Moving, Writing

Oh, Let the Moving Begin!

It’s been an uproarious week for me. The new year has been a roller coaster whirl of activity. Our house has been shown 4 times since January 2. That’s a lot of cleaning up and cleaning out, folks. And it put a strain on writing time, let me tell you. But it seems it was worth it; right now, we are mere hours away from being in contract. Woo-hoo! Feet doing the happy-dance.

This means we now get to the part about ‘looking for a place to live.’ Oh. Yeah. In the snow and cold that have finally settled in Ohio. Ugh. Talk about a strain on writing time–just defrosting my fingers will take most of my free time, I think. Not that I’m complaining! ‘Sold’ is a good word, really.

Snow is finally covering the ground, and is falling gently right now. Very pretty, very calming. And it reminds me of everything I’ll miss when I leave this house, this yard. But change is in my future, so no use fighting it. ‘Different’ might not always be better, but ‘Better’ is always something different, as the saying goes. I just wonder what window I’ll be looking out of next year at this time as I struggle for the right word.

In the midst of all this tumult, I found myself caught up in a writing prompt from Chuck Wendig’s TerribleMinds blog. The guidelines were simple: put your iPod on ‘shuffle’ and play. Your short-story title is the name of the first song that comes up, and there’s a 500-word limit. Well, I didn’t fall under 500 words (I went to 974, and at double the length, I didn’t feel right posting it), but I’m thinking this tale from the musical wavelengths has some merit. It’s up at my writing group right now, garnering some critical eyes and advice. Depending on the outcome, I may post it here later, after it makes some rejection-rounds. (No, this isn’t me being totally pessimistic. It’s me outwitting the jealousies of the fates by not hoping too highly.)

So, I’ll try posting to this blog as often as is feasible, but don’t freak out if you don’t see my weekly posting for the next 6-8 weeks or so, or if the posts are short and sweet. Getting my writing done is my first priority. Blogging about it comes later.

In the meantime, happy winter to everyone now experiencing snow! And send some good thoughts my way (regarding moving, selling, weather, etc.) if you can. I can surely use it!

Magic of the Everyday, Nature

Creativity and Walking the Dog

Back in November, I read a blog post on Nancy Kress’s blog about rewriting. She listed her steps in doing a requested rewrite to a short story, and I laughed aloud at her Step Three: walk the dog and ponder the story and the issue.

I laughed because so often, that’s what I’m doing as I walk my dog. When I’m alone, just my dog and me, I think on whatever story isn’t coming, or maybe on one that’s still percolating, still trying to find form, to take shape in my mind. Or, like Ms. Kress, I think about what I’ve done wrong, and how to fix it.

I laughed then, and now I can’t get that idea out of my mind. I’ve been wrangling some ideas lately, or being wrangled by them, more like it, and wondering what’s changed. Well, I can tell you: I’ve been walking with other people most of the time. Not that this is a bad thing. Far from it! I love the company of my dog-walking companions, as my dog loves the company of their dogs. But my mind longs for that time when it wanders freely while my body is engaged in mindless, safe activity. Exercise and Creativity, the ultimate pairing.

The ravine where we walk is beautiful. I find a mental ease in the ever-changing familiarity, in the seasonal show. Mother Nature surrounds me with water, earth, plant, air and stone. (No fire, fortunately.) My writing tends toward the earthy, so this is ideal for me. “Write what you know” is the oft-heard commandment. I know this bit of the stone, this bend of the creek, this stump trying to trip me once more. Nature seems to come out in my writing, regardless of where I place the stories, so I’m not fighting it. It’s becoming part of my ‘voice.’

Reflecting on this brought back yet another author’s comments. Two years ago, when World Fantasy Con was in Columbus, I was thrilled to sit in the front row during a panel containing L.E. Modesitt, Jr. As we waited for the final panelists to arrive and attendees to filter in from the halls, those already seated chatted a wee bit. OK, so I was terribly nervous, and probably I looked like a ninny sitting there (it was my first writing con ever). But Mr. Modesitt was kind and wonderful, and spoke a bit about walking his dogs in the snow, and how the exercise was good for his body and his mind. I felt an immediate connection,  dog-walker that I am, and a few forgettable moments passed for Mr. Modesitt. But that little seed was planted. Now, it’s germinating (Yes, in December! Must be a frost-plant.) into the curious thoughts here, on creativity and walking the dog.

So you’ll probably be seeing me walking with my dog in the woods alone once in awhile. Don’t be afraid to say hello. And don’t be scared by the spaced-out look on my face. It’s just my mind wandering, re-connecting with my creative spark, trying to figure out the next plot point. And wondering ‘What do cat owners do?’


Writing and the Zen of Now

In a recent exchange of Yahoo-group emails, I mentioned my contentment at the spot I’m in with my writing. It struck me that this is very unusual, and the more I’ve thought about it, the stranger it seems — and the more wonderful.

No, I haven’t had a sale to a pro market yet. Or even a semi-pro. But I know those are coming, if I just keep up my end of the deal; if I keep writing and editing and improving my work. So, that’s okay.

It’s better than okay, even — it’s great! It means I don’t have to stress out and worry things other than my daily progress. Things that don’t help, but that niggle away at self-confidence, and that don’t allow restful sleep. “Will my next piece be as good?” “How can I top that?” “When will readers recognize my name?” “Do I want readers to recognize my name? What if they hate me?”

What am I talking about? Everyone who writes longs for that “big break,” that feeling of “now that I’m published here, I’m really a writer.” Don’t they?

Well, yes. And no. I do work and write and hope to be published someday in a well-respected market, maybe garnering some actual money for my efforts. But still, I’m loving the process, the learning and the curve. From here, I can finally see the goal, and it’s great. Glancing over my shoulder I can see how far I’ve already come along that wicked learning curve. And … it’s great here. The view stretches away in both directions, the sun shines and the rain falls so there’s neither flood nor drought.

This is my Zen moment, the sound of one hand clapping.

I struggle onwards, but I’m loving the feeling of being here, now. I hope others can, too.