Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Word Definition: Pour

As a writer I love words. There is nothing more beautiful, more thrilling than the way words link together as they bounce off the tongue. It is not the words themselves that are so appealing, but the emotions I feel deep inside where the meaning resonates in sound waves and ripples ever growing. They fill me with a longing and swell like a volcano smouldering in my soul, itching to flow free.

Today I was thinking about the word "Pour." A rather simple word, yet with so much meaning. You can pour a glass of milk, stand in pouring rain, have crowds pour from an elevator and pour out your heart. Each of these meanings tap into different emotional wells. To pour a glass of milk is like saying "To give the glass milk" but in a small everyday way and I have lost nothing because of it. When I picture pouring rain I picture a giant bucket of water being dumped from above. My stress level shoot up a notch when I imagine crowds pouring out of an elevator. I can taste the rush and feel the elbows in my side. With pouring out your heart I feel exposed, vulerable and yet wildly abandoned, willing to do anything and believing I could fly.

At first glance it does not seem like a powerful word, because it depends upon what is being poured. The phrase "He poured out his life unto death" is very powerful. It speaks of sacrifice, pain and a willingness that is hard to understand. I can pour my life into my writing, yet I believe there is always a small part I keep back so I am not fully drained. I don't pour everything I have, I just pour enough for the both of us to get by. But what would happen if I did? Would I really lose everything? Would I find a strength that belongs to another?

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Dancing with Failure

These past few weeks have been interesting for me. I've had the highs of feeling brilliant and the lows of feeling like a failure. There were moments when even at my highest I could sense failure breathing behind me ready to pull me back, a dance partner I was able to spin away from briefly. No matter how much I have accomplished there is always the whisper that I could have done more.

But I've concluded that dancing with failure is not necessarily bad, as long as I am in the lead. If failure leads it can whip me any which way and I am unable to escape, yet by changing my own attitude from the dread of failure to the acceptance of my shortcomings I am able to look failure in the eye and guide it where I want to go.

Failure is not something to fear, rather something to learn from. Money lost can be regained, time wasted can be restored and dreams shattered can be rebuilt.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Growing in Confidence

Editing Process: Polishing the Beginning
Favorite Book of the Month: Gregor the Overlander By: Suzanne Collins

I have taken a short break from editing for sensory detail and have turned instead to re-polishing, if that is a word, the first 50 pages. So far things are going well. Although a few days ago I spent an hour crafting this paragraph only to realize it was all backstory and I had to cut it. I sat there for a moment wondering if I could get away with it. There were only four or five sentences.... Instead I gave myself a few seconds to savor the newness of my paragraph and then cut the cord and removed it. Today I feel no regrets.

So here is my question. Is the reason it take most writers so long to get published because of how long they have been writing? Do all those years of trying to find your voice, your plot and your genre lead to an increase in confidence? Then, once you know who you are, your confidence sells your story for you.

When I look back there were probably years of my writing career where I would have kept that paragraph, never recognizing it for what it was. Just as there were years of writing experiments, most only serving as what not to do in the future. Now I have learned from all of them and the rules I would have to consciously remember each time I picked up my pen come naturally, replaced instead by deeper rules where I am still growing. My confidence has grown as I have grown. Now all I need to do is sell my work....

Friday, February 5, 2010

Meeting Deadlines

Editing Process: Started making corrections to my digital version and still working on highlighting sensory detail.
Favorite Book of the Month: Gregor the Overlander By: Suzanne Collins

I missed another deadline today. Not a writing deadline. No, in my mind by now my story should've been a glistening manuscript ready to wow any editor at first glance. Instead I am settling for a finished draft and the editing process moving; even if it is moving slowly at least it is still moving. The deadline I missed was the last day I could call the college I am transferring to before they fine me for being late.

Believe me when I say I wish I could only think about how to edit my story. I have a hard time concentrating when my focus is split. When I'm doing school work I am thinking about my story and when I am editing I'm stressed about finishing school work. It is a perfect circle that is determined to see me die at a young age. Perhaps if I didn't care about my responsibilities....

Some people love deadlines, some people hate them. Where are you and do you have any advice on how to meet them?

Monday, February 1, 2010

Palm Trees

Editing Process: Still on sensory stuff.
Favorite Book of the Month: Gregor the Overlander By: Suzanne Collins

So there I was sitting in the middle seat of the airplane while we waited a half hour to take off. I don't know if this has ever happened to you, and this probably only happened because I couldn't get to any paper, but the creative switch in my mind was flipped on. I sat there trying to peer out the window, determined to savor my last glance of Arizona and palm trees. During those minutes I must have come up with a dozen ways to describe that tropical tree. A feather duster, a fancy arrow, a poodle's tail, fireworks, an upside-down mop. The list went on and on.

Then we took off and I had to commit as many of these descriptions as I could to my overflowing memory. I like to think that the main reason I write my stories down is so I don't have to remember them anymore and to make room for new ones. I've heard writers say that once an idea hits them, if they don't write it down, it is lost forever, but I prefer to believe that it is still there hiding among the dusty corners. One day the analogies I have forgotten will be reused, even if I never remember where I first found them.

Do you have a method for retaining your flashes of inspiration?

Tuesday, January 26, 2010


Editing Process: Starting Sensory Check
Favorite Book of the Month: Pictures of Hollis Wood By: Patricia Reilly Giff

Everytime I travel I love to stare out the window, be it plane or car, and check out the scenery. I especially like to look at trees, the way the branches twist upward and the color of the leaves. I suppose my mom is the influence behind that. Whenever we were in the car she would often exclaim over the trees as we passed. I used to roll my eyes and go back to my book, but there were times when I would sneak a look up as we passed under them. Our own private tunnel of trees would surround the road like a blanket on a rainy day.

Right now I am in Phoenix Arizona and the trees here are so different from my trees back home. There seem to be two extremes. The tall grey-green trees and the short, shriveled trees. There are also the palm trees, but I like to put them in a category of their own since I am still discovering how many different types there are.

I am amazed at how a different scenery can give a different sense to a story. Here the land does not know what to do with water. Everything is dry. It rained a few days ago and the streets flooded. Small ponds formed in low spots; if I didn't know better I would have expected to see fish swimming in them or at least a duck. The thing that surprised me the most is that the land is covered with small rocks and sand. According to my earth science class, water should be able to sink through that fairly quickly and yet something kept that from happening. I don't know what, but I like the concept of a place that needs water being unable to accept it once the water comes. It makes for a very interesting character trait.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

First Edit

Editing Stage: 1st Edit in progress
Favorite Book of the Month: Pictures of Hollis Wood By: Patricia Reilly Giff

Editing is something I am learning on the go. Not only is the process new to me, but I also don't know what will work best, so I'm trying everything. I'm also making up some ideas of my own.

My Process So Far:
I waited, leaving my book on a shelf, at least a week after typing 'The End'. My fingers itched the whole time. When the week was done I read through the whole book and refrained from correcting anything. Which was really hard. Finally by the last forty pages I gave in and allowed myself to correct typos. Then I went through the whole book again: fixing typos, correcting grammar, deleting words that end in 'ly', cutting scenes that weren't needed, and making sure all the thread/dates/info were consistant throughout the book. Now I am in the midst of tracking the major character plots and subplots, followed by underlining and color coding all the sensory detail I used in each chapter.

That is the end of what I know to do without needing to make the appropriate changes and printing out a new copy. As it is, this copy is distracting enough without adding color to it. Despiration will win out and I will once again start relying on my computer. Hopefully, all the bugs and viruses will be gone; I'd even take dormant. Having all these corrections waiting is like having a three course dinner ready and the table needs to be set. I can practically smell a completed first edit and it smells surprisingly like turkey.

Have you learned any editing tricks? What works best for you?

Monday, January 4, 2010

Computer Virus

I am back after a holiday break and a month full of computer viruses. I'm becoming paranoid and having a hard time believing they are gone and I am safe once more. I never realized how dependant I am on technology. After two scares where I feared all my work would be lost I have avoided working on the digital copy of my book. I have since done about all a person can do with a hard copy and desperately need my computer back to make the proper changes. I need to type on a keyboard!