Thoughts on a Sunday

All week long there were some blog post topic ideas. Some really good, but they would take some research and time to produce. Then I would look at my list of things to do, and my recent consistency with my habits and realize that was just adding too much to my plate.

I still haven’t found the time of day to just free-form write! This is my name for giving myself time to just sit still, letting the thoughts spill from my mind onto the page. Think free association, one thought begets another and another. Sometimes they complete themselves these bits of idea before they exhaust themselves, other times they are just a brief fleeting – perhaps not even a complete sentence but phrase.

Doesn’t matter their form, it matters that I give them time. This is a different kind of writing than journaling or diary writing, to me at least. Diary, or journaling is about me, and my life.  Free-form is more like brainstorming but without a topic. It is where story ideas come from and yes, sometimes scenes for stories already in the works. To be even more specific, it is where ideas for scenes, or questions about works in progress may find their answers.

Over the last few years, this opportunity to meet new ideas fell in importance and eventually out of habit. Ouch, that hurt, realizing that so much of what worked well for me was no longer in my daily routine. That isn’t good, at all.

So instead of keeping my head down to write during this month of NaNoWriMo, it is all about making those habits that encourage my imagination and writing back into my daily flow. Besides, I just read some pages last night of the old draft; ew some of the writing is really rough. I need to find my writing nose-pin and gloves to back in there and make something of that mess. 🙂

Love you for reading.

Thanks!

J.

PS What habits do you need to incorporate to do what makes you happy?

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Printed The Second Rough Draft

So, I did it. Its printed. Double spaced with interior notes. it says 21,000 words. Good grief, that means to make a novel I have to add some 70,000 words to it.  EEK!

Found a copy of the other King book on writing. Started the chapter about brand names. (Yes, I am aware I am not that kind of writer. Not famous, and I doubt that I will be, nor do I want to be. It’s ok, but keep it to yourself.)

Something to do while I try to get the nerve to read and edit the second draft. There was good reception for that original rough draft, even though being a true rough draft, there was criticism because I posted with errors. SHOCK! (If I had corrected, it wouldn’t have been a true rough draft.)

So, back to King’s book Secret Windows, in that chapter “On Becoming a Brand Name,” he discusses the aspect of word count. The different type of works based on word count novel, short story, The length of the story and whats currently selling. At the time that King wrote Carrie, the length wasn’t one that purportedly* would sell. * my mental voice reached a higher pitch and my eyebrow actually raised.

My point is that a good story, doesn’t matter the length. It matters if it is good. All the really matters is a good story and a clean copy. Am I right?

Intimidating myself into or out of getting started, remains to be seen.

 

 

 

Late Start

Off the cuff post.

It’s gonna be full of errors and grammar issues, and ramble a bit. One reason for this is I just hung up the phone from one of those annoying to me robo-tele-marketing phone calls. Which gives me a topic to discuss here.

Marketing is not one of my favorite aspects of business; it’s like toilet paper. Everyone uses it, and everyone has their preferred brand that doesn’t irritate personally or clog the plumbing. Something that along with the woes of writing and publishing, is a necessary evil.

Maybe if you don’t intend to share your artistic and creative crafts beyond a limited audience of your family and friends, my personal definition doesn’t hold up.

Which makes me ask myself, for the Nth time, “Do I really want to be doing this?

Some other questions that pop in my mind frequently—

  • If most people don’t even know I exist and won’t notice my work, does that make what I am doing worth the effort I am putting into it? 
  • If my immediate family and some really tight friends are the only fans I ever have, am I ok with that?
  • What if I am rejected because I don’t meet the perfection level of mastering the craft of writing that others think is necessary before publishing?

And the big one—

  • What if I am a fool?

The other reason this is rambling, back this summer I went off plan.  I had a schedule. I was posting once a week. This was a down-produced once a week schedule because I was busy for a couple of years trying to go to school to become a better writer, then learn to draw to finish the picture book illustrations. My time was eaten up by stuff that seemed to be important to this craft of writing.

Let me see!

Cut to finishing that picture book and look over my shoulder at the research into marketing and advertising, again. Something that I had done prior to my first blog post way back in . . . wait it will come to me . . . I think it was 2003 or 2004.

I have come and gone from this writing career, since the early 1980s. I didn’t think I was smart enough. Yet, I kept coming back to storytelling. My imagination is, dare I say it? Legendary, at least in my own personal circles.  I have been pretty comfortable with “what if” games.

Social media is part of the marketing necessary to be successful in pretty much anything any more.  Or, you have to be content to struggle for however long it takes for enough people to discover you and create a flurry with “word of mouth” references to generate an consumer base large enough to get you out of tiny circles or pockets locally.

If you want to make marketing complicated, you can. There are dozens of posts and sources out there telling you where, how often and what kind of posts, tweets, and photos to put on the web and traditional advertising. My guess is it probably changes to some degree every so often.

So after reading and researching, I have to be still and quiet for a moment and ask myself some questions.

  1. What marketing annoys me the most as a consumer? Not going to do that, so marking that off my list.
  2. What marketing seems to be just too time consuming of an effort for the return? Draw a line through that.
  3. What seems doable that will allow me the time to create something to market? CIRCLE AND STAR THOSE!
  4. What can I follow through on, keeping my sanity and life in balance? Add some hearts to those.

So, the circled items with stars and hearts it is. That’s what I am going to do. This process was not much different to the one I had to go through around 2013 in order to get my first book published, though I didn’t really market it. I would have kept editing and rewriting to perfection. Second guessing and just red penning myself to death. There is a huge fat

line between getting it right, and getting it good enough.

If you never move forward to the next thing, you can’t make new mistakes. We, or at least I, learn from mistakes. I learned how to be ambidextrous as an off shoot of trying to become a mountain bicyclist (which I quit because broken bones aren’t my thing).

From all the times I quit writing, I learned that this is my jam. I keep coming back to it. So, I have to stick with it and keep working at it. Failing, failing miserably even, embarrassing myself possibly in order to get better at it.

If you are just joining me on my journey, welcome. You aren’t late to this party. It is still getting started. And thank you. Let me know how I can help cheer you on to your dreams.

Peace,

J.

 

 

Does It Bring Me Joy?

So, all this, that as well as the other thing, have left me stewing a bit for a few days. As I approach my work week and try once more to get on track, this question is now being applied to my work, and creativity as well.

A discussions with my grown daughter concerning illustrations grew leaps and bounds as we discussed tweaks to the layout and perspective of views. What is my perfect ideal and what I feel competent to attempt are sometimes at odds; but as always, she advises me to follow my own intuition and gut, try to do it and only settle as a last resort.

So, somehow one afternoon while staring out a window, it occurred to me that this question that I have been putting to myself as I cleaned out another drawer of things, could also be asked when I approach my list of to dos regarding my work, my writing work.

How far from my original voice have I wandered in the name of becoming a better writer? And has any of that brought me joy? Something that while I know this or that is the way to go, just grates against my nature. What am I talking about? Oh, I am questioning my focus this year to submit. I know, without any doubt I have rejections behind and ahead of me. I know without a doubt that my writing still needs work.

My question is whether how I am going about practicing is making that work harder or easier. To whom am I pandering? Me, the reader, or some great unknown that may or may not have bearing on the favored storytelling of the future?

If I revert to bucking the system, going my own way, is that going to be better than continuing to conform (or attempting to conform because my efforts aren’t all that dedicated)? Sometimes the hard path is also the path that you learn the most, but it is a very personal decision. I know writers who are succeeding because they are taking a traditional approach and some taking what has become traditional for self publishers and I have considered what they have accomplished and wonder if that is right for me.

Truth is it just isn’t how I want to do this. And my lame reason is that those paths, don’t bring me joy. In fact, it sucks the joy right out me. So maybe that isn’t lame after all.

Finding my own way to success is what my path is, seeing others succeed only encourages me to do my own thing. Thank you to my fellow writer friends who are also my mentors. You are encouraging my joy.

(Credit to the Konmari Method)

Free Form Post

So, back to workout routine. Well, its more like attempting a routine. Problem is that while most of my range of motion has come back, my stamina level is still lacking. Being older, the recovery pace is a gazillion times slower than what my expectations are. This does not help with motivation.

On the bright side, my illustration schedule is on track. Learning to color them is off track a bit, but my production schedule should still have it ready in time for Christmas 2017.

These new fangled phones have given me the low down on my sleep cycle, which since my phone upgrade and accident went from sleeping at 2 hours a pop to nearing a more functional normal of 5-7hrs. Decent rem sleep went missing for several months (my sympathies to those insomniacs among you). The return has been most delightful.

Weather, another topic on my mind. It really hasn’t been much of a winter this year. Which has helped fuel my push to get back in running shape; if the weather was really awful it wouldn’t bother me so much. My happiness at staying in, bundled up would outweigh any desire to get outside until warmer weather. It has been in the 20s overnight and by the next day up into the 60s and 70s. Weird.

Writing habit is back, now if the words would flow a little more freely more headway would occur . . . or maybe not. That is still a toss up, until April when the backstory work and research has to be complete and story writing should be in process.

Then there is the illustrations. Some weeks are easier than others, and some extra times is needed to work the skill more than the necessary drawing. Right now adding in adding color to the drawings. This is very new to me using acrylics, but I am learning.

Moving at a Snails Pace

It was 60 degrees this winter when it should be in the low 30’s. I took a meandering mile long walk in just a hoodie.

After attempting an outline for the next children’s book (struggling with the story and the dialogue) more research might help me flesh out the story. Efforts so far have included recording myself telling the story, but that sounded murky. The story itself is muddled. Truth is the story isn’t clear in my own head. Maybe some more back story work is necessary before it can really be told.

Over on the blog for my children’s books I wrote about Lauren Graham’s recent memoire, Talking as Fast as I Can. She wrote about Don Roos and his kitchen timer method. I have been trying that as well. That’s when I realized that my previous work on the story has been haphazard, leaving holes.

All of these projects are helping me learn about not just writing but book production. Believe me, there is still a lot left for me to learn. But along the way, my grandchildren will have personal gifts that I have made for them.

All this has slowed my progress at finishing Sinister, which has stalled; not because I quit writing, but am currently writing something entirely else. You see, I have five (currently) grandchildren of varying ages.

Living by my grandparent rule: “What I do for one, I must do for them all.” The first book finished and published was an early reader chapter book Snowball, for one of my granddaughters’ tenth birthday. One down, four more to write.

Now working on illustrating a picture book, number two in the works. The current writing project is a second picture book. The first should be completed in time for Christmas 2017 and beta reading the second picture by summer so while I am marketing and selling the first, work on illustrations for the second can be started. This should make the second picture book ready for Christmas 2018. Numbers two and three done by end of 2018.

The last two books are in concept and backstory stage. One will be an older middle grade chapter book and the final will be a young adult. That YA may end up being a sixth book instead of the fifth, a bridge book from all the children’s work back into the adult mode. Maybe, my mind isn’t quite made up yet.

Last year going back to college to study creative fiction threw another kink in getting all the projects currently in play complete. Truly, this path for me has been a meandering, lost in the woods at times, awkward journey.

Thank you to those of you who have been with me from the beginning. Keep hanging in there. I will get back to finish Sinister posted here and it will be a much better book from all the experience I am gaining.

While it looks like I have been stagnating, I have been growing as a writer, publisher, and now novice artist. In order to complete goals, it really helps to be in touch with a strong motivating source. I found my source to help me conquer my fears and lack of confidence. Writing for my grandchildren was and has been the contract I could sign and the motivation to finish.

I also found a source of strength and encouragement in my husband. He contributed untold hours and conversations cheering me on, as well as doing what he could to help me make this all happen. My grown children have contributed as well, helping me directly and indirectly with the follow through actions. This has been a family effort.

I thank my grandchildren for the inspiration. My kids for the umph to carry me over the doubt. And my husband for the belief.

This may be a snail’s pace, but it is progress towards my goal.

Before Re-Reviewing

Before I re-review the Gilmore Girls reboot, I am going to divert your attention to Lauren Graham’s (aka Lorelei Gilmore) first non fiction Talking As Fast As I Can. As a fan, it was a fun book to read. Well, I didn’t read read it, I listen to Lauren, herself, read it to me. Audio books are great for things like this. It was most enjoyable to hear her voice, it made the diary entries more personal and intimate; like listening to your bestie confess all over the phone.
Besides being a fan thing, this book also speaks to writers. Graham divulges into her other creative side, writing. She shares with us her secret to finishing work in progress on time—actually it is Don Roos’ secret. A method in-sync with some creatives and our natural weaknesses; it is genius. So, I am sitting here now, as I write, utilizing this method.

The Kitchen Timer
There are various sources on the internet should you choose to search it. However, if you are a fan, and love Lauren Graham, aka Lorelei, just buy the book. You will get far more than just a lovely connection to a beloved television show that was timely and honest. And if you are a writer, you get a copy of Don’s method. Really, this is a big deal here.
I personally loved the show and spent many episodes watching with my daughter. We even watched A Year together. So a fan before? You betcha. About midway through the book, Lauren herself made me an even bigger fan of her written work because, as a writer, she gets it. An English major in college, this is no wanna be writer like myself who is still struggling to get that BA under my belt. She has the education, experience as an actor and author of both fiction and non fiction. Lauren has worked on creating screen plays for tv as well. By the time this piece is exposed on the web, no telling what else her creative mind has brought to fruition.
So, no, I am not just mentioning this in passing. It was refreshing to hear her talk of her writerly struggles. It was beyond that, it was encouraging. I send a big thank you to Ms Graham and Mr Roos for sharing how to get writing work done in a method that not only sounded good, but as of this moment is working pretty well for me. The difference between it and my methods of the past is this is written down and has firm guidelines. Something I hadn’t quite come to on my own.

Now it is time to write.

The Arm

I am so sick of . . . the arm. It has been a very slow process. Far slower than I have been able to accept at times. Argh!

Thankfully I am now sleeping a whopping five hour stretch on a good night. Up until New Year’s Eve, things seem to have been getting on an even keel. It was, workable, doable. I could reluctantly get with this status.

A day or so after the new year and it all went pear shaped. New sensations emerging, yet again; nerves, muscles, lack of patience, you name it. I am not complaining, just surprised. After six and a half months I had finally begun to accustom myself to the numbness and lack of sensation in parts of my forearm. Places where the sensation wasn’t quite precise other than you feel . . . something.

Now there are sections of muscle where I previously couldn’t sense movement that are, surprisingly, coming to life. Some sharp, some dull, but definitely more than what they were. Some a bit uncomfortable, and all this wears me out.

I keep a journal because, well, as a writer, my experiences are open to use in defining and expressing a character. When or how I will utilize this knowledge I have no clue. I just want to be able to go back to it and remind myself of what it was like. How it made me feel. Then I can be in the moment, mood, of a character. See through their eyes for a brief moment.

What we say, how we say it and even the why can all be lumped into attitude and perspective. That is a fact of life. So to write a character that comes off the page and has a voice that you can identify and hear in your head as you read the words, helps to obtain as much of that inner stuff as possible when writing said character’s dialogue or thoughts.

So here today, when I thought I was moving along nicely. A huge improvement that contains set backs, sleeping, movement, better and worse at the same time. Then comes in that frustration of the cycle beginning again. A cycle of improvement, adjusting to the improvement, it all saps energy and need more sleep, pain that will be easing as my brain and nerves start working together again. More range of motion means muscle fibers not accustomed to the movement letting their discomfort known. It is just, well, it just is. A good is, but also vicious at the same time. This is an interesting emotional state to document, and I wonder how I can use this in a story somewhere.

Well, that is how it works for me; may not be how anyone else does it.

Happy New Year

Happy New Year

Wasn’t 2016 crazy? Damn.

I read more, was busy more, handled more stuff, but really did I accomplish anything meaningful to me? Eh, some, but not what I thought it was going to be. So it was in all a pretty good crazy year.

So what is in store for this year?

1. ILLUSTRATIONS for a children’s book is PRIORITY 1.
Writing will again take a back seat in the daily scheme of routine, habit and life, but hopefully not seated as far back as it was in 2016.

2. Good health habits
Have had them, dropped them, picked them up again, and lost track of them again, and again. Sound familiar? Well, that has to stop. I am getting old. I would like to become ancient; I have to be in better health to do that.

3. Writing
A little further down but, hey, that illustrating thing is only for two books, so I need to finish the YA story so to edit after the picture books are done. Which leads to number four—

4. Sales
Years ago in another life, I was a sales representative for a variety of companies and products. Now, I need to do that for myself. Something that I am self conscious about. Promoting others is no problem neither are there stumbling blocks promoting products I believe in. My writing? While I love it, and am working hard to improve it; it isn’t where I want it to be. So this one has a few parts to it.

A. Get over the fear and hold back that is keeping me from writing the good stuff.
B. Get over the fear and hold back of self promotion.
C. ACTUALLY START MARKETING AND SELLING MY WORK.

I suppose you could say this is my New Year’s resolution. To me it is just a big old ugly list of what I didn’t accomplish last year or the year before. I know there are writers out there who feel like this as well. I talk to them every day it seems.

So, what are we going to do about it?

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