My One Word for 2015

When I was reviewing what I’d intended to accomplish and what I actually did accomplish in 2014, I had mixed feelings.  On one hand, I had a lot of lovely, wonderful, life-affirming experiences.

I visited Washington, D.C., for the first time.  I returned to Paris.  I got married to the love of my life and had the wedding I wanted.  I honeymooned in New Orleans & St. Louis.  I super enjoyed being the mother of a one-year-old.

On the other hand, in a year where I proclaimed my one word as “Core,” a year of getting back to the core of whom I am, reclaiming myself as a writer, getting back in shape, etc., etc., well… That’s where I disappointed myself a bit.  I revised one screenplay.  I wrote less than 100 percent of a couple of first drafts.  I wrote a mere six short stories.  STILL went nowhere (& I can’t justify siphoning more money into trying to get it somewhere).  And despite finishing a round of P90X3, I ended up gaining 20 pounds instead of losing the 20 I had left post-Pip.

I spent several weeks reviewing my year and trying to figure out where I wanted to go in 2015 and how I could create the best ways to make that journey happen.  And what I settled on for my one word for 2015 is this: YES.

This word’s meaning for me this year is two-fold.

Firstly, I’ve had a long string of collecting nos when it comes to my writing.  After the high of being named a semifinalist in the Austin Film Festival screenplay competition, it’s been nothing but NO ever since.  It’s been disconcerting and disheartening, and it hasn’t been good for my motivation.  But I’ve decided this year I’m going to start working toward getting my YES again, even if that means putting myself and my stories out there and collecting a few more nos along the way.

And secondly, I think 2014 was a year of allowing myself to say no to a lot of things.  Too tired?  Not enough time?  Not enough space?  Not enough mental energy to focus?  Then no, you don’t have to write or work out.  You can binge-watch Grey’s Anatomy or Gilmore Girls or Scandal or any other show you’re way behind on instead.

By allowing myself to say no so often, I ended up with results I’m not very pleased with.  So, this year, I’m saying yes to my goals, despite hurdles.  I’m tired, but I’m going to spend 10 minutes plotting out a few points of this story.  I don’t have much space nor a babysitter tonight, but I can jump on the stationary bike while I watch that next episode of Gilmore Girls.  And yes, we can rearrange our schedules so that I get at least one night a week out of the house to write write write.

So that’s my thing for 2015: YES.  It’s going to be another crazy year with its own set of obstacles and hurdles and adventures and twists and turns.  But I’m going to do my part to make it a good one.  Neil Gaiman always has the best New Year’s wishes, so I’ll leave you once again with what he said this year:

     Be kind to yourself in the year ahead.
     Remember to forgive yourself, and to forgive others. It’s too easy to be outraged these days, so much harder to change things, to reach out, to understand.
     Try to make your time matter: minutes and hours and days and weeks can blow away like dead leaves, with nothing to show but time you spent not quite ever doing things, or time you spent waiting to begin.
     Meet new people and talk to them. Make new things and show them to people who might enjoy them.
     Hug too much. Smile too much. And, when you can, love.
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[Around Here] Getting Hitched & Gearing Up

First and foremost, top news in my life is that this happened:

Married Folk

And I mailed off the executed marriage license today, so now he’s officially stuck with me.

We had an afternoon wedding (and the weather, rather kindly, turned out absolutely perfect), and afterwards we took our kiddo to my parents’ house, put him to bed, and then headed out to a movie with our now-combined siblings.  And if that doesn’t say “made for each other,” then I don’t know what does.  (The movie, by the way, was Gone Girl, which is kind of hilarious, we know.)

The next day, we jetted off to New Orleans for a few days, where we ate way too much, and drank way too much, and heard a lot of amazing street musicians, and saw a lot of weird and/or beautiful things.

And now we’re back and trying to get back into the groove of everyday life, which is equal parts bummer because I have to go back to work on Wednesday and pretty great because we generally enjoy our everyday life.

I’ve been working on several pieces of fiction with the goal to submit to Fireside Mag and finally made my choice and sent off the one I liked best today.  (The first two issues of Year 3 are currently free to read online, by the way, and feature some great stories [not to mention accompanying artwork], so they’re definitely worth checking out [and supporting!] if you’re interested in good fiction written by authors that actually get paid for their efforts.)

One of my goals in the coming year is to submit to more anthologies/magazines/etc. and to maybe even (gasp!) get paid for some fiction.  It’s a funny thing to talk about trying to get paid for creative endeavors, but artists do have bills to pay, and while I’m lucky to have a day job that supports myself and my family, it’s nice to think about being able to live on one’s passions some day (or at least get help living on).

And that brings me to NaNoWriMo, an endeavor for which I never expect to receive a dime, which is OK because there are forms of credit beyond cold hard cash.  I’ve written before about why NaNoWriMo is so important to me, and this year, Year 10 as I mentioned in my last post, is no different.  As it turns out, I’ve decided I’m doing neither the story that haunts nor the new idea, but the NEW new idea that grabbed my attention about a week ago.  Creative energy is a weird thing, isn’t it?  And with something like NaNoWriMo, I really believe you’ve to go with whatever’s exciting to you in the moment.

So that’s what’s going on around here.  Settling back into life for a week before we jump on the rollercoaster of 1,667 words a day for a month.  Life is good.

 

The Story That Haunts

NaNoWriMo is sneaking up on me this year, which isn’t very kind of it given this will be my tenth year.  You’d think by this point NaNoWriMo and I would be like old friends, comfortable slipping back into our old patterns and inside jokes even after months apart.

NaNoWriMo 2014 Participant Badge

Alas, Year 10 is throwing me for a loop like usual.

I’d been planning for months to write a story idea that popped into my mind thanks to a logline competition over on the GITS blog.

But then, just in the past week or so, an old idea has been nagging at me.  It’s an idea for which I’ve done many, many drafts in screenplay form.  But I’ve never been able to sufficiently break it.  It’s the idea I’ve come back to the most, the one I’ve never been able to sufficiently capture despite the fact that I always feel so close.  And it’s whispering in my ear again, haunting me again, trying to convince me to try giving it the novel treatment instead.

So, it’s the age-old question for me: write the new thing, or write the thing that haunts? I try to alternate, and I have been slowly working on a new idea over the past few months.  I’m planning to wrap up Draft Zero before I head into November. And after that, I’m thinking more and more it may be time to visit the ghost once again.

A Creative Kick in the Pants

Oh, hi there.

You know how Woody Allen never watches his films once they’re completed because nothing ever lives up to the vision of the story he had in his head? Well, I get that. I was so excited to start on my current (not sure how apt that word is, given I haven’t worked on it at all since March) script. I’d watched the key scenes in my head, had even been brought to tears by some of them. But when I started placing words on the page, it all fell apart. Compared to what I’d envisioned, it was just… bad. Which, of course, is what first drafts typically are — bad.  But I think I was too in love with the story when I started, and seeing a lesser version of it was disheartening.  I’ll get back to it, maybe even sooner rather than later, but I’ve been in a funk for week because of it.  And continuing to grow my collection of nos for STILL hasn’t exactly helped.

I’ve still been writing, of course. Freelance work has been keeping me busy, and while that is great and awesome and I would happily welcome more of it, the dark clouds always loom closer when I’m not writing my own stories.  The artwork I’ve been producing has been keeping them at bay for the most part, but it’s time to get back on the wagon.

Be Violent & Original in Your Work Spatter Art Print by ShireFurnishings on Etsy

 

So I’m committing to writing every day in May.  Writing on my own stuff, that is.  It might be the script.  It might be a short story.  It might be another idea I’ve been tossing about in my head.  But whatever it is, on any given day, I’m going to write.

Do Scary Things Art Print by ShireFurnishings on Etsy

It’s not quite as scary as NaNoWriMo was back in November, but it’s still a little daunting given the lack of concrete ideas I’ve had lately. But NaNoWriMo was a creative kickstart for me, and I’m hoping my own personal Camp NaNoWriMo in May will have the same effect.  And when in doubt…

Never Underestimate Magic Beans - Coffee Art Print by ShireFurnishings on EtsyAnd now, for a shameless plug! If you like any of the images you’ve seen here, you can purchase prints or digital downloads at my etsy shop, which helps support my coffee habit among other things (like keeping my ever-growing kiddo clothed).

 

[Around Here] Fast February

Some months seem to stick around forever, and then others seem to happen in a snap of the fingers. For some reason, February seems to be moving at light speed. For example, I meant to do this post in the first few days, but here we are, past the midpoint of the month, and I’m just now getting to it.

This is the month I dove back into my first new screenplay in a number of years. While I didn’t really work on anything last year, the few years before that had been spent reimagining, rewriting and polishing previously written scripts.  So starting one from scratch again has been fun, awful, exciting and a total slog.  Which is pretty much how I remember it.

January was spent researching and outlining, and I set myself a deadline of February 1 to begin.

What research looks like.

What research looks like.

 

I haven’t met my writing goals daily, but as of this morning I’m sitting at 36 pages, and I’m OK with that.  I’m definitely dealing with that writerly phenomenon of the words on the page paling miserably in comparison to the movie in my head.  I love that movie in my head, and I know I can get closer to it in subsequent rewrites.  But you have to have a first (shitty) draft to do rewrites, so I am struggling onward and making sure I get at LEAST a page in daily, even when it is literally the last thing I want to do (and given I typically do most of my writing between 4 a.m. and 5 a.m. before work, that’s not all that rare).

Speaking of rewrites, I did rewrite an old script (mostly a polish, really, with a couple of scenes getting a total makeover), and I’m scheduled to do the final read-through on that later this morning.  Trying to get into the GITS habit of stacking projects.

I’m also taking my first Skillshare class: The First Steps of Hand Lettering.  It’s a way to do some art with my hands, and I’m one of those weird folks who enjoy actual hand-writing things, so it’s been a good fit (if you are interested in taking a Skillshare class, you can click on that link and get us both $10 to use).

early sketch by Elizabeth Ditty

An early sketch for my current project.

There are all sorts of classes in all sorts of subjects at Skillshare, usually for about $20 (they offer discounts pretty much all the time, though), so it’s definitely worth checking out.  Granted, the class has been at least partially responsible for me wanting to do a print with a background that looks like blood spatter, so….

I’ve also been going through this sort of belated nesting phase (and yes, I still hate the term “nesting,” but my former choice of “pregnancy-induced mania” doesn’t apply here since I am not pregnant).  So I’ve been attempting to cook a lot more this month.  Which has actually gone pretty well, except I feel like I’m perpetually cleaning the kitchen. Which I guess is better than perpetually not cleaning the kitchen (not that I’ve ever gone through phases like that…).

Lastly, I started P90X3 back at the end of December, and I have miraculously made it through almost two blocks (we’re in the last few days of the second transition week) without missing a workout.  It’s been the perfect program to get back into working out daily since the workouts are only 30 minutes (which T has lovingly sacrificed for me, despite the fact that he already has to wrangle the Pipsqueak while I’m at work every day).

Ditty does P90X3.

So, things are pretty busy around here, but it feels good to be busy again near the levels I used to keep myself pre-Pipsqueak.  I feel like I’m myself again, which is an awesome feeling, and I actually feel like I’m way more present when I’m hanging out with Pip and/or T now that I’m pursuing my own passions again.

#lifelessons

#lifelessons, right?

 

[FridayFlash] Sleeping Beauty’s Secret

For my first #fridayflash story of 2014, I’m taking part in Chuck Wendig’s Fairytales Remixed challenge (subgenre: “grimdark fantasy”).  I actually already had this story in mind when his post popped up, so apparently it was fate.  Or at least good motivation to actually get the words out of my brain and into the world.  Please enjoy, and be sure to check out the other entries in the challenge as well as stories from the #fridayflash community!


SLEEPING BEAUTY’S SECRET

dark watcherAurora stole away just as dawn was breaking.  The king would not rise for another hour, and the nurses would tend to their little ones until breakfast.  This was her time—precious and rare—and she had to use it wisely.

Dressed in peasants’ attire from a  lifetime ago, she kept her dark scarf draped over her golden hair and kept her eyes downcast as she made her way through the village and toward the woods.  Though she knew it had given her many advantages, sometimes she cursed the gift of beauty bestowed on her by the fairies.

She thought of the other gifts she’d received as an infant and tried to remember the last time she’d sung anything.  Her children were too old for lullabies now, and the nurses had taken care of that most of the time anyway.

Stepping into the thick, damp air of the forest was a relief, but she didn’t slow her pace.  Not until the din from the village had been silenced by the swaying of the trees and the chirping of the birds did she relax.  Finally, she heard a sharp cawing, and she stopped.  She was here.

Before her was a small clearing where the green had faded away, as if shrinking back from something different, something fearsome.

Aurora approached the center of it where the smallest black vine pierced through the ground.  She saw that it had sprouted thorns in the week since she’d last visited, and the sight sent a thrill through her body.  Perhaps there was still hope.

She had been so young when everything happened.  Only sixteen.  What had she known of true love?  Even now, she knew that it had been true, and maybe even that it still was.  But she also knew that love was not the same as happiness.

Despite everything, she could not explain why she was here.  She knew it was dangerous.  Perhaps it was some remnant of former magic, drawing her once again into the grasp of evil.  But there were no fairies now to hide her from her fate, and she had found no weapons or spells to fight the darkness in her own soul.  So she tended to the little black vine, in hopes of some day facing the being that had put it there.

She pulled out a small knife from a pocket hidden in her skirt.  She grimaced.  This was the part she hated the most.  Another sharp caw from the sky beckoned her onward.  She glanced up and met the crow’s red eyes as she removed her glove.  And then she grit her teeth and slashed the blade across her palm, breaking through the barely-closed gash that was already there.  She held her hand over the soil surrounding the little vine, and let her blood soak its roots.


© 2014 Elizabeth Ditty