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This week just in the nick of time my writer’s critique group convened. We gathered around the table in the room of many windows bordered by books, books and more books. Quan Yin sits peacefully in the corner silently blessing our endeavors. The energy in this room is so specifically intentioned that once you cross the threshold the only thoughts swirling in your consciousness are about writing. The moment I sit down I feel relaxed and the creative part of me that is never very far from the surface fully emerges. I can breathe here.

During a break I observed the three women of varying voices and careers sitting across from me. I decided to take a chance and ask them for their help. I told them that I didn’t feel my novel is in my authentic voice and that I hadn’t found my niche. I asked them how they found theirs. I explained that although I liked what I had written, it didn’t completely vibrate with the depth of what I wanted to say. I waited for their responses and was gratefully surprised. Each woman was fully engaged in listening to and answering my question. No one blew me off or brushed my query aside as silly or irrelevant. They heard me and this is why I come here to be with all of them. This group is teaching me how to fully listen.

What I took away with me that day as I crunched across the gravel and warm colored stepping-stones back to my car was that in order to identify my unique voice I needed to read my writing to the group (this was something that still was uncomfortable for me).The more I read, the more I would be able to distinguish what was on key and what was discordant. That is how I would recognize my voice.

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This week I really feel as though I am circling the drain with my schedule. I now have a fuller work week which has been a priority for the last year or two, but my time seems to be slipping away. Still working on the chapter division which isn’t that time-consuming or difficult but remains a struggle to sit down and do. The longer I stay away from my writing, the more difficult it is to get back to it. The amount of progress I have made over the past few weeks is pitiful at best. I know that if the only way I could make money was to finish my novel it would be done in a heartbeat.

The flurry of activity (well maybe not a flurry but more than usual) has also brought to light other projects that I’m interested in as well as other ideas for novels. I am somewhat stalled since I won’t move ahead on any of them until my current novel is completed and I’m dragging my feet on doing that. This will pass. I know that.The cement blocks that are surrounding my feet will lift and the flow will continue. Right now every day this week is booked until Sunday. However, little blocks of time during the evening will work so that is the plan for now.

I read a well written and engrossing book by Jon Katz called “A Dog Year.” I like his writing style. I like the way his mind works. I like the way he is honest with himself about who he is and what his challenges are. I intend to read more of his writing and recommend him to anyone who is interested in dogs and our relationship with them.


Picking and choosing the “write” opportunity takes some thought. This week an offer arose for me to write articles for a new metaphysical website that covers all the topics that are close to my heart. I was so excited I sent in my bid, proposing a minimum of five articles per week. When I moved past the initial thrill of the opportunity I looked, I mean really looked at what I had just committed to and realized there was no way I could do it. I have my regular work to attend to as well as editing my novel which takes up the bulk of my time.

I could do it if I wanted to have a week filled with tension and stress, which is exactly the opposite of the life I have been creating. I wrote back saying that I realized I had over extended myself and wouldn’t be able to do the work needed. The employer responded by asking exactly what I felt I could reasonably do and when I stated one article a week tops, the answer was that would work and they were still interested.

In a similarly themed situation, I have a new client whom I enjoy working with but can see that if I do not “draw a line in the sand” and keep my boundaries in place, I will be once again over extended. Balancing what works for me with what works for the people around me keeps everyone happy and sailing along. The responsibility for how I commit my time lies with me and only me, no matter how much someone is needing or asking for.

I am extremely reluctant to begin any project that will take time away from rewriting my novel which is a main priority right now. Things are popping up around me that I am very drawn to and as I reach for them I end up pulling back because the timing isn’t right just yet. So I am cracking the whip over my own head to get it done!

Happy New Year everyone! The opening hours of 2011 bring a stronger push for me to get my rewriting completed, proofread, rewritten again and then finished. My intention for this year is to finish the final draft and find the agent who is the right fit for me to shop my novel around. So Be It!

While I was on hiatus I wrote an email to woman who is the founder of a woman’s group that I follow. She liked my writing style and suggested that I be a guest blogger on her site. I was so excited to be asked that of course I said yes. I sent in my first blog and ideas for the next three blogs along with my photograph. Much to my great disappointment the whole kit and caboodle was sent back. Apparently the writing content and style was not what she was looking for. After much thought I resubmitted another article with three more related ideas and again it was sent back. Her comment that the writing was more suited for a travel magazine caught my attention.

I had previously queried a travel magazine, which covers an area of England that I have extensively traveled in, as to whether they would be interested in my experiences. The reply was yes, however it would have to be in their issue later in the year. I sort of put it on the back burner until I received the rejection email with the comment about the writing style. I queried the magazine again for their writer’s guidelines and will be submitting the article shortly. Let’s see how this one turns out.

Rejection, no matter how big a person you try to be, hurts like hell. I am not the only person who finds it ironic that some of the most sensitive people (writers) are in a field where some of the harshest rejection goes with the territory. You certainly cannot avoid rejection at some point, however, it’s what you do once you receive it that really counts and shows what you’re made of.

On the flip side of rejection is praise and I would like to give a big CONGRATULATIONS to Andrew Toynbee who finished the first draft of his novel on December 31. Check out his blog at andrewtoynbee.wordpress.com .

I have decided to take an official break from thinking, worrying, editing, writing, re-writing and breathing my novel. I am going to take a much deserved hiatus until Jan 3, 2011 which is when my next posting will be.

What am I going to do with all this time? I am going to read, read, read, among other things. I have several wonderful books that are impatiently waiting to be discovered. If I officially give myself permission to take a break then I won’t feel guilty about doing so.

I am going to quietly appreciate all that has transpired this year and the ways in which I have grown and prospered. I am going to relish the Holidays and spend my free time in ways that enrich my soul without judgement or guilt because I am not doing something more “obviously” productive. I am going to simply let this year gracefully wind down with love and gratitude.

I wish anyone who is reading this blog continued blessings over the Holidays and a most Joyous and Prosperous New Year. Thank you for being a part of my journey and for your encouraging comments. I will see you all in my birthday month of 2011.

Peace.

Thanksgiving has passed and all the hustle bustle that accompanies it. My blog commences with my morning musing. Lying in the warmth of my bed going over my plans for the day quite suddenly the solution to an issue with my storyline simply crystallized. In my novel, the story completely revolves around the main character. All the other characters are supporting players. I do not switch from one character perspective to another as some stories do. Even though it is told in third person the story is always written from the one person’s experience. The problem I was encountering is how to give life to the various players without having to go back and re-write EVERYTHING so that I have chapters from different character’s perspectives, which I didn’t want to do, as that would completely change the story.

I realized that I could do this with some simple well-placed additions. The main character could be observing two other characters deep in conversation and wonder what the topic of discussion is. I could then switch to the two who were talking and write their actual conversation. That way we hear from other people while still being connected to the main theme of the story. Eureka! Two examples easily formed in my mind and I wrote them down before they faded into the mist of inspiration never acted upon. Oftentimes storylines come to me and I don’t write them down as I expect I will remember them, only to find them faded and half-formed when I sit to write.

For my process, I find that the breaks that I take from writing invariably have a purpose and solutions, ideas and clarity are the result. I am not a sit down and write every day type of writer. I know “experts” advocate the daily schedule but that just doesn’t work for me, so I am making peace with what does. I procrastinate. It’s a fact. But as I said before, these procrastinations result in creation for me. Marlon Brando, one of the acting giants of our time, used to write his lines down on the palms of his hands. Not a standard procedure to be sure, yet it worked for him and look at the performances this man cranked out. You gotta find what works for you and make the most of it.

Today’s scene is of Salzburg, Austria. A bustling, extremely clean city with quaint architecture and lovely shops. I snapped this particular photo as I wondered why all those military men were gathered at the bus stop.

This morning the rain pounding on the ceiling woke me up early (for me that is). I got up, made my bed, dressed and sat down at the computer to do some more tweaking to my novel. The next time I glanced at the clock it was lunchtime. Passing a mirror I realized although I had dressed, I hadn’t even brushed my hair let alone put on my make-up. That is how time flies when you are caught up in project.

Chapters are what is taking up my time right now. I abandoned any and all chapter divisions once I was completely submerged in the story so now I am going back and figuring out where to insert them. I try to focus on just putting in chapters but then I see something that twangs instead of hums and it must be fixed. Needless to say inserting chapters is going to take a while.

The more I read what has been written, the more (after tweaking) I like it. If no one else in the world likes this book, I can say with absolute certainty, that I do. My writing mentor has suggested that this blog would also make a good book. Hmm. I never thought of that before. Wouldn’t it be ironic if the novel I wrote isn’t published but the blog is? Or even better, what if both were published. Eureka!

The rain has stopped and the sun is temporarily blasting through the clouds. I am still coughing so I am staying in today, after (thank goodness!)working all week. Of course now that I am still housebound, all the good movies are out. Yet, the idea of being inside with all those germs, um..people is not a good one right now. I’ll settle for hot tea and a video called, I Am Love. Got me with the title. Let’s see if the movie is as good.

Today’s view is from high atop Blarney Castle in Ireland, looking way down to grounds below. Blarney Castle is set amidst beautiful acreage with perfectly maintained lawns, a stream and a forest filled with very unique trees. Definitely one of Ireland’s many gems.