Thursday, 24 November 2011

The Importance of Connections

I recently had a simple, but important, 'aha moment' when I went south of the border into Maine with a friend on our annual Christmas shopping trip.  We don't save any money but that's not the point.  We have fun, the people of Maine are friendly, inviting, and of course, the selection in the stores out wows ours here in Eastern Canada.  It's possible to find those uniquely different gifts!

Anyway, to the 'aha' moment.  I had finished shopping before my friend so decided to join the line up at one of those little cafes set up in the mall that sold mochas, lattes, java of all sorts.  I was at the back of the line and had time to watch the young people (three of them all in their teens) waiting on the customers.  They were a joy to watch, busy, but not stressed, bouncing the teamwork ball beautifully, taking the time to smile at each other and the customers.

When I finally made it to the counter, I started seperating my Canadian coins from the American.  The young man asked why I had so much Canadian money and the conversation began.  We talked about Canada, shopping in America, and the like, then I took my bottle of water (don't take caffeine after a certain hour), sat at the table and took a peek inside the book I had bought.  I was interrupted by the young man passing me a piece of complementary pumkin loaf.  Surprised, delighted, to say the least.

I thought about the connections the small team at the mall made in their daily lives with the people they encountered and how much I admired it.  It is important to make connections with others even in the routine of our daily lives, not just in disasters or the like, when usually the best in everyone comes out. 

The realization of the simple, daily small connections with other members of the human family was my 'aha' moment.  The sheer importance of it and the difference it makes in our lives.  These small beginnings are the steps, I believe, towards interacting with others of different creeds, cultures, abilities, and the like.  For underneath it all, we belong to the human family.

Just had to share it. 

Friday, 18 November 2011

Christmas Music/Decorations in Early November Rant

I'm being an ugly bear this morning and rant against the early promotion of Christmas.  I realize the worldwide economy is in a tailspin, that retail outlets have been hit hard but really, is it necessary to start barraging shopping customers with Christmas music two days after Halloween going to help.

It aggravates me to no end, inudates and dulls my senses to beautiful music and all the other trimmings that accompany this wonderful season.  By the time I'm ready to start shopping, I'm immune to all the hype and try to conjure of feelings of good will - doesn't happen.

Our brilliant neighbours to the south kick off their Christmas shopping on their Thanksgiving weekend, a heartwarming tradition that I expect sets the tone for December.  Its not an option here in Canada with our October Thanksgiving weekends but surely there is something we can do to discourage the shopkeepers from bombarding us with enticements on TV, in the malls, on our streets, and yes, our libraries - our local one is fully decked out. 

I support consumerism.  I love to buy gifts for family and friends; love to receive them as well.  But, scrooge like as I may sound, please don't bother me with any of the trappings before the middle of November.  What about you?  Am I alone in this?  Weight in with your opinion, perhaps you can help me to see the benefit of these early enticements.

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Get Behind Me...

I'm ready to move on from my first WIP.  I don't want to do another edit or polish.  It is time it is finished.  I have other ideas percolating around in my head.

Why I and other writers put ourselves through the grind of writing is a mystery.  Its a challenging, frustrating, rewarding, disappointing venture and, like so much else in life, in the end, there are no guarantees.  I confess to being a bit nostalgic.  My thoughts meander back more often than I like to what were 'the days when things were much more simple'.  When an author told a good story, didn't have to be concerned about marketing, a good story sells itself.  Now I know this is not true and never was, but its a favourite fantasy of mine, a return to what never was.  Doesn't make a lot of sense does it?  Neither does being a writer.

End of writer's rant and back to subject.  Letting go of my first WIP is scary.  Will readers like it?  Will it crash into the ashes of the rejected.  And if it does, is it really deserved?  I've thought and re-thought these questions to the point that I know its time to move on.  Get behind me WIP.

Has you ever felt this way about a project you've undertaken, doesn't have to be writing, I suspect there are more similarities than disimilarities in our human undertakings?


Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Risk Taking - Yea or Nay - What's Your Story?

I haven't had a chance to post in awhile because I've been hard at work putting final polish on my WIP.  Hoping to upload and go live on Amazon by end of November - scary business.  I could play it safe and not take the risk but I believe my work will bring pleasure to readers, and as a reader for many, many years, I know the value of a good read. 

And then there's the whole social media business.   I found the learning curve to be a steep, sometimes frustrating one (and still do, haven't managed how to add Follow me buttons on my blog yet!) The extent of my communication skills:  an expert of sending e-mails.  But, I'm not giving up  yet.  I know how to retweet on Twitter now and proud of it!

But back to the book, going live is a bit of a crap shoot. Readers amy dis it, and I respect that as a reader, I too have my preferences.  But, I'm going to take the plunge, one toe in the water when I post my book cover for comment next week.

Other risk I've taken:  relocating to new town in new job, selling home, enrolling in University as a mature student, travelling alone to Europe.  All of them scary at the time and even though some didn't go as I had hoped, I found taking on the challenge of change to be a true growth experience.

I'd love to hear your risk stories, for life experience is the greatest teacher!

Saturday, 12 November 2011

The Storm

Huge wind and rain storm here on the east coast yesterday.  Biblical rains!  Had I known, when I threw half of the winter's woodpile in the basement, I wouldn't have been so ambitious and left more for the building of an ark.

The wind stripped the leaves that have hung around this fall for the longest time I can remember.  Unfortunately, the leaves all flew into my neighbour's yard.  His lot happens to be treeless, hope he's strong into community life.

Sleep was interrupted by the fierce winds.  This was a real storm not a pretend drop and blow but one that I remember from when I was young.  Storms that raise the hairs on the back of your neck.  Now I wouldn't be talking about the power of storms so light heartedly except for the fact that there was no loss of life, no horrible flooding, tree limbs down, garbage cans and leaves blown around. 

Today,t he sun is hwoing, water is flowing in the front gutter and the temperature has plummeted.  Not a bad thing for I'm a bit old fashioned, I'm used to seasonal changes and cold in the fall is good.  Some supersition hanging around on that one. 

The storm is over and now its time to get down to the serious business of writing, editing and polishing.  Its the only way I know to get closer to sharing my work with others. 

Stay well. 

Thursday, 10 November 2011

Farmers' Fields - Murderous Plots

Yesterday morning, sun shining bright, two friends and I went across the basin and onto back roads to the farmers' fields where thousands (literally tens of thousands) of migrating geese from Greenland join up with the Canadian geese to rest after their transatlantic flight, eat, and do whatever else geese do - who'd of thought they fly at night!  At the first sight of snow, they head south. 

And speaking of snow, I had the wonderful luck to see two snow geese - dazzling white in the sunshine.  This is all new to me and I was glad my friends told me just how lucky I was.  And so are the geese, for the farmers forbid hunters on their fields. 

Exciting to watch them in their V formations.  The leader takes the brunt of the wind, the ones toward the back coast and then the change up.  One from the back comes to the front, and so on, until they cross the North Atlantic.  That's teamwork!

Now I'm not sure I will become a professional birdwatcher but I was grateful to the friends who invited me along yesterday where another unforeseen event happened. 

Writer's instinct never leaves and the sight of the empty fields in the countryside spawned two murderous plots.  I wrote them down as soon as I got back to the house.  Now that was the luckiest day I had in a long while.

What about you?  Anyone out their a bird watcher? Ever have plots evolve when you were in a different enviroment?

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Facebook or Not?

Every day consists of making some sort of decision and today I'm faced with deciding whether or not to go on facebook.

I have my blog, I'm on Twitter @writersangst but have avoided facebook because of negative views from others. 

So, I'm seeking other opinions this morning.  What is your take on Facebook.  Do you find it intrusive, too invasive, concerned about privacy issues. 

I'm trying to get all my ducks in line for when my book goes live and hence this morning's question.

Hope you will share your opinion or point me elsewhere to reliable info.  Thanks.

Monday, 7 November 2011

A Helping Hand

I started to write a little over two years ago.  My first WIP is 'stored away in the cupboard' until I have the time or the inclination to revisit and rewrite.  I don't mourn the fact that it is unpubishable in its current state, rather I celebrate the fact that I did it.  Actually finished it!  And I cherish how much it taught me.

I have a lot more confidence in my second WIP and I'm others will like it and share my confidence.  Others have had a lot to do with my writing journey and I'd be a jerk if I didn't take the time to give my thanks to them in today's post.

Writers have to be the most generous professionals I've ever met.  I have come across so many that have offered encouragement, extended a helping hand, referred me to excellent resources, and offered to read and critique. 

Some of the writers were published and busy working on their next project, some were like me, just starting out, and some were very 'long in the tooth'.  No matter, and I don't believe it was a matter of luck, I've never come across those involved in the gruelling, taxing, draining, uplifting, eagle soaring process of writing who weren't willing to share their time, attention, tips, and advice.

That hasn't been my experience in other fields.  So, as my WIP goes through its final polish, hats off to all those who have been so gracious to a newbie.

Have you had the good fortune to be on the receiving end of gracious giving?

Saturday, 5 November 2011

Melt Down

Drawing close to the time to load my first novel on Amazon/Kindle and I'm scared out of my wits.

What if readers won't like it?  Is it really ready to be e-published?  Heard so many disaster stories, how poor edits destroy a reputation before its even built.  Is my protagonist believable?  Does the plot hold together?  Should I query literary agents and wait? 

Never did I consider these things when I started to write.  Fingers flew across the keyboard, characters, plot, and surprise endings - simple stuff.  Confidence crumbled at first draft reading.  Put the next blockbuster to rest.  Five weeks later, opened it up and began to revise.  Three drafts later and it still didn't gel.

Now its ready.  Right?  Maybe not?  The circle of self-doubt fires up once more.

So, you wonderful writers out there, how did you cope with the jitters?  Did you experience a mini melt down?  And if so, how did you get past it? 

Friday, 4 November 2011

The Writer's Room

Solitutude, quiet, the closed door, keep out sign, don't disturb, out of my face, picture of the family, picture of the cat or dog, cat or dog lying at your feet, cat or dog whining or meowing at the door, nature calling you and your pets, cell vibrating, tweets popping up on your empty screen.  Any of this sound familiar?  Does this happen in your writing place?

It happens in mine more often than nought.  Then I begin to long for the isolation of a log cabin, deep in the woods, wood stove blasting heat in the winter, screen doors and windows letting in light and fresh air in the summer, spring rain beating a hynotic tattoo on the rough. And, the brilliant autumn leaves glimpsed through the window igniting the writer's passion within. 

Ideal, yes.  Reality, no, sigh.  We writers to do the best with what we have, try to let go of our sentimental, environmental trappings.  In my writing place, lots of things go on.  Interruptions - love them on a bad writing day - coffee, tea, juice, water drinking until nectar time, one eye on the page, one eye on the clock.  When I enter my writing place - a small room crammed with books, laptop, and dictionary - don't trust spell check - humiliated too many times. 

Like an old dog that turns around three times before sitting down, I have my superstitious rituals before opening the page - the unmentionables.  And sometimes, not often enough, to this rather pathetic little hovel, magic comes, fingers fly trying to keep up with the evolving story.  Muses dancing around in the head and around the room.

But, reality quickly returns, distractions happen - usually my own - and so on.

What about your writing place?  Is it magical, dreary, inspiring, or a retreat?  How do you liven up your creative space?

Thursday, 3 November 2011

Staying Power!

Commitment requires discipline and staying power, something I find myself ignoring from time to time.  Any excuse will do:  doctor's appt., lunch with friends, drinks with friends, getting drunk with friends - that sort of thing plus to many others to mention.

Way back in my school days I had the same type of problem.  Ignored daily study for:  favourite TV program, talking with friends, reading, reading, and reading all my favourite books in my room with door shut - parent and siblings not welcome.

And then came the exams.  Door shut, none welcome, and then, the brain cram, walking into the classroom slowly, oh so carefully, so all the crammed stuff didn't jar loose then back home to cram again.

So, as you can see, I lacked discipline (except for rounders and handball - no fooling around, reputation was at stake) and that lack has now affected by writing life.  It's a love/hate relationship.  I spend my considerably lowered energy reserves immersed in the do I or don't I write today? 

However, I think I'm starting to learn.  Not to my credit but by following writers who are dedicated, determined, dynamic and dexterious!  Feelings of guilt surface from somewhere, and it happens, I want to be a professional.  I want staying power!

Any other writers or readers out there experience the same?

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Social Networking - a time drain or an indispensable tool?

Being new to the writing gain and hoping to launch my new WIP soon, I took the plunge, created a blog, added the blogs of wonderful writers to my favourites, and became a member of Twitter.  The only plunge left for me to take is Facebook.  I have reservations so hence the wait. 

Easy, right?  Yes.  I'm better informed than I ever have been.  I've dialogued with writers who have enriched my writing life by their own experiences, wit, and energy - a more generous bunch I've never encountered.

The problem - time!  I'm spending way too much following all the tweets, blogs, and spin offs into books, films, non-fiction.  I have spent countless hours social networking at the expense of not revising my WIP (convenient excuse or am I a victim of communication?).

So readers/writers, how do you handle the time consuming business of social networking.  Do you see it as a curse, blessing, or a tool to be managed with care?

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Would you like a side of Moose with that?

Arrived home yesterday from a 7 day visit to the Rock!  Now there aren't enough adjectives to describe the majesty, beauty, and vibrancy of this province and its people.

My writer's atena was vibrating, working overtime.  Places, people, settings, artists, museums, Mardi Gras on the downtown streets of St. John's, the food, dialect, ie: everything I would love to put in a WIP.  A writer's treasure trove.  Oh, and did I mention the stories, the folklore? 

The sense of joy, laughter, and kindness of the Newfoundlander's surrounded me with comfort, a sense of well being, and stirred the creative juices.  I mean where else would you find a hired delivery man offer a piece of moose meat with the newly purchased barbecue!

This is just the tip of the iceberg (none floating in the harbour yet).  I couldn't wait to get home to blog and share. 

So, anyone of you been to the Rock?  If so, give us your take!