Four Ways to Organize Your Notebooks

Four Ways to Organize Your Notebooks.

As someone who still hasn’t got the hang of Evernote, I like the simple tips in this article. I already like the different notebooks for different things one – I had one for Sarah Selecky’s excellent course, Story is a State of Mind, and have a fresh new one for my Humber times. I have DA’s little grumpy book for my personal rants and etceteras…

But I need to start colour-coding and leaving space between entries…and a table of contents is good, too.

 

The howling

ImageI’m getting an understanding for the agitation caused by the Mistral. The wind has been howling around my place for hours and hours, making the cat’s ears twitch and getting loud enough at times to make the sound of the radio vanish.

It’s good writing weather, not pleasant enough to escape outside, not gruesome enough to make me hunker down under the blankets and hide. It’s dark enough to make thought of evil characters easy to produce, warm enough to keep my fingers cozy on the keys.

And yet, I’m not writing.

I know it’s Nov 1st, start of Nanowrimo, I know I have assignments due for my writing class (and fair enough I did work on that), but I’m instead reading and percolating things and doing my usual mental canoodling. Tomorrow, I hit the computer and get to work.

Really I will….

Art credit:http://gfamcnally.ca/#sthash.6K4ZVYdP.dpbs

Mad writing begins…

ImageYep. It’s that Nanwrimo thing, which someone told me sounds like baby talk.

In a way it is. You sit and write madly for hours and days and just try to get stuff out of your head onto paper and finally spew out 50,000 words by November 30th and then pat yourself on the back for accomplishing it and forget all about it.

Unless you are like my niece, Stephanie, who honed and self-published her book. Or Stephanie Domet, who wrote her first book this way, and who is offering a workshop at the Tatamagouche Centre this weekend to start people off.

Or me, and use the month to complete an already planned writing project. I’m leading a workshop, too, just a humble free one and so you get what you pay for…it’s at the Woodlawn library in Dartmouth and should be fun.

Or so many others, who use this month and the assigned schedule to help reactivate their writing lives and start living creatively again. It’s all a good thing, both the making of a resolution and meeting it and the writing itself.

But your novel will NOT be immediately ready for prime time. Revision, revision, revision, right? Nanowrimo gets a bad name because people write their 50,000 words and it seems so good to them in their “I did it!” wash of superiority, they think it’s ready for prime time. 

Don’t do this, please.

But do participate. It’s free. You get writing prompts. You get bragging rights. And really, you only have to write less than 2000 words a day.  And strangely, at the end of the month, you may well have something. It might not be a novel, it might not be anything like what your started out to do, or it might be exactly what you wanted. In any case, you’ll have written, and as you can see elsewhere on this blog, the feeling is unbelievably wonderful.

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How do you know when it’s ready?

41vZycAOEfL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-click,TopRight,35,-76_AA300_SH20_OU01_I’m delighted to report my wonderful, smart, and confident niece has written and self-published her first book and is now marketing it to bookstores in her area, as well as on Amazon. It’s called “Crescent” and I’ll link to it here.

When I first heard about this, though, I was startled to find in my heart a bit of anger. I was frustrated – I don’t have a book yet myself, and yet I’ve been “working” at writing for some time (though procrastination seems to be my main output). The things I do write, people tell me, are good. Why don’t I send them in for publication?

Where does that niece of mine get her confidence? I’ve never ever been that confident in my entire life. Was it my mother’s fault? My English teacher’s fault? (She told me a story I sweated over to write for my parents as a Christmas present was trivial and derivative) (It probably was but I cried buckets writing it and my parents cried even more reading it, so there!) My ex? There must be someone I can blame, surely.

Facebook doesn’t help. Everyone is writing books and books and more books and I am smothering in the weight of all those books published when mine are not.

It’s not like I haven’t been published before  - for a while there I was making a pretty good income from writing. I’ve been on CBC’s Sunday Edition, I’ve got publications in humour, non-fiction, poetry, fiction, even the Oxford Companion to Medicine.

And yet I hesitate. I have turned myself into one of those things I promised myself I would never be, the dilettante writer. The wanna be. The liar.

And so I heap more scorn on myself and freeze myself into even greater immobility. It’s ridiculous, but I can’t seem to stop myself.

Nor can I stop myself from writing.

“If you have any young friends who aspire to become writers, the second greatest favor you can do them is to present them with copies of The Elements of Style. The first greatest, of course, is to shoot them now, while they’re happy.”
― Dorothy ParkerThe Collected Dorothy Parker

Ah, so true. But there is joy to be had in writing – the joy of seeing things more clearly, of being more present in this world, of delighting in all those other really good books out there (we really don’t need another one, I tell myself in my dark heart…) because we’ve struggled to get things just right ourselves.

I’ve restarted The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron in an attempt to jumpstart my mind, and am working on a few things that have deadlines so that is a good thing. I love deadlines. I’m waiting to hear about a couple of submissions, hoping things go well. I’m doing the 3daynovel thing again this year, working on a mystery plot.

I’m wishing my niece well with her book, which is really quite good and you should all buy it. But that initial anger I felt – I’m hanging on to that, too, because it might just push me over the hump to get my stuff done, too.

Connecting to the writing muse

I am SUCH a bad working writer.
I can find more ways to procrastinate about writing than there are words in a thesaurus. I clean my house, I putter with kitchen objects, I decide to repot plants, I do laundry, fer the love of Shakespeare.
I’m getting tired of myself. It’s time to get to work, get things done, move forward. Instead I find reasons to read books, watch tv, walk about, exercise…spend time with friends…
Yah, I know. Exercise is a good thing. Reading is a good thing. Friends are important.
But life passes on with very little to show for it, and it is getting to ridiculous times.
Today I am revising my novella or perishing in the attempt. It’s going to be hotter than stink today so I have no excuse or capability to do anything but sit and write.
Well, unless I hang out with my birdies and let them out for a play…
Dang.
I am so good at thinking of escapes. Now I need to be great at applying myself!

It’s almost National Crime Writing Month!

Now, finally, a blog topic that won’t involve endless self-examination and revelation and such. Phew.

Because I haven’t done any crimes.

Okay, I remember ONE TIME where I stole something. I was in grade 5. I STILL feel guilty about it. Ashamed, bad, totally awful. I’d make amends to the harmed party but I am too embarrassed to admit I did it.

So picture what would happen if I killed someone?

As it is, even a gentle thought crossing my mind about whether I’d like to kiss someone or potentially push them under a car – well, it’s all printed on my face. I’d never be able to lie about myself.

As a nurse and a writer, though, I can lie about other people. Thank heavens. Even if the lie is, ultimately, the truth – or at least it would be if I write as well as I hope.

In the meantime, head on over to the National Crime Writing Blog by the Crime Writers of Canada, and read how some pros handle criminous thinking/writing/acting. It’ll be worth your time…

And that’s no crime….

Time to get fierce with myself…

I’ve always believed in the clever Ashleigh Brilliant’s comment that “wasting time is an important part of living”.
Some would say I have taken this as my life credo.
However, I am usually too busy having fun to listen to these people. Doing what? Well, I’ve taught myself to knit, I can take a ball of wool,fluff and poke it with a needle until it resembles a smallish animal, I can hook rugs, bake ginger cookies, spend hours of time on Facebook (all for book promotion purposes, the Facebook stuff, which is why I play Criminal Case by the hour. I am practising for my mystery writing!) I practice ukulele like I am working towards a symphonic career.
I have a friend who needs a lift often to go places. On a day when I might be writing, I call her up, ask he how she’s doing, secretly hoping there’s a drive needed someplace, any place. Friendships are important, too, right?
And now I’ve decided to move, which has given me mountains of tasks to complete. “I need a move” I rationalize. “I need a new view, a better place, an office.”
The thing is, though, I have at least three writing projects that are in various stages of completion that I believe in, that need to be set out into the world. They are getting annoyed.
My muse is positively stomping around my apartment , knocking over packing boxes in fits of fury, and I’m starting to get that writing anxiety building up. You know the feeling, right? That gradually building bubble like a ball of gas that begs for release (though perhaps, as one author said, this is why no one should write in public). I know my fingers and brain are being primed by the need to pack and tidy but it’s almost been too long. I could explode with verbiage at any moment, start using words like verbiage, you know. Excrete words. It’s not pretty. People who have received my emails at such times are still recovering, writhing on the ground, clutching their eyes, moaning, “too many words, too many words,” like the actor in the Compleat Works of William Shakespeare, Abridged. It’s a dangerous time.
But life and pseudo-connection calls. So I am being fierce with myself, booking two weeks in June in a cottage with a view of the sea and no Internet and just me and my writing and the blissful silence of life. I’ll probably go crazy and end up dusting the place or whatever, but it’ll be me and the muse, hanging out, working out a few things.
One of us will come back, emptied and with piles of pages.
I hope it’s me.

Why Facebook promotion is a waste of time, and how to make people love you by not doing it

http://www.horizoncourt.ca/the-horizon.php

I enjoy wasting time on Facebook, and I like keeping in touch with my friends and family and other writers and Writer’s associations and happenings around my section of the world, but I agree with this blog that endless self- promotion of yourself and your books as an author is totally annoying and a waste of time. I don’t buy books from authors postings on Facebook – rather I buy them from reviews and/or if I like the author.
So hey, if you want to promote your book, list it on LibraryThing or NetGalley and get some reviews. Those will sell your work quicker than telling everyone yourself how wonderful you are.

Let the work speak.

Felting rocks and writing faith

A little break from countries today. The sun is shining bright against a bank of threatening grey clouds and that always puts me in a thoughtful mood.

Plus I’ve been making things for Christmas. Felted things. There’s something about changing the form of matter that appeals to me. Pottery, where you take mud and create structures; glass blowing, where silica melts and you can twist it into shapes; felting, where you take fluffy stuff and turn it into little creatures or scenes or objects; writing, where you take letters and stick them together until they make some sort of sense.

This morning I was felting rocks again. It’s a very “grounding” experience, as the trendy say.

You start with this:

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Add hot water and lots of soap, and scrunch and swirl it around and around in your hands, squeezing and rearranging until the wool knits together and suddenly it feels right. Yellow wool never cooperates, which may account for the lack of it on yarn shop shelves. It has to be used sparingly, much like adverbs in writing. A little bit is enough, too much and you get odd lumpish stuff.

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Writing can be like this – you write a bit and it feels messy and squishy and then you revise and revise and revise until it becomes totally meshed, with any luck.

Of course, as with writing, not everyone is going to appreciate a felted rock. I like them because they take a hard heavy thing and put a cushy thing around them, and the whole thing is organic and just feels good. Selling them might be more difficult, though.

And I guess that’s like writing, too.

I suppose all we can do is write and feel and get that “felt” experience, as my friend Nancy would say.

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