Weekend at Disney, and a ROW80 Update

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Only a little more than a week in, and I'm already failing at my goal of writing everyday. Last Thursday I left for a weekend in Orlando to take care of wedding business and spend some time at the Disney parks, and I didn't write anything during those four days. I did do a lot of thinking about my WIPs, though--seven hours in a car by yourself will do that to you. Awhile back I wrote about getting seduced by a Sexy New Idea (SNI) and temporarily abandoning the YA novel I was working on, but I'm pleased to say that thanks to those two ridiculously long car rides, the novel and I are back on very good terms. I was able to think through a couple of scenes I was stuck on, and it feels good to be working on it again. I did manage to write the past two days, so I'm not going to be too hard on myself for not writing over the weekend.

The weekend at Disney was a nice break from work, and I'm getting really excited about the wedding. I know a lot of people probably think T and I are crazy for getting married at Disney World, but I'm feeling really good about the decision after meeting with our wedding planner. Basically, we wanted a destination wedding that we could have in December and that wouldn't be too far for our family and friends to travel to, and we wanted someone else to do most of the work for us, and Disney is definitely meeting all of those objectives. Anyone who knows me knows that I'm not a "princessy" girl, so this isn't going to be some Cinderella's coach, fairy tale-styled wedding. We're aiming for simple and elegant, with lots of fun surprises for our guests, and after our planning session I'm finally feeling like we just might pull it off.

On Friday we spent the day with our wedding planner, Michelle, and meeting with the florists and chef, and we accomplished so much in just one day. I was a bit nervous about how the day would go, but everyone was so friendly, accommodating, and professional that I felt perfectly at ease. We got to sample cakes and build a custom cake from the bottom up, play with floral designs, and tour the Wedding Pavilion and Narcoossee's, where we are having the reception. They are both right on the Seven Seas Lagoon and surrounded by windows, so everywhere you look you see light and water. Airy, beautiful, and exactly what I wanted. We also got to go back into the kitchen at the Grand Floridian for a special menu tasting, which was fun and exciting. On the marquee that had "Welcome Lacy and Thomas," and they had a formal dining room table set up right in the middle of the kitchen with our custom menus lying on the plates. Chef Corey prepared each of our dishes and talked with us about different ways he could adjust them to our palates, but they were all so wonderful we didn't need anything changed. At the end as a thank you gift he gave us each a block of Himalayan sea salt, which I'm really excited about trying in recipes.

That evening we went to Epcot to look at some of the places we are getting photos taken (primarily in France, Italy, Morocco, and the UK), and to see the space where we are having our dessert party (UK Lochside). We watched Illuminations from there, and it truly is a spectacular spot. I can't wait to share it with our guests, especially the ones who haven't been to Epcot before (like my grandmother). On Saturday we went to Animal Kingdom and the Magic Kingdom, and we got to end the day with Wishes, which is always the perfect end to a vacation. The whole weekend reminded me of why I love Disney and what fun it will be to experience it with my closest friends and family. Despite how overwhelmed I've been at work this week (and expect to be for the next two weeks), I'm feeling really good about life right now and really looking forward to the future.

The Wedding Pavilion, where we are having our ceremony
In the Grand Floridian kitchen, our names on the marquee


A slow but solid start

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

I almost forgot today was a ROW80 update, but thankfully I wrote it down in my planner, which I just pulled out for the first time today. (It's been one of those days.) So far I'm meeting my goal of writing everyday, although I must admit that I haven't written that much. Yesterday I added a paragraph to my WIP--only a couple hundred words, but still...it's a start. Considering I hadn't even opened the file in a couple of weeks, a new paragraph feels pretty amazing right now.

In part, I have to thank the Fourth of July for inspiring that paragraph. Because I'm so overwhelmed with work right now, at the last minute Monday evening I decided not to go to my town's Fourth of July celebration. Instead, I decided I would work until 9:00 p.m. and then treat myself to the fireworks display and the newest episode of Weeds. The fireworks were shot off from the ball fields just down the street from my house, so when I heard the first explosion at 9:00, I paused Weeds and went outside and sat on my front steps. Up and down my street, people abandoned backyard barbecues and house parties to gather with their friends and families and watch the twenty minute spectacle. I'm pretty sure I'm the only person who was watching the fireworks alone, which may sound depressing, but was actually a blessing in disguise. The fireworks were absolutely amazing, probably the best show I've seen outside of the Magic Kingdom, colorful and creative and perfectly choreographed. And it was exactly the inspiration I needed to write that paragraph yesterday.

My novel opens with the protagonist on a beach by herself watching a similar display, one also representative of independence and freedom, so watching the fireworks Monday night really put me in the right frame of mind to rewrite that scene. In fact, I was rewriting it in my head the entire time I was sitting outside watching the fireworks, and afterwards I went inside and sketched out the basics of the scene. (Okay, I watched Weeds first--but it did get written, so that's all that matters.)

So I'm two for two so far this week. The rest of this week will be a bit trickier because I'm going to Orlando for the weekend, but I'm taking my pocket-sized notebook with me so I can scribble lines and phrases while I'm waiting in line to ride Space Mountain or something. And I plan on seeing fireworks at least twice this weekend, so maybe I'll even work on the opening scene some more. (And have much more to say during Sunday's update!)

Hope you're all having a productive writing week as well!


ROW80: I promise to do better this time

Friday, July 1, 2011

My first attempt at ROW80 was, if not a total failure, pretty close to it. I struggled to reach my goals for the first month or so, and then, in the midst of finals and with my London sojourn looming on the horizon, I just gave up entirely. I'm not proud of this, but I also don't regret it. I don't think I would have enjoyed myself nearly as much in London if I'd been constantly worried about meeting word counts and checking off a to-do list, and I really needed that month to regroup and heal my dysfunctional relationship with my dissertation. Now the dissertation and I are very much in love again, I've come to terms with the fact that I cannot afford to  run away and live in London forever, and I've learned that my ROW80 goals last time were a little ridiculous, at least for my first time.

This time around I've promised myself that I will Do Better, that I will make it all the way to the end, so I've set a single, more manageable goal:
I will write everyday. 

That's right. Starting Monday, July 4, for the next 80 days I will write every single day. Here's the great thing, though, and the reason I might actually accomplish this goal: I'm not giving myself a target word or page limit. I'm not restricting what kind of writing I do everyday. Whether I write four pages on my dissertation, twelve words on my novel, or a two-paragraph blog post, it all counts. As long as I get into the habit of writing everyday, I've decided it doesn't matter what kind of writing I'm doing.

I've got some help this time around as well. I've got several Very Important writing deadlines coming up that have been established by the powers that be (i.e. the dissertation director and the editor publishing one of my articles). For those days I'm feeling blocked, I can exercise my writing muscles in Julianna Baggott's virtual boot camp, which sounds both fun and super productive. And I'm moving to Pennsylvania and won't be teaching for awhile, which should give me more writing time.

So no excuses. I can do this, and you can, too. If you want to join the coolest writing challenge out there, the only one that lets you set the goals, then you should sign up for ROW80, too.


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