Saturday, April 18, 2020

Art,Take Me Away....

Times of stress in my life or in the world...that's when I find myself back here. 

Not a good thing, but it is what it is. When the world seems to be falling down around me, I find myself drawn to one main source of comfort. Art. Any shape, any form, as long as it's art. Music, movies, paintings, TV shows, comics, pottery, and most of all books. Ah, hello old friend. Writing has been difficult for me during all of this. When the idea of a shelter in place/social distancing was first floated, someone told me to take the time as a gift and write as much as I could to finish my current project. Any writer has had that dream - a cabin in the woods, no technological distractions, nature outside our window, and endless time in front of us to write the great American novel.

This is not that scenario.

This is walls closing in, attempting to work from home while fighting technology. This is worrying about a danger we can't see, being cut off from friends and family, while also worrying about them, and the world in general. You would think that going into your head and escaping from reality would be the perfect remedy, and it probably would be, if everything listed above didn't give you the attention span of a gnat. 

Yes, a gnat.

Surprisingly, I'm sleeping well. But I'm exhausted every morning, and when the workday ends, my brain feels like it's run a 5K (if a brain could actually run.) You can't shut out the reality of what's going on either. Yes, you can avoid watching the news, but you can't avoid friends and family checking in, reminding you of what you're missing. You can't miss the discussions with colleagues, or the fact that you can't (or shouldn't) leave your house. Oddly, one of the biggest reminders for me is the constant stream of people walking by my house as I sit at my desk. We live a quiet, little neighborhood with sidewalks perfectly made for walking. But, the volume of people I see every day makes me feel like they are busing people in. It's a wonderful sight, but it's a sad reminder of how little time we made for walks before all of this insanity.

Despite all of this, I am trying. I'm about 8K words into my newest WIP. This mainly happens on the weekends, when I have a couple of uninterrupted hours to sit and stare at the screen, trying to string some sentences together. My main character lives with a heightened sense of anxiety. I'm developing a new appreciation for her. I have friends who are trying to read my last project, and God bless them for it. Most of my writing friends are feeling the same way about their attention span.

So, back to that source of comfort. Art in its many shapes and forms - here's what I've been using to get me through this:

TV
Schitt's Creek - My husband and I are obsessed with the quirky characters and their beautiful messiness. And David and Patrick are my little ray of hope. We're spacing out the final season as long as possible.

The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel - The cast, costumes, and dialogue are amazing. I have one episode left...sigghh.

Little Fires Everywhere - I'm only 3 episodes in, but I can feel the roller coaster coming. Reese and Kerry are perfectly cast.

Movies....I love movies. I love going to the movies, the previews, the popcorn...
Sadly, I have not found the ability to sit and watch a new movie (other than a couple of light comedies with friends for a Netflix party.) I have so many movies that I have wanted to see, but just haven't been able to make myself connect to anything right now. But I am open to any suggestions people want to give me! (I wrote this yesterday morning, but I need to add an update to this. Last night's movie choice was a small, independent film called The Fundamentals of Caring with Paul Rudd and Craig Roberts. It was quirky, heartbreaking, and hysterical. I highly recommend it.

Music
Joshua Radin (Live from the Village) 
Talking Heads 
Sara Bareilles (Especially her live stuff)
Meg Myers
Mumford & Sons
Tori Amos
Halsey


Books (I multitask when it comes to reading. I have multiple books going at once. I rotate through them reading a chapter here and there. I never know what mood I'll be in and again with the attention span....)

The Bookish Life of Nina Hill - Abbi Waxman (Fun romance. Great for people who love books and trivia)
Heroine - Mindy McGinnis (Tough read, but such an important story.)
Anti/Hero - Kate Karyus Quinn and Demitria Lunetta (My friend's new middle-grade, graphic novel. Loved it!)
An American Marriage - Tayari Jones (Another hard story, but such gorgeous language.)
B*Witch - Paige McKenzie and Nancy Ohlin (I won an ARC of this from a charity fundraiser and only a few pages in so far.) 
Genuine Fraud - E. Lockhart (I loved We Were Liars, so fingers crossed.)

Before I go, here's one more piece of art that's bringing joy to my life right now. My hand made, coffee mug from my husband's cousin. Artists and their art... this is what will keep us going.

What's keeping you going right now?


~ Adrienne






Tuesday, July 2, 2019

Why Would Anyone Ever Do This???

Hi kids!

I'm back and it hasn't even been a year. Woo hoo! I know it's been a month, but I wanted to let you know that I survived that 3 day weekend of self imposed editing. AND true to form, life reared it's ugly head in the middle of it. BUT, I managed to push through. I typed with one hand and faced the issue with the other. Almost 10,000 words later, I had an updated and (I hope) improved manuscript. It has been submitted to both agents and that's all I can tell you for now.

I received a ton of messages and good wishes throughout this process, which was so very motivating. Mainly because this whole thing is exactly that. A process-a very lengthy, drawn out, crazy, lonely, process. And it made me realize how little people outside of this world know of the process, how incredibly surprised they are by how hard it is, and how long it takes to get a book published. I won't bore anyone with the tedious details, but we're talking years.

  • You write the story, but then edit, correct, change, and edit some more, until you finally have something you love. And if you're doing it while working a full time job, raising kids, taking care of pets, family, and trying to maintain friendships....well, let's just say it tends to lengthen the process.
  • You submit the manuscript to a ton of agents, hoping just one will be able to see the potential under the possible mess you've presented to them. 
  • They offer to represent you, and then you really get to work. You'll edit again and again, until they are certain you have the best product possible. 
  • The agent then submits it to publishers. If you are lucky enough that one likes it, a new process begins, whereby they need to present it to a number of people at the publishing house before a decision can be made.
  • And after all that, if you are lucky enough to actually have all those stars align... it can take almost another year or two for the book to actually make it to store shelves. 
This list is as simplified as I can make it, but everyone of these steps has about a hundred steps, (and possible years) to go along with it. And since I haven't actually experienced all of them myself, I'm pretty sure I missed a couple. My apologies to all those who have come before me and succeeded in this insanity.

Now, this list just pertains to traditional publishing. These days there are a number of options available for working with smaller publishers, or actually choosing to self publish. But, I know people who have chosen both of those options, and they work just as hard (if not harder), to reach the same goal.

So, I love when someone asks me when they can buy my book. I am humbled by their faith in my ability, but I also feel despair at the possibility that my answer may have to be never.

Why? Why would anyone ever put themselves through that? That's a question I have heard a number of times, by writers and non-writers alike.

The answer for me personally, is that the stories push to be told. The idea that it may never be a fully, bound book on store shelves means nothing to the story. The characters don't know that they aren't real. They'll keep talking until someone listens. I personally will have no rest if that happens (again, Patrick Swayze). All they care is that the story gets told. I get to go into their world and help create their story. And if I get it right, I can make you laugh and cry. So the answer is, why wouldn't I?

Writers - what's your reason for doing it?
Non-writers - Do you have a passion you feel this strongly about?

Adrienne ~

Thursday, May 23, 2019

Curses, Snacks, and Lots of Words......

I think I curse myself inadvertently. Every time I say "Pheww, I'm glad we got through that. Now I can get back to work," the universe literally laughs itself silly. It's been another year. How is that even possible? It's because I keep telling myself, I'll write a new post as soon as X, Y, and Z are over. The problem is that A, B, and C always follow.

I need to stop waiting for things to calm down, get easier, be normal, etc. This is the normal and I just have to figure out how to keep writing in the middle of the storm.

I'm still writing. I have been all along. Book number one has been completed for what seems like forever now. I queried a few people, entered some contests, made some changes here and there, but let's be honest, I stalled. Why? Who knows. Maybe deep down I know that if I don't actually send anything out, then I can't really be rejected. It makes complete sense when I step back and analyze it, but it's still a little bit insane. I'm doing my best to push through this.

In the meantime, I have been working on my next WIP (the idea that created itself a couple of years ago while on vacation. (See Patrick Swayze). It's a YA, completely different than my first book, other than the ghost idea. Yeah, I never actually told you about book number one, did I? Well, of course not. I'm hoping/wishing/praying, that someday you'll be able to find it on a store shelf somewhere.
In the meantime, I've been rolling right along with book two. I love the characters, and the story makes me smile to myself just thinking about it. It also breaks my heart just a little....and I hope it will break yours someday, in the best possible way.

So, as I said it has been a year. You know what that means - Pennwriter's annual conference. The time when I'm surrounded by people who get me, who motivate me, and who remind me of why I love writing. Sure enough, the magic happened again and I came back twice as motivated.

And, good news -I pitched to two agents, who BOTH requested to see part of my story!
Bad news - one of them has asked that I try to lower the word count before sending it.
Good news - I have a three day weekend ahead of me, and a house all to myself. The plan is to stock up on essentials (Food, coffee, snacks, vodka(?)) and barricade myself at my desk until Tuesday morning. I'm a little overwhelmed, a lot nervous, and a whole lot of looking forward to the challenge. Wish me luck.....

If I don't answer your call/text/email, you'll know why.

~ Adrienne

PS - Writer friends - what do you have to have in order to be productive? Specific snacks, fancy pens, particular music, lucky socks.....?

Sunday, July 29, 2018

Unfolding - One Page At A Time


Time does not change us. It just unfolds us.
~ Max Frisch

How did it get so late so soon? It’s night before it’s afternoon. December is here before it’s June. My goodness how the time has flewn. How did it get so late so soon?
~ Dr. Seuss

Time. 

I don’t know where the past five months have gone. They disappeared like someone turning a page in a book. One day it was damp, dreary March and we were dealing with death and illness, no idea what to do next. But, the next day happened whether we were ready or not. Now it’s the sweltering end of July, and we find ourselves blinking against the sunlight, dazed from all that has happened. 

Both of the above quotes apply aptly to my life right now. It is getting late, more so every day. And time has definitely unfolded me this year. It has pushed and pulled, stretching me to my limits. It’s forced me to be vulnerable and open up to people. It has made me do things I didn’t believe I was capable of doing, handling things I never could have imagined. 

In terms of my writing it has pushed me outside of an imaginary safety net I had created for myself. I finished my book, pitched to two agents at the annual writing conference, came in 2nd place in a writing contest at said conference, entered an online pitch contest, and am currently preparing to take part in PitchWars. You may or may not be aware of this, but the introvert in me would not have been able to handle this many things so close together prior to this year. You would think the fear of time running out is what propelled me forward. But that’s not the case. If anything, it actually made me less afraid of things. The thought of speaking with an agent about my book became less scary after some of the things I faced this year. It made me become more focused on what is truly important to me. At the conference I received requests from those two agents to send some of my work to them. That gave me the confidence to send out a couple more queries to other agents. I made a joke on social media at the time, asking the Universe to be kind. I had been so fearful of taking that first step, showing my work to someone other than supportive friends and family. My true fear was someone telling me I had no business thinking I could be a writer. So far someone in the Universe is listening. I’ve only had a couple of responses, and even though they were No’s, they were incredibly kind and supportive. They reinforced my love for what I am doing; that whether I ever publish a single written word, just the act of writing is enough to make me happy. 

Time to unfold…… 

~Adrienne

Sunday, March 11, 2018

One Day at a Time.....



Yes, it’s been that long. 

It’s been that long since I’ve written anything, let alone a blog post. That saying, “life can change in an instant?” It happened for me the first week of the New Year. It began with both of my parent’s in the same week, being diagnosed with cancer. My mother’s was caught early, my father’s too late.

The following week I turned 43. Notice I didn’t say celebrate. I couldn’t find a single thing to celebrate this year. From that point on everything narrowed itself down to the smallest fragments; going to work, and emailing/texting/calling family. It moved from there to hospitals and oncology consultations, followed by social workers and hospice. There was nothing else. No socializing, no exercising, no reading, and not a single word written, other than the aforementioned emails and texts. The only television I could manage was binge watching Stranger Things. Bizarre I know, but nothing else could hold my attention, or in the very least, not cause me to start crying.|

45 days

45 days from the initial tumor being found, my father passed away. It was peaceful, at home, with family and friends. And it was shocking. I’m still not quite sure how these last few months took place. I have no idea how we all kept on moving, eating, talking, and breathing, while simultaneously being in shock. But we did. We did it because life keeps moving and happening, whether you’re participating or not. My mom and I adopted a motto that first week. “One day at a time.” We tried to keep focus on that. Sometimes it changed to one minute at a time, but it helped keep us from spiraling somewhere into darkness. We’re still in that one day at a time mode, but sometimes we let ourselves look a little ahead. We hope for summer, we talk of vacations, a new home for my mom, and the routine of daily life.


My mom is stage one, and we’re hopeful the cancer will remain at bay for many years. But, the last few months have taught us that time is so ridiculously short, and 45 days can pass in the blink of an eye. Our goal is to find some happiness now in that day to day life. I wish that for all of us; that we can stay in the present and find the good in our days.

Part of my happiness is to find a way back to my writing, and my book. 

Posting this will be step one. One day at a time, one minute at a time.


Here we go…..

~ Adrienne 

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Which Comes First? Reading or Writing?


I have an ongoing battle with myself. It’s called there are not enough hours in the day for all the reading and writing there is to be done. It’s always been an issue, but since starting my early morning writing ritual, it’s increased tenfold. As I said previously, I created a monster in giving life to my creative side. The need to write gets stronger every day. The only thing taking a close second to it is my love of reading. It makes sense right? I love words and stories, and reading the work of others is inspiring.

And therein lies the problem.

Reading another person's work triggers a creative spark in me – it makes me want to write something equally amazing. Now. Obviously that feeling then disrupts my reading. So I go back to my writing, to getting the words down as quickly as possible. But, all too soon the call of my books comes back to me and I step away from the keyboard for a chapter, or two. And the vicious cycle continues. It doesn’t help that I’m a (slow) serial reader, typically having about four books going at once, along with an overstocked library just waiting for me to pick them next. (My book obsession has been chronicled before).  Currently this is my reading stack. 

Paper Towns – John Green
The Secret History - Donna Tartt
The Glass Castle – Jeannette Walls
Under the Tuscan Sun – Frances Mayes
The Awkward Path to Getting Lucky – Summer Heacock

Now, before you start laughing there is a method to my madness in so many books. The book I read depends on the situation, locality, environment, and even my mood. Let me explain.

Paper Towns is taking me so long because it’s on my Kindle so I need to be somewhere conducive to electronics. 

The Secret History I started back in June on vacation and I’m sooo close to being done. It’s an amazing literary read – translation: I need absolutely no distractions when reading it. So a crowded waiting room, busy coffee shop, or even my house sometimes, is not the place to read it.  

The Glass Castle I started two weeks ago. The book has been on my shelf for a couple of years now, but I was compelled to start it when I saw the movie trailer. I’m sorry it took me so long to start. Ironically I will probably finish this one first. (Confession - I wrote this last week and have since finished this book. Spoiler - the book was so much better.) The resiliency of this character has me mesmerized. It reminds me of Mary Karr’s The Liars’ Club, which I couldn’t put down either.

Under the Tuscan Sun is my fun, escape read. Days when the pace of life is overwhelming, the 9 to 5 grind, suffering from technology overload – this is what I reach for. Maye’s description of her life in Italy renovating a Tuscan villa brick by brick makes me want to sell everything and book a one way ticket to Italy. I’ve taken to leaving for work a half hour early so I can stop for coffee and read a chapter. It’s like a decadent dessert I need to savor in small bites.
 
The Awkward Path to Getting Lucky is a new release by a friend of a friend. I’m only a chapter in, but I can tell this is going to be my comic relief, which I think we can all agree we need more of right now.  

So until someone finds a way to stop time, or add more hours to the day, this will be the pattern that I follow. Is anyone else out there a serial reader? (Or invented a way to stop time?) 

Footnote – while writing this someone stopped to comment on my copy of The Glass Castle. “Such an amazing book.” I bet she’s a serial reader too…

~ Adrienne