Jennifer Neri's Blog

Back of every creation, supporting it like an arch, is faith. Enthusiasm is nothing: it comes and goes. But if one believes, then miracles occur. Henry Miller


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do you ever self-sabotage?

I do. Sometimes. There are days when I wonder why I struggle so much to gain writing time, when it’s so difficult? When I’m exhausted and nothing is going my way, I make excuses of why I should just give up. And some of these excuses are even valid, and need to be worked through, but on certain days, I want to give in to them.

On one such day not so long ago, I was ranting and raving: How can expect to learn my craft when I’m constantly interrupted? It’s like athletics, it requires practice, and more practice! Since I can’t have this steadiness why should I bother at all? That’s it, I’m not writing anymore!

On that day, this appeared in my inbox. And my cheeks flamed up, as I flushed in shame!

The
Difference
Between a good artist
And a great one
Is:
The novice
Will often lay down his tool
Or brush
Then pick up an invisible club
On the mind’s table
And helplessly smash the easels and
Jade.
Whereas the vintage man
No longer hurts himself or anyone
And keeps on
Sculpting
Light.
~ Hafiz ~


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Confession

This morning I had the opportunity to write again. It was the first time in four weeks. Four weeks of sick kids, being sick myself, my husband getting it too (a rare occurrence), of sleepless nights and days, of doctors, and clinics, and antibiotics.

When I was a kid I remember being sick for 2, maybe 3 days. A really bad one was a full week. When did they become month-long events??

(Luckily, I had downloaded Linda Cassidy Lewis’s debut novel, The Brevity of Roses to my iPhone to read during all this. I encourage you to read it. She has delivered engrossing characters that struggle with life, love, and acceptance of self and circumstance. Although the characters are all adults, I almost feel it’s a coming of age story, because the MC struggles so much to come to his own. Plus, Linda’s prose is beautiful and elegant. I’m almost at the end of the novel, and although I’ve read it scattered in time due to my own circumstance, the characters remain in my thoughts.)

When my mom (aka, my knight in shining armor) this morning told me I could go write, I stopped still. I didn’t know what to do. I had buried the writing so deep inside me I wasn’t certain I wanted to pull it out again.

I analyzed: baby woke me about 12 times last night. We both are still drippy, but oh so much better. Yet, we have swimming lessons, one hour diving lesson, both kids have piano practice. I have violin practice. Dinner. Math and reading with the eldest. And the baby to appease during all of it. Write?? She must be nuts! How will I write and have energy to do everything else?

So, I sat down and watched a few minutes of a PVRd sitcom (happy endings), baby clambering all over me, and decided, yes I must go write, whether I want to or not. And, really truly, I did not want to.

I had decided I was a writer. So, that means pushing through moments when I don’t want to write.  Because, nothing is eternally blissful, right? Sometimes it sucks and is difficult.

I had no idea how to come back. I ordered my latte and chocolatine, took out my journal, wrote exactly that: How to come back?

Well, to my surprise and delight, deciding to do it was enough. (This time.)  I came back right away. I refreshed myself in my journal, reminded myself where I was by jotting down a few phrases, read without interruption the scene I was at, and dug in.

It was great!! Wonderful! Energizing!

So, I’m back. I have no idea what’s coming, but today I wrote and I feel restored.


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ode to the voices in my head

We’re all writers here. I can say this without scaring anyone away.

If you’re anything like me, you’ll begin hundreds of stories that never make it to paper, and very often not even past the first few sentences. This is not a conscious thing, it’s not something I decide to do. All day (and sometimes all night too) my mind creates, unless I force it to stop. It spends a lot time thinking about my WIP, but it also swerves, going into other lives.

Coffee shops (where I stereotypically do most of my writing) are one place that provide endless characters, stages, situations. So much fodder in sitting, writing, and having pieces of conversation drift into my subconscious. But, if I were to sit, and write, and do nothing else I still would not be able to write each of these down.

Sometimes I like what I see, and I think I really have to write this down, but I don’t. And I then I think that’s it’s unfortunate, something great might have gotten away from me there. Until a few nights back, I decided to jot down what I had created in the middle of the night (when I should have been sleeping, because you know, as a sleep deprived mom who gets woken many times each night I like spending precious sleep time creating prose in my head).

I thought by writing it down I would get more satisfaction, gratification in having captured it. I didn’t. Instead I thought, ehhh, not bad, yeah there’s a novel here. One I most likely won’t write. Not now anyway – I’m deep in my WIP.

I thought about buying a little notepad and jotting these ideas as they come to me. I imagined looking at them one day and deciding which story to write. But, I realized that for me, these stories will never stop being created. And one that came months or years ago will not likely inspire me in the same way. So, I’m letting them go when they come. Knowing that the right story for me to write, when it comes, will stick on its own. That’s what happened with my current WIP. I was still the editing throes of novel # 1, when this one came, and I had no choice but to write it.

What do you do with all those inspirations? Do you write it down and keep it?

 


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When the Fog lifts

I’ve been in a baby haze. The world covered in mist of drooling, teething, baby, with drippy nose, and congested chest. I’ve been in a world where my little writing self went to retreat in defeat, awaiting her moment to surface and smile on the earth again.

Well, that moment came last Friday.

So much of this blog is about being a mom and leaving the writing space and coming back. Exiting and re- entering. I was worried this time around, wondering if I would be able to enter into my story, my characters. Before doing so I thought maybe it was time to move on for now, begin a new draft, one where I don’t have to think, just free write.

Yet, I came back and it was as though I’ve never left. I slid right in, remembering what has to go where, who is who and what’s what. If overwhelmed with the amount of work awaiting me, I at least know it is a task that can be accomplished. Next time the fog descends, I hope to feel re-assured that coming back is possible, even if time goes by.

What about you? If you leave your work for a few weeks can get into it again? Do you have tricks, like leaving notes for yourself?

I hope all your writing is going beautifully!! And I hope to be able to catch up with you all!!


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no mashed up crackers here!

ok ok so I’ve been watching too much So you think you can dance – I admit it. Now we have so you think you can dance Canada that started, and mash’ up crackers is how Luther Brown (a judge) described a contestant last year, because her training was too all over the show: jazz, ballet, hip hop, and tap (i think it was these, don’t hold me to it.) This year he told her that she had tightened up her main style of jazz, and added a taste of other styles for flavor in a good way. A favourable way. A way that added to her movement and her creation.

Yes, I know, I’m talking about dancing on a writing blog, but art is art, and I feel this can applied across the field.

The other night, the kids were asleep, baby was asleep in my arms (but he wouldn’t go down) while I was rocking him. I was alert still (highly unusual brain activity for me late at night) so I decided to get some editing done. Hubby was watching Men Who Stare at Goats. I know this is not the best environment to be working in, but I have learned to work in all kinds of situations.

I came to a section where I had added an element of the spirit world. Now, I am not writing a ghost story in any sense at all, but I have added a touch of ‘otherness’ to my novel. I was staring at these few lines, thinking maybe I should get rid of this, cut cut cut. Just as I was about to press delete, I heard George Clooney say something about how this is his psychic element (please note that at that time I still did not know what the film was about). I stopped in my tracks, and laughed out loud. Hubby asked me what’s up, but how to explain it to him? I told him I was just about to erase my psychic element. I don’t think he understood me at all, but that’s all right.

Today, I asked myself the purpose of this element. It’s to show how the past can be alive and highly influential to us at some moments. So, I happily leave my ‘otherness’ in my novel. A line here, and then a hint of it pages later. I had introduced it early in the novel, too early in the opening paragraphs, and that is taken out. Why is it there, this haunting, if there is less than a dash of it in the whole novel, asked one member of my critique group. Amazing sometimes what others reveal to me in my own work. I won’t sidetrack to that discussion.

It’s great to be able to cross genres in this way, but to do so in a way as not to end up with mashed up crackers, instead of one unified story with lots of flavor….well, for me at least, it takes much awareness.

Do you cross genres? Hint at other flavours that interest? Or are you strict, remaining within well-defined borders?

(This is another post written under severe exhaustion. I think soon you will all be able to tell when I’m not rested….I think my tone changes completely. interesting to write a post about that….)

(oh, and I think that after a year I have finally come up with a name for my blog. If it sticks with me, I’ll be putting it up….eventually)

(and, STILL struggling with tags…..)

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