Studying, Sarah Addison Allen, and The Life of a Cat

Friday, 30 March 2012

Inspiration for my magical realism WIP.

I decided to take today off work. Originally I planned to clean out the car (didn’t happen—too cold out) and get some studying done (still debating that one), but so far all I’ve done is cat-nap with the cat. I tell you, the life of a cat really is charmed. Even as I sit her typing away furiously, Piper is curled up in front of me with a dazed, eyes-half-open look which says she could go back to sleep at any moment.
I, on the other hand, have one hour to get as much done as possible before I have to pick up Hunter from school.  And I have eight things on my to-do list. And of those eight things, writing this post is the only one I truly want to do. All of the rest are university work which I really have no desire to get on to.
I know I need to get on it. After all, Scarlett will be here soon. Just how soon, I couldn’t tell you. We were supposed to book the induction yesterday, but guess who has decided to be awkward and lay transverse? So we’re back next week to see if she is head down and if so book the induction, if not, book the c-section. So, really I should be studying.
Instead, I want to write. And not just this post, I want to REALLY write. I haven’t had time to really write in days, maybe even longer.  I want to pull out my HAR WIP and get the notes down for the next chapter so I can breeze through the scenes later.
Most of all, though, I want to pull out my magical realism WIP and have a look at structuring it. I have an idea I am in love with and a first couple of scenes which make me truly happy. I also have an idea of where it is going, but I have no road map. And anyone who knows me knows I need a road map. I am crap with directions!
So, today (or what’s left of it at least) I think I will pull out my notes and scribblings on my MR WIP and see if I can’t put it all in a little more order. I keep thinking that it would be simply amazing to have everything laid out, ready to go once little Scarlett is here so that I can pick up my writing at only a moment’s notice and get to work.
I know it’s the old ADHD making me want to pull out the MR, but I don’t care. Well, the ADHD and the fact that today is Sarah Addison Allen’s birthday and she is my writing idol. I aspire to write as beautifully and magically as she does. This MR already has the airy, magical feel I am going for (I think), I just need to be able to keep it up and do it justice.
As for the HAR, I still plan to keep my head in the WIP, after all, rumours are still circulating about a contest this summer. Sarah’s first published book was a Harlequin and then she moved on to Garden Spells. I’ve always dreamt of writing for Harlequin, so I’m not sure if I’m ever lucky enough to I’ll ever ‘move on’, but I can’t deny my desire to wrote MR.
I read somewhere (I’d love to give credit, but with the amount I read daily, God only knows where this came from) that you should find someone who has made a successful career out of what you hope to do and study their methods, learn to follow in their footsteps. At the risk of seeming stalker-esque (I, swear I’m not a stalker), this is precisely what I am doing. I am trying to follow in Sarah’s footsteps. Only, I may choose the self-publishing route for the MR when/if I become more established in romance.
Nonetheless, I dream of the day I read somewhere something along the lines of ‘Fans of Sarah Addison Allen would do well to give Christy Kate McKenzie a chance…’ I hope that doesn’t sound pretentious. Of course, if I am ever going to read those words, I guess I better get to writing that book!
Happy writing, everyone!!

Ranting & Relaxing

Thursday, 29 March 2012

**Warning: This post is not about writing. It is a semi-rant about my life at the moment!**
I skipped the blog post last night. Not because I was too busy or too tired. Just because I was having a little overdue downtime with my hubby. For the first time in weeks, we just sat around eating ice cream cones and watching TV. And it was so nice.
Yesterday was a particularly trying day. I rushed off to work for a major and very exciting case only to find (after my hour drive to the hospital) that it had been cancelled. So I came home to get emails and paperwork done.
I found out 3 of my 4 emails have been hacked and are sending out Trojan viruses to all of my contacts and I am ‘no longer eligible’ to change my passwords. Of course, I called TalkTalk only to find out that they refuse to change my passwords or delete the accounts because my hubby’s bank is the one where the direct debit comes from. He has to do it. Even though the account is in my name. Meanwhile, British Gas doubled the direct debit from my account and refuse to discuss it with me because the account is in my hubby’s name. Go figure.
So I gave up and went to get the monster from school. Monster is indeed the correct term to describe what has possessed my four-year-old-former-angel. For whatever reason, he has been a nightmare for two days straight. He has been cheeky beyond belief, in school and at home, and sometimes downright mean. He has a project due for school and while I know we should have been doing it all along, I only remembered the damn thing yesterday, so along with painting his egg for the egg rolling contest today (yeah, I know), I attempted to get him to work on his project.
I saw firsthand just how bad his level of focus is and honestly, it scared me. I couldn’t even get him to write an entire sentence. He would start out beautifully concentrating and two to three words in I’d lose him. He’d be doodling and telling tales about aliens and monsters. Needless to say, we are still in the beginning stages of the project. And, given my history with ADHD, a call to the GP may be warranted. We fought most of the afternoon over that damn project. Is there any wonder I was crying by the time my hubby got home last night?
Just what I need when I’m two weeks away from giving birth to the next (and definitely last) one. That’s right. Today is the day I find out when they are going to induce me, but I know it will be about two weeks from now. I am scared and excited and nervous and eager… all rolled into one babbling, jittery mess.
I’ll be so glad to have a date, though. Right now I still have approximately 3 days of work left (tomorrow, Wednesday, and Thursday) and then I should be officially on maternity leave. I am trying to enjoy this morning—relaxing, maybe a little writing—but I am also very aware that I have two university assignments that need doing before the baby arrives, so  may do some work on one of those. Then there’s the matter of the kitchen which is trashed. And the hubby will be home at one to go to the scan and appointment with me, so that leaves my afternoon busy.
After two weekends of trying to get the hubby to help me get the baby stuff out of the garage, this weekend is my last chance. He goes away to Budapest for a stag weekend (Must be nice, right?) Easter weekend and the following weekend, Scarlett should be here. The plan right now is to get everything out this weekend and use Monday and Tuesday of next week to start washing things and putting them where they belong.
Hell, at the rate things are going with motivating my hubby, I may just go pull the stuff out myself this morning. I need to get on this! I absolutely refuse to spend Easter weekend on my own with the monster working my fingers to the bone to get ready for Scarlett. I plan to spend that weekend hanging out with my son since it is the last time it will ever be just him and I.
And so, as I sit here typing this rant I am trying to decide whether to work on my university assignments, go get stuff out of the garage, or go back to sleep. I’m just holding out for this afternoon when I get to see my little girl on the ultrasound for the last time and find out when I’ll be holding her in my arms.
Hope your week is going better than mine.

Donna Reed

Monday, 26 March 2012

The Picture of Motherhood

I want to be Donna Reed. Well, kind of.
Today, while sitting out back at our picnic table discussing work with Sarah, my colleague, in the sunshine (hey, that counts as working from home) something occurred to me.  I do love my job, and I love working in general, but I really wish I could devote more time to doing the things I feel I should be doing as a wife and mother.
Now don’t worry. It isn’t time to call the men in white coats for me… not yet, at least. You will not find me on my hands and knees scrubbing the skirting boards anytime soon.
Sarah said something that made me really think about my priorities. She was impressed with my greenhouse and seedlings, so I invited her to come blackberry picking (when the time comes) and to make jam afterwards. She then told me I was the perfect picture of wife/mother because I bake and make jams and sew dresses for Scarlett and read bedtime stories to Hunter. Funny, but I still worry that I don’t do enough.
I’m not sure who’s standards I am trying to live up to, but I do think I fall a little short of my own. I worry about work mainly because it gives me a place in the grown-up world. I’m not saying stay-at-home moms don’t have a place, but I tend to place a great deal (probably too much) importance on professional achievements. This is what drives me to work so damn hard. Often at the expense of my personal life.
I have been better since the New Year about carving out time for my family and myself outside of work, but I still have a long way to go. The dream, of course, is to become an established, published author so that I can set my own hours and work around the little things I like to do for my family, like baking cupcakes and knitting scarves for them.
So what is standing in my way? What is taking up all of my time? First off, this damn degree I am chasing. The good news, though, is that I only have 3 classes to go and one ends in June. Unfortunately, there really is no way to speed that up and I really do need to finish it.
My coaching certainly used to suck up all of my time, but I have gotten really in the habit of delegating tasks and I seem to be cutting back on that. Coaching is tricky, though. It is a mountain of stress all year and I spend a good deal of time wishing I could give it up, but then there are many moments of absolute bliss, as well. Like when one of my athletes finally gets a skill they’ve been working on for ages, or this last summer’s competition when we came home with three 1st places and one 2nd. And for the record, I did give it up from the time I was 7 months pregnant with Hunter to when he was 6 months old and I really did miss it. I felt lost.
Work, while perhaps the biggest time-suck of all, is obviously not something I can get rid of, but I think without the added university assignments and cheer paperwork, I would still have my evenings. I just wish I had more flexibility in my days.
I want to have fresh-baked cookies waiting when the kids come home from school. I want to keep the house clean enough to not need an hour’s notice if a friend wants to drop by. I want to plan Easter egg hunts in our backyard and host neighborhood bbq's.
I just want time to be a bit more Donna Reed-y.

Friday Fatigue

Friday, 23 March 2012

These Friday posts were supposed to be about fun, but lately all I’ve felt on a Friday is fatigue. Work has been crazier than ever trying to sort out these two new services before I go on maternity leave and honestly,  I just can’t wait for my ‘last day’. I’m surprised to say that since I’ve been dreading the inevitable changes coming and I do truly love my job.
But, here I am after the fifth consecutive week where my routine has gone to pot and my workload seems to increase, rather than decrease, and I keep thinking, God get me out of here. I need a break. Of course, having a brand new baby is far from a break, but at least I won’t have the daily struggle of making sure I meet my hours and complete a multitude of tasks.
Emails, for example. It had just occurred to me that I promised a pathologist earlier that I would email her today and I forgot. Guess, I’ll be taking a minute to do that now if my Internet ever loads. The computer seems incredibly slow tonight. Isn’t that the way though when you have things to do and really just want to go to sleep. I just took a minute to send out the email, it was two actually. It’s a shame when work haunts you at 9pm (when you should be writing). but such is life. Roll on maternity leave!
Next week will be my last full week. The week after is the first week of Hunter’s Easter  holidays and as of today I only have one breast surgery to attend, so I plan to only work that one day in the week. The following week he is still off school, but that is ‘the 38th week’, so I don’t know if I’ll work or not. I may just start my leave then since I’ll likely be induced either that Friday or the following Monday.
This blog may be a little quiet for the first couple of weeks past my induction, depending upon how things go, but I’ll be back swinging! Hell, I may even be able to post during the day when my brain hasn’t completely fried. I may even find more interesting things to talk about.
But for now, I’m going to go try to work on my WIP a bit before the total brainlessness sinks in.
Night all!

Back From A Break

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

I think maybe a break and a chance to clear my head was just what I needed.
Monday night after I posted, I went straight to my Harlequin American Romance WIP and read through chapter one. I made a few slight tweaks (nothing major, just clarified a sentence here or there) and something incredible happened. I remembered why I fell in love with the story in the first place.
 It was very exciting! I left this WIP a good while ago and re-entering it was like I was reading a story I had read long ago. It was new and familiar all at once. I really do like the story, the characters, and the setting. I also can hear my voice clear and strong in the telling. I found myself wanting to read more, to polish more, but time wasn’t on my side. It was getting late and I had to be up early for work.
My little break from the story did me a whole lot of good, but of course, I can’t afford to leave it sit each time I lose my way. I really need to get on with it. So, that’s my plan for tonight. I’m going to cut this post short and pull out chapter two. After all, this book isn’t going to write itself and since I’ve taken to calling myself a writer, I guess I better get to it.

Steering Clear of Quicksand

Monday, 19 March 2012

Ok, I admit it. I was rather tempted to skip tonight’s post. Not because I am overly tired (although I do feel I could sleep for a week) or because I have too much else to do (the to-do list actually looks pretty good for a change), but because I have finally decided to delve deep into my Harlequin American Romance WIP and see where it takes me.
Last night I nearly became a widow—by my own hands. I was half dead from the five mile plus walk my hubby decided to take me on for Mother’s Day (actually it was just a family walk, he forgot it was Mother’s Day until we came upon a packed restaurant running specials for moms). I climbed in bed early and fell peacefully asleep after my nightly fizzy paracetamol (I may be developing an addiction to those, but that’s another story for another time). And I would’ve stayed blissfully asleep if he hadn’t come in and woken me to ask if there was any room on my side of the bed. Please! The bed is small to start and I am eight months pregnant—no, there isn’t any room!
Once I’ve been woke its over for me. I lay awake from about 11pm to 2am. I tried everything—milk, reading a particularly dull chapter of a textbook, hell I even counted sheep—and nothing worked. In the end I don’t remember how it happened. I do remember sometime before drifting off that I had a read through of my WIP chapter one (I swear that wasn’t what finally put me to sleep, if it was I would not be writing about it now). Reading through that first chapter sparked a need to get back to it. I’ve been looking for a chance to sit down with it and not being able to get back to sleep gave me just that (so maybe I won’t kill my hubby… just yet).
I was surprised at how much of the chapter I now wanted to change/adjust. I try not to edit as I go along, but my first three chapters had been polished in hopes of entering a pitch contest last year (which never was held). Now, I’m glad it wasn’t held as I can see so much that I’d like to mend before putting it out there. It is my intention to stay awake long enough tonight to make notes on what needs tweaking. I may not get to tweak tonight (I really am beat), but I hope to at least have another read through and jot some bits down.
I plan to have a look through the bits that I have written only to bring them in line with the slightly new direction the story is going to take, but I’ll try not to get caught up in editing, so much so that I get stuck and can’t escape to move on with the story. It’s like quicksand, I know, but I am confident I can stay out of too much trouble. The thing is, revisiting this chapter, which I was so certain was perfect and finding bits I’m not sure about has left me a little scared.
How do you know when you truly are finished editing? How do you keep from sinking in? How do you know when it is time to just let the manuscript go?

Early Night

Sunday, 18 March 2012

Well, I missed Friday's post down to too much work and sheer exhaustion. And to tell you the truth, I'm just not up to it right now either.

Today is Mother's Day here in the UK. We took the dog for a walk to the groomers' and left him for a pamper while we continued the walk and ended up at a lovely pub for lunch. Then we went back for the dog.

All in all I'd day we walked at least 5 miles today. Which would be a breeze if I wasn't 8 months pregnant. Now, I'm laying in bed feeling like I've been hit by a train. So, no wit or wisdom tonight (or probably any other night, lol). I'm going to curl up with some fizzy paracetamol and a book.

I hope all of my Mommy friends have had a great day!

Night all!

Adding Hours to the Day

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Tonight, a long post to make up for the crappy little posts I’ve been guilty of lately.
I managed to get my essay in a whole day ahead of schedule. I’m not entirely sure what that means as far as quality goes, but I will say that finishing it was not easy. I have so many distractions in my world right now it’s a wonder I get anything done.
My hubby is gone again, hopefully he’ll be back no later than Friday, but with the way this particular project has been going, I’m not holding my breath. I’m getting a little more used to it, really. And thanks to the prescription the GP gave me, I haven’t had a sip of Gaviscon in two days, so I no longer want to curl up in a corner and die. That is certainly making being on my own a bit more bearable. Now if only I could find a few more hours in the day.
I’ve been thinking a lot about time lately. You see, since the consultant announced that he wants to induce me two weeks early, I feel like time is slipping away too fast. Now don’t get me wrong, I can’t wait for Scarlett to be here, but there was so much I wanted to get done first.
In light of this, I’ve been taking a closer look at how I spend my time. Since I am trying to get ahead on university assignments, I can honestly say that I’ve spent more time studying lately. Or maybe just cramming, but whatever. I’ve also noticed that I have spent less time on Twitter and FaceBook (that was a big surprise, I tell you).
Am I finding tome to write? The truth is, right now I am not. I honestly can’t find a free hour anywhere. Even after bedtime, when I used to write, is now filled with studying and housework.  Of course, lately I haven’t even thought to write that late since by the time the monster is in bed I’m lucky if I can create a full, coherent sentence. Tonight, I’m exhausted, but I’m writing this. Of course, I keep going back to change words and cut full sentences which make no sense.
Right this second, I refuse to feel guilty for not writing every day, or even every week. Now, I know I will never finish my WIP unless I get my ass in gear, but there’s a whole lot taking up my time right now. I honestly cannot not think of a single hour in my day I could commit to writing.
That’s how I know I need to stop looking for time in my day to write. I need to add time—specifically for writing—to my existing day. In other words, if I can’t shift things to get a free hour, I need to get up an hour earlier to write. I need to actually ADD an hour to my day. Much easier said than done.
I’ve had a read of a few studies on optimal sleep times and it would seem that anywhere between 6.5 and 7.5 hours of sleep a night is ideal. There’s even a study that says it doesn’t matter how many hours you get as long as you are in bed before midnight. I couldn’t tell you how many hours I’m getting right now, but it sure as hell isn’t the ideal amount and more often than not I’m crawling under the covers after midnight.
All I can figure is that if I’m going to get up earlier each day, I’m going to have to sort out my sleep schedule. Which will become a mess again once Scarlett is born, but I’ll cross that bridge when I get there. Starting next week, I am going to experiment with sleep times and see if I can get myself to a schedule of some sort.
To make this plan work, I need to locate my willpower, which, judging by the massive pink shopping spree I went on today, may be forever lost. I only have 4 weeks to change my routine before the baby comes along and changes it to suit her needs. I’m hoping if I can get into a few habits I will be more likely to maintain them once she’s born.
Now, what to dedicate this specifically created time to… I said in my last post that not only was I going to talk about finding time to write, but also about what I have decided with regards to which WIP to pursue—the Intrigue or the American Romance. I still haven’t had time to look at either, but I did schedule (on my handy little to-do app) a time line for completing the HAR ahead of the HI. I gave myself until last week to immerse myself in chapter one (which is already written and only needs a little tweaking). So, Valentine Bride it is! It just feels right. (There’s a blurb on my romance page if you are interested.)
It’s now 2356. At this rate there’s no way I’ll make the midnight bedtime, but I’m off to try.
Night all!


Monday, 12 March 2012

It seems I am getting a day behind on all of my posts, so in an attempt to get back on track (and since time is not on my side) I'm using the app on my iPhone to write this from bed. Fair warning-- it will be a short one.

Monday is usually about Mommy things, so here goes...

Last night I was up all night-- literally, I finally passed out from exhaustion at 5am-- with acid reflux thanks to being pregnant. I cannot even begin to tell you how bad I felt when the alarm went off at 7. I thought I would drop off the monster at school and come home to nap a bit then get straight to work. Not a chance.

Turns out the acid stayed with me all day and I got little done. My GP took pity on me and called me in a prescription for Zantac, so the evening has been a bit more bearable. I'm still drinking (not taking, actually swigging) Gaviscon, but I do feel better than last night. Of course, it could be a placebo effect, but it's been in my system for 12 hours now, so who knows. Who cares! I am lying down before midnight!

I didn't get my essay written or any 'real work' done, but I'm working from home tomorrow, so I hope to catch up then. As long as I can sleep tonight I should be ok.

Sorry the last couple of posts have been crap. I have an idea for Wed (a combo about how I am going to find time to write everyday and what I intend to do about my HI/HAR dilemma), so maybe I'll be a little more interesting then. But for now, I really must get some sleep.

Night night!

(Poorly) Making Up For Friday

Sunday, 11 March 2012

Friday was no fun. In fact, the entire week pretty much sucked. My hubby did come back Thursday about 10pm, but by then the damage was done. I was so exhausted from the rest of the week that I couldn’t function. Now, 10pm on Sunday night, I am still not caught up.
I should’ve been working on the essay I have due this week, but instead I have lounged, gardened, sewed, and knit all weekend. I also skipped Friday’s post (obviously) which is why I am writing this sad little snippet.
I’ll try to do better tomorrow, but I’m not promising anything. My hubby goes back to Newcastle again this week.
God, how I wish I could have wine.

Thinking About Writing...

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Unfortunately, I am still single parenting. We thought the hubby would be home tonight—he even had his bags packed—but it looks like the earliest we may see him is Friday now. It’s funny how much you take for granted having someone to share the parenting and house responsibilities with. You never really realize how much they do until they aren’t there to do it. But don’t tell him I said that. I’d hate for him to gloat J.
Tonight, writing was the last thing that should have been on my mind. I have work to do for the ‘real job’ (and no, I haven’t even touched it) and still need to get my university assignment done (haven’t made it any further on that either). Instead of doing anything responsible, I laid around watching TV and thinking about writing. I guess, at least the thinking about writing part was somewhat useful, although it has raised a big question in my mind.
Back when I first decided I wanted to write for Harlequin (we’re talking WAY back, at least 10 years or so), I decided I wanted to write Intrigues. They were about the only line I read and I just couldn’t get enough. So it stands to reason that when I started trying to write for Harlequin my first WIP was an Intrigue. Incidentally, it is also the project that has been overhauled at least a thousand times and is the basis for my current WIP, I never got around to finishing it as I realized just how bad it was at the time. After the overhauls, it seems to be a much stronger story and I have decided to carry on with it.
There is only one problem: my heart belongs to the American Romance line now. That is not to say that I don’t still read Intrigue—I do—but more often than not I reach for a HAR. I figure, my shift in tastes has a lot to do with my longing for home and my love of all things American.
As for writing, I told you some time back that taking a fiction writing voice helped me find my voice and it is a very distinctly Southern voice, one well suited to stories about small towns and family. I am trying to finish the Intrigue. I still love the characters and the storyline, the thing is I can’t really hear my voice in the telling. I worked so hard to find my voice and it doesn’t seem to fit this story.
There are mumblings on the Harlequin community boards about up-coming pitch contests for both Intrigue and American and my first instinct was to finish the Intrigue, since it’s about 2/3 from complete anyway, but I keep finding myself drawn back to the American… as well as the many, many American story ideas I have set aside for later. This may be the ADHD, but I just can’t stay away!
If I’m totally honest with myself (and all 2 of you who will read this), I’d rather be a HAR author than a HI author. Not that I wouldn’t like to finish the HI someday and try to publish it, but with time so short these days, I am wondering if I should focus my attentions on one line rather than both. My original plan was to finish the HI and jump straight onto the HAR, now I’m not so sure. I am several chapters behind my target on the HI thanks to stress at work and single parenting for long stretches these last few weeks and I find myself reluctant to get back into it. I am; however, desperate to get over to the HAR WIP and have a little fun.
So, what should I do? God, if only I had a crystal ball to tell me which WIP is more likely to be finished and accepted. Until then, I think I will pull out the HAR and see how far I can plot scenes. I’m only at chapter four, and have only a skeleton outline of each scene, so if I find I can’t get much more than that, maybe that’s my answer. I guess, I’ll just have to give it a go and see what happens.

Single Parenting is the Pits

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

It’s Tuesday and I’m writing the Monday Momminess post today because yesterday I was too busy being a mom to have time to do it.
I am sure that at some point I warned you about this. My posts will be much shorter here and there due to an overall lack of time. I had hoped it would be because I was so busy writing, but unfortunately that is not the case this week.
Instead my time is limited because of two very different ‘mommy issues’. First, my hubby has worked away more than ever over the last 2 weeks which has left me to single parent the monster. Normally this wouldn’t be so bad, but at 8 months pregnant with constant nausea from acid reflux and sciatica, everything is way harder than it should be. Second, the consultant informed me last week that he plans to induce me 2 weeks early.
 So our little baby girl will be here in 5 weeks, instead of 7. Most people would look at that as ‘Yay! She’s coming early!’ and while I will be happy to be done with the acid and pain, I keep thinking ‘Oh hell! I have 2 weeks less to get all of this crap done that needs to be done.’ And since I don’t think I’ll be able to afford to take more than 6 months off with her, I am trying to work until the last possible minute.
I have an overwhelming amount of ‘real job’ work to get done before I take maternity leave plus a lot of university coursework that I’m trying to get ahead on in case I don’t feel like studying those first few weeks after I give birth.
And so, this post is painfully short and probably not very interesting (sorry about that, I’m struggling to keep my eyes open at the moment), but it is a post. I may be late, but I am determined to keep to 3 posts per week. I’ll try to have something more profound to discuss on Wednesday. No promises, though, since I still have no idea when my hubby will be home or when I’ll get a chance to sit still for more than 2 minutes.

Dr. Seuss & Taking Risks

Friday, 2 March 2012

This is the door to my office and a favorite book of mine!

Today is Dr. Seuss’s Birthday!!
Anyone who knows me, knows that Dr. Seuss is just about my favorite person of all time. He was also a man who wasn’t afraid to step outside of his comfort zone and take a risk. And boy, did that pay off for him! So for today’s post, I want to talk about stepping outside your comfort zone, but first a little more about the birthday boy!
Theodor Geisel, who wrote a number of famous, fabulous children’s books under the pen name Dr. Seuss, got started writing for children because of a clause in his contract with Standard Oil. Geisel had started his career as a cartoonist. One of his cartoon used the name brand of a popular pesticide, Flit, and was seen by the wife of an advertising executive for Standard Oil (the makers of Flit). He was offered a job with Standard Oil, drawing cartoons for their ads.
So how did he start in cartoons and advertising and end up writing children’s books? When asked this very question in 1975, he told Edward Connery Lathem, a Dartmouth librarian “I would like to say I went into children’s book writing because of my great understanding of children. I went in because it wasn’t excluded by my Standard Oil contract.”
There was no logical reason for Geisel to think to write for children. In fact, he and his wife, Helen, were not able to have children themselves, but he still gave it a shot and became one of the best known children’s authors in the world.
Now I have to admit that it has been quite a while since I stepped out of my comfort zone in terms of writing. That doesn’t mean that I do not fully support taking chances in your writing. I do, most definitely. For me, the biggest ‘risk’ I took was taking a writing course. It doesn’t seem like much of a risk, I know, let me explain.
I have always been fairly comfortable in my writing. I write what I want, my way and I like the results. I have yet to finish and submit a manuscript, but that’s another story—one about ADHD. Anyways, I write all of my stories using third person omniscient and multiple viewpoints. I like exploring how each character interacts with the next. I love getting inside their heads to see one scene from two different sides.
Taking the course was a big step out of my comfort zone, because for the first time I had someone else telling me what to write and how to do it. I found this extremely challenging. I also found my voice. In trying to make the prescribed assignments more into ‘my style’ I uncovered my true voice, a concept that had eluded me in the past 30 year of writing (I started when I was 6, although I wasn’t really worried about my voice then :] ).
I also experimented with first person and found that my characters and stories really came alive when I wrote in first person.  For my final assignment, I felt as though the main character was sitting across from me telling me her story. It really was incredible. Of course, I haven’t written anything in first person since that course, but I do want to. I just have to figure out how to tell multiple sides of a story in first person without ‘head hopping’.
Tonight, as I go back to my WIP and work within my comfort zone, I will be thinking of Theodor Geisel. Of his talent and of his willingness to take a risk. My mind will wonder back to the pieces I wrote for my class and I will see that my risk paid off. It advanced me as a writer and may even push me further in the future.
When’s the last time you stepped out of your comfort zone?
(Here’s a hint: if you don’t remember, it’s time to try it again.)
Happy writing!

Wednesday Writing?

Thursday, 1 March 2012

It’s nearly Thursday. In fact, it probably will be by the time I finish writing this post. The last few weeks had been manic and right now I am desperate to get to sleep. Especially since I have to get up extra early tomorrow and have a major research meeting in the morning.
So, this will be my shortest post yet. Just an update, really. I haven’t had any major accomplishments writing-wise lately. On the contrary, I am now 2 chapters behind my target. I am sad about this, but I really can’t see any way around it. As usual, life gets in the way. My only consolation is that now that I have turned my assignment in (a day early!), I can spend tomorrow night writing.
I need a few good days to get caught up. Or at least partially caught up. There really aren’t enough hours in a day.
Yep. It’s Thursday. So much for Wednesday Writing.
Roll on, Maternity Leave!

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