Observations from my writing desk, Wednesday 2/12

Location: kitchen table in my apartment, cat on lap.

1. I wanted to start this by saying that I feel great regret for neglecting this blog for a while, but the truth is that I don’t. Sometimes a little time away really clears the mind! A lot has happened since we last sat with one another, oh blogtain my blogtain. 

2. For starters, I spent two slow hours cooking what was supposed to be a quick shrimp pad thai tonight. My first pad thai! Have yet to taste it. However, I can now brag that I de-shelled and de-veined a pound of shrimp. It was gross, and tearing off those feathery little legs made me question why I had ever wanted to eat this crap in the first place, but once the shrimp started cooking up to their beautiful pink I knew it was going to be okay.

2. Made a lot of edits to the short story I submitted to Writer’s Digest (oops) and submitted it to a few other journals. I feel so confident when submitting a piece, but then I feel rip roaringly anxious wondering why none of them have called me yet. Don’t they know who I am??? (Don’t answer that.)

3. The YA book I was working on for the past year has been shelved. It needed a rest, and some direction. I still love the concept and what I’ve written so far, but it started to flounder, so I decided to move on to something else.

4. I picked up a manuscript I last worked on during the summer of 2012 and have been pounding away at the story, and I really love the damn thing. I’d been piecing it together over a few years, slowly forming the characters and getting to know them. Progress halted when I had all these amazing characters suddenly have no real direction or purpose, but thanks to my day job (seriously, this is seriously thanks to my day job) I came up with an idea for how the protagonist can progress! A huge development in the story! I nearly punched my computer when it popped into my head, I was so darn elated. I’m doing lots of research and working to build the best narrative that I can. It’s movig much faster than my last manuscript, and I work on it every single day. I read and write at work for 8 hours, then I come home and get to work on my real job. Hopefully I do a good enough job to get an agent this year!

[This has been an example of a buried lead. You’re welcome.]

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Here’s $25, will you read my story?

I made my first short story submission yesterday–well, my first story submission at all, ever.  It’s a piece I wrote a few years ago, and have made slight, slight edits to it over the years, sharpening it up in places as I learn more about what good writing is (not that I do that, exactly).  I paid Writer’s Digest $25, ignored the fact that I have a credit card payment due in a few days, and clicked “Submit.”

I don’t know much about statistics, but I know my chances of being chosen in the top 25 are slim.  The thing is, I really like my story.  I’m entertained every time I read the thing.  So, even if the (wonderful, intelligent, luminous) people over at WD don’t think my story is quite the right thing, I’m honestly just happy that I finished the story.  It’s done.  I’ve never had a story that was officially, truly, undoubtedly (at least for this week) done.  Says a lot about my writing process, huh?  I have dozens of stories that are works in progress, some more so than others.  I always envisioned my scraps of stories to one day fit together into one magnum opus, stitched together from the vignettes composed over the course of the erratic years of my twenties.  If nothing happens with this submission, I’ll just keep sending the story off, hoping someone else will enjoy it as much as I do.

Instead of jumping back into my novel, which has almost convinced me that I’m stuck in a bottomless pit of something I don’t have the skills to control, I’ll test the waters with another short story.  Something brand new.  Not pulling from that sloppy, but oddly adorable, quilt of past works in progress.

But first, sloppy joe’s for dinner.

Back to work

Oh dear, it’s been a while.  I have a few excuses, which I’ll list here:

1. I got a new job, one of those 9-5, 40 hour a week jobs.  I like it so far, and I’m pretty sure I’m kicking ass, but it has definitely taken a large chomp out of my writing time.  By the time I get home, I need to start working on dinner which takes me a solid two hours because I’m not good with time management and am too stubborn to cook more simple meals.  This doesn’t mean that my cooking always tastes good, however.

2. We adopted a cat!  A beautiful, Siamese, 3-legged cat from Arkansas.  She’s the most affectionate creature ever to be birthed, which is why she holds the spot as Excuse #2: Whenever I sit in my pink writing chair (which Trinity, my cat, has comandeered as her own), Trin jumps into my lap and sprawls out across the keyboard.  I’m not exaggerating when I say she does this every time I sit down with the computer.  It’s adorable, but alas, progress has been slow.

3. Writer’s block.  I never believed it was real, but maybe this is it.  Also, I’m tired of my story.  I’ve been stuck on the first third of it for so long, and now I feel it’s just waving in the wind, moments from being torn off to fly away into the stratosphere, far away from my brain.

4. I’m most productive when huddled in my desk cube at the library, but it gets dark so early now that I’m afraid to walk to the library from my apartment once the sun goes down.  I know, I’m a pansy.  And yes, I could drive, but I’d rather not.  Bad news goes down on bike paths after dark, and my town in particular has been victim to some really horrible tragedies in recent histroy.  I’m a worst-case-scenario type of person, and I don’t want to become a headline.  Unless it’s for the terrific new book that I’ve published.  Or my cat becomes the new youtube sensation.  But only then.

So, I’m back to the library nice and early today thanks to a few sick days I’ve had to take due to a stomach flu.  This virus is a blessing in disguise–first, because it helped to rid me of the half of a pizza I ate Saturday night out of sheer gluttony/pizza glee.  Second, it’s given me time to read and focus back on my story.

But of course, before I can do any of that story stuff, I have to ramble on in here a bit. To work!

Part Two: Observations from my writing desk, Friday 10/18/13

  • Time is flying. Every time I look at the clock another hour has passed. I’ve gotten a good bit of writing done, but I have a ways to go before this chapter is done. This whole week is flying by. Time is FREAKING ME OUT. It really does move faster the older you get. Gross.
  • There’s a guy who came and sat a few desks behind me and he literally sneezes like this: “WAAAAAAAAAAA-HOOOOOOOOY!” He did it about five times in a row. I hear him shuffling around behind me and I’m paranoid that he’s reading this over my shoulder. I don’t know what he looks like for fear of turning around, but in my head he’s scary.
  • It just turned 3:33 and I kissed the clock for the first time since high school. I made a good wish. I need to stop procrastinating with this blog if it’s ever going to come true, though.

Observations from my writing desk, Friday 10/18/13

Writing desk location: Same row of desks in the library, but different desk.

Observations:

  • It’s still too warm outside today, in one of those hard-to-dress ways. It’s about a mile walk from my apartment to the library, and while walking in patches of shade I feel chilled and regret not bringing a hoodie, but then as soon as I step into the sun I start to overheat and regret not putting my hair up. At some moments of overlap, I am both sweaty and goosepimpled. These changes in temperature make it hard to think of anything else along my short walk to the library. Life is so hard.
  • I stopped at a local coffee shop that has terrible hours that don’t coincide with my internal clock. Coffee shops should stay open past 3 p.m. They favor the early risers, the morning people, the folks who don’t brew their own cups each morning. Bah. Anyways, they have a huge selection of iced coffees, and I got a pumpkin. I hoped it would help regulate the tiny heat waves I walked through on my way to the library.
  • Someone opened the giant window next to the desks that we aren’t supposed to open. I see the librarian glaring over toward me, assuming I’m the troublemaker who dared open the window. It wasn’t me, but I’ll be damned if I let them close it. The breeze feels amazing, and I’m pretending it’s blowing in straight from the ocean that’s just over 2 miles away.
  • I thought writing in here was perhaps more of a waste of time/opportunity to procrastinate, but I actually got a lot of work done on my draft yesterday after rambling here. Here’s hoping I have the same success today.
  • Today is my last day of unemployment, and I’m determined to make use of it by finishing another chapter. I already finished a book this morning, made oatmeal for maybe the first time in 10 years, showered, shaved my legs, scribbled down a grocery list, and made the arduous walk over to the library, so I feel like it’s been a pretty good day so far.
  • It’s so sunny at my desk that I’m tempted to wear my sunglasses.
  • Still only have one finger nail painted.

Observations from my writing desk, Thursday 10/17/13

Writing desk location: Desk cube at the library, second floor, in front of window overlooking library lawn and pond.

Observations:

  • 70 degree weather in mid-October is uncomfortable, especially when your writing desk is next to a giant window the librarians won’t open.
  • The only other patron sharing the row of desks with me is an Asian man with very greasy hair and too many layers of clothing. He’s a quiet neighbor though, which I appreciate. He is currently passed out at his desk, his head resting uncomfortably against the shelf on the desk. I’ve seen him here before, and a friend of his comes and gently wakes him right before the library closes. I wonder if he’s homeless. I wonder if he’d like one of the bags of fruit snacks I brought with me.
  • Sometimes Spotify is awesome and plays songs that put me in the perfect zone, until it plays some terrible song that makes me feel angry at having had it interrupt said zone, then it takes a few minutes for me to recover from the aural intrusion.
  • I only have one finger nail painted. Decided to test out a new autumnal blood-red hue on the pinky finger of my left hand. Really going for the eccentric writer look.
  • I only have one more day of unemployment after this…one more day of freedom from cubicle tyranny and the 8-5 work day drudgery. I should be making the most of it by working on my novel, but instead I’m writing in here.
  • Maybe wordpress is proving to be more of a distraction than a benefit to my “writer’s platform”. Oh well, at least I’m writing something, right?