After reading this, you’ll think I’m bi-polar.

If you’re down and confused
And you don’t remember who you’re talkin’ to
Concentration slip away
Cause your baby is so far away.
Well, there’s a rose in a fisted glove
And the eagle flies with the dove
And if you can’t be with the one you love
Love the one you’re with
Love the one you’re with

~ Stephen Stills, 1970

I am clueless as to what the first two lines of the chorus means, but “a rose in a fisted glove” and “an eagle [flying] with a dove” are pretty cool images. If I understood the symbolism, I could probably tie them into this post, but since I don’t, I’m going with “… if you can’t be with the one you love, then love the one your with.”

Naturally, I’m NOT writing about a former boyfriend or a clandestine lover – I’m a happily married blogger – but I am thinking how this applies to my writing doldrums of the past few weeks: To abandon a potentially great idea because it is NOT really I’m not REALLY into it. When I ventured to write up a character bio, as I committed to do, and found I couldn’t even complete that, I decided it was time to admit momentary defeat and hang with the NEW idea “on the block.” But what exactly was that?

I know all this sounds too familiar, BUT I promise this ends on a more positive note. For awhile now, I’ve toyed with an idea that I liked but couldn’t solidify, and then …  (Is the anticipation significantly building?) …

I watched NEW MOON!!!

For the first time.

Do NOT – I repeat – do NOT panic. I have NO intention of whipping out yet another vampire novel, but watching 2 freaking MISERABLE characters MOPE over each other added substance to my nebulous idea. And I decided I LOVED it. (The IDEA, not New Moon.)

Because this story is lighter than Not That Way, the working title of the “other” novel-in-the-making, I’ve been able to “throw up words.” Something I wanted and needed to do but couldn’t because the subject of Not That Way was SO heavy, and the character-arc SO wide that INTENSE thinking prohibited puking on paper.

This is a truly lame comparison, but I felt like I was TRYING to love deep and dark Edward, but I’m NOT obsessed and depressed Bella! I was forcing a relationship that wasn’t there. NOT to say it will always be that way, but for right now, I’ve ditched the … . Well, you know what I’m sayin’.

The point is that for a first-time novelist, I need (I was tempted to write “Jacob” but controlled that urge) something different. I’m not sure of all the reasons why, but this new thing feels right.

MUST … schedule … writing novel.

There’s nothing so stressful as not writing. Stop and think about it. If you don’t write, then you’re stressed about wanting to do it and not getting it done. But if you do write, you feel great.

~ Linda Jo Martin

While the debate continues over whether or not to outline the plot before writing that story or novel, scheduling time for putting words, pages, or chapters on paper is a MUST. Isn’t it? For me, IT IS.

Now, figure this one out. I can fit in updates for my 3 (yes, 3) blog sites, but why oh why do I have such a devil of a time fitting in novel writing? As always, I have theories:

  • Novel writing is sCaRY! I continually hold a “worthiness” discussion with myself: Is this story REALLY worth my blood, sweat, tears, and time? Is it worthy of publication? Is there a more worthwhile story I should work on right now? Blah. Blah. Blah.
  • I don’t know where this story is going. So maybe I should outline, create character sketches, etc. But that takes TIME, dang it! But maybe it would save me TIME in the long run. I DON’T KNOW!!!
  • The “novel” MOUNTAIN seems insurmountable. Blogging is like the little hike I took last spring while visiting my grandchildren who live in among the foot hills in Almaden Valley in California. I can do that – I have an idea for a blog entry. I take anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour to develop it, and then post it. Done. But writing a NOVEL is like tackling EVEREST! AhhhhHHHHHH.
  • I get caught up in “CROSS-TRAINING” – that’s what Ann Dee Ellis calls writing something OTHER than your novel. You know – get the juices flowing, and all that. Well, my blogging juices are jammin’, but that is NOT the real goal here, folks! I CANNOT spend all my time cross-training. I have GOT TO RUN THE GOSH DARN RACE. (Another AhhhHHHH.)

So what should I do? I know I am not the only writer – wannabe or otherwise – who struggles with this. (I just spent time researching the problem at hand and ran across a blog by  Carol Lynch Williams of The Chosen One fame. Carol has a C.O.N.T.R.A.C.T, a house devoid of children, and she’s suffering from AVOIDANCE issues!!!)

Even though I am an educator, I don’t get “summers off,” but I do have a couple of weeks I plan to dedicate to 2 things: 1) Spending time with my grandchildren, and 2) WRITING this blankity, blank novel. (I think that’s the proper priority, by the way.) While I am confident that the first goal will be achieved, that second one worries me.

What do YOU do, dear 5 or 6 readers, to get the job done? Help me out here! Okay? I’M STRESSING!

Dying over dialects, among other crazy things

“Dialect is heard with the eyes.It is one of the most contrived elements of fiction and must be handled well to avoid turning characters into superficial stereotypes.”

~ Patrika Vaughn

I am excited, nervous, happy, terrified, anxious, hesitant, but satisfied that I will be okay. Actually, more than okay. Tomorrow I start the Young Readers Writing and Illustrating Workshop. And while I do have concerns and questions, I feel confident that I will learn much and not be too humiliated.

While part of me wonders why I think I could ever write a book, I take solace in Sara Zarr’s answer as to why she became a writer. She actually offered several reasons: 1) like to write; 2) it’s something an English major can do once he or she graduates; 3) and this one is the BEST one – “when I met other authors and saw that they were people just like me, I decided I could do it.” (Not an exact quotation but I think it conveys the spirit of what she meant.)

On the other hand, I also chatted with an author who shook her head as she related that nearly everybody thinks they can write a book. Maybe most people COULD write a book, but that fact is most DON”T. But there sure are a lot of people who do. Just walk into The King’s English or one of the mega bookstores, and you’ll wonder, “How can I join and compete with ALL THESE WRITERS? Am I crazy to think I can?

So what else is freaking me out? The 5 pages I sent to my session leaders. It needed to be the start of a story/book AND it is supposed to be our best writing. Don’t know about that, but I sent it anyway because it was all I had, AND it needs work, AND I also question my use of dialect.

The first chapter is set in England, and I hear a British accent in my head when I write, but here’s the rub or rubS:

  • Never been to England.
  • Don’t know which accents come from where.
  • My attempt sounds more Irish than English.

So here it is, past midnight. And I decide to research how or if a writer should even try to use dialect in building characters. The advice I learned from Ms. Vaughn (quoted above) and Cameron Michaels is as follows:

  • Write in standard English – NOT phonetically!
  • Cadence and rhythm suggest the dialect.
  • DON’T use “wanna, shoulda, coulda and oughta”.
  • DO use “wanna, shoulda, coulda and oughta”. (That choice gets mixed reviews.)

Has anyone who stumbles onto this blog ever experimented with writing dialect? What were the results? Stuck with it? Abandoned it? Rewrote story to include Americans without accents?

I’ll let you know what my colleagues and facilitators suggest after they read my characters’ British/Irish dialects. (Gulping. Crossing fingers. Heading for bed.)