Tag Archives: On Writing

Update on Life-April Edition

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I have so much to tell you since the last time I’ve written. I think I’ll put it in sections, so I don’t forget anything.

A. The Poetry

With the poetry book done, I got a notice my alma mater was having a poetry reading that weekend. Standing in front of people I may or may not know and reading something that comes from such a private, personal place sounded terrifying. So I did it. And it was terrying.  I choked the last line because I was trying not to cry.

But something good did come from it. A past professor, one I really looked up to, was there and after the event, she sat with me and went through every word of the chapbook and made sound suggestions that really made the quality of the whole project leaps and bounds better.

Though I’d settled on the title, it bugged me a bit. She helped me change it. I’ve already reworked the suggestions, and even submitted it to the first competition. There are two more that I’ll send to soon.

I’m going to write more on this, but I see merit now in choosing a smaller project to see through, beginning to end, before launching into a novel. I have tangible evidence on what “done” is like, and it is addictive. I believe the memory of it will carry me to completion on the next novel project.

B. Camp Nanowrimo

I have a goal of 25,000 words to get me to the end of a first draft of SongNovel. There is a new layout method that I’m in love with and am itching to put to action. (Dan Harmon’s story circle. Check it out!) I was doing really well, even exceeding word counts during the weekdays, so my weekends would be more family focused. Approximately 7,500 words in, my husband found a house that he loved. I love it, too, and through a series of emotional events, we’re…

C. Buying and Selling a House

After Hurricane Katrina (2005), the apartment the newly wedded Smiths (that’s us) lived in became too expensive. Not only my apartment complex, but also a host of others who sustained damage from the hurricane raised monthly cost $100 or more. We also had a pet, which meant most affordable complexes would not rent to us, even before Katrina. So we bought a little baby house, in hopes that we would be able to move to a toddler house about two years or so after.

For the past, 11 years, we have shared 1 bathroom about the size of an office desk. And we have grown from a 2 person family to a 4 person family as well. There are no secrets where there should be secrets. My friends, it’s time for a second bathroom. Please, Lord Jesus, let it be time for a second bathroom.

So we put a contract on the house that we love, contingent upon the selling of our current home.

Relatedly, on January 21, 2017, a tornado hit our small town, and I am still in conversations with contractors to complete/start work on our house. AND NOW WE HAVE TO SELL IT.  Per our contract, we had to list the house asap.

I cleaned the house to take pictures of the inside of it before the sheetrock gentleman came to fix spots in two ceilings and a section of carport. Then I cleaned more when people wanted to see the house before the work was done. I will also have to deep clean the house again when the workers finish. (I don’t know when that will be because they are on contractor time, which I found out recently is different than Mea time.) There is a daily tidying situation that has to happen before work everyday because you never know when you will have to tell your realtor, “Sure, these potential buyers can see the house without the 24 hours of notice we asked for.” (Daily tidying wouldn’t be difficult if my two toddlers weren’t sleeping on a pallet in the living room because their ceiling is getting worked on, and–I have two toddlers.)

And then there are…

D. Kittens Residing on my Front Porch

My sweet kitty is the best mom and wants her babies to see the world, but not from the cozy confines of our outside laundry room, as I had hoped. Instead she’s set up shop on our front porch, so anyone who would like to look at the house must first pass five tiny, blue-eyed, toe-biting guards and their mother. (They are adorable and we’re keeping two of the five because we love them so.) (I just wish I could love them so from the house we want to buy instead of the house we want to sell.)

E. Conclusion

I know this is just a season of life that will be fine in some months. It’s just messing with my creative life so I’m a little resentful. I can adjust with this unexpected change because at the end of the day, it will benefit my family. The house is a fixer upper, too, so I hope to be posting some before-and-afters of rooms and projects. I’ll tag them something clever in case you don’t care to see.

So…this is my life currently. Anyone else going through a big change?

Iiii….It’s Done

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At 4pm on March 29th, I finished my poetry chapbook.

 

A writing project complete.

 

Since then, I’ve done a lot of staring at things. And blinking.

 

I honestly feel like I’m in shock. I don’t really know what to do.

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It’s been so long since I’ve finished a writing project.

 

This year I decided I needed a baptism by fire. Something that would blast through this fear of acknowledgement/discovery. Not discovery as an author–that would be stupid cool–but discovery as in, the inner workings of Mea Smith. Which, I believe will be a huge step toward the author thing. I know I’m all sunshine and roses on the outside, but there are some pretty dark unicorns and tricky sprites inside that I’ve had (and have) to deal with.

My Southern upbringing taught me to deal with these things privately, but do you know how lonely “privately” is? And who really “deals” with their shit if they’re not pushed by someone or another? So, poetry has been my way to “deal” with the poop piles of death, disappointment, and depression (woah with the alliteration).

“No one has to read it,” I told myself. “Just write it down, get it out, cleanse the inside.”

And that’s what I did.

So, back to “baptism by fire”. I am a fearful being by nature.

And I’m friggin tired of it.

So when making my list of things I want to do this year, I wrote–Get Over All The Fear. I made a plan, and at the time, it felt like a good one.

The Plan

Step 1: Find that poetry that means the most to you. [Maybe subconsciously I wanted to share it because I typed it up after I hand wrote it–Or maybe I thought Iwould want to remember where I came from one day when I am not crazy (so probably never) and typed it up. Either way…]

Step 2: Write some more about The Things. You know what they are, Mea.

Step 3: Put them all together in a pleasing fashion.

Step 4: Share with world.

See, poetry is the most personal thing I’ve ever written. It’s my therapist since I can’t afford one, so putting this out in the world for others to judge and scowl and laugh and cry over…is probably the worst thing I could do to my poor, fearful self.

So that’s what I’m doing.

And that’s what I mean by “baptism by fire”. It’s going to hurt like hell, but I know I’m going to come out a better, braver person when it’s all over. (I so, so hope.)

Now, I sit. It’s cover glares at me when I tell it I’ve picked three competitions to submit to. I’m not sure it wants to go, but this is the Year of Overcoming, and so I and my darlings will overcome.

I decided to go mixed-media with it and added poems on photography I’ve done and illustrations. It’s this Thing that I’ve become proud of (look what I’ve overcome) instead of ashamed of (you don’t want to see my darkness; look glitter!!!).

So here is the cover:

Capture

I’ll let you know if I get chosen from one of the contests, but right now, it just feels damn good to Finish Something.

-Mea

June 2015 Update

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I have a working outline! Tomorrow I will begin writing a. Whole. Lot. as I try to squeeze out a rough draft for the July Nanowrimo Camp. I’m fretful and nervous, but it can’t be that bad, right? RIGHT?! I’ve been humbled with the failing of LibertyNovel and feel that one reason it didn’t work out was because it took so long to write it. Through the years, I changed so much and the message got garbled because what I wanted to say kept changing as I learned lessons in my life. So this time, I’m writing with a single message and theme and motivation in the forefront along with the characters, plot points, and world building. I’m hoping this formula will produce a better draft than LibertyNovel had a chance to be.

So, here’s to MediatorNovel and everyone writing this upcoming month! *Raises metaphorical glass* CHEERS!

(http://33.media.tumblr.com/0e8725081cffe8a94c9fe5fb3fd98838/tumblr_inline_mt1vvuWSBQ1qz4rgp.gif)

April and May 2015 Updates

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I don’t have a set number of hours to share with you for these months. I know. That sucks. It’s just that I have taken every spare moment to read on a couple of books, one on novel structure and one on outlining, and I haven’t been writing down when I start reading and taking notes, so I truly just don’t know. Is it fair to just say “a lot?” I don’t even know.

Why am I reading craft books, you might ask? Because after finishing the first draft of LibertyNovel and working with critique partners, I realized I needed help in this area. Lots and lots of help.  So what does a nerdy girl do when she realized she doesn’t know or understand something? She buys a book…or ten…and hope it whispers secrets to her.

LibertyNovel is shelved for the time being. I’m sad about it, but I owe the characters a better story than what is there, and I just don’t know the answer yet. So I will percolate until the time is right. Until then, I’m starting afresh with another idea and, oh my gosh, I can’t wait to share. But, for now, I call it MediatorNovel, and I love it so.

I wanted to be done with the outline by the end of May. That isn’t the case, but I’m finding there is a good possibility that I won’t have as much work to do after the first draft if I take care planning before it.

Soooo… here we go, again! Back to the drawing board but with so much more knowledge thanks to LibertyNovel and craft books! I’m so excited I could spit!

Love,

Mea

March ’15 Update

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I have Critique Partners!!! There are two lovely people who have consented to work with me on getting this novel to the query stage, in spite of all my Me. (Just kidding. I’m awesome.) Already I’ve seen such a huge difference as I critique their writing and get a new perspective on mine. (And, dang, they’ve got some good stories!) I am overwhelmingly thankful to have met such lovely writers. Because of their thoughts and experiences, I have grown soooo much this month! Ah, I just….can’t….even…. YAY!

Here are the stats:

Total hours: 23 hours 20 minutes (20 hours was the goal)

Total days: 8 days (20 days was the goal)

I have Big Decisions to make on this book, and I wish I had more consecutive time to make these decisions, but we deal with what we have. I just feel like, when I have to break it up like this, I’m taking 2 steps forward and 1 step back. On the bright side, I’m still one step closer to done.

I wanted to clean out the office area of my kitchen this month. I got all but the overhead shelf done. I consider that a success. I am also ready to start putting together my bedroom table that I’ve been working on with MY OWN HANDS, slowly but surely, for the past three months.

Oh! AND Husband moved ugly furniture out of my bedroom to its new and desired location, and I moved the pretty furniture out of the dining room (where it did not belong) to the bedroom and it looks sooo much better. I got paint samples this month, too, and I decided what colors I did NOT want my bedroom walls but had much success with the kitchen color. These were things I didn’t have on my To-Do list, but I’m impromptu like that.

One day I will have time to write a thoughtful, endearing blog about life metaphors and licorice. Today is not that day. Hope y’all’s month was stinkin’ amazing!

Laters!

-Mea

February ’15 Update

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The four weeks of February threatened to kick my butt. I seriously felt rubber to ass, but somehow, I managed to be productive. For the entire month, someone in my household was ill. Mostly, more than one of us at the same time. AND just when I thought we were so very close to well, my parents visit and my step-mother has the flu. She didn’t know until we took her to the ER at 3am, and it’s not her fault, but dammit, she has the flu. Which means that there MIGHT the flu in the Smiths future. I’m praying March will be the Month o’ Health and we will all be at full strength as we choke on Lysol and chaff from using all the soap in Mississippi.

I had a monthly goal to revise at least one hour a day, Monday through Friday. I laughingly thought that this would be enough time to revise the entire book. It was not. I am 4 chapters shy of finishing Part I. But also…….I’m 4 chapters shy of finishing Part I!

Here are the numbers:

16 work days (I wanted 20)

21 hours and 15 minutes of work time (I set my goal for 20) (Yay!)

Revised 19 chapters (out of 23 for Part I) (I already told you about my unrealistic thought process above)

I also cleaned out my closet, a bigger task than one might expect. I’m pleased but really want to finish revisions in March. I’m keeping my goal grand, just in case…

Good luck to you in your life endeavors, writing or decluttering or whatever!

<3,

Mea

The Letter- Short Story

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(Short story written to investigate a book idea)

“I just can’t…” tiny fingers stretched toward the object bobbing in the water just out of reach.  Determination flashed in gray eyes as the girl sat back to think.

“Lena,” she said to a doll made of dried seaweed and dry rotted material, “if I could just find…”

A bright smile possessed her face and her naturally saddened expression was transformed by the tweak of lips and crinkle of eyes.  “Of course!” she cried.  Excitement propelled her to her feet, and she crossed the barrier’s edge to an old, forgotten shed.  The door was barred, but on the side of the shed where the water lapped at the wood, a fungus grew, weakening the wooden planks.  The girl worked at the wood until a hole appeared, small in size but large enough for her nine-year-old, wiry body to fit through.  Once inside, she climbed on a pile of debris to wipe the square window down with the hem of her sleeve.  The light entered the shed, though sight couldn’t not penetrate the window.  It was impossible to remove the years of wait and worry from the glass, but this suited the little girl’s needs for discretion.

She rummaged around the shed looking for a make-shift tool, something she could use to drag the object in the water closer to her.  And then she found it- a stick about three feet long with a curved hook at the end.  Someone long ago smoothed down and rounded the sides, or maybe it was smoothed by the waves when it was once drift wood.  It didn’t matter to the girl how it formed its shape.  All she knew was that it felt like she’d received a gift.  Her fingertips did not touch when she grasped the stick, but she was able to manage it reasonably well.

She hurried through the hole to the pier where Lena and her object waited, nodding up and down as if acknowledging that she was its true owner, that it had finally reached its destination.  “You’re home now,” the girl told the object as she reached her new tool, hook end out, toward the water.  “Just a little…” she wedged her bare foot into a space in the landing so she could lengthen the last inch without plummeting to the water below.

The hook reached around the object and guided it to the girl.  She looked back at Lena, smiling widely, before focusing all her attention on the warm, oblong glass in her hand.  She rested herself, crossing her legs under her, in the same covered corner where Lena waited.  Something stopped up a small, round opening at the skinny end, but she could see there was something inside the glass, something the little girl desperately wanted to get to.  So she risked removing the brown, cracked stopper and emptied the contents into her lap.

“Lena, look!” The girl whispered, her eyes widening.  “Paper!”  This was a find in itself, as paper was scarce and limited only to what the people here could salvage from the sea and dry without damaging it.  Her mother spoke of it; the girl had seen it in the rare books that wandered to her people; it was how she learned to read, but to have a piece of her own?  One no one had ever seen? The little girl would keep it forever.

She felt strangely vulnerable, all of the sudden, so she scooped up Lena and her glass and paper find to make her way to the abandoned shed. No one came to this side of the barriers anymore, and she was glad, but that didn’t take away the feeling.  Once in the safety of the shed, the little girl let out a nervous laugh.  “We can’t be too careful, can we?” she asked Lena.  She perched on the edge of a dirty patch of light, skirting the darkness.  Gingerly, she propped Lena up facing her and opened the paper to properly see the treasure she found.

She read it silently at first, then aloud to Lena.  The light began to wane after the thirtieth read-through and the girl decided this was her secret. So, she found a hiding spot in the dilapidated shed where she hid the glass and letter she found that day, and every glass and letter she found every day after that for ten years, and somewhere in that time she vowed she would find the passion, the experience that these letters expressed.  Even if that meant she had to do what no other Seer could do. Leave.