Wednesday, October 16, 2013

The Poodle Skirt: What it should teach me about writing, Pt 2

You all should remember this poodle skirt from yesterday's post. Here it is if you want to read it again: Poodle Skirt

All caught up now? Great.

Most of you can already see where this is going, but I have to get it out anyway. I've shared with you the utter dread and torture and agony that was the making of said skirt, and I told you why I did it. Not for the joy of it. Not for accolations.

But because I love my daughter.

When you love someone it sometimes means you sacrifice. Not your soul, not your self-worth, not your ideals or your morals, but you do sacrifice. The time and energy I sacrificed weren't for this stupid skirt--it was for my daughter. My 12-yr-old, smarter-than-me, slightly snarky, occasionally disobedient, stubborn, talented daughter.

Friday, in my post-skirt recovery, I realized that if I was willing to sacrifice so much to do a project I hated, why was I so hesitant in my writing--which is something I love? I used to think I was good with deadlines, that they made me work harder so I could meet them. But somewhere along the way, after seeing self-imposed deadline after deadline slide by, I realized that's not the case. So it wasn't that I had basically only one day to make the skirt.

Is it because I like to sew? Not particularly, and I'm not particularly skilled at it. But I do love to create things, and sewing just enables an aspect of that. But I got no pleasure from creating this skirt, so that's not it either.

Basically it came down to my girl. I did it for her. Only for her. Not for me. Not for the satisfaction of doing it but because I didn't want to see her disappointed if it was something I could actually do for her.

So if it's the person who matters most to me, what about the people who are waiting for my next book?

I'm not talking about nameless, faceless fans who I adore but in a distant non-stalkerish way. I'm talking about the kids who have reached out to me to say how much they love my series and can't wait to see what I do next. I'm talking about the little girls who've received my books as gifts and read them over and over. The ones I know by name. The ones I love.

And what about my writing career in general? My publishing goals? My plans for the future? Surprisingly, little of that really has to do with me. I don't want fame and fortune (though a little fortune would be nice, let's be honest) or to be on numerous bestseller lists. I've told you before I like being invisible. (you may now ask if I like it so much why use my real name to publish--and that plays into the part that's really about me, the part where I have to stand for what I say and my goals to improve with each project)

And then there's the fact that I write for my kids. There's so much I want them to learn and so much I want them to know, but one of the biggest things is that each of us needs to be able to follow our dreams. If what you're doing isn't what you love, then why are you doing it? I want them to pursue their dreams, to make success out of them. And how can I properly teach that if I don't live the example of it? Because the failure comparison of do it because I didn't just doesn't cut it.

Lastly, there's the most spiritual and personal reason why I write and publish. Because I know with absolute certainty that it's my calling in life. It's my part in God's plan. I have two callings--mother and writer--in that order. And I love God, so the progression goes that I should be willing to sacrifice to fulfill my part in His plan.

But, yeah, that's a lot of self-imposed guilt there and I'm only human. I'm going to backslide sometimes, make mistakes, and have to own them. Like right now. I don't care if the world never knows my name. But someday I'm going to have to answer for the things I did and did not do, and I feel there should definitely be more effort on my part in that regard.

I want to be able to say that I tried my best. Right now, this is not my best. Not my very best.

I know I get hung up on my first drafts, wanting them to be perfect and needing as little revision as possible. My new goal is to just finish the dang things. Become a fantastic RE-writer. Stop letting my doubts dictate my actions. Write for 5 hrs a day. The kids are in school, what's stopping me but me? So what if I chuck 95% of it later. That's 5% more than I'm doing now. It's still progress.

"You miss 100% of the shots you don't take."

It's high time I start applying what I know, push through my personal issues, and just write. Because of the love.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

The Poodle Skirt: What it should teach me about writing, Pt 1

This is a poodle skirt. And you say, "Yes, I know it's a poodle skirt, but what's your point?"

My point? I hate this skirt. Loathe it. Detest it. It's seriously the only thing I hate more than...I don't even know--anything.

 "Wow," you say, "that's a lot of emotion about a stupid skirt."

And I agree. Completely.

If you're a long-time follower then you know that I have made some interesting comparisons to aspects of my life and how they relate to my writing. Bear with me because I'm about to do it again.

You see, last Friday was our school's Homecoming. And my daughter, who is part of the band/marching band, told me Tuesday that they had decided everyone needed a poodle skirt for the parade Friday.

Tuesday. She told me Tuesday. Afternoon. On our way out of town for a dentist appointment.

So I grumbled. And I griped. Why couldn't they have come to this conclusion a week ago? A month ago? It's not like nobody knew when Homecoming was, or that they would be in the parade. And I admit it--I'd hoped her ineligibility status might prevent her from marching in the parade. That way I wouldn't have to drop everything and make a skirt she'll probably only wear once. But no such luck.

I scoured the fabric selections at Walmart Tuesday afternoon because it's the only place with fabric and picked out a sweet floral print because they didn't have decent prices on any solid colored fabric. And because I know my daughter I knew I'd have to make an underskirt to shield her legs from the netting because she'd gripe about it being scratchy. Yeah, I know.

Wednesday I had a full schedule and couldn't do anything about it, but I did manage to make the poodle applique. But I started on the skirt first thing Thursday. I measured. I cut. I dug out more fabric. I measured and cut some more.

I found that the pretty floral print I'd bought at the store wouldn't work for the skirt. I hadn't bought enough fabric, which is a mistake I hardly ever make. Usually I have tons leftover. So I dug into my reserves and found the solid red pictured above. I probably still have enough of that leftover to make a tablecloth for my 8-seater dining room table. The underskirt? Easy--an old sheet. The netting? Less easy--I hate working with netting or tulle but I managed it.

Then I started to piece it all together and sew. I put in movies to listen to in order to break up the monotony. Occasionally I got up and ate or got more water or went to the bathroom or changed out the movies. But mostly I sewed. And sewed. And sewed.

The skirt was almost complete by the time my daughter got home from school. Mind you, I've made skirts before. Usually I do a simple elastic waist and hem it up. Really, really basic. The last one I made my youngest took me about 15 min start to finish. This skirt?

Oh. My. Goodness. It had a waistband. It has a zipper. I don't have a zipper the right length. I measured and cut for the size up from my daughter's size and the waist was tiny. TINY. My daughter is 12 and does not have a tiny waist. When she tried it on it was easily 3 inches too small. After all that work?

I grumbled a bit louder. I fantasized about going down to the school and yelling at the adults in charge of the band and the parade stuff. Details like this need to be worked out well in advance, not 3 days before.

My waistband solution? I ran a seam deeper into the top of the skirt, measured her, cut off the top of the skirt so there was a bigger opening, and measured again.

And still botched it. Now it was too big. Slid right off her not-quite-yet-hips and puddled on the floor. By this time I was fed up with the whole project, but no way was I going to put this much time and effort into the dang skirt and give up there. Safety pins. Yes, the skirt is still too big for her and if it ever fits it will likely be too short. I ran up to town and while the girls were in their drama class I bought a zipper. That night I came home and sewed it in. I'm not fast with zippers so it took until after they'd gone to bed.

But, finally, late Thursday night, the poodle skirt was done. And I LOATHED IT. In fact, I'm still considering burning it.

Because I hate that stupid, awkward poodle skirt.

But I love my daughter.

*Part 2, how this relates to writing, will be up tomorrow.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

What is Wrong with Me?

Sometimes I just don't know what to make of myself. Seriously. I have conversations in my head, play out what the characters would say to one another in any given scene, run the plot down over and over to come up with the right pacing and everything.

Then I sit at my computer. And. Do. Nothing.

I open my documents and set myself up to write. I scroll to where I stopped last time and click the cursor into position.

But I don't write.

The act of putting these thoughts on screen (paper) freezes me.

WHY?!

I've published 3 books. It's not like I can't come up with the words. I'm not stuck in an endless cycle of writer's block or anything. So why can't I just write. the. words?

It's driving me absolutely crazy. I'm too embarrassed to admit the days I have wasted while the kids have been at school, not counting the days one or more has been home sick or the days I've had the truck in the shop. I mean perfect writing days where I have nothing else to do but spend hours in front of my computer.

Not writing.

Right now I'm looking at the clock at the bottom of my screen and the kids will be home in about an hour. After that I'm on the go until they snuggle into bed around 9. By then I'm so wiped I'm good for about 30 min and I slip into bed myself. With the goal and the desire to get up and write in the morning.

But I won't. Because all this time has passed and I haven't.

Is it self doubt? Am I frozen by the idea of trying to top my previous works? I don't think so. It doesn't enter into conscious thought, at least.

Mel, I may need a boot to the head. :/
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