Saturday, January 24, 2015

wishful thinking

Call it wishful thinking, but I took the weather forecast--SNOW--seriously this weekend. I stocked up on food and supplies. I committed myself to three writing projects. And, I went to the bookstore. I truly believe this quote by Stephen King:

Maybe I went a little overboard.
Just this past week I finished a rather eclectic group of books. One, "The End of Unbelief" by Shane Hayes, addresses some of the same issues I'm dealing with in my WIP, a book on faith...or the lack of it. I finished a book of short stories by Nobel Prize winning author Alice Munro. And, in anticipation of the arrival in March of our first grandchild, a boy, I read "Operating Instructions" by Anne Lamott, a journal of her son's first year of life written with her customary sense of humor and self-deprecation.
This weekend I selected an equally diverse group of books. I picked up "Adultery" by Paulo Coelho because I love literary fiction, and I mean, how much better can you get?

On a lighter note I bought "The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society" by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows. Several of my fellow writers on Facebook commented enthusiastically about it this week, so I figured that was good enough for me. Then, when I checked it out, the woman at the register also raved about it.

  Finally, I gave in and picked up "A Brief History of Time" by Stephen Hawking.

The question, "How did the universe begin?" is the one thing that still stands between me and my understanding of God. The back cover assures the reader that this issue is discussed "in language we can all understand...."
I beg to differ. My head is already spinning with terms like absolute time and relativity, and with the theories of Aristotle, Newton, and Einstein. And I'm only on page 22. Nevertheless, I'm going to give this a shot.
What I need now is not just a passing snow storm, but an authentic blizzard. I need to be snowed in for a couple of days, maybe even weeks (like last winter), with nothing better to do than to unravel the mysteries of the universe. Today's storm was a bit of a letdown, so I'm hoping tomorrow's will do the trick. Thinking wishfully...
 What attracts you to the books you choose to read?

In light of last week's news coverage about the mother who set her baby on fire, my friend and fellow writer, Hana Haatainen-Caye, invited me to post something about postpartum psychosis, as well as a few thoughts about responsible reporting. You can read it on her site, If you're interested in environmental issues, her blog also offers excellent tips for living an environmentally responsible life style. Check it out!


Monday, January 19, 2015

slogging through the muck

First there's the book you have pictured in your mind...and then, there's the process of writing it. It can take you from soaring with enthusiasm to slogging through the muck.

I'd say I'm somewhere near the midpoint in that process, now...when inspiration wanes, fatigue sets in, and the story line languishes. When self-doubt creeps in. And, even though the end is in sight, like a desert mirage, it fades away the closer I get to it.

This is a lonely place. My manuscript isn't polished yet so no one else has seen it or commented on it. Therefore, I don't get to enjoy the stimulation that comes with an exchange of ideas, weighing in on suggestions from my writing partners. I need a fresh infusion of incentive, like the energy that emerges when composing a query letter or submitting to an editor or agent. But, I'm not there yet. This is just hard, lonely work, day after day.

How do I cope with it? How do you?

Sometimes I'll take a little time out to run off a piece of flash fiction, a short essay, or, like today, a blog post. It's like indulging in a little snack when you can't wait for supper.

Sometimes I have to tear myself away from the keyboard and polish off a few necessary chores before I can concentrate again. For example, when there's no food in the house or I run out of clean underwear. I mean, priorities do change. Writing sometimes has to wait. This past weekend it involved hosting a DIY baby shower for my daughter. What fun! (She's going to have a boy...)

When I'm stuck for an idea or unsure how to put one into words, I'll pick a random passage to edit and revise, backtracking a bit until I'm sure I'm on the right path again.
It also helps to read something by another author on a similar topic. Today I flew through "The End of Unbelief--A New Approach to the Question of God" by Shane Hayes.
The End of Unbelief: A New Approach to the Question of God

This is exactly what I'm writing about but he has an entirely different perspective on it, meaning three things. First, people are interested in this topic and are reading this kind of book. Second, our intended audience is different, and third, my book (if and when it comes out) will not be in competition with his. Good to know.
Do you ever get bogged down in the middle of a book? What do you do to energize yourself?
"Many of life's failures
 are people who did not realize
how close they were to success
when they gave up."
~Thomas A Edison~
On March 28, 1986 the temperature reached 90 degrees in Central Pennsylvania, where I live. Hang in there! Winter will be over before you know it.