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It is Friday, writers of the blogosphere.  And you know what that means.  

A step away from the mundane tasks of the week.  A relaxation of the tyranny of the clock.  

And the challenge to live this weekend with intention.

 I hereby publicly declare a significant challenge for myself this weekend:  by midnight Monday, I will have found my way to the end of this draft of Filling in the Blanks.

Now, I know that every single time I announce a big grown up goal like this, life conspires to throw obstacles in my way.  At times I feel like Ulysses, and wonder which god I accidentally insulted that it should take so long to reach the end of my journey.  However, barring shipwreck or unexpected attacks from cyclops, I really do believe I can get this done.

I’ve lived with this book long enough that the thought of actually completing it is nearly incomprehensible.  I contemplate it in the way one considers the vast realities of God and Death – I know they exist, but it’s hard to wrap my mind around the reality.  Maybe this is one reason I’m procrastinating so effectively.  Much as I curse the endless revision loop I seem to be in, I suspect that I fear the unknown awaiting me on the other side.

Never the less.  The time has come, as the walrus said.  Other books await.  It’s nearly time to get back to Swimming North and I have some shiny new ideas about Gatekeeper.  I tell myself that this is it: I will finish this draft, edit, and then move on.  The plot is simply not important enough that I should spend my entire life trying to turn it into a work of literature.  It’s a good story.  The next one will be better.

Listen to me – I sound like I’d already finished the damn thing, and I haven’t written word one yet this morning.  I will, though.  I will work on it today, and tomorrow, and by Monday night this draft will be done.  Knock wood.

What about the rest of you?  Where are you at in your writing?  Share a little about the current WIP and what you hope to accomplish this weekend, or in the weeks to come.

Friday.  It’s been a long and busy week, but I am officially off the clock for the rest of the weekend.  I am sitting, thoroughly coated with Off, at the table in my back yard.  My giant dog, redolent of the pond he cooled off in a few minutes ago, lies at my feet, while the cat chases insects and tries to look mysterious.

About a hundred feet away is the ravine.  In breaks between cedars, firs, and a few pine trees I have a view of giant rocks and fallen trees.  Hummingbirds are buzzing around the feeders, and the local gang of ravens is hazing the area, making more noise than a troop of chimpanzees.  Before I lived here, I always thought of ravens as solitary and mystical.  Images created by Tolkien and Poe came to my mind.  But then, I also thought of hummingbirds as ethereal and fragile.  Not so, my friends.  Ravens are often loud and obnoxious.  Hummingbirds are feisty little fighters.  Who knew?

I’ve abandoned serious reading for now, and am immersed in Witches Abroad, the hilarious Pratchett take on Fairytales, Fairy Godmothers, and the self fulfilling nature of story.  

It’s time to lighten up a little.  The worry and stress will keep for another day.

On the writing front, I have taken the last couple of days off.  (‘Days off’ is defined as coming home from a really long and difficult work day and watching TV with the man in my world instead of writing.)  However, I have been thinking about things, and I do believe the end of this novel is in sight.  

Here, in front of all who care to read, I declare my intention to be done with Filling in the Blanks, including all rewrites and edits, by midnight on June 30th.  Which means my challenge to myself this weekend it to make some serious progress with the rewrite.  I hate to disappoint the truly organized among you, but I have not made a chart that says when I will be done with what, although I did scribble a tentative outline in a notebook.  This outline is likely to suffer the same fate as every list I ever make, meaning I will probably never look at it again.  But remnants will stick in my head, and if I truly need it, I do know where to find it.

Stay tuned for a book release party coming up on June 17th.  My friend Trudy Morgan Cole is excited to announce the debut of her multigenerational historical novel By the Rivers of Brooklyn.  In order to help her celebrate this big moment, we’ll be talking about the book here on my Blog.  Somebody will win a free autographed copy.  Make sure you stop by and help support your fellow writer.

And now, for the big moment:  What is your challenge to yourself this weekend?  What will you create?  Or do you have the conscious intention to relax and do nothing?  I’m interested in all of your successes and failures, confidence and angst, hope and despair.  So stop by sometime over the weekend, or as many times as you wish, share a cup of virtual coffee, and let the rest of us know what is going on.

As always, may your muses be cooperative and your fingers easy on the keys.

Saturday morning.  I’m leisurely drinking my coffee, smelling the fresh mountain air spilling in through an open window, feeling relaxed and at peace.

And then it strikes me – I forgot the weekend challenge.  A small shock of guilt and a sudden sense of urgency shatter my morning.  Temptation arises. I could invent all sorts of excuses. I could tell you I was too busy, or say I was on call, or that I was totally absorbed in writing and couldn’t drag myself away.  Lies, lies, all lies.  Yesterday evening I puttered with a particularly recalcitrant scene from Filling in the Blanks, but never fully got lost in it.  I played around on Twitter.  I consumed quantities of snack foods and drank coffee.  Blogging never even entered my head.

But here I am now, and it is still the weekend, no matter which time zone you’re in.  It’s never too late to set a weekend goal.  (Don’t get technical with me, all you logical types.  I do realize that at 11:58 pm on Sunday night, it might be a little too late to do anything productive.  I’m speaking in broad and generalized terms.  Get over it.)

So what will you do with your weekend?

Last time around, Trudy declared her intent to do nothing productive.  I believe this is an admirable goal, as a goal.  All I’m suggesting, is that we live with intent.  Planning to do nothing but relax over a weekend is one thing.  Groaning yourself awake on Monday morning with that empty feeling in your belly, suddenly realizing that you’ve let a stretch of time drift by without any conscious participation is another.

For myself, I declare the following intentions:

1. Figure out why this scene refuses to feel right.  I’m experimenting with re-writing it in a different point of view, which is challenging but I think what the story needs.

2. If the above goes smoothly, keep moving on with the re-write.  I have a scene in mind that I would like to get to before Sunday evening ends.

3.  Spend some time out in the gorgeous, green, sunlit world.  I need to get a camera so I can post a picture someday of what I see when I look out my window.

4. Spend some quality time with the wonderful man in my world.

There.  That’s it for me.  I know there will be plenty of other experiences, and I intend to immerse myself fully in the random adventures that come along.  What about the rest of you?  Where are you headed?

Whatever you choose to do, may your muses be refreshed and inspired, and your fingers fast and flexible.

I don’t believe in resolutions.  Wait – let me rephrase that.  Of course I believe in them, I’d be stupid not to, as people make them all the time.  Heck, I’ve made plenty of resolutions over the years.  What I really mean to say is that I don’t believe they are effective.  In fact, I think they tend to be dangerous:  engines of guilt that drive avoidance and procrastination and other unhealthy behaviors when we slip and slide and don’t quite measure up.  As in, “I didn’t do what I said I would, so I’m obviously inept and I should just give up and eat several pounds of chocolate…”

What seems like a far better idea, to me anyway, is to sit down and plan where you want to be at the end of 2009.  And while you’re at it, use the power of intention.  Wishful thinking never got anybody anywhere.  Just to be sure we are clear, wishful thinking sounds like this:  “I wish I could have a different job.  I wish I could finish my novel.  I wish I had more time to write.  I wish an agent would realize what a truly magical writer I really am…”

Sound familiar?  The wishful thought is connected to powerlessness and “poor me” thinking, and leads more towards a good stiff drink than positive actions toward the goal.

I’m a fan of the affirmation that states your goals like they’re already a done deal.  That sounds something like this:

  • During 2009 I signed a contract with an excellent agent.
  • My novel, Remember, was accepted by a major publishing house, and the advance was sufficient to pay off my credit card and student loan debt.
  • I have completed Swimming North, and both my agent and I are very excited about the finished product.

I have more, but I think I’ll keep them between myself and my journal.  What about the rest of you?  Writing goals for 2009?  Share them here, if you will – I challenge you to state them boldly as a done deal.

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