Coming full circle - "We read to know we are not alone." ~ William Nicholson

One of my absolute favorite quotes is, "We read to know we are not alone." ~ William Nicholson.  How profound is that? What draws us to to stories? What pulls us in? What makes us curl up on the couch and immerse ourselves in someone else's world for hours on end. While I love books that take me to new and exciting places, when I can recognize even a tiny bit of myself inside of a character or a story, it fascinates me. That sliver of recognition makes me feel connected - less alone.

Writing is the most solitary art form I've ever taken part in. I used to play French horn in both a wind ensemble and symphony setting. I was pretty good at it; not professional symphony good, but strong enough that I won a music scholarship for college. I enjoyed it immensely. One of the most rewarding parts of playing, was watching the conductor's reactions. I knew instantly when I was on the right path, or if I screwed the whole thing up. The rise, the fall, or narrowing of a particular pair of eyebrows from across a room answered every question I had.

In writing...not so much. I work night after night in the quiet of my living room. Stopping to check on a little one, or take the dog out. There are no eyebrows telling me if what I wrote was soulful or a complete cliche. This is why the idea of publishing was so scary to me, because it was SO hard to know if what I'd written was any good. I'd told several people before I published OC Me, "If my novel resonates with even one person, if I find out that it made the difference in even one life, it will have been worth every minute." And I can now say, that it was worth every minute.

I've been so privileged to get reader feedback from not just one, but a handful of people. They've taken the time out of their busy lives to let me know how OC Me touched them. How they related to Amy and her story. Some shared their own anxiety stuggles. A couple even said that the book helped them understand their anxiety better - made them see their own thought patterns in a different way. And I am so honored; not only that they took the time to read the book, but that they took the time to share their personal experiences with me. I can now say with full honesty that when a reader steps out of their comfort zone and reaches out to an author, it means the absolute world. 

So thank you. I just want to say that for those that have written to me, your words have made the Nicholson quote come full circle.  As I read YOUR words, I can say, "I read to know I am not alone." And perhaps I should add, "I write to know I am not alone."

Organizing the Scenes for a First Draft / Summit

While I waited for my last round of readers  to give me their feedback on Totem, I figured it was time to dive back into Summit (the follow-up Novel to Totem). While I was writing the rough draft of Totem, I just jotted down everything that needed to happen before the ending. I had most of the main ideas sketched out, but very few of the details; It made the writing fun and loose and somewhat impulsive. 

Shortly after beginning Summit it became clear that my old approach was not working.   I found myself with about 60 pages of non-sequential scenes typed up and realized that I needed to utilize a different organizational approach with this project.  Tonight, I was reading through those 60 pages wondering how to organize it all. Then I remembered a trick I learned in high school about using index cards to organize a research paper. The idea was to put one fact on each card (along with it's bibliographical information), and then put the cards in order. It worked so well in high school that I returned to the method whenever I had a longer paper due in college.

Obviously there's no bibliographical information to account for here, but there are a lot more than 15 pages to organize.  I pulled my left-over note-cards out of my desk supplies drawer and sat down to work.

Follow up:  Less than 24 hours later and I have over 40 cards (in chronological order! ) to serve as my outline for Summit. (YAY!) I spent a couple of hours writing down as many turning points and scenes that I could think of. Afterward I lined up all the cards in chronological order. WAY easier than writing it a notebook and drawing arrows all over the place. I even color coded the cards. Blue for conflict, Pink for relationship developments, Yellow for important news/turning points, and white for connecting scenes.  Now I can really get going on that draft!