I haven't posted for a week because of a major crisis. Last week, I was rewriting in No Need to Wait... When I change a chapter, I create a new document so that I can cut, paste, rewrite, amend, change, add, subtract, edit, fix, arrange, and revise to my heart's content. Once I settle on the new version of a chapter, I cut it and paste it into the original work. Feel the foreshadowing?
I selected "all" in the main document, added the new chapter and hit save. I had an inkling I had done something wrong when the process, which is usual instantaneous, took about 30 seconds. Indeed, I had mistakenly selected the whole book, not the chapter. I lost everything, including all the revisions I had done in the past two weeks, but the one revised chapter I had just completed. Did you hear the scream? If you'd been listening, you would have.
I thought of Maxine Kingston. The story I heard was she had finished a manuscript, printed it off, and readied it to mail to her publisher. She left the new born book on her desk, safely wrapped in a mailer and went out for a while. The Oakland fire broke out. I'm sure she tried to get back to her house, but the fire department wouldn't allow it. She wasn't able to return to rescue her book or the computer (these were not the days of the cloud). She lost everything. I can't imagine what she felt.
Anyway, I know all you computer savvy people would have known how to recover. I didn't. Instead, I went back to the most recent copy I had and started a piecemeal revision. It's back together. but I am mentally exhausted. I've sent it off to Katie to do her magic.
Every time I've written before, I've tried to make the sentence structure perfect. I wrote in complete sentences with proper grammar, punctuation and spelling. In No Need to Wait,
I had to keep telling myself using slang, fragments, unsupported "it" and "there" was okay. Breaking rules was a struggle for me. The English teacher in me cringed with every fragment I wrote. Slowly, I realized fiction is not an essay, and an essay does make good fiction.
The next big hurdle was not using swear words. But, a cozy mystery is cozy not "cursed." The difficulty was not allowing the men to swear on a golf course It seemed unnatural, but either I found a way or Katie did. I suspect Katie had less difficulty than I did. I tend to have a potty mouth.
I'll write about more hurdles as I think about them. Thanks for reading.
The Experience of Writing
Okay, all you bloggers out there who read daily or write daily, I'm a 78 year old aspiring writer who doesn't understand the blog world. That said, I'm jumping right in and trying. I'm nervous, intimidated, and afraid no one will want to read what I have to say. Maybe I shouldn't have said anything about age. Too revealing and too off-putting. Who cares?! My daughter Katie and I have written what is called a cozy mystery. It started with the idea that all movies and books today seem to be about older people with Alzheimer's. Yes, there's a lot of dementia out there. My husband died of it. But most of the older people I know are vibrant, funny, active, courageous and giving. Granted, repetitive stories seem to slip from our lips. I've seen young people roll their eyes. And sometimes we ramble... am I now? Anyway, I decided to write something that showed older people in a different light. I wrote a few chapters, sent if off to Katie, she liked it, suggested a few changes, and a collaboration was started.
The Experience of Rewriting
To keep writing is the trick. It. should be easier than it is. I just watched a program on Agatha Christie. She thought up the murder, how the murder happened, and then she built the story around the murder. I'm going to try the strategy. Then again, I wonder if I want a murder to happen in the retirement community. I've been playing with the idea for a couple of days, but not happy with it. I'll work on something else.
Anyway, back to No Need To Wait. At first I wrote chapters around stories I've heard or experienced. I knew I wanted a mystery but I didn't want the staff to be the only villains. I also didn't want another book about Alzheimer's. There's been way too much emphasis on older people losing it. Some days I wrote stories that have since been cut or rewritten. Being an artist has taught me not to fall in love with a "precious" part of a painting as it might not work with the whole. Any thoughts Katie?
You don't have to be 78 to be nervous about blogging. You just have to be a newbie. Which I am. To blogging anyway.
When I was in my twenties, I dabbled at writing a few stories but didn't feel like I had enough life experience to really give it a go. In my thirties, I wrote a few children's books with and without Martha and rewrote a screenplay for M. Lobell, but nothing was published or produced (as far as I know). In my forties, I wrote two theses. Both were submitted and accepted as requirements for my graduate degrees. Then, with the pressure of being a teacher, all thoughts of being an author moved to the back burner until my mom sent me one of those "out of the blue" emails with a request to read a couple of chapters she had written. I readily admit that this story is hers. I added some ideas, voice, and direction here and there, but the heart and most of the soul is hers. I think it's pretty cool that she has worked this hard to make this dream come true.
The discipline of writing is challenging. I have to squeeze it in after work, in between parenting, hiking, wifing (Why isn't that a word? Ok being a wife.) and a million other things that seem to get in the way. So I've learned to do it while sitting in the living room, watching football, Le Tour, or any other sport my husband and I want to watch. I admit, I'm not always the best listener when I'm writing, but I try. And I try to patiently answer questions he or my daughter ask (or text) because I don't want to disappear from my family. My point is, you can write if you try. You don't have to write the most profound piece of writing known to human-kind. You just have to have to keep going.