Epiphany Moment

A comment heard more than once.

I call bullshit.

Why?

Because ego and heart can become wrapped up in the opinion of others.  So, fear of judgement can silence an otherwise exceptional writer. Ego goes both ways, the ego that is doused in fear, and those whose ego is bigger than their britches.  Snoots who decide based on their own agendas what is ‘good’ and what is ‘bad’.

There have been plenty of beloved writers that, in my opinion, stunk.  Didn’t enjoy their work at all, that doesn’t mean they weren’t good writers.  I am beginning to think that all this judgement has way more to do with the ego of the person reading, than the ability of the writer.

My own unique style of writer’s block,  I like to call ‘WRITER’S PARANOIA’.  Judgement on my writing ability has a connection to a whole bunch of history and probably something to do with vomiting on my shoes at a public event as a child. So, this is a familiar obstacle in my own writing.

‘People have great story ideas, but can’t write them.’  In no way are there idea people and writer people.  That is a self serving idea, to make ourselves feel better about having a strength that is one or the other and lack of confidence in the other.

-ooh!

See, that right there? That is an opinion that I normally wouldn’t publicly admit to, out of writer’s paranoia.  Because that opinion can be judged.  Very likely even ‘proved’ wrong. (I still say it is hokey.)

Everyone can be a writer.  The accurate statement would be that not everyone wants to be a writer. Therefore the practice of writing isn’t their priority.  They have no desire to write, so they don’t.

There are people who think their writing is just fine.  Those may actually be so, or not, depending on the reader.  They have no desire to work on their writing. AND – they really don’t care what you or I think.

Then there is me.  There are some stories that start off so strong and before I can get too far into it, I lose my voice. Or I just start off writing flat, even and B-O-R-I-N-G!  And it frustrates the ba-jee-bus out of me.  I don’t know want to write like that.

People whose writing I find inspiring, they also intimidate the hell out of me.  It is the moment standing on a stage on a summer’s heat-sweltering evening in an unconditioned gymnasium with only the hot breeze from open doors blowing across the top of the massive room. The stage, wooden basketball court and locker rooms are one floor is below ground level where no breeze reaches.  About to step up on a shop class built ramp to take me in an itchy taffeta dress from the locker room to the stage and out on a cat walk in the middle of melting mothers and grandmothers stuck to warm metal folding chairs in rows covering the court. Sweat between my shoulder blades, nausea rising, and before that first shiny black Mary Jane steps on the plywood, soured bitter bile rises between my tongue and roof of my mouth.  The taste so nasty I can’t swallow it back down.  In tears I look down as that shiny toe hovers over the grain of wood, and a splatter of the liquid drops, followed by the entire contents of my stomach.  Yep.  it is that scarey.

So you tell me. Some people can’t write. I don’t buy it.  You can’t sell me.  There are reasons from fear, desire, and ego that stand between a writer and good work.  Everyone can write.

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Character Development

I have taken a step back from my rough draft, and the completed first edit of my WIP. There is a blandness in spots that makes it boring. Maybe my secondary characters are too “cookie cutter.” I am working on some development of those supporting characters, give them depth.

Reading how writers of stories I love write gave me varied ways and means of doing it. One that stood out was fully develop all the characters as if the story was about them. Not sure I will go to that extreme, but maybe some key characters will get more time and detail that what makes it into the final draft.

Is it easier to cut what is there back than it is to fill in holes?

There are scenes that might not make that last cut but in my mind are missing. The whole scene might not make it, but details might make it into conversations that help fill those gaps. Of course what they are I won’t know until they are written used as reference.

In my mind, this detour in the process isn’t a waste of time. Adding more time to the rewrite stage, but that is what I have learned is what happens when you work to become a better storyteller. Rewrite, practice, trying different approaches, all valid useful tools in any one’s tool box, no matter what their project is.

How to get to know characters.

How do you do it?

Myself, I have used the Proust, though really the daughter of his friend initiated the questionnaire according to the Vanity Fair’s book by a similar name Vanity Fair’s Proust Questionnaire. I found a copy at a second hand bookstore. This particular tome shares famous people like David Bowie, Julie Andrews, Carrie Fisher, and Little Richard to name a few.

There are a few other questionnaires – those one might use in an interview for a job. Pretty much any questionnaire that one could imagine asking of a real live person. I have also pulled some psychological personality spread sheets as well. You know the ones, whether a person is outgoing or reclusive, those kind.

Who are these characters? What is their background?

How do you write secondary characters?

Trippy Trip edit!

*Another Draft pile post that has finally been published.

Just Incase my mind goes blank or life gets in the way of my daily blogging in March, here a prewritten posted that I am saving to drafts.  (I typed that to start this, will it make it through any edits between now and the time you read this? We will both find out at some point in the future.)

So we went to watch The Eldest’s national televised debut of being on a show. once we knew the date of the airing, my mommy instincts kicked right in with thoughts about how and why we couldn’t make the taping of the finale. The Old Man was having surgery and I needed to be with him. The only thing standing between the watch party and us was time and distance.

I slept fitful the night between The Eldest’s message and coffee the next morning. Old Man and I discussed the importance of being there for our grown adult. Unfortunately O.M. didn’t feel that he could take time off but he felt as strong as I did that one of us should go was all I needed to book my tickets. My hinting that this should be both of us, didn’t really sink in for a couple hours after Old Man got to work. So a second set of travel plans were made.

Here is where the story really begins. We made it to our gate and everything was set on ready, but as our boarding time approached I noticed that bad sign of people suddenly on their phones and fellow passengers around us arising to form a line at the gate counter. Ah-Oh!

We found our first flight out of the gate was delayed nearly three hours. The next flight was fifteen minutes before, but it was fast filling up. Did I forget to mention that our second leg of the trip was to leave our first arrival at the same time we now would be starting off the days travel?

Oh, well, yes, there was no way we could get from where we were starting out to where we need to catch the second flight. We went from flying and layovers consisting of 12 hours to 20 including time zone changes during winter storm Matteo. No real surprise, it is to be expected during winter travel and why the travel was scheduled for the day before we needed to be there.

At one of our layovers, we were sitting down to have a beer during a long layover near us we hear shouting, after seeking the source and turning to Old Man, I notice everyone around us was looking in the same direction. The yelling came nearer and within minutes the source was right in front of me, followed closely by TSA. I can’t recall the exact words, but I can tell you that hearing them and their delivery inspired me to pray then and now. Not sure the reason why this person was distraught walking the terminal throwing hands up in the air, but obviously they were struggling to deal for whatever the reason.

My sympathies for the person and the security that was staying close. After circling our end of the terminal the person continued back the way they came with security staying close. How the incident ended was out of my eyesight and earshot.

We finally made it.

It was fantastic. We stayed close to our son and the venue of the show party. It was a blast. I can’t remember everyone we met by name, but they were all super nice. The show aired and we got to spend some time with the eldest before we flew back the next day.

So worth the trippy trip to be there to support you.

Proud of you, our Eldest, love you, Mom

Getting It Together – So To Speak

Yesterday was the pits. There were a lot of little annoyances that gathered together and just sat like a dark cloud over the day. Sounds awful, but not really. The day trudged along and so did I, until. (Deep sigh.)

Until.

The. Next. Item. On. My. List. Of. To-dos. Was. Shopping. My. Closet.

Sigh.

“Shopping my closet,” by my definition and many others is when you have to prepare for an event, travel, or whatever the reason for one or more outfits ahead of time. For me it was a weekend trip coming up. Very specific because of weather differences between where I am and were I was going, as well as the anticipated activities.

Checking first the weather and temperatures, consider the room available for transporting me and the clothing, and how the various shirts and pants look on me in the mirror. Then consider how those same would handle being smashed into a bag, looking for fabrics that could take smushing and not need an iron was important. Also a big factor in choice was not needing special undergarments – you know – comfort level. No girdle or particular containment device necessary outfits were chosen over those with a better traveling fabric.

I think I went through those outfits that met my criteria several times trying to get down to the fewest items to cover the time and activity. Having clung all morning to an optimistic approach started wavering the moment the closet shopping began. There were some well loved shirts that just were not making the first cut. Then the pant issue really burdened my efforts of trying to enjoy the process.

Relief came when I settled on traveling in comfort and packing the main pants (rolling a pair of jeans to create a firm roll for a beloved top that tends to hold creases helped a bit to be wrapped around, any crease will be vertical and not horizontal. (Thinking hanging in the bathroom during steamy showers might make them less noticeable.) What was in my mind only going to take a few minutes took me two hours. (My eyes are rolling again just writing that.)

My mood plummeted after that. There was only one thing to do. A soaking bath and a glass of wine. Thank goodness there was plenty of good leftovers from earlier in the week for supper. A bright moment from planning ahead on cooking extra pork chops and a scrumptious pork tenderloin cooked in the Italian Beef style, there was enough for individual choices. A fend for yourself night that wasn’t going to leave anyone with junk food as their first choice.

 

*This was written before my trip to LA to be at my son’s watch party. I found it stuck back in the draft file. Do you ever think to clean out yours?

Stories

More books have made their way from catching my interest collection over to either a spot on the keep forever shelf or discarded as a gift for someone else’s enjoyment or donated somewhere. For every tale that has been read it seems like fifty more clamor for a place in my want to read mountain.

Sometimes even the difficult to read books for me are hard to finish. They are the ones whose tale or style don’t connect with me. I generally finish them any way. One of my reading friends shared with me a long time ago how she dealt with the problem of too many books to read and those quirky ones that just don’t turn out to be enjoyable reads – she read for three or four chapters and decides then whether to read the whole book or not.

There are few books that I haven’t finished, even the ones that left me frustrated and angry that my time was being wasted on them were finished. Crazy? Glutton for punishment? Eh, maybe. Mostly it was respect for the time and effort the writer put into getting their writing published. Writing is hard, laborious, and great source of joy for myself. Imagine it is for most writers. So, I finish reading even the writing that I don’t like.

Sometimes that has paid off. Halfway through either the writer has worn me down to their style, or they get better at the telling of it. Could be a part of the karma of the writer, or not – reading others works so that someone will read mine? A few of those initial stinkers have made their way onto that shelf of honor for keeps.

At the moment, the current partially empty shelf of keeps there isn’t one like that up there. Even glancing through the titles on more complete keeper shelves its hard to remember, but I know there are some. Sometimes, because forgetfulness is a wonderful way of being gracious, one of those unfortunates finds their way back into the to be read category. Because of age, or life events, they become a better read, or maybe I am just a more experienced reader.

A few days ago I started a book that initially read stilted and awkward. It frustrated me with its prose. Now I am frustrated that my commitment to daily blog posting has to interrupt the story when I am so close to its end. Will it find a way to a permanent home on my shelf? Maybe. Maybe because the writer was gusty in starting a book out with such an awkward beginning – a nose turn at the rule of catching the reader’s attention at the beginning. Intriguing how the writer used just enough diction to annoy and not let me settle in as a means of creating conflict from the beginning. It went from me and the writing to between characters without me noticing it.

A delicate balance between the story and the telling of the story makes all the difference in a good story you finish and one you put down never to finish. Right now, I want to finish this one. What was a book you changed your mind on?

Rain

Spring showers, which are cold and dreary, hang over the eastern half. Watching the news last night, the dude in the suit explained the difference between meteorological seasons and astrological ones. Basically the astro ones are on our calendar and have to do with the earth’s tilt away or towards the sun. The meteorological ones change every three months based on common temperatures (cold winter, mild spring, hot summer and something called fall that just seems like a menopausal summer).

Regardless of where you are, Spring rain showers are either precursors for flooding or the signal to coastal areas hurricane season is near. We go from ice and snow to floods and hurricanes. For me, this weekend will be the last chance to make the chili recipe we found over winter.

In November I searched for a chili recipe that didn’t require “chili seasoning.” What popped up was an America’s Test Kitchen recipe in the search. Frustrated with having to register in order to view it; the next search found bloggers who had tried it and shared their versions. Over the winter we tried several variations, ending up with our own tweaks.

Grocery shopping topped my to do list today and since we already had most of the ingredients, it seemed a match was made. Cool rainy weather with a hot bowl of chili and reading. Yes, reading. Oscars? Maybe.

I know people that love watching the Oscars. It is a big deal for some, me, not so much. I like watching movies, but I find it hard to judge performances and stories and filming – all those categories! When all the various skilled craftspersons come together to create art – movies – judging seems so difficult. I suppose its better than having to buy movies like we do paintings and sculpture – only the truly rich would be able to afford to view them. Movies are art for the masses in a way. So are plays and television. Most of us can even own recorded copies of these masterpieces.

Maybe it is because my own craft skill is so far from the quality that would stand up to judging is why I am not a fan of contests. That could very well be why my interest in those award shows are fickle. I am not there, yet.

Someday in the future, when my writing is honed, the praises will rain down. Maybe also flooding my shelves will be awards for stories I have yet to tell. Presumptuous? Possibly, but right now that is me practicing positive thinking.

GUESS WHAT I JUST DID !?!?!

I have created a “blog giveaway” with RULES and ENTRY REQUIREMENTS and a POLICY – yeah – every thing over on my childrens author website By Julie Kolb – Good grief!

Also I am tracking my work hours.  (Thanks to Ryder Carroll and www.bulletjournal.com and Boho Berry and her tracker examples.) I am definitely working part-time job hours on the business side of this self employed writing career. Averaging 10-20 hours a week on marketing (all that Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Tumbler, Twitter, social media stuff) and administration, advertising, etc.

My big problem is tracking my writing time. Why am I tracking my writing time? Because people don’t really think about how much time it takes to start something like this. There are blogs aplenty about how to (how to do any and everything you can imagine – try it, let me know if and what you can’t find) posts including accounting for how much time and effort goes into being an indie author.

Did ya see that there? I inferred myself as an indie author, not a self published author.  WhY? I like it better.

Ok, so I still have some research I need to do for Sinister. But I have done my read through of just over 20,000 words actually written. I know the holes that need to be filled. I am getting notepads and pencils set up everywhere to make notes and write things as they come to me.

I had intended to start working on the rewrite after the new year, but with all the colds and viruses going around, I caught one. Was sick for a couple of weeks there, so now that I am no longer holding a tissue to my nose for the constant drip and the other to cover my cough my hands are free to write.

Have a SUPER Weekend (get it . . . Super Bowl)

Thanks for reading!

J

Happy New Year!

2018

This year for me is already a big mystery. Will I finish and publish Sinister? What is going to happen from here to the end of this new year?

Lots of questions and very few answers in the early hours of this year. That in itself is different. In years past I would spend the last quarter working on an image to use as my Facebook cover photo. If that wasn’t taking up some of my free time then deciding on some aspect of myself I wanted to work on, to better me.

The end of 2017 was not typical. It was spent making appointments and struggling to get a few made. Then following suit with the the hurry up and wait cycle, there were the results of those appointments. It was a roller coaster ride there at the end.

In the coming weeks and months some things will stay the same, and some won’t. Because I am going to be doing something I have never done before, I am not sure what changes will have to be made and some won’t. It’s going to be interesting for me for sure.

So, here’s to the changes ahead. Best wishes to you!

Thursday, Already? What?

So this week has gotten away from me. Yes, those critical ‘absolutely have to do’ items have been done and checked off the list. However, some of the more fun, really wanted to do things, well, they haven’t happened. Yet.

Some of those have been pushed off to the next opportunity around the things that have to be done next week. The end of this year isn’t going nearly as smoothly as I like. (Meaning I haven’t slept in anywhere as much as I had thought when I was looking ahead to December and the holidays.)

I had hopes of working down my list of things to do for the next book to the point I would be ready to start editing and rewriting the first of next year. Instead of making that list smaller, it seems to be morphing and growing at rate that is starting to intimidate me a bit.

But then I see the scar on my right forearm from the bicycle accident and realize, nah, I can do this. I just need to look at today and let tomorrow worry about its own self. One of those things that can be done today is check-in with you, that’s a fun thing. You are brightening my day.

Today and tomorrow some serious behind the scenes work has to be completed. There is more to being an indie writer than just sitting down and writing on the story. There is some drudgery work, administrative in nature, as well as some of the more everyday type things that we all do. Like yesterday, I cleaned the bathroom, you know the whole bathroom, not just wiping down a counter and picking up a towel. (Shudder)

Hoping before bedtime to finish my list who and what to do for list before Christmas gets here, and wondering who won’t mind if their gift is late. You know, finding the loose end that needs to be tied up. Oh, and getting ready for the audio release of the children’s book, Snowball, that I won’t know has been dropped until it already has, I think.

Yeah, that kind of stuff.

I can’t really complain too much or too loudly because I am learning so so much in all this. Maybe in another ten years I will be getting the hang of it all. Looking forward to the day that my writing skill and business management all converge at a critical point that might be loosely called ‘success’ by others.

Right now I am feeling pretty successful. Two books out, and an audio version about to drop. I call that a success! Still going, maybe even stronger in someways than that first day in July 2014 when Snowball was available as an ebook.

Thanks for your support. Keep reading!

Love ya,

Julie

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