The Continuing Story of My Second Draft

bryan-jack-building-house
‘Jack Built My House’ by Bryan Fink

I’ve posted several times about doing the second draft of my book.  This is the latest installment in the eighteen-month story of my efforts.

One word describes things at the moment.  Confused.

I’m adding others.  Messy.  I am okay with messy.  Messy happens in all my creating at some point.  It gives me possibilities.  Having been a neat and tidy child, as an adult I enjoy messy.  Also, I know how to go from messy to focused, a useful talent.

Another word.  Procrastinating.  Somehow, and I have said this before, other jobs and delights keep taking precedence over my second draft.  Strange how that happens.

Yesterday I am telling one of my fellow artist-writer friends about this.  We come to the conclusion I need to clear a chunk of time for only the draft.  Yes.  I do this.  Now marked off in my diary is February through May.  My friend will meet with me throughout this time to help me keep accountable to myself in getting the draft done.  Cool.

A third word.  Blind.  This draft feels like I’m doing a jigsaw puzzle without the picture from the box top to tell me how things should look.

I tell this to another artist-writer friend.  She talks about finding the arc of the story, a kind of outline.  Oh.

I know about outlines.  I tried one out at the start and it drove me crazy.  I learned I am a writer who feels her way through the story.  As Nanowrimo fans say, I’m a pantser, not a plotter.

I am very visual in my thinking.  My friend says ‘arc of the story’.  In response, I see the image of an arc drawn on a big sheet of paper, with me writing sticky notes all along it.  This makes sense.  A way of creating an outline that works for me.  Here is my picture of how things will look when I am done.  Yay!  The picture will likely shift as I go.  That’s okay.  I still have a picture to play with.

Continue reading “The Continuing Story of My Second Draft”

Falling Down, Getting Up, Part 2

tigger.totoro.crop
Totoro and Tigger–Go Play!

So, what happened after my tantrum last Thursday?

The tantrum continued. Friday. Saturday. Sunday. Monday. Then, Monday afternoon, for no apparent reason, it faded away.

I can feel echoes of it today. A ghost in the background. My desire to write and create is stronger. I sit down at my studio table and begin. The ghost vanishes. Gone.

As I write these words, I have not figured out what pushed me into this cranky, unwilling mood last week, or why it hung on through Monday. My mind longs to have this figured out so it can prevent it from happening again. My mind has judged this full-on-tantrum mode as something bad. Especially since I felt really uncomfortable when I was in the middle of it.

My mind is doing its job, trying to understand so it can protect me from what hurts.

Except, I need to feel everything, even when it feels bad. My heart knows that feelings are information. They might be painful, but they are not bad. The feelings tell me something if I pay attention, open my heart, and listen.

I need to do this right now. Ask about last week, listen with my heart. What do I hear?

I am trying to push the river.

That might sound odd, but I know exactly what it means.

I’ve been stepping outside of my natural flow. I’ve been pushing myself too hard, and not playing enough.

Ah. I get it.

I played on Saturday. I read. Did crossword puzzles. Coloured with all fifty of my Crayola felt pens. Watched a 1940’s pirate movie with my husband.

I played on Sunday too. In between three laundry loads and making dinner, I watched the movie Mary Poppins. How many times have I seen this movie? A dozen, at least. It makes me laugh. I love the songs. I love the idea that I can jump into a drawing and wander around the landscape, meet whoever lives there. I love the idea that if I laugh hard enough, I’ll float up to the ceiling, turn somersaults in the air if I wish.

Play. Imagination. Laughter.

Magic, all.

I pushed myself, pushed the river so hard, that I left play and imagination and laughter behind. Left my magic behind.

Bad idea.

Which resulted in the five day tantrum. Resistant. Unwilling. Grouchy.

I played on Saturday and Sunday, despite the tantrum.  Good idea.  Which resulted in the tantrum fading away on Monday.

Thank you, my heart, for feeling and talking with me. Thank you, tantrum, for yelling at me to stop and notice what is happening. Thank you, my mind, for trying to understand and protect me from what felt painful.

I have my magic back. It never really left me. It just felt like it, because I had forgotten to play.

_______________________

In this post:

Mary Poppins, movie, Walt Disney Productions, 1964, based on the book of the same name by P. L. Travers   https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mary_Poppins_(film)

Falling Down, Getting Up

I dreamed for my children.detail

I’m in resistance mode today. Unwilling. Grouchy. I am a two-year-old in tantrum. Don’t wanna.

What don’t I want to do? Anything that my mind decides feels like work, like writing this blog post, paying the bills due today, doing up the grocery list for tomorrow’s shopping. Don’t wanna, my mind keeps saying.

What do I want to do? Lay on the couch and read all afternoon. I am on page 221 of The Peripheral by William Gibson. Bought it during Christmas holidays and started reading it this week. Yes, it’s GOOD, and that’s why I want to read all afternoon. Find out what happens next—the hallmark of a well-written book. Thank you for sharing this, William.

So what am I going to do about all this ‘don’t wanna’?

I am bribing myself. I have a big mug of cocoa at my side, one of my last candy canes melted into it. I have music on, a combination of melody and the sound of ocean waves running against a rocky beach. I have my Minions standing guard atop the unruly pile of papers on my work table. Kevin with his banana and black English bowler hat. Stuart in his blue vampire cape, showing off his spikey teeth. They make me laugh. And they are cheering me on.

Bribery and a cheering section. This works.

So I sit myself at my studio work table. Pick up my purple BIC pen. Lay in front of me a stack of loose leaf paper. I have a blog post to create. What do I write?

I start here, where I am. Unwilling. Crabby. Bad mood. Resisting everything. And I write exactly this. How I feel. Struggling to not struggle.

I learned this from both Natalie Goldberg and Julia Cameron. Begin where I am. Become present to my life just as it is in this moment, bad mood and all, says Natalie.

Accept it, and write anyways. Place my tantrum on the page, put the drama where it belongs, says Julia.

The page accepts everything. Holds it for me so I don’t have to. Tells me it is alright and I am alright. The mood I am in will shift and change and fade to something else. Let it. I know it fades quicker when I let myself create.

Am I feeling better? Yes. Is the ‘don’t wanna’ still hanging around? Yes, but not as loud. I’ll get through and past this tantrum.

Sitting here writing, I suddenly know why I am grouchy. Yesterday I wrote for four-plus hours, material for a creativity course I am teaching in the Fall. Felt awesome while I was deep in creation. Excited, inspired, energized. Ideas and words flowing. Unstoppable.

And now today, the water level in my creative well is low. Almost drained. I need to refill it. Julia taught me to understand this, too.

I know what to do. Play. Lay on the couch and read William’s book. Do a crossword puzzle or two with my pink BIC pen. Colour in my new colouring book with my set of fifty Crayola felt pens scattered across the table top. Watch one of the animated movies I have collected, and laugh. Marvel at the collective imagination of those who created the movie characters and the story. Laugh more.

And then love myself. Love and celebrate what I created yesterday. Love and celebrate what I create today. Just love myself, resistance and bad mood and writer and artist and all.

I am who I am in each moment. Love this, and allow, and accept. Create from exactly where I am, especially if it requires some bribery to get to the studio and pick up my pen.

Love my unwillingness. It gives me a place to begin today. It gives me a blog post to write and share. It reminds me to love myself, whatever is happening.

Just love myself.

________________________________

In this post:

The Peripheral by William Gibson, Berkley Books, NY, 2015, www.williamgibsonbooks.com/

Natalie Goldberg, http://nataliegoldberg.com/

Julia Cameron, http://juliacameronlive.com/

Lions and tigers and writer’s block

The Wizard Of Oz - original movie poster 1939
The Wizard Of Oz – original movie poster 1939

Think The Wizard of Oz. The 1939 movie with Judy Garland as Dorothy.

Dorothy and Scarecrow and Tin Man are walking through a forest. It is creepy.  The light is dim. They start talking about what might be hiding. Lions. Tigers. Bears. Oh no! They manage to scare themselves silly by the end of the scene, even though there are no lions or tigers or bears. The Cowardly Lion, who they eventually meet, is nowhere near scary.

This is what I have been doing the last two months. Scaring myself silly. Imagining lions and tigers and bears. Blocking the writing on my book.

I’ve been doing other things instead of my book. Useful good things, I tell myself. Yes, true, they are. But it is odd how I do those useful good things first, plan to get to my book writing second, and somehow never get there.

I’m watching this happen. Two months of watching and not doing. I can’t seem to break the pattern. I’m not choosing to. What is stopping me?

Over my years of creating, I have run myself into blocks and scared myself a lot. I see what’s happening and I find my way through. Every time. Except now.

I could blame it on the fact that this is my first experience writing the second draft of a book. I don’t know what to expect, don’t yet know my process for this kind of creating, or how long it might take me. I do know this long at not-writing is too long.

Continue reading “Lions and tigers and writer’s block”

Pilgrim

Archangel (Sariel)
Archangel (Sariel)

I’ve been listening to Sonia Choquette on the Hay House World Summit 2015.  Sonia talks about walking the Camino de Santiago across northern Spain.  Eight hundred kilometers.  Five hundred miles.  A pilgrimage.  She carries grief on the long walk.  Deaths of a brother and father, the breaking of a long marriage, the certainty of failure in her life’s work.  She walks and forgives, walks and lets go.  Finds her way through to Santiago, balance, and home.

I am a pilgrim in my own life.  Finding my way.  The map is my heart.  I walk with my map open, certain and sure of each loving, joyful step.  I walk with my map closed, lost and aching, blind and stumbling.  Refusing to see and feel.  Refusing to take the single action that will save me—open my heart again.

Stubborn has been one of my words, and sometimes it fits me like a tailored suit of clothes.  Resistant.  Unwilling.  Yes, those too.  I’ll do it myself.  Say this quietly.  Pretend to go along with other people’s agendas, and then shift to the side and onto my own path.

Focused is the word I use now, rather than stubborn.

I need to learn things on my own.  I can be told something, but I need to test it out, experience it for myself.  See and feel all through me, the truth of something.

An example.

Continue reading “Pilgrim”

Postcard #3 – Gifts and the Wrong Way Round

etchasketch.blogI was whining to myself this morning about all the work I have to get done.  Whining.  Complaining.  Worrying. Resisting.  Maybe I’ll just lay here in bed a little longer.

Two blog pieces to write and post.  A coaching session to read and prepare for.  Camp Nanowrimo and my book revision to work on.  A day-long writing workshop to finish preparing for and teach.  A proposal I am working on.

I have bit off more than I can chew, I think.  Did this to myself, I think.  I took all this on, created it, and now I am freaking out about getting it done.

I stop resisting and get out of bed.  I do my morning routine.  In the midst of making coffee, my last step before getting into my writing, I stop.

I stand at the kitchen counter, dumbfounded.

I am looking at this the wrong way round.  All I have learned, all I am writing about, and here I am.  Wrong Way Round.

I created this writing and creating and teaching, and now I am complaining because the Universe has given it to me.  I am seeing this as a burden.  No.  Wrong.  These are gifts.

Because of the things I have created, I get to spend today writing, imagining, and playing with words and ideas.  And then I get to share the words that I love in my blog.  A gift.

The rest of this week:  I get to read about and then talk creativity with a fellow creator.  Connect with other writers at Camp Nanowrimo while I play with my book.  Spend two whole days reading and preparing, then writing and talking writing with a room full of writers and creators.  Play with possibilities for my proposal.  All gifts.

I get to be in what I love all week long.  Open the gifts I have created for myself.  Sit like a kid at Christmas, surrounded by toys, deep in play.  Writing.  Writing.  Writing.  A gift.

Happy Christmas!

________________________

Mentioned in this post:

Camp Nanowrimo     http://campnanowrimo.org

 

Changes

Glass Houses
Glass Houses

 

I am in the midst of packing.  We are moving house on Saturday.  My studio is two-thirds empty.  The last of the books, art supplies, my Buddhist shrine will all get packed up today, and this room will be empty of me.

Our house is in organized chaos.  Our cat hates this.  Yesterday he could not settle.  He walked from room to room, upset, unhappy, tail twitching.  He does not like his ordered life put into disorder.  He does not like random and he does not like surprises.

He finally laid on my blue fleece blanket on the back of the living room couch, determinedly facing out the window, so that he did not have to see the changes happening around him.

I am very much like my cat.

I am packing and moving because I need to, not because I want to.  I am a nester and I like my nest undisturbed and predictable.

That is not today, or the rest of this week, or next week either.  Although next week I will be focused on making a new nest, and that always feels better than taking apart the old nest.

I will adjust and I will be comfortable again.  So will my cat.

I think it must be the ancient survival instinct part of my brain that does not like this kind of change.  Changing where I live means moving into the unknown, and my ancient brain thinks this means unexpected dangers.  This is life threatening, it keeps saying.  No wonder I feel this constant level of anxiety running under what I am doing.

This is not helpful.  The anxiety, I mean.

So I have music playing, the gently soothing lyrical kind.  I look out the windows once in a while as I pack boxes.  Pause and take in the perfect snowy Christmas card beauty out there right now.  The sun has even come out and the sky has moved to winter blue.  This is beauty.

I have my two strings of coloured lights plugged in and shining in my studio as I pack.  They will be the last things to go into the last box, so that I can see and delight in their bright colours as I work.  This is beauty.

I have paused to write, to settle and ground myself in my life at this moment, the organized chaos that it is right now, knowing it will change to order and flow once again.  This, too, is beauty.

Beauty in change.  This is a gift I did not expect to see.  I should have known it.  I am a creator.  Creating is all about change, from one state to another.  From chaos to beauty, or the other way around.  One of my favourite artists, Norman Yates, said that disorder opens a space.

He is right.

And now I have more boxes to pack.  And more space to create.