The Old Chapter 13

Prior to starting the edit of Cat’s Eyes I had 15 chapters, but early in this edit I combined the first two chapters and made that section of the story a lot shorter, so now I only have 14 chapters.

Yesterday, after two weeks of no writing activity, I spent a number of hours on the old chapter 13 (now chapter 12). This is the chapter where all the action takes place (well, no all, but you know what I mean). It’s the lead up to the “big moment”. Hence, it needed a lot of work. And I mean a lot of work. Strangely, or maybe it’s not strange at all, this is the chapter where I received the most critiques too.

Combining all those comments I received almost did my head in, but I managed to sort through the good and the bad. I virtually rewrote complete sections, whilst other parts were edited over and over again. I believe I read through the chapter about three dozen times, editing all the time. Then, when I thought I’d finished, I gave the chapter one final read through and still made changes.

Eventually I had to just make myself stop. I was scared that I’d gone “edit happy”. I will read through the chapter again today, and hopefully I won’t feel the urge to make even more changes. If I manage to read and not edit, it will mean that I only have two chapters to go. The end is in sight.

Elidor by Alan Garner

This book was written some years ago, and it shows in the choice of words used. I did find this distracting at the beginning of the story. In fact, some of the phrases used were so weird that I had no idea what was meant. This did give the book an old fashioned feel to it, and I think this is the reason it wasn’t popular in the library. Hence, the reason it found its way to the “bargain bin”.

Putting this fact aside, the story itself was well done. It is a typical children’s book, where the adults don’t play much of a role and if they do they are made to sound stupid (which I think is wrong). The four children find themselves in another world, and they are given artefacts to take care of in the real world. However, in the real world, the items cause problems with the power source and give off static electricity.

The older children are oblivious to the signs, but the younger ones are not. So when the other world reaches out for the items, the children are not prepared and keep missing the signs. Naturally, things get worse before they get better, but the kids do end up having to take action and solve the riddle.

It was a good read. Although I think children’s books have evolved a lot since the time this book was written, but that doesn’t mean we should give older book a miss. We shouldn’t. There is a lot to learn from them.

Flow Like a Mountain Stream

I saw the following words and thought I’d write a post on them.

A writer wants the words to flow like a mountain stream, …

by Steven O’Dell

This is so true, but how many writers have this happen? I mean, be honest, it rarely does.

It’s likely that many of us will have spurts of word flow, but those occasions are few and far between. In normal circumstances, we will often have to push ourselves to get the words down. The desire to write will be the driving force, not the flow of words.

What if the desire isn’t enough though? What if words will not allow themselves to be scribbled onto the blank sheet? This can be frustrating for a writer.

Some people, writers, call in writers block. Often it’s not writers block, it’s just procrastination. What’s the difference? With writer’s block the writer has no ideas, no words, nothing to work with. Their mind is a complete blank. With procrastination the writer has knows exactly what needs to be done, but continues to find excuses not to write.

I’ve never worked out why we do this to ourselves. We think about writing all day at work. We plan the next scene, the next chapter, and then when we get home we are eager to get to the keyboard … but we have to cook dinner, wash up, and spend time with the family. Finally, everyone has gone to bed, but still we do something else rather than write. Why? We have everything we need to sit down and write, so why do we pick up a book and read instead?

Why am I bringing this up? Well, it’s like this. I know exactly what needs to be done with my manuscripts. There is no writers block. I’m 100% sure of that. I have good intentions. “I’ll write tonight.” “I’ll write after dinner.” “I’ll write after I’ve checked my email.” “I’ll write in a minute.” “I’ll write…tomorrow.”

Each time I set a task to distract myself and I’ve completed that task, I set another one instead of just doing what I know I should be doing…writing. I annoy myself and what am I going to do about it?

Today, I did a bit of research on procrastination and here are some words of wisdom to help us (me) stop procrastinating and start writing:

1. Devote just fifteen minutes for the task. After fifteen minutes decide whether to spend another fifteen minutes, or defer it until tomorrow. Often a challenge becomes easier once we have started. Also, when we have worked at something for fifteen minutes, we don’t want to feel it was wasted so we carry on and complete the task. (From Dealing with Procrastination.)

2. Lazy people have no spare time. Procrastination is not only the thief of time, it is the creator of subtle inner tension. You know you are cheating yourself. (From Dealing with Procrastination.)

3. Get in touch with your self talk and feelings, and when you become aware of that “Hey let’s do it later” tug on your sleeve (which is often accompanied by a pit in the stomach), pointedly state to yourself “Do It Now! ”

4. …the way to conquer the problem is to treat the items I’m currently procrastinating as the first task of the day and the first thing that must be taken care of. No more taking care of small stuff first. (From Procrastination.)

5. Replace “I have to” — which promotes victimhood and resentment — with “I choose to.”

6. Replace procrastination with daily list making to keep you goal oriented and motivated. (From What is Procrastination?.)

Burn It, Bury It, Let It Live

Sometimes, especially when we first start writing, we reach a point where we no longer like or want to work on the story at hand. Usually as we grow as a writer, we can see the errors we’ve previously made and that “spoils” the story altogether.

It’s possible that we might rewrite the manuscript entirely, but even then we are not satisfied, we are not happy. What do we do?

Making a decision like this is difficult. We might regret the decision later, so we must be careful in what we do today.

Holly Lisle’s Burn It, Bury It, Let It Live might help you make that decision. Answer the questions and see how you fair. However, remember, once you burn it you can’t get it back. So be careful you don’t rush into anything.