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It’s like they were reading my heart when they posted this.

You have been working at the literary coalface for months. Your second draft has taken far longer than you expected. At times working on your second draft has felt more like going to war than embarking on a wonderful journey of creative discovery. You know far too much about your characters and after spending an […]

via The Benefits of Taking a Break From Novel Writing to Craft Short Stories #MondayBlogs #Writer #ShortStories — BlondeWriteMore

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I finished my first ever Master’s class almost a week ago and it has been almost too busy this week to even realize it – yet, when I think about doing this week and adding studies in, I shudder. We are taking a break until January – one, holidays and two, apparently we weren’t quite mentally prepared for the amount of exertion starting a masters would entail. I know all you people who already have masters are laughing at me right now, and I do not blame you at all.

On the delightful side, one of my best friends in the whole world came to visit me for the long weekend! We walked five miles yesterday, and took the path from near my apartment to Alexandria, where we proceeded to eat at Bilbo Baggins pub and then shopped. I convinced her to buy two dresses and then we went to a bookstore and I walked out with too many to carry without the assistance of a paper bag. It was so much fun! We spent all day walking there and shopping and then my husband came and picked us up and we went home, ate dinner, and watched Anne of Green Gables while we had cocktails, popcorn, and cupcakes from Alexandria Cupcakes. Truly a girls day. Now we are back in Alexandria, crashing at a cute little coffee shop and supposedly writing, but really doing random thing like shopping online or uploading photos to facebook. The plan is to go out for dinner, go back home, watch Anne of Avonlea and play with makeup – especially Tarte’s Mermaid Palette.

We are both planning to do NaNo this year, and are so excited! She is still determining her exact plot, but I think I am finally going to finish (or attempt to finish) that fantasy book I started a few years ago – the one that keeps writing itself even when I don’t want it to? Yeah. Ethrill. I have no idea what is going to happen, and I am becoming impatient for the characters to tell me. With only, what, 25 ?, days to go – it is actually time to start thinking through it!

NaNo1

 

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Daniel and I get up anytime between 5:45 AM and 7:00 AM, depending on when we go to bed and how motivated we feel when we get up. We do actually end up getting up between 5:45 and 6:15 more often than not, which allows us to work out for half an hour and spend some time in devotions before getting ready for work. While it can be difficult, it has also been freeing to rise so early, and comforting to let the peace of God take hold of our days before they even start. We use a bikeshare program, which allows us to take bikes for half an hour at a time and drop it off at other bike docks – we normally do yoga and calisthenics in the morning and then a bike ride in the evening.

This morning, however, we decided to get up at 5:45, without allowing ourselves to sleep in at all, and take a bike ride to the Jefferson Memorial and do our devotions there watching the sunrise above the Potomac. It’s about a half hour bike ride, so longer than our normal workout, but we thought it’d be a nice change of pace and get in our full workout in the morning rather than saving half of it for that night. And we actually did it, despite getting to bed at 1:00 AM (school is killer, FYI).

We rose without an issue other than keeping our eyes open, got on our bikes and headed out. I know I don’t talk about it that much but, despite my wish to move to Florida and/or Colorado at some point, living here is rather incredible. There is no way to describe what it is like to watch the Washington Monument appear and then reappear in front of you as you bike up and down hills on the trail. And then, as you go down one particular hill, and round the corner, you see the capital on the right side and the Washington Monument and Jefferson Memorial a little ahead to the right. Combine that with the Potomac at your side and a slowly lighting sky, and you feel rather like you are in a movie.

Until a bug or dirt or something flies into your eye and you spend the next half mile trying to rub it out without tipping over on your bike.

When we stopped for some water, Daniel used his flashlight but still couldn’t locate what was bothering me and no amount of water appeared to flush it out, so I continued to ride, blinking somewhat continuously until the wind dried out my eye enough that it temporarily didn’t bother me.

Once we reached the Jefferson Memorial, the bike dock was full, so we ended up going 10 minutes past that fully into DC to find another one, refreshed the time, and headed back to the Memorial itself, where we sat in front of it, right next to the Tidal Basin and watched the sun finish coming up as Daniel read out loud from Luke. Well, Daniel watched it – I closed my eyes and listened to him read. Which would have been so much more peaceful and picturesque if I hadn’t been closing my eyes just to try to work that piece of dirt out of it (ironically, he was reading from the passage that talks about taking care of the plank in your own eye before the speck in your brother’s eye). The bike dock was still full once we finished, so we biked back and paid the extra fee for the extra time we had them.

All in all, what sounded like it was going to be a peaceful and, if I may use the word again, picturesque, plan turned into life. Dirt, full bike docks, extra time, and ultimately late to work. But you know what? It is a good life. I love seeing the symbols of the free world around me as I exercise, and being able to do random things like devotions in front of one of them in the morning before work. And annoying little things like full bike docks and dirt in the eye shouldn’t prevent you from enjoying them and realizing how much God can bless you through the little things.

In case anyone is wondering, my eye stopped hurting about 4 hours later, and the eye doctor said it was fine – just irritated.

Picture below from previous bike ride:

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I am a little afraid to look at how long it has been since I have posted anything. But I have an excellent excuse. My husband and I just started a masters program! I won’t spend too long on this, since all my friends have already heard my numerous complaints, but it has essentially sucked away any and all free time that we had. Life has basically been a mix of Exercise>work>cook>study>sleep-for-5-or-6-hours>start over. Not that we’ve given up all fun – we are going to the normal every other Tuesday game night tonight and it will be a welcome break. But it still feels like we are stealing time we should be using to study.

As if that wasn’t enough, we also signed up for the Arlington Citizen’s Police Academy, which takes place every Thursday night and is a three-hour class basically teaching you the ins and outs of how the Police Department works. The first class was last week and extremely interesting, so I am glad we signed up – it just takes away another night in which to do things.

I took all my breaks at work yesterday (which has also been insanely busy) to catch up on all my messages I’ve been ignoring for about two weeks and my poor friends and family finally heard from me! It took all my breaks and more to catch up. 😛 I think that is what I hate most – my inability to respond to messages in a timely manner anymore – I do so pride myself on timeliness.

I also have been doing absolutely no writing. Which might be why I feel so completely overwhelmed and like I have no life at all anymore despite the fact that I love learning. Don’t get me wrong – this class has an insane amount of work – which I hear is typical of masters’ classes – but it occurred to me a couple days ago that if I actually made time to write as well, I would feel more fulfilled. Not picking up a pen in two months is a little rough. So I am establishing a new goal of writing 15 minutes a day no matter what. I did it that one time for a week straight – perhaps I can do 2 weeks this time? Maybe I’ll make it three weeks – the rest of the class – let myself have 15 minutes in another world a day.

find time to write

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I know I don’t write as often as I have been recently, but I have been busy with editing my book, which I FINALLY titled God’s Masterpiece. I am still not sure I like it, but it is better than not having a title. I have sent it off to about five people to read over and edit which is a huge step for me. I am both terrified and hopeful at the same time.

I have been traveling a lot for work and even now am on a train ride back from New York City. There is a man, a client, in New York who intrigues me. Not in a romantic (as in consisting of or resembling a romance) way but in a romantic (as in marked by the imaginative or emotional appeal of what is heroic, adventurous, remote, mysterious, or idealized) way. He has this aura of sorrow around him, but is still strong, gentle, and commanding all at once. I think I will base a character on him someday. In addition, there is nothing like a train ride to awaken one’s imagination.

So after forcing myself to work awhile, I finally took out my computer and jotted down random things, which I have decided to post below and may eventually use in a story.

Random #1:

She almost forgot the world around her when she looked at him. She forgot her own sorrows and background in the sudden desire of wiping out that morose expression that always lurked in the depth of his eyes, even if he was smiling. But the somber attitude that defined him did not stretch as far as his son. Just pictures of his son made his shoulders lift a little, his eyes open up, and the sadness disappeared. Talking about him made him almost a different man entirely. Still, she couldn’t help but wonder what it was that had caused the atmosphere of despair that otherwise encompassed his frame. She smiled up at him, hoping to erase some of that burden, hoping to make him relax enough to maybe let her in on what had so shaped his life.

Random #2

She danced with herself in the cold but soft rain. Oh, she knew how cliché it was, but she didn’t care. If they could do it in movies, she could do it too, especially when there was no one to see her. For just a moment she was a princess, long estranged from her family but to be reunited with them someday and restored to her rightful life. She was a damsel in distress, waiting for prince charming. She was an 18-year-old instead o fa 30-year-old, all her dreams still bright and cheery in front of her.

Random #3

The sweeping scenes passed by her like a fast-moving picture show as the train rumbled down the rough track. The rickety houses, green, swaying trees, multi-colored apartments, cars of every shape and size, abandoned and littered areas that had once probably held life and joy. There was nothing like a train ride to bring you all the aspects of different life – both the areas you avoided if you didn’t want to be jumped and the elite who likely never took this train because the Acela was better. And, of course, the in-betweens, who were neither rich nor poor, but lived their lives, hopefully happy and content, in the arms of someone they loved.

And then I also wrote a poem that in no way rhymes or has rhythmical qualities, but I like anyway.

Eyes wide, hands still, breath quiet

Moving pictures, brand new scenes

Trains hurtle on, worlds collide

 

Trees of green, grass that sways

Forests filled with dreams

Wires cross in between

 

Broken windows, broken dreams

Heartache, disaster, quiet scenes

Abandoned houses, littered streets

 

Glowing windows, brand new dreams

Lighted walks, hopes and schemes

Pretty houses, streets swept clean

 

Old bridges, unused roads

Broken cars, glittering streams

Dirty ditches, animals abound

 

Eyes wide, hands still, breath quiet

Moving pictures, brand new scenes

Trains hurtle on, worlds collide

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I know – it has been forever since I have posted. It’s just been one of those months. I have slowly been working on editing the sappy romance novel, for which I still do not have a title (this is new for me – I normally have pages of titles and not enough books!) and wavering between wondering if I actually have a chance of getting it published and telling myself over and over again how much it sucks and how I should just give up on it now – and yet, I keep going.

So, true reason I decided to post. I found a four-leaf clover.

2018-05-20 19.02.07

Now, I have a story about a four-leaf clover.

Once, years ago, my best friends were girls I knew from an online forum called the Gibson Girls. They are still my best friends, but back then, we had never actually met in person despite being friends for years. So, one day, we decided we were going to copy what we wrote in our fictional stories about each other and go on a “Gibson Girl Vacation” together. We were all going to fly somewhere and stay together for a week and meet in person for the first time. I was so excited – like – beyond ecstatic. Plans very slowly began to progress and then – it all just fell apart. There were a number of things, but the bottom line was that no one could afford it.

You have to understand – I was at a stage in my life where I didn’t allow myself to hope for much because I knew from experience I was bound to be disappointed. So when this fell through, this thing I had finally allowed myself to get excited about, I was completely devastated. I remember when the final decision was made not to do it, rushing out of the house and to the back yard, hiding in the shadows where no one could see me and just sobbing. There was a lot going on in my life with family at that time, and I think, in retrospect, that it just felt like the final straw. After I got my tears out, I prayed desperately to God for comfort, and asked Him if I would ever get to meet my best friends. I pleaded with Him to let me meet my friends someday. And at that moment, my eyes fell to the grass and immediately lit upon a four-leaf clover. I took that as a promise from God that His hand was on me, that it would all work out and, yes, that I would someday meet my friends.

Well, I did. And we’ve been on more than one “Gibson Vacation” together and the core group of us are still “besties” and keep an online chat going at all times. I feel like that was a milestone in my life. Like I was at the cusp of either breaking down or moving forward and God gave me a push forward.

So, lately, I’ve been rather down – or maybe confused is a better term. For the first time in my life, I don’t have a clear direction I am heading in career-wise. I can’t figure out my exact next steps and if I should be moving forward or happy where I am, and whether I should just concentrate on writing, or try to get a new job in the intel community, or what – and most of all, why God hasn’t been giving me a clear direction, the way He normally does.

And, this may seem minor, but what has really been depressing for me is how impossible it seems to actually lose weight, no matter how hard I try. I know a lot of it is my lack of self-discipline, but that makes it almost more depressing for me – that I can’t make myself lose it because I find it next to impossible to say no when someone asks me to go get a drink, or my amazing husband hands me ice cream. Or that I can be super good for a few weeks and all it takes is one meal to gain everything back. And then, I just spent two weeks [almost] strictly on diet and working out regularly, and the scale barely moved.

So, Sunday, we were on a long bike ride, and as we biked, I was contemplating life and weight loss and kind of thinking that I might as well just give up even hoping for losing weight because it was just too disappointing and maybe I should just sit back and see what happened in life and weight loss. And then we pulled over for a breather, I jumped off the bike, and my eyes instantly landed on a four-leaf clover – in the midst of a huge batch of clover. What were the chances?

I felt like it was another reminder from God. The same gentle touch He gave me years ago. He is here for me. He has a plan for me. Life will move forward, I will move forward, and, yes, it is possible to lose weight, even if it is slowly. And, yes, I may not know exactly where I am headed right now, but He still has a plan, and He will reveal it when He is ready. It just felt like a breath of encouragement. A symbol that I have just reached another stage of life and will continue to walk forward in His path.

Now maybe I am reading too much into a simple leaf. But hey, if God decides to use the leaf to remind me of His greatness, who am I to argue?
Image result for quote four leaf clover God

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There hasn’t been a lot to update lately.

I just got back from a short trip to Kansas where I finished most of my book. I am literally on the last couple paragraphs and am having a bit of a difficult time getting the words out – not so much because I don’t know what to say but because I’m not sure I am ready for it to end. This may have ended up being the most fun/easy book I’ve ever written. Which is ironic since it encompasses everything I try to avoid (thanks, Abby, for daring me to write a modern, sappy, cliché romance). Then again, it is also possibly my shortest book at just about 55,000 words. Ethrill and Picture of the Past are both at about 100,000 words.

I think once I pen that last paragraph, though, I will be happy that I have actually completed a book in a reasonable amount of time and my mind has been floating back to Picture of the Past more and more lately so I think I am ready to get back to editing it. I’ve taken a pretty long break.

I’ve also been thinking it is time to get serious about churning out some short stories. I get so caught up writing books I rarely make time for them, but sometimes I feel like they are my most powerful works – though I may be biased. 😛 Either way, I know it is good practice and helps build my repertoire, which may be useful in the future.

I’ve also been getting more comfortable talking about writing – the more I write and read about writing the more I want to talk about it. The coworker who joined me on this trip finally found out that I write, after we’ve been working together for 3 1/2 years. Of course, she gave the typical response that she has started several books but not finished them. And that her mom is writing a book. But then she was kind enough to follow it up with stating admiration for people who do actually finish them, because she knows it must be difficult.

So progress is being made! I’ve also reconnected with someone from college (author of The River Rebellion) who is also a writer and have been crashing at her house on a semi-regular basis while our husbands play games. It has been really nice to visit and write with another writer, especially one who shares her work on a regular basis! I think that has helped me break out of my writing shell and opened me up to sharing more.

So that’s my current writing life! And, in general, life. 🙂

 

 

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