Capture Springtime

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Have you noticed yet? It’s SPRINGTIME!

I know, it happens every year. I shouldn’t get so excited, but I just can’t help it. Spring is one of my top four seasons. Make that my top two! I. Love. Spring.

Why? you ask. Like everyone else, I adore the warmer-but-not-yet-hot days we have, and the chance to glimpse my neighbors who’ve started walking again.

I enjoy seeing the critters as they make their reappearance into my world here on the lake. Bluebirds were trying to make a nest in my decorative birdhouses I have hanging on my New Orleans tree. (I’m hoping for a bluebird box for my birthday this year. AND someone to hang it.)

But most of all, I enjoy seeing the world come to life. The first thing I usually notice is a tree blooming in the woods along the road. Before anything in my yard is ready to make a bud, these trees put on beautiful white flowers.

Wild plum, dogwood and redbud all make our countryside gorgeous early in the spring. And the golden-green color of new leaves on the trees always astounds me.

Of course, for me it’s a miracle every year when something I’ve planted sticks its head above the soil again. I’m amazed I haven’t killed them off yet.

Painted ferns and hostas have started making an appearance in my yard. When they uncurl into the world, it reminds me of a puppy, all curled up for a nap, waking and stretching little legs.

 

 

 

 

 

 

And with all that new growth comes a difference in the fragrance in the air. (I’m ignoring allergies.) It nearly takes on a physical presence as it picks up odors from everything that’s happening in the world.

And sunrise. Have you noticed? Where the sun peeks over the horizon has shifted. I know it happens all the time, but I get such a thrill when I notice it heading south again.

Everyone gets it when you write about spring. But just like we don’t all get spring at the same time, we all perceive it in a little different way.

Characters in your books will see it in a different way. Instead of paying attention to the ferns as they unfurl, maybe your character will see the weed growing next to it. And instead of the scent of honeysuckle, they’ll catch the smoke in the air. Or they’ll see spring through an ugly red haze because of the misery of allergies.

Stop the words you’re showering on your WIP today and write your impressions of spring for the next springtime setting in one of your manuscripts. Then write it from a villian’s POV. Is it different? 🙂

As writers, we’re lucky. We can capture what happens in our lives like dreams in a bottle to be opened and experienced over and over. If you can, take time and do it.

And sometime, IF you can find what you’ve written, you’ll be glad you did.

 

 

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One Fish, Two Fish

In my English class this week, our teacher gave us an assignment that is actually fun. We’re supposed to find a passage by a distinct author, and write it in the style of another distinct author. For example, my boyfriend is taking lines from Hamlet, and rewriting them as James Patterson. The object of the project is to get us to pick apart and analyze the little nuances of writing. Find a clearly unique voice, and find what makes it special.

I’m having a blast with this, let me tell you. Always looking for a challenge, and something I can leave my bizarre little fingerprints on, I’ve picked two of my favorite authors. Edgar Allen Poe, and (Drum roll please) Dr. Seuss.  Yeah, you read that correctly. The simplistic, rhyming, and word-creating style of my dear Theodore Giessel is about to be twisted, elevated, and darkened into the form of Edgar Allen Poe.

One Fish, Two Fish-Written as Edgar Allen Poe

“Don’t tell fish stories where the people know you;

but particularly, don’t tell them where they know the fish.”

–          Mark Twain

From where I sat, there on the shores of the pond, I could see, with such certainty, that nothing so much as a mosquito disturbed the placid glass stretched before me. The moon hung like a troubled man, his toes dangling just above the surface. Not a single ripple dared to reach up and help the dead man down.  There was no one there with me but him, as I grieved the loss of love. Was she dead or just gone? At the moment, I dared not remember.

The solitude, it seemed, would last eons, until at last I would lose my mind, in the name of loneliness. It was not so, however, for at that moment a splash came from the water, and I saw the form of a fish, one solitary fish, leap onto the shore, and walk away. I had no sooner blinked, to make myself certain once more, when another fish flung itself out of the deep and onto the shore and strode off into the night.
I stood and crept closer to the pond, investigating in the name of morbid curiosity. As I reached the very edge of the water, a large vermillion fish, the color of my lover’s lips, flopped onto the shore. And then, it sauntered away. It was shortly followed by a blue fish, the hue I imagine those same lips were when they pulled her from the water. I furrowed my brow, and peered closely as another fish slowly made its way to shore. Dare I surmise, it was aged, for its scales were tattered and worn? Along behind it came a young, vibrant fish, tiny and infinitesimal next to its elder.

I reclined there, against the stump of a cedar, a rush of feelings overwhelming me. Each fish that followed struck me with a spectacular wave of emotion. One seemed to mourn my dear with me, and the next was positively gleeful for the loss. The last in the school, however, left me with the helpless feeling of sickening guilt. It was a bad fish indeed. I could not, and cannot, tell you how I know. You wouldn’t believe me now.

I took it upon myself to sit there, and remember every last one of the marvelous little beasts that swam onto the land and disappeared in the direction of authority. A rather large one, I noted, had meandered his way onto land and, in his obesity, nearly rolled right back into the depths, to her. Behind it, another, nearly starving to death, struggled onto the shore and limped away. There was one, in particular, with yellow colored scales on the top of its head. It reminded me of her fairness, the color of her hair fanned out in the water, when the sun beat down that morning. They came on two, four and six legs; hoards of them, every creature of the deep, fleeing the water, still boiling from the day.

That’s where they found me, the men from town. I’m sure that they saw them, the fish, moving slowly and quickly, all headed in their direction. Yet they walked right past them, and disturbed my pondering. They asked me where she was. You know, I tried to recall. You know, I’m not so sure, but I told them she was in the water. I was trying so very hard to solve the conundrum, to discover where the fish came from, and where they were going, that I hardly even noticed them leading me away.

If today is Tuesday, this must be Belgium.

That’s what I feel like right now. I’m off from my “day” job, but since I usually work Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday, can you blame me from thinking this is Tuesday? It wasn’t until I was watching the news and heard them say “the news for Wednesday….”, that I realised I was late writing this blog.

So I’m sorry I’m late, but at least it gives me a topic. consistency. You’ve always heard that a writer should write every day and this is true. But when I was writing my first book, I worked five 8 hours shifts a week, had a kid still at home, and my folks were both still middle-aged and working on their own.  Despite the fact that my days off varied, I got up at 4:00AM every day and wrote for an hour. Then I either got ready for work, got the kid up for school, and went to work or I wrote an extra hour, got the kid up for school, and went back to bed when he left for school.

18 months of this and I had a book, ready to submit.

Then nursing went to 12 hour shifts.  My kid graduated and left home. And my folks retired. (Don’t know what the last has to do with the change in my schedule since at the time their retirement had nothing to do with me.) Anyway, suddenly, I had trouble  staying on a consistent writing schedule!

I know, I know… Life is going to throw things at you that will interrupt your writing. But it seemed as if every time I got myself into a groove, something jarred me out of it.  I went into teaching nursing, hoping the five-day-a-week schedule would help me write more consistently.  For a while, it did.  But then, changes in the teaching curriculum had me spending more of my off time grading papers. And when I went back to active nursing, I just couldn’t seem to find my rhythm.

Kasey Michaels, who consistently produces books, supposedly writes ONLY on the weekends.  Her weeks are saved for her family. Even that sounds good to me, but I have a feeling it wouldn’t work for me.

I can only hope that once I’m retired, I can go back to my 8 hours shifts.  Not necessarily writing a straight 8 hours, but at least a well structured day that lets me turn out the kind of work I want to do.

Then if it’s Tuesday, I’ll know exactly where I am…and what I should be doing!

No Pepto for Me, Thank You!

“I’m writing a book. I’ve got the page numbers done.” Steven Wright

This quote randomly popped up Monday morning when I posted my blog on Scary Mondays. When I first read, “I’m writing a book. I’ve got the page numbers done”, I started to laugh, at myself more than anything.  In some ways I miss the “good old days”, those early efforts to write my first novel. I had a good writing foundation. As a press secretary and stringer for a local newspaper, I’d written press releases, Op Ed pieces, campaign literature, and newspaper articles. So the blank page didn’t intimidate me. I just sat down and wrote the tale rattling around in my mind.

But back then, when I began that first book, my mind wasn’t cluttered with all this  writing “stuff”–target audiences, shameless self-promotion, blogs, Facebook (well those didn’t exist back then), landing an agent or pitching to an editor. I just wanted to tell a good story that someone other than my family and friends would read. So I blithely puked out my first draft.

As writers we’re supposed to learn our craft, perfect it, and  be savvy businesswomen, seeking balance in a profession that is both art and a business. Yet some days all that writing “stuff” just gets in the way of my creativity and I miss being able to barf up a story like I did back when I didn’t know any better.

Perspective

There are a number of ways you can interpret the title of this blog. Perspectives could be referring to the characters POV or how they look at things within the story. But not in this case. I’m talking about how we manage, or look at, our individual writing techniques.

Up until recently, I judged how much writing I’d done each day by my word count. As a retired accountant, I’m pretty much fanatical about numbers. (Not math, mind you. Just numbers. 😉 ) I have a handy-dandy spreadsheet so all I have to do is plug in the total page and word count, and it calculates the net number of words I wrote that day. I know I’m not the only one to do this. Am I right?

However, since I’ve gone through the editing process (albeit only once), I now look at my manuscript a bit differently. Now I look at the scene as a whole. Is it working? Does it flow well? Is it moving the story along? Unfortunately, I don’t think it is with my current WIP. But I digress. Yes, now I look at the entire scene and I’m no longer number crunching. Which is both good and bad.

It’s good in that I’m looking at the overall picture. It’s bad in that you have to have the word count up there in order to sell the story. If you don’t have the required number of words for your target publisher, or if you have too many words, you’ll have to go back and adjust accordingly. I found on Grave Secrets, the number of words I cut (bad/poor writing) were offset my new (and better) words. i.e. I clarified scenes. Which is probably what led me to my current style. Of course, I’m in a revising state. If I were writing the first draft, I’d be back to crunching those numbers.

Hmm. I guess once a bean counter, always a bean counter. 🙂

What’s Your Job?

Marilyn mentioned in her blog this week that our newest member is writing 35,000 words a week. Honestly, I think I heard the angels sing when I read those numbers.

35,000 words? That means she could finish a novella in a week. She could finish a short contemporary in a week and a half and a long contemporary in two weeks. Wow.

No. Make that . . .

WOW!!!

Of course, Marilyn’s 10,000 words a week are nothing to sneeze at. I’m impressed! I get to thinking about all those words and how little time I have. What with my job and the other things I do for the RWA chapter. And the blogs I write.

I just don’t have much time. (I’m gritting my teeth as I write that phrase.)

That’s when I remember a story my mom liked to tell. (Yes, I’m sharing it again. Sorry.)

A fire chief hired several new firemen. When they all came to work the first day, he lined them up. “We firemen must take care of our equipment or it won’t work when it’s needed. So Smith, you’ll take care of the hoses. Make sure they’re put away properly. If they begin to fray, you see they’re repaired. Jones, you’re in charge of tires. Watch them. Make sure they’re in good shape. A blow out is tragic. Brown, I want you to keep the ladders in good working order. Nothing wrong with them.”

The chief went on, handing out assignments until everyone had one. Then he stood back and looked at his new crew. “All right, men. Let’s see how well you remember. Shout out your job.”

“Tires!”

“Hoses!”

“Ladders!”

The men shouted until each had been heard.

The captain just shook his head. “Wrong, wrong, wrong.”

The most agressive of the recruits stepped forward, “But Chief. That’s what you said.”

“No.” The chief answered. “Your job is fighting fire!”

In any group, people tend to get so caught up in the business of the group that we forget what our job really is.

For those of us who belong to RWA chapters, it is To. Write. Not run contests. Not chair committees. Not bring in recruits. Not get speakers.

Not to do any of the many things that have to be done to keep a chapter going.

Our job is to write.

So why don’t we all write 10,000 words a week?

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Feeling Inspired

Books, short stories, poems, music, movies; as writers, we seek inspirations from anything and everything. For me, this means the people around me especially. During the day, I absorb little ticks, sights, sounds, and ideas and wish I had some sort of device to document the thoughts I have. But I don’t. So they get bottled up and set aside until I have time to unload. Boy, did I have time to unload all that inspiration this week!

What type of boring 18 yr old am I? I spent my Spring Break sleeping, playing Super Mario Bros, relaxing with my boyfriend and writing. Oh, the writing I did. I finally emptied my little treasure trove of every last tidbit of literature it would muster.

So now, after a week of writing and writing, what do I have to say? I’m gonna spend my Friday with one of my biggest inspirations:My mom. Let the shopping, dining, jamming, and people-watching commence!