I’m back… well kind of

I have spent some time down the coast with my friend, who didn’t have her operation in the end, she thought she had the flu… turns out it was just nerves.  But that is OK because I got to spend some time with her and her bubby – who isn’t such a baby anymore.  Hard to believe that she is a year old at the end of next month!

I came home early to spend some time with my husband, and ended up at a party and the following day at a barbeque lunch.  Then there was the drama of what the steppies got up to while we were in town…  Needless to say, one sleeping pill later, I have managed to catch up on the lack of sleep I have had over the last 6 nights!

And now I feel the urge to write, but really don’t know where to begin!  I turn on my laptop, and stare at the screen.  I have so many projects on the go, but don’t know how to divide my time between them.  Do I work on my new christian story (which has already ground to a halt?) or do I work through KQ&N?  Or continue editing The Bloody Gothic Novel?  Or start a new project?  I feel torn between all these pieces of work, and I am the kind of person who likes to continue what I have already started, rarely do I have so many stories in disrepair, but then the depression has really taken a chunk of my life away. 

I still have other jobs around the house to do, and I have 2 1/2 hours before my son returns from the coast with his Nanna, and I really should tidy his room – because Bomb in a toyshop really doesn’t describe his room well enough!

I could just read… I have a few books to carry on with, the last chapter of Half Men of O to finish, not to mention the Bone Tiki – but to be honest (and I think this is the sleeping pill talking) I would rather just blob out of the couch and catch up on some rest.   

But each day, the desire to be creative is getting stronger.  And I know that I will be writing soon, even if it is for only 10 minutes.  It is better than not writing at all!

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Finding Time Pt 3

Isn’t it always the way.  Just when you think you have some spare time, something or someone happens and it is all gone…

I managed to find time to read books, mostly at night when I first go to bed – although I spent two hours in bed on Sunday morning to finish off the book I was reading.

I even got through the horror Tuesday last week where I had lots to do – I won the door prize at the Avon sales event, so I am happy about that.

On Tuesday, I got a call from my friend down the coast. 

“Can you help me?”  She asked. 

“yeeeeessss?”

“I have an operation next Wednesday – you were coming down on Friday, just wondering if you could come a couple of days earlier?”

“Ummmm – I have to check it out with my husband and mum.  I can’t make any promises.”

“I understand.”

Hmmm, I wanted to go, but I also didn’t want to go.  I was looking forward to having some time to myself!  I have been reader writer for exams at the local area school for a boy – his last exam is today, I was going to spend a couple of days plodding, tidying the house, maybe writing, maybe editing, definitely reading.

I spoke to my husband.  “Yes, don’t see that as being a problem.”  Damn.

I spoke to Mum.  “I’ll take (your son) on Tuesday, he can stay with me, just get some homework for him.”

Double Damn.

Its not that I don’t want to spend time with my friend.  I love my friend very much and was looking forward to the opportunity to catch up with her and “my niece” (easier than explaining that we are very close friends and I was there for her birth…)  I haven’t had “niece” cuddles for a while and was really missing them.  It was the loss of free time that I was going to have.

But then I need to look at the positive side.  I will have niece cuddles, time with my friend, and I can take my laptop with me.  When I have some free time, I can write, or watch DVD’s.  Whatever happens.  I won’t have my son constantly telling me that I don’t spend enough time with him (he is jealous of “his cousin” and I having cuddles), or telling me he is bored.  I also get to spend a day and a half in Greymouth (only even driven through), so looking forward to exploring it.  (Yes, I am aware that there isn’t much in Greymouth, but hopefully there is a bank!)

And on Sunday I get to drive to Westport to spend the night with Mum and my son before driving home to Nelson. 

Hopefully next Monday, my post will be different… here’s hoping it isn’t “Finding Time Pt 4”!

Finding Time

I haven’t really spent a lot of time doing anything other than my gardening lately.  I had 7 library books beside my bed, and panicking that I won’t get them read in time.

What I need to do is stop worrying.  Not that worrying has been a problem for me.  It was being too rigid with my structure in my day.  I haven’t had structure or a plan for my day since August, and I have to admit I like the freedom that I have.  But then I have days where I get “the can’t help its” – when you really don’t know what to do with yourself. 

I love to read, and I have just downloaded something like 10 books onto my kindle.  Add to that the 80+ already on there, plus the 5 library books sitting beside my bed, I really have no excuse not to be cracking through them.  But still I struggle to find time.  If a book grips me, I will read it until I have finished it, but not many books are like that.  In fact I am reading just for the sake of reading, and that is very sad.  The enjoyment has gone out of reading for me, but I need to look at what I am reading, rather than categorise all books as “unreadable”.

Perhaps my taste in stories have changed?  I have read a few biography’s and autobiography’s lately and very much enjoyed them.  They are a slice of real life, and I have to wonder if perhaps I am seeking a soul mate who has suffered the same as me, to find a connection with a real person.

But then my depression is a journey all on its own!  I have started a special project called “Journey to my Heart” which is an intensely private document, and contains letters to myself, the people that have hurt me in my life, and things I have learnt about myself while getting myself better.  It will never be published – although I might print it out, shred it up and scatter it at the Nuggets (Catlins, South Island, New Zealand) like my Mum did!  The only problem would be the amount of paper!  It wouldn’t be a couple of pages, it would probably be novel length!  🙂

Anyway, what I am getting at is – I need to find time – to find out who I am, give myself some time, to do the things I want to do.  If I don’t have time in my day to read, then I need to remedy that – find time!

Sorry for the rant, just something I needed to get out of my head before it exploded!

The Upside to Illness

I am sick.  Not just sick of work, or sick of family life.  Or sick of writing – heaven forbid!  No, I am physically sick.  So sick that my husband uncharacteristically took two days off work to look after me.  He doesn’t do that.  I must have been sick (and I love my darling so much for doing it!)

I have a chest infection.  After fighting over numerous colds over the winter period, as the Doc explained it, you get a cold, you start to recover, you get another one, you start to recover, you get another one… etc etc.  Until you get a chest infection or pneumonia.  Fortunately I don’t have pneumonia (and I AM ignoring the pains I have in my back and sides when I write this), so the antibiotics I am on should really clear things up, once and for all.

As a result of my sickness, I haven’t felt like writing.  Which while it is sad, hasn’t worried me, because I was too sick to care!  I have only just started again today, and managed to put 1700 words onto my Blood Gold story, and it felt good.

But one advantage to being sick (other than spending quality time with my husband) has been that I have done nothing but sit and read for three days.  I have read 300 + pages in the last three days.  Admittedly all I could read on Tuesday was magazine articles because anything longer really threatened to overload my already straining brain, but I managed to finish two novels and start three during that time.  They are all different, all interesting, and all very readable.

I don’t like being sick, the house is a mess, and I am still too sick to care, although it is starting to bug me now, so I must be starting to feel better.  I don’t do sick – I try and push on as much as possible and get as much done so that I can rest more, but I realise now that I have to take some more time out of my day while I am still recovering and just relax, unwind and spend time reading, and not feeling guilty about it.

Next week will be a different matter!

Twilight Sucker… I mean Saga

OK, here it is.  I have started reading Twilight by Stephanie Meyer, and I have to admit, I am enjoying it.

After saying for ages that I don’t want to read it, let alone watch the movies, I have now seen Twilight, bits of New Moon and finally decided to read the book.  And fortunately the local library had one in, just prior to the school holidays, so I snaffled it up.  And I read quite a few pages yesterday, more than I care to admit, and I am suckered in by the writing.

Not that I had anything against Stephanie Meyer, she has a fantastic writing style – which is evidenced by the fact I can’t put the book down.  I just have issues with Vampires.  Not that I don’t like them, just that I don’t like fuzzy happy “vegetarian” vampires.  They aren’t real.  Ever since I read Dracula by Bram Stoker, I have struggled to find a vampire book I really enjoyed, but I have to admit, I am enjoying Twilight.  To the point where I have just purchased the entire set.  Yes, I am a sucker indeed.

I have always been a late bloomer, I was never one to follow a trend, or go with the flow.  I liked to do things and try things in my own time.  I liked to ease myself into something, I wanted to accept things in my own time.  But now that I have, I feel like I have wasted so much time and energy trying to avoid the series.  Doh!

So here’s to you Stephanie Meyer, may my writing be as addictive as your’s is.  Cheers!

Reading and Stupidity

“The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid.”

Catherine Morland – Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen

I found this delightful little quote in Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen.  Yes, I am once more reading the classics, thanks to my Kindle.  (I am also reading The Crown Conspiracy, Excelsior, The Secret, The Sword Lord, the Sword, A Different Hunger and Wild Sight on my Kindle – but back to the topic at hand.)

Northanger Abbey is supposed to be a gothic story… I haven’t encountered that yet.  What I have encountered is very poetic prose, delightful turns of phrase and a very confusing story.  Why confusing?  I think it was the period it was written in, and often I feel myself just drifting along in the monologues that happen, rather than reading them, because they seem… Archaic.  But the story is a classic.  I haven’t read it before, so I can’t tell you what it is about – other than a young woman, named Catherine, who is taken to Bath by family friends, Mr and Mrs Allen, where she meets a lot of interesting characters including Mr Tilney – whom I gather – is a priest.  Catherine is rather smitten with Mr Tilney, although Mr Thorpe is also vying for her attention.  I am at the point in the story where Catherine’s new acquaintance Isabella is soon to be engaged by Catherine’s brother.

Why am I rambling on about this story?  Well, the story tells of their favourite past time – reading, and the girls are quite proficient at it.  The quote above stood out on the page – and I guess I actually believe it to be true.

OK, so people aren’t stupid if they don’t read, but if you can’t get pleasure in a story, then they aren’t reading it right, are they?  They must be stupid not to see the world that someone else has taken the time to create (whether it be present day, historical, science fiction or fantasy) and to appreciate the craftmanship that goes into it.  People read for enjoyment, to escape the mundane, to feel alive, to relax, and a multitude of other reasons.

As a writer, I want people to enjoy the stories I write, to appreciate the skill and effort that goes into it.  Catherine Morland and Isabella often discussed the books that they read, Catherine totally wrapped up in the world created by a Mrs Radcliffe in Udolpho (The Mysteries of Udolpho by Anne Radcliffe, published in 1794 apparently – I Googled it!), and she was quite disgusted if anyone said anything bad about the book.  Catherine (and I am presuming Jane Austen did too) enjoyed the story so much that she had to tell everyone in her acquaintance why she enjoyed the story.  She liked the turn of phrase, the characters, the settings, she was able to envision the coast of France even though she had never been there, so the description was also something else she liked.  I hope that someday, someone will enthuse as much about my writing as Catherine (a fictional character) and Jane (a writer who liked the story enough to go on about it in her story) did about Mrs Radcliffe.

So, in conclusion of this rather rambling post, writing is a pleasure.  But to read and to not enjoy it… well that is just stupidity.

Evil Editors Unite

This is the name of the challenge I am taking part in over on the KiwiWriters website and I have to admit that I am actually really enjoying the editing process.

Editing isn’t something that I have always enjoyed doing, in fact I can remember back – and shudder to think – that I was once so proud of every single word I wrote that I didn’t see the need to remove it.  Now, if it doesn’t fit, it repeats itself, or is unnecessary, it is GONE!

So how did I get to such a point in my writing?  Am I being too lax and casual about it?  Hell no.  I write, and always give myself a month of two off before I edit, only to clear my head of the story.  It is easy enough to pick up the thread again when I am reading it over, but at least sometimes I am surprised by what I have written.

Giving myself a month off, allows me to see the story with fresh eyes.  The first thing I do is read through, chapter by chapter.  Since I do most of my writing in yWriter, it also breaks it down into scene by scene.  This helps me to determine whether I have repeated myself in the story, which I discovered recently when editing That Bloody Gothic Novel (not its real name, just one that seems to fit it beautifully for now).

Once I have read a chapter, I will go through and check the spelling and grammar, then work my way through the chapter, sentence by sentence to make sure that it make sense, there are no unnecessary words.  My thinking is – can I say this sentence in a shorter way?  Can I reword it to make more sense?  Does it make sense the way it is?  Does it convey the emotions / thoughts / ideas that I am trying to portray?

While this may sound like a slow process, it actually isn’t.  I can edit a chapter in 3/4 hour, which isn’t too bad considering there is about 3500 words per chapter.

So am I being lax?  No, I do my first round of editing, the forward my story onto readers for the initial reading to make sure that people like it / pick up any errors that I have made / does it flow / would you read it?  Once I get these comments back, I work through them to edit the story, tighten it up, get rid of those pesky words such as “and then”, “was”, “had been” and “and…and…and”, which I found a few of!

I am editing two stories at the same time, I am going through Medusa’s Garden which has already been out to readers, and first edit through of The Bloody Gothic Novel – if anyone is interested in being a reader for the gothic novel, please let me know, and when I have finished at the end of the month, I will send it out to you.