Reflections on Blogging

Blogging, when we first start it, is addictive. Instead of writing or planning a story, we spend much of the day writing and planning our next post in our heads. There’s so much to say and not enough time to say it.

Or so we think.

As the days turn into weeks, and the weeks turn into months and the months turn into years, we find we do get to say everything that needs to be said. Suddenly, blogging is no longer addictive. In fact, it can be a chore at times. Yet we still try to post once a day, even if that post is complete dribble. In the back of our heads, something is saying a silly post is better than no post.

But is it really?

I’ve been to other bloggers websites and usually don’t bother reading the dribble. I don’t have time and I don’t find dribble worthwhile reading. I’m sure other bloggers come to this site and ignore my dribble too. I understand that. So why do we insist on putting it on our websites?

I’ve been blogging for three years and I’ve had websites that I continually updated for two years before that. I’ve said what needs to be said. I could give daily updates on my writing, but who wants to read that every day (although I know of one website where the writer does exactly that and she has a lot of traffic to her blog each day – thing is, she’s published and she occasionally throws in some valuable information too).

After my recent (and continuing) need to go through the archives and re-categorise all the posts, this need to post – no matter what the content – really became clear to me and I’ve decided not to do it any more. If I have nothing to say, then I won’t post. You’ve probably noticed the decline in posts over recent weeks. This trend will continue. I believe quality should over ride quantity and that will be my aim from now on.

An Update on My Writing Projects

On Saturday I mentioned the possibility of finishing the edit on Cat’s Paw on Sunday. It didn’t happen. The last two chapters need too much work. Actually, they are poorly written and I think I’ll have to rewrite them from scratch.

The non-fiction project – working title Crumbling Walls – is still in planning. After extensive research I have changed the title to Suicide: A Mother’s Story. I think everyone will agree that the new title gives the reader a clear idea of what to find in the book without reading any further, whereas Crumbling Walls could be about anything. I intend to start writing this book when work on Cat’s Paw has been completed.

Update: Editing Cat’s Paw

With 19,232 words already edited, and only three chapters to go, I’m doing extremely well with the edit of Cat’s Paw. Having said that, the next three chapters are going to be, by far, the hardest chapters to work on. I wrote them at the end of NaNoWriMo and didn’t put the same amount of effort into them as I did the rest of the manuscript.

Why? Because there are a couple of confrontations and I’m not keen on writing confrontations. I sort of brushed over the two scenes and hastily moved on. Now, however, I have to write these scenes properly.

Even though I can see the scenes unfolding in my mind. I seem to have difficulty translating that to paper. It always ends up sounding stiff and false. Both these scenes are important, but they are not long. One scene is showing the actions of the main character, the other scene is watching another character is the same situation from the main character’s point of view.

Until writing the post, until this very minute, I had not thought of having a connection between the two scenes, but I can see that maybe this would be a good idea. The two scenes could show the differences and/or similarities of the two characters – father and son.

This afternoon I’ve found myself researching archery (even though I used to do archery myself), wolves and why things float. Tonight, I might watch some fighting scenes (group and one on one) and make notes for these two scenes I’m bound to have trouble with. Tomorrow, with luck, I’ll have the edit finished. Maybe.

Technorati

I must be getting old, because I really don’t know how Technorati works. I’m not sure what happened, but I found myself there tonight. I signed in – after many long months – and discovered the blog I had “claimed” had the old url. In my efforts to fix this little issue, I ended up deleting the entry and having to start again.

Now, the url is correct, but the entries showing up a quite old – it’s showing “last updated 204 days ago”, which isn’t true. I’ve tried pinging the site, but to no avail. I added another site and it worked straight away. I’m sure I didn’t do anything different for this site. Obviously, I have no idea what I’m doing. Help!

What’s the deal with Technorati anyway?

Half-World Trip and The Trip from Hell

Yesterday, my in-laws left Sydney and went on a half-world cruise. This is something they have been planning for two years. The family went to the city to see them off.

The boat – the Oriana – was enormous. In all honesty, I’ve never seen anything like it. The largest ferries in the harbour looked like toys beside the monster. After my in-laws had checked in and had been to see their cabin, the family (four generations) gathered together at a wharf garden bar and chatted.

Years ago, we would have been allowed onboard for a quick tour, but with the way the world has gone in recent years (ie terrorism), that’s no longer permitted. It’s a shame, because I would have loved to see the cabins, the dining rooms, the theatre, the swimming pool…heck, everything! I suppose I’ll just have to let my imagination run away with me by imagining what I’ve seen in movies. Yet, I guess, the movies exaggerate the grandness. I don’t suppose I’ll ever find out for real.

It was a hot, humid day in Sydney. The sun beat down on us in the beer garden (we all drank lemon squash, by the way). But it was nice to be together in these happy circumstances. Although, from what I’ve been told, the hours leading up to this time was stressful for nearly all of us.

My mother-in-law lost the photos she wanted to take with her to show the family in England. She stayed up to 2am looking for them, but to no avail. My father-in-law took a tumble in the morning. He has extremely bad hips and could not gain his feet again, without help. None of us know for sure if he hurt himself or not. He was pale, but I know he wouldn’t say a thing if he had hurt himself. G’s brother drove them to Sydney and could find nowhere to park after dropping them off. He ended up in a restricted area and felt stressed over that…and left early as a result. G’s children had the same trouble. Nothing was said, but the looks on their faces told us that words had been exchanged in the car over it. G and I decided to take the train, because I hate driving in the inner city and I know parking is a real hassle. However, the rail authority was doing trackwork. Those in Sydney know what this means, but for readers from interstate or overseas I’ll explain. This means we bought tickets for a train, which would take us all the way, but we had to catch two trains and coach to get to our destination. However, on this occasion, we got there ten minutes later than we would have by train all the way, so we were stress free.

After huddling together in a tiny square of shade that was available, gulping on our cold drinks and taking photos, it was time to say bon voyage. My in-laws looked a little startled. They were finally leaving…

Meanwhile, their family is worried. You see, my father-in-law isn’t well. He has leukemia. He has chemotherapy tablets for a month to six weeks, every two months. They make him feel sick and take his appetite away. He really isn’t strong enough to make this trip, but nothing we could say would change his mind. He was determined. His wife backed him, but we could see the worry on her face. Now, we just have to hope that nothing goes wrong while they are away.

G and I started our journey home. The morning trip had been a breeze, why wouldn’t the afternoon trip be the same? I’ll tell you why, because we’re talking about trackwork and CityRail. Normally, it takes an hour to get from where I live to Sydney. Yesterday, coming home, it took us almost three and a half hours. My ticket was swallowed by the machine before we even managed to get onto the station. We had to get security over and he went through the collected tickets looking for my valid ticket, which would be used to get me ALL the way home, not just through the first barrage of ticket machines. We caught the train to Central (where I was careful not to use the machines, I walked straight up to a staff member and was let through the wheelchair entrance) and then we had to wait, wait, wait…. Meanwhile, the people accumulating was growing, growing, growing…

When the coach finally arrived, it was a matter of survival of the fittest. No one has manners these days. There’s no “you were here first, so you should get on the coach first” niceties. Swarms of people all rush forward and literally push and shove their way onto the steps of the coach. Well, my name isn’t Karen Lee Field for nothing, I learned to push and shove from the greatest – my father. And when I am the second person to arrive at something like that, there’s no way I’m going to be the person who misses out and has to wait for the next coach. No way! G on the other hand is much to nice, so it’s a good job he was with me. 😀

The man who was there before us looked at me and said, “Are you ready to fight for your seat?”

I smiled and nodded. “You bet I am.”

When the doors squeaked open, the fight was on. Survival of the fittest, and I’m fit (when I want to be). The man beat his way to the steps and claimed his rightful place, and I beat my way behind him and took second place. G? Well he fell to the mob, and literally got pushed and shoved onto the bus. By the time he made it to the seat he was red faced and furious.

The coach trip was fine, but when we were delivered to the station where we would pick up the second train to take us the remainder of the way, all chaos broke loose. The train was grumbling at the platform, the driver told us to hurry. Battle stations!

To miss the train might have meant we’d have to wait another hour. We were NOT going to miss the train. I grabbed G’s hand and dragged him along behind me. We darted in and out of the crowd. I dragged him around corners and down steps. Avoiding the machines, because once your ticket is gobbled you know it will be gobbled again, I forced my way up to rail staff, flashed the ticket in front of them and kept running. Then we were running down the last set of steps. G was puffing behind me, but I knew we were almost there. We stepped onto the carriage and took our seat. Victorious again.

Three quarters of an hour later we were still sitting at the same station, at the same platform, waiting for more coaches to arrive. Grrr!!! Angry doesn’t begin to express what we felt. When the train finally pulled away from the station, the passengers actually gave a cheer of relief. We would actually get home that night.

At 7.30pm we staggered through the front door and collapsed. Exhausted, I didn’t bother with the internet, or with books, or with writing. I slouched on the lounge watching TV, waiting for a time that would be respectable for someone my age to go to bed.

I slept like a log. Perhaps I should travel to Sydney every day.

Lost…now Found

Well, what can I say? I discovered the pages that were lost when I upgraded to WordPress 2.1 were not lost after all, they were converted to posts. I’ve found all of the former Links pages, maybe I’ll find all the other pages I lost as well.

Every evening I’ve spent some time going through all the old posts and reassigning them to their rightful categories, which was another problem I had with the upgrade (see note below). It’s taken me weeks and I’m not even a quarter of the way through the posts yet. It’s tedious and after a while the page loading slows right down, so I give up.

I have looked for a plugin that help me with the mammoth job, but haven’t been able to find anything suitable. If you know of anything, please tell me. It will save me a lot of time.

However, one thing I’ve learned from having to go through all the posts is…well, two things I’ve learned, actually, is:

1. I seem to have a lot of problems with the site. I’ve come to the conclusion that is must be me and not the site. I have to stop messing around with things back stage.

2. I complain, winge, whine and generally sound boring … a lot! Being aware of that fact will, hopefully, curb my desire to do the same thing in the future. I’m sorry for being so boring.

Anyway, I have work to do. I better get back to it. 🙂

Note: Sorry, I made a mistake with that statement. Having to reassign the categories was caused by a restore of this blog, not an upgrade.

Failure and Success

It seems the procedure for non-fiction isn’t the same as fiction.

With fiction, a writer spends many months writing, editing and proofing the manuscript until they get it to the best of their ability. Then they send out queries and hopefully receive a request to submit.

With non-fiction, a writer spends months (probably not as many months as fiction) writing, editing and proofing the proposal instead. Apparently, the proposal is done first, along with three sample chapters. There’s no need to spend long months writing the entire project. It seems you should be testing the market first. If you get a bite, then you start work on the actual project. But if you don’t get any bites, you start thinking about another project…or you self publish.

Although I can see the sense in this, being a writer of fiction first and foremost, I will be writing the entire non-fiction project prior to sending out the proposal. When I realised this was my preferred procedure, I had to ask myself why. I thought about it much longer than I wanted too, and actually lost sleep over it, but I came to the conclusion that I prefer the “write then propose” procedure over the “propose then write” procedure because it takes the pressure off as I can work at my own pace.

Now this makes me wonder how I would cope if I was commissioned or contracted to write a book with a deadline. Could I handle the pressure, the stress? Would I be able to write regularly enough to meet that deadline? The mere thought frightens me. I would like to think that the fact that my work was going to be published would be inspiring enough for me to get a routine happening, and I’d prioritise so that I got the necessary work done in time with room to spare. But would it? Isn’t it possible the contract might have the reverse affect on me? I could freeze and be unable to write. Fear might take control of me.

Oh my!

We often hear the phrase “fear of failure”, but in all honesty, I fear success. I’ve known that for a long time. Are you scared of failure or success?

When Bad Things Happen to Good People

bad-thingsAn impulsive act of a friend saw this book bobbing it’s way over the wide ocean from America to Australia at the end of last year. The byline of this book is “for everyone who has been hurt by life…”

The author, a rabbi by the name of Harold S Kushner, wrote this book because he had been hurt by life. His only son was born with progeria, “rapid aging”. His son died two days after his fourteenth birthday and When Bad Things Happen to Good People was the result of the pain and hurt the author felt. But, more importantly, it was the sharing of how his faith was tested to the extreme and the conclusions he made in the end that helped him carry on with life.

Not being much of a religious person, I was a little taken aback when I realised the direction the book was taking from the start. However, the author writes in a manner that is absorbing and touching and I found I couldn’t put the book down. More than once I felt that all familiar lump choke my throat and tears well in my eyes as I felt he was talking directly to me.

As I turned the pages I felt something stir within me. The fundamental message of this book is that God is not all powerful, He is not perfect and He is not to blame for bringing the bad things into our lives. He is not punishing us for things we have done wrong, He is not piling grief and sadness onto our shoulders because He thinks we can handle it and He is not sitting back looking down on the world enjoying what He is seeing.

Bad things happen to good people, bad people and indifferent people. No one is favoured, no one is spared. But it is not God’s doing. It’s just life and nature. God is there to help us through those bad times. He will give us the strength, perseverance and the courage we need. He will walk beside us and offer us comfort.

In order to let us be free, in order to let us be human, God has to leave us free to choose to do right or to do wrong. If we are not free to choose evil, then we are not free to choose good either. Like the animal, we can only be convenient or inconvenient, obedient or disobedient. We can no longer be moral, which means we can no longer be human.
~ Harold S Kushner ~

If God is not to blame, who is? I never blamed a God I wasn’t even sure existed for what happened. Barry took his own life, how could I blame God for that. I blamed myself for the loss of my son. To me, something I had done had bought this about, but When Bad Things Happen to Good People has helped me see that I’m not to blame either. I am not to blame! However, I can see how a mother of a child who dies from cancer might blame God. Or why the parents of a child who is handicapped feel as if they have been abandoned by God. These things are not fair and in the midst of pain and grief, we automatically want to blame someone for what has happened. This book helps the reader see that no one is to blame. Life is cruel and so is nature, but no one is to blame.

Harold Kushner wrote of an old Chinese tale about a woman whose only son died. Desperate to have her son back, she goes to a holy man and asks if there is a magical incarnation which will bring her son back to life. The holy man tells the woman to fetch him a mustard seed from a home that has never known sorrow. The woman set off on her quest to find the magical seed. Of course, she could not find such a house. She learned that everyone – the rich and the poor, the educated and the not so educated, the young and the old – everyone had their sorrow, but on her journey she learned to help other people and eventually forgot about the mustard seed.

In grief, it can feel lonesome. People don’t know what to say, because they don’t want to hurt you more than you are already hurting. Yet to say nothing also hurts you. We don’t want to hear that our loved one has gone to a better place (if it’s so great there, why are we all still here?). We don’t want to hear that there was a reason for that person to suffer and die (that statement certainly did not help me). We don’t want to hear that their time was up, or that God needed them more than we did, or that they have learned the lesson they were send here to learn. We don’t need to hear “don’t cry” or “don’t feel bad”. None of these things help and the book explains why these statements are damaging. All these things result in guilt and blame and punishment. The people left grieving do not need this added pressure at the darkest hour of their lives. They need comfort and understanding. They need the comforter to say, “this is unfair” and “you have a right to cry”. They need the comforter to just be there and listen.

When Bad Things Happen to Good People helped me see that I shouldn’t be asking why this has happened to me. The simple fact is that it did happen and nothing I can do will change the fact the Barry is gone. I have to stop asking why this happened and concentrate on how I will respond to what’s happened.

When bad things happen to people, some of those people turn bitter and nasty, others live a life feeling disappointed and unforgiving, and others can’t push the hurt aside. But this book has reminded me that although the world and its people are not perfect, and although it doesn’t always seem like it, there is great beauty and goodness to be found around us. All we have to do is forgive and love.

I think of Aaron and all that his life taught me, and I realize how much I have lost and how much I have gained. Yesterday seems less painful, and I am not afraid of tomorrow.
~ Harold S Kushner ~

Thank you, Sherry, for being impulsive and being a friend. Your gift helped me immensely.

Clearing the Path Forward

Editing the second chapter of Cat’s Paw has been no easy task. It is where the majority of the changes take place and I found it extremely difficult to introduce those changes and keep the same flow.

Shape shifting, loss of power, a mother’s well being, and not to mention a good reason for giving her permission were to be included in the chapter. It’s all in, but now I feel the chapter is too long. I’d get away with it for adults, but children are a different matter. I need to shorten the chapter or find a new chapter break. As all my chapters end with a hook, this makes finding a new chapter break extremely difficult. Where it ends now is perfect. I don’t want to change that. So I will have to shorten the chapter.

It took me three hours to move from page 15 to page 16 — I edited, rewrote, edited, and rewrote again, but I still wasn’t happy. I took a short break and when I returned to that section of the story later, it fell into place straight away.

After spending most of the afternoon – about 8 hours or there abouts – on the chapter, I’m calling it quits for tonight and will return to it in the morning and see what I think then.

Right now, I’m off to do something different for a couple of hours – my family tree. I hope everyone is having a wonderful weekend.