Before I knew I was going to be running behind on my BYOB project, I’d already signed up for this writing class/workshop/book discussion group covering Julia Cameron’s The Vein of Gold. I have done a book by Julia Cameron before, many many years ago, called The Artist’s Way, and then several years ago, I also went through her book Blessings. So I was pretty sure I was going to enjoy this when I saw it come up as an option on one of my book groups.
Today’s the first day the group is meeting (and coincidentally also the kids first day back to school). I just discovered that, sadly, I’m already a little bit behind. Apparently a calendar went out over the weekend when I wasn’t paying attention to the group yet, starting daily personal activities last Sunday. Ah well, it looks like it should be pretty easy to catch up, as I actually already have a Morning Pages and Daily Walk habit. I just have to catch up on the very small amount of reading. 🙂 I cannot wait to get started!
My posts for BYOB have not turned out to be daily. I have been having health issues again, the same brain and blood issues that I had last year and the year before and the year before. It always seems to get worse this time of year. You would think I would be used to it by now, but I am not.
So, I am up to day three now with my posts and today is the thirteenth. I don’t imagine that I will catch up, but I did have a phenomenally productive day yesterday with writing, so there is still hope.
Another one of Julia Cameron’s big things is taking yourself on an Artist Date. Julia describes them thusly: “The Artist Date is a once-weekly, festive, solo expedition to explore something that interests you. The Artist Date need not be overtly “artistic”– think mischief more than mastery. Artist Dates fire up the imagination. They spark whimsy.”
A bajillion years ago when I did my first Julia Cameron experience, I had no kids, I lived in a big city, I wasn’t immunocompromised, and there was no pandemic going on. So there are big changes in the here and now version of my life.
I’m really not leaving the house much these days. I go on walks around the neighborhood, the grocery store occasionally, and Wal-mart even less often than that. Not much more than that. So Artist Dates are hard to imagine right now. Fortunately, the group I’m doing this with is awesome and came up with a list of alternate ideas for artist dates, some of which I’ll share below:
Virtual psychology: Happiness Lab Podcast: It is interesting how so much of the “what you think will make you happy really won’t” relates to writing. Because that’s exactly what our plots teach our characters. It’s the first time I’ve heard agency applied to actual people — but it makes the importance in writing make sense. Done by a Harvard professor. https://www.happinesslab.fm/
Virtual: Virtually visit a city in your WIP, or one you’ve always wanted to go to. Put the city name in to search YouTube and you’ll likely get hours worth of travel videos, history clips, etc. In advance, look up CITYNAME recipe and find a recipe to make on your virtual visit.
Virtual: She said that watching a good film can count as a date. Kanopy has incredible foreign films. You can watch 6 free films a month, and can sign up with google or with your library card. Kanopy.com
For this week, I did an Artist Date with my youngest son. We painted “pawtraits” of some local rescue cats as part of a charity fundraiser to raise money for O’Malley Alley Cats in Tyler (the group we fostered for this spring and summer).
Over the summer, both of my critique groups faded away to until it was just me and one other person, so we advertised for new writers to join us. I’ve been doing critiques this afternoon and am so happy with the first half of our new members (we got so many we split into groups of four that send submissions every other week). I could just cry. Such good writers!
I am taking an online writing class called BYOB – Blog Your Own Book. It’s thirty-one days of blogging with a goal to use the posts to make an e-book at the end of the month. I’ve decided to blog my own adoption story from start to finish, with a few meanderings here and there to talk about Adoptee Rights, the psychology behind healing the emotional wounds of adoption, websites that help people search, and other adoption related topics. I plan to send copies of the resulting e-book to my family members when it is complete.
I am telling the story from just my point of view, I am leaving out possibly salacious bits of information that might upset anyone involved, and I am not posting the given names of those who are featured in my story. Everyone named will be given a pseudonym to protect their anonymity.
I’ve chosen to post my pieces on Medium because there is the possibility of getting paid for my posts there. If this series works out, I will write more stories on Medium about other topics.
Over the weekend, my family cleaned out our garage. All four of us at once. Usually it’s just me and one kid or the other, dragging things out and throwing them in the trash. It takes all day, sometimes two. This time I put my foot down and made everyone work together at once. Two hours later we were nearly done. Two dumpsters were filled with trash, the van was filled with donations, and more donate-ables were put out at the curb for people to take. Later that afternoon, I pulled some memory boxes inside, one by one, and dug through them. More papers were added to the recycle bin, old bills were shredded, and folders were made and labeled with dates and kid names. I knocked out 3 of the 7 that were left before the end of the day.
While I was going through all that paper, I found 6 new poems, notes on two novels that I’d never seen before (one which tied up a plot hole I’ve been edging around for months), and a rough draft of a short story I cannot remember writing (but it’s in my handwriting). And all that doesn’t include the four notebooks I found that I hadn’t had a chance to dig through yet.
This afternoon, I typed all that into the computer. Between the random sheafs and the notebooks, I ended up with 14 poems across the last decade. While I was putting those in order, I discovered 22 other poems that had been mis-foldered at some point in the past. Since I was on a roll, I went through all the rest of the notebooks in the bedroom and checked for poetry. Found 5 more pages of one novel, written longhand, and three pages of notes on another one.
After all that nonsense, I opened up my old yWriter files from the current novels and translated a bunch of character/location/item templates into Scrivener, then updated my three current Scrivener novel Outliner Columns/Keywords/Custom Meta-data so they all had matching information to work with.
(I also went to the doctor and shopped at three stores today. I’ve been hyper-productive.)
I get emails all the time from various writers trying to sell their latest books about writing, writing courses, etc. Sometimes they are full of interesting things, sometimes not so much. Today’s message from bookfox.co caught my eye sent me down this rabbit hole:
Write down your favorite album, your favorite movie, and your favorite artwork. Now answer a few questions about these selections: What do your answers have in common? What kind of art are they?Why do these pieces of art, above all else, move you? Now to figure out what this means. What do your answers tell you about the type of writing you should produce?
Favorite album: Nomads, Indians, and Saints by the Indigo Girls
Favorite movie: Sliding Doors
Favorite artwork: Van Gogh’s Starry Night
What do these things have in common? I chose them all during my college years. They all represent a time to me when I was first starting out, making my first decisions away from my parents, living on my own for the first time. And even with twenty years in between those days and now, I still love them. I still think about them as some of the first things that were really, truly my things.
Other things they have in common is a certain amount of wildness and inconsistency, some questioning of reality, a journey to find what really is true about the world. Those are still things I’m thinking about today, even though some of my thoughts on those subjects have changed, my quest for truth in the world has not. I’m still striving for my own authenticity in a world that wants me to be just like everyone else. But not I can see how different everyone else really is and see what that means in their lives. My world has expanded so much since then.
The next part of the email made me realize that I’d gone off the intended path of the lesson at hand for the day, but that’s okay. I like the answers I found.
My dad came up to spend the July 4th weekend with us. He arrived Friday and we thought he was going home on Sunday, but he extended it to Monday to make some much needed repair calls for his house up here and now he’s extended it one more day to meet the termite people in person. All of which to say that I haven’t gotten any writing done since last Thursday.
So today, I’ve got some time and my brain says “nope.” I am not letting that deter me. For my birthday in April, I got several of those books in the writing thesaurus series and I have not managed to look at a single one until this morning. So I looked up my notes about the scene I was supposed to be writing – “Edward & Minerva talk in hotel room after meeting Sharon. E’s POV, also show how he is more like Stephen/Walt in tenderness towards wife, but how that is a magically manipulated response.”
I always intend to blog more than I end up doing. I type up my morning pages and then think “I’ll add to these and make a blog post.” And then I end up dumping the info into a post and don’t edit it or hit publish until a couple weeks or month or so later, when I do several at once. I do that with a lot of things. I think “I’m going to do x,y, or z” and then don’t plan well around that thing, so not as much gets accomplished and then I feel bad about it. I decided to get better about planning writing things.
On Sunday I got out my new HP Classic Planner, the Welcome to the Book Club one. It’s super fun and has lots of book themes dividers and pages. I got the accompanying planner stickers, too. What I failed to notice in my buying spree was that this is a horizontal layout, not vertical, and I converted to a vertical process for regular life stuff several years ago. I had no idea how I was going to use this one. I had initially decided I was going to chuck July through December and start it in January. I’d have a plan by then, right? But on Sunday a beautiful plan came into my mind and I had to try it.
So here is my new writing planner for July.
I have only included writing goals, writing related events, and the odd regular-life event that impedes my normal writing time slots. Blue ink is for writing, purple for revision, green for events (like writer’s guild meetings, library writing class, other writing-related classes, conventions, etc.) and pink for impending due dates.
Weekly view looks like this:
I’m using the left side for planned scenes to write and # words needed for that day, the middle for word sprint counts, and the right side for events that might impede the schedule. The bottom right provides a place for overall word count for my main project, things I love this week, and what writing related guidebook I’m reading this week.
I started using it on Monday and it’s working out pretty well so far. (these photos are from Sunday when I first started filling it out) I like being able to just get up andstart on work I already know needs doing. I plan on updating it weekly on Sunday like I do my regular life planner and meal plan. 🙂
I mapped out all the new scenes I need for Chapters 1-8. That took a while and one change I made affected several other scenes, so there’s new things to add into already written ones as well. It’s all good and I think it will make for a better story and some better flow.
I need my brain to cooperate and actually push out the words and scenes now. I’m having a bad hand month, it seems, so my typing is more erratic lately than it had been. I really have to concentrate to hit the right keys and that frustrates me. Tomorrow I will start back to the actual writing.