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At Last The Stars Are Aligned!

This is day 5 of a 6-day stay with my friend who generously provides me room AND board so I can WRITE!!

(Later: Had to pack up my things and head home, on day 6. Sigh)

Home now. Unpacked. Settled back into the bosom of my wonderful family. Ahhh.

Have any of you read Robert Benchley or James Thurber? I’m trying to remember the name of an essay one of them wrote about sitting down to write, and finds himself, instead, cleaning his desk. Benchley wrote a funny piece about how he accomplishes so much—by doing those things he isn’t supposed to be doing. ("How to Get Things Done," from Chips Off the Old Benchley.) These remind me of my Week of Writing.

Volume 3 remains tucked up safely somewhere. But, many other activities were exceptionally well-attended to and much was accomplished! Here’s a partial list of all that I DID accomplish!

1. Read my email and usually responded. I can give myself an A+ for this every day! 2. Checked FB – A+ This could take all day. How many hours are “too much” of cute cats and dogs and Highland cattle? Or how many great music videos, especially my new favorite, The Quaker City String Band, are excessive? Think of the joy these bring!

3. YouTube videos – I was especially excellent at this. A++ Ask me anything “how to”-- making journals? Or junk journals? How about glue books? Even more fascinating, great hauls from the Dollar Tree! These are amazing! And don’t forget all those wonderful tips on how to use your scraps of paper and mailing envelopes and empty cereal boxes and empty business letter envelopes. I mean…WOW! Call me Recycling Roe-Baby!

4. “Research” – (This is legit. Really.) ((Another A+)) I was trying to remember the exact spelling of a character’s name I used in that first ever original draft of this story, the character whose Irish Gaelic name means “speaker” and ALSO is an early version of my family name—Lowry.

This search led to tons of genealogical information on my family name “Lowry.” Whether or not it pertains to MY branch of the Lowry’s, the jury is still out. (I did find out why we are called “Scotch-Irish” which is an apt description of those great-great-great grandfolks who apparently emigrated and immigrated between Scotland and Ireland many times over the years.)

The leader of this tribe introduced in the last third of the story whose name in Irish Gaelic is a version of “Lowry” and means “speaker” might be Labhrainni, or Laurir, or Laurie, or Livery, or Lowery, or Laughter, or Clan Lauri or McLaren or – there are many different spellings for these people. I personally love the one in bold above--I might have been “Sharon Laugher.”

5. Rereading the original, very first draft of this story (started in 2009), the original 1000 pages single-spaced which a friend kindly suggested could possibly be turned into three books. Some of that material is usable. I’m pretty sure. (I’d only give myself an “A-“ for good use of my time, although I had forgotten quite a lot of the original story.)

My search was to find the description of the houses this tribe (see #4) built. I remembered they were like nests but nothing else. After rereading chapters 50 – 70, in reverse order, and taking notes on each chapter’s contents, the descriptions, though scant, were helpful.

6. After I quit for the day, while eating supper, my friend and I watched a great HBO series. (We don’t have HBO at home, and since this series is a children’s fantasy, it felt perfectly reasonable, even necessary, to watch.) Phillip Pullman’s “His Dark Materials” (also called The Golden Compass) is REALLY good. You might have seen the original movie with Daniel Craig and Nicole Kidmann, also excellent.

7. Reading “comps.” These are current books (middle grade fantasy) which are popular and similar in significant ways to mine. Not only is this reading great for agent query letters, but these are wonderful books. I’m learning a lot about story structure and character development and themes, and all things I want to incorporate in my stories. Pete Hautman’s newest mg fantasy, The Rat Queen, probably won’t be a comp for my second book, but it’s a great read and has a different way for telling a story. I loved this.

8. Sending Queries to Agents for Book Two. (See my previous blog for more details than you ever want or need to know.) I may have mentioned this before, but this is not a fun task. But. I am learning from this process. Plus, the more I send, the less scary it is. So far I have sent 27 Queries and received 11 rejections, the last one a personal note with lots of encouragement.

9. Making little collages. This is a project I set for myself almost a year ago, to make one 3”x 5” collage every day. This is great fun and relaxing. . . and does not contribute anything to the writing of book 3. But I like it.

10. Napping. (A+) ((Couldn’t this be considered a necessity?))

11. Writing a “prologue” for Book 3, then rereading it every day and fine-tuning it. It actually has nothing to do with the story, yet, but some words finally were choked out onto the page and that’s worth something.

12. Dreaming. Night-time dreams! All are chaotic—the out-of-control classroom; the no clue whatsoever what I’m supposed to teach and the students are going berserk; the visit to a stranger’s house and getting lost; finding an alien creature that I can hold in my hand until it decides to unfold and grow and stretch its legs and I haven’t a safe place to keep it and it doesn’t want to be caged anyway and I have NO idea how to care for it and it’s MY COMPLETE RESPONSIBILITY! (That was a strange one.) The common theme in all of them is “Chaos!”

13. Testing my new Dollar Tree earbuds! Only the right side works, but what did I expect for $1.25?

14. And last, but not least--Worrying. (A+++) This can go on for whole days and nights and weeks and months and encompass Everything: What if book 2 never gets published? What if I’ve forgotten how to draw and book 2 needs a new map ? What if ideas for book 3 never materialize? What if everyone finds out how much time I’ve been wasting?!?!?

The only thing I haven’t done yet is clean my desk and that’s because I’m not at home. When I return home to my wonderful family, I’ll undoubtedly need to do that, and maybe clean out the bottom of my closet (where I store my overnight bag) and sort my yarn stash (also stored on the bottom of my closet), and worry over what I’m going to plant on that hillside where the cranberry bushes died last summer and . . . . .

Most people probably assume that writers have a steady stream of ideas, rivers of ideas, floods of ideas for their newest creations! At one time I may have felt the same. Right now, however, I’d be thrilled if the rusty faucet of ideas would let even a few drops of the new story line to dribble out.

(to be continued . . . I hope)

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