Thursday, September 28, 2006

Rainy days and daisy ways

The title means absolutely nothing. It just sounded good to this writer this morning. I woke up to rain. Actually, I could hear it under the tires of the vehicles passing our house. And when I looked at the bold red numerals on the alarm clock, 7:27 a.m., I was so sure it was much earlier. The sky was so gray. I thought I'd sleep awhile longer since it's such a gloomy morning. But the book on the night table caught my eye. No, I should be reading.

Reading is an important activity for a writer. I've read that countless times. Reading isn't important just to know what the competition is doing, but how the competition is writing. Reading is a study of each writer's process and progress, a continual growth thing. Getting better with each story one writes; figuring out how to write from the beginning to the middle to the end.

I'm just about at mid-point of this particular novel that I'm writing. If I can write one chapter a day, in 30 days I'll have a rough draft finished. It sounds ambitious. But it's something I can do. It's realistic for me. And now it's time for me to get to it. I have a full schedule today. I don't have time for procrastination this morning. Procrastination...a common ailment--or is it just a state of mind--for writers. :D

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Sunny side of the street

Today was a beautiful day in our fair state. The sun shone, the sky was blue, a stark contrast to the autumn leaves of red, yellow and orange. It reminded me of a photograph I took about seven years ago. Seven...that is a symbol of completeness. Interesting thought. Here I am seven years after leaving my full time newspaper editor's position. Seven years of learning, stretching and growing. Seven years of finishing some things I started--like raising children. Seven years of learning my craft of writing...a long haul for DH who thinks I'm never going to get my work published. Of course, he still thinks there is "just" one novel, even when he comes into my office and sees the shelves lined with folders, the piles of notebooks and papers, all works in progress for one project or another.

Am I complete? Hm. Another interesting question. I had an enlightenment yesterday, an epiphany, as I was working on my novel. Some truths made themselves known to me and I have to admit, I was taken by surprise. I don't know why I didn't see these things before. I mean, they were right there in front of me all the time! But I didn't see them, I guess, until the proper time. Interesting.

So, I am ready to begin writing chapters 13, 14, and 15 of a 33-chapter novel. I decided the number of chapters this morning. How many chapters, I asked myself, will it take to tell this story: beginning (introducing problems), middle (defining problems), and end (resolving problems). Well, how many lines are there on this piece of paper at the back of my notebook? 33. Well, that means chapters 1-11 for the beginning, chapters 12-22 for the middle and chapters 23-33 for the end. I began to make plotting notes to myself so I can keep control of my story as the rough draft is written from beginning, through the middle, to the end. It sounds simple, but again, until the time is right, it just doesn't make sense or fall into place. Could I have learned it faster, sooner, in my younger years? Or was I on my way when I decided to take that first newspaper job? Did I hamper my own growth as a writer by working that 24/7/365 job?

I guess that's a moot point and doesn't really matter since I can't go back and change a thing. But I can begin from here because I know more about my craft. I may have more to learn, but I will take what I know at this moment and move forward.

My mom and I sat on the patio all afternoon with our crochet hooks. We talked and giggled and laughed out loud, enjoying the sunshine, the blue skies, the companionship, the tea, the crocheting. I can't remember when I last did that. But I know we make time for the people and things that mean something to us. Mom. Dad. Sonny. My children. My grandchildren. My marriage. My faith. My writing. All are meaningful to me, but are not always in the same order.

I am only now at my midlife mark. I have another half of a life to live and learn and love and write.

Thursday, September 21, 2006


I posted to one of my favorite writing groups today. What is your inspiration, given that Steinbeck--or was it Hemingway?--said that a writer can't be married to his/her inspiration?The writer's mate is the one who keeps the writer's feet on the ground. The passion of a writer's life keeps them writing, creating.

I've been thinking about that some, of late. Does a soulmate have to be the person you love and to whom you are married? Or can you have soulmates who share common interests with you? I don't know.

Does my mate keep my feet on the ground? Oh, yes. Is he my soulmate? As far as my children are concerned, yes. As far as my writing is concerned? Oh, no. He isn't interested in my writing at all. His interests end where the incoming checks are concerned, and he's not seen a lot of that.

My passion? Now, that's something I won't divulge. I have one. And when I think of that passion, my creative juices start flowing and I write well.

What is "passion"? Mr. Webster, if you please?

PASSION: n. 1. orig., a) suffering or agony, as of a martyr b) an account of this. 2 a) any of the Gospel narratives of Jesus' Passion and and of accompanying events. b) an artistic work, as an oratorio or a play, based on these narratives 3. a) any one of the emotions, as hate, grief, love, fear, joy, etc. b) [pl] all such emotions collectively; 4. extreme, compelling emotion; intense emotional drive or excitement; specif., a.) great anger, rage; fury b.) enthusiasm or fondness [a passion for music] c) strong love or affection d) sexual drive or desire; lust 5. the object of any strong desire or fondness 6 [Obs] the condition of being acted upon, esp. by outside influences...

SYN: passion usually implies a strong emotion that has an overpowering or compelling effect.

Is a writer's passion something with guilt attached because the writer's passion is being spent somewhere beyond the people (s)he loves? Can a mate be jealous of the writer's passion? Is that why so many famous writers marry and divorce? Is that why those of us who are writers who set aside our writing for the people we love are less famous? Because we prioritize differently, family first?

What is regret? Not realizing our full potential, our dreams, because we spent a lifetime living for those we love instead of living our lives for ourselves. Is that selfishness? I didn't postulate that there is no room for compassion. Or perhaps my problem is that I've only just been able to break the apron strings that held my children to me and I no longer feel guilty about writing or spending time with the passions of my mind that urge on my desires to write and write and write. And the final question: am I making any sense?

Monday, September 04, 2006

Jump start

It was one of those moments when I had to make a decision. It seems like lately (the last six months at least) I've been a big disappointment to folks. Commitment became failure because I couldn't honor the promises (commitments) I had made. One of the lessons I learned as a child was that when you make a promise, you keep it, no matter what you have to do. You never break your promises, your word.

Well, when circumstances say, "You don't have the money to do that," "You don't have the transportation to get there," "You have another priority that weighs heavier on you," well, you just...disappoint people.

So I was at another of those junctures. My friend needed to travel to Maine to do some research for her book. She couldn't go alone. I said, OK, we could go. Then reality hit. I wasn't going to have the money to go. I told her, I can't do it. I won't have the money. Then we talked. She really wanted to go. I knew I was letting her down bigtime. "OK. How much money do you think I'll need? I'll try to come up with it." Even as I was saying the words, I knew it was going to be some kind of challenge to make it all work.

Could I afford the trip? No. Was DH upset about me going on this trip? Yes. Did we talk it over and work it out, DH and I? Yes. Can I afford the trip? No. But I made a promise. My friend is always there for me. Can I do less for her? We WILL be making a trip to Maine before winter. We have to. SHE has to be there.

Maybe being away from my desk, my home, my family, for a week will be beneficial for my creativity. I received a rejection from a magazine I am trying to crack. It's not an easy one to get into. But they pay well, $1,800 for 1,000 words. There was an editor's handwritten message for me. Now, editors don't usually write handwritten messages unless the author has made some sort of impression. So, my goal while I'm gone is to 1.) Write a 1,000 word story to submit when I return and 2.) Write 5,000 words each day on this novel I'm toting around. Can I do it?

Well, we shall see, won't we?