Monday, October 26, 2009

Last week I was pretty much blog silent. I almost did a Friday Five, but I decided I didn't have time. My husband and I went out of town to celebrate our tenth anniversary. We went a few months late so we could go to an amusement park and not be miserable. We had a lot of fun and I didn't write anything the whole weekend. I didn't read either. It was very strange for me.

Lately I've been trying to add exercise back into my routine, and it doesn't happen unless I get up and do it first thing. I'm not much of a morning person anymore since I usually write at night. This has been totally weighing me down. I wish that I could just schedule little slots of time and do exactly what I plan in those slots. I've sat down and made schedule after schedule (I'm geeky that way) and they never work out. I keep telling myself I only have three more years until all my kids are in school. (But then I freak out that my baby will be in kindergarten in three years--honestly it's a catch 22.)

But until then what am I supposed to do? How do I find that elusive balance? That is what I'm trying to figure out.

And my manuscript, oh my manuscript. Every time I think I'm done I decide I'm not. And now I'm at a point where I'm afraid that I've ruined everything. I know I've got to make a few major plot changes. But am I losing what I wanted in the first place, and does what I wanted matter if I end up with a better book?

I've been dragging my feet on the current round of rewrites just because I'm not sure that they are right for me. I'm so frustrated that I'm seriously considering putting the manuscript aside for a month and writing another novel and then coming back to it. I don't know if it makes sense long term or not.

There was an interesting blog post by Elana Johnson about confidence and all day I've thought about my confidence. The thing is I know that I will be a published author and a career one at that. I know it very deep down. I am willing to work hard at it. I'm willing to learn and I know that with each thing I write I get better. I know I can do this.

Have a great week and I'll post a Friday Five Halloween style this week.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Working Hard

You must read this wonderful essay on learning about writing from Annie Dillard. (via Moonrat at Editoral Ass)

This was my favorite quote:

Talent isn’t enough, she had told us. Writing is work. Anyone can do this, anyone can learn to do this. It’s not rocket science, it’s habits of mind and habits of work. I started with people much more talented than me, she said, and they’re dead or in jail or not writing. The difference between myself and them is that I’m writing.

Talent could give you nothing. Without work, talent is only talent, promise, not product. I wanted to learn how to go from being the accident at the beginning to a writer, and I learned that from her.

It really spoke to me because I have been frustrated lately at the difficulty I am having in rewriting, and I just want to be done. I think I'm done, and then realize I'm not. But If I keep working, and not think that I whatever I just dash off is perfect, then I can become a published writer. But there are several wonderful gems in this.

I have been blog silent, because I am being novel focused. I'll return to my regularly scheduled (as if they've ever been real regular) posts as soon as my next and final, final draft is done.

Read it and happy writing.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Finding Your Rhythm

Rob has a thing with rhythm in stories and words. You know when you vary the sentence structure to help with the flow and rhythm of the story. He has a very good point. There is something about a story with a good rhythm that is restful. It is pleasant and relaxing to read a book that has that kind of rhythm.

This type of rhythm can be created by varying the sentence structure. Think back to when you diagrammed sentences. (Tangent--as a student I always thought diagramming was such a pointless pain in the butt, but when I taught grammar it helped me to see if the students really got it.) Most sentences go Subject verb object. There are very few exceptions in the average persons writing. The trick to creating the rhythm is to vary the pattern. object subject verb. Verb. Even a few incomplete sentences thrown in for good measure. Honestly it may be a nightmare to diagram a nice lyrical paragraph, but it makes for more restful reading.

The rhythm of a story is a really strong tool. You can use it to slow down a story or to speed it up or to create a feeling of peace or tension. While it is great if you can find the right rhythm for your story during your first draft, you can always go back and rework parts of your story to find that natural rhythm that you want. Rhythm is something can be worked on after you've gotten the bare bones of your story out.

How do you do with writing rhythm? What are tricks that you have learned to make the rhythm of your stories better?

Friday, October 2, 2009

Friday Five

1. Fall really seems to have come this week. I turned off the air conditioning and we aren't dying. I love that in the fall you don't have to worry about air or heat. The same pretty much goes for the spring. Plus I love waking up to a cool house. Sure it's hard to get out of bed, but it really does wake you up. I love the colors of fall (not that they've started yet) and I just feel happier and more alive in the fall. Summer is such a sleepy time.

2. Since I managed to catch a cold from the conference I haven't gotten as much done as I wanted to, but I did fix my first page. Really fixed it. Rob, who is unerringly honest (enough that I want to throttle him sometimes), even agreed that it is fixed. Now I can move on to the rest of the manuscript. Yes! Soon I will be sending out my letters. I keep saying that, but I really mean it.

3. My other story is somewhat halted. Seriously I'm stuck in the middle of a dinner conversation. Interestingly enough it is about people becoming complacent and allowing themselves to get stuck. Uggh! So I need to work in an explosion or a kiss or a heated look or something to get the story rolling again. It will happen, and soon.

4. Right now my two year old is practicing his Ninja moves and sword fighting. Lots of round jumps with thrusting. There is also slashing of some sort going on. And he is beating up his brother. Sadly he intimidated some boy at the park on Monday. The boys were about the same age, but my boys are tiny for their age. So this other boy was about a head taller than Jacob. I watched the entire thing. The bigger boy said something to him, and Jacob threw up his fists, made a low bellow and charged. The other boy ran away in tears, even though Jacob hadn't touched him. (Never fear I did have a talk with Jacob about his behavior, though part of me is glad that he isn't intimidated by bigger kids.)

5. I meant to post some of my notes and thoughts on writing, but I've been sleeping a lot more than usual this week. I will get them up, either this weekend or sometime next week. I promise.

Have a great weekend!