.  And I have my 'room of my own' again..

___06-12-2012 --  There are still many things in my goal list that haven't been tended to yet and thus will be taken with me into the next round.  My tendency would be to dwell on that and shame myself for it but one of the things I've been trying to do is take to heart the ROW80 motto: the writing challenge that knows you have a life.

I'm thinking that one of the things most responsible for my having so many unfinished stories is my waiting for those large time blocks that can be devoted to writing and they seem to be getting more and more rare as time goes by.

So maybe one of the most beneficial things I could do for my writing would be to integrate it into the life I have and not wait for life to make room for it first.  NaNo is fun and all but I can't do NaNo every month and the messes I always make of my fiction files during NaNo contributes to the resistance that always follows so that it is several weeks to several months before I can face them again.

For the next round I am going to add that as a goal: Integrating writing tasks into the life I have

If that had been a goal for this round I believe I could report major progress on that front.  Even tho so many of the specific tasks I listed have not been tended to yet, one result of participating in ROW80 has been the creation of new habits of ATTENDING to my stories and writing.  The Ys marked beside the three main goals -- time devoted to dreaming the stories with notebook handy, reading craft and work-habits books and articles and organizing the messy fiction files -- have become more common than the Ns.  I do believe that is cause for celebration for it is not an insignificant development.

Even with the days since Wednesday's check-in having been devoted to those last minute tasks before my departure from Mom's and prep for the trip this weekend -- I began this post late Saturday night and it is after 1am Sunday and we are to hit the road at 10am -- in spite of that I have maintained the habits of jotting down my story thoughts and keeping the notebook handy for the purpose, reading about craft and work habit development, and dabbling in those messy files.  All of that is stimulating more ideas for both the stories and the work habit/organization aspect.

Also there is a ripple effect over the shape of my days as those tasks begin to establish themselves as habits

So overall I am quite pleased with the results of my first ROW80 which I started only 5.5 weeks ago.  I really anticipate that there will be actual word-count for the next round.  In fact I expect to get some word count this coming week after I'm back in my own home with a room of my own.  I did after all sign up for both JuNoWriMo and the June Camp NaNoWriMo when I thought I was going to be home by the 9th.  I thought I would be able to get some word count even while still here but that has been one thing I'm still have trouble integrating the story writing itself into the life I have on any given day.

I think I've figured out that it is the anticipation of being interrupted that freezes my mind when I attempt to move from note jotting to scene writing.  I think I read once that Jane Austen wrote all of her novels by hand while gathered with family and friends for afternoon or evening socializing.  I can't imagine writing while in a crowd and even one other person seems as good as a crowd to me.

Here at Mom's I share her room and bed and my workstation for reading, writing, computer and crafts is set up in the corner on my side of the bed.  It is a better arrangement than the one I had for the ten years, four months preceding last December 26 while sharing a tiny room with my husband and cat at his parents where there was no room for a chair so my workstation was the bed itself.

We moved into our own place the day after Xmas and I now have a room of my own for my workstation but I've only got to enjoy it 1.5 months out of the last 6 months and the 4 weeks of April was the largest block of time I had there.  I'm looking forward to having at lest 4 months at home now.  I may be back here by late October thru Thanksgiving.

___06-12-2012 --  am sensing a seismic shift on many levels after five weeks of this.  Contributing to this I believer are these things:

  • attending to my story world and aspects of writing has become integrated into my daily routines
  • updating this list twice a week forces me to remain conscious of what is and isn't being done and I shown me the importance of acknowledging what is being done more than chiding myself for what isn't as the feeling of success leads to more success while the chiding just depresses and de-energizes me leading to a turning away from the writing and related tasks.
  • belief that there are others besides myself who care whether any of this happens or not

Per the recommendation of two of my ROW80 commenters I rearranged the bulleted list of tasks under goal four to indicate priority.

1. Choose 1 of the finished short stories to be the first ebook to publish on Smashwords or Amazon and prep it for take off by the end of June (may need to push into July as life got in the way): any revision, line edit, format, convert.  
___[Blow Me a Candy Kiss  part 1; part 2; part 3; part 4; part 5;] -  
05-12-2012 Yes on choosing the title.  This story is set in my Fruits of the Spirit story world and aspires to be literary.  It has elements of romance in it but that is not the primary focus since the couple involved are already married.  The focus is on loss and grief over infertility and the death of a child/sibling.  Aprox 6000 words.

___06-16-2012  -- 06-19-2012 -- Still have not started re-reading it.  It's been over a month since I set this goal and prioritized it at the top of the four goals and yet I've still not started re-reading it.  That looks a lot like the RESISTANCE discussed in Pressfield's War of Art.  So I'm tempted to explore that but I sense Pressfield would call that RESISTANCE too--just another way to avoid DOING.  Besides, according to Pressfield, RESISTANCE is always about fear.  What more do I need to know?  At least before I begin.

Last week I had a blog tour review for The Concubine Saga by Lloyd Loftwood to post last Tuesday and then decided to join the read-a-long for Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier held by Sheila at Bookjourney which, since I don't want to give up book blogging I need to learn to integrate my writing around.  There was another blog tour the previous week as well as another read-a-long so those reading and writing commitments cut into the time for the writing tasks and yet I still managed to find the minimum 30 minute per day for each of the three time investment goals last week.

This week I need to finish and review Josh Henkin's The World Without You as this is the week it is releasing.

Decided after first week I needed fresh eyes so set new goal:

Find beta readers outside of current circle of close family and friends.
___06-19-2012 -- N I confess I'm not sure how to go about finding/asking for beta readers

My sister Jamie re-read Candy Kiss while she was here and my Mom has just finished reading my entire portfolio of hard copy manuscripts.  Some of those are re-reads for her like Candy Kiss.  But family and close friends is not what I had in mind when I set this goal.  I think I need eyes with more objectivity than that.

The binder Mom read which I call my portfolio contains all of my complete short stories and a number of scenes pulled out of WIP that I deemed worth wasting ink and paper on. There is another attitude steeped in my pesky perfectionism that I need to change and I would have put printing hard copy of all my WIP including the NaNo Novels on this round's goal list except that my printer is not working.

Camp NaNoWriMmo 2012

___06-01-2012 - New Goal or maybe just a tweak.  I have joined the June Camp NaNoWriMo

The novel I'm going to work on is more of a collection of shorts interwoven with a tie-in to The Substance of Things Hoped For which is Faye's POV story. The working title of the collection is Faye's Strays referring to all of the people Faye takes in over the course of her story.  Runaways, Teen mothers, homeless families, domestic violence victims, her own sister and sister-in-law etc.

Maybe in the end these stories need to be woven into Faye's novel.  That is an alternative I've considered.  But for now I will treat them as a separate entity.

Some of those stories are already written or begun and I won't include their current word count in the NaNo word count but I'm not even wanting to get concerned about word count anyway.  My main focus will be to shape the structure of the collection, continue writing Crystal's story and Reggie's story and start Hope's story, Brook's story, and Wilma's story or alternatively write their rambling monologues which is something I like to include in character portfolios and for the last several NaNos have included in word count as much of it often gets used in scenes.

JuNoWriMo 2012
___06-06-2012 - 'Nother new Goal  I have joined JuNoWriMo just today.  Working the same 'novel' for both.

This is all a bit vague and probably too much since I can't even hope to get serious until I get home the weekend of the 9th* and will probably be busy getting settled for a couple of days even then.

WriMos Word Count:___06-19-2012 --  No word count to report yet due life throwing curve balls.

*I'm still at my Mom's in Longivew WA as my sister was unable to able to make the round trip to Phoenix OR last weekend.  This is how my one month stay in January got extended to the end of March.  :(  I don't want to add to my sister's already over burdened week but I am so ready to be home.  I love my sister, my Mom and my nephew but I want my 'room of my own' at home in our new trailer which I've only spent 50 days in since we moved day after Xmas and only 37 of those consecutive.

I was counting on being home by the 10th and thus able to put undivided attention toward the WriMos word count to play catch-up.  But if that isn't going to happen I will have to rethink how I'm going to work it if I'm still here another week or more. 

___06-12-2012 --  as discussed above, I did not manage to integrate scene writing into the daily habits yet.

The Time Investment Goals:

2. Spend 30 minutes or more per day reading a book or quality web article on Writing or Publishing or work habit/organization from my ever growing TBR of books on writing and/or blogs or websites with professional level content on those subjects.  Will compile list for future updates.  (hmm no list yet)
___06-17-2012  - N
___06-18-2012  - N   
___06-19-2012  - N  

___06-19-2012  - Lost last week's momentum.  Must get it back.

___06-16-2012  - OK now that's more like it. :)  Read some writing blogs and web articles.  But the most helpful reading in this arena wasn't about writing per se but I'm counting it anyway as it is having a huge impact on how I'm thinking about my work habits and that is The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg.  The gist of what I've gleaned so far is that to change a habit you must identify the habit loop consisting of a cue or trigger followed by a routine behavior followed by a reward/pay off and then replace the unwanted behavior with a new routine keeping the trigger and reward.  The tricky part is identifying the payoff.  An exciting point he makes is that there are keystone habits, habits that once changed have a unexpected spillover effect on other habits so that small changes made in one place create more small changes rippling out over your life and the lives of those around you.

Have been reading At Home in Mitford by Jan Karon to Mom this week.  We only got through chapter six so I ordered both a large print and a CD book for her from the local libraries which my sister will be picking up for her.

I started The World Without You  by Joshua Henkin Wednesday as I must post a review this week as it is releasing.  As Henkin is a writing professor at a New York university and I've already read and learned from his Matrimony I expect to learn as a writer from reading it.

3. Spend 30 minutes or more per day daydreaming in the story world with pencil and pad at hand

___06-17-2012  - N
___06-18-2012  - N   
___06-19-2012  - N  

Always significantly more than 30 minutes.  Considered changing the goal to 60 or even 90 but why take away the feeling of success I'm getting from this and risk having that feeling of failure each time I have to post a N even though I did the 30 minutes.  I decided there was nothing wrong with setting a minimum expectation knowing that there are some things that if I just give it 20 to 30 minutes I'm bound to keep with it as I tend to resist transitions.

This has been easy since daydreaming my stories is as natural as breathing for me.  Especially when I'm crocheting which I'm doing a lot of this month.  What makes the difference is making sure the notebook and pencil are at hand for the quick jots of thoughts.

And there have been some exciting ones.

The fact that this is so easy made me wonder for a moment if I wasn't expecting enough out of myself but then I remembered that this is how Robert Owen Butler begins the work on every novel as related in From Where You Dream.

The importance of this is that it is getting my head back into it with the expectation that something more than daydreaming will come of it.  This is not a minor development.  Because of the time spent daydreaming and contemplating the story begins to live in me again.  I may not have new words yet but I feel the pressure building that will push them out if I just keep attending to the story world.

ATTENDING.  Think on that word awhile and all it implies.

It means paying attention.

But it also means serving as well as being in service to.

___06-12-2012 -- 06-16-2012 -  much, much, MUCH has happened on this front in the last weeks.  I'm getting excited.  (___06-19-2012 - this much continues to hold true )

4. Spend 30 minutes or more per day on one or more of the following tasks (see list below recent comments and updates):

___06-17-2012  - N
___06-18-2012  - N   
___06-19-2012  - N  

___06-19-2012  - :( lost the pretty Ys. Have yet to open the files on my netbook since I closed them in the wee hours of Sunday morning.

___06-12-2012 -- 06-16-2012 -  Finally a pattern of all yesses!

Still just dabbling and not making the systematic changes I'd envisioned as I made this goal list but I'm seeing many positive effects from just engaging with the files and after reading Duggin's explanation of habits I can see why that is more important than being able to cross specific items off the following list.

Just by establishing the habit of engaging with the stories and files I am increasing the chance that I will be crossing these items off sooner rather than later and having identified them as things needing to be done they give me focus even tho I'm not quite ready to tackle them.

___ 05-26  -- I have started to dabble in the files but haven't done anything that I can cross off yet and it is hard to list anything specific that I've done and yet it feels more than a bit productive since it has, like the daydreaming, stimulated ideas and joggled memory.  Mostly I've just been reading in them but I've added a few jots and moved a few things about.  Again, it is all about ATTENDING.

Miracles seem to happen when attention is paid to something.

This is the list I referred to above.  Two weeks ago  I reorganized it according to priorities as I see them now.  And added a couple of small items and grayed the text of some of the WIP titles to indicate that I'm taking the pressure off for this round.  This list will carry over into the next round with additions, subtractions and other tweaks.

  • Input any material from the daydreaming session into it's appropriate file or task list.
  • Clean up the Fruit of the Spirit storyworld worksheet.  ___05-26= 06-16-2012   --  this is where most of the dabbling has occurred.   
  • Create a master task list in FOS story world worksheet file and add any actionable task that comes to mind while working with the files: research and fact check, character development, scenes needed etc.  Future goals can be taken from this list.  ___ 05-26= 06-16-2012 --  ditto  
  • Create topic pages in the FOS story world worksheet file for every character from every existing story and novel finished or in progress that is set in this story world. Add any of the characters known life events to the master timeline.  06-16-2012 - have added a few and added info to existing ones as well
  • New task --06-11-2012 : collect character info for all the Faye's Strays from out of all the stories and files they are scattered through into it's own section in the FOS worksheet file.   06-16-2012 -- this is where the work mention in the line above is happening
  • Re-read the incomplete short story Home Is Where the Horror Is and consider returning to work on it with an eye toward finishing it this summer.  This is one of the Faye's Strays stories so work on it will count toward the WriMos work count.   ___06-12-2012 --  06-16-2012 -- have not reread nor written new scenes yet but have jotted many ideas for the the missing scenes
  • Do a line edit of all of the completed short stories
  • Blow Me a Candy Kiss
  • How Does Your Garden Grow
  • Running In Circles
  • Of Cats and Claws and Curiosities
  • Making Rag Doll Babies and Million Dollar Maybes
  • During the line edits consider whether any significant revision is still needed--scenes to add or delete, rearrange or rewrite; timeline issues, facts to confirm or to change--and create an actionable task topic in the file.
  • Choose 10 POV level characters from FOS and write a first person rambling monologue for them. 
  • Write fresh scenes whenever a spark is lit by any of the work on this list or the daydreaming or reading.
  • Clean up the 8 NaNo novel files: quarantine the mess, create work space for new writing, and create a system for  storing the material salvaged from the mess in such a way as it can be found when needed. i.e. linking it to appropriate topic pages in the FOS story world worksheet.
  • ____ The Substance of Things Hoped For 2009
  • ____ Mobile Hopes 2008
  • ____ Storyteller's Spouse 2006
  • ____ Spring Fever 2007
  • ____ Brooding Instinct 2005
  • ____ Majoring in Marine Biology 2004
  • ____ Everything That Rises Must Submerge 2010
  • ____ A Trick of Light 2011
  • Read and notate the scene text of the 8 NaNo novel files 
  • ____ The Substance of Things Hoped For 2009 
  • ____ Mobile Hopes 2008
  • ____ Storyteller's Spouse 2006 
  • ____ Spring Fever 2007
  • ____ Brooding Instinct 2005 
  • ____ Majoring in Marine Biology 2004
  • ____ Everything That Rises Must Submerge 2010
  • ____ A Trick of Light 2011 
Some of the work of these last two tasks can be done concurrently so I was tempted to collapse them under one task and have just one list of the WIP but they are very different tasks when you look close with this last one being more about the writing and the other about information organizing and story outlining.  I could conceivably do the work of one task with one novel while doing the work of the other with a different one.  The two tasks require different frames of mind.

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