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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.

A cold came to visit me last Sunday and decided to stay a while. All week as it turns out. Each morning I was faced with a fresh decision. Do I go to my clients today or do I stay home? The financial concerns weighed heavily on me.Tuning out my mind I listened to my body which showed me through exhaustion, congestion, coughing and a sore throat that what it really wanted was to stay in bed. My body won out and I stayed home all last week and even today, not attending my new writing group even though I had planned on it.

What I find fascinating is how the Universe sends a blessing when a hard decision is made to let go of something. I trusted that the money I forfeited last week would show up in another way and it miraculously did so (and then some) in the form of an incentive from a current client who is under a time crunch. The result is having taken last week to heal and work through the cold I am better prepared to meet my client’s challenge this week. Win/Win. My favorite and ideal situation!

Writing went by the wayside as I absolutely could not find the energy or flow to write, so instead, I read two very different books (in between naps). The first book was a supernatural love/adventure story set in the late 1880’s in England, called The Strangely Beautiful Tale of Miss Percy Parker by Leanna Renee Hieber. The second book was about a critiquing group and the individual agendas of each writer called, The Writing Circle by Corinne Demas.

Although I found the first book more interesting to me than the second, each book had something that prevented me from really delving into the story. It was the commonly over used words and phrases in the first book that distracted me from the wonderful story and in the second book, it was the fact that I didn’t like or connect with any of the characters.

Reading these books has heightened my awareness and sharpened my ear so that I will recognize similar patterns if they pop up in my writing. As I mentioned before, I read books differently now. I notice the style, the tempo, the tricks,the formatting and so on. I read a description that grabs me and then go back to discern exactly why and how it did so. All books provide an education as to how to further enrich my own writing. They show me what works for me in a story that I am reading and what doesn’t.

Today’s scene is the Ring of Kerry in Ireland. I found this beautiful drive showcases the most gorgeous of all Irish landscapes.


Taking the suggestions from my fellow writers I have rewritten the first page of the first chapter. I made the suggested changes but then as I was reading it, I realized that more information was needed so I added a new paragraph to the beginning which only slightly changes the way the story starts but gives a clearer picture. I was warned about sentence length and I know occasionally they are somewhat long, but sometimes they need to be. I have been going through the material with a sharper eye discovering and deleting excess words.

Advice that was already swirling in and out of my mind was also offered. Show rather than tell. This is the best writing guideline of all time. A story is much richer when the reader is shown by description rather than told directly. I know when I am reading a novel I’d rather discover that the house was old by the peeling paint, cracked windows and porch buried in dead leaves instead of reading that the old house sat vacant and unused.

I am having fun going through the material, reading, rereading, adding, deleting etc. I like finding the areas where the flow seems to halt and systematically removing the blockages. I don’t know how I’ll feel about it after the millionth time but right now I like it.

Our photograph today is of one of the four lions in Trafalgar Square, England. These lions are guarding Admiral Lord Nelson’s column. The myth about these lovely statues is that if Big Ben ever strikes 13 times the lions will come to life.

This week I started a new writing group; a critiquing group. As I was introduced to each woman in the circle I recognized the familiar feeling of intimidation sneaking in (I felt this way in my first writing group too). We are all varied in the types of writing we create which brings a fuller mix to the group. Some of the genres being written are not my forte and I wonder what type of feedback I could offer that would be useful. This weighed on my mind as I drove home and what I’ve decided is simple. If I have something to say or offer I will and if I don’t, then I won’t.

My purpose in joining this group was to find other writers who would kindly and honestly help me stretch and bring the absolute excellence out of my writing. I have no doubt these women will help me to do that and hopefully I will help them in return. As for the intimidation factor, well that will pass, it always does. My desire to learn and grow is far greater than my insecurity and thank God for that!

I read out loud the opening page of my novel. This was the absolute first time I had done so and it was nerve-wracking. All the women provided solid feedback and positive input which was appreciated and affirming. What I wanted to know was, after reading this first page would they want to buy the book? All replied, yes they would. Now I can tell you, no one in this group wants smoke blown. If they like it or don’t like it, they’ll say so and why. Scary but great. I have plenty of people who will tell me my novel is fantastic because they love me and by default will like whatever I crank out, but that isn’t going to help me sharpen my skills. The point is to hear different perspectives in order to broaden my own, then decide which to apply and which to discard.

Today’s photograph is of one of the country roads in Falmouth, Cornwall that I walked along on my hike to town. The road appears to be deep in the country and yet as you turn the corner, the trees part to reveal a sparkling expanse of silver blue ocean. My writing journey is like this most enjoyable walk with unexpected surprises waiting to be discovered along the way. How much beauty and pleasure I would have missed had I given in to worries of getting lost, or of it being too strenuous or possibly unsafe? I feel the doubt and the insecurity but still keep walking forward. After all, I’d rather give it my all and risk failure than sit on the sidelines and wonder but never do.

I just finished adding a new section to the last part of my story. I like it. I didn’t when I started. I wrote and then deleted. Wrote and then deleted. Some days you sit down to write and everything that comes out doesn’t seem to carry the right tune. It all sort of falls flat. What to do when that happens? This time I decided to keep going instead of taking a break. The more I wrote the more the tempo seemed to harmonize until I found the right sound. The bit I wrote fits and it makes the story fuller.

I find that when I have been away from it, it takes some time to slide back into the story. I sit down at the keyboard and expect to just dive right in and that doesn’t always work. I need to become reacquainted and then continue on. This reacquainting comes in the form of taking time to hear the tempo once again in order to pick up the beat. I hear the tempo by reading pieces of what I have already written and by taking my time. There is no rush.

I also reread the last line of the novel and cringed. Yes, I cringed. Gotta change it. I want the same feel but in a way that is more unique and not so obvious. I also feel in places that my writing needs more depth but am not quite sure how to do that. My writing group has been disbanded but another has appeared which is about critiquing. Hmm. Synchronicity? Seems to be the right time for me to explore this group. I wouldn’t have been ready for it say, a year ago. Now, I am looking forward to it as a learning tool for enriching my writing skills.

The photograph is of Walton Hall in Warwickshire, England. A luxurious country estate that has been converted into timeshare properties and a fantastic hotel with spa facilities. I stayed here with my aunt and cousin and it is a prime example of English poshness.

Today I went to see one of the last movies of the Film Festival in a nearby town. My sister received the tickets for free and invited me to go. The subject matter was right along the lines of my interest so I gladly accepted. The presentation starts off with a live dialogue between the director and the musicians which was more strained than humorous. The film begins and right away I know we are in trouble. My sister and I silently give each other the “oh crap” look and the movie takes off to the live accompaniment of the band who created the soundtrack.

As I am watching the screen, a picture flashes in my mind of when I was a child playing outside with the other kids on my block. We used to perform plays with all our heart. We danced, lip synced and acted as boldly as possible. We thought what we did was great, fantastic even and we had fun while doing it. What struck me about this memory flash was how and when we discover whether our creative efforts are actually art or crap?

I wanted to leave, but my sister would rather be dragged over hot coals than leave during the performance so she stayed and I stayed with her. At one point the music stopped being music and was just very loud noise which was really jarring me emotionally and physically. I was about two seconds from bolting out the door when it stopped. Personally, I really did not enjoy or even like this film. I thought it was bad. Really bad. Yet the people who created it put their heart and soul into it and believed it was a work of art. I appreciate it was an independent film without a huge budget, but that doesn’t matter as long as the story flows and you believe the actors. I suppose anything creative can be labeled as “art” but that doesn’t necessarily make it good. To top it off, I got back to my car just in time to see the traffic officer putter away in her little go-cart, a white envelope stuck to my windshield from the rain.

However, it did get me thinking. How do I know if my writing is really quality work or just a backyard play that was fun to do but has no other point? Do I rely on an expert/s (if so how many) to tell me? My peers? Random strangers? If no one wants to publish my novel does that mean it’s crappy or the timing is wrong? No one wanted to touch the movie “Rocky” and yet look at how iconic it became because Sylvester Stallone wouldn’t be dissuaded from achieving his dream.

My writing is my art, but the question remains, “How do I tell if my writing is really good or not?”

Today’s photograph is of “Winged Victory” which is one of my very favorite pieces of art.


At this point, the writing is fairly easy. I am going back to any areas that require facts that are more specific and just dropping them in. Historical background for places visited, more description of the outlay of the land, the architecture of the towns visited, etc. Research provides most of this information so it’s fairly easy to describe it.

What is challenging is describing something simple in enough detail to really get the image across, without being redundant. For instance, how many different ways are there to describe “green”? I mean to really describe the fact that the forest is so full of long limbed trees stretching towards the sun, fat shrubs continuously spreading out in either direction all in so many varying shades of green that the air has an actual greenish haze to it? Or that the dirt of forest path is almost completely overtaken by the determined green grass, which threatens to consume it entirely? It seems impossible not to keep mentioning “green” in order to present the picture.

Another upcoming challenge that I have yet to address is breaking out the chapters. My book is divided into three sections, which was easy to do and flowed automatically. The chapters are another matter. While I was writing the first draft, I simply stopped dividing sections into chapters as I found it too distracting. The time is quickly approaching for me to go back and do this and I am a little foggy as to how. I have read some books where a chapter ends every five pages or so. I have read other books where a chapter goes on for many, many pages before ending. I guess I will have to do some research on this and I’m not really looking forward to it. I know this will be one of those things I put off until the last possible moment because I just don’t want to do it. Ugh!

The next thing to do is print out my novel and read it from start to finish but that comes after I have put in all the information I left out the first time round. I feel a bit nervous about doing this. What if I sit down, read it, and realize it really is crap? Or worse, that it is just average. Yuck! I don’t want average. I want spectacular! I want WOW! I want “that’s the best damn book I ever read!” I suppose that is putting the cart before the horse. I mean, isn’t that the point of rewriting? If it stinks then make it better and if you can’t well then find someone who can help you. Then if you still can’t, you’ve given it your all and time to look in another direction. Except for I really don’t want to look in another direction. I don’t want a closet full of unpublished manuscripts that I’ve written over the years. I want an enormous bookshelf full of published books that I’ve written over the years. Well then, let’s hope it doesn’t stink.

Today’s photo is of Killarney Park in Ireland. I needed something to illustrate all the green I was talking about.