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I’ve decided to actually start checking items off of my bucket list. My Pinterest page has a long list of things I would like to do, some of them quite complex. For example Build a tiny house and live in it for a full turning of the seasons is going to take a little more work, time, and money than Get a tattoo.

At the top of my list is of course Complete a submission worthy manuscript. However my bucket list is somewhat longer than that.

I’ve begun directing my day with an eye toward activities that will help me complete my goals one small step at a time; which in the case of Walk to Rivendell is literal.

My big push though is the goal Sew myself a wardrobe.

This goal for me has taken on loads of extra meaning in terms of promoting body positivity and self-love. I love that it challenges me creatively but also delves into a lot of other things that I want to explore like personal style, body image, and the politics behind where clothes, and by extension so many of our inexpensive goods, come from.

It has become so complex with so many interesting facets to explore and research that I decided to turn it into a blog. Partly because I already want to pictorially document the experience but also because I’ve been so inspired by many of the fat fashion bloggers that have helped me look at clothes and bodies with different eyes.

Pinterest is how it started. It is frustrating to be a size 24 and have to guess what plus size clothes will look like on your body because plus size models are often a size 14. So I sought out images of actual plus size people. Google was not helpful but Pinterest introduced me to a new world of plus size fashion and body positivity blogs. I’ve been reading for so long that now I’m kind of itching to get in on the fun.

I’m trying to get a three or four week cushion written before I begin to publish and I’m currently about half done. I’m a little intimidated by how big this project seems to be growing and I’m getting a bit paralyzed by it. It’s easy to get into a rut and let it all pass by unfinished. That’s why I decided it was time to take concrete steps to use my time to do the things I actually want to do.

I’ll be posting the Fashion stuff to a separate blog so that this blog stays properly eclectic but I’ll be sure to boast about it here when it’s up and running and include a link for anyone who might be interested in following along.

Now I’m off to do some editing. Wish me luck!

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I still remember the first time I heard the term Writer’s Block. It was on the show Golden Girls, an 80’s sitcom about four mature ladies living as roommates. Blanche Deveraux, a southern belle and very randy senior citizen, had decided to write romance novels. After sitting fruitlessly in front of a typewriter for hours she swept out of her room in her long flowing negligée and declared she had writer’s block. Estelle, the oldest of the bunch, sat on the couch witnessing Blanche floridly describing the difficulty of her situation: the frustration, the waiting, the straining! As Blanche waxes on Estelle slyly compares Blanche’s writers block to constipation.

It was a funny scene.

At the time I thought it must be awful to suffer from writer’s block but I was young and the writing compulsion was only just beginning to surface. I had no conception of what it might actually be like to be a writer. Since then I have gained a little more experience. Certainly I’ve sat in front of a blank page but there was always some avenue to coax a story out of me; some glimmering shard of a first phrase or sentence to build on.

More difficult is when a scene stumps me. Perhaps I don’t know how a character will react or how to make the scene convey what I need it to or maybe I just don’t know what happens next but never do I feel blocked.

If I don’t know what a character will do or say next I can do character exploration exercises or write possible options and revise as necessary. If I’m having trouble making a scene say what it needs to I start by outlining those things so I have a clear picture of what I need and then explore what elements within the scene will meet that need. If I don’t know what happens next I review what happened before and what that will naturally lead to. I may get stuck in a scene but there are always ways to move forward. And if I think that I need some time away from a scene to get it right then I use the time to work on the next scene or another project. And there is always another project.

I might get scene-block or even novel-block but writer’s block? I don’t believe in it.

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Back on June 15th my writers group set goals of what we’d like to accomplish by the end of the year. Now that we’re halfway there I  thought it would be a good time to remind myself what those goals were and check in on my progress.

June 15th Goals for Year End

1. Finish Nano 2010 first draft

Done!  I finished the first draft on June 30th and it felt great! This kind of concrete progress is really good for the old self-esteem.

2. Finish first edit of Nano 2010 first draft in time for Nano 2011

Perhaps I ought to have checked those goals back in early July. Instead of taking a short time away from the big project and returning to edit as planned I’ve started on a whole new project. I don’t have any regrets on this decision; I’ve learned too much from my chosen course of action. What this calls for is a revised set of goals for year-end.

Instead of finishing a first edit of a draft I will work to finish the first draft of the July Novel in time for Nano 2011. That’s about six weeks to write what I estimate will be about 60 to 70K.

This leaves a question hanging. When Nanowrimo begins this year I will possess two first drafts waiting for revision. Will I want to put them both aside to pump out yet another one? I have three novel length story ideas waiting to be written but at some point I need to take the next step.

I have enough to do now that a decision can wait. Come October 31st I trust I’ll know which path is right.

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I’ve set very lofty goals in writers group the last two weeks and so far it has been excellent. Ok, so I didn’t actually meet the first goal and I may not meet this week’s goal but what I have done is write consistently and long. It’s paying off too. The end of my novel is in sight soon I will have a shiny first draft and it will be glorious.

I’ve had this grace period between school and summer job where I’ve been able to just write. My plan is to use what’s left of this little window to finish up the first draft and then put it aside for a little while, though not too long. I’ll spend a week or so fleshing out the next two installments and then go back and start The Great Rewrite.

And it will be great, also long and probably arduous. The draft I have now is not so much a first draft as a long and exceptionally detailed outline in severe need of revision. I will likely rewrite the first 20 – 30K altogether. That’s okay, they were done in two weeks worth of Nanowrimo frenzy and they laid the foundation for what came after.

What is most exciting during this last stretch of writing is that at no time during the writing of this novel have I gotten tired of either the story or the characters. They evolved in wonderful ways that I didn’t always predict.  It’s been so much fun to play in this world and enjoy what it shapes into. Soon I will finish my first draft and then my job will be turning into a real story, one that is good enough to show everyone else the awesome world I’ve played in all along.

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April has been an interesting month. I began it with the best intentions of completing Scriptfrenzy but in the end I didn’t, or won’t by tomorrow night anyway. On three occasions I sat down to begin writing one of my short film scripts and three times I ended up writing a completely unrelated short story. After that I got 4 pages of script completed then began working on my novel again.

Don’t misunderstand me, the scripts will get written. Now is just not the time. My head is in my novel and I can’t really complain about that. I like my novel. I like where it is going and I like how I’m getting there. It feels good to be living full-time with the characters in my head again. So I gladly relinquish a win in my first attempt at Scriptfrenzy and continue on with my labour of love. I know I’ll come back to the scripts but I’ve got a few things to finish up first.

Not to say I don’t have other distractions nipping at my heels. A novel idea and an idea I think would be suited to novella length have been brewing. The novel will have to wait but I think developing the novella is worth a little time. It’s a story based around political intrigue and I think even if the novella never goes anywhere the exercise of trying to write it will be valuable for my current WIP which is loaded with intrigue.

The writing is going well. I’m setting a minimum goal of 5,000 words per week but until I manage to find a job I think I could do significantly better than that. If I am diligent I am confident I can do 25,000 per week, maybe more. At that rate I will finish the novel by the end of May. What a delicious thought.

Time to get started.

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I have two To Do lists at any and all times. The first is a general list. For example:

  • unpack boxes
  • clean the cat litter before the cat stages a coup
  • dishes (for previously stated reasons this pretty much never gets crossed off as I tend to lap loads)
  • sort laundry
  • buy cat food, see above
  • write

That last item never really gets crossed off either, it recycles daily and is really only there to remind me that it is the most important item on any list (except the cats food and litter, she gets cranky).

My second list is dedicated to my creative goals. For example:

  • Edit latest flash fiction
  • Write ‘X’ number of words by ‘date’
  • Outline characters for WIP
  • Do Celtx tutorial in preparation for Scriptfrenzy
  • Learn flash
  • Make 10 second flash cartoon
  • Rough draft art for next webcomic installment (unpublished and on hiatus, like so many projects)

I like lists and I like tracking my progress and crossing things off. I have notebooks dedicated to my lists where items from yesterday can be brought to the next page and you can see the progress (or not) of my industriousness like layers in sedimentary rock. I have such a poor memory that I couldn’t really function without them. They keep me on track.

Sometimes though, I use my lists to procrastinate. I especially use that first list to procrastinate on the second.

Which is crazy right? I look at that second list and there is not one thing listed which fails to get me excited. Just sometimes the steps are a little too large and I get daunted or more often I get everything ready and then my self-doubt kicks in. So I wander off and do something else and if that something lets me cross something else off of a list, any list, then I get to feel like I’ve accomplished something. It’s not the same high I would get from a submission-ready final draft of that flash fiction but it’s easier than facing all that fear and self-doubt.

In my defense I usually come back to the second list and get some work done but I’m certainly less productive artistically than I could be. Than I SHOULD be.

Today I procrastinated by making what I thought would be a time intensive fancy dinner that turned out to be quick easy and delicious. I was done and fed in no time and got a lot of little things crossed off my creative to do list. So to celebrate that quick return to my word processor I’d like to share another author recipe.

 

Vichyssoise (Leek Soup)

This soup is more delicious than you.

Ingredients:

  • 1 leek, chopped
  • 4 medium potatoes, diced
  • butter 2-3 tablespoons as desired
  • 3 cups chicken stock (veggie stock for the vegetarians)
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 cups half and half cream (10%)

Optional Extra Ingredients

  • 2-3 tablespoons bacon bits, homemade or store-bought
  • 1 cup of Mushrooms, thinly sliced, I like a blend of crimini and mini bellas (technically these are all the same mushroom at different ages)
  • Chives, chopped

Instructions
Steps involving bacon and mushrooms may be omitted.

  1. Saute chopped leaks and potatoes in a large saucepan (mine is 12 inches with high sides) for several minutes. Until it is nicely aromatic.
  2. Once the smell of leeks and butter are making your mouth water add the broth, salt and pepper, and optional bacon.
  3. Simmer for 20 minutes.
  4. While simmering broth sauté mushrooms in butter until they develop a nice colour. Do not crowd.
  5. Remove both broth and mushrooms from heat and allow to cool.
  6. Add cream and half of mushrooms to broth and mix.
  7. Puree in blender (fills blender twice)
  8. Serve cold or reheat in pan.
  9. Garnish with chives and mushroom.

Serves 6.

Tips

  1. Don’t forget to reheat the garnish mushroom if serving the soup hot.
  2. Keep in mind if you use bacon bits they might be made with dye to achieve their bright colour. You could see this as a disaster or pretend to be Bridget Jones and serve pink soup!
  3. Omitting the mushrooms and bacon I think this would be a highly adaptable recipe. I intend to try several variations.
  • Add citrus and fruit with the broth (veggie), lemon and cranberries perhaps. Nothing too sweet, it should be light and summary. This could turn out horribly wrong. Either way you’ll probably hear about it.
  • Walnuts and almonds, blended into a paste and then blended into the soup. Definitely served cold. It would be so rich and decadent!
  • Stir in some cooked wild rice to the finished basic recipe to add flavour and texture to the creamy soup.
  • Use 35% cream and blend the soup until it stiffens.  Serve as savory mousse appetizer.  (I really want to try this!)

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I’ve been working on a full update of all of my creative goals but it’s actually a bit daunting to sort it all out. I have so many interests that at times I get bogged down and nothing gets done on any of them. So I’m going to use the goals update to really look at where I want to put my limited personal resources.

In the meantime here’s a shorter update of my most recent accomplishments:

  1. I’ve officially signed up for Scriptfrenzy on the website. I’m looking forward to spending a month just working on dialogue and by extension human interaction.
  2. I wrote and have half edited a flash fiction. The working title is Ape Dreams until I think of something clever. I have a strong belief that flash fictions must have clever titles.
  3. I wrote 5000 words on my Novel!! Woo! The dry spell is over! After two months of opening my novel and looking at it, pecking out a few words and trying to catch that thread I had lost, I’ve finally found my way back into it. Granted I started with a scene that was pretty easy and from the point of view of my favorite character to write at the moment but I’ve got the momentum now to keep going on those harder parts and trickier characters. Such a relief.
  4. I’ve written several synopses for short film scripts I want to write for Scriptfrenzy. Including a longer one that has really caught my attention.

After all the work I’ve put into the Monster-Post-of-My-Many-Goals it’s really good to be able to look at this list and see the things I’ve accomplished rather than all the things I’m not getting done.

The pessimist says the glass is half empty. The optimist says the glass is half full. The scientist says the glass is full, half with water and half with air. I don’t know who coined that last part but I like it. My glass is half full of the things I’ve accomplished and half-full of the things I’m going to do. It’s going to be great!

 

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