Poet Progressing to Prose

My thoughts on

Plaudits to all you patient people.

It seems ages since I last wrote a post within this site. (Big Sigh)

Why?

What excuse or explanation can I offer?

Hibernation? Staying in bed for much longer than usual – often after reading until WAY after midnight.

 

 

 

 

Head cold

‘Don’t worry, I’m not death — I’m just a bad head cold.’

 

Took me longer to recover from that cold than it did when, in 2003, I was evacuated to Perth with a collapsed lung, influenza and pneumonia.

 

 

 

Lack of motivation? 

 

 

Although I have been working on the next novel, the research has put me right off and I wish I had not discovered that which I now cannot forget. Stomach turning and, while I think  strong feeling should be behind one’s writing, it feels as if I am preparing a dose of what I see is much needed caster oil. And who am I to offer potions? I recall the basis of the essay, written under exam conditions, which resulted in admission to Uni as a Mature Age Student. I adopted the persona of a small finger nail clipping from God’s hand; not claiming to BE God but staking my position as having come from God. I wrote a letter to Humanity and signed off as Keratin. Years later, at a bar,  an academic claimed to have remembered it.

I think some of my poetry – The Comet – for instance has similar echoes. 

So, napping it out is pretty well how I am handling my doubt about the current project.

 

But the major deficit is a lack of passion!

While I am passionate at one level about the theme of the project (organ transplants – particularly hearts) the level of passion has not risen to the stage/state of obsession which is when and where I can really get down and get some work done.

Once upon a time – 1980’s, I processed every item of the Australian National Accounts years 1969-1989, through a decade by decade series of Time Series Analysis. The results were not cheerful.

 

 

Why do I write? Why do I bother? I guess the truth of it is that, very early on, I found and was told I had a talent for writing. All my early efforts hit the jackpot first try. Just a knack. But little or no discipline with it. Generally, I was at a loss to think of what to write unless presented with a request or problem. As for becoming a WRITER, I thought I would need Life Experience to be credible. So at 18 I set out to garner the experience I thought I needed and got carried away with living, surviving and just generally getting on  with it.

Sixty years later, I have harnessed much of that experience within Mixed Fortunes which I have finally tackled the earlier layout of the print version, with the hope I don’t have to fiddle with uploading an amended file again. Great news today from a reader who emailed to let me know she had lent her copy to another who enjoyed the read. I KNOW word of mouth is simply the best advertising, so I can only live in hope the word get around. One thing which really gladdened my heart when I finished the manuscript – but before posting to Amazon – was laying my head down to sleep to ‘see’ a couple of old gypsy women nod with approval. (and I am goosebumping as I write this.) I know that story was written to illustrate a much misunderstood aspect of humanity.

Now long past midnight and I have a day out tomorrow. Catching up with one of my several very patient friends. You know the kind. Don’t see each other for ages, but that’s okay. My only worry now is that soon some of us will be dropping off the tree.

So, should I desist from continuing with the stomach-churning heart transplant saga? Or can you offer a project which will grab me down into a rabbit-hole of research, statistics and some topic most would find immensely boring but which will feed the energy needed to be passionate to the point of obsession?

 

 

Two surprises in one day.

Took myself for a long walk to clock up my 6000 steps goal. Rested at a bus shelter on the way home, (via West Terrace Cemetery) and there on the bench, was a book. I thought someone had lost it, but a label attached states

“Books on the Rail, take me home, read me, return me for someone else to enjoy.”

So… I now have a copy of Finding Nemo to enjoy.

Reaching the steps goal (taking it steadily) meant I could have some extra to eat as posting to my food diary within myfitnesspal.

The second surprise was tuning into a previously unseen episode of Midsomer Murders! With so many repeats over the years I thought I had, at one stage, seen them all. Not so! But I am beginning to guess what is coming next?
Had a busy day culling links stored as bookmarks. So many items of seeming interest which are now no longer available 404’s. Ah well.
This is my first post written which will go on-line as a Steem post. My fingers crossed.

New(ish) Year. Old Thinking.

For a while I have been stuck on progressing next novel. (Breaking Hearts) Partly because I had plotted from beginning to end which left me no surprises to enjoy when writing. I tried adopting the approach I have seen/heard others use – pegging away at Aristotle’s Incline. It does not connect with me where it matters – it does not set my thinking alight. Whereas playing around with hexagons while working out “Mixed Fortunes” worked for me. That was an array of six hexagons forming the seventh in the centre. I was able to think in straight lines from there – which explains the straight line of present tense from beginning to end. The ideas to explore within (?) “This is My Body” OR “Perilous Plunder” (?) require more complex interactions between characters than in “Mixed Fortunes”. Did an Image Search on Google, playing around with concentric circles when I came across this labyrinth within the hexagon. EUREKA!

Another stumbling block to productivity has been holding my breath for a competition result due on February 3. A  matter of IfThisThenThat which has resolved itself after an action and conversation yesterday. The action was to apply for an advance on my pension to cover the cost of publication IF it needs to come out of my pocket. The conversation was with Mary G. who helped in working out costs of potential publication comparisons. Upshot is, if necessary, I will leave it in her proven and capable hands with even greater confidence as she created a mock-up cover which has  blown me away. As soon as I can work out how to load a pdf file here and show you, I will.

Now, to get out the coloured pencils and play with copies of the maze.

(But if the heavens shine on me on February 7th, and the pension advance stashed away is not needed for publication,  then I will take myself to Canberra for the Seven Sisters exhibition at the Museum and, with time and cash to spare also visit the National Gallery and Library while there.)

 

 

Beyond the pen and pencil: best tools for crafting novels

Finding that which suits both the writer and the writer’s times.  

Writing a novel? Trial and many errors while fumbling round to source those writing tools which best suit the way my fingers and mind works – therefore the following are no more than my personal preferences. For the now, my flow chart will be going with each in turn. One day, there may be a program which incorporates the best of each, but until then …

This works for me

or – should I say – these work for me

Novel Factory forces one to think the novel through to the end. Synopsis, extended synopsis, generate scenes.

WriteItNow with the scenes generated by Novel Factory, it is a breeze to create a timeline of events and detailed relationships between characters. At this stage, all the general outline and some details to pantser one’s way and have a bit of fun.

Atomic Scribbler lightweight, simple, uncluttered, handy bits with a friendly feel such that I find I can have some fun when writing.

 Then import into Scrivener  for this is where I get serious! Take a snapshot of each scene/section and ponder improvements.

When that as good as it is going to get, compile into a Word document

 to run it through SmartEdit then Stylewriter then PerfectIt.

I know this sounds convoluted but it seems to be working for me (at the moment?) The beauty of several approaches somehow leaves me able to think of several potential stories/novels whatevers, taking ideas from the back  burner of my mind/memory into a form I can later shape into something. One month away from my 78th birthday, my main regret is that, when 18 and wanting to be a writer, I thought writer’s needed to draw on Life experiences so I went out to get some. For some reason, I never imagined using imagination! 

NOTE: Over the years I have purchased the above linked programs after having first used the free trials. I don’t think I have any recommendations from this site linked to a reward for anyone to purchase. If so, it was from a different site and any reward would not outweigh the distraction of sorting out referrals.

I am reconciled to never making money from my writing – enough if I can cover any outlay and continue to convince the ATO I am deserving of my ABN for the site http://izabellazbooks.com/

 

Sourcing new project

The only thing I can do about MIXED FORTUNES just now is WAIT. Leaves my mind in limbo and coming up with snippets of ideas for another project – but what?

I use the array of hexagons as tool for plotting, but what to plot?

Wandering about the internet in the last few days and came across a post* with links to Novel Factory and Kindle Writer.

Although I am a huge fan of Scrivener I decided to take a free peek at these.

 

The person posting the recommendation also uses Scrivener on a second screen when using Novel Factory. And I can see why. Switching between screens far more preferable than switching within a program’s internal links. Novel Factory is well up on my list of intended purchases. So far, this morning, I have created a file for three potential novels. Will let them sit on my mind’s back-burner then tease out onto the hexagonal array – who, what, where, when, why and how.

Kindle Writer also has much going for it, but more for playing around with ideas for book covers and general tinkering.

In trying to locate the link to share I am confronted with the humongous number of sites bookmarked within several folders. Sorting those out will keep me busy for a while! Filling in the waiting time – proof-reader’s report, whether one competition has been won – if not by me then everything set to go to enter another which will mean more waiting until February, by which time I should (hopefully) be putting flesh on the bones of another book.

Roll on October to find out what kind of country the High Court has us living in.

Roll on November to find out what kind of country Australians want to be living in.

  • If I can find the post I will share in comments.

Activating the Passive Voice

The more I attend to this, the more cheerful I find myself. Leads me to wonder if, when most if not all, instances of passive voice is changed to reflect the active voice whether I will internalise the feeling as a permanent feature? I find it difficult these days to type the word ‘just’ when that used to be just about the most frequent and unnecessary word used.

 

When amended over 1,000 passives to actives and uncovered about sixty hidden verbs will I self-edit out the passive voice in future?

Watch out World!

A more positive Isabel is possibly about to poke her head over the horizon.
One tenth of the total manuscript attended today.
There may be those of you who think “What the heck is all the excitement about?” I was about ten years old when given the last grammar lessons in school before leaving school at barely fourteen. When Stylewriter kept pulling me up with ‘prefer active verb’ my reaction was “What the!” I have read how to recognise the rule – chased by a zombie – but it was only when making an individual note on paper the notion finally took hold. It was a fat notepad anyway and I wondered if ever I would fill its pages.


Feeling chipper and cheerful.

Needless Panic.

There is light at the end after all. My earlier assessment on the number of pages was based on my cack-handed efforts to emulate a copy on printed page BUT Google had the answer – wipe brow with relief.
Aim to complete editing by the middle of September so I can hand it over to a pair of eagle eyes in the head of my Norseman friend, Laurene.
End of September will likely come with the result of not winning one competition and that will be in time to enter another, the answer to which will be known in early February. Leaves time to obtain professionally designed cover and interior design before the April release.
Huge sigh.

Back to Square One

THIS IS ME TODAY.
Set page size, font size, etc as it would appear in actual printed copy. FAR, FAR TOO MANY PAGES.

Back to the drawing board.

 

One book, severely pruned? Two thirds of original

OR

Three very skinny books?

 OR

Expand to create a decent sized trilogy?

While I think this all through, my present plan is to save a copy of the most already edited version in Google Drive, Dropbox and on a USB. That done will revert this laptop to factory settings and load and reinstall only those programs I find really useful. I have a tendency to try out interesting looking things which, even when uninstalled, can leave their little footprints.

If I don’t pop-up in Facebook, Google Plus or emails you will know why. Not Missing in Action, but transferred to Rehab.

 

 

The Value of Nightmares

An eye, very like this, seen first in the film “Spiral Staircase”, used to wake me to sitting in terror.  The eye (through a hole) filled the screen prior to each murder of women in boarding house, each with a different disability. Later in life while enjoying/enduring a psychotic episode, I reassured myself by believing there is always someone watching over me. Or Someone.

Another series of nightmares had me in a lift/elevator shaft, jumping from side to side above the lift, grabbing onto wrought iron walls,  my parents in pursuit as the lift rose up and down, but never squashing me. Have read this as no matter how high or low the bipolar takes me, I am safe from being crushed. Rising above and outside the moving box.

For me, the most valuable nightmare is/was the one that came true in real life as I followed my dreams on waking.  I use it now to reassure myself that I am on track – the dirt running track in the following poem – and with the cheering from friends responding to David Collins-Rivera review of MIXED FORTUNES as posted on tumblr (see below) leads me to the comfort that I am on the final stretch. (For how this worked out in real life one would have to read “Life Before Lithium” on Smashwords. ) Now I am applying it to my writing life.

A witch used to chase me

through a three dimensioned maze

always found an opening

but not the way out

before the maze disappeared

and the witch

turned into a tribe of gypsies

in full cry behind me

as I sped

from village hall

up the main road

between disused railway tracks

to the field

where pig-lilies grew.

Up the bank

across the recreation ground

up clay-slip slope

and stony path

dirt running track

gravel road

pine trees

by gate of school

to disappear.

 

But one night,

the night they went

forever,

I made it.

Fell into the arms

of the waiting headmaster

deafened by the cheering school

the witch and the gypsies

demons of my night

let me sleep

undisturbed.

http://wordacrosstime.tumblr.com/post/162945342034/mixed-fortunes-work-in-progress

Edit, Shred it, Read it, Merit

Such a buzz with that wonderful feedback. And my strange reaction. It seems while I WANT praise, even need it, when it is given I curl up as if embarrassed to be exposed. (But I did manage one boast through a bcc email. If you did not receive, please let me add you to my list?)

How do you respond to praise?

Woke this morning thrown off kilter. Head full of new ideas for new stories, new books, wondering if I can weave them into MIXED FORTUNES all the while knowing that would be stupidity. Same as taking pieces from another jigsaw and forcing into this rather than let the pieces fall aside for another day.

After giving myself a good talking to, back to bed for a minute or two of meditation, reading emails, Facebook and reprimanding my absence from Google + for some time, washing some marble chips for the pot plants on the patio- FINALLY got down to some editing. The way I edit works for me on several levels. My eyesight requires this Low Vision keyboard, my fingers are either at times fat or too light or doubling up on keys which means I have to keep a very close eye on the screen. I read the last section written, take a snapshot in Scrivener, control a to copy into Word (on second screen) then run the text through Stylewriter. I cannot speak too highly of Scrivener and Stylewriter. When Stylewriter marks a passage with Excellent or Good on its Bog Index and/or Style Index I move on. When both or either Indexes show any combination of Fair, Poor, Bad or Dreadful I work on that piece until it ranks as Good or Excellent. Overall there are few instances of passive writing and often I see no way of avoiding that  without tipping and messing about with tenses. Usually when I am in someone’s head.

Do you think your thoughts in active or passive mode?

How often do you have your eyes checked? The first instance of macular degeneration can sneak up and be on its way to being so advanced that treatment (eye injections) can halt the worsening but not improve the vision. Were I to rely on my left eye alone I could not write, read or type and watching TV would be a pain.  Knowing the very first sign when my  right eye began to be affected enabled immediate treatment.  Dr Durkin is set on saving my writing eye with four weekly injections in the right and keeping the left on hold by an injection every six weeks.

I cannot emphasise enough a recommendation to download an Amsler grid from  the internet – or get a chart from your optician and CHECK, CHECK, CHECK. Particularly if you are 55 and over.

That’s all folks?

 

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