Monday, March 10, 2014

I'm Doing YA Buccaneers' Spring Writing Bootcamp

I first heard about the YA Buccaneers Spring Writing Bootcamp from author Stephanie Scott on Twitter. (More details if you click on the first link.) After doing Sara Biren's Writer Recharge, I decided to continue challenging myself while supporting other fellow writers in the Spring Writing Bootcamp. The Spring Writing Bootcamp goes from March through May. Here are my general goals, which I tweeted about over the weekend. I am elaborating on them here:

1. Finish up the rest of my WIP. I have another 10,000-15,000 words to go before I have a Crappy First Draft. 

2. Revise the Crappy First draft.

3. Stay healthy and sane. Back in November and December, I had back-to-back sinus infections. Really dreadful times. My late night writing jams were taking a toll on my health. So even though the only time I can currently work on my WIP uninterrupted is after the kids go to bed, I am making a point of going to sleep at a reasonable hour. 

About staying sane...I also don't want the pressure of having Goal # 1 and 2 make me too crazy. Years ago, I was working on a story toward a deadline for a contest. I was driving myself nuts because I was putting so much pressure on myself to finish the story and win the contest. Well, I finished the story but I didn't win the contest. Looking back, I feel silly that I'd pushed myself as hard as I had. So while I still endeavor to do my absolute best, I also try my best to respect my physical and emotional boundaries as well.

I look forward to connecting with other writers in the next few months. Sometimes I will update my progress here on this blog, and at other times, I will simply post on Twitter. On Twitter, I'm @CynthiaSociety.

What are your writing goals for the spring?

What time of the day or night do you write?

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

IWSG: When We Build Things Up In Our Heads

It's IWSG day. Thanks to Alex Cavanaugh for organizing this monthly event where writers share about their writerly insecurities and other stuff.

For about ten years, my husband and I have been driving past this Italian seafood restaurant that serves cioppino. I love a hot bowl of seasoned fish stew with fresh bread. We finally came here last month with our children. 

There were about three occupied tables when we arrived on a Sunday in the early afternoon. So the place wasn't crowded.  But once we were seated, we waited a good 15 minutes before anyone came by for our drink order. Let's say hello to red flag number one. For the remainder of our visit, we were mostly ignored when we tried to wave down the wandering wait staff. 

My husband and children's entrees trickled out after an unusually long wait. The waiter assured me that my dish was on its way. Well, I'd already waited years to try the cioppino, so I could wait a few more minutes. Color me puzzled when the waiter set a burger with fries down. He insisted that was what I'd ordered. Um, no. When he realized he made a mistake, the burger was taken away. By the time my cioppino arrived, we'd been at the restaurant for about an hour-and-a-half, and the kids were full and understandably restless. And you know what, the cioppino I waited ten years to try tasted rather average. 

When the bill came, we were charged for the burger and fries I didn't order. And my cioppino was ten dollars more on the bill than it was advertised on the menu. Turns out we were being charged for dinner menu rates even though we had ordered from their lunch menu during their lunch window. We spoke up about this (and we could've spoken up about much more) and finally, a manager fixed the bill. 

It's not easy to work in food service. That said, the service and organization of this restaurant was exceptionally poor. 

When we were ignored after being seated, my husband and I considered just leaving. But I built something up so big in my head, I acknowledged but easily forgave the early red flags until it became impossible to ignore that this restaurant, which stirred our curiosity all these years, SUCKS.

It also occurred to me if I had lower expectations, I might've had a better experience. Who knows, the cioppino might've even tasted better. Perhaps my high expectations contributed to my disappointment.

Besides good cioppino, there's something else I've been building up in my head, against my better judgement,  for many years. This is the way I sometimes fantasize how certain things would fall into place for me if I become a published author.

That said, I constantly remind myself to be realistic about things. If I ever get published, the old things I'd stressed out about as an aspiring author would be replaced by new things that published authors typically stress over.  I know this because many published authors are quite open about challenges they face. 

And yet, I still daydream, and am therefore contributing to the disappointment I will experience if I get published and the things I'm secretly wishing for don't happen. I hate to think I might be building myself up for bland cioppino. I can't help thinking this sometimes. 

Maybe when the writing gets rough, the daydreaming is all I have. 

Do you approach your writerly ambitions with high or low expectations? Fantasies or reality?

What was your most challenging experience at a restaurant?