Practice Makes Possible

As a recovering perfectionist, I remind myself on a regular basis that nothing is perfect. But practice does make possible.

I’ve written a lot of words over the years, and as it turns out, none of them were wasted. Even the glorified grocery list was practice for bigger things. I always assumed that perfection was the standard by which these words had to be measured, so naturally, my words never measured up. I cast a cold eye over my blogs, my lists, my little side stories, and banished them into a drawer. It was years before I dared let them creep onto the internet.

The real breakthrough for me was trying National Novel Writing Month. I know you went on that journey with me and were as surprised as I was at what was possible. And let me rephrase that one with Yoda’s help. There was no try. There was only “Do or Do Not”. I discovered that self-discipline was also a possibility. As absolutely weak as it was (is), there was just enough willpower (stubborn keyboard smashing) behind my focus that a book came out on the other side.

Once my perspective shifted away from perfectionism (a fancy word for control), my words flowed faster, easier, and buzzed with the joy of creation.

It’s been said that you can’t rush genius. I took genius by the ear and hurled it through walls.

Editors are the janitors of the writing world. They’ll clean up that mess later.

The results continue to be both astonishing and addicting. Below are the books I wrote before turning to Loveda Brown. Every book I will ever write is a “practice book”. This perspective is what makes it possible for me. Possible enough that the last one won awards without even being published.

If you find fun and freedom in some form that continues to shadow you, I challenge you to turn around and stare it down. See what happens when you commit to it for a month. Is it music? Watercolors? Karate? Gardening? Dance? Baking? Quilting? Yoga?

What do you think might be suddenly possible if you practiced?

Rom-Com. Completed Nov 2019 at 62,200 words. Practice manuscript.

Regina’s new job in a catering company lands her in the middle of a fantastic Hotel Del Coronado wedding where her fast thinking saves the day and gets the attention of both the wedding planner and the hottest man at the party. Between her fiesty grandfather, a dachshund named Dufus, her bestie, her neighbors, and offers she can’t refuse, can Gina find her place at last?

Historical Fiction. Completed March 2020 at 80,300 words. Practice manuscript.

In 1888, three families leave Texas and head west, seeking a homestead and a haven for their faith. Young hot-headed Joe Campbell and his sweetheart, Lidy, elope in the night and race to join them. Deep in the secluded mountaintops of New Mexico, hard work and strong ideals are no surety against the internal demons of pride, passion, disillusion, and politics. As a new century arrives, and Joe and Lidy must watch helplessly as the next generation questions the price of isolation and exclusivity and whether they will live the Truth…or a lie.

Historical Faith Fiction. Completed Sept 2021 at 100,500 words. Currently in edits, seeking traditional publication. (Maybe!)

In Roman conquered Israel, two sisters break tradition to raise their baby brother and keep their home intact. Jesus’ rising ministry begins challenging the status quo, both personal and global. When their brother dies and Jesus resurrects him, the women must decide whether to risk violence, rejection, and losing everything they spent their lives fighting for, to protect Jesus.

NaNoWriMo Because I Hang Out with Crazy People

Lest I feel that dedicating this year to earning a “Novel Writing Certificate” is small potatoes…

Because it’s not enough to spend Tuesday and Saturday mornings driving in traffic for an hour in order to diagram plot points and decide whether my historical protagonist likes her coffee black or with a smidge of stevia…

Because meeting total strangers for the sole purpose of discovering that they are master writers and I am a kindergartner wielding a purple crayon…

They gotta throw “National Novel Writing Month” on top of it.

Did you know that novelists – the guys doing the real deal – have three to four books somewhere in progress while simultaneously coming up with new book ideas to pitch to publishers and they still teach classes, hold workshops, and market like crazy to make the money happen?

Do you know how much work it is to maintain a business social media, website, and amazon presence? No, you don’t, because if you’re smart you’ve hired me to do it for you. I run a freelance writing business on the side to pay for my obsession. That puts me one step closer to crazy town than I thought.

Me: “Don’t you think attempting to write a brand new novel in a single month will distract me from the one I’ve been trying to write for the last three years?”

Teacher/Author: “I highly recommend NaNoWriMo. Especially if you have a hard time with perfectionism.”

Me: “Who, me? Don’t be ridiculous preposterous silly.”

Teacher/Evil Person: “The idea here is that in one month, you sit down and make 50,000 words. That’s only 1,666.66666 words a day. Easy peasy. As long as you don’t edit while you write.”

Me: “But that’s what people love me for pay me to do.”

Teacher/Gastroenterologist: “You can’t keep a good steady outgo if you’re blocking with analytics. You have to relax. Just enjoy the word vomit.”

Me: Simultaneously whimpering and signing up online. My code name is Jolie Guacamole.

If you clean your house before the cleaning lady arrives, you know exactly how I feel.

And if you know how I feel about vomit, you also know exactly how I feel.

Buckle up. You will still get regular blogs in November because I love you, but they will be made ahead of time and auto-post with updates on my progress.

If you have a completely random character, setting, villain, plot twist, vehicle, pet, name, or an especially exciting way to kill off boring side characters, give it to me right here in the comments! Then tune in next month and see how I wrote about it.

Better yet, sign up yourself and join me on the dark side. *evil laughter*

The Yams Did It

Farewell, November

I tried, I really did.

For like, three whole days.

I signed up for NaNoWriMo: National Novel Writing Month.

It’s a wonderful website for setting aside the month of November to finally write that novel.

Of course, I signed up three years ago, and I spend the last week of October every year daring myself to jump in the deep end and not look back.

I’ve been wobbling on the diving board for ages and my novel is all of two chapters long.

Maybe next year.

I had much better success with No Shave November.

My sons participated along with me.

They twirled imaginary mustaches and massaged two blond chin hairs, trying to encourage a goatee.

Tomorrow they get to shave.

Frankly, I have a bigger beard on my kneecap.

But whatever.

There were a lot of options for November, some of which are simply on my list of “some day”: International Drum Month, National Inspirational Role Model Month, National Fun With Fondue Month.

What I really feel good about, though, is my unwitting participation in Sweet Potato Awareness Month.

If there’s one thing my family demands on the Thanksgiving table, it’s candied sweet potatoes.

Not yams.

(Whole ‘nother tuber, that is, and very rarely sold in the produce aisle, even if the sign clearly states “YAMS”. Nope. It’s a sweet potato.)

We are very, very, highly aware of the massive steaming tray of candied sweet potatoes that my mom makes faithfully every year.

She makes another whole pan-full and leaves it at home, just for herself, because she knows her daughters won’t be leaving any leftovers.

After all, I’ve been known to rate restaurants entirely on the merit of their sweet potato fries.

Sometimes I’ve made them with pecans and maple syrup instead of brown sugar, butter, and marshmallows.

Once in a while I’ll cheat and buy canned sweet potatoes, mashing them up in the casserole dish, but they aren’t the same.

My sister recently opened my eyes to a new way of preparing them, and really, I should’ve thought of this years ago.

I mean, I am the oldest sister. I know stuff.

Usually, you need to bake whole sweet potatoes on a tray for an hour or so until they are soft; then you peel the wrinkled, sugar-blackened, drippy skins open and scrape out the stringy orange flesh.

I haven’t done a potato in the microwave since the unhappy debacle of 2009.

Enter: the crockpot.

Half inch of water, whole sweet potatoes, low for a few hours or high for three-ish hours. It depends on the fatness of your roots.

But you don’t have to poke them with a fork or scrape burned bits from your pans, and the taters aren’t stringy at all. Just moist and mashy.

Technically, I observed National Gluten-Free Diet Awareness Month, Vegan Month, Gratitude Month, Native American Heritage Month, and Diabetes Month all at the same time.

Take that, November.

Not only did the native americans know you could live off of sweet potatoes in a famine, but these little spuds stabilize blood sugar, and are full of all the good vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.

Sweet potatoes are also used in estrogen replacement therapy.

Not that I’m looking sideways at my mother or anything.

But it would explain my kneecap.