Monday, November 23, 2009

Very Slow Works-In-Progress

I’m currently working on two projects right now, a contemporary romance entitled “Welcome to Paradise” and a time-travel romance set in World War 2 called “Twice in a Lifetime”. I say I’m working on them, but the truth is, at the moment neither of these manuscripts is going anywhere.

Life has conspired against me the last few weeks. Or perhaps it’s just laziness on my part. In any event the word count on both stories has remained completely and totally unchanged.

I work two part-time jobs and since September both have been at the peak of their busy seasons, requiring me to work extra hours. Then there was all the time I spent getting ready for the conference I attended in October, along with my efforts to organize some promotion for my novella coming out in January. Everything combined together means little time and no energy for my “real” writing. I’m just trying to keep up with blogs for Prairie Chicks. Oh, and did I mention we’re renovating our bathroom?

Whine, whine, whine.

Yes, I know. Some writers continue to write even with two broken arms, valiantly tapping out their manuscripts by hitting one key at a time with a pencil clenched between their teeth. Apparently I missed the memo on how to write while exhausted, overwhelmed and/or incapacitated.

If I sound snarky, it’s because, well, I am. I get very grouchy when I don’t write. For whatever reason.

But even though I haven’t actually done any writing on my WIPs, it doesn’t mean I haven’t been writing. I'm organizing a virtual blog tour (more on that next week) so I've been doing a lot of writing for guest blogs. I've also been thinking a lot about my works in progress. In the case of “Welcome to Paradise”, I think I’ve worked out (at least in my head) some of the problems I was having with the story. Janet’s exercise about the hardest thing a character has had to do got me thinking about my character Bridget and what was really motivating her. When I started digging deep into Bridget’s psyche, I decided that what has motivated her all her life has been her fear of abandonment. Her father’s abandonment profoundly affected her. Every relationship she’s had, with the exception of the one with her daughter, has seen someone abandon her, or she abandon them.

Figuring that out has been quite a revelation for me. Now if I could just get it all down on paper!

Here’s short snippet “Welcome to Paradise”. I read this at my critique group last time:

He hadn’t planned to kiss her any more than he’d planned to hold her in his arms. But as soon as his lips touched hers, tasted her sweetness, Jack knew he was lost.

He’d worry about what it all meant later. For now he only wanted to enjoy the woman in his arms.

She made little sounds of pleasure that excited him, even though he knew Bridget could break his heart again the way she had twenty years ago. He placed his hands on her buttocks and pulled her to him. His brain screamed at him to stop even as his body demanded more.

This is insanity.

This is heaven.

Bridget pushed away first. She was breathing hard, and her eyes were huge as she stared at him, a myriad of emotions evident on her face. Shock, surprise, fear, pleasure. Her hand went to her mouth, touching lips swollen from his kiss.

“What was that?” she said, sounding confused.

“It’s been a while for me,” Jack said, trying to sound cool, as if she hadn’t just totally changed the entire complexion of his world, “but I believe it was a kiss.”

Like I said, I’ve been busy trying to put together a virtual blog tour to promote “Burning Love”. Please go to my website at and check out my destinations. I hope you’ll join me as I make my way around the web. Don't forget to also go to my contest page. I've got two contests running right now. And hopefully, I’ll soon find my way back to my “real” writing.

How do you deal with not being able to write, either because of time constraints or writer’s block? Do you get snarky like me, or have you found a more productive way of coping? And has anyone out there figured out how to go without sleep and/or create more hours in the day?


Janet said...

Great snippet, Jana. I love this story and I think with the much clearer motivation, it will rock. And, of course, I think you're WWII story is going to be amazing.

I hear ya on writing - kudos to those authors who can write through natural disasters and life's curveballs. I would like to think that I, too, could do that if a deadline was imminent. Self-imposed deadlines, not so much.

I have been a sporadic reader of Lady Glamis - and as I was bloghopping over the weekend, I discovered that she's taking a break from the blog. Here's the link - what's interesting, over an above her internal dialogue about writing and real life, is the comments people have offered. I spent a great deal of time reading them. What I took away is that sometimes life is more important than writing.

And remember, you'll get back to the writing. It's in your blood - it's who you are. Don't beat yourself up for being a woman with two jobs, a family, and a blog tour to promote your new release.

Janet said...

I must go and copy/paste this comment over on my own blog - sometimes I don't listen very well to my own advice :)

Yunaleska said...

Jana, some curve balls are way too big to write through. Don't put pressure on yourself - that's where it all goes pearshaped! Work on small goals, even if it's just a sentence a day.

The tortoise always wins!

(Yup, backs up Lady' Glam's great blog post).

Jana Richards said...

Hi Janet,
I know what you mean about deadlines that someone else sets for you. When I have a deadline from an editor, I work single-minded like madwoman to make sure I meet my obligations. But the deadlines I set for myself feel like they can always be broken.

Right now writing blogs and guest blogs is taking precdence, probably because they have an imposed deadline. Hopefully once things settle down I can go back to working on my WIPs.

I went to the link you sent. Lady Glamis puts in words some of the things I often feel. How much sacrifice is too much for writing? Her child is very young so it is an impossible decision - do you sacrifice time with your child in order to write? But there are some things I know I've sacrificed that I really miss, like working in my garden, or spending more time with friends. Although I'd love to sacrifice the day job, unfortuately that isn't an option right now.

I have to be patient and remember that things will change and I'll have more writing time in the near future. In the meantime, it is very frustrating.

Sometimes we're better at doling out advice then taking it ourselves. So be gentle with yourself Janet.


Jana Richards said...

Hi Yunaleska,
There are always curveballs thrown at you, often when you least expect them. If it isn't one thing it's another.

I guess the trick is to learn to roll with the ups and downs and somehow learn to use those emotions in my writing.

Jana (moving like a tortoise here)

Mona Risk said...

Jana, I can relate and whine with you about slow writing or rather no writing at all. Eventually, I will make time, but right now I have higher priorities, like visiting and feeding my ailing mother.

Nice excerpt.

Karyn Good said...

First off, love the snippet. Love the conflict and the tension and the heat between Jack and Bridget Makes me want to read the whole story!

And gosh, you have been busy. That's quite a list of stops on your blog tour! Congrats on all the work you put into marketing and the work you'll be doing getting word of your upcoming releases out there.

I'd like to offer some constructive coping techniques but I grapple with that myself. Right now I'm busy doing NaNo catch up because of, well, stuff.

Be kind to you!

Beth Caudill said...

I understand your whine. I feel that way right now too. I have a novel and two novellas I should be working on but life seems to keep me from it.

It takes so long for me to get into writing that once I get started, its time to get the kids.

Just take it a day at a time and eventually everything works out.

Mary Ricksen said...

You'll get there. I think we all have been in that I can't write funk and one of these days you will be over it. (Probably after work slows down too). Don't beat yourself up, I am not a deadline person.

Helena said...

Hi, Jana. Loved the heat in the snippet!

I'd like to pick up on one statement you made that I don't want you to lose sight of: "I've also been thinking a lot about my works in progress." I know we tend to think of writing in terms of word count, hours spent at the keyboard revising, etc. etc., but we shouldn't discount the time we spend thinking about our stories. That is real constructive energy that pays off when the time becomes available for transcribing our thoughts. In fact, I would argue that some of the really creative parts of writing even take place at the subconscious level.

Gail Bowen was once asked how many drafts of her novels she writes, and she said that because she had a fairly long drive to her day job, she reworked scenes in her head so often that when she sat down to revise, her next draft was already close to final. Wow! (She never gave us an actual number.)

Good advice you have been receiving today, and thanks for sharing where you are at with your WIPs, Jana.

More about how I am dealing with "stuff" -- tomorrow.

Jana Richards said...

Hi Mona,
Of course your mother takes priority. Sometimes other things are more important than writing. We just have to hope that circumstances change and we can tackle that WIP again in the near future. I hope your mother is feeling better soon.


Jana Richards said...

Thanks for the kind words Karyn. I would have loved to have done NaNo but it would have only made me crazy. I'm no good at writing when I'm tired or stressed, so even if I tried to write in the evenings I likely would have been useless. Besides, evenings are when I often write blogs (for some reason I can't write fiction in the evenings but blogs are okay), answer emails, check out other people's blogs etc.

This is the first attempt I've made at a virtual book tour to promote a new release. I'm hoping that I can promote a few more sales this time. But it takes a fair bit of time and energy.


Jana Richards said...

Hi Beth,
Thanks for stopping by the Prairies.

I'm glad I'm not the only whiner! I know what you mean; you just really get cooking on your story when you have to stop to pick up the kids, fix dinner, go to work, whatever. Interruptions are endless.

I guess I just get frustrated by how long I take to write anything. Patience is a virtual I'm in short supply of.


Jana Richards said...

Thanks for the words of wisdom Mary. I need to paste them to my computer and read them ever time I start feeling snarky!

I'm glad you dropped by.


Jana Richards said...

Hi Helena,
I think you're right about the thinking part. Sometimes I have to set aside a project and mull it over for a bit to figure out where it's going. I'll try to keep that in mind when I get frustrated. But it's tough.

I'm curious to read about your WIP tomorrow. I know you've been going great guns with NaNo so I'm expecting big things!


Susan Macatee said...

After sailing right along writing two first drafts over the spring and summer, I got sidetracked in a big way by the sudden worsening on my mom's illness, followed by her death. I've also had a lot of promo to deal with, because I've had four new releases over a four month period, with a the final new release out in a just a couple of weeks.

Although, I do consider myself lucky that I have two first drafts to work on, instead of trying to move forward on something new. But it's still been slow going.

My solution was to sign up for two workshops over the next two months that will help me edit the one ms and revise the other. I think that will give me the kick in the pants I sorely need to start moving ahead again.

Jana Richards said...

Hi Susan,
Thank you for visiting today.

First of all, I want to extend my condolences to you. It couldn't have been easy dealing with your mother's death while trying to promote your new books. I'm not surprised that you're finding it difficult to concentrate on your writing. I hope your plan to take a workshop will help give you the jump start you need.

All the best,

MarthaE said...

Hi Jana! I like the snippet too!! Isn't it dreary sometimes how work gets in the way of things we'd rather do! (Like reading for me!) I hope things will flow for you when the holidays settle a bit!

This looks like a nice group blog!

Monya Clayton said...

I do feel for you. There's always something keeping us from what we really want to do, which is simply to write.

I had looked forward to this stage of my life (I'm 68). All four kids are married, there's just my husband and I in the house, and yay, that's what I always dreamed of. No children to chase after, no job to go to, no housework screaming to be done. (It still screams but I can ignore a lot.) I won't give up my gardening because I need the physical exercise and mental contentment.

No, what holds me back is sheer physical inability. I have osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis and osteoporosis. I move, I do everything, SLOWLY. The time I once longed for has arrived - and I still don't have any more time to write than I did when younger. I can treat and ignore pain. I cannot treat and ignore tiredness. It is no longer physically possible for me to drive myself,or force myself to work. I use the computer almost every night but accomplish, at present, very little, because I'm also recovering from a two-month bout of shingles.

That sounds simply like whining. But it's the whole point. There's always something! So, Jana, we all understand. Maybe we all need someone to organise us. Or, in my case, get behind me with a whip!

Carol North said...

Hi Jana:
I can relate with your concerns. When you figure it all out, let me know.

Anita Mae Draper said...

No, I haven't, Jana and if you find out, please tell me. My body seems to be going into hibernation mode meaning I've been sleeping more now than I usually do. Some nights I can't keep my eyes open past 9pm. And I'm a night owl!

I think part of it has to do with spending so much time walking outside to my cave in the garage plus the early sunset.

And yes, I get snarky when I can't write, either.

Just remember, you are not alone.

Oh - great snippet.

Jana Richards said...

Hi Martha,
Who wants to work? I'm waiting to win the lottery so I can support my writing habit! I would love to have more time to read and write.

Thank you for visiting us on the Prairies. I hope you drop by again.


Jana Richards said...

Hi Monya,
I can understand a little what you're going through. My mom has Osteoporosis and I know how much pain it gives her and how much it wears her out. I can't write when I'm tired or not feeling well either.

Reading your comment makes me realize even more than ever that I want to write today, and not wait until I have more time. Maybe I won't always write as much as I'd like to, but at least I'll be going forward. You just never know what the future will bring.

Thank you for stopping by and commenting.

Jana Richards said...

Hi Carol,
Thanks for stopping by the Prairies.

If I ever figure out how to do it all while maintaining my sanity, I will certainly let you know!


Jana Richards said...

Hi Anita,
I know what you mean about needing more sleep, especially in the winter when it's so dark. I can't stay awake through the evening news anymore and it's really hard to get up in the morning when it's still dark. I think bears have a good idea with that hibernating thing.

You're probably mentally exhausted as well. You've been working really hard on Emma's Outlaw. Look after yourself and take care.