Is Being Older Irrelevant?

23917309952_de5cbd4619_kI miss being young. I don’t miss everything about it, but I long for the time when my entire future was out in front of me. When I had every possibility in the palm of my hand like the first snowflake of the season.

There are certainly plenty of years still ahead of me and every day my eyes open is another opportunity to accomplish all I’ve wanted to. But those years of being young were simpler times. I miss the ease in which the days passed only bombarded by the trivial mishaps being a teen brings. Of course, there isn’t a teen on the planet that will tell you their lives are easy and I was no different. It is only with the filter of age and time that we can look back at the rough edges of teen life and see only the soft smooth picture that remains.

Things that were important then no longer matter now. I suppose what matters to me today will not matter five years from now either. Or perhaps matter less. The present moment leaves its sting like no other.

If I knew then, walking the halls of my small high school the smell of wax, cooked food and sweat in my nose, what I know now, I would have made different decisions. Not all the decisions. Some were good ones, but others I wouldn’t do again. Even armed with knowledge I’d be bound to make mistakes. We can’t eliminate risk all together though I’ve certainly tried often enough.

There is a level of fun associated with being young that no other time in our lives allows for. Somewhere along the path while I wasn’t paying attention fun slipped away. It wanted to play hide and seek and I was too busy to join in. Shooing it away, telling it to come back later. Fun has found a younger person to play with now.

I may miss being young because our society reveres youth. We disregard the older generation as passe; a burden to contend with. Their stories are thread bare and time wasters. Their skin folded and creased with years of living and not smooth and firm and dewy. They are easily manipulated, not adept with technology. They walk too slowly, drive badly, can’t hear or see you. We are told to fight getting older as if years of wisdom is a war to battle instead an honor to bestow. Society has decided an air brush yields more power than knowledge.

My class reunion is next year. I’m looking forward to it. Many people aren’t interested in returning to the place where they had pimples on their skin, awkward words stuck in their mouths, and two left feet. I think I want to go just to be near the people who knew me when I was young. It was with these people I grew up. We hear music that transports us back to football games on Friday nights, we remember parties on the beach, we wore clothes in neon colors and jeans washed in acid, we read books about children locked in attics and scary clowns. We went to movies on Monday nights with a date.

These were the people in my life long before I had teenagers of my own. My classmates don’t think I’m wrong because I’m old and out dated. Won’t tell me I don’t understand them because they know I was once that age. They won’t roll their eyes at me when I share my memories because those memories are theirs too. My stories aren’t boring and tired because they played a roll in them.

I am not young. That burden is for someone else to carry now. I need to read with glasses when the light is dim, I have eliminated cheese fries from my diet, I hung up my baton a long time ago. I am older, wiser in some ways. I have done some living and have plenty more to do. I have a lot to learn because the older we get we realize we don’t know everything. But I will tell you this:

I am not irrelevant.

 

Editing Tip Tuesday

5905866509_f4e9323fbd_oWRITE!

That’s my tip: write. You might be thinking, Stacey, (crazy lady) how is WRITE! an editing tip? 

Here’s the thing. If you don’t write, you won’t have anything to edit. I can’t help you if you don’t have a finished piece. I’m a little over half way through my current WIP and you know what I want to do? Fix it. But I keep telling myself I can’t fix what isn’t there. Keep moving forward. When I get to the end, I can go back.

I love to edit. It’s my favorite part of the process. I’m already planning how I’m going to handle the second draft. Here’s what I have planned: I’m going to pull out my 4×5 index cards. (I’m hoping I need extra and I can go to Staples to buy more. I love supplies. Buying school supplies for my kids is one of my favorite things to do. Don’t you just love a brand new notebook?) I’m going to put a brief outline of each chapter on the cards then bind them together with a binder ring. I can flip through them and see what’s happening in each chapter, what’s missing, what needs to be taken away.

notebook
Can’t wait to break this baby in!

I also like to color code. I’ll probably color code each plot layer so I can see how I’m pulling it through the book or not. The colors will also let me focus on a specific plot layer then go back for the others. Colors are fun. How can I deprive myself the chance to play with color?

But I can’t do any editing and neither can you, until the first draft is done. So, how do you finish? Show up at your computer every day. Set daily word count goals or time in the seat goals. Turn off the internet. Put words on the page even if the words make you cringe and you think you haven’t learned a thing about writing since kindergarten. WRITE! You can fix it later. Or I can help you fix it if you’re overwhelmed or don’t know what to do.

Do you like to write with music? Turn it on then sit down and write. Maybe you have a candle you like to light first. Do it. Your brain will recognize the routines and know it’s time to get to work. The only way to finish is to show up. Writing a novel is a marathon. You have to train and the only way to do that is to WRITE!

Write every day. There are plenty of times I don’t make my writing goals. I try not to beat myself up about it. There’s always tomorrow and I have two teenagers that need to be places all day long, a dog that needs to be places too, and a house that needs to be cleaned. (Other authors will say they ignore their house, but unfortunately I’m nuts and I can’t do that. Don’t follow me. Be like them. WRITE!)

Before you know it, that first draft will be done and then the fun begins. EDIT!

What are your writing goals for today?

How can I help you make your novel even better?

 

 

To My Stoneware

11695229244_c4f9e93b07_kI often say friendships are like paper plates because they are disposable. Let me be clear right off the bat because I’ve been yelled at before for this. Friendships are disposable. Not people. Not every friendship is meant to last a lifetime. Friendships serve a purpose and when that purpose is over the friendship ends. Like paper plates.

Some friendships are like stoneware. Strong, durable, chip-resistant, reusable, dishwasher safe and decorative. I was hanging with a piece of my stoneware recently and was reminded how grateful I am for her.

My stoneware doesn’t judge me and I don’t judge it. It helps that I picked it out, but some stoneware isn’t made as well and breaks fooling me into thinking it was better quality. (It’s best to read the labels first.) The lifetime stoneware, the unbreakable, lets me vent when I need to, sit quietly if I have to, reminds me to laugh and offers sage advice.

Stoneware is there when you need it for the parties and the lonely dinners for one. Stoneware doesn’t leak through when you’re sick. It’s probably grateful for the cycle in the dishwasher, but it won’t ditch you.

Having stoneware doesn’t mean you won’t argue with it, disagree with it or even misplace it for a while. Believe me, I lost a very important piece to the set and it took me years to locate it, but when I did that dish slid right back into rotation like it never left. That is what stoneware does. A paper plate would’ve been mush by then.

You know, I chose a plate way back when I was ten. I thought for sure it was stoneware. We walked to school together, rode bikes together, laughed, kept secrets, double dated. We understood each other. The connection lasted a long time. But, I misplaced it and it took nearly twenty years to locate it. When I did, I was sad to find out my dish wasn’t stoneware at all. It was a paper plate without any coating. Unsalvageable. How could I have been so wrong about my choice?

I have very few pieces of stoneware. I’m okay with that. If you get two good dishes in your life, you’re lucky. I’m grateful for my stoneware and I probably don’t tell them enough. So, thank you, stoneware for our years together. For the laughter. And the tears. Thank you for letting me be me, chipped, dented, less vibrant than I once was, my design not so much decorative, but loud.

What do you like best about your stoneware?

 

Editing Tip Tuesday

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Photo Courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons

Layer it on.

Plot layers. One of my favorite books on the craft of writing is Writing The Breakout Novel Workbook by Donald Maass. It’s a wonderful tool to use after you’ve completed your first draft.

One thing Mr. Maass states is there are never too many plot layers.  Plot layers are story lines that happen to the main characters. Subplots are story lines that happen to other characters.

In the book, One Plus One by Jojo Moyes, the main character Jess is a single mom working two jobs and can’t make ends meet. She’s a special single mom because one of her two kids is her ex-husband’s son from another relationship. Her ex took off two years earlier claiming he couldn’t deal with life and needed time to get his act together. Her daughter has a chance to attend a private school for gifted math students except Jess doesn’t have the money to send her, but if she can get Tanzie to the Math Olympiad on time her daughter might win a scholarship. But Jess has another problem. She doesn’t have a proper car or a license. She’s forced to take her ex’s beat up Rolls from the garage where it has sat untouched for two years. When she gets pulled over by the police, the car gets towed and her and her family are stranded on the side of the road when our hero steps in and offers them a ride. It’s going to take four days to get to the Olympiad and along the way Jess develops feelings for our hero. Those feelings prove to be a problem.

How many plot layers does Jess have? By my count. 7.  Moyes does a wonderful job of weaving Jess’ plot layers around the subplots of the other characters and through out the book the reader is turning the page wondering how Jess is going to handle the next crisis thrown at her. Because every character in this story is flawed and real and Jess cares deeply about her children’s happiness she’ll do whatever it takes to make them so.

When you’ve finished with your first draft ask yourself how many layers does your main character have? Can you add more? I bet you can. How do those plot layers work with the subplot of the other characters? Does everything have a purpose?

Any questions?

The Doors Are Open

open door
Courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons

It’s official. The doors to my editorial business are now open. I’m excited about the opportunity to help writers fulfill their writing goals whether it’s to be published or simply become a better writer.

I have been editing fiction manuscripts for 8 years. I am the author of 3 middle grade fantasy adventure novels and a teacher of creative writing to students of all ages. Clients include award winning authors of all genres.

My expertise lies in developmental editing. I will provide a comprehensive assessment of story concept, story structure and plot points, characterizations, point of view, dialogue, and setting.

I have a Bachelor of Arts degree in Speech, Theater, Communications and over twenty years writing experience.

My critiques will be constructive. I believe in focusing on the positive approach while offering suggestions to make your manuscript better. I will never use negative comments while handling your work. I respect and admire all my clients’ quest for publication and I’m honored to be able to assist them in pursuing their goals.

Should you have any questions, don’t hesitate to ask. I look forward to working with you.

 

Editing Tip Tuesday

actor
Courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons

Whose scene is it anyway?

In many novels, there is more than one point of view (POV) character. It isn’t unheard of for characters to run around in a writer’s head demanding to tell their story. This goes on in real life too. Do you know how many people I’ve met who tell me I should write about them? But back to the point.

Not every character can be the lead in every scene. You must decide who has the most at stake in that scene and that’s your POV character. You might find while you’re writing that a scene isn’t working. I know this is happening when I’m writing because I physically feel like I’m banging up against something. (I know, weird, but I’ve learned to identify this strange feeling and work with it.) If you ask yourself the hard truth, you’ll know if a scene isn’t working for you too. Sorry, not all our writing is pretty.

Ask yourself who has the most to gain or lose in this scene? It might not be the person you started out with. Rewrite the scene from another character’s POV and see what happens. At the very least you’ll learn something about the people in your scene. If you’re doing your job right, every character will sound differently and when you give someone else the chance to stand center stage they will show you something you didn’t know about before in your story. I promise you.

Any questions? I love hearing from you. Happy Writing!

25 Ways To Relieve Stress

I’m not a drinker. Never was. You can ask the people who’ve known me for years. They’ll tell you. It’s a control thing. Since we all know I’m a control freak, alcohol can get the upper hand and I don’t like that. Plus I hate the way alcohol tastes. Yup, I said it. It’s bitter and gross. Not for me. Not to mention wine gives me a migraine and beer, even one, can make me sick. I must be allergic to an ingredient. It’s never been worth it to me to drink. Why waste the calories?

But I understand why people do drink. If you’re having a bad day, week, month, year and you need a quick way to untie the knots in your shoulders a glass of wine will do it. There have been many times recently I wish I did drink. I’d like something to take the stress away without me breaking a sweat to do it. I’m having one of those moments right now. (And I already worked out today) So instead of drinking I’m going to blow my calories and maybe ease my stress with the one thing I do like.

cookieI’m sure I’ll hate myself later.

As I write this, I don’t know if I should vent out my stress here for all of you to read (honestly, I’m not a good sharer like that) or educate us on ways to relieve stress, but we know them, don’t we?

  1. Pray
  2. Meditate
  3. Exercise
  4. Sit with nature
  5. Listen to calming music
  6. Take a drive
  7. Scream at the top of your lungs
  8. Take a bath
  9. Call a friend who makes you laugh
  10. Read (big one for me)
  11. Play an instrument
  12. Write
  13. Paint
  14. Get a massage, a pedicure
  15. Shop
  16. Cry
  17. Walk on the beach
  18. Help someone else
  19. Jump on a trampoline
  20. Roll down a hill
  21. Watch a baby discover his toes
  22. Smell freshly cut grass (unless you’re allergic)
  23. Roast marshmallows over an open fire
  24. Eat chocolate
  25. Chase rainbows

I have my Healing Music playing. I’m sitting outside watching the trees push the breeze around. The sky is clear, deep blue marked by fluffy, clouds of cotton. The cookie is half-way gone. I barely remember eating it. What’s next?

Another moment. Another chance to catch my breath. A quiet place to read a book. Tomorrow, hopefully.

If I was smart, I wouldn’t get stressed out. In the grand scheme of things, nothing is that bad. Challenging at times, but manageable. I have what’s important. The rest I should surrender. When do you think I’ll learn that lesson?

Not before the cookie is gone, I’ll tell you that.

So, how do you relieve stress? I’d love to hear from you.