Tuesday, October 18, 2011

I Know What I Did Last Summer Rather Than Finish My Novel

Since I last posted, I completed the house projects, (including tearing out a useless doorway), started revising my novel after receiving feedback, became a member of MWA, transported a few basset hounds, did several job interviews, and started a used bookstore. Well, in process, anyway.

It happens that my niece Kristin is a teacher, and as with so many, she wasn't rehired after our state apparently decided to return our children to the dark ages... then there was this bookstore I loved when I was a kid... so we'll be opening a bookstore in Palm Coast by Christmas. The name and logo are pictured.

Read (Think) Books Logo
What do you guys think? Has a lack of oxygen gotten to me, or is this just a very elaborate form of procrastination?

Nanowrimo starts November 1, but instead of participating, I'm thinking about challenging myself to a month-long rewrite of NiP -- while I start Read (Think) Books.

So, what did you do last summer?

Thursday, June 9, 2011

απέχθεια ολοκλήρωσης

Empty shelves are sad but enticing.
I dislike the sensation of having completed a novel. Sure, I like it for the first day or two, but shortly I begin to obsess about my characters. I wonder if I have done all I can to make them happy. The feeling is worse this time because I have done everything but the final edits and proofread, leaving nothing for a tasty midnight snack.

To distract myself so that I wouldn't finish, I deconstructed my non-functional fireplace to install a row of four bookshelves I bought when the local Borders closed. Even with that, the end couldn't be strung out forever.

For the last week, deprived of my old novel, I have tried to make headway on a comic book I started last year. That's bearing fruit, I think: my illustrator says he will have time for it over the summer. I also started on MwaK, a second novel in the NiP series, the one I was planning to write when NiP took over.

I am also beginning to notice that I need money, so I have tried to do something about that, as well.

The bookshelves are symbolic. I got rid of a fireplace that used to offer heat and light (my old work) to add room for what I truly love (writing). The question is, will the shelves be filled with successful projects, or will I have to burn books to stay warm?

We shall see.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Prompt: Overcoming Fear

My house is clean, screens and a new screen door have been installed, my junk is reorganized, the house trim is repainted, email correspondence is up-to-date, and magazines are read. All in an apparent effort to avoid editing my novel.

I read recently that fear of artistic failure can present as anxiety and the inability to finish the work. And I keep hearing (thank you, Jamie) that my friends don't know what's stopping me, and I don't really know, either. Is it fear?

I'm not alone in having a novel close to finished (you know who you are!), so I am offering a prompt to help us take the next step, whatever that is.

 ⣥ Get comfortable for thirty minutes. Take a bath, lie down on a swing, go for a slow walk, or take yourself out for sushi.

 ⣧ Think about where your project is. Do you need to put it in order? Write the denouement? Send it to your favorite reader?

 ⣟ Hold the next step in your mind and imagine what would make it more fun. Having a cut and paste party? Taking a trip to the Keys for some Hemingway inspiration? Printing it like a real book, with a pretty cover and acknowledgments page? 

 ⣿ Plan the party, trip or vanity printing for your work in progress. Then give yourself a treat, because you've already taken the next step!

Roseate Spoonbills and Friend at Canaveral National Seashore  
This post was boring, so I added the photo because pink birds make everything more fun.

Sunday, March 20, 2011


When I said last night that Zini was about to get into a whole lot of trouble, David responded with, "She's got to get into trouble sometimes, how else could she keep her storybook figure?" (said while tracing the shape of a book in the air)

Har, har, network engineer. You are indeed a master of wit!
Happier than a white cat in dirt!

But I, on the other hand, am a person with over 50,000 words of a novel written!

As to the trouble.

Let's just say, Zini will no doubt need a new car, might need a new cop friend and a new client, but most of all, may need a reincarnation if things don't start turning around, sometime within the (think, think, think) next five to seven thousand words.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Ball of Fun

I found this posted on the blog of a non-native English speaker, so I am not making fun of him/her. I am rolling because h/she is getting many offers to become a tech writer! 

Here's a sample:
I started getting lots of job offer from big companies for Technical Writer position. Even for senior position, I am getting job offer. I do not know why it all started. Anyway, I wish to listen from you - Who is suitable for this job? Is it better than programming!  

One of the offers posted read this way:
We are having urgent opening for Technical writers in our Office. If you are interested in grabbing this opportunity, revert back with your updated CV.

A commenter said:
Tech writer job is not fun after initial money & excitement. 
Reminds me of when I used to joke that I got my master's degree in journalism after a bachelor's in English because I was looking for fortune and fame. 

Saturday, March 5, 2011

2001, A Noveling Oddity

Mysterious Symbol, (c) me
My novel has been taking two steps forward and two steps back all week, but in the past four hours, I wrote 2,000+ words! New words! Fresh, unedited, un-dithered with words!

I've decided I like writing new stuff way better than editing. Why am I surprised? However, it occurs to me that I like editing when the writing isn't my own. Wouldn't it be great to have a twin writer to trade books with so that you never have to edit your own work?

When is that cloning project going to start working on writers?

Monday, February 28, 2011

Story Circle Posts

I am guest-blogging for Story Circle. Each blog is posted as one of a pair, and my posts are Prompts for Winter and Discipline for Spring.

My over-squeezed metaphorical mulberries
Jamie, you get a mention in "teachers and writers who have influenced me," which is at the bottom of Prompts for Winter.

Initially, the "Winter" post contained a little TOO much of an homage to Jamie and Joyce's wonderful Scene and Structure writing intensive. The plot section would have been better with their fabulous nine-point plot outline, but as I couldn't give them a proper attribution as a guest-blogger, I took it out.

My current novel (which I have somewhat wildly said I would finish by the end of March) is, however, greatly benefiting from the plot outlining.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Shoe Fetish-ish

I was getting ready to work (really), when I was sidetracked by an email ad from The Village Hat Shop. There, I saw a cute men's fedora that made me think of White Collar, a show that has the most wonderful clothes--real clothes, like real people wear if they've got good taste and lots of money. (OK, maybe not that real, but ya know what I mean.) So I went to their style photo gallery. There, I noticed a pair of shoes, which made me think of the lack of good shoes at my local Ross, where I used to find expensive shoes cheap. That's where I bought my first pair of Børn shoes. I love those shoes, so I looked them up. Now I've got a problem. Look at these:
Børn to Love Shoes
$95. I may need a pair.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Getting My Writing in Focus

Focus is Crucial 
I have been a writer of poetry, stories, and novels for more than 35 years. I have read, at best estimate, 7500 books, and so I know about the turning point, the climax, the denouement, and the plot arc. But I couldn't connect them with my own novels.

Until last weekend.

At Joyce Sweeney and Jamie Morris' Next Level Craft Intensive, Scene and Structure, I spent three days discussing plot, structure, and scene with a small group of writers. What came to me by the end of the weekend made me feel like I did when I got my first pair of glasses:

"So that's why I couldn't catch a ball. I was BLIND!"

It's taking me a while to apply this new found clarity. All I've done so far is pull some extraneous material out of one novel, and reread the high points of another. 

I see now that I need to begin my current novel with an inciting incident that is just visible to the reader, but not to my protagonist. I can also see that I need to take out the middle section of the other, which interrupts the plot at an important point.

There's a lot to do. Thank Jamie and Joyce, I can see the way, now.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Bee Comedy/Tragedy

Mary K Swanson
When I was driving on 46 yesterday, something landed in my bra, between my breasts. Eeek! When I was able to take a peek, I found a bee.

As I gingerly turned into a side road (regretting the weight I had gained that made squashing the bee a possibility), I begged the bee not to sting me. I wasn't too afraid, because I love bees, and I know they aren't aggressive. Besides, my mother is a bee charmer. I felt protected.

I scooped the bee out carefully with a tissue and realized that the poor guy was dying. He could barely crawl onto the grass when I placed him there--I hated to leave him, but I don't think I have the skill to rehabilitate a bee.

I began to think: why was I visited by a dying bee?

A bee symbolizes the Mother Goddess, the willing sacrifice, immortality, and cooperation. In the physical world, the bee is in terrible danger from hive collapse and pesticides.

That made me think of the Hindu goddess Kali, the mother goddess of creation and destruction. Maybe my dying bee was a message from her, telling me not to be afraid, that death (my death, the death of ecosystems, the death of family and friends) is voluntary. We die to live again, but most importantly, we die to complete this part of our dream, and to leave room for others (as well as ourselves) to grow.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Bad Dreams

I was just reading a forum over at Spirituality & Health called Dreamwork Interactive, in which you get weekly emails from Robert Moss, a dream worker and shaman whose books I have read and enjoyed.

At the top of the forums was a new topic, What Not to Share. I assumed there would be notes about not telling the world your personally identifiable information, about not getting X-rated, about being succinct. Well, something else was there, too. He doesn't want us to share "crappy dreams that bring people down."

I do think that some dreams may not be for public consumption, but I'm a little appalled that a shaman and dream worker would feel, as he indicates in his post: Bad dreams: when you just want to spit them out, that some dreams come from an evil place.

With Jeremy Taylor, and many other dreamers, I think that all dreams come in the service of health and wholeness, even the crappy ones. Even the ones that bring people down. While I don't know that I want everyone to go around sharing all of these dreams with me, I would never tell them that anything that came out of them was evil. Shadow material? Sure. Evil? I don't know.

I am not ruling out Moss' "evil" dreams completely. However, even if native peoples believed that evil spirits could invade the dream the same way that germs invade the body, I think that 99.9% of dreams are messages from our own mind trying to help us decipher the world around us, and help us be better and maybe even happier, in it. (I do think our minds are a lot bigger, smarter, and more well-connected to the collective unconscious and maybe even the whole universe, without reference to time, than we can see from our limited perspective.)

I'm thinking about what I do when I have a really bad dream, about war, rape, terror, misery, sadness... Well, I probably don't share it, but sometimes I do. It helps, and sometimes my loved ones don't mind helping me bear the horror. I don't always write them down, especially if they feel like mundane dreams. But I do try to take a clear look, see if I can find any meaning that would help me improve myself or the world. I believe that I have to look into my own heart, even when it's at its ugliest, to be a better person.

What do you think? Can dreams be evil? Should we spit out our "crappy" dreams, or do something else with them? What do you do?