Posts Tagged ‘Bound in Smoke’

Fall is Coming!

Sunday, September 18th, 2022

As I write this, it’s been raining and there is more rain on the way. Here’s hoping for lots more. A couple weeks ago we had brutal heat. It reached 109F/43C here at the house and that is absolutely unheard of here. I’m hoping the plants that look dead or damaged from the heat come back . . .

tl;dr: Despite everything below, Bound in Smoke is going well and I have been steadily adding words that need to be there.

What about the Writing?

Yes, I am writing. I have spent the last several weeks attempting to be honest with myself about why it’s going so slow. I have worked through my grief about family losses — where “worked through” means accepting that grief is a never ending and always transforming condition. The issue I’m grappling with now has to do with a crippling internal editor. For some reason, when I’m writing, my head fills up with every single criticism ever made about my books and all the people who are just sure that the writing process that has seen me through nearly 50 stories is wrong and if only I would change my process everything would be smooth sailing. It’s hard to write when you think your writing is terrible and you’re also doing it wrong, and I just haven’t tried hard enough with a “mature” process.

Process Process WTF and Also Shut Up.

Anyway, I am not an outliner or pre-writer. A structured approached has never ever not once resulted in me finishing a book. So it’s easy enough for me to set aside process doubts. Besides, I’m fairly certain those doubts are tightly connected to the writing doubts, a side-effect of which is this: no one but me can criticize what I don’t publish. Entertaining process doubts sends me down rabbit holes of “writing” that doesn’t actually put words into a chapter. Verrrry convenient there, subconscious. Fortunately, I know that’s baloney. The bigger obstacle has been what feels like a disconnect between the joy of writing and the actual writing when all I can think is this is terrible terrible terrible. And I spend my time re-crafting sentences etc or just distracting myself with anything that’s not writing and maybe when I come back to it, I will see it’s not that bad. I know this typically means there is something wrong with my story concept–more to the point, I haven’t found the spark between the characters that drives the story.

It’s helped a lot that over the last year or so ideas about the story have come to be more and more often instead of hardly ever.

Sparky!

I had a private conversation with myself about the world I want for Bound in Smoke, and the books I want to write before I am too old and decrepit to write.  I told myself, fine. That is the world I will actually write, and that decision was freeing. And now the spark I need is showing up.

 

 

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Hello May! What’s Up at Jewel HQ

Friday, May 20th, 2022

Just a quick post to say hello and give an update on life and writing. Bound in Smoke is going pretty well. I’m at about 50K new words with most of the updated rejiggered story in place. The usual self-doubt is there, of course. I can’t speak for all writers, but I know time and again I hear writers say that they feel that every book will expose them as a fraud or that this is the book they will be unable to write. It’s always been that way for me, and I’ve long had coping strategies for dealing with that. That self-doubt has been supercharged as of late. But I am working through that, just more slowly. I feel like that entire world is more emotionally fragile these days!

At any rate, I am currently working most on the chapters that introduce the story and the world because that absolutely needs to be in place before I start editing and fleshing out the rest of the chapters. So, to be clear, the book is not in early stages. It’s just a bit past two thirds … the point where once I nail down the world and the characters place in it, everything else will start going really fast.

I hope all of you are staying safe, healthy, and happy!

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March Progress Report

Sunday, March 6th, 2022

I hope everyone is managing 2022 as well as possible in these stressful and trying times. Don’t forget to take time for yourself and your inner peace.

I wanted to update everyone on my writing. Bound in Smoke is going very well. I’m in a spot where word count isn’t increasing very fast but the story is taking on shape and vibe that I really like. For me, a story is typically essentially done at about 50K words, with the remaining word count coming from polishing and expanding on themes and plot. I’m not quite there yet, but will be soon, I think.

Self Doubt and the Inner Critic

My primary challenge right now is what the header suggests. Self doubt and a loud inner critic, both of which love to remind me that previous versions of this book were not done when I thought they were. For me, self doubt and my inner critic play a crucial role in producing a story I love. I need them, but I also need to be able to rise above them, and that’s been a slowly improving situation.

Another element I have noticed is one that I think can be particularly toxic to everyone, and that’s the idea that it’s not just OK to power through difficulties without regard to the personal toll, but virtuous to do so. I call bullshit on that. Hard and regular work, yes, but not without respect to the creative well. As Susan Elizabeth Philips has said, “Protect the writing.” You can’t do that if you’re only making withdrawals from your emotional well-being.

So What’s the Progress Report?

Story sparks have been coming to me more and more often, which is an encouraging return to normalcy. I think it’s because I’ve been telling myself, “F***, it, just write what you want to put on the page. I am writing. I am getting my story told.

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Happy Going into the Holidays!

Friday, November 26th, 2021

I hope all is well with everyone and that those who celebrated US Thanksgiving had a safe and wonderful day.

Per Jewel HQ tradition, now that it’s after Thanksgiving, we can appropriately procrastinate preparations for the holidays. The weather here has been about as wintery as the North Bay gets. This year there is a bumper crop of mushrooms. A few of them are enormous and can be seen from quite far away. I enjoy going out to look at the mushrooms.

Now that we have fish in the pond, we’ve had visits from both herons and egrets . . . beautiful, majestic birds who don’t normally come anywhere near the house. Goldfish are good at hiding, but we’re fairly certain the netting has done it’s job and we still have all six.

Bound In Smoke continues to go well. I have some time off and hope to get a lot of words down.

Stay safe, everyone. What are you reading these days? I’m re-reading R. Lee Smith’s Land of the Beautiful Dead.

Below is a picture of a mushroom.

 

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Spooky Greetings from Jewel HQ!

Saturday, October 30th, 2021

As I write this post, tomorrow is the U.S. celebration of Halloween, a holiday beloved by many here, so spooky greetings to all! Here is a picture of my happily transplanted pitcher plants. They will soon be dormant for winter, but right now they’re very pretty.

Close of of Pitcher plants. They are slender green tubes that widen to a magenta and white opening with a curved top above the pitcher.
Pitcher Plants. Photo by Carolyn Jewel

They happily consume garden pests, so yay! And, as I have learned, California has native species of pitcher plants so they do extremely well here.

Writing News

My writing continues to go well. Bound in Smoke is really shaping up. My new approach to getting more sleep is about 80% effective, I’d say, which means I am getting a lot more sleep these says. It’s probably no coincidence that my creative headspace is a happier place these days. To all my readers, I am writing every single day, taking care of myself, and putting together a story I love.

Take care, everyone!

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Fall Greetings!

Saturday, September 18th, 2021

I suppose technically it’s not Fall yet, but let’s not quibble. As we move into what will hopefully be cooler, wetter weather, the writing is going well. I switched up my schedule and now write in the mornings before my “commute” into the living room for the day job. I’ve also made some progress with getting more sleep, and that makes a tremendous difference in how I feel. Go figure.

Bound in Smoke is going reallly well. I continue to have breakthroughs that make me excited about the story and the world. I’m not sure when I’ll have an updated Chapter 1 to post, though I think it will be sometime in the next couple of months. It’s such a relief to have the creativity continuing to come back to me and have the words on the page feel rich and real.

A while back, I started writing using a program called Ulysses rather than WordPerfect and so far it’s been a great transition. Ulysses has a really neat feature that lets me quickly insert editorial notes as I’m writing that don’t disturb the flow of the story text. Oddly, this has been emotionally helpful because recently my inner critic has been so loud and detrimental. Now, I can insert a note or reminder about the text and just move on instead of feeling like the whole story is a failure. Plus, I also got my printer working again after the MacOS upgrade to Big Sur disabled my ability to print.

I hope everyone is staying safe and doing well. Let me know in the comments.

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Greetings from August!

Saturday, August 7th, 2021

I hope everyone is well and that you’re reading lots of fabulous books. Let me know in the comments what you’ve read lately.

Here at Jewel HQ things are going pretty well, all things considered. Bound In Smoke continues to develop in exciting ways. I’m writing everyday and also making sure I am keeping the creative well refreshed. I’ve been mulling over a new post to the writing section of my site about dealing with circumstances that drain that creative spark.

I imagine most of us are feeling stressed by current events, so I hope everyone is taking time to make sure they are OK. My son came for a visit which ended up being perfectly timed. Just a couple of weeks past when he came, I would have advised him not to travel. It was lovely to see him. He’s starting grad school in September, and I am proud and excited for him.

I’ll probably be posted a revised draft Chapter 1 fairly soon…

Here’s a picture of my favorite mug.

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May Report

Saturday, May 15th, 2021

I hope everyone is doing well this May of 2021. It’s been a tough year for the world, and it is my fervent hope that we get as many people vaccinated in as many countries as possible. In the meantime, I hope everyone is doing all they can to stay safe and happy.

I’m slowly doing better. I’ve discovered that when I go to sleep when my eyes are drooping, more often than not I sleep without interruption for 8-10 hours. If that means lights out at 7:30 or 8:00, so be it. I shouldn’t be so surprised that going to sleep when I’m tired instead of forcing myself to stay awake until what I’d set as my bedtime has led to a massive improvement in my sleep. Being rested is one heck of a drug!

The writing continues to go well. I think getting enough sleep really helps, no surprise. More and more, the emotional and creative well is there for me to tap into, and it’s a relief and a joy.

Bound in Smoke continues to develop, and I’m back to writing nearly every single day without beating myself up for taking time deal with stress and grief. I’m getting excited about sharing this story with you!

Stay safe everyone, and be kind to yourself.

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How I’m Doing (TLDR; better)

Sunday, April 25th, 2021

Hello all. I have all the best intentions of posting more often here so hold me to it! Since my last post, the writing has continued to slowly return to me. I’ve been writing every morning since February, getting more sleep, and learning to live with grief. I’m really pleased with how Bound in Smoke is developing. Ideas and story elements come to me with increasing frequency, and I take them when they come, with excitement and gratitude that the well is refilling. Thank you everyone, for all your patience and support.

Other good news is that as of now, all of my immediate family has had at least one COVID vaccine. I haven’t seen my son in nearly a year and now, fingers crossed, it looks like it might be safe to travel to see him later this year. Or him to see us. It’s my hope that we’ll soon be able to get to together to mourn our family losses.

For anyone who has lost a loved one, I am sending you my deepest sympathies. These are difficult times. Don’t forget to be kind to yourself.

Here is a picture of one of the irises now blooming at the house:

A maroon iris with gold highlights. The blossom is fully open and the picture is taken from above. The colors are striking, and it looks soft yet serious.
Iris. Taken from above. Picture by Yours Truly, aka Carolyn Jewel


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Where Am I? How Am I?

Saturday, February 20th, 2021

Over the last few months, I have started an abandoned half a dozen posts to address those two questions and I just get emotionally derailed. So I’ll just say I am as OK as it’s possible to be under the circumstances. Grief is a process and you can’t just decide to bull through it.

I have been writing — more accurately rewriting– Bound in Smoke. For quite a while there wasn’t much in the writing well. I could edit and proofread but nothing much was happening in the part of the writing that puts drama on the page. Not a good place to be, and there’s not much point to editing when the emotional core of the story isn’t there.

Lately that’s changed. In moments when I’m not writing, a story-drama idea would just pop into my head. Normally this would happen on an almost daily basis, but there was nothing for quite a while. I documented those rare ideas and worked them into the writing and things were better on the page. Then there’d be nothing for a while only to have another idea pop into my head.

Instead of a near-constant flow of story emotion in me, I went from complete silence to oh, hey! Interesting . . . and then back to silence. At first, it wasn’t enough to justify doing a huge amount of work, but over the last several weeks, those slow bubbles have built on each other and now when I’m writing I don’t feel like there’s nothing in me to draw on.

Recently, I’ve taken to getting up a little early and getting some words in before the day starts, and that’s been productive. I think it helps that my sleep has improved somewhat.

And there you have it. That’s where I am now. I hope all of you are doing well in these trying times. Be kind to yourselves.

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