April 26, 2014

Fiction and Reality

Some of you may know that I am currently writing a book about a Holocaust survivor. 

I am pausing for a few days this week to listen.

I'm listening to the voice of a friend of mine, Donna, who is and Episcopal Priest (in case you don't know I am an Episcopal Deacon) and who is making a Journey of Remembrance and Hope, following the path of her family who were killed in the Lodz Ghetto and at Auschwitz. 

It is a painful journey for her and her friends are supporting her with prayer. 

This book has been slow in writing for me.  At first I thought I was being just kinda poky and blocked.  Now I realize that, even though I lost no one in my family during the Holocaust, I feel the sorrow of those millions of people as I write the book.  Particularly hard for me has been writing what happened to one of my protagonists in the camp.

I am half Quaker and an avowed pacifist.   I feel that in no way is war ever justified.  Yet, to free a people from this kind of utter destruction, pain and suffering war may be the only way.  It presents for me an existential conflict that agonizes me. 

Donna quotes from Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a Lutheran pastor who wrote about the Cost of Discipleship, who was imprisoned by the Nazis and eventually murdered: 

I will resume writing on my novel when Donna has finished her journey.  Right now I cannot compare my fictional journey to her real one.

April 22, 2014

New Occupation!

I've got a new occupation!   It's called "not working on my novels" and it's filling every hour of my days.  Sigh. 

April 20, 2014

Oh not that again...

Yeah, focus once more.

Some things have happened to me in the past 40 days (Lent for the uninitiated) that have kinda' turned my mind around once or twice.  Okay, so many times it has left me dizzy.

I'm very dense.  That's what happens when you cross a Swede with a German and throw in a little Irish.

I have a whole new view of life.  Something that I hadn't planed on receiving when I started on my Lenten studies.  I'm sure it is what I was meant to receive.  I'm just not sure I'm ready.

But one of the components is focus.  This is what I will be working on mentally in the next few months and what I will be working on in my writing.  Expect a different kind of writing.

April 18, 2014

I need to call my editor

I need to call my editor.  I only have one thing to say to her "Don't hold your breath."

I'm relooking Remarkable Likeness in a way that I haven't before and realize that I have a certain lack of, um, detail. 

Now this is a fault with all of my writing.  I'm no Robert Burns, studying the nit as it crawls around one of my character's scalps.

(Ewwwwwwww you say)

But I need to pay more attention to when they put on their coats and when they take them off.

I was once told that it would be very easy to turn my books into movie scripts, because I write with so little description that directors would love me.

I took it as a complement but it really wasn't. 

So I need to call my editor and tell her that the book will be a little late, or a lot late.  Back to the details.

April 15, 2014

Drip, drip, drip

Not only is it doing that outside, but it's doing it in my brain too.

All of my characters are talking to me but not all at once, in the usual cacophony.  It's like a symphony composed of single instruments all playing serially, not together.  First Adelaide says "smaller churches" and then as I ponder that Kate will say "Ada's lessons," then Billy sparks the conversation with "leather chaps."  I'm left with fragments of ideas and wonder where I could fit them into the greater novels of which they are a part.

I guess it is a function of being ADD but it's a hellofaway to write three novels and one novella at the same time.

April 10, 2014


I'm wondering when my energy will come back.  I was sick last weekend from one of those 24 hour thingies that leave you slumped in your chair like a wet dishrag.  Only I'm still a dishrag 5 days later.

What, you say, has that to do with writing?  Can't writers write sitting down?  Even reclining? 

Well, no, actually.

Writing takes a lot of energy.  Yeah, I know, I'm not digging ditches.  But if I am to get things right, if there is to be color in my writing and energy in my verbs, I have to have the energy I impart.

I tried a walk.  No good.  I stumbled back to my (imaginary) fainting couch 15 minutes later ready for a nap.

I tried blogging on my other blog but it is a spirituality blog and it just calmed me down even further.

My next plan is to eat a huge meal and go to sleep.

Do you have a better suggestion?

April 8, 2014

Being everything

I am absolutely the worst person to ask about commas.  I just don't do them.  Or I do too many of them.  I need a store COMMAS ARE US that I can go to every time I need to punctuate a sentence.  I also don't know how to punctuate a quotation.  Do I insert a period?  Do I place a comma? Pffft.

That's what editors are for.  Yeah.  After I write something I go back and make sure it actually does make sense and then it is up to the editor to help the punctuation make sense.

I used to own Morgan Horses.  The Morgan breed is very versatile and some compete in western classes, some in English "saddle seat" classes, some as hunters over fences and some in dressage or competitive driving.  Some are their owner's pride and joy just enjoying their company on the trail.  Notice the word "some."  When a novice horse owner sees the word Morgan they sometimes feel that versatile should mean that one horse can do all of the above.  Most individuals can't.  They will be good in one discipline and just mediocre in the rest, or, heaven forfend, they will be mediocre in all disciplines because they are confused about what they really are supposed to be doing.

I use these things, writers and Morgans, as a sort of follow-up to my post of a few days ago on focus. 

If you are trying to be all things it, in most cases, doesn't work.  Pick something.  If writing is your thing, leave the editing to the editor.  If western riding is your horse's thing, slap on that western saddle and silver and bridle and go to it.  Pare down those things that you do that you are better off leaving to those who are most suited.  Concentrate on that in which you may excel and then go to it!

(And yes, that is me on my beloved Triton Fairfield.)

April 6, 2014


Funny how the whole world goes away and we focus just on ourselves when we are ill.  I've spent the last two days in bed with the thing that you usually get on cruises.  Only I didn't have the cruise.

But I've noticed how quickly the rest of the world goes away and suddenly there is nothing but the room, the dust bunnies and the waste basket.

I want to try to use that focus in my writing somehow.  To be able to focus that sharply on the story would be a gift.

April 4, 2014

Dreary Day

So it's ugly and rainy and dark out.  The perfect day for writing, right?  Well to avoid writing today I have:

Gone out for breakfast.
Bought underwear to keep from doing the laundry.
Gone to the farm.
Downloaded software to the farm PC.
Gone out for lunch (not previously planned) with the program director.
Spent two hours paying bills for work and making a bank deposit for my part-time job.
Shopped for bread.
Bought two tee shirts instead.
Sat in the parking lot at McDonald's checking my Facebook page.
Wrote in both of my blogs.

How long can I keep this up?

April 3, 2014

The Value of Cloud Sourcing

A couple of weeks ago I was doing some research to find the cost of piano lessons in the late 1940s.  I drew a blank on the internet.  I tried asking my friends both on this blog and on my Facebook page.  Nada.

Last night I put it out on the Facebook page devoted to memories of growing up in my hometown.  I had the answer to my question in 10 minutes!  On to the next research problem.

April 2, 2014

See what happens when you open your mouth?

Minutes after I wrote the below scree, I found a group.  Here's hoping...

Start one yourself

I know what the answer to this post is.  "Start one yourself."  And I just might do that.

For the umpteenth time in my writing career I happened upon a sight last night that looked like it was a group I wanted to join.  It was for writers of women's fiction.  Yahoo.  I write women's fiction.  I don't write chick lit, I don't write romance, I write women's fiction.  Then came the letdown.  It was only for writers who had been published by big companies.  Self-published authors need not apply.

I don't know what people are thinking.  Or maybe I do.  It's the old high school IN club thingie.  Only in this case it's not "if your father isn't a member of the country club you aren't good enuf for us"  it is "if you haven't been published by a big publishing house you are not good enuf for us."

I've written this before, but there are some of us who just don't choose to buy into the system.  We don't want to go through the rigmarole of submission-rejection.  We feel our work has merit and we don't need someone with an eye only to what THEY can get out of our work to tell us that.  Perhaps we don't need the stress of watching the "Your work is not a good fit for us at this time" letters roll in.  (As an aside I felt so much better when I stopped saving those letters and consigned them to the garbage heap.)

So we choose to self-publish.  We get most of the profits from the sale of our books.  We get zero stress dealing with agents or publishers or editors who want us to rewrite our visions.  I bet a study would show that our collective blood pressure is a few points lower.

But still.  We would like the world to know that we are just as committed, just as professional as those other folks.  We would like to be included in professional organizations.

I know. Start one yourself.