A Writer’s Life #3 – Of Germs and Catlaps

This week has been trying. Germs ganged up on me and I spent the week fighting the flu. It was also a week of ‘let’s have something extra on every.single.night. shall we?’ 

Well, after all that I’m pooped and decided to stay home from church and catch up with life and my bed and maybe *whispers so life doesn’t hear* write a bit. 

So I get all the kinders busy, plug in my laptop and BAM! Sleepy decides it’s the perfect time for some lap invasion tactics.

Do I fight it or surrender? 

My Top 3 Writing Apps

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We are living in the days of an App for every occasion. I blogged on my top 3 apps for writer over here.

I also read about an awful app that would probably lead to some laptop smashing if I ever tried to use it. You can read about it here.

Your turn. What apps have you found useful?

Lifehack: My first post! Woohoo!

HelloGirlWaiting friends,

How are you all today? It’s voting day here in SA, the weather is fine and my first post is up on Lifehack. You can find it here: 10 Reasons Waiting is Good For You.

If you’re a regular visitor to Doodles, you’ll know that this is a recurring theme in my life – one that I fought for many years, but now have embraced as a good friend. You know the type… they visit sporadically, ask the hard questions, yet leave you better than you were before. Comfortable? No. Good? Yes!

Feel free to share it if you think its a worthwhile read.

Much love, till next time!

 

 

 

 

Being a Prolific Writer

 

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The word ‘prolific‘ is one I’d love to be labelled with… Oh look, she’s turned out another bestseller book! What a prolific writer she is…


I’ve aimed at ridiculous wordcounts per day, I’ve pantsed and plotted and settled into a happy combination of both. I’ve changed my sleeping habits, tried NaNoWriMo, read a ton of blogs from writers I love and respect and so on and so on.

The sad, dismal truth fact I’m currently facing, is that if you give me an hour in a day, or a few uninterrupted hours in a day, my output will probably be about the same.

Are you kidding me?
Are you kidding me?

Sadly no kidding here. Maybe that will change, I live in hope.

In the meantime, I’m borrowing a lesson from my middle child’s induction ceremony into High School from the beginning of this year. They start the event with a single torch burning on stage. All the new Grade 8’s lead in in the dark. As you can see from the gallery above, the prefects start by lighting their candles and passing on the flame. The transition from a deeply dark hall to one lit by many individual lights was moving to say the least. The message was clear – your individual contribution counts.

How does that make me a more prolific writer? It doesn’t. But what it does do, is make me value each word that willingly joins the ranks of the little army of words that make up my story. I only need 65 000 of them to show up at the the right time, and I’m done. (Young adult, in case you’re wondering at the low count.) Do I cringe at 500 word days? Nope. Do I cringe at the 23 words I manage to string together before I’m called to go see Barbie perform a death-defying dive from the top of the tap into my 6yo’s bubble bath – AGAIN? Not any more.

All that matters is that I’m adding words. I will not waste energy on beating myself up for not being prolific. Maybe, just maybe… prolificacy (yes, I did just make that up) will creep up on me as I quietly grow my wordcount. Till then, I’ll soldier on, adding each precious word as it shows up.

If you have found any magic formula for upping your daily count, I’d love to hear about it. It probably won’t work on me, but go ahead and share anyway!

I’m grateful to…

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In the big scheme of things, getting one book accepted by a publisher does not mean that I’ve arrived as an author. I’m fully aware of that. But it is a milestone worth celebrating and as part of that, I’d love to acknowledge some of the people who have helped me along the way. One of those key people, is a lovely writer that I met online. She beta-read the first chapter of Finding Mia way back when I was still floundering through the early stages and hauled out two big no-no’s that I wasn’t even aware of in my writing – adverbs and passive voice. (How did I not see them before?) I am super grateful to her for the time she took and am delighted that she agreed to be with us on Doodles today. Without further ado, ladies and gentlemen… Meet my friend, Jennifer Owenby!

Jennifer Owenby

When you write fiction, is there a strong message in your gut that you want your reader to come away with? Or does this vary with each story?

Each story is different, but I tend to bring attention to difficult real life issues, the one’s that stay behind closed doors and no one talks about. “Tears in the Sun” is about mental illness, I have one traditionally published story concerning a woman running and hiding from an abusive husband and my story in progress deals with physical abuse in high school.

I love hearing about life defining moments, especially to do with understanding that you are a writer. Did you always know, or did it dawn on you? Tell us about one of your life defining moments.

I’ve “written” since I was able to hold a pencil in my hand. When I was 6 my family moved from St. Louis Missouri to the country in Arkansas. We had no neighbour’s only cows in the back yard. I was lonely. The days that we would have thunderstorms I’d pull my little rocking chair up to the window, listen to the rain and make up stories.  To this day, I write when it rains. That’s why I love living in Oregon. So, I don’t think there was a defining moment, I think moments defined me and nurtured what was already there.

Where do you find inspiration for your writing?

My inspiration comes from life and people that have crossed my path.

Are you comfortable weaving portions of your own life & experience into your work, or are there some things that you keep to yourself?Tears in the Sun

Yes, I am. I read somewhere that in every piece of fiction there are nuggets of truth. I’ve had many questions concerning “Tears in the Sun”, and regardless of where that nugget is, people suffer from mental illness everyday and loved ones have to make horribly difficult and painful decisions.

If you look back over your writing career, is there anything that you would change or do differently if you could go back?

Yes, I would have worked with an editor/teacher sooner. I wrote my first full length novel and gave it to and editor. I thought it was great, my writing group had helped me and I just knew it would have record sales. She gave it back to me and said “You’re not ready. I can tell you didn’t outline…” that feedback hurt, but what she did was offer me another route where she could teach me in intense bursts before I tackled a novel again. I took her short story class and wrote “Tears In the Sun”. By the time I completed the class the story was written and fully edited by an editor at Writer’s Digest. “Tears in the Sun” was also the last story I worked on with my editor. She passed away a little over year ago. So the story is special to me on several levels.

Give us the one piece of advice that you would want every newbie writer to know…

Ah shucks, I can’t give just one.

As a writer I see each scene in my head. I’m there, living and breathing every moment of it. In fact, I’m so deep in it I can’t see what needs to be fixed. So, here are a few things I highly recommend whether you are self publishing or traditional publishing:

  • Writing can be learned so study the craft. It’s not all about talent. Get your hands on books, articles and attend any conference you can.
  • Don’t publish any work unless you’ve worked with an editor. Don’t short sell yourself by not putting your best work out there. There’s many forms of editing not just grammer, it’s also voice, character arc, plot points, turning points and more.
  • And, here’s the hardest part, when an editor gives you changes and feedback, LISTEN. So many people disregard an editor’s advice even when the editor has been in the industry for years. Even Stephen King has an editor.  The beautiful thing about writing, you never stop learning. Be true to yourself and even though the feedback might hurt, embrace it and grow!

 There are two distinctly different sides to you as a writer. Tell us more about your resume service?

Dianne, you’re the best. Thanks for allowing me to share about this as well.

I, as most writers do, need income. Our dream is to write stories full time and strike it big like J.K. Rowling and Stephanie Meyer. We all see our stories showing on the movie screen. But, then hard reality sits in.

I have a background in writing, I’ve been traditionally published and “Tears in the Sun” was my first go around at self publishing, but I needed income. I also have a background in staffing and recruiting. My second love is helping people find jobs. So, I combined the two. Resumes are a form of writing and creativity. I talk and work with people for a few hours, and then I create and form them on paper. It’s not easy. In fact the ongoing education and certifications are extensive. I have found that it’s truly helping me write tighter with fewer words in my fiction as well. It’s a great character development tool as well.  As a professional resume writer, I combine both passions.

Thank you Jen, for letting us into your head and heart, and for the nuggets of valuable info.

Jennifer Owenby can also be found on Twitter and WordPress.

 

 

Na-NOOOOOOO!-WriMo

 

 

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I signed  up for Nano again this year. Can you read the stupid tattoo on my forehead? Yeah, thought so.

You see, I write slowly. For a slow writer to sign up for Nano is like being lactose intolerant at an all-you-can-drink-milkshake bar. Sooner or later there will be pain and suffering. Right now I’m about 6K behind where I should be and feel the belly punch when all my eager Nano buddies (check out the awesome Jamie Raintree *secretly turns green cheers wildly*) skip around boasting 5K days… and ‘being ahead’ of where they’re meant to be. You go, buddies, you go!  I’ll just keep plodding.

I’m always hoping to find a way to speed up. Looking at it analytically, there are many factors.  I suspect my biggest issue is more about brain-space than writing ability. 3 kids, 2 jobs… I get talked at for a large part of each day. Not too much ‘quiet soil’ for ideas to germinate in. Not that I’m about to lay down and surrender to that excuse either. There has to be a way.

I have taken to planning more before I start writing than what I used to … I outline in the broadest sense the opening and closing, key events along the way. I live with my characters in my head for weeks, watching them under different circumstances, figuring out what makes them buzz. But even then, I have writing buddies who can plan entire novels, chapter by chapter and scene by scene, all the way from chapter 1 to those two lovely words – The End. I can’t do that.

For me, starting a novel is like standing outside an unfamiliar house. There are certain things you can tell from the outside – how many stories, is it a mansion or a hovel, built from cardboard boxes or fine marble… but the real adventure starts when you step through the front door. You discover that there are many doors leading off the passage. You get to open those doors and meet the characters, explore settings that make your work come alive.

My conundrum is this – writing the way I do works for me. My story has time to breathe itself into full-blown life. I write clean, my first drafts are never train-wrecks. And yet I feel strongly about increasing my output, which means I need to speed up.

What do you think?

 

265 in… 100 to go

UnHinged 1My diary informs me that today is the 265th day of 2013. There are 100 days until another year bites the dust. Its enough to make my head split in half.

I’ve been scarce here, I know. I do poke my nose in to check up on you every so often. Quietly, like a mouse. Or a stalker. Just kidding. 🙂

So what have I been up to… I finished Finding Mia in the first half of the year. It’s with a publisher and I should get the thumbs up or down by the middle of October.  The second half of the year was taken up with putting on a stage show UnHinged. That all went down last week and I’ve slowly been finding my brain since.

Here are some pics of the action on stage, taken by the legendary WolfWorx. The mastermind behind WolfWorx is Brian – a photographic artist. He also blogs right here on WordPress so pop over and say hi..

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2013 also saw my first words in print in a book rather than a magazine. Not Your Mothers Book on Home Improvement is a fun anthology all about misadventures in DIY. My contribution is 1 tiny story out of 65! Haha! But I love small beginnings, because they have a tendency to grow into bigger things.

For some even bigger news – I actually read a book this week. From start to finish, in a day. It was glorious! The kidlets were a little shell-shocked at having to make their own lunch, but I called it tough love and moved on.