Category “PARALLEL”

18 More Hours (Day #100)

It’s here.  Day #100.  My big deadline.  And, like with any deadline, I’ll be working til the very last moment.

It’s 6:00 a.m. PST.  I’ve got 18 more hours til midnight.  And I plan to use every single one.

Which means today is a book day.  Not a blog day.

So if you’re looking for my big Day #100 post, (please please please) come back tomorrow!

In the meantime, if you’re visiting Embrace the Detour from Momalom, check out the “ETD Essentials” on the sidebar.  And if you missed yesterday’s post on Courage (the first post in the Five For Ten series), scroll down and read it now.  And please, comment!  This whole Five For Ten thing depends on the power of the comment.   If you don’t have a blog of your own, shoot me an email at lauren [at] embracingthedetour [dot] com.

The Opposite Is True (Day #87)

I remembered why I’m doing this.

Not that I’d forgotten — I hadn’t.  But sometimes in the midst of the actual doing, the reason behind the doing fades into the background.  As it should.  It’s hard to get things done when you’re busy thinking about why you’re doing them.  The Why can be distracting.

So can a moany, kicky (not a word but should be a word) baby.

These things are related.

As you all know, I’m rapidly approaching my Day #100 deadline and I’m wildly behind schedule.  So far behind schedule that I’ve abandoned the schedule for a “just get as much done as I can today” approach.  I think it’s working.  I have no idea if I’ll have a draft complete by May 11th, but it seems within the realm of possibility that I might.

With 13 days to go, every day matters.  I’m fighting to stay balanced, but it’s hard not to have tunnel vision.  This is important to me.  And while it’s not absolutely imperative that I finish on Day #100, the deadline does matter.  There will come a day in the near future when it will be time for me to go back to work.  On that dark and stormy day, whether I want it to or not (I won’t), the novel will get pushed down the priority list.  Way down.  Which is why I need to finish this book NOW, so I can transition from trying-to-finish-my-novel mode to trying-to-sell-my-novel mode before my days as a stay-at-home-writer-mom are up.  Or – even better – so I can actually sell my novel so those days don’t have to be up at all.

An irony:  when I started this project, my biggest fear was that my baby would derail my career goals.  Baby and career were at war in my mind.  I worried (okay, assumed) that motherhood would require me to accept something Less Than in my professional life.  My baby wasn’t even here yet, and I was already looking for ways to manage its existence, so afraid that he/she would get in the way of what I Really Wanted.  Now, three months into this mommy gig, I am looking for ways to manage my career, unwilling to let it get in the way of what I Really Want.  To be here.  To be present.  With my daughter.  Because of her.

Which brings me back to the Why.

Yesterday, I was staring at my screen, struggling to finish this BFF fight scene that’s giving me so much trouble.  Lil Mil was kicky and moany and fussy.  She was tired.  So was I.  Neither of us had slept well the night before.  We both needed a nap.

I weighed my options.  I could try to get her to sleep in the vibrating, singing, spinning bassinet next to my desk so I could keep working.  I could take her up to her crib and put her down for an official nap.  Or I could pick her up, carry her to the queen-sized bed that was once in her room and is now in my office, and lay down with her.

Yes, the last option was the least productive.  From a sleep-training perspective, you’d probably even call it unproductive.  But as we were lying there, foreheads pressed together, both of us dancing on the edge of sleep, a thought popped into my mind:

This is why I’m doing it.

Yes, I want a career as a writer.  I want someone to pay me to create stories I care about.  But more than that, I want a career that enables me to have those moments with my daughter.  Moments I’ll either have or miss.  Moments I’ll either be there for or I won’t.

And that’s the irony:  I thought motherhood would be at odds with my goal.  The opposite is true.

Motherhood has become the reason for it.

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How has your detour changed your goal?  Has the goal itself changed or just the reason for it?

Speaking of detours – please send me your detour story!  In the spirit of today’s post, I want this Friday to be a tribute to The Best Thing That Ever Happened To Me detours.  What unexpected event/opportunity/situation was a game changer for you?  How is your life better because of it?

My Inner Mean Girl (Day #85)

Posted in: PARALLEL, Writing

Today’s post is yesterday’s post renamed.  I’m leaving it up because I’m getting such rich stuff.  Please keep ‘em coming.  And thank you, K, for reminding me of one of my best (and by that, I mean absolute worst) mean girl moments.  Thank you also for emailing it and not posting it as a comment :)

Today’s post is a continuation of my plea from Saturday morning.  I’m still struggling with the blowout BFF fight in the middle of my story.

The good news is I’ve filled my hole.  I’ve finally given this fight the depth and intensity it needs (and deserves).  In my head, at least.

You see, I still haven’t written it.

Right now, in the middle of Chapter Eight there is this big chunk of bracketed, highlighted text that explains all the reasons Abby and Caitlin are fighting (both the on-the-surface reasons and the real, truth-beneath-the-surface reasons).  And I like it.  It’s meaty.  It’s real.

The next step, of course, is to actually write the scene.  But I keep putting that off.  Which is fine, really.  There are plenty of other scenes that need to be written.  I can put this one on hold til later.  But I shouldn’t.  With Saturday’s post and your comments and emails fresh in my mind, I should finish it now.

So why am I putting it off?  Because I’m having trouble summoning my inner mean girl.  And in particular, my inner teenage mean girl.  I’m feeling painfully uninspired.

This is my call for inspiration.

No, I’m not asking for more rah rah rah’s or you can do it!’s (although, if you’re offering, I’ll take ‘em).  What I’m asking for is probably a little harder for you to deliver.  I need some cruel, stinging, bitchy words.  Words you wish you could take back.  Words you’ve never been able to forget.  As annoyingly wannabe-writterly as this may sound, the truth is, in order to do this fight justice , I need to remember what it feels like to be standing in one of those things-might-never-go-back-to-the-way-they-were moments.  And right now, I can’t.  I’m not sure if it’s all the breastfeeding-induced endorphins or what (thanks, Lil Mil, for your 3 month growth spurt), but I seem to have temporarily misplaced my bitch voice.  Help me find it.

So, tell me:

What was the meanest thing you ever said to someone you cared about?

What was the meanest thing someone you cared about ever said to you?

Did it ruin your relationship?

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(p.s., the snake pic above really freaks me out.  you?)

(p.p.s., if you’d rather email instead of comment, please  do.  you can find me at lauren [at] embracingthedetour [dot] com.)

Finding the Fire (Day #83)

Posted in: PARALLEL, Writing

Help me.

It’s Day # 83 and I’ve just discovered a giant, glaring hole in the middle of my story.

Okay, so I’m exaggerating.  It’s not really a hole so much as a weakness.  A place in my story – a single scene – where I need to go further and deeper.  But I have 17 days to finish this thing.  Strengthening weak story points is simply NOT ON THE AGENDA.

Except now it has to be.

So that’s what I spent yesterday doing:  trying to make a tepid moment into a fiery one.  For most of the day it felt like I was banging my head against a brick wall.  I just couldn’t seem to crack this scene.  And then I realized my problem:  I was trying too hard.  I was trying to manufacture its fieriness when I should have been trying to uncover its fieriness.

The scene I’m struggling with is one in which two best friends, both mature, intelligent, and likable seventeen-year-old girls (yes, I believe such creatures exist), get into a huge, potentially friendship-ending fight.  I spent yesterday morning focused on what triggers their fight — the thing that sets them off — until I realized that the trigger doesn’t really matter.  Think about your biggest fight with your best friend.  Was the thing that set you off really what you were fighting about?

So I changed tactics.  And while I made some great progress, I’m still not 100% there.

Which is why I need your help.

I need BFF fight stories.  What triggered your fight doesn’t matter — I’m interested in why you were really fighting.  What underlying issues came spewing out once the gloves were off?  I’m thinking of things like jealousy and insecurity and guilt and anxiety and fear and arrogance.  Things that influence both our actions and our reactions.  Issues that may have affected the distribution of power in the relationship.  Were you the pretty friend?  The smart friend?  The funny friend?  The popular friend?  Or was it the other way around?  Or maybe you and your BFF were equals, but she (or you) had a tendency to monopolize conversations or spill secrets or hog the spotlight.

In the case of my characters, the fight happens after my protagonist, Abby, tells a guy that her best friend, Caitlin, likes him.  Abby has a feeling that Caitlin secretly likes this guy (who, by the way, has a girlfriend), and thus (in her mind at least) is just trying to facilitate what she thinks would be a good relationship.  But it’s not true.  Caitlin doesn’t like this guy.  And even if it were true, we all know that telling a guy that your best friend likes him without your best friend’s authorization is a clear violation of the BFF code.  When Abby comes clean about what happened, Caitlin blows up, accusing Abby of doing it out of fear that the guy Abby likes really likes Caitlin.

Did you get all that?

What I’m trying to nail down now is why the fight escalates the way that it does.  Because really, what I’ve just described isn’t a HUGE deal, even for high school girls.  So why does it become one?

Here’s what you should know about my characters (and, be warned, I’m going to do this fast and off-the-cuff):  Caitlin is beautiful, confident and smart (in a very left-brained, practical way).  But she’s not arrogant – at least, not when it comes to her looks (mainly because she doesn’t notice them).   She’s unemotional, but not cold.  She just thinks with her head not her heart.  Hyper-focused on what really matters to her — her passion for science and her career as a scientist — Caitlin often gets frustrated with stupid high school crap.  She’d rather be in a physics lab then hanging out with other high school kids.  But she’s a great friend.  

Abby, on the other hand, thinks mostly with her heart.  And although she’s driven, her drive stems from deep-seated perfectionism, not passion.  Abby is a constant overthinker, yet at the same time, she often says things without meaning to.  She’s well-intentioned but has a tendency to be self-involved.   She’s also never completely satisfied, always somewhat anxious, mostly because she doesn’t live in the moment – she’s too busy projecting to next week or next year.  Abby has never been jealous of Caitlin – or at least, has never thought of herself as being jealous of Caitlin – but it does bother her when the guy she currently likes seems taken with Caitlin (something that has definitely happened before).

But I’m telling you all of this just for context.  What I’m really looking for are YOUR stories.  Real-life fiery moments.  Complicated friend dynamics. The deep, gritty, not-so-picture-perfect stuff.

The stuff that makes our friendships real.

I Heart Cheerleaders (Day #81)

In high school I was proud of it.  In college, I hid it.  In law school, I laughed about it.  Now, I sometimes forget about it all together.

See that girl on the far right of the second row?  That’s me.

I was a cheerleader.  (No, I don’t know who let me out of the house with a headband and that forehead.  Mom?)

Back then, I used to wonder if our presence on the court mattered to the players for whom we were cheering.  Did our Rah Rahs and You Can Do It and Go Teams! really make a difference?  I never knew, because I was always the cheerleader, never the player (if you’ve ever seen me try to dribble a basketball or hit a tennis ball, you understand why).

But these days, there are moments when I feel like the star player.  I’m not sure how good my team is (we’ll know in 20 days), but right now, that doesn’t seem to matter so much.  People are cheering for me anyway.  With your comments and your Facebook messages and your tweets.  Does it make a difference?

Absolutely.

And I don’t mean in some vague, intangible sense.  I mean practically.  Concretely.  When I get an encouraging comment/message, it makes me work harder, right then.

Which is why, as of yesterday, I’m now obsessed with Twitter.

First, a caveat:  I am still Twitter illiterate.  I’m not sure what I’m supposed to be tweeting or what all the different symbols people use mean (#?  Anyone?).  But the tweets I’m getting? Coolest things ever.

I know what you’re thinking.  Why are you on Twitter if you’re supposed to be in the midst of crunch time? (And why, pray tell, are you writing a post about Twitter when you’re supposed to be pounding out pages of your novel?)

I have answers to both.

I’m on Twitter because I’ve decided that it’s the least time-intensive social media outlet.  You don’t have to click around and there aren’t scores of photos to distract you.  Tweet and be tweeted.  That’s all there is to it.  So, while I try to power through the last six pages of this novel, I’ve decided to skip Facebook and limit my email activity.  I just keep Tweetdeck open on my desktop and go about my merry way.  And then, as has happened several times already, when I’m struggling through a difficult scene or trying to calm a difficult baby, wondering how the heck I’m actually going to finish this thing, I’ll hear a DING! and there it’ll be.  Some encouragement.  A dose of You Can Do It! And suddenly, I remember that I can.

It’s like having my own little cheering section.

I’m writing about Twitter because I realized yesterday that I am a Twitter nerd.  I don’t think I’ve yet encountered someone with fewer Twitter followers than I currently have.  And yet, 50+ followers feels like a lot to me!  Or, it did, before I realized that 50+ followers pretty much puts me at the loser table.  How the heck normal people end up with 1000+ followers??   Is it crazy for me to aspire to that?  Do I lack the je ne sais quoi that makes someone follow-worthy?  (If the answer is yes, please don’t tell me that today.  Wait til Day #101).

This is not a plea for you to follow me on Twitter.

(Okay, that’s a lie.)

But it’s not only a plea for you to follow me on Twitter.  It’s also a recognition of the fact that your comments/tweets/messages/texts/emails/phone calls matter.  They make a difference.  They have kept me from throwing in the towel on more than one occasion.  So, thank you.  To those of you who have reached out.  To my cheerleaders.

I heart you.

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(Okay, let me hear it – your thoughts on Twitter!  Love/hate/don’t get it?  What do you use it for?  Do you follow more people than follow you or vice versa?  What makes for a good tweet?  Were you a cheerleader?  Do you sorta wish you could wear a cheerleading uniform everyday like the Cheerios on Glee?)

OH!  I promised you a word count.  As of right now: 62, 162.  I think the novel will be about 100,000 total.  So… a little less than 40,000 to go.  That’s 2000 words a day.  I wrote 1500 yesterday.  Aiming for 2500 today.