Time and a place to write is that for which most writers yearn. That and a good grammar book. (I had to re-write the first sentence to get the dreaded preposition off of the front step of the period!)
Isolation, a useful amount that will allow us to really dig in and write as we dream of doing is usually beyond our ability to gain. Isolation from other writers and writing dogs our hours and our spirits.
Which isolation are you in a fight with? How do you define its edges and find away around it? What are your tools to use in combat?
The useful isolation can be had by pretending it is a vacation. Yes, a vacation. What do you do when planning a vacation. You state your goal. You decide on where, when, how, how long and who will be there with you. You are going to be un-reachable for a weekend. Tell your beloved ones. Where will you be? The back bedroom. When? In two weeks. How? During the course of the next two weeks you will set up shop in that room to receive you. It is the kid's bed room? Turf them out to the living room in blanket tents for the weekend. Promise treats. Explain the plan as it relates to them. Work ahead on regular weekend commitments like groceries and wash, just like you would for a regular vacation. Explain how to communicate--leave a post-it for you on the outside of the door. When you come out to attend to nature's call and retrieve more beverage, you'll read the notes. Only bleeding and broken emergencies or a Zombie Apocalypse will be dealt with. The collapse of the country can wait until Monday. Pack your snacks and be sure to take them with you on your isolation adventure. Plan your clothing. Expect to enjoy your time. Expect cooperation.
The mind-cutting soul-swallowing isolation from writerly things is real. Communication with other authors is very important. They can be live or dead. On the end of the phone or having written a book for us to absorb. Either way, isolation can wither your being. Don't let it happen. Bathe your spirit in the happy splash of other writer's ideas and speech. Make sure you take the time for them even if it means signing out of Facebook for a few days to refresh yourself. DO IT! Your writerly sanity demands the effort.
Quite often we think of obsessing as a negative thing. But is it really?
Obsess—the verb. To be preoccupied, uppermost in someone’s mind, prey on someone’s mind, posses, haunt, consume, plague, torment, hound, bedevil, beset, take control of, control, take over, have a hold on, rule eat up, have a grip on, to be infatuated with, be smitten with, hung up about….
Obsession—the noun. To become his obsession, fixation, consuming, passion, mania, compulsion, preoccupation, infatuation, addiction, fetish, craze, hobbyhorse, phobia, complex, thing……
Obsession—the adjective. To be relentless, fanatic, neurotic, excessive, over keen, besting, inescapable….
Is it the time spent that makes an obsession a negative thing instead of a pleasant afternoon? In fact, if it doesn’t last too long, a couple of hours of fixation might be just the way to spend a wonderful afternoon—perhaps with a consuming passion? Is it the item fixed upon? I can’t see why being a fanatic about a clean sink drain could be of much harm. Where exactly is the obsessing which makes it less than charming? Where is the line crossed?
I’ve been thinking. About the act of writing. Is it a minor act of obsession? The impulse to put our innermost thoughts on paper for the express purpose to expose them for entertainment for someone besides ourselves. Where does that impulse come from? What takes writing from impulse to compulsion?
How about the act of creativity? When we do write, why do we assume often obsess over the creative way in which ink finds its way to paper? Does someone else has a better way of doing it? A compulsion to look and explore another writer’s way of working has cost me untold hours of re-writing to get stories back on track—this I find a definite negative. But, in the beginning of writing, I obsessed over the process because I didn’t understand it, couldn’t figure out where it came from, and quite often didn’t understand how it could be so different in the way it works for so many.
The conclusion: Obsess over pleasurable activities. Don’t obsess over the way you or anyone else does their writing—that is a very short road to a long headache.
Now I’m going to go have a bit more hibiscus tea and perhaps a small bit of chocolate. (Forget the tea—I’m heading for the secret stash of cho……..)
Why join WARA, Wichita Area Romance Authors? Because they contain a body of wisdom and are willing to share it. Because they are compassionate and are willing to share that compassion when a member needs support. Because they are passionate about what we do and are willing to share that passion by doing some rear-kicking when it is warranted.
While I was trying to do my blogging duty for this month, I found myself appalled at how long it has been since I managed to actually put fingers on keyboard and get the job done. But the journey back to this hidden grotto of information had me discover that our old blog is still there. The information all put in during the years we've been working at this is all still ready to be accessed by those navigating the internet. Kind of thrilled me to find our bit of immortality, the time going into blogging is not lost--unuseful to the future. Yay us!
I also found on my own hardware as I was frantically trying to find our password, that I had an extraordinary amount of useless items listed with the word 'blog' in them. Even two copies of a calendar page from June of 2009 of which of us will blog on what day. I need to set aside a bit of time to clean out the computer files......
What did all of this rummaging around in our past, our last blog, and my computer gain me? The utter confirmation that our group is absolutely necessary.
Thank you for letting me be a member. And to anyone out there who has aspirations to be an author, you can't go wrong being part of a group like WARA. Consider joining.
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My apologies for writing so late. Medical appointments, asthma attacks aside it is truly a busy season. Hopefully the elves are scrambling and the reindeer are ready to go.
This year for Christmas I have a different sort of list. No tea-maker (thank you for last year’s) or adult coloring book. But let’s not leave out the material items altogether. Fill my WARA friends’ stockings with pens, paper, and all writerly gear. I imagine a few might wish for a new lap top or printer too.
More than these things I would like the gift of time to be generously served. There’s far too little for writing with jobs, husbands, children, pets, PTA’s etc etc. So please give the clock a push back not and then when the words are flowing.
Reawaken the child in us so that we can see the world with new, unjaded eyes. There is so much to wonder at and far too often we fail to see it and thus to describe it or give it a place in our writing.
Let everyone meet a goal and have at least a smidgeon of success. Persevering with writing is difficult with all the obstacles placed in our way, so give some hope to bolster the spirit and fire the mind.
Give everyone an extra dollop of communication. Let more information be distributed instead of little or no information. Please include long distance (and not so long but home-bound) members in what is going on in the group. In what is planned for the future.
May all of these be yours! Merry Christmas one and all!
This month my assignment was to write a gratitude journal for one of my characters. I chose Bellaport--one of my five 14th Lt. Dragoon Officers during the Peninsular War. This journal carries Bellaport through the first part of Honour's Debt.
June 15th Dammed thankful we got those scamps away from the Goat and Lamp without serious damage done to any. Those blasted green Lieutenants would follow Merristorm anywhere. Goodchurch was lucky to come away with only a badly bruised face. Thank God Danbury still has some sway over Merristorm and reins his greatest excesses.
November 20 Thank God Thomas has been spared the influenza that’s in the village. I’m thankful Lynette and Phillip are away from Bellum. Not much to be thankful with this weather in Spain. Nice thing, Lt. Vincouer sharing his letters from his cousin Maddie. ‘Tis a mess he’s wanting to get into thinking he has to marry her to save her.
January 15, 1810 I suppose I have to be thankful I’m still alive. If Vincouer hadn’t caught me I’d have gone down that dammed mountain. If only the lieutenant hadn’t gone missing when he led a distraction so Goodchurch could get me out of Bembibre. Damme Napoleon. He may catch us yet if the ships aren’t awaiting at Corunna.
March 1 Danbury tried to raise my spirits, at low ebb with news of Thomas’ death and my being the heir. A dammed viscount--what will I do with a title? Anyway Danbury plied me with drink and then dropped a bundle of letters for me to take to Madeline Vincouer. I do owe the lieutenant a debt. Perhaps I can repay it by seeing if his cousin is still in danger and in need of a husband. I may have to spite my father’s plans for my bride.
Our task this month is to write a story based on an opening prompt. It's supposed to reveal something about our writing voice and style. After reading my tale, I'd like to hear what you learned about me.
It was a dark and stormy Halloween night. Clouds obscured the full moon. Shadows danced. The four story house, a hulking black ink blot, waited. A lone light flickered behind a window.
“That’s our signal,” whispered one of the four figures huddled behind a huge spreading cedar.
“You sure the coast be clear?”
“He said he’d leave a lone candle burning,” another of the figures said then shivered. “It’s blooming cold out here. Let’s get inside.”
“Seems too easy,” the fourth said as the other three moved forward. They looked back in disbelief.
“Don’t you start that again, Paul,” snarled the first.
“Pete’s right,” seconded one of the other two. He jabbed his companion in the ribs.
In response, Pip squeaked, “Right-o--what Pete said.”
Paul still hung back.
Pat stomped back to him and grabbed his arm. “It’s easy pickin’s,” he cajoled.
“Too easy,” Paul insisted. “Why’s the old man givin’ us the lay?”
“Cause he thinks we’ll share,” snorted Pip.
Pete added with a chuckle, “Bird brain if there ever was one.”
Digging in his heels as they reached the back door, Paul said, “He knows us by name. If’n we don’t share he’ll copper on us. And why All Hallows Eve? Smells rotten as a month old Jack-o-lantern.”
“He’ll be happy ‘nug with the insurance money,” Pat assured them.
“Scardy cat? ‘Fraid there’s a ghost waitin’?” taunted Pip.
Paul jerked free of Pat’s hold. “That’s right. I’m a fraidy cat. So will you be if you know what’s best.” With that he turned and ran away.
“Don’t fret,” Pat told the other two. “There’ll just be more fer us. Com’on.” He put a hand on the knob. It rattled but didn’t turn.
Pip poked him in the ribs. “Member he said ta kick in the door like, so the coppers wouldn’t get suspicious when he reported the robbery.”
After tossing a glare at Pip, the other kicked in the door which creaked loudly. He motioned for the other two to follow him inside.
“It’s black as pitch in here,” whispered Pip.
“Don’t have ta be careful o’ the furnishin’s. If things are topsy turny it’s look more like a robbery,” Paul told them.
The three made their way through the kitchen with a crashing of chairs and splintering of crockery.
“This way,” Paul said, “up the stairs and to the right. The hoard is in thet bedchamber where the candle be burning.” He led the way up with tromping steps.
Pete paused at the bottom of the stairs. “Somethin’ ain’t right,” he began. The hand on his shoulder stiffened him. Before he could speak a blade pierced his back and entered his heart.
“You comin?” Pip called from the landing. When he heard the tread of steps he put a foot on the next tread. “Don’t be so slow,” he groused and waited for Pete. There was a momentary shock as something collided with the back of his head. Then all was forever black as he tumbled down the steps and landed atop Pete.
“Whater’ you ijits doin’?” demanded Paul at the top of the stairs. “Needn’t come any further. I got it. Wait til you see what’s all here!” When he got to the landing he paused. “Pip? Pete?”
“They’re waiting for you,” said a hollow, wavery voice.
Paul turned to the corner of the landing. “What--?”
A pistol shot rang through the dark house. Paul tumbled head over heels down the stairs amidst a spray of pearls, paste gems, and brass baubles.
When all was quiet, candlelight appeared at the top of the stairs. “Is it done, Samuel?”
“Just like we planned, Ruth. Come down.”
The old man took his wife’s hand and they walked down the remaining stairs. They sidestepped around the bodies and then gazed down at them.
“I thought there were to be four,” Ruth murmured.
“One at least used his noggin,” Samuel said with a shrug of one shoulder. “The reward on these three will see us nicely through the winter.”
“And we have our own Halloween display,” chuckled Ruth. She smiled at Samuel’s frown. “Don’t you know--three P’s in a pod.”
...I thought I would be able to blog on Joan's list of blogging, all icky broke loose at my place. Icky? That's where it started and then ended up in the sands of time sunk into the internet, insurance claim, shopping for replacements, discovery of Oh, My, GAWD!! moment, complete blind crying panic, and hours of uploading, tech support, and beating my head against the wall when no one is looking. I had to start hiding my condition as close family members were beginning to worry and mutter about intervention..........
I shall not bore you with details.
I shall not beat my head against the wall for the next hour.
I shall not berate myself for my past behavior as it is in the past.
I shall not continue in my past ways.
Now I have your interest. What past ways? Hmmm?
As a writer you worry about your writing, how it is coming along, will it ever be finished, will someone else care to read it, etc. You also worry over where to keep it safe and how the best way to do so is. I can now speak authoritatively about the safety issue.
There are three basic problems to writerly storage.
1. Keeping the revisions straight or which one is the master copy?
2. Keeping the copies in ONE place.
3. Keeping the copies safe.
About the ONE place, in the last two years I have revised several copies of my WIP without realizing they weren't the same copy. 'Crapfeathers' doesn't adequately describe my mood when I discovered this.
After the discovery much time was spent straightening out that situation. Did I say 'much'? I mean a horrendous loss of time was sunk into that hole. However, I prevailed. I also realized, after reading about a check Colorado bank hit by a tornado ending up in Nebraska, for goodness sake, I decided that a backup copy of my work saved in my home would not help in a 'Gone with the Wind' situation. So, I purchased Carbonite backup services. Now assured of an off site copy, I proceeded to make sure that all of my work would, no-matter-what, be saved so I created a file and put it directly in the Programs-C drive of my computer--little realizing that Carbonite doesn't backup the program portion of a computer (this keeps them from backing up viruses and other problems). They only backup data. This discovery was after Lightning struck the house and killed random electronics including the computer, various printers, and other odd things.
You will need, to be very sure all is well, that your files on your computer in good order.
A backup close to you, I opted on a four terabyte easy-to-use one.
An online backup, mine took seven days each time to download into my computer-twice-don't ask. (my fault not Carbonite, those people are wonderful)
How it all works:
Carbonite continuously backs up whatever you've directed it to backup. This is for your apocalypse conditions (lightning strike) where you can spare a couple of weeks of download time.
The huge backup is for the occasional backup that you can put in it that will allow a quicker download (five hours) for your stuff to load into the new computer. You can also remember to unplug it so that lightning can't get to it unless you're using it.
I had to be out of commission for six weeks. Had to send off for my hard drives to be rescued and am still trying to find a printer that works like my old one.
Trust me, save your sanity, backup, backup to only one file in your computer, back up your system to a large drive in intervals you don't mind recreating, and backup on-line. If you can't see your way clear to an on-line automated service, then consider two large backups, one that resides off site and can be switched often. A one terabyte backup by passport will fit in your palm.
I gotta go now and work some more getting the office back together. Save yourself. You'be been warned.
If you find me wandering around, bring me in with soft words, find some chocolate, and ply me with a margarita...and don't ask how the computer is coming.
wo questions for this month. What is the best blog you ever read? Why? What is the best blog you ever wrote? Why?
It took me a bit to find the blog I thought I remembered. It was posted on the old WARA blog by Rox Delaney December 28, 2012. It’s Almost Time . . . (http://warawriters.blogspot.com/2012/12/its-almost-time.html) What made it the best blog for me? It started with something with which we can all commiserate. It had a light touch and evoked a few chuckles. Then it got down to business by listing points for setting and reaching goals. Rox went into depth on the points. The explanations were concise and motivating. It ended with uplifting words and a quote: “Cheers to a New Year and another chance for us to get it right.” - Oprah Winfrey It wasn’t until I read the quote that I realized how much Oprah’s words apply to us and the blog. It may not be the end of a year but it is another beginning.
Now for the harder part--my best blog. “Why did I ever come up with this topic?” I ask myself as I bang my head against the keyboard. I have trouble at times believing anything I write is good. Choosing a “best?” I scanned through several of the blogs I’ve posted over the years and decided on one from April 6, 2012 Inspire? Entertain? Humor? All and More! (http://warawriters.blogspot.com/2012/04/inspire-entertain-humor-all-and-more.html)
Why best? It shows my passion --my appreciation for the lives of real men and women from the Napoleonic Wars. They are my inspiration and often the driving force behind my writing. This blog shows a “me” I usually keep hidden. No one really wants to hear historic information not matter how excited I might be about it.
I was surprise when I reread what I had written and saw both blogs came from 2012. That is totally accidental as I cruised through all the years. (In 2012 we had 88 blogs posted down from our all-time high of 132 in 2009.) But back to “best.” Best is authentic, real. I can’t wait to read about the blogs you chose as best and those you picked as your best!
“Cheers to . . . another chance for us to get it right.” - Oprah Winfrey
I was so utterly pleased to have my schedule opened up enough to do something in my writing life. I opened a copy of my last novel. Finally finished several months ago. Within one page I found some horrendous problems. Places that when I’d finished editing something slipped in the ole computer brain and left some scattered problems.
I edited twenty-nine pages before being required to stop by other life requirements. This work has been edited over fifteen times…by multiple people. Why? How could it have been in such bad shape? The only ones who know are the fates. What made me open it to begin with? Last I knew it was ready to send off to the ball, all shiny, eager-faced, ready to dance. Fate interfered and enabled me to take a last look and escape deep gouging embarrassment at the hands of an unforgiving agent or editor.
Whether you call it editing or pruning, a little judicious work in that department can make things better for us. My mom, recently departed from this mortal coil, always strove for improvement, somewhere, anywhere, for life comes undone easier than it is done.
It is time to edit. Whether it is activities you don’t enjoy as much, people you don’t enjoy as often, things perhaps, and that even comes down to the tiny things. How long has it been since you replaced your wallet? A lamp? A skillet? Your towel? Found the floor of your car’s trunk? Had lunch in the park, a different park? Editing/Pruning/Changing can help us find clarity in our thoughts, charm in our words/work, comfort in our lives.
My twenty-nine pages so lifted my spirits, I was able to deal with impending harvest news, feeding twenty people per day for twenty days. Did I mention I don’t like to cook? How did it lift my spirits? Because though I was disturbed that the story was messed up, I was also pleasured by the way it flowed forward.
Do some editing, you won’t be less for it.