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4 years 7 months agoComments

Over the last few weeks I’ve gotten a little off track with my blogging and writing.  Or perhaps I’m finally on the right track.  You tell me: 

One day a couple weeks ago I had a chat with my youngest sister.  She helped clarify a few things that I had questions about.  Maybe it’s because it was with her, or maybe it’s because it was out loud, but it was very emotional.  More emotional than writing the book, which has been pretty draining in and of itself.  I took a day or two and decided to outline the book a little differently given the new information.  It wasn’t that what I learned was ground breaking, but I thought that the new prospective opened itself up to a slightly different format.

Then I thought, if my sister could give me a different prospective, my mother surely could as well.  And she did.  I felt the floor shake beneath me during our conversation which ranged from her past to my dad’s past and then to my illnesses.  This was about a week ago.  I realized I had a whole different avenue I could venture down with the book, however, every emotion I felt was so raw.  So real. I couldn’t do it.  I haven’t even been able to blog about writing because I’ve stopped.  I expected to be much further along than this by now. 

Every time I try to type again my hands shake.  Or I worse yet, I can’t even open the computer at all.  So what to do?  Facebook pleasantly reminded me this morning of a post I wrote two years ago about how I was going to write a book which I still plan to do.  However, everyone I’ve talked to about my dilemma has told me to switch to fiction if a memoir is this hard. 

Writing fiction was never my plan.  But maybe that’s what I should have been concentrating on all along.  Maybe I should be focusing on a story where anything is possible, instead of a family’s impossibly sad past.  I could write about all the good yet to come.  

I’ll give it a try and as always I’ll keep you posted!  

Caitlin

4 years 7 months agoComments

I haven’t posted in a while.  In fact, I haven’t written much in a while either.  The events that I’ve reached in my timeline are particularly emotional so it’s been easier to just not do it. 

However, I spoke with one of my sisters at length today.  There were some tears involved and it finally broke the feeling of wanting to curl up under my shell and pretend none of the past happened.  She helped clarify a few things in my family’s past which I had previously been hypothesizing about.  I am confident that my other family members will be able to fill in even more blanks so I don’t have to guess as much as I have been anymore.

I didn’t ask anyone else before today except for a random date of when such and such happened because I knew it would open old wounds.  I knew tears would be shed.  And they were.  Is that a bad thing?  I’m not sure, maybe it's cathartic.  Hopefully the whole project is.  This booked turned into not just my story, but my family’s story for a reason and I might as well hypothesize as little as possible. 

So now instead of saying, “While I was doing this, everyone else must have been doing that.”  I can say with certainty that they were in fact “doing that”.  

I have written about a quarter of the book, so I’m glad I’m asking questions now and not later on when everything would be so much harder to fix.

Caitlin

4 years 8 months agoComments

Up until now I have been primarily measuring the success of my writing on the number of words I have written.  That’s not to say I haven’t focused on quality as well, but I considered it a successful day when the words were flowing freely and quickly.  Some days they do.  On those days I imagine giving speeches after winning the Pulitzer Prize.  Some days they don’t and I worry that I’m wasting time on a hopeless cause.

However, I’ve learned a lot about myself over the last five weeks. If nothing else comes from this venture at least I can say that.  I’ve reflected on my past and considered my future extensively.  To be honest, blogging is what’s grounding me to the present.  If it weren’t for this blog, my mind would be constantly floating through space and time.

I know I have an excellent story to tell, but I’m terrified that I’ll tell it poorly.  That’s why I’ve decided to stop holding myself to a word count.  Or maybe at least loosen it up a little.  I’m edited every five pages or so and I’ve gone back and added events that I forgot to write about in the first place.  Then I edit again to make sure it’s a smooth transition.  This takes time, but ultimately I think it will make my job easier because editing a book in its entirety is no simple task.

I hope my readers are gaining some knowledge into what it’s like to write a book.  Maybe you are just getting started, or maybe you are a few steps ahead of me and can give me some insight, but it would be great to get a conversation going!

Caitlin

4 years 8 months agoComments

I finally decided to pull out my journals.  (I have been journaling off and on since I was a kid.) I’m not sure why I didn’t do it sooner.  I have been working off of very fuzzy memories of some pretty important life events, that I had actually chronicled at the time.  I think, no wait, I know I was afraid to read them.  It’s easier to gloss over everything.  I remembered bits and pieces and let my imagination fill in the rest.  It made the story smoother and less jarring for the reader.

Now I’m faced with the reality of what actually happened in the winter of 1999. 

I didn’t write everything down.  There are some pretty important things that happened later on that are not journaled.  In fact, I have three completely empty journals that were given to me as gifts.  But now a huge piece of the puzzle that I only semi-remembered is in place and the shell of a story I had created for myself has been shattered.  I now believe that in the book, the events following the winter of 1999 will unfold more clearly. 

And to think, I only pulled out the journals to see what year I went to Italy.  It seemed like a storyline that might give my book a little texture.

Caitlin

4 years 8 months agoComments

I wrote a solid 4,000 words yesterday.  I sat down and said to myself, no more excuses, just do it.  And I did.  And then I had an insane headache!  I guess I do get eyestrain, but I didn’t realize it until I stared at the computer for nearly 6 hours straight.  However, the book is coming along well.

After I was done for the day, and ready to move on to app building, I realized something.  I sort of flew through the narrative as if the reader would understand all of my medical terminology.  Many may not.  I also think I need to elaborate on the setting a bit.  For instance, in certain scenes, I know who was there with me and I breezed through writing it.  In hindsight, I realize the reader would no idea who was there unless I share that with them.  It sounds like that would be intuitive and obvious, however, never having taken a writing class it doesn’t exactly come naturally to me.  

I recognize that writers need to write in their own style with their own voices.  But after some reflection it has become clear that the reader’s perspective always has to be taken into account.  Today I will go back through what I have written and look at it with fresh eyes.

Caitlin

4 years 8 months agoComments

Late last week I hit a huge road block with my writing.  I was writing along; everything was going just fine and suddenly an acute, unpleasant memory hit me smack in the face.  I knew I would be writing about difficult things in this book, it’s what I signed up for, so most of the big events I had thought a lot about before I started writing.  I took the time to analyze them.  But for whatever reason this memory slipped through the cracks and I found myself unable to continue. 

I gave myself a little bit of time to deal with what happened because remembering it felt like I was reliving it, and writing through tears is never a going to produce the best writing.  Finally, I’m ready to write again. 

Because it’s Monday, I’m really going to try to hold myself to my 20,000 words a week goal.  My boyfriend tells me I have a habit of setting unattainable goals.  He has a point.  Half of last week’s to do list carried over into this week.  Mostly because part of the one from the week before carried over as well.  I supposed this is bound to happen when you are attempting to run a home business, close an estate and write a book at the same time.

I’ll keep you posted!

Caitlin 

4 years 8 months agoComments

I’ve learned that setting goals while writing a book is key.  The experts say it, and while I’m hardly an expert I can attest to its veracity.  When I first started this project, I wasn’t sure what my goal should be because I had a full-time job.  I have since pulled myself out of the workforce for a variety of reasons and I’ve been able to write a lot faster.  I’m not sure how long I can keep it up but my original goal was to have the first draft completed in a month. 

Is that enough time?  We’ll I guess it depends on who you ask.  I suppose Stephen King writes faster than that, but this is my first book and I’m in a whole different genre.  The most I have written in a day is 3000 words.  The least – none.  I think right now the words can come rather quickly because I’m in a pretty heated part of the story.  It’s going to get harder after this. 

I’ve decided to hold myself to 20,000 words a week.  The last two weeks I would have failed miserably at reaching this goal.  With this target in mind, I can make up some ground.  This will still put my over the one-month mark, but not by too much. 

I know getting it published will still be an even lengthier process after that.

Caitlin

 

Elliptical
4 years 8 months agoComments

Today I set up the room that is home to my elliptical.  While I’ve been on an insane hot streak with my writing, I realized my physical well-being has been neglected.  I’ve owned an elliptical for about a year now, (it’s a hand me down from a family friend), but it has essentially sat in a room that we have only been using for storage and things were piling up all around it.  Now I've cleared the room and it is work-out ready.

I’ve decided to try to exercise for at least a half an hour every day because now that I’m not working, I find myself sitting around quite a lot.  This can be remarkably productive for a writer, but not so great on the waste line.  I think it's easy for writers to get so wrapped up in what they are doing that they forget about the little things in life like their health.  This may sound crazy for some people out there, but I used to love to go to the gym.  I can’t afford a membership anymore so this will have to be the next best thing.

I’m curious about whether this will change or improve my writing at all.  I guess we’ll have to wait and see.

Caitlin

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