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Wednesday, March 31, 2010

The Writer's Life: A Juggling Act?


Do we ever have enough?

In the days before I embarked on my writing journey, I was doing well. Our one and only was in high school, and my days as an active parent volunteer had drawn to a close. I actually had time on my hands. My house was clean. The laundry was caught up. I had a weekly menu plan. And I was bored.

With the help of a life coach, I dug deep and rediscovered my dream: to be a writer.

The next two years rushed by as five stories flew from my fingertips. Talk about fun. I'd rarely had so much.

But writing in isolation grew old, and I became lonely.

And then I discovered cyberspace, the blogosphere, and a world peopled with other writers. I learned about heaps about craft, promotion, platforms, and more. I made friends. I was having fun again.

Trying to fit in all my new activities, however, became a challenge. In addition to writing, I'd added a host of other activities, including:
  • writing blog posts
  • interviewing blog guests
  • reading others' blogs
  • keeping up with email
  • reading and reviewing others' books
  • keeping up with my Yahoo! groups
  • maintaining my website
  • editing critique partners' work
I wish I could say I've become adept at juggling everything, but there are times I feel overwhelmed. I admire those who have children at home, write, and make it look easy. I wonder what their secrets are. I'm sure we could learn a great deal from them.

I wanna know ~

Do you struggle to juggle all your activities?

Do you have a set schedule for your writing time?

Do you have a system that helps you keep things running smoothly? If so, do share.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Blessings and Blooms

Writers are wonderful people. I've been blessed by my writer friends on many occasions, and I'm beyond grateful. This past week, the blessings flowing my way left me feeling overwhelmed.

Thank you for your generosity, support, and encouragement. Thanks for lifting me up when I'm down and rejoicing with me when I receive good news.

Today I was blessed in a special way. A loud rap sounded on the front door. We weren't expecting anyone, so I wondered who it might be. I beat my husband to the door, opened it, and stared in disbelief. A florist stood there bearing a beautiful heart-shaped wicker basket filled with brightly colored violets.

I mumbled something resembling "thank you" to the florist. Puzzled, I turned to Gwynly, and asked if the flowers were from him. He often brings me flowers, but I couldn't imagine my frugal fellow having them delivered. However, he's been known to surprise me, even after twenty-two years of marriage. He shook his head.

Since the title of my current story is Violets & Violins, I suspected a writer friend. I opened the card and smiled. The unexpected gift was from my kind, caring, thoughtful critique partner
, Anne Barton.

Thanks, Anne. You made my day!

I wanna know ~

How have you been blessed by fellow writers on your writing journey?

When's the last time someone surprised you with a gift? How did you react?

What is one gift you've received that was so perfect it left you marveling at the giver's thoughtfulness?

Friday, March 26, 2010

The Rigors of Revisions

Where have I been the past month?

I've been hibernating in a place I call Revision Land. A sometimes scary, frequently frustrating place that saps my time, energy, and confidence, leaving me too drained to write witty blog posts. Much as I wish I were as consistent a blogger as my agency-mate Jody Hedlund with her insightful, instructional posts or as entertaining a storyteller as agency-mate Billy Coffey with his moving tales, lately my creativity has been drained by day's end, leaving me ready for my nightly date with Calgon, a few chapters of a romance novel, and little else.

Although I've not posted my progress in a month, I've moved ahead with my revisions. I've plotted the entire story, the first half in painstaking detail. (I'm a detail person, so it's really not painful at all. *grin*) I've got the second half figured out and will plot it scene by scene soon.

The first quarter of the story was 2,000 words too long, so I had to chop them. That was painful. By moving one scene later in the story, I cut 650 words, but I had well over one thousand to go. I didn't know what I could possibly remove, but I forced myself to scrutinize every word. Somehow, I made my goal and ended up with a leaner, cleaner beginning. What a lesson. I admire those who write tight. I'm not one of them, but I watched the first nine chapters improve as a result of my pruning.

I've moved on to writing the second quarter of the story. My agent, Rachelle Gardner, had pointed out how I'd reduced the tension. Well, I've ramped it up. There are some serious sparks now as my strong, determined, somewhat stubborn hero and heroine interact, and I'm having a ball adding them.

Because our college daughter has been home for spring break, I've taken this week off. We've shopped 'til we dropped, eaten out, and had a great time. I've also tackled a few items on my To-do List, one being giving my blog a more professional look, which was one of Jody's excellent suggestions. Now instead of flowers, my latest tweet appears. Kinda cool, don'tcha think?

Come Monday, I'll return to my story refreshed and ready to write. I'm missing my characters, and, from the amount of chatter in my head, I know they're eager for me to give them my attention.

I wanna know ~

Do you enjoy revisions, or do they put fear in your heart?

Do you write tight or tend to be a bit Dickensian like me?

Do you take vacations from writing to spend time with family?