May 29, 2012

Summer Hiatus

I know a little garden close

Set thick with lily and red rose,

Where I would wander if I might

From dewy dawn to dewy night,

And have one with me wandering.

–William Morris–

With the warm weather comes all those extra chores in the yard, the DIY home projects that have been saved for and scheduled, and the special day trips with family to feel the sunshine on our faces and bring home new memories. All this cuts down on writing time. So while I’m not exactly on holidays, I will be posting less frequently during the summer months. Fortunately my novel characters are always with me, along with a pad of paper and pens.

Have a great summer!

May 5, 2012

Death in the Family

No post this week

due to a

death in the family




April 8, 2012

Are Brain Dead and the Eleventh Hour Synonymous?

This disturbing question arose on Monday, the day after I normally post my weekly novel installment. Only a handful of chapters, maybe less, are needed now before reaching that final page and doing a victory dance around my computer chair. The end of my novel is definitely in sight and I should be one happy writer. Shouldn’t I?

In terms of nearing completion and having my mettle tested, month after month, in the dogged writing trenches, I’ve reached my eleventh hour—along with my second wind several chapters back—and ought to be bursting with cerebral energy and a focused vision, since the climax of this epic story is thankfully all downhill now. Right?

Sadly, my expectations were wrong when Monday’s writing session found me brain dead and reluctant to even open the chapter file. As I listlessly watched the cursor blinking on the page, my mind tired and barren of one viable piece of dialogue or descriptive phrase, I realized this lack of enthusiasm had been creeping into my consciousness for a couple of weeks now. As to the root cause or how permanent the affliction, I took some time this past week to evaluate my situation.

Whether work, personal, or a journal, a day doesn’t go by when I haven’t written something to please myself or others. The daily stress of life is basically the same for everyone—family, job, money, health—so I set aside the day to day stuff and concentrated just on the writing aspect and what it still means to me.

Writing has always provided an inner contentment and enjoyment, a form of recreation to get lost in for hours and a way of re-energizing brain cells from the often rigid responsibilities of life. At the same time writing is also essential for my happiness, an attribute of who I am, like the color of my eyes.

In all the years that I’ve been writing I’ve experienced many emotions that helped make my work heartfelt respectable or a lackadaisical contribution, a righteous statement to the cause or no gold star and headed for the trash. But never once did I suffer through that dreaded dis-ease known as writer’s block. Was I finally due?

Anyone who consistently works with words can understand when I say that writing is often a pleasurable torment. There is nothing more delightful than experiencing that pleasurable high when the day’s writing has gone well. Of course, the flipside means equal measures of frustrating torment when the words won’t come together and all that work gets axed by the delete button. But having good days and bad is nothing new, nothing to stress about, unless you’re on a tight deadline.

During this evaluation period I reaffirmed my passion for writing, accepted the pros and cons of what it means to write and my own abilities. And wanting to make the limited time I have for writing each day to count for something, even if it was just one perfectly crafted paragraph, I set aside the novel and opted to try an experiment.

For the remainder of the week I did free-writes about anything that wasn’t connected to the novel.

The change was almost instantaneous. Suddenly intrigued by the limitless possibilities, I found myself perched on the edge of my chair in anticipation. After so many days of fighting with each word, my mind felt light and spontaneous again, my fingers moving over the keys with their usual nimble energy. The culmination of several writing sessions resulted in a rough draft of this blog.

The experiment quickly made it clear that I wasn’t suffering from writer’s block or becoming brain dead. A sense of fun had returned while writing this piece, something I hadn’t felt in several weeks while working on the novel.

What does it all mean? I’ve come to the conclusion that after months of high energy output and a strict daily discipline to composing each chapter, I was slowly losing my edge and enthusiasm for want of a little writing variety; a holiday, if you will, from work on the novel to relax my brain and get the juices flowing again.

Finishing the novel is important to me. But I have no desire to simply grind away with words and sentences and eventually fall across the finish line in numb exhaustion. I may be tired when I print out that last page but I want a smile on my face and a sense of accomplishment humming throughout my body.

For me the moral of the story seemed simple. Discipline and determination would only get me so far. To be the best writer I could be required a sense of fun and an eager anticipation of each day’s work as an ongoing part of the equation as well.

So, with a little holiday thrown in, now and again, I’ll be typing that last page of the novel in no time at all. Definitely my finest hour indeed.

March 11, 2012

Because The Bible Tells Me So

The other day someone asked me what I did to keep track of all the details in my novel. It was a great question and got me thinking about the different methods I use to classify and coordinate characters, structures, equipment, customs and procedures, transitions from one chapter to the next, and so on.

While the right side of my brain revels in the creative high of working with sentences and paragraphs, the left side steadily focuses on making sure all the different aspects of those sentences and paragraphs are consistent throughout the writing while striving for those final words, The End.

In the beginning Beneath the Surface (BTS) was just a broad concept that used the ‘what-if’ approach to generate ideas, profiles, scenes, and bits of dialogue for a story that was always destined for novel length. That meant I was looking at approximately one hundred thousand words.

Not being as fortunate as my main character to have a photographic memory, I put together a binder that held every scrap of description, back history, timeline, possible subplots, and all relevant and irrelevant data about the world I was creating. That binder became my bible to the BTS universe.

Having completed eleven chapters, my novel is coming along nicely. But things have changed since I first fleshed out the characters and concepts and put together my bible. With each chapter the details have been tweaked or rewritten, objectives have been discarded and new ones added, and the characters have taken on lives of their own—some with personality transformations while others faded into walk-on parts.

You get the idea, my created world has evolved and much of the old bible is now outdated and sitting on the shelf. I had been putting off the update, preferring to work on the novel, but the time had finally come to stop procrastinating and reorganize that growing mountain of new details.

This past week the majority of my writing time has gone into creating a new bible using MS OneNote. Copy and paste features have made transferring the new data directly from completed chapters and other assorted files much faster, but it still takes time.  Meaning, part one of chapter twelve is not ready. It’s a pivotal chapter; worthy, I think, of all my little bedside notes in the middle of the night and the number of times I’ve blocked out the start of the chapter as I work to get it right and make that gut-feeling happy.

Now with the new bible saved on computer, DVD, and flash drive, I no longer need to waste time flipping through previous chapters or penned pages and computer files to confirm something vital to a character or keep the background scenery true to form. Being accurate is as important to me as creating the story itself. And with the writing once again progressing, it’s my BTS bible that tells me what I need to know to keep all those details consistent.

February 19, 2012

Rewrite in Progress

In spite of all my best intentions, Part 2 of Chapter Eleven has to be delayed. I’m not happy with the ending scene and am in the middle of rewriting it. Of course I can’t quite put my finger on the problem but my gut is definitely kicking up a fuss and will let me know when I’ve got it right LOL. I could have posted what I had but the perfectionist in me couldn’t let it slide. So the work continues.

As a substitute, I’d like to offer a wonderful WordPress site that I subscribe to, This site features stunning photographs by a global variety of talented photographers. The above recent posting link is guaranteed to put a smile on your face.

Till next week.

November 27, 2011

NaNoWriMo Challenge: Victorious and Without a Parachute

The Office of Letters and Light verified my 50k word count on Friday 25th and I admit to being exceedingly happy to see this first finish line and to once again get a good solid eight hours sleep at night. In spite of the ‘dragging-my-butt’ syndrome that had me waiting until the following day to do my little victory dance around my chair, I couldn’t stop until I finished and posted the final submission for chapter eight.

Now it’s time to take a break, get reacquainted with my family, clean the house, and always, always be thinking about getting to that second finish line . . . a completed novel.

Over the past four weeks I experienced a wonderful bonding with my story characters. They’ve existed for years somewhere in the layers of my mind but now I see them and hear them, and like some scribe hired to tell of their hardships and triumphs, they’ve become friends just living over the next rise. And as someone who likes to plot things out with lots of details, outlines, and scene sketches, they still managed to surprise me more than once in their determination to go off in a new direction. Suddenly I was the one following, waiting to see what would happen.

Work on the remaining chapters of the novel will resume soon with a daily writing schedule until finished, although not at the NaNoWriMo insane pace LOL. Thank you to those who subscribed and those who stopped by. It was knowing you were watching that made me keep going when family was in the other room enjoying our favorite movies, or wanting to take time off and read my new Clive Cussler Dirk Pitt adventure.

I’d never heard of NaNoWriMo until WordPress posted this year’s notice. But something inside me said DON’T SAY NO. Before I could talk myself out of it I signed up and began preparing in earnest. The 50k challenge showed me I could do the work. I’m glad I didn’t say no. This novel is starting to look like a sequel may be following and already I’m thinking of laying out the groundwork and trying my luck again with NaNoWriMo 2012. But, as always, I’ll just have to wait and see what direction life takes me.

October 27, 2011

Putting My House in Order

Filed under: Uncategorized — cnwood @ 8:17 am
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November 1st and the novel challenge is fast approaching, a month that will see me chained to my computer and living the novel I’m determined to etch from my imagination. So I’ll be spending these last remaining days before D-day with my family and friends and apologizing beforehand for the missed meals and rude expletives bellowed from behind the DO NOT DISTURB sign taped to my office door.

I’ll be stocking the cupboards and filling the fridge. And having one last round with the vacuum cleaner and toilet bowl brush. Maybe a glass of wine as I carve scary faces on this year’s fat pumpkins waiting on the deck.

Come November 1st, in the wee small hours, writing will start so I can submit my first installment of Beneath the Surface. I’ll be trying for around 2000 words each day.

Join me, and I’ll tell you a story about aliens and humans, love and greed, survival and death . . .

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