The Beauty of Butterflies

“We delight in the beauty of the butterfly, but rarely admit the changes it has gone through to achieve that beauty.”

Maya Angelou

The same could be said about writing, don’t you think? As a reader we’re presented with the final product,  edited and polished until it shines. But how many drafts, revisions, and edits did it go though to get there? We should never be discouraged with our first attempts at a story. It will change and grow over time.

Perhaps it is a good thing that readers never have to read the first drafts of some very popular books. If they did they might not want to read the finished book at all.

Enjoy your weekend!

Update

Revisions are moving right along, and I’m happy with the progress I’m making. I have another week before I start back to work so I’m hoping to make good use of my writing time. The story I’m working on has surprised even me. But I’ve got a good-sized shovel and I’m digging in deep.

In the meantime I’ve had a few distraction. As I mentioned we had company over the July 1st weekend.

And yes they each caught a fish in that mess of reeds.

Made a trip to the Look Off in Scott’s Bay. What a beautiful view looking down into the Annapolis Valley.

A writer friend opened up her garden to the public over the long weekend. She also lives in Scott’s Bay so we stopped into her open house. What beautiful gardens.

Had a barbeque with friends, saw a deer standing in the field. Even managed to fit in a trip to town for groceries and a stop off at the nursing home.

In between all these things I’ve been stealing a little reading time— not as much as I’d like to be I’m getting there.

I do have a bit of a beef with this book though. I can’t get in as much reading time as I’d like.I want to get to the ending, and see what’s going to happen. If you like reading YA and adventure chances are you’ll enjoy Reckless Endeaver. There’s more about Dave and his books on his site. Congratulations on your new book, Dave. May you will find as much success with this book as you did your first.

Now back to Dave’s book revisions.

In My Blanket Fort

Ever build a blanket fort? I bet it’s been a few years unless you have young kids or grandkids. There’s something that feels so safe about crawling beneath a canopy of blankets.

Feels like I’ve been hiding beneath a blanket fort this past week. I haven’t been visiting many blogs, or spending much time on facebook. I’ve just been too preoccupied.

No big secret I’ve just been quite busy working on revisions lately. It sometimes happens to writers.

The story I’m working on has been occupying my thought. I’ve been breathing it most of my waking hours, trying to fit all the tiny little details in. I’m not a whole lot of fun to be around seeing how I need to get to the bottom of the story I’m working on. Yes folks, I’m in the middle of make believe again.

Working on revisions is a bit like crawling inside a fort made of blankets. I’m aware of the outside world around me, and yet I want to stay inside my fort, protecting my thoughts, reaching inside to find all the right words. While I seem to love doing revisions I don’t like putting the rest of my life on hold. I have some books I want to get read from a few blogging friends of mine, not to mention we’ll be having some visitors over the 1st of July holiday. They may appreciate having clean sheets on the bed.

So bear with me while I’m in my blanket fort. I promise I’ll soon come out and see what everyone else is doing. For now there’s a sign on my fort that says: PLEASE DO NOT DISTURB, but hopefully that sign won’t be there for too long.

A Letter to you dear Mannie

Dear Mannie,

It has been two years, two months and fifteen sixteen days since you left me, wrapped up in a manila envelope, your destination clearly marked. I fretted over your departure. Were you heading out too soon into the cruel, cruel world of publishing? Two years, two months and fifteen sixteen days ago, you were but a query, a synopsis, and a few sample chapters. You weren’t all there, but most of us aren’t. I wasn’t about to hold that against you. I hoped the publisher wouldn’t either.

It was a start, and we all must start some place.

If things went well, you made me promise to send you off in your entirety when the time was right. I kissed you farewell, secretly cringing at the thought of you being gone. But like most things, I talked myself into believing that your leaving was well timed, and a necessity. You needed to spread your wings, dear Mannie. It was your rite of passage.

I’ll be honest.

There was a time when you disappeared from my mind. Shocking, yet still it is the truth…I began working on something new, something fresh, something that gave me new purpose and a reason to get up in the morning.

What could you expect?

I heard not a peep, not even one little word, no phones call, email or notes, to let me know that you were doing fine. Surely I deserved that much.

Finally, I could stand your silence no longer. I prodded you, gently so, but still…. I sent an email saying, remember me? Ah and you did!! I jumped for joy!

You, of course, had an explanation, you’d been busy checking out the publishing world, picking up useful information, marketing strategies — for when you become a book—oh, and let’s not forget editing tips. At least that was your story, although I choose to believe that you spent a great deal of time lounging around instead. But let’s not go there.

If my gentle nudge accomplished anything, it made you feel incomplete.
You hadn’t thought to ask me to send the rest of your pages. I might have thought you would have felt a bit naked before then, but that obviously wasn’t the case. So I slipped your remaining pages into another manila envelope, affixed the postage, sent them off with a kiss and a prayer. I waved goodbye as the mail driver drove away

We were making progress.

I tried not to second guess you, really I did. But one day I peeked into your file. I didn’t like what I saw. I knew right then and there I had to do something.

The revisions were painless for you, but oh so necessary for me.

I even screamed once, “What the heck was I thinking?” letting you go off into the cruel, cruel world of publishing like this. I took away words. I gave you more words. I changed your point of view— first, then back to third. I gave you a whole new chapter of your very own, something I should have thought to do before you went away. I took full responsibility.

And so, Mannie, I hope you are not angry, sulking away in some corner. You’ve been gone so long that I won’t be the least bit upset if you decide to come running home. In fact, I’ll throw a party for you. I’ll write, “Welcome back, Dear Mannie, some things were not meant to be.”

But until that time comes, I shall wait……

Gotta Be You

I wrote my first novel when I was thirteen and in junior high.

It was a love story about grown up people, a doctor named Rae, something I knew nothing about. Yet, I felt compelled to write that particular story.

I can’t remember the plot although I do recall the opening when the good doctor is driving down a muddy dirt road in a rainstorm. Why? I have no idea. The rest is pretty fuzzy. Regrettably, I destroyed the story quite some time ago, embarrassed by my fledgling efforts. Looking back, I now wish I had kept it. You know, something to look back on. I mean I was just thirteen.

Although, I’m not sure how the book ended, I do know it didn’t have a happy ending—girl did not end up with boy. There was no happy-ever-after. Don’t know why. I guess it just didn’t feel right.

I remember when I was working on this novel my father asked to read it. He seemed amused that I was tackling something so ambitious as a novel. I felt a bit proud. My dad never got to see any of my published work as he left this world about five years before my first story was published. I stopped dreaming about him after I told him, in a dream, that I was a writer, something I’d always wished he’d been alive to know about.

My older sister also read my novel. She read it after it was completed. Needless to say she didn’t like the ending. She wanted a happy ever after.

So what did I do? I changed the ending. I went against what felt right for the story and changed the ending to reflect what my sister thought was right. I remember not wanting to do it. Yet, change it, I did.

Funny, how we can bend under pressure, change who we are and what direction we are going in, just to please others. Today, I would not change the ending. Today, I would stick to my guns.

Now, don’t get me wrong, sometimes we need to make changes in our WIP.

Revision is NOT a dirty word, but before you make any changes to your story you should ask yourself,” Why?” Is it just to appease others or will your story benefit from these changes? A writer needs to write their story, not the story they think someone else wants them to write. Writing our own story adds authenticity to our work. Remember, you are the only one who can write that particular story in that way. When changes are needed, make these changes for the right reason. Be yourself. Write your story, not someone else’s.

That is all…

Update—Writers Council

A while back I mentioned that I had been accepted into the Writers Council and would be getting my own page on the Writers Federation of Nova Scotia site. The Federation has recently launched their new site.

Here’s the link if you want to take a look around.

I’ve also added a link that will take you directly to my page HERE if you are curious and would like to take a peek. I don’t have a whole lot in my biography right now but hopefully that will change.

As for the revisions, I’m happy to say they are over. There’s still an initial read through but I’m very pleased with how the story has shaped up. Thanks to my daughter, who’s keen eye and wonderful suggestions, have helped make the revision process a really enjoyable one. This is her first time critiquing but I swear, she’s a natural!!

The process with this story was so different from when I wrote Bitter, Sweet but I suspect that each story is different, each approach we use a little unlike the last. What I can say now it that I like the story much, much better now than when I started. In the end we are the ones who have to be happy with the results of our work. I still may make few minor adjustments, but nothing major.

Hopefully, I’ll get caught up on most of the blogs I follow, maybe even get a little reading done and writing done!

As for you all, have a great weekend!

Thoughts—Where Do They Come From?

Coming to the end of my revisions the other day I was hit by a sudden realization that I needed another chapter. I have no idea where the thought came from, but it seemed to have a mind of its own. Immediately, I knew what would happen and why the chapter was even necessary.  I’m not sure why it never dawned on me before now. Writers know enough not to question when these things come to us but to simply respond when they do.

Turns out this whole other chapter I wrote is now my favourite. It allowed me to inject something into the story that was definitely missing. It makes me happy.  🙂  It fills in some of the spaces without over-filling them, if you know what I mean.

I am amazed by the way thoughts spring into our minds. One minute we’re thinking of one thing and the next minute this whole new idea pops into our heads.

Where do these thoughts come from? Do they erupt from out of thin air? From deep within our brains? Were the thoughts already there just waiting for the opportunity to jump out and say, Here I am? Do they hibernate? Peek out around the corner, waiting for us to take notice? Or do they gently prod us, from time to time, until we grab hold of the idea and run madly away claiming it as our own?

Since I have no answers to these questions perhaps some of you do or maybe you just want to share some terrific idea that came to you right out of the blue. It’s up to you! And maybe, just maybe the answer will come to me in a flash, like a lightening bolt.

Working Overtime

These past few weeks I’ve been working overtime, deep into revisions. As I’ve been working away my mind had been fluctuating between words of praise for what I’m doing and words of, “Will I ever get it right?” I’m not what I would consider a perfectionist by any means and when it comes to writing I’m the one I’m aiming to please. When it sounds right I’ll know it. Do you get what I mean?

I’ve noticed I’m a bit impatient by times. I’m willing to work hard at my writing but I expect results after a certain number of attempts. I mean, how many times can you rewrite a paragraph before you realized it was better five or six drafts earlier. Yes, you can over edit. I know. I’ve been there.

But the story I began with is transforming, there’s no other way of putting it. It’s amazing how a story’s plot line can remain basically the same and yet the story itself can be completely different. That just right “voice” is what makes the difference and can change a story from mediocre to simply stunning.

I’ve switched some of my paragraphs to first person accounts and really like the results. I like writing in first person. I’ve always felt comfortable there. First person allows the writer access to feelings and thoughts that we might not otherwise be able to show our reader. I’m really big on getting to the heart of people’s emotions, finding out what really makes them tick. For me, this is easier to do while in first person.

I find human behaviour to be quite fascinating, why people think and do the things they do. What gives them their “flaws.” (Not sure I care for the word flaw as it indicates that we all must follow a certain behaviour pattern to be what society considers “normal.” ) Lets just say I like to read about interesting characters. I like the idea that almost everyone, despite these “flaws” has some redeeming qualities. Sometimes knowing the motives behind their actions makes them feel a bit more sympathetic. Hey, I like to give people the benefit of the doubt. But then I’ve been told I have my head in the clouds!!

So here’s where I’ve been lately, deep in revision land and it’s really been keeping me busy. It feels as though the end is quickly coming near but that could just be me with my head in the clouds again. Regardless, it’s a good feeling and I don’t mind working overtime at it. At least I can admit, that for the most part, I’ve been enjoying the process.

Jazzing it up!

As a rule, I’m not a cereal eater but recently I discovered steel cut oatmeal. It’s the kind that requires 20 minutes of cooking time. My husband commented that, uncooked, it looked a lot like chicken feed. It’s not so attractive. Okay, so even cooked oatmeal isn’t much of an eye pleaser, and maybe that’s why I’ve never eaten it very often. But I went into it with an open mind and what I discovered to my amazement was that I actually enjoy it. In fact, it’s good. Sometimes I cook it with a few raisins and sprinkle it with cinnamon to jazz it up.

I’ve been doing that with the revisions I’ve been working on recently. I didn’t want the story to be plain old oatmeal when I could jazz it up and make the writing livelier, breathe life into the characters and plot. It’s been cooking for a long time. Why didn’t I see that it needed a few raisins and a sprinkling of cinnamon? Oh well, better late than never. And guess what? I like the story so much better now.  🙂

Trust

Trust in yourself. Your perceptions are often more accurate than you are willing to believe………….Claudia Black

This quote presented itself to me today at a time when I really needed the reminder. These past few days I’ve been doing some heavy revisions. I’ve been brutal. I’ve had to be. Once I realized what needed to be done I had to trust my instincts, something I didn’t do the first time around. Cutting can so be painful.

There’s something to be said about putting some time and distance from your work. I’ve been away from the particular story for several months. This time when I picked it up it was with a fresh pair of eyes. Thanks to some trusted advise I immediately saw what needed to be done. The strange thing was it was SO obvious. I can’t imagine why I didn’t see it before. It’s hard to watch certain paragraphs and sentences get cut but, if it’s gotta go it’s gotta go. No two ways about it. There’s no sense bellyaching. A writer has to be tough.

Already I can see the story more clearly and I like what I see. I’m following my instincts and it feels pretty good.

So how are you when it comes to trusting your instincts? Do you usually get it right the first time around or does it usually take a couple of tries?

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  • Publication date April 30, 2020. Available for pre-order NOW.

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