Sunday, April 28, 2013

Spring Time


During this time for spring, the weather patterns dart, rather than flow, across the charts. I love this time of year, because it can be so unpredictable.

Stunning days of sunshine, wind howling until I’m sure I’ll go crazy, and low pressure systems that drop rain or snow with the merest sneeze of mother nature all work together to create spring weather.


Ben snapped this picture a couple of mornings ago. Less than fifteen minutes later, the sun rose lighting up a spectacular morning. We rejoiced the time of spring all the way to Val’s ranch.



But the best part of this time of this particular spring is the that I am studying a book on plot development. The book amazes me because no matter how much talent you may or may not have, you can learn techniques of writing that will improve your story and the way you write it while saving a lot of time and tears.

Early on I had some idea of what my ending should be, but then I changed the setting and time period and my old ending wasn’t going to work for that. I sort of developed a new ending and thought I would work out the details as I wrote along. Well, nearly halfway through the novel I realized I was rambling and meandering along, just the way I did with my first attempt at writing a novel several years ago. What I ended up back then was a massive pile of crap. I wanted to avoid that happening again, so I ordered and am now studying the book on plot development.

I also pulled out a similar book my mother had from years ago and I finally figured out why I had actually learned next-to-nothing in all the classes I took in college way-back-when. They didn’t have good material, really, for teaching that gave solid, useful techniques for actually accomplishing what they were “teaching” students about writing. They were saying “show, don’t tell,” but they were ‘telling’ what to do without ‘showing’ the way to do it.

Okay, I’m rambling again. But what I’m getting at is that I’m actually learning something and I’m developing a solid plot as I am making my way through the book. In doing so, I have also come up with a very exciting ending, the ending I really want. And I now know that I have to condense what I have already written into about half of what it is, because what I have so far is only a quarter of the plot instead of half of it. I haven’t crossed over the threshold into what should be happening a quarter of the way through and in this modern era a first novel  of two hundred thousand words would not get even a polite, silent smile from an editor.

The moral of this story is that if you want to write a book without wasting a lot of time and energy by churning out a pile of post-digestive drivel, study plot development and work on developing your plot before you begin writing. If you’re the ‘no-outline’ style of writer, then you don’t have to create an outline, but believe me, it will save you a lot of time and heartache (the heartache of having to throw away at least half of your work when you edit or get edited) if you work extensively on developing the plot first.

I’d say, “Wish me luck!” But now I know that luck has nothing to do with any aspect of the writing process, nor does faith or hope or prayer. It all comes to buckling down and doing the work, so I say, instead, “Keep reminding me of that fact.”

Friday, April 12, 2013

Springtime Renewal

Today I had a couple of e-mails to a friend returned by the mailer daemon, the phone bill and the credit card bill came, and the nation is still deeply embroiled in a political civil war. But the sagebrush buttercups bloomed, enlightening me with what is truly important in this life: the beautiful, everyday events in this world that surround us.



A few days ago, after several days of warm, sunny weather that made me passive and happy, a storm rose up on the horizon.


That night it snowed, which thrilled me. Yes, I love the snow, but we needed the moisture, too.


But then the snow melted, a couple of rain showers came through, the grass sprang up and then, today, the buttercups bloomed and I didn’t care so much about all the other crap and then I couldn’t help but smile.

Friday, April 5, 2013

The Passage of Time

Have I truly written so few posts this year?

The days seem to be drifting past lazily, like living on a raft floating along a sluggish, warm river. And nothing much seems to be happening.

In reality, time is passing by rapidly and we have never had such a busy winter since we’ve been in Montana. These past few months have left me with less and less time to do the things I want to get done. Day-to-day life is taking up the bulk of my living; this day-to-day life is very important for pleasant survival in the world of today, of course, but I want so much more.

And that’s the problem.

Val has been very good to us, letting us keep going out to the ranch even though, really, she could do it all herself these days, but we have thoroughly enjoyed living out our fantasy of ranch life, and being there during the highly romantic days of calving has been like a dream.

Soon we’ll go back to landscaping, which we are looking forward to, since we love being outdoors and need the physical work to get back into some semblance of the physical shape and fitness level that people were born to be in.

And, besides, we’re looking forward to hiking. Ben and I are considering going back to Canada this fall. Our Canadian National Parks passes are still good through September . . . so, what better reason do we need?

I have been writing a little bit; writing out individual scenes and making more notes, mostly. And I have been reading a little (and collecting books, both borrowed and purchased, much faster than I am reading): I’m reading A Passage to India, which was recommended to me because the themes of this book are so similar to the themes of the book I’m writing (but the plot, characters and setting could not be more different). We’ve gotten a lot of pottery done; our latest semi-experimental firing turned out to be very disappointing. We had fired that set of glazes once before, in the little kiln, but when we fired a much larger load in the bigger kiln . . . well, let’s just say we’re not too pleased about the results.

So on we go, drifting along (and, truth be known, loving our lives even though we’re not getting everything done we want).


Ben fencing on one of those bright, sunny, lazy-warm days.



The cows just after we fed this morning in a glorious rain.