I Barely Blinked… CoronaLife Day 922

How is it blog time already? I feel like I just wrote the last one yesterday!

That “clear week” I thought I had to write last week? I have no idea where it went.

I got no writing done.

My Board of Ed duties and medical stuff ate up many more hours than I expected, which left me too frazzled and scattered to focus on my writing.

I am approaching some of the more difficult edits in Veritas, so I need some solid quiet time to be able to think these things through on the page.

And, no, I was not avoiding the edits through creative procrastination (this time).

I am actually eager to tackle these edits, as I am confident I can improve the story as I barrel toward the end. I am about 85 pages from the end, so I can feel it!

Once I finish these edits, I have farther to go. I will have to re-read it again for continuity. I also have other, smaller threads I want to weave in.

Then I have an entire craft book to read, to see if I can (or have) incorporated the ideas in that book, as suggested by my editor.

Will I get to this in the coming week?

No. No, I will not.

Why?

BOOK FAIR!!

My favorite event, creating and encouraging readers.

Veritas will wait one more week.

Settling In–CoronaLife Day 915

Whew! Back to School Night was Tuesday, and it left me drained. Having to give 2 speeches will do that to me. An introvert writer who hates public speaking?! Who would have guessed?! Plus just being there for 5 hours was a lot.

So today I didn’t do much. Just necessities, like getting my kid off to school, ordering groceries, and saving an unaccompanied toddler from running into the road. (She had Houdini-ed her way out of her house.)

However, my overall progress on Veritas has been good. I am past the halfway point, so I can see the end.

Some of the remaining scenes will be among the hardest to fix, but I feel that the thought and fixes I have put into the scenes leading up to now will help guide me correctly through them.

I hope to get back into it today, and continue to chip away. I will have a pretty clear week ahead to make headway.

Then the Book Fair will be upon us and that week will see little writing. But that’s okay, because it will be full of kids with books!

Now that we are settling into school, I hope to settle into a writing rhythm where I can get something done every day.

I usually set my goal to a chapter a day. For me, that’s about a thousand words. When I am revising, I very often can get more than that done, but by setting realistic, achievable goals I feel better about my progress.

How about you? Are you settling in to Fall?

The Writing Ghost–CoronaLife Day 908

I always wrote, but it wasn’t until I met Donna H. in freshman year of high school that I really dove in deep.

Donna was also a writer, and nothing can crank up the phone bills like two 14-year-old writers in the age before email. We were the reason both of our parents invested in call waiting.

Our writing process evolved organically. It was a constant churn of ideas, writing, editing, more ideas, more writing, more editing, until finally we had completed something we were happy with.

In this manner, we churned out 11 novels in 18 years. Some of them were even good.

They were all fan fiction, but we learned a great deal by writing them. And all the while, our intertwined writing process became as necessary, and as unconcious, as breathing.

Then Donna died.

Her death was hard in so many ways, but one of the hardest was learning to write without her. It was like I had lost one lung. Breathing was neither easy nor unconscious anymore.

But life goes on, and a writer must write. I pushed on, pushed through. And I have published three books and two short stories without her.

This week, though, the ghost of our writing process ran me over. I had an idea that really excited me, so much so that I typed it all out first thing in the morning, after it stewing in my mind during a largely sleepless night.

I wanted to share it with Donna. And I couldn’t.

I have writing buddies, people I am comfortable sharing my works-in-progress with. People whose opinions and critiques and friendships I value. But I have never found another “idea” person. Someone I can rush to in all my enthusiasm and have them listen, join in my enthusiasm, and then tell me if there was anything to the idea, or if I had jumped the shark. Because as excited as Donna would be, she would never hesitate to tell me if I’d gone off the rails in some way.

And then she’d help me figure out how to keep the core of the idea, the piece that had gotten me so excited in the first place, and make it work.

I no longer have THAT PERSON, and I felt the loss keenly. I don’t think it’s something you can make happen. It happens organically, somehow you just click.

I thought I had figured out how to write alone.

Looks like I’m still learning.

The Whirlwind Begins–CoronaLife Day 901

By the time you read this, it will be September 1st. It’s pretty amazing how quickly August flew by. August 1st still felt like September was so far off, but here we are!

Monday our PTA hosted a Meet-n-Greet for our Pre-K through 1st grades to meet their teachers, do some crafts, and feel a little more at ease coming to school. We had a great turn out, even if it was predictably crazy. I roped my daughter into helping, as well, which she did even though she is “scared of the 3-year-olds.”

This week we also had our first Board of Education meeting of the school year. It was long, because we had a lot to cover. We don’t have a July meeting, which means several months of topics to review and discuss. It was productive, and it felt good to get back into it.

September 1st is the first day the teachers are back. So I have to get up early (for me) and be at the school to give a speech (oh, joy) to the teachers. Then I’m back at lunch time to help the PTA with their Welcome Back Teachers Luncheon. We love our teachers, gotta keep them fed while they work so hard for our kids!

Add in my daughter having activities a couple of the evenings, and it has been quite a busy week!

It is but a taste of things to come. As school hits fully next week, there will also be homework and eventually extra-curricular clubs.

But I will have a quiet house during the day, so I hope to find a writing rhythm where I can work at least a little every day.

Does September bring a wholesale change in your schedule, or doesn’t impact you at all?

The Circular Nature of Revision–CoronaLife Day 894

Last week I mentioned that I wanted to work on my YA scifi, Veritas, while my daughter was at camp. It turned out to be quite a productive week.

It took a couple of days to go over all my notes and get back into the swing of things, since it had been almost 2 years since I had last worked on it. But after I did, I got through 18,000 words. Some were new words, but most were revision.

This brought me almost to the halfway point of my novel. But sometimes when you revise, you hit a spot that requires going back into an earlier scene, or writing a whole new scene to insert earlier, so the current scene will make sense or have the desired emotional depth.

That’s what happened with this scene. It referred to something in passing that my editor thought needed deeper explanation earlier in the book so it would resonate more in the current scene. I agreed, so now I will be stopping my forward momentum until I write that new scene.

My editor’s attention to that particular scene also made me realize that certain events in my longer, full series, timeline did not work as written. Mostly it would have required a main character to be in two different places simultaneously. And even in a speculative fiction genre, that just didn’t work.

Therefore, I laid out my entire series timeline in a visual way, which helped me see where my time conflicts were. I then adjusted my series to make it all work. It required me to revise my thinking, too, letting go of my original idea of how things “had to be” and finding new configurations. So it turned out to be doubly good that my editor drew my attention to that scene.

Sometimes in writing you need to go backward to go forward. But since it is all necessary work, it is still progress!

Back in the Writing Saddle—CoronaLife Day 887

My daughter is at camp this week. It is a day camp, and it is about 40 minutes from my house. Which means I am driving 2 hours and 40 minutes a day, 112 miles a day. It also means early rising and long days.

It also means a quiet house and writing time.

I have taken this opportunity to return to my YA scifi novel Veritas, which I had left in mid-revision when the pandemic hit and life became too stressful for me to have the proper mindset to work.

I spent Monday and Tuesday reviewing my copious notes and re-reading the rewrite as far as I had it. I remembered what I was trying to do, and where I was headed. Even more exciting, I liked the rewrite so far!

On Wednesday I dove back into the writing, managing a respectable 1,146 words on a brand new scene. My next step will be to return to the already written scenes and revise them to fit the new vision.

So while I may be a bit sleep-deprived, I am feeling good that I am making progress. This revision is a slow and painstaking one, as I measure each scene against feedback from my editor, the ideas found in Lisa Cron’s Story Genius, and the vision I have in my head. Weaving those parts together—and writing new material as needed—will hopefully create a story that is strong and compelling.

Vertias has been a project for a long time. This is my third major rewrite of the book. The first version I liked but a potential agent didn’t. I rewrote based on her feedback but disliked the result (so did she, as she passed on representing it). I returned my second version to my trusted editor Kathryn Craft, who also disliked the new version, but was able to articulate why and help me see a path to reclaiming what we both had loved about the original while addressing the remaining weaknesses.

I had embarked upon the mind-bending process of separating the wheat from the chaff when the pandemic hit and everything fell apart. Now I am inching back into it, and hope to continue once this week of camp is over.

After all, soon school will be back in session, and I will have a quiet house again.

Chipping Away–CoronaLife Day 880

We’re closing in on the August halfway point. Hard to believe!

I did not get much done in the writing world this week, as Board of Education work is ramping up again. I’ve been chipping away at various projects for that this week, and another landed in my inbox today.

My daughter has camp next week, which will mean about 2 hours of driving for me per day. But I hope to use the rest of the day to get into my next writing project.

I had put my YA scifi Veritas on hold as life overtook me. I am in the midst of a major rewrite, and did not have the time, quiet, or mind space to focus on its complexities. I am planning on returning to it next week, remind myself what I’m doing, and getting back into it.

It was between Veritas and the sequel to The Witch of Zal, which I do have a first draft of complete. But the characters in Veritas have been intruding into my thoughts frequently, so I’m taking that as a sign that Veritas is ready for me to return.

That’s my plan. We shall see how it works out!

How is your August going?

Enter August–CoronaLife Day 873

August has arrived, quietly, with little fanfare. It rather snuck up on me, honestly. It seemed so far off, and then…here it is.

This week has been pretty quiet on the writing front. I have been taking care of other business, mostly my Board of Education duties as a new school year approaches.

I have also completed the first (and hardest) part of a photo project I am working on. The rest will be both tedious and meticulous, but not really difficult.

I am digging into my Irish genealogy again, trying to put some pieces together. My current frustration is that people that have my supposed family in their tree are not DNA matches to my mother, while people who are DNA matches do not have that family in their tree.

I have tried a tool called Auto Clustering for my mom, and I will see if it yields any clues.

I am hoping to use this week as prep time, so I can spend the week my daughter is at camp focused on writing. Sort of a mini-writing retreat, only I have to drive her a half-hour each way every day.

The class before my daughter’s at swimming is the infants. They are infinitely adorable as they learn to navigate this new medium. They of course don’t swim yet (they can’t even walk), but they are learning not to be afraid and to have fun.

I see a metaphor for writing there. Most writers dove in because it was fun. As we slowly mastered the new medium, it became more technical, harder to float. The deeper we got, the more often we felt close to drowning.

Sometimes we need to stop flailing and take a deep breath. Fly through the water and trust all that we have learned will hold us up. Find the fun.

Happy August, everyone!

Liminal Space—CoronaLife Day 866

A person I know via Facebook lost his wife this week. She had fought a long fight against cancer, but ultimately her body gave out. She was at home on hospice when she passed.

He commented once on the painful duality of her being there but knowing she would soon not be there, and that got me thinking of liminal space, that border world between the here and the  hereafter.

I have been privileged to be in that liminal space twice in my life. As difficult as that space is, it is a gift. That time, that feeling, is unlike anything else I have experienced.

I am not religious, but that time, that collision of the here and the hereafter, feels sacred. The world outside disappears. You suddenly know what really matters. For that time, your job doesn’t matter, politics doesn’t matter, none of the things that weigh so heavily on your daily life matter. Time stops. The world contracts to that room.

In that room, that sacred liminal space, the here and the hereafter overlap, like a double exposure photograph. Your loved one is both here and there. Your heart is both here and there.

The final transition, when it comes, is palpable. You feel their soul come free. And suddenly, they are at peace. Their pain, their struggle, is done.

And you are both grateful and heartbroken.

For the liminal space has collapsed, and you are left bereft in the here.

But love never dies, and in time you will find that love creating liminal spaces when you least expect them. Don’t let grief blind you to those connections.

The veil between the here and the hereafter is thinner than we believe.

Heat Wave!—CoronaLife Day 859

We are experiencing the first major heat wave of the summer. I mean temperatures at 100 degrees. I’ve heard the National Weather Service has issued instructions on how to bake a lasagna in your mailbox.

More extreme weather has been becoming more the norm in my area over the past few years. Multiple tornadoes, stronger hurricanes, more forest fires, warmer winters, and hotter summers.

Climate change is here to stay.

Thing is, hot weather like this makes me lazy. Coupled with the childhood-learned summer slowdown reflex, I hibernate in the air conditioning and the summer malaise creeps into my soul.

Still, there is much to be done, so I will have to shake it off and get to work eventually.

I am in the midst of a photo project, which will take me longer than I had anticipated (don’t they always?). I also need to do some research into trade reviews and book bloggers for an upcoming book.

I need to create and print the pamphlet for my Board of Education run. And there is current BOE business to attend to.

And the usual family stuff. It may be summer, but we still have doctors’ appointments, swimming, ninja gym, and visits with family, as well as all the usual routine things.

I have plenty to fill my days, if only the heat wave would release me from its spell!

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