It Happened, Again

Writing is tough. I spend hours writing a page or two, which will have to be edited and reworded in the future.

Writing is exhilarating. The feeling of freedom when my hands are almost moving as quick as my brain is fleeting, but so worth working toward.

The “fast draft” that I completed last month was a compilation of many of both types of moments. (Reminder: fast for me is six months, from conception to finished first draft. I’ve tried NaNoWriMo many times, but it’s not for me.) Upon beginning my edits, I notice I’m still making a lot of the same mistakes that have plagued me for decades.

Prime example: My main character is flat, and suffering from perfection syndrome, while my secondary characters are multi-faceted and promote more emotional attachment from early readers. The initial analysis for doing this is that I think of myself as a secondary character in life and relate better to those not in the spotlight, so I naturally attach myself as a writer to those on the sidelines. From a craft standpoint, I’m wondering if I have the story wrong. Maybe I need to switch my point-of-view (POV) character.

This happened with CORRODED. My main character, Mary, didn’t evoke a connection to many beta readers (and was even annoying to some) while every reader loved her sidekick Ben. (Yes, there’s a group of “Team Ben” readers out there.) What resulted, during something like the twentieth draft, CORRODED became a dual POV story, with alternating Ben and Mary chapters. And I have a sneaking suspicion that if I look at the manuscript again, it might become all about Ben. (Go ahead and squeal, ladies!)

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Rather than freezing while I berate myself for fouling up yet another story, I remind myself of this quote by William Faulkner, “Get it down. Take chances. It may be bad, but it’s the only way you can do anything really good.” So, back to the drawing board with THE UNRAVELING THREADS OF KYNDRA FIELDS.

In the meantime, do you think character POV issues are more often emotional or craft related?

Vacation from Reality

Vacations are great. They’re so nice, sometimes I need a break from real life after a vacation—the old “I need a vacation to recuperate from my vacation” situation. That’s about what happened, but now I’m here, and this week marks my first full one back in the old routine.
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Boring, you might think, but it’s not so. Structure is a good thing in my house, as highly sought after as a trip to “The most magical place on earth.” When living with autism, there needs to be a sense of balance in day-to-day life. My oldest son loves his wall calendar. He needs to know when to expect certain activities and send reinforcements if the month doesn’t have a “Play Date” listed at least once. Our schedule might not be as hectic as yours, but both he and I need to know where we’re going in the days ahead, even if it’s just a “work” and “play” day at home.
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Where does all this talk lead me? To the realization that even though I didn’t finish the first draft of my current work-in-progress, THE UNRAVELING THREADS OF KYNDRA FIELDS, before leaving on vacation like I wanted to, I will finish by the end of this month. That might be a big leap for some, but hang in there. When (not if) I complete this draft, it will be my quickest completion to date. Granted it will also be my shortest manuscript, but taking a full story from idea to finished first draft in six months is amazing for this writer.

More on this forth coming miracle in the next two weeks, for now, let’s savor in the vacation memories.
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Where have you gone lately?

Midyear Reality Check

As noted in a previous post, my life fell apart sometime late spring. True, it was nothing disastrous—more like a mini-emotional breakdown—but it was a call to action.

My reading slowed.

My writing was non-existent.

My health and sanity = Scary Carrie.

I’m happy to report the past six weeks have proven productive, as well as enjoyable. I started charting monthly goals, and while June’s targets were a call to action, I’m pleased to share that I met half of them (plus made progress in the other categories.) I’m in a much better place than I was just over a month ago.

And it feels great!
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Even though the elements maybe stacked against us—see, even Fernando is battling wilt—fortitude works. Whether it’s through service to others, improving your own health, or embracing faith, life is about making this day better than the one before. Goals help me focus and stay accountable, how about you?

Signs

I’m not superstitious, but… http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5gU5Vg2JokU
Had to add that song because I can’t say “superstitious” without it playing in my head. And, yes, Europe is still around and sounding better than ever.

This morning I approached my desk to write the beginning of my new story. Yes, pre-writing is complete and it’s time to get to work! I pulled the blinds open and saw not one, but FIVE pairs of indigo buntings around the bird feeder area (which is just a few feet away from Fernando, if you were wondering.) Indigo buntings are beautiful—my simple camera, especially pictures taken through a window screen—can’t do them justice. Since they are BLUE, and the younger a gorgeous turquoise, you can easily spot them.

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I’ve only seen indigos once or twice in my yard, and it’s been several years since my last sighting. I thought it was amazingly cool, but didn’t put the birds together with writing until I noticed something on the floor. Right next to my anti-fatigue mat (you got it—I use a standing desk because it worked for Hawthorne and I like to pace) a picture was lying face-down. One of my favorite pictures, that just so happens to be me with local writing friend, Joyce Scarbrough, and my writing hero, Laurie Halse Anderson. At some point during the night it jumped off the top of my bulletin board and landed in my path.

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Then it all made sense to this creative brain of mine: my story is about to take flight and I’ve got good company on the journey. Or something like that.

While I’m not superstitious, I do believe in signs.

What do you believe in?

Fernando, for the Win!

Nature has a quiet way of speaking to us. A lot of the time, the noise of people and modern life drowns out the sounds of Earth, but we can all seek what we need to hear, no matter where we are.

From top to bottom, the water oak outside my window is a home and refuge to living things. Though the oak is just beginning to bud—and pollenate its surrounding with yellow dust—the uppermost branches support parasitic mistletoe growth. Though wind storms tear the plants from their host, more are there as a patch of green through the winter in an otherwise bare tree.

All the leaves are mistletoe.

All the leaves are mistletoe.

Slightly above mid-level, about three stories off the ground, there’s a red-bellied woodpeckers’ home. Happily, the lovely—and talkative—couple rebuilt a new hole after their original dwelling broke off from the same branch over a year ago.

The hole is in the center of the picture.

The hole is in the center of the picture.


If you look close, you can see the head of the woodpecker looking out. I don't have a fancy long-range lens.

If you look close, you can see the head of the woodpecker looking out. I don’t have a fancy long-range lens.

And, of course, near the base of this impressive ecosystem there grows Fernando.

Fernando in all his glory.

Fernando in all his glory.

Still fresh from a winter’s slumber, the ever industrious fern not only regrows but sets out new runners. There it is: nature telling me to spread—move on to the next branch of creativity.

It’s time to set roots for the next story.

It lives--and grows!

It lives–and grows!

Summer Sucks

Summer sucks my energy away. The heat, humidity, and glaring sun don’t agree with me. Southern summer thunderstorms are fabulous but I have to bear with the other things to enjoy them. Opposition in all things.

To combat summer blues we gear up homeschool in July. My previous post highlighted our literary tree. Here’s what it looks like as of last week.

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Besides fighting the heat, I’ve been battling words. I passed fifty one thousand on my current WIP (work in progress), FORTITUDE. It’s now officially my biggest project ever just based on word count—not to mention the years of research. As soon as I finish this draft, I’ll be looking back over CORRODED. It will have been a year since I worked on it, so I’ll have fresh eyes and an editor’s brain to aid in my decision making on where to take Mary and Ben.

Hope summer is kind to you and yours.

2012: The Year of Firsts

It’s been an eventful year. High and low points abound but this time around, I’m thinking firsts. Several of my firsts happened while in New York City this spring including:

  • Taxi ride (No, I’d never been in a taxi cab!)
  • Train trip (Full size, not a Thomas the Tank Engine ride along.) 100_1034
  • Subway experience
  • Broadway show
  • Eating sashimi
  • Times Square and all other things New York City

My literary related experiences were memorable as well. Several of the events were the cumulative efforts of the previous year(s), but here they are:

  • Acting as a World Book Night giver (I handed out twenty copies of Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson to the Baker High School softball team on senior night.)100_0927
  • Being acknowledged in a novel as having helped with the writing process by the author (Want by Stephanie Lawton, my friend and Write Club confidant.)
  • Submitting a novel, CORRODED, to publishing companies (No news from any of the four, yet.)
  • Writing conference (Multi-day, not just a single workshop.)
  • Guest blog post on another website (Nerdy Book Club, for the win!)
  • Purchasing e-books (My first was Shayla Witherwood: A Half-Faerie Tale by Tamra Torero.)

Then there’s the most recent happening—the big finale happened this morning. Drum roll, please.

  • I joined a choir.

I can hear the snickering from here, folks! I come from a musical family but have always sung off key, or so I thought. Turns out I just couldn’t hit the normal notes. Tenor (back row, with the men—and two other ladies) is what I sang for the Christmas Cantanta during our chapel service. I wasn’t perfect, but I got most of the notes, but maybe not in the right spots… Well, I tried.