DIARY POST 7: NEW MONTH – NEW ATTITUDE

Poui

Well, well, well. Look who surprised herself. ME!

In diary post number five (It’s been a crazy week) I had close to no progress to report.  I was highly embarrassed, because the point of this feature is to write and edit more.  I managed to turn that negative into a positive – and today I am proud to report that I have worked on five chapters.

Other than shame, I think what helped was that I gave myself a deadline of May 31st 2013, to have this round of edits completed. On May 1st I added a Calendar to my blog (see bottom left). I edit as much as I can, to get this done and done right. My novel means so much to me. Of course I want to be published, but I also want my story to last and be something that I can be proud of.

On Saturday and Sunday I did most of the initial edits. I have gone over this book a thousand times before, and had it edited already. After all of that work and money, it was not ready to be sent out. So, now I’m on my fourth round of edits. I am not angry. Actually, it worked out, because it reads so much better.

When I get back chapters three to five, I will send two more chapters to my friend. She is also writing a novel, and has given herself a deadline that is close to mine. It’s good to have company. Sometimes you need encouragement from someone who has experienced or is experiencing a similar journey.

I am also on the countdown to buy myself a pair of Levi’s jeans. I continue to attend Crossfit and Spin Classes. On Wednesday I was more intimidated than I had ever been in my life. Ninety-five percent of the Crossfit participants looked and performed like athletics. If I could have slid out of the gym incognito, I would have. But the trainer had already seen me, and I didn’t want to assure him that I was a total coward. All in all, I’m glad I stayed. Even though I used the lightest weights and needed help, I finished.

Thus far this blog has been a delight. It has not only helped me to be accountable, but my confidence has improved. Sometimes, in the back of my mind I think my dreams are too big. Then, someone subscribes to my blog, ‘like’ one of my post or comments on a post, and I know that I am on the right path.

There are no guidelines to follow to be published. You have to try everything you can think of. Most days I set aside time to educate myself on building a platform. Social media is excellent. It’s free, readily available and easy to understand. Sometimes I think we forget about ‘old school’ networking like joining writers groups, socializing at library functions and just talking about your project.

Since I had such a good week I want to set my sights higher. Chapter’s five to ten will be completed and I will like to review chapters one to five for the last time, before I send them to Writer’s Digest. To people who do not write, my process might seem tedious, but believe me, if you want the quality of your work to be of standard, you better be meticulous.

I’ve missed my characters. I know you will love them as much as I do. I’m in that phase of the book where so much is going on, and you’re not sure what will happen.

You’d think I didn’t write it lol.

DIARY POST 6: FEEL LIKE I’M ON MY WAY

fireworks

For the first time since I began this feature, I feel proud of the amount of work accomplished. This big jump in the progress came from making small changes. I edited from Sunday to Thursday. Sure it took some sneaking around, and less TV, but there is nothing like being satisfied with yourself.

I’ve sent chapters three to five for reviews, and began chapter six. The thing is, I was no less busy this past week than I was at any other week. My productivity changed when I decided to cut my TV time in half. That was a challenge for me, since all I want to do when I get home from work, is watch silly shows. For the level of success I want, I had to put myself on a TV budget.

The bible says ‘if the right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee.’ In order to keep my television, I stay back at work to write. If I don’t, I give myself two hours when I get home, and then write until it’s time to organize for the next day. During the week, TV is reserved for when I’m ready to sleep or eat.

This Saturday I, like many other writers and book lovers, will be at the Bocas Lit Fes (http://www.bocaslitfest.com). I’ve attended workshops two years in a row. This year I want to patronize the stalls, and enjoy the performers. I also look forward to socializing with other writers.

SubscribeI’ve been thinking of ways to boost subscriptions and views. ‘Stumble Upon’ seems to be quite popular. I’ll do a campaign with them after I post a video and pictures.

My next ‘big thing’ is to have the first four chapters edited by Writers Digest. I should have that organized in early May. Wish me luck and good luck to you as well.

DIARY POST 5: IT’S BEEN A CRAZY WEEK

CRAZY

Two weeks ago I posted an article titled ‘You Belong To Me.’ I was trying to be creative about the ups and downs of IT. This week, constant network issues were not funny at all. For four consecutive days our offices were in turmoil. I stressed about it for the first two and a half days before deciding to leave my burdens down by the riverside. There is only so much I can do. I don’t want stress to prematurely age me. That will never solve a problem, it will create one. I’ve already missed several spin classes. That’s where I draw the line and I don’t mean on my forehead.Wrinkled Face Cartoon

I’ve allowed stressful days to affect my editing. However, it could not be blamed for me not writing this past weekend. I had a lot of free time, yet I did nothing. Procrastination controlled me until I tried to make it right on Wednesday. I want to keep my blog honest, that means sometimes I have to admit when I am at fault. This weekend I was. Normally, I draft my Friday post early in the week and add every day. This week I started it on Thursday. I hope the quality is acceptable.

About six hours of editing, between Wednesday and Thursday has brought me to a comfortable place with chapter three. My routine requires that I leave it alone for a few days, and then review it. I will comply.

On another note, I have noticed an increase in traffic on my blog on the days that I post, and maybe the day after. My twitter account is doing well – two hundred and fifty-nine followers and counting. I want social media to count, so I need to encourage a lot more interest. When I first opened my twitter account I thought no one would follow me. Not many people did until I started Diary of a Writing Woman, and began to tweet. It’s a lot to keep up with, when you have an eight to four job.

A friend has offered me their photography and filming services. I have no skills in either area, so I am quite grateful and excited. Expect a related post in the next few months. I have a reputation of being almost terrified to have my picture taken. When I post them, please be kind, because that’s a really hard thing for me to do. It’s a level of self-exposure that I need to work on. My blog is very important to me, so I will do it. To be honest, I’m afraid of ‘hate.’ I subscribe to a couple of You Tube channels, and just by the disclaimers, I know some of the girls get hurtful, unnecessary comments.

Every hit and every subscriber is a big deal to me. Your support makes me know that my little blog is appreciated. It’s been a month since I’ve had the Diary of a Writing Woman feature. It’s helping me a lot, although I struggle to maintain a routine.

http://wordsfromanneli.wordpress.com and abaseng have been avid supporters. I look forward to your comments. Thank you.

https://selimaandthemerfolk.wordpress.com/2013/03/30/you-belong-to-me/

MY FAVORITE SONG AND MUSIC VIDEO OF ALL TIME

I have never met a person who knew who Sade was and didn’t like her music. Her smooth voice and timeless ballads, has made her one of the greatest female singers of all time. Sade’s voice is clear, and distinctive. From the first note, you know a Sade song.

‘No Ordinary Love’ was on the soundtrack for the movie ‘Indecent Proposal.’ It played in the background of the trailer. From that sample, I was curious to hear the entire song. When I did I loved it, and her being a mermaid in the video was icing on the cake. ‘No Ordinary Love’ was released twenty-one years ago. It is still my favorite song.

Nowadays, auto-tune and nakedness make vocal talent virtually unnecessary. I no longer expect ‘quality’ R&B. Chances are, there will be no more Sade’s, Toni Braxton’s, or Michael Jackson’s to imprint us with songs like Smooth Operator, Un-break My Heart, and Human Nature.

It’s a good thing music is forever, and amen for You Tube.

DIARY POST 4: THERE IS NO BETTER MOTIVATOR THAN PROGRESS

Chapter 1 and 2Throughout my journey in writing this novel, there were months that I did not write a single line. Sometimes it was pure laziness, other times I was crippled with worry. I question if I’ll type ‘The End,’ let alone get it published. I’ve been working on this novel for about a year and eight months, and it has been a great experience. Not only am I pursuing something that I love, and will be able to check ‘become a writer’ off my bucket list, I’ve been privy to learn from some wonderful people.

One of the most rewarding things I’ve experienced this year was that one of my school friends started a blog. She blogs her short stories, and credited me as an inspiration. Another welcome effect of writing a blog is to experience support. Family support is wonderful, but there is something special about a stranger cheering you on.

Writing is so subjective. It takes courage to expose your thoughts to others. It’s not just your view or imagination that you expose; it’s your grammar, punctuation, vocabulary, and style. I take refuge in the fact that I put great effort into my posts, and I accept that even people who are the best at what they do are criticized.

Last week, I mentioned that a friend of mine agreed to review my book, and that I sent chapters one and two to her. She sent them back on Monday, much sooner than I expected. She did a fantastic job. I accepted most of her suggestions. I have since made the changes and am currently working on chapters three and four. I will forward them to her by next week, because I want to send the first four chapters for a final edit by the end of this month.

I think chapters three and four will go by faster, because of all the practice I got making changes to the first two chapters. The story line is the same, but I thought it lagged and needed to read better.

‘Writer’s Digest’ is a reputable organization. I will be using their 2nd Draft Critique and Editing Services. Their minimum submission is fifty pages, which is just about my first four chapters. I will review their service in a separate post. If anyone knows of a better option, please send me a link.

My goal for this coming week is to send chapters three and four to be reviewed. However, I’m hoping to surpass my expectation.

http://www.writersdigestshop.com/2nd-draft-line-edit/?icid=2nddraftlineedit

FIVE STARS FOR MARIA ANTONIA PLAY

Sacha and friendsMy friend Daniella Sacha Johnson was cast in the play ‘Maria Antonia.’ She invited me, and I attended last Friday. I had never heard about the play. However, she’s been my best friend since I was seven years old so it didn’t matter. I knew she liked ‘theatre,’ and had been cast in a production by Raymond Choo-Kong some years back, but when she said it was for school – University – I expected to have to forgive clumsiness. She assured me that the students would have to ‘bring it’ because the writer Mr. Eugenio Hernandez Espinosa, and director Mr. Jorge Luis Morejón were renowned in their respective fields.

I’ve patronized several plays, all of which I have enjoyed. ‘Maria Antonia’ is the first I have seen that portrayed Afro-Cuban culture. It was spectacular. If I did not know beforehand that the actors were students, I would not have guessed it. I will not expose the plot, but I must say that there were some scenes that would make your eyes bulge at how engrossed those young actors were in their roles.

I intended to highlight my three top actors, but I cannot. I have to choose five.
Ketisha Williams (Cumachela, an old vagrant)
Ketisha perfected the role of Cumachela. She effortlessly switched characters, and was as sinister as I assume she was supposed to be.

Marvin Dowridge (Tino/Iremes) and Syntyche Cindy Bishop (Maria Antonia, daughter of Oshun)
Tino and Maria had the funniest rivalry. She knows how to get under his skin, and he cannot control his frustration.

Daniella Sacha Johnson (Madrina, the godmother)
She looked and acted like a real ‘tanti’ as ‘Trinis’ would say. She was so emotional. If I’m not mistaken I think I saw tears.

lon-lee Farmer (Cadena, bar owner)
Let’s just say she doesn’t understand what ‘NO’ means. If you didn’t remember anyone else in this play, you would remember her.

I really enjoyed this play. It maintained momentum and the story was well laid out, and easy to follow.
I’ll support this production anytime.

DIARY POST 3: THE BEST TIME TO WRITE

clocksTwo am. That’s the time a close friend of mine wakes up to study. This friend is quite accomplished, but two o’clock in the morning! I don’t think I could do that, and then function efficiently for eight hours at work. I would need an energy drink, chased with a large mug of coffee.

I tried getting up at three am. I actually did, once. To my surprise, I didn’t talk myself into excuses, one of the two times that I tried. I edited for about an hour and was quite pleased with myself throughout the day.

When you want to be a writer, and you have a full time job, you have to fit writing in whenever you can. For me, I need total quiet to write. I don’t even want anyone to be in the room with me. This quirk makes it difficult to sneak in time during the day.

Lunch time is my gym time sometimes. So, my times to write are weekends, before I go to work, or about two hours at night. I tried all these schedules this past week. The schedules are not the problem. The spirit in me called procrastination, attacks me like a possession. Every week I have to exorcise him. (When I read over this paragraph, I realized that I have a lot more time than I thought to write).

For the most part, chapter one is 90% completed. I revised it again, as well as chapter two. They have both been sent to be reviewed/edited. On Thursday, I began editing chapter three. I hope to report it as being completed in next week’s post.

I think the best time to write is when you are inspired. Hopefully, the inspiration will come when you are in a position to give it your full attention. I like mornings. It’s quiet and cool and I’m not half as drained as I would be after having a long day.

I draft these posts on a Wednesday, complete them by Thursday and on Friday I do cosmetic editing, as I like to call it. ‘Selima and the Merfolk’ fall in whenever it can (which is horrible). Since I have been writing this feature, I write more often. But I want to adapt the three am practice.

My goal for this coming week is to have chapters three and four almost ready for review, and if I get back chapters one and two I’d like to make the necessary changes. As I mentioned in my last post, I like to leave the story alone for a week, and then look at it with fresh eyes.

Wish me luck and keep me accountable.

YOU BELONG TO ME

Publication1

I’m beginning to wonder if I could be a pawn in a future ghost story.

Plot …
A girl is a great employee.
She does her job, with limited resources and manages to keep most people happy.
She doesn’t know the company is a living, emotional entity.

The company forms an attachment to her.
It punishes everyone on the compound every time she leaves.
It obstructs the workday until someone calls her, and by extension acknowledges it.
The girl stupidly answers the call, and sometimes even rushes back to work.
She’s on the compound mere minutes and everything magically starts to work again.

On Wednesday, I was forced to leave work early, due to a family emergency. I’ve lost count, but I can’t seem to leave work, without the network and the Internet going down. Not that I am absent often. Sometimes one has to do what one has to do.

The weird thing is that, this problem began when I went on a two-month vacation, late last year. Since then the problem persists. Nine out of ten times this happens when I am not in office.

Could there really be a head office (?).
Is there a spirit, ghost, jumbie, jinn, that has attached itself to me?
Or does it have an interest to me?

These types of situations seldom end well for the poor sap, who realizes too late that she’s offended a being she didn’t know existed, by doing something that is regular for her. Then it obliterates her, and her body is never found.

She becomes victim number one in the new urban legend, ghost story, nancy story, folklore, of the girl who took too much time off.

DIARY POST 2: SMALL PROGRESSIVE STEPS

Work in Progress 1This week was all about the countdown to the four day, Easter holiday. Usually, I go to the beach, as does everyone else in the country. This year I plan to relax at home, and work on my novel. Maybe go to the Cinema. I’m just glad for the consecutive days off.

I was disappointed that I didn’t have more progress to report in my last post. From last Friday, I made a greater effort. I began editing chapters one and two again. After I read Stephen King’s ‘Carrie’ a few weeks ago, I combined my first three chapters into two. In ‘Carrie,’ he exposes Carrie’s telekinetic woes, and an intense bathroom scene very early in the book. My novel does not need that type of shock element. Nevertheless, I was compelled to ‘tighten up’ the writing. I introduced one of the main characters in chapter one rather than in chapter two, in order to entice readers with one of the more significant scenes earlier in the book.

It is always recommended that writers write and read often. Of course, you will not change your story every time you read a book. However, because ‘Carrie’ began in such an intense and captivating manner, it forced me to notice that my story lagged a bit.

In my opinion, Stephen King is the King of writing. I never liked reading until I read ‘The Green Mile’ several years ago. He knows how to hold your attention, and drag you into his world.

My favorite part of reading is creating my own visual version of the story. No two people see a story the same way, until it’s made into a movie.

Chapters one and two will get you acquainted with the protagonist and her situation. Four main characters are introduced. You will begin to form your opinions and choose sides.

Chapter three encourages imagination. It is one of my favorite chapters throughout the book.

The essence of the first chapters is the same. The story just moves along more quickly. Every time I rewrite, I feel better about the story. I made this last change after I finished chapters one and two, thinking they were ready to be edited professionally.

To conclude, chapter one is semi-finished. I’ve printed it twice. This means that I’ve edited it three or four times. It’s off limit for a week, and then I’ll pick it up again.

I’ve started chapter two. It’s printed, but I haven’t begun editing. For me, once I have typed the story the way I want it to read, the final analysis has to be done using a printed copy.

Not bad for a week’s work.