It hasn’t been so long since my last post, but it feels like forever! I was in the habit of doing 2 posts a week but the time just ran me over.
It’s weird that a few days difference feels like so long but, anywho, here’s my latest 4-pronged update:
I have about 240 pages of the book written! At this point, it actually forms a rather tidy section and I’m considering calling it “Book 1”. However, I’m going to wait until I talk to my writing mentors.
That’s right, I have writing mentors! Plural!
A guy I used to work with at Integer is VERY actively writing and has self-published several books. I’m about to finish one and am really enjoying it so far. Anyway, I asked if he could direct me to a potential mentor and, as fate would have it, he just left hisjob to focus on writing full time! Dun dun dunnnnn! So instead of pointing me to someone else, he said he’d read the book and provide feedback.
He has the first copy in his hands right now and I should be hearing back any day now. I’m giving him extra time because the second half is kind of a mess. I spent quite a bit of time revising and editing the first half so it should flow better. After that, I decided to try writing “quicker”, meaning I’m not going back after every chapter to fix things. So I can picture him, after reading the first half, saying “This is pretty quick and I’ll be done in two days”. Then, he’ll get into the second half and be like “Holy shit! People’s names are randomly changing!!! Who is Shelley??”
The second mentor is going beyond the book. She’s looking at my general writing “style”. Over the course of about 3 months, I’m going to send her excerpts of stuff. She’ll provide feedback and I’ll spend time making edits or writing a short story that takes her notes into account. She’ll be looking at things like tightness (leaving out unnecessary words, redundancies, etc…), tone, theme, and pace to help my stories become better structured.
She has won several awards for short fiction (and was a professor of literature!) so I’m really curious about the feedback I’ll get. I had my first conversation with her yesterday and am sending her my first excerpt early next week. Wish me luck!
Actually, I shouldn’t even say wish me luck. I need some good, blunt critiques. For so long, I’ve tried to rely on natural ability to get by in the creative realm. I’m blessed with several skills and am equally blessed to have come this far, but I have a habit of pulling back when things don’t come really easily to me. I think we all want to find our Mozart skill, that thing we are naturally amazing at, the thing that takes absolutely no effort. As a naïve younger person, I firmly believed everyone had a Mozart skill, but I’m starting to realize that’s just not true. People may have talents and strengths, but they still have to work incredibly hard. On the other hand, there are those bastards who say “you can either do this or you can’t.” In an interview, Russell Crowe scoffed at the idea of acting lessons. He made one of those “people can either act or they can’t” comments. I really hated that!! As a non-Mozart actor, I refuse to believe that, even with hard work, people can’t improve.
But I digress.
OK so I’m considering posting a video of my singing to a future blog post…
I actually have a couple of videos right now but I think I want something a bit more “professional”. I put it in quotes because I don’t mean I’m going to a studio or anything. What I mean is, I want to post something that’s not just my feet walking around the living room singing acapella… That’s what I have right now! 🙂And you can totally see all the dog fur on the floor flying around as I shuffle in circles.
Regarding church singing, I’ve actually sung four times and am becoming a bit more comfortable. I’m also becoming much more critical of the song choices. For example, the songs this week don’t build to high notes; the highest notes are repeated. Often. Throughout the entire song. Songs I’ve done in voice lessons and shows are carefully chosen, and I’m beginning to see why. Singing repeated high notes throughout a song is really hard. And not in the “this will make you better” way. I was singing in my car for about an hour tonight and my voice is already hoarse.
Also, for you non-singy people, the vowel sounds for high notes really matter. For example, singing ahhhs is so much easier than ohhhhs. I can usually sing an ahhh a full step higher than an ohhhs. Well when a song is full of high notes, I’m forced to sing a veritable alphabet of sounds. It’s really difficult.
Anyway, the next few weeks will be very busy, singing-wise. Easter is coming up and they have stuff going on the entire week, and they want me to sing various things. The most challenging is a 6-minute (six minute!!) chant. It doesn’t have a lot of range, but it does not repeat. Meaning there aren’t verses and choruses; it’s one long song, so the words are different throughout. EEK! OK you can wish me luck with that one 🙂
Enjoying the Area
I’m still taking my Walk Wednesdays and they’re really great!! I have found a brand new spot on the old hike that is SOOO perfect for me! I can actually climb over the standard path and look over it. It’s the perfect place for seeing people coming around the bend. That works well because I find myself talking, singing, or doing monologues while I’m out there. And I’m OK looking crazy to myself. But I’d feel kinda weird if some tourists walk around the corner to hear me say “My father called me a Nazi!!!” (That’s from one of the monologues, in case you’re wondering).
Anyway, while I was sitting out there today, I managed to just take in the beauty and uniqueness of the area. That’s rare for me as I usually find myself getting distracted. But the weather was absolutely perfect and the sky had these clouds that looked like owls swooping around. During that time, tons of random thoughts started flooding in, and gave me an idea for a book of short stories about Page. The title of the book would be “Page.” :O I’m not sure it will happen right now, but I put it on my list of “story ideas”.
Oh, I was about to move on, but I wanted to post a picture of my chairea. That’s my mix of the word chair and area. This is planted above the walking path in the middle of a small plateau-like thing. Today, I walked around the chair about a hundred times and sat in it for about a half hour.
Also, I took Windy out to the spot last weekend and we got a shot of me falling down a cliff.
Random Learnings or Stories
I’ve had so many thoughts about this section, but they’ve all suddenly left me. I should start writing them down along with the pile of other stuff I’m noting.
I will say I’m doing a random freelance project for my old job. It’s nothing major but will earn me a little extra money and I can keep in better touch with some people there.
It’s really weird, though, being on the outside looking in. Yesterday, I had to go into the system and remove myself as a user. When you’re at a job for 13 years, watching yourself vanish with the click of a button has an emotional effect, like an “I can’t believe I disappeared so easily” feeling. True, I made the decision to leave, but I guess we all like that feeling of being irreplaceable.