My New Computer Arrived Yesterday

my new computer is not available for use, yet. my husband, thankfully, is setting it up for me.

i use scrivener for my writing files. we were able to get a 45 percent discount on the updated version, but had to hunt down a receipt, take a screen shot, email it to scrivener, have them send us an official receipt, then apply it to the purchase which was done directly through scrivener since the apple store does not handle these kinds of discounts. finally we were able to install scrivener this morning.

before my husband can transfer my projects he has to convert them to the new scrivener format. this requires cleaning up all my back-ups, of which for some reason i have multiple copies. he then creates a new back-up folder in dropbox to separate the old back-ups from the new ones. i’m sort of following what he’s doing. it’s in these moments that i really appreciate the man i am married to.

in preparation i condensed my scrivener projects. you probably don’t want to hear about this process. i still have fifty projects. that’s projects with folders and files.

by tomorrow, i’ll be on my new computer. yay.

in case you are wondering how i got caps in my title, i did it by using caps lock. however, this doesn’t work for punctuation marks or symbols.

Writing Progress Report

In a recent post I stated my intention of applying the most basic rule to my writing, being “get her done.” In other words, get in my chair and write, daily. I set a goal of two hours a day.

I have averaged pretty close to that, however, most of my work was done during the first week. then my computer started acting up. it randomly decides not to print caps, as you can see, just now. i’ll think it’s fixed, as i thought when I started this, and then it acts up again.

this can be very frustrating not only for caps, but when i am trying to print question marks. they look like this ///////. my apostrophes are ‘ single, instead of ” double. My computer doesn’t want to highlight. clicking and dragging is hit and miss. if you are a writer, you know this is really a necessary component of writing. I’m always moving things around.

before this became an issue i had for months had a problem with my curser randomly skipping around the page and i’d find myself writing somewhere earlier in my document. lucky if i caught it early, but i could end up with half a sentence in the middle of another paragraph.

i’ve already replaced the fan and the battery in this computer to prolong its life. i’ve had two computers since 1995, so i’ve done exceptionally well, i would say. but this problem with my keyboard has slowed down my writing and i’ve taken a break now, because I am actually waiting for a new computer to arrive! Yay!

So, this is what happens when you get determined to make progress. Obstacles appear. On top of that i had a few sick days during my second week. i will be kind to myself and encourage myself, as i would want you to do if you found yourself challenged. i will remind myself that I can get back on track. i’m very determined to do so, but typing with this challenge, right now, is not an absolute necessity. it wears on my patience, and writing is supposed to be done with a measure of pleasure and ease. it is difficult to begin with, so why add to the stress?

After i began my commitment to writing and finishing my novel, I watched a movie in which i saw a scene very similar to the one that motivated my story in the first place, in 1995. i searched in my ‘library’ and actually found the 1995 magazine that contained the two page photo that got me started on writing my story. i showed it to my husband. It was like a confirmation, or should i say an affirmation. i take these things where I find them. we all need encouragement.

So, my computer should be arriving in about two weeks. soo-oo-o looking forward to it.

keep at it1 9there’s another problem…ones for exclamation marks and nines for brackets…forget this for now

It’s Not Who You Are

We can choose to be identified by our past or we can have faith to move beyond it.

As I commit myself to working on my novel again, I am having to deal with demons of the past. “You won’t follow through.” “You’ve failed before.” “What makes you think you can do it this time?”

If you’ve ever tried to change a pattern in your life, you will have run into similar taunts and fears. But there are numerous testimonials to the contrary, examples of how people prevailed against odds. You can be one of those people.

I have a large bookshelf and sometimes I look at my books and ask why my novel is not yet published. What am I missing that the other published authors have?

First of all, my worth is not defined by whether I am a published author or not. Secondly, my life is not over yet and the potential for publication is still there. I just have to persevere and acquire a few skills. This may still add up to publication. I will also have to do the hard work.

Doing the hard work is probably the most important part.

I once surprised a lot of people who never gave any thought to my capabilities. You see, I attended college when I was young, but I didn’t graduate. In fact, I dropped out of two classes during my final year in college.

Then I went back to college after our children left home. I had no confidence in my ability. A friend was working to finish her degree and my attitude was, “Good for her.” But I could never do that.

The truth is that I again dropped out of two classes. History was repeating itself. But the following year something changed and for two years I took a full course load, even more than a full course load, and I graduated with my degree, with highest honors.

That voice you hear in your head, telling you that you will fail, don’t listen to it. It does not know you. It does not acknowledge all of your capabilities.

We all have an accuser that tries to keep us from getting up and trying again, trying harder, and succeeding.

The first year I took a full coarse load in college I was extremely stressed but I set a daily goal of how much reading I needed to do. I scheduled a time to work on my assignments. I attended classes faithfully. All of these added up to eventually completing my degree.

That year our school went on our annual weekend retreat and while there I climbed a small mountain. It was challenging. I didn’t know if I could make it. But I did. Whenever I didn’t know if I could succeed in my studies, I reminded myself that if I was able to climb that mountain, I could do this.

Look at a success in your life. Remind yourself of your ability. Persevere. Prevail. Don’t allow that voice in your head to define you. It’s not who you are.

I’m Back – Why I’ve Started Working on My Novel Again and What I am Learning

After a long break, I’ve returned to the editing process of my novel, From a Distance. Some of my readers have been with me from early days and I am extremely grateful to you for your patience. As writers, we know this is a complex process that involves many different components, not the least of which is believing in the value of our story.

For awhile I took a side-trip into journalism and almost gave up on my novel. I questioned whether I am actually a novelist. What caused me to return to it now?

I simply decided to apply the most basic truth about writing, namely, the butt in the chair principle. No amount of talent can compensate for time spent refining the craft. I simply said to myself that I am not going to give up without doing the hard work.

After I doing everything I know to do…I will see what progress I have made.

So, this is the beginning of the process. After doing everything I know to do, after spending a year, with an average of two hours of writing on my novel a day, I will see what progress I have made. I’m not allowing myself to quit this time.

I think I have found a new faith and grace to write. It happened after I watched a movie last night. The main character reminded me of my main character and her challenge was similar to my character. I began to feel like I had a worthwhile story to tell. This is what every author needs.

I spent about four hours editing my first chapter and I thought it sounded pretty good, so I called my husband into the room. He is turning into my editor, support, and critique group, all rolled into one. I didn’t get halfway down the first page before he was correcting me.

“You have too many pronouns. Who is “her” and “she”? The reader is being taken out of the action.”

I looked at my paragraph and it was indeed filled with pronouns. It was an easy correction to make, but I missed it on my own. I began to see how badly I needed another set of eyes.

A little while later he commented, “I like that. I like what you did there.”

Good. I thought that part was done well, too, and I really appreciated that he noticed. My reader was in the action, feeling what my character was feeling.

Before long I had another pronoun issue but then we ran into something bigger. Too much telling, not enough showing. I’ve had this critique before. It is a critique that most, if not all, new writers get.

I was sharing back-story. I had too much back story, another very common mistake. You can really only afford to have a couple of sentences of back story in your first chapter. I shortened the paragraph and tried it again.

“It’s probably alright to “tell” when it’s backstory,” my husband said.

He is the reader, I acknowledged. I need to pay attention to how he feels when he is reading my story. If he thinks the amount of telling I did was alright, then it’s probably OK.

I was beginning to see how these little adjustments were making a big difference.

But his next critique was more difficult to digest. He didn’t like several paragraphs describing what was going on in the setting, and highlighting the scenery.

“What’s the point?”

In other words he was asking, Who cares? Long ago a critique partner did some serious damage with the same question, because, after all, I care. I care a lot. Everything I’ve written affects my character’s experience and the development of her story. I’ve tried to get my reader to enter into my character’s world.

Evidently there is a more effective way to do this.

I swallowed and took the critique in stride.

It’s not uncommon for writers to burst into tears or experience something near tears when their laborious efforts are effectively trashed. We are supposed to develop a thick skin, supposedly. It’s not what most sensitive writers have. But we can have an open mind, which is probably just as good.

Parts of my writing distracted the reader from the main story, which my husband saw clearly. I didn’t want that to happen, did I? So, how could I correct this?

I felt troubled. Should I just delete these segments? Delete part of them? Shorten them? Combine them?

We had reached the end of the chapter and I returned to editing.

I did all of the above. I cut my chapter from 1800 words to 1200 words and ended with the main part of the story as the focus.

An hour later my husband kindly listened to another reading.

“That’s great. You did it.” He was almost emotional. “You’ve got a hook, now.”

The hook is the all important thing readers need from a first chapter. It is the thing that makes them want to read the next chapter.

In the first chapter a writer has to accomplish the task of making the reader feel invested in the character. They want to know what happens next to her. This is not as easy as it sounds.

Needless to say, I was encouraged. But now I am looking at the rest of my book and asking, Who cares? What’s the point?