A bad workman…

Today’s proverb is, “A bad workman blames his tools.”

I don’t fully agree with this. There is merit to it as some people just look for excuses to avoid doing something. There are valid reasons to having the right tool though.

Take process mapping, for example. Yes, one can process map by hand or use paper-based methods involving sticky notes (I’ve seen it), but at some point it becomes rather cumbersome to maintain and a realization that the paper could become damaged and a lot of work could be lost, occurs. Sticky notes fall off. Plus, it’s hard to share a very large paper copy with others without them having to come to a specific site to see it. Putting it into a computer-based tool like Visio becomes a necessity. Not all versions of Visio are created equal. Some versions one may spend inordinate amounts of time trying to get something to work, where a newer version lets you document the process in seconds because they constantly improve the tool.

Yes, you can write a novel on paper, in notepad, in Word, or in something like Scrivener. There are benefits to each method. I often start my first scribblings in paper as I have with a recent piece that may or may not become a romance novel. With paper, I often feel like I don’t want too much of it on paper as I’m scared it will be spilled upon or have some other catastrophe occur and I will have to rewrite. Rewriting isn’t terrible as I usually write it better the second time, but there is the odd time I’ve felt that I lost an amazing piece of work (perhaps only amazing in my own mind haha). Notepad is as simple as it gets with a few font options and word wrap being it’s features. I often used to do random notes in Notepad as little pieces of my series that I wasn’t sure where to use. I used Notepad in conjunction with Word because those little notes in Notepad took up less space than they would as Word documents. I was writing in Word for a long time using the outline view option to allow me to navigate through my story without having to scroll through pieces of it. Now I’m finishing it in Scrivener because it’s amazing. I get the benefits of Word’s outline view, combined with the benefits of separate little notes, and a whole host of new features like the ability to take a snapshot of a webpage for citing and referencing. This means that I don’t have to be online to work with my novel if I’ve grabbed the research material beforehand. This also means that I don’t have to take up so much room on my hard drive with pictures of things. I can split the view so I can be writing while having the webpage open in the application. That all being said, I could have finished writing it in Word likely, but it was getting cumbersome to work with and Word is rather prone to crashing.

My point is that there always comes a time where it is necessary to upgrade if getting the job done efficiently is a concern.

The only reasons to stick with old tools are artistic ones or short-term monetary ones. The Woodwright’s Shop on PBS is an example of an artistic or artisan use of old tools. It’s neat watching the way things were made years ago and it’s probably rather enjoyable to be able to take such time and care with each piece he produces. Were he in high demand, he likely wouldn’t be able to keep up using his current toolset. He would need power tools. Still, there is this enchanting element to putting so much care into each piece. He’s not in a rush. He’s truly enjoying his work. How many can say that today? How many times are workers today rushed to complete something and unhappy with their own finished product? Software gets released with bugs and products with extra holes or missing pieces. The world of today is a hurried one. I refuse to take that approach with my novel. Sure, I’ve been at it for a few years, but I’m doing it to my own level of quality. Rome wasn’t built in a day and the first Harry Potter book took 5 years to write, in part because she was planning parts of the rest of the series.¬†Life was likely crazy raising children alone and working whenever she could. I’ve had my own challenges along the way and I’m not worried about it because the time it takes to write it doesn’t diminish the words on the page.

Anyway, I may be getting off topic. I think everyone has tools they prefer for certain jobs. I find it uncomfortable to rollerskate if I don’t have the right socks. Some derby girls can’t imagine playing the sport while wearing underwear. Labeling someone as a bad worker simply because they have a preference for one tool over the other doesn’t make sense to me. They may be exemplary in actuality and know something you don’t about the different tools. Drummers often prefer specific makes of drumsticks and drums. Yes, they can jam with different ones if they had to, but why would you make them? Artists may be at the extreme level of pickiness with their water preferences, brands of paint, guitars, etc, but that doesn’t make them bad at what they do. I don’t believe this proverb is anything more than a blanket statement issued after observing only a small sample. Yes, I can manage to perform my martial art with a longer bokuto than I am used to, but the quality isn’t the same until I’ve had time to get used to the change. I also don’t believe that only rockstars, famous authors, Gotham all stars, or CEOs should be allowed to be choosy with what tools work best for them.

Yes, it may be true that a bad worker will blame their tools, but they’ll also blame everyone else around them and anything they can remotely associate with their poor performance. They’re easy to root out and the rest of us shouldn’t be lumped with them.

I guess this proverb got to me. Sorry if I ranted too much ūüėČ

Ciao,
R~

It is not work that…

Today’s proverb is, “It is not work that kills, but worry.”

Basically, hard work is good for you. Worrying about things that you can’t do anything about is bad for you.

I am an over-thinker. I mull things about in my head all the time, but I’ve learned to try and focus on things that I do have the power to change. There are more things in your control than you may realize, so before you stress yourself out think, “What can I do about this?”. Make an action plan with steps to achieve that will get you closer to whatever your goal is.

If I write at least 200 words per day over the next couple of months, I should be able to finish my novel by year’s end. This post is around 150 words, so if I write a couple of paragraphs every day my book will be done by December. Awesome.

Ciao,
R~

If wishes were horses…

Yesterday, I bought a proverb calendar. I thought it might be interesting and inspiring for story writing. I realize half the year is over and that it seems silly to buy a 2014 calendar now, but sometimes I’m silly.

Today’s proverb is, “If wishes were horses, beggars would ride.”

In other words, instead of spending life wishing something was better, come up with an action plan to make it better. You are in control of your own happiness.

For some people, that might be scary, but not all things require huge amounts of effort or commitment, at least at the start.

Take a journey, for example. What does a journey begin with? One step.

A novel? One word.

Of course, before you know it, another word happens. Then another. Suddenly you have a sentence, a paragraph, a scene, a chapter, another chapter, more chapters, a first draft, etc.

I’m at the more chapters stage with my first novel and all the while climbing closer to a first draft. It’s a jumble of hair-pulling excitement, self-induced insanity, soul-rending¬†frustration, and periodic delirium. Writing a novel means constant¬†decision-making, cursing myself for the problems I’ve created that I now need to solve, and philosophizing about whether my character would do/say/know anything.

This makes descriptive text challenging. I have a scene where my character is walking down a hallway on a spaceship. I’ve decided the walls look like apologia. Given that my character is from another planet, even if they know what apologia is and looks like, it’s probably¬†not called apologia on their planet. This means I have to describe it entirely based on appearance. Why don’t I just say the walls were blue? It’s not interesting. Besides, would you rather see a plain blue wall on a spaceship or something that reminds you of some kind of biological organism? It’s a friggin’ spaceship!

So ignore all my banter if you’re just starting out. One step. One word. That’s all you need to get going. Take a chance and let me know how it goes.

Ciao,
R~

How long to write my first novel

Since the pitching workshop I attended in April, I have been fretting about how long it is taking me to write my first novel. I was told not to mention that I have been working on it for four years now.

I have decided there is nothing wrong with how long it is taking me. Why? Most first novels take around 5-10 years to write. J.K. Rowling took 5 years to write “The Philosopher’s Stone” and 2 years of editing happened before it went to print! For more stats on writing the first novel, I found this article interesting.

During the past four years, WHILE writing my novel, I’ve had karate classes and tests; I suffered through health challenges; I became a Certified Associate of Project Management; I managed many projects; I became a LEAN Green Belt; I switched karate styles; I lived through major home renovations; I struggled through a failing marriage that ultimately had to end; my workplace became overly stressful with job uncertainty; I took a new job in a new city where I hardly knew anyone; I changed martial arts; and I took up roller derby.

I don’t think I’m doing poorly at finishing my first novel. I’m also intending it as the start of a series and every decision I make can have rippling effects upon the rest of the series. I’m not letting that challenge get in the way of my writing, but writing isn’t just the actual act… your brain needs to be involved. You need to constantly think about everything.

While I hope to power through the rest of my novel, I don’t want to finish for the sake of completing it. I want to savor it. I want my readers to enjoy sinking their teeth into it (figuratively speaking, of course). I feel like if I love writing it, it’s more likely that my readers will love reading it. I’m not writing it simply to say, “hey, look what I did.” I’m writing it for other people to enjoy.

When I get blocked, I edit previous chapters. Looking back helps me reconnect with the story and its characters.

I often feel like I will need to go back and do more in-depth character work to round out the text. My method of writing may seem disorganized and chaotic, but I’m pushing forward. Some days I write many words and others I spend with my mind deep in thought on the predicament I’ve placed my characters into.

Not many people finish writing a novel. It’s a long process. I think of it as a marathon rather than a sprint.

This article suggests that the most important quality a writer must have isn’t talent, but stubbornness. I believe I have talent, determination, and just the right amount of insanity to make it as an author.

In life, I find that the best things take time to unfold.

Ciao
R~

Baby I’m back!

So my writing on this blog has been extremely sporadic. In the beginning I didn’t like to blog, so it seemed like a chore. In fact, with this blog in particular, I felt like I should be writing my novel instead of writing a silly blog about writing my novel. I think occasionally writing this blog helped me stay on track with my novel though, so it isn’t silly, but a tool to help me finish it. Since I’ve copied all of the old posts from an old location, I’m glad I didn’t write too much previously. Recently,¬†I’ve come to enjoy blogging.

LIFE

Life has been pretty crazy. In November 2011, I suffered a loss that was very difficult to bounce back from. It was something that only another woman could truly understand. There are few things in this world that I would say that about.

After the divorce, I continued to live in the same house with my ex for about a month and that had it’s own unique stresses. Despite how everything turned out, I don’t hate him and I don’t think he hates me either. We grew up together and part of that growth included discovering that we couldn’t be what each other needed in a partner and staying together any longer would have destroyed any chance of a future friendship. I’m not meaning to speak on his behalf, but just stating how I see things.

I moved out of the house eventually into a condo in my home town, which was hard to fit half of a house into. I downsized my belongings. During that time, my workplace was being divested, and I was reacting to nearly everything I ate. Food had become the scariest thing to me. I was starving often because it got so difficult to find anything to eat. Because I was reacting to so much and I’m a fairly logical and analytical type, I was looking at the things they had in common. I wrongly supposed that I was reacting to one thing rather than a combination of several. The one thing that just about everything has in common is corn. So I avoided corn for quite some time. I’d still have wicked reactions involving me writhing in full body pain wanting to scream from simply having something like a soda. There were days where I would go to the grocery store and leave empty-handed¬†because I was terrified.

The thing that helped me get through those times was watching hockey. I became a Montreal Canadiens fan in 2013. I chose the Canadians for many reasons. My dad grew up watching Jacques Plante, so I could talk to him about hockey a little. We didn’t talk hockey too much because my dad grew to hate it since it was the only thing that was on TV when he was a kid because of the limited channels. Yeah, my dad is getting old. I also like the Canadiens because they’re not the tallest players in the league and they love to scrap. Scrappy underdogs. I also had a crush on someone who’s favourite team is the Canadiens. I’m human, sorry if that fact shocks anyone.

One of my friends asked me what I was sticking around my home town for? I was single, my job was being divested, and a bigger city would have more help for my food issues. The girl I was in high school would have already have thought of that on her own, but I was a broken shell of myself. I started considering leaving, but where would I go? I didn’t like the idea of Toronto at all. Every time I visit that city I nearly get attacked. I’m also not big on sky scrapers as I like looking at the sky. I contemplated Waterloo, but I felt like there wasn’t enough lifestyle there for me. I wanted a place that was small yet big and that led me to Ottawa.

I managed to find a job in my field that didn’t require the ability to speak French. My first out of town move was hard. I still had too much stuff and early on I had to move in stages. I moved close to work into a place with roommates. I lived at home during college, so it was my first roommate experience. It wasn’t horrible until the land lady started going crazy. Part of me feels like I could have done without this experience as I was still reeling from the divorce, food issues, and I was pretty sick in May.¬†It was an interesting learning experience that I am thankful is done with.

I started looking for a place I could afford to buy with the assets I had, which wasn’t much for the Ottawa real estate market. I briefly contemplated moving to Rockland, ON as the houses are quite affordable, but it felt too far away to be working in Ottawa. I briefly thought about Gatineau, QC as it’s also affordable, but I felt it was far and strange. It’s also confusing to work in one province and live in another come tax time and with the divorce I wasn’t sure how taxes would be.

I made one last temporary move to get away from crazy lady and thankfully those roomies were cool people. Prior to leaving the house of crazy, I joined roller derby because though most of May was crappy, attending Comiccon lead to me braving the bar alone and I met AxxiDent’s sister. It was an interesting experience as I had never been to a burlesque show before. Browncoat’s is a fun troupe. I dig how they make the ultra nerdy sexy. At any rate, my new friend told me that she thought I should join roller derby as it would help me meet more people in Ottawa and she thought I may make a good jammer someday. My response was, “There’s roller derby in Ottawa?!”

So, I went to a bout at Barbara Ann Scott arena. Slaughter Daughters were playing. I found the info for fresh meat on the wall and I’ve been doing derby ever since.

NOVEL:

On the book front, I was stuck for quite some time. I had two versions of the start of my second half and had trouble deciding where to go from here. I’m still working through that.¬†

The thing with writing a novel is that each decision you make creates new challenges and closes doors potentially. Extra complications come in when you intend to write a series as is my intention because there are many more things to be mindful of. Consistency is a big thing with a series. Some might say, “just write”, but there’s more to it than that. Today’s publishing world is big on having work pre-edited, especially by new authors. If I don’t want to spend a fortune on an editor, I need to get it as polished as can be before getting an agent and having them get me a publisher.

I say all that, but there is some value to, “just write”. Recently, this part of my book has been difficult because I had been trying to get too detailed in an area that doesn’t matter. A hurricane or tropical storm hits on the open water and makes things bad for my characters, but I was trying to pick which storm and it really doesn’t matter because so many were in that area over several months that I can leave that bit to Hollywood if it ever gets there. The readers won’t care whether it’s Hurricane Florence or Hurricane Sandy. What’s important is what the characters do, how they feel and experience the storm, and what happens after it. I’m still working on what happens after it, but hopefully it’ll be something awesome.

Given all of the life stuff and moves, I haven’t gotten a whole lot farther if you go by number count, but I’ve had a lot of experiences that can only improve my writing.

So what’s my novel about? It’s a soft sci-fi tale about a boy who’s alien and yet not. He has to leave his home in order to stay alive because he’s a pretty big deal.

Sorry for the essay. I had a lot to say. Geez, if I could write this much on my book every day, I’d be done by the end of February. It’d be nice, but highly unlikely. I’ll update soon with a word count and the like.

Ciao
R~

2012!

I’ve been quite busy, so I haven’t been updating this blog. My novel is hovering at the 50% mark or 25,000 words. Yay! So while I haven’t been blogging, I have been writing, a lot.

Life has been pretty crazy in the past 9 months. The company I work for is being divested and many of us feel like we are stuck in a slow death. The hubby and I are applying for other opportunities and may relocate. Several friends have had or will be having their first babies soon.

It has been a little hard to focus on my writing, as last week we received the first concrete date given of anything in the divestment process, and so I having been thinking about my career lately. I am trying to find telecommuting options for myself, so we can be wherever my husband needs for his next job, and so I’ll be less likely to end up in this situation again. I am working on putting together a Writer’s Resume for myself.

I am also trying to figure out what to say about my novel when people ask the inevitable, “What is it about?”, question. It’s about a boy who is different–Doesn’t that sound like almost every other story?–and he has a huge task to fulfill (hello Harry Potter, Jesus, etc). I know what I need to divulge to sell it, but I’m not ready to tell anyone until the book is “complete”. Then I can approach an agent and get into meetings with publishers, if I go the traditional route, or I can self-publish and risk no one bothering to read it at all. I’m hoping to have people proofread sections that are in their area of expertise, before I get looking for an agent, but I don’t want too many people to read the full novel until it’s in stores. Maybe that’s odd, but it’s precious to me.

At a birthday last night someone told me that they thought it was a pretty big deal to decide to write a novel and were impressed. I found it interesting because the person is around 30 and recently decided to apply to law school, which I think is impressive.

I’m currently in another research phase, but I’ll be done it soon. I’ll be back writing my novel shortly, and hoping I can finish it before I’m out of a job. I’m not too worried about having a job, as I have other skills besides my writing. Writing is what I want to do to make a living and break free from the hamster wheel called office work. I feel like when I can spend my days writing, I will finally feel like I’m doing something important with my life. Maybe I’ll just go up a level on Maslow’s hierarchy, but it has to be better than this.

Ciao
R~

Purpose

The purpose of this blog is to track the many hours of writing for my novels, short stories, and anything else I end up writing.

I began my novel, Scion (formerly titled The Truth About Jacob) on May 15, 2010. ¬†To date I have 46 what I would call publishable pages and a whole lot of other “stuff” that is written but isn’t really readable yet, a collection of post-it scribbles and a mass of thoughts in my head about what I want the story to aim towards. I realize 46 pages does not seem like very much from then to now, but I am only able to write part-time as I also like to eat food and working pays for that.

I have no intention to get into the meat of the novel here as I intend to publish it someday (hopefully sooner rather than later) and would like to play it close to my chest for now. It’s basically in pre-alpha stage. Just know that it will be fictional and exciting, I hope. Also, I have a copyright already for it.

Other than capturing quick updates from my tweets, I intend to post about my challenges, uncertainties, needs, thoughts, and feelings about writing this novel. I expect such themes as work-life balance, writing time vs family time, and writing time vs “field experience” to enter into this blog.

My next posts will be more exciting… I promise! Or they will only be tweets as I will be busy writing I hope (though I have some job stuff to focus on and karate to practice, as well as, a husband to love) – there’s all of that balance stuff from above coming into play.

***EDIT***

No longer married, unless you count roller derby.

Ciao
R~