Sunday, 30 December 2012

Contemplating 2013

Today I found myself pondering the irony of planning a healthy 2013 while eating Lindor chocolate balls for breakfast. Maybe there are people out there who eat perfectly all the time, exercise every single day, and always get eight hours of sleep a night but I'm not one of them. Also, I got an absolute flood of chocolate for Christmas. Lindor balls, After Eights, Quality Street mixed chocolates, cookies filled with chocolate hazelnut, and a double handful of hot chocolate packets. The good news is I'll be starting the new year off with clean cupboards. Let's not talk about the bad news *glares at stomach*.

The chocolates are almost gone, just the After Eights are left unless son's been raiding the cupboard again. Nope, just checked and they're still there. Which is fine because two sticks are 50 calories so they'll make a nice treat on my lunch break at work. And onwards to my goals for next year...

1. See my friends more often

I'm starting off well with this one. I've made plans to visit friends on New Year's Day and am in the midst of making plans to hang out with two other friends. Hopefully this will continue throughout the year. The reality is I'm an introvert and I hate the phone. As my kids well know, I refer to it as that damn ringing thing and have been known to yell at it. I also approach it with the caution some people reserve for handling poisonous snakes, which makes it tricky to make plans. But I'm quite easy to entertain. I've had friends call up and say "Hey, we're washing the car and buying groceries. Do you want to come?" And I'm all "sure, I'll be right over". So if you're getting your oil changed and need someone to chat with, give me a call.

2. Write more

Now this one might not transfer to here seeing as I have been writing more and editing more. But it's been in my novel and not here. For years I have worked on my novel, Small Dreams for a few weeks or month then given up in defeat, declaring the novel utter garbage and walking away for several months until trying again. This time it's been different. I still read for pleasure but I'm also reading and picking apart novels. How do I get the characters to show emotion? How do I describe tone of voice? What transitions work better? I don't want to copy my favourite authors, I just want to get a general idea on how to make sections of the novel flow. And I'm cautiously optimistic it's been working. I've been using my teenage son as a guinea pig. Son has language based learning disabilities as part of his autism and has never enjoyed reading. I have bought all sorts of books over the years for him to read and for me to read to him, with minimal luck. Most of the books end up abandoned a few chapters in, with my son saying "Can't we just read tomorrow instead of today?" ad nauseam until I give up. Small Dreams isn't aimed at teenage boys, it's a novel about two young adults, in their early twenties. Jessica (the main character, it's a first person book) and Chris. The book starts the day they find out she's pregnant and ends the day she gives birth. It follows them as they struggle to make a better life for themselves despite Jessica's abusive family and a couple of false friends. Son loves the book and asks me daily if I've got another chapter to read to him. And he has favourite lines he'll remember and quote back a month or so later. I read a section to daughter yesterday and she laughed so hard she nearly fell off the couch. Thankfully it was supposed to be funny.

I submitted Piece of Mind back in October and, quite frankly, don't expect it to be accepted. I tried my best but I wrote 75% of the novel in three weeks and barely managed to scrape across the minimum amount of words for acceptance. I looked over the first few chapters a few weeks ago and realized it needs a lot of work, especially fleshing out Tamara (the main character). I have a great back story to explain why 17 year old Tamara is living on her own and working full time as a hairdresser instead of being in school. The only problem is I didn't add it to the novel. My daughter commented that she kept forgetting Tamara was a teenager as she seemed so much older. I need to add the farking back story. Also, Tamara's an orphan but for half of the book she might as well have hatched. She never once mentions her parents or older sister until she's giving birth, chapters into the book. She loved her parents, I need to have her think of them from time to time.

So my plans for this year are to finish editing Small Dreams and get that book submitted somewhere, hopefully by mid-January, then move on to Piece of Mind, flesh it out and get it submitted. Then resubmit Small Dreams and start fleshing out sequels to both books then resubmit Piece of Mind... and so on until one of them gets accepted. Then I'll run around like a chicken with it's head cut off and start revising.

In between all that I'll write in here.

3. Eat healthier and simpler

Simpler is the key part to this goal. I don't have the time to cook for hours each evening, not while working full time and writing. But I do have fifteen minutes to half an hour to cook pasta, rice, lentils, spinach, etc. And I need to make sure I've got handy things to pack in my lunch like muffins, yogourt, and rolls so I'm not buying extras at work. There is nothing at work (other than the tea and coffee) that fits into my real food diet. Nothing. Even the eggs have well over ten ingredients and the hot powdered beverages are scary. Pomegranate seeds and pistachios are a great snack... a lot better than a chocolate chip muffin with dubious ingredients.

4. Exercise

I have a gym and pool 30 seconds away by elevator. There is no good reason not to use them. Regularly.

5. Honesty

I need to stop using the monster under the bed approach to solving life's problems. You know, hiding my head under the covers and hoping it disappears. This only works for imaginary monsters, not the real ones. When I'm feeling bad, hiding and just saying nothing won't make things better. But sharing will bring support. Same goes for writing in my diary and doing a photo a day. It doesn't have to be perfect. It just has to be real.

And on that, I'm heading out to buy groceries so I've got healthy food for the new year.

Thursday, 20 December 2012

Mid winter ramblings

I haven't been writing here in a while. Not that I haven't been writing, it's just that my writing time has been reserved for brief updates on Facebook and mostly working on my novel, Small Dreams.

Today, however, is different. Today I'm home with a cold and my thoughts are skittering around madly like cockroaches when the light's turned on. I'm not really focusing well enough to edit my novel so I'm inflicting my thoughts here where they're being read for free. Not that I'm actually getting paid for my novels yet but I'm hoping that will change some day. I've got no financial hopes pinned here.

I confess, I stink at editing. Small Dreams is continually bouncing around between 452 and 460 pages, kind of like a yo-yo dieter. I hack out some pages, mostly days where the main characters do nothing but go to work, come home, chat over dinner, and wash the dishes (what on earth was I thinking when I wrote those days?) then the pages creep back up in the form of dialogue and observations.

I've been observing my kids more and more for dialogue, especially now that they're teenagers and come up with interesting statements. My son, while hilarious, ends up saying things that don't really suit the characters so it's more my daughter I use. Son, I will share with you.

My son showed signs of his offbeat sense of humour years ago. Picture it. We're standing in a busy line at the movie theatre, waiting to buy tickets. He's the picture of innocence. Bright blue eyes, gleaming dark blond hair, and a smile curving his lips. He clasps both hands together, tilts his head and announces in the sweetest voice ever, "I'm a disturbing little boy." Right out of the blue.

Last week we were grocery shopping and I needed salad fixings (I pretty much always need salad fixings). I went to grab my usual mixed greens and son blurted, "No, you need to buy this one" then pointed at one of those packages of lettuce alive. It was fresh and green so I picked it up. That was when son noticed the root ball underneath.

His eyes widened. "Mom! We have to plant that as soon as we get home.We can plant it in the tree in the living room." Yeah, the ficus tree I have growing behind the futon. Because, a, it would grow so well behind the futon and, b, I want to do flips over the back every time I make a salad. So I reminded him that lettuce needs light and it was not the right time of year to grow anything on our balcony. He looked so disappointed I assured him we could grow lettuce in the summer then wanted to know why he wanted to grow it in the first place seeing as he treats lettuce like it's poison.

"Ben and Bean [our guinea pigs] eat lettuce and they're my friends. I want lettuce for them." He paused and we kept walking then he continued. "They're friends... friends I keep in a cage and never allow free."

Okay then creepy child.

Later on we were walking home and son informed me that his class is learning about people and who to trust. His teacher had a page with pictures of various people and asked the kids who they would pick off the page to trust. Every child but one picked the shot of an innocent looking child. My son picked the 6ft tall man with a mohawk. Curious, I asked him why. Not that I have anything against 6ft tall men with mohawks, it just seemed like an interesting choice.

Son rolled his eyes. "Doesn't anyone watch movies? You never trust kids that age, they're the ones who know where all the bodies are hidden."

The plus side is, if I ever decide to write a horror, I just need to follow my son around with a pad of paper and a pen.

Now my throat has convinced me that an ice cream sundae is a splendid choice for lunch. The chocolate ice cream has calcium and the marshmallow fluff is full of egg whites and protein. And the salted caramel sauce has... well it has... it doesn't matter I'm sure it has vital nutritional requirements my body needs.