Friday, January 30, 2009
The other day, I posed a research question to my good friends at The Fedora Lounge, a group of swell individuals that love the 1940s. Their knowledge on this era just astounds me and I am so grateful to have this resource. They came through with flying colors - and even provided me with a bit of information that I didn't know.
And boy, that bit is crucial, absolutely crucial, to my plot. In fact, because I now have that information, I'm going to have to change a few aspects of the story, otherwise I would have committed a major SNAFU.
I'm breathing a huge sigh of relief that I dodged a bullet. Yeah, I'm going to have to rearrange some stuff to get things to work now, but at least it will be accurate. I shudder to think what might have happened if I hadn't found out this info. So I definitely think it's a God thing that my friends at the FL helped me out!
Let the editing begin.
Thursday, January 29, 2009
Now, I've changed my eating habits. I don't eat hardly any processed food. I eat my veggies. I have cut down on portion sizes. I do not eat desserts except perhaps once a week. I drink lots and lots of water. I actually think my stomach is starting to shrink. Then why isn't the rest of me?
Granted, I need to work out more. I have been thinking of excuse upon excuse why I can't go to the gym. I hate leaving my daughter in daycare any longer than I have to, and that's a major reason why I don't go exercise after work. If I could just take her with me to the gym, I would, but they do not allow kids.
So that only leaves the weekend. I usually go at least twice during the weekend, but last weekend I didn't go at all.
Still. You would think that drastically changing my eating habits would help shed some of this weight. You would think, right? Then why isn't it?
Sigh...it could be a myriad of things with me. My thyroid. My PCOS. My out-of-whack hormones. Sometimes, I just wish I could accept myself at the weight I am - but I know it's not the best weight for me and for me to be healthier, I need to lose some.
I hope the solution is exercise. Now I just have to quit finding excuses. I suppose it wouldn't hurt to have my daughter in daycare for an extra hour (but I know she hates it as it is...) so I can use that time to exercise. I've also toyed with the idea of working through at least two lunches a week so I can take off earlier and work out so that my daughter doesn't have to spend that extra time in daycare (and I don't have to pay for that extra time, either).
Guess I'm just frustrated today.
Thank goodness tomorrow is Friday. :-)
Wednesday, January 28, 2009
For all the info on this challenge, check out this post. Hint - there are prizes involved if you meet your goal!
For those of you who already expressed interest in doing the February challenge, I'll be sending you info soon.
Here's our "mission statement", so to speak:
Whatever your writing goal, you can meet it with the help of the Just Write Challenge. Your fellow challengers will offer you support and motivation on your writing journey.
What are you waiting for? Get motivated and accomplish your writing goals with the Just Write Challenge!
Tuesday, January 27, 2009
I admit, when I'm feeling in a bit of a mood, a bite of chocolate somehow makes things more bearable. Maybe it's all those "feel good" chemicals that chocolate contains, or maybe it's just the simple, delectable flavor, but either way, it helps.
I changed my blog layout again - I was tired of the blue. Not sure why because blue is my favorite color, but perhaps it's because I wanted something a bit lighter. I'm not ready for spring yet - bring on more snow! - but I do like the new, vintage-feel of this background.
I took last night off from the novel - sort of. I didn't work on any editing, but I did think about it a lot, take some notes on exactly what I need to focus on, and read a bit more in my research books. I'm also digging into a book I previously reviewed called The Scene Book. Now is the time to start thinking with my head instead of my heart, time to be objective about the writing, no matter how hard it is. Perhaps easier said than done.
It's a cold day here and it keeps snowing off and on, though we haven't much of the white stuff on the ground (darn it). I know some people roll their eyes at me when I say I want more snow, but darn it, if it's winter, let's have winter, right? It gets terribly hot in the summer, the leaves fall off the trees in the fall, and spring has flowers pushing through the ground. So...winter needs to have snow. :-)
Yeah, I'm in a rambling sort of mood today. Hard to be focused when I'm like that. Maybe I should eat some more chocolate...
Monday, January 26, 2009
And I think I know what it is.
I can see how far I've come as a writer with this book. It has more depth, more emotion, more maturity, just...more of everything. I love my characters. I love how they are different people by the end of the book. They've learned and changed and grown. I can clearly see it. I don't know that I could see that with the other two books. But this one...yeah. It's there.
When I finished, I went and told my daughter. I said, "I'm done! I'm done writing my book!" Her face lit up and she gave me a wonderful hug. That was the best reward ever.
Maybe I'll take a few days off, or maybe I won't. I'm in the mood to edit and I don't want to lose the thread of motivation. So perhaps I'll take the next few days to read it over, take some notes, look at what needs to be done, and then get started.
I love this writing life.
Friday, January 23, 2009
If you're a writer, do you ever think you're just plain crazy for researching obscure facts, digging into archives, interviewing people, or searching through endless websites, all for your work-in-progress that might never see the light of day?
I thought that last night. I've thought it before.
Here I was, reading a history book relevant to my novel, absorbing all these facts, bombarded with all these wonderful ideas on how I can use these facts in my story, when suddenly, I asked myself, what if I'm doing all of this for nothing? What if the novel is never published? What if I toil and sweat over getting all these facts right, plus everything else you have to get right to create a good book, and it never, ever gets into anyone's hands but mine?
Well. Guess there's a few ways to look at that. Number one, I've increased my knowledge in a certain subject area and that's always a good thing. Number two, I'm doing two things that I love - research and writing. So really, it's a win-win situation.
There's more to it than that.
Sometimes, I really do feel a bit foolish working on something that I want published but have no guarantee that it will be published. Does that make sense? And yes, I know that I'm doing what I love and that should be enough...BUT, it's not. My goal is to be a published novelist and I want this current WIP to be published.
My goal is not to finish it, print it out, hold it in my hands with a burst of pride, then promptly shove it into a drawer and start the next one. No. I want to share it with others. I want to bring joy and hope and encouragement to my readers. I want my story to transport them to another time and place. I want what I say to touch other people's lives - not just my own.
If that's crazy, then yeah, call me crazy. I'll wear the badge with pride.
Care to join me?
Thursday, January 22, 2009
I'm searching for one tiny piece of information for my novel - and do you think I can find it? Despite having entire book chapters devoted to the subject at hand, do you think I can locate that one little fact I need? Nope. And without that fact, it makes it a bit difficult to finish the novel. So either I leave a great, gapping hole and then write the ending chapter, or I press on until I find the information I need.
But, the wonderful thing about the Internet is that resources are only an email away. (Well, they're a phone call away, too, but I am one of those weird people who has an extremely difficult time calling a stranger and asking them a bizarre question because I'm researching a novel.)
So! Off to the vast World Wide Web I go...
Wednesday, January 21, 2009
I'm working closely with my doctor on how to decrease these episodes and unfortunately, it involves medication. But getting the right dosage is proving a challenge.
Last night, I was excited to go home from work, switch on the laptop, and start writing. But once I got home, I did a load of laundry, ate supper, and read a bit, then tried not to curl up on the couch and go to sleep. I didn't want a repeat of Monday night. On Monday, I felt tired and I figured I'd take a short nap since my daughter was over at her dad's house. I lay down at 6:30 p.m. and didn't wake up until midnight! That is definitely not a short nap.
I resolved not to do the same last night, though it was incredibly hard. I managed to stay awake, write a few paragraphs, and do a bit of research, but it was a struggle.
The last two times I've been into the doctor, they've had to take my blood pressure twice because they didn't think they were reading it right - it was low. So something still isn't right - either the medicine is slowing my heart down too much or the medicine isn't a good fit for me. I'm already on medication for hypothyroidism, so I don't think my thyroid is acting up, but I'm getting that checked next.
Sigh. Being tired just irritates me. There are far too many things to do to sleep! Granted, I'll use the weekends to sleep in during the morning and I'll occasionally take a nap, but other than that, I want to be working on my writing or my embroidery or reading a good book or writing a letter - and having the urge to nod off every five minutes doesn't help matters at all.
I wish I had lots of energy. But I don't right now. And I'm eating right, exercising when I can, (but it is so hard to exercise when you feel exhausted!) and taking vitamins. Not sure what else I can do to improve matters. So I'll just do what I can until we get things figured out.
Darn it all anyway. Next thing you know, my characters will be taking lots and lots of naps...or drinking lots and lots of coffee!
Tuesday, January 20, 2009
The "voice" of my blog is pretty similar to who I am in "real" life. I think I'm down-to-earth, approachable, and friendly, and I hope my blog reflects this.
However, I wonder if the tone of my blog will change when I become a published novelist (notice it is when, not if! Must. Think. Positive!). Will I have a need to convey myself differently once I have a book on the shelves and (hopefully) more people reading my blog? Or will my blog's voice stay exactly as it is? I am hoping it is the latter.
I am fortunate enough to have a few published authors reading my blog, so if they feel like chiming in on this, I'd love to hear their thoughts. And for anyone else who is hoping to become a published author someday, I am very curious to hear what you think, too.
Monday, January 19, 2009
Last night, my brother and his girlfriend came over for cake and ice cream since it was the girlfriend's birthday. She is already a member of the family and lots of fun to be around. When my daughter suggested we play a game of charades (defined as: A game in which words or phrases are represented in pantomime, sometimes syllable by syllable, until they are guessed by the other players), the girlfriend jumped right in.
As I sat there watching her and my mom and my daughter acting out these absurdly funny charades (and I did my own share of goofy moves), I thought, wow. This is so much fun. Why don't people do this anymore? It's so simple. All it requires is a handful of phrases or words written on slips of paper, and people willing to get up and act them out. No television. No remote. No stereo equipment.
When was the last time you played charades?
Friday, January 16, 2009
I've come to discover something about myself - I hate to be busy. This does not mean that I like to sit around the house and stare at the wall because I don't have anything to do. No, this means that I cannot stand having a dozen things to do in any given week - doctor's appointments, school functions, meetings, etc. After work, I like to come straight home and savor those few hours I have before bedtime. On the weekends, I don't like to make many plans. After all, I work every day from 8-5 and am only home in the evenings. I've got to spend some time in an apartment I'm paying good money for, right?
My best friend has always been a very busy person. In fact, she thrives on being busy. She has a full-time and a part-time job. When we were in college, she had a very full schedule - a job, extracurricular activities, socializing, and not to mention those pesky classes. Yet she did just fine.
I operate a bit differently. While I definitely want to hang out with my friends, have dinner with family, or go shopping, it is not a daily or even a weekly need. I have precious little time with an 8-5 job and I've decided that I want to do the things that I want to do. Does that sound selfish? Maybe it is. But I don't think so. That's a major reason I said NO to a television. Who needs to waste time watching stuff I'm not even interested in when there's something else I want to do? Write a letter with my quill and ink...work on my embroidery...cut up magazine pictures and make a collage with my daughter...and of course, write!
Sometimes I feel guilty for not volunteering at my daughter's school (though I have volunteered a few times to bring treats - but to actually be a room parent? Ack!) or at my church. But I am intensely uncomfortable in situations like that, and instead of looking forward to the date I have to do something, I dread it. I can be extroverted sometimes, but mostly, I am introverted, which is why I think I like to not be busy. Instead, I would rather donate money to the school or my church or give old clothes to a local shelter rather than actually volunteer.
Does this make me stuck-up or indifferent or uncaring? Goodness, I hope not. Should I push myself to do those things and try to make myself like it? I confess, there are some volunteer activities that I have really loved doing - like speaking at a retirement center, which I've done three times now.
Thursday, January 15, 2009
My daughter and I also practiced her multiplication flashcards. And she's so excited about doing them! I consider that a bonus. She did rather well last night. I know if she can just get these facts memorized, she'll do a lot better in school.
Then it was on to the novel. I am in the last stages and growing excited. I'm pleased with the story and very much looking forward to editing it and making it stronger, weaving in my theme, and focusing on certain elements.
It's very cold here - it's four degrees below zero right now and that's not accounting for the wind chill. A good day to stay inside, that's for sure!
What's up in your neck of the woods?
Wednesday, January 14, 2009
Tuesday, January 13, 2009
Since I started blogging, oh, close to four years ago, my blogroll has increased substantially. Some blogs have disappeared, others are still hanging on even though the bloggers don't post but once in a blue moon, but most of the blogs I read are updated very regularly.
And I keep finding more blogs that I like, and I keep adding to the list. But lately, I haven't been deleting any blogs. That means I've got a fairly large list of blogs that are updated regularly. Since I added the blogroll on my blog that automatically updates when a blogger has a new post up, I can keep pretty good track of everything. I tried Google Reader and just didn't like it, so this new method works well for me.
I visit the blogs on my list whenever they're updated. I almost always leave a comment. But here's my question. Do you ever get to a point where you stop adding blogs because your blogroll is getting out of control? I really don't want to do this. There are so many blogs out there waiting to be discovered!
How about you?
Monday, January 12, 2009
I'm in the final stretches of the novel and just need to figure out a few more things before I can wrap it up. I am so excited to finish it. But even more? I'm excited to edit it. I know that sounds strange to many, but I really get into the heart of my story when I revise. I develop my theme, fine-tune my characters' growth, and have lots of fun just playing with the language. To me, the pressure is off. I've already written the story and I have all the elements in place - now I just get to polish those elements.
I feel so blessed to be doing what I love. :-)
Saturday, January 10, 2009
There were different kinds of radio shows - some of them were recorded live and featured a sort of variety-show format. Bing Crosy had numerous radio shows over the years where he would sing on the air, have actors and actresses on the show, and engage in witty dialogue with everyone. They can't fail but bring a smile to your face.
What amazes me about these shows is you don't need to watch anything to become totally immersed in the story. You have to use your imagination - something that you can't get by watching television shows - and it is such a treat.
And of course, back then, radio was about the only way you'd hear new music - unless you went to see the artist live. Frank Sinatra was just one of the artists that was played during this era. I love this picture of him.
Radio has enjoyed a resurgence with the Internet, I think, as more and more people can broadcast themselves on the air without worrying about having a bunch of equipment. But the early days of radio will forever be the golden days!
Friday, January 09, 2009
And, of course, my favorite actor, Daniel Craig, has a new film coming out called Defiance that looks exceptionally good. IMDB has this short blurb on it: "Three Jewish brothers escape from Nazi-occupied Poland into the Belarussian forest, where they join Russian resistance fighters and endeavor to build a village in order to protect themselves and others in danger." Yep. Looks like my kind of film!
Have you watched any good movies lately?
Thursday, January 08, 2009
That is so frustrating to me - BUT - I recognize that it is also necessary. I know Shirley once had to throw out three chapters (or was it more?) and I could feel my heart contract in terror. I couldn't imagine throwing that much work out! But then again...if those words aren't needed, then there's nothing else to do but hit the delete button. (Ok, ok, in all fairness, I never hit the delete button - I just cut and paste anything I delete into a "deleted scenes file." You never know when you might need it later. Or maybe I'm just incredibly weird.)
This whole process is otherwise known as "kill your darlings." And boy, if that isn't ever an apt description. I'll have to cut a scene that I really enjoyed writing and when I wrote it, the words just flowed. Everything came together so well. And now...zap! It must be conscripted to that sad file on my computer where all abandoned scenes go.
How about you? Do you loathe getting rid of scenes as much as I do, or are you quite content to hack away and get rid of that which doesn't work?
Wednesday, January 07, 2009
Keira Knightley's latest movie, The Duchess, is about the life of Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire, who lived part of the time in the palatial estate of Chatsworth located in Derbyshire, England. When I went to England in October, I visited this estate and absolutely loved it. But there is one word that can describe this house and everything in it: grand.
But here's what you don't see at first glance with Chatsworth. You are dazzled by all its outer beauty that veils its true history - the children that scampered through the rooms chased by a frazzled nursemaid, the loud conversations and laughter at the dining room table between friends, the midnight rendezvous between lovers, the arguments between husband and wife, the gossip in the servants' quarters - the people who lived here are what is at the heart and soul of this house. That is what this house truly represents.
Let it be so with your novel. If you take away the golden metaphors, the beautiful descriptions, the elegant dialogue, what is the true meaning of your story? What does it represent? What is its essence? This, then, is the heart of your novel. This is what you should make grand!
Tuesday, January 06, 2009
We laughed a lot and made a big mess...
Here is my collage - notice the pen on the upper right hand corner that looks as though it's written the words, "I heart Mr. Darcy"? That was my daughter's idea, too. And a darn good one.
And look at this! Does this picture look familiar?
My mother also made decoupaged containers for my daughter and my niece and nephew. They were so neat! I knew she'd been working on making our gifts, but I had no idea what they were. She did such an excellent job on them all.
I'm displaying this gorgeous chest in my living room where it fits right in with my decor. And I'm keeping my special handwritten letters from friends and family in here. It's the perfect chest for such treasures.
And on that note, all of you who read my blog and left such wonderful comments on yesterday's post are true treasures to me. Your support and encouragement is such a blessing. I'm feeling much better and I know it is due to your prayers, thoughts, and concerns. From the bottom of my heart, thank you!
Monday, January 05, 2009
I once read her autobiography and I was simply in awe of the courage she had to keep going on in life when mental illness wasn't understood very well. She endured electroshock therapy and countless other barbaric "treatments" because the medical field just hadn't come very far in treating mental diseases. Yet Gene publicly spoke about her mental illness in an age where it was still kept hush-hush. That took guts. And I admire her all the more for it.
Along with her other mental illnesses, Gene also suffered from depression. I have blogged before about the link between creativity and depression and shared my own experiences with depression, and I feel the need to return to it for today's post. Why? Because my world is starting to have shades of gray in it again.
Yes, I can feel myself creeping closer and closer to the abyss of dark days and dark thoughts, of crying for no reason, of seeing nothing but gray, gray, gray in the world instead of light and joy and laughter. I don't know why it's happening, especially after I had such a few great days this weekend. I have an inkling that it might be linked to too much "alone time" since my daughter was at her dad's house for five days and I have had the place to myself. I relished those few first days. But yesterday and today have been very hard.
Maybe it's because I need people around me. Not all the time, of course, but if I am isolated from people too much, I do grow depressed. Maybe that's all this is. Maybe once I get back to work and get into the swing of things again, the fog will lift. Lord, I hope so. Then, too, there's always a certain bit of letdown after the holidays. That could be another reason.
Or maybe it's that bad side of creativity. I was intensely creative for a few days this week - lots of embroidery, and reading, and writing, and listening to music. But not in the last few days. I haven't wanted to do anything at all. And the gray is starting to creep back in. Does the well need replenished? I don't like to think that I work like that. After all, I just wrote about creativity begetting creativity.
I fear that this bout of depression may not have anything to do with creativity at all. Rather, it's probably everything going on in my personal life that is affecting me. Major life changes like the one I'm experiencing bring with it a great deal of grief and feelings of loneliness. So far, I think I've handled it just fine. But the last few days may be proving me wrong.
Anyway, this is a bit of a rambling post and I apologize for that, but I do know that writing is one of the best therapies I have in my battle against depression. I'll inevitably journal a lot during these times or create rambling blog posts. ;-)
I am confident that this, too, shall pass and the gray will disappear and the beautiful, joyful colors of life will be with me once again.
Saturday, January 03, 2009
Yesterday was filled with creativity. I started the day with a good work-out (always helpful to get the brain cells moving), then came home and tackled my embroidery. I was immensely proud of myself for learning how to do the Lazy Daisy stitch, which I needed to know for the project I'm working on, and I spent an hour or so with that. Then I decided to get out my quill pen and ink and write a few letters.
A trip to Barnes and Noble and browsing the aisles full of wondrous books only made me eager to get my own book on the shelf, and I bought a desk calendar (50% off!) to help me get organized for the year. I came home, ate some supper, read a book, and then picked up my embroidery again. I can completely get sucked into it, and I love listening to music or old radio shows while I do it.
And after the embroidery came the writing. I was worried that the words might be a bit hard to come by like they were the previous day, but thankfully, they were not. In fact, my fingers were flying across the keyboard, ideas and images and dialogue springing to life underneath my fingertips. I wrote and wrote and pretty soon, I had written 2,000 words. And this time, they were 2,000 good words.
So it got me to thinking. Did my day-long creativity beget more creativity where my writing was concerned? Or was it just that I was in the creative mindset all day long and it was a natural leap to the writing?
I'd like to think that the more creative things you do, the stronger your creative muscle gets and the easier it is to write, to embroider, to knit, to paint, to draw. Maybe that's why it's harder for me to write sometimes after work during the weekdays because I have been stuck in "work mode" all day instead of "creative mode."
I know I won't be able to be creative all day, every day, but on the days when I can, I plan to make the most of it. :-)
Friday, January 02, 2009
I didn't go out and party on New Year's Eve as I have a tradition of gorging myself on chips and dip and watching movies. So that's exactly what I did, and I even had a bit of bubbly (ok, ok, so it was ginger ale in a very nice wine glass, but at least I didn't have a hangover the next morning, right?) I watched a few movies, one of them being Keira Knightley's Pride and Prejudice. Great movie, though I think Colin Firth will always be Mr. Darcy. ;-) And I also ate way too many Oreos dipped in milk. Really. Is there anything better than this age-old snack? Absolute heaven!
I didn't do much for New Year's Day. My daughter was at her Dad's house, so I took the opportunity to sleep in. I don't know why I love to snatch a few hours of extra sleep on my days off, but I do. I also made a healthy lunch (and I actually threw away the rest of the potato chips and dip from the previous evening - I would have ate the entire thing otherwise!) and even took an afternoon nap.
I've got a new home on the web - stop by if you get a chance! www.melissamarsh.net
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