Farewell My Friend

“All changes, even the most longed for, have their melancholy; for what we leave behind us is a part of ourselves; we must die to one life before we can enter another”.  ~Anatole France

In life there is love and loss, but with loss comes the opportunity for something new to love… I however, am not quite to that stage in my “grief”. Today, I am feeling the beginnings of loss. I know that some may not understand my heartache, but if you’ve ever had a special place that has intigrated itself into the very fibers of your being, has become a part of you, and has helped you to grow into who you are becoming then you know what I am feeling.

For me, this place is my local Borders and specifically the very cafe that I am sitting at present for what may be the last time.

Now, I know it’s just a building and just a business, and there are other book stores out there, but to me it has been so much more over the years. It has been my refuge, my escape, my battlefield, my inspiration, my challenger, my friend.

It all began several years ago, when my love affair with reading was rekindled and I discovered the stacks anew. Countless hours spent -and in all honesty, probably countless dollars too *shh don’t tell hubby* ;)- browsing the different genres, learning where all the titles of my new favorite authors rested waiting for me to find them. Imagination, fantasy, and creativity infused new life deep into my soul. For years I struggled lacking the proper creative outlet for me allowing a dormancy to take root, but Borders on it’s white stallion charged in trampling it, letting the seedlings of creativity grow.

*dramatic much?* Sigh. Today I’m feeling especially dramatic and sentimental. Don’t they know? I DON’T DEAL WITH CHANGE WELL! I’m one of those “slow to process big change” people. Borders has been with me from the very beginning of not only my reading rebirth, but my writing journey. I have a favorite spot in the cafe that my muse shows up with fresh inspiration as I gaze out at all the stacks of all those that have gone before me in this journey. All the imagination! The creativity! The realized dreams! – staring right back at me, willing me to keep going, to keep writing, to keep following my dream.

Borders has not only been my safe haven for all the words in my head to find freedom, but it holds social sentiments as well. I have made friends here- the staff all know me and the baristas know my name and my drink (which who doesn’t love that?)- I met a special writer friend here who has been a point of inspiration and motivation for me (you know who you are 😉 It is also the place my mom, my daughter and I go to spend time together. I have been bringing my daughter here since she was tiny (granted she’s only 2). When we drive by she yells from her car seat kicking her feet in excitment, “Book store?” She loves to run up and down the isles and have her “special drink” in the cafe with Grammy. She LOVES to read- girl after my own heart!

Now where will I go? My muse is stubborn, I’ll have to begin coaxing her off the ledge of despair into a hope that there is another place she can flourish and be free. I know… dramatic. Her, of course, not little ol’ me 😉

So to the Borders of Northpointe Shopping Center, Thank You and Goodbye.

“Change always comes bearing gifts.”  ~Price Pritchett

I was partially inspired to write this after reading Christina Katz’ post on her Borders memories- give it a read!

What about you? Do you have any Borders memories to share?

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“The Editing Itch”… Is there a powder for that?

QUICK UPDATE

I have recently surpassed 90K words and approx 340 pages on my current novel. It was my goal to be finished by now, but some things just take longer than expected. That’s usually how it goes, isn’t it? At least for me it is 😉

I think I have… wait for it… “THE EDITING ITCH”

Now that I’m so close to being able to say “The End”, I find I’m getting impatient. It’s been a long road and I just want to finish. I’ve been feeling “the editing itch” (there might be an actual term for this but this is what I’m calling it). The NEED to start back at the beginning. The NEED to bring cohesion to the scattered parts; order to the chaos. The NEED to flesh out my characters and my scenes with more understanding and description.

I’m excited to dive back in and fix all my early mistakes, make sure all my tenses are the same, check to see if my main character’s name is consistent (I changed it part way through), and do all those fun things that will make my story seemless and solid. I haven’t edited any part of my story other than the prologue as I wanted to get the story out of my head first. I know it will be a LOT of work, but I’m excited! It’s the next step in my journey and one step closer to having a completed novel -one that I wrote from start to finish!

One thing I’ve learned, other than patience and perserverance, is the value of the organic process– being open to allowing the unknown to pop up in your story when you least expect it. If you’re a writer, than you know this. I could say that I “knew” it would happen and as a proud “panster” I left plenty of room for it, even expected it. Admittedly, I was not fully prepared for it to blindside me and take my characters in quite a alternate direction than where I was headed. I’d heard of this happening to others before, but to experience it was another story (which it happened to provide: a new character with her own complicated back-story with whom I instantly loved!). However, this organic process took me on a detour which ended taking a longer route than I had expected to get to the transition that I needed to reach for the home stretch. Conversely, it provided me with a new character I love, an interesting new twist with history, and alternative route to reach my desired ending. In fact, this new path may have provided a “portal”, if you will, that will bypass a large scene that I think may be better suited for the next novel to get to the end of this story (oh, btw I’m writing a series if I haven’t mentioned that before-hehe).

So all that to say that as much as I like having some control and structure in my real life, I love experiencing the organic nature of writing. I love being pleasantly surprised when the unexpected is revealed and I love/hate being shocked when my characters are being stubborn and refusing to go in the direction I intended for them (and this is “the crazy” that seems to be part of the life of a writer). It’s all part of the journey and I’m loving every bit of it! When I’m feeling frustrated and impatient that I’m not at “The End” yet, I take a deep breath and remember not to rush the organic process. I don’t just want a finished novel, I want the best story I can write.

How do I know if my novel’s finished? Because it is, at last, what I profoundly wanted it to be. And more. ~Roz Morris

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Some GREAT posts I’ve read lately that I wanted to share:

I AM WRITER is a recurring Wednesday segment featuring writers answering the question “What does it mean to you to be a writer?” by Tymothy Longoria. It’s an inspiration and a good reminder when writing gets tough. Read it atAspire No More

Finding the balance in showing Vs telling by Jody Hedlund

Another great one on “show, don’t tell” and not revealing too many details about your characters by Dan Powell

Real Writers Aren’t “Aspiring” from MuseInks came at the same time I was having my own inner conflict about admitting “I am a writer”. Inspiring.

How to be effective on Twitter – and a game! Is great for Twitter etiquette and good fun! by Laura Pauling

That Thing You Wanted To Know It’s all about the financial breakdown in the publishing world. Very informative and detailed by Mandy Hubbard

Self-Doubt: A Writer’s Worst Nightmare by Sara Burr. Techniques to prevent it from consuming you and your writing.

Megg Jensen also wrote about a writer’s self-doubt in her post How Do I Know I’m An Awesome Writer? (plus an AWESOME video)

Deeper into the looking glass

I recently read a series of posts created from a conversation between Victoria Mixon, writer and editor, and Roz Morris author of Nail Your Novel among many others. The first in this 4 part series was Talking Plot followed by Talking Character ,  Talking Prose, and finally Talking Revision. If you are interested in writing, I would highly recommend reading these posts. I have highlighted a few select parts that stuck out to me, but there is so much more in each of these posts.

Excerpts from Talking Prose:

“Prose is, in fact, the single greatest over-riding quality that separates passing blips on readers’ radar from timeless classics.” ~ Victoria Mixon

When asked what makes good prose “…So what do we find so compelling about this simplicity? Intelligence, perceptiveness. The confidence the writer has to be stylish yet direct. Too many writers assume that good writing has to be complicated, or difficult to read. But good writing doesn’t obfuscate. It lets through all the light it can.”~Roz Morris

Excerpt from Talking Revision:

‘The physics of the story’—such a lovely phrase. Yes, there is great confusion out there about the differences between Copy Editing for correct writing, and Line Editing for beautiful writing, and Developmental Editing for great storytelling. So much of writing a novel happens before you write it. (And then so much happens afterward!) It’s diving deep, deep into the river of this story, swimming at the bottom, feeling into the nooks and crannies between the riverstones for the treasures buried down there. ~Victoria Mixon

The post that stood out to me the most was Talking Character: (Excerpt of part of their conversation)

Victoria: So what’s the single most important thing aspiring writers should know about character?

Roz: Use the plot to test the things the character doesn’t want to face. That makes the most compelling story. It’s the skeletons in the cupboard, the stuff they need to deal with and move on from. Perhaps it’s emotional baggage that’s making them choose the wrong type of boyfriend. The grudge that means they can’t forgive a particular kind of behaviour. The nasty fact they’ve been avoiding. It’s got to be something that’s holding them back or spoiling their lives.

Victoria: Internal conflict. Absolutely. Stories are about people in trouble, characters struggling to save themselves, and the best threats are always internal because those are the ones that are hardest to combat. “You I can walk away from. But me I’m stuck with.”

Roz: Yes, yes, yessity yes! And if they deal with it they will emerge different and free. Which will be extremely satisfying for the reader. Would we be making a simplistic generalisation to say that all truly satisfying stories are really about that question—the ‘me’ that the characters are stuck with? Their own worst enemy who they have to make their peace with? If they can’t achieve that peace, is that tragedy? Even if it’s not high tragedy, it certainly leaves a tragic note.

Victoria: Simplistic generalization? [laughing] You say that like it’s a bad thing! It’s neither simple nor a generalization. It’s the truth. We read to experience the resolution of the protagonist’s worst nightmare, and we have to go through the nightmare to get to the release at the end. In fact, I’d go even further and say we’re reading not for the character’s release but for our own. Storytelling is the careful, powerful, professional construction of a catapult to fling a reader into space toward epiphany. We can’t create the reader’s epiphany—it depends in part upon the reader themself, so each epiphany is a tiny bit different. But a really well-built catapult will put the reader pretty much where the writer wants them to go.

Roz: I wrote about this in a post a short time ago. I work out the emotion I want for the final scene and angle everything towards it. I realised in all my work, even the novels that are only seeds in my head, my last scene would be ‘feels so good to be free’. In each book, the story is about what the character has to do to break into that state of freedom.

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I am getting closer to finishing the rough draft for my first novel (Yay!) and have found myself delving deeper into each of my characters- getting drawn in to their lives, trying to understand them, learning their reactions to each circumstance and challenge thrown their way. What has been most unexpected; however, is learning more about myself and seeking a freedom of my own truer nature as I grow myself alongside that of my main character as she grows and becomes and finds freedom in herself.

One example: I am not one to quickly embrace changes in my life. It takes me a little more time to process, but once I come to a resolve within myself I am able to go forward and adapt to the change needed. My main character, however, seems to embrace and accept change, ready to move on to what comes next. I admire this in her and is an attribute that I am learning from (slowly).

I want to always keep growing into and becoming the person I want to be, never to remain stagnant becoming stale and a shell of what I could’ve been. This I believe is also our challenge as writers to provide a catalyst of positive growth for our readers. In order for it to come through in our writing it must first come through us.

I love this part of her quote especially as I had been pondering this very thing before I had the opportunity to read it. I would even add “writing” next to “reading”…

“I’d go even further and say we’re reading not for the character’s release but for our own. Storytelling is the careful, powerful, professional construction of a catapult to fling a reader into space toward epiphany.” ~Victoria Mixon

Developing Characters

I recently read an article written by Jason Black at AuthorMagazine.org.  It was all about developing your characters.  Not coddling them, but giving them situations to overcome, to show who they really are, to put them up against insurmountable odds to invoke emotion and an attachment from the readers that draws them to a place of cheering the hero/heroine on and to hope for their success.  I found this to be helpful when thinking about some of my characters I have been working with and wanted to share.

“the best thing we can do for our protagonists is to do our worst.  Funny how that works.  The kindest thing we can do is make them suffer; make their journey as hard as we can make it without sacrificing the reader’s suspension of disbelief…”

You can read more at AuthorMagazine.org – an on-line magazine for writers and readers….