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Danielle Haas

Mother of two, Writer of romance novels, Lover of wine

Month

February 2017

Blocking Out The Noise

This past week I’ve cleared my creative plate and have been able to focus all of my attention on my third manuscript. I had started this MS at the end of last summer, and the three chapters I had finished have sat untouched for months. I was a little intimidated to open this back up and dive right in, but it felt good. Creating something from scratch and feeling that rush of excitement when the story line starts clicking into place in my mind has gotten my creative juices flowing again. The characters, and the story they want me to tell, are screaming in my mind and I have this constant nagging in my brain to just sit down and write it all out.

But something is happening that I didn’t experience with my first two MS’s . I’m having a hard time blocking the noise out. Not just the external noise, but the internal noise as well. Don’t get me wrong, the external noise in my house is deafening and constant. When you stay at home with a two-year-old who only naps about every other day and a four-year-old who has a limitless amount of energy, quiet isn’t something I even strife for anymore. I mean, how do you say no when your adorable daughter sweetly asks, “Mommy, would you like to hear my wonderful music while you work?” I’ll tell you the answer…you don’t. You sit on your computer and cringe as you type away and she wildly shakes a tambourine and dances around the dining room table. Or when your toddler runs up and tells you it’s time for dinner, how do you not stop the work to eat the fried chicken he puts in your face. Okay, so it’s made from Play-Doh and it’s only a quick, “Mmm, yummy!” on my part, but it’s pretty damn distracting.

I’ve gotten pretty good over the past year and a half at giving the kids the minute they are begging for, and then getting my head right back where it needs to be. I have to do this, or I’d never get anything done. Or, I’d be up all night and never sleep and that’s just not an option for me. This mama needs her sleep or we all suffer. It’s the internal noise I’m having a hard time pushing away. And the most frustrating part about this, is there is nothing out there I need to be doing besides working on my MS. My short synopsis, long synopsis, and author bio are turned into my agent. MS number 2 is complete and patiently waiting for it’s time to shine, and I’ve kept surprisingly up-to-date on my blog posts lately. But there’s still this constant buzzing in my brain I can’t quiet down.

I sit down to write, knowing exactly what I want to happen in the chapter, and I can’t seem to concentrate on getting the words on the screen. I’m wondering how far my agent has gotten on my revised MS, when will submissions to publishers start, and how my entries are doing in contests. I’m checking my email a ridiculous number of times a day, even when there’s nothing pressing that should be coming in. It’s frustrating as hell. I try to clear my mind and see the scene the way I want to paint it, and I see it, but I can’t get the sentences down in a way that makes me happy. At least not for awhile. Where I was writing several chapters a week, I’m now happy to get one complete and a second started. I know quality is more important than quantity, and there’s no rush to get this MS finished, but the characters constantly chatting away in my mind say differently.

I can’t be the only person who has this problem. How do you handle it? Do you just push through it, happy with whatever it is you get accomplished that day, or is there another solution to this problem? I suppose I could hire a nanny to watch the kids and a personal assistant to sort out the other stuff I don’t want to deal with. But I’m thinking this isn’t a plausible option. Until I figure it out, I’ll sit at my computer again tomorrow and write as much as I can. Emma’s story is itching to escape, and eventually it will get done. I just need the world to quiet down a little bit so I can put pen to paper…or at least finger to keyboard. But as I type this, that sweet as sugar two-year-old screams for mommy to sing more Thomas the Train before he finally falls asleep. I guess the world won’t be quieting down any time soon, so I just need to figure out how to block it out and get the work done. For now, I’m off to seeing about that cheeky little Thomas the Train.

 

 

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Starting’s The Hardest Part

I have a sneaking suspicion that I’ve been driving my husband crazy the last couple of weeks. He hasn’t said anything, but a wife usually knows these things. It’s not because I’ve been nagging him to do things around the house or riding his case about spending too much time out with the boys. Actually, quite the opposite is what happens in our house. My husband doesn’t know how to relax, and I actually tried to pester him into going out last night. The last couple of months, he has undertaken a huge project in our house. He decided to go room to room and deep clean the house. Go ahead and tell me how amazing he is, he’ll love it! haha But seriously, he has taken apart almost every room in this house and cleaned the carpets, painted the walls, and washed the baseboards. Any thing that needed fix, he fixed it. Any new furniture that needed purchased, he bought. It’s a good ol fashion Spring cleaning before Spring even gets here. But there’s one thing he kept his hands off of, and asked that I take care of… the playroom closet.

When we moved into our house over seven years ago, our basement was unfinished. He drew up so many plans on how to use the space. My only stipulation was I wanted a playroom with a huge closet to throw all the crap that would one day take over our house in. Of course, my loving husband gave me exactly what I wanted. It’s a place for toys, board games, extra blankets, craft supplies, and the sewing machine I got three years ago and have never used. (Sorry mom) It is a lifesaver, and I’m sure it’s not a surprise that it’s also a disaster. I’ve cleaned it and decluttered a few times, but honestly, it’s a huge pain in the ass. So when hubby asked me to take on this little project, and I agreed to see it taken care of, I cringed on the inside.

I needed a plan. Trust me, anyone who knows me or has stepped in my house, knows that organization is my thing. There is a place for everything, and everything’s in its place. At least it is when the kids are asleep. I hate clutter, I hate a messy house, and I hate knowing that things are not where they’re supposed to be. Even Tootsie has inherited this OCD quality of mine. I’ve never met a four-year-old who’s room has to be completely picked up (including the rooms of her doll house) before she can go to sleep. But for some reason, this playroom closet is the one place the chaos is easier to just let go of. But I could do it, and I know it will be so pretty and shiny when I’m done. So I ran to the store and bought bins and tubs of multiple shapes and sizes. I have baskets and bowls and bags. I have everything needed to whip this space into shape. Except the motivation to do it. Hence why I’m driving my husband crazy.  I know once I dive in and start I’ll have it done, I just need to do it.

I was at my monthly NEORWA meeting yesterday and was talking to a fellow writer. We both recently acquired agents, and were discussing the changes that needed done to our MS and the time we’ve spent polishing these up for submissions. This led into a conversation regarding our WIP’s, and she said something to me that rang so true. She said, “I’m trying to get into my second MS, but I feel like I’m picking up the paint brush and learning how to use it again.” Yes, yes, a million times yes! I have spent the last five months revising and editing my first two MS’s. In the meantime, the first three chapters I wrote for my third MS has been siting patiently, waiting for me to get the time to pick it back up. That time came a few weeks ago (and then quickly passed again but that’s another story) and I sat there staring at it. I had made my plan, I had a loose outline of where I wanted the story to go and how I wanted the characters to feel, but I just couldn’t find a way to write it all down in a way that told my story. I felt like my creativity for writing an entirely new book was gone. How could I possibly come up with enough to fill the pages? Even though I now have two completed MS’s under my belt, I was afraid that completing this book was beyond me.

After reworking those first three chapters, I had to put my WIP aside again to focus on edits my agent suggested for my first MS. It was like a giant puzzle that needed to be put back together, but some of the pieces were missing. I shifted some scenes around, reworked some chapters, and also wrote some new ones. I was a little nervous about the new chapters. But honestly, it was the best thing that could have happened to me at just the right time. (Funny how that works!) The words flowed through me and created these beautiful chapters that have made my book so much better. And it gave me the confidence to see that I can sit and write from scratch and create something wonderful. Just like the playroom closet, I know I can do it, I just need to find the right place to start. But I should probably tackle the closet before I open that WIP up again!

 

 

 

 

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