Monday, August 27, 2012

Commitment: The Scariest Word in the Dictionary

Writing takes all kinds of traits, and none of them are particularly talent. Talent helps in that if you think you have a knack for writing, you’ll keep going. It’s like a built in ego boost, and writing is one of those life’s endeavors where you need a lot of ego boosts because most of the time you feel like a hack.

But there are several things that are more important than talent. Persistence being the biggest one, I believe, but commitment is something that can be overlooked or at least relegated to being in the Persistence camp. But commitment is its own entity; and there are varying forms of commitment within writing. The commitment to write so many words a week; or the commitment to read so many craft books or attend so many conferences to improve your writing.

But then there is the most important kind of commitment—the commitment to story. The art of the follow through, like a batter who commits to swinging with all his might and connecting with the ball, never hesitating but hitting all the way through. When the bat and ball do connect and it is hit through with the kind of wallop that rings up your arms and felt through your legs, you know you’ve got a homerun. We all swing in the hope of a homerun.

However, we’ve all watched games and seen the big hitters and they don’t hit a homerun every time they come to bat. More often it seems they strike out, but they always commit to the swing. Their heart is always in the game. They always do their best and show up.

My commitment isn’t as great as a baseball game. I’m no Pujols, but I know it’s just as important if not more so for a writer to commit to their game as a baseball player does. If your heart belongs to this story, then swing big. Commit and follow through. Don’t decide mid-pitch you need to do a few more practice swings and redo your prologue or first three chapters. You’ll be struck out without you ever swinging the bat; you’ll demoralize yourself and spend your energy doing something that does not need to be done right now.

That’s my commitment problem anyway. I’ll get the first few chapters down, laugh at my own wit, and then start to fall apart at the wheels because not every paragraph or page I’m writing is full of clever, witty, perfect writing that enchants me. And if it doesn’t enchant me, it couldn’t possibly enchant anyone else. And then I hate my characters who aren’t being witty anymore; and I don’t know if I like this story even. And I take myself out of the game.

Hell, even Deerhunter is aware of it and the man lives in another state and I usually keep my writing life pretty quiet from him. I had texted him this week with my progress with the pirates’ writing month and how I had written 16 pages (actually it was 18 total) and I had written 10 the week before (26 pages total). He called to say how proud he was of me and then he made a comment that, “I’m so glad you have that many pages. I know how you like to delete seven for every eight you write.” I just stopped on the phone and was like, Yup, that’s me, terrified of commitment. Yet another thing Deerhunter would know so well since it took him fifteen years to get me to agree to date him.

So I’m doing myself a favor this time—at least as much as I am able—and I’m not deleting. I’m writing; I’m pressing on. If I don’t love it, I’ll sort it out later when the book is all done. If the story isn’t quite progressing where I think it should, but the words are flowing, I’ll flow with them, even if they aren’t where I thought the story was going. It could turn out for the best. That’s the thing about commitment. It’s about hanging on and rolling with it, not stifling something into what you thought it should be without compromise. And with my new commitment plan, I have finally topped over the 100 page mark. Now I just need to keep going until I hit the 200 page mark. And the 300 page mark. Ah, I hear the Rawhide theme song in my head now—just keep rollin’, rollin’, rollin’….

How do you keep your commitment to writing? What do you do when you’re slammed with the pressing need to redo the first three chapters…or six chapters…or whatever? How do you keep from massive revising before you’ve gotten it complete? (I leave out tiny revising—word corrections, addition or deletion of a few sentences as relatively harmless.)

66 comments:

quantum said...

Without talent I doubt that you can ever rise to the heights, unless something else which must be very powerful, disguises the lack of an outstanding writing voice. It's true of any creative activity.

To use the sporting analogy, You can still enjoy a weekend game with the village team. Heck, they are always looking for someone prepared to wear football boots, especially if they can also hold their beer.

But if you want to play for Man United, forget it unless you have real talent as well as the commitment to practice and work.

When you have written a short story or even a novel, I think you know if it's good.

I realised long ago that my writing talent isn't in a class to compete with the Catherine Anderson's of this world. But I can still write good technical stuff for publication and still write short stories for my Grand.

But she isn't as discerning as the romance reading community! LOL

Haleigh said...

And here I thought I was the only one who went back and revised the first three chapters 27 times!

I'm on the revision end, and am finding thinking about commitment to be so applicable. I've got some fairly big changes staring at me, and my instinct is to keep spinning my wheels in the earlier chapters rather than moving forward. "Oh, but what if I change this. . ." and "Oh, but what if I change that . . ." when all I'm really doing is procrastinating because I can't figure out how to fix the middle section.

Haleigh said...

by the way, your post inspired me to sit down and actually figure out the next section rather than procrastinating. I think I figured out who to fix the middle!

TerriOsburn said...

My head is spinning. You're wrote a POSITIVE blog about commitment AND you used a baseball analogy. I think I'd better sit down.

Wait, I am sitting down.

I think my distaste for revisions of any kind might be what keeps me moving forward. However, if I'm not sure where I'm going next, I can't move at all. So I do a good bit of work on the front end, meaning the rough draft takes longer but the revisions not so much. (Or so I like to lie and tell myself.)

Huzzah on topping 100 pages!! I am so excited and proud of you. All of you are kicking butt!

And WTG Hal on figuring out the middle! (That's my favorite part to write, but I know I'm in the minority there. *g*)

Di R said...

Another inspiring post, just when I needed it the most. My husband was home for a week of vacation, and my kids went back to school last Thursday and I'm finding it hard to return to my story. *sigh* Why is it when I commit to finsihing my regency, suddenly I have a million ideas for the contemporary?

Di

MsHellion said...

Hmmm, Q, I never thought talent and voice were the same--because everyone has a voice whether they write or not. It's just writers are willing to try to shine it a little or use it to their advantage. Talent...talent I always thought was the spark inside you that said, "You know you could be really good at this" and it just felt almost natural doing, putting words on a page or a bat to a ball. And then once you do it once with success, if you have the spark, by God, you'll do anything to do it again.

Not to denigrate talent entirely--because baseball guys have talent, but they also have incredibly hard work. And some really great players never make it out of a farm team...

I suppose it's the difference between being Nora Roberts vs someone who never rises above midlist (which happens more often than not).

STILL...writing (and publishing) anything gives you a sense of accomplish that Nora could never take away. :) I know when I was 17 and they published my essay in the local newspaper, I was just as ecstatic as if I'd been published by Penguin. *LOL* And what really made me gloat is that they'd never published an essay before for this contest--MY essay made them want to publish it. Oh, the writing bug. It's like first love. You never forget. *LOL*

MsHellion said...

Hal, I keep feeling slightly demoralized when I keep thinking "I'm doing the fun part now" because revisions are next and I'll only be looking at the picture which is nothing but full of holes. *LOL*

I double-majored in procrastination. I feel your pain, but I'm verklempt that my post inspired you to figure out the middle. Oh, I feel special! :)

And I'm pretty sure 27 times was a conservative estimate on my part. *LOL* It's probably much much more. *LOL*

MsHellion said...

Terri, another sign that the Mayans were probably right about the end of the world this year. *LOL* Though in fairness, I do like baseball. I would even watch that live, so long as it wasn't too hot when we went. And I had plenty of cola...and possibly my book as a backup. This blog would never have occurred during football season...which apparently starts Friday for our college team and they're on the freakout for being on the SEC this year. *sighs* (So in positive news, I'll be home this weekend, locked up and writing!)

Isn't it funny how we expect to write perfect books and we feel deflated when we realize how much work it will take to make it...readable? Perhaps the analogy about giving birth isn't carried far enough--you know how you birth a novel--and you have the deluded impression that the labor and pain in delivery was the worst part (except for you, Terri, and we know you're weird, don't egg it on)--and you think, OH, it's worth it, but you give birth to a lizard and you're kinda concerned but you love it because you gave birth to it.

But think on it, that baby might be perfect to you, but to everyone else, it's a screaming, pukey, pooing baby. It has potential, but it's not yet "perfect"--so the revision process is like a quick version of "raising baby" into a human being other people would like to spend time with. Hopefully someone who isn't screaming, crying, whining, and pooping all the time. I think if we're all given the chance to meet the president of the united states OR the baby who will grow up to be president--we're going to pick the POTUS every time.

Revision is about turning your lizard baby into the leader of the free world. It's a lot of work to make that happen, but it can be done.

I don't think this analogy is going to work, but I'm going to hit publish and move on anyway. It's Monday.

TerriOsburn said...

WTH did you have for breakfast?

TerriOsburn said...

And Mizzou is in the SEC now?? I didn't know that. Huh. Should be interesting. That's a powerhouse conference. I'll wager they're going to be slaughtered a time or two this season.

MsHellion said...

Di R--the GLIMMER fairy. We're all aware of this, no one more than I. But here's the thing about fairies, Di, they lie...and they deceive. They lure you into thinking the new idea will be easier, PERFECT, more wonderful. They will tell you lies that the new story will be the one that editors want, that this is the story that will be published. But fairies are obnoxious little bastards with no sense of moral center. Ignore them. (I'm sorry, I read this series: YA, called Paranormalcy--and the fairies in it...evil! Exactly how I've thought of them. *LOL*)

I know the advice for this situation is to meditate of sorts, writing out a couple pages of just journaling--write about your fears, write about what you're writing and what the problem is with the story. I advise doing this by longhand, because I agree with fellow writers that doing this connects you to your right brain better, which you need to do to start writing again. One of two things will happen--you'll get tired of journaling about your problems and go back to writing on the manuscript OR you'll figure out the manuscript problem and go back to writing on the manuscript. Either way, it's a win!

MsHellion said...

I had a peanut butter sandwich.

My Pollyanna says they're going to be slaughtered ALL season, but Deerhunter says we have an opening or two and might not actually do too bad this year. (He is the most irritatingly optimistic man. We could be going to the guillotine, walking up the steps, and he'd say, "I think I know of a way to get out of this.")

Di R said...

I LOVE this! I nearly snorted tea all over my computer.

I've been writing the contemp ideas on index cards and filing them in the box for that story.

Fairies-evil. LOL!! Makes sense to me-Tinkerbell was not nice to Wendy.

Di

P. Kirby said...

Zoom...the sound of sports analogies zooming right over my head at super sonic speed. (I hate sports.)

Nevertheless, I get your point.

Actually...I've never struggled with a desire to revise early chapters (until now*). I thinks it's because I brought my approach to non-fiction/technical writing over to fiction. I never agonized about getting it right on the first go-round. My approach: throw a bunch of info on the page in a rough order, get ALL the data/sourced information down BEFORE any substantial revision.

What trips me up is the details of plot. I have a vague idea where the story is going and that will carry me at least 50K (68K in current WIP). And then I get stuck. All the initial excitement (energy) evaporates and I want to wander off to another project. As a result, three unfinished novels on the harddrive. ARGH!

*The fan fic experiment is giving me fits of revision apoplexy, since it's pretty much a WIP, exposed too soon to the light of day.

JulieJustJulie said...

"Revision is about turning your lizard baby into the leader of the free world. It's a lot of work to make that happen, but it can be done."

I’m with Terri … WTH did you have for breakfast? And we have lizards. Actually they are my daughter’s lizards, my DD who happens to look rather like Tinkerbelle. NOW don’t ask me what any of this means in the scheme of things, but I’m sure it’s part of your book-baby-turned-to-lizards plot to take over the World. Yes. It’s a plot … no wait …. The plot is to stick to the plot and write.
Keep the lizards out of it. They don’t give a fig about a good story, a good bug perhaps but who wants to be bugged while one is writing? Unless one is being bugged by “a Brilliant Idea” which you will make a Note of without straying off course, because if you stray then the alligator and Captain hook will get you and worse yes it gets WORSE and THEN you will have to be rescued by Tinkerbelle. Which will probably annoy you, though not as much as the lizards. As … anyone knows Lizard poo stinks worse than baby poo and worse yes it gets WORSE when the female lays an egg she turns into a raving b****. Of course the male gets indignant and spends his time sneaking around looking for a way to CRUSH the ENbitching egg.



Janga said...

I agree that talent without commitment and hard work won't get the job done, but I think the reverse is also true. You can be committed to the nth degree and have a work ethic that makes Nora Roberts look like a slacker, but if you don't have a modicum of talent, you won't achieve. Now I do think that commitment and hard work account for some small talents achieving much--and for great talents who lack those qualities achieving nothing. And let's be honest, luck and timing sometimes play roles too.

With that point made, I am in total agreement that the lack of commitment is what keeps many aspiring writers from becoming published writers. When I remember that "commit" means "to engage or pledge by some implicative act," and admit my own lack of action, I know I fall in that group.

JulieJustJulie said...

Missed me?
*innocent waifish smile*

TerriOsburn said...

I think Julie's had enough to drink today.

I agree with Janga. Without the talent, you won't get far. Though there are some with dogged determination and a lack of talent who get farther than you'd think. (No one specific comes to mind, but I'm sure it happens.)

JulieJustJulie said...

I agree with Janga.
I also feel that many talented people let their talent get in the way of achieving their goals. All those “I can do better” s get in the way of “I will finish this project in a timely manner”. You’re Talented, so you Can ALWAYS do better. That’s the nature of talent. It’s always expanding and growing. IMO

JulieJustJulie said...

Seattle's Best Coffee Number 5, Terri. Strongest stuff they make, I do believe. Made a whole pot of it ....

Janga said...

Oh, Ter, I can think of some specific someones that fit your description, but I will not name them.

Julie, I think it's more a matter of insecurity than talent, but I have an advanced case of the I-Can-Do-Betters. I felt as if your arrow were calling my name. :)

JulieJustJulie said...

Well I hope that the arrow didn't pierce any tender parts. I hope instead that my arrow Merely sent a gentle breeze flowing past your ear with the message “Yes Janga, I do indeed think of you as one of the most talented writers I know.”

Maureen said...

Gods, right now I suck at commmittment. Well, to writing. I cannot focus and I keep forgetting things. I don't know if it's the natural but inconvenient chemistry of my stage of life or the chemicals I'm taking.

Or both.

I'm trying to be patient, but not so patient that I jump paths and end up on the wrong mountain.

You know that tarot card of the Fool, blithely taking that step off the cliff? That's me. Or I fear that is me, at present.

As for lizards...compared to some of the humans presently running for office, they might be a better alternative.

TerriOsburn said...

Mo - During my shower yesterday I washed my hair then shaved my legs and got out. Not until I was drying off did I realize I never washed my body. *sigh* The brain is oozing out my ears and it's getting worrisome.

You're working on the declutter which is really for the benefit of the writing. That's a major commitment and you're sticking with it!

Maureen said...

I recall a presentation I saw. I think it was a presentation, it may have been a class I took. Said you need three things to succeed with publishing - aside from a book.

Talent. Meet deadlines. Be easy to work with.

Like three circles interlap. The speakers/writer said you need to have at least two and whatever the third is can be nurtured and built.

I hope they're right. Though nowadays you also need good luck.

TerriOsburn said...

That sounds like Neil Gaiman's commencement speech.

P. Kirby said...

The absence of deadlines kicks my butt. I mean, once a book gets accepted somewhere, deadlines kick in: editor sends stuff to be fixed by a certain date; I get 'er done.

Unfortunately, the early stages for me, are without deadline imposed by an outside source, so I'm free to fritter away my time. Sigh.

MsHellion said...

P. Kirby, I wish I used more of my college writing days in the fiction writing field--though when in college, I found my first drafts were pretty darned good and didn't need much revision. If I revised or worried a paper too much, I would always get a B. If I turned it in after pretty much the first draft, I got an A. This is why I've been ruined for revisions. It's so not the case now!

Do you need subplots for your book? Usually one conflict isn't going to carry a novel for 80,000 words...but that is where subplots and braiding come in and make a story richer.

MsHellion said...

Julie, I actually didn't know that about lizard poo. I'm going to take lizards off my pet wish-list now. Thanks!

MsHellion said...

Janga, I agree--because I think talent gives you the spark that says, "You're good, keep going." But I don't think it's the #1 thing needed and I don't think you need gobs of it. You just need enough to realize you're not bad--this is something you do well and should keep practicing.

JulieJustJulie said...

Fascinating discussion btw.

Maureen said...

Aha! Yeah, Gaiman... See? My memory is shot. What's the secret to meeting commmittments when you have no memory? Or as Pat said, when the committments are all self-imposed, therefore easy as pie to forget or ignore?

Like Pat, give me a contract to meet and I'll do it. Let me set the personal goal and I'll fritter away every hour of every day...

MsHellion said...

And Julie just nailed all of us. *LOL* I feel truly chastised now. *LOL*

MsHellion said...

Mo, I believe in post-its. If you get a great idea, write it down and post it on your desk. Really. Some of us have to do this whether we're of a certain age or chemical amnesia...we just can't remember ALL of our brilliant ideas because we have too many of them all the time.

Hang in there. You'll be jazzed again soon.

JulieJustJulie said...

The poo is scoopable and self contained. Like little bug mummies ... so if you don't mind mummies then they are rather low maintanance. Except for the live food thing. :P
And they are rather social with people they like. Every one else gets a Dirty Look.
That’s a picture of Cleopatra, one of my daughter’s lizards.

MsHellion said...

During my shower yesterday I washed my hair then shaved my legs and got out. Not until I was drying off did I realize I never washed my body.

I have done this. More than once. How stressed are you in your life if this happens? *LOL* I almost feel like showering with someone if only to have someone to remind me, "Body wash next, dear."

Okay, that's not why...but in the end, I wouldn't care if I made it to the body wash or not and I wouldn't be worrying about my imminent amnesia.

MsHellion said...

Neil Gaiman's commencement speech--I love it nearly as much as J.K. Rowling's. *LOL* I love that you can have 2 of three--and therefore you can actually do without the talent if you're easy to work with and meet deadlines.

Though considering the suspicious mutterings of Terri and Janga--because I can guess--that person clearly is getting a lot done with only one of the circles. *LOL*

Maureen said...

Maybe you need a white board in the bathroom, Ter. I could use that. I don't know how many times I leave the house and then wonder... Did I brush my hair or just run a hand through it? Did I brush my teeth? Moisturize?

Hels, I have a bazillion post it notes. I'm not sure I'd see them unless I stuck them on the TV.

Which isn't a bad idea...

TerriOsburn said...

I was about to suggest the white board for the shower. Some kind of check list. At least when I turn off the water before rinsing out the conditioner, I figured it out right away and turn the water back on.

And stop putting mutterings in my comments. I'm trying to keep my writer karma clean right now!

Maureen said...

...mutter...muttermuttermutter...mutter...butter...

Damn, I'm hungry. I need to eat something.

TerriOsburn said...

Don't mention eating. I've been eating like a mad woman. Donuts and pizza and cupcakes. No wonder I feel as if I've been shot with a tranquilizer dart. Not good for a person who can't have caffeine. Damn it.

Maureen said...

Donuts...I haven't had a donut in so long... Not since I was in Chicago and went to Dunkin' Donuts for the first time...

P. Kirby said...

Do-nuts...Homer Simpson drool.

Do you need subplots for your book? Usually one conflict isn't going to carry a novel for 80,000 words...but that is where subplots and braiding come in and make a story richer

Pretty much. Except I'm not good at coming up with subplots or I have so many, I tie myself in knots.

Maureen said...

Ah, the old dangling upside down from the yardarm...been there, done that, sold the t-shirt!

P. Kirby said...

Ah, the old dangling upside down from the yardarm...been there, done that, sold the t-shirt!

I'd so wear that shirt!

MsHellion said...

Well, it wouldn't be writing if we weren't tied up in knots.

I think the subplots are a bit what Marn was talking about last week.

Big Plot: The main story question--did it get resolved (did they win, did they lose, did they change the goal)?

Subplot: Character 1's secret agenda and the drama that ensues as he keep secrets and argues with himself

Subplot: Character 2's secret agenda and the drama that ensues screwing up Character's 1's secret agenda and argues with herself

Subplot: scenes where character 1 & 2 collide

BUT I also love the subplots that are mini-versions of the big plot played by minor or secondary characters. Usually done in a foil like way. Like your character is trying to save the world by destroying a ring. His two friends end up tagging along because they're too nosy and curious for their own good and get sucked into the drama of an old tree....

TerriOsburn said...

Nope. Those are Throughlines, not subplots. If you'd read the lessons you'd know that.

*runs away*

*remembers Chance is tired and comes back*

Subplots are little side stories, but I think you're right in that what Pat likely needs is to trace her Throughlines. You'd be amazed at what comes to you when you contemplate this stuff, Pat. And you don't have to plot it all out, just come up with one good idea you didn't have before and off you go.

TerriOsburn said...

Okay, so smack me. I could have SWORN that comment was from Chance. LOL! I know you're not taking the class.

Forgive me! (Did I mention I'm tired too?)

MsHellion said...

Well, I know they're Throughlines. I did read Marn's blog...but they seem to act like subplots to me. *LOL* I think I'm trying to condense things because if there are Throughlines AND Subplots, I'll become overwhelmed and runaway. *LOL*

P. Kirby said...

Maybe Pat just needs a brain transplant. I wonder if J.K. Rowlings would like to donate hers to the cause.

TerriOsburn said...

Yep, subplots are in addition to Throughlines. Be prepared to run. I'm not even half way through the lessons and I feel the urge to crawl into the fetal position.

Pat - If it were that easy, I'd be in line for one.

quantum said...

Helli: Hmmm, Q, I never thought talent and voice were the same--because everyone has a voice whether they write or no

Not everyone has a talented voice! LOL

Whenever I develop a craving for a particular author's books I believe it is the voice that most attracts me. I haven't seen a real definition of voice but I take it to mean writing style; a particular way of conjuring visual images through words; a way of presenting a story in a way that excites the imagination. A writer's voice is the fingerprint that identifies their writing.

Now I know that this blog oozes erudition and someone will tell me I'm wrong. But I also know what I know and would happily trade a ton of hard-work and commitment for an ounce of talent.

Its talent that breaks records in the athletics arena; it's talent aka genius that makes great discoveries and its talent that leads to great writing. If you have talent in spades and don't make it big time you have only yourself to blame .... so there! LOL

TerriOsburn said...

We'd never tell you you're wrong, Q. We might disagree with you, but never tell you you're wrong. ;)

It's talent PLUS WORK that does all those things. Natural athletic talent won't break any records if the person never steps onto the field/course/track.

JulieJustJulie said...

Yes to what Q said!

MsHellion said...

Okay, I agree it takes talent. I just don't agree it's one of the major players that makes you successful. I agree with Terri--that it takes WORK. If you don't apply yourself, it means nothing.

JulieJustJulie said...

And Yes to what Terri said too! Though I kinda stumble over that but never tell you you're wrong bit...

quantum said...

Everyone is capable of work and commitment. Not everyone is blessed with talent. Given talent it is a sin not to use it .... I seem to remember something like that in the bible!

So I have God on my side! LOL

TerriOsburn said...

Oh, Q. Talent is wasted every day, my dear. Not that it should be, but it is. Sadly.

quantum said...

Terri love, I can totally agree with you on that.

It can be heart breaking to watch a youngster with very little talent struggle and fail to achieve a dream, while a talented youngster squanders the latent ability, rejecting all encouragement to work at it.

My point is simply that if you have talent and don't work to develop it, then it is probably your own fault when you fail to achieve.

Not that any of this applies to the wonderful talents on this blog. *smile*

TerriOsburn said...

On that we are in total agreement!

Di R said...

*sigh*
I nominate Q for the best definition of voice I've read in a long time, "a particular way of conjuring visual images through words; a way of presenting a story in a way that excites the imagination. A writer's voice is the fingerprint that identifies their writing."

I don't believe for a moment that you lack anything needed for writing a novel.

Di

MsHellion said...

I love it when we rile up Q. :) Okay, Q, you win--we're all talented AND hard-working. I still think some of us need to work on our follow-through. :)

Kestrel said...

It took me soooo long for me to tell my internal editor to just shut the hell up already, so that I could commit to my stories. I still have not finished any of them, but at least I am not constantly rewriting the same chapter over and over again, they are each making steady progress towards the finish line.
It wasn't until I committed to NaNoWriMo for the first time and finished. 50,000 words, holy crap I did it! Time enough for editing when the story has been told, just get it on the damn paper already.
I think my biggest problem is that I have too many stories vying for attention in my head, which doesn't allow me to commit like I should to the one I am trying to write, right now...

Maureen said...

Okay, I'm gonna throw a spanner into the Q lovefest.

It also takes luck. Good luck.

But in total agreement with the voice definition, Q! And one needs talent and hardwork.

But I'm still gonna stick with luck.

TerriOsburn said...

Kestrel - Congrats on the NaNo success. I've never managed that feat so I bow to anyone who has. I have lots of stories in my head but I'm such a linear writer, I'm adamant that I finish one thing before I start another.

Mo - Agree. Luck plays a HUGE part.

MsHellion said...

Hi Kestrel! Thanks for joining the ship! And I second the congratulations on your NaNo success! Great advice at using a deadline to keep going. :)

I love that you have all those stories vying for attention--it's a problem we all want to have. But as my daddy would say, "You need to pick a horse and ride it." :)