Repeat Performance: What to Do When the Book You’re Writing Throws You a Curve Ball

As I was working out a topic for this week’s post, I came across this one from May 6, 2014. Reading it, I am reminded that once more my memoir has thrown me a curve ball. I need to sort out what to do with this draft still waiting in the corner.

The two curve balls came from different directions and for different reasons. If you want to know more about the second curve ball, you can read a personal note to my followers and friends who subscribe to my newsletter.

Upon reflection, I believe my May 6, 2014 post may stand me in good stead when the time is right to begin inching my hands toward the binder holding my manuscript. I don’t think I’ll be rewriting so much as restructuring and moving things in my draft around to make my memoir more readable. The wheels are turning and never forgetting this draft, but the pull to go back and revisit this post left me with a need to share it with you once again.


Here’s the original post from May 6, 2014:

WHAT TO DO WHEN THE BOOK YOU’RE WRITING THROWS YOU A CURVE BALL

The drafting of my memoir began in earnest sometime the late spring of 2012. I had jotted down notes and memories plus digging through boxes of my mother’s personal papers for years. Folders filled with potential material for a book cover a work table.

Via Google Images
Via Google Images

Now, here we are approaching late spring of 2014, two years later. A few weeks ago as I was considering my progress and listening to my husband’s take on what I had written for one particular chapter, I felt like I had been hit by a tidal wave of emotion.

It was as if a tsunami had taken over the life of my memoir, and what came next threw me for a curve.

An epiphany in the form of a major change in direction left me wonder struck. Not so much because it was such a stunning transformation, but because it had stared me in the eye since the year 2000, when the seed germinated into thoughts of a memoir after moving my mother to Oregon from Tennessee.

Now, what am I going to do was the next thought passing not so silently through my mind. It was simple: Regroup, rethink, rewrite–the writer’s three R’s.

REGROUP: 

When I began writing my story of life with Mama, I sat down and started pounding out words on the computer screen without any thought for an outline or a plan. I knew the story I was writing and thought I needed no organizational scheme to get it done. So far, I believe I have a pretty good draft on that first turn. But this curve ball I’ve been thrown made me stop and take stock of the time I would have saved if I had gotten my writing act together first.

  • The first thing I decided I needed to do was spell out what I wanted to tell my readers and why. And I did.
  • I then moved on to think about outlining or story boarding. I vaguely remembered a post of Kathy Pooler’s on Memoir Writer’s Journey where Kathy talked about story boarding. Unable to find it, I emailed Kathy and she sent me the link, which is here.

 

Kathy Pooler’s Storyboard
Kathy Pooler’s Storyboard
  • As I sat and studied Kathy’s storyboard, it occurred to me that my favorite writing software, Scrivener, uses a bulletin board with index cards to act as an option to an outline. I rarely use it, but checked it out and below is an image of my current storyboard or imaged outline in Scrivener:
Scrivener corkboard
Scrivener corkboard

 

  • I think it’s going to work perfectly, and I’ve set about rewriting my first draft.

RETHINK

A good deal of rethinking went into picking up the draft and rewriting it. Was this worth making the book into a better story to share with readers? Would the rewrite get my point across any better? After all, I’d spent a goodly number of hours not only in writing but researching, retrieving and reading.

  • I decided the answer was a yes. I want to publish not just a good book, but a book people will refer to as a “really good book,” perhaps a “must read,” maybe even a “bestseller.” No matter the nomenclature used to describe it, I want it to be my best work product. So, yes, the extra time is worth the effort.
  • As I rethought the outline I’d come up with it, I could actually see the story unfolding in a much more cohesive fashion and with greater ease.
  • Rethinking taught me a great lesson: Rushing in headlong isn’t always the best route to take.

REWRITE

I am actually enjoying this “R” of the three “R’s” because I am sensing a better writing style, a tighter style. I feel the story coming together with less negativity about my mother, seasoned with a dash of her goodness here and there, because there was goodness in her. And at the end of her story and mine, I learn there was good reason for her parenting skills, or lack thereof. I think in the rewrite this will be more easily finessed.

Like schoolchildren sent off to learn their three “R’s”–reading, writing and ‘rithmetic, we writers can also learn from a different set of three “R’s”–regroup, rethink and rewrite.

We’re never too young or too far along in our writing to learn a little something or make a change in the direction we’re headed.

Happy writing!

What I Learned from Another’s Writing Retreat

Recently, my “I’ve met her in person” and online writing friend, Shirley Showalter, and my online writing friend, Kathy Pooler, reported in respective blog posts here and here about their Lenten plans as well as experiences at a writing retreat they attended. As I read their blog posts, I began to ponder anew my commitment to observing Lent. I’ll receive ashes on Ash Wednesday and help with communion several times during the days leading to Easter.

Ann Voskamp quote for Lenten season
Ann Voskamp quote for Lenten season

But personally what is my commitment? Where do I need to learn restraint? Where can I find silence in my life to focus more clearly on God’s role in my life and my role in the lives of others?

I went back and re-read Shirley and Kathy’s posts. In them I found a depth of commitment in several of their thoughts and sentences. I would quote them, but I want you to find them for yourselves.

Here I’m making my Lenten stand, having discussed my plans with Husband Bob, partly to give accountability by having shared it with others and partly to give accountability to God and my family and home:

  1. Effective February 18, 2015, I’m stepping away from all social media. Yes, this includes Twitter and Facebook, which I have already moderated to a degree over the past month or so.
  2. Prescheduled blog posts will appear via social media due to the beauty of scheduling ahead on the blog. I will make myself available to reply to any comments, but I won’t be commenting on the blog posts of others. My newsletter will go out as planned in March.
  3. I am committing to leaving home at least twice each month, if not more, to work in solitude and silence on my book, a gift I’m writing for all those hurting from abuse but to also spread an important message God has taught me. I hope to set up a much-needed writing schedule and a stronger commitment to this book.
  4. I want to allocate more quiet time for Bible reading and prayer.
  5. And I’m giving up chocolate!

Granted I have been forced to step back before due to family issues or family health issues. I have never made a conscious decision to make this kind of change when I am feeling renewed and so healthy for a change and yes, let’s add happy to the equation.

I will resume my regular schedule April 14th reporting what I’ve experienced and learned. I have asked Shirley and Kathy’s permission to join them, and knowing them they’ll respond affirmatively.

There’s nothing like good writing friends to inspire you.

Do you have plans for sacrificing something for the Lenten season? Do you want to ask me questions about this post? There is space below where we can have great discussion! Join us, please.

Ever Faithful to His Lead: My Journey Away from Emotional Abuse by Kathy Pooler | A Review and a Giveaway

WINNER OF BOOK GIVEAWAY IS DOLORES NICE-SIEGENTHALER!

Congratulations, Dolores. Watch your email for more information on receiving your copy of Kathy’s memoir.

Nothing can rescue her until she decides to rescue herself

Kathy loses touch with the faith she was brought up with as she attempts to find her way in the world, leaving her stable roots for adventure and romance. Despite a spiritual prophecy, self-defeating detours take her through a series of heartbreaking events.

When second husband Dan’s verbal abuse escalates, Kathy finally realizes she must escape before she and her children become a statistic.

How does a young woman from a stable, loving family make so many wise choices when it comes to career, but so many poor choices when it comes to love? Her life and the lives of her two children hinge on her choices and the answers she finds.

Join Kathleen Pooler on her roller-coaster ride of self-discovery, from shame and guilt to inner strength, in her tears to triumph.

(Image and synopsis provided by Kathy Pooler)

My Thoughts:

Having known Kathy Pooler for some years now and exchanging writing ideas via Internet, phone and blogs as well as assisting Kathy as a beta reader for her memoir, I am unable to give an unbiased review.

However, I am able to tell you that from vignettes written here and there, Kathy has pulled together a stellar written work which not only tells her story honestly but also provides hope for others walking the same path.

Kathy’s growing up was parented by a loving couple who always appeared happy and stable. Members of the Catholic faith, service above all else was the message passed on to their children. Hence, Kathy’s interest in nursing and her compassion for others.

Kathy dreamed of that perfect marriage, just like mom and dad’s. Yet choices made in her first two marriages did not play out like the perfect image Kathy saw in her dreams. Concerned with her own safety and that of her children, Kathy left her first husband and promised herself to make a better choice next time. And yet once again that did not happen.

During these trials, Kathy worked hard both on the job and in advancing her education while still maintaining her role as a mother to her daughter and son. She continued to dream her dream of a good husband.

Soon Kathy begins to see what choices she needs to make in order to bring her life into focus and find happiness. From this decision came the title for Kathy’s memoir.

I highly recommend Kathy’s memoir to anyone living in an abusive situation, with or without children, and to anyone who has a son or daughter in an abusive relationship. While we as parents are not always able to say what we feel to our adult children, Kathy’s book will give you an understanding of how to cope as your adult child works through these problems and signs you can watch for to know what is happening.

DISCLAIMER: I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for a fair and honest review. The opinions expressed are solely my own.

Meet the Author:

Kathleen Pooler is an author and a retired Family Nurse Practitioner whose memoir, Ever Faithful to His Lead: My Journey Away From Emotional Abuse, published on July 28, 2014 and work-in-progress sequel,Hope Matters: A Memoir are about how the power of hope through her faith in God helped her to transform, heal and transcend life’s obstacles and disappointments:  domestic abuse, divorce, single parenting, loving and letting go of an alcoholic son, cancer and heart failure to live a life of joy and contentment. She believes that hope matters and that we are all strengthened and enlightened when we share our stories.

She lives with her husband Wayne in eastern New York.

She blogs weekly at her Memoir Writer’s Journey blog: http://krpooler.com

Connect with Kathy here:

Twitter @kathypooler https://twitter.com/KathyPooler

LinkedIn: Kathleen Pooler https://www.linkedin.com/pub/kathleen-pooler/16/a95/20a

Google+: Kathleen Pooler https://plus.google.com/109860737182349547026/posts

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/4812560-kathleen-pooler

Facebook: Personal page: https://www.facebook.com/kathleen.pooler Author page: Kathleen Pooler/Memoir Writer’s Journey, https://www.facebook.com/memoirwritersjourney

Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/krpooler/

Book Details:
Publisher: Open Book Press
Published: July 21, 2014
Paperback and e-book available
ISBN: 978-0-9859367-9-2

Where to Purchase: Available from Open Book Press with links to Smashwords and Amazon and from Barnes and Noble. Also available from your favorite booksellers worldwide.

BOOK GIVEAWAY — SIMPLE as 1-2-3!

Clicking on this link will take you to an entry form.
All that’s needed is your name and email address.

The giveaway ends at noon on Wednesday, September 3rd.
At that time, a winner will be selected using random.org.

The winner will be announced on this blog on Thursday, September 4th.

 

What to Do When the Book You’re Writing Throws You a Curve

Via Google Images
Via Google Images

The drafting of my memoir began in earnest sometime the late spring of 2012. I had jotted down notes and memories plus digging through boxes of my mother’s personal papers for years. Folders filled with potential material for a book cover a work table.

Now, here we are approaching late spring of 2014, two years later. A few weeks ago as I was considering my progress and listening to my husband’s take on what I had written for one particular chapter, I felt like I had been hit by a tidal wave of emotion.

It was as if a tsunami had taken over the life of my memoir, and what came next threw me for a curve.

An epiphany in the form of a major change in direction left me wonder struck. Not so much because it was such a stunning transformation, but because it had stared me in the eye since the year 2000, when the seed germinated into thoughts of a memoir after moving my mother to Oregon from Tennessee.

Now, what am I going to do was the next thought passing not so silently through my mind. It was simple: Regroup, rethink, rewrite–the writer’s three R’s.

Regroup: When I began writing my story of life with Mama, I sat down and started pounding out words on the computer screen without any thought for an outline or a plan. I knew the story I was writing and thought I needed no organizational scheme to get it done. So far, I believe I have a pretty good draft on that first turn. But this curve ball I’ve been thrown made me stop and take stock of the time I would have saved if I had gotten my writing act together first.

  • The first thing I decided I needed to do was spell out what I wanted to tell my readers and why. And I did.
  • I then moved on to think about outlining or story boarding. I vaguely remembered a post of Kathy Pooler’s on Memoir Writer’s Journey where Kathy talked about story boarding. Unable to find it, I emailed Kathy and she sent me the link, which is here.
Kathy Pooler's Storyboard
Kathy Pooler’s Storyboard
  • As I sat and studied Kathy’s storyboard, it occurred to me that my favorite writing software, Scrivener, uses a bulletin board with index cards to act as an option to an outline. I rarely use it, but checked it out and below is an image of my current storyboard or imaged outline in Scrivener:
Scrivener Corkboard
Scrivener Corkboard
  • I think it’s going to work perfectly, and I’ve set about rewriting my first draft.

Rethink: A good deal of rethinking went into picking up the draft and rewriting it. Was this worth making the book into a better story to share with readers? Would the rewrite get my point across any better? After all, I’d spent a goodly number of hours not only in writing but researching, retrieving and reading.

  • I decided the answer was a yes. I want to publish not just a good book, but a book people will refer to as a “really good book,” perhaps a “must read,” maybe even a “bestseller.” No matter the nomenclature used to describe it, I want it to be my best work product. So, yes, the extra time is worth the effort.
  • As I rethought the outline I’d come up with it, I could actually see the story unfolding in a much more cohesive fashion and with greater ease.
  • Rethinking taught me a great lesson: Rushing in headlong isn’t always the best route to take.

Rewrite: I am actually enjoying this “R” of the three “R’s” because I am sensing a better writing style, a tighter style. I feel the story coming together with less negativity about my mother, seasoned with a dash of her goodness here and there, because there was goodness in her. And at the end of her story and mine, I learn there was good reason for her parenting skills, or lack thereof. I think in the rewrite this will be more easily finessed.

Like schoolchildren sent off to learn their three “R’s”–reading, writing and ‘rithmetic, we writers can also learn from a different set of three “R’s”–regroup, rethink and rewrite.

We’re never too young or too far along in our writing to learn a little something or make a change in the direction we’re headed.

Happy writing!