Ever since I was in elementary school, I’ve dreamed of being a writer. I wrote a story about secret doors, a story about an American girl raised in France who has to return to the US during high school, and more. I’ve journaled when I felt bad and when I felt great. Always in the back of my mind, I dreamed of being a writer.
I think seeing my account nearly empty of funds and not making enough to support myself, spurred me on with a either now or never attitude.
I’ve learned through my daughter Books for the living and her book blog a new vocabulary. And this includes the term beta reader. These are people who volunteerily read your first draft. They critique the story, point out holes in the plot, timeline issues etc. My daughter sent my book off to a beta reader and I was completely blown away by her comments. It was a very good review with only a few plot line and timeline issues. Once I’m finished making the changes, I’ll hire an editor to take it to the next step.
And hopefully in the not too distant future, you’ll be able to find Unpacking Dreams at Amazon as an ebook.
I am taking a course at UTexas called Kickstart your Novel. Last week I brought in a sample of my story and a few classmates and the instructor took it home in order to critique it. Normally the instructor critiques your writing while you are in a small group setting. But for reasons I won’t go into, my writing was critiqued in from the entire group.
The instructor is kind and has a way of delivering a critique without squashing your dreams. Overall it was a favorable review by all who read it with one classmate saying it was the best thing she’d read so far in class. The instructor pointed out my good word and phrase choices. An example, “Michael casually shredded her life.”
I have the most difficult (my therapist would say impossible) time accepting praise. I sift out the good and only keep bad. Silly, I know and I’m working on changing.
So who knows, maybe I will someday realize my dream and be a published author.
I am an addict. I love books and journals. Walking past a bookstore and not going in takes a tremendous amount of willpower. I’ve learned to use the library to save money but sometimes you just have to give in. I ordered #52happylists and #52listsprojects by @mooreaseal #mooreaseal because I have struggled with the idea I can be happy again.
I know it’s just a matter of refocusing but having my supportive friends living thousands of miles away has made it difficult. I’ve wandered and not been able to stay hopeful that my life will change for the better. I know if you read my blog, you understand how depressed I’ve been.
I read about the The 52 lists for Happiness on a Psychology Twitter feed and thought why not. I ordered them on #amazon and as a #amazonprime member, I paid no shipping costs. The challenge now is to stay on task and fill out each list so hope and happiness return. Thanks #sasquatchbooks for publishing them.
You are probably wondering who is Demelza and why would I want to live like her? She is a wonderful character created by Winston Graham. A poor miner’s daughter living in an abusive, desperately poor home, she is swept into a new world when she is brought home with Ross Poldark to work as a house servant in England post American Revolution.
Now am I saying I want to work as a servant. The answer is no. But Demelza has a love of life, a roll up your sleeves and get to work, I am blessed view of life. No matter what tragedy she faces, even when she makes her own mistakes, she quickly rebounds.
I am going to quote the book in this my first blog post. Now married to Ross, Demelza has just lost their young daughter to a morbid throat disease and she herself has almost lost her own life to the same. A feud is broiling between Ross and his cousin, Francis who married Ross’s sweetheart, Elizabeth. And to complicate matters more, Demelza caught the disease while nursing Elizabeth, Francis and their young son. They all survived but precious Julia was lost. Now if I had been in that situation I would have had Ross’s attitude, an attitude of anger, sadness, overwhelming hopelessness and a desire for revenge. However Demelza ends the book with the following:
“When something happens,” she said, “like what has just happened to us, it makes all our quarrels seem small and mean, as if we were quarreling when we hadn’t the right. Didn’t we ought to find all the friendship we can?”
For me the simple substitution of happiness in the place of friendship and disappointments for quarreling makes it applicable to my life and my divorce.
When something happens, like what has just happened to me, it makes all my disappointments seem small and mean, as if I was disappointed when I hadn’t the right. Shouldn’t I ought to find all the happiness I can?
Alright, I may have admitted this before, but it is important we own our addictions. And I have found a new website which happily feeds my addiction. It is Thrift Books. I’ve been using the library for ebooks but sometimes I am impatient and don’t want to be 11th in line for a book, so I feel compelled by my addiction to buy the book. Thrift Books helps me afford to do that but, I am a book addict. I will say it again. I am a book addict. Since January 1st, I have read 38 books. Which means I am averaging one book approximately every 3.8 days. And since last fall I have specifically become addicted to detective mystery series set either in another time or another place. These include:
- The Armand Gamache Books by Louise Penny – set in Quebec, present day
- The Maisie Dobbs Books by Jacqueline Winspear- set in England pre and post WWI
- The Ian Rutledge Books by Charles Todd- set in England post WWI
- Bruno, Chief of Police Books by Martin Walker- set in St. Denis area, France, present Day
I am not certain why I have suddenly become addicted to this type of book but I do know why a series captures me. A good writer makes a character real in my mind. These characters become my friends. I think about them. I wonder what they are doing when I am finished with a series. What do I share with each of them. Each character faces their own demons and identifying with this is easy. I question my choices like Armand. I have been hurt and right now I keep s wall around my emotions like Maisie. Ian struggles with a voice in his head of a lost soldier. I struggle with my own voice chastising me for making so many wrong choices. I long for love like Bruno.
I admire them and their unique qualities. What can I learn from their lives and then incorporate into my own life so I will be happier, more content person. I want to be a better listener like Armand. I want to be patient like Maisie and not miss the details. I want to push past my fears like Ian. And I want to live a life rich with friends and the love of the simple things like Bruno. I know they are fictional characters but I still learn something about myself through each book, each story, each struggle and each triumph.
So again, I admit I am an addict, a book addict and I hope I never am cured.
MURDER IN BLUEBONNET HILLS
I am well into my story now. 80,000 words is given as the minimum for writing to be considered a novel. I am halfway finished with reading Stephen King’s On Writing book. I was skeptical when he mentioned his characters speaking to him and leading sometimes down an entirely different story path.
I know now he’s right. I had a basic plot line in mind, characters, victim, a guilty murderer and as I have continued to write the story, I am being lead in an entirely different direction. It seems my murderer is innocent and someone else did the nasty deed.
If I continue writing at my current pace I hope to finish the first draft by mid-May. Thank you to Julie and Anne for their bravery in reading what I’ve written and giving me their honest opinions. When it’s finally finished and I e-publish it I will certainly post it on my blog.
How I wish I could be one of the many characters I find in books. I’d love to be Demelza Poldark from the Winston Graham Poldark series. I’d like to be a female version of Inspector Armand Gamache by Louise Penny. It would be fabulous to be any of the female characters in Dorothea Benton Frank’s books chronicling the lives of the women of Charleston, South Carolina. And now I’d love to be Maisie Dobbs, investigator and psychologist.
Maisie has a rags to riches story. Having to enter a life of service after her mother dies because her devoted father struggles to support them as a costermonger. Now I had to look that word up. It is someone who sells fruits and vegetables from a cart. Living in Pre-WWI London, life isn’t easy but Maisie has an insatiable curiosity. Her deepest love is to learn and in order to do so, she rises at 3 am to spend two hours in the great house’s library. Secretly of course because as a servant she wouldn’t be allowed to use the books.
Through a course of events Maisie is swept into a life as the protégé of the mysterious Dr. Maurice Blanche and Lady Rowan Compton becomes her sponsor. She goes from servant girl to student at Girton College part of Cambridge. But her plans are interrupted with the start of WW I. Maisie feels called to serve as a nurse even though she has no training. Lying about her age so she can serve, Maisie begins the first of a long line of life changing experiences.
Why do I wish I could be Maisie? Because Maisie has been taught to sit, legs folded and find her center. Using this technique she calms her inner self and can see more clearly. She has the ability to listen and listen well, respecting the speaker. She understands the body says as much or more than simple words. And she knows her body language and expressions speaks volumes. Never seeing herself as having the incredible and outstanding qualities others see in her, Maisie struggles to find her place. She is no longer a member of the service class but neither is she a member of the upper social class. I feel like Maisie. I don’t know where I belong. I was a wife and mother and now I am no longer a wife and my children have grown so being a mother isn’t the same. My economic status has changed from one of comfort to one of struggle. Is there a place in this world for me, like there is a place in the world for Maisie?
Yesterday I went to a meetup group for writers struggling with a blank page. Most everyone there, except for me had written one or more novels. I can’t seem to get past the first page of two. It was suggested to not overthink anything. I should just let the words flow into the page.
I am hyper critical of myself believing everything I do is unworthy. And my current state of mine doesn’t help. Just to get out of bed is a challenge. My mail goes uncollected for a week. The state of my apartment is shameful but I don’t care. I’ve been unable to see any possibility of love and happiness in my future.
Writing does allow me to spread how I am feeling. However I have yet found a way to put a story to paper.
Secrets, everyone has them. The question is what do we do with them and what do we do when we learn other people’s secret. This is a tale which I can relate. Cecilia has what she believes is a perfect life, a handsome husband, three wonderful daughters, a successful career and an active volunteer life. While that isn’t exactly a description of my life, it comes close. The there is Tess married with a son and extremely close to her cousin Felicity. Close as sisters they share all aspects of their lives. Rachel, a still grieving mom whose only daughter was murdered, now grieving the departure of her son, daughter-in-law and only grandson to New York City. This new grief catapults her into an obsessive belief the school PE teacher killed her daughter.
It all comes crashing down when each woman learns a secret. Each reacts differently but all causing more chaos in their already damaged lives. Cecelia must decide if she should keep her husband’s secret. In making the choice to keep the ugly truth secret many lives are affected and changed forever. All three women’s lives are intertwined through St. Angela’s Catholic school. As each woman faces choices concerning a secret they struggle. What is the right thing to do versus the best thing for their families.
I understand how difficult it can be when you learn an ugly secret truth about your husband. Hindsight is 20/20. I can see how my choice to keep the ugly truth to myself, I caused damage to myself and my daughters. As difficult as it would have been to face it whe it happened, I would have been able to reach out for help. I could have avoided the deep sadness and depression during my marriage and post divorce. Secrets destroy a soul. That’s is what Cecilia learned. That is what Tess learned. It is what Rachel learned. It’s a lesson I took a long time to learn.
Liane Moriarty has an ease in her writing that captures what most of are honking. Whe. Cecilia thinks to herself, I can hear myself rambling and chattering but I can’t stop. I talk when I’m nervous, I thought that’s me”! When Tess wondered what she was lacking that caused her husband to look elsewhere, that was me. And when Rachel becomes obsessed with “justice” and “vengeance” that was me too. Life in Melbourne, Australia isn’t very different than life here in Texas.