A Guiding Metaphor for the Writing Process

Open crocus - Guenette photo

The one who, “… every morning plans the transactions of the day, and follows that plan, carries a thread that will guide him [or her] through a labyrinth of the most busy life.” Victor Hugo

I have a million excuses for the fact that I am not making headway with my current work in progress – none of which I feel the need to waste your time with. What I’ve been thinking about on this fine, Daylight Savings Time morning, is how a guiding metaphor can hold one back or, in the spirit of this day, help one spring forward.

Consider the following piece from my writing notes of yesterday:

Do I have too much material or not enough? Definitely, more than enough! A trimming may be in order. Though I’ve been through these anxieties before, I’m almost overwhelmed by the number of threads that need to be woven together to make this book happen. It feels as though I’m in front of an empty loom with piles of coloured yarn all around my feet. I have to pick up the right thread at the right time and set the pattern. There’s all this fear that I will start out wrong and have to backtrack. It’s inevitable. And anyone who has ever done needlework of any kind knows – pulling something out is hard work.

Loom cartoon - google image

Rereading that section today, I find myself thinking that the loom metaphor is not particularly helpful. It seems, in fact, to be paralyzing.

A new visualization is a must. I’m trying this one on for size.

My writing process is like a free-form, patchwork quilt. I create a square and then another and another. At some point, I begin to lay them out to see how they might fit together and gradually, over time, a pattern emerges. As the design begins to come together, I’ll shuffle and rearrange my quilt squares over and over. Loose threads will be drawn through the pattern. Joining squares may be needed in various spots and the whole work might benefit from some type of border. I’ll have to decide on a special colour of thread to join it all together. The true design will only emerge as I go.

Quilt - google image

No guarantee this metaphor is going to push me over that painful divide from planning the book to actually writing the book but at least I am no longer pinned beneath an empty loom. And this quilt does seem to snap nicely in the spring breeze.

What about you? Does having a guiding metaphor for your writing process help you move forward?

Pre-Spring Garden

The amen of nature is always a flower. (Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.)

Open crocus - Guenette photo

Today’s sunshine opened this lovely crocus for my admiration and camera.

Her body calculated to a millimeter to suggest a bud, yet guaranteed a flower. (F. Scott Fitzgerald)

Closed crocus - guenette photo

Surrounded by the wild, these few beauties await the full sun.

“A friend cannot be owned
That is plain to see
Friendships must be shared,
Just like our friend, Ruby”
(Stephen Cosgrove from Rhubarb)

Rhubarb - Guenette photoThe first sighting of rhubarb is always greeted with glee.

 

Christmas Rose - Guenette photo

The Christmas rose (Hellebore) continues to show off it’s delicate roses and cream coloured glory.

Don’t judge each day by the harvest that you reap but by the seeds that you plant. (Robert Louis Stevenson)

Seedlings - Guenette photoSeedlings on the go under the grow light.

Gardens are not made by singing, “Oh, how beautiful,” and sitting in the shade. (Rudyard Kipling)

Cold frame - Guenette photoKale seedlings and overwintering celery snug in the cold frame.

A garden is a grand teacher. It teaches patience and careful watchfulness; it teaches industry and thrift; above all it teaches entire trust. (Gertrude Jekyll)

Overlook in the sun - Guenette photo

A chair in the afternoon sun from which to enjoy it all.

5-Star Review of Disappearing in Plain Sight

DPS - Cover - Guenette

As I revel in the re-release of Disappearing in Plain Sight under my own author imprint (Huckleberry Haven Publishing), I wanted to share one of the first reviews I received for this book. As you can imagine, Sarah Stewart’s thoughtful 5-star review on Amazon.ca meant a lot to a newly published author!

I read upwards of ten books a month in my work as an editor (and my life as a book lover), and it’s quite rare for me to encounter a story that stays with me for months afterward. This book did just that rare thing for me. Though I read the book in the fall, one day recently I found myself wondering about a couple of its characters in the same way I wonder about old friends I haven’t heard from for a while. “How’s she doing?” I thought about Lisa Marie, one of the book’s protagonists.

I crave getting enveloped in a story, one that is entertaining and well-paced, but intelligent too. I love it when novels deal in equal measure with interpersonal relationships/ romances and more systemic issues such as bullying, trauma, and oppression. As such, I devoured this story, felt attached to the characters, and was sorry when it was over. Not to mention that her beautiful prose made me yearn for the rugged west coast that I’d moved from not long before I read it. These are all marks of a wonderful book for me. Disappearing in Plain Sight is well worth reading.

Please take a moment to visit an Amazon site of your choice and check out the re-release of Disappearing in Plain Sight. So many little actions help a new listing on Amazon and a click through to view is always good.

Amazon.com

Amazon.co.uk

Amazon.ca

I’ll leave you today with one of my favourite signs of spring. A delicate crocus poking out to the sun.

Crocus - Guenette photo

Hat in Hand my Friends, Hat in Hand

Fran's Garden

I sincerely believe blogging is about more than promoting, selling or making money. This site is my author webpage as well as my personal blog. It is my way of connecting with readers, friends and fellow bloggers. It’s the place I tell about what’s happening in my life, be it writing, books, publishing, marketing, parenting, grand parenting, gardening, living in a rural setting, travelling.

My blog is where I pay it forward when it comes to supporting other self-published authors. I recently started a series where I invite self-published authors to do a guest post related to how location plays an integral role in their writing. I’ve regularly posted book reviews and interviews and promoted these far and wide through my social media network.

In terms of valued-added, I’ve blogged a number of times about my experience with self-publishing in the hope that some of the things I’ve learned through trial and error might help someone else. Always we are standing on a continuum with others ahead of us and others behind. As we reach for a hand up, I firmly believe we should be reaching back to help others climb.

Fran's Garden (2)

I also host a spin-off blog called Saying What Matters where I write posts dedicated to effective communication skills. This is my way of sharing with others the experience and training that I’ve had the privilege to obtain.

You might be thinking – where is the hat part? We get that you’ve paid your dues, now you get to the point.

Okay, here it comes.

If you’ve stopped by my blog and considered reading either of my books at some later date – maybe that date has arrived. If you’ve read Disappearing in Plain Sight or The Light Never Lies and thought about doing a review to put up on Amazon or Goodreads – maybe today is the day. No time like the present – right?

Fran's Garden (3)

This plant is sometimes called Love Lies Bleeding – oh, the author’s lament – right?

You will find Disappearing in Plain Sight for sale on the following sites:

Amazon.com

Amazon.co.uk

Amazon.ca

Kobo

The Nook Store at Barnes and Noble

iTunes 

The Light Never Lies is available on the following sites:

Amazon.com

Amazon.co.uk

Amazon.ca

Kobo 

Smashwords

The Nook Store

Kindle, Kobo, Nook, and all e-reading devices, I’ve got you covered. Many thanks in advance to all readers and followers who respond to my hat in hand request. No good deed goes unnoticed. My gift today is the beauty of a few flower shots from our garden done on macro setting. Enjoy.

Fran's Garden (4)

Twitter: The Ongoing Saga

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It’s been about six weeks since I entered the world of Twitter. I thought it might be time for an update on how it’s been going.

I started off searching out everyone I could find who had anything to do with self or indie publishing. I was following about 70 people and had about 35 people following me. Then I got disillusioned by all the tweet, tweet, retweet, retweet stuff I was seeing. I had somehow gotten trapped into a circle of people tweeting themselves and each other’s work over and over and over again.

I dropped a whole bunch of people and then a whole bunch of people dropped me and that’s where things sat for a bit.

In the meantime I started following a ton of CBC reporters and radio shows that I like – soon my account was all news all the time. That wasn’t exactly what I had in mind when I started Twitter. It had turned into a one way street – news tweets coming in and not much going out. I did manage a couple of tweets a day but it was mostly retweeting interesting quotes or tweeting about my latest blog post.

I did have an exciting time when I heard that George Stroumboulopoulos (@strombo), one of my favourite CBC TV personalities, was in an airport somewhere. I sent him a tweet that said, “If you’re bored you could follow me. I don’t tweet too often, I’m not selling anything, I’ve always loved CBC – just wondering.” About a minute later I saw via email that he was following me. He has over 319,000 followers and follows 9,900 people himself – so I was pretty pumped by that experience.

For a while after that I was nervous about everything I tweeted or retweeted – always asking myself if George would approve. Thankfully, I got over that.

Then there was the day I did a really stupid tweet – I won’t even bore you with all the details. Suffice to say, I wasn’t meaning to sound racist – I simply didn’t read the original tweet properly. It was before I understood how to decipher a string of hashtags quickly and effectively. I responded exactly opposite to what I would have wanted to say. By the end of the day there were a string of people wondering what was wrong with me. That slowed me down for a bit and I’ll probably never tweet to that site again.

But, I screwed my courage to the sticking post, as old Will the Bard would say, and got back on the horse that threw me. I began to find people to follow by entering hashtag prompts and seeing who came up – things like #amwriting, or #amselfpublishing, or my latest great find – #writingtip.

I’ve tweeted 204 times and have now built myself up to following 170 people with 84 people following me – this ratio of approximately two to one seems to be OK for now.

I’ve discovered how to screen who I follow by checking out the last few tweets they’ve done – if it’s all buy my book, buy my book, or buy this person’s book over and over, I’ll skip them.

The group of people I’m following now is an interesting and eclectic mix. I’ve started picking up WordPress bloggers who have an option on their blog to follow them via Twitter. Lots of good contacts have come to me in that way. I’m finding other people’s blogs to put a tweet out for and that’s great – my posts have been tweeted a few times as well.

I try to tweet at least three times a day. I’ll often tweet my most recent blog post twice because the medium is moving so fast, I think it can bear a repeat. I try to do some type of interesting update and maybe retweet a good quote or two.

I’m only beginning to understand twitter etiquette, so I apologize if I’ve offended anyone. I read somewhere that I should acknowledge anyone who retweets me or favourites something I have tweeted – I’m still figuring out how to track all that information in a timely fashion. When I get that down, I might be able to be more polite.

So – all and all – a bit of a rocky start, a few hiccups along the way, but I really like the twitter world. It’s fast paced and interesting and I’ve found links to a ton of great articles and blogs on writing and self-publishing. Here’s just a taste of what I discovered – The Self-Publishing Tool Kit. Every time I see a tweet about a new article on this site, I pop over. The current article was on how to win with twitter – if you’re going to be self-promoting your own novel you’ll find these tips helpful.

Twitter is win/win my friends. If you’re not out there tweeting yet, don’t be afraid – it’s a forgiving world – maybe because it moves so fast. Anyway – I’ll tweet you later – OK?

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Spring is coming!