Friday, October 29, 2010

Focus Weekends

Last weekend I spent two and a half days at a bed and breakfast with fifteen other writers. We all brought our laptops and lots of food, and spent the weekend doing what is sometimes difficult in our hectic lives – writing. Most of us got a lot done. I love weekends like that. Scrapbooking weekends are also great fun – you spend the time with other people who are working on the same type of thing, you share stories about your lives, you share ideas, and sometimes supplies, and you make progress on your projects.

It seems that weekends centered on a single endeavor seem to make visible results. So I thought maybe I should set up all my weekends that way. Even if I’m at home, I can declare it to be the time for one of my interests. Here's a possible schedule:

Weekend #1: Writing. I do nothing but write, eat and sleep. Whenever I sit down at my laptop I need to add at least one page to one of my manuscripts. Since my laptop is open all the time, the word count should increase greatly.

Weekend #2: Scrapbooking. I can set up my 6 foot folding table in an extra room and put out my scrapbooking projects on it. And whenever I get up from working on my computer, I can sit down and work on my scrapbooks.

Weekend #3: Sewing. On the same 6 foot table, I set up my sewing machine and/or serger. I use the kitchen table to cut fabric, and then I sew, sew, sew. The grandbaby will be here before I know it, and he/she will need clothes, bibs, blankets, etc. Gotta get going on all those.

Weekend #4: Cleaning. This is the one I hate the most, so I'm saving it for last. The 6 foot table gets folded up, the laptop is closed except for doing necessary school work and I get busy organizing some area of the house. My kids have threatened to put me on "Hoarding: Buried Alive" if I don't get things put away, given away, or used up. I'd rather use it up, so I need to get a lot done on Weekend #3 in order to make progress during Weekend #4.

I think maybe I'll give this a try starting next month. That gives me the week to get things set up. I can't be too rigid on this, of course, because family obligations come first. But maybe if I limit my focus on weekends, I can get some more progress done on things.

Wish me luck.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Time to Get to Work!

Enough is enough.

I have been slogging away at this manuscript for over five years, and it is still not finished. So I now have a new writing goal. I will finish this novel by Christmas. I will write the words “the end” and move on to another project. I’ve got several choices, thanks to my writing group. And I will finish a second project by March 31. I will finish a third project by June 30.

In July I will go to New York City to attend the National Convention of the Romance Writers of America, where I will suck in my pride and pitch these novels to agents and editors. And hopefully I will get somewhere. I need to turn this “hobby” into a bigger, more vital part of my life. If I want to be a writer, I have to write. And I have to write things that people will read.

I will keep my daily musings in my 750 Words a Day rantings, and I will post my innermost thoughts about the creative process here on my blog, but I need to get my books done so I can find out if my stories are any good. Maybe I’ll be disappointed and won’t get anywhere, but I have to try.

And if nothing else, I’ll get a chance to visit the Big Apple.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Family Time

I'm so excited for tonight. Both of my girls are going to scrapbook with me! A neighbor who has her basement set up just for scrapbooking is letting us come over and use her tables and will have her supplies ready for us to purchase, and her supplies there to use. The three of us have all had great adventures this year - Mandy and I have pictures of our trip to Japan, and Robyn has some from her trip to the west coast, touring national parks. We want to preserve them. And so we will spend time arranging these photos in albums to keep them safe and so that we can pull them out and remember these times. We can share them with others.

Like every mom, I cherished the time when they were small and looked to me for all their needs. As they got older, they needed me less and less, and although life got a little bit easier, it was hard to let go. When the children become adults, they go off and lead their own lives, and I was a little bit heartbroken. They're no longer my little girls. I can't dress them in pretty, frilly dresses. I can't wipe their pudgy cheeks when they get into their dinners and get half of it on themselves. And I can't be there to hold them every time they get an "owie".

But they're still my girls. I am so thankful that they both still want to do things with me. Last weekend the three of us explored Art Prize in downtown Grand Rapids. And this weekend we'll work on our pictures together. Later this weekend, they plan to go with their father to visit their grandmother in her new digs at the nursing home. They're good kids, and we look forward to watching them become amazing adults.

We must have done something right. Hallelujah.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Amy's Adventure

Our eldest daughter has been in Haiti this week. She's been assisting a medical team in Port-Au-Prince, which was devastated not only by the earthquakes, but a tornado this fall. She left last week Friday, and tonight her husband and children will meet her at the airport to welcome her back.

Before she went, she directed us to a blog started by Mallery Thurlow, the founder of the Haiti Foundation Against Poverty. You can check it out here. It's very informative. This woman is doing a lot to help the people there. Mallery also has a website, (click here) where monetary donations can be arranged.

Thanks to technology (she texted her husband daily, and her husband posted her updates on facebook), we're able to get regular updates about the things she is encountering on her trip. Some of her stories are so sad - mothers handing their babies to her and begging her to take them to America for a better life, young moms dying in childbirth, school children eager for a friendly, nurturing hand. It's so hard to believe that things like this are happening so close to home.

We've been so afraid for her. She’s been there in a place where there is so much need, and desperate people sometimes do desperate things. She was only six when I married her dad, and sometimes I have difficulty replacing the pigtailed urchin with the amazing woman she is now. But she needed to do this, and I could only pray for her safety and listen for the reports, and rejoice when she comes home.

And I am so thankful for people like her, who are do-ers, rather than worry-ers.

Saturday, October 2, 2010


I lead a pretty busy life, and when I'm home I usually have a "to do" list going. A lot of my "to do''s involve sitting down in front of a computer screen. Since I don't have an office, this takes place in my family room, either sititng in my recliner with my lap desk, or at the dining room table. This works well when the other person in my house is asleep for the night, but when he's awake the television is on (or the radio, and he loves talk radio).

So sometimes I'll sit here with the computer in front of me, and the words don't come. It's not that I want to watch or listen to what's on, but it's there, and sometimes it's interesting. Of course, I tend to think a lot of things are interesting. So the words don't get written. Or sometimes things get written and they don't make sense. For example, right now the news is on. My fingers are actually moving across the keyboard, but I can see that a lot of words are misspelled.

In the past I've come up with various strategies for dealing with these problems.

Solution #1: Leave the room. I have a nice three season porch, and when it's light enough to write out there, and it's warm enough (or cool enough) to stand it out there, I can go out and work there. The down side is hubby gets frustrated. He apparently gets lonely because I'm gone so much and he pouts. He offers to turn off the television (grumpily, which lays the guilt trip on me).

Solution #2: Wear earphones. This works especially when the Dear Husband is watching a show I don't particularly like, such as one of those mindless sitcoms he's so fond of. Unfortunately, I can still hear a little bit, and when he's watching something minutely interesting, it doesn't help, unless I turn on the itunes loud enough to overpower it.

Solution #3: Wait to write until after hubby goes to bed. That's at around 6:30 or 7:00 pm, so it's not too bad. Unfortunately, I've been working the 4 AM shift, so I need to go to bed not long after that. By 6:30 or 7 pm my brain is starting to shut down.

Solution #4: Get everything else done in the hopes that someday things will change. I suppose that's what I usually do. Fortunately, I belong to a great writing group. We have two weekends a year set aside for writing. We go away for the weekend. Close enough that it's not too far a drive, but far enough that we can't run home to take care of minor problems. It's great. We all bring our laptops and just write. Those of us who don't particularly want to socialize bring earphones. I'm one of them. The problem? This only happens twice a year. It's not going to happen for another four weeks. I can't write only two times a year! So I've got to keep remembering to use these solutions (maybe on a rotating basis?) so that I can get some writing done! I can do it! I've got a novel to write!