Things I’ve done in the past week.

  • Gone through 2.5 bottles of red wine
  • Fallen in love with Sherlock a la Benedict Cumberbatch
  • (not written anything towards the novel)
  • Made chocolate chip cookies
  • Ordered indie nail polish
  • Drank more wi-

Oh, what was that? What was the third thing on my list again? Shush. Silence. You didn’t read anything. I’ve been such a disciplined, diligent writer, writing hundreds of words every day. The novel’s almost finished, now. There’s just pages and pages and I’ve made incredible progress.

Sigh.

Sometimes I feel like this will never get finished. And then I don’t write for a week, and I really feel that way.

Okay. No time to dwell on the past. Got to keep moving forward, right? deep breath. All right then.

(picture me marching gallantly back into the field of battle, here. While wearing a kilt. Kilts are awesome.)

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New plan.

Not sure if the daily word count thing is working super well for me anymore. I’ve taken to just jamming out a block of writing before going to bed late at night, or when I’m feeling sleepy, just writing nothing at all and telling myself “tomorrow I’ll write all day” (which has yet to happen…like, ever).

 

To mix things up, I think I’m going to start clocking in with a daily time count instead. How long did I work on the story? Outlining, writing, revising, note-taking – instead of just writing down the number of words I write towards the novel each day, I’ll write down the time I devoted towards the novel overall.

 

Hopefully it’ll help me get back into the swing of things. I had a zero night last night and October overall has just been a weak month of writing for me so far.

In which I take a break from writing to talk about fuzzy animals.

So when I’m not spending my weekdays writing (or more often than not, avoiding writing), I am often spending it instead with fuzzy, adorable animals.

Not everyone thinks the animals I coo over are adorable, mind you. For example: we’ve had a spider living outside our front door for several weeks now, and I’ve grown strangely attached to him. He’s our spiderbro and I root for him when he rebuilds his web. I totally look for him every day to say hi.

But I didn’t come to talk about spiderbro. I came to squee about some of the adorable animals I work with at the best volunteer job ever.

I volunteer for an animal education group, and a lot of my time is spent prepping animal diets and cleaning enclosures. BUT, another big part of my time is spent socializing with the animals, and it’s almost always one of the high points of my week (except for when I get into boxing matches with the kangaroo. No, really. That happens a lot).

A new little animal came to us recently, and he has stoleth my heart, I daresay. Like a thieving thief.

His name is Lionel.

Lionel, the babiest, slothiest sloth.

Oh little tiny baby sloth, my husband is so sick of hearing about you. Because I talk about him all weekend long. “Do you want to go drive over and see Lionel?” I’ll ask him, when we’re taking a walk, and he’ll sigh. “I just wish I could hold Lionel right now,” I say, as we’re sitting down to watch a movie. My husband looks skyward and nods his head, knowing there’s no way to break me out of animal mania once I’ve gotten sucked in.

So, I’ve taken to sitting with Lionel for ages, and he’ll fall asleep on my chest, his little claws curled around wrinkles in the fabric of my shirt. And when I put him back in his enclosure, he’ll wrap his arms around his ‘Mama bear,’ which you can see in the picture. He lost his mom at a young age, and Mama Bear acts as a replacement and a security blanket. He spends most of the day sleeping with his arms wrapped around her.

Seriously. He needs to stop being so freaking adorable.

I work with a lot of other animals, but this post has already gotten ridiculously long enough since I can’t seem to not turn into a cooing, melting mess when I start talking about Lionel. But I thought I would share this picture with you guys, because it amused me how this little armadillo was eating.

Right, so eating IN my food bowl is probably the best way to approach this.

This dillo lives with eight other armadillos, but he’s a baby and hasn’t seemed to grasped the concept of ‘sharing’ yet. Nobody else needs to eat, right?

Interestingly enough, he and his brother were actually ‘surprise babies.’ We’d had no idea the mama dillo had had a litter until they were old enough to start wandering around on their own. It was definitely a pleasant surprise.

Also, the food he’s eating took a long, tumbling route to get to him, as I managed to trip and roll down a hill while carrying it, spilling a bunch of it everywhere in a rain of insectivore, dog kibble, and shredded carrots. Sigh. I’ll say this: picking pebbles out of your forearms and limping up a hill to remake food for 26 armadillos is not the funfest you might imagine it would be.

But it’s totally worth it.

So since my husband fell asleep and I can’t keep talking to him about my animal friends, I’m babbling to my blog instead. I mean, it’s just hard for me to focus on writing when Lionel is a little distance away, wishing I could hold him (and he totally wants me to hold him. We’re going to be total BFF’s one day. I have to get started on the friendship bracelets). So, I have an excuse for not having written yet today, right? Right? Sigh. No. Okay fine, I’ll get to work.

* grumbling and stomping back to writing desk *

What Are You Doing?

Love this. I was just starting to beat myself up because I was comparing myself to Eleanor Catton, the 28 year old who just won the Man Booker Prize for her SECOND novel, when I can barely write 500 words a day towards my FIRST, but hey, you know what? I’m trying. Calm down and keep trying.

Literary.Land.of.Alysia

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The next six weeks are going to be kind of crazy with all of the dream chasing but I will try to stay on top of my posts.

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The latest thing I’m doing to derail myself

So, the latest thing I’ve started doing to seemingly sabotage myself with my writing is this: any time I hit any part of my story that isn’t clear to me yet, I stop. everything. completely.

It started happening a couple weeks ago, when I couldn’t decide if I had my characters at the right age and finally decided the story needed to be reworked in order to be Young Adult. And then, I froze. I spent days not writing anything, just thinking over the changes I had to make.

Eventually I started writing again, but ever since then, every tiny bump I hit paralyzes me. I haven’t written anything at all yet today, because I can’t figure out the side story with one of my main characters. I vaguely know that he left his home and there is tension with his legal guardian, but I don’t know why he left, what that tension is, or even what actually happened to his parents (why did he end up getting raised by someone else?).

And he’s not even the protagonist, he’s just the possible love interest for the protagonist. And still, I’m totally frozen today, just thinking, “I can’t continue until I know more about his background.”

I was plowing forward for so long, ignoring these questions, reminding myself it was just the first draft and I could go back and fix things later. But it’s like my snow plow hit a rock and now it’s crookedly plowing and has lost a bit of its confidence and any time it sees any bump up ahead it’s like, “Oh, I’m not sure I can make it. I’m scared. I need to slow down and stop completely and stare at that bump up ahead for a while.”

I need to get back to mowing forward, because lately I’m not making any progress. I mean, I guess outlining could count as progress, but is that even what I’m doing? I’m just sitting here, thinking about the direction the story could go. But I’m worried that if I know too much about what’s going to happen, I’ll lose interest in writing it. I feel like maybe I should be left in the dark a little, so I still have some curiosity. And I think my characters need a little freedom to breathe and move, too.

But then I’m afraid if I don’t sort these things out and get plot questions answered now, I’ll end up with an enormous mess of a first draft, or my story will devolve into something ridiculous.

I don’t know how to approach this situation. Do I stop writing for a day, or a couple days, or however long it takes me to sort out my plot/character questions when they come to me? Do I spend time outlining and drafting and mapping, to avoid disorganization, but risk losing curiosity? Or do I force myself forward when I have questions, ignoring them and allowing my characters actions and the flow of the story to eventually reveal the answers? I honestly don’t know at this point. And so I end up standing here, glancing around and doing nothing.

Nobody expects the puppy inquisition

So…I’ve tried to keep this blog mostly writing-centric, but would you guys mind if I talked every once in a while about random life stuff, too?

Because today I started walking this dog to earn a little extra money during the week, and she’s – well, she’s flipping adorable.

The happiest dog I know.

She’s handicapped, so she sits a little funny and doesn’t have complete control over her back legs. She has a pink wheelchair she gets strapped into if we’re going for longer walks, and she has to be carried when there’s stairs.

But she’s the happiest little thing ever.

I am kind of a crazy dog person – I’m one of those people that will stop strangers in the street and ask if I can pet their dog, and then when they say yes I proceed to talk only to their dog and completely forget they exist (it’s kind of embarrassing. I can’t seem to help myself). Dogs have unique personalities – some are emotional, some are shy, some are divas. But Skippy just radiates joy the second you meet her. She doesn’t even notice that her back legs don’t work. She scoots over to you, her whole body wagging with happiness.

Oh my goodness. It’s just, her happiness is contagious. I’m still smiling, and I walked her over an hour ago. The air is cooler, the leaves are changing, and my future weekday afternoons are going to be punctuated by this bright, gold, fuzzy ball of joy.  🙂