The stages of writing a book

9 Comments

I am writing a book.  There, I’ve said it.  I’m out.   Although the book is not quite finished, I have stopped to reflect on the different stages of writing a fiction novel.

The first stage, for me,  was definitely the romantic stage.  Writing a book has an allure about it.  There is something truly whimsical about imagining yourself dancing in a meadow with a plethora of phrases spilling from your brain.  Each of those phrases floats through the air and settles onto fluffy white clouds until you are able to collect them all and put them to paper.

The second stage is certainly more realistic than the first.  This stage for me was jotting down the plot twists that I wanted in my story but not knowing where they would be presented.  I also had to decide whether I wanted to write a full outline and follow it or if I simply wanted the characters to tell their story as they saw fit.  There are many places in my life where structure and organization are crucial but creating a story is not one of those places so the characters were able to share their voices without my framework.

The third stage was fantastic.  Once I had the basic premise in my head, I just sat down and wrote.  Some days were better than others but I spent a significant amount of time each day seeing how much further I could delve into the story and where it would lead me.  The best part about the third stage was getting excited when I came up with a new plot twist and  having those ideas create even more scenarios that I had never thought of before.  This stage was the ‘perpetual high’ stage.

I am now in the fourth stage, which is the panic stage.  I am so close to finishing the book and now I am second guessing everything I have written.  Are my characters deficient in some way?  Does the story line flow properly?  Is there enough meat in the story to keep readers interested?  Am I even going to have readers?   The list goes on….

I am hoping that there is a bright light at the end of this arduous tunnel when I gain back a little more self-confidence and I can just pat myself on the back and say, ‘you finished your book’.  That in itself will be a monumental occasion.

I already have the sequel planned and seemingly I am willing to put myself through these phases all over again.  They must make some sort of pill for this……

A Heavenly wish on Mother’s Day

10 Comments

She birthed me and swaddled me,

she showered me with love.

Her arms always embraced me,

they fit me like a glove.

Her words were the only ones,

that could help to heal my scars.

Hers was the only light,

that would comfort me in the dark.

She woke me up to play with me,

she laughed at all my jokes.

She sang with me to old musicals,

although she couldn’t hold the notes.

Her faith in my abilities,

has stood the test of time.

She’s the portrait of what a mother should be,

and I’m glad that she is mine.

So, here’s to you, mom, on this special day,

my love for you has no end.

You’re my giver of life, my confidant,

and will always be my best friend.

And though my wishes are sent further today,

into a world I am unable to touch.

I know you hear my words of love

and they will forever mean just as much.

Some trips down Memory Lane

7 Comments

I don’t profess to know much about history.  I spent more time trying to avert my eyes from my high school History teacher’s unpleasant gestures and I unfortunately did not absorb any of the assumed knowledge he had bestowed upon us.  Instead, I doodled, wrote poems and passed notes to my friends.  I narrowly escaped with a passing percentage from my tenth grade scholastic year because of the embarrassing grade I received from that History class but my outlook on the past has recently changed.

(image credit)

I have been asked to help with a project for our local library.  They would like to create a book that details the photos and the memories of our senior residents, learn what brought them to Muskoka and what the area was like when they first arrived.  I knew I would enjoy the journey but I didn’t know how much I would love it until I did my first interview on Wednesday.

This area has been home to my family for many generations.  I have been fortunate to live here for most of my life and have many photos and stories of family members who walked these paths long before my grandparents were born.  It has been a part of  my soul for longer than I have been on this Earth and I now get to hear stories of how Muskoka has been the love of many other people’s lives.

My first interview was with a delightful 82-year-old woman who was born in Cork, Ireland.  She moved to England with her family after the war and bravely left the safety of her home to move to Canada with a friend when she was 23 years old.  As I listened to her detail the moments of her life, I became absorbed in her words as she described her passion for her early days as a cottager and subsequently as a summer resident.  Her words moved me.  I felt the same strong emotion she did as she described how she felt more than fifty years ago when she first came to the area.

Perhaps history is subjective.   The stories of our past may be told in different ways but they will always hold a special place in our heart.  I am looking forward to joining a few more of our long-time residents on their journey down memory lane.

Oh, the places I’ll go

8 Comments

I am in the middle of a steep learning curve.  I have never written anything longer than a 3,500 word short story so I should have expected a few pitfalls when I decided to pursue my dream of writing a book, or two or three.   But I was committed to give it one hundred percent and see where the journey led me.  I am well on my way to achieving 82,000 (ish) words for a novel-length book and only have 17,000 more to go!

I have been amazed by the process.  I have a journal I keep at my side to remind me of what has happened in each paragraph so the story will not seem disjointed or confusing.  I have done my best, pre-editing, to make sure the plot line flows well and ties in all the loose ends.  I’m sure I have missed a few small details throughout the process but I’m new at this so I’m giving myself ample opportunities to go back and alter the things that don’t work.  I have noticed that my characters have taken on a life of their own, causing me to go back and change a few details of their past but so far I feel blessed to have made it this far.

My writing has mainly been directed by the characters.  I had a simple outline of where I wanted the book to go but their personalities have taken control of the wheel and taken me in a few directions I hadn’t thought of.  On Friday, I wrote a paragraph and then I couldn’t write any more.  Something was off.  I didn’t know it was wrong when I wrote it, but that one paragraph derailed my train of thought.  I stared at that page as the characters sat idly by waiting for me to send them in a direction, any direction, but I was stuck.

I read that last paragraph many times and it eventually dawned on me to remove the last sentence.  As soon as that freeway in my brain cleared of the congestion, the traffic of words started to flow and sped off down the road.  I now understand how writer’s can figuratively paint themselves into a corner.  That one line was the difference between writing and staring at my walls.

Persistence is the key.  I have many lines and paragraphs that I have omitted from the book.  They are not gone but merely stored on a different page until I know those ideas are not meant for this book.  I have no idea where I will end up, but, oh, the places I’ll go on my journey to get there.

 

The thing about friends

3 Comments

friendship-12-1

There is an infinite number of moments that friends can share.   Some of those memories may be remembered differently, based on individual perspectives, but most times the memories can transport people back through time to partake in a journey of laughter and recollection.

Yesterday I got to spend a few hours with an old friend who I have had the good fortune of reconnecting with and we have become great friends over the last two years.  We may not see each other often but, when we do, we have no trouble picking up the conversation where it left off the last time we talked.

I have several very close friends with whom I share the same special relationship.  Time and distance may separate us but the closeness we share is evident when we finally occupy the same physical space or talk on the phone.  Conversation flows like no time has passed and the laughter shared is just as genuine every time.

Friends like that don’t come along often.  To be able to be apart for long periods of time and just pick up where you left off is a gift.  Some of these friends are in different provinces and various time zones but we don’t let that distance or time negate the closeness of our relationship.

I have lost several people in my life who were a big part of my heart and when you suffer that kind of loss you learn to truly value everyone who can help to fill that space.  You learn to be grateful for every single moment you have with the people you call friends.  And you learn that being apart only makes you appreciate those friends that much more when you are together.

The symphony of my life

3 Comments

I was trying to come up with an idea for a post tonight – clearing the cobwebs in my brain that had been woven during my work day.  I like to write about things that have meaning for me, that strike a chord deep within me and light the passion that only words can fuel until it becomes a mellifluous production.

The image of my family crept into my thoughts and the music of their presence in my life began like a slow starting symphony.   The opus of this particular operatic was my divorce, my escape from a life that was not mine to live.  Single notes, soft but relevant, could be heard over the din in my head and the notes began to permeate my thoughts.  The movement of their music was intoxicating and I began to sway with the rhythm.

symphony

Each section of the orchestra sounded the cries of their instrument, but the blend of those voices, the song that was created, was harmonious, and like all symphonies, it had a story to tell.  The beginning of the sounds were light, easing me into the fable with their hypnotic sound.  Somehow the music spoke to me and I knew there was beauty far beyond what I was living.  I could feel it in the music that penetrated my skin, the octaves that dove into the reaches of my mind and brought me back to a reality where I was happy.  The notes blended to create a comforting strain, the dulcet tones began to rise in volume and the crescendo was an emotional outpouring of support.  The fat lady had sung, the show was over and so was my marriage.

There is always a deep, emotional story behind any operatic performance.  There is pleasure, there is pain and there is death.  I experienced some of the pleasure, my fair share of emotional pain and the death of a relationship.  But as any opera heroine does at the end of the performance, I lifted my head, nodded to the orchestra, and prepared for the next show.

Pick your battles

6 Comments

I was first introduced to this phrase years ago when I lived with my ex boyfriend and his three children.  At the time when I became a major part of their lives, they were a mere 6, 8 and 11 years old and were dealing with the divorce of their parents.   I had the fortune of knowing them for years before their father and I were involved so I did not take on the role of “step-monster”.  I instead had a solid foundation for a relationship with all of them.  But that did not mean the transition was easy for any of us.

There were certainly days that I found more frustrating than others, as I’m sure they did as well, and inevitably arguments ensued.  It wasn’t until their father and I were having a chat one night over a much-needed glass of wine that he bestowed a little gem on me.  He pointed out the glaringly obvious problem – I was trying too hard to win the battles and not every war in that house was going to be won – by anyone.  That stunning revelation was a game changer.  Pick your battles – such a simple phrase with epic results.

It’s hard to take a step backwards and give yourself a “time out” to realize what the audible scrimmage is really about.  You have to decide if the fight is worth the effort you are putting forth to win.   It could be an argument that, at the end of the day, really has no great effect on the bigger picture but the negative energy from the conflict just may.  You must go in with a strategy but be willing to change tactics and maneuver away from the barrage of verbal banter.

If it’s not a life changing situation, give a little.  You’ll spend countless minutes and hours trying to be right when it isn’t going to change the rotation of your world.  Sometimes all of the smaller problems can become compounded and the war you face can seem extremely overwhelming.  You must learn to choose your crusades wisely.  Learn to cloak your emotions until you can see ahead of the problem that burdens your path.

The age-old saying “Don’t sweat the small stuff” is the same gift in different wrapping.  I have carried this ideal with me throughout the years and it has served me well.  Pick your battles – be proud of the scars of war but make sure the ones you earned were worth the fight.