Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Losing perspective

How many years have I been painting? I have my lists of reminders: tips, techniques, what to look for, experience, and all that. I even have reminder labels on the wall in front of me. (‘Course, I’d have to look up to read them.) I keep promising myself that this time, I’ll pay attention to the rules.

However, the minute I pick up the pencil, pastel, or brush, all those self-promises fly out the window. I’ll look at the photograph I’m using for a guideline, but once I turn to the easel, and my hand starts moving, everything else disappears from my mind. I work for 10-15 minutes, glancing at the photo every so often. 

Work in process
Then I step back. The perspective of the reflections is off and they’re all leaning to the right. The colors are too dark. The shape is wrong. What was I thinking? Where does my mind go while I’m painting? 

It’s not that I’m not thinking as I paint. I am conscious of blending, shadow, light, colors, and lines. So, where do I go wrong? Somehow, somewhere, I lose myself. But really, is that a problem? I often feel the painting wants to help paint itself, and I let it.

I’m happy with the end results, and that’s what counts!

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Finding the Right Descriptive Words

Descriptions are always hard for me. So often I’m in a situation and I don’t know the correct terminology for what I’m seeing, or I don’t know how to make it sound more interesting. How many times can you say, “rolling hills” or “mountainous terrain?” And, when I’m traveling, is what I’d call a rolling hill in New Hampshire, the same as the rolling, hilly farmlands in New York?

And what about buildings and architecture? Even in watching a lot of HGTV with the home renovation shows, I’m still not sure what the difference is between modern, contemporary, and more. What about cities, road structures, and bridges?

I do quite a bit of research before, during and after my travels (mostly after) because I like to provide a little history or information on areas I visit. However, I’m wondering about the amount of time I spend in research. It always sounds like a quick thing. Oh, it’ll just take a moment to look this up online, and next thing I know, an hour or two has gone by. It’s not like writing is all I have to do, ha ha.

One of my goals is to make a general list of types of terrain, architecture, roads, bridges, and more. That way when the time comes, I can choose a word from the list then elaborate more if it’s needed. I’ve already researched types of clouds. But again, here is a time-consuming project that takes me away from writing the actual book. 

Oh, these dilemmas. 

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Writing and the Carousel

Sometimes I have so many thoughts and ideas running through my head, it’s hard pulling them together for a cohesive writing. My brain starts spinning. Do I follow this thread of thought or do I write about that other? The carousel spins faster, and the ideas get thrown from the horses to be lost in the darkness.

Last night I was asked a series of questions about my travel writing. All great questions which, although I’ve kind of touched on the various subjects, the overall topic is mostly avoided. I wrote the questions down, and later, while meditating, further thoughts on the questions emerged. Once more I have a list of notes that are related, but not written as a complete piece.

I have dozens of these scrap pieces of paper filled with notes to include in the books or other writings. I never seem to fit them in and yet, they would be integral to the story, to better understanding the writer, to further open various topics to readers, and to add helpful suggestions and tips. Too often these insights fall by the wayside because I don’t get them pulled together. I lose the momentum of that in-the-moment thought process, that flow of fiery creative writing.

Sometimes I get stuck trying to figure out where in the book this topic should go. Should I fit it into a chapter? What about the preface, prologue, or epilogue? Should it be its own chapter? I just can’t make up my mind. It just becomes more head-spinning and eventually falls off the carousel horse.

That said, I do make progress, and the ideas will cycle around. However, when the do, they won’t be exactly the same. It will be different time and space. But that’s OK. I continue on. I do the best I can.

Friday, February 23, 2018

The Stuckness in Writing

I easily get stuck during the writing process. Oh, not in the subject matter or what I want to write, but with the various thoughts that interfere with the actual writing. What do I mean by “various thoughts that interfere with the actual writing?”

It doesn't take much to distract me.
It’s because I am a multi-thinker. I don’t just think about one thing at a time. I am not that focused on one thing. Even if I’m on one project, various aspects of that project crop up in my mind and I break off the concentration to jot down notes on the newer thoughts. Then I end up with all these side notes, often on multiple pieces of paper. 

And when this happens a lot, I lose my train of thought on what I was focused on, and I get “stuck” on figuring out where I should go next. Do I keep writing the actual chapter or do I stop to pursue the latest side-note line of thinking? My mind spirals and I get confused and frustrated. The creative flow smothers and the spark goes out.

One area I always get stuck on is trying to keep things in chronological order. This is important in most cases, but not necessary for all. So why do I let myself get stuck on chronological order? When isn’t chronological order important, especially as I’m writing a travel book?

Chronological order is not important if the creative flow is shut down; if I worry so much about it that I become confused and frustrated about what I should do next.

For instance, with the latest book, as I’m writing the day by day adventures, an idea will often pop into my head about something that should go in the introduction or epilogue. And once one thought process interrupts the flow, others do. So, do I stop writing the current chapter and add the new introduction thought processes to that chapter? At that point, I’ve lost the spark for the current chapter.

Sometimes, the new thoughts aren’t even about the book, but something else entirely. Too often I’ve started books that never got finished because a new project claimed my attention. There are times when there are so many ideas, I get totally overwhelmed and nothing happens. My brain shuts down and I’m depleted and stuck.

I was in the middle of writing my 2015 adventure to Florida when moving and renovating the new house broke that creative process. I had the first draft done, but before I could get back to that book, my oldest grandson announced his wedding and a trip to Wichita happened. Now I’m trying to get the first draft (after over a year) of the Wichita trip written so I can go back and finish the 2015 story. (And this isn’t even talking about my art work.)

I am determined to get both these books written! When the stuckness holds me back from getting the book completed, I have to look at it from another perspective. I worry about results down the road when I need to focus on getting the first draft written. My head was spinning again.

I took a break from the writing for a couple of days to organize the notes on scrap paper, printed sections of the manuscripts, photos, receipts, and various notebooks written-in during the journey. I looked into differences between preface, foreword, prologue, and introduction. This gave me further clarity on what I need to do.

But the biggie, and what I have to keep demanding of myself is: Get the book written! All that other side stuff can be done later. The organization has helped me gain clarity. I’m ready to buckle down to the chapters again. I will get this book written!

Monday, February 19, 2018

Sasha Perspective on Traveling Writing

Sometimes in my traveling, I can’t find the right words to describe what I see. It’s rather ironic that a person who works with words has such trouble coming up with good descriptions. 

Then again, maybe it’s because I’ve not traveled a lot in my life. I am not familiar with other places. I spend time researching histories of sites visited, but to research types of landscape or architecture adds to time-consuming work when I just want to write.

I am not out to present a text/technical book. I write from a personal perspective with those bits of researched historical facts inserted. My books are not just about sites visited. The trips are not just about physical places. They’re about the total experience of traveling, and that includes all the emotional aspects of the journey, too.

I don’t want to separate myself from my emotions. I spent too many years hiding who I really am. I refuse to live that way now, and that is reinforced in my quest to live whole-heartedly. To share a traveling adventure means my readers get the whole package; the exciting times, the stressful moments, and the downright scared occasions. 

This is me, living whole-heartedly, and being a happier person because of it.

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Attempting to get on track

Although I’m not supposed to be thinking about the pictures of the Wichita trip, I never printed them out, so I do think about them. Should I print them all? What’s the sense of having these photos if I don’t have them where I can see them? I put a lot of work into taking the pictures and editing them. Is that all for naught? My mind gets stuck on this stuff.
Black Water, Mo., the day I'm supposed to be writing about
But I have the book to finish writing and that’s what I need to focus on. However, my writing time turned into photo printing, then looking for information I misplaced. My hour to work on the book turned into two hours. 
And of course, there were kitty and gray rat distractions. Now I have to get on with finishing this week’s InterTown work … and I haven’t even had breakfast!

Friday, February 16, 2018

Over Thinking and Stressing

I’m back to working on my book on the Wichita trip from 2016. Sometimes my mind just goes ‘round and ‘round and I can’t get clarity. 

Annette Vogel and I are going to be publishing a few books. We’ll be working with a local printing company. She’s more of a graphic-design person and I’m the writer. She writes, too. We’re working on a book together, plus we’ll both have personal books.

With her help and patience, I’m getting a better understanding of the publishing and printing aspects. I’ve also given up trying to do it all myself. Layout and getting the manuscript print-ready stresses me out. I just want to write and have photos. So, to partner with someone who is good at what I am not, is such a relief!

I kept trying to force the idea that I want lots of pictures in my book and couldn’t understand why, with all this modern technology, I can’t have it that way. A couple friends who’ve been in the printing business had explained it, but the other day with Annette explaining it again, and I finally “got it!” (Sometimes I need to be told something more than once for it to sink in.) 

Basically, it’s about printing plates which may have 16 or 32 pages on each plate and the pages may not necessarily be in order. To have color on one page, would mean paying for color on the other 15 or 31 pages whichever the size of the plate, and that means lots of financial cost. So, even with technology and printers using computers, the plates still retain the way ink is used.

My dream of printing a book with color photos placed where they go in the story is broken.  I’m sad, but I have to face reality. I’ll still be able to do e-books that way, though. 

I am stepping back and returning to basics. The stress over how to fit in all the photos was keeping me from the actual writing of the book. Annette said the pictures is jumping too far ahead. Photos will come later. “Write the book first!” she said.

Right now, my goal is to get the first draft written. I have 11 of the 16 regular chapters done. The obstacle, for me, is that I had almost the entire 12th chapter done, but somehow it got lost. I need to get over the mental hurdle of having to rewrite the entire chapter. Just do it!

Stay tuned.