FOCUS and Our Lives In Story Structure

time dreamingAs I prepare the material for this evening’s writers’ meeting, my mind drifts back in time to an event I can’t relive, can’t change. It was decades ago. I’m no magician. I can’t go back and undo the past; I can only live with the results.

Then I jerk my mind back to focus on the task at hand: preparing notes for the meeting.

We will be discussing the 2nd part of Act II tonight and the Hero’s journey. I’m going over an email a member sent sharing her ideas on this. She writes, “We either go with the flow, give up and be miserable, or we take the risk and go on a journey no matter what we leave behind.”

And my mind wanders to the past again, thinking about my life and comparing it to the Hero’s journey, to the structure of a story. I went with the flow and gave up. I know where that led.

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The Value of Writing Every Day

My goal for more than ten years has been to write a long epic fantasy series, and while I was set on the goal, little had been accomplished. By October 2018, I had two books written and book number 3 containing about 30,000 words. It was far from the epic adventure I’d envisioned more than a decade ago.

For a few years, I’d had wonderful spurts where I’d write 10,000 sometimes 30,000 words in a month, but there were many months I didn’t write anything. And there were writing projects I took on unrelated to the Castle Keepers series. While I’m glad I wrote the humour and two romance novels, they didn’t bring me closer to my goal: author of a ten-book fantasy series.

Last October, I put my foot down and I promised to not only focus on the fantasy series but to write every day. Every day.

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What is Your Character’s Favourite Food?

Biscuits and Cranberry Jam
Homemade cranberry jam on my homemade biscuits.

I read an article last week about character flaws and quirks. Every one should have them unless it’s a nameless character there for one line.

This got me thinking about my characters and their quirks. I love quirks because we all have them, and they make us unique. My characters also have their favourite unique food they like that might not be liked by the average individual. I think everyone has this, too, so it goes well in a story.

I love cranberries, and I’ve eaten cranberry sandwiches for as long as I can remember. All through school—all 13 years—I’ve eaten these sandwiches for lunch. While many classmates in high school bought their lunch at the cafeteria, I brought a bagged lunch with, you guessed it, cranberry sandwiches. It was my thing. When I started working, the main item in my lunch was that sandwich. (PS: I’ve never had a urinary tract infection.)

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Why Do I Write?

Why I writeI’ve been asked many questions over the decades concerning writing, but one that often stands out is: Why do you write?

I’ve answered this with a question of my own: why do you fish, why do you build houses, why do you do what you do? The obvious reason is because I want to.

Telling others why I loved fishing was easier than explaining why I loved to write. I mean, to many, writing was school work, which they were thankfully graduated from and wouldn’t have to do again.

Lately, I get this question with an add on: Why do write so much?

Ten years ago, I couldn’t answer this question nor the simple one (why do you write) as accurately as I can at this moment. It’s not that I’ve thought about it any more; the answer simply comes to me when I’m asked.

Why do I write like a mad woman?

The Short Answer

I have stories that need to be told before I die, and I want to live where I love.

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My Epic Writing and Personal Goals for 2019

Eye on the DestinationAs an epic fantasy writer, I suppose it is only fitting for me to make epic writing goals. Normally, I don’t, but 2019 will be different. I’ve been feeling it in my bones since September that this year was going to be my year.

For the past five or six years, I’ve been all over the place with my writing and editing. I’ve not made a lot of headway with my books; it’s disappointing. I’ve done a lot of work with little to show for it. Last summer, I realised why.

I spent autumn figuring out the best course of action and putting a few things in place. Now that the prep work is complete, it’s time to launch the new goals, ones that will get me closer to what I desire.

Changes

Obviously, there will be changes. To make time in my life to meet my 2019 challenges, I had to reduce time spent on other projects and other types of work. This means, once I finish the two editing/formatting projects scheduled for 2019, I won’t accept others.

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How to Make and Accomplish Goals

Eye on the DestinationI’m a huge believer in goals. Let me rephrase that. I’m a huge believer in setting realistic goals. Goals that are impossible to reach, other people’s goals and goals set for me by someone else are unrealistic, and I have no interest in them. Years ago, my goals were simple. I had only a few and they were easily reached. As I got older, goals became more complicated and harder to accomplish. When I failed at them, it disappointed me, but I didn’t change my behaviour, so I failed more frequently.

Wisdom comes with age and the older I got, the more attention I gave to those who successfully reached their goals. I started making goals and succeeding more times than I failed. They were goals for writing a novel, researching genealogy, getting my articles in newspapers and magazines, buying a new truck and a boat, making more time for camping and fishing and completing projects around the house.

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What I learned about writing two novels at the same time.

NaNoWriMoFor NaNoWriMo 2018, I wrote two novels at the same time: Revelation Stones and Beyond the Myst. I didn’t plan it that way. My goal was to complete the first novel. The second one started as a homework assignment from my writers’ group.

I focussed on the book I wanted to complete first, writing a minimum of 2,000 words a day for it. I wrote 1,500 words a day for Beyond the Myst.

To keep the stories separated in my mind, I wrote Beyond the Myst in the morning between 5:30 am and 7:20 am. If I didn’t reach my goal, I spent a few minutes after the morning chores to complete it. I wrote Revelation Stones from 5:00 pm to 9:00 pm. Often I finished early, so I was in bed by nine o’clock. I get up at 4:35 am, so I need to go to bed early.

Before each writing session, I’d envision the scene I was about to write. This put me in the mood to write and provided details I might not have considered. I run scenes in my head like movies, so I get a clear idea of what I want. The scene is basically written before I sit down to the computer. I just record what happened.

I’ve never tried to write two full novels at once. I have written a short story while writing a novel, but usually I’d write the short story in a few days, then return to the novel writing. This whole experience of writing two in one day was completely new to me. Here’s what I have learned listed under the benefits and the drawbacks.

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