Since the shutdown started last year, one of the best things in my life has been online chatting.
I’ve been a fan of the magic of the internet since I went back to school in the early 1980s. I was working for a publisher who was an early adopter of computers and those schreechy dial-up modems. I was able to take one of our “trash 80s” — a Texas Instruments keyboard with a minuscule memory — to campus with me. Between classes, I’d find a table in the student center near enough to an outlet that I could plug it into, and work through stacks of articles that I needed to edit.
I much prefer the tablet I’m writing on now to that “trash 80,” but the principle of portable computing power has always appealed to me.
And now that I can connect to online chats, it’s even better.
Since last March, I have “zoomed” to conferences and conversations with people all over the world. The first one was with folks in Italy, one of the earliest and worst-hit by the coronavirus. Just last night, I had a chat with siblings from my Sisters in Crime Chicagoland chapter.
Chicagoland stretches at least half-way across the stateline with Wisconsin (that would be me), and at least as far south as Champaign (hi, Robert). And neither of us would have made it to our 6:30 p.m. chapter meeting if it had been one of the pre-COVID-19, in person meetings at a book store, or library, or coffee shop in the city. Even one of the women who lives in Chicago might not have made it because of mobility problems.
I understand that some people crave face-to-face meetings. But I can only hope that the wonderful flexibility of online gatherings doesn’t go away just because in-person is becoming possible again.
Believe it or not, I’ve actually been doing some writing in the last few months. Just not here.
But I’m excited to be devoting a couple of days a week to my own writing projects. And I’ve been working on sharpening my skills when it comes to writing fiction. For the last few years, about the only time I’ve been able to eke out has been in November for NaNoWriMo — National Novel Writing Month. But I haven’t been able to manage the follow-up time to edit my rough first drafts.
Now I’m hiring myself as a part-time novelist, potentially starving artist. I figure the continuing need to make some money will help motivate me to stay on track.. Fingers crossed.
In the meantime, I’m still (well, more like finally) trying to figure out how to incorporate my book reviews into this blog. And I do like sharing tips from other writers, so I hope to write a few posts on that topic up from time to time.
I also plan to set some weekly goals. This week I’ll be preparing for a local writing day with my writing group and some friends. About a dozen of us will be set up in a lake-side lodge for a binge writing spree. I know which novel I want to work on, so my goal this week is to plan some scenes.
One of my first editors a had a few catch phrases that were part of his everyday conversation. One he offered frequently was, “Done is good.” It was his reminder to meet deadlines. Jane Morrissey has put together a wonderful little post on finishing the first draft of your book (or poem or play).
Warren Adler, author of The War of the Roses and other books, continues writing in his 80s. He credits his ability to a daily memory exercise. As I read his essay, it reminded me of Lois Lowry’s The Giver. I suspect it is never too early to make a ritual of remembering.
If there are only a few basic plots to work from, retelling old stories would seem inevitable. Here’s an interesting discussion about the pros and cons of borrowing not just plots, but whole stories, cast and all.
A friend of mine told me about The Emotion Thesaurus a few weeks ago. I bought it immediately. My favorite parts are the physical descriptions of emotional responses. I haven’t used it yet, but I’ve been clicking through it (I bought the ebook) and I know it’s going to come in handy.
Sarah Winter: Writing Tips: The Emotion Thesaurus. http://www.sarahjwinter.com/2015/03/writing-tips-emotion-thesaurus.html?spref=tw&m=1