Summer and my OLW – the on going roller coaster

vineseedsBLOne Little Word (OLW) – my guiding word for this year is developing. It fits for where I am in my world.

  • I am developing a new identity after retiring from teaching.
  • I am working on developing a middle grade fiction novel. (I have know idea how to write long fiction and complex stories!)
  • I am developing my skills as a home gardener. (I love the dirt under my finger nails that show what I have done for the day!)
  • I am developing my understanding of yoga and how to keep physically fit while turning old. (It is not as easy as I want it to be!)

I could go on but this is my main focus. This is what matters to me most right now as I discover who I am with days stretched before me. Days that I get to plan and create. I am still marveling at days that I create instead of controlled by my teaching schedule. This is the end of year 3 of retirement and I am still amazed I get to choose how my day will play out.

The garden is great, the fight with bugs and critters has slowed. The weeds and I have an agreement to let me pull them out without to much struggle. Now we wait as each plant blooms and creates seeds for next years garden or veggies to eat and freeze for winter.Balloon flower

The yoga is great. I have a teacher who understands when my body decides to cramp up on me. My mat sits in the extra bedroom waiting each night to help me stretch out. It is an up and down battle but most weeks I am winning this one.

Then there is that middle grade novel. The summer plan was/is to write 2 pages a day. (Thank you Kate DiCamillo and other writers for that idea) I was doing well. I was researching and writing. My writers group gave me great feedback and I had new ideas on how to write more dialog.

I then wrote a small, quick piece for another project to be reviewed. The content was fine but I was edited on those little mistakes. The ones we makes when working fast and not reviewing well – spelling, missing letters when typing, added s or ed or the darn commas. It was no big deal really – it was a rough draft but …

The “but” in that sentence is this edit and the fact that I still can’t find the middle to my novel opened the door for that ghost editor to enter the room. She gave the rug a quick pull and there I was riding the roller coast of writing once again. I was ready to throw the novel out. I proclaimed to my husband (poor man) I was not a writer. I don’t have the words and I am just going to stop – the novel, the blogs, the writers group – all of it!

I know a bit dramatic – I didn’t cry but I was close. My frustration at my skills as a writer were rolling over the hills and under the arch ways. I “should” be better than this. I know how to spell. I let one small edit stop me. I would love to say it was just hormones but I am way to old for that.

Why is it that there are times when the ghost editor can walk into our writing space and take control? Why is it that one day I am on it – I am a developing writer and others I am packing my writing in a file called delete? I get why fiction writers often find alcohol an interesting way to silence that critic. Don’t worry I am not going that direction but I understand the need to silence that ghost critic that shows up now and then. I so get it when students say I can’t!

clematisIt is now Tuesday morning – the air has cleared and cooled, the birds are singing, the garden is green with bit of yellow, red and purple popping up, and my husband has once again said don’t delete just let it sit for a day or two. (Thank you, once again!)

I did just that. My writing is back out of the delete folder. The roller coster ride is over for now and my not so friendly ghost editor has left.

I wrote my blog post yesterday – a short one to get the feel of writing under my fingers again. I am completing todays. I will take up my research and open the novel’s folder to face Lily and Rose, my main characters.

I am developing – slowing step by step and word by word!

mini rose Lily                 and


(I know I have written about this time and time again but it is one way to push that critic out the door and begin again. So thank you for listening once again!)   Happy Summer writing!

About Joanne Toft

I am a retired Minneapolis Public School teacher. I walk, garden, help in schools and write. Life is good!
This entry was posted in Reflection, writing and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to Summer and my OLW – the on going roller coaster

  1. Lori Sheroan says:

    Joanne, I am so glad I read your post today! I, too, am working on a novel this summer. Actually, I have been working on it since April 2015!!!! Day before yesterday, I was productive; yesterday, I pretended like I was not working on a novel; today, I am frozen with angst. You are right – writing is like a roller coaster! I wish you the best!!!!

    • Joanne Toft says:

      Hang in there! I have been working on this one – well I won’t tell you but much longer than I wanted for sure. Novels are interesting beasts and hard to tame I have found out. Good Luck and keep writing. (don’t delete)

  2. Tara Smith says:

    Well, that makes three of us working on a novel…and it is hard work, especially now that I have time to write. But, a bit every day – that’s what I’m telling myself…and no deleting!

    • Joanne Toft says:

      Yes, it is the no deleting that is so important. I am currently writing side stories to my novel because I can find my way in the original story. So for now I am having conversation with the little characters within the story.
      Good Luck with you writing!

  3. What a great OLW! I like seeing what other people’s OLW are. I’ve gotten some great ideas. Mine is positive.

  4. Linda Baie says:

    I am NOT working on a novel, te he, but do have two picture book projects underway, & a host of poems to organize. Some days I simply ignore it all & work outside in my garden, Joanne. PLEASE don’t delete. I read too many authors that sometimes say they put things aside for years! And-do you know of TeachersWrite, started yesterday, supported by Gae Polisher, Kate Messner, Jen Vincent & a host of other guest writers. Maybe it would be a good thing? Best wishes!

    • Joanne Toft says:

      Very funny. I would love to hear about your picture book projects. I do know about Teachers Write. I have followed them the last few years but decide it was a great distraction. I was reading and following everyone’s writing but not writing myself. So this year I did not sign up. It is just me and my computer each day on the deck.

  5. arjeha says:

    Love that you are developing in so many ways. Retirement is all about developing. That book will come. I have a friend whose first published book will be released in September and she is under contract for several more in the series. You can do it.

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