Monthly Archives: September 2010

Productive?

What is everyone’s definition of productive? Is it a word count? A number of scenes? Pages? A simple feeling of “Yes I accomplished something today” or “Today was not my best day” ?

Yesterday I had…well, I guess it was a cold. I dont’ know. It was bad, whatever it was. And yet I managed to write over 1,000 words. Not too bad with a stuffy head and a screaming toddler. But there are days when I feel perfectly fine and I can barely break 800.

Does that make me less productive on those days? Or is it just not that cut and dry?

Random musings from Jeanette.

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Cue the 80’s Montage

I started the year full of hope and a game plan that was ambitious, but not well thought out.  I ran into trouble when I tried to tackle my first self editing project and failed miserably.  And the accident further derailed me.  I have spent most of this year not feeling like  much of a writer.

But the past week or so, I feel like I can see a light at the end of the tunnel (and for right now I’m convinced it’s NOT a train of distraction).  The words aren’t coming as easily as they used to, but it’s no longer like I’m trying to swim through a pool of tapioca with one hand tied behind my back.  I feel like that moment that happens in all the 80’s Underdog-Makes-Good stories.  Right now there’d be cut scenes of me hitting the bag in the gym, or making speeches and getting applause — while my love interest looks at me with fresh eyes.

And I thoroughly hope this is my montage moment, because the next scenes always show the MC confronting the Big Bad (in my case finishing edits on Beauty) and winning.  I could go for a win right now.

Sasha

6,740/310,000

P.S. I dare you to click this

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Mainstreaming

This year’s annual meeting at the school terrified me. More than most years.

I guess I should back up a little bit. Boy2 has Asperger’s Syndrome, a Pervasive Develpmoental Disorder (PDD) closely related to autism. He started off public school in the average classroom. He had an IEP in place, spent a lot of time in special services, but by thre time he hit third grade it was obvious that not only was he not learning, he was hindering the teacher’s ability to teach the other kids in the class. I went to the administrators and requested he be moved to a special-needs classroom. After two months of evaluations and paperwork, everything was in place and he was bussed to a school on the other side of town.

It was one of the best things that ever happened to him.

At the time he switched schools, he was that weird kid. The one who hid under tables, screamed when people got too close and, althought he could talk, he mostly communicated with grunts and pointing.

This year, he’s entering eighth grade and he’s not in one self-contained, special needs class. All of his classes are either average classrooms with ‘normal peers’ (We’ll discuss my loathing of that term sometime in the future) or inclusion classes, which have allowances for special needs and an aide to assist the students. After more than four years in a protected school environment, my boy is swimming with the big fish, and it’s happening just when the pond gets vicious.

Eek!

But when I got to the meeting, what I heard had me near tears… and not bad tears. The happy kind.

Boy2 had not only ‘mainstreamed’ into these classes without incident, he was adapting to the crowded classrooms, the busy halls and the workload. It’s the first year he’s had to do homework, but every assignment has been turned in… not always completed, but they are turned in. He’d rejected “extra” assistance from teachers in favor of doing the work himself.

One of his teachers summed up his performance so far as this: He wants to do what the other kids are doing.

Boy2 is watching and trying to be like the other kids. I suppose this shouldn’t be so surprising. He is, after all a fourteen-year-old. Assimulation into the collective is the purpose of life at that age. But for a kid who has always sought his own space, wanted to be left alone, watching him try to be part of a group is nothing short of a miracle for me.

I don’t think I’ll ever stop angsting over his IEP meetings. He is, after all my baby… all six feet plus of him. I know life is never going to be simple and the world will never seem like a friendly place to him.

But this time of year, when I sit through piles of paperwork, listen to teams of therapists, teachers, and administrative overseers discuss where he is and where he’s going, I can’t help but look back and see that little boy under the table, hiding from life.

Then I look forward and see the young man he is, taking a brave step into the future.

Voirey

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Are You Enjoying the Ride?

I drove the main road through my community for two years and never noticed a sky blue house sitting behind a cluster of skinny pine trees.  No clue how I missed it.  The next time the kids and I were on the road, I pointed out the house and asked if they’d seen it before.  They all had.

After thinking about how I could have missed the blue house for a while,  the reason dawned on me.   I didn’t see the house because my thoughts were on getting home or getting to the store/post office/etc.

I realized recently that I’ve been doing something similar in my writing life.  I’ve been so focused going from unpublished to published that I haven’t been enjoying the journey as much as I could be.  My mind is working overtime on writing a great and salable story, building relationships, staying on top of industry happenings and lots of other stuff.

I’ve decided to slow down and cut back my efforts in non-writing areas a bit so don’t miss anything.

Are you enjoying your writing journey?

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WWWhat the heck.com

I don’t have a website.  Rephrase.  I own my domain and I’m paying for hosting, but if you go to the site it will redirect you to my blog….which desperately needs updating (#4 on the To Do List for Today).

The site *is* on the TDL but further down.  I don’t want to pour all that time and energy into it and totally bomb it.  It only takes one site visit for a person to write you off.  I was on a blog and clicked on a cover that caught my eye.  It redirected me to the author’s site and I had a hard time not screaming in horror.

Nearly every inch of the page was covered in text that made no sense to me.  I think she was going for playful, but I just felt attacked.  The blurbs for her books were missing words, had typos, and immediately turned me off.  I wouldn’t have been surprised if the Dancing Baby popped up to entertain.

I don’t *know* her so I can’t tell her, but if she’s even a decent writer, her site is doing her a HUGE disservice.  On the strength of her site alone, I’m not willing to try her work.  I know that sounds mean, but before I was an author, I was a reader and the reader in me will definitely be driving when I consider my site. I’m pre-pubbed but it’s never too late to start thinking about these things.

Sasha

4,601 / 310,000

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Rolling Out the Unwelcome Mat?

I’m convinced there are some people who need supervision and guidance in public. Not the holding their hands and making sure they get food in their mouth instead of finger-painting walls kind of supervision. More like someone who will give them a gentle nudge when they need it. Or a hard shove.

Case in point, a lady we’ll call Jane. Obviously this is not her real name, but I trust you all know how the “protect the identity” thing works. I met her several years ago. She seemed to be nice so we got friendly. Soon afterward she started doing and saying things that made me feel awkward and at times insulted. It was consistent enough I didn’t feel comfortable with her in a close-personal-friend position. I tried to gently back her off a step. Still a friend, just not as intimate of one.

Funny thing about Jane… She doesn’t recognize any level of friendship other than being close enough to share life details and TMI. If you are her “friend” she wants constant access and to tell you everything… and I do mean everything… that is going on in her life. She also wanted to help herself to little things around my house. She didn’t ask to use or borrow things, she just took them.

The final straw for me was when my mother sent me one of her periodic “care packages” stuffed with little things like chocolate, little toys for the kids and little this and that items she’d bought for me. (My mother is awesomeness, by the way.) Jane was there when I got it and stuck her hand in the box to grab things before I had a chance to see what all was there. I did take everything out of her had and let her know it was for me and my children. She acted quite insulted, as if she hadn’t just tried to steal my gift from me.

Luckily I moved several thousand miles away after this. Between distance and caller ID I was able to avoid Jane for a year.

Until she moved, too. Guess where she ended up?

I took the only evasive action left to me. I stopped answering the phone.

Last week she showed up on my front porch with children in tow. There was a stunned “oh crap’ moment as I stood face-to-face with her. Before I could form a defensive plan she had parked herself on my couch and sent all kids to the park. I had been outmaneuvered by a master strategist.

I had been peeking at my Facebook fan page when she arrived, and she asked me if she could pretty-please check her page. Before I knew it she had commandeered my computer and was loading Farmville.

Thankfully it was hot and the kids only stayed out for a little bit. When they came back in I noticed something odd. She has two boys, and I have three… but there were six boys sitting in my living room. She’d brought the other boy up with them so he could play video games. Um… thank you for volunteering my electronics?

After nearly two hours of my dropping hints, stating I needed to work, pointing out that I was sick and needed to rest, and flat-out asking when she was going to leave, she finally said she was hungry and asked if I needed help getting dinner ready.

Yes, she was inviting herself to dinner.

I saw an opportunity.

I jumped up and grabbed my keys, because I suddenly needed to go shopping. I kept up a nonstop chatter, telling her it was nice she drove all the way up here to visit and too bad she had to go and offered to walk her to the car on my way out. She was finally gone. She’ll be back.

Any suggestions for removing unwanted guests?

Voirey

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To Do And Not To Do

Last week,  I was reading Trust Agents by Chris Brogan and Julien Smith (it’s a book on business and social media).  There’s a section that talks about coming up with a list of things you need to do and things you need to stop doing.  I’m a list maker so this resonated with me.

I also realized this is something I need to apply to my writing life.  I know the things I need to do for my writing, but I’ve been slow to put them in action.

Part of the reason is that my Writing Do To list is in my head.   Aside from my sometimes faulty memory, I can usually find a reason to not do something on the list.  It’s the same with the Writing Stop Doing list.  I’m aware of the things  I need to stop doing, but I choose to ignore them or do something else.

Here some things on my Writing To Do and Stop Doing lists:

To Do:

  • get a website up
  • participate in conversations instead of observing them
  • read more fiction
  • hold myself accountable to the goals I set

Stop Doing:

  • downplaying that I’m a writer
  • waiting until the last minute to write my blog posts
  • writing story notes/ideas on the nearest writable surface
  • being on the internet without a purpose

I know there are more things to add, but my faulty memory is failing me at the moment.  Later today, I’m going write the lists in a notebook and then figure out what actions I need to take to make each item on the lists a reality.

So what’s on your Writing To Do and Stop Doing lists?

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Filed under goals, Kimberly, writing