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Writing is Hard!

Back to the drawing board…

We’re back! I’m sorry for disappearing for a full year, but until now, there hasn’t really been much to post. I’m excited to say that this has now changed.

Perspective BooksSo here’s the scoop…

Amanda and I used 2014 to take our book (yes, that same book that we talked about through all of our previous posts) and start it again. Our intention had initially been to edit what we had and to see what we could do with it. After giving that a try, we realized that a “simple” edit just wasn’t enough.

That first draft was far, far too rough. So instead of trying to work with a deeply flawed manuscript, we started again. We went back to the drawing board. We held on to our characters and to the core plot of our story, but we essentially gutted it and began at the beginning. Now, we have re-written everything and we have a first draft that we can work with.

To be fair to ourselves, the original story was written nearly 15 years ago. We’ve come a very long way since then, both personally and in terms of our writing careers and abilities. So instead of trying to stick to what we’d originally written, we decided to take that foundation that we loved (and still love) and apply our decade-and-a-half of added experience to it. If I do say so, myself, it’s now on the way to being truly great.

The process reminded me of the house that had belonged to my Great-Aunt Marge. It was well over a century old, and my family loved how quirky it was. We had to sell it, and when I found out that the new owners had maintained its exterior but had essentially gutted it, my heart broke a little…until I saw pictures of the changes they’d made. Holy macaroni! The new owners completely embraced the age and style of the home, but gave it the modern touches – and level floors – that it desperately needed. Now, I only wish that I could buy it back 😉

In my opinion, that’s just what Amanda and I have done with the book. We held on to every part of it that made it great, and scrapped all of the sloping floors, the crumbling plaster, and the ancient carpet. Now, it’s something even more special and we love it to bits.

So begins the editing process…again. That first draft says everything we need it to say, but we’re now busily tweaking it so that it actually says it in English!

To motivate ourselves to get the job done, this time, we’re getting back to blogging and will be posting updates of our progress over social media. If you’re interested in following our progress, feel free to join us at:

Twitter (@Qarradunebooks)
Facebook
Google+

Thank you, Reader, for sticking with us! Aside from our own obsession with the fantasy world that we have created and the characters who live within it, you are the reason that we work so hard to bring our book to reality.

With luck (and a lot of hard but wonderful work), we’ll soon be telling you where you can actually read this book that we’ve been telling you about for so long.

Come back often, check us out on social media, and please feel welcome to subscribe to this blog so that you’ll always know when Amanda and I have added something new. Please, feel welcome to start commenting again, too! We read every comment and would love to hear your thoughts on what we’ve said or on the progress that you are making on your own creative writing!

See you again, soon!

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Happy New Year!

Happy New Year 2015

Big things are on their way in 2015.

 

Let’s all work hard to make this year a time that is filled with good health and great happiness.

We wish you all the best and hope that you will join us here as we begin posting again on a more regular basis.  There will be lots to share and some great announcements to make, too.

See you soon!

 

 

 

 

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A Code id by Dose!

Hi Everyone!

Julie Campbell writer - the common coldI’m sorry for the silence.  I haven’t forgotten about you and Amanda hasn’t killed me for requesting assistance with editing 😉

I’ve got a cold at the moment and am not thinking all that clearly.  I figured it would be better to take a bit of a break than to write something even more nonsensical than my usual posts.

I hope to be back again for the usual schedule next week.

Until then, Happy Canadian Thanksgiving!

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A Work in Progress

Although I have been posting every weekday and I am still greatly enjoying it, I don’t always have a story to tell about my progress.

Julie Campbell writer - work in progressWith that in mind, and with the help of the feedback that I received through the polls that I ran last Friday (Thank you for your help!  You can still participate. Just click here to find the right post), I have decided that it’s not entirely necessarily to post every weekday just for the sake of posting (because it’s fun).

I’m going to slow things down a little bit and try to post three days per week – Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. That will help me to make sure that I’m always writing something of value, that I always have something interesting to say, and that I’m not driving you crazy with my wordy babble!

I think that this blog, like the Book, is a work in progress. I’m starting to get to know when you, Reader, are most likely to want to read, and I’m beginning to figure out what topics are most appealing to you.

Of course, writing a blog post, like writing a book, isn’t something that has a certain specific structure for success. That’s why there are some great books out there, and there are some books that never should have been – there is no single format for making them great. But still, blogging, like book writing, isn’t just a matter of what the writer wants.

When I write, I write for me. It’s a very selfish thing for me to do and I love it. But at the same time, if I ever want people to read what I have to say, then there will need to be a little bit of give. When it comes to the Book, Amanda and I plan to write our story the way we love it and the way it makes sense to us. There really won’t be a way to know what the reader thinks until it’s already completed and published.

But when it comes to this blog, we’re working together. Reader, through your comments, private messages, and posts on social media (as well as your participation in the polls last week. Thanks again!), we’re getting to know one another and we’re working together to make this a great experience.

Yes, I’m still writing this for me, but it’s great to write it for you, too, and I’m slowly (but surely) figuring this out.

Thank you for your patience over the next little while as I discover what else you’d prefer me to write about and at what hour you’d like to see the posts appear. Please feel free to disagree with the choices that I make and drop me a line in the comments below the posts to let me know what you’d like to see from the posts or what you’d prefer not to see anymore.

Off I go for now. See you on Friday!

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The Joy of Writing My Own Words

As a ghostwriter, I make a living writing information articles, news articles, website content, blog posts, and even books that my customers want to be able to use with or without the application of my byline. That’s just fine with me. I love my job.

Julie Campbell writer loving own wordsAt the same time, writing this blog and getting back to editing the Book has reminded me of how much I enjoy writing my own words. It’s true that I’m technically writing my own words when I’m creating each of the pieces that I submit to my clients, but even those articles that are published under my name aren’t necessarily an expression of my own thoughts.

I put great care into the pieces that I write for my clients, but I can admit that if it were up to me, I likely wouldn’t be writing about topics like insurance news or QR codes, every day (even though they can, surprisingly, be far more interesting than they sound).

I suppose that everyone who creates feels the same way. A visual artist who is working on a commissioned piece may not be painting, sculpting, carving, or digitally designing exactly what s/he would if s/he didn’t have to adhere to certain assigned project limitations.

Taking the time to write a little piece here on the blog, and to go back over the work that I created for the book a few years ago, has allowed me to rediscover my own voice. I’m not a great writer, but I’m a good one.  I think that if I keep working at it, I could achieve greatness, one day.

I know that I’m trigger-happy when it comes to the use of the comma, and I do make the occasional grammatical flub, but my vocabulary is good and growing, I can express myself clearly, I love to tell a story, and I am highly creative. In that, I see considerable potential. I just can’t see it until I am creating works that are my own.

Looks like I’d better keep blogging – I hope you’re enjoying it because there will be a lot more to come. 😉

Note – I’ve had to switch to a new set of smiley pictures because I used up the last set.  What do you think of the new style?  Good? Or should I keep looking?

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The Problem with Then and Now

The last time I looked at the rough draft of the Book (not including the last week) was April 2010, but as I have resumed reading it over, some of the mistakes that I made in the past have come rushing back to me.  Frustrating mistakes.  Some of them are tucked neatly in among the words and are harder to spot. There is one, however, that continues to leap off the page and that feels like a slap in the face, despite my previous efforts to bury it away forever.

Julie Campbell writer mistakesThis mistake was as follows: the book was originally written in the past tense. Then came about the stroke of “genius” that caused the tense to be changed. I’m not laying blame on either Amanda or myself because, frankly, I don’t remember where the idea originated. One day, as we were editing the rough draft (possibly for the grant application of which we will never speak again), we decided to go back over the entire thing and rewrite it in the present tense.

The point was that the present tense would, as the name suggests, give the feeling that the story is happening right now. We hoped that this would help to build more of an emotional connection between the reader and the characters. In theory, the story’s events would have a greater sense of urgency because they were being told as they were happening, instead of being expressed as an event that had previously occurred.

It made sense, at the time.  After all, if I write a scene with a character that you’ve been following for 150 pages and that you’ve come to love, if that character suddenly finds herself in a dead end, facing a giant, terrifying monster that looks like Alien and Bella Swan had a love-child, it seems more spine chilling to say “It’s right in front of me! There’s nowhere for me to go!”, than to say “It was right in front of me! There was nowhere for me to go!”. At least, that was my belief at the time.

Turns out, I can be wrong. No, really!

I can’t stand writing in the present tense when it comes to creative fiction writing. I didn’t realize how strongly I felt that way until I tried to recreate all of my carefully constructed descriptions (which, by the way, were written with far greater skill than the above example). The task took forever to complete.  It took years off my life!  It was careful, meticulous, mind-numbing work and, when the work was complete, (drum roll please) I liked the past tense better. More years off my life.

I have read wonderful books that have been written in the present tense. When done well, this technique can, indeed, build that sense of urgency and emotional connection with the characters. However, that was not the case with the Book. Emotional connection and urgency aren’t exclusively a matter of the verb tense, they are developed through the quality of writing and storytelling! And so began the long and arduous process of rewriting the draft of the Book in the past tense, once more. I now have a life insurance policy.

As I have retaken the task of editing – even after many, many revisions that followed the tense blunder – I am still discovering the occasional word that is written inappropriately in the present tense. Perhaps my subconscious left them in because they knew I’d return to the Book’s editing, one day,  and felt that I needed something to remind me never to make that kind of mistake again. Gee, thanks, subconscious! I was hoping to relive all of that!

From now, until the end of my days (which are much closer, thanks to that tense-switching task), I will follow my creative writing instincts and produce my work in the tense that I know to be right. If I feel that there is a lack of emotional connection or urgency in any part of the story, then I will describe the scenes more effectively. Lesson learned. Did you hear that, subconscious?!

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I Have a Back-To-School Monster in My Head!

For the first twenty-something years of my life, I loathed the Labour Day weekend. It meant that I’d be back in class and have to return to studying after taking a comfortable, mushy-brain break for the previous couple of months.

Julie Campbell writer Scooter the back to school monsterI detested school. That isn’t to say that I hated learning. I’ve always enjoyed that – still do. Unfortunately, only a small fraction of the school experience is actually about learning. A great deal of it has to do with finding out what teachers you have – invariably a mix of great, good, terrible, and terrifying individuals – discovering which people whose last names started with B or C would be forced to sit next to me, and measuring how long the days would feel for the next 10 months (not to mention having had to subject myself, yet again, to boredom, bullying, and the never-ending torture that was public transit).

I don’t think that my school experience was tremendously different from that of anyone else growing up in a similar part of Canada. However, since my graduation, my experience has changed.  I wonder if others out there are going through the same thing, but don’t admit it as openly as I do.

Every year, to an ever-increasing degree, a feeling builds within me at the start of September. It isn’t just mean. It’s a monster inside my head. The year after I graduated, it was an odd sensation – a baby monster – in which I felt as though something dramatic should be “happening” in my life, but nothing did. Instead, I just kept working at the same job that I’d had throughout the summer. With each following September, that feeling has evolved, warped, and darkened. The monster (I’ve been toying with the name “Scooter” for him) has matured. Every year, I glory in the fact that I don’t have to go back to school, but other people still do! As much as I hated going to school, back in the day, I now adore the knowledge that I don’t have to, but other people do! But it’s not my fault! It’s the monster!

What do I have against these students? I have no idea! I’ve never met the vast majority of them. It’s not as though I have children of my own.  I’m not one of those parents who pops the cork on a bottle of bubbly when the school bus pulls away for the first time. I just have a nasty monster inside me that loves the fact that school’s back in, and I’m not going.

Typically, I also feel a demented sense of pride in the despicable back-to-school monster that lives inside me. I usually tell people about it with a wicked grin on my face.

This year, I’ve decided to take a new tack. Instead of embracing the monster, I am arming myself against him and am heading in to battle. As students start hitting the books, I am, too; at least, one specific Book. Now that school is back in again, I am channelling my energy toward more practical purposes. By the end of this week, at least one new page of manuscript will be created from the rough draft. Not a huge goal, but it feels that way at the moment (isn’t that always how it feels at the start of a school year?).

From then on, I’ll be assigning myself weekly homework and I will make progress toward a completed book. This may not be a school year for me, but it is certainly going to be a time of learning, dedication, and hard work, and I’m going to love it. Scooter, you’re going down!

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