Sunday, March 27, 2011

Saturday Morning Recharge

I live in a city and on any given day, between traffic and poorly timed traffic lights, it’s a hassle getting from one side of the city to the other. However, on early Saturday mornings, the roads are practically clear. Last Saturday, I dropped my daughter off at practice, picked up the DVD/library books that I needed to return, and stopped for muffins on the way home. I sang along to REM, The Smiths, and The Police while running my errands alone. This alone time is when I get back in touch with the real me, not the mother-me, wife-me, worker-me. I can think, dream, sing, pray, whatever I want.

Over the weekend I found myself nodding my head as I read a post over at Shrinking Violet Productions. You see, I'm a self-confessed introvert. I used to think of this as a weakness or something I needed to overcome. However, now I embrace it because it's who I am. Like the article said, it doesn't mean that I'm shy (any more - I was as a child) or self-absorbed or anti-social, though I've been judged that way by others. It's simply that I'm most comfortable spending time alone or with those people who genuinely like/love me for me. That doesn't mean that I'm naturally drawn to other introverts. I have friends who are both ins and exs.

I was particularly drawn to first sentence under #9 on the list of myths concerning introverts. Introversion is simply the need to recharge in solitude, we simply get our energy in solitude. Yes! Yes! A thousand times yes! This is exactly why I get up early every morning to be alone before everyone else wakes up; why I never minded driving 45 minutes every Sunday to meet with friends; why I used to walk to a quiet spot by the Charles River to write when I was younger; why every night in the summer after dinner, I go outside alone and sit on the front steps with a beer or a glass of wine. I crave solitude.

I used to wonder why my mom woke up at 4:30am every weekday morning when she didn’t have to be at work (which was 5 minutes away) until 7:00am. She would get up, make a pot of coffee, and sit at the kitchen table reading or doing crossword puzzles alone until the rest of the house woke up. I’d call her crazy for getting up so early when she could sleep for another hour and a half. “I just like to,” she’d tell me while I shook my head in disbelief that anyone would choose to wake up while it’s dark out rather than sleep. My mom’s an introvert too and already knew that she needed that alone time.

I don’t often get a lot of alone time, but when I do I enjoy every moment. Solitude has always felt comfortable like a broken in pair of sneakers. That's part of why I love writing so much, because it is such a solitary endeavor. That’s not to say that I don’t enjoy companionship. I do. But that alone time is what energizes me.

What about you? How do you handle solitude? Do you love it or like it in small doses?

Monday, March 21, 2011

Library Magic

It’s been a good writing week. I sat down, I picked up a pencil, and I wrote. Big whoop, right? Not really. Most writers do this every day. What makes this week so special? I was able to accomplish this several times this week. Not extraordinary, I know, but lately it’s been hard to fall into a consistent writing groove. I’m trudging through the middle of my novel and needed to complete a chapter, which I did. Yay, me!

What made the difference for me was getting to the library twice this week and once the week before. I’m much more productive when I sit in my favorite place, the archive room on the second floor, with my stuff spread out on the table. And I’ve been lucky. I was able to get a table to myself all 3 times which is not always the case. When that happens I usually head to the third floor to an individual study cubby (another post in itself for another time). Most people that spend time in here take advantage of the wireless, enjoy the quiet for studying, and yes, sometimes take a nap in a cushy chair by one of the windows.

Or, like me, they write. *grin*

What I love about the archive room is that it hasn’t changed much over the years. The floor to ceiling, pained windows, the built in bookshelves lining the room, and the giant marble fireplace are the originals for at least as long as I can remember. Before the addition was put on many years ago, it used to be the children’s room. I have lots of fond memories of visiting this room as a child with my mother. Sure, the card catalogue is gone now and the children’s books have been moved to the lower level into a much bigger room (yay for more kid lit!). But my love of reading was nurtured by the books that I checked out and the spirit of those books is still there. Maybe that’s why my muse seems to come alive in the archive room more than anywhere else.

Although I don’t have the time to go daily, my goal is to get there once or twice a week for an hour or so until this first draft is finished.

Do you have a place that’s more productive to write?

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Yikes! Can't believe this video was made 30 years ago! It wasn't until the summer of '84 that I would discover and fall in love with their music myself. Oh, the memories! The boys from Dublin are still my favorite band to this day. Enjoy!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

A Lost Hour

Last Saturday night/Sunday morning we switched to daylight savings time here in the U.S. We “lost an hour” of sleep Sunday morning as we set the clocks ahead 1 hour. The payoff is we gain more daylight at the end of the day. In other words, I have to drag my tired butt out of bed an hour earlier so that it will stay light until 7:00pm (not that one is dependent on the other, lol).

And what that means around here? Six half asleep, cranky people have to deal which each other for about a week or so until we’ve all adjusted. That and now I have an excuse to drink more coffee.

Even though technically we don’t lose an actual hour – I mean, one hour doesn’t magically disappear so that there are only 23 hours in the day – it got me thinking. What would I cut out my day if I actually had to lose an hour?

Sleep – can’t cut an hour there. I don’t get enough as it is. 5:20am already feels like 4:20am!
Laundry – Washing, folding, and ironing easily add up to 2 hours a day. Don’t think the school principals or my boss would appreciate our nakedness.
Cooking – Oh would I love to, but my family refuses give up eating so that one’s out.
Work – Whenever I feel the urge to whine about work these 3 thoughts spring to mind: tuition payments, college looming in the not too distant future, summers off. I quickly snap out of my daydream of returning to SAHM status. Hey, I know a good gig when I have it.
Writing – Even though I should be writing an hour a day, the fact is most days I don’t. And ironically, since writing is the insanity that keeps me sane, I’d never cut that.
Driving – no getting around this one either. kids = lots of taxi time

Hmm. Since these things pretty much sum up my life, looks like there’s only one thing left to cut. Guess my daily me time at the day spa where I indulge myself with massages, saunas, facials, and tanning followed by margaritas with friends will have to go. Le sigh.

If you had to give up an hour of your day, what would you give up?

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

The Middle

Getting stuck in the middle of a traffic jam is a nightmare. And waking up in the middle of the night to vomiting children (Ugh...3 times last week...THREE!)? Not so fun.

When I first begin a novel and have a fresh idea in mind, writing is exciting. Chapter 1 easily leads into chapters 3, 4, and 5. Sure there may be a few kinks I have to work out along the way, but the ideas flow and the story unfolds, especially when I begin to get a good sense of who my characters are. Setting up the conflicts and figuring out how they will be resolved later on is something I enjoy.

Then I reach the middle.

The conflicts are building and my MC is struggling with her relationships; her confidence is shaken, her beliefs are tested, and I need the transitional scenes that bring her to the boiling point.

This is where I’m at with my novel right now and I feel as if I just hit a brick wall. I’ve been stuck on how I want to write a particular scene and it’s right smack in the middle of my WIP. I know that the next chapter is going to be tough too and I really want to be on the other side of the wall, coasting downhill toward the end of the book. I’m really excited about working on those chapters because I have a good sense of how I’m going to resolve my MC’s conflicts.

So this is how I’ve dealt with the middle in the past. I put it aside for a while and return to it with fresh eyes. In other words...procrastinate. Avoiding the inevitable isn’t the best idea for me because when I return to it, the problem is still facing me. And that’s where I am now. The middle is just staring me in the face and I’m staring back. Who will blink first? *blink* (dang...lost again)

I’ve decided I need to slog my way through these chapters this week. My goal is to get through the next two difficult chapters, reevaluate where I am, and make a new outline for the second half of the book. Can I be honest? I’m not looking forward to it.

But middles can be good, too. In fact, some are quite fantastic. Don’t you just love being immersed in the middle of good book? Where do you find the best part of an Oreo? And the middle of a jelly doughnut? The yummy middle! So, my goal this week is to add the sweetness to the middle of my WIP.

How do you get through the midpoint of a first draft? Do you put your head down and write on through? Do you put it aside and come back to it after a period of time? Or do you write around it and come back to it later?

Thursday, March 3, 2011

House of Sick

Trapped in the house by her vomiting children, a weary mother seeks escape from an endless cycle of hair holding, linen washing, and zoning out at the kitchen table. During the down moments when the kids are napping, she finds solace by combining her love of books with wasting time on the internet.

A Goodreads account is born.

Hmm...may have the makings of a future pitch line...