Monday, April 4, 2016


Hear ye! Hear ye!

Yeah, I know. I've been neglecting this blog lately. I've been neglecting my writing as well. My head has not been in the writing game lately. At least, not as much as it should have been. I've been meeting weekly with my writer friends but haven't been doing much else besides writing on the beauty blog. 

That's all about to change - I hope.

The announcement is that I finally signed up on WordPress and have just published the first post. The page is called pennywritesdotcom and you can follow that link if you'd like to see the new blog. There's not really all that much to see there yet. I still have a lot to learn about working with WordPress. I've heard good and bad things but it was pretty simple to set up the page and get the first post up. 

I also have an email to go with it - 

I don't have any plans to close down this page but probably won't update it as often as I'm hoping to the WordPress page. 

Basically, it's time to stop thinking about what needs done and start doing the work. Time to stop sitting back and wishing this or that would take place and take the action necessary to see that it does take place. 

I always knew I'd have to make the transition and frankly, I have no idea why I've been dragging my feet. I know I needed the time off to get centered once again. Unfortunately, I'm still little off center and that may or may not change depending on how you look at it. I've always been a little off center all my life but I've never considered it a bad thing. Living life sometimes requires being a little off center. Otherwise, all the bad things that happen might just overwhelm me. 

And this is not what I intended to write when I started this post.

The page is still quite blank other than the necessary links and, of course, that first post. I'll be looking into how to personalize it, although I do like the clean look of it as it is right now so I may leave it this way for the time being. Maybe a picture of me or something. Time will tell. 

For now, I'm just getting used to the idea that I've actually taken this step. Hopefully, it's just the first of many.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

On Writing Hangovers and Inspiration

Is there such a thing as a writing hangover?

That's just about the only way to describe how I felt yesterday after spending several hours Sunday with my writer's group, writing. In fact, all the extended writing time meant I actually had to plug in the laptop before it died on me. My phone as well since I was using it for writing music. 

As a result of all that good writing time, I went to bed exhausted then got up with a horrible headache yesterday and it pretty much stayed with me all day despite the Advil influx. Feeling much better today, though.

I did make some serious headway in the rewriting of the current project. Writer's group liked the new scenes I've written for the first quarter and gave me ideas on a few changes that I had already been considering. I've also made the decision to put back some scenes from the middle part that I had previously removed. A few changes will have to be inserted since one of the characters introduced in those scenes has now become part of the heroine's intro.

Now that I know the difference between revisions and editing, I don't feel so bad that I'm making major changes in the beginning of the story. That's what revision is all about. Taking the first, rough draft and making it make sense. Don't know if you've  noticed or not but when you're flying through that first draft, the ideas come so fast and furious that sometimes what you end up with isn't as coherent as it seemed to be as you wrote it.

That's what happens to me. In the effort to not backtrack during draft mode (a thing I don't always manage to resist, by the way), parts of the story tend to shift in ways that require changes in previous scenes. Ideally, those changes shouldn't be too major but rarely do things come up to ideal standards with the barely controlled chaos that comes with writing a first draft - of anything.

While I'm not sure there is such a thing as a writing hangover, I do know that it is entirely possible to be writing for so long that it all suddenly becomes muddled in the head and you really do have to walk away from it for a time before you can go back to it. Getting a fresh perspective is key to getting on with it. 

Then there is the other thing that happens when I've finished one scene and am ready to begin the next one. Unless I've already been mulling a scene over in my head for a day or two, I'm usually sitting there, staring at the screen with nothing in mind. I know where I've been and where I'm headed but for some reason can seem to find the right path to getting there. That's probably where an outline would help, huh? I've always been a pantser but lately have come to see the value of even the roughest outline. 

I suppose what I do in my head for a few days before writing the scene could be called mental outlining. It used to be that if I had an idea and didn't get it down in some way, it became lost in almost the next minute. Not so much anymore. Now I seem to be able to keep that idea rolling around in my mind long enough that by the time I do put words on the screen, very little if any of it is lost. The writing flows almost too easily. My fingers have a hard time keeping up with my mind. That's when writing is fun.

I've probably mentioned this before but part of my writing process when I'm stuck is to play a game on my computer. That keeps the non-creative side of my brain occupied while the creative side works out the scene for me. Did that yesterday and came up with a name for a new character. 

I'm sitting here today, watching the picture screen saver on the big computer while I write this blog post on my laptop. I have now seen a picture that sparked an idea for a new story using the character name I came up with yesterday. I am now considering and planning another story using the same galaxy I've created for my current project. 

I already knew this current project would lead to at least one other book, possibly even a series. There's so much to the main storyline that it could take several books to resolve. Series do seem to be popular. I know I enjoy reading a series since I get to spend more time with characters I've come to love while getting to meet new characters. I'm hoping readers of my stories will feel the same way.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Yes. I'm Still Here.

And still writing. Just not on the same project.

Unfortunately, I became overwhelmed and once again, decided to put that particular project on the back burner. It's one that I've played around with since 1995, has gone through several plot changes and at this point, I'm afraid it's just too big of a hot mess to ever see the light of day. I still love the characters as well as the basic story behind them but I just don't have the energy to work on it any longer with no perceivable progress toward publication.

Instead, I picked up a smaller project that's only gone through a couple of drafts and very few plot changes. My writer's group has read this one and given it a thorough critique so I have some good feedback to work with. Plus, after an extended conversation about a particular plot point that wasn't working, I have come up with a better plot point and am now writing some new scenes. Not many new scenes. Just enough to get the story back on track and eliminate that one, troublesome area. 

Since I've never actually been in this part of the writing process, I'm also reading some books and articles on revising to help me determine whether or not I'm doing it right. Even as I write that, the question comes to mind, "Is there a right way to revise a draft?"

As it turns out, there might be.

When writing a first draft, there are many ways to accomplish the same task. A writer can fully outline the story before ever beginning to write. Or a writer can just sit down and start writing and let the story dictate how it will go. A writer can also do a little of both, which is where I tend to fall, I think. 

With revisions, from what I'm reading, there actually is a best practices process. 

A first read through, just to find possible plot issues and where continuity isn't all it could be. Not to fix those problems right then and there but to note them so that they can be addressed in the next step, which is going through the notes and actually fixing the problems. A manuscript can go through a cycle of drafting and revising several times before it goes on to the next step.

Then you have editing, which is more the process of looking for misspellings, punctuation issues, and grammar. Then a final read through looking for anything else that might need to be fixed, that final polish. Of course, there may be other steps in the process that a writer can take to make sure the manuscript is in the best possible shape. These are just the basics that I've come across in my reading.

Now, whether that first read through is done by the writer or by an editor or a writer's group, that's up to the writer, I guess. For me, I haven't actually done the first read through. That was done by my writer's group since I don't have an editor. They took turns reading the same copy so that I had both of their notes in the same place without having to shuffle papers around. 

I had used this particular project to take some writing courses and had written extra material, mostly backstory, which I really liked and thought I might be able to incorporate somehow. My thought was to use the backstory as the opening scenes. After reading through the draft with the backstory included, the decision was made to not do that. They liked the original opening scene more. Of course, as of this writing, that opening scene needed to change in order to resolve that troublesome plot point I mentioned earlier. 

I can still incorporate backstory and have done so but in a way that, I hope, doesn't feel too much like an info dump. I'll be reading these opening scenes to the group today so I'll have some immediate feedback to work with. I like the opening scenes. I like the way they now flow together but I'd still like the feedback, even if it's negative.

So revision hell is still my world right now. It's just not as hellish as it has been.