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No Day But Today

I’m nearing the end of THE HAPPINESS PROJECT by Gretchen Rubin, and it’s making me think a lot. I found the book in a very odd way – after our trip to Disney World in June, my husband randomly found a photo via Google of a couple going down Splash Mountain (our favourite ride) posing with a Jenga game. It’s a great photo. The woman in the photo ran 30candles.net, a “30 before 30” list, and one of the items was taking a ridiculous Splash Mountain photo (I know what I’m stealing for my “Before I’m 40” list ;).

ANYHOW, on her page she mentioned Rubin’s book, and I loved the whole idea – the list, the book, and the project. If you’ve not read it, I highly recommend it. It’s not a one-size-fits-all book, but it’s got some fantastic ideas and how they played out in Rubin’s life.

The first thing on my list of notes taken from her book is this:

Nothing is insurmountable if you do what ought to be done, little by little.

No news flash there – it’s a summation of Dale Carnegie and a thousand others’ mantras, but as I say, it’s the first thing in Rubin’s book that put my pen to notebook. I’m learning this slowly over the last few years. The other week when the Scotsman and I climbed Buachaille Etive Mòr in Glencoe, it reminded me that the first time we climbed it, I was new to hillwalking. I was nervous, especially during the scrambling bit. But I kept telling myself, “This is like writing. One step at a time. Just do what’s right under my feet, and that’ll take me to the next bit. One step at a time.” And I was amazed, and so proud, when we finished. I’m not an unfit person but this was a big deal for me, mentally as much as physically, being afraid of heights, falling, and all the rest.

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It’s a sentiment shared widely in the writing community, particularly among those of us un-agented and unpublished, with good reason. Little by little, a word becomes a page, becomes a chapter, becomes a book. Then you start over… edit, revise, cut. But it is that simple. One word at a time. I have to remind myself of this – and maybe others are the same – because I’m one who gets all too easily overwhelmed in life. One step at a time.

“No Day But Today” is one of my favourite songs (from the musical RENT). I used it as the song my bridesmaids walked down the aisle to last year, before I entered the room (I walked to my favourite piece of music of all time, “Glasgow Love Theme” by Craig Armstrong), because I think the message is universal. There’s only now and here, and I can happily say that finally in my life, I’ve gotten to the place where I’m grateful for every day and try to get the most out of every moment I possibly can, because I’ll miss it when it’s gone – especially the smaller moments. I might only get one chapter edited today, or I might not get any done if another moment takes over. But the important part that this book has brought to mind is that any mountain can be overcome if you take one step at a time, and today is your best time to do that.

#Writemotivation Update

I’m actually on track! Hard to believe, I know…

1. Finish WIP revisions. Finished this last week. Now currently Cutting All The Words (flabby, weak, soft words, as highlighted by John Skipp on the LitReactor course I did in August).
2. Send to CPs. Sent full MS to one CP, another friend has read the first three chapters, and I think a third CP to read the entire thing would be brilliant.
3. Get back to routine! Doing this 🙂
4. WF x5. Done!

I hope you’re having a great September and accomplishing little by little whatever you want to do 🙂

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Severn Estuary, Portishead. Enjoying my last few runs in this neighbourhood.
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Writemotivation Update – a little late!

“But it’s Friday, not Monday!” you say.

Currently, the UK is suffering enjoying a glorious heatwave and nearly 3-week stretch of blue skies, sun, and 75-80 degree temps. My Weatherbug app currently tells me it’s 82 in Portishead. AMAZING. There have been short splashes of such loveliness over the past 6 years I’ve lived here; our wedding last year enjoyed summer-like qualities. But to go for this long without rain or clouds or the typical British chill has been so welcome!

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FYI, this isn’t the UK. It’s Allegany State Park on our June visit.

It’s also made it difficult to focus for long indoors. Our flat has windows on only one wall and therefore little circulation, and of course, no AC. I am NOT complaining because this is the kind of weather I’m made for 🙂 but it does explain why I’ve been somewhat sluggish online.

So without further adieu, here is my update to Writemotivation July’s butt-kicking:

1. Finish paper revision of WIP. Done!
2. Read-through of revision changes. This has become, “Revise in entirety.” I’m going through, much quicker this time, catching silly errors and continuity problems, addressing a small laundry list of items to change, and I’ll get through this before the month’s end. Fingers crossed.
3. Send to 2 betas/CPs. This should happen by the end of the month, I hope!
4. Beta reading for J & A. Done! Now on to L’s MS which I’m 40% through 🙂
5. SOMEBODY new version x 5. Done!
6. Draft WIP synopsis. Done! And I’m pleased to say, I mustered the guts to share both with a CP.

So that’s it! We’re off to play volleyball in the 80-degree temps! Stay cool, people 🙂 Good luck with your monthly goals, if you’re taking part in #Writemotivation!

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June & July #WriteMotivation Updates

Hello!

Due to our mid-month trip to Western NY to visit family, and a week-long jaunt down to Disney World in Orlando (my first time, husband’s third. Ironic given he’s not from the U.S…), my goals were not *quite* reached for June. That’s okay! That’s what July is for! Right?

My husband began changing lyrics for just about every song to include my name. This one started it all a few years ago, and has become my theme song somehow...
My husband began changing lyrics for just about every song to include my name. This one started it all a few years ago, and has become my theme song somehow…

For June, my only Write Motivation goal was to finish revising my first paper draft of my WIP. I didn’t quite get there, but I hope to by the end of next week.

For July, my goals are:

1. Finish paper revision of WIP. I think I can get this done by the end of next week.
2. Read-through of revision changes. Hoping this only takes me a day. 
3. Send to 2 betas/CPs.
4. Beta reading for J & A. Working on this currently.
5. SOMEBODY new version x 5. This clearly needs refreshing as my last batch hasn’t been too successful, despite having much professional advice heaped upon me, and following said advice. It seems unless women’s fiction has paranormal elements, is straight-up pop-culture-laden chick lit, or has lots of sex, it doesn’t seem to be selling. At least, according to Publisher’s Marketplace. Anyone know different, feel free to get in touch 😉
6. Draft WIP synopsis. This will probably get pushed to August, but we’ll see.

And that’s it! I will be making the blog rounds soon and have already left a few comments and Tweets, but I am very behind! My apologies! 

Hop on over to K.T. Hanna’s blog to help her celebrate her Blog-iversary with the very generous prizes she’s offering! And stay tuned for my Western NY/Disney holiday recap, and an upcoming post on the things I miss most (as evidenced by this last trip to the States) about the U.S. Thanks for visiting and enjoy the fabulous weather if you’re in the UK! (and by fabulous, I do mean above 65 and not raining!).

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In With the New

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Hello and welcome to the last day of 2012! I hope you have exciting, peaceful, and/or relaxing plans for ringing in the New Year. Last year we spent it on the sofa watching TV at my mother-in-law’s and while this might not have been the most exciting, it was fitting for the year that was. This year we’re going out for a meal and some merry-making, and I’m hoping being a bit more active might be symbolic of the year to come 🙂

I’m not going to lie. From my list of 25 goals for this past year, I crossed off 6 of them. That sounds pathetic except one of them was plan a wedding and get married, which I did (and we did :)) so I’m not complaining! But I do hope to be much more active this year. It felt like a lot of waiting and planning happened in 2012; a lot more doing for 2013, I think.

I thought I’d take some others’ leads and share a few of my goals, since reading their goals inspired me to focus on some realistic (but still challenging) ones, and yet also remind myself that life isn’t about checking things off for the sake of drawing that line. Productivity and results are worthy goals, but I want to enjoy the journey more and more, rather than berating myself this time next year for not doing X, Y, and Z.

  • Decision-making: I recently read that successful people make quicker decisions rather than hemming and hawing, because they’re confident in their values. I am confident in mine, so why do I spend 10 minutes trying to choose from a menu, or a week on whether to apply for a certain job? I know what kinds of things I want and enjoy and believe in. I need to work on this.
  • The BIG one: focus on ONE step at a time. Finish what I start. Multi-tasking is great and the sort of prerequisite all employers want on your CV. But let’s be honest. If you can’t fully focus on what’s right in front of you, what good are you at the peripheral tasks, or the ones coming down the pipeline? It’s great to be able to keep track of several things at once, don’t get me wrong. But I think multi-tasking in our culture has become grossly overrated. It’s prompting a whole generation of people with ADD traits, and I’m not using that term loosely because I know people who really struggle with it. Yes, for the sake of doing the best I can at a job, I can keep tabs on 10 different things, but in my personal life, when it comes to writing, painting, cleaning house, organising, reading, etc., I want to be concerned with the one thing God’s put in front of me, and do my best with that before moving on. I can’t do anything with tomorrow’s bread, hence, “Give us this day our daily bread.”

And the more tangible ones:

  • Finish fantasy, polish, CPs
  • Keep working on WF.
  • Blog regularly through the month, when I have books to review, things to say. I don’t want to force myself to a blogging schedule when actually writing stories is what’s most important to me, which brings me to . . .
  • Read 1 writing craft book per month, and review it on this blog.
  • Have at least an outline for next book by the year’s end.
  • Start kickboxing.
  • Run/kickboxing/volleyball/hike 3x per week, no matter where I am and what I’m doing!
  • no Bible, no breakfast (we’ll see… I might have to breakfast while reading).
  • Write with a timer (in 30-minute chunks). This proved super effective during NaNo this year!
  • Unless writing, get off the computer by 9 pm.
  • Write a handwritten card/note to friends & family 3x a month.
  • Complete 12 paintings by the year’s end.

That’s a lot. I could add obvious others like “FINALLY get a job” and “eat more fruit and vegetables”, but I already know I need to do those. Making them a goal for the year seems a bit of a cop-out.

Do you find making lists like this is helpful? Have you ever crossed off EVERY item on your resolutions/goals list? Whether you write down goals or just plan to make the best of each day, I wish you the absolute best for a peaceful, productive, safe, healthy, and amazing year!!

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7 Things & #Writemotivation

So fellow writer Jody Neil Ruth set the challenge of answering a series of questions which I’ve put off for nearly 7 days, but now it’s blog time again for #Writemotivation so I’ll throw them all together. Sorry for my tardiness 🙂 Doesn’t help that my new-in-June MacBook Pro decided to get a dead pixel, which required a new display, and the new display 2 months later had a faulty bit that crashed the Wi-Fi, so I was given a brand new MBP on Saturday which took all weekend to restore from backup. Fun!

Absolutely nothing relevant here. But it’s me in the Brecons.

The Last 7 Songs I Listened To: (just now realising the potential for embarrassment here. I’m on my “Chill” iTunes playlist, so … don’t judge ;))

  1. Aurora – Hans Zimmer
  2. Songbird – Kenny G (this is the part about not judging)
  3. The Road of Trials – Austin Wintory
  4. The Secret Life of Daydreams – Jean Yves Thibaudet (Pride & Prejudice)
  5. Trane to Conamarra – Bela Fleck & the Flecktones
  6. Green Mile – Esowellnic
  7. Rebecca – Craig Armstrong

Last 7 Books I Read: (this is hard because I’ve been doing a lot of beta reading lately)

  1. The Fiery Cross – Diana Gabaldon
  2. Drums of Autumn – Diana Gabaldon
  3. Voyager – Diana Gabaldon
  4. Dragonfly in Amber – Diana Gabaldon
  5. Cross Stitch/Outlander – Diana Gabaldon
  6. Writing Down the Bones – Natalie Goldberg
  7. The Hobbit – JRR Tolkien (not the first time ;))

7 Favourite Movies: (I stink at narrowing down this category)

  1. LOTR trilogy (yep, one movie, I cheat. But if I had to choose, I’d say Return of the King)
  2. Harry Potter (I’m SO cheating here, but if I list 3 of them, Deathly Hallows Pts 1 & 2, and Prisoner of Azkaban, I’m just taking up too much real estate… deal with it!)
  3. Atonement
  4. Dances With Wolves
  5. Withnail & I
  6. Sliding Doors
  7. Happy-Go-Lucky

Whew. That was hard. There are about 10 more that should technically go in my favourite-films-ever list.

7 Songs that are Significant to My Stories (two different stories):

  1. Raining at Sunset – Chris Thile
  2. How to Save a Life – The Fray
  3. The Cottage on the Beach – Dario Marianelli
  4. A Thousand Years – Christina Perri
  5. The Hospital Room – Leon Willett (Dreamfall soundtrack)
  6. Everybody Here Wants You – Jeff Buckley
  7. True Love Waits – Radiohead

7 Favourite Authors:

  1. J.R.R. Tolkien
  2. J.K. Rowling
  3. Simon R. Green
  4. Ian McEwan
  5. Kazuo Ishiguro
  6. Diana Gabaldon
  7. Emily Giffin

I’m going to be lazy and omit the last, which is to bestow the questionnaire on others. Not that I don’t care what others are interested in – by all means, answer away and let me know! 🙂 But I think this has made the rounds and a lot of people will have already done it, and as I’ve just amped up my job search to find something before the end of this flippin’ year, I choose not to make time to track down who’s not done it yet 🙂 Sorry.

Which brings me to my resolution last night to spend a lot more time on the 2 things most important and vital right now: finding a job, and finishing the stories I’m on. I love emailing and tweeting and all that, and I will never stop! But I need a bit of a break right now so if I’m less active, it won’t be for forever. I just really need to take the reins and get myself organised. I’ve been in limbo for way too long.

On to #Writemotivation…

1. Reach 70k word mark on WIP first rough draft.

This is looking less and less likely. As previously stated, at the start of the month, amazing Leigh gave me some much-needed feedback on MS#1 and I’m DETERMINED to finish edits for this bastard baby by the end of the month. This month. So that I can then do #4 below.

2. Revise 1st MS based on any beta feedback received.

That’s what she said!

3. Send feedback for beta reading (if not done by end of August).

I finished one round. But I’ve acquired a lot more beta reading (yay!) since I wrote this goal. Probably not possible, because I’m going SUPER slow (boo!). Sorry, Andrew & Jamie & Rebecca. I want to be thorough! Thanks for your patience 😀

4. 1st MS x3.

Even if I do this on the last day of September, I’ll be relieved, because that’ll mean I finished the edits for MS#1 FINALLY.

5. Revise query for WIP to include changes. Done.

6. Set aside specific time weekly to read blogs/comment/cheer! Doing.

There you have it. Thanks for reading & I hope your goals are much less overblown & far more successful 😀 Chin chin!

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