Love and Skill

When love and skill work together, expect a masterpiece. ~John Ruskin

Love of the story and of the craft itself, together with the learned skill of writing can be a powerful commodity. One without the other can lead to poor results, which can then lead to misery, depression and, worse of all, hatred for what we are doing.

A writer must love what they are doing, or why write in the first place? However, a writer must be open to the fact that there’s always something more to learn. Fashions change, procedures change, and we must be vigilant so that we know when these changes take place.

Visualise yourself holding a copy of your published book. Isn’t the sweat and tears worth that moment becoming a reality? To me, it is.

This quote was taken from my desk calendar at work. I think it’s fitting that it appeared today. It comes as a reminder for what is ahead of me, because tonight I plan to get my paperwork ready for the big edit of Cat’s Eyes. On Saturday, I will start the actual editing process. My goal is one chapter a week, but secretly I’m hoping to do two chapters in that time frame.

Do you have the love and skill to see it through to the end?

Squatters to Change Direction

Squatters started out as a short story. It was planned thoroughly, yet I still find that the story is too big for the boundaries I’ve set, especially when I’m trying to stay under 3,000 words.

This became a dilemma for me. Where to start? What to cut? How to streamline? These are all questions I asked myself over and over again. Eventually, it became obvious that Squatters is meant to be another chapter book. There are a series of stories that could develop from this story, and I think I’d be crazy not to take advantage of that. The target audience would be totally different to my Cat’s Eyes series, and that isn’t such a bad idea either.

The work I’ve put into Squatters so far will not be wasted. It will be a rough outline to a much bigger story. On this note, I have removed the progress bar on the left. This means I have another manuscript to write, so I should be kept busy for some time to come.

Cat’s Eyes Edit: Day 3

The weekend was spent alternating between data entry for My Family Tree and editing Cat’s Eyes. My plan was to finish reading the manuscript on the weekend, but I didn’t quite make that goal. I did, however, read the first twelve chapters (there’s only 15), so I’m well on my way to completing the job.

These last three chapters will be done tonight. And if I have time, I will also break the crits up into chapters. I have everything ready, it’s just a matter of doing the work. Then, on Thursday night, I’ll be ready to start the actual edit on screen. My goal is to have chapter one edited and polished by the end of next weekend.

Cat’s Eyes Edit: Day 1

Today is the first day of the editing stage for Cat’s Eyes. Before I can begin, I have to read the story in its entirety. There are only fifteen chapters, and I’ve already read the first five chapters, so I can’t see a problem with getting this finished by the end of the weekend.

In between reading sessions, which I can’t seem to read for more than an hour at a time (this has nothing to do with the story, it’s just the way I am), I will prepare the crits I’ve received to date. I’ve decided to use plastic sleeves and divide the crits into chapters, so I’ll have 15 piles. This will be easier to handle.

Some of the chapters only need light editing; fixing typos, getting rid of sentence splices, and ensuring the most powerful words (which is sometimes the simplest word) are used.

Other chapters need a lot of work, even rewriting. I’ve decided to change the names of two of the main characters after a certain point in the story as I have two more stories planned and need to make this change. I know this sounds strange, but those of you who have read the story might understand what I mean. There are at least two scenes that I was never happy with and the readers have confirmed by doubt, so both of those need a lot of work. And…the ending will change. A friend echoed my own thoughts on how the story ends. No one else complained about it. In fact, I’ve received a lot of positive feedback. However, I believe I have a moral obligation to set an example and encourage children who read my books to do the right thing, and it’s for this reason that I will make a change to the ending.

Okay, this break has been long enough. I must publish this post and get back to reading.

Diet: Week 11

The diet is going well. We’ve reached Week 11 and the kilos are still dropping off us. The end is in sight. Actually, a few more weeks will see us facing another crisis. What to eat first? And no, it won’t be anything bad, because the mere sight of greasy, unhealthy food turns our stomachs now…no matter how good it smells.

This is something that surprised me. I thought after this amount of time, I’d be craving all those terrible foods we used to eat, but I’m not…we’re not. They say it takes 21 days to break a habit. We’ve been on fruit and vegetables for 11 weeks so our habits have changed. It wouldn’t surprise me if we don’t eat much different to what we’re eating now, when this diet is over.

All I know is that there’s no way I’m allowing the weight to be put back on. No way!

Anyway, after 11 weeks, here are the figures:

Karen: Started at 71.7kg and is 60.8kg as of today, which is a total weight loss of 10.9kg.

G: Started at 94kg and is 76.3kg as of today, which is a total weight loss of 17.7kg.

Countdown to “E” Day

The countdown is on. In two days I will start the editing process of my chapter book. I will probably spend the weekend trying to sort out all the crits I’ve received to date. I think my best plan will be to break the editing into chapters, along with the comments. It will be easier all round.

However, first, I plan to sit down and read the entire manuscript. If I make this a priority, I should manage to do that in one weekend.

Now, what do I do about the “other” book I’m still reading? Yes, push it to one side. Cat’s Eyes is much more important.

Justification

Nef on my message board asked if anyone has to justify themselves to their family and friends, where writing is concerned. It’s a simple question, but it made me angry when I read the question and I thought I’d write a post about it here.

A workmate might laugh at us, when we say we write fantasy stories. A friend’s eyes might glaze over as soon as they realise we’re going to tell them something about our current work in progress. A family member might say “why are you wasting your time on that stuff”. Or, a surprise visitor doesn’t see the importance when you tell them you were busy writing the climax of your novel. We’ve all suffered something along these lines at some stage. But why should we justify ourselves?

When I was married I did all my writing in secret. I told no-one that I had written two 200,000 word manuscripts. I showed no-one a single word of those pages. However, one day I approached my then husband and asked if he would read the first chapter of one of them and give me his thoughts. He rolled his eyes and said “No!” This was followed shortly after with my very first rejection. I stuffed the manuscripts in a dark corner and gave up writing. I didn’t have confidence in myself, or my writing, and the reaction from my husband and the rejection letter proved that I was useless.

Within twelve months my marriage was over and the last thing on my mind was writing, but I’m not getting into that side of the story.

Then, eighteen months later, I met G. One day he discovered that I liked to write and he encouraged me to do just that. With his support, I turned back to my stories and, at the same time, we discovered the internet. Better still, I discovered that I wasn’t alone and there were people just like me who were willing to talk about writing. This built my confidence to new levels and I found myself telling my family and friends what I did in the evenings.

Surprisingly, my family were very supportive. They believe I’ll make them all rich one day. Shows you how much they know about writing. However, my best friend was the opposite. She asked me why, she even let slip a tiny laugh, but it was the look on her face that I’ll never forget. Up until that day, we could talk about anything and everything, but now, that’s no longer true. I stopped trying to justisfy why I write and eventually decided that if she couldn’t be supportive, then I wouldn’t share any of my journey with her. It seems she’s quite happy with this arrangement, because she never asks me how things are going.

And that’s the reason why Nef’s question made me angry. Why should I *not* discuss the one thing that I love? I let her rabbit on about whatever she pleases, but I’m not given the same courtesy. Why do other people feel they know what’s best for us? What, in fact, do they know about writing in the first place? I’ll tell you. Very little.

Never be ashamed of what you do. Be proud. And one day, when you are rich and famous… or just published, you can tell them where to go (in a nice way, of course). 🙂