Monday, December 6, 2010

Jellies in the sky and frenzies of a personal sort




That's how fall/winter skies often are in California. Following winds and rain, the yucky smog and dust vanish. Pure blues, whites, golds splatter like paint on canvas.

I was captivated by the cloud patterns the other day and stopped on my walk to crane my neck and gaze for long minutes. Sometimes I wish I could be sucked into the sky to drift.


sky-jellyfish drift

on tropospheric winds

I can not feel.


The need to scrub my abode struck next. I have been on a frenzy for the whole weekend! Even scrubbing floors and vacuuming books!!!

Do you know Hyperbole and a Half? I can't clean now without conjuring the image of Allie's hilarious This is Why I'll Never Be An Adult/clean-all-the-things post here.

She's so creative and funny that she has more than 39,000 followers and gets beaucoup write-ups online. There's even a store on her site to buy her illustrations on shirts, aprons, mugs. And, no, I don't know her or have any connection to her sale stuff. I just think it's awesome.
So as I was struck with the cleaning frenzy, I realized a few things about writing. My writing to be precise. I have been stuck, in the dumps, churning my wheels uselessly in deep mud. I've felt covered with a layer of dust--very unshiny lately.
When I sorted through the whys, I came up with a new one. I'm driven, pressured by notions that I'm too late. There's at least one solid reason for that--a few months ago I learned that a story similar to mine was already being published. That took the wind from my WIP sails and put the driven-demon on my shoulder trying to keep the boat afloat. You must find another angle. You must get it out there fast before its time is past. But that's a problem in itself, I now realize. Being driven by any fear is not a healthy way to write.
If I want readers to feel joy and wonder, I have to feel it myself. I don't have any solutions to my situation that I know are fool-proof (oh, I'm capable of being the fool) but I have some ideas. I think I need to put aside the novel in question and work on other things. Like cleaning all the things that surround me and dusting off other stories I've let languish.
I'm hopeful at the moment that I'll sort this out, and hope is all anyone needs, really.


Karen Jones Gowen said...

How in the world does one get 39,000 followers??? Anyway, that cleaning frenzy sounds like something I need to do, maybe after New Year's.

Lydia Kang said...

That blog is hilarious. What I'm more amazed at is that she makes a living off her blog! Wow.

Natalie said...

I've had that fear too Tricia. I'm not a super fast writer and I'm always worried someone else is going to write my story before I get a chance to finish. I think the answer is not to worry about what other people are writing. A book may have a similar premise but it is not your book. You have a unique voice. If you need to change the premise a little to get excited about it again, then do it. But really, there are many, many books that are similar to one another out there and that is okay.

Yat-Yee said...

I haven't visited the links yet but I wanted to tell you I love your haiku.

It's funny you're talking about cleaning frenzy because my house is in a frenzy and I need to clean.

Janet Johnson said...

The cleaning actually sounds nice! Isn't it good to just dive in like that sometimes? I love the feeling of a fresh-scrubbed house (even if I don't accomplish it all that often!).

Good luck sorting out your wip. That totally would stink.

Tere Kirkland said...

Guh, I've been feeling the same way about my writing lately. Very unshiny. Even my shiny new ideas seem trite.

Good luck getting that sorted out!

I thought maybe a big personal change might change the way I see myself and my writing, but instead, I just wound up with a haircut that's super short and has bangs. (But at least I donated my hair to a good cause)

Learn from my mistakes, people. Bangs don't solve anything! Apparently change happens best from the INSIDE, out. ;)

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

@KarenG: I don't know, but they may have followed her from another social networking site, or word-of-mouth may just be that good because she's that good.

@Lydia: I'm not sure how much she really sells, but I have to say it's tempting to want her art on something. It's so fun.

@Natalie: I agree. Maybe the problem is wondering if the idea wasn't so fresh to begin with if someone else had it, too. I know that's silly but I seem to have a worry gene.

@Yat-Yee: Thank you! I love writing haiku. It revives me.

@Janet: I admit to looking around and feeling impressed and satisfied with how clean it looks. It was something I could control, and we all need those moments of knowing there's at least some aspect of life we can make better.

@Tere: Ha! I just let my long-time bangs grow out!
You're right, though, the real changes that make a difference are internal and harder to come by.

Just Wendy said...

'Sometimes I wish I could be sucked into the sky to drift.' Love that!

You always manage to capture my imagination, Tricia.

All the best getting things sorted. We appear to be in much the same boat.

MG Higgins said...

This must be so difficult, Tricia. I remember when you first began talking about your novel during NaNo last year (at least, I assume this is the same one). It was an idea that touched you deeply and that you felt destined to write. How do you give up a piece of your heart? I don't have an answer, just empathy.

Donna said...

Go Tricia! You're writing and your house are way shiny.

Hannah said...

omg, I love Allies blog!! I bought the responsibilty champion mug for work cuz I gets shit done. Love it!

as for writing, well, I just say this. There were paranormal ya books before Stephanie Meyers. There were yr fantasy before Harry Potter. I could go on...

whatever you write will be fantastic and original. Why? Because YOU wrote it.

that is all.

The Words Crafter said...

It seems I'm never in sync....I was feeling this way before nano with the wip I had at the time.

Since I couldn't use it for the nano thing, I shelved it, which was kind of a release. I was stuck and couldn't figure out a key element.

Working on something different has made me enthusiastic again.

I hope it works for you and like Natalie said, whatever you write, it will be your voice and your book and no one else's....

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

@WendyQ: Thank you! Does that mean we can drift across the sky together? ;)

@Mel: Yes, it is that one. I may still find a way and maybe it will be a better story when I do. But I think I need to stand back from it for a bit.

@Donna: I'll try to stay shiny. Thanks for the encouragement.

@Hannah: I love that you have her mug at work! Her drawings make me laugh so.
And thank you for the writerly support. It always helps.

@WordsCrafter: That is encouraging to hear that you found the spark after doing something else for a bit. That's what I'm hoping for.

TerryLynnJohnson said...

I've seen this post Clean all the things, and I agree, HILARIOUS! I get stuck with wip like that too. THen I remember that the first draft can be BAD. Try not to pressure yourself.

Liza said...

I will keep my fingers crossed that the right idea will come to you to help you move on with your story...if not perhaps and idea for something even better.

Paul Greci said...

I love this quote of yours: "Being driven by any fear is not a healthy way to write." Those are very centering, grounding words to write by.

Thanks for the beautiful cloud photos, too.

Claire Dawn said...

When you consider how lightning-fast publishing is, people will probably have forgotten current book before yours hit shelves :)

Jason Lethcoe said...

Wow, really great insight! Writing from fear never works does it? Definitely something to remember...

VR Barkowski said...

Magical haiku and photographs as usual. *sigh* I feel renewed already. :)

"Being driven by any fear is not a healthy way to write." That says it all. As my first novel veers closer and closer to a 300 page cliche and my second book is on its third genre rewrite (written as mystery, re-written as historical fiction, now being transformed into a thriller), I fear no one actually wants to read what *I* write.

All we can do is keep the fear at bay and keep writing.

Golden Eagle said...

I love Hyperbole and a Half . . . :)

No, I wouldn't think writing out of fear would be a good way to write; I've never felt fear when I was writing, precisely, more like anxiety. And it didn't really help.

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

@TerryLynn: I think it's that combo of her drawings and wit that's so compelling. Sooo good.

@Liza: It's implementation that gets sticky sometimes. I could take this story in many different directions, but which is the right one?

@PaulG: I wish I felt centered by my words. ;) Thank you, as always.

@Claire: I can hope!

@Jason: It sure doesn't. In fact, it cripples us, or, at least, me.

@Viva: Ah. I'll bask in your opening words, and gird myself with the latter. Thank you.

@GoldenEagle: Hi. Yes, fear is a loaded word and an unhelpful companion when writing. I shall try to banish it!

Robyn Campbell said...

Hyperbole and a half, awesome!

Your haiku is simply amazing, Pat. I could read them every day and never tire of them. You RAWK!

I think you're right. Being driven by any fear is not a healthy way to write.

I am glad you are dusting off other stories. There's a gem in that stash, I just know it.:)

Laura Canon said...

You are so right about being driven by fear. I dug this nugget out of a book on spirituality a month ago and I wrote it down and underlined it:
Never make a decision in despair.

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

@Robyn: Aw, you make me feel much better. :D

@Laura: That's an amazing quote. Actually, it would be a good plot element for a character, as well.

Sarah Laurence said...

Cool –clouds in California! The skies are clear in Maine but it’s cold.

I hope the break will allow you return to this MS with enthusiasm. I took more than a year off from my current WIP to write another MS. Then when that one was done, I returned and started over on page one, shifting it from adult to YA, and it’s much better. Sometimes a break helps. Good luck!

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

@Sarah: It really helps to hear your experience. Thank you so much. I'll not feel so pressured now.

Suzanne Casamento said...

I love the sky-jellyfish. That's excatly how those clouds look!

Being driven by fear is not a healthy way to do anything. You'll sort it all out. In fact, you kind of already did by realizing that you have to feel the joy for readers to do so too.

Phoenix said...

Oooh, a jellyfish haiku. I dig it! (and I've been loving LA's clear skies and smog free days too. Ahhhh, I can breathe again.)

I'm totally obsessed with Allie over at Hyperbole and a Half. "Clean all the Things" is one of my favorites, but so is her post about her trying to figure out if her dog is retarded.

I always burn calories when I visit Hyperbole because I laugh so hard my stomach shakes. Love it.

Hope you've been well!

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

@Suzanne: I'm so happy you see my jellies.
I hope I sort it out soon!

@Tracy: I'm all smiles that you dig the haiku. I love writing them--they're so immediate to the experience.
Ha! Since I could stand to burn more calories, I'll have to visit Hyperbole more! I hope you're doing well, too. :D