What’s Up Wednesday

 

It’s Wednesday again, and the end of the first week of Ready. Set. Write!

WHAT I’M READING

Barely started The Lucy Variations, by Sara Zarr. This is mostly because I took a small detour and read Mind Games, by Kiersten White…and I didn’t regret it a bit. Loved it! This week’s schedule didn’t give me a chance to review them, but I’m working on it.

WHAT I’M WRITING

My goal last week was to write the first chapter of my WIP, a total rewrite of a five-year-old project. I didn’t finish the first chapter, but after experimenting with several different beginnings, I’ve finally found where I want to start. Not a first-chapter-completion, but  the writing is coming well simply because I’ve found a point to begin with.

This week’s goals are different, though. I thought that I had enough memory of the old project to be able to simply take the barest skeleton–main characters, basic geographical world, and five or six tentpole plot points–and start all over. But despite my success in finding my beginning, I’m feeling very behind on my worldbuilding. Yeah, way to do things backwards…but this week I want to write character sketches, and do a little bit more research on my world. It’s a fantasy in the vein of The Blue Sword, and I write best when I have specific images and descriptions in mind, regardless of whether those make it into my writing. I need to rebuild some of the visual, cultural, and moral aspects of my characters and countries. So the goal(s)?

1. Finish writing Chapter 1

2. Write a character sketch for each of the main characters

3. Pull out the old country maps I created and answer five basic questions about each of the three countries involved

WHAT INSPIRES ME RIGHT NOW

Friendship. And God’s faithfulness. I drove to see my best friend over the weekend, a chance for us to spend time together after only brief meetings in the past six months. Five of the eight hours driving were through severe thunderstorms and hail (hello, hail damage on my car. Great to see you again…), eventually adding an hour and a half to my original travel time, and nearly killing myself on a lonely gravel road in the middle of nowhere at 1 AM when sleepiness and hilly roads took over. Not kidding: somewhere in rural Kansas there are impressive swerve marks, the alternative to flipping my car as it went airborn on gravel at 60 mph. Sometimes you have moments where the only explanation is the hand of God, and that was one of them. I was able to enjoy one of the most refreshing weekends I have had this year. On Sunday we sat at her kitchen table and talked. Just talked. For five hours.  This was after four hours doing the same thing the night before, and countless hours together with her and her family during the rest of the day(s). Some people wear you out. I have been blessed with a friend that fills me up.

WHAT ELSE I’VE BEEN UP TO

Last preparations for my sister’s grad party. It’s this Saturday, which means yet another weekend away from home. But I’ll get to see hundreds of people from my hometown whom I haven’t seen in years.

Swamped at work. I love my job, truly, and while I’m enjoying the added responsibilities, there’s a lot to be nervous about. I’m struggling to find the balance between having delegated authority over people and respecting the innate authority they have that comes when they have 20+ years on me.

Settling into summer. Finally running consistently again, playing volleyball, and getting into the full swing of summer. Sunsets are still my favorite, and while I have to walk half a mile to get where I can see them, it is totally worth it!

Check out Jaime’s blog for more links on this bloghop! 

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What’s Up Wednesday

And welcome back to What’s Up Wednesday, the weekly blog hop hosted by Jaime Morrow and Erin L. Funk. This week also kicks off the beginning of Ready. Set. Write!, included under the “What I’m Writing” section.

What I’m Reading

I just finished The Rules For Disappearingby Ashley Elston, and next on my list is The Lucy Variations, by Sarah Zarr.  I can probably count the number of YA books that I’ve read that would be classified as “contemporary”, so I’m interested to see if I dislike them as much as I used to. Okay, so maybe dislike is too strong…forget, maybe? Contemporary tends to be a *shrug* genre for me, without many books that get filed away for a re-read. And while it’s also the opposite genre of my WIP right now, I’m sort of in the mood for it. Plus, they’re library books. So I have to get through them before they’re due. (Yay for reading motivation!)

What I’m Writing

Writing goals! Yes! My WIP (which is thoroughly untitled and will be until something drastic happens) is actually a total rewrite of an old project from 5 years ago. I’m starting out simple this week: Get the first chapter done.  This is way easier said than done, as my original opening involved a prologue and several flashbacks. I have to find out where the story actually needs to start. For the record, I’ve written three different openers already. Phooey.

What Inspires Me Right Now

I didn’t list this book above, but I picked up a copy of Bird By Bird, by Anne Lamott, this weekend. I’m only a few chapters in, but I’m really enjoying her writing style, and what she shares is funny and accurate. Reading it feels like taking a walk as a writer and clearing my head of a lot of things. Or listening to a friend and nodding and saying “you, too!”, like we’ve both uncovered the same secret and it’s been put into words for the first time.

What Else I’ve Been Up To

I’m driving out to visit my best friend this weekend, which is part of the reason I started out so simply with my writing goals. Time is going to be in short supply! I’m also planning a surprise grad party for my sister in our hometown, and I’ve got prep work starting on a debate workshop I run every August with some fellow debate club alumni. This is our sixth year organizing it, and I find myself spending more time planning sessions and writing about advanced debate theory than I spend doing homework doing the school year. Um, what is summer break, exactly?

Check out Jaime’s blog for links to others on this blog hop, and feel free to join in!  What’s up in your life?

I guess I’m too old to be a prodigy?

Or too young? I haven’t decided yet. It depends on whether my life’s goal was to be a piano virtuoso by the age of 5, or a marathon runner at 101. Either way, I’ve missed the prodigy category.

I’ve always enjoyed getting older. I hated any and all of the labels associated with young people. I hated not being able to reach some new pinnacle simply because I was too young or too short or too little or too inexperienced. I learned early on to forge my mom’s signature for all those permission slips that denied me a whole new world. [Okay, so technically I did it with her permission. Sort of? She would okay such and such, but forget to sign on the dotted line. So it was done with her blessing.]

But now? There are so many incredible stories about people who did things they shouldn’t be doing at whatever age they are. Who raps like Nicki Minaj? Not me, but apparently this eight-year-old can pull it off with the cutest British accent since these kiddos. I can barely manage the words to Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star. I blame Lewis Carroll.

I’m pretty sure half of my hobbies were begun in an attempt to be as good as whoever amazing I saw on YouTube. Who doesn’t want to be the next Greyson Chance, Susan Boyle, or (can’t believe I’m saying this) Justin Bieber? American Idol ended up being one big parade of people who were better at doing what I wanted to do. Even in the writing community, there can be the envy of someone publishing or making a best-seller list before turning 25. I can safely admit that, due to my own insecurities, writing has never been one of those only-doing-it-because-I-want-the-prize sort of goals. (It has also been a hobby that has been deeply hoarded to myself. It’s one thing to try to wrestle out a manageable version of some dead guy’s piano composition to the pleasure of my teacher and a room full of unknown students. It is completely different to try to share written portions of my heart with those who may critique it.)

But it’s weird now, to get older, and see the contests only available to those in high school or college or what else. I feel like I’ve never quite arrived at the age bracket where I’ll actually get the golden ticket, you know? Why didn’t an adult win a trip to the Chocolate Factory?

I’m pretty sure this entire thing stems from our innate selfishness. And yes I’m saying “we”, partly because I don’t want to be in this boat alone, and partly because you can’t deny this fact either: we always want what we can’t have.  And when we can’t have it: *poof* goes the self-assured person.

If I was writing simply for the sake of being a prodigy who was published before I was fifteen, I would be facing a lonely road devoid of fulfillment. Just because I missed a deadline. Time doesn’t stop just because we want it to. Even in our pursuit of whatever goal we have, someone beats us to it. What’s the deal with having a record if someone shatters it before you get your book deal out?

The point is that there is always someone to beat. Some record to catch, some timeline to meet,  some smiling Ronald McDonald saying that you must be this high to dive into Playland. We will never find satisfaction in trying to meet somebody else’s goal. We’ll be Proctruses, except we’ll be forcing ourselves to fit the wrong-sized frame. Quit trying to be someone else’s definition of a prodigy.  If you spend your life chasing somebody else’s dream you’re going to end up unhappy, too old to be a prodigy. You’ll be left with a handful of YouTube videos showing off your Justin Bieber hair, while your real dreams crumble on the shelf because they weren’t good enough for somebody else. You’re always going to be disappointed.

Please don’t think that I’m eschewing competitiveness or shoot-for-the-moon goals, because I’m not. But don’t try to measure up to someone else’s definition of success. It doesn’t matter if you’re 15 or 56. You have the ability to define yourself. Why on earth would you want to fit somebody else’s mold? Answer the question for yourself: what does success mean to you? Example: some people consider being a stay-at-home parent to be the ultimate job, while others will only be happy if they make it into this list.   If your goal is to get published before you are 25, great! Just don’t lose your love for writing in pursuit of making a deadline. Define yourself. And toss out the dictionary of public opinion while you’re at it.

And hey, after all is said and done, technically you can still be a prodigy. You may not be an extraordinarily talented young person, but at least you can be monstrous or abnormal.

Road Trip Wednesday #163

Check out YA Highway for an explanation of their Road Trip Wednesdays.

What are your goals for the new year—for reading, writing, or other?

I’ve never been that amazing as setting and keeping goals. My goals tend to be impossibly lofty or underwhelmingly attainable. So this year we’re going to try for the happy medium that lands somewhere in between.

That means that my reading list has been pared down to less than two books a month. This is mostly due to the fact I’m going to be slammed during this school year, plus I want to leave time to read the new YA releases that come out.  Unfortunately, this reading list makes it seem like I’m rather illiterate, but I’m not, I promise. I’d like to think that I have some sort of credibility for not only reading Les Miserables (unabridged!), but actually wanting to read it.  My biggest frustration has been my inability to finish projects, books, WIPs, etc.  So at the end of every month, I’m going to recheck this list and see where I’m at.  Splitting it into manageable, measurable chunks helps me pretend like I’ll be able to juggle 40 hours at the job plus 10 school credits plus whatever wild and unimaginable projects and stories I dream up. I’m taking this last week of vacation to catch up on my letter writing and mod podge a few canvases. Oh, and finish The Great Gatsby.

READING

Fiction to read or finish (starred):

  • The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald*
  • North & South by Elizabeth Gaskell*
  • Watership Down by Richard Adams
  • To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee
  • The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexander Dumas
  • The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
  • Moby Dick by Herman Melville*
  • Persuasion by Jane Austen*
  • Dune by Frank Herbert

Fiction to reread:

  • Till We Have Faces by C.S. Lewis
  • LOTR + The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien
  • Animal Farm by George Orwell

Non-fiction to read or finish (starred):

  • The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson*
  • Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand
  • Life Together by Dietrich Bonhoeffer*
  • Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis*
  • A Severe Mercy by Sheldon Vanauken*

WRITING

Revision: Split A’s first draft into two books. Then tear it apart and cut out those three characters you don’t need. This story broke your heart to write. Now you go break it.

Writing: Take that NaNo mishmash and finish it. Then strip it to studs and rebuild. There’s a story in there somewhere.

Writing: String together the fifty parts of J & B’s story. You don’t need software or corkboard or a wall of excerpts and photos to do it. You know exactly what you need to do to turn it into the storyline that you’ve been dreaming about for the past year.

OTHER

Budget. You have one. Stick to it.

Friends: Write to E every week. Write to the Ws, Fs, and Bs every month. Write to H twice a month.

Family: Get together for game night once a week.

Exercise: Buy a gym membership so you can start running again.  Twice a week for the first four months.

Hobbies: Make a marionette.

And that’s it, folks! What are your goals for 2013?