Sunday, October 20, 2013

Uphill Battle

As I write this post I am already late. I'm supposed to be getting ready for church right now, before the rush on the bathroom starts. Instead, here I am.

It is not lost on me that this situation pretty well sums up how my life is going these days. I should be doing "X," but instead, I'm doing "Y." At the moment "Y" is something that is completely under my control - I could decide not to write a blog post at this exact moment and go take a shower instead. But lately, it seems most of the "Ys" cropping up are things I can't do a darned thing about: Financial disasters, unexpected illnesses, government shut downs, other people not following through, etc.

Logically, I know this is how life is, there are upswings and downswings. To succeed we have to learn to make the most of the ups and ride out the downs. I'm trying to take my own advice by focusing on the things that I can control right now, one of which is my writing. I've thrown myself into preparation for National Novel Writing Month full force. For my third go-round with NaNo I'm determined to not just produce 50,000 words for their own sake, I want to dig a little deeper and challenge myself in new ways.

My novel idea has been percolating in the back of my mind for a full year. It is the story I wanted to tell last year, but veered away from last minute. At the time, the story hit too close to home. It is about a teenaged girl adopted from foster care as a young child who has a random encounter with a bio relative that challenges her sense of her own identity.  I started making notes, but soon realized I needed some time and distance from doing foster care before I could write about it. We didn't know what the ending of our own story would be then, it was all just too personal, too real.

Now, looking back, giving the idea a year to percolate was a good thing. When I sat down in September to begin blocking out the story I was amazed at how easily it flowed; my subconscious had been busy all that time. I blocked out each chapter using the cork board in Scrivener, doing a detailed synopsis for each one. I also used Scapple, a new Literature and Latte product, to brainstorm my way through some of the rough spots. Now, when November first comes, I can devote myself entirely to writing without having to stop and think "Hmm. What comes next?"

I am more prepared than I have ever been before and it feels good. Of course, that being said, I still find that writing with an outline is more like an archeological dig than building something from a blue print. My map shows me where to start digging, but what I uncover has a shape and direction of its own that is gradually revealed only through the act of writing.

The sound of doors slamming and children arguing upstairs tells me it is now or never where the bathroom is concerned, so I'll end this post here.  Hopefully, the next time I post the downturn will have become an upswing once again. Until then, I'll just keep on coasting here in the Slow Lane.

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