Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Backtracking by BL Hamilton

I'm a frequent backtracker, and I mean backtracking, not backpacking.

I'm talking about my writing. I'm constantly going back and changing things.

It not so bad when it’s something relatively easy, like when its just a minor tweak; I just have to go back, and find the appropriate spot, or spots, where that item should be there, and then get back to where I was.

It really only takes a few minutes with that handy tool call “find” just as long as I know the scene where it should have been, and can come up with a single word, or distinct phrase, that will take me right to it. If I can’t do this, or I’m not sure where I need to add that something, then it’s a big pain, since I’d have to start from the top and skim through the whole manuscript looking for all the right spots to add it.

I’ve done this both ways, on just my current WIP.

But sometimes it dawns on me that my character couldn't, wouldn't, or should say or do what I have them saying or doing. There’s always something, to the point that I get the feeling my writing works on the two steps forward one step back basis. I’m just constantly backtracking.

I’ve been known to have to go back several whole chapters. None of which is all that bad, except when the changes I make, change everything that happened after it. I really hate when I come up with those.

This last week, I had a moment when I realized that a minor character wouldn’t just stand by and watch. She may be minor to the story, but she’s got quite a personality, and inserting her more fully into that scene changed the outcome of that scene, changing everything that I wrote after that, and made a huge difference in the story.

And it needed it. Well, actually, I needed a way to get the main characters out of that scene earlier, but that didn’t seem possible with all that happens in that scene, until I considered this one minor character. And then I realized I she wouldn't have just stood there. And a new scenario played out in my head.

Backtracking that time was kind of fun. I knew what words to use to find the scene, because it the name that minor character’s business and better utilizing her strong personality did get the hero and heroine out of there a lot sooner. J

And aside from all that, what I am currently writing is really backtracking. I realized I needed to add and change several things near the beginning of this one manuscript of mine. Most importantly, I realized I needed to show what happens between Tuesday and Sunday of the first week the Hero and Heroine meet.

What I had before touched lightly on those days, in just one paragraph, as in not anywhere near enough detail, so I thought I should add about a chapter, and forty-three pages, and almost three chapters later, I’m on Thursday. I think now I might be showing too much, but I can edit out what I really don’t need, once this story is finished. It’s not going be a short any way, never was going to be because it covers too many years.

In fact, I was originally trying to cut down scenes to make it shorter, but since I can later turn the tables and have other characters stand in the forefront, I figured I should make each section as long as I can and edit them down later, after it’s finished.
This may well be my next monster manuscript though. I even think it might be bigger than my first one whose rough draft was over 130 thousand words. Yeah, I think this will be much bigger.
Though I doubt it will rival Konnie’s so-called opus, whose rough came out at over sixteen hundred PAGES! Yeah, I don’t envy her the job of editing that monster.

Happy writing everyone! J

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Passing it on isn’t always Good by Konnie Enos

Seriously people I don’t get it.
I understand why people go out in public when they know they are sick.
Okay, I know I’ve gone out when I had a cough, but having a cough doesn’t always equate being contagious. Like today. I’m not contagious. Just have the after effects of a cold. I’d never leave the house, if I waited for the days without coughs or sneezes. But going to school or church with any of the signs of illness, such as stuffy noses, coughs, sneezing, and body aches, just doesn’t make sense to me.
I’ve heard the excuses.
“It’s just a little cold.”
“I’m almost over it.”
“I’m not that sick.”
That’s completely beside the point. You are sick!
If you can’t think about your own health and getting yourself better by resting, then be altruistic and think about all the people out there you might run into and infect with your “mild” cold.
Back in 2002 during the Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, UT they had an outbreak of a really harsh illness called RSV, which can be deadly to preemies, and kids under a year old, or anyone with a weak immune system. For most people, old enough to fight it off, it wasn’t anything other than a “mild” cold, mostly just a runny nose.
My youngest was still under a year old. A family whose kids had runny noses tended him for me. He got RSV. At one point he went Code Blue. We’re lucky we still have him.
My entire family has asthma. Colds easily go to our lungs. Recently my oldest son came home complaining, for the second year in a row about a girl at school being sick. And for the second year in a row, he soon had the same symptoms. Effectively bringing the cold to a house not only full of asthmatics but one family member has auto immune diseases (yes, I said plural diseases). Not a good combination.
And both times my son complained about her it was that her parents wouldn’t let her stay home even though they knew she was sick.
I so don’t get it.
Are you really so selfish you have to get everyone else, even those people for whom simple little cold isn’t quite so simple, sick?
I don’t care how healthy you are, or how well you can fight that cold off, even if you choose not to take care of yourself. Some people have to take care of themselves and avoid coughs and colds as much as they can in order to stay healthy.
So I really, really don’t get it. Why do people have to be out in public when they need to be home taking care of themselves?
Take care of yourself, get the rest you need, don’t pass that cold on to classmates or co-workers. They might be healthy, but maybe someone they live with isn’t.
Personally, I’d appreciate not catching all these colds because someone had to go to school or church with a cough.

Today my sign off is: Still coughing because a parent didn’t care that their kid was sick.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

My Chaotic Life by BL Hamilton

Not too long ago a friend came to my house to help me out for a little while since I wasn’t feeling well and really needed a few things done. At one point, we were talking and I apologized for my place being a bit of a disaster area. She laughed and said my place was more, “Organized chaos than disaster” then said, “I bet you know just were everything is.”
Well, yes and no. My spare bedroom is a huge mess, and will take a long time (if I ever get to it) to clear that up and organize it. The hall shelves are another mess, but yes, I pretty much know where everything is, I have lived here a while and I do pass that a lot. I can’t help but see it. And another huge mess is my couch, most of the time.
Frankly, give me a warning before you come to visit, otherwise the only seat available will be the recliner across the room. Well, and the kitchen chairs. There is literally no room for anyone else on my huge, monster of a couch because spread out next to me are a ton of things I use or need at hand’s reach on regular basis, starting with my blood pressure cuff, my equipment to check my blood sugar, and my medicines.
I also keep my laptop and my reader, and a few reference books. (Let’s face it folks sometimes books are better!) And, during the day, I usually have a couple bottles of water with me. Of course, sometimes one is empty, but with two, I don’t have to get up as much.
Okay, yeah I’m lazy! Not! I only take one bottle with me when I’m out and about to do errands, unless I know I’m going to be more than a couple of hours, and hey, I don’t want to run out. No, I keep two bottles at my side, because I don’t want to interrupt my writing that often to get a refill.
And there are other things that have found a home on my couch, instead of somewhere else, because I simply haven’t put them away, or they just plain belong there.
Like Scotty, my big shaggy Scottish stuffed dog which was a gift from my husband years ago. And the throw pillows, most of which are on the other end of the couch. And of course, my phone’s base is on the sort of shelf at the back of the couch, within easy reach. It would be easier if I remembered to keep my phone on the base because then I wouldn’t have to search for when it rings.
It would also be easier if everything on the couch stayed in the exact same place, but I’m constantly tossing through this stuff looking for either my remotes or phone, or both.
Why is it always those things that are buried? Okay, honestly, unless I’ve straightened up the mess recently, I generally end up searching for something. About the only things that doesn’t get lost in this mess are my laptop and the zippered binder I use to try and keep my finances organized. But that, like everything else, only works, if you remember to use it.
Yeah, my life is a mess and try as I might, I think it is going to remain this way for a very long time, mostly because I can never seem to stick to any one task for very long. Take yesterday morning when right in the middle of fixing my breakfast it dawned on me I didn’t get any laundry done the day before, even though I had gathered and sorted it. And that I really needed to get that going, before I forgot again, so I set aside what I was doing and to just real quick get a load in, figuring it would only take a couple of minutes, since after all it was already sorted.
Yeah right.
When I finished getting a load in, I remembered something else I’d forgotten and the next thing I know I’m getting a little light headed and there’s my breakfast half fixed sitting on the table. Yeah, that wasn’t a good start to the day.
I’ll try harder today.

Happy writing everyone! :) 

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Wimpy Men by Konnie Enos

Why are men such wimps?
My husband in the last few years, due to age and an inherited tendency to dislocate kneecaps, has developed arthritis in his one knee.
I’m not saying he’s not in pain but he takes this to extreme.
Because of his knee, he can’t drive. (It’s an automatic and his left knee.) Or sit and wait for his kids for an hour. (Yes, sit comfortably.) And, even though he insisted we rotate everyone through doing the dishes, because of his knee he can’t take his turn.
And frankly I’m getting tired about how often he complains about his knee hurting.
Then there’s me.
Sometime in the spring of 1972 I fell off the monkey bars at school, right onto the bed of pebbles. One small stone hit the small of my back just right to break it. The doctor told me I came within centimeters of being in a wheelchair the rest of my life. He also said I was young and would heal, feeling no ill effects from it.
I don’t think doctor’s back then understood enough about how arthritis works back then.
By a year later I noticed I could no longer do the exercise called the bicycle where you held your lower body up in the air by your shoulders and peddled your legs. Well, I could, but I couldn’t get as high as I had before.
Not long after that I noticed standing long enough to say the pledge was a strain on my back. In fact, it started to hurt. If I stood for even one second too long the sweat would bead up on my forehead and I’d feel the desperate need to relieve the load on my back by sitting, or at least bending forward and leaning on my legs. It hurt.
By the time I was in my late teens even sitting to long could cause me a few moments of problems. I’d go to stand up and couldn’t walk with anything more than a shuffling gait for a few seconds. In the morning, when I first got up, it could take a couple of minutes for me to be able to move normally again.
After I got married I did my best to keep up with the cooking and cleaning and caring for babies and toddlers, despite my back, but it wasn’t ever easy. Try chasing a toddler who is just learning to walk and they can still move faster than you can.
     Try standing in front of a sink for half an hour washing dishes once, or twice a day when you can’t stand anywhere for more than a minute without you back screaming in protest. Try mopping a floor when doing so will for sure tie your back up so bad that you won’t be able to move again for at least two days afterwards. And bending over to get clothes out the dryer isn’t much easier.
I did it for fifteen years.
Then I realized my kids, and husband, were quiet capable. Now I have help with most of the household chores. Though I still do my share.
In fact when I had bursitis in my shoulder and couldn’t possibly wash dishes, I still helped. My youngest washed while I rinsed using my other hand. Oh, I also sat down while I did it. I’ve been sitting to wash dishes for years, because I obviously can’t stand that long.
So tell me. Why are men so wimpy?
Smile. Make the day a brighter day.                                                                                     

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

My Unproductive Week by BL Hamilton

The things I hate the most about how different Konnie and I are is number one, she doesn’t have ADD, and number two, she’s ambidextrous. It annoys me no end that when my right gets tired, I can’t just switch and use my left hand with equal ease.
This doesn’t just apply to writing longhand. The other night, my carpal tunnel was acting up in my right hand, while I was trying to eat soup! Try doing that left handed. I’m sure Konnie could do it. I did manage, but was it hard.
Then there’s Konnie and her magnum opus, which she worked on for years and finished it, working on it a little here, a little there, . . . well, I admit she took breaks once in a while and worked on some of her other stories, she even started a couple more. And there are whole blocks of time where she doesn’t get any writing done at all every month; she’s too busy being a mom.
But well, she can keep at one story for a whole month. This last Nano (National Novel Writer’s Book In A Month Challenge) I didn’t even manage that. I started two new stories then, and guess where they are right now?
Yeah, you guessed it. LIMBO! Just like every other story I’ve yet to finish.
Oh, yeah, I do have six stories that I reached “The End” on, but let’s face it. Two of those have been cut up so bad they are far from complete now. And the other five? Well, the first one, first two really, took me twenty years to complete, and most of those twenty years, they were sitting in a box gathering dust. And one of those two I have since lost something like five or six chapters of so I pretty much have to start over.
Then the next one I finished took me eighteen months. But I have a certain friend who would periodically ask me how it was going for the entire eighteen months. You would have thought he’d be content with the fact he’d managed to convince me to write the dang story in first place, but no! I had to finish it.
And I thought I’d never ever manage that stunt again, but I did keep writing. I started another one then suddenly, as usually happens to me, a new idea popped into my mind and wouldn’t let go. So I started writing it and ten weeks later, I had me a hundred and thirty thousand plus word rough draft.
I figure that one is a fluke, it’ll never happen again!
But boy what a ride!
Yeah, I know there are authors who can pound out a rough in six to eight weeks, if I ever manage that, it’ll be a miracle. I usually don’t stick to one project that long. Either I get bored with it, (need a break) or some other story intrudes.
Except for this past November, I can usually manage to stick to one for four weeks, but six? Hasn’t happened yet.
And I’m such a slow typist, four weeks just isn’t enough time to finish a novel.
Though I admit, I’m getting closer. This last year, I did complete sixty-three thousand words. For the last two years, I’ve managed to complete way more the fifty thousand words during the Nano, but that’s because I have more time to do it. Except I’ve never been able to maintain that level of intensity all year round. Sort of wish I could.
But tomorrow is another day.

Happy writing everyone. J