Thursday, July 15, 2010

What I've Learned...Part II

When I made the decision to enter Brava's Writing with the Stars Contest, I had no idea how hard the next two months were going to be. Or how much I would learn. Even if I don't final in the contest, the experience was well worth it!

I originally planned to enter my fallen angel story. Then, two weeks in, I decided it was too hot for the Brava line, so I pulled out the bartender story I'd written last year - you know, the one with the opening line: "Can I get a blowjob, please." - and started over. Silver gets all the credit for the title, by the way.

So it was May 15th when I settled on a story. I had to rework my timeline because I'd lost 14 days, but I felt like it was still doable. I never would have believed life could throw so much crap at me in such a short time!!! Nothing serious, just frustrations and hassles and worries that tested my resolve and focus.

Just a few examples:
* The last 3 weeks of school, my youngest was suspended twice
* One of those suspensions carried a disorderly conduct charge, and we had to appear before a juvenile court councelor (We realized the Singulair they had him on for allergies was affecting his mood - and not in a good way!)
* When my computer crashed in the fall, I lost 20K words of Last Call. Recreating those, on top of adding another 20K...I basically rewrote the whole thing
* Oldest totaled his car, and got kicked out of school for low GPA in less than 24 hours
* My dad had a cat scan - still not sure what for, but I was worried for a while (turns out it's okay)
* My mom had to go in for stress tests (she's okay too, but I was really worried for a while)
* I had a stomach bug for a week
* PowerWriter is 3000 words more than Word (grrrrrrr)

Lesson #1 - If I have to, I can block life out, sit in my chair and get really focused for hours on end. I wrote every. Single. Day. Even when I didn't want to, I made myself sit at my desk and meet my word count goal. And I was able to do it! :)

Lesson #2 - I don't need 8-9 hours of sleep like I've always thought. I LIKE that much sleep, but I don't need it. About half-way in, I started sleeping between 6-7 hours each night, and was able to function fine. The last two weeks, I didn't get more than 6 hours any night, and most nights I was down to 4 1/2 - 5 hours. That didn't work well, but I was still able to do all that I needed to do. I wasn't necessarily pleasant to be around (LOL) but I was doing what needed to be done.

Lesson #3 - I don't need to do as much around the house as I've always believed. The last two weeks, hubby and kidlet did a great job of fending for themselves. And they survived!! One night, they fixed Redhots (spicy hotdogs), cut them lengthwise, and then in half, and put them on hamburger buns. LOL

Hubby helped with the laundry a few times, and no one complained about the nasty...and I do mean NASTY...state of the house. No one has stepped up to help clean it, but no one has complained about the state of things, either.

Lesson #4 - This is something I'd always suspected, but now know for sure. I get a second wind around 9:00, and am as happy as can be to work until around 2:00. If I lived alone, I'd probably stay up until that late every night, and then sleep later than I do in the mornings. I'd say some of my best, most creative work was done late at night.

Lesson #5 - I don't ever want to write another story in two months, but having such a tight deadline was great. And being forced to work on it for such long hours (up to 18 hours some days) I was totally immersed in the story and found it very easy to keep the continuity, and keep track of what was happening in the story, in general.

Lesson #6 - Worrying about the story doesn't get it written. I overthink things when I'm writing - normally. On this timeframe, I didn't have time to get caught up in my doubts, and fears, and paranoia. I just didn't have time for it, and it all disappeared. It came back like a damned flood, though, when I hit "send." :D

Lesson #7 - Self-care is a very, very important part of being a writer, and something I totally neglected over the past two months. I'm taking the discipline that I learned while writing Last Call, and applying it to getting myself back in shape. I'll let you guys know how that's going in a few weeks.

I'm sure there are a few other random, minor things that I learned throughout this process, but those are the biggies. I think I need to keep myself on a close deadline - not THAT close, but having a deadline definitely was the kick in the pants I needed to take this job seriously, and work it.

So there you have it....what I learned.

How about you guys? Ever have a project, or something that you were working for that taught you so much more than you would have ever believed?

Have a great Thursday! One more "get-up" for this week!!

Peace and love,


Silver James said...

You're welcome. LOL!

I'm so proud of you for digging in and following through on this project. Even if you don't final/win, you've taken an amazing writer's journey will lessons that will stand you in good stead.

Ack. Sorry. Working on historical sections of FAERIE FOOL. Didn't mean to sound all pompous and stuff!

Anyway, LAST CALL will be ready for submission if and when and I just know it will find a happy home somewhere if Brava is dumb enough to let it slip away!

Liza said...

Wow, on all you've had to deal with in addition to getting a submission out. Hope Brava can see what an amazing writer you are and you will the contest. Good luck!

Janet said...

I so agree with Silver! This will make you a career writer, Alannah!

And those are some very big lessons you learned. Thanks for sharing them with us :)

Paula R said...

Thanks for sharing what you have learned with us, Alannah. I need to do more writing than worrying. I stress out over if I will ever be able to finish my first ms to the point where I don't touch it. I know, not the best way to finish, but I just can't seem to shake the fear.

Kudos to you on finishing, and I second and third everything both Liza and Silver said.

Peace and love,
Paula R.

Alannah Lynne said...

LOL...Silver, you sounded very historical, but not pompous at all. I find I do that myself sometimes. If I've been writing a character for a couple of hours, I'll say something that was straight out of their mouth. LOL I guess that's good, but it causes my family to give me funny looks. And thanks for the vote of confidence!!

Thanks, Liza!! I hope it's good enough, but if not...I'll send it somewhere else. My mom is reading it now, and she said she thinks it's my best writing by far. She back-peddled and said, "I've liked all of your stories, but this is the best." LOL

Thanks, Janet! I think you're right. The discipline I've learned will help make me a career writer - as long as I write good enough stories. *fingers crossed* I'm also using that discipline in another area of my life right now, and I'll share all of that with you guys in a few weeks. When I see how it's paying off...*fingers crossed again.* ROTFL

Paula - just write and stop worrying!! Don't allow yourself to censor anything, and don't question anything. Just sit down and start writing and see what happens. And don't go back and look at it for a while (like weeks). I'm betting you'll be pleasantly suprised by what you find when you go back to it.

You can do it!!! *V* *V* *V*