Monthly Archives: June 2015

Quilting A Story

I’ve had success this week. I finished quilting a story. I’m not bragging but vindicating my time spent.

I finished the last revision on the first volume of Wisher’s World, and began putting together my next Short Tales Chapbook, My designer will get the cover for these done this week; the latter one today and the other in a couple of days. It’s been a long haul these last few days.

Pink Quilt--Photo Courtesy of debspoons

Pink Quilt–Photo Courtesy of debspoons

While I work on getting the chapbook off the ground before the weekend, revision work on three short stories for submission begins. Like most writers, different projects come in different sizes, shapes, and needs.

Like a quilter matching fabrics to block designs, the act of writing takes on its small challenges. Take the revision of Wisher’s World Vol. 1, for instance.

This story line has been locked inside my head for several years. In that time, Muse has taken the opportunity to embellish character backgrounds, world dimensions and complications, etc. Also, that instigator of rabbit holes used her time to hide secrets from me. Who knew that one of the primary characters was something other than what I’d believed since 2007?

abstract-medical-background_My3tatDOThat shocker came out during the last chapter. Granted, she gave me a hint something wasn’t as it seemed a few chapters previously, but to change a character’s race? That takes guts, especially since it changes the entire dynamics of the overall story line.

Yep, Muse was on her high horse and not willing to hand over the reins. Will the story be better for that revelation? Probably. But the sudden impact of the change staggered me—sort of like when the quilter gets halfway through putting the quilt top together and realizes that three of her blocks had been reversed in orientation.

All writing is patchwork, after all. A splash of dramatic fabric

Fabric Bolts Photo Courtesy of  franky242

Fabric Bolts Photo Courtesy of franky242

color, an occasional stitch of comedic relief, a repeating pattern of character quirks, and on and on with dots and dashes of design elements.

The complete picture comes from the blending of all the elements. And so the writer’s life imitates the design. One day it’s a novella that’s running far too long. That’s when beta readers are brought in to add their opinions. The next day is creation time—developing a new quilt top pattern for a crib or a king-size bed.

Between keyboard sessions are the other elements of life. A stray image sparks while sitting in a restaurant. A quick note on hand paper to remember that spark for inclusion in something already written, or something in development. An overheard snippet of conversation pulls the mind into a world that exists only in the imagination, and becomes a catalyst for a scene.

I’m no different than most writers. My mind never stops working on story lines. Like fire crackers, neurons fire and ideas are born as exploding images waiting to become bits of a patchwork quilt.

The next six to eight months are full of designs; some old and revamped, some barely begun with incomplete patterns as yet. Regardless, I have plenty of fabric to use and more patterns to draw. Along the way, I’m going to share excerpts here. I hope you’ll chime in with your opinions when I do. Readers are the only real reason to write.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I’ll be back soon. Have a fantastic weekend, peeps. And enjoy the coming celebrations.

 

At Home—Balance With Focus

Image courtesy of jesadaphorn at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of jesadaphorn at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

while your feet keep the board balanced on its single, central roller. Some jugglers and acrobats use this technique all the time. And so do writers and other creative artists. Personal teeter-totters are tricky.

Back in the day, I could standing on that rolling board indefinitely and never need to think about what I was doing. The virtual equivalent isn’t always as easy. The reason is simple.

We’re constantly bombarded by more and more extraneous gibberish vying for our attention, demanding we focus on it instead of our desired focal point.

Take this last two weeks, for instance. I needed to concentrate on doing a full revision on the first volume of my Wisher’s World Series. I had my calendar set up to allow for submissions, revision time, and a bit of down time to decompress.

Then, WHAM, every distraction, unimportant call to action, and personal ‘need’ descended to throw balance out the window.

Sudden doctor’s appointments, Requests for favors from other 004-stock-photo-owriters, etc., came into the mix. Obviously I survived. I haven’t yet finished my revision, though.

I have another week’s worth of hard slog to get it to the edit stage. It should already have been on the edit board. I got one submission out. I have two more to get through edit and out before the end of the month. I’m behind on my posts here and on 2Voices1Song.

In other words, I’m way out of balance—again. And I was doing so well there for a while.

I will admit disappointment in myself—I couldn’t stem the landslide and fell off my balance board. I slid only two weeks, however. That’s better that ever before. And the trick was in how I refocused.

Ewam PoolMy  re-focus technique was fairly simple. I mirrored what others were asking of me. I sent impending work out to nonlocal writers for critique.  That gave me a quicker evaluation to use for edits when I got to them this week. I used every spare moment of quiet time to consider where my novella manuscript needed certain attention and jotted down thoughts and solutions. Doctor’s waiting rooms are great for that.

I did a minimum to satisfy every other demand, while still getting a chapter or two reworked in Wisher’s World each day.

Most of all, I threw perfectionism out the window and allowed myself the downtime I really needed.

Digital composition of a female face / one of four elements: fire

Digital composition of a female face / one of four elements: fire

The result wasn’t stellar, but it got the jobs done. I got the first short story out to its competition, I revised thirteen chapters in Wisher’s World and added a new chapter. I wrote some good poetry for five days and created modified Haiga posters. Along the way, I made a few new friends and picked up a large, new project to be developed soon.

007-stock-photo-wI’ve been hiking, went along on a short fishing expedition this morning, enjoyed the company of others, and kept as decompressed as I could. A day away, once a week, has become necessary.

My focus is back. The balance board is on its roller. My calendar needs tweaking because of projects rearranged or modified. But I’m not stressed over any of it anymore.

The only things left on my docket for today is a quick revision of one chapter, pulling out another short story to begin edit work on for submission, and working on a cover for my next chapbook. It’s slated to for release at the end of the month.

And in case you’re wondering, I’m still only working on material I have in backlog. That’s my only solid goal for the year and maybe even into next year.

If you have similar problems keeping your focus, share with others. Drop a comment below and tell me about your struggle with focus. We’re all rowing boats on the ocean.

Have a great rest of the week, peeps, and a fantastic weekend ahead.

 

 

 

Poetry Chain 5-Day Challenge

Today was day 2 of the Poetry Chain Challenge for June, created by a Facebook group to which I happen to belong.

The challenge is for each nominated poet to provide one poem per day for five days. Along with the poem, said poet must nominate another poet to begin the challenge. As you can imagine, the round-up gets a bit chaotic as best and a free-for-all otherwise. We’ve hit free-for-all this week.

The marvelous poet Jane Shlensky nominated me and I have kept up my end of the bargain.

Yesterday I posted here with the poster created about dreams, wishes, and worlds. Today, my offering is all about writing poetry. It seemed apropos. I hope you enjoy it.

old-paper-and-feather-vector_fJK62lwO

 

I’ll be back tomorrow with another offering for the threshold of the poetry door.

Have a great night, everyone.

Writing—Starting from Scratch

writing brand concept

A few days ago, a gal came to me for help. She wanted to begin writing but didn’t know where to start. She asked if I could/would help her.

This case isn’t unusual. Few beginning writers know where to start on the road toward publication. I did what I always do in this situation—I asked several questions to define the boundaries this would-be writer wanted to work with at the beginning.

Questions for the beginning writer:

  1. What kind of writing do you want to pursue? Fiction, non-fiction (including memoir), educational, inspirational, novel-length, poetry, etc.
  2. What’s the purpose behind your writing desire? Do you want to make extra money? Is this more a hobby for personal satisfaction where monetary gain is secondary to the work itself? Again, this makes a big difference in effort and in direction.
  3. What is the final goal of your desire to write? That’s going to be the hardest to pinpoint.
  4. All of these questions bring us back to–what type of writing do you want to do? Children’s’, adult, romance, Christian, science fiction, fantasy, etc. These are a major consideration.

abstract-medical-background_My3tatDOAnswering these four questions is paramount to beginning a serious stab at putting words to paper for others to read. For this particular newbie, fear didn’t come into it. She’d written pieces before for community newsletters and the like. She wanted more in-depth structure to the path than she had already experienced.

Left with this homework, she was satisfied to stand at the trailhead to her future. She could give me one answer immediately. She wanted to write memoir/inspirational pieces—not just to tell her story, but also with the potential to help others going through similar life lessons.

compass-vector_MywT8Ww_Following the trail requires direction and signposts. Armed with the desired genre, I could point her toward additional research homework. I advised her to look through the following resources for how they could help her hone both her desires and her craft.

  1. National Assoc. of Memoir Writers: http://namw.org/ Specialty organization for education/networking/publication
  2. The Writer Magazine: http://www.writermag.com/. Marketing lists of publications, contests & Competitions, plus educational  material
  3. Writer’s Digest Magazine: http://www.writersdigest.com/. Marketing/education/contests
  4. Blog Her: http://www.blogher.com/. Networking with other women writers of all stripes, forums, opportunities
  5. She Writes: http://www.shewrites.com/. Networking with other women writers, forums, publishing, etc.

Once this newbie spends time sorting through what’s on offer at these sites, she’ll have a better handle on what’s possible for her immediately and what’s still on the needs list.

Close up of glasses on research concept

Close up of glasses on research concept

Each genre has its own needs, craft secrets, and markets. Memoir and inspirational writing is no different. This groundwork is necessary for anyone who wants to pursue the trail to publication.

As we go through this process, I’ll post here on the ground covered and the signposts along the way. Others can use this same information for their own journey. I hope it can point the way for any who are confused or unsure of their direction.

And on that note, I’m going to leave you with a poem poster I did today for a poetry challenge from one of my groups on Facebook. Enjoy.

Earth Sunrise and Milky Way Illustration. First Sun Lights. Space Illustrations Collection.

Earth Sunrise and Milky Way Illustration. First Sun Lights. Space Illustrations Collection.