August in Review

Lynette M Burrows, image of sunflower, goodbye august

August wasn’t like any other August I’ve experienced. We’ve had mild and wet weather in Kansas. There was the spectacular solar eclipse, a visiting writer, a wet basement—twice, and a family crisis. Goals were met and goals were . . . not met.

Writing Goals

  1. Get at least half-way through Act 3. NOT MET *Sigh* I wrote 3 of 5 chapters. I fixed a big timeline issue which took a ridiculous amount of time.
  2. Write 4 new blog posts. MET
  3. Send out reader questionnaires for a new blog series I’d like to do. MET though I would love to get more completed questionnaires.

House Goals

  1. Finish the exercise room. NOT MET
  2. Get estimates for repairs to the house. MET
  3. Finish the bathroom project. NOT MET

Day Job

  1. Keep the number of times I must use a day off to complete those hours to just two days. MET

Other Goals

  1. Research, Learning, Reading – ONGOING
  2. Continue researching book promotion. MET
  3. Continue listening to podcasts when I’m able. MET
  4. Choose a new fiction book and begin reading. READING
  5. View the solar eclipse, Monday, August 21. AWESOME EXPERIENCE – MET
  6. Attend the Seven Deadly First-Page Sins by Tex Thompson on August 21. ENTERTAINING AND EDUCATIONAL—MET

Unexpected Events

Basement flooded—Twice! Once at the beginning of the month and once near the end of the month. No serious damage but it required an unplanned expenditure of time to clean up. My wet basement was nothing compared those who will be cleaning and rebuilding after Harvey. My heart goes out to them!

A seriously illness (family member), who was hospitalized for a week. I had very little sleep during that week which meant those were completely unproductive days.

Things I Learned

A line or two expressing what your character expects for his/her future can be all the ‘before’ you need in your story beginning.

Study folklore — it’s how we express our fears.

For an emotionally powerful scene, include one small contrasting detail.

Watching an eclipse is AWESOME!

From Tex Thompson: “Find the easiest, laziest, most obvious choice you could make – and then do something else.”

From Dean Wesley Smith: “The only Failure in writing is not writing.” And “All Writing is practice.”

From Science Friday: Tatoos can damage sweat glands. People with full body tatoos can have difficulty dealing with heat.

Where you were born dictates how many sweat glands you have though living in AC can subvert this.

From Writing Excuses Podcast: A short story should focus on one idea. Strip all but dialog then add only what is necessary. Be as specific as possible. To make it work you must have targeted stakes for the character. Consider, what are the consequences of failure?

From Writing Excuses Podcast: For inspiration in creating titles look through the online Shakespeare database. And “Monsters are best when they subvert the status quo and remind us we’re not at the top of the food chain.”

From Writers Helping Writers Podcast: Mentor characters are a touchstone for the thematic truth. The interaction between the mentor and protagonist shouldn’t be easy. Mentor characters should be flawed, unique. The mentor shouldn’t ‘save’ the character except with severe consequences.

“Failure isn’t Forever!” Angela Lee Duckworth Thank you, Angela! 

Final thoughts for August

August was a challenging month in all the areas that interrupt or stop my writing. I have also changed where I sit to write. This change has affected my ability to focus and get things done. It is not something I can change back anytime soon, so I will continue to work on finding ways to focus.

I don’t remember which blogger said that she tracks the things she learns each week. I thought I’d try it for a month. I love it!  Reviewing all of the tidbits of new information at the end of the month is invigorating and reinforces the learning.

I didn’t accomplish what I wanted to in August, but September is a new month and a new slate.

September Goals

Writing

Write 4 Chapters minimum.

Write 4 new blog posts, post reader questionnaire results on Fridays.

House

Finish bathroom project.

Get gutters replaced. (The source of my wet basement problem.)

Day Job

I will have to be flexible this month.

Other Goals

Continue to listen and learn via podcasts.

Dedicate at least 2 hours per week for reading.

Finish revising website.

Going Forward

I hope the month of September will have fewer challenges for us all!

Thanks for reading!

I am ever so grateful you’ve taken the time to read my scribbles. If you’ve taken the time to comment, I’m delighted and honored.

image courtesy of PicturesCafe.

I Surrender!

Some days I just don’t give a damn.

I’m tired. I’ve battled the demons of the day job, the emotional toll of being a caregiver, the chores of home ownership, and I’ve wrangled words on paper and by the end of the week I’m done. Today is one of those days. I’m pissed off that last night’s storm knocked more deadfall to the ground. I just can’t face the puddles of rainwater in my basement. I don’t care if mold will grow in the corners. And don’t get me started on the piles of laundry and dishes and dust and. . ..

Do your lists of things to do grow at an alarming rate? Mine do. And it is exhausting. So what do you do? I don’t know about you but there are days when I give up. I surrender to the weight of ALL THE THINGS and I throw myself down on the floor, kicking and screaming “I don’t wanna!” (Okay, not literally, but it’s how I feel.)

IT’S NOT LAZINESS

I used to berate myself when I did this. I was lazy. I was a cry-baby. I was inadequate to the job of adulting. What a load of $#!%.

Life can be hard. Life can, and often does, pull the unexpected surprise. And some of us pile on more SHOULDS than is humanly possible. I’m particularly bad at that. I’d go and go and go until I was so exhausted and overwhelmed that I’d collapse. Slowly, I’ve learned that when I reach the “Waa, I don’t wanna” stage, I’ve been pushing myself too hard. It’s time for a break.

TAKE A BREAK

Taking a break doesn’t need to mean taking a whole day off. Sometimes taking the whole day would mean wrecking other plans or interfering with deadlines I cannot ignore. Taking a break means be kind to yourself. Reward yourself. When time is precious I’ll indulge in a special snack or beverage. Reserve these foods and drinks as special, otherwise it won’t feel like a treat.

tLatte, take a break, Lynette M Burrows, Morten Rand-Hendriksen Flickr CC

 

Willing to spend twenty minutes or more? Take a bubble bath. Go for a walk in a place that feeds your soul. Gaze at the stars. Take a nap.

Need a longer break? Read a book (best, re-read an old favorite!) Visit a museum. Go to a concert or a movie. And at least once a year, turn off, tune out, and take a week or more to explore people and places.

UNDERSTAND

Understand why your body, your soul needs a break. Understand that this, too, is part of life. It’s not something you need to forgive. You’ve done nothing wrong. You’re re-energizing, getting yourself ready for the next wave.

If you find yourself taking an extended break or too many breaks, examine your why. Perhaps the thing you are avoiding is a thing you don’t need to do. Perhaps you’ve been too long without a break. Perhaps you are fighting resistance for other reasons. Once you understand why,

you’ll be able to move forward, to jump back in.

JUMP BACK IN

The key to making this reward system work is to jump back on the tracks after your break is over. And next time, don’t wait so long between breaks. It will make doing ALL THE THINGS so much easier.

I’ve finished my latte, so it’s back to the soggy basement for me. What do you do to reward yourself, to take a break, when you’re doing too much?

Why Did You Buy That Book?

Nobody reads a mystery to get to the middle, Mickey Spillane, Lynette M Burrows. . . They read it to get to the end.

If it’s a letdown, they won’t buy anymore.

The first page sells that book.

The last page sells your next book.

— Mickey Spillane 

 

Do you agree with Mr. Spillane? Do you read the first page before you buy a book? Have you ever bought a book because of the last page of a book?

 

Image: Victoria Park Silhouette courtesy of Russell Street via Flickr Creative Commons