1/15/14 (? Roughly…just decided to date these updates) Woot…over half way done with my goal for the month. I figure the first Chocolatier’s Book was about 80,000 words. So my ball park figure is 88,000…I find things are so much easier to achieve if I find a easy to chew on numerical goal…
1/27/14 OK, last week was a wash, between it being the first few days of the semester (always very stressful and busy) and my mother’s shoulder surgery being moved up rather suddenly (which is awesome, but…haha yeah like anyone can write in a hospital waiting room?) I am way behind. But there is hope.
1/31/14 Got to the point where I had no idea where I was going, so I stopped…and started from the beginning. This is dangerous…some people just keep doing that and never get done, but it was needed, and now I’m back on track. Spent the week extending scenes, and taking notes, and having insights…little surprises.
2/28/14 — first draft done!
Not a very exciting day, really…but a weird one.
It started when I woke up this morning. I screamed, apparently…my mother, in the next room, came running to see what happened. “What’s wrong?” she asked.
I looked at her blankly. “I…why are you up?”
She explained to me that I had screamed…I looked at her, shrugged. “Bad dream, I guess?” But on my arm, my left arm, where the skin is pale and soft, something had scratched me, once, the single red line jarring somehow. What had I scratched myself on? Maybe I did it, in my sleep?
The day has been surreal every since. I dropped files…I don’t know why, I was standing in the office one moment, the next I was looking at scattered papers on the floor. Outlook told me that I had a meeting in ten minutes, I nodded, hit snooze by accident, then turned to prepare…and when I looked back, Outlook told me that I was ten minutes overdue. Ten. How did I lose ten minutes turning around to get my purse?
But it’s the hash marks…or tally marks? That throw me. The blossom on my arms like a garden of madness. Lines in groups of five, made with sharpies, highlighters, blue pens, red pens, black. It’s as if I grabbed whatever was at hand and marked my skin.
It’s weird, and every time I see another one, I get a little more frightned. I feel like someone is standing right behind my shoulder, staring at everything I do. Even now, as I type this, about my day, I feel like I’m being watched. My shoulders go back, as if invisible fingers are on my spine.
But I know it’s not. There is no monster in the shadow behind my shoulder.
No one is staring at me, quiet, patient, and hateful.
A red pen is in my hand, and I don’t know why. But there are three marks across my knuckles now.
It must be something important, it must mean something?
But it is the end of the semester, and you know, trying to get everything tied up before graduation can be very stressful. It’s probably just that, some manifestation of some inner need.
Just through my door, I can see a student, raising her hands to her face, marks all across her hands. She’s crying, and she’s frightened, and I know I should get up and see what she’s staring at, but something weighs me down into my chair, the weight of my own fear is too strong.
And then ohgodi cansee.mmust truy hitsendnwithoutloo kin the silence is here
For the past few weeks, I’ve been doing the edits for the final draft of Wishes and Sorrows.
For me, doing edits is a several step process.
First, you download the file and read through the comments. Wince. A lot. Say things like, “UGH.” And “Oh, but I thought that was clear.” Hate life a little.
Then close the file. I do this to get the whine fest over quicker. In all seriousness, it is painful to see edits, but also good…I trust my editors. They always make the stuff better…if they don’t get something, or if something doesn’t work for them, it won’t work for you, either. And I want it to work for you. I want anyone who is kind enough to read my stuff to be happy.
Then, after a few days (or more than a few…I got a hideous cold that slowed things down a ton) I sit down and start.
Awhile back I was reading a collection of short stories and Neil Gaiman said that he hadn’t edited a couple stories too much out of respect for the author he had been, even if he wasn’t as polished. That’s paraphrasing, and at the time I thought it was a really sweet idea. I get that, and like that…the idea of honoring the writer you were.
I did not do this. BOY did I edit some of the older stories. The writer I was when the oldest of the stories was written was much different. She in or fresh out of University, and she had a much more literary tradition in her veins, which meant her stories were sometimes purposefully unclear, or the voice was a certain way.
The writer I am now is not a less intelligent writer…when I say literary I am not speaking about intelligence or being snarky, rather…there is a training you receive in universities that makes your writing very different. But over the years I’ve found out what a general reader, rather than a university professor, wants. I’ve become more polished, I’ve become better, more experienced. So I needed to use that knowledge to make my stories better.
And my editor’s comments ended up being very useful. As always, I’m grateful for the second set of eyes.
I have been doing a lot of writing. The short story collection is being edited…I needed to do some pretty good edits to one of the new stories, which is only to be expected. Almost done with those, and when I turn that in, I will turn my attention to *three* pieces of documentation for Ice Dragon, (where I am entering an arts and science competition) and then, maybe, I will get to work on the second draft of the Chocolatier’s Ghost.
So, I am working, just sloooooooowly. I am like, geeze, can’t I get more done in a day, please?
Now that spring is coming, I keep wanting to travel. Last year we went all the way across the United states…and I keep seeing those places on my Facebook, Crater Lake posting pictures of things, the Grand Canyon, and I’m like…I was there. I want to go there again. So much beauty in the world.
I have a terrible weakness for kitchen things. I refuse to go into outlet stores that offer kitchen things because I know it’s a waste of time and money…I don’t need those trinkets that promise easier preparation or whatever…because, simply put, I despise cooking. Well, maybe not despise…sometimes I’ll find myself cooking and actually be enjoying myself, but in general, it’s sort of one of those things that I do because if I don’t I will be miserable.
But, I am at my happiest, cooking wise, when I am doing cooking in such a way as to be super effieicent, like making two dinners at once once, or lunch for a week.
Which leads to…I’ve always liked salad but it seems like an awful lot of work for something that sort of goes bad quickly. But after looking around Pinterest, I figured out how to have salad four two people for four-to-five days.
You need either a salad spinner, a colander and a bowl that it can mostly sit in, or this dashing Prepworks container:
I admit, when I realized that the salad thingy worked, and would be a part of my life, I gave into my kitchen buying urge and got one. Of both sizes. And the berry one. Don’t judge. (For what it’s worth, I really do think they work nicely. And mine are nice and brightly colored. And they tell you if it’s something that needs air or water.)
Then I break the first rule of being a super healthy and morally perfect human being: I buy salad in a bag. I love salad in a bag. I throw it in my spinner and scrub it up clean, and then I have a bowl full of variety that I did not have to cut up myself. In the long run, if you are someone who does not overly love to cook, it actually saves money because you don’t have stuff rotting away in the back of the crisper drawer. I have been that person.
So I pick a couple of bags of salad, and then I enhance. Like, Spring mix gets paired up with dried cranberries, feta, sliced almonds and these small, sweet little mandarin oranges. Or I get an iceberg mix and add tomatoes, a pretty colored pepper, some cucumber.
I have found that:
1. Always use a small, compact tomato. Something you don’t have to cut open.
2. Layer things. Things store better in layers.
3. Keep things that may get gross…like cheese…separate. I call these add-ins, and I prepare them separately. Like, for the one salad, I put the dried cranberries, almonds, and feta in it’s own little box. I am a recovering hoarder, so I have lots of them…old tea-tins, butter cups, etc. And of course the small plastic boxes that I have in and bought because they were cheap and could be useful.
I love it, actually, which is why I’m posting about it. Because in no time at all I have salad for the week, for me and mum, and if you are careful to spin it well, but add a tiny bit of water where it won’t touch anything to help keep it from drying out it will be nearly perfect at the end of the week.
And, what’s also cool, is that I don’t have to decide what I’m going to eat from day to day. Because to be honest, I don’t care what I eat for lunch.
And then, I usually prepare a crock pot meal for the next day’s dinner…so I start off my evening feeling somewhat productive and vaguely morally superior to myself.
And yes, I write this post instead of working on the book.
Do you have any favorite salads?
So, the good news: Finished the first draft of The Chocolatier’s Ghost!
The bad news…it’s like, way too short.
That’s OK. There’s a lot going on in the book…trying to lay two stories down, the main story, and the sequel-set up. There’s a lot of work to do, now that I know what happened. Set up scenes. Flesh out scenes. Scenes where I weave in other things besides the mystery…we sort of pound our way from point a to point b.
So, the skeleton draft is done. Hooray!
Now, the second draft will be all organs and muscle. Less hooray? I’ll be printing it out and marking it up…I need to actually read it in paper and scribble notes on it.
I’m also working on the edits for the short story collection, so lots of excitement in the author part of my life.
The other night I read an interview with Cary Elwes where he asked William Goldman, the author of the Princess Bride, about the sequel to the book. Innocent enough, if *I* had played a well beloved character in a well beloved movie I, too, would be curious about what was up for me in the sequel, even if I felt I would not be able to play it.
And William confessed that he was blocked by his anxiousness. That he couldn’t write the sequel because his fear of not doing well by the story paralyzed him.
And I was like, “Oh my goodness! I know this! I get this! OMFG!” Because I do. It’s taken me forever to finish anything after The Chocolatier’s Wife because I am so scared that nothing will be as good.
But it will be. I am a — forgive the hubris, please — really good writer. People really love my books. So, confidence, straighten shoulders, move forward.
What else am I up to?
Well, I am embroidering, and planning a couple of summer dresses.
I have a lovely green with peachy-pink roses fabric that would look very sweet with this:
It’s Vogue V2902…I absolutely attacked a JoAnne sale and bought a bunch of patterns very cheaply.
The second is a McCall pattern, M6745
I might go for a less halter looking top, because I do tend to burn…though I really like how this looks, and since I have an hour-glass-ish figure, I can pretty much carry off both dresses.
I read an article not too long ago suggesting horse-hair braid along the hem to give it a little body without the can-can underskirt, and I’m all for that because I don’t really want to wear anything else.
So, I wanted to join Bloglovin’, it looks like a great way to keep track of blogs.
So, entering the code:
Follow my blog with Bloglovin
Now. The weather has me down. I’m creeping along on the book…right now I’m sort of calling it The Chocolatier’s Ghost — but between the weather and work being particularly busy (I’m dead by the time I get home) my word count is like, a few hundred words here, a couple there. But I have a feeling of where I’m going, so I am confident that I’ll start racking up the words soon.
It would be so much easier if I’d won the lottery last week…I’d be home now, drinking tea and comfortably contemplating Tasmin and William’s world from my recliner and fuzzy blanket pile.
When I was in college, they were selling carnations on Valentine’s day for some cause at the Union, so I bought a couple…one of them was for my adviser, who I hung out with a lot and whom I held in high, high esteem.
So I went to the office and dropped it off. I wanted to say, that I loved her and admired her.
Instead of seeing it that way, she yelled at me and made me feel like shit about it. Now, I understood the point, that she did not want to be reminded that she didn’t have anyone, but that had not been my intent. I’d had many lonely Valentine’s days, but I was young and had hope, so I guess I just didn’t get what a slap in the face it was. Now, of course, I do, and I regret it.
Looking back for the first time I am very grateful that she yelled at me. Not because I think she was right..I got that she was upset, I’m glad she was honest, but really, she could have accepted it with a little more grace…but because when people give me things, I know to be kind. I remember how badly I felt, and though part of me wants to ask them, like my adviser did, if they have any sense, I also remember the girl I was, who was trying to show love and respect to someone I admired.
And then I am actually happy to be remembered on Valentine’s Day, because I am grateful to be loved, even if it’s not by the proverbial man of my dreams.
There are things I want to say to you, but I know I should keep quiet. You should never interfere with relationships. You should support, and stand by. And you aren’t *really* my little brother, you have real sisters, maybe it’s just not my place.
God lets us make our own mistakes. How can I be any different?
But I wish I could give you advice.
1. It is alright to be alone. So many times we let fear keep us in a relationship. What happens if we never find anyone else? What happens if this was the ONE and we made a mistake?
You won’t end up being alone…you are a sweet, good, nice looking young man. But even if you did, it’s OK. Being alone can be wonderful. You can adjust and find a great life this way, just as you can adjust and find a great life with another person.
2. If she doesn’t want you to take part in a hobby or be with your friends, then there’s a problem, and it’s not with you. Maybe she has really low self esteem…maybe she just wants to control your time. In any case, it will be a source of sorrow, and you need to figure out how to deal with it, because unless you and she get to the bottom of it, you will have to live with it for the rest of your life.
Hobbies enrich you. Friends enrich you. A person needs to develop confidence in themselves, in their own worth, and let the person they love participate in these things, sometimes alone. (Though it’s totally cool when you are both passionate about the same thing…better than cool. But she also has to be strong enough to let you bet your own person. She needs to trust you to come back.)
3. If she cries when you try to discuss issues in your relationship, this is not a good thing at all. Maybe she doesn’t trust you, maybe she’s just trying to emotionally manipulate you so you will shut up. If you can’t rationally and positively discuss important aspects of your life…your needs, your wants…how can you build anything good together?
I have a saying. If something bothers me and I don’t tell anyone, then it’s on me. If I tell you, and you choose not to act, it’s on you. Then I have to make a choice, if I can live with it, or if I cannot. Can you live with this, little brother?
So, you were probably thinking, Cindy! That word counter you are using to con yourself into writing every day because you are pretending that people really are waiting with baited breath for the sequel to The Chocolatier’s Wife is like, the best thing ever.
And, maybe you were thinking, you desperately need a wonderful word tracking spread sheet with lovely graphics to track your own progress?
Well, I found both at this lovely website: http://svenjaliv.com/2013/12/spreadsheets-for-2014/
She is an amazing artist, so checking out her portfolio is totally worth it, especially if you like Supernatural.
I confess, I’m using the Pirate one. It has some great functions that takes it over and above your usual word tracking sheet, and not only is it useful, it’s very attractive.
So yes, totally using that now. It’s always fun to enter a number and see your progress populate the other slots. It feels somehow extra accomplished.