Sacrificing interests

I realized yesterday that I hadn’t picked up a paintbrush since April 30th. For someone who once was pretty active in this department, it surprised me. This is the last painting I did:

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I’ve been so busy writing I’ve forgotten about my art. This is the way it usually goes in my brain: Have flash of character or story, or both, and cannot stop thinking about it. The character, usually a pain in the ass, will not stop talking to me. While cooking dinner, driving on I90, and grocery shopping, this character (or sometimes more than one) continues it’s little conversation in my head. I’ve been know to write whole chapters and sequences of dialogue on my phone, random receipts and anywhere else. I talked about this in my last post.

So here’s the tally since end of May on the writing front. Completed first drafts: two, both in edits, and beginning bits and pieces of a third. WIP 1 has 102,373 words. That needs some serious editing to get down to a manageable length. Written May22-July18, 2018. I like the story (and the research for this book including into How to Disappear was seriously fun. I learned a lot should I ever decide it’s a good idea.) I just finished the second WIP that brings one character from the previous piece forward. He’s a tough cop with a serious soft spot for his kids and a certain woman who proves to be hard to pin down. She has a complicated past, one she’s just not ready to let go of quite yet. For research I read I Love A Cop. This one is sitting at 98,738 words. I like the witty back and forth (my main character, Meg, is a feisty, rather smart-assed journalist, who has a serious penchant for drunk dialing her ex-husband.) It needs a few tweaks so this word count will go up. They say anything over 100,000 words is a tough sell, but dang it, if that’s what it takes to tell the story then… I started this one August 7th and finished it three days ago.

Like I said, the characters YELL AT ME at TOP VOLUME sometimes and don’t let me accomplish anything until I tell their stories. This happens a lot. Back in 2008-9 I spent many a night after kids were in bed sitting at my desk pounding out a two-book series. I still love those characters and frequently have What Would Kara Do moments. I queried it around for awhile, had beta-readers, and it received positive feedback but has yet to be published (the typical story of a struggling writer).

I’ve already written premise and a couple of chapters of the continuing story of my journalist. I’m currently digging into background research for the second main character even though he is not currently military, his past life influences some of the choices and plays a role. I’ve started reading lots of military stories including more unusual behind the scenes ones like Grunt by Mary Roach (which I’m finding hilarious because of the authors dry humor in certainly unfunny situations). On my bookshelf at present (among others):

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I’m a bit of a freak about research. If I say they get on a plane from DC at 10:30 pm and fly to Seattle and the only option is via San Fransisco, then that’s the way my character gets to Seattle. Accuracy as much as possible brings realism to the story in my opinion. Sometimes I make myself insane trying to get details like a cop’s work shift cycle correct. But then again, I hear voices so…

I mentioned to an IG friend of mine (you can see her art at PricklyPearArtAtx) that I hadn’t painted in months, and she mentioned she hadn’t written in a year since getting wrapped up in her painting. I wonder if it’s like for other creative types as well. You fall into something you’re enjoying and all other creative pursuits go by the wayside. I’d like to find time to paint again, but I know the upcoming months are going to be crazy (school, homework, kid management, a very needy dog, life). I’m just hoping I still have time to write. I wrote day in and day out for a few years and then suddenly stopped for a few years. I’ve only really just come back into obsessively writing in recent months. I would hate to lose that again (though I’m sure my family would enjoy not seeing my laptop glued to me 24/7. I even bring it when we go camping, because: voices.)

What creative outlets do you enjoy? Do you sacrifice one for another?

 

London: Month 11

Eleven months ago, (eleven months and 5 days to be exact), we left Seattle and arrived in London to begin our two year commitment to all things British. I’ve made observations on this experience before, some positive, some negative. I will be the first to admit, I haven’t had the easiest time since we’ve been here. Even though I *should* know what I’m in for since I spent four years in Germany living the Expat Experience, eleven months in I am still struggling.

Somehow this time feels very different. It is different of course. In Germany we lived in a small town, not a city of 8.5 million. Bonn is clean (to a scary degree sometimes), orderly, quiet. London is obscenely dirty with trash everywhere, and there’s nothing like being woken at 3 am by people singing on the sidewalk. Walking down the street is like utter chaos, dodging tourists, people on cell phones, prams, dogs. After a visit to Oxford Street this weekend, I won’t be going back until fall when the tourist season at least slows a bit. You can hardly walk let alone think in all the noise and crowds.

City life has worn me down. Most days now I choose not to leave my little high street. I am ready for a break. I never thought of myself as much of a lover of suburban America. It’s slow and quiet and you have to drive everywhere.

Reasons I’m missing suburban America: it’s slow and quiet and you have to drive everywhere.

Contradiction but there it is. Even though I’m surrounded by world class museums, art, culture; things I enjoy immensely, I haven’t really felt like creating anything myself until recently.aviewfromAbove

Lack of space to create definitely doesn’t help (I can’t exactly build a table, paint dressers, or use spray paint in a London row house). I feel like I need to keep trying, or art will also fall away just like writing did. You used to never find me without my fingers glued to a keyboard furiously typing away about this character’s lies, or that characters despicable murdering tendencies.

I rather miss feeling so inspired. The fictional worlds I created spoke to me all hours of the day. I actually used to dream about my characters because in my mind they were so real. I once wrote two chapters on my Blackberry because it was all I had to hand and ‘Kara’ just wouldn’t stop talking to me. I still have little scraps of papers and receipts with notes scribbled on them, and 3×5 cards with story ideas.

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When you are a writer and need to write, you use what you have to hand, whenever and wherever.

I haven’t written anything other than a few pages in several years. That makes me really sad because I was told by writing groups, friends and even an agent in a rejection letter, that what I had to say was pretty dang good.

I don’t know where that person who used to churn out the words has gone. At this point, I don’t think that inspiration is coming back. Sorry Scott, you’ll never know who killed your wife and why (her boss, blackmail); we will never know if Mark and Kara survive the aftermath of the car accident (probably, after all, it was their third story, and after getting through Tom’s death, the discovery of Abby’s true paternity, and all that other crap, I think they did deserve some measure of happiness). And the winery story definitely would have needed intense, in depth-research, vineyard-by-vineyard I’m sure.

I’ve wandered off track, not unusual for me.

The desire to go back home to Seattle hasn’t let up. Going back to the place we left, to a home we own, instead of a new location, is a new concept for us. I’m normally adventurous and open to moving around (I definitely didn’t need any prodding to move to London). Maybe it’s because I’m approaching that age where adventure needs to come in a ten day format, instead of a twenty-four month variety.

Either way, 13 months to go.