Several years ago, I went to the park and sat alone in my car. My boys were off visiting their father. I was lonely and couldn’t stay at the quiet house any more. So I sat at the park and watched the clouds drift by. And cried. Okay, I’m going to admit it now, I cried. Hard. Long and hard.
Something encouraged me to open my eyes and look toward the sky. I did, and there was this cloud floating along that looked like this twisted genie lamp. I grabbed my sketchbook and drew it out. Then I did another, and another. I went home and continued drawing these all weekend long. It’s not like I was filling pages, but whenever I felt the mood to let my hands draw some elegant curves.
Four hours of yard work on Saturday has left me sore and achy. I didn’t even get up Sunday morning to record audio as I usually do. I was hard to get my words in Saturday night, but I did. I should have listened to the little voice that said I should have gotten my words done in the morning before tackling the pine needles in the back yard. Whoever thought to put a Ponderosa pine in a residential neighborhood was an idiot. The tree was planted years before I moved in. Now it’s a behemoth.
Other than that, I’ve been trying to get back into routine this week from Adrian’s play last week. My maniac drive to get audio done seems to have subsided for the moment, giving way to my need for sleep.
The only thing I can really claim that I’ve accomplished this last week, other than my daily word count and my daily Inktober posts on Instagram, is that I’m nearly done with the full plot outline for Tangled Magic and Walk the Path. I’m so glad that I’m building this because I’ve found some spots where I can move things around if necessary as well as a few holes from the mess of writing I was doing posting it as Onesong here on my blog. These two books are so going through two readers — one for continuity and the other for proofreading — before they see the light of day. I hope the two readers I have for this are ready.
I’ve made October an interesting month so far. Now not only do I have the “get the words done” goal each day, but I also have a picture to draw and ink for Inktober. Hopefully you saw my post last Thursday showing all the one’s I’d completed up to that point. Yes, there will be more this Thursday. But, as I said, now I have two goals to reach per day instead of only one.
See, my life is the same as everyone else’s. I wish I could make a plan to accomplish my daily goals, every day, without fail. My achiever personality really would like it that way. But reality is reality and can’t always be anticipated. So I fear the day where I miss my goals.
I’ve been trying to record, when I’m home, a chapter on Saturday and another on Sunday. For the most part, it works really well. I haven’t even been setting an alarm to get up extra early to do it. I’ve just let it happen.
This weekend, I hadn’t expected on a dog puking in the middle of the night. On my bed.
It’s bad enough to wake up to the sound, but to realize that she is on my bed is even worse.
I had to get up and clean the mess. Not fun. I should have known that since Kreeli had come in to sleep with me when Adrian was home that she wasn’t feeling well. She loves Adrian and sticks with him nearly all the time. She’s a pure breed Shih Tzu and his companion; living true to her breeding. The only time she really stays with me is when Adrian is gone, she wants some quiet time in my writing office away from everything else, or she’s sick. She hadn’t come in to stay with me after I went to bed and Adrian hadn’t come home from work yet, so I should have been suspicious when she came in after he got home. I just felt her move up on the bed and didn’t give it much more thought.
Until that moment I was cleaning up my blankets in the middle of the night.
Needless to say, it disrupted my sleep cycle and I certainly didn’t wake up earlier than usual.
But the morning still worked out so I could jump in the booth and record a chapter while Adrian took Merlin for a walk. Strangely (not really), Kreeli didn’t want to go; she stayed home and slept. I had nearly finished the chapter when Adrian came home, and I did finish while he started getting breakfast together. Worked out perfectly.
So often when I’m writing a blog post meant to inspire, I talk about it being a choice. You can’t help it when life happens to you (a puking dog in the middle of the night), but you can’t let it stop you from choosing your dreams (figuring out how to record a chapter even when everyone in the house is now awake). I even thought about recording the chapter after I’d finished cleaning up and was getting ready to settle back into bed. I didn’t because I knew I was so tired and I wanted to give a good performance, not a mediocre, irritated, tired one.
And so that is how this week had gone. I made the choice to do Inktober, so I need to figure out how to work it into a schedule that already seems too full. I’m hoping that Inktober serves the same purpose that Nanowrimo did nearly 3 years ago when I participated in that; forces me to learn to use my time wisely to achieve my goals. I know a lot of writers who don’t like Nanowrimo for one reason or another. I think it works well for overcoming the mental block of “I don’t have time to write.” Even if the writer tries and fails, they tried and learned what they are capable of doing. I really want to know how to fit drawing into my schedule, even though I have done it long enough to finish Eggs at Play, I also want to find time to practice/learn/experiment, draw my comic, paint, and work on my next children’s book. The only way I will do that is if I make the choice to do something that will push and challenge me so I can prove to myself that I can do it.
It’s not like i write 50,000 words every month as in Nanowrimo. Most months, I only average around 30,000. That’s a comfortable amount for me. Yes, I have proven I can do 50,000, but I now know where a good level is for me. It’s like weight-lifting where you see how much you can lift, then you adjust down to a lower weight in order to do the reps. I want Inktober to show me that I can draw every day, how that flow feels, and helps me get back to a schedule where I have drawing incorporated into my week.
I’ll tell you, it has already proven enlightening. I have discovered something about myself that I probably wouldn’t have if I hadn’t been pushing myself to get Inktober drawings done. I learned that I can’t see lines. I am finally understanding what artists mean by figuring out the shapes, and I understand the concept of negative space, but I haven’t figured out how to simplify something like a photograph down to its simplest lines. This shouldn’t really surprise me. When I listen to music, I hear everything at once, merges, blended. It takes a lot of concentration that I can’t maintain for long if I want to pull one part out, like bass, drums, or a trumpet. I certainly can’t tell what notes they are playing or even attempt to recreate it. When I learned that people could actually follow each individual part and play it, I was astounded.
So what lead me to the realization about the lines? Well, when I was working on Inktober drawings, I would find something simple as a reference drawing. I should have taken a picture of the under-drawing for the “chicken” prompt — I had the cutest little chicken under the cow suit. All but his face was closed off by the time I finished, and the eyes on the face weren’t cute, little, round buttons any more, but sharp eagle eyes. Now mind you, the chicken reference picture was that of a plush. The cow outfit on the chicken I modified from a couple different cartoon references. The “exhausted” prompt where I drew a dead horse, I found a cartoon of a horse with its legs up in the air. It had a saddle on, which I removed in drawing. Then I added all the scenery around it. Yes, it seemed like I was taking simple drawings for reference, then adding my own details to it.
Then, on Sunday, I sat down at Barnes & Noble with some magazines and found a picture I wanted to sketch. It was of a simple cottage with a thatched roof. I’d really like to be able to paint cottages like this. It’s one of my goals. So, I thought sketching this one would help improve my skills. I realized I was seeing everything, at once. I could pull out the lines of perspective because I’ve had enough practice doing that now, but the chimney, the lines of the bricks on the roof, the bricks around the doorway and on the landscaping, the thatching, the forest, the car, it all overwhelmed me. I got frustrated with the sketch. I gave up.
Once I had that failure, I analyzed why I’d had it when I’d been doing so well with Inktober. The answer was clear. Then I was to start taking a marker and going over the picture to simplify it. That’s what I need to do.
Leave it to me to jump in and start learning, then once I reach a certain level I have to go back and figure out all the beginning material. I’ve always been like that. (grin) Blame it on my astrological sign.
For me, learning this makes Inktober already a success. It probably explains where I have plateaued and why. If I can get beyond my frustration and get back to art, it’ll be worth it.
Also this week, I finished and uploaded the audio on For Sale, Call Loki. It’ll probably be released in about two weeks. That means that next week I get to start to work on editing the audio on For a Good Time, Call Loki. I’ve got 4 chapters recorded so far.
I started working on a new logo for my newsletter, but I think that was just a distraction on which I shouldn’t have wasted my time. I need to send my welcome email for readers who have recently joined my list; instead, I delayed it and I should have. I should have sent it, then gone to working on the logo for the next newsletter. Now I need to go send it anyway after delaying it several more days. And I still have no logo. Bad me!
I also started a chapter outline of Tangled Magic. I was working on Walk the Path, but so much had changed and I couldn’t remember the order of scenes that I was frustrating myself. That’s the sign for me to stop and line out the scenes.
It seems like a lot, but to me it doesn’t feel like a productive week. Just a time of trying to keep my head above water. On the other hand, I did a lot of personal projects that needed to get done. I also made applesauce with a bunch of apples that I received. Oh, and I tried to make hamburgers in my Instant Pot — I had to cook them longer than the recipe said, but I was happy with the taste. Have I mentioned that I love my Instant Pot?
Daily word goal reached for 58 days. Weekly word goal reached for 11 weeks.
Writing month to date total: 7,487 words
Writing year to date total: 255,292 words
Drawing/painting last week: No painting this week, but I drew a lot for Inktober. I did take the time to get ahead on my pencil sketches, but I will ink them on the appropriate day. I don’t want pressure that will make me not do this.
Audio: I spent 4 hours recording and editing audio. I uploaded 1 hour 31 minutes of audio for distribution.
Aside from Prince of the Ruined Land being blown to bits and having to rebuild it, this week was decent. I was tired, but I had fun.
My youngest son was home for spring break. He tore my story apart (in a good way – grin), but considering he’s been helping me plot and work on this book since he was 12, he’s forgiven. He knows the story almost as well as I do even though he’s only read the first book. I hope someday he’ll read the others.
But it’s nice to have someone to bounce ideas off of that I don’t have to worry about spoiling the story for. It lets me be very open about what I “know” about the story as well as explore other avenues.
As I said above, I was also very tired. I think the time change finally caught up to me and shook me like my dog with his toy. Not fun for me.
The boys and I went to see Black Panther last weekend. Not as life-altering as the Sailor Moon musical, but a good story nevertheless.
I’ll speak to a few certain things as I go through the numbers for this week, but since I want to keep this short, let’s get to those numbers.
Fiction words written last week: 4,869 words – all of this has been on Prince of the Ruined Land. I did have several thoughts about Onesong and Elliot’s story (that’s the prequel to Onesong — I seem to write stories in reverse). This next week will see me making sure that Prince is coherent. I absolutely must have it done by next Sunday if I want to have a print version done close to the ebook. I will say that I’m glad that I’ve switched to Vellum for my ebooks. That makes that job so much simpler.
Blogs/Newsletter articles/non-fiction written: 1,876 words
Writing month to date total: 22,521 words — my writing streak for hitting the weekly goal is now at 12 weeks.
Writing year to date total: 89,289 words
Drawing/painting last week: I spent about 3 hours working on Weblinks. I also started looking at some of work I did on Quest for the Three Books many years ago. While I don’t want to draw the whole thing as a graphic novel, I am thinking about an illustrated version of the novel. I think it’d be a lot of fun to add in some extras. I didn’t get started on; just thinking about it right now.
Audio: I spent 5 and a half hours editing audio. I’m currently on chapter 20 of Quest for the Three Books. Yes, my Sacred Knight series has been on my mind all this week in one form or another.
I let myself get run down this last week. I felt it coming on about Wednesday and thought that if I made it through the week it would be incredible.
I didn’t make it through the week.
I’d watched my son get wore down and he got sick. I was just a few days behind him. Dang.
Fortunately for me, I did get my weekly word count in before I completely crashed. But it felt like the bare minimum, especially as the week went on.
Nothing like a stuffed head, aches, chills… the worst of it is the random pain in my wrists, feet, and in-between the vertebra. Fortunately I’d been active with all the natural healing things for Adrian: herbs, essential oils, etc., so it was easy for start doing it for myself.
But there was so much other stuff going on, things I didn’t need to get sick while trying to handle.
There are some things I don’t want to walk through. Transferring my domain names and setting up new email are just two of them. Yet, it seems like my number is up on this one. But does it really have to be during tax season? Every time my domains come up for renewal, no matter how far in advance I pay for them, they always go down. It’s time to find new services. It’s just frustrating.
Especially while trying to get along with stories. It’s a time when the business hat and the artist hat both have to be pulled down over my ears to get things done.
I need to stop. I obviously don’t feel well enough to dredge up coherent sentences right now. I’d much rather feel better right now.
Let’s get to the numbers, shall we?
Fiction words written last week: 6.438 words
Blogs/Newsletter articles/non-fiction written: 481 words
Writing month to date total: 27,609 words – my writing streak for hitting my daily word goal is now at 54 days (which was a stretch to keep this streak up this week) and hitting the weekly goal for the last 8 weeks.
Writing year to date total: 63,903 words
Drawing/painting last week: I spent about 2 and a half hours working on Rockin’ Life and Weblinks.
I’ve been working on Onesong. I had a couple people who read my post on Wednesday as me: what do you mean you’re not working on it?!? I just shrugged and said, “Creative procrastination.” As I knew would happen, the other book, Stonecharmer, settled down. I knew it would happen. I wish I could describe the feeling. It’s kind of like putting a tractor in neutral after you’ve had it going in 4th gear for a while and just letting it roll until it settles into its parking spot. Yeah. I was cruising along with Stonecharmer, then it just eased back. I felt it slowing down, not necessarily the story but the writing. The time for its “creative procrastination” has come. That means I get back to Onesong.
The two-page spread I’ve been working on for my children’s book has more detail than any other pages so far and I’ve spent all week working on it. I also got a few additional pages inked, but I feel like the whole week has been dedicated to these two pages.
I got a cover done this week and worked on mocking up another cover.
Corrections for Prince of the Ruined Land are coming along.
And I recorded the audio for a short story.
All in a week’s work.
I just want to remind you that I don’t say all this to impress anyone, but rather to impress upon you that if you decide what you want to do and focus your mind, you can achieve big things. Choose and act. That really is the magic formula.
Let’s get to the numbers, shall we?
Fiction words written last week: 5,470 words
Blogs/Newsletter articles/non-fiction written: 1,275 words
Writing month to date total: 32,766 words – I currently have a writing streak of hitting my daily word goal for 26 days and hitting the weekly goal for the last 4 weeks.
Writing year to date total: 32,766 words
Drawing/painting last week: I spent about 3 and a half hours working on my kids’ book. I didn’t get any painting done last week. I do regret that — I really meant to spend some time on it over the weekend, but it didn’t happen.
Audio: I spent 7 hours recording and editing audio. This included my short story (and I keep asking myself why I’m spending time on this – craziness as part of the creative procrastination process? I probably would have been better off painting.) and working on Quest for the Three Books.
And now that I’ve had a moment to ponder why I would use audio work as creative procrastination, I wonder if I use audio as a way to procrastinate on painting. That would certainly make sense, considering that I swapped my planned painting time for working on audio. I will have to examine this more because I think there might be something to it. That’s one tractor I’d certainly like to get out of neutral.