I Will Say This

I read Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur today in one shot. I adored it. It was raw and empowering.

Online dating is still happening. My squad of new friends is incredibly eclectic, and honestly, they are making me love the internet. I adore my new friend J, who rocks awesome wheels; my friend S from Kashmir; my friend J2, two weeks sober. Where else can you talk to some guy online and then see him in your local Chipotle a few days later? I have met a BDSM master, a Universalist, a man whose parents were rebel fighters against Fidel Castro, and the funniest single dad, who also understands my anxiety.

I’ve also met a ton of creeps. (Click here ONLY if you are willing to see men become feminist mince-meat.)

I’ve read a handful of great books– reviews to come soon.

Novel revisions: I needed a new approach, especially in the past week, when I was basically smacking my head against a wall over and over and over … and then feeling guilty about it. I decided to not write on weeknights and to tackle revisions on the weekends, at least for this precise season.

In fact, that is what I am off to do now! Send creative energy and good thoughts my way!!

xoxo Jackie

 

Dear Diary: Salt, Sickness, & NOT YOU AGAIN

A (not so) little update for you:

Salt Novel

Oh my gosh, I finally finished revising my synopsis and am ready to dive into revisions! This took me a lot longer than I expected, but that was foolish of me: why would completely reorganizing/restructuring a novel, reconfiguring motives, and solving problems of fictional people be considered a weekend project? Ha! While I still have a few things to iron out, the majority of it is sorted out, on paper, color-coded. It looks gorgeous. (Okay, only to me.) I feel so excited about these changes– especially because I haven’t started trying them and failing yet. 🙂

Sickness

I’m getting better! I was down for the count for a stretch, but I’m bouncing back finally. Has anyone else been sick? Sounds like it’s been going around. I got so much extra sleep this past week, and it felt incredible. I even had some of those naps where it feels like you were out for about three years. Mmm!!

Online Dating

… is so weird. And I think, in general, a lot of men are pretty confident (and wrong) about what they think women want. That’s all. For now.

ROCD

One thing that really surprised me with the whole online dating thing: my OCD has come out to play again. Ugh. I have lived as close to OCD-free as is possible since 2008, when I went through exposure therapy to treat it. In a lot of ways, OCD has felt like a part of my past, something I experienced a lifetime ago. Then, guys started talking to me.

It’s crazy how fast OCD/ROCD symptoms blasted back into my life. I was not prepared for it.

But, and maybe this is a little embarrassing to admit … I haven’t really been in the world of dating during my remission. ROCD hasn’t come up because, well, it hasn’t come up. You know? So, now I’m talking to this cute guy, and I’m a WRECK. Thankfully, I was able to recognize it as OCD, and now I’m re-learning how to love the uncertainty. Again.

Sigh.

🙂

Wrists

Months ago, I posted a cry for help in regard to my RSI. One reader (thank you, Ash!!) commented with the name of a book by Pete Egoscue, Pain Free at Your PC.

This is changing everything for me. I’m sooooo grateful. Right away, in reading the book it became apparent that I needed to be symmetrical, and I knew that I wasn’t. (My left leg has been shorter than my right since I was in middle school.) I got a heel lift from my chiropractor, and that was the beginning of the changes. I’ve also been doing Egoscue’s exercises a couple times a week. I feel better than I have in years.

Creative Goals

Salt Novel, coming together.
Book a week, check!
Blog every week, done.
Learn something new every day? I am, but I have sadly not been recording everything.
Yes Novel … it’ll come.

And you?

Drop me a line– I’d love to hear from you!

 

 

Dear Diary

run-overGood grief, 2017 is running me over like a Mack truck.

Then again, I’m still standing. I’m still moving forward. I can smile. I can (mostly) think straight. I’m doing really well with my creative goals. I know we’re only three weeks into the new year, but I’ve read a book a week, have blogged every week, am learning something new almost every day (though I need to be more intentional about writing things down), and feel really good about getting back to work on Salt Novel.

I had a great conversation with my editor on Wednesday, and I feel like we are on the same page (or pretty close!), and that is such a relief. Now I’m doing a little brainstorming this weekend and then BACK TO WORK on the story next week. I’m excited. I haven’t worked on it in nearly three months (!!!). It was a much needed break, but I’m ready to go again.

And my 35th birthday was wonderful! I felt very loved, and a handful of people even donated to help with the refugee crisis. I’m so honored and so in love with my crew.

So, you’re probably thinking: just what has been so hard about 2017 then, Jackie?

lot of panic and anxiety. Realizing I have old wounds that never healed properly. I’ve taken about 10 Ativan pills in the course of two weeks. That’s probably more than I took in the whole six months preceding it. It’s okay. My friends and coworkers have been so exceptionally kind and thoughtful and supportive.

That said, God’s got me. My friends and family do too. And Northwestern. And I am learning so much about myself– honestly, so much. Some are things I really like.

How cool is that: to like myself again.

Maybe 2017 will be good after all.

 

2017 Creative Goals

goals17titleFor this upcoming year, I’m keeping things (relatively) simple:

  1. Finish Salt Novel.
  2. Find the soul of Yes Novel.
  3. Read a book a week.
  4. Blog once a week.
  5. Learn something new every day.

We’ll see how this goes. I’m not sure that I’ll be able to keep up with #3 and #4, but I won’t beat myself up if I can’t do it. It’s a standard to shoot for, that’s all.

quick-and-curiousSalt Novel is well underway. Yes Novel has a first draft. I have a mountain of books I want to read. The blog needs some TLC. And I bought this super-cute, extremely relevant journal to keep track of my daily curiosities.

I have a lot of other goals for 2017, but I’ve decided (for now) just to share my creative ones. I will be writing soon about my one word I want to focus on this year.

Five little (ha!) goals. Salt. Yes. Read. Blog. Learn.

How about you? Do you set goals, creative or otherwise, for the new year? I wanna hear!

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I like life.

This was a really busy– but ultimately really good– week for me.

Last week, I was (pre?) diagnosed with a sleep disorder– Delayed Sleep Phase Syndrome, which sounds totally fake but isn’t. Basically, my circadian rhythm is off, which is why I stay awake so late (even with Ambien!) and then feel impossibly paralyzed in the mornings. I’m meeting with a specialized sleep psychologist next month, and in the meantime, I had blood work done to see if it’s safe for me to go back onto Risperdal. I took that tiny .5 mg (notice that is POINT-FIVE not FIVE mg) pill for eight years, and when I went off of it (maybe six months ago?), I’ve just gone haywire. I know that for most people, mornings are not fun. But, for me, they’ve been impossible. I don’t know how else to explain it.

My favorite kiddos came over on Saturday, and later I found a sweet note from the six year old. Allow me to translate: “Ava loves Jackie’s house.” Jak E with a backward J leaves you with cake. I like cake.

My editor was in the Twin Cities, so we hung out on Monday, brainstorming and discussing Salt Novel as well as writing and publishing in general and all the things we’ve been learning lately. It was wonderful! I left feeling energized to write and excited about my manuscript. Now to find more time …
The rest of the week consisted of therapy (yay), haircut (yay) and dye job (yay? see pics.), getting paid for the German translation of Truest (YAY), and ice cream with my bestie (major yay).

How about you? I can’t believe July is half over. Where is summer going? I’m ready for cooler temps (it’s been in the nineties in Minnesota and miserably humid, though the end of this week was better) but I’m not ready for the ruckus of fall recruitment quite yet.

Think of me as I sort out my sleep/novel/work/life.

Bullseye

There are days–sometimes just moments–when the problems of a manuscript start to be solved one by one, and the author has this distinct feeling of playing one of those sharpshooter carnival games, knocking down one target after the next. A quick succession of ping, ping, ping, ping.

That’s this weekend. It feels like victory, like a turning point. There’s doubt mixed in too. But that’s expected.

It’s been a weekend full of prayer, journaling, strategic research, and thoughtfulness. Very little time with the actual manuscript, a lot of time with my process journal.

There will be more problems to solve soon enough. But for today, I am reveling in the ones that have solutions.

And I’m excited to write!

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THIS Book

I keep reading, “You only know how to write the book you’re writing.” In other words, you might have written one or two or ten books before, but that doesn’t mean that you can follow the same formula for any other book. You just have to learn how to write THIS book, the current one.

I’m learning that is true. I’ve felt a little loosey-goosey trying to figure out how to write THIS book. I don’t usually outline, but with this book, I’ve written two or three separate outlines, a synopsis (maybe two pages), and I can’t seem to figure things out. Tonight I started to write a LONG, detailed synopsis, and I think it’s really going to help. I think it will help to show me where the pacing lags … but I’m also going to go through it and color-code it based on what characters/storyline it follows. The hope is that if I notice, “Oh gosh, there are like four purple chapters in a row and nary a sign of green,” that I can figure that out NOW before I go back and revise it.

I’m reading a couple good books about writing right now, including The Art of Slow Writing by Louise DeSalvo, and it’s like a balm. Sometimes it feels like this book is written SPECIFICALLY FOR ME. The other book I’m reading is The Forest for the Trees by Betsy Lerner, and I feel the same way about that one too. It talks so much about anxiety around writing, plus the relationship between editor and author. There was a whole chapter about addiction and mental illness, which just goes to show how strong the correlation between these things and creativity is. I sometimes tell people that I’d be an alcoholic if I took one drink … so I don’t.

Life is crazy, and the Minnesota summer is TOO HOT. But I finally feel like I’ve made good progress on thinking about this novel. THIS novel. 🙂

Rhythm is a Dancer

… and for a while now, I’ve not been invited to the dance.

That said, last night I wrote for a whole hour, and it felt SO GREAT. I remembered why I love being creative, love the hard work of it, the struggle to find the exact perfect word, the research and learning, the epiphanies (no matter how small).

I hope I can sustain some sort of rhythm. Right now I need TIME. There never seems to be enough hours in a day …

 

Striking Out

It just occurred to me as I titled this post that “striking out” can be positive or negative.

I’m striking out on a new adventure! 🙂

I’m striking out on this revision. 😦

I am hopeful that I mean the former.

I had a weird night, mostly in that I didn’t sleep, not for one minute. I stayed up looking at clickbait, and then it was one am, then I stayed up reading, and then it was four am, and then I watched YouTube, and then it was six am, and then the sun was up and I wasn’t tired whatsoever, so I got up, went downstairs, and now I’m on my computer, and it’s seven-thirty am, and I just yawned. This is my life.

Anyway, I’m diving into a new revision today. I plotted and prayed (and need to do more of both, I’m sure), but long-time blog readers will know that too much plotting destroys my soul and the soul of my stories, so I’m walking into the battlefield mostly unarmed.

Writing takes so much courage. It costs me just to open up my document.

And even though I prefer going in with just a minimal plan, it’s still really, really scary. (Maybe even scarier? I hate to pit plotters and pantsers against each other. Writing– period– is just really hard and vulnerable and frightening– period.)

Think of me today.

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Odds & Ends

this hair i can't evenAbout two weeks ago, I felt pretty confident that my life was in shambles, so I did what I do: I made a list. It was 22 items long. Today I crossed item #22 off the list. I am still a hot mess. Go figure.

Thankfully, item #22 was getting my tax refund, which came today. Now instead of being dirt-poor, I’m just regular-poor. 🙂

One of the things on my list was to ask my editor for a few extra weeks to work on my first draft (she agreed) and then to revise my word count strategy to get the draft done by the end of the month. So far I’m on track. In fact, all week I’ve been staying one day ahead of schedule, always allowing myself that extra space to skip writing for a night. Instead, I’ve kept plowing ahead. This weekend I need to tackle some of the harder parts of the novel, a couple scenes that need to be written for the very first time, and a storyline that I have very little clue what to do with. Oh man.

I was invited to a young adult book club in St. Cloud last weekend, and it was wonderful, and everyone there was so lovely and asked such thoughtful questions. I was there to talk about Truest and about writing, but I ended up talking a fair amount about OCD, which is, of course, all wrapped up in my story too. Ashleigh, one of the book club members, was kind enough to tag me in this beautiful blog post.

I’ve been searching for most of my adult life for the perfect lip color. If I showed you my lipstick/lip gloss accumulation, you’d think I’m so lame. Especially because what I learned was that I never keep my lips colored unless it’s something I can put on without a mirror. So– between finding the perfect color(s) and something that could be applied mirror-less– I struck out a lot over the years. But not anymore. I’ve found the most perfect solution (at least for me): Burt’s Bees Tinted Lip Balm. I use both Red Dahlia and Forest Flower (which … appears to be no longer available. WHAT IS THIS LIFE??? Are you kidding me? In my ANNOUNCEMENT of my perfect lip product, I find out it’s discontinued? The universe is cruel.).

I’m reading a book. It’s incredible. It’s so emotionally overwhelming that I can’t consume too much of it at a time or else I’d just binge-read it. Noggin by John Corey Whaley. I was fooled by its cover into assuming it was something else. But no. It is … so much. Maybe my favorite book I’ve read so far this year. I’m desperate for a happy ending and terrified I won’t get it. NO ONE SPOIL ME. Review will come soon … as soon as I can continue pressing my heart through this meat-grinder. Gosh, I love books.

What about you, folks? What are you reading these days? What are you buying? What are you doing for fun? Are you having to force yourself to be an adult the way I’ve been having to? What’s on your radar? Did your tax return save your life? I wanna hear from you.