Tag Archives: momentum matters

A Day of Spiders and Fire


*Tries the door*

*Rust flakes off the stuck knob*

*Lowers a shoulder*

*A cascade of spiders from within*

*Returns with fire*

Well. It’s been a minute, hannit?

The show is over, and after a few-days’ refractory period, it seems like there’s very little left to do but return to normalcy around here, whatever that is.

Time to pick up that dusty manuscript that, despite my sincerest hopes and prayers (and you know what they say — nothing fails like prayer), has decidedly not edited itself in the meantime. Well, let’s just see where I left off heRRARGH

Ahem.

Turns out that even my computer files are full of spiders after two weeks away. Webs all over everything. Know what’s worse than getting spiderwebs caught in your hair? Getting them draped across your bald head. *shudders violently*

And, of all days, I picked a Friday to come back to life and get back to work. A Friday! As if to symbolize and cast in bronze the truism that there is absolutely no rest for the wicked, I bend my shoulder and descend into the word mines again, on a Friday.

A payday, even. When my thoughts should, as any proper teacher’s do, turn toward happy hour margaritas and a dogged denial of the looming parade of bills coming due.

Nope. I’m going back to work on the novel.

Why? Because it’s time.

It’s been almost two weeks since I wrote a creative word, and the stagnation of that clings heavy to me, like the funk of a ten-mile dead-of-summer run, a funk that permeates everything in the house. A dead squirrel going sour in the attic. Pipes dripping away in the walls, turning the drywall into sweetly rotten pudding. No escaping the stink, only denial that it’s there — a denial that feels pretty ridiculous when your eyes are watering from the smell. It just won’t dissipate until you burn out whatever’s causing it. Offer it up to the old, eternal gods of destruction and smoke.

And if I don’t buckle down and return to it today, then I’m not just missing one more day, I’m missing three — because I’m darn sure not going to be able to focus on it over the weekend — my first weekend without work in almost a month.

Nope. Momentum matters, and it’s time to break the cobwebs off this thing and get it rolling again. Lest it become a haven for spiders til the sun swallows the planet. Wish me luck.

No, don’t wish me luck. Just arm me with fire.

For the spiders.


Any Words Are Good Words


Writing is a little bit like owning a dog.

You have to deal with it every day: give it some attention, let it out to poop in the yard, feed it, love it, clean up its poop from the yard — elsewise it gets antsy and angry and starts chewing on the furniture, peeing in your shoes, snapping at the kids. Except in this metaphor, the furniture is your sanity, the shoes are your productivity, and the kids are your own kids.

Writing is a monster, in other words, in a cute, lovable outer shell — one that needs taming every day. Not a lot of taming, of course — a well-exercised writing habit remembers who its master is and will generally come when called — but a neglected writing habit will turn on you faster than you can say “bad dog.”

Problem is, unlike a dog, who, when it needs water or food or to go take a dump, will paw at the walls, nose at your feet, and generally bug the hell out of you, the writing habit will quietly turn sour when you neglect it. It won’t snap at you right away — it takes a passive-aggressive approach. The words don’t come as easily. Or even when they do, they turn to hot sewage on the page. Or the urge to write just doesn’t show up.

Which is where I found myself this week. Lots going on at work and at home. Little time and energy left over for writing. Neglected the habit a little bit and found myself struggling to even want to do it.

But in that situation, any words are good words. Because if a writing habit is like owning a dog, the writing itself has the attention span of a dog. Ideas and words aren’t flowing on your main project? Just take the words for a walk — write about anything: Donald Trump, ridiculous naming conventions, whatever — and the dog will quickly get distracted just being out in the world. They’re flowing anyway, and all of a sudden, the ideas and the words are bending themselves toward what you wanted to write in the first place, just because you let them out of the house.

Writer’s Block is only as real as you allow it to be. It doesn’t block you from writing, it just blocks you from writing what you want to write. It’s your dog saying, I’m not gonna eat that new kibble. So what do you do? You give it something else it wants to eat, and mix some of the kibble in. Write about anything — any words are good words — and soon enough the kibble, which looked so unappetizing a moment ago, is disappearing from the bowl.

The same principle works on almost anything. Breaking the momentum is the hardest part. Don’t feel like going for a run? Put your shoes on anyway and jog to the end of the block — odds are you’ll feel like continuing. Any miles are good miles. Don’t feel like cleaning? Wash a single dish or pick up a single toy off the floor, and you’ll feel silly when you think about stopping before it’s all done. Any thing cleaned is a good thing.

Any words are good words.

Have you walked your dog today?

This weekly remotivational post is part of Stream of Consciousness Saturday. Every weekend, I use Linda G. Hill’s prompt to refocus my efforts and evaluate my process, sometimes with productive results. This week? Maybe not so productive.


The Weekly Re-Motivator: Soldiering On


A short SOCS post today, because I’m totally fried from this murderous week at work.

I’m back in the swing of my novel this week, despite the crazy hours at work. I got probably about 2400 words written — not quite what I aim for, but considering the loss of planning time and how scattered I’ve been, I’ll take it. But I’m not here to kvetch about word count (or lack thereof).

See, a few weeks ago I suffered what I could only, at the time, call a catastrophic setback: the loss of my un-backed-up flash drive, and hence the loss of a good twenty- to twenty-five thousand words on my latest project. That’s about two months worth of words, if you’re counting, AND I CERTAINLY WAS.

And, after the storm and the swearing and the self-abuse subsided, what was there left to do? Either quit the project, accepting the loss as too great to recoup, or soldier on and keep writing on the project anyway. And considering that this novel just happens to be one I’ve wanted to write for about three years, throwing in the towel was not a thing I was willing to swallow (argh, too many cliches).

So I took a day to outline the story I had written so far from memory, and then I started fresh with a blank page.

And man, that first day sucked, because returning to what was an essentially blank page was intimidating as hell (the perfect white expanse of the unblemished page — or, okay, word-processor window — is a thing you can only screw up with your first draft word-vomit). But a few days in, the momentum kicked in again, and all of a sudden I was churning along just like before I shot my foot off.

And the weird thing is? I actually feel really liberated. Losing the old project has allowed me to divorce myself from some of the preconceived notions and lame patterns that had cropped up in the writing. Now I can not only pretend they didn’t exist; they actually, literally don’t exist any more. I’m messing with new POVs, experimenting more with the narrative sequence, and generally having a lot more fun with the project than I had been for a while.

What’s that thing they say about relationships? Sometimes you have to lose something to learn what you really had? Maybe that’s a little too trite for the current situation, but one way or another, the project is moving ahead at a healthy clip again, and that’s damned encouraging.

Tomorrow: a third and final entry to the October horror flash-fiction challenge that’s kicking around over at Terrible Minds. (I hope.)

This weekly remotivational post is part of Stream of Consciousness Saturday. Every weekend, I use Linda G. Hill’s prompt to refocus my efforts and evaluate my process, sometimes with productive results.


Sometimes I write Good


 

The new novel is at the 1/3 mark — just the spot for a turn, a twist, a change that will color the story to come. And much like my two previous novels, the 1/3 point was an important landmark: a point of no return. The edge of the aircraft carrier, where the jet must either take wing or splash into the ocean, a multi-million dollar failure to fly.

And just like in my first two novels, there’s that horrible moment, right before that turn. That slow sensation, that creeping dread, that the story is a dead man walking, that the legs I thought it had are shot through with story-cancer and the whole thing is going to collapse before it ever has a chance to get going. The jet drifts toward the edge. The vast, indifferent ocean looms large. The wheels clear the edge of the carrier, and the craft does what heavy things do — it drops.

But then.

Like the very breath of God, the wind catches its wings. It defies all logic and it ascends into the sky — not like a bird on the wing, but like a shot from a cannon. And within the space of a heartbeat, from one moment to the next — from the terrible, awful, I-don’t-even-think-this-idea-is-viable-anymore words on one page to the next — the thing is flying not just under its own power, but on its own momentum. The very fact that it’s in motion keeps it in motion. The air rushing across its wings is working to keep the thing aloft just as much as the thing itself is fighting to fly.

And, well. That’s enough to keep you coming back for at least one more day of writing, innit?

It’s time once again for an old staple — my favorite thing I wrote today.

For a moment, Linc thinks about arguing the point — that he doesn’t hate these things, not really — but he realizes before he can form the thoughts that Michaels is right. He does hate them. Not in an overt, fiery way that smashes down walls and crumbles buildings, but in the quietly smoldering way of a not-quite extinguished campfire, smoking and hissing and spitting and waiting for a stray breeze to kick it up into a raging, all-consuming blaze.

Whee!


On Graduation and The Accomplishment of Things


All around the country, high school students are graduating. Throwing off the shackles of childhood and becoming adults. Getting ready to take the next big steps in their lives.

As much as the graduation ceremony is a pain for teachers (we get to haul the chairs out, stay late after school, put on silly outfits, and smile at everybody we see), it’s kind of awesome, too. Far be it from me to attach symbolism where there is none, but there’s something about seeing the students dressed up in their caps and gowns and tassels and stoles that somehow washes away a year (or more!) of silly behavior in a classroom and makes you think they’re going to be all right.

Still, they’re not done yet. Like a cake being checked by an overzealous baker, they need to cook a little longer. And as anybody over the age of thirty can tell you (with no hint of doom and gloom at all, naturally), it only gets harder from here. Whether it’s college or the armed forces or an early entry into the school of Real Life, it will quickly become apparent that high school was a milk run.

So, a double-edged bit of advice for anybody on the cusp of a great thing: Don’t be afraid to brake, but don’t break.

First, don’t be afraid to break. The sharknado happens fast in this world, and as Ferris Bueller said, “if you don’t slow down and look at it once in a while, you might miss it.” It’s true: the time seems to constrict around times of great import. The last few weeks of the semester fly by. You just can’t stop writing (or reading!) when you get to the end of the novel. And deadlines never approach so fast as when they’re right on top of you. Before you know it, the next thing will be here, and while it’s easy to shift your focus from what you’ve just finished and go straight into worrying about the next thing, don’t forget that there’s life happening everywhere all the time, spilling out of the cracks and gaps in your schedule, oozing out around the corners of all the things you have to do to get ready. Pump the brakes. Slow down for a minute. Enjoy and appreciate the world around the outside of everything that has to be done.

Animal, Lioness, Lazy, Rest, Predator, Cat

If you don’t take time to slow down like this every once in a while, you’ll burn out and lose the drive to do even the things that matter to you. But that brings us to the second part: you can’t break for too long. This country is built on towns that sprung up when people headed out west broke down and never got started again. And don’t tell me your goal was to make it to Kansas. (Sorry, Kansas natives. Your state is even boringer than a blank sheet of paper; at least you can write or draw on a sheet of paper, or fold it into a totally sweet airplane. All you can do in Kansas is drive through it for hours, never sure if you’re actually making any progress.) Your momentum in life matters, and if you don’t get moving again soon, inertia will swallow you like a black hole and you’ll find yourself sucked into the gravity  of the same old path of least resistance. Pull over for the pit stop and look around, but know when it’s time to get moving again.

In short, enjoy the summer after your graduation — or a week or two of rest after finishing that big project — or whatever it is that you need to recharge your batteries before you move on to the Next Big Thing.

Road, Straight Road, Route, America, Usa, Freedom

But then, get moving toward the Next Big Thing, before it drives on down the road without you.

This weekly remotivational post is part of Stream of Consciousness Saturday. Every weekend, I use Linda G. Hill’s prompt to refocus my efforts and evaluate my process, sometimes with productive results.


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