150 prewrite

as you can imagine, now that i’m writing towards the ‘end’ of the book, i have a feeling that the order of things is important. who does what when. it’s like braiding bread (not hair, bread). there are some loose ends i want to weave in, and i won’t get it all right the first time, and will have to take it out and reweave the flabby dough strands. and then sometimes they stick together and the reweaving is awkward. and sometimes two of the bread dough strands look nice together but have nothing to do with the rest of it. if i’d written a 3 strand book, that’d be fine. but this is more like a 8 strand braided bread, which is harder, and requires a youtube video and a few false starts.

long way of saying that i’m going to (i think) write more slowly for a few days, to make sure i have this going correctly. in an ideal world, i would have this written in its entirety, fixed, and polished before i show it to you.

this is not an ideal world.

oh, and i have this idea, but it might be crazy. in some ways, i want this story to go on, and so i’m thinking that i could continue with these characters, ongoing, in something like the format of a television soap opera… you know, some people come and go, but the story goes on, and you follow them through daily stuff and bigger adventure stuff, and smaller stuff, and then christmas. whatever. i’d still collect it into a ‘book’ and i’d still give each ‘book’ a beginning/middle/end, but maybe it’s like harry potter (not that i’ve read them) where the story spans 5 books. or it’s like star wars, where some books are before the story and some are after (not that i’ve seen those movies, either).

have you ever seen an episode of the 1980s tv soap opera Santa Barbara? That’s what i’m thinking of. it’s the only soap that i followed as a teenager. we used to record it on a VCR to watch after school. my high school boyfriend got me hooked on it. that and cups of strong tea with milk and sugar.

so maybe this ‘book’ is like a new form of writing. it’s a blend of fiction, sober blog, novel, and daily soap opera. it’s serial fiction, but ongoing. i don’t even know if there’s a name for this. it’d be like the old-fashioned radio soap operas – where you had to tune in to listen, no vcrs for radio – and follow the characters’ stories day by day.

like, “the adventures of nancy drew” but sober stories, in a series of books.

ok, well that’s a long way of saying “i haven’t written anything yet today because i have stage fright that the next thing i write will take the story somewhere OTHER than the ending i have planned.”

i’ll go for my run and come back and write 50 words.

i’m back to being awake through the night, thinking about this story, and how the strands should be woven. in what order. which one is the bigger punch. how to get from Y to Z.

hugs xo

135 prewrite


because of the long stretch of off-site contract work, i became seriously tired of writing the fiction AND as soon as I did it, i’m glad I did. haven’t missed a day yet. I think back to the (false) dream that i had, the one with the neat and tidy bow, where i finished the first draft in 100 days and could celebrate on christmas day. yeah, right. first, i hadn’t calculated how long a fiction book is supposed to be. i didn’t take a word count and divide it by 100 days. i didn’t have any backup plan for writing through this work thing. which i have managed to do, though not always with glee and joy.

until i read it over.

and then i CAN’T TELL the days that i hated it versus the days that came easily, as it all reads the same. which means that even when i hate it, it’s still working. and even when i’m not feeling it, the output is fine. and even when i think it’s not working, it is.

and how i feel about it has (almost) nothing to do with its success.

Note to self: keep doing the thing that you know is right, that will make you feel proud of yourself, because how you feel about it is NOT a good barometer of how it’s working, because feelings change wildly from day to day. depending on so many things, but for me it’s mostly sleep.

119 prewrite

this week was a new thing for me, a new work thing, requiring being awake at 5:40 a.m. and commuting 45 minutes each way. i haven’t worked outside the house in 18 years. i am unfamiliar with commuting. i don’t say this to make you feel sorry for me, but to highlight the ‘transition’ process that you and i both know so well.

starts off eager enough. didn’t sleep very well the night before, wondering what will happen. day 2 i’m tired but it’s ok. day 3 there’s a misunderstanding with a superior and a few of us are left unsure what to do. he said this but the other guy said that. combined with exhaustion. and i literally thought “that’s it, i can’t do this. i know it’s only day 3, but this was a dumb idea. i’ll just go home.”

and i knew the following:

i can’t decide if i like it or not until it’s well underway. i can’t decide on day 3, when i’m tired. i know the first week of anything is hard. imagining getting up daily at 5:40 and then actually doing it, are two different things. with different emotions attached. and for me, being tired makes me hate my life (warning).

one thing i shared with my husband as a funny-ha-ha moment, was that on the lowest moment on day 3, i thought “i’d rather be home writing my book than here doing this.”

and that’s funny because the whole time i was getting up to write, in the dark, for 100 days, i wanted it to be over.

of course, we know what happened. i finally got to the ‘over’ part and then kept going because it was fine.

and i know the same thing will happen with the work thing. by the end of the 3 month contract, i’ll be super sad it’s over, will miss all the people, won’t have any option to ‘keep on going’ and will remember this time fondly…

do one hard day. then do another. get some sleep (i’ve just had two 12-hr sleeps). make a decision to assess it later. you can’t decide now if it’s worthwhile, while it’s still hard.

individual moments are hard. the collected time is lovely. when you look back on it, you see all the achievements, the friends, the connections, the memories, the honest stuff. you don’t look back on months of drinking and feel proud. not once. not ever.

113 prewrite

a word about days now that i’m 13 days past day 100.

here’s what happened. i focussed so hard on getting to day 100, couldn’t wait to get there, felt like pushing a truck uphill.

then the day comes, and i get my treats.

on day 101, what do i do? i could stop like i’d planned, or i could keep going. i kept going, i had enough planned for 2 more days.

then i did the classic (and i mean classic) boozer thing of looking too far ahead to find a reason why i shouldn’t continue NOW.

example: i won’t be able to write when i’m xx or xx, so i might as well quit now. (how will i not drink whenever i go to france next, i might as well drink now.)

in my case, i have a work thing that starts on monday that will change my schedule around (day becomes night, and so on), that i knew was coming up. so back when i planned to do 100 days of continuous writing, i made sure it was finished before the thing that starts on monday.

except now the book is longer, and i’m not ‘done’ yet. (just like sobriety has momentum and it’s not time to be done yet.)

so on day 100 i had a decision to make. keep going UNTIL the new work thing, and see what it’s like THEN. or make a decision, in advance, that i won’t be able to do something in the future.

when really. oh my god. the only time we can do something is now. and i have no idea how next week will go. and maybe i’ll write on monday but only 50 words instead of 500.

but to decide on day 100, however many days in advance, that i won’t be able to do something in the future? sounds familiar, right? how will i be sober at my son’s wedding (better drink now). how will i be sober for our cruise in july (better drink now).

here’s the thing.

we don’t know how we’ll feel when we get there and the decision is in front of us.

but i think, what i’m learning, is that we make completely different decisions than we think, ESPECIALLY if we have momentum. even 4 days is momentum.

I got to my day 100, and i thought “just one more day” – which i did. and now it’s day 113?

13 extra days of writing that i was sure i couldn’t do. and as i go on, three things have happened:

  1. i’ve extended my momentum, writing the sober book (like extending your sobriety, writing and living your new your sober life)
  2. i’ve stopped counting the days until it’s over, now i just get up and do the thing (less focussed on day-counting after day 100)
  3. i have started, just yesterday on day 112, to think that maybe next week i’ll still write and it’ll be fine.

this is not just about ‘being in the moment’, it’s about (my) definition of anxiety:

anxiety is looking ahead, seeing something coming up, ASSUMING that we won’t be able to deal with it when it happens, and panicking now.

when really. we can deal with all kinds of things. and we learn resilience every day. and we don’t know WHO WE’LL BE when we get there, in the future.

With our new learnings, and new momentum, and new resilience.


111 prewrite

ha. i’ve just made a writing mistake that parallels early sobriety.

i just reread the previous 20 installments in one go, from the beginning of the snowstorm, through the food prep, the stuff with mel/laz, the champagne, getting the money from don, walking out into the snow, the homeless guy, the snowplough.

i thought it’d give me momentum to write the next section, or that i’d see some convenient hole to fill in today.

instead it did this.

in looking back i see all the small flaws, the repetition of the word ‘pompom’, i see the overuse of a certain kind of sentence and not enough of what she physically FEELS (i say a lot about what she sees when out walking in the snow, but not what she feels).

in looking back i feel tired. i’ve already done so much. AND there’s lots back there to fix.

now that i’ve done all this re-reading, it feels like i’ve done my writing for today. and i haven’t. overwhelm. i hate learning lessons like this the hard way.

what i usually do when i sit down is i read only the entry from the day before. what i’ve been doing up to now is to forge onwards, without too much backwards reflection (YET) so that i don’t lose the point in moving forward.

because too much excavation, too early, makes things seem overwhelming.

duh. how often do i say that to you, on day 18, when you say “it’ll never get done” and i say “just do today.” or when you say “i’m on day 60 and i need to figure out why i overdrank in the first place,” and i say “there’s lots of time for excavation, you’re going to be sober for a long time, you don’t have to do that now. keep going forward.”

keep going forward. the time for reflection is post day 200 in sober terms. maybe that’s the same in writing terms! (i just did the math, and i’d be on day 200 writing on april 2nd, not that i think there are 90 more installments to write – god i hope not! well, i hope it’s over AND i hope the story never ends, at the same time).

note to self (to you): keep doing what you’re doing, if you’re sober, then it’s working. there’s lots of time for rewriting. if you’re doing the first early parts, then just focus on that for now. forward. travelling. do today’s part. do today. onwards.

109 prewrite

today i’m proud of myself. it’s silent, early morning, up before most of the locals. the upstairs neighbours are away. quiet. i can actually hear birds, it’s like the shortest day of the year has really passed, and we’re into something new.

it’s raining. it’s warmer than seasonal which is a gift. my husband who has been sick for days and is still in bed, still sick. man flu + coughing so much you throw out your back. yes, that’s him. but right now, he’s quiet too, and asleep. when i tell him he doesn’t cough when sleeping, he doesn’t find this curious. i do.

my emotions are in charge of everything i do. if i feel frisky, i make bread and do the dishes. if i feel slighted, i sulk and listen to business podcasts with both earphones in, sorry, can’t hear you. when i like my life, i make dinner. when i’m a slug, we have frozen meals from the frozen-meal-store, which is actually quite good, compared to north american standards. it’s not lean cuisine. it’s actual food. just frozen.

and as this new year unfolds, unspools, like a roll of film in front of me, i get to pick where i walk. i decide how many days i go outside. how many times i make dinner. how many times i drink juice. i get to decide whether i want to write a sober fiction book. i get to decide if i learn new things. if i play video games. if i sit in the bathtub.

i’m the writer of this new film, the one called Me 2018. i’m also the actor, the stage director, and the costumer. i get to decide what i wear, today here in my plaid pj bottoms and my sober fuzzy socks. i get to choose between all-butter croissants or ‘croissants ordinaires‘ (always pick the former).

i get to reach out for tools and supports that make me feel better about my life. i remember that how i think about things changes them. the rainy sidewalk becomes shiny with reflected light when i’m in the right mood, and can also be sludgy black and dark on another day. i pick the shiny. i pick the 80% that’s good. there’s something going on right now in your life, in mine, that sucks anus rocks. I’m not discounting my shittiness. i’m focussing on the good parts. and on the parts that i can control. starting with how i feel about me.

and when i don’t drink, i feel better about me. so i’m going to continue doing that. ?

[i didn’t intend to write this much! it was supposed to be a prewrite to get warmed up for the writing project today. ok, might use this later on the general blog … hugs to you everything list. you inspire me :)]

95 prewrite

i limp to the finish line. i had ideas when i started this, of writing 2-3 days at a time, and then posting. didn’t happen. i had ideas of writing in advance for the london trip or for thanksgiving catering. didn’t happen. i have 3 times in 94 days been able to do the outline the night before, even though it works better that way.

i can see, literally, what works better, and i can’t make myself do it. i resist all things that would make my life easier. like setting a timer 4 times a day to do a couple of minutes at a time (like you emailing 4 times a day, just set a timer and do it).

i haven’t gotten the flowers i promised myself for day 70 (or 80 or 90). in fact, i got flowers 2.5 times. the urge to ‘just push through’ is my predominant mentality.

if you were emailing me on day 95 and saying “wolfie is getting jiggy about what i’m going to do on day 100” i’d say: plan your treat now, renew your pledge for 180 days, and have a big sleep.

now, granted, writing at year 5 sober isn’t the thing as being in early sobriety. it isn’t. there are parallels but it is not the same.

but momentum is a thing. and it builds. and then the desire to not break the momentum can carry through some of the awkward times. and stopping and starting is harder than keeping going. (because in stopping and starting, you have to repeatedly do the hard part of starting …)

it’s starting that’s harder than keeping going.

i know that if i stop, it’ll be brutal to start again.

and right behind that i know that if i have a vacation, it’ll be easier to approach it again with fresh eyes.

and right behind that i think that people who call themselves sober don’t drink. and people who call themselves writers, write.

i’m trying to talk myself into keeping going. it’s not really working.

i’d be happier if i was finishing the draft in the 100 days as i originally intended. this unfinished thing does mess with one’s sense of completion.

oh yeah. there is no complete. this book becomes another one. this one needs editing while the second one starts. writers write. they have projects in various states of completion all the time.

how are we, boozers, with the idea of ambiguity, with things ‘not finished off in a tidy bow’ – we suck at it.

le suck.

i had a great weekend, clean house, made dinner one of two nights, showered both days. wrote in the evenings both nights (2 of the 3 nights that this has happened). i also spent 3hrs each day playing a video game with my husband (we’ve found one we can play against each other). then i watched a ridiculous movie on netflix which was compelling and terrible at the same time.

the thing i want, the sense of completion, i’d better learn to find it in daily increments. i’d better get used to the process and not always be hurtling myself along to the finish line ? i’d better get better at treats. i should own more than one pair of jeans.

and then

then i realize, just now, writing this

that i can change the next 5 days. i can get a writing treat each day. i can go out for sober lunch each day. i can get flowers and then a new spatula and new jeans this week. i can build up to day 100 and then see how it feels. build up, not wind down.

maybe that’s it.

maybe that’s it.

93 prewrite

from me: isn’t it 100 days yet? I said I’d do 100 days continuously writing, is it almost over? ha. i know.

yes, i like the story too. and i feel like i’m pushing a truck uphill, even though i’m more than halfway through the length of the book. still unsure what i’ll do after day 100. Rayna apparently has a few ideas, and has been informing me. as weird as that sounds, you can probably relate when i say that rayna seems like a real person, even to me ? some of the others, like jack, aren’t fully formed yet. i’ll have to go back and make him more “Jack” on a future draft.

Writing (being sober) is like watching a polaroid develop. some things are clearer to begin than others. then we wait and see what happens as time goes by.

i have a whole laz/mel subplot in mind, but right now, today, i don’t want to do it because it’ll take too long (!) and rayna won’t like it (!). so i’ll write restaurant stuff instead. still moving forward.

(most writers, of course — shall i say ALL writers — would write things more out of order, and then rearrange later. this idea of mine of writing the next page in the book each day is a bit daunting, because if i introduce something now, then i have to follow through with it (versus deciding tomorrow it doesn’t work after i’ve written a couple of thousand words)).

so sometimes then, the current scene (or situation, or dialogue) will run a bit long, as i try to write enough that i can clean it up later, but also while i figure out where the story is naturally going to go next. the red peppers that jack was grilling become part of the zucchini salad, that kind of thing. mel’s bunny scarf becomes a talk about resurrection.

so, while i know what happens in big blocks going forward, i don’t know all of the connecting parts. and since i’m writing this in order, the connecting parts are important. when i don’t know what the next connecting part is, i tread water.

and later, when i read it over, i can’t even notice the treading water parts.

90 prewrite

from me: because of an early dentist appt today, i’m off schedule. didn’t sleep well, it’s black skies and pouring rain at 8:45 a.m. and my husband woke me 3 times through the night with snoring and thrashing.


i’;m off to the dentist, and then i will do something new. i will have lunch at Pret a Manger, and then i will write AT THE LIBRARY in the afternoon, which i never do. i never do the fiction off-site, and i’m always done by noon my time.

not today.

today will be late.

as an experiment.

i can tell i’ll hate this experiment, but the writing itself will be fine once i finally squeeze it out. the toothpaste tube of writing is getting harder to squeeze. i’m looking forward to day 100. you know this feeling, right? elated one minute, squeezed the next. when i get to day 100 i’ll want to keep going, but today i’m looking forward to the end.

it’s all fine ? i’m posting this now so that you know that the writing for today WILL come, it’ll just be later. for now i need a shower, coffee, and then a one hour commute in the rain to the dentist. it’s only a cleaning.

it’s all fine.

88 prewrite

you know how moods change, right? how yesterday i was relieved to be on day 87. and then this morning when my alarm rang, i turned it off, slept another hour and a half, and thought upon waking “don’t want to keep doing this writing thing.”

You see, my writing is in the morning. so it’s the reverse of early sober problems. In the evening i love the idea of writing this book. in the morning i think it’s a bad idea and don’t want to do it.

but here’s what just happened minutes ago. and this is a good reason for you to have a sober penpal, to document your story, knowing someone will read it and have insights (just like i’m writing this to you for the same reasons). what just happened is i re-read yesterday’s installment to get ready for today’s. and i thought (no kidding): “i want to keep reading, i wonder what happens to her?” like, in a third-person-kind-of-way.

me, the writer, thought about rayna, the character: “I hope i can keep reading this.”

so while i maybe never hope i get to keep WRITING it, i do want to READ it.

and while you might not love every moment of LIVING SOBER on this day, you will like REVIEWING that you’ve done it. we never regret not drinking. we never wake in the morning wishing we’d drank the night before.

same with writing. always glad i’ve done it.

and now, it seems, i’m engaged ‘as a reader’ in what happens to her. not sure how i get to be both people in this scenario (the writer, the reader). but maybe you’re the same. you want a cool life, and you’re the one writing your story of what happens today and THEN you get to live it and THEN you get to review how it’s going, wondering what happens next.

we are creating today. you and me both!