Taking Stock

I have a love/hate relationship with New Year’s and, especially, New Year’s Eve. The expectations involved with getting dressed up, going out, spending too much, drinking even more–those days are behind me. This year I am planning on spending it alone, surrounded by my different journals, prepping for 2015.

I couldn’t be more thrilled.

Life, and the holidays, have been a blur this year. Plus, I find as I get older, I miss the people who aren’t here any more with a more pronounced ache. I am still one of the luckiest people I know, with a wonderful life. But I need to be mindful of thinking about more actively. I blogged about “Finding Joy” on Wicked Cozy Authors, and that is one of my resolutions. The others are the reasons for the various journals. (BTW, Diane and Wendy had great posts on New Years resolutions.)

Notebooks for the new year!

Clockwise–Plot Perfect notebook for Book #2, new Bullet Journal, Clock Journal for book journey, Passion Planner filler

One is my stop gap until my Passion Planner arrives. Since I donated to her Kickstarter, I got a PFG of 2015. I ordered one anyway, but since it is on backorder, I can start sketching out the first six months of the year. I love the visual of the journal, so that I can literally see my day/week.

Second is my new Bullet Journal. AKA a moleskin with a plan. I started using the system this fall, and I love it. All of my notes and to dos go into it, I can keep them for reference, there is an indexing system, etc. The journal goes with my everywhere. I suspect I will add book notes to it for next year.

Third is a larger notebook I plan to use for plotting Book #2. Book #1 (Just Killing Time) was accepted, and is with the copy editor. In the meantime, I have been plotting out Book #2. I need to weave in the subplots, and add another story that will run through to Book #3. Paula Munier’s Plot Perfect: How to Build Unforgettable Stories Scene By Scene was an early Christmas present to myself. I am finishing it tomorrow, and putting it into play over the weekend.

And lastly–I bought a journal so I can keep track of this year, my first as a published author. Notes for the future, moments I want to remember. It has clocks on it–my protagonist is a clock maker. I figured it was a sign.

That’s a lot, I know. BUT, per Wendy’s suggestion, it will help me with achievable goals. For writing, I have found that having scenes plotted, with goals for each scene, helps tremendously. Seeing what my week looks like, and scheduling in writing, and exercise, and sleep, is critical. Plus the visual is really helpful for keeping some balance, And the Bullet Journal really helps me keep my life in one place.

So those are my plans for tonight. Writing, color coding, plotting, planning. And getting ready for 2015.

Happy New Year dear readers! See you on the other side!

Why we write – a novel answer

james deanDo you know why you write?

Not the tactical, logical, left-brain reason; but the deep down, can’t-ignore-this-thing, totally irrational reason.

Do you?

Perhaps you don’t need to know why you write. Maybe you are content to take direction from your muse without questioning her motives. You may find exploration of the driving forces behind your work irrelevant.

That’s your prerogative, BUT …

If you unearth the underlying energy that fuels your need to put words down, you can harness that power to infuse your writing with more passion and purpose. Understanding why you are compelled to pick up a pen or set your fingers racing across the keyboard can bring you a higher level of clarity and confidence. It can help you define and prioritize your writing. It can give you direction.

I have often wondered about the “why” behind my own urge to write. I’ve constructed several hypotheses, but have never found the answer that settled into place with a satisfactory ‘click.’

Until now.

I found my click in Letters to a Young Novelist – a slim tome that had crossed my radar a few times, but never piqued my interest enough to prompt a purchase. Instead, it languished on my Amazon Wishlist as a possible future read. However, while Christmas shopping at my favorite indie bookstore, a paperback copy of this unassuming little book found its way into my stack of gifts. It was the last copy, and it was on sale. Merry Christmas to me.

In the days following the holiday chaos, I managed to carve out a few hours of peaceful solitude. Curling up on my couch with a mug of herbal tea and the twinkling tree lights for company, I began to read. As you might imagine, Letters to a Young Novelist is written as a series of letters from a fictional author to an aspiring young novelist. Mario Vargas Llosa’s imagined correspondence attempts to convey the inner workings of the literary novel, imparting wisdom one idea and one letter at a time. The various concepts are illustrated by a great many examples (many of which, I must admit, flew high over my head).

There are many gems to be mined from Letters, but it was this passage that made me say, “Oh!” out loud.

What is the origin of this early inclination, the source of the literary vocation, for inventing beings and stories? The answer, I think, is rebellion. I’m convinced that those who immerse themselves in the lucubration of lives different from their own demonstrate indirectly their rejection and criticism of life as it is, of the real world, and manifest their desire to substitute for it the creations of their imaginations and dreams.



I had never thought about it that way, but when I did it made perfect sense. Llosa writes about a “basic questioning of reality.” I’ve always felt that one of the reasons I write is to figure things out, to learn. I’ve always known that insatiable curiosity is a must-have attribute for any writer, but I’d never made the connection between curious questioning and its obvious counterpart – an inability to accept things as they are.

Looking at my writing – both already penned and as yet unwritten – in the context of this idea, it was suddenly easy to pick out the recurring themes that threaded themselves through my story ideas. Likewise, a quick survey of the books nestled in my many bookcases revealed similarly obvious patterns. Eureka – I have found it!

As you embark on a new year of writing, let me ask you this: Do you know what your writing rebellion is about?