Monday, May 30, 2011

Betwixt and between

Betwixt and between. That's how I feel right now. It's a mixture of emotions, game playing and the dreaded "what lies ahead." But, it isn't something I haven't lived through before because it happens every time I finish another novel. You see, while writing I become so intertwined and part of the lives I'm creating they become real people to me. Close, as if part of my family. So when I write The End,even if it's only in my mind it's as if I've cut the umbilical cord, pushed the last bird out of the nest and watched as the last ship leaves shore.

Writing Finding Amy was a true labor of love, because it was, in part, based on fact. I loved the story, the characters, the outcomes even though at the start of the book I never expected the end that came about. You see, I'm not a true structured writer. Some authors have the entire plot in their heads before the first word is typed into the computer. Not me. I have the beginning of the plot and the characters in mind but the entire story is still a mystery in some ways. And, even if I think I have the plot kind of outlined, my characters sometimes have another view and off we go. Finding Amy took more time than any of my other novels. Probably the health problems for both me and my husband and the recuperating afterwards played a big part in that process. But, there was also a lot more research to be done with this book. Not that I'm complaining. I love researching because it's kind of like going back to school. You learn so much more than you even need to for the plot.

Now I feel ready to begin the next book. The outline has been wandering around in my mind for several years and I think this might be the time to begin. Still, I feel bound in some way to Finding Amy. It hasn't actually been launched, there are things that might need attention so am I ready for the next set of characters, the next set of plotting?

That's where the betwixt and between comes in. I seem to be in a flux, caught between the present and the past and peering tentatively into the future. It's a confusing time and I find myself not able to really concentrate on anything.

Then mix in the three day weekend and what I thought was Saturday was Friday and today, Monday, May 30th, feels like Sunday and not only is it Memorial Day but it's my granddaughter's thirtieth birthday and I'm 1200 miles away and you can see my indecision. Maybe I had better just lay low for a day or two, go to the pool and exercise with the girls, finish the book I'm reading, lounge a little. The only trouble with that is I'm not really a lounger so I'm going to have to put some effort into that too.

One thing I know though, it will all work out and before long I'll be grinding away at the computer doing what I love to do best in all the world.

So betwixt and between is just a hiatus. Good, now I've got that sorted out.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Bits and Pieces

There are so many things going on…some real and some in my head, perhaps trying to become real. Anyhow I thought if I jotted them down I might be able to reorganize my thoughts and actions, at least for the next few days.

First and foremost—I finished my latest manuscript! I am really happy about that. Of course I have come to love the story and the characters; that always happens. Somehow they just take a piece of my mind and heart right from the start and then go shooting off to the finish. This time though, I had a lot of interruptions, serious interruptions which have resulted in periods when I just couldn't work on what I wanted to…the book! Interruptions which were mainly health related and while they are not all solved or ended, recently I found time to work on 'the book', disappearing into my studio for longer and longer periods of time until this morning it is finished. This manuscript took a bit more research than some of the others but that's always interesting too. Of course, the dreaded editing and rewriting are looming before me but I honestly have to say I love that too. What I call the 'screen edit' has been done. That means I've been staring until I'm cross eyed at the computer screen. This morning, in between loads of laundry, I printed out the manuscript. All 368 pages of it. I've already eliminated about 1,000 words so I'll be looking for more ways to write a bit tighter. But,I'm convinced that in the near future I can honestly say, "It's finished". That is until I send it to my publisher.

Also on my mind are a variety of other things. One night last week I suffered one of my more sleepless nights. No matter what I did things in my head just wouldn't go away so I got up and jotted them down on paper. Sometimes that works. This time it didn't. The next morning, blurry eyed from lack of sleep, I looked at the paper. I'd listed poems and songs as well as books from my childhood. Now I have to admit that my mother was a great story reader and she also loved to recite poems and sing songs from her childhood. It wasn't until I was well into my adulthood that I realized what a treasure these were but of course, the hectic pace of life put them on the shelf. I hadn't thought of these things in years and years. I wondered if it had anything to do with Mother's Day because I sure thought about my mother a lot on that day, not that I don't think of her every day.

The fact I couldn't remember many of them made me nervous. As a writer and a supporter and teacher of the importance of keeping a record of family history, I felt compelled to do something about this. So, thanks to the Internet I Googled the names of the books, songs and poems. I found all of them except one but I'm determined to find that one too if it exists somewhere. My list contained Rudyard Kiplings Just So Stories and I copied all four of them from the Internet. I found one song, My Grandfather's Clock" and a poem, The Walrus and the Carpenter from Through the Looking Glass. The only poem I couldn't find was one that included the words, "Yesterday, beneath the rick, I broke his prison with my pick" It was a poem about a toad. Ah, well, I'll keep looking when I can.

Tomorrow I'll have another set of things to consider and that's okay too. I'm not complaining about anything because I love challenges and think that life itself is a challenge at times. I love my life, past and present, good and bad and we all have that. I thank God everyday for everything that has become part of my life because that's what makes ME.

Sunday, May 1, 2011


I've always thought I had a pretty good command of the English language. I attribute much of that to my father, who insisted we use words properly; that we challenge ourselves to broaden our vocabulary. One of his hard and fast rules was that if we didn't know what a word meant or heard a new word, we looked it up. When one of my daughters was in the fifth grade her teacher gave each of her students a button to wear on their shirts or jackets. It was bright yellow with red letters that stated "We never guess, we look it up". I think that was meant to cover reading, history, geography (do they even teach that anymore?) and,of course, English.

I know I'm not the run-of-the-mill language buff. I have a dictionary in the magazine rack next to my chair in the living room and if I come across a word I'm not familiar with, I look it up; there's a dictionary/thesaurus near my desk; and if something comes up on television, or in the newspaper and I don't know exactly what it is or means, I run to the computer and look it up. My gosh, that lesson has stayed with me!

In today's world our word usage has expanded immensely. I have to admit I don't know what some of the new lingo means and when I look it up I don't even understand the technical language, but I try.

Lately, and even though I don't want to get into politics, I have strong feelings about come of the current topics, but what I really want to see is something I call common sense put into place. Can something as simple as this prevail? My most current conundrum is the situation with gas prices which hit and hurt just about everyone in this country and are part of the myriad proposals facing us all. There seem to be many solutions and blame connected with this subject, offered by many people. One of the words bandied about is the word subsidy. It seems big oil companies need subsidies.

Excuse me but just look up the word subsidy. It means; financial support, financial assistance, financial funding, financial backing, grants and subvention. Notice all those 'financial' words. I always thought subsidies were a system used by government at all levels to help a struggling entity, to give a lift to new business or programs, or to help people with real needs.

Now here's the problem I have with this subject. How, I ask, does a company who boasts and posts bigger than enormous profits for one quarter of the year, qualify for a subsidy? What kind of financial help do they need? Are they in need of financial assistance? Financial backing? Grants? Small struggling businesses, businesses that, with some help, could expand thereby picking up some of the people who are looking for jobs, and people and programs in need might qualify for subsidies. But major, giant, thriving businesses don't need subsidies.

I think I might share this with some of our congressmen, maybe even the President. It's one small voice but perhaps we should raise some small voices. It's not against the law to raise a question or prompt a discussion. Subsidies for giant oil companies?

Another lesson my father taught me was that it was a privilege to be an American citizen (he was naturalized) but with that privilege came responsibility. We've always been a nation of responsible, privileged people. We help the poor and downtrodden. We share where we can. Isn't that just common sense?

I think we've all learned this kind of lesson sometime in our life. Lessons we should use.