Josephine's Dream Reading

Josephine's Dream Reading
Trying to look like Josephine Baker - and failing miserably!

Niagara Falls

Niagara Falls
Conquering the Beast

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Fred and Pete at the Beach

I can't remember if I've said this before, and I'm too lazy to look, but you should all read the above mentioned picture book by Cynthia Nugent. And I'm not just saying that because she's my friend, or because she was just over at my house for tea, cookies, cheese, crackers and hamantaschen. No - I'm saying it because it's a lovely book, and perfect for the child in your life, especially if the child likes dogs, bright colours, happy endings and has a sense of humour. So if you happen to be anywhere near Hager Books or Vancouver Kidsbooks, buy a copy or order it if they're all sold out. Of course, you might not live in Vancouver, but I'm sure that wherever you do live there's a bookstore somewhere. If not, you really should consider moving to another town!
For those of you who want to write and illustrate a book - Cynthia did both with Fred and Pete at the Beach. So look, learn and enjoy. Cheers!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Too Much Writing, and Not Enough Editing, Can Numb the Bum

I'm reading a murder mystery by a very good writer, but this particular book is driving me batty. 'Why batty?' you ask. I'll tell you. First of all the editor was asleep on the job. (Not like my second to last editor. She sends me emails when I make typos on this blog. "Thank you Cindy!") When a sentence tells me that a character sat down, or opened a door 'a crack,' I'm thrown completely out of mental alignment when a paragraph or two later the character sits down AGAIN (without having had a chance to stand up first), or opens the door 'a crack' AGAIN. But that's not all. There's a bit too much repetition in this book. It's like watching a reality show where people just live day to day doing ordinary things and not much happens for far too long. We have two murders to solve here! I should be on the edge of my seat but I'm simply thinking, 'get on with it, for heaven's sake!' Now I'm getting worried that there won't be a surprise or shock at the end. That it will fall flat. I read for about three hours solid last night (I told you I'm a slow reader, didn't I?) and actually began to notice, for the first time, that the window seat is harder than I thought, and my bottom was getting a bit numb.
Let's make a note, fellow writers. Never give our readers a numb bum. Or at the very least, they shouldn't notice the numbness.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

I did it!

Self discipline won the day. This evening I worked on the dog story - the one I started writing ten years ago. I've got a few disconnected chapters and they are finally connecting. Some were written in third person, some from the point of view of one character and some from the point of view of another character. I wanted to see which would sound best. My witty husband asked me, "Are any chapters from the dog's point of view?" No, though it is a thought. But I have finally decided from whose point of view it will all be written. The sailing should be smoother from now on.
I still haven't abandoned the notion of writing a story from three or four points of view. Just not this one.
What do you think of a book that's composed of three diaries? All three reflecting different ways of seeing the same situation. It could be interesting.
And so to bed.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

The 'D' Word

That awful word keeps popping into my head. 'Which word?' you ask. Discipline, of course. Without it nothing gets done. And when it comes to writing fiction, or even non-fiction, the poet was wrong - Man/Woman IS an island. I mean, no one else is going to do it for you.
Do you remember when someone taught you to ride a bike, and they held on to the back and then let go, but you didn't know they'd let go, until you started talking to them and they didn't answer? Because they were at the other end of the street. And you turned around to see what was going on, and there was the person who'd been keeping you safe - waving from MILES away? So now you were on your own, keeping yourself safe (or not). How terrifying is that? Well, in a way, Discipline, ie; self discipline, is like trying to stay upright on a bike while it's speeding down the hill, and no one's holding on to the seat. It's terrifying.
At school your teachers tell you that you have to finish your work at a certain time or on a specific date, or you don't get a mark - well, maybe an 'F.' Not the kind of mark you want. Your parents tell you that you have to do something and if you don't do this thing there'll be no ice cream, or trip to the zoo, but if you do this very important thing, great riches will be yours. Do your homework and you'll get a better mark than if you didn't. Practice accordian three hours a day and you can play sea shanties to entertain the neighbours for hours, or until they beg you to stop. Somehow, between teachers and parents, you are kept on track, working towards worthy goals. Someone is teaching you self Discipline in preparation for the day when it's just YOU. Then, one day you go off to college and there's no Mom or Dad to remind you to spend two hours on your essay, or to explain to the prof. that the goldfish ate your homework, or that Grandma lined the canary's cage with it, by mistake. The prof. doesn't care. S/he just wants to see results. No one is holding the seat as you peddle down the highway of life. No one is reminding you. No one is saving you. Well, so it is with writing. You are on your own - which is really the way it should be.
So, now back to ME. At this moment my head is full of all the possible twists and turns in the plots I'm working on. Or, actually not working on, because I'm in 'low self discipline' mode, as in, not actually writing anything down, or using my computer to its full potential (finishing a story, working on one of the short novels, etc.) This is the problem we all face. On the positive side my trouble isn't Writer's Block. As usual, it's just the opposite. My head is so full of stories, plots changes of direction that I can't quite focus on one. 'This too,' you are probably saying, 'will pass.' I know it will. I just needed to imagine I heard someone say it.** However, when the chips are down it's up to me. Right now I need to go to bed, but tomorrow night, after I get home from work, the gym and grocery shopping, I'm going sit right here at the computer and write what's in my head, for at least two hours. Because if it stays in my head, well what's the point?
Discipline, Joan. Discipline!
And that goes for the rest of you out there.
p.s. **Let's imagine we hear our parents or teachers of yesteryear, telling us to, 'switch off that t.v. and get working!'