What’s Old is New Again

An appropriate title, and not one that necessarily just applies to fashion, fads, or trends.  In this case, it’s about finding/using old manuscripts and rewriting them so they’re new again . . . fresh, fun, fantastic.

Hi, it’s JJ today.  The Boss will be back soon.

I don’t really write much, just the odd posts, like this one, but I do narrate our cases, as you may know if you’ve read any of them.  The Boss pens them and proofs them . . . and revises them and edits them . . . and then repeats the cycle.  Whew.

She’s written a number of manuscripts over the years.  Many have found themselves stuffed in bottom drawers or crammed in uppermost cupboards.  Cobwebs form and the paper yellows with age.  They weren’t great, but they weren’t that bad that she felt compelled to trash them.

She’s not alone.  In fact, a FB friend posted the other day that he pulled out an old one he’d started writing years ago, while still learning the ABCs of writing.  His thought was to rewrite it entirely.

As a non-writer, I’d find that very daunting.  However, upon subsequent thought, the “foundation” is already there.  If the plot/storyline is a decent one (you’re pleased with it and/or see potential), why not simply do a major in-depth edit?  That might sound challenging but, if nothing else, it’s a great exercise.  You’ll have an opportunity to practice your editing skills, and you’ll get to “touch up” the original piece of art by making it more colorful, exciting, animated, and vibrant.  It’s rather like taking a simple LEGO house and building it into a multi-floor LEGO mansion.

The other option is to take that original manuscript, re-read it, and note which parts work well or are worth keeping and/or can be added to an entirely new book.  The Boss has done this on at least two occasions.  We’ve heard her say—gratefully, and with a little relief perhaps—that she’s so-o glad she kept all her old writing.  That makes sense.  Why toss out something you’ve poured your heart and soul into?

Those old manuscripts serve as a great way to see how far you’ve come (developed) as a writer.  Maybe they’ll promote chuckles or laughter, maybe grimaces or winces.  That’s okay.  All writers begin somewhere.  No one’s born an expert or is so skilled that the first thing he/she writes is a masterpiece.  It takes time to become the best that we can be [at whatever career we choose].  All beginnings denote the start of something great—the fantastic path to fulfilment.

Keep writing—and rewriting.  Look to the past to see what you can bring to the present.  Perhaps Morgan Harper Nichols (American Christian musician, songwriter, mixed-media artist, and writer) says it best: 

One day you will look back and see that all along you were blooming.

Poka-Polka-Poke

It’s Linda on poka-polka-poke post patrol today.  So many topics, so little time.  Or is that so few topics, too much time?

It’s been a weird week, and an eye-opening one.  Not that anything earthshattering or overly enlightening caught me by surprise . . . other than . . . I got poked!  You know, I must live in a Facebook vacuum of some sort, because I’d never heard of this before.  And it’s been around for a long while.  Who knew?  Yours truly didn’t.

So, as I now understand it, pokes were/are there to remind people you’re still around.  It’s “old-school” Facebook (2004 is when the poke was first launched).  Ok-kay.

You can still see and send pokes, you know.  To do so, just visit your pokes page.  Yeah, I know, like really?  I had no clue one existed.

There are three main reasons you might have wanted (might still want) to poke someone.  One: to introduce yourself (instead of sending a long message with/without pics to express keen interest).  Two: for the sheer fun of it.  Ok-kay.  Three: simply to say “hi”.  Isn’t that what we use Messenger for today—to remind friends we’re here?

I took a gander and found the poke page relatively easily by going to “Search”.  And I must confess, I was rather tempted to poke every last person on the page . . . so I did.

It was kind of fun.  Poka-poke-poke.  And, oddly enough, for some bizarre reason, I felt a desire to put on a lively/fun polka as I was doing so.

If you’re in a poking mood, add some “mood” music, and have it it.

Don’t Take it Personally

Writers and bloggers need to have thick skins—because criticism of the non-constructive variety, no or few likes, and limited followers can prove discouraging.  And being discouraged may prompt us to stop writing and posting.  How would we ever grow/develop if we let negativity [or something we deem negative] “influence” us?  How would we realize our dreams if we let someone or something affect our progress?

Taking criticism personally, on any level, in any profession, is of no-value add. Sure, it hurts.  In fact, it bleeping stings [I’m still applying hydrocortisone cream in an effort to quell the prickling].  And maybe we even get pissed off (a great phrasal verb that says it all).

Emotions have their place, but not when they affect our professionalism or conduct.  We should never respond similarly if we’ve been criticized or drag ourselves about the place with our tails between our legs because we didn’t receive the response(s) we’d wanted / hoped for.  So what if someone didn’t like a story or post?  So what if no one read said story or post?  But, alas, we do.  I do (this I readily confess as I rub on that hydrocortisone cream because that damn stinging won’t cease).

A fundamental fact: we can’t please everyone.  And we shouldn’t try to.  Maybe, just maybe, something we’ve written simply didn’t gel with anyone.  It happens.  That’s okay.  Use it as a learning experience.  Why might no one have responded or liked a particular post or work?  The tone?  Topic?  Shoddy writing?  Amateurish approach?  Or did it simply plop into someone’s inbox . . . among the many.  We can’t always read them all.

If you’re really bummed out about it, give it some thought—and try a different approach next time.  And if there’s truly nothing wrong with that piece you’ve so diligently crafted—at least, that you can determine—move on.

Was the criticism unjust, angry, ugly?  Understand that the criticizer is like the rest of us—far from perfect.  Maybe he/she was having a bad day.  Or took umbrage at something you stated, or umbrage at something totally unrelated and vented—at you.

No followers or likes?  You want them?  (I do!)  It saddens you that you don’t have any or many?  (Saddens me . . . a lot.)  Some folks seem to receive a gazillion likes, while some of us seem to get very few, if any.  So, what are we going to do?  We’re not going to let it get us down.  Sure, we can make it a full-fledged quest to acquire those likes, but it’s always possible that no matter what we attempt, they don’t/won’t come our way.  Know this: it may not be our fault.  There are many reasons why those likes and/or followers may not be possible (and some have to do with hashtag performance, posting times, and content shared, but that’s another post), but one of the many ones?  Many people tend to read and like posts of—or follow—people that are already pretty popular.  Simple fact.

Whatever the case, don’t brood.  Moping has no merit.  Why waste the day with a heavy heart?  Recognize that events—or non-events—happen for a reason and, generally (hopefully), make us stronger, better . . . and help us develop that thick skin.

What’s important [and necessary] is that we realize responses [or lack of] are not a reflection of who we are or what we necessarily write/post.  Never allow lack of likes, or non-constructive criticism, crush your self-esteem.

Give yourself a pep talk and a much deserved pat on the back—you’ve come far and you’ve got a distance to go.  Journey [move forward] with pride . . . and don’t take it personally.

Happiness is What You Make It

I’ve been reflecting a lot on life the last few weeks.  How insane it can prove.  How trying, challenging, difficult, dangerous, sad, maddening.   How uplifting, pleasant, fun and fun-filled . . . and how <bleeping> swift.

The daily visit to my mother at the long-term facility is proving an eye-opening undertaking.  It’s a journey through time—that of the residents and that of mine.  In the last few weeks, I’ve gotten to know the names of most of the staff and the thirty-some residents on that floor.  We may not be close, but there’s a teeny-weeny connection.  So, when one of the residents passes, it rather hits home in some inexplicable way.

I bring my mother a coffee and cookies an hour before breakfast is served and sit with her as she watches the bustling downtown view from the small dining room.  We chat about the weather, traffic, rude residents (those who make loud sounds annoy her)—oops, pardon me.  Fellow “hotel guests” is how she views them.

Happy to extend a helping hand whenever possible, I assist with dish clean-up before taking my mother for a walk in the long, maze-like lobby.  It’s not the same as a stroll in the neighborhood, but it’s something.  Weather permitting, and virus outbreaks aside, maybe, just maybe, outdoor strolls will become a possibility.

The majority of the “guests” don’t seem as alert or aware as my mother.  Many sleep away most of the day.  A few are spoon-fed.  The odd one cannot speak and many are hard of hearing.  A handful engage in conversations only they are privy to.  I suppose that’s inevitable when dementia enters the picture.

It’s a secure, strictly run facility, but those residing within receive much-needed care 24/7.  It’s a tiny, enclosed world—but it’s a safe one, and it’s theirs.  They have the opportunity to partake in activities, watch movies/TV, listen to music, and participate in social happenings.

At first, it made me sad to watch, to recognize that their days are truly numbered.  But happiness is what you make it . . . and the staff and caregivers (and family members) do their utmost to make it the best that it can be.

That many smile and/or wave, even laugh, is heartwarming; now and again, happiness rears its cheery, lovely head.  Perhaps it’s short-lived—much like life—but happiness is what you make it.  Appreciate and embrace it.

♥  Happiness makes up in height for what it lacks in length.  ♥   

Robert Frost (American poet)

Declutter The Home, Declutter The Mind

Experiencing writer’s block?  Work block?  Life block?  Give thought to doing some decluttering.  It can prove quite therapeutic.  It frees/organizes physical spaces while soothing stress and clearing the mind.

When I’m at a loss as to what to post, I focus on something else, something simple, distracting, but absorbing.  For some, it’s cooking.  For others, like me, it’s getting the home in [some sort of] order.

Besides taking you away from the task of posting, consider the benefits of decluttering.  You’ll have:  ♥  less to clean/dust and manage down the road  ♥  less stress, because there’s nothing more stressful [and annoying] than seeing all the things that need cleaning and/or decluttering  ♥  more time (because you won’t have to do as much or work as hard the next time around)  ♥  a sense of accomplishment (if not relief).

Now, you’re undoubtedly thinking of all the rooms that will require the removal of unneeded/unnecessary “things” and groaning and moaning at the thought.  Don’t.  One thing at a time, at a day.

List all the decluttering/reorganizing you want to do . . . and dedicate one or two hours a day—or week, whatever works for you—and do it!  I’ve been binge-decluttering for a week now, one room and area at a time.  I know my limits—like when I start frothing at the mouth or swearing once too often.  When I’ve reached either stage, it’s time to walk away and chill.

While you’re decluttering/reorganizing, look at what you’ve accumulated over time.  Ask yourself, honestly, the following questions. Do I really need to keep this?  Does it serve a purpose?  Or is it just a dust-collector?   

Check off your completed tasks at the end of the aft/day/eve.  Even one checkmark is something to be proud of.  You did it!  You really did it.

And you know another little plus about decluttering?  It’s “unintentional” exercise, something I don’t believe I get enough of.  With the shelf-scrubbing, moving [of items], bending and crouching, I do believe I’m getting a fairly decent workout.  And that’s very good.  😊

Now, will decluttering/reorganizing/cleaning remove the writer’s block?  Maybe yes, maybe no.  I find, when I’m distracted and/or focused on something else, a post idea often pops into my head . . . like posting about decluttering!  <LOL>

Hmmmmmm.  Maybe the next post should be about dusting techniques. 

The Good, The Bad & The Humdrum

If, as a blogger/writer, you’re scheduled to post certain days, but you’ve no real (edifying/entertaining) content, should you publish?

It’s a conundrum, to be sure.  My commitment is never missed: Wednesdays and Saturdays always feature a post.  The topics are related to the theme of my blog: writing, blogging, editing, and the Triple Threat Investigation Agency series.  Now and then, I’ll add something “motivational”—how to remain positive, staying focused, finding time to blog/write, and so forth.  I rarely stray from the theme . . . unless giving a personal update. 

Some days and even weeks, the brain fog is thicker than the peasoupers found in Ripper’s Whitechapel haunts (let’s see how well the recently ordered Prevagen really works).  Still, I’ll post on those two days.  After all, I’ve committed!

But those posts aren’t always good (i.e., I’m not that pleased with them).  They can prove humdrum, even bad (though I’d prefer to think those are few and far between).

So, to post or not to on those days when the ol’ gray matter isn’t cooperating?  When one’s well—for the interim—has run dry?  Does one toss something onto the blog for the sake of respecting the commitment (and hope for the best)?

. . . It’s a conundrum, to be sure.

Never Look Back, You’re Not Going That Way

The actual saying, by leading transcendentalist, Henry David Thoreau, is actually: never look back unless you are planning to go that way.

1satI prefer the above (title) version, found on illustrator Emily Elise’s poster (thank you, Sophie).  I’ve always been a firm believer in never looking back.  A bit of bad luck, that, recollecting.  It doesn’t really have much benefit, unless you’re at a family gathering and reflecting on amusing or meaningful moments.  Otherwise, looking back—particularly at those times you wish you could kick yourself in the butt about—can prove depressing or discouraging.  What happened  can’t be undone.  End of story.  Hopefully, you’ve gained knowledge and insight from actions taken, lessons realized, and mistakes made.  Accept them.  Embrace them.

Effectively now, I’m all about moving forward.  Many years have flowed past [escaped] me and I could easily weep over that.  But I won’t.  It’s water under the bridge—those lessons [finally and most assuredly] realized.

Don’t let things that “might have been” discourage you.  It’s a no-win situation.  Things happen for a reason.  Maybe we can’t see that at the time . . . maybe we can’t see that for months or years to come.  But everything and everyone in our lives serve purposes; they define us.

Pull up those [strong] shoulders and never look back.  You really aren’t going that way.  You have a unknown [exciting] future to welcome, agreeable/challenging/fun deeds to do, intriguing places to see, and interesting individuals to meet.

Take pride in who you are . . . and who you’re becoming.  Sure, you erred; we all did and do.  But that’s life.  You want to smack yourself in the head about something?  Do it.  Then move on and . . . yes! . . . never look back because you’re not going that way.

It All Happened . . .

. . . too many <bleeping> years ago to count.

I was thinking—yes, I still manage to do that these days, but barely—that I’d post about the Triple Threat Investigation Agency series.  You’ve heard/read enough about the five books, but not how it all got started—or the rollercoaster ride of publisher and agent queries, and [many] rewrites.

The Connecticut Corpse Caper was meant to be a standalone—inspired by those B&W mysteries and movies with haunted houses that I loved as a kid.  Couldn’t get enough of them.

I figured out the basic plot (multiple murders with missing corpses), location and setting (antebellum mansion with lots of hidden corridors and rooms, of course) and that there had to be a resident ghost.  The rest—décor, dialogue, events—fell into place.

Characters I also determine (flesh out) as I go along re descriptions, likes and dislikes, habits, and history, but I do have an idea what they are professionally and age-wise beforehand.  Do I decide who the murderer is from the get-go?  Not usually—not until pretty much the end.

The first “edition” done, I began sending it off.  Got rejections from publishers and agents.  No reason, just the usual not-accepting rhetoric (it would have been nice to receive a teeny-weeny bit of input).

Eventually, when I was about to give up, an agent signed me up.  Within a month, she’d found an interested publisher.  Woo-hoo!  Well, when I found out who it was, I naturally went researching.  Not a good one—bad rep.  You couldn’t even access the site.  I won’t go into the details, but I told the agent I’d heard unfavorable things about the publisher, which evidently put her in a bad mood.  She told me no one else had liked my manuscript, that the dialogue sounded the same for everyone, etc.  More researching.  It seems said agent pretty much only used that one publisher.  Not sure if she’s still doing that now.  Don’t really care.  Fortunately, she was professional enough to let me out of the contract, and for that I’m [still] grateful.

And her criticism was appreciated (even if not delivered in a particularly pleasant manner).  I reread the manuscript with different eyes—and <bleep> if she wasn’t right.  I’d made my  characters all sound the same!  Another rewrite . . . and another . . . and character manipulation.  I refocused.  Put on my editor’s cap (it had blown away during a heavy gust).  Gave my characters distinctive ways of communicating: phrases, expressions, curse words, gestures.

Proofing and editing one’s work is vital, but getting input from other sources (preferably not friends and family members, who can be rather subjective) is so necessary to make a story happen—for it to come alive.

I so enjoyed revising and completing Caper—and JJ, Rey, and Linda loved playing amateur sleuths so much, they wanted to go professional—that it had to serve as a springboard for a series.

Something positive truly does always emerge from the negative.  It may not seem readily evident at the time but, down that ever-winding road called Life, it [eventually] becomes apparent.

While I may more oft than not take advice/input with a grain of salt (writer’s ego and whatnot), I will also ultimately (a few days/weeks later) give that advice/input more serious reflection.  I don’t like to give up, as I’m sure, you don’t either.  Sometimes, however, we do need to give over . . . even if only a wee bit.

A Reboot . . . A Boot in the Butt

Every now and again, we all need to reboot . . . to receive a self-inflicted (required) boot in the butt to get back on track.  But, before that can happen, we also need to recharge.  And there’s nothing wrong with that, nothing wrong with pulling back a bit, nothing wrong with taking a break.

Sometimes, there’s just [way] too much on our plates—which can, on occasion, take on the proportions of [overflowing] super-store sized carts.  And navigating those babies isn’t the easiest.

If a vacation is affordable and doable, taking a week or two to unwind might prove ideal.  Out of sight, out of mind . . . out of home, out of reach.  Other ways, simple ways?  Take a nap.  Take a walk, a run.  Do something different—visit a new part of town, see a sight you’ve never seen, take the transit if you’ve never taken it or let it take you somewhere you’ve never been, have coffee/tea in a shop you’ve never been to.  Have lunch/dinner with a friend.  Call someone you’ve not spoken with in a long time.  Do something “fun” (something silly perhaps).  Sit down and journal.  List all the good things in your life . . . itemize all that you’ve accomplished this week.

The list could go on [and on].  What works for me?  Walking through the cemetery, feeding the squirrels and chipmunks.  De-cluttering.  Noting what I want to achieve during the day or week.  Recording what I’d like to undertake over the next few months (which may change, but that’s okay).

The gals from the Triple Threat Investigation Agency wanted to share the top three actions/activities that help them to recharge, which is great (often, it’s like pulling teeth to get them to commit to anything outside the business).

JJ:

  • taking Button for a long (long!) walk
  • going to a new café/restaurant, sitting by the window, watching the world go by while I enjoy something I might not usually eat
  • sailing on one of the tourist-tailored catamarans or sailboats and letting the wind blow through my hair and marveling at how calm/choppy the sapphire waters are . . . and grinning with awe when I sight sea life.

Rey:

  • hitting a sale (I hit them when I’m stressed or happy too, but who doesn’t love a great sale!?)
  • finding an audition (to try out or simply to watch)
  • calling or meeting with friends.

Linda:

  • jogging or running or lifting weights
  • surfing on the North Shore
  • trying new recipes or “concocting” my own.

Give it some thought.  What would work for you?  What might give you that [needed] zap of energy?  Then, turn that thought into an action . . . and give yourself that boot in the butt.

The Wheels of Time . . .

. . . keep rolling.  Sometimes, for a twinkling, they stop.

As many of you know, I’ve been doing mom-care for a long, long time.  It’s been a rollercoaster ride, to be sure.  It hasn’t been easy, especially these last two-plus years, where [more] health and mental issues have developed and intensified.

Recently, the dementia kicked in, rather full tilt boogie.  It’s frightening to listen to, sad, traumatic.  Not for the person experiencing it, of course; all is fine in his/her world, and that is undoubtedly a blessing. 

Unfortunately, almost simultaneously, the osteo-arthritis decided to do a full tilt boogie as well; my mother could barely walk . . . until she could not walk at all.  Frequent falls began.

There was no option but to bring her to the hospital to see what was happening.  There, the dementia evolved into delirium, something that apparently occurs when older people are in such a setting.  Elderly patients struggle to convey information, ask a question, play with imaginary items, remove their robes, cry and/or cry out repeatedly.  For those who are visiting—family and friends—it is disconcerting and heartbreaking.

The time has arrived where my mother must now enter a long-term-care facility and that will happen once a bed is found.  It will be challenging/tough for both of us—me to see someone who enjoyed and embraced life move to a new “residence” where she’ll be primarily bed-bound, and her because she won’t be returning to a home she knows and loves. 

With time, she’ll likely forget about that . . . as she will me.  The wheels of time, for her, will simply cease rolling.  With fall, comes winter.  With life, sadly  but inevitably, comes death. 

Judy Hogan Writes

ramblings of an apprentice author

The Nightingale

Maria Konnel - Youg Adult Fantasy Author

Avisha Rasminda

Hi, I'm Avisha Rasminda. Twenty years old.

Random Ramblings

Random rants, musings and opinions that nobody asked for :)

KRISHNA KUMAR SINGH

KNOWLEDGE AND TIPS

A Petite Girl's Guide to...

Thrifty Fashion . Lifestyle . Money . Travel . Conscious Living

J. P. D. T.

Blogs, Stories, and Poetries

MisaeMich :)

...inspiration through words...

Fantasylife

Don't forget to be awesome!

JOURNEY towards the Perfect Communicator

Hi! I'm Rev. John Mark, Religious Deacon, Spiritual Director of SLRP Youth Ministry

The RovingBookwormNG

Books. Poetry. Podcast. Travel.

The Wild Heart of Life

Creative Nonfiction & Poetry

Pointless Overthinking

Understanding ourselves and the world we live in.

She Got Wings!

Self-development

A Holistic Journey

Finding my way back out of motherhood -- while mothering

Joan Wiley

Wayward Writer and Poet