My “move more” goal was to walk at least a mile, preferably between 2-3 miles, every day. The past week was 3.3 (my last blog post); 2.7 (a walk to the marsh); 3.1 (beach in the morning, marsh in the afternoon); 2.1 (marsh with my writing accountability partner and Sophie); 3.2 (beach visit); 3.3 (a walk out to the farmlands in the morning, plus the farmer’s market, plus a neighborhood walk); and 4.2 (the community forest and redwood trees). Go, me! Shine on, self.

Honestly, I wish to make no predictions about my ability to sustain that level of movement  in nature — it helped a lot that the weather has been absolutely fantastic — but it was an awesome week.

sunrise over water

The Arcata Marsh. There’s a picnic table that’s exactly one mile away from the house.

It was also an awesome writing week. I said in my last blog post that I was just about to hit 20,000 words on my WIP: one week later, I’m at 35,000. That averages out to over 2K words a day and for me, those are stratospheric numbers. Especially for the me of the last couple of years, when writing has just been Sisyphean. I’m attributing this success to a number of factors, but I think the most important one might have been words of wisdom from my writing accountability partner. And I see that I have never mentioned her on my blog before (I had to read back), so…

Sometime after I got back to Arcata in August, I got a message on a writing site (The Creative Academy for Writers) from a local writer who was looking for an accountability partner. She wondered if I was interested. I was! Ever since then, we’ve been meeting up once a week or so for an hour long chat about writing, including setting goals for the week ahead. Sometimes we get lunch at a local restaurant; often we spend the hour walking. She is, in her day job, (and conveniently for me), a therapist, which makes for excellent conversations. But she really helped me break through my long-standing writer’s block by — to make a long story very short — encouraging me to “embrace the pain.” Long story, very short! But wow, there is a lot of great creative energy that comes with letting your characters suffer & hate & grieve & be betrayed.

None of which is to say that this story is dark — it’s actually possibly the most romantic fairy tale I’ve ever written and I’m making myself laugh all the time with it. My POV character has been giggling a lot, too, despite being worried that her twin brother is plotting to murder her. It is also trope-tacular! I’ve got evil twins, a super model, millionaires, a marriage of convenience, angry ghosts — all set (so far) in glorious Walt Disney World. My heroine falls in love with the hero in the Japan store at EPCOT, aka, as our hero says, “Not just any gift shop, the best gift shop in the entire park.”

I’ll obviously have to do some kind of COVID disclaimer when I publish this story — alternate timeline, maybe set in the past, the multiverse — but COVID is boring and no fun, so I really don’t mind not including it in my non-boring, extremely fun, delightfully entertaining story. And when I say “delightfully entertaining,” I really mean delightfully entertaining to me — I’m having a great time writing it. (Another factor in my success: Suzanne is being an excellent audience, both in listening to me work out the details and also laughing at my jokes.)

Have a (non-edited, rough draft, snippet):

Noah said, “No offense, but I don’t want Niall to be collateral damage if you’ve got a jealous ex trying to kill you.” 

Laurel’s smile was wan. “No jealous exes here.” She took another bite of her chocolate mousse, then remembered Sierra calling her fat. The memory made her start to giggle again. 

She giggled helplessly for a minute, maybe longer, while the brothers looked at her with identical expressions of confusion that just made her giggle harder. She had tears of laughter in her eyes when she finally stopped to catch her breath. 

“Sorry. Sorry. It just —“ She turned to Niall. “Look, I was probably over-reacting. I’m sure I’m going to be fine. Noah’s right. Marriage is a big deal and I don’t want to take advantage of your — your — ” She searched for the right words, finally finishing, “—your chivalrous spirit.” 

Noah snorted. “Chivalrous spirit. That’s a new one.”

Laurel pointed her fork at him. “You’re losing your good twin badge, you know. Pretty sure you’re gonna be in evil twin territory soon.” 

This week I am hoping to write many, many more words. Suzanne is — barring further COVID disasters — headed out for a family vacation next week, which means I’m going to be on puppy-dog-cat-chicken duty. I am not optimistic about my word count that week. On the other hand, I will probably score quite well on the exercise front.

Moonstone beach

One of our beach mornings. All that debris is driftwood, much of it remarkably beautiful.