Monthly Archives: January 2014

14,000 down, 46,000 to go!

My mom just emailed to ask if I’d been writing.  And I have.  But no one would know it.

The modern world has these benefits like: getting to stay caught up on your adult daughter’s life by reading her blog. I’m also trying to remember to call regularly. We’re doing okay with this combination of technology and good old fashioned talking. Mom would agree.

If I have been writing… but not as much here, which is true, I suppose this as good a time as any to explain why.

On December 30, 2013 I started writing my first (may it be of many) memoir. I’m taking a  course called “Write Your Memoir in Six Months” where the goal is…  I bet you could guess this: to write a memoir in six months.  After completing an Epic Adventure for Writers with Jo Anna Rothman I am renewed and joyfully stepping into my role as a writer.  I am finally ready to answer the call I was hearing all my life both when I sat down to pour my thoughts onto paper and then validated by the suggestion/recommendation to pursue writing by everyone close to me.  If only I had also gotten around to being a model when I was young and thin… alas.  This life works for me.

If you’re thinking it sounds intense… that’s because it is!  Writing a book in six months is essentially writing 60,000 words in six months.  10,000 words a month, 2,500 words a week, 500 words a day (if writing five days a week). It’s a lot.  It’s not easy to find the time–it has to be made.  And it’s not easy to do even when you have the time.

So far what’s come up:

  • Torrents of tears while writing about tragic events appearing in technicolor inside my memory
  • Inability to fall asleep because scenes I had not yet thought to outline were pushing their way out of my subconscious to demand their fair share of the word count
  • Viewing my current life through some of the lenses I wore as a child and younger adult and experiencing great distress and confusion
  • Intense sugar cravings (actually, that’s from coming off of sugar and refined grains as of Thursday, 1/16–not that I’m counting)

How do you get that much writing done (while still having a full time job, a six year old son–and, yeah, I’m a room parent–in first grade, a partner, a house, a vegetable garden started from seed on your kitchen counter, even a few friends…)?  I learned in my Epic Adventure that I thrive within a structure and that, in order to trust one another, my writer and I need to have firm commitments.  And this is what I created for myself:

January & February:

  • Write/work on the book for 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week.  Most likely: Monday-Thursday & Saturday, but that can be flexible
  • Goal is to write 500 words in each 30 minute sitting

March:

  • Write/work on the book for 1 hour a day, 2 days a week
  • Write a blog post once a week
  • Take one act of getting the word out about myself, my book, this blog… something

April & Beyond:

  • Still TBD
all of these bubbles will be filled in by June!  eek!

all of these bubbles will be filled in by June! eek!

And of course I need a visual reference to track my progress.  I found a printable number chart (meant to be used to teach kids to count to 100) and adapted it for my own use.  Each bubble signifies 100 words of writing.  There are 600 bubbles to fill in.  So far, I’ve bubbled in 140 (woot!).

The book is far from done, and still will be even when the word count is closer to 60,000.  I am just letting it flow right now.  I’m paying little attention to theme or style and I’m writing it the way it comes out.  I’ll go back in the developmental editing stage and look for the themes, highlight them, choose the right style and adapt as needed.  It’s going to be a long journey, but it’s going to be worth it.

Oh, you want to know what it’s about?  First, let me define memoir.  It’s a personal narrative.  A “true” story (meaning it came from real life, but who really knows the “truth” about anything), but not your whole life story (that’s an autobiography). It’s a slice of life.  My memoir, title yet unknown (hmmm… maybe that’s a good title), is the story of how I developed beliefs about where happiness would come from (a few key childhood events), sought happiness in that form, discovered I was wrong, and relearning–as an adult–that it comes in many different forms.  Even some I never would have suspected.

I look forward to you reading it.

SUCCESS is the word

Have you heard of this “word of the year” trend?  It’s a bit of a substitute for making new year’s resolutions.  I haven’t made resolutions for years.  Some time ago I realized the process of choosing resolutions and promptly not following through on them was a surefire way to set myself up to feel failure and subsequent shame… so I stopped doing it.  

What happened next is that I started looking at every day as an opportunity learn and grow.  I almost wrote change there because I think that was the intent at first, but since then I’ve learned that striving for constant change is remaining in a perpetual state of dissatisfaction with myself whereas being open to learning and growth is just being in the state of living, not always moving forward, but being.

I can see now that my failed resolutions were a product of not being connected to my true desires and not honoring the commitments I made to myself (because they weren’t commitments I really wanted to make!).  When this happens often enough, a sense of self trust is lost.  What’s funny is that if I were to make resolutions now I would be much more likely to be successful because I would choose things with purposeful intention and my relationship with myself is strong enough that I wouldn’t be willing to betray my own trust any longer.

I learned earlier this week about the idea of choosing a word for the year and before I was even through reading about it and thinking about whether I’d do it the word was echoing in my head:

SUCCESS.

Success is never a word I would have chosen before.  I would have gravitated to a more that I judged as more “noble”  like love, forgiveness, compassion… and those are the words I’ve been working with rather diligently the last couple of years.  But I’ve done enough.  Truly.  They’ve received enough of my attention and affection that I’ve built a solid foundation in the values that are important to me.  They aren’t going anywhere.

Success & Luck.  Guaranteed.

Success & Luck. Guaranteed.

Late last year I was shopping at a jewelry sale and gravitated towards these bracelets that are a piece of cord with a single crystal strung on them.  They were called “Prescriptions for Life” and were perfectly packaged in plastic cylinders that looked like medicine bottles.  I picked up every single one and was putting the one that supported Love in my basket when I felt the “Success” and “Luck” (also: follow through) staring at me.  I bought those instead… and those bracelets (that I’ve worn every day since) mark the first moment I allowed myself to prioritize success and accomplishment.  That’s all it takes.  Do one small thing to plant a seed and watch as it melts into your intentions and infuses your experiences with new life.

I am ready to experience success.  I know I don’t yet know what that means, what it feels like, or what I will need to do or let go of to get it… but I am prepared to find out.  Success is the word for this year.  Success is the experience I will have.  Success is what I’m worthy of.