Category Archives: writing

Writing and Rewriting

My writers workshop had a retreat on Saturday at a lovely place in North Hero, VT. It was at the home of one of our members, Riki Moss, who is a bodacious sculptor and wonderful writer. As a woman with an artful eye for decor and a wonderful husband to assist in making this home a haven, she was exactly the right person to host this retreat. For a number of reasons of a personal nature, a few of us were arriving with no recent writing and no clear way to go on what we had with us. The idyllic setting seemed to inspire us, and several of us made unexpected progress.

Some of the writers are nonfiction writers, and discussions with them at our wrap-up (before a lovely potluck dinner) got me to thinking about my eternal rewriting of my first novel, Fantastical Trips. The memoirists convinced me that I might better approach my main character by making her first person, as I would be able to delve more deeply into her character and her reaction to being magicked away from her home world. I was only 15000 words into my most recent rewrite, so I took the bull by the horns and wrote first person on Sunday.

I am 4500 words into the first person rewrite after two long sessions at it, one in the morning, and one after I gave up on the Red Sox. As a first draft, it’s moving smoothly and I find I have more ways of showing the uncertainties and qualms of my character. The fact that she falls in love almost immediately with the cat people, known as felixities, actually gives room for some humor, and interesting discussions. Maybe, just maybe, I’ve found a way to finally tell this story that has been haunting me for over two and a half years.

Writing again?

I am about to start writing again, after a year plus of politics. I found over the past year that the part of me that generates plots and characters is the same part that is energized by political hope. While the elections are not until November, and I will still be putting in some time on local candidates, I will have more free time and less drag on creativity in the coming months. I’m starting slowly, editing a bit of what I’ve already written, and I’m reading a lot. All writers need to read to recharge their batteries and see how others do it.

I have two projects needing my attention. I’ve been writing a story in the same world as Ascension of Peary that actually takes place some thirty years before Peary. I have also pulled out my first novel Fantastical Trips and have put in the first 15,000 words on its rewrite, all before or during the political campaigns. I’ve gotten very useful feedback from my writing group on the main flaw in my writing, and I’ll get to see how hard it is to correct that problem. Oh, joy.

The simple fact is that I have been told for the past two years what the problem is in my writing, and it’s simply that I go too fast, not taking time to stop and fill in the reader on the movie in my head. I do very well at action scenes and dialogue, but setting and description, not so much. So I will put my writing hat back on, and commit to writing a certain amount of time each day, with new advice front and foremost. We’ll see how long that lasts!

The conflicts this spring

I spent several hours at Bernie’s HQ this morning doing data entry. There was a couple visiting from Colorado who wanted some swag and they got a fair amount. We had the kind of conversation about Hillary that Bernie probably doesn’t approve of, and we lauded the fact that we finally had a candidate we could vote for instead of against. One thing I find when I encounter women of my age who support Bernie is that the primary motive is positive, that he is saying things we want to hear, that he has a history of consistency and strength in the areas we want, and that he is winning rather nicely of late.

I came home after  doing my work, and found that my kitties had, as usual, wreaked havoc in my apartment and were in the process of creating a motor speedway through my living room. They had snarled a few balls of yarn, knocked some books out of a bookcase, and gotten the cupboard door open that conceals their dry food. Their rambunctiousness is caused by the lengthening day and higher sun. They spend mid-day lolling on their climbing tree in the heat through the windows. They had only been running around for a short while when I got home and that was all to the good.

The Red Sox  are playing so that my evenings are now committed in front of the TV. Tomorrow night, I will go to my writers workshop knowing that I am missing my boys of summer.It is hard to think of summer when the wind blows and still gives a windchill, but seeing the men at Fenway gives me hope of a sirocco wind in a few months time. Then I will undoubtedly complain about the heat and humidity.

The problem with all this activity is that I cannot find the inclination to write. I am reworking the novel I thought I would publish a year ago, and I’m not making much progress. I work in fits and starts, without much to show for it.  I have about 20,000 words down, but am already reworking them because they are not detailed enough to entice the reader. This part of writing is not particularly inspiring for me, in fact, more like a slog, and I find little desire or motivation.

Bernie and the Sox are much more interesting to me right now. But it will happen, when the newness of the baseball season has worn a little thin, and the race for president will be more clear in a few weeks. It is sometimes difficult to convince myself that I’m a writer.

Bad knees and adult coloring books

I haven’t been writing much lately, either here or on my fiction, because of the two items in the title, a bad knee and the discovery of the salutary effects of coloring books. My left knee developed, about a month ago, a twinge that rather rapidly ramped up to the knife-in-the-knee level of pain. After a few weeks of acetaminophen (generic Tylenol), I caved and went to a physical therapist. Of course, the morning of my appointment, I awoke pain free. It was symptomatic by the time I arrived, but not nearly as bad as it had been. He evaluated me and found definite irritation in both the meniscus and the medial ligament, which runs up the inside of the knee. Stretching and icing are the prescriptions for the first week. Only time will tell if the knee healed at the threat of PT.

The coloring books are a self-inflicted injury. I got a marketing email from Amazon with the picture of an adult coloring book in it. It was not a flowery one, but rather one of animals, and much to my liking. I ordered it, and awaited with bated breath. Imagine my surprise when I received two copies. I had apparently ordered it in April but not completed the sale and so it was already in my basket. I gave the second copy to a friend, and marched over to the artist supply store on the second floor of the building housing my writers workshop.

The proprietor, a charming woman, sold me some very good colored pencils in a nice packet of 12 different colors. They weren’t enough, and Staples had a pre-school sale on Crayola pencils, so I went and bought 24 of them for $3.00. I thought I was set, but the Crayola colors duplicated several of those I already had, and I was disappointed in the number of colors I had. A friend then bought me a 50 pencil collection, and I discovered––Horror!–– there is a difference between good and mediocre pencils. Sigh.

I have been coloring like crazy for a few weeks now, hoping to spur my creativity on. It sounds like a wheezy engine, my creativity, about now, but with drawing up a storm, I feel as if I’ve made enough progress to be productive at the writing retreat I’m going to on Saturday. Here’s hoping, because I made a rather silly commitment.

I’ve signed up for NaNoWriMo this year, and may disappear for the month of November as I try to get 50,000 words down on paper. If you don’t hear from me, don’t start worrying until the first week of December. I should be coming up for air about then.

Fall allergies

We had a very windy couple of days a little over a week ago and that was all it took to trigger my worst fall in years. I am coughing and wheezing, sneezing and nose-blowing as if I have the worst cold in the world, and it is so clearly allergies that I want to scream. The main culprit at this point is ragweed, but the beginning of the mold season is upon us here in the north as the leaves begin to turn and the gardens are getting turned. With all the vaunted excellence of modern medical research, why hasn’t anyone come up with a cure for allergies????

And I’m not alone. I run into others at the tissue displays in the drug stores and groceries. We compare notes on which does the least damage.One thing most of us are settled on is “No lotion!” There is nothing worse than getting a rash on top of a reddened nose from tissue overuse. When I’m allergic at this level, even normally benign irritants become major insults to my well-being.

The most annoying thing about being allergic is that my creativity node is clearly as clogged as the rest of my head. The only idea I could come up with on a night I tried to write involved an angry lawn gnome on top of a pile of garbage. Trust me, it goes downhill from there.

The writing saga continues

As I said in my last post, I’ve been writing a new story in two versions from the perspective of the two major characters. It is the origin story for griffins on the world I created in Ascension of Peary (more about that below). I took the first chapter from each version into my writers workshop with the hope that my friends could help me decide which version to pursue. They, of course, gave me the answer that I didn’t expect. They suggested that I combine them into one with separate chapters for each character. That’s what I’ve been doing today, and it was going smoothly until I hit a chapter that should be labeled both. I guess I have some rewriting to do.

Also in the last post, I was bemoaning the fact that I had five WIPs and no inspiration on any of them. I thought at the time it was the sequel to Ascension of Peary, but it appears that the griffin story is drawing my imagination. The baby griffins are awfully cute. The story involves their rescue by two twelve year olds and a few adults and their assistance in solving a double missing person case. It’s not coming quite as easily as Peary, but at least it’s moving.

Speaking of Peary, it is still at the editor, and the first feedback I’ve gotten is that it is going more slowly than she expected based on the sample I sent her. Apparently she has some concerns about word usage and language. I suspect part of it is my tendency to use words not in general parlance. I have a larger vocabulary than many people, and certainly larger than most mid-grade and YA readers. As my workshop mates have said before, it tends to take one out of the story to have to run to the dictionary three times on a page. If that is all, I can fix it. What she doesn’t know is that I’ve already fixed it once for the same issue on the advice of my beta reader. I even changed some words after that in my final read-through before I sent it on to the editor. Oh, dear. What have I let myself in for?