My life always feels like a poorly conducted balancing act. No matter what my goals, there seem to be too many of them all clamoring for attention and I, loving them all, glance longingly from one to the other trying to keep them all happy. In the process, none of them ever receive enough nurturing to actually become successful ventures.
If I concentrate on eating healthier food and getting enough exercise, then everything else flounders. If I devote time to writing, then I gain weight and can’t be bothered to get out of my chair to be more active. If I decide to work on home improvement, those other goals are sidelined once more waiting their turn up to bat. And hopes of getting a respectable amount of sleep at night? Phffft! What’s sleep? I certainly would never get what I do accomplished without burning the midnight oil.
And recreation? Nope. Pretty much never. When I do participate in anything resembling social, it is done with a scrolling marquee of things I’m not accomplishing running in the back of my mind.
So how do people do it? I’ve never discovered the secret to efficiently, effectively achieving the goals most important to me while maintaining a balanced life.
On a related note, I finally completed a first draft of a book in July 2016. It needs to be overhauled and a second draft written, but I suddenly feel inadequate to do anything worthy with it. I have invested in a small stash of books to help me gear up for this endeavor, but haven’t managed to get completely through any of them.
Here are some of the self-help books I’ve gotten.
Scrivener for Dummies by Gwen Hernandez
Admittedly, I got this before I completed my draft. It was a contributing factor.
The author tells us that we can read just the bits we need. I started going through this one systematically and, wow, I got motivated to start writing again. The funny thing is, I did something really weird and when it came time for me to compile my writing for NaNo last November none of it compiled. (This was a sequel to my first draft novel.) I must have done something really peculiar. I ended up having to cut and paste my writing into a Word doc for validation. One of these days I’ll have to go back to this book and figure out what the hell I did wrong.
Story Fix: Transform Your Novel from Broken to Brilliant by Larry Brooks
After someone did a read of my first draft, I was pretty heart-broken. I knew it had flaws, but didn’t realize just how deep or wide they ran. I am forever grateful to the person who slogged through and gave me words of encouragement along with a much needed dose of reality. It’s one thing to read Chuck Wendig telling how crushing it is to look at one’s word baby with open eyes, but another to live the experience. I mean, I never once doubted his assessment, but the real reality is more real than the imagined reality.
After a few days to grieve, I decided my novel needed more than just rewriting, I needed to learn how to rewrite. I looked around and ran across Story Fix. I worked through the first four chapters doing the exercises and everything. But then there was November and a new novel during NaNo and this went by the wayside. So, here’s another item on that list of anxiety-provoking things to do.
But do you think I stopped there? No. I kept my eyes open for anything that could give me direction, show me the way to fix my story. So, here’s another and I just started to read it tonight and I’m very excited about the pithy content of just the very beginning.
Story Trumps Structure: How to Write Unforgettable Fiction by Breaking the Rules by Steven JamesJames begins with an illustration. He says if you ask a student to write about what they did over the summer you will get an itinerary, a list, cut and dried. But if you ask that same student to tell you something that went wrong over the summer, you get a story. One boy said that he and his cousin had a competition to see who could jump furthest from the top of a bunk bed. The cousin jumped and went pretty far, so the story teller got back against the wall to get a running start. When he ran forward and threw himself off the bunk bed he ended up with his head in the apex of the ceiling fan, but still managed to be cast further than his cousin. Now that’s a story. And here is what James has to say about this (page 7).
“You do not have a story unless something goes wrong.”
This observation is simple, yet so true. I’m excited about reading this book. The hope of learning other simple, yet profound truths, a motivator. The challenge will be to juggle this with everything else, and stay on track, not give up.
And here is where I must confess that I am writing this blog instead of beginning exercises that will advance my second draft. I’ve rethought the story and need to make new character sheets. The guys need a few small changes to help things go wrong for them. Poor things. But I promise a happily ever after.