July 8, 2015

Wednesday, July 8.

Last night I finished an intensive deep edit on a friend’s manuscript. This edit was important to us both, and it took me more than two weeks of uninterrupted work time to finish. What a sigh of relief!

Editing for someone else can be scary, especially when we are friends. In the past I did it a lot, but then hard feelings erupted more often than not. These days, I only do deep edits for writers who are professional enough not to get bent out of shape by some tough critiques and suggestions.

It’s now time for me to move back to my own work.

But first…

I’m going to clean this house. I like to clean after intense, prolonged brain sessions. It’s relaxing. Besides, when writing/editing has me fully engaged at my desk, the dust bunnies get busy. Laundry multiplies. Things in the ‘fridge begin to grow fur. Bare feet stick to the floor. The rooms take on a “funny odor.” (And I don’t mean, funny-haha)  Ew.

The great thing about cleaning is that it gives my little gray cells a chance to unwind, if they want to. Most of the time, they are stirring the stewpot of ideas always simmering in my head. That’s OK. I have plenty of paper and pens scattered around the house. I can jot down those ideas and get back to scrubbing and polishing.

So tell me, do you find mindless chores (cleaning, mowing the lawn, washing the car, etc.) tedious or relaxing? Necessary or needless?

And tell me this: have you ever done something good for someone only to have them resent it, perhaps even sever a friendship because of it?

Comment here. I’d love to hear from you.

June 28, 2015

Sunday, June 28, 2015

So maybe you wonder why I haven’t written in my journal for a month?

  1. I’m not a journaling kind of person
  2. Sometimes journaling takes away the oomph I need for fiction writing
  3. I’ve been up to my eyeballs writing and editing three books that will be out sometime this year
  4. There are more reasons/excuses but I won’t bore you with them.

I wish I could tell you when Confessions of April Grace #4: Pink Orchids and Cheeseheads will be released. A health crisis at the publishing company has delayed production, and at this point I ask my readers to please be patient. The book will be out this year, but I don’t know when.

In the meantime, I can’t sit around twiddling my thumbs. I have stories to write!


May 28, 2015

Thursday, May 28.

When I was a girl, I had a battered turquoise trilby hat. It was soft and comfy, and when I donned it, I felt energized. My bedroom had east and south facing windows, so I got a lot of lovely light most the day. A sunny window, small table, kitchen chair, notebook and pen, and that hat. I was in business. I always had to have the hat, though. Without it, I thought stories might never reach paper.

I felt like a writer, and with the hat I thought I looked like a writer. Back then, it was important to look the part as well as feel the part.

What I failed to realize in those gauzy, dreamy youthful days is that a writer is so much more than looks and feelings. The world around does not drop away or neatly fold in on itself when we sit down to write. Barking dogs, chattering spouses, traffic, ringing phones, television … none of these suddenly hush into blessed silence just because we’re writing. Hungry stomachs must be fed. Dirty houses need to be cleaned. Overgrown lawns need to be mowed. Dogs need to go outside. Family demands must be met. None of this just because we put on a sweet old hat and sit near a sunny window with a story bursting for release.

Writers need to realize we are not as special as we first perceived ourselves to be. The world will neither change nor stop for us. Rather, we often must stop and adapt to what’s going on.

When our dog Frankie became unexpectedly ill then passed away last week, grief did not step back and let me go forward with my novel. Rather, the writer in me moved aside and allowed the emotional woman have her time of mourning and memories. From the time he was a puppy until the day before he died, Frankie lay beside my chair as I wrote, and curled up near my feet in the kneehole of the desk. No hat was going to stem the tide of that hurt.  I have cried myself dry, at least for now, and am ready to return to work.

I never realized, when I was 14 years old and steaming toward a writing career like a new ship with full cargo, that ports, shoals, storms, and calm seas lay before me. Had I known of the pain and frustration ahead, would I have continued my voyage?

Of course I would. This is, after all, my calling. With or without a hat.


May 9, 2015

Saturday, May 9

Yes, I know a few days have passed, and I have entered no updates. This is what happens when most of the time in the office is spent cleaning out drawers, closets, boxes, and files. The best I can say right now is that I can open the closet to get to supplies and/or manuscripts without being knocked unconscious. We have enough paper to compost the garden for twelve years.

And I’m not finished. Sigh.

Light a candle. Say a prayer. I’m eager to have this chore completed so I can concentrate fully on writing once more.

April 29, 2015

Wednesday, April 29

This week has been dedicated to cleaning and organizing my office. When we moved into this older, cottage style house nearly three years ago, the room I chose to be my office had a teeny, tiny closet. (How in the world was it EVER used for clothes storage?) I had deadlines to meet during that move, and after, so I shoved things into the closet until such time I had the nerve to tackle it.  At this moment, my neat little office isn’t so neat.

I’ve found so much old stuff. Old ideas jotted in old notebooks or on old scraps of paper, old short stories (some completed, some left undone for a good reason). A file folder bulging with carbon copies (yes, carbon copies) of query letters. Oh, my, I wish someone would have taught me how to write one back then. They are truly awful, but I’ll keep them to show new writers I made the same mistakes they make now. Maybe they’ll derive some comfort and hope. I have also unearthed enough writing tips to fill a book, discovered several packages of manilla envelopes, new and used file folders, and plenty of dust.

Then there are all those early book manuscripts. The ones where I was just beginning to crawl as a writer. The ones where I was finally able to walk as a writer were marginally better. By books five and six, I more or less knew what I was doing but still needed a lot of work and practice before I could even consider of entering any marathons.

I’m not finished with this cleaning/organizing task, but I know one thing for sure. Never, ever throw away book or story manuscripts. They might be old and dusty, yellowed with age, but they hold a lot of gold. Some of it can be mined. The first April Grace book, In Front of God and Everybody, proves that. It was an old book, chucked away for years.

I have a book coming out soon that was written nearly twenty years ago. It’s been polished and revised, brought up to date, but still, it’s a story salvaged from my desk drawer. Dare I say, it’s really good. I think so, anyway. I hope so.