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Short story

My Own Discbound Notebook

I recently learned about the discbound notebook system. I spent time putting the whole thing together and the biggest benefit I’ve seen about it so far is the fact that I’m excited about my story again. This is a story that’s been dogging me for the last 4 years. I’ve actually had characters growing, changing, disappearing and reappearing the whole time. Some would think that’s a bit nuts. Sometimes I think it’s a bit nuts too. The thing that makes me craziest is having the story tell me about itself, reveal bits to me over time, and me not writing it down as fast and as furiously as I possibly can.

I don’t know much about the system yet, and the system is something I build and re-build as the story evolves. As I capture it. I got the extra large 250-sheet rings because I’m an optimistic sort, as I mentioned before. I have paper for brainstorming, or mindmapping, so I can chase down the convolutions. This is a story over 3 primary characters and 2 generations. I’ll need a map to find my way out, or through. I have the requisite separators; notes, characters, timeline, research. I have the first 5 chapters in finalized form. And now I just need a new start.

My challenge now is that I do not know where I left off, other than chapter 5, or where the story was headed. I’ve discovered because of this last many months, and the many months that have separated all the previous attempts at getting the beast down on paper, that I am definitely not a pantser. I’m not the type who can just sit down and organically birth a story, a la Stephen King. What I need instead is a very clear plan. I’m hoping the discbound notebook is that plan, that map.

For the last several days since I put together the initial notebook, I’ve been mentally pulling together my characters, the locations and scenes in the story and then also thinking about those places as characters because in some respect, they are as bit a part of the story as the breathing pieces. Especially Pauline’s Cafe. I’ve been building my notebook in my mind to include not just the characters but also trying to tie in how the scenes are going to build to the end I’ve seen in my head for some time. Except now, going back over some of the pieces of this story I’ve written over the last several years, starting and then stopping, I’m finding that the original end I thought I knew was inevitable doesn’t seem to fit anymore. I find myself in a pretty scary place in that I no longer know what happens. I need to do a lot of work writing out the scenes, outlining them onto cards in Storyist so I can move them about until they do fit, if they fit together anymore at all.

So much work to do, good work. Such opportunity to get it right. I believe it’s a good story. A great story, really. It is my great hope that I am able to make this work and tell the story well.

Categories: Short story

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Take Two.

Well. It’s been 4 days since my last post, and it hasn’t exactly been a daily endeavor. Not the most auspicious start, but given I’ve always been pretty Pollyanna in my worldview, I’m willing to go on believing this will still be a daily thing. I’m just choosing to start today. Today is a new day, remember. OK, seriously now. I mean it. I will make this a daily thing. I plan to use time every day, anyway I can, wherever I can thieve it from to make my 10 minutes of morning pages. Even if they aren’t in the morning, a girl’s gotta start somewhere. And the blog, well, I’ll commit to a daily writing as long as it takes to make it stick.

In these four days I’ve been to work twice, to physical therapy, spent the day with my 5-year-old granddaughter, who my husband and I raise, after her graduation (no that’s not a typo, it was really a graduation from pre-kindergarten), out to my sister’s farm to visit with my mom who was in a serious car accident two weeks ago. I’ve also ridden shot gun on two dinner party planning ventures driven by said 5-year old, one to include her Gong-Gong (granddad) in her graduation since he couldn’t make it and the second in honor of his birthday. This also doesn’t include laundry, planting the tomatoes and basil and the strawberry fairy garden as well as trying to plant several mail delivery plants that are near dead and still in their pots as I type owing to a very sudden change in weather. That’s a lot going on even for someone who’s not trying to beg, borrow and steal every stray minute possible to get some writing in. It’s been a tough week. Not likely to be any different next week either.

My challenge is to continue to carve the minutes out, grow them into moments and then into ever larger bits of time. I feel a bit like a thief. Like I don’t dare tell anyone I’m trying to do something like this. Worse still, if I feel like I have a few minutes, or even an hour where I’m going to go write, I’m trying to go against my grain and NOT tell. I’ve found sharing this sort of dream for some reason seems to invite encroachment, time poachers. Unwritten expectations by well meaning friends and family members who inevitably seem to require my urgent attention as soon as they think they won’t have it undivided.

Quite crazy making.

What to do? Well, not sure exactly. Part of me has become quite furtive with my time. Sneaky even. At work, at home when I can get away with it, which is almost never given stuff won’t get done less I’m the one doing it. I’ve checked out of most everything I can and have even downgraded my minimum level of accepted ‘clean’ in the house. I used to think if I didn’t give the level of clean in the house at least a B+, it wasn’t clean enough. Now, I’ve got dust enough to write my name in on the piano. There’s dog hair bunnies on the wood floor and even on the carpet (who knew that could happen), which is really only enough to make me cringe when the sun slants in through the window at a certain angle in the morning. That’s the time of day that often finds me on my knees chasing the piles of dog hair with a Swiffer or scooping them up by hand if a Swiffer seems too much trouble, which is often. There’s a ring in the toilet. I need someone to come in and help me clean, I’m certain of it.

And still, it’s not enough. I thought at one point Stella going to school would help out. But all of that will happen when I’m at work. Right now, it looks as though I’ll be pilfering minutes as I can while at work. I’m curiously OK with that at this point.

Categories: Short story

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Hello World.

This is the very first of a year long commitment to blog every day. Blog fest if you will. A means to an end. A way to force, cajole, weedle and trick my sad self into birthing a writerly life where I actually write, not just wish I would write. Or had time to write.

This is the first day on the journey. I was accepted into the English program, concentration in Creative Writing almost a month ago. The only reason I applied is because I didn’t get into the big-kid’s MFA program so I’m settling for the undergraduate version so I can gain access to the upper division writing classes. Why? Why would I do that, a woman with two degrees? Why not just write? Well, the sad, sad truth of it is that I hate writing. I love it. And I hate it. It’s a conundrum. It’s rather unfortunate that I find myself being the kind of writer that doesn’t function well without a deadline. Or threat of a grade. I write every day, but not meaningfully. I jot notes. I start stuff. Loads of stuff. I finish not a thing. And worst of all, I don’t share any of it. Not unless I’m forced to. the class thing you know. I’m the member (really, not joking) in the writing group that never shares writing. Never reads at the readings. I’ll read other people’s stuff all day long and write long, thoughtful responses. I’m a killer editor. I’m a good writer. I’d rather switch that up a bit.

I’ve wanted to write for a living since I was in 7th grade and got my very first, ‘you write really well’ from Mr. John Kinghorn, writing teacher extraordinaire. Also the one who introduced me to Ray Bradbury and the Martian Chronicles. I still have the battered, yellow, brittle copy, stamped ‘Property of Evergreen Junior High School,’ that I stole, er, failed to return. But really it was because I loved it so much I couldn’t. Between John and Mr. Joseph Knight, an English teacher I had in high school, I was smitten with the idea of being a writer very early on. I even loved the surly alcoholic literature teacher I had who introduced me to Hemingway. I hated then loved a teacher I had in 9th grade who I swore then followed me to the high school as an English teacher just for the pleasure of continuing her torture campaign against me. Mrs. Aldridge … I forget her first name now. Mrs. Aldridge, who holds a very dear place in my heart because she’s the one who introduced me to Harper Lee and To Kill a Mockingbird.

I want to create places that draw people in and hold them near, beloved, because they love the place and the people too. Right now I’m thinking Louise Penny. I want to live in Three Pines with the Gamaches, Gabri and Olivier. Clara and Myrna. Even Ruth. I want to breathe life into something that special. So here we go.

Categories: Short story

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