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Christmas Revision November 30, 2009

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Ah, the holiday season is upon us and we are gearing up for our Christmas season with our usual traditions. Every year, the day after Thanksgiving, we begin getting ready for the holidays. First on the list, we tear down Thanksgiving decor. All the splendor of autumn colors is removed from mantles and doors to make room for our Christmas decor.

We clean (I do actually–while DD and DH go shopping for my Christmas presents on Black Friday). We perform the annual dance of the moving furniture to make space for our artificial tree (we are allergic to pine). This usually involves heated discussions about where one’s beloved chair (DH) must go. One year we managed to convince him to move it into the attic. But this year he got a new chair and he refused to let it go. Sigh. But we managed to make the new living area work and were well on our way to the fun part of getting ready for Christmas.

Decorating the tree and house.

On Saturday, we haul down the boxes and the tree. We unfurl the branches, open up the ornaments, hang them up, decorate the dining room, bring out old decor and buy a bit of new. We play Christmas music and by late afternoon, the inside of the house is ready for another Christmas season. On Sunday, we head outside and we put up our outdoor decor. And voila! Christmas has sprung.

But it never springs quite the same way. Every year, tough decisions are made about old bits of decor. Toss or keep? How do we reuse it? Do we keep it and use it later or not at all? The tree? Every year, a new set of ornaments (3, 1 for each of us) arrives. Thus, the other ornaments must make room for the new ones. They are never hung in the same way. The mantle. Over the years I’ve had tons of space to put decorative items and candles. Last year we moved, a huge flat screen TV prevents the candles from being lit, and I had to rethink the entire mantle decorations. And the DR? Last year we moved. What worked in our old house no longer fit the new color scheme. Back to the store I went to get different decorative items for the new DR.

Are you seeing what I’m seeing? Christmas Revision!

In a way, the process we go through as a family getting ready for the holidays is much like the process of revising a manuscript. First I go through all the old writing. What do I toss, keep, move, shift, change, rediscover? What must I reinvent? How will I hang it all together? There’s usually a heated discussion with my CPs about the direction of the book and the characters’ GMC. Huge bits of work are set aside for future evaluation. Other bits are saved, but really, they’ll probably never be in the final draft (is there such a thing?). New ideas are generated and written. Now the MS takes on a different veneer. It’s the same story, the same people, but the way they hang on my manuscript tree is different.

This is writing. First draft is fun–no rules–get the core of the story down. First revision is PAINFUL. Much like moving the furniture in our home to accommodate the huge tree, the pain of the shifting is difficult to bear because it all looked so pretty beforehand. But now the house looks great. Different, but it holds all the new items and looks similarly pretty.

Second revision can be even more painful–especially for new writers. We struggle with the deeper aspects of our writing: we’ve got POV, but what about DEEP POV? And we know how to write well, but does the scene move our story forward? Is it necessary? Just like the old cranberry beads that really looked beautiful on the tree 5 years ago, our scenes looked pretty darned good to us, too. But now, we must examine them for flaws. Are they just there to be there? Or do they serve a purpose? Are they well-crafted with a hook? Or do they just fill space? Tough decisions to be made at the computer. Sometimes we keep our scenes, hoping to use them later or to improve upon them. I know I keep those stupid cranberries JUST IN CASE I might find a way to use them. I do the same thing with old scenes. They just go into a different document so I can make room for the new scenes I plan to write (and they must be better!).

Now, as I was decorating my house for Christmas, I read through two revised MS’s. One is almost there. Looks like what I read before, but it’s tighter, better, the story moves quicker. The other MS I am reading I’ve read 3 times. I know for a fact my CP has torn into this story, part of a series, and ripped it apart to mine it for what it needs to give the reader. As I read this story, I think to myself, I remember this, but it’s so much better and it flows so much easier, it’s different. And it’s different in a great way. BUT, I’m still finding little typos, and some small polishing items such as indents are wrong or extra spaces and doubled words. Despite all her hard work, these tiny details can be missed. It seems no matter how many times we write the stories and revise them, they are never perfect. This is the final polishing work.

I know, at the end of the day, when my CPs do send off their work, they’ll move onto different stories and ideas, but they will, either based on editor or agent suggestions, be revisiting them to tweak the final product again and again.

Our stories are never finished until they are sitting on the shelves, real and virtual.

And that’s why this writer will continue revising her own WIP during the holiday season.

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Christmas & Writing through the Holidays November 28, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — christineglover @ 9:50 pm
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Up until last year, I used to take time away from my writing from Thanksgiving until the New Year. And, especially after the pushing out of GH babies, goodness knows I’m over all the long hours of writing and ready to play. But the problem with staying away from my writing that long was the problems I had getting back into the characters’ heads in the new year. Valuable time necessary for pushing ahead was spent in relearning my peeps.

Not good. The solution? Easy. Last year someone posted on another blog about a great way to keep one’s head in the game without losing the holiday spirit of fun and laughter. Give a little, not a lot, each day to the writing until the tinsel is torn down and another holiday is put up for the year. For some that means word count. If you write a minimum of 250-500 words a day (except on very special days), then you’ll have a 1000 word scene every 4 days (or 2 scenes if you’re ambitious).

I’m usually in the midst of revisions during this time, so word count doesn’t really help me. For those of us not in first draft, the best idea is to put in time. Tell yourself you’ll commit to writing for 1/2 an hour or an hour a day. Sometimes you’ll not write at all, but other times you’ll write for more than an hour. I managed to keep going through my GH final pages in this manner, and by the time the time the new year hit, I was totally on my game. I finished the revision by January 23rd. Now I also set a goal to be finished before I started an awesome course, Book in a Week, (which lasts a month in prep work and actual writing work), at the end of the month. By working a bit every day, sometimes a lot more (hey, everyone’s asleep around here but me), I managed to reach my goal.

This year I am even more motivated to get this MS finished and revised before February. My DH needs a hip replacement. He’s getting it February 4th, 2010. My poor knight is in serious need of new armor!! Now I can write first draft with interruptions because I learned not to go back at all during the Book in a Week Course. If I stop, I know exactly where I need to start again. With revisions, no way. I am cutting and pasting and reconnecting pieces and chunks of MS into a whole new world order. If people interrupt my thought processes during revision, they had better be bleeding or have broken bones (ask my DD).

DH will be in pretty major hospital and post surgery ickiness. Constant interruptions will abound. And I must put him first. However, there’s no reason I can’t hide in my first draft as I anxiously await his surgery to be completed, and afterward as I wait for him to get his therapy. And, as he is noted to be the world’s worst patient, I KNOW this will be a time of *ahem* great jumping around and earning my wifie golden points.

Regardless, I must be working on something even if it is sporadic, to keep to my goal of writing 3 category lengths a year (or 2 STs and 1 category). I’ll need my fictional peeps to keep sane. And I can write first draft anywhere.

There are people who say they’d love to write (or draw or do … whatever), but they simply don’t have the time. I say boo on that excuse. I learned that a girl can accomplish a lot in a half an hour. Seriously a lot. Set the timer, don’t dilly dally on the Internet or play Farmville (why do people do this??), and you’ll be surprised by how much you can accomplish.

So my goal is simple: keep writing through the holiday season. Devote a minimum of an hour a day during the weekends and at least 3 hours during the week. That way I’ve got time to be a friend, a wife and a mom who is pleasant to hang around with and who enjoys her holiday season.

Do it. Have a goal. Finish it. Be firm and committed. Take care of your characters during this holiday season.

 

Thanksgiving Part 3 November 27, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — christineglover @ 2:02 pm
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I’ve often wondered why I tackled becoming a writer. Honestly, I haven’t got the fabulous educational background of many of the writers I admire. Nope. I didn’t go to Yale or Harvard. In my life before I became I writer, I didn’t hold a job as a lawyer, doctor, anthropologist, television anchor or other some such type of illustrious career. Nope. I was lucky to get my degree in elementary education by the time I was 27. I worked a few years in radio and television and private education, but I never built a career.

I learned only two things about myself during the few years I dealt with corporate America: I hate office politics and I hate wearing pantyhose to work.

Any rate, after a few years of trying to climb the corporate ladder and bumping my head on a very low ceiling, I had a baby and I decided busting my stockings to get a promotion wasn’t as eternal as raising a beautiful child. I’ve never regretted the decision.

When she entered the 4th grade, I rediscovered my earlier passion for writing. And that’s what I’ve been mucking around doing ever since I dusted off my first attempts at writing a novel. I’ve learned a lot about writing and craft from my writing comrades, RWA, my writing chapters, more books than I care to admit I own and on-line workshops.

But the doubts and the questioning never leave me. Who am I to take on this task when I have such a muddled background? Do the words “I’m not worthy” ever cross your mind? They cross mine. They jump around my brain whenever I learn about that writer’s degree in literature, or her illustrious career in technology and the writer who once wrote speeches for the President. Okay? Now that’s a big scary deal for me.

So why do I even attempt this crazy adventure? I haven’t got a Masters degree in anything, I haven’t worked in a real job since 1994, and I didn’t grow up in a family that bothered to nurture my talents. Nope. I had to fight for every success I had and that’s where the chutzpah to write lives. My scrappiness.

I learned a lot about life in a different college: the college of hard knocks and streetwise living. I’ve been on my own since I was 16 years old. I fought to get my GED and, after my DH married me, I taught myself the SAT with a big book of tests. I entered university, got scholarships and busted my buns to finish my degree in less than 4 years (my DH had married me for my, uh, cooking ability, not my education as I had none to speak of other than the GED).

I may not have any experience tackling corporate giants or winning cases in the courtroom, but I know how to flip a burger, pump gas, make beds, clean hotel rooms, assist the elderly and nurture children. I can type faster than most secretaries. I’ve knocked back beer in an Ice Shack in Houston, and I’ve hobnobbed with Nobel Prize winners while sipping Kir Royale. I’ve played pool with biker chicks, and I’ve hosted dinner parties for distinguished scientists. I’ve sat in a bar outside of Phoenix and chatted with the locals about the humidity. I’ve canoed down the Dordogne and toured castles. I’ve slept in a pup tent next to the Redwoods. I’ve flown first class to Europe.

I’ve had nothing. I’ve experienced everything.

When I was eighteen, if you opened my fridge, you’d find a large 7-11 Slushy and a potato. I’ve dated guys because they paid for my dinner and I was hungry. I’ve eaten 8 course meals in Sarlat, France. I’ve known extreme loneliness, the kind where I’ve considered rushing off a balcony of a twentieth floor high rise because who would care if I was gone? I’ve known extreme joy, the kind where I’ve wanted to bottle the bubbling happiness and cork it so I can pop it open, and let it stream over me when I am sad again.

Today I am thankful for my life. For all of it. For the ugly chunks of my childhood, for the brief glimmers of joy even then. I mine the coals of hurt, pain, frustration, anger and bitterness for my stories. I  open the shell surrounding my heart and draw out pearls of ecstasy to endow my characters with abiding joy.

I’m grateful for the natural talents and intelligence given to me, but I am actually more thankful for being forced to live in circumstances that brought me to my knees, humbled. I am grateful because I believe my street education, and my ability to transcend that background, have given me an opportunity to give back the greatest gift I’ve received: HOPE.

My stories are about two people finding each other and discovering home. Today I’m grateful I found my hero. Today I’m grateful we created our own safe place to fall.

 

Happy Thanksgiving Part 2 November 26, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — christineglover @ 1:15 pm
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http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DJ8uGvCd3r0

Enjoy the feast and remember to give thanks.


 

Happy Thanksgiving Part 1 November 25, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — christineglover @ 8:55 pm
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Today I am thankful for the following:

1) my family; their health and their love and their support
2) my friends, near and far for the same
3) sunshine and blue skies in NOVEMBER Hallellujah!
4) music
5) Facebook-for helping me keep in touch with my friends who live in other countries and my friends here in good ol’ AL
6) my cats-Mischief is just a funny girl, always a bit quirky. And Clancy is my lovebug–
7) comfy chairs and a roof over my head–how incredibly blessed am I? I am blessed!
8) my health–you don’t know how important it is till it is threatened
9) the people talking in my head and telling me their stories-honor to be picked
10) God-for loving me and giving me a purpose in my life and for knowing me before I knew myself and sending me out to the world to be a friend, a mom , a wife, a writer, a person of worth because He loves me and I know Him.

Happy Thanksgiving!!

 

Golden Heart-2nd Entry is Finished and Mailed November 24, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — christineglover @ 1:56 am
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Taking a timely break and readying for the holidays today.
So happy to have this off my chest and in the mail… woohoo!!
And now, time to relax before I do turkey triage.

 

My Boyfriend is My Reward for Slogging at the Computer…. sigh… November 22, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — christineglover @ 10:47 pm
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I am unabashedly madly in love with Hugh Jackman. God, he’s beautiful. Inside and out.
Sigh Sigh Sigh–after a long day of revising/editing/reading/hunting for words— sigh sigh sigh–click on the link and be rewarded. But remember, HE’S MINE.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OGzwNdTVHJo