Tag Archives: Writing

I’m Back…I Think

My last post was almost a month ago?! My, how time flies. But at least my news is good this time. My physical recovery has been positive and steady. I’m back at my job, working a reduced hour schedule and working my way up to my regular work schedule. And, more importantly, I’m back to work on Perceval’s Shadow. It’s taken a couple of weeks to get back into my writer’s mind, and to reassure my imagination that it is indeed safe to come out again and play.

I’m now working on the last three chapters. They represent the climax and the resolution to the story. What I’ve noticed especially in the climax chapter is the imprecise description of the first draft, and struggling with making the words I choose create a more precise description of the action and landscape in which it’s happening. For example, Evan Quinn, the main character, is wearing a wool winter coat, jeans, a wool sweater and cotton shirt as well as wool socks and loafers. During the action, he’s forced to jump into a canal in order to save himself. Originally, I had him swimming easily around in the canal. But then I realized, no, how could he be swimming that easily when he’s wearing a wool coat and all those clothes? I’ve had the experience of being in water fully clothed — only once in my life — and the saturated material becomes heavy fast and weighs far more than expected. A knee-length wool coat (on a guy who’s 6 feet 3 or 4 inches tall) would really weigh him down.

Another thing I’m discovering is that I didn’t flesh out the description of locations at all. I guess when I wrote the first draft, I was thinking that I’d do all that writing work during the revision process, eh? While I don’t want to spend too much time and words on location descriptions, I do want to set the scene physically in some way. The location of each scene functions as the stage on which the characters play out the scene. Much can be left to the reader’s imagination as long as I come up with the right, evocative images. Hard work.

Finally, I can say honestly that I’m pleased with the character development I worked so hard on in the first draft. At least I haven’t had to do much work on that. There were some changes in the relationships, but overall, the characters, especially Evan Quinn, are where I want them to be by the end. I’ve got a bit more research to do, especially about Copenhagen, Denmark, and to finish the last three chapters. Then I’ll be entering all the edits for chapter 11 through chapter 23, and I expect I’ll be doing some more editing during that process. My new deadline to finish all this work on Perceval’s Shadow is September 1. At that point, I’ll put it away and work on Novel #3 in the series, Perceval in Love. I have the first draft of the third novel about half completed. I’m looking forward to exercising the part of my brain and imagination I use to write first drafts to finish the first draft of this novel.

It just feels so GOOD to be writing again.

Life Happens, and Then What?

In my last post on May 4, I wrote about all the writing I’d been doing offline — the reason I had not been writing blog posts or spending a lot of time on any kind of social media. Less that two weeks later, life happened, taking me completely away from any kind of writing. What happened?

At the time, I didn’t have a clue what was going on. All I knew was that my body had begun a campaign against me. It began about May 16 as I fought through nausea every morning to eat something and get to work. The nausea worsened. I thought it might be a sign that my ILD was beginning to act up so I called my pulmonologist. Then I saw my primary physician. No answers. I re-discovered SeaBands, which I’d used after surgeries to control or alleviate post-operative nausea. Wearing them still worked. But then a skin rash attacked my knees, lower legs, feet, and elbows. At first it didn’t itch, but when it did, it was an intense burning itch. Hydrocortisone cream and Benedryl brought some relief. But then I noticed a small bruise on top of my left hand that shouldn’t have been there. Over the course of about 36 hours, I acquired other spontaneous bruises, petechiae all over my legs and feet, and my nose dripped blood. I suspected an adverse reaction to a new medication I’d begun in mid-April, so I called my gastroenterologist. He thought it was an allergy aggravated by the extreme dry air we were having that week. Fortunately, I didn’t listen to his suggestion to simply monitor the situation.

A good friend (my savior!) took me to the ER that same day in the early evening. Blood tests showed that I had no discernible platelets, essential for clotting, in my blood. From that point on, I became a bit of a medical mystery until the Hematology team decided that it was an adverse reaction to the new medication I began in mid-April. They admitted me into the hospital. Over the next 48 hours, there was a serious, determined effort to stop the reaction and get my body to begin making platelets again.

I’ve been in such medical mystery situations before when I’ve been extremely ill. The mind turns primal, focused only on survival and doing whatever is necessary to survive. I could not read much, focus for long periods of time, or make plans. Hospitals are not good places for sleep, either. My primary source of distraction became what I call “stupid TV,” that is old TV shows I like but that I’ve most likely seen before and are being repeated on cable. Although I was discharged from the hospital about 5 days later, I returned the same day with more bleeding that needed to be stopped and explained. That lasted for another two-day hospital stay.

I’ve been out of the hospital for over a week now and plan to stay out if at all possible. There’s been a setback with the return of the skin rash and a drop in my platelet count, but a course of a super steroid is helping everything but my sleep. I’ve been warned that it could be a slow process to return my body to normal after that adverse reaction to medication, especially this particular adverse reaction. I’m wondering when I’ll be able to return to my job as well as to my creative writing.  I was within 4 chapters of finishing the first revision of Perceval’s Shadow by July 1!

Life happens.

Morning, Noon, and Night

Well, as you can see from my long silence here, I chose to write morning, noon, and night instead of spending time on social media or blogs since mid-March. But it’s time today for an update on just what I’ve been working on.

Perceval’s Shadow

Revision work on this second novel in the Perceval series has continued, mostly on weekends. I split the work into two categories: 1) revision and editing, and 2) entering the completed chapters into the computer file. Right now, I’m working on chapters 18, 19, and 20 in the first category — there are 23 chapters so I’m close to the end. In the second category, I stopped at chapter 11. Once I finish the category 1 work, I’ll still have a lot of work to do for category 2.

Demands on my time continue to challenge my progress on this work. A couple health issues flared during March and April with exhaustion being a major factor. Business chores during tax time dominated one whole weekend. My fulltime job continues to consume over 10 hours a day during the week adding to my exhaustion. I wish I were in my 20’s again! I miss those days of good health and unlimited energy. At least quiet has reigned in the apartment building and we’ve made it through the last major snowstorm of the 2018-19 winter.

Somehow, I also managed to squeeze in some other writing during the last six weeks as I continue to work on getting more of my writing out in the world.

Aanora Story

This novella continues to ferment. However, I put it through another round of beta reading and received back more good feedback. My next step is to do another revision to incorporate the feedback. Today, I plan to print out a hard copy so that I can take it to the fulltime job with me and work on it during my lunch breaks. I think this will be the last revision because the feedback focused mostly on details rather than larger issues. I hope to have it ready to publish online in a month or two.

Contests

I submitted The Negligee to a contest last fall and received the results at the end of March. Ah, well. I have submitted it to another contest recently and the results of that one should be out this fall.

Finale

I wish I could report that my health has been restored but it hasn’t. I continue to struggle with that aspect of my life. Lots of raw material there for essays at some point. My plan for the rest of the year is to finish the first revision of Perceval’s Shadow and then plunge right into work on Perceval in Love, the third novel in the series, while the second novel revision ferments. I completed about half the first draft of the third novel some time ago, and I really want to complete that first draft if possible this year. I’ll also begin the search for a professional editor to work with on the second novel.

So…. I may not be around much at this blog again for a while. As I’ve been focused on my fiction, I’ve become acutely aware of just how much of a time and energy suck the internet can be. At the same time, I am incredibly grateful for the contacts, support and attention I’ve gotten through the internet. It’s never far from my mind as I’m working!

From Tenor.com

 

 

Tempus Fugit

For the last six weeks or so, I have been buffeted by my own mind which wants to get everything done. But there’s been this huge problem: time. It is out of my control. I would love to be able to add a couple hours to some days, delete hours from others, give myself an extra day especially on weekends (who wouldn’t?!), and add hours to each night so that I can get more sleep and stay healthy. It’s been a tumultuous six weeks dealing with the flu, a neighbor’s toddler who was screaming through the nights (a behavioral issue, not illness or anything else), and some winter weather that set records in the Upper Midwest, none of which I had any control over.

All through this, I’ve been working on the first revision to the second novel in the Perceval series. Every weekend as I’ve worked, I’ve felt an intense guilt for not writing a blog post for this blog. Tempus fugit. The conflict between writing fiction (or nonfiction, for that matter) and writing on social media only exacerbated my frustrations. There was simply not enough time for everything (and there hasn’t been since I began working fulltime to pay the bills). I know that I am not alone in this frustration. I’ve been writing this blog since September 2007, and with few exceptions for surgery, I’ve managed to maintain a posting schedule of once a week on Saturdays. At the beginning of this year, I realized that this schedule, and continuing to work on the novel revision, wasn’t realistic.

Writers and Social Media

As a writer, I am happiest when I’m writing fiction or essays. I enjoy writing blog posts, but I see them, correctly I’ve learned, as a way to put myself as a writer and my writing out in the world to build audience. The March 2019 issue of The Writer confirmed this while I was reading it this past week on my daily commute to work. Most of this issue is devoted to promotion and social media.

My takeaway? There’s no getting around it. Writers must have an online presence, and Twitter seems to be the place to be nowadays. Writers can pick and choose, however, rather than throwing themselves into every single social media platform. That was good to hear. So, a website is a must. Twitter. The rest would be frosting on the cake and dependent on time. I have a “website” — this blog. I’m on Twitter but for my nonfiction writing, not fiction. Does that mean I need to have another Twitter account? Apparently. I don’t really like Twitter, however. I’ve set up a Facebook page for the Perceval Novels, and I’ve done some networking at LinkedIn in the past. But I have to admit there’s one big obstacle for me to spending a lot of time on social media: I prefer to work on my fiction and essays.

Nicki Porter, The Writer’s Senior Editor, wrote a wonderful “10 Social Commandments” in her opening letter from the Editor, and I’d like to share them here as a set of guidelines for writers (and me) for dealing with the social media in our lives:

  1. Thou shalt not tweet only about thyself.
  2. Thou shalt never attack or criticize another writer (unless thou be fully prepared to deal with the consequences).
  3. Thou shalt always remember that social media be more about building connections than selling books.
  4. Thou shalt support other writers at every opportunity.
  5. Thou shalt never offer advice unless said advice is requested.
  6. Thou shalt not succumb to jealousy or nastiness at other writers’ fame and fortune, but rather have faith that thy own successes cometh in due time.
  7. Thou shalt never tag an author in a negative review.
  8. Thou shalt not self-promote in times of national tragedy.
  9. Thou shalt listen as much as thou speakest.
  10. Thou shalt NEVER, EVER pitch an agent or editor on social media.

And with that, I’ll now return to my work on the novel revision.

 

The Different Types of Editing Explained

One of the prevalent strains of flu knocked me off my feet this past week and I’m still recovering. As a result, I have not done much writing, but I have tried to keep up with email. I ran across an interesting blog post at “Writer UnBoxed” that defines and explains the different types of editing. There wasn’t a reblog button, so the link is here.

Professional writers need to know about the different types of editing in order to hire the right kind of editor for their books when the time comes for the professional editing process to begin. I would dearly love to find an editor who could stay with me for all my novels, who could do a developmental edit as well as copy editing. An excellent professional editor is like gold. But there’s more to it than just being able to edit, I’ve discovered. It’s also important that the editor have an interest in the kind of writing I do, the subjects of my writing, and be open to learning if the knowledge is not yet there. It can be a disaster if an editor just doesn’t get your subject matter or has no interest in it.

More soon….