I’M LATE! I’M LATE!

As the rabbit cried in Alice in Wonderland, “I’m late, I’m late for a very important date. No time to say, ‘Hello’, goodbye! I’m late, I’m late, I’m late, I’m late!

Besides not posting my blog entry on time, I must again confess my writing progress has been slow. In my defense, I did completely rewrite several chapters.  So I’m on my way!

I also realized, I needed to change my antagonist who is a female marine biologist. I randomly came across an article that described marine biology as a male dominated career in a very chauvinistic sense. This doesn’t fit my worldview as females have continued to struggle in this occupation to be acknowledged as professionals.

Are you surprised that my novel involves marine biology?  I grew up in Omaha, Nebraska that is landlocked with no oceans nearby. At age ten I watched all the cowboy shows on television, but then became fascinated with Sea Hunt, a show that featured a Navy frogman, Mike Nelson, played by Lloyd Bridges (the father of Beau and Jeff). My interest then expanded to a book entitled The Silent World by Jacque Cousteau. I began watching his documentaries about the ocean.

I became the only kid on my block that knew Cousteau was one of the early pioneers in modifying the Aqua Lung, which evolved into current SCUBA diving gear. I could proudly state that SCUBA meant self-contained underwater breathing apparatus.

Surrounded by land, I fell in love with the ocean. You may ask why I became a lawyer and then investment manager instead of a marine biologist.  A story for another time.

As the rabbit cried in Alice in Wonderland, “I’m late, I’m late for a very important date. No time to say, ‘Hello’, goodbye! I’m late, I’m late, I’m late, I’m late!

Besides not posting my blog entry on time, I must again confess my writing progress has been slow. In my defense, I did completely rewrite several chapters.  So I’m on my way!

I also realized, I needed to change my antagonist who is a female marine biologist. I randomly came across an article that described marine biology as a male dominated career in a very chauvinistic sense. This doesn’t fit my worldview as females have continued to struggle in this occupation to be acknowledged as professionals.

Are you surprised that my novel involves marine biology?  I grew up in Omaha, Nebraska that is landlocked with no oceans nearby. At age ten I watched all the cowboy shows on television, but then became fascinated with Sea Hunt, a show that featured a Navy frogman, Mike Nelson, played by Lloyd Bridges (the father of Beau and Jeff). My interest then expanded to a book entitled The Silent World by Jacque Cousteau. I began watching his documentaries about the ocean.

I became the only kid on my block that knew Cousteau was one of the early pioneers in modifying the Aqua Lung, which evolved into current SCUBA diving gear. I could proudly state that SCUBA meant self-contained underwater breathing apparatus.

Surrounded by land, I fell in love with the ocean. You may ask why I became a lawyer and then investment manager instead of a marine biologist.  A story for another time.

I promise to publish on schedule in December.  In this crazy Covid-19 environment, please stay safe and well.

I promise to publish on schedule in December.  In this crazy Covid-19 environment, please stay safe and well.

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GOOD INTENTIONS

To paraphrase a famous quotation, the road to “writing a novel” is paved with good intentions.

I did have good intentions but I found myself, as President, consumed by HOA matters.  Covid-19 has created a demanding environment requiring numerous protocols and responses to homeowner issues.  However, and you’ve heard this before, hopefully everything will calm down allowing me to progress.

I did watch the 2016 rerun of Star Trek Beyond.  When it came out, I found it very entertaining.  I’m an avid “Trekkie”.  This time I watched it through the eyes of a storyteller.  I realized the audience got hooked in the opening comical sequence.  Captain Kirk presented an artifact to the inhabitants of a new world as a peace offering.  They rejected it as offensive and the inhabitants of tiny lions attacked the good Captain.  Beamed up he realized, his diplomatic mission had failed.

The story continues to evolve rapidly as events keep the viewer guessing about outcomes.  Sequentially the scenes peel back layers revealing new characters and challenges for the Enterprise crew. The viewer doesn’t begin to realize the significance of the artifact until after the Enterprise is attacked.  All this leads to an exciting climax.

If I could construct my first novel following this format, I would be extremely pleased.  I’ve made notes on how the movie kept the viewer engaged.  So may I “live long and prosper”.

Stay safe and be well.

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“WELCOME TO THE REAL WORLD” (Matrix 1999)

As a true science fiction fan, Matrix is one of my favorites. If you are unfamiliar with the movie, it illustrates the difference between perception and reality. If you’ve never see this movie, it may allow you to escape the current reality for a moment.

Not since the pandemic of 1918 have we faced such a challenging time. I hope this blog entry finds you well and safe. I believe we will survive because as we take care of ourselves by following mandated protocols, we help each other.

I did miss writing you at the end of December for all the reasons mentioned in my September post. My writing has been relegated to notes about concepts and changes. Hopefully in June I can inform you that I’ve actually progressed.

Please continue to remain connected with friends and loved ones. This difficult time will pass.

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“CH-CH-CH-CH-CHANGES (by David Bowie-1971)

The lyrics of Bowie’s song don’t directly apply to my situation, but they do reflect how, during our lives, change continues to occur. Some of you already know that my spouse and I are moving to California. The rationale revolves around seeing more of our grandchildren and assisting our oldest daughter with a new baby.

With change swirling around us, I’ve had little time to write. However, creation hasn’t been completely dormant. I’ve been thinking about various scenarios to maximize tension within my story line. So all is not lost.

Once settled in as Californians, I hope to dedicate more time toward the completion of the novel, which will definitely cause me to be “Under Pressure” (Queen/Bowie, 1982)

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COLLAPSE

I really had good intentions. I was excited about my friend’s positive reaction to my writing. Raring to go, but then motivation slowly evaporated. Life interfered or I let it interfere. Was it fear? Self doubt? Or just laziness?

Perhaps some combination of all of them; however, I’ve made a promise to myself. I’ll spend a minimum of one hour a day on my book even if it involves staring at a screen.

Hopefully by the end of September, I’ll report progress to you.

 

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MOTIVATION

The first three months of 2019 have passed swiftly like Minnesota melting snow. I’ve got some more work done, but the completion of my third rewrite remains distant.

Earlier in this quarter, a friend, who is also writing, requested to see what I’ve accomplished. I asked my spouse to copyedit several chapters. When finished, she commented that my writing was very good. So after taking a deep breath, I sent my friend several revised chapters. I waited expectantly for the comments.

In 1978 Quaker Oats ran an ad for a new cereal called Life. The set up involved three boys sitting at a breakfast table. One boy stated, “It’s supposed to be good for you.” Then the two boys debated who was going to try it first. They decided to give it to Mikey since he hated everything. With focused anticipation, they watched Mikey. As he dug into the cereal shoveling spoonfuls into his mouth, they proclaimed, “He likes it!”

When my friend called and discussed my chapters, I had the same reaction. Now I’m extremely motivated to finish!

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LEARNING THE CRAFT

As stated in September, my goal involved completing my third rewrite by March of 2019. I’m afraid this deadline could be too aggressive. I’ve rewritten several chapters and eliminated “telling”. This leaves more room for the reader’s own imagination. I’m satisfied with my effort, but I realize the next steps will require substantial improvements.

In her critique, my writing coach accurately stated that a majority of the action occurred in the second half of my novel. I need to engage the reader throughout. This will involve eliminating descriptive chapters and writing more action scenes. Simply stated: Reconstruction.

Implementing good writing techniques has become a greater challenge than I imagined. My coach has stimulated my thinking and I do have some ideas. Hopefully, future revisions will shift my thriller to a higher level of suspense and tension.

As 2018 winds down, I want to wish you a joyous holiday season and a healthy, happy New Year.

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MICE AND MEN

I set a goal to finish my third rewrite by this fall. As the poet Robert Burns wrote: “The best laid plans of mice and men/ often go awry.”

Over the past three months, writing became more regular. I completed several chapters and began to attack my nemesis of “telling” rather than “showing”. Progress moved forward, but then life interrupted.

I finally conceded and contacted my writing coach and editor, Alida. I advised her I would not have the rewrite in her hands by the end of the third quarter. She encouraged me to continue.

My new goal: End of March 2019. Hopefully this deadline will be met.

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DOUBT

Over the past winter my writing occurred sporadically. Actually I accomplished very little. Doubt crept in like an insidious beast. Negativity rose. I can’t do this. I lack the talent. I’m never going to finish. Fits and starts.

Back in Minneapolis, I began to focus energetically on the latter. I came across my editor’s blog discussing a nemesis – show don’t tell. I took copious notes to finally understand a concept that many new writers struggle against, including me.

I began organizing my rewrite. Instead of an outline, I used 3 by 5 cards. Each card represented a chapter. I eliminated unnecessary chapters. I marked chapters requiring revision. I retained those that moved the action forward.

Writing more regularly, I’m pushing myself to finish the third rewrite for submission. Yes, my editor will find more items to correct, but it feels good to be moving forward!

 

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LIGHTS! CAMERA! ACTION

Right before going to bed, I surfed TV channels. My search discovered the remake of The Italian Job (2003) starring Mark Wahlberg. I loved this movie. It had an intricate plot. Each character had depth and captivated me.

My editor/coach often references movies as a technique to hone my writing skills. In a novel, the narrator sets the scene. In a movie, the camera accomplishes this task.

Describing the actions of characters and their emotions engages the reader. In a movie, facial expressions and dialogue creates insights. As I continued to re-read her edits, my writing has a major flaw. I tell rather than show (describe). Not surprising since my career necessitated advising clients.

In The Italian Job Mark Wahlberg is the protagonist. He appears in a majority of the scenes. The viewer gets to know him best. When the other characters enter, he engages them causing the viewer to understand their role and empathize. Or when Wahlberg gives them a task and they have their own scene, you connect with them through dialogue.

I realized that if I could emulate what occurred in The Italian Job, my novel would improve greatly. I could eliminate the “telling”. An easy task? No, extremely difficult. As I attack the edits, I wonder whether or not I’m still telling. My doubt causes my frustration level to rise.

A corollary to eliminating this frustration can be found in another retirement activity. Golf! Initially my game proved very frustrating. Although I had a couple of golf pros teaching me, I just couldn’t execute. One excellent golfer in my foursome patiently suggested trying different approaches. I plugged along but didn’t improve. One day a light bulb went off and I realized exactly what I needed. I had to combine several techniques to achieve the correct swing. As I practiced this swing my game improved.

As I continue to write, I need to step outside my comfort zone and try different methods. Hopefully the same bulb will click and I will begin to show instead of tell.

NOTE: This is my last monthly update. The next one will be at the end of June and then quarterly going forward.

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