Friday, September 4, 2009

The Best Laid Plans of...well, Me!

As I pondered my first blog post after such a lengthy hiatus, I kept coming back to the fact that on June 26 I put down in writing my summer goals. I decided that I had better do a follow up on that post and the title words of John Steinbeck filtered through my very tired brain. My life is still in boxes and I wanted to make sure I had the partial quote correct. My favorite search engine, Google, found the quote and because I love to learn new things (and am known to wonder aimlessly from one web page to another for hours) started to read.

John Steinbeck’s nouvella Of Mice and Men takes its title from a Robert Burn’s poem To a Mouse. I followed the links and found the poem and had a read. Being a Scotswoman (first generation Canadian), I only had a wee bit of difficulty with the language. Luckily, the Standard English Translation was right there and much easier to understand! I’ve included the part about best-laid plans here for your enjoyment. If you’re looking for the entire thing follow this link.

But Mouse, you are not alone,
In proving foresight may be vain:
The best laid schemes of mice and men
Go often askew,
And leaves us nothing but grief and pain,
For promised joy!

Well now that I’ve used up a good portion of this blog on a poem, I now must confess. The best-laid schemes of Janet the Writer DID go askew. Oh, I was going to have all this time – no Internet, no e-mail, no Solitaire – and I was going to finish Gillian and Mac’s story. After all, what else did I have to do besides travel across Canada in a trailer?

I started off with great intentions. But as the country passed by and the weather was so beautiful and the people we visited were so hospitable – well, nothing got done. I would start to think about the story and then stop. I would scribble down an idea or two, but then that lost it’s charm in comparison to shiny, pristine Northern Ontario lakes, the endless gawking to see wildlife, uncontrollable fear on the busy roads of southern Ontario and Montreal, the beauty of The Mighty St. Lawrence River. You get the picture – I was a lot like the dog in Disney’s movie Up where his focus is constantly interrupted by "Squirrel". There were a lot of squirrel moments.

As the days turned into weeks and we finally arrived in Nova Scotia I was beginning to feel like a failure. I had set a goal and hadn’t met it – hadn’t even come close to meeting it. I reluctantly borrowed our friends’ computer and began reading all the Prairie Chicks’ blogs I had missed knowing that on Friday I would have to have something ready to go for my regular day. Naturally, the blogs were fabulous. And I read all the comments, too. I didn’t have time to comment, it would have taken me forever, but I knew that I would have loved to be a part of the discussions that took place.

Then! Then, I read Helena’s guest blog on August 21st! Ha – I loved it. And I realized why I couldn’t focus during the month of August on anything writerly – Muse and EE had been left behind. In my frantic rush to get everything packed and organized, see The Husband off with the moving truck, clean the house from top to bottom, get me and The Dog to my mom’s – I forgot to issue an invite to Muse and EE. No wonder the inside of my head was so quiet (and dare I say, peaceful).

I sent for them immediately after I read Helena’s post and will need to apologize and grovel once they get here. Hopefully, I will have enough time to finish unpacking my belongings and set up my house before they arrive all snarky and demanding. The house we’re renting has a little built in desk in the master bedroom and I’ve claimed it as my own. I think that will go a little way toward mending the relationship between the three of us. Then, we’ll need to sit down and hammer out some goals – best-laid schemes I plan on heeding this time…

Ooh, squirrel!!

So, People of Blogland, how was your summer? Did you meet the goals you set way back in June? Have you set new ones for the fall (share them with us if you wish)? And because I can’t resist – what’s your "Squirrel"? As of right now, for me, it has to be the beautiful view of the ocean from my living room window – and the lure of the beach, which we’ve walked on everyday since we’ve arrived.

Janet (who has missed you guys greatly)


Hayley E. Lavik said...

Janet, it's so lovely to see you again! We're all so thrilled to have you back, but I must confess... that description of your view, oh... that was a gut blow for sure ;) You just described what I've wanted all my life, but then I went and plopped myself in the centre of the continent. Oh well.

But back to the matter at hand. I'd say I met my goals, except for per-day word count. I set that aside in favour of consistent, enjoyable progress, rather than stress over 'moar words!! :O" My goals deviated a bit though. You might remember back at retreat I wanted to take some time to iron out the snags and then continue on, but after the first big snag (the beginning) I opted to just keep going in first person, and I'm working my way back to each snag as well as doing everything else.

As for goals for the fall, I want to get back to where I left off with a strong idea of how to connect to the conclusion... without getting distracted by my big 'squirrel,' which I can only describe as fanfiction. A phrase sparks a what-if, and I get sidetracked amusing myself with alternate scenes and such. Bad Hayley. Focus!

Janet said...

Good morning, Hayley! Yes, the view is beautiful and the smell of salt water is wonderful. Yesterday, we had morning coffee with 5 deer who were munching on weeds and apples a mere 10 feet from our dining room window. Don't get me wrong - I'm a prairie girl and I love the vast fields and hot, dry weather (wait till you hear me lament the absence of squeaky snow in the winter), but I do love the ocean.

Well done on meeting your goals, Hayley. I can't wait to read more of your 'revised' work (betabloggers are on my reading list for the weekend - I see snippets have become a routine on Sundays). And sometimes word count goals have a way of stiffling creativity. Go with the flow, they say (and I'm pretty sure that wasn't one of Robert Burns' quotes).

I've heard a lot about fanfiction, but refuse to go looking for it online in case it becomes another distractor. Do you post your fanfiction? Do you find the process a good writing exercise - something to stretch the writing muscles away from the WIP at hand?

Luanna Stewart said...

Welcome back, Janet!!! I'm delighted to hear you are getting settled. And there is nothing to compare with that fresh, salty breeze. It's like cool water on a hot day! Muse and EE will enjoy hunting for sea glass on that beach.

My summer goals went out the window, even after I revised them, made a plan, and wrote it down! Bah! But school is back in session, the boys are happily occupied expanding their horizons, which leaves me with a blessedly quiet house. My RS is undergoing harsh revisions and I have shed a few tears over cut scenes but I will not despair.

I'm glad you had such an enjoyable trip. Just think of all the story ideas you have squirreled away.

Karyn Good said...

Welcome back, Janet! The view sounds lovely and so glad you had a wonderful trip cross country.

I didn't exactly meet my writing goals but we had a rather cool summer here so I did manage to get some writing done on new project. Chase and Lily took the summer off but they've come back since school has started up again.

For the fall...I've got contest goals and maybe NaNoWrMo in November.

My current squirrel is the weather. It's absolutely beautiful here right now and it's looking like it's going to be a beautiful long weekend! The Labour Day Classic! Swimming! Good eats! Yeah!!

Enjoy the long weekend!

Janet said...

Lu! Great to hear from you. I assume your vacation in the Maritimes was delightful - did you miss Hurricane Bill? Can't wait to chat with you and the girls (I'll e-mail since I still don't have Internet - where is that Internet guy?).

Yes, it's amazing when summer winds down and routines pick back up. I'm a sucker for warm weather and summer activities - hard to sit at a desk when the blue skies beckon. Good luck with the revisions, cutting is so heartbreaking. Can't wait to hear more about the RS manuscript.

I'm not sure I want Muse on the beach - it takes us forever as it is stopping to inspect a piece of glass or a shell. Lot's of interesting stuff after Danny blew through.

Janet said...

Thank you, Karyn. It's good to be back. Sounds like you did ok on the writing over the summer. And I saw you had plans for entering some contests - great! And I'm glad Chase and Lily are back, although I will be reading snippets over on betabloggers and I assume that I'll get to read some of the new project :)

I hope you have a great long weekend - the last kick at summer. The weather here is hot as well, but my only plan is to keep unpacking boxes (and read blogposts). Have a s'more or two for me.

Nayuleska said...

welcome back!

Yup, got Termion to Betas. Not necessarily in the state I'd have hoped it to be, but it's a version, and goal achieved.

Lesley-Anne McLeod said...

It's wonderful to have you back among us, Janet! Looking forward to talking to you.

Hayley E. Lavik said...

Janet, I technically haven't written fanfiction in years, since I sort of discovered what it was and what its reputation was. It's rather notorious for ignoring the canon of a series and doing whatever the author wants. A time or two I've let myself write down those distracting what-ifs and ideas (that's how Harts and Hounds came about, although it's more canon than fanfic), but most of the time I try to just ignore them so I can get back on track. It's a good process for determining what's the right path, though, by at least mentally running over those decisions (say, protag has change of heart and hooks up with antag) that are obviously going to ruin what I want to do. By figuring out why those extremes don't work, I can figure out why the right ones are right.

It's so easy to wander off into those "oooh, what if this happened here, wouldn't it be soo dramatic?" moments. Yes, it would be dramatic, and it would also utterly ruin character and plot. Down the road when I'm finished with these characters though, I may have to indulge. I once read an interview with S.E. Hinton (The Outsiders) and she confessed she writes fanfiction of it sometimes. She knows she shouldn't write another book, so she just indulges like the fans. Not surprisingly, her Outsiders fanfiction is the best out there :p

Unless you have a series (tv, movies, books, etc, etc) you're a diehard fan of, I don't think you'd need to worry about getting distracted with fanfiction. I believe I emailed you the so-called 'Worst Fanfiction Ever Written' back in the spring.

Ban said...

Missed you Janet :( so glad your back - but more glad you had a relaxing trip. Sometimes it's good to put writing on the back burner. You refresh the brain and absorb life better, which is bound to make you a better writer ... just give your recharged creativity a moment to catch up !
Yes, we've been posting regularly on BB lately (though I missed this past Sunday as I was on my last vacation) and it has been a Godsend for me - realized I'm one of those people who needs accountability. Hopefully this will be an encouragement for you as well :D
ps: how about posting some pics of your great view ... ?!?

Janet said...

Way to go, Yuna! Now that's an accomplishment. Revisions are impossible without a first draft of some kind or another. Keep us up to date on the progress, k?

And thanks for the welcome back :)

Janet said...

Hey, Lesley-Anne. I hope to have Internet real soon (man, where is that guy?) and I'll find you on MSN. Very excited - got myself on Skype so I'm hoping to attend the meetings via video (if the Internet guy ever shows up).

Janet said...

Thanks for coming back and answering my questions, Hayley. I've heard of fanfic going awry (or askew, as Rabbie Burns would say) with other fans becoming angry and upset with the liberties taken. I think the most fanfic I've heard about is for shows like Battlestar Gallactica and Star Trek.

Confession - I wrote a whole novel in my late teens based on the TV series Simon and Simon (anyone remember that oldie goldie). Yep, a full who dunnit with AJ and Rick as the supporting cast and a run away who saw too much and needed the protection of the brotherly duo. I still read it from time to time and laugh.

I love The Outsiders (meant to comment on your blogpost of wonderful high school reads, but the Internet guy has still not shown). I had no idea Ms Hinton wrote fanfic on her own work - very interesting. I probably won't indulge in writing fanfic, but I think I will browse around for some Outsiders' stuff (thanks for the info).

And I'm not sure about the e-mail - my life was (is) in turmoil :)

Janet said...

Hey ban! Were you the instigator of Snippet Sunday? I can't wait to get on there and read the posts. And, yes, accountability is very important. I'm hoping to jump on the bandwagon and get my butt in the chair so that I can post snippets every Sunday.

I figured you were on some vacation (what Facebook I've seen when I get logged on). Hope it was fabulous. I'll catch up with your personal blog later.

Pictures? I'll see what I can do :)

Janet said...

OK - I can't believe I just confessed to writing fanfic on Simon and Simon. Lame, so very, very lame :~

Helena said...

Hey, Janet -- greetings from Calgary, where I'm hanging out for a couple more weeks. Glad you've reclaimed Fridays!

Thank you for your kind words. I felt so sorry for Muse and EE, but I know they're feeling better now, knowing it was just a temporary oversight. (I told them so.)

I truly believe that sometimes we set our goals a little high, then when they turn out to have been a bit unrealistic, we beat ourselves up over it. What did you expect? With the kind of lead-up you had to August, you needed a break. At least you had spells of thinking about your characters, but as I said to Muse, you'll be back fresher than ever when you actually sit down in your writing corner, drink in the view, and write, write, write.

As for my goals, well ... I spent quite a few hours in my yard, but the weather was against me and the jungle hasn't improved much. Then I had a terrible inner ear infection which literally knocked me off balance for a couple of weeks, tho thanks to my friends who drove me around, I only missed one day of the three workshops in August. But those were either short fiction projects, or another novel entirely. Laura and Gordon's conflict languishes somewhere in my head, but not yet in the draft that was to have been completed by 15 July, which was itself a self-granted extension. Next came prep for my trip to Calgary. Nice part of this is that I have a writing corner in my bedroom (without ocean view), my granddaughter's in school all day, and out with her boyfriend in the evening -- leaving me on a mini-writing retreat. Maybe I'll get my draft done (only two months late).

I'm thinking of Skype, too. Two of my sons are on, it's great. And I'm also considering one of those little netbooks. Some of them come with webcam and mic, so I may see you on the screen one of these days!

So good to have you back, Janet!

Jana Richards said...

Love you sweetie! So glad you are back in blogland.

I have to agree with Hayley; that view from your window is to die for. Being a prairie girl (and Hayley, technically, Winnipeg is the Heart of the Continent!) I would love to see it, but I think I would miss the wide open prairies.

I envy you your trip across Canada. We really do have a beautiful country. We take so much for granted, but we really should thank our lucky stars, or our great-grandparents for making the trek across across the pond. Someday I would love to see the view from your window.

As for my summer, it was very busy with the day job (and getting busier over the fall). I have tried to be as consistent as possible with my writing. I am moving forward, but not as quickly as I would like. Of course it never is.

Send me an email as soon as you can. I am anxious to hear about your plans for the conference in October.

Karyn, are you going to the Labour Day Classic. Go Riders! It is tough to be a Rider fan in Winnipeg!


Hayley E. Lavik said...

Jana, I concede myself corrected ;) It's middle enough to make me miss my west coast though.

Janet, a Simon and Simon fanfic? Intriguing! And no worries about the lame-ness, it goes with the territory. I wrote two fanfic novels when I was young based on my favourite books at the time (complete with Mary Sue versions of me in the lead!) and roleplayed in a Dragonball Z fanfic group for years. I could go on, but I don't want to embarrass parties other than myself who were involved ;)

Janet said...

Helena! Again, I loved what you did with Muse and EE - thank you so much for calming them when I had all but abandoned them. It will take me a month of Sundays to get in their good graces again.

From the bits here and there I gathered you were in Calgary (beautiful city - U of C shout out from an alumni). I hope you get lots of writing done - especially after the not so pleasant ear infection bout - but mostly I hope you enjoy your time (what little there is) with your grand daughter.

Let me know when you get on Skype and we'll 'chat'.

Janet said...

Hey, Jana! Thanks for the welcome back - I have missed you! And I'll e-mail as soon as I get my computer set up (yeah, the Internet man has been and gone - know to organize the computer and set my writing area up, along with the still too many boxes I need to unpack).

Yes, Canada is a beautiful country, but way too big. I thought we would never get from one end of Ontario to the other! And it would be much easier to travel in our own country if the travel costs equaled that of traveling abroad (don't get me started on that issue :) I'm glad we took some time - most of it in New Brunswick - to see things we've never seen before (might I offer anyone the advice to see the Bay of Fundy and Hopewell Rocks - the tide levels and topography is amazing).

Can't wait for conference (I should be unpacked by then). I'll look for you on MSN when I get it up and running and we'll have a live chat. Sure hope the job doesn't get too crazy - you need to be writing :)

Oh, and Go Riders Go!!

Janet said...

It seems to be lame confession day here on The Prairies, Hayley - or at least between you and me. Maybe one day we'll swap our early fanfic stuff?

Janet said...

Well, another draw back to not being on The Prairies - time differences! It's 3 hours - so basically, my bedtime. Anyone who wants to comment, please do so, just remember to come back tomorrow for my replies. I'll check in tomorrow morning (while you're all still in bed) and see if anyone has left some summer memories :)

Good night!

Molli said...

Janet, good to hear from you again. Nice to hear you ended up where you planned to be, physically at least, despite Squirrel's best efforts. Goal-wise, I have a feeling you might have been doing more in the back room, so to speak, than you think but of course you won't know that until you sit down to write again. I met only some of mine, and didn't see even one squirrel so have no one but myself to blame. However, some is sometimes as good as it gets.

So.... take a walk on that beach for me, too, please, and remind me sometime to tell you how to play mind games with clams. Or would that be too much like squirrels?

Anita Mae Draper said...

Yay, Janet! So glad you made it safely.

You really want to know what I did this summer?

- had to move my writing armoire into the sunroom because of a water leak. Am now getting new carpet in living room (LR) and hall, new vinyl and tub surround in bathroom, new paint and wallpaper in LR and bathroom. Plus, I got a new soaking tub so I can celebrate with bubbles when I finish a ms. :)

Meanwhile, we have a double layer shower curtain between LR and Bathroom. Very humbling. We'll be lucky if it's done by Christmas.

- I also had an abscessed tooth which blew the right side of my face out of proportion a couple weeks ago. Couldn't see out of my right eye. But is healed now.

- as for writing, just sent in my 2nd entry into the Finally a Bride contest. Plus, a few days ago I sent in a Southern Heat entry.

- work on my suspense is slow but I'm working with the plotting sheet still

It seems like I haven't done that much... just reacted to events. LOL

Oh well. Glad you're back.

Janet said...

Molli! Hello there. Mind games with clams? Oh, yeah, I want to hear about that.

Glad you got some accomplished this summer. I'm assuming your working on your dancing MS? Have you posted anything on Snippet Sundays? Can't wait to read some more - intrigued by the whole heroine character and that very large chip she'll be trying to deal with over the course of the story.

I'll think of you today when I walk on the beach :)

Janet said...

Thanks, Anita! Yes, I'm glad we made it safe and sound as well (you hear such horror stories of accidents and break downs).

You had a very busy summer. Read most of your trials and tribulations when I would log on to Facebook briefly over the course of the month. It's amazing how a little blurb can keep everyone so up to date. I should do more on my profile - but that could end up being another squirrel!

Glad you got some writing done - and your new writing area sounds peaceful. Will you be able to continue to use it when the weather turns colder? Good luck with the contests (by the way - very informative blogs on contests the last two weeks) - keep us posted on the results.