Monday, June 06, 2016

Monday Musings: Disposable?

Many of the writers I've met online talk about the difficulty of balancing 'real life' with a commitment to writing. Some work full-time and write early in the morning, late at night, or on weekends. About half chase the dream of being traditionally published; others self-publish and take on the added challenge of marketing their own work.

I've spent the last three years researching and drafting my historical novel set in 19th Century Canada during the fur trade era, Rivers of Stone

Tonight I printed out paper copy for the first read through of the entire mss (some 90,000 words), and realize anew the level of work ahead to revise, edit, and copy edit. I almost would rather go camping near Banff as we did last summer.

Breakfast view near Banff (Camp 2015)

That's almost. For this morning at the gym, two friends asked when my next book would be finished. I keep saying this year. As a self-published writer, that's a big commitment. I'll sink back into the story, the fur trading culture, the rugged mountain crossing in winter, my heroine's dilemma. I'll edit again and again, questioning every level of story structure plot, conflict, characterization, and emotional resonance. Maybe by the beginning of winter, September or October. Wish me well.

This week I was inspired by a writer I know. 

Annette Drake's blog post "Disposable or Indispensible" tracks that moving journey of a writer who works for a major company in a big city and yet commits herself to being a publisher and professional writer. 

Not with those hesitant steps that may someday lead to success, but with heart-stopping leaps of faith to navigate the world of self-publishing. She asks what is it that brings joy to our lives -- Our families? Our jobs? Our writing? What is it that makes us indispensible?

Here's her new cover for Trombone Girl, formerly Bone Girl. Annette's books (and audiobooks) are well worth a read, as is her post. 

See her page on Amazon or visit her website.

Wednesday, June 01, 2016

IWSG: Thinking about blogging

Today, the first Wednesday of the Month, we fans and followers of IWSG, the Insecure Writers Support Group, hosted by Alex Cavanaugh and minions, post something related to our writing -- perhaps our struggles or our motivational thoughts, but something that just might help us all along that long and complex journey of writing.

So, I've been thinking about blogging, especially because my blog, started way back in September of 2005, is nearing 100,000 hits. In fact, Memorial Day's post, highlighting some writing by my husband, a Vietnam Vet, got 120 hits. 

Wow! That seems amazing to me, for this blog has meandered all over the place -- with author interviews, thoughts on writing, hats off to those who have inspired me, and excerpts from my own research and writing (historical fiction). And yet, some folks who've stayed to comment feel like friends. Thank you!

This year, I've renewed my commitment to reaching out to readers and writers with my blog. This started with two very helpful blogging challenges: the 2016 A to Z Blogging Challenge and A Round of Words in 80 Days. My goals are simply to try to post every Monday (Monday's Musings) and every Friday (Friday's Fooling Around).

And just for IWSG, here's that first post from September, 2005, that shows that blogging wraps around my writing like a kind of compass (giving direction), or a mirror (reflecting), or even like my keyboard that, in spite of those letters fading, spills my words on the page.

A word about writing.

It doesn't matter what I write. It matters that I write and write for myself. Like a discipline of yoga, this requires dedication, concentration, commitment. So, today is the beginning. I can write 15 minutes each day.

Yes, I have a long project nearly finished and need to gather courage to take it to the next step of actually sending it out. The characters are present almost physically, and I gave the whole mess to a friend for a first real read. But it's not a mess really. Writing that story was a diving in and letting go, even healing, a process over three summers of daily writing. 

It's just when we come home, real life returns, teaching becomes immersion, with no time for writing. But, the novel doesn't want to stay quiet until next summer. My characters borrowed from snippets here and there, the imagination, all that childhood stuff I don't like to think about, now have taken on a life of their own. And they want my attention. Write the little vignette that opens the story. Now.

It's fall. The birds outside squabble over the seeds, swaying on the little wooden hanging feeder, tossing sunflower seeds over their shoulder as if winter were not closer every day.

Imagine a community fair with lots of food booths, colorful balloons, old car exhibits, a climbing rock for the kids, lots of strollers, a few on the fringe, and a sunny day. Spokane reopened its Monroe Street Bridge with city celebrations. A police officer explained why there were bars on the back windows of his patrol car. 

"They come in so out of control," he said, his eyes squinty, on the defensive, as if I couldn't understand, "they don't want to be caged. Even with cuffs on, they kick the windows out. And that's a cost of $120 per window." The front seats were protected from the back with heavy plastic shield, pretty common, I've seen this before. The front seats were also pushed way back; the limited leg room meant a reasonable person would have a hard time moving. No barrier to a person on angel dust, not even bars.

"I haven't killed anyone," he explained, his black uniform pulled tightly across his belly. "But we had an incident last week. A bad one. He was out of control. We had to restrain him." 

The words spilled out as if he had told this story many times. "So we tied him down, you know, on one of those gurneys, to immobilize him, so he wouldn't hurt himself." His hands moved ineffectually in the air, sketching the flat gurney. "And then he was gone. He just died. 

"The first report said he died by asphyixiation, like he choked on his own vomit. But the coroner's report came in, and it was like he cooked himself. His body temperature went up to 109, from the adrenaline surges they said." 

I found out later that the second report shifts liability from the police to the individual. But the officer said, "You don't know what it's like. Every year a little bit worse than the year before. Even in a town as small as Spokane."

Read what others have posted for the Insecure Writers Support Group HERE. Why not visit a few other blogs? Leave a comment of encouragement!

Mark Waggoner, "Monroe Street Bridge, Spokane"
Source: Wikipedia