Trying To Do Better

So for the month of October I decided to keep track of what and how much I wrote each day.

First week was just scribbles and notes, mostly NANOWRIMO prep stuff. I want to make daily writing a habit but it’s not happening. Also this week I finished reading a book by a local author that I plan to give to the kid I use to babysit. Hurry Up Harry! It was a good book and cool that it was locally written.

The second week I started to read a book that a co-worker gave me. The Girlfriend. I’m not sure what to think, it’s a story, we’ll see how it goes. I also read a short story by H.P. Lovecraft – Beyond the Wall of Sleep, I liked it very much. I made some more quick notes for my NANO novel and about a couple of novels that are in the works. I rewrote my resume and some more cover letters and applied to some more jobs. (I plan to keep my over night job until I find a day job that I can live off of, but getting ready for work when I really want to be getting ready for bed is really frustrating and I’m not sure how much longer I can keep doing it. I’m exhausted. I find it hard to find time to sleep during the day. Usually I get 3 or 4 hours of sleep in the morning right when I get home from work, if I’m lucky, and I try to rest throughout the rest of the day but I don’t actually fall asleep.) I made notes from a log I had that goes with my NANOWRIMO novel.

During the third week I had to have my phone factory reset. I thought I had backed everything up but am missing several files of notes for a future novel. Weed/Cannabis became legal in my country during this week. It was interesting to watch the protesters on the first day of sales. Had a job interview for a fast food restaurant, got the job, start work next week.  One of my novels that I’ve already started I Broke into chapters. Started a scribbler of writing helps based on my saved posts from FB and the web. Made a batch of apple pies. Twisted my knee at work.

In the fourth week I edited one of my short stories. I worked one day at a fast food restaurant. Can you believe they make people stand for their entire shifts? No anti-fatigue mats. Even on breaks there was no place to sit, no lunch room for us to take our breaks in, not even any place for us to hang our coats! (there was one hook in the bathroom on the back of the door, so if I was to take my own lunch I’d have to keep it in the bathroom. Can you say NO!) With my twisted knee, standing for all that time resulted in pain. I did some research into low/no content books. Made another quick note for my NANOWRIMO novel. Started to write this blog.

The fifth (partial) week I applied to some more jobs online,  I did some research into low/no content books and downloaded some programs for it, sketched out the cover for my NANOWRIMO novel cover and printed my notes/outline for it. I’m ready to go for NANOWRIMO!

But will I succeed? Hope so but my track record for continuous writing on just one project and for more than two days in a row and more than one page a day isn’t good. Can I change? Yes, but will I? We’ll all have to wait until the end of next month to find out.

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Fabulous Fall

With things still in a tizzy at my “day” job and getting worse with people still wanting more time off this month and guests/customers starting to get physically and verbally abusive towards me and since I work alone with no one to help me or any video cameras to even see what I’m dealing with and the new mgmt only being part time and living an hour away and no one answering their phones in the middle of the night when I call for help, I’ve decided to start looking for a new job, hopefully one that will still pay the bills, have a steady schedule and feel not so life threatening. I would like to stay where I’m at because I can write at work in the winter but on the weekends we get lots of drunks and drunks have no respect for anyone and I just don’t want to be around them but having to work weekends is part of the deal here so I gotta move on for my own safety and sanity. (as well on Oct. 17 Canada is legalizing weed so where I work that is only going to cause more problems for me, so I gotta get outta here before then) At least I’ll get some writing done this month as I have to edit my resume and create original cover letters now because I’ve been at the same job for over a year and the old ones don’t cover my present job.

On the long weekend at the start of September I attended a meet and greet with the following Nova Scotian based authors: Dave Whitman, Mike Parker, Vernon Oickle, Brenda Thompson, Sarah Sawler, Andria Hill-Lehr, Carmen Legge, Leo Deveau, Ann Berry. I bought a book for a friend (whom I will give it to once I’m finished reading it) and I got two books signed, one I had previously bought and the other I had previously won. The best part was being able to talk with authors about being from Nova Scotia. Most of the authors wrote non fiction about Nova Scotia so of course they’re proud to say where they are from. Saying where I am from has been an issue for me for a long time. I like my space and privacy so I haven’t been looking forward to being public about where I’m from but these authors say that Nova Scotia is a great place to be from and is a great place be an author in. So here I am, going public with the fact that I’m a Nova Scotian.

I’ve been looking at information about publishing on Amazon which has gotten me in the mood to write so starting October 1st I’m gonna try and seriously write a little bit each day. They say it takes a person 21 days of doing something everyday for it to form as a habit and that is what I want so that is why I say I want to write a little bit everyday during October. November is NANOWRIMO (https://nanowrimo.org) and this year I plan to give  it a serious try. I’ve almost finished my outline for the book I want to write that month, it’s my tribute to Anthony Bourdain. So if in October I can make writing everyday a habit then November should be easier to write everyday only a lot more each day, so I can finish a novel in just 30 days. Well, that’s the plan anyways. Fingers crossed!

Summer Vacation

Well if I thought July was disappointing because I didn’t get much accomplished I don’t know what to think of August because I got nothing done on my novel.

It’s summer so I did go on vacation. I left Nova Scotia, drove up the French coast of New Brunswick, stayed in Richibucto, then into Quebec and around the Gaspé Peninsula to Matane then back down to Campbellton and on to Richibucto were we stayed two more nights then onto Truro in Nova Scotia where we stayed another night before heading home. Technically we were gone for five nights but the second night we spent driving around Quebec because every motel and campground was sold out. In the middle of the night I seen a church that was lit up in purple (my favorite color) so I took that as a sign and we parked out back and grabbed some z’s for a few hours. Realized my car is not comfortable for sleeping in. For breakfast at 4am we ate chicken and egg salad sandwiches from a 24 hr Irving gas station; though I was not really sure what time it was because the clock on my cell phone kept switching as we zig zagged over the time zone line in Quebec. And I did get to eat a “new to me” food, they were some kind of funky cheese twists that tasted like I imaging brine would taste like. I did get to touch the Northumberland Strait, Gulf of St Lawrence, and the St Lawrence River. I got to see the giant lobster in Shediac, the Cap-des-Rosiers Lighthouse (the tallest lighthouse in Canada, standing 34.1 metres (112 ft) tall), Percé Rock, my first ever sight of a covered bridge in Metapedia, as well as the tip of the Appalachian mountains. It was an interesting drive through unfamiliar territory at night going up and down mountains with warning signs of up to 13% grades. To wind down on Friday, as we were leaving New Brunswick, we stopped in Bouctouche at the Irving Arboretum. I had never been to an arboretum before and it was awesome! I love trees!

The first Saturday of August was the last meeting of the writers group and the group reviewed the first 8 pages of my novel that I’m working on. Actually, I edited it a bit as it’s not finished and not put into chapters yet and I wanted it to read like a short story or chapter of a book but I had to stay within the 8pg limit for our group. I was ready for them to tear it apart and tell me all the things which they think need changing to make it more readable. I prepared myself for all the negative things they could possibly say so that I wouldn’t react to them and I would be able to take it. BUT that didn’t happen. They actually liked it! And I mean really liked it! I got some great feedback! All the little things that I did that I thought that the wouldn’t like, they actually loved. My descriptive details, my pushing the edge of the norm and my over the top characters were magnificent! That was the best confidence booster I could have ever gotten.

As for my day job (actually it’s a night or rather morning job, I work from midnight to 8am), the GM announced she was leaving later this month and that caused a big uproar at work. People still want vacation time so my schedule is not steady, at this point I’m not sure it ever will be again. Summer is busy at work so I haven’t had the time to write at work like I did over the winter.

 

These are foggy times.

These are just some, important to me, points that happened in the month of July:

I finished reading the book Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain. I still haven’t been able to get him off my mind. I plan to read his other books sometime in the future. This book was a nice look at a life that revolved around kitchens and food. It was the unique perspective that I like most, being able to see it through his eyes. And the honesty.

I finished my online poetry course. I did learn a little, but I can’t write poetry any better.

The first Saturday in July in my local writing group we reviewed some poems and a short story. Apparently, my ideas about what the meanings of poems are is way wrong. I visualize way too much and didn’t see the real metafores taking place that the writer intended. Is there such a thing as having to much imagination? I think so!

I finished my online short story course. -> Revised a short story and got positive feedback about it. -> Made lots of notes on writing in general. I’m sure they’ll help when I start writing more.

I wrote 3.5 pages of my novel. Yeah, finally some work on my book! Thank goodness for coffee shops next to garages and my need of an oil change before heading out on vacation next month.

Made notes about some other stories. Had a couple of new ideas as well.

Died on the last Monday in July, or so it felt. This last week of July has been a write off for me as I was ill and not able to do much. Still not sure exactly what happened but know I lost time and freaked out my friends. Get to wear a heart monitor in September, hopefully that will tell me more of what’s going on.

Now that I look back I feel like I wasted July. If it wasn’t for getting my oil changed and sitting in a coffee shop to write while I waited I wouldn’t have gotten any work on my novel done. And once again I’m disappointed in myself and the quantity of writing of done.

Letters to the famous

     So Friday June 8th, 2018 was a sucky day. I was out driving my friends around and as I sat in a parking lot of a grocery store my friend, who’s always playing on his phone, tells me that Anthony Bourdain died. I was like “No way man. That’s got to be one of those fake news things.” He said he was pretty sure it was real.

     When I finally got home that night I looked it up and sure enough it was all over the news that he truly had died. I was shocked to say the least. I only started watching him a few years ago but immediately fell in love with his imperfections, the way he spoke, looked and acted, his past, how he overcame his demons. He had visited a town that was only 15 mins away from where I lived shortly after I first started watching him but I didn’t go see him. I’m not a foodie and it was a foodie event. I just liked how he showed culture through the back streets of places that I know I’ll never get to visit.

     I watched news broadcasts about him. Seen how his friends, co-workers, spoke about him. Apparently, how he acted on tv was the way he was in real life, there was nothing fake about him, he was so real all the time. I read about him. Found out that he had wrote some novels (I will eventually buy them and read them, just out of curiosity). And he wrote some books on food too. I like the way he spoke and broke the 4th wall.  His narratives were dreamy. If the cinematography of his shows hadn’t been so awe inspiring I could have closed my eyes and just listened to him talk about what he was experiencing. He had a voice that, if he had recorded any audio books, I would have listened to them intentle. (I don’t like audio books, they become background noise, like music, and I end up thinking about something else other than what I’m listening to.)

     Josh Gates and Anthony Bourdain are my modern day Indiana Jones’s. They go places and have adventures I only dream of. And since I dream of such adventures I had planned to write a story/novel about such adventures one day. I just have notes for now. And I make more notes as I watch their shows and read about them and places they’ve been as I know I’ll never get there to experience it myself.

      When Josh Gates was new I was afraid he would stop being on air because of his newness and uniqueness but fortunately he keeps coming up with new shows on new channels and I get to keep watching. Unfortunately there will be no new Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown shows. He was so inspiring to me, I’ve DVR’d as many episodes as I can. For now I watch them in sadness. Eventually I’ll watch them again with the dreamyness of joining him and imagining what it would be like for me to be there with him as I did before.

     Having read about Anthony Bourdain brought back memories from August 2014 when I found out that Robin Williams had passed away. I loved the movies of his that I have seen, and no I haven’t seen them all, yet. His humor made me laugh, not every comedian has that ability. I’m as much into comedy as I am a foodie (I screwed up jello the other day, apparently you can’t put jello in the freezer to make it set faster). I get odd looks from people when I try to be funny. These are not my things therefore I admire the people who have these talents. Each of these men had and has a way with words, facial expressions and body language that brought about many emotions in many people, me included. They were unique. They did their own thing. They were themselves. They took that risk (of being themselves) that put them out in front of people and people loved them for it.

     In the days after Anthony Bourdain passed away I felt like writing a letter to Josh Gates to let him know how special he is to people. He’s more than just an entertainer, he is the embodiment of inspiration for so many. Like Anthony Bourdain, Josh Gates does an amazing narrative on his shows and occasionally also breaks the 4th wall as well. They both also show their crewe to us, once in a while, so we get that behind the scenes feel from an episode. Lots of people like to feel that they are getting that sneak peek at something others don’t get to see, it make us, the audience, feel special. But I never wrote that letter. I hope he’ll be ok. I’m shy, I like to stay behind the scenes.

     I got thinking about writing letters to all the entertainers that have inspired me so far in my life. Making sure they were all ok too and that they knew how much their fans adored them. But I’m sure they all get tons of fan mail everyday telling them that. One more, or one less letter, isn’t going to make a difference. Or will it? If I had wrote letters to all my favorite actors, authors, musicians, friends and relatives, (who have passed away) would it have made a difference in any of their lives? Would they still be here today? If I write letters to those still alive will it keep them from dying? My guess is no, not a letter from me can make that big of a difference. We never know the struggles that people are going through. Most likely my letter would show up on a good day for them and they would just toss it aside. If the big stars even read their own fan mail, which I’m guessing most don’t, they have staff for that. All the letters I did write to my relatives didn’t keep them alive, the letters may have made them happy, but death still came. Though my relatives died of natural causes, maybe it did keep suicide away, I know many suffered with their ailments but they all pushed through to their natural ends. I don’t write many letters any more, mainly because I feel we keep in touch enough through social media, but I know my friends and family still like getting letters in the mail. So a few times a year I still write letters to a select few but I’ve never written a letter to someone I’ve never met and only admired by watching them on television or reading about them. I don’t think I have the power to make that big of a difference in a person’s life who lives in the limelight. What do you think? Do you write fan mail or letters to friends and relatives just to say hi and that you’re thinking about them?

     This past week I found out that Anthony Bourdain wasn’t the only one who had passed away on June 8th, 2018. My friends uncle had also passed away that day but I never found out until the middle of the following week. I had met his uncle a few times, he taught me some good life lessons back in the day. Their family and mine had been friends way before I was ever born, not close but enough to call them friends and not just acquaintances.

     I have been waiting, no, dreading, for the news of the third. I find deaths come in 3’s. Less than three months ago was the first funeral of friend, then last month another. I know there would be one more and it sucks knowing that death is coming and having no idea who for. I start visiting people I haven’t seen in a while or at least calling them to see how they are doing. It gets me thinking about mortality and how death decides who goes next. Several friends have had close calls but beat death away. They worry me. They are living on borrowed time.

     The way I deal with things in life that bother me is that I write. Being shy makes it hard for me to talk to people to say how I’m feeling. I find it easier to say what’s on my mind if I hide behind my pen and paper. Writing is a slower process than speaking and it gives me time to adjust my words before others hear them. I’m presently ½ way through an online short story writing course so I used my emotions to write a short story for one of the assignments in the course, killing two birds with one stone.

     My progress on my novel has been, ok, well, there has been no progress since May and I didn’t even write much in May. I still carry it with me to work every shift, I now refer to my briefcase as my glorified lunch box. I still have all the same old excuses, life just got busy – funeral, awards nights, banquets, Fathers Day, teaching son to drive, extra courses to do for work, the poetry and short story courses I decided to do online and I’m still part of the writers group at the library. My biggest excuse was waiting for the third death as I placed the two previous obituaries on my writing desk and claimed it to be superstitious if I put them away before I had the third, they are put away now, now I have my writing desk in my closet back to work at. I am anticipating next month will be much better for writing as the only things on my agenda is to take a relative to the airport and lots of extra hours at work as I fill in for people on vacation now that it is summer.

     On a more positive note I did write this blog, a poem and one, and half of another short stories, plus jotted down some ideas for new stories and more notes to go along with already formed ideas for stories. I also read (I didn’t read them cover to cover, I flipped through and read what parts looked interesting) four books that I borrowed from the library on poetry and short stories. I’m writing this to justify to myself that I still did some reading and writing. I also thought about my novel and the process of writing it. I think I’ll be sad when I’m done writing my novel. It’s a place I can escape and look forward to and think about to get my mind off things. Plus the main character is about to get into trouble and be hurt and I really like my main character and don’t want to see anything bad to happen to her so if I don’t write the bad stuff then she’ll be ok. I think I’m too attached to my main character. Is that such a thing?

I don’t have to write that

     To be honest, I haven’t written anything new in the past month.

     I did finish reading Tommyknockers and am over ½ way through Dolores Claiborne. Plus I’ve read over ½ a dozen short stories to try and get use to their way of being.

     I’ve been trying to come up with new ideas for more short stories but am just beating my head off a brick wall in frustration. Every story idea I come up with needs to have more detail and depth and back story than what I’m able to put in a short story.

     Multiple places that I’ve read online, in Stephen King’s book on writing and even the leader at the writers group I attend, said that if I want to write novels and get them published, I need to start by writing short stories and getting them published first in order to establish my presence as a writer in this world. But I finally found a writer who has published novels and didn’t start by writing short stories. So all this hype about HAVING to write short stories, that I’ve been fretting about for the past month, is not for everyone. So if I’m not good at writing short stories but am good at writing novels why should I keep trying so hard to write short stories when writing longer pieces comes to me so much more easier?

***I’ve come to the realization today that I don’t have to write short stories.***

     Sure if an idea comes to me I’ll write it but I’m just going to stop trying to write short stories and go back to writing my novel. What flows flows and what doesn’t flow I’m not going to force.

Short Stories vs. Novel, how I spend my time

I still think of myself as the Queen, ruling over the land of Percastination. When I would much rather be someone lower in the court, like maybe the Jester of Percastination! Ha, Ha! Then eventually I’ll move into my rightful place as the Town Scribe. Oh metaphores, how I love thee.

The up date on my “novel” is 74 pages written now, with a goal of at least 200 pages.

My monthly break down of pages written each month:

Sept – 4

Oct – 22

Nov – 13

Dec – 6

Jan – 5

Feb – 9

March – 8

Mid April (so far) – 7

I look at those numbers and hang my head, I know I can do so much better.

Back on March 10th I had a list of things I was going to change, here is what happened to each of those so far:

  1. I couldn’t say no to those 3 people all the time. I really need to work on getting rid of them from my life. It will be easier in a couple of years when I plan to move. I think one of the reason I find it so hard to stop associating with them is because they are so far out of whack from normal society that everytime I see them I make notes about them and I plan to eventually write a book where my characters live that way.
  2. Work schedule is not steady yet. Lousy excuse, I know. But it is hard to plan and look forward to sitting down to write then getting called into work. Sure the money is great to have and the job is easy but I don’t live for money, I live to write.
  3. I did join my first writers group. We meet the first Saturday of each month and I volunteered to be one of the first three members to share some writing. Not sure how it is going to go as most of the participants rolled their eyes and gave a little tis-tis sound when during my introduction I said I liked Stephen King. As usual when I meet someone new and I want to pick their brain I stayed back after the first meeting and talked with the leader about what piece I should share as he was looking for something short. I suggested the first chapter of my novel and he suggested that if I want to get published (as in my novel published) I need to start small and write short stories and send them into magazines and journals to get published small first then work my way to something bigger, basically to establish my presence as a writer in this world. (Funny, Stephen King said the same thing in his book on writing.) SO the next day I wrote the first draft of a short story. Left it for a couple of days and let a few friends read it and give feedback (feedback was not overwhelmingly great) so I worked on the second draft before sending it into the writers group leader. What I take away from this writers group will be something I hope I can share each month in my blog. So now I’m looking at writing more short stories while trying to write a bit each month on my novel.
  4. I didn’t make it very far with Nora Roberts. Nothing wrong with her writing. I just want more Stephen King, when I figure out why I like his writing I’ll let you know. Now I’m reading Tommyknockers and it’s going great! Love falling asleep cuddled up with a book.
  5. I posted two blogs this month, as one I had written last month but never got around to publishing it. With the writers group and reading more books and now trying my hand at short stories I feel I’ll have more to write about each month on here.
  6. I haven’t been storm stayed at the hotel anymore and I occasionally do use my writing desk in my closet. I haven’t been to any coffee shops lately as I got a “new to me” car a couple of months ago and nothing has gone wrong with it;  tire season is approaching, I’d say in about 2 weeks or so will be a good time to get them switched over, then I will go early to a coffee shop to write while I give them a few hours to get the tires switched over.

I am working on changing so I can write more and better. I’ve even lessened the time I spend on the internet. I feel I’ve read all articles from the websites I like about writing, that I think partaine to me and where I’m at. Although I have been looking up info on how to write short and horror stories lately.

Please share your favorite writing websites or blogs and any info you have on writing short stories, horror stories and publishing in magazines, as this is where I’m at with my writing and don’t want to waste time researching for good articles to read, you can do that research for me (please and thank you). And if you have any favorite magazines that contain short stories please let me know that too so I can read what others are writing and getting published. Thanks in advance for helping me.