Category Archives: editing

Books & Reading: Legacy & Healing

My parents met because of books. Mom was a bookseller, Dad a book collector.

Books saved my life. For decades, I read compulsively first thing in the morning and last thing at night. They were my only constant: no matter how bad or good the day was, the words on the page remained the same.

The abused, wounded little girl I was to the young woman I became, desperately needed a constant. God had been blocked from me, and any belief system or group of people, as part of the abuse.

Then I met this quiet 6’1 man who decided he was going to take the person he said was, “the most cynical person I’ve ever known,” and be the rock she needed. It worked, but it took years.

During those years, I still read compulsively. I opened the shop, in part to thank the literary world for saving my sanity/life. Then, at 45, I was diagnosed with PTSD, and the therapist, DH and I slowly but steadily unpicked the knot of my abuse and traumas.

My therapist said that when people get PTSD, the first thing which eases the pain becomes the addiction. In my case, I was 3 and it was books and reading.

stack-of-books

(Not sure where I got the image, I’ve used it before, sorry!)

More years, more books, more healing. The store closed in 2005. Sometime afterwards, about the time I started knitting (2015), I stopped reading compulsively first and last thing every day.

I’d gotten to where I almost resented books. I had too many, they cluttered up my life and were a continual reminder of how wounded I’d been.

I count people who write, illustrate, publish and edit as some of my dearest friends. There are 6 books with my name on the cover, and two more scheduled to come out late this year or early next.

One of the future books is the memoir and that’s the period, for me, on the end of the abuse/PTSD sentence. If one person, just one, doesn’t commit suicide or tries again, just once, the ten years it took me to write the memoir will be worthwhile.

Behind that 10 years are hundreds of hours of therapy, both effective and not. Also behind it are thousands of hours of reading: recharging my batteries, giving me hope, giving me respite, and telling me to try again and again.

Recently, I plucked a copy of Helene Hanff’s Q’s Legacy from a box. I was completely prepared to get rid of it, and will, but I hadn’t read it. I’ve read everything else she wrote, except her text books, and I skimmed those! So I picked it up and started.

In the course of reading about how she became the person associated with the Marks & Co. bookshop and all that happened to her because of that association, I found a new way to adjust for my past. Having books and reading is fine. It’s no longer my refuge, safety and salvation, it’s a pleasant way to spend some time.

I still have way too many books — but somehow, it’s hard to resent it.

 

 

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In Limbo

I’ve been avoiding this place, because I’m ready to and have indeed done much of the work to split the two main topics into two blogs, well three.

Frankly, I’m waiting on  the publisher and I’ve been working on the house in my usual semi-organized way.

But none of the “next steps” can be done until one of three things happen:

  1. I decide to take the mask off I have here just because.
  2. I decide to do #1 because I have a publisher for the memoir and news about that.
  3. I get the house clean and the book finished about it, and have THAT book to promote.

I haven’t forgotten about this place. Have thought 100 times I should write a blog about a topic — but I’m not ready.

image from workitdaily.com via google images

(image from workitdaily.com via images.google.com)

After 10 years of work, from rough stories because I thought I might need an online memorial (had an operation in 2008) to more refined to yet more refined, to finally being far enough away from the stories that I could use my professional skills and pull a book together?

After 3 editors, 3-5 computers, 3 word processors, a file which was so corrupt it had to be retyped, etc. I am done.

And done in I think too, or maybe exhausted is just a better word?

Having the memoir done and knowing it’s pretty good has changed me in some weird fundamental way. I don’t really have anything else to say right now.

I’m done.

 

 

(But Happy holidays!)

Fallout

I am surprised. I’ve had relatively little fallout/backlash from sending the memoir out to the publisher. Sending it to my writing group was worse. Every time I talk to someone about it or make changes someone sees, yes, it’s a little nutty. But… no screaming awake. No crying jags. No being pissed off and not knowing wtf is wrong.

There’s various pieces of consensus: there are still a few typos. There are some stylistic things I did which every single editor has pointed out. The last half isn’t as well written as the first.

That last didn’t surprise me at all. The first half is what took 10 years to write; it’s the map to my particular Hell. The last half was difficult because I just couldn’t see how to write it so it wasn’t a total bore. There’s a reason “They lived happily ever after.” is one sentence. But I needed to show the unraveling of the PTSD and healing that allowed that to happen. I needed to show that it wasn’t a straight line. I needed to illustrate that the process is not done and never will be.

That all took some doing. I only sort of really knew what book I was writing, what the arc of it really was when I sat down last month and decided to pull it together as I did. For one reason only. It had to be the best, most concise piece I could write and present to my publisher. I finally could look at it with my professional eyes, rather than through the lens of the wounded kid with PTSD.

I have no idea what happened that made that possible, but it was.

J

Removed

Almost all the past data about counting things out today. 10/11/18

Free Day and Not

Two days ago, I wrote:

Trying to figure out what to do. I have a writing project to work on and the usual mountain of unfinished house projects.

Just NOT certain what I’ll tackle today. I got the pulled books from the car and removed them from the inventory. They’re ready to box up for donation. Need to move more on that project, or I’ll never get rid of all the books!

I put a slug o’ paperbacks and records out at the booth, sold some. Whatever doesn’t sell in oh say 6 weeks will get pulled. I have too many to keep things out waiting for a sale. The idea is to get rid of stuff!

Time for a cup of coffee and some contemplation. I have already pulled a crate I had an idea for, and found it a new home. But it wasn’t where I wanted it to go, the thing is too big, sigh. It found a home, but it really can’t stay there I don’t think. If I can get DH to make 2 new crates from the old one, then my idea will work. I will have to talk to him about it. . . .


In the meantime, the writing project took over almost all of my work time/energies.

Today is catch-up day. Have to deal with the neglected tomatoes, the book stacks, etc. which I’ve deferred. THEN I need to work more on the writing.

Things ARE getting done here, just for the past 48 hours I dove into the book project.  And this will happen at least once more this week, because my writing group has agreed to review what I’ve done on Sat. One draft has to be done, at the latest, by Friday night.


This means I will continue to put off house projects, and work on writing projects instead, until Sunday. Then, who knows?

My publisher has agreed to look at the book, mid-October. Between my writing group’s review and when I send it to the publisher, I need to make whatever changes the writing group sees as necessary (or not, if I really don’t agree).

I will be absent here for a bit longer!

J

A Tech Problem.

I’m writing a novella, a novel, or just a really big piece. I remembered a recommendation from a pro (I know a lot of them.) to use some software or the other, originally made for academic writing, but that it was helpful to not change character names in the middles of the work, etc.

I’d forgotten the name of the app, so went looking.

I found a review of several, including prowritingaid.com which looked like the best bet. Anyway I wanted to try it. Except I can’t. The only way I can “try” it is to sign up for the premium version because of the computer/OS I’m using. You know? I’d really like to try it at least once to see if it’s worth the $ first.

The software I’d gotten the recommendation for is scrivener. I haven’t looked their free trial yet. If I can try it? Well, here’s a surprise — which one do you think I’ll buy?

 

Background Work

The latest anthology is all but done. The (c) page and other formatting sort of things need to be completed. We also need contracts & money from the publisher. So, a bit more work there, but basically, it’s complete.

The taxes are done, or all but, as well. I sent the last number to the tax person after dinner last night.

The background work I’ve been doing is for the new domains and the new idea re this information and other writings I’ve published, are in process, or are complete, but not yet released “into the wild.”

The current plan is to have the book-related website up sometime in April. This is faster, why? Because a lot of what we’re going to do is post links for other people, the books I’ve been involved with, etc. Doesn’t require a lot of original content, just a framework.

The dehoarding piece (a lot of which will come from here) work has begun, but will take some time. Warning: posts may disappear from here altogether when I get the new things set up. What will stay: the how-to posts which are my most popular (how to cook madagascar rice, how to get more books on a bookshelf, ways to stay cool you may not have thought of, and others).

Re the housecleaning/purge? Things are better, although it certainly isn’t perfect. The bathroom counter is staying clean, the dishes are getting worked on, daily, as is the laundry. I’ve decided that when I can keep those three areas clean without it being a battle, then I will have achieved a major goal: that is, to deal with the inevitable addition of mess, daily.

That’s my first goal if you will. To get to where it isn’t something I even have to think about. The dishes are mostly there, DH or I do dishes, daily. We don’t get them all done or all put away every day, so that’s the next piece. The bathroom counter has been getting cleared off for some time, that’s really done. The exception there is that for a while now, the bathroom has been a construction zone. That should end soon. The worst piece of the three is laundry.

I learned that it’s impossible to keep a room clean if you just have too much stuff in it, I also learned that the daily influx has to be dealt with, first. I had this notion that if I just got rid of enough stuff, of any sort, that the house would be cleanable. Yes, that’s true. But when you count a dresser the same as for a piece of paper, as I was doing at the beginning, it doesn’t work very well!