To write a book…

charlie-chaplin-392926_1280When I was in school I hated American History. I thought it was boring. I thought that since other countries had been around so much longer, they were obviously much more interesting.

Now that I am older, I am no longer so excluding. For the past few weeks I’ve been focused on the American Civil War. My attention was peaked last year when I did some family history research. It was more recently that I received a book of local ghost stories that pinged that interest again.

Then I spoke with another writer who I greatly admire. I told him that I had been thinking about writing a book that takes place during the civil war. I recounted what I had found out about my family, and he said: That sounds like a good place to start. Why don’t you?

That “Why don’t you?” Has been echoing around the empty cavern of my skull for weeks.

I tried to use the excuse, “Well, life has so many changes going on right now, with the new job and going back to school…”

My inner writer answered with, “You don’t work on the weekends and part of your degree is going to be in History anyway.”

Then the dragon of self doubt raised its head and said, “Do you really think you can find anime_dragon_1024x768-634320the time to write a book? Look how well that has worked in the past. You have three unfinished novels sitting on your computer right now. And remember that rejection letter. The one that hit the mark so well.”

The dragon almost got me. Then I remembered the rejection letter it was reminding me of was the catalyst I needed to pull up my boots and march back to school. The three unfinished novels reminded me that my current way of writing isn’t working very well and I need to try something new. (Not that those three will never be finished. Two are honestly in a rewrite stage but I changed things and got stuck in the muddle in the middle. Then proceeded to wallow in the muck.)

So now, with so many things already on my plate and with so many new challenges to face, I find myself stacking yet another task on top. I’m going to write a book. Sanderson Quote-800wi

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Tied up in stress knots

cat-320537_1920My brain feels like dirty, knotted, tangled string. Usually when I get out of work for the week I am eventually able to shake off work like pool water and focus on the part of my life that is the reason I work like I do. Even though I am free from my night job today and I slept last night, I feel depressed. I don’t know if it was the extra work day, the busy week, or the constant feeling that I carry most of my shift after all the day people leave.

My daughter is doing her teenaged angst thing again because she is having trouble at school with grades and other kids. I imagine she feels the same about school as I do work. I wish I could fix it all.

I wish I could write. I know as a writer, unless you are a giant name, it is a struggle to make art-89198_1920a living. I know that if I do get all the books that I have in progress finished and out, and even if they do well, I would not be making more that I do now. I would still be balancing bills and paying late fees. However, I think that would be better.
I don’t know how to explain it. I would still be under pressure and stress. I would be working without a safety net. There would be no guarantee I would bring in money. However, being able to pay bills without my shoulders being partially dislocated from heavy stock and my upper back in constant pain from spending hours bent over hanging stickers has its appeal.

road-sign-940644_1280I know this isn’t very cheerful for a blog post. I didn’t really intend to write a post but this is where my fingers lead me when I decided to try to write out my current problems. I could have tucked it away in a writing folder or scribbled it out in my journal, but I thought maybe if I put it here I might get some feed back. Maybe someone might have an idea. At the very least if there is someone else out there feeling the same they will know they are not alone.

 

A good book

A couple of weeks ago I went to LibertyCon in Chattanooga, TN. While there I picked up a copy of Witchfinder by Sarah A. Hoyt. It takes place in her Magical Empires world and I absolutely loved it.

It has been a while since I read a book I just couldn’t put down. (I think the last one was Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman.) In fact, I got so engrossed in Witchfinder that I smuggled it to work with me and got a stern talking to for reading on the clock.

It was one of those days where I was stuck behind the counter. My boss will probably end up borrowing the book from me later though. Some how I don’t think that that was what the author meant when she signed my book and wrote “Sometimes you have to break the law.”

If you like fantasy novels, if you like magic, and if you like regency era fiction this is a book you really need to check out.

Now I’ve done it…

overflow cover via amazonTwo days ago I published a book.  It is just a small chapbook of poems but it is out there, floating in cyberspace and available on Amazon.  I went through createspace and Amazon KDP, so I guess that means I am self-published. Or I went indie. Or I am a micro-press with a client of one.   You can take your pick on which one you want to use. I am still in that stage of semi shock, where I ask myself  “Okay I’ve got it, now what do I do with it?”

vampire-hunting-kitI know there are people out there turning up their noses and sharpening stakes because I didn’t go through the usual long trek up the mountain of publishing.  Hey, calm down it’s a chapbook, 24 pages at the most. And I have said all along that if I got my wish I would be a hybrid author. (I think I’ve said that here…I’ve certainly thought it enough.)

Will that wish ever be granted? Who knows.  What I do know is that I gathered a bunch of words I wrote and turned them into a book.

Was it easy?  Well, no.  I didn’t know what I was doing at first. I kept making stupid User-errormistakes and formatting was confusing.  But I kept at it until I was satisfied. (The formatting probably wouldn’t be that difficult for anyone else, it was user error on my part.)

I didn’t just slap the first draft of the chapbook up there and call it done.  I must have re-uploaded that thing at least two dozen times.   The important part is that I did it, and that I did it to the best of my ability.

I had someone I trusted look over my work for mistakes.  I didn’t settle with widows and orphans left on pages because of a single space. I went back through a took out the extra space.  Then re-uploaded again.   At one point all of the contractions were translated into kanji for some reason.  I went back and fixed that too.  Then I ordered a proof copy and priority-mail-boxwaited days for it to arrive so that I could quadruple check everything.

I decided on the cover. (It was a picture I took on a walk.) I decided the font, the color of the cover, the title, what went on the back, and even the color of the paper.  I do wish there were more font choices, but all in all I don’t think I did that bad.

Velocipede_for_LadiesThe thing is, now I know I can do it and that is kind of scary. Kind of like learning to ride a bike.  When you first ride by yourself it’s exciting. You made it to the end of the driveway! Go You!  But then you realize there are more places to ride than just to the end of the driveway.  There are hills out there. And hills are whole different terrain than the familiar flat drive way.

 

The poetry of sleepless nights

I couldn’t sleep Saturday night.  I had gone to a Doctor Who themed picnic earlier in the afternoon with my daughter.  We had a good time and met some new people.

I was hot, tired, and just a tiny bit sunburned when we got home.  I thought about taking a nap but it never really happened.  My brain would not stop.  This unfortunately continued until around 5am Sunday morning.  I tried just laying there. I tried reading a book. Nothing worked.

I spent most of the night cobbling together poems I have written over the years to see if I had enough decent ones for a chapbook.  It passed the time and by 5am my brain was finally calm enough to let me sleep.

I still need to locate or write another five or six poems. (I have them scattered everywhere.) Then I need to get them copy edited.  After that…well it looks like I will have a book of poetry coming out at some point this year.

 

Blue Towels and Bad Luck

Last week wasn’t exactly the most fortuitous.  The kids got sick, I had to pick my stranded brother up from work, my washing machine died, the laundry room shelf collapsed, I got sick and missed three days of work, and then my mom caught the same virus.   All in all an eventful week. Just not the good kind of eventful.

I did get to read a lot and I got another washing machine so it’s not all bad.  Most of my white towels are also now a lovely shade of periwinkle blue.  When the washer went down it took two loads of laundry with it.  The wet jeans ended up mixed up in a basket with the towels and ended up sitting there all night.   After a trip to the laundry mat the next day (my mom made it for me since I couldn’t leave the bed or my trash can) the jeans were clean, dry, and blue and so were the towels.

I would be more upset if everything were pink.  Blue however just happens to be my favorite color and the dye job was very even.

Same Story, Different Voice

A_picture_is_worth_a_thousand_wordsPeople tell me things.  I don’t know why but they do.  I can be ringing up items at work or standing in line at the bank and people start talking.  Some days there is even a theme.

There was a night at work, not too long ago, where everyone I came across had a divorce story or a child custody battle to tell me about.  (My cousin is going through something like that right now.)  I have heard all about ex-husbands and wives, favorite dog breeds, the trouble with banks, what milk tastes best, health issues, money issues…you name it.

whats-your-storyThe thing is, even though the faces change and the details differ, the story remains the same. People tell me about heartbreaks, about joys, about pain and sadness.  Sometimes the story isn’t spoken in words.  Sometimes the words just frame the story, like the story of loneliness.   Loneliness usually starts out with “When my kids were young…” or “When my wife was still alive…”  The beginnings aren’t always the same but the core of the story is.

That is why they say everything has already been written.  Everyone has the same stories, MedievalWeavingTLLivingWisdomSacredthey are just colored by our point of view. That is a good thing.  The common thread joins us together.  It is what makes people focus on stories.  The voice telling the story gives it enough separation from what we already know to make interesting.

When writing, the “originality” of the tale doesn’t matter as much as the voice we tell it in.  A college student, a widow, and a cat lady have all experienced loneliness.  It is the voice of the person telling of the experience that makes it different.