Here’s my latest 4-pronged update:
I received feedback from the writer mentor who’s helping me right now. She’s not focused on the book but on my general style. Holy cow, she’s really good! I sent her an excerpt of my writing and she gave me TONS and TONS of feedback. And I ended up nodding my head, saying “she’s exactly right” on virtually every note.
This is that part where I don’t allow myself to “succumb to the ones”. When I first saw the extensive amount of notes, I felt disheartened. It’s that thing where I expected a higher level of perfection from myself. And I was actually embarrassed, thinking “this is probably the worst thing she’s ever read.” But this is my first enormous undertaking where momentum, structure, and point of view (POV) REALLY REALLY matter. And those are things that take practice.
Then, after reading through each note, I saw that she wrote many complimentary things, too. I’m satisfied with being a novice. Gulp!
One thing she pointed out that I never even recognized was that I pull away from real-time. I never noticed it because it’s just a sentence here or there. But, now that I see it, I realize how distracting it is. That real-time POV is one thing that can really get you involved in the story and the character. It makes you feel like you’re taking a journey with the character.
Here’s an example of what I mean:
I was writing things like “after he tripped over a crack and almost fell, John made up his mind to watch the sidewalk”. That’s actually not good. If you think about it, it’s not real-time; it’s like a small back story. The reader isn’t taking that walk with the character. No, he/she is hearing about it in hindsight.
Instead, you’d want to make it real-time and say something like “Just as he was making out an aardvark in the clouds, his foot hit a crack in the sidewalk. He toppled forward and put a hand to the ground to keep upright. Wincing, he pulled a rock out of his palm and, as the small puncture began to bleed, he told himself to watch the damn sidewalk.”
OK that’s not great but, as the reader, you’re there living the experience with the character rather than hearing about it after it happened.
Things like that really add up and I have to start paying careful attention.
Well it’s the big week! I sang 6 different pieces at Mass yesterday and have 7 tomorrow (Saturday). At the very beginning of tomorrow’s service, I walk up to the podium and sing a 6-minute chant. Acapella. It’s just me.
I admit I’m pretty nervous about it. But it’s something I really want to do. It’s another one of those steps forward. Besides, if I can do that, there’s almost nothing as scary. Except maybe singing at Carnegie Hall in front of Obama and the new pope. That might be scarier. Might.
Oh, at Mass yesterday, the organist was gone, so we had to use CDs with recorded music. It’s really “fun”, because the volume levels are all over the place. Seriously. In one song alone, the volume can go from deafening to a whisper between two verses.
One song, in particular, was really bad. Between the second and third verse, the volume drops to almost nothing. And I’m pretty much left to fend for myself. Well, there’s an amazing woman who plays the CDs for me and she’s trying to compensate. As the music grows quieter or louder, she’s frantically sliding the controls on the sound board up and down.
As that particular song got really quiet, she cranked up the volume. However, after the song was over, she didn’t lower it. A few minutes later, I sang a very short piece and, when she hit “play”, this gigantic music exploded from the system. Naturally she anxiously lowered to volume to almost nothing.
Well, of course I’d have another piece shortly after. So she hit play…and I couldn’t hear the CD at all. So I just start singing acapella. At some point, she decided to turn up the volume and, as it grew loud enough where everyone could hear it, the song was ending. The problem was, I was only about halfway through; I was singing MUCH slower than the CD. At first, I tried to catch up and sang really fast. But there was no way I was going to make it. So I had to just sing by myself and finished the piece after the track ended.
Good times! LOL! I must say, though, that I got many compliments after the service so it’s likely one of those things where I noticed mistakes that most other people didn’t. We are always so hard on ourselves!
Enjoying the Area
We went and played some evening H-O-R-S-E the other night. I had never been to the basketball courts at night and it was really cool. Windy continued to make her Insanity shots (see this post for info). Chris, in turn, continued to miss her shots and got really mad. He’s super competitive and it was really funny.
But I digress. The main reason I bring up the night basketball is this:
While we were shooting around, this bird kept flapping and whizzing near us. After a while, I noticed the bird looked really weird. It wasn’t very big but its wings looked really funky and veiny. So, finally, I’m like “what kind of bird IS that?”
Windy and Chris immediately began laughing and she said “That’s a bat!”
A bat! How freaking cool! Actually, let me say that I made doubly sure it wouldn’t attack me (and give me rabies and herpes) before admitting it was cool.
Then I noticed there were several bats flying around! They were just zooming around the basketball court at night. Windy and Chris were both surprised I was so shocked. They said bats were really common in the area and figured I’d seen tons before. Well I haven’t and it was neat!
I wish I would have gotten a picture but it never would have turned out. They were too small and moving too fast. I would have posted something that looked like one of those big foot sightings. And I would have been like “there, you see that greyish blur? That’s the bat! And that blob in the corner? That’s the bat’s girlfriend. I promise!” And you’d immediately think I was crazy.
See? Now aren’t you glad I didn’t post a picture?
Random Learnings or Stories
Hmmmm there are so many things I could talk about in this post. The whole marriage equality is a huge deal right now and that’s obviously important to me.
I guess I can say this:
I saw a few Facebook posts saying something like “Just because you disagree with something, it doesn’t mean you hate the person” or “You’re allowed to disagree”. Y’all know what I’m talking about, right?
The problem I have with that statement is one side stands to lose so much. It’s like saying “I know you don’t like me leaving my shoes out and that’s fine. I don’t like you leaving the toilet seat up. We’ll agree to disagree and still love each other. Oh, did I mention, if you leave the seat up, your household privileges will be removed, your personal belongs will be handed off, and a chunk of your paycheck will be gone. Also, I’m indirectly labeling you as inferior. Wait a minute. You’re upset??? That’s ridiculous! We’re allowed to disagree with each other!!”
It’s also hard for me because it’s easier for the uneducated homophobic out there to use the current laws – that essentially treat gays like second-class citizens – to justify the burning, killing, bullying, hatred, and harassment.
Then I have to think about my own sabbatical and goals. The last couple weeks I’ve been talking about letting myself start at the ground floor in certain areas and grow. I can’t expect perfection all at once.
Thinking about that, I’m forced to focus on a friend I have. He was raised from day one in a very homophobic environment. A decade ago he terrorized and hassled and ridiculed the gay community. I remember watching him LOSE IT when Will & Grace came on TV.
Well fast forward 10 years and he actually has openly gay friends. He treats them like everyone else and is ashamed of his hatred. He’s come such a long way! However, he still feels that it’s a sin and supports that Facebook message. BUT, I do feel that, given more time, he will continue to make baby steps in becoming fully supportive.
Here’s the thing: I don’t agree with that Facebook post and, of course, I support equality. But, if I allow myself growth in improving at something, don’t I have to allow the same from others? Essentially, that message takes on a different meaning for me depending on who posts it. I would feel very different if my sister were to post it instead of that friend who’s trying to step out of much thicker quicksand.