Writing and avoiding writer's block requires constant creativity.
|Sometimes the greatest way to get motivated is just to let the thoughts roll straight through the brain, to the fingers, and out onto a clean slate. There are lots of ways that I keep the creative juices flowing and blogging is just one of those.|
|I have not had much time to post as I have been working on completing some projects that have been on the back burner for quite a while now. One of those is the quilt that was supposed to have been completed in April. Handquilting takes a long time when you have arthritis. But I can say that it is now halfway completed, so I should have pictures posted in the gallery at my website soon.
As for the other projects. I went through and started revamping all the children's book manuscripts that I had written back in December 2004 and the beginning of 2005. I had began submitting them before my mom found out she had cancer, and I got sick as well. 2004 and 2005 were very difficult in my family. In less than a year, I lost 2 uncles, 1 aunt, and the only grandmother I ever knew.
When I became sick, mostly due to all the stress that was going on around me, I just stopped writing. But, now that I have begun to feel better, I thought, I should drag out those manuscripts, freshen them up and send them out.
It's funny how when you put things away for a long period of time and pull them back out, you can really be critical! Kind of like looking at things with a fresher perspective. I ended up rewriting an entire manuscript and sending it out. My dear husband took it to the post office for me this morning.
Now, to write a few queries for others that are awaiting another chance!
| All procrastination aside, I finally took the big leap. I went to the post office yesterday and sent my manuscript off. I told my husband I prayed the entire way to the post office and left it in God's hands. But I have to admit that I was so nervous and excited all at the same time.
I joked with the lady behind the counter as I bought enough stamps to put on the SASE that I hoped the publisher wouldn't have to use it to send it back, but the rarity of finding a publisher to accept a manuscript the first time does not leave me with much hope.
(indent}The hardest part of finding a publisher, without an agent, is the research. Researching the proper publishing house with whom your material is a perfect fit. So, I have read up and submitted it to the first on my list. Still hoping that I will not have to continue down the list, but I will if it comes down to it.
Of course, the fact that I submitted my manuscript does not mean that I can stop writing. I went through my old manuscripts (as I have mentioned before) and I am updating them. They were wonderful ideas, but they weren't presented in exactly the right manner. Therefore, I am rewriting into a new format.
(indent)I thought at first that they would make nice picture books, but they needed more thought. Not many publishers are looking for picture books. So, I thought I would expand the ideas into simple readers. Then I can try them out on my youngest son to make sure that the words are simple enough.
In college, I took a journalism class and my teacher was constantly giving me poor grades. When asked why, he replied that although I had a huge vocabulary, I needed to simplify my reports. Newspapers had no place for the large repertoire of words I knew. Newspapers had to written so that everyone could read and understand.
Well, let me say that the next assignment, I was so upset by what he said, I purposely wrote my assignment simple. I was actually very mad and decided that I would show him. Straight to the point and simple, simple, simple words. Most of it out of spite. Well wouldn't you know, I got an A+!
It was his (the professor's)constant beration of my work that made me decide that I did not want a career in journalism. I wanted to write what I wanted to write. Not what I was told to write.
At the age of 36, I have finished my first full length novel manuscript and I must be experiencing a little bit of Alzheimers because sometimes when I write down a word, I don't recognize it. I use a dictionary often because of this. Not to mention the dictionary and thesaurus on my Word 2002 program. I love that! I could do without the correction system sometimes. I despise looking up at the monitor and seeing all those squiggly red and green lines underlining things. Especially when you are writing out dialogue and you are wanting the speech pattern to emulate how the character would truly speak. Frustrating.
Well, back to work.
| As I was cleaning out my inbox, I ran across an email that I received in review of one of my poems. This prompted me to further describe the thought process behind this piece of poetry.
I don't care to much for the short description that we are allowed and sometimes there is background needed to explain how we felt when writing the poem. I recall several literature classes that I took and sometimes we needed to know why a poet wrote what they did.
Some wrote poetry on their death beds. Others wrote poems because they were scorned, while others wrote simply to express their thoughts on a topic. Others, simply wrote poetry to inspire one to take action!
The poem below was written and given to my father on his birthday. I was a single mom at the time and I had absolutely no money! I could not even afford a $1 or $2 card. So, out of crafty ingenuity, I sat down and expressed my thoughts and my love for my dad, who was always there for me when I was growing up and even after I was grown with children of my own.
I gave him the poem and a small box, just as the poem described. My dad still has that little box tied with lace and he is so proud, showing it to anyone who will read it. It was a precious gift, more valuable than anything store bought could ever be.
A friend of mine once told me that the art of writing died along with the creation of email. Penmanship has become nonexistant.
I have to admit that I do not put pen to paper as much as I used to once I had my computer. My arthritis makes it difficult to sit and hold a pen, but I can still type, though I have to back up and correct mistakes made by lazy fingers. Even my children dislike practicing handwriting.
There was once a day when I longed for a new pen and paper. Now, I have stacks of filled notebooks, but even more computer files!
Enough rambling out of me. Take a peek at the poem below. If it doesn't make you smile, it will at least make you alittle misty.
| Well, today is Sunday, and I'm currently waiting around for time to leave to go to church.
Last night as I was working on some placemats for my kitchen table I came to realize that I have too many UFO's sitting around my house, or UFP's(p for projects). As I have mentioned before, I live in constant chaos, the more disorganized, the better I function.
But that's not what I was thinking about last night. Last night I was feeling rather guilty for working on a project for my pleasure- a bit of selfishness, I suppose- and I sat down and started to make out a list of my UFO's.
My motivation to finish said objects will be the chance to scrapbook a memory albumn I have been putting off for quite a while. I assume it shouldn't take too long for the sewing projects, and I am certain that the book projects will come along at their usual pace.
In the book projects category are a few, namely six, manuscripts that I wrote a year or two ago. I had submitted all but one and after I had no response, I thought about rewriting and polishing a bit more.
Some of those were for picture books, but I thought I could get more out of them. Perhaps taking the ideas and elaborating them into full novels or easy readers instead.
My writing style that I have learned is to write out quickly. Getting the idea down onto the paper, not stopping for mistakes in the first draft. The idea is to get it out. Sort of a thorough outline in that rough draft, a building block, occaisionally placing ??? where I need to go back and research something.
It's so much easier to go back and take things out, add a bit more, when you already have the skeleton sitting there at the ready. You know what is happening, who is there, and with the rough draft, you don't feel so pressured to come up with ideas.
In my recent novel, I found that when I went back, it was easier going back on that final draft and adding in background material. Such as, telling the reader the story behind the story. I added in such bits and pieces as how the characters met one another and what they were like years before in college. Small details that otherwise would have slowed me down in the beginning as I was trying to fill in the plot.
Well, enough talk. It's time to go.
| Well, I am so excited to say that I have finally finished my first novel. I'm so excited I could jump up and down if I wasn't so sick.
I told my husband that this was a great accomplishment for myself. While I have written a few picture books and poems, none published yet, I am excited by this small feat!
Now to go back and finish some of the other manuscripts that I have started and stopped. I love to just jot down ideas and sometimes they free form themselves into stories. Sometimes, they just die out.
I recall reading a quote by Stephen King that said (and I'm paraphrasing here) "sometimes you have to know when to kill a story." Some stories are not meant to live. Some things start out to be a great idea, but if there isn't enough there to keep it interesting, or moving, then you have to know when to pull the plug.
Then there are the times when you just write yourself into a corner and you don't know how to write your way back out of it. I've done that before. I wrote a story once and was 3/4ths the way through when low and behold, I realized that the direction I was taking the characters in were just wrong. I loved the characters and they took on a life of their own. I wanted to send them one way and they said, "No, we need to go this way." Needless to say, I scrapped the idea.
On listening to the characters I realized that they were right, and I was wrong. They had a story to tell, so who knows, I may go back and rewrite that manuscript with a whole new idea in mind.
Maybe that will be my next novel!
| I have not had much of a chance to update this blog, or write for that matter, as this past week has had my Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) flared up. Having a cold seems to worsen the flare, I think.
So, I have not been able to type, hold a pencil, or do any of the things I truly love. Well, except sew. I did a lot of ripping and sewing. It is the one hobby that I have learned how to do left handed. I feed the fabric under the needle with my left hand and guide the fabric using two fingers with my right hand, as my thumb was inflamed along with my wrist.
One good thing came out of all this, I did get the chance to do a lot of thinking. Thinking, is writing. When you slow down and just think, you can come up with so many creative ideas. You can think about characters. How they would look, think, and act when placed in certain situations.
You can think about plots for future books. That is what I did. I'm currently finishing up an adult Suspense/sci-fi and I'm wanting to work on a young adult, teen book.
I find having an idea prepared before hand, keeps me focused and I'm not forced to sit in front of a blank page (or screen) with no idea what to write about. Considering the fact that I am the worlds biggest procrastinator, blank ideas and projects are not welcomed. I have to have a plan, or else, I will sit and sit, or just not accomplish anything at all.
|This past weekend has been just a remarkable testimony to the power of prayer.
I had read a devotion once about a young boy who asked his Sunday school teacher to pray for his sick cat. The end of the devotion was something to the effect that all prayer is important. God asks us to pray and to pray continually.
Sometimes though, we get so bogged down in our lives, we forget that we can ask for most anything.
I woke up Saturday to my husband calling me to tell me that when he arrived on his job, the truck he was driving would not crank. He needed for me to come later, when he was ready to leave, so that we could jump the truck off.
No sooner than I hung up the phone, my oldest son came bringing me one of the small kittens that I had been caring for since we found him under our house. The kitten was near death. He could not stand, nor walk. He could not hold his little head up and he appeared to not be able to see or hear. I thought at first, he had come down with a very serious illness, or drank something that had poisoned him.
We didn't have the money to rush him to the vet and I told both of my children that sometimes, death happens and we can't control it. That perhaps, God had let this kitten die for some reason, we may never know.
I put the kitten into a box, and closed the lid over it (it had holes in the top) because my mom said that the cat would look for some place dark and quiet to die and I didn't want to go and look in my dresser to get something to wear and find a dead kitty. (excuse the run on sentences)
Well, my oldest son excepted this, but my younger son, he refused to believe that this kitty was beyond help. Even God's help.
I overheard him telling his brother to leave him alone, he was praying for God to save Puddles and make him better.
I was touched by his sincere belief and dedication to pray for this kitten.
He would go and pray, coming back occaisionally to check on the kitten. "Mom, I think he's stopped breathing."
"No, he's still breathing, but barely. I don't think he will make it through the day. He'll be dead by in the morning."
"Mom, are you sure there is nothing you can do?"
"Yes, there is nothing that I can do. It's out of my hands."
"Well, what about God?"
"Well, prayer never hurts."
He went back and prayed and checked, prayed and checked. This continued for a few hours.
If the kitty looked up and I waved my hand in front of him, he wouldn't follow it with his eyes. He would stare motionless. If I moved out of his sight range, he would not try to find me. It wasn't looking too good for Puddles.
My youngest son walked back into the room and I heard him announce, "I thought you said he couldn't see!"
"He can't." I walked back into the room.
"Well, look." He said walking back and forth, the little kitten's head turning to watch him.
"Well, he," I walked over and moved my hand back and forth in front of the kitten. "Honey, he still." I was at a loss for an answer. He saw him, but when I did the same thing: nothing.
Soon my husband called and we had to leave. I left the little kitten in the box, still expecting it not to be alive when we returned, as his breathing had become more shallow.
I helped my husband get his truck started and he said, "Why don't you go and visit your mom and dad since you're right here at their house?"
I agreed and my oldest son went with me and my youngest, with him.
I had been sitting there chatting with them when the phone rang.
"Hon, I thought you said Puddles was sick and dying?"
"Well, if he is, he's getting a last meal to go."
"What? He was in a box."
"When I got home, he was sitting in front of the food bowl, eating then drinking. He wasn't in a box."
"How did he get there?"
"He walked. A little wobbly, but he walked. He then went back into our bedroom and laid down."
Well, I must say that on Sunday, he was up, eating, making more trips to the kitchen to go and eat. By Sunday night, he was playing with his brother.
Today, he's climbing all over the place, running and playing.
I question how, but I know.
It was a small reminder from God that I need to trust Him more with my prayers and needs. After all, if He can save a small kitten, how much more would he do for me! I need to in trust Him with every worry and concern. My son did not hesitate to take his concern for Puddles to the Lord. I should not hesitate to take my concerns to the Lord.
Even in Puddles, he performed a miracle and all it took was the power of prayer.
|Ahh. The notorious and laborious process of proofreading. How I loathe it!
But, still I can't complain. I know my novel needed it. The first draft gets the skeleton set up. The second draft adds the flesh to it. And well, the proofreading makes sure that all the details are correct.
I finished up the piece a few days ago, while wrestling with the ending. Everything was going smoothly until the end. I had one unanswered question and a character lingering in the shadows saying, "You know what I did."
Funny, I had forgotten all about him. I had pinned all the evidence on the obvious culprit, but there at the end, I knew I had to (for the reader's sake) answer the one burning question, "What really happened?"
Proofreading the piece, twice I had read through it and each time I thought, I have a puzzle piece missing. So I added it at the end. Tied all my loose ends. Now I found that I needed a bit more meat on them bones.
The action was more narrative, and my characters just going through the motions of life, with nothing more than the narrator to send them on their way. Good for a play, but not in a book where you need to see each detail.
But I do know that I have found a lot of great resources and input from some of the other writers here at Writing.com. There are lots of articles to read and help you improve your writing.
|Well, I have made it two days! Yay! I'm tired, worn out, drained, arthritis acting up, and painted in different hues, but it's all for the glory of God.
This year has been a little bit different. I'm in the craft room. I should feel very comfortable, in my element, but I miss the teaching. But watching the children create their small works of art, taking such pride in each accomplishment. Each piece as individualized as themselves.
So far the only writing I have managed to accomplish has been two songs. One I have been working on for a short while. I had the words, but no music. The second, I had written down the words last Wednesday night while waiting on church service to start.
I took it out this morning, examined the lyrics I had chosen. Almost instantaneously, the chords just came to me and they fit so well. I told my husband that song was God inspired. There was no way to think otherwise. I have usually slaved for days and sometimes, weeks, just to get the perfect melody for a song. Sometimes I have had a melody and found words to go with it, but never have I been able to just pick up the guitar and strum out a perfect chord progression.
The only thing different about writing this song, was who I was thinking about as I wrote it.
A dear friend at church who had been injured while playing with her children was telling me how she had gotten so depressed. She tore her ACL and had to be put on bedrest, not doing much, and had to have an operation. But the depression stemmed from her inability to do for her family. Instead of her serving her family, she was having to be served by her family. They had to do so many things for her that she would normally do and she felt so helpless.
Well, I pulled those lyrics out that I had jotted down in church and said, "Lord, I know that these are the words that she needs to hear right now."
God must have agreed.
I think I may have to perform the song in church this Sunday.
Well, now its late and I have to write at least a page in my novel before bed.
| This year I won't be teaching at VBS. It makes me a little sad because I enjoyed it so much, but I get to help out with crafts. Good thing I enjoy crafting.
My youngest son was disappointed that I wouldn't be teaching, but he soon got excited when he realized that he would see me during craft time.
They had placed my oldest son as helping out in crafts as well, but he wanted to be outside with my husband helping with the recreation. They have a lot more adults out there than during previous years, mostly because they have built an obstacle course (including a zip line}, and they want to insure the safety of the children.
Last night when we went to church they had already begun decorating for this week. The front of the church was covered in a camoflage net. It was strange, but it goes with our theme of God's Army.
When the children got up this morning, my youngest son started with, "When are we leaving for church?"
I'm so glad that they are excited about church, but I wish they would be excited about going to hear the message, not excited about getting to play on the zip line.
It's so easy for the message to get lost in the decorations. Same with our writing. It's easy to bury the idea in the description. Do we really need to know what the room looked like down to the dust on the shelf? While it may help the reader to visualize the settings, if it slows down the movement of the plot, it may just bore the reader.
The current novel that I am working on, I had a section where I described the office of one of my characters. I pondered over whether or not it was necessary and came to the conclusion that I really needed that section because I wanted the reader to know something about this character.
The description of the surroundings helped me to describe certain characteristics about my character. I wanted to show that the character was wealthy, he enjoyed expensive things, and he felt that those items were a type of status symbol.
With another character, I did the opposite. To set up his character, I used his thoughts and actions. He was to be an average person. Someone the reader could easily identify with.