Thursday, February 28, 2008

Me, Myself and I (Barriers)

Writing out in the deep end where my toes no longer feel the gritty sand on the bottom. The very tips of them occasionally catching a tenuous grasp before the waves of life come crashing over my head. At times riding the waves high in the thrill of just writing. Other moments allowing the waves to suck me under the surf... to wallow down with the dark things...the Not Good Enoughs.

I could blame the dog, who is small and inclined to chew everything from my favorite pair of sandals to laptop power cords. The dog, who needs to be taken out every half hour, only to return back inside and use my hardwood floor as a toilet. The dog, who reminds me of the toddler phase and why I'm done having babies.

Or maybe the munchkins, there are four. That's a good enough excuse, right? The munchkins with Science Fair projects times two, one of which involves the growth of mold in baby food jars on my bathroom counter. The Ethiopia project which required paper mache mask making and Ethiopian hut making out of pine straw with the help of a glue gun. After which my fingertips looked like someone had held them to a hot stove.

There is the housework. The laundry pile that never seems to get smaller. The sink that magically refills with dishes. The dentist. The doctor. The butcher. The baker. The birthday cake maker. Ok, I'm exaggerating just a bit, but you get the point.

But the truth is, it's really none of these. But rather me. My own barrier to my own success. To often frustrated, pulling back from it. Half heartedly writing, pursuing markets, working on editing the book (which really might kill me). So scared to fail, more scared to succeed.

But somehow despite myself, I can't stay away. I have to climb back up the cliff, sometimes slowly, sometimes sprinting to the very tip top. Plunging back in, feet first, right into the deep end. Where it's quite possible I might drown but it's also very likely I'll float right to the top.

My Barrier is ME.

When I first began to think about the barriers that eclipse my writing, I thought of a number of things:

  1. My husband
  2. My four children (ages 13, 12, 10 and 9)
  3. My job (s)
  4. My education
  5. My ability
  6. My clips
  7. My supportive family
  8. My flexible schedule
  9. My family's belief and support of me....
And as you may have started to realize by reading my list, none of those things are barriers that eclipse my writing. I can write, and I can write well, especially nonfiction. I am an experienced journalist who has won awards for her work. I have written an average of 10 to 12 articles a week for more than 15 years, so clips are not a problem. It isn't writer's block (I don't believe in it.) It isn't a lack of ability because I have proven I have the ability.

I finished a master's degree in English composition and communication just last August, and I have a bachelor's degree in journalism, so my education (or lack of it) isn't a barrier to my writing. In fact, my job is to teach and tutor college-level writers. Again, that isn't a barrier. I am constantly learning and discussing and improving my writing. Plus, because I teach at the college level, my schedule is very flexible, especially since I teach some of the classes online from home.

You might think four children would be a possible barrier because that is a lot of kids. But I have great kids who are intelligent, funny and industrious enough to keep themselves busy while I work. And if I'm busy writing, they can make their own lunch (and mine too!).

And I have always been blessed with a ton of supportive family members who believe in me. It began with my parents who never passed up an opportunity to tell any stranger they happened to meet about how great their daughter, the writer, is. You would not believe how many people (including those strangers) who my parents have thrust a copy of my writing at and said, "read" (although probably much nicer than that).

The support didn't stop at my parents. My extended family (brothers and sisters and lots of extensions there) are also very supportive. My brother and his wife swear they have a shelf on their bookshelf reserved just for books by me.

And then there is my husband. He has never waivered in his support of me and my writing. He believes in me. He has made HUGE sacrifices so I can pursue writing and yet another degree. He has let me quit full-time jobs to try various writing endeavors or pursue that master's degree. He has sold his racecar (and racing for him is like writing for me), and a number of other items that he used as fun in order to support me (snowmobiles, motorcycles, etc.). I could not ask for a more supportive husband.

And so I have to ask, what is my barrier?

It isn't that I don't have time to write. I do have time.

It isn't that I don't have the equipment to write. We own countless numbers of pens and pencils. I have umpteen million pieces of blank paper (lined and unlined) plus notebooks and probably 20 blank writer's journals. There are three desktop computers and two laptops, and each and every one of them have writing software. Any software I might need, I own as well as other essentials that help enhance writing -- like my digital SLR camera (a Christmas gift from my husband) and the Adobe Creative Suite software.

I have an office. My own office. It's a place to house all of my books on writing and my magazines on writing, plus information on markets and research for projects. It is an office that offers me a place to work, and has everything I need, and it is waiting for me.

I have high-speed Internet, so I don't have to get frustrated by dial-up or incoming phone calls.

I have so many things that are supportive to make sure I have time to be a successful writer that so many others do not have.

It means the only possible barrier I have in my life must be me.

I am the only thing standing in the way of me finishing my memoir's manuscript and getting the query letters and book proposal to agents is me.

Why am I trying to undermine my own success? Am I trying to avoid rejection? Am I afraid of success? What?

I don't think I'm trying to avoid rejection. I'm not afraid of success. I believe in my writing and my project. So why am I blocking myself?

I have no good excuse.

Until now, I seem to be very good at talking the talk, "I'm writing a memoir," and I have had some success; I have 30,000 polished words and about another 20,000 in rough draft. I have a clear idea. I know what I am doing. I have the major themes. It is working. I need 80,000 words.

Until 2006, I had never written anything more than 8,000 words.

Do I believe in me?


I read the quote Heather shared from Cynthia Kersey. In particular, I noted this line, "How you deal with challenges will determine whether you achieve your goal or give up and settle for less than you deserve."

Up until this point, I handled this goal of writing a memoir by saying "I'm going to do it." But once I achieved that master's degree (the 30,000 polished words were my thesis project), I did little besides give it lip service. Oh sure, once in a while, I would write something. I ended up with those 20,000 rough words somehow. But it isn't anything like what I had been doing.

If I want to make this happen, I need to do more than just talk about it. I need to be disciplined. I need to make a commitment and stick to it. And I'm doing it here, publicly. In November, people pledge to write 50,000 words in a month. I do not need to do this in a month. I need to keep my goals reasonable, so that I will meet them without exhaustion, and without identifying them as "impossible." (Although so many people I know personally have proved 50,000 words in a month is not impossible. Remember, however, that prior to 2006, most of my "longest" written works were well under 5,000 words.)

I am going to make this happen.

Five thousand words a week beginning Sunday, Mar. 2. Why Sunday? It's the beginning of the week, but it is also my mom's 70th birthday. Plus, I have had the flu, and I am still not 100 percent. By Monday, I should be fully recovered. Not to mention I am on spring break starting Monday.

And just because my official week doesn't start to Monday does not mean I have to wait to Monday to begin writing. This is going to happen. I'm going to make sure it does, and if I do that, I've eliminated my biggest barrier -- me.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

My barrier is time

Heather asked us what our barriers are, and at first, I thought 'I don't have one!'.
I'm massively profilic, writing fiction, non-fiction, poetry, setting up a publishing house, going to University full time....raising a family...
And that's when it hit me.
My barrier is time.
Not time management, but time itself.

My barrier is time because there isn't enough of it.
My average day is 19 hours long. I sleep for five (though every so often, I don't sleep at all!). In those 19 hours, I spend:
2 eating
4 studying
6 chasing after my children before and after school - doing homework, reading and writing with them.
3 hours cleaning and doing 'house' stuff.
That leaves me six hours for writing, playing games, and the other 'stuff' I do - articles for gaming sites, my books 'etc'.
After term ends in April, I 'gain back' my study time, so that gives me a solid eight hours of work to look at my novels and other work.
But time is a huge barrier for me - I can't do 'everying' I want to do - though, of course, most of its my fault. I love my projects, but I'm pulling down this one barrier by rearranging, carefully. I'm selling off a lot of sites, and amalgamating a lot more.

Whatever your barriers are, you can tear them down - just work out what they are and why they are there and creatively change the rest ;)

Saturday, February 23, 2008

My Barrier is a Key

It took me a long time to figure out what my barrier was. I convinced myself it was writers block, then it was having children, then I was too tired, then I had too much to do. I always had a great excuse for why I wasn’t writing. I can still use some of those excuses today.

I’d find myself with a spare hour and instead of writing, I’d be surfing or catching up on the latest posts from my favorite bloggers. I’d be chatting on lists and “reasearching” something. I’d find recipes that I had to print and post on my fridge, the perfect way to get grape juice out of the carpet, new books online to add to my wish list, sites to bookmark and share with my son later… (note: just as I typed that I remembered to go bookmark because it’s a pretty cool site for kids to learn to read… )

I convinced myself that I wasn’t writing because I had all this other stuff to DO. Those were my barriers, the things, the to-do lists, the bits of information out there waiting for me. But they weren’t my barriers.

My barrier was my need for external inspiration. I was searching for something that would point me in the direction of that blank page. Something big that said WRITE ABOUT THIS… or something that would spark the tiniest flame of inspiration that I could tend to and grow into a great big creative fire.

But here’s the rub: we can only ever find the inspiration and the drive inside. Sure there are external motivators. Heck, getting paid is one of them! But they only feed the important, internal engine that drives our creative self. As I was surfing, searching, seeking I was looking for the key to start that engine. That was my barrier, a belief that the key to start my engine was to be found out THERE.

But it’s inside me.

Have you ever lost your keys? Isn’t that the most frustrating thing on the planet? But that’s what it’s like to be a writer who wants to say something but doesn’t know what or where or how or why.

“I gotta get going, I need to be on my way, I have to start… but where the heck are my keys!”

“I have to get this written, how do I start? What am I trying to say? My deadline is looming… where is my key?”

So here’s what I do to overcome my barrier.

I fake it. I get ready to go, I put on my writer clothes and get settled and then I type exactly this:

Smart Title Goes Here

In my intro I want to be smart and sassy, I want to draw a correlation between the reader’s thoughts about being blocked and a common problem that everyone faces.

Something about being blocked…

Interview? Maybe Jodie…

And that’s how I start. I’m rummaging, fumbling, it’s not pretty, I’m a little sweaty and not a happy camper. But soon I spark a little flame. Soon the engine starts to catch. Soon I know exactly what I wanted to say. And it’s not because something outside myself inspired me, it’s because I searched within for the key.

Theme Week: Barriers

Here at Mama Needs A Book Contract we are rolling out somethin' new... THEMES!

Just because we're moms, we're writers, we're bloggers... and we like a) themes and b) deadlines!

Our first theme is in honor of the lunar eclipse that happened last week. Barriers.

What? Barriers?Eclipse? Ok, I was going with the idea that there are barriers in our life that tend to eclipse our writing. They are big, they are bad, they block out everything but themselves. What are they?

Stay tuned and find out!

But consider this:

"How you deal with challenges will determine whether you achieve your goal or give up and settle for less than you deserve. If we really want to create different results in our lives, we must become aware of how we interpret the "facts" or "events" of our lives and understand that our explanations often do not represent the "truth" of what's possible for us. In a very real sense, facts are an objective account of the event that occurred. No interpretation or meaning is attached. For example: "I was rejected by a potential investor for my project," "My husband left me," "I lost my job," "I was diagnosed with an illness," "I can't get pregnant."

Truth represents what's possible in any situation. "Each rejection brings me one step closer to an investor for my project," "I will find a new, better relationship," "I can find a better and more fulfilling career," "My health will improve," "I can adopt," and so on. Many people believe that events control their lives and that their circumstances have shaped who they are today. It's not true. It's not the events of our lives that shape us, but how we respond to those events, what we think they mean, and whether challenges trigger the "giving up" reflex in us or motivate us to hang tough and keep fighting."

Cynthia Kersey, Unstoppable Insights.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

It Happened in Our Back Yard

It happened in our back yard. It hit home. A tragedy had occured at Northern Illinois University, DeKalb, IL, located about one hour from Chicago. Six people lost there lives--five students and the gunman, with 15 injured. All on February 14, 2008. It still seems surreal. It feels like it didn't really happen. At least not this close anyways. But it did. Will it change that small city atmosphere? I am not exactly sure. Classes resume February 25.

However, people in DeKalb and surrounding areas (mostly consists of small towns and villages) of DeKalb, have stood strong. They are united as we grieve for the victims that have lost their lives.
Not only has local support been strong, but worldwide as well. Many readers have left comments all over the World Wide Web expressing their feelings, thoughts and prayers.
I just wanted to add thank you for your kind thoughts and prayers as we grieve and begin the healing process.

Teleclass from Marcia Yudkin - How to get those first clients

I thought some readers of MNABC might be interested in this. Reposted with permission from Marcia Yudkin:

How do you get your commercial freelance writing practice off the ground?

I would like to invite members of this group to a FREE one-hour teleclass in which I share the six methods of getting first clients that have been successfully used by copywriters, marketing consultants and publicity specialists whom I have worked with.

Three of the six methods I'll be discussing cost nothing at all, and the other three methods cost a modest amount to implement.

Here are the details:

Monday, February 18 at 4 p.m. Eastern time(3 p.m. Central, 2 p.m. Mountain, 1 p.m. Pacific time)

To join the call, go to the following link and look for the yellow-border box, which contains the signup form:

You'll then receive the call-in information by return email.

My previous call for Wellfed Writers produced testimonials like these:

"Marcia Yudkin is a great teacher and mentor. I have
learned more from her than from anyone else in the
marketing business." - Charles Brown, Dallas, TX

"Very informative. Great call!" - Carolyn Erickson,
Wichita, KS

"This session has value for anyone trying to market their
services to other businesses in the B2B arena." - Mark
Bohrer, Saratoga, CA

Can't make the call? I'll be recording it, and you can pre-order the CD for just $10, with free shipping anywhere in the world.

There will be ample time for questions and answers during the call.

With all best wishes,
Marcia Yudkin
Copywriting Mentor

Review: WAHM Magazine

WAHM Magazine - The only content-driven digital magazine for work at home parents

If you're a work-at-home parent or thinking about becoming one, this just may be your magazine. WAHM is a bi-monthly digital magazine covering all the different facets of being a work-at-home parent.

Erika Geiss, founder and publisher of WAHM Magazine, envisioned a magazine dedicated to "the whole enchilada" of working from home. It doesn't just focus on business, but also parenting, personal and professional relationships, health and fitness, time management and more.

(Hey, kind of like Mama Needs a Book Contract, but with editing.)

Ms. Geiss allowed me a peek at a sample of the premier issue, and I like it.

At first, the digital format drove me crazy, with scrolling and zooming troubles, until I discovered that I could resize the window to fit my screen. Then I had few problems, and could settle in for an enjoyable read. (I'll admit, I wish it were available in a print version, but that isn't in the plans right now and won't be unless it can be done in an eco-friendly way. It's just that this is the kind of magazine I'd like to grab and read on the couch, or take a highlighter to, or throw in my bag to read in the pediatrician's waiting room.)

Articles range from cute shorts to helpful features. The premier issue includes a Q & A with Stephanie Gruber (work-at-home-parent and founder of and tax-time tips from an expert, and service pieces on beating work-at-home isolation, feng-shui for the home office, and clutter-busting strategies. A section called "Stories from the Trenches" gives first-person accounts of those who are doing it, and the "My Time" articles focus on gardening and relaxation. This issue's "Nitty Gritty" gives the scoop on virtual conferences, and "Health and Fitness" goes beyond the page with two podcasts.

Yes, podcasts! I guess that's one advantage a print version of the magazine could not offer.

I have to say that I am impressed, and I'm not easy to impress. There are a lot of print and web magazines out there competing for my attention. WAHM is the kind of magazine I wish the rest of them could be: smart, relevant, useful, and serious without being full of itself. (Hey, when you are a work-at-home parent, you can't take yourself too seriously. We giggle with our toddlers one minute and hit send on a pitch the next. And it's just hard to get on an ego-trip when you smell like peanut butter.)

And speaking of not taking yourself too seriously - my favorite humorist, Amy Mullis, will have a column in WAHM. That has to be worth the price of a subscription in itself.

So what is the price of a subscription (and what does it include)? $24 per year includes 6 bi-monthly issues, full access to WAHM archives and forums, webinars and podcasts, and 10 e-newsletters per year.

I think I'll spring for it. :)

Summary from the WAHM Media Kit:

Feature Sections
 Voices—a featured interview with a work-at-home parent, ideally a well-recognized figure who has achieved success as a work-at-home parent
 The Nitty-Gritty—a section devoted to work-at-home business issues
 Parenting—from being a work-at-home parent with babies and toddlers to 'tweens and teens and beyond
 Relationships—those with significant others/partners, business partners and associates, and friends and family beyond what would be covered in parenting
 My Time—a section devoted to relaxation, rejuvenation and personal time
 Health and Fitness—a column by Craig Pepin-Donat, International Health & Fitness expert, and author of the Big, Fat Health and Fitness Lie (Waterside 2007)
 Humor Column—a column by Amy Mullis, the “New Erma Bombeck.”
 Stories from the Trenches—a section devoted to creative non-fiction

They take submissions from freelancers! Here's a link to the submission guidelines.

Thursday, February 14, 2008


I booked today and tomorrow off from work so that I could write. But I sent my kids to their childcare... After I got over my guilt, I realized it was a wonderful day of being by myself writing!

E didn't sleep very well last night, she has a cold and I think that when she laid down it was hard to breathe. So she slept most of the night on me... as I was propped up on the couch. So I didn't get much sleep either!

But what a good day I had. Might have been the most perfect Writing-at-Home-Mother day!

First, hubby brought me cupcakes in the morning for Valentine's Day.

Then there was a steady supply of coffee and yummy coffee creamer.

I balanced writing with watching two of my favorite daytime programs, shows I haven't seen for many months.

I turned the TV off for most of the day and just enjoyed the silence - no one playing army guy, no one screaming, no whining ... just peace and quiet and the sound of my fingers on the keyboard.

I realized just after noon... I cannot remember a day like this before I had kids. I didn't appreciate days like this. Now I do.

The trick is to also appreciate the loud and noisy days... because one day those will be history too.

Hurry: Oprah, Suze Orman, Women & Money

For today only, before 5 p.m.

Get this free download of Suze Orman's book, Women and Money.

On Oprah yesterday, they gave this away to the home audience.

I've started reading it already (downloaded it last night), and it is worth getting. I would even go so far to say that if you don't get the free version, you should buy it or get it at the library.

Getting Organized: Accounting, Taxes, and the Freelance Writer

First of all, I’m not an accountant, so don’t think I’m doling out tax advice – this post is about organization. I do recommend finding a good accountant – not just a tax service – to help you with the legalities of everything. Don’t mess around with taxes.

If you make money, you have to pay taxes on it. So keep good records. (Again, I’m not going to tell you which records to keep, because you’re going to ask your accountant about that, right?)

These records need to be kept for filling out your schedule C, schedule SE and schedule @^#&%*.

So I have three super-secret weapons to help me with taxes, and I’m going to reveal them to you.

1) I want to make an argument for the shoebox. If you, like me, have a fledgling writing business, you might not need a 4-drawer cabinet with color-coded files just yet. The shoebox is great for containing receipts and check stubs. (If you absolutely must, you could buy yourself a proper storage box.) I prefer this to the filing cabinet, because receipts can tend to slip out of open folders and get lost at the bottom of the drawer. I hate losing a receipt; it’s like throwing away good money.

The point is, really, whatever method you use, keep it simple so you will, indeed, use it. For me, the shoebox works. Whenever I come home with a tax-deductible receipt, it’s the easiest thing in the world to toss it in the box. (At the end of the year- I mean month, all those bits of paper are organized and stored properly in nice, orderly file folders.)

2) Do you want a free software program that allows you to keep track of your invoices, payments, expenses, bank balances, and client contact information? Okay. Here you go: Quick Books Simple Start Free Edition.

(I don't get any money for the click. Don't worry, no ulterior motive. Although, I wonder if I should. Maybe I really, really should be getting money for all my promotional efforts. Suze says not to put myself on sale EVER again. She says so in her book she gave away for free on Oprah yesterday. Yeah, click here before 5 p.m. today and download it for yourself. I've begun reading it, and I think it is great. No complex trading tips. This is real-life useful stuff.

I’ve never been a fan of accounting software, because ugh, none ever seemed to fit my situation. Either they were far too simplified for a self-employed person, or they were designed for big businesses with payroll and inventory. Simple Start Free Edition is the Goldilocks solution for me. Um, and “free” is the right price.

No accounting software will work if you don’t input your information, but they’ve made this one so easy I have no reason to procrastinate. I do have some complaints about it though. (This is why my parents never gave me a gift-horse.) It’s a little slow to open, and very, very slow when it tries to sync up with Outlook to send an invoice. I also can’t find where the program stores the invoices on my hard drive. This bugs me because I file each invoice in the same folder as the article and assignment details. The workaround is fairly simple though: I email the invoice to myself. It arrives as an easily save-able .pdf.

3) Third secret weapon: Download forms, brush up on regulations, even apply for an EIN. Yes, it’s fun for all ages. Best of all, it’s searchable, unlike the 900 lb. print version of Tax Guide for Small Businesses.

Okay, your turn. What method do you use to stay organized for tax time? And do you like it? Or do you wish you had something better? What’s your biggest challenge when it comes to taxes (besides paying them, lol)?

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Getting Organized and Getting Things Done

Getting Organized and Getting Things Done

Whether writing is a side job or the way you make your living, it won't be long before you realize you need some semblance of organization to meet your deadlines, track your income and maybe even reign in your blog-surfing so that it doesn't consume your writing time.

(MNABC is, of course, exempt. This blog is for your business!)

In my pre-mom years I was an administrative assistant for a busy sales office, and developed systems and helpful manuals and whatnot that ultimately made the sales team more productive.

It was easier managing all of that than it is to manage my own freelance schedule.

I love the new QuickBooks ads that show people trying to do what they do and hassle with invoicing and receipts and etc. One ad shows a dressmaker pinning all his receipts onto a dress form.

Those ads are a vivid illustration of why it’s difficult. When I’m in “writing mode” my mind is not on invoices and paperwork. When I’m in “administrative mode” my mind is not on writing. And some days, it takes a lot of time and energy to transition between the two.

With productivity in mind, I've been “collecting” organizational systems to help me manage the unpredictable workdays that come with being a freelance writing mom. If you think about it, any one of those three job titles presents an organizing challenge: “freelance” can mean a wildly deviating schedule, “writing” means thinking of the perfect phrase at the weirdest times and squeezing in interviews when you can get them, and being a mommy - heck, I don't have to tell you about the unpredictability of that job.

Some of these tips and tools I have actually implemented with great success. Some are great in theory, but didn't work for me. Some might work for me if I get around to using them.

And I'd really, really like to hear what works for you. Please feel free to add to the discussion!

So here's the deal: I'm going to post anything I find that can make your life easier as a writer and/or as a mom with the tag "Getting Organized." To find them, just click on that tag in the sidebar, and all those posts will show up in an orderly fashion. How organized is that?

Since it's almost tax time, I'll start with that. (Tomorrow. :) )

Monday, February 11, 2008

I can has sleep now?

Ingredients for Long Day

one part sick baby (the non-snotty part, thanks)
one part deadline looming
one big heaping cup of a full day of work
a dash of spend-half-the-day-at-home-while-hubby-goes-on-interview
one part computer that is crashing
half a cup of accidentally sitting on wet painting
a teaspoon of energy
two parts long to-do list for tomorrow, hubby's other interivew and more work to be done

cram all together with no thought, rhyme, reason or thought for how this is all going to work out and crank up the heat because it's almost that time of the month and I'm quite cranky thanks no I don't want to discuss my finances and I know it's almost the RRSP deadline but I have too many bills and crap this computer is dying so I bought a Dell even though I despise their customer service from h-e-double-hockey-sticks and can you deliver it in five minutes?

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Re-gifting This to You...

“Fight perfectionism by telling yourself that what I wrote today is what I was capable of at this moment.”
–Chip Scanlan

Yeah, I know, isn't it great? You're welcome. :)

Buckling down

Or as my son’s game seems to call it ‘digging in’.

My grandad died a couple of days ago. Such a bald statement to convey every state of grief, guilt, pain, and worry I have, but its all I have to explain it.

Yesterday, we went for a walk – and I was thinking about everything my grandad taught me – he used to grow vegetables and flowers in his garden, and I have many fragmented, flash memories of those beautiful mornings and afternoons, when I was fairly young, running around his garden. Of course, my memories seem to also include fairies at the bottom of his garden, but mom said he used to hide cut-out flower fairies along his fence when I was very small, so that makes sense. Seemingly, he also gave me other things – or at least, he and gran did. Gran died just over 20 years ago, and since the, grandad has been kinda…lost. I understood why, even at 9 and 10, but there was very little I could do. As I grew older, he seemed to pull away – whether I reminded him, a bit of gran, or because we all grew a bit distant when I hit my teens, I’ll never know, but by the time I started a family of my own, I wasn’t seeing him much. And I feel sad about that. Its funny – we never think they’ll leave us, that we’ll have ‘tomorrow’ to fix it all – to say all of the things we want to say. Tomorrow is an excuse. It might sound harsh, but I always said ‘I’ll call tomorrow’ and never do. I always say ‘I’ll write tomorrow’ and get through my Uni work, and then go and goof off. I always say ‘It can wait’. Friday night made me realise that some things just can’t wait.

Yesterday, I was fairly subdued. My partner has never met my grandad – and now, I realize, he never will – so we went for a walk, and on our way back, on my door step, I found a spouting conker. I know it wasn’t there when we left, and we have a walled garden, so goodness knows how it got there.

Now, though I have a conker tree in my front yard called Bill. After my grandad. For the happy memories.

I stopped writing though, for anything other than university, about six weeks ago, and today, I’m going to try buckling down. I’m not sure whether I ‘believe’ in writers block, personally (though, yes, I believe others can ‘have’ it) but I know something is stopping some of my writing. I’m going to try to bulldoze it first before anything else. I’m hoping, like the tree I planted for my grandad, I can make something of my life, and honour him, and the rest of my family for all of the things they invested in me.

Monday, February 4, 2008

All in the Family

The other day, my 9-year-old son told his dad he wanted to be a writer when he grew up. My husband relayed this to me in the terms of "oh great, another kid who is not going to make any money when he grows up."

Just prior to my son's disclosure, my 13-year-old had mentioned she wants to train horses for a living. And the thing is, (and maybe Heather can correct me), my understanding is that the pay for training horses is not something that makes a living. It is something you do to supplement a living.

While I agree my daughter would be better served in pursuing another career and raising horses on the side, I am not so disillusioned with my son's aspiration to be a writer. He loves to read, and he has a creative mind. He is constantly looking at things in a new way, and he has always found words fascinating.

I remember one time, at a very young age, he asked me what "wife" meant. He was so young he was in a car seat. I was driving, and I went into this long explanation of the roles of husband and wife and marriage. When I finished, he said, "Hmmm. I wonder what they mean by "run for your wife." That's right. He was also young enough that he couldn't pronounce the l in life.

So, after my husband telling me this, I took the very next opportunity to explore this career alternative with my son.

Me: "I heard you want to be a writer."

Him (excitement in his voice and a glimmer in his eyes): "I want to be an author. When I grow up, I am going to be an author."

Me (missing the all-important word change from writer to author): You know, you don't have to wait until you grow up to be a writer. You can start writing now.

Justin: I don't want to be that kind of writer.

Me: What kind of writer do you want to be?

Justin: I want to be an author. I want to sit in libraries and autograph books.

Me: (laughter, lots of uncontrollable laughter).....

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Hacking, writing and life

Three of my biggest sites got hacked this weekend - what I took to be a simple database issue was actually something far more serious, so I've killed the blog databases for the moment.
You might wonder what that has to do with writing?
Well, for a start, I didn't keep ANY of my blog articles anywhere other than these blogs. More fool me. So I'm now backing up more often than before (daily instead of weekly) and writing my blog posts offline, instead of on the fly, and in the blog sites themselves.
This is teaching me a really nice habit though - before I'd forget to trigger my spellchecker before posting - now, before I upload it I spell AND grammar check about six times, mainly because I have to. Once in Word, once in notepad (to strip out all of the code that office adds and is completely pointless in blogs) and a final time when I put it live.
This gap of a couple of hours between writing and posting also does me the world of good, because I'm now seeing where my posts do and don't make perfect sense.
Life wise, I've been garnering 70% marks for hand in essay style assignments, so life is good on the University front. On the family front, things are tough - my youngest is special needs, and hard work, but she's also SO worth it, so we're weathering that little storm as best we can. 'Work' wise (read that novels and my own blogs), I'm doing ok. They tend to be the last thing I pay attention to, and most of my sites are just languishing now, so I'm trying to decide what to do with them. Its amazing how things change over a year.

I'm curious though - have you found anything 'different' - any challenges you're up against that you didn't expect - any successes or learning spots (note, NOT failures) that you've encountered?

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Please Note: I vacuumed again

I did it. I vacuumed.

That's twice in a week.

Can I get a woot woot?

Because I was a little vexxed by my book, which did not get its fatty bits written while I was away in Toronto, I decided I had to clean. And add furniture. My friend Kim was giving a way a little table and my mother was giving away a very nice, uh, thingy that has shelves and holds the microwave.

So I kissed my husband and sent him on a trip to get the table and my mother kissed her husband and sent him over with the thingy.

I pulled the kitchen/dining room apart and threw out a lot of paper that I had lying around. I've also vowed to read every magazine that comes in my door within a week of arrival; I have far too many magazines still in their wrapping, lying around in piles and stagnating. I knew I was a lost cause when I found the SELF "Summer Special" still in its packaging.

(Can I make a belated New Year's Resolution? Stop buying magazines!!)

But after the dust was swept and the floor washed and the carpet vacuumed... I felt a whole heck of a lot more peaceful.

It's like that sometimes, when I feel stuck, when things aren't flowing... I have to organized my external environment so that my internal one can clear. Sometimes just walking in to a room and seeing clutter can make me stop in mid-sentence, I'm so distracted by the sight of it.

Of course it can become a bit of a procrastination technique quite easily. I try to be aware ... am I cleaning the kitchen for the third time today, can it wait?

Does anyone have any other techniques they use to procrastinate from writing or things that they need to do before they can write with a clear mind?