Friday, January 18, 2013


My sweet baby girl joined our family on October 19, so we're just one day shy of her 3-month birthday. For those without much experience with newborns, those three months are often regarded as the fourth trimester. It's arguably with hardest three months of anyone's life (although tell that to a mom with a toddler...) and very trying for both mom and baby. In the midst of that chaos, I've written almost as much as I wrote in the previous year. I finished the first draft of SIGNAL HILL, a project I started last January, and I'm more than half through my first draft of my new story, THE EXTRAORDINARY ART OF FALLING.  You know what I've learned? You have as much time as you make.

Here's the thing: I needed to take it slow last year. My pregnancy literally drained the life out of me. I fell asleep putting my toddler down for naps more often than not, then crashed the minute he went to bed at night. I had horrid morning (all-day) sickness, my pelvic bones separated too far too fast and Sweet Lump decided to settle on my sciatic nerve about halfway through. Fun stuff. Anyway, there is nothing wrong with needing 10 months to finish a 53k draft. It just got to me. I know I can write faster.

When the idea for FALLING came to me over the holidays, I knew I wanted to write it as fast as I could. When I sat down to write the first page, I wrote almost 3k in one day. Last fall, 500 words made for a good day. With that kind of jump on things, I decided to try to write the first draft by the end of January. Aiming for 50k, I'd need to write 1,613 words a day to finish. With the kids napping at the same time most afternoons, I get about two hours a day to right. That's a totally management goal.

But life is never so simple. We've had sickness and visitors and kids who refuse to nap.

That's where discipline comes in. I might not hit my word count goal every day, but I'm only about 500 words off from my goal for the month. If I write less one day, I make it up as soon as I can. If my husband works late, I write. If the kids nap long, I write. I type between 300-600 words each day on my smart phone utilizing an app called Evernote. It automatically syncs with my computer so I just have to copy it over to Word when I sit down to write on my laptop again. I keep writing, even if I don't have a whole lot of inspiration. It's almost a mania.

The fun part of writing like this is how immediate the story feels. The characters are clear and the story crisp because I'm working on it all the time. I don't need to reread old scenes to remind myself who these characters are or how they'll react. It's all so fresh.

It's exhausting. I have no idea what I'll do come February. But it's fun to try something new. I need a challenge right now (since parenting obviously isn't enough!) and getting this out so fast is definitely that!

Do goals work for you? Can you set - and meet - your own deadlines or do they just make you feel guilty when you miss them? I've been on both sides and I have to say, I like meeting them better ;)

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Of Birds, Cows and Cats

I heard a story in church this morning:

One winter, a bird lay on the ground, nearly frozen to death. His icy wings were too heavy to lift it from the frozen ground. In the midst of his suffering, when he had nearly given up hope, a cow came along and crapped on him.

The bird's despair deepened. Not only was he frozen, he now also smelled like manure.

Then the warmth of the manure began to warm the little bird. No longer on the verge of death, he began to sing, his heart bubbling over with joy.

The bird's song drew the attention of a nearby cat. The cat hurried to the poor bird's side and began to dig, freeing the bird from its foul smelling trap.

Then the cat ate the bird.

There are two lessons to this story:

1.) Not everyone who drops manure on you means you harm

2.) Not everyone who digs you out means you well

Think about the people in your lives. Who are the cats? Who are the cows? Don't fight constructive crap and beware of cunning help.