Sunday, July 28, 2013

Sunday, January 20, 2013

ROW80: Sunday check-in

Sadly, I'm going to have to take a break from ROW80. I may be back as the year progresses, but this is my busy working season and I need to step away for bit. I realized this week it feels like an obligation, not a choice. I want to be encouraged and be an encourager, yet I have little time to respond to wonderful comments on here. For me, I can't simply take the encouragement and not pass some of it around as well. I'll still be working on my writing goals, just at a uneven pace and not posting about all of them.

I did write this week, although more to flesh out my characters than anything really new. I did start reading Bradbury too.

Be well, be strong, and write on.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

ROW80 Check-In: We're All a Little Mad Here


To paraphrase from one of my favorite books, favorite movies. I adore Alice. My week has been a bit hare-raising (pun intended) with a sick husband, a son with either sickness, a growth spurt, or a simply apathetic attitude, and I have the sniffles.

As for my progress, I have written about 800 new words this week and read through part three of my trilogy. I did pinpoint several issues with part three. Because of some changes I made in part two, which was written after part three (confusing, I know) I truly need to rewrite a lot of part three. I'll probably read part one this week as well. I KNOW it needs lots of work and there is a huge gaping plot wound at the end that I never did fully write out.

 Yesterday was a wash for anything productive and today's productivity needs to be focused in a totally different direction. Happy Writing to all! I appreciate all the kind comments so far and hope to get around to visiting more blogs this week.

To reiterate here are my goals for round one:


  • Re-read Bradbury's Zen in the Art of Writing
  • Complete lessons 2-5 in Classical Rhetoric with Aristotle (a rhetoric course designed for high school homeschoolers) 
  • Write 1,000 words per week
  • Read one novel length rough draft, making notes, and prioritizing for editing (I may add to this goal, depending on how the draft reads)
  • (addition) Work through The Art of Styling Sentences (4th edition)- patterns 1-5


Sunday, January 13, 2013

ROW80 Check-in: Sunday Solace

Today is a slow day. I slept well last night, only waking briefly at three am. For someone who regularly deals with insomnia, it was a nice break. Then I started watching a movie on cable after some wrangling some paperwork. The movie was so mind-numbling bad, I left my dear husband watching alone while I went to nap. Two hours later, I'm here, rested again.

To reiterate these are my goals for round one:

With that in mind, my goals for round one include:


  • Re-read Bradbury's Zen in the Art of Writing
  • Complete lessons 2-5 in Classical Rhetoric with Aristotle (a rhetoric course designed for high school homeschoolers) 
  • Write 1,000 words per week
  • Read one novel length rough draft, making notes, and prioritizing for editing (I may add to this goal, depending on how the draft reads)
  • (addition) Work through The Art of Styling Sentences (4th edition)- patterns 1-5


I met my goal of writing 1,000 words. I wrote a scene from the view of a supporting character to try and understand his perspective better. 

I also read one novel length draft and make some notes. I need to go further with my notations. Also, this draft is part of a trilogy and I need to read part one and three to see if I have consistency throughout. 

My goal this week is to write something completely different for my 1,000 words. I've been working with some heavy themes and I'd like to explore some more light-hearted. I have several beginnings of short stories. I will play with those. 

I've also added some study in the book The Art of Styling Sentences. I found this stashed on my shelf this week. I'd started it at some point, but never got further than sentence pattern one. This is also part of my personal goals to collect, prioritize, and finish many of the books I have already started. I haven't found them all yet. 

Happy Writing to you all, and may your Sunday be restful. 

Wednesday, January 09, 2013

Courage, Goals, and a Shabti



I made my yearly writing goals this week. Now, joining ROW80, I need to break them down to those manageable pieces. This is where I get a tad anxious. What if I miss it? What if I change my mind? Do I really need one more thing I didn't do, didn't get accomplished? Breathe!

I know you're asking who is this weird woman and what in the world is a shabti? The link is the all great and powerful Wikipedia. My answer is I like mythological things. I bought the above shabti after a visit to an art museum. I keep it stashed by my planner, just in case it decides to start accomplishing any manual labor while I'm still breathing. That would certainly give me more time to write.

Who am I? I go by El as in ElegantLion or Paula, depending upon how you know me. I'm a wife, mother, and homeschooling parent to one of the coolest kids in the world. I write because I can't afford therapy. I've been writing on a regular basis since late 2007, honing my skills, competing in Nanowrimo (I love the rush), and working towards publication and full-time creative writer.

Why are we here? Oh, Goals that's it. I've written a lot. I have numerous rough drafts in various stages, I have notebooks full of ideas, and a head full of weird wanderings. I'm going to ease into my goals this round. My full priority is on schooling and this is our heavy, intense term. My overall goals involve prioritizing my current works and working on the crafting of words.

With that in mind, my goals for round one include:


  • Re-read Bradbury's Zen in the Art of Writing
  • Complete lessons 2-5 in Classical Rhetoric with Aristotle (a rhetoric course designed for high school homeschoolers) 
  • Write 1,000 words per week
  • Read one novel length rough draft, making notes, and prioritizing for editing (I may add to this goal, depending on how the draft reads)
That's it, those are my goals. Doable and manageable for this time of year. I look forward to getting to know you all. 

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Blogging Break

I will be taking an extended blogging break, at least until the new year. I will you all a peaceful December.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Nanowrimo, Art, and Slamming Words on a Page


Nanowrimo is an interesting competition. It can be experienced in a group, with a buddy, or in solitude while sitting on your couch. The premise is to slam 50,000 words down in 30 days and then stand back to see what you have. I seen some "real" writers scoff at Nanowrimo, those caffeine-induced maniacs that show up at coffee shops and libraries and think they are creating magic in 30 days. Those "real" writers might be muggles.

This year Z(my son) and I are working through the above book, Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain.  It's a cool book that shows those wannabe artists how some "real" artists achieve their goals. I've read up on right-brained learning as Z definitely sees the world in that manner. I'm about ready to hand him a pre-calculus book to help him learn algebra, if that's any indication of how upside down and backward some right-brained people see the world. Not a complaint, as I lean that way myself, but I'm used to learning in a linear mode.

This book has been great at explaining art. I'm a fairly decent artist. I can draw an image. I took every drawing class I could in high school and spent a lot of my free time drawing as a child. Z has potential, he likes drawing, but he get's frustrated with his ability. Yesterday we discussed how he needed to change his internal language to not being "bad at art" but to being "inexperienced at art". It helped cement the point when I pointed to his latest drawing above his head. He definitely found his R-mode in that drawing, you can see the difference in the pencil stroke. It's something I don't remember learning how to do, but I do it. I had some good art teachers through the years, but we never discussed L-Mode and R-Mode. So Z needs to learn to reprogram his self-speak, practice more, and really allow that R-mode to take over.

What has this got to do with Nanowrimo? 

A lot actually. When I'm in the mode for writing, when the muse sits happily on my shoulder humming Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata, I am largely in the R-mode. That is where the magic happens. Yesterday my antagonist let loose on my protagonist. She was wound up and boy did she let him have it. Not a word of what I wrote was a conscious thought. It was the scene playing in my head and I was doing well just to keep up. I'm writing in first person from the protagonist's  point of view, so I was surprised at the venom that was in her. It was perfect for the scene, it moved the story from falling into a plot lull, and it gave me and my protagonist lots of words to say in return. 

For many people who want to write and haven't with success, they stay stuck in L-mode. They think too much about what words they need to say, how the plot needs to move along in little increments, how to write index cards for everything little move. Now, I'm more of fly by the seat of my pants writer. I know some people do better when the plot more, when they have the idea mapped out, some stories need that detail work up front, as do some people. No matter how you write, you need to allow yourself the freedom to fall into that R-mode thinking, where you're seeing the scene before you, your characters aren't flat words on a page, they are 3D models and you're watching them act it out. You're the observer, from whatever perspective you write, and you just record the events as you see them. 

Sometimes it takes removing all the trappings of writing and just concentrating on slamming down words on the page. My incident yesterday happened 30,000 words into the story. I've had a few other shining moments, but nothing like this one. It's fifteen days into the writing. At this point I'm tired. My wrists hurt and I'm sleeping in wrist braces. I don't want to watch TV because my story is more interesting. I'm in the mode that it's a wonderful story that doesn't need a thing changed (that might be the delirium - but I believe this euphoric feeling about your writing is just as necessary to get through November.) It's like unplugging your brain from all the years of writing instruction. You get through it all and that is where you find the heart of your story. Something that will move people to read the next page. Grammar texts are mostly grammatically correct, I have never been moved to sit and read a grammar text for entertainment. Okay, wait, I take that back. I have sat and read this text because it's just so cool. 


A story needs heart to move your readers. Wait, I know, I story needs good grammar, spelling, plot flow, all those detail things. Nanowrimo isn't about those. Those come in December or January or March. Some people will never get to that point, because they are so wrapped up in those details they can't find the heart of the story. It's like love, you have to love your story to want to spend time editing grammar (picture my eyes glazing over here). You'll never get to that point if you aren't attracted to it in the first place, if you never find the magic in it. Slamming words on a page and watching those characters respond in ways only your subconscious mind could image is part of the magic. 

Not everyone who starts a Nano project will finish. Not everyone who finishes will move to the detail part. Not everyone who polishes their story will be published. It's all right though. This world needs more people who will try, more people who will attempt something difficult and get outside their own shell. That's the magic, and I hope you grab some of it this month. 
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