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Tired Beyond Tired

I feel like I haven’t blogged in forever. But I have been tired. Really tired. After analyzing the tiredness, it struck me that I have alot of changes going on in my life right now. And goodness, if anything sucks the energy out of you, it is having to change.

My boys are extremely tall (6’6″, 6’7″, and the third is on his way…5’11” at 13) When they had thier growth spurt in middle school, their legs HURT! Growing pains! Yes, there was pain involved. It’s the same way with us. We all change and grow and we all show symptoms at some point. There could be pain, but sometimes it is more subtle, like tiredness.

We have a new church home, which I love, and the people are so warm and welcoming. But they are new to me and their is some tension in getting to know them. I am not relaxed like I am with people I have known forever. It’s draining! It all takes time and soon I will be able to be free to be more…well, me.

There also have been changes on the home front. My oldest got married in December, my second graduated and is trying to get things in line for college, and my third has just started dating. All are changes that I have to adjust to. All sap me in some way. Not that they are bad changes, but changes nonetheless.

So, as I adjust, I find I need my sleep. I have to escape in books or movies to recharge. And all the while I feel guilty for not writing. Why can’t my escape be writing? What does that say about me as a writer? I don’t know, honestly.

These are just ramblings in my mind today, such as they are.

parenting, personal

Unused Potential?

As a parent, I struggle with the hard balance of motivating (or rather, nagging and pushing) my children to be better at things they excel at and freeing them to pursue the areas they are passionate about.

You see, I think sometimes we may excel in certain areas that we don’t particularly care about. At the same time, we may be passionate about things we really aren’t that good at. So how do you know when to let them pursue their passions instead of getting even better at something they have so much potential at? Do you push to the point they are miserable? Or do you let them free to explore their interests? Are the passions ones that God has placed on their hearts or did God give them giftings to excel in areas they are “supposed” to love?

I don’t know.

I wish I did.

But, as a parent, I tend to let them explore their interests and just pray that God instills in them the skills and the work ethic it will take to be good at what they love to do.

Sometimes it is difficult to let them quit certain things and I think it probably more of a pride issue for ME. I know the potential. Others SEE the potential. And then I wonder if others think I may be a bad parent for not insisting they work on what they are already good at and get even better. But…it is not about me, is it?

Part of me, sees myself in this type of situation. I’m good at certain things, so why don’t I keep at those instead of trying to do something that I am not that good at? (yet) I want the freedom to try. The freedom to fail. The freedom to do what I am passionate about, without the guarantee of success.
Has anyone ever dealt with this? Any advice? Reproach?

voice, writing

Is Your Voice Shouting?

Are you stylish? I’m not talking about what’s in your closet, but about your narrative style. In Donald Maass’s book, The Fire In Fiction, he goes into the importance of a writer’s voice, how you tell your tale. He points out different ways to make your voice “shout out”.

GIVING CHARACTERS VOICE – This doesn’t mean just taking their dialogue and dialect and making it different, but it means their outlook…their take on life. You need characters who have a unique way of looking at things, without becoming cartoonish. Their opinions need to be heard, however different it is from the norm. Sometimes we make our characters “safe”, when we really should let them be real.

DETAILS AND DELIVERY – Maass asks why we avoid making a hero really different. He says, “Even the most ordinary people have a life that’s unique. The details that make it so are a secret source of what critics glibly refer to as voice.” Details are important. They give a story life and a voice. The way you state things, or the way your character speaks, gives your story its voice. It can be through syntax and/or details of what they say, do, or feel.

DIFFERENT WAYS OF RELATING STORY – Writers need to choose beforehand which POV and which tense to write from. There’s no right or wrong way, but whatever you choose, you need to go deep into it. Make the character real, flaws and all.

I think VOICE is such an elusive thing. While I don’t think your voice can be manipulated, I think Maass has some good suggestions for making your voice come through loud and clear. His ideas give a spring board to amplify your writing and letting you ….the real you…be heard.

It’s not just the words that make a writer’s voice unique. It’s all the little things like details, delivery, outlook, original perspective, opinions, etc, that make an author’s voice shout out.

I haven’t found my voice yet. Not sure how I would go about finding it, other than just writing alot. Just getting started in this journey, I feel I am whispering…a little bit afraid to speak up. Do you think you have found your voice? Is it shouting yet?

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Your Story’s World

I read another chapter of Donald Maass’s book, The Fire In Fiction (only $12.23 at Amazon), and it was all about setting. When I think about setting, I usually think about the place and the details, but Maass says it is oh-so-much-more! You “bring the setting into the story in a way that integrates it into the very fabric of your character’s experience.” Easier said than done, I know. But he gives suggestions on how, like:

LINKING DETAILS AND EMOTIONS – Take a childhood home, for instance. Describe the place and let your character experience the feelings the place evokes. Together, details and emotions make a place a living thing.

MEASURING CHANGE OVER TIME – Tangible things in your scene can bring out passage of time, such as ice cream trucks, crew neck sweaters, leaf blowers, Popsicles, swim suits, scarfs, snow plows, etc. Of course, these things can evoke emotions as well, to enhance the experience of your character.

HISTORY IS PERSONAL – Historical detail is a good thing, but a story doesn’t have to be chock full of it. Creating a sense of the times is not just about the details (or even coupling them with emotions). The times are also enhanced by infusing a character with strong opinions about both the details and the emotions. What does the character feel about historical events? What shapes his views?

SEEING THROUGH CHARACTER’S EYES – Use different POV characters to “see” the setting. Each character’s personality will see with different emotions and from a different perspective.

CONJURING A MILIEU – Yeah, I had to look that word up. (*blush*) It means a social or cultural environment. It is not necessarily a “place”, but something like the world of pro-baseball players, or the life of stage actors, etc. This is what Maass said about it: “A milieu exists not in a time or place, but in the mind and hearts of the characters who dwell in it. Their memories, feelings, opinions, outlook and ways of operating in their realm are what make it real.”

SETTING AS A CHARACTER: A setting may participate in the story, like a blizzard, drought, or nature. It can be a place of significance, like The Boardwalk on Coney Island. It could be the place where your husband proposed and you spend every anniversary at. You make it real by making it significant to the character.

As always, Maass gives many examples of each point from many different author’s works. It is very helpful to see how others are doing it. The next chapter is on Voice and I am curious how he explains THAT! lol

Setting is one of my weak points in writing. I like dialogue and action best, so all the details slip me by. I will definitely need to focus on my story’s world when I get to editing.

Do you love to build your story’s world? If not, how do you make yourself write the setting? What tools or rituals do you use?

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I’m A Big Girl Now

This is totally humiliating to say, but this week I stayed at home all alone. By myself. With no one else around. And I survived.
You may be wondering why I have been tweeting about the rise in my word count. Well, that is because I have been coming home from work to an empty house. A BIG empty house. Seriously, this house is 3600 sf, WITH a 2000 sf basement, PLUS an 800 sf attic. HUGE! (and way overbuilt for the neighborhood, I’ll have you know)

And no, the photo is not a picture of my house, but it is what I think it looks like in the dark. Yep. I have always had an irrational fear of staying home alone, without my husband. When he would go out of town for a week, I couldn’t sleep because I heard all the creaks and moans in the house. I would jump out of bed, phone in hand, ready to dial 911 and check all the doors and windows. It was crazy. And that was even with my kids at home with me!!!!

But this week, I stayed home all by myself. True, I had the help of Benadryl each and every night. (that’s the ingredient they put in Tylenol PM, by the way) Ahhh, I slept…though I must say my sinuses are sure drying up! lol

So tonight my husband and children are coming home. They have been away at camp. My husband teaches at this camp and my second son was a counselor this year. The two younger ones just went for fun and learning more about God and His kingdom.

I am ready for them to be home. While I loved the quiet around the house, which is great for word count, I find that I miss the steady hum of their existence within the walls of this big ole house. In some ways the silence is distracting.

So, I am a big girl now and can stay by myself. Thanks to all who offered to let me stay with you! I am so thankful to be victorious over this fear. God is good!

So what are some fears you have had to overcome, rational or not?

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I Said, He Said….Really?

Okay, I am reading some chick lit. Not my normal reading, but I’ve read some different authors and really enjoyed myself. So I picked up a book not to long ago at the library by an author that is fairly popular.

Now in my understanding, chick lit is in first person…usually, right? Well, this one started out in first person, then switched to third person for the hero’s POV. It was a little confusing for me.

What is the right way to do it? Stay first person? Or is it okay to change back and forth?

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Plot Helpers

I had dinner last night with a very special niece and we got started talking about my WIP. I have been stuck for a couple of weeks and can’t seem to get past my…block? After telling her about it, she immediately told me where I was going wouldn’t work and why. I had been thinking there was a problem, but couldn’t see it, so when she stated it outright, I wasn’t too shocked. We ended up talking about different ways to make it work and I think I have found the solution.

I have heard a few times of others who get together to brainstorm and I wondered how many authors have that kind of support? How many people utilize others to find ideas, help them through plot problems, and encourage them in their writing?

It was soooo helpful to me last night, I thought maybe I really should find a group that could help me in this way. It would be so helpful to throw lots of ideas around and stimulate my creative juices. Of course, that would be just another time eater-upper, which I don’t need!

Do any of you have people to help you plot or brainstorm for story ideas?