The Challenge That is April

Well, I’ve done it again.

I’ve overloaded myself during a time when I should trying to simplify my life.

What I’m talking about is April and all of the challenges that seem to present themselves during this month.

A2Z-BADGE 2016-smaller_zpslstazvibAs I wrote last week, I am participating in the A-Z Blog Challenge again this year. You will be hearing from me often, and I am looking forward to this. The cool thing is I get to see a bunch of new blogs and “meet” new bloggers.

I have also decided there will not be an actual theme this year. I will attempt to write about one of the three subjects I presented in this post along with a few others ideas. I can’t wait to see what happens. Even though I knew this was coming, I am not writing posts ahead, at least not very far.

Another challenge that I wasn’t going to do is Camp NaNoWriMo.CNW_Participant_Facebook

Camp NaNoWriMo is part of National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) but on a smaller scale. Camp happens in April and July. It is one way to keep some momentum going throughout the year. Fewer people participate and, this is the cool thing, each writer gets to choose their own “goal”. There is no race to 50,000 words which makes it just a bit less stressful.

The story I am currently planning may or may not be a full-length novel. We’ll see. I’m still in the planning stage and won’t know until it is finished.

Camp NaNo includes many of the same components that NaNoWriMo does; it has one thing that November doesn’t: Cabins. Participants have the ability to sign up for a cabin of friends or strangers as support. Since I am a late arrival to Camp, this will be my only writing companion:

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Writing and my life should be fun this month.

Both of these challenges are on top of an incredibly chaotic work load including critical deadlines. My only release will be yoga and perhaps walking. I may need both.

My life will be overloaded but that is okay, I can deal with that. Once May hits, I will probably wonder what to do with my time.

Wish me luck.

Writer at Work

img_0888Spring has come to Northern Michigan, and we have begun to enjoy the longer days and mostly nicer weather. The sun is returning, and the light is wonderfully warming after the cold winter.

With the coming of the light, comes another of the great warm weather traditions: Projects.

I’m not sure how it is in other states, but here in Michigan, spring also means the beginning of road construction. Once cannot drive anywhere without running into the orange cones and guys in hard hats.

We do the same thing at home. Once the snow recedes the desire to dig in the dirt increases as does the need to make repairs and changes around the home.

My Writing Shed has been quite high up on the list of unfinished projects, and we are gaining ground. The walls are paneled and painted; they only await trim. The floor isn’t in yet, but that will come later this spring.

I’ve spent some beautiful days in and out of the shed, enjoying the warmth and light. I’ve found pleasure in hanging the decorations I’d been collecting all winter.

Sitting in this clean space with pictures and other decorations on the wall is stirring the creative juices. I can feel the excitement of holding a pen and putting it to paper.

Of course, I must find a balance with the rest of the projects that are in the planning stages. We’ve been brainstorming on how to transform our yard from just grass and trees to something more fun and functional. We have lots of space to fill, and there may be a rock garden in my future.

Spending this time in my writing shed and writing has been a balm to my soul. I have needed this space and look forward to more days spent in solitude.

Here is what’s been happening:

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Life is always a work in progress, and my building reflects that. I doubt I will ever truly finish it regardless of where the construction goes. Life grows and changes too much.

Friday Five: Happy Spring?

Have you ever had one of those weeks? You know what I mean. The one’s where you think Tuesday is Thursday and that happens three days in a row. Not to mention, my to-do list grows longer on each of those days and still undone.

Yeah, that was my week.

My intention for this week was so let everyone see what early spring looks like in Northern Michigan. I’d planned on photographing some of my favorite things about spring.

Well, things didn’t turn out that way.

Things looked like this when I went to get in my car:

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And this:

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By the afternoon, the rain that had fallen for nearly the entire day turned to snow making the drive home rough. The big fat snowflakes that we saw would have been welcomed in December, not March.

 

 

 

But this is springtime in Northern Michigan. Scenes such as these are quite common:img_0896img_0899

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We aren’t the only ones who have been “blessed” with this weather and we’ve been lucky so far. A friend who lives in Colorado reports that they have lost power during the storm.

One thing that spring in Michigan teaches you is patience. Wait a little bit and the weather will turn warm again.

The weather forecast says the temperature will be nearly 50 degrees in the next couple of days which will change the landscape again.

Something like this:

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April’s Blogging Challenge

atoz-theme-reveal-2016 v2Last year, I joined the A-Z Blogging Challenge and enjoyed it so much that I am doing it again. In the year since the challenge, life has had it’s ups and downs, yet I’m still here, blogging away.

Today is Theme Reveal Day for the A-Z Challenge.

When I started this last year, it was too late to have a theme, so I winged it. The experience was interesting, to say the least. Having a theme would have made many things so much easier.

What is my theme for this year’s challenge?

Good question!

This idea of having a theme has been on my mind for several weeks and yet, I have nothing definitive in mind.

Some of my thoughts include:

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month – I’m certain I could find so many things to share with my readers, but this is a difficult topic to be sure.

Journaling – My first love. Although journaling is a fairly straightforward idea with many facets, is there enough to write about for an entire month? Maybe.

Earth Month – This is not my idea although I could “borrow” it. The official Earth Day is Friday, April 22. However, one thought is that we make every day Earth Day, at least for the month of April.

As you can see, I have so many ideas that I have no clue which one to pick. Perhaps I will have a multi-theme this year and have a different theme for each day of the week.

April is still ten days away, so I have some time to decide. If I don’t, then I will be winging it again.

Either way, April should be interesting.

Rejection: Good or Bad?

writer-605764_1280I’ve been writing nearly all of my life and have spent almost all that time want to be a published writer. Being a writer means putting your butt in a chair, getting words on a page and then actually sending them out.

Sometimes, I am slow.

I’ve somehow managed to miss that last part; submitting my work.

The task of submitting work has been that little thought in the back of my head, you know, the one that we most times ignore until it becomes a scream. Even if I find myself attempting to push the button, something often holds me back.

Excuses, excuses, excuses and fear.

Fear of what others are thinking about my writing and fear of rejection.

Each year, submitting is on my list of goals to accomplish for the year. Yep, it’s on my list this year too.

Well, I managed to push the button a few weeks ago.

I have some flash fiction pieces that are nearly ready to go out with one in particular that seemed more “done” than most. I found a possible market and I pushed the button.

And, then I realized that I wanted to change some things in my story; like the title and some language that would make things flow better.

Well, that is just great.

The market I chose was one of those that says if you submit a piece to them, it cannot be submitted elsewhere. One of the good things I found was they gave a time limit: up to 8 weeks. Waiting can be good or bad.

So, I waited for the rejection that would come. Maybe I should have been more positive in my thoughts, but I wanted the chance to work with those areas again. The story could only get better.

The rejection came a few days ago.

For the first time, rejection didn’t crush me. I didn’t feel low or have the need to bolster that part of me that struggles with rejection. Am I growing and becoming tougher? Maybe.

There is a part of me that wants my work to be accepted even with flaws. I’m waiting for an expert to see the genius of my writing and say, ‘I just know this will be well received, and you will be famous’.

Yes, I am delusional.

The truth is my story wasn’t ready to go out into the world yet. Although it is close, the piece needs some more editing. And my ego doesn’t need the lie; the truth is preferable.

I understand there are many reasons for rejections. Sometimes it may be that this piece isn’t right for a specific market, or perhaps the story or article is too similar to something else just published. Or, the work isn’t ready and needs some more attention.

As hard as rejection can be, I believe, it can be a positive thing too. Sometimes, work isn’t ready for the world to see, no matter how much we think it is finished. The words we write are so personal that it is difficult not to take rejection badly.

The truth often hurts but can be a good thing.

I am grateful that I didn’t have to wait too long for the rejection. Now I have a chance to make the changes I want to that will make this particular piece sing.

This is a good thing.

 

Daylight Savings Time and Sippy Cups

flowers-270985_1280Is there any other day more despised than the spring version of Daylight Savings Time?

Not for me.

In the name of progress, a decision was made a few centuries ago to adjust time. Daylight Savings happens to us twice a year, and we have accepted that this is life.

 

When we return to “normal” time in the fall, we gain an hour, and that is wonderful. I mean what am I going to do with that extra time, except sleep?

Spring time change feels like a cruel joke when things are just beginning to look brighter.

Despite the change happening on a Sunday morning when we can supposedly sleep in (has anyone ever heard of internal clocks, you know, the one that wakes you up at the same time as your alarm on weekends?), copious amounts of caffeine will be necessary to get through this week.

What happens when you are already exhausted and then the time change happens?

Each day feels as if you are sleeping through it, and no amount of caffeine will keep you awake for very long.

I could try to go to bed earlier, but that doesn’t work very well at the best of times.

I could sleep later, but there is that pesky thing called work that occurs at it’s regularly scheduled time.

I could take naps whenever I am able, although I don’t sleep sitting up very well, and my office chair isn’t very comfortable.

I could do all of these things but I won’t. I tend to be stubborn like that and hope my body catches up.

For now, I will enjoy the memories of what created that exhaustion in the first place. We had the pleasure of having our daughter and her boys visit.

These visits are always draining, but I think that is because I am getting old, not because a 5-year-old and 18-month-old fight over Memaw. How did that happen?

I wanted to share some of the reasons the week will be interesting:

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Abel found some food coloring. I can’t imagine that it tasted good, but it sure made for some interesting diaper changes.

The weather was warm enough to play outside, and both of the kids enjoyed it:

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It will probably take me all week to catch up on my sleep, get my house back in order (I will be finding sippy cups all over my house) and recover the rest of my sanity.

That’s okay. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

A Much Needed Break

stones-530865_1280This past week I took an unintentional break from blogging, from morning pages and nearly all creative writing. I say unintentional because I simply couldn’t bring myself to write. All creativity and drive to share my words seemed to disappear.

One of the struggles is the feeling of guilt that comes with this seeming failure. But is it truly a failure?

Rest is necessary. We sleep at night though some of us get more than others. We get breaks at work. And then there are weekends, the ultimate break. Counting down until Friday is a national pastime I think.

Slowing down is a good thing. Stopping is another issue altogether.

During my hiatus, I struggled with guilt and putting pressure on myself.  I have goals and things I want to accomplish, yet the paralysis that visits occasionally didn’t allow for me to move forward with any of them.

The first thing that I do when I realize I am struggling like this is to give myself a break. I stop the negative self-talk and put downs. Life can be overwhelming, and none of this is helpful.

Next, I decided what was the minimum that I needed to do during this time. For me, that is keeping my writing habit. I strive to write a minimum of 500 words.

So that is what I did. For these days I didn’t care what I wrote, it could be (and often was) garbage. I simply put words on a blank screen. Even when I wanted just to forget it all, I wrote my 500 words.

In some way, this has worked. Here I am working on this blog post. I think I had a breakthrough on my novella, and I even wrote a poem, which most likely will never see the light of day. I’m not sure how everyone else is but the pressure I put on myself, whether intentional or not, tends to kill all creativity.

An interesting thing happened as I was working on this task I’ve set for myself. A couple of days ago my husband and I were on a long drive, and I didn’t get up in the morning to write. To accomplish my daily goal and on top of the drive, I still needed to write. My only opportunity was to write on my phone on a long forgotten app called Hanx Writer.

I found Hanx Writer, created by Tom Hanks last summer. This app is designed to give you the feel of writing on a manual typewriter with the convenience of using your phone. Since I hadn’t remembered that it was on my phone, I haven’t used it a lot. I guess it was time.

Opening a new document, it didn’t take me long to realize that things were different.

I am writing this post on my phone and know the technological shortcuts to make this easier. Hanx Writer doesn’t have these.

When ending a sentence, I have to find the period key and strike it. In most apps, I need only to double tap the space bar and the appropriate punctuation appears.

The same goes for spell check and capitalization. My thoughts and writing had to slow down, and this blog post was born from that experience. I still managed to get my 500 words in; however I also learned that I am dependent on technology.

I encourage you to try the Hanx Writer, even just to get a feel for what it was like to write on a manual typewriter. Taking breaks is also helpful from whatever you are currently facing. Life moves fast and slowing down is so beneficial. We can miss the best things if we go too fast.