Polishing Edits

Dear Vi,

It’s been awhile since I’ve mentioned the manuscript. Were you wondering what’s up with it?

Well, at the end of February I sent it out to a few friends who volunteered to be beta readers. These are people who give the novel a test run and report back with any problems they find.

While they were reading, I put the manuscript away and moved on to other things. At the time, I felt so done with it, I really didn’t care if I never looked at it again. But time passed and comments started trickling in.

Their enthusiasm was so contagious that I felt ready to pull it out again and tackle the polishing.

I printed out the novel and have just finished reading it from start to finish with the handy red pen that my writing partner Holly sent. And because I literally haven’t looked at it for about six weeks, my eyes are fresh, which allowed me to catch a few things I hadn’t been able to see when I was deep in the throes of creation.

Believe it or not, this is the first time I’ve actually read it as a “real” book.  Just between me and you, Vi, it was an incredible experience. I felt…in serious awe of myself. I wrote a book! And it’s damned good!

(oh, boy, you’ve no idea how hard it was to say that, having grown up in a serious never-toot-thine-own-horn culture)

Now it’s time for me to get to work reading and analyzing what my test readers had to say.  Stay tuned because there’s sure to be a blog post or two coming out of the experience. 🙂

The first 300 words of WriMo 2014

Kat Russo turned west, leveled the wings and gave a final tweak to the trim before settling back in the left seat of the single-engine Piper Cherokee. It was a bit of a gutless wonder, she thought, but then she was only being paid to deliver it, not love it. And actually, she had to admit, it was a good trainer. Slow. Stable. A good airplane for its new owner, a guy in Winnipeg who had hired her to deliver it from where it was hangared in Thunder Bay, Ontario. The “guy” was a friend of her brother; a brand new private pilot with less than 100 hours in his log book. Yeah, she knew her brother was doing her a favour when he suggested his friend hire her to ferry the plane. She was grateful; she needed the money. More, she needed the reminder that she was capable of functioning in the real world again.

She’d been living with her big brother and his family in Winnipeg since she’d been decorated for bravery and then mustered out of the Canadian Forces a year ago. The brass said the back injury she’d sustained in Afghanistan had left her unfit for duty, but she knew it was really because of the PTSD she’d been diagnosed with. It wasn’t easy, living in her brother and sister-in-law’s basement suite in the West End, trying to pretend everything was hunky dory when what she really wanted to do was scream at her little nieces’ thumping footsteps on the ceiling above her room. At night she would lie on her bed and listen to the voices of her brother, Mario, and his wife Cecily rising and falling in soft rhythm above her. It lulled and infuriated her in turns. She knew they were concerned for her, and she hated it. She hated being a burden to them. She hated their solicitude, their kindness and their watchfulness. Most of all she hated herself for hating them.

Dancing with Words

Last night was the last of my creative writing classes that I’ve been taking at the college. What an amazing experience this class has been for me on so many levels. I really like writing. Not just bloggy-blog writing (which I also enjoy), I mean that I have really loved the challenge of creative writing. I tried my hand at fiction, non-fiction and poetry. And not only did I discover that I liked it, I discovered that I’m not half-bad at it, either! Or, at least in my own sometimes-not-so-humble opinion, anyway.  It does take a fair bit of time, though. So all the blogging I haven’t done and all the sewing I haven’t done and all the knitting I haven’t done is because I’ve been writing and re-writing my class assignments. And I have got something to show for it all, too! I have a great handful of haiku, two long poems that have gone through many revisions and are now finished and ready to go, a third poem that I am in the process of revising and have great dreams for, a 3400-word fiction piece awaiting revision, and a 5,000-word non-fiction piece that is finished and ready to go (or as ready as a piece ever gets, as I’m beginning to learn!)

Because I enjoyed the process of writing so much, and my mind is so stuffed full of ideas for more, I’ve decided that I’m actually going to jump into the inky swimming pool and submit a few things!

The bummer is that I can’t show them to you! Not the ones that I want to submit anywhere, anyway. For some reason, posting a piece on a blog is considered “published” in a literary magazine world that only accepts unpublished work.

Once again I am reminded of how many ways there are to dance through life, and how much I am enjoying this creative journey.

As Martha Graham said: “Learn to dance by practicing dancing, or learn to live by practicing living. The principles are the same.”

I say, go ahead and insert the word “write” or “paint” or “sing” in here. We are all dancing through life in our own way.