Posts Tagged 'Flylady'

Tentatively Back in the Saddle

As the title of this post suggests, I’ve tentatively returned to the saddle of actually attending to my Work In Progress, hereafter, as much as I can remember, to be referred to as my WIP.  (That’s the official, professional writer designation…)  Anyway, for a whopping TWO consecutive days now, I’ve actually gone into my office and done something somewhat related to writing.

When I found myself repeatedly avoiding the work, bored by the very thought of it, unable to figure out why it bored me, I decided to be very nice to myself, gently insisting at first that all I need do was come into the room for a period of time. I’ve been in here working on decluttering, taking stuff out of the closet, getting rid of some of it to make room for stuff from other rooms and the stuff on the bed in the office … and berating myself for not attending to the writing.

So I turned it around. Using the essential Flylady timer, I decided I would do writing things in the 15 minute blocks Flylady likes to call baby steps. I aim for coming into the office around 9 or 10 in the morning, but if that doesn’t happen, afternoons will work too. Then I decided on five things I would do while I’m in here.

In keeping with the spirit of The Artist’s Way, which you may recall I was working on last winter, first up would be 15 minutes of writing in my writing log or doing morning pages, whatever I wanted to do/call it.

Next, 15 minutes of decluttering the office until it’s done. After all… I was doing it anyway, it was in the office and writing related since the clutter and mounds of stuff have been very distracting mentally .

Task 3 is 15 minutes of reading about writing. I have a number of writing books on my shelves I haven’t read, and others I have and could easily reread to my advantage and it was to one of these I thought I’d turn. Instead, I felt led to pick out my own journal kept from May 2000 through January of 2002, chronicling my journey through the beginnings of Enclave (then referred to as Black Box) and my current WIP (ha ha! I remembered the acronym!).  One of the first things I came upon in reading my own journal from over ten years ago– at least two years before any of my books had sold — was this:

“Well, I’m officially at work on Black Box now, after several days of easing into it. I have some pages of log on the computer, beginning (over a year ago) the day I first developed the characters — very sketchy, but names and some form at least. My complaint then was that it does not seem Meaningful like Arena and (The Light of) Eidon, just a ditzy little thriller…

“The next entry was (a day later) — I checked out books. After that, the next one is this month… So here we go… I feel blank and at a loss, but hey that’s old hat. That’s almost the way I’m supposed to feel…”

Several paragraphs later…

“I’ve made some progress but… This is interesting. I am bored. I’m trying to get going on Black Box and I’m not excited or inspired at all. Is it me? Is it the spark of life that’s missing? Is it that I’m pretty sure Arena’s not going to be bought this month and thus Eidon is a complete waste? It’s a good book, but it’s not going anywhere (publishing-wise). The only one with hope of going somewhere is Black Box and I don’t care about it. Is that a problem?”

Well, seeing as this is exactly how I’ve been feeling about  The Other Side of the Sky, minus the angst about whether it’s going to sell or not, since it already has, that was quite encouraging. And this even more so:

“I’m feeling restless, like I’m wasting my time, but I think all this is part of my process and is okay.  Understanding what I’m doing and why, will help me look in the right direction when it comes to my ruminations. Last night I spent some time listening to Lorie Line and trying to get hold of who Cameron is and why I should admire him…I also went through the oldest of my journals I could find — May of ’93 –wherein I was already to chapter 10 of rough draft on Arena and feeling lost, frustrated, etc. I was basically feeling my way along. Nothing but the broadest of outlines (at the time)…”

This is all SO familiar. You’d think I’d be used to it by now, but I never seem to be.  And yet… and yet, as I mentioned in the pages I’ve just been quoting from, it’s clear that God’s intention for me is that I do the work as unto Him, with the proper power system (filled with the Holy Spirit) and motivation (to bring glory to Him; to obey Him in using this gift He’s given me) and leave the results to Him.

It’s just so darned uncomfortable. It feels so much like I’m doing nothing but wandering around. It feels very incompetent.

Nevertheless…

“By means of faith, Abraham, when he was called, obeyed by going out to a place which he was to receive for an inheritance; and he went out, NOT KNOWING WHERE HE WAS GOING.” ~ Heb 11:8

Decluttering the Walls

In my post before Quigley got sick, I mentioned that I had been decluttering my house and had even gotten a bit obsessive about it. I’m not sure that is true exactly, but I did spend a lot of time on it, maybe not because I was obsessed so much as because my house was going to be a gigantic mess until I got it done.

Before we had the liquidator come out and take everything out of my mother’s house, my sister and I went through the last of her things including her stacks of unframed watercolors… My sister had an especially hard time not taking all of them, but all of them would not fit in her car, so she had to decide. She took maybe a quarter of them home. I managed to restrain myself and ended up taking only four of them, one of which I hung immediately.

It’s a half sheet painting. To hang it, I had to take down the nearly-whole sheet painting already hanging in the desired spot and do something with it. It was a painting that had won Honorable Mention in a national show (The Western Federation of  Watercolor Societies Annual Show) so it was a little weird… you have to be weird — or really, really good — to get into those kinds of shows. So while on the one hand, this was my award-winning painting (they even gave me money!) and I wanted to have it up, on the other… I didn’t really enjoy looking at it. And it absolutely didn’t go with my mother’s painting.

So I took it down, moved the other painting  that was on the same wall and put up my mother’s. The larger painting I stuck in my office until I could figure out what to do with it. Then something went through on the Flylady email digest I get about looking at your walls and seeing the clutter there. Do you have too many paintings and decorations? Too much stuff on the walls has the same effect as too much stuff everywhere — it provides too much stimulation and generates tension. Reducing the visual clutter tends to produce peace.

I know that to be especially true for me. And my walls definitely were cluttered because back when I was doing watercolor, trying to sell my paintings and entering shows I had to have framed paintings. The framed paintings had to be stored and I had no room except for my walls. So every room had multiple paintings to the point it looked a bit like an art gallery. Too much stuff.

Having  removed the almost-full sheet painting and replaced it with my mother’s, I reduced by half the number of items sitting on the top of the piano beneath the paintings, took two more paintings off the same wall (there had been four to start with), and then sat down to evaluate the results. Yes!

I began to get ideas for all the walls…

Of course once taken down, I had to deal with the paintings: Unframe them, disassemble and wrap up the frames, deal with the glass or plexiglass they’d been glazed with… all this in a room that was already mounded with stacks of Mother’s dishes waiting for my son and daughter-in-law to claim them, several large boxes of documents waiting to be shredded or discarded. Boxes of Christmas ornaments I’d decided to take from my mother’s collection and a bunch of other stuff. It was a formidable mess.

I looked through my portfolio of paintings and found some I’d done more recently than the framed paintings already hanging in the dining room and decided to change them out… In fact all the paintings on my walls needed to be unframed, cleaned and put back at the very least. But that all was a big project that had to be completed swiftly so I could get all the frames and glass and so forth out of the house before it broke or I ran into it or …

I think I may have spent a couple of weeks on that. And tha work was indeed semi-obsessive. I’d get an idea, then carry it out, to see if it’d work. Then I’d be tired. Maybe it wouldn’t work, and then I’d be really tired… But falling asleep that night, or waking up in the morning or maybe just while I ate breakfast, I’d suddenly get a new idea for what to do and off I’d go again.

Anyway, it’s done now. Largely. I may put one painting back. It’s still waiting for me to decide. I want to get a new corner lamp for the living room before I do.

So. That’s one of the things that has kept me away from blogging  — sometimes quite literally, since with all the stuff in my office I couldn’t use my computer.

Here’s a picture of me and my award-winning painting at the Western Fed Show back in 1999. My painting is the one to my left and was called Driving Thru Utah, based on a page in my sketchbook that I’d made while, er, driving through Utah. I really wish, however, that I’d painted the one behind me, but oh well!

If At First You Don’t Succeed…

…try, try again.

So, once again I will make an attempt to take up blogging again. I don’t know why I haven’t been, exactly.

Maybe because it’s been hot and humid, and I/we have to walk Quigley at night during the times I used to write my blogs. By the time we get back, it’s too late, I’m too tired, and it’s time to go to bed.

Or maybe because I’ve been doing the Flylady stuff more assiduously than before. I’ve been working on the morning and bedtime routines and sticking to them fairly well. I’m not sure if it’s because I’ve been doing it on a lesser scale than previously, or the fact that given the state I’m in, having a list of regular tasks to pursue is just what I need. They’re things that need to be done, and I don’t have to think too much.

Plus I tend to get sidetracked in the midst of them by unexpected developments, and they end up taking longer than I expected.

Or maybe it’s because I’ve just been feeling weird lately. Grieving? It doesn’t really feel like grief, though as I understand it, grief can take very strange forms.

Burnout? Possibly. Maybe even probably. I’m not sure I like the term “burnout”. Exhaustion — physical and mental — may be more accurate. Certainly once my mother’s house sold and all the immediate, deadline-type things were completed I spent a week or two doing a lot of sitting around staring out windows.  I even took a few naps.

I didn’t fuss at myself for doing it, either, because I knew that I was exhausted. And I have recovered a bit. I am doing things, after all. And don’t feel like everything is just way too hard to tackle, as I did there at the beginning.

Except for creative things. My novel under contract. My blog. Even card-making has been difficult. I made a birthday card for my sister last week and could only do tiny bits of work on it before everything went blank and it all seemed too hard. When she told me later that she’s felt the same way (she works in a rubber stamp store) I began to think it might be something other than… laziness or failure to be disciplined. Especially since I’m experiencing exactly the same thing relating to The Other Side of the Sky. I can only think about it for a teensy bit of time and then no more.

Regarding Sky, I have determined, in the small amounts of time I’ve been able to make myself get back to it, that the reason the first chapter (which is actually the second chapter, since I’m starting with a Prologue) has been so terribly hard to read, so… boring… is because it is. One of my writing books talks about how the writer often needs to use a bunch of words to tell herself the story and I suppose that is what I was doing. In any case, analysis has shown me the fact that it actually has structural problems. One of the parameters for scene construction is that you must start out with your character having a goal, which is then obstructed by some kind of problem and then conflict as the character attempts to overcome the problem and achieve her goal. Chapter One has lots of conflict and bustle and problems, but not really anything related to the viewpoint character. She has no goal. Stuff just happens and she has to deal with it. Which is why I find it boring. So I have to come up with some kind of goal for her.

And so far, I haven’t.

I have however, done a lot of decluttering around the house. In fact, I’ve been almost obsessive about it. But maybe I should save that subject for tomorrow’s post…  (Yeah, I know, I’ve said that before. Hopefully I WILL be back for tomorrow’s post. In fact… maybe I’ll go write it now…)


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