Saturday, November 22, 2014

Choosing A Name

Today I was doing the thing I always do when I need to write, especially when I am behind on my goals, searching the internet for things that will distract me. One of the things I can came across was a  random list of names. It was supposedly the top fifteen names for each gender of people that are crazy. It is completely made up and only posted for laughs but it got me thinking.

I let my characters name themselves. If I am writing and I need to call a character something and they have yet to tell me what it is I will simply use a filler but eventually they let me in on the secret and I know what to call them. Some writers name their characters after people in their lives while others will research trying to find names that mean something profound in order to help demonstrate traits they feel their characters possess.

I have tried to look up names through several different sites and books and while I have found some inspiration it still comes down to what the characters want. For some of them they will give me a hint but other times they refuse to talk to me until I am able to find the proper thing to call them. Even though I allow my characters to choose for themselves I have occasionally looked up what the names mean.

A few I have used are:

Daniel - meaning God is my judge and that knowing right and wrong is so fitting being that he is a police officer

Persyphone - spelled differently ut it means to destroy and while she does not destroy anyone or anything in the book based around her it is the first book in a series that ends in the destruction of many

Rebeccah - it means a snare and she is a living trap for people, she is powerful and used to getting her way but if she is crossed she will stop at nothing to catch you and punish you to her own satisfaction

When I was looking up some of the names it made me think about some advice I was given when I was young. My name Renee is a name of french origin meaning reborn. Because of this I was always told I never had to worry if I got stuck in a rut in life I could alway be reborn and change myself to become who and what I want to be.

I got stuck at one point and recalling that advice I have pushed to reinvent myself. I am still working on it but it makes me curious what does your name mean? Is it fitting? Have you ever gotten advice or followed a path based on that meaning? If you are a writer and have to name your characters what process do you use?

Monday, November 17, 2014

Making Decisions

I have been working hard on my writing for Nanowrimo. With working two jobs and trying to make time for family and friends it has been difficult and I have fallen behind. I am still quite focused on accomplishing the word count goal of fifty thousand words by the end of the month and am doing my best to catch up some here and there though it can be frustrating.

Unfortunately aside from work schedules I have had to take care of another pressing topic recently, my health. Working three to four double shifts per week can be very taxing.  For someone with numerous health issues like myself it can be downright debilitating. I am exhausted all of the time. I struggle to sleep, to wake up and to concentrate on any task big or small. I find myself getting stressed out to the point of panic attacks and have even made a trip to the hospital because of it.

This stress has taken a large toll on writing. I have not been able to concentrate on the story. I find myself dozing off even though I am behind and desperate to catch up. I get lost when I sit down to read what I have so far in order to pick back up. My mind wanders in search of rest and relaxation but it never finds what it wants. Even on days off I have pushed myself so far that I am unable to unwind enough to focus.

Then there is the physical. I am a table games dealer. I stand for to full eight hour shifts the majority of the week. Yes I do get several breaks and that helps but I have previous injuries to my knees, back and neck that are definitely feeling the strain. I have been able to fight through this for quite awhile but it has gotten to the point that my lackluster health is threatening my continued employment.

I have unfortunately had to leave early or call in sick so often at my second job that I am at risk of losing the job all together. At the same time I am mere months from paying off the bills that require me to have the position in the first place. I am torn about whether I so sacrifice getting ahead financially in order to improve my health or sacrifice wellness to pay off some bills.

All of this weighs on me as I sit at my desk to write. I find the need to make decisions becomes a pressing concern in m stories now because my personal life is so wrapped up in them. I have to choose the right path for health and financial wellbeing. I need to concentrate on my characters and I need to make sure that my priorities outside of my job are in order as well. It becomes increasingly difficult to accomplish everything I have set out to do when I set such ambitious goals but sometimes things need to be cut and I am still learning at the age of thirty one just how to make those choices.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Something Different

Recently I have been focusing on work and trying to catch up on my writing but today I have thought about very little other than relationships and plans we make for the future. I have been married twice in my past both ending in the same way. The divorces were friendly and efficient causing no alarm or stress other than the expected heartbreak for the loss of my marriage.

I grew up thinking that what I really wanted was all the things society told me I should want. I needed a house and a nice car and a husband that could provide for me. I should be a good house wife and while I work my job I also needed to clean and cook and take care of him. We were meant to build a life together and settle down. 

I attempted to do it. I married a man that wanted nothing more than to settle down and create a life together. We bought a house and made plans to continue accumulating all of the possessions that are supposed to make up a life. We attended family functions and went on a couple small vacations. It was the life that we were supposed to have but it lacked love and passion. It was completely dry.

Then I met a man that was full of the passion I had been missing. He was spontaneous and caring, adventurous and funny. He was intelligent and most of all he loved me. We traveled and talked about moving to a new city, something I had always wanted to do. We felt like we could talk to each other about anything. Our wedding was unique and he spoiled me rotten. Unfortunately I had several traumatic events I was dealing with and was completely incapable of being the wife he deserved.

After we separated I moved from BFE Michigan to Las Vegas Nevada in an effort to find myself. I have come a long way and have made some wonderful friends, landed a job I love and begun working on accomplishing my dreams. I am very proud of the things I have done but it also got me thinking about what I am looking for the future. 

I have come to the conclusion that while I believe in marriage I do not need it. I have thought about the desire people have to settle down but to me it feels like settling. I do not want to be content and just make my way through day after day. I want adventure and pursuit of happiness not complacency. A partner for these explorations of life would be awesome but it is not a requirement. I could be perfectly happy doing these things myself. 

I know it isn't writing related but it definitely places a role in the things I write, especially in the love scenes. I write about people that are there for each other and care for one another but mostly they are partners not a dominant and submissive. For me that is the most important part. Having someone that accepts you and doesn't expect you to live up to their standards but instead understands that everyone handles things in their own way. I hope that one day I have that partner.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Making the Effort

According to the word count chart for Nanowrimo I should be well into double digits by now. I, however, like everyone else have a real life outside of writing. In the last week I had a book release for my charity book which has been an incredibly important endeavor for me. It went well but understandably it took up the day and therefore I was unable to get anything accomplished on day one.

Day two I did write and made progress hitting just over the target word count for the first day. At least I had a start. Then on days three, four, and five I worked back to back double shifts. Between waking up at 1:30am in order to drive to my first job and not returning home from the second until nearly 9:00 pm I was completely exhausted. I also had to get a few hours of sleep when I could so writing any additional words at that point was simply out of the question.

Along came Thursday the sixth and low and behold a beautiful day off. My boyfriend was also off that day but had made plans with friends in order to give me time for some much needed rest and then some writing time. Yet as we all know best laid plans and all, so as it happens I slept as much as my body would allow and awoke to a screaming migraine that managed to hold on until well into the early evening. I got zero words written that day as well.

Friday came and went with a shift at one of my jobs and a quick stop to a Marine club to celebrate the kick off of Veteran's day weekend, my boyfriend is a veteran. Saturday was our annual bike ride in honor of wounded veterans. We rode forty six miles and I managed to dislocate my knee having to reset mid ride. After that was the visit to the air show at our local Air Force base before retiring for the night in an effort to regain some strength. Again no progress made.

Finally came Sunday and another full day off. I sat down in my chair readied my hands above the keys and watched an episode of Numbers on television. Home simply wouldn't work so I packed up my computer and files and headed to a coffee shop a few miles away. I took up residence in one of the chairs and managed to get my word count up to a respectable eighty one hundred words. Today I made the same trek but with little results. I have struggled desperately adding a mere thousand words.

This is where things could get dicey. I could give up because I am only about halfway to where I should be and quickly closing in on the halfway point of the month. I could get discouraged by all the people I see saying they want to change their goals and not go for the full fifty thousand. I could make excuses about working too much and having no time to keep up. These are all things I could do.

Instead I am writing. I plan all the times I can write and I make a promise to myself to get it done. I need a jolt I grab the coffee, a little concentration I get a writing buddy if I need an escape from distraction I plug in my headphones and hit the library. This is a marathon and I am in it for the long haul. I may struggle, I may slip but I look at my goals of publishing and telling the stories that are important to me and the one thing I don't see written on that list is giving up.

Writing might be a solitary activity. My characters live in my head and tell their stories to me but at no point do I ever think that I am alone. I have a network of support between my writing buddies, my family and friends and with great appreciation, my readers. I have laughed and cried with them. I have asked advice and given sneak peeks. I have listened to critiques and shared secrets my characters whisper in my head.

Whenever you feel like giving up, and now going through the middle of the month it can be truly tempting, I ask you to give the respect that your characters deserve and make the valiant effort to push on. Use the support laid out. Read the pep talks and post to the group. Attend the write ins if you are able or organize a sprint or two online. Share your successes and slip ups with us we have all been there and will high five or comfort you in your times as we travel the literary path together.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Under Pressure

We are six days into the wonderful writing challenge known as nanowrimo. I got to do a book release on the first day so I figured I would catch up on day two. I did write a little more than the day one target word count but I was unable to complete my initial goal. I still was determined though.

I then went into tree days of double shifts causing me to not be able to write at all. In fact I struggled just to sleep and make it through day after day. I did my best to be entertaining at work keeping the guests playing the blackjack and poker games I was dealing. I feel I was able to do well securing compliments from several of the customers.

My bosses and friends were all happy I made it through but at the same time they were concerned about me and my lack of sleep. I was also worried. I have worked doubles in the past but I have put pressure on myself to work as many shifts as possible while also crossing the finish line on both my nano project as well as my additional book I was requested to draft.

As I tried to sleep in this morning and then fought a migraine all day I could think of nothing else other than I needed to be writing. This got me thinking about pressure and how much we do to ourselves. It is a great thing to be ambitious. We always want to push ourselves to be the best version possible. What isn't fair though is when we set unrealistic expectations. Even worse is when we start to see our worth in relation to those expectations.

If I say that the only way this month has been a success and therefore I am a success is to complete all of my working shifts, charity bike ride, fulfill thanksgiving traditions and write both drafts for my books then I am putting myself in a nearly impossible situation. We push ourselves so hard and so far that some times we get stretched beyond our limits.

It is important that we have a support system in place to see us through the difficult times as well as celebrate the accomplishments regardless of size. Setting priorities is also something we must make time for. For me I have to concentrate on work before writings as it is the obligation that supplies the financial support for me to pursue my passion of writing. My health is another consideration I have to put at the top of the list.

I have struggled for years to make sure I don't fall victim to these issues. I have extreme expectations of myself and I currently remain undeterred in my goals but I am working hard to also keep my focus on my priorities and understand that it is ok to fall short on my writing if need be. I am reaching out for the support not only of my friends and family but also the writing community for support as well as understanding that we are all a part of this incredible world that we build and share. I am here for you and am grateful for everything we have done together.