Ready. Set. Write! Final Update!

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Ready. Set. WRITE! is an online writing intensive to help stay accountable with your writing goals over the summer and provides an opportunity for us to cheer each other on whether planning, drafting, or revising! Your RSW hosts are Alison MillerJaime MorrowErin Funk, and Katy Upperman. Find the rest of the details HERE.

Here were my goals:

1. Finish a draft of my screenplay. I’d like to have it off to some readers for feedback by the middle of July.

2. Finish a draft for a TV pilot and send off to readers.

3. Begin work on the sequels to both YA manuscripts, as well as further polishing and revisions on the first books, as needed. I would like to have a few chapters written and the books plotted (although, my plotting is pretty loose when drafting) by the end of the summer.

5. Read at least one book a week. I’ve been so busy lately, and so tired at night, that reading has been shoved to the back burner. No more!

4. Have an epic summer with my son.

Here’s What I Actually Did:

1. Wrote half the draft for my screenplay. Wrote a story grid to help with plotting and arcs. Feel really good about the concept and characters. WIN!

2. Didn’t even touch the pilot. Did not have time. C’est la vie!

3. Got revision notes from an agent I’m working with (though not signed with) on my manuscript Of Blood and Promises. They rocked my world. I took a break from the MS while I sorted them out. Came out on the other side with a brilliant and exciting plan. 110 pages into the revision. WIN!

5. HA! Was in a reading slump for most of the summer. Also, because my son was with me A LOT more, I had way less time to devote to anything, and the time I had went to writing and trying to keep up with CP reading. I read a handful of amazing books though, including:

The Perilous Sea by Sherry Thomas

Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo

Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea by April Genevieve Tucholke

Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins

The Winners Curse by Marie Rutkoski

If I Stay by Gayle Forman

6. I had the MOST EPIC SUMMER with Sam. This, more than anything, is what I wanted to accomplish. He started Kindergarten today, and I wrote a post about it here. I have no regrets that so much of my summer was devoted to making sure his was filled with adventure.

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My Biggest Challenge this Summer was…

Changes. This was a summer filled with change and it required extra effort on my part. It meant letting go of my previous habits and routines.

Favorite Line from my WiP:

Screenplay —

Terrified. I knew my entire life was about to change. Brilliantly, but absolutely.

Of Blood and Promises

She was light in sinking darkness. She was friend and ally to my isolation. She was the face I saw when I closed my eyes.

She was never mine. I was never hers.

Something I love about my WiP:

They are what I want to be writing, and even when I couldn’t work on them, they kept telling why I had to come back.

Thank you fellow RSWers for the friendship and fortitude to get through this summer and still have something to show for it. I have no doubt that much of my writing success this summer is due to this group!

Turn, Turn, Turn…


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Summer is gone in a flash, like lightning it is bright, hot…fleeting. Raising children, there are times when every moment seems to pass at this lighting speed. There are also times that seem to stretch so long in an eternity of torture that you begin to wonder if you are the punchline in some cruel joke. When you are raising a child, time is precious and boundless and finite and endless.

Tomorrow comes fast on the heels of today. Tomorrow my five year old becomes a Kindergartner, and even though he has been to pre-school and made friends from strangers and coped with new situations and learned in a group setting before, this is still a new and unknown adventure.

There are all kinds of mothers in the world. Some moms work outside the home. Some are crafty. Some pre-cook meals and freeze them and some are just fine with pizza three times a week. No one way is guaranteed to produce a happy, whole, well-adjusted child, and anyone who thinks otherwise is kidding themselves. But there is one instinct that I believe all mothers will understand.

The instinct to protect.

We all know it is best for our children to learn to cope with stress, to handle conflict, to problem solve. We all also know the best way to lose weight is slowly, through diet and exercise, but we all secretly hope that three day cleanse will work just as well and faster.

The radical, rule-breaker, fist-fighter inside me wants to redo elementary school alongside my son, creating a shield of rebellious protection. The mother in me doesn’t even want to argue with her. But the woman who had to learn the hard way that you must fight your own battles to truly have won, she is the still small voice — less amusing and less passionate, but no less correct. She reminds the other two that they must chill, they can’t beat up the world no matter how much they may want to, and in the end, the best thing for the kid is to just hang back and hope.

Every stage requires letting go. The baby stage, when they look at us like we are the only thing in the whole universe worth acknowledging: gone. The just walking, talking, eating everything, making up words, laughing because you blew a bubble and wow that’s the best: gone. The I can do it, pitch a fit when I can’t, still let you do it because I got bored: gone. The I really got this, back off: gone.

Children move in and out of moments like lightning, too, their faces alive with the glow of newness. And over and over again we feel them slip from our fingers, tearing at the scabs on our hearts. Eventually, we recognize the sensation. The tugging at our grip. The pressure to give some space. It comes from them, it comes from the world waiting for them, and even, sometimes it comes from us.

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We can be Zen about it, we can kick and scream, but still we are stabbed in the heart by our own offspring. We welcome the wounds. We revel in the pain because it means we are doing it well. Tomorrow my son will go to Kindergarten and I will smile and cheer and walk away no matter how much it hurts, and all the tears I want to cry will happen in the car ride home, because even though all I want to do is grab him and run, what I have to do is let go.

 

 

 

Ready. Set. Write! Update #9

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Ready. Set. WRITE! is an online writing intensive to help stay accountable with your writing goals over the summer and provides an opportunity for us to cheer each other on whether planning, drafting, or revising! Your RSW hosts are Alison MillerJaime MorrowErin Funk, and Katy Upperman. Find the rest of the details HERE.

Last Week’s Goals:

1. Revise three more chapters.

I ended up revising 60 pages, so this is a major win. 

2. Write three more scenes on the screenplay and fill in the scenes I have skipped over.

I worked on a story grid for the screenplay, and then sent it to one of screenwriting friends for feedback, and then my week got CRAZY so I haven’t gotten back to it. But I think it is going to make a huge difference in shaping the Screenplay. 

3. Read

I read Isla and the Happily Ever After. Oh the feelings. 

A favorite line from my story or one word or phrase that sums up what I wrote or revised:

I stare at the back of her head, my vision blurring from tears trapped in my eyes. I shake my head, and a few of those tears break free to sneak down my cheeks.

“Did you even love my father?”

She reaches up to run a hand through her hair. When she speaks, her voice is almost a whisper.

“Beyond reason,” she pauses to swallow hard. “I loved him beyond reason.”

Biggest Challenge:

This week I took Sam to the water park, Legoland, and Cosmic Jump as part of our EPIC SUMMER. I was exhausted from all the fun, and then I had to finish prep for his Power Rangers B-day party on Sunday. It was all worth it.

Something I love about my WiP:

The revision is stretching me. It’s the slow kind, where you feel the burn across all the writing muscles, must push through the pain and doubt that you can stretch that far, but you gain new flexibility.

This Week’s Goals:

1. Enjoy the last week before school starts with my son.

2. Revise the next chapter, which is a killer chapter.

3. Finish the Story Grid Revision on the Screenplay and send back to screenwriter friend.

Ready. Set. Write! #8

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Ready. Set. WRITE! is an online writing intensive to help stay accountable with your writing goals over the summer and provides an opportunity for us to cheer each other on whether planning, drafting, or revising! Your RSW hosts are Alison MillerJaime MorrowErin Funk, and Katy Upperman. Find the rest of the details HERE.

Last Weeks Goals:

1. Revise three chapters

Done, plus I had two write NEW chapters. 

2. Rewrite the scenes in my screenplay and add three more.

Done! and I added probably six more with plans for more and inspiration for more. I have 60 pages on the Screenplay, and I loved it so hard. 

3. Read 100 pages on a manuscript I’m beta reading.

*hides* 50 pages, so halfway. 

A favorite line from my story or one word or phrase that sums up what I wrote or revised:

“I have been patient with you, Aiken,” his voice comes from the darkness. I see the sweep of his pa’u in a thin streak of light. “With your ambitions to join the guard, your lack of interest in what I am about…,”I cannot see his face, only the outline of his shoulder and arm, but he pauses and his whole body stills.

“I have done whatever you asked of me,” I say. We both know that is a lie.

His fist flies out, a moving shadow I cannot dodge. With a crack, his knuckles dig into my ribs and smack the air from my lungs.

Biggest Challenge:

As summer draws to an end, and I prepare to send Sam to school, I also seem to be falling back into the habit of thinking about writing all the time. This is a challenge because for the next couple weeks, I really won’t have much extra time. So, being inspired is actually a bad thing right now.

Something I love about my WiP:

Screenplay: The characters feel like real people, and I feel like I am doing them justice.

This Weeks Goals:

1. Revise three more chapters.

2. Write three more scenes on the screenplay and fill in the scenes I have skipped over.

3. Read

 

The Stories We Write: Death

 

cureDoes anyone remember the movie The Cure, starring Brad Renfro and Joseph Mazzello? The film is about an eleven year old boy (Mazzello) living with AIDS. He befriends Renfro’s character, an older boy with a very different kind of troubled life. When the boys learn of a man who claims to have the cure for AIDS, they set off alone down the Mississippi in search of him.

OK. So it has been a long time since I saw this movie — like 17 years and a whole life between me and my last viewing — but I can still remember certain scenes with grave distinction. (I have no idea how bad this movie actually was. This is not a film recommendation. I have a point. Stick with me.)

There is a scene towards the end of the film when the boys are being chased by vagrants and Mazello’s character cuts himself, drawing blood to the surface of his hand. He holds his hand out, yelling (paraphrasing) “My blood is a weapon!” OR something to that affect.

I maybe should preface this story by saying as a child I was slightly preoccupied with death, but not in a fearful way. Sure, there was a sense of danger that surrounded the notion we could all just cease to be. I knew babies, and children, and parents, and friends died — I had experienced those kinds of deaths already in my life. But my understanding of the how and why was a little fuzzy.

So, I watched The Cure and there is a boy dying, but on the outside looking really normal. And then this scene, wherein I learn whatever is killing him is in his blood. Also, I somehow knew needles could transmit this disease and I can’t for the life of me recall how I ascertained that piece of information. This was 1995, I was eleven years old myself.

Meanwhile, I was already writing, and I was already a troublemaker. Those kind of go hand-in-hand. My fifth grade teacher was not my greatest fan, as she had made abundantly clear by calling my parents about me on more than one occasion. She gave us an assignment to write a short story, and afterward we were going to type them up.

I chose to write my story about AIDS. In the story the kids in a public elementary school are taken hostage by a group of drug dealers and vagrants. These bad guys make the kids do drugs and maybe other things. The vagrants are ultimately overcome by the kids, but not before the main character contracted AIDS.

Now, my understanding of how one dies from a disease was also fuzzy. Like, for years I thought if a woman had diabetes and had a baby she would just die — she had to, that’s what happened to Julia Roberts in Steel Magnolias.

The story ended a year later, and the main character, having accepted her fate and enjoyed the rest of her short life, died tragically one night in her bed.

Poof! Her time had expired, the disease had taken her.

Well, my teacher was not happy. She held me after class to “discuss” my story. She explained that this was not the kind of story they were looking for, that I shouldn’t be writing about death and disease, and therefor she wanted me to write a new one.

(STORY OF MY LIFE!)

What she didn’t seem to understand — because she did not understand me, because I was not easy to understand — is that there was no story I could tell that did not involve death. There was no way, in my mind, to tell a story about life without including death. There was no triumph without darkness to overcome.

I took the low grade and wrote another story, and another, and still I write stories. Still those stories are filled with death, either as a catalyst, a mystery, an end, a triumph or a failure. Because I will never understand it, not really, and so I write about it.

Ready. Set. Write! Update #7

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Ready. Set. WRITE! is an online writing intensive to help stay accountable with your writing goals over the summer and provides an opportunity for us to cheer each other on whether planning, drafting, or revising! Your RSW hosts are Alison MillerJaime MorrowErin Funk, and Katy Upperman. Find the rest of the details HERE.

Last Weeks Goals:

1. Finish the book I am reading right now and start another one.

Done!

2. Revise three chapters.

Done! 

3. Write 8 screenplay pages.

Fail. I didn’t have time this week, and I was focused on my revision. This week I hope to make time for the screenplay. I did think about scenes I need to write, and figure out a big change I want to make in the pages I’ve already got. 

4. Do something fun on Friday with my son, just us.

We went on a date to Panera (Sam LOVES the mac’n’cheese and cookies!) and the movies. 

A favorite line from my story or one word or phrase that sums up what I wrote or revised:

(This is from a flashback)

It was a full moon night. It was a mischief night.

I woke to a hand over my mouth.

“Come on,” his voice was a whisper. He moved his hand and tucked a lock of curly hair behind his ear. He refused to braid his hair like the other boys did when they turned thirteen cycles, instead it grew long and curly, and he trimmed it with a knife.

Uncle Talin hated it. I loved it.

“I’m sleeping. And I don’t know if I want to go wherever you’re going.” I whispered, pinching my eyes closed.

“The waterfall,” he paused, waiting for me to look at him. I opened my eyes, but didn’t turn over yet. “The Kumu’s say if you jump from the top on a full moon you see the face of the one you’re meant to marry.”

Biggest Challenge:

Time and the desire to soak up the summer with my son. He starts Kindergarten in three weeks, which is insane and as excited as I am for this new phase, I am also sad.

Something I love about my WiP:

This revision is coming slowly, but much more cohesive. I am beginning to really see how to write a trilogy, to learn what to give the reader, what to hold onto, what to hint at. This WiP really is the first in a trilogy.

This Weeks Goals:

1. Revise three chapters

2. Rewrite the scenes in my screenplay and add three more.

3. Read 100 pages on a manuscript I’m beta reading.