Novel writing to me is just like sitting down to tell a story—only on paper. I actually wrote Keeping Faith long hand, and it took just a little over a month, but editing took a year. The plot, settings, and the characters came to me as easy as grilling and then savoring a good steak, but oh, how I hate the details of editing, especially since I am a terrible speller. (I know I have spell check, but you have to get close enough so that the little guy in the computer knows what word it is!) [Read more…] about Novel Writing–The Devil is in the Details
Blogging is a contact sport. I’m beating myself up!!! I have learned that I must start winding down my blog writing earlier in the day because when I go to bed late into the night after writing, my body is ready, but my mind isn’t! I am too wired. Even if I do go to sleep quickly, I wake up in the wee hours of the morning with the most recent blog on my mind, thinking of changes, additions, deletions, etc. So, I have officially decided all writing must end by 5:00 p.m. That’s somewhat of a significant time for me anyway so that will work well.
I can sit outside, look at the water and let my mind “chill out”. Then I can return to what was my schedule, before I embarked on this web site, of watching HGTV, Food Network, The Travel Channel and cable news. Exciting, huh?
Speaking of television–last week my cable was out for four days. I missed seeing the cable company’s advertisement of “outstanding, quality service guaranteed” for four whole days while I steamed and called them repeatedly to try to arrange for quicker service, all to no avail. It’s not that I am a TV fanatic. On most days I can live with or without it, but I guess it is all about just knowing I couldn’t watch, that got me so fired up. Of course, I handled it with much aplomb and patience. If you believe that then I’ll make you a very special deal on the book!!!
I am much calmer now, but still interested in talking to the local dish or Direct TV provider. I am, however, frustrated at myself for being the least amount dependent on cable, but I am a creature of habit, and finding out what ridiculous political quote or dumb law Congress enacted on a particular day is just a part of my journalist background (I think I failed to say in my biographical sketch that I was a reporter for a local newspaper when I was in college, but please don’t hold that against me).
So seven days a week I watch and listen to world events. Several years ago, when my great nephew, who loves TV was about four and my niece was visibly upset by the loss of her mother-in-law, he tried to comfort her by saying, “It’s okay Mom, at least we still have cable.”
There was little consolation for me during that time of lost news, weather, design shows, and reviews of exotic places to visit. Some good did come from the inconvenience since I did use some of that time wisely by continuing my editing, along with various and sundry tasks that I never knew before were required in getting a book to completion.
Some of you have emailed me or commented on the web site, asking whether KEEPING FAITH will be available on Kindle. That is in the works so all you “techy-type readers should be taken care of if all goes to plan. I’ll let you know as soon as that is complete. You will be able to order from Amazon the same way you would order a print version.
It’s hard to have a life and write books. I once heard Nora Roberts speak at a Romance Writers Conference and she said that writers must follow a very disciplined schedule. She added that she doesn’t even let her husband or children disturb her during that long work day she has designed for herself. I have a really hard time with that. As much as I love to write I love to do other things as well. Plus, there are just things that have to get done.
I don’t want this to be a job, to take over my life. Maybe if I were as successful as Nora Roberts I would feel differently. Maybe if I were rich and famous I would hole up at my desk all day and crank out those novels coming and going. But I’m none of the above, so there are things I have to stop and do.
For example, the other day it rained, which this year was somewhat of a phenomenon since we are in a drought. It was so refreshing and cool that I decided I needed to change out my closets so that my fall and winter clothes will be close at hand. Not that we have fall or winter here, but remember I go places where one must have those kinds of clothes.
The big problem with changing out clothes here is that I live in a house built for the island, which means that no matter how large the house, the closets are small because most places are second homes for people who spend weekends or a month or so at the most. But this is where I live so back when I moved here I had to make a plan and that was to fix a place in the attic to store out of season clothes. This is a big endeavor, and remember attics in South Texas are HOT.
Anyway, the moving up of summer clothes and moving down of heavier items for chilly weather was no small task, and to make it worse I couldn’t find my favorite jeans. I have lots of jeans, but these are my favorite so it became an obsession to find these jeans!!! So when I should have been editing, I was searching and searching and searching. Yep, somehow I had put them in the wrong stack and they were in the attic!
I tell you this because I simply can’t be a writer all day!! There are flowers to water, a yard to mow, not to mention, furniture to dust and floors to mop. And raccoons to attend to! As of 4:00 a.m. Raccoon #5 was securely in his trap. I looked into his EYES! He was there! As of 7:15 a.m. he was gone, vanished, out-of there!! The trap was locked and he was gone. Now, I am concerned. There are several scenarios to consider: He is either Houdini Raccooni, or his friends and family came back to spring him from confinement, or there is a serial coonnapper on the loose. This is a true mystery, not a “wild” tale!!!
Book activity seems to be moving at a heightened pace, and I must admit I am excited, but at the same time trying not to let myself get too giddy in fear that it will come crashing down again. After all, Keeping Faith has for almost three years done just that. As a crumpled manuscript on my book shelf and a nondescript icon on my laptop, she has kept the faith, most of the time better than I. After months of revisions and rejections, I had my doubts that Patrick, et. al, would ever be running freely on the pages of a real novel. Now it looks like they may not just run, but hopefully jump off the pages into your heart.
After seeing the first draft of the cover design last night and then talking to Chris, my agent, I am back to the way I felt right after I finished writing the book–exuberant, enthusiastic, optimistic, yet decidedly a little more knowledgeable, less naive and somewhat jaded about the whole book publishing process. After all, I was dumb enough not to realize how many times I would have to rewrite, edit, rewrite, edit and rewrite again. I spent the last two days doing just that, and I still worry that after it is all said and done and I hold that sweet book in my hands that there will be a mistake. I can’t help it. I’ve decided I just won’t look, but it will happen. In college, I worked at a newspaper. I saw what can happen to a headline after five people had checked it–the minute it hits the ink it morphs into something alien. Besides some Sodoku puzzle solving type will find something grammatically wrong with Keeping Faith which is why I don’t like grammar. I never really did. It is too much like math for me to like. I remember when I was working on my dissertation and holding my own with any professor,meeting with the “Grammar Gestapo” gave me shivers because no matter how many times I had read that copy she would find a missed comma or a typo faster than a dropped call in an elevator.
Now give me literature and I shine. I love the symbolism (I hope you see it in my novel–it’s everywhere, but I can’t tell you anymore). Throw in those metaphors, personifications, hyperboles and there’s an interesting pot of stew. Those words even sound fun and pretty and welcoming–but grammar–I don’t think so! Now I know this sounds weird and counter to what I just said, but I did like to diagram sentences once in a while. That was okay and seemed like a bit of a game compared to those other grammar drills that most of my stiff, old maid English teachers thought were so useful and worthwhile. Now talk diagramming sentences to anyone under 50 years old and watch the eyes glaze over in confusion. They don’t have a clue!
I shouldn’t be so hard on English teachers because I was once one myself. I trudged through that long semester of grammar each year so I could get to literature–stories of unrequited love and conquests, heroes and heroines, soliloquies and long passages that took a person on a journey they otherwise might never go. But then it was always back to grammar because that is just every day life. So now today I will look at my manuscript one last time—what part of finished, done, complete, final do I not understand?? Why can’t I just put it to bed??? It seems that grammar won’t let you get a handle on those words because after all, grammar like everything else changes and why I ask? Why is it that it was okay not to have a comma with an “and” in words in a series back when I taught English and now it is expected? I guess it really doesn’t matter because I was always conflicted anyway since I had a double major in English and journalism. Those snobbish English people thought journalists a little loose and uncultured because the rules weren’t the same–for grammar or anything else for that matter. And just one more thing and then I will calm down and stop, but I just have to admit that sometimes I fight with that little guy in the computer when he tells me to change a comma to a semi-colon. How does he know anyway? I say he’s wrong; my friends say I’m wrong. I’ll get back to you later. I have some proofing to do!!