Wednesday, November 30, 2011

My Latest Obsession

While I continue to tinker with various writing projects, I must admit it is with only half a heart at present. The largest part of my life right now is dealing with the massive amounts of time and decision-making that must go into finalizing our home reno. We are in the last leg of the race. Not that we are anywhere close to moving in - I'd say another two - three months at least. But now is the time when all the decisions on colours and finishes are made as well as furniture shopping. I tell you, I would have gone mad right about now if it hadn't been for my discovery of this fabulous website:

Oh, my God. I LOVE this site.

You can search by style (traditional, contemporary, eclectic, etc.) and any type of room from kitchen to entranceway. You can specify you want a search done on "mirror over fireplace" or something and literally hundreds if not thousands of pictures in that theme, style, particular search will come up. If you have a specific question on what paint colour or where a piece of furniture was purchased, you can leave a question and a designer will come back and give you the answer. If you're anything like me, you might have a vague idea of the kind of style you might want to have in your space but nothing concrete. With this site, you can create your own ideabooks and start collecting the pictures that will help you to finalize the look you want in your own space. Who knew I would gravitate towards gray walls with white trim? Who knew that I would decide on going with dark kitchen cabinets rather than the more common white? After collecting hundreds of pictures, I kept seeing the same themes/styles emerge. That was so helpful.

It also doesn't hurt when your husband looks at you funny when you say you want a room done a certain way and he scoffs. But when you email him what the room could look like as a finished space (no need to have him sit down with you and flip through home decorating magazines) it makes life so much easier!

Anyway, sorry for this non-writing related post but if you're about to embark on a home reno I have two pieces of advice:
1. Move and buy a house that's already finished.
2. If you still insist on renovating, then go to You'll thank me later.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Have I Lost the Blogger/Twitter Love?

I really had to force myself to write this post today. I'm finding that this feeling is becoming much more prevalent with all of my social networking, including Twitter and Facebook. Well, I never really got into Facebook that much but Twitter and doing my blog posts I enjoyed. Just … not so much anymore.

I could just be feeling social networking exhaustion. I could, after almost 3 years of blogging have nothing more to say. More likely, with how busy my life has been lately, I just don't have the time and energy to create a blog every week. I used to blog three times a week, then I went down to two and now I'm down to once a week. That worked for a while but even that once a week posting seems an effort now. So, if I'm not seeing someone as much as I used to, doesn't that tell me something?

I'm also not finding anything new or fabulous out in the internet world these days. Even Twitter seems to be filled with people I haven't had a chance to get to know and, in my attempts to be a good, polite Twitter follower, I've perhaps followed too many people just because they followed me first. A lot of them seem to be using Twitter as an ongoing advertisement for their books. Which is fine. I just don't want to read about it every time I'm on line. Similarly, I used to love Google and would always have a pile of searches on various topics (mostly writing related) that would keep me happily entertained for hours. But it feels like I'm seeing the same old subjects being talked about by a few different people and nothing new is being discussed. Have I really read it all or am I just burnt out and need to step away from the computer for awhile?

I'm hoping it is the latter. Because I don't want to stop after all this time. But stopping cold turkey just makes it all the harder to step back into it when you do decide to come back. For example, I have (had?) an online friend who was very active for a time on blogger and Twitter and then she just dropped out. For over a year I didn't hear from her and then there was a brief little email to a few of her online friends that said 'Hey, how's everything? Hope to hear from you" but, honestly, I didn't feel the connection anymore because of that separation. That's what I feel will happen to me if I step away completely. But I may have to do that. Keeping up with it all is just way too much sometimes.

Am I the only one feeling this fatigue? If you're feeling it, did it hit you all of a sudden or has it been building slowly and what have you decided to do about it?

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The Devil is in the Details

I'm in the midst of the reno from hell and, for the most part, my husband has had to deal with stuff. Mechanical, plumbing, HVAC, etc. Not very glamorous (to me anyway) but all those little details add up to a working house that I will one day celebrate and not curse because it doesn't have adequate heating, low water pressure etc. Now that we're getting toward the last third of the reno I now have to become immersed in the details. Lighting, paint colour, tile selection, ack! I know if I screw up on those things that no matter how well my husband has taken care of his details, my details will be out there for everyone to see. So, you might ask, what's your point? What does this have to do with anything - especially writing??

So many writers are doing NaNoWriMo (NaNo for short)this month that I keep reading about the deluge of submissions agents will be inundated with in January. I also keep reading that writers should please, for the love of God, please hold off on submitting. Why? Because it's the details that make your submission stand out. You might have got the bones of the book down this month. Maybe even some flesh and blood. But do you have the right nuances of character? Are your secondary characters fleshed out enough? Like a house that needs the right furniture, have you gone through the book and made sure the setting is solid and evocative and does it contribute to the overall mood of the room ... I mean book! So, so many DETAILS. You get my drift?

Those details - and like a house reno there can be hundreds of details/decisions to attend to - are critical if you want that book (or house) to shine. Even if you get sick of going through every scene (room) to make sure it flows with the rest of the scenes, even if you are sick of looking at lighting fixtures ... I mean descriptions! you need to to make sure your scene is as bright or as dark as you want it to be.

So, yes, the devil is in the details but the beauty will show in the book. And, I hope, my house. Good luck you NaNoWriMo's! Come January our books and houses may not be quite ready but they'll be on their way!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

The Book is the Thing

I've been writing for nine years now. Not a great long stretch of time when you think of writers like Stephen King who started writing his stories as a young boy and he's in his 60's now or Nora Roberts who has been writing over 30 some years now(sorry, I'm too tired tonight to Google and find out exactly how long she's been at the game). I'm wondering if it's just me or if this happens to all writers at a certain point, no matter how successful they are:

There comes a point in your writing process where you finally realize that the book is the thing.

Not the agent.
Not the publishing contract.
Not a launch party.
Not pretty covers.
Not how many sales you've made (or haven't made).

Those things are the wrapping that's around the actual present. THE BOOK.

I was wondering why, since I parted ways with my agent earlier this year, I haven't been angsting about what's coming next. I'm not panicking about whether I've got a book to go out on sub right this very second. I'm not freaking out over the ever shrinking book shelf space or the lack of reviewers out there. I'm not stressing over whether I'll find another agent or get another publishing contract. I'm not worried about whether I'm tweeting or facebooking or blogging enough. I have finally, blessedly, come to the realization that all of those frets and worries and stressors and strains do very little to help get the real work of writing done. It always comes down to one thing: THE BOOK.

Don't get me wrong, I'm very conscious of the business side of things and I try and stay on top of what's happening - I'm not writing in a vacuum. But I understand now that I will still write stories without all of that. Maybe they won't get published or it may take a while to get them out there but I think I may have finally become confident enough about my stories and my writing to accept that not all of them will be going out into the world. It doesn't mean I won't try. It doesn't mean that I don't believe in the stories I write. It just means that I am accepting the reality that this is a tough business to break into, a tough business to stay in and a tough business to keep slogging through.

With acceptance comes a very relaxed attitude. But relaxed does not mean indifferent. Not by any means. I care about my stories and I want them to find supporters and homes and readers. But if that doesn't happen I know that it doesn't lessen them in any way. The act of creating something out of nothing is significant. And all writers need to understand that what they do and what they write is to be celebrated.

You wrote a BOOK. Holy cow, people. You wrote a frigging BOOK.

Stop worrying about the other stuff. Work on THE BOOK. And the rest will follow. If it doesn't? You still have THE BOOK.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

What Keeps You Keeping On?

In the last week, I've heard the same thing from two different people: There's no point in looking back. That's not where you want to go anyway.

My husband is more succinct. He just says: I don't look back.

That philosophy, I believe, is the only thing that keeps a person's head from going below the water, from falling into the abyss, from whatever precipice you find yourself teetering on.

Don't look back.

Looking back, whether it is at past successes or failures, does nothing to help your present reality. If you keep dwelling on what has gone wrong (my instinctive go to reaction, unfortunately) it will only cement your negative thinking. Conversely, if you only think about all the wonderful things that have happened in the past, it will either make you crave more and bigger things (which can be good sometimes) or make you dissatisfied with what you have now (it's not as good as it was before!). Either way, you won't be happy.

So what's the answer?

Move forward. Keep your eye on the next day.

Or better yet.

Deal with today. Enjoy today. Make it through today. Make today count.

Because while the past may hold some answers, it can also hold you back.

In the most wise words of one of my favourite Pixar characters, Dorrie, from Finding Nemo: Just keep swimming, swimming, swimming...