Thursday, November 8, 2012

Make It Work?

You never forget your first. The thrill of discovery. The flush of excitement. Those little nuances that make your heart sing. 

Technically, I'm working on my fourth manuscript, but the first two were never ready to query. But with The River Remembers (or whatever title I'm trying this week), I've been through the trenches. I've done contests and queries. It's been read, re-read, critiqued and edited. I've tweaked and rewritten until I'm not even sure what the plot is any more. Why?

Because I love it.

I love these characters. I see their lives stretching on beyond what I have written. I have so many stories for them to live out. I have playlists of songs for them, folders of pictures for the places they live, the clothes they wear. Even the secondary characters still thrill me.

But my work-in-progress? It doesn't consume me. It doesn't keep me up at night. I don't hear their stories in every song or imagine them drifting through the crowds when I'm out and about. I like it. I like my characters. I like my concept. I like my setting. 

But Cambria isn't Emma. I don't understand her the same way. She's a great main character. She just hasn't wormed her way into my heart the same way. And my villain? He's no Patrick. Oh, Patrick. I doubt I'll ever write another villain I love like him. 

The problem is that I don't want to rewrite my first book every time I try something new. So gone is the heavy, moody darkness. Gone is the fragile-strong heroine and conflicted hero. Gone is the beautiful, alluring antagonist. I spent so long building that world and now I don't know how to escape it.

Which leads me to my question. Is it okay to not LOVE everything you write? Is there a time when you just have to make it work? How do you know the difference between something that just isn't right and when you're just hung up on the past?

I've hit 40,000 words (aiming for 60,000-70,000) again in my work-in-progress and I want that passion I still feel for TRR. I want that obsession. It's not really practical for a mom with a newborn and a toddler, but I miss that compulsion. It's too easy to let a day or two pass without writing. It's too hard to make myself keep writing when I lack inspiration.

I don't really know what the right answers are. I know I'll keep poking away at this thing because I need to finish. But I am beginning to doubt it'll be worth the refining process I put TRR through. All the time and sacrifice that went into that manuscript was a labor of love. So how do you put that into something you don't love?

Maybe it will come with time. Maybe it will come through the beta process. Maybe it will never come. Maybe I don't want it to come. I don't know. I do know I love writing, even when it's hard and I'll keep pushing forward because that's all I know to do.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Birthdays and Babies!

30 by Perfesser on Flickr

What a month! I turned 30 yesterday, just 13 days after giving birth to my beautiful little girl. Two kids is certainly more than twice the crazy as one, but we're doing good. The last of our visitors leaves today, then we have two weeks before the next set arrives. I'm getting back into the swing of things with my writing (praise the Lord for kids that nap at the same time!) It feel so amazing to get my body and my mind back after a long and difficult pregnancy! I'm excited to get back to blogging and finish this eternal first draft of my WiP. (BTW, is there a 40k curse? Because I keep getting stuck there and I know at least two other writers stuck at the same point right now. Weird.)

Anyway, I usually reserve this blog for sharing my creative pursuits, but I wanted to share a little of Ember's birth story because it's just that cool. Some day she'll hate me for telling it over and over, but it's just the perfect kind of crazy that bears repeating! After this, I promise to get back to my regularly scheduled programing ;)

Everyone told me second babies come faster than their older siblings. My first labor was 60 hours of regular, strong contractions, so "faster" to me is a relative term. With zero signs of impending labor as my due date approached, I wasn't in any sort of rush to prepare. The day before my due date, I planned to hit up every labor-inducing trick in the book. Walking, bouncing, spicy food and the ever-popular "get them out the way you got them in." I took my two-year-old for a walk around the neighborhood before dinner, with a stop our local Coffee Bean for a coconut cream cake and a pumpkin spice latte. I made dinner, but didn't feel much like eating. Around 7pm, I started getting a few sporadic contractions. Nothing major, nothing close, but since it was the day before my due date, I let my husband know.

Actual text at 7:06pm: I think I'm having some real contractions. Nothing regular enough to time, but enough to make bedtime interesting.

Reply from hubby: :( or :) Let me know if you need me

I continued about my night, getting my little guy bathed and in jammies, while the contractions got closer and stronger. By the time we were rocking, they were pretty serious.

Actual text at 7:40pm: Yeah this is much harder with a rambunctious toddler ;)

Reply: Just remember to stay relaxed... Release all that extra tension... Or as much as you can with a rambunctious toddler ;)

Actual text at 8:00pm: What do you bet this is just a tease & as soon he's asleep it all stops?

With the little guy asleep and in bed, I went to lay down. Unlike with my first, the Bradley Method comfort position (sprawled out on the side, with an arm on each side) actually helped. I lay in the dark hitting the button on my contraction counter app without bothering to look at the times.

Actual text from hubby at 8:58pm: Headed home

Reply from me: Cool. See you soon.

In the time it took for my husband to drive home, things got serious. I checked the times and the contractions were less than 3 minutes apart and about a minute and a half long - longer, stronger and closer than they EVER got with my first! My husband coached me through a couple more contractions before my water broke around 9:40pm with a huge pop and gush.

I texted our awesome friends/neighbors to see if anyone could come over since my sister (and planned baby-sitter) was at work. In the time it took for me to change and my husband to get the car loaded, things got more intense. Unlike the contractions I had with my first, these wrapped all the way around my back and made it hard to focus my eyes. Our friends arrived and we headed off to the hospital.

My husband did an awesome job of keeping me calm despite the pain and intensity. Halfway down the 405 I was muttering something about hating the roads in LA. Nothing like having contractions while getting rattled by horrible road conditions. We arrived at the hospital where I refused to accept a wheelchair and walked up to labor and delivery (What? Why? I'll never know). Upon our arrival, we discovered all the lovely, well-appointed labor/delivery rooms were full and we were brought into a room usually reserved for c-section recovery. Our nurse offered an epidural, but I made it through my first labor and delivery without medication. I wasn't going to wimp out only 3 1/2 hours into my second. Besides, it wasn't so bad. Between contractions, I was laughing and smiling. I assumed I had a ways to go.

Yeah. Not so much.

By the time I got changed into a gown and checked, I was basically ready to push. The poor nurse called for the NICU, the doctor, antibiotics, more equipment, more nurses. My husband was amazing at keeping me calm despite the fact that I felt completely out of control. He's seriously the best coach EVER. This whole time the contractions kept coming and the only thing I could do when one hit was push. I wasn't trying! Honest!

A senior nurse arrived, trying to give me directions while catching the baby, but I have no idea what she said or why. Baby needed to come! Less than an hour after we arrived (my husband thinks it was around 20 minutes), she arrived at 11:09pm on October 19 - 51 minutes before her due date and only 4 hours after those first sporadic contractions started. She came out just a few minutes before my doctor made it in the door, delivered by a nurse on a recovery bed and screaming like crazy.

Fortunately her speedy exit didn't cause any damage to me (woohoo! No stitches!) and my recovery has been a breeze. I was up and walking as soon as we got to our room (which was upgraded to the $500/night suite since I delivered in a recovery room without a doctor!) I feel fantastic and so blessed that everything worked out like it did. If we'd been half an hour later, she would have been born on the side of the road. Crazy. Just plain crazy.

But she's here, we're good and I can't wait to get back to (new) normal. Thanks for joining me on this journey through motherhood!