March Madness 3: Fragile Reflections

Bubbles 1A couple weeks ago a granddaughter was here for the afternoon. One of her activities of choice was bubble blowing with Grampa. There are various soapy solutions and different shaped tools that all seem to work, although some produce better bubbles than others.

This particular afternoon the bubbles were very fragile. After blowing them she would try to recapture one, hoping it would balance on the wand. Each time a bubble was touched, however, it popped with a splat and splatter into the air.

Left alone, the bubbles were light enough to catch the breeze and soar away.

Bubbles 2

Thinking back on this I was struck with the similarities between those bubbles and my new WIP. One of the reasons I lean towards the ‘seat-of-my-pants’ kind of writing is because I like the unexpected pleasure of watching a basic idea develop into a beautiful story. I don’t generally talk much about it during the first draft because the concept seems fragile, and too much poking around can easily destroy whatever beauty my spontaneity may be creating. If I try to wrestle it into position, something that at first seemed exciting, begins to lose its appeal. The bubble finally pops and a rainbow idea disappears.

I’ve been moving gingerly into this new story, and now that we’re half-way through our March month of Madness it’s clear my original goal of a complete first draft isn’t realistic. As other MM hosts have suggested, it’s not a bad thing to step back periodically to evaluate what we’re doing, to redistribute our efforts over the remaining available time, and possibly even tweak our goals.

There is no shame in adjusting our goals, only in abandoning them. March 31st is only an arbitrary deadline. Do whatever it takes to stay focused on your destination but also retain joy in your writing. Don’t let anything burst that bubble!

Just sixteen days of this madness left. How are you faring? I hope you’re soaring!

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33 thoughts on “March Madness 3: Fragile Reflections

  1. Shari Green says:

    I’m the same way in the early stages of a new story — with the sense that it is fragile. I tend to go at it quietly, gently, from different angles, until it builds enough strength to allow me to really run with it. Or something like that… ;)

    Heading into a batch of nightshifts, so I won’t likely get too much done until I emerge on Wednesday. Then we’ll be getting close to the home stretch, so I’ll have to kick it into high gear! Whee!

    Love the picture of D. :)

    • Carol says:

      It’s hard to stay in the writing zone when the day job (or in your case, a night job) intervenes. But I suppose it can also have the advantage of enforced distance from the WIP, giving you a refreshed perspective when you return to it. Here’s hoping that WIP continues to build strength.

  2. Nice analogy! Knew it would be worth staying up to read. It’s very true, too. Sometimes we need to let things develop organically. There is something beautiful in the simplicity of a bubble. Same goes for story ideas, or a WIP, as a whole. They’re delicate but have enough power to enthral a person as they move through our world.

    Here’s to letting those beauties soar!

    • Carol says:

      Thanks, Tonette. Mysteries always seem to have a convoluted plot line, more complexity there than simplicity, but I often think of Marjorie Holmes’ writing, and how much I enjoyed her simple, homespun stories. I think the power is in the words, each specially chosen one doing its job to build the magic. :)

  3. I met my March goal last night! The 2nd half of my revisions are done and so I’m going to spend the rest of March working on my query and synopsis, but generally letting my WIP hang out untouched so I can do a final read-through next month. Also next month, I’ll be attempting some bubbles of my own with a new WIP :)

  4. denisejaden says:

    I LOVE those photos, Carol! Wow, beautiful. And also the analogy. That one will always stick with me when I’m in one of those fragile states of writing. I’m so glad to hear you are happy with the progress you’re making, too, Carol, and that now you have the “right” goal for the rest of the month.

    My March progress is going very well. Really, I think I’ve mostly accomplished my March goals…except I need to go over one project again after I give it a few days rest. In the meantime, I’ve gotten some wonderfully helpful feedback from beta readers, so I will be implementing those suggestions on other projects.

    • Carol says:

      Thanks, Denise. It’s great to hear that you’re making such good progress. While it’s nice to be able to focus on a main WIP, I imagine one of the benefits of having lots to do is being able to shift gears and move between multiple projects when you want to.

  5. Judith Robl says:

    I finally got the heritage bookcase into my office this morning and will be loading it today. I may have a functioning office by Tuesday. That’s a good step on the way to my goal for March Madness.

    • Carol says:

      Oh, yay for new bookcases! I love them, and a heritage one is very special! Glad to hear you’re making progress. I’m hoping you’ll have a photo to post when you get your office whipped into shape.

  6. Stacy Kupiec says:

    Such a beautiful way of looking at the creation of a story. The method I use is to first get the ideas down in words, which is my MM goal, and then go back and craft each chapter one at a time. That’s the part I love the most. I can’t wait to get there!!!

    • Carol says:

      Getting the words down is the main thing, but the revisions are a huge part of the overall process of crafting a good story. I’m one who likes revising, too… like helping a diamond emerge from carbon. ;)

  7. I limit talking about the specifics, and who I talk about it with, except to say that I’m working on said project. One author I know has a great analogy about how a new story fees to him like a bottle of pop, where the more he tells people about it, the more the fizz escapes, and the more the idea feels lifeless and flat. So he tries not to talk about it. And I’m trying to do the same. That being said, I love having a critique partner and a husband who are both supportive, who I can bounce ideas off, and revel with in the joy of the new story.

    I have a few new ideas, new projects, and they all feel like fragile bubbles. But I realized that right now, *I* feel fragile, too. It’s been a long, tough week, not limited to but especially because of the time change, and I need to take some time to rest and recuperate. So that’s where I am right now. Today, I’m reading a book and catching up on my sleep, knowing that the bubbles will be stronger with self-care.

  8. Carol says:

    I like that bottle of pop comparison! Letting the magic escape, however it happens, is a negative experience for a writer so it’s important to figure out how to prevent it.

    I hope the weekend provides you with the rejuvenation you’re needing. Self-care is a necessary link to self-preservation as well as creativity.

  9. baccelliak says:

    My issue is during the revision process. It’s totally a love-hate relationship. My self-editor screams in my head that my project isn’t good enough, sucks, and is a total waste of my time. Yes, more than a few times I have to tie her up and lock her away or else I’d never get any projects done!

    I’m moving along with my revision. Mywriteclub is helping too with my critique buddies cheering me on.

    • Carol says:

      That ol’ I.C. is such a pain in the butt, isn’t it? These days I’m calling mine Mr. Icky. The internal voices can be our worse enemy, but I like your idea of tying them up and locking them away. :) Glad to hear you’re also getting support from your buddies and you’re making progress.

  10. Hi Carol –

    You expressed the delicacy of the SOTP process so well.

    All my good intentions went down the drain for March Madness when Mom broke her hip. Maybe next year.

    God bless,
    Susan

    • Carol says:

      Hi, Susan. I was glad to see on FB that your mother is recovering well. Yes, I can understand when life throws things at us that are higher priority. I’m sure you’ll still be fitting in any necessary writing even if you can’t meet your MM goals. As we said earlier, there’s no shame in readjusting goals, only in abandoning them. Stay with us and let us know how the rest of March is going for you.

  11. Plugging along despite the sickness. Stayed in bed all day reading novels. Did a bit of revision and a whole lot of napping. See you tomorrow!

    • Carol says:

      So sorry you’re sick, Angelina, and I hope you’re beginning to feel better. At least the enforced down time is giving you an opportunity for some guilt-free reading.

  12. I like the “bubbles” idea. My goal is to work on my blogposts this month but I go back to my novel when I find another one of those bubbles.

    • Carol says:

      As I mentioned to Denise, having more than one project on the go gives you something to continuing moving ahead with, when you need to distance yourself from something else. Hope you have a good week, Linda.

  13. Akoss says:

    This is such a neat comparison. I suspect I’m likely to try and catch a bubble instead of letting it float freely. Good food for thought.
    Now about my progress, I didn’t make any but I got an aha moment for another wip. lol so that still counts, right? :)

    • Carol says:

      Some days are just unproductive, despite our good intentions, aren’t they? It’s not a big problem as long as we’re able to pick up where we left off, so I hope you’ll be back to work tomorrow.

      New shiny ideas are always exciting, but they can also be a distraction. I hope you keep a journal for notes on them, but don’t let this one entice you away from finishing your current project.The mark of successful novelists isn’t in how many ideas they can come up with, but how well they follow them through to completion. I’m not lecturing… of course not. I wouldn’t do that! TeeHee! ;)

  14. Darlene says:

    Lovely pictures! Blowing bubbles is always fun. You are so right, There is no shame in adjusting our goals. Mine are constantly being adjusted but I still keep my eye on the target.

    • Carol says:

      It’s a good idea not to let goals totally slip away. That’s probably the difference between writing with hope of publication, and writing for a specific publication deadline… you’re committed to meeting those goals. :)

  15. Great post, Carol. Today I did manage a few new paras for my WIP. I kept asking myself, what could go wrong? So far, it’s working!

  16. Carol says:

    Thanks, Joylene. Glad to hear you’ve made some progress, too. That question would be one to provoke some interesting possibilities.

  17. What beautiful pictures, Carol! I missed the posts over the weekend, so I’m playing catch up. Definitely some goal adjusting going on in my world. But all is good. :)

    • Carol says:

      Always happy to see you here, whatever the day. And I’m glad to hear things are going well despite needed adjustments. Happy St. Paddy’s Day to you. :D

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