Writing a book has been a life long dream. I have written poetry for as long as I can remember but I have never tried writing a book until about eight years ago. The book was very cathartic in that I needed to tell the story. Unfortunately, I wrote every detail I could remember. I actually had a friend insist I include a couple of sentence about a discussion she had with me. It did not add anything to the book at all. I ultimately took it to a counselor friend of mine. She gave me the most honest critiques I have ever had. The book was way to technical.
When I decided to start writing again, this book is where I decided to start. Almost three months later I have a list of character names and about two pages written on the book. Not exactly where I wanted to be after three months. At this rate, I will never get the book written. Where do I go from here?
Another idea I had in mind was writing about living in a nursing home. The great thing there is that I still live in a nursing home. The feelings, concerns, story ideas are all around me. It reminds me of living in a zoo or, better yet, the nursing home version of “One Flew Over the Coo-Coo’s Nest.” Most of my “roommates” have various forms of Dementia and Alzheimer’s. We have roamers, screamers, nudist and residents who are down right rude.
I decided to sit down and write out characters I wanted to use. I also wrote down stories I wanted to tell. Some of the stories are totally funny and some are extremely sad. I ended up with 7 or 8 pages of notes. Seems like I am on a roll. I love to see the wheels churning.
I have given myself a deadline of August 1st to actually start writing. I need to come up with character names and probably a few stories. I am not sure what to give as a title yet. That one is going to be fun.
I certainly need some inspiration, something outside of myself that would get excited about writing. My feet are so cold when it comes to writing at this point. I love to write. I can do outlines, characters, scene sketches, etc. I am having trouble putting it down on paper in any congruent.
So, I had an idea about 2 weeks ago. I decided to start a writing group at the nursing home I live at. I immediately had interest from 2 other residents. I was so excited. I even realized that the three of us were writing about some of our life experiences. I scheduled two meetings for the month of July. Today was our first meeting. One member did not make it at all. The other one was 30 minutes late.
Maybe it is time to regroup because I really want this to work. I suspect that the one member who did not make it was probably not gotten out of bed. She is basically bed bound and needs major help to get into her motorized wheelchair. The nature of the beast in nursing homes is that the weekend staff is not willing to do a lot of things that they should be doing. So I am sure she was not put into her chair today. I will find a way to work around that. She deserves the group just as much, if not more than the rest of us.
Thank you for letting me share today.
I love writing. It is what I have always wanted to do. I remember when I was first learning to read, I read street signs, what I could of the newspaper, simple books, anything and I do mean anything I could get hold of. I was a good story teller. In fact I still am a good story teller. I wrote a lot of poetry growing up and can still do that when the need arises. But what I have always wanted to do was write stories. I wanted to tell my stories to the world.
My favorite topic growing up was westerns. I loved watching westerns – The Lancers, Bonanza, Matt Dillon, Gunsmoke, Big Valley, Have Gun Will Travel, Wild Wild West, and my favorite High Chaparral. I have some wonderful story ideas regarding the High Chaparral. Someone has suggested that I do some fan fiction with the ideas. I would get the acknowledgement of having written the story from a readily available audience of 4 or 5 facebook pages dedicated to High Chaparral. It would satisfy much of my need to write.
Part of the problem of writing fan fiction would be that I have three story topics that I have a heart tug to write. It is definitely a major desire, an aching to tell these stories. I know how to verbalize a lot of each story. I could sit there and tell the story to an audience any day of the week. Telling the stories could take care of a bit of the problem. I have a feeling though that more people need to hear the stories I want to tell.
So this brings me back to writing the stories down. I have actually written a draft of one of my stories. The audience I wanted to reach was the general public, the average Jack and Jill. The first draft was better suited for the medical professional. It would need work even then. I wanted something that was inspirational to the general public. There is something about telling my near death experience on the way to get a weight loss surgery that would help other obese people get the help they needed. I do not always encourage having surgery but I do encourage people to work on themselves instead of waiting until just before they die to do what needs to be done. I need and want to reach a large group of people. Does that make sense?
I have at least two other stories in me. One is a fictionalized version of living in a nursing home. It is based on true events and people so that , again, the general public got an idea about what patients actually feel and have to live through. It is not all doom and gloom but it is also not all happiness and joy. Their is a need to have loved ones in a safe place. It is hard when there is a blend of rather cognitive people and those with various degrees of Alzheimers. My sister even noticed that my patience is wearing thin after being here 14 months. I would have to agree with her.
I am a long time twelve stepper. Slogans like One Day at a Time and Let Go and Let God became a part of my life. One Day at a Time was especially important when trying not to drink or prevent me from overeating. Today, though, it is more about my writing. I have a hard time writing everyday. I have missed about a week on my journaling and that is driving me completely wacko. But actually doing real writing a book kind of writing is very hard for me to do. I have managed about 2 hours of actual writing on my first book in a little over a month.
I thought that once I picked a topic, it would be easy to write. In fact, I had talked and journaled about it for a month before I finally tackled it. Four paragraphs is not much progress in one month and a week. I am trying to write a book on my struggles with my weight and the greatest choice to have a bariatric (weight loss) surgery. I went so far as to skim through Carnie Wilson’s first book on her weight loss surgery. She did a lot of history first. I wasn’t really sure how to handle some of the history. To be totally honest, I wasn’t sure if people were interested in much of the history leading up to the surgery.
I had someone suggest that I try to write a sentence a day on the book. The idea was to write inspirational sentences that might help me write the book. I was looking to find a few sentences that could become potential paragraphs or even a few paragraphs. I managed to get three paragraphs out of one sentence and one paragraph out of another sentence. Not a bad suggestions for what it was. Where did my steam go? Where is my motivation? I have a lot of time to write at the moment. After all, I live in a nursing home. I don’t have to do a lot of things that I would have to do if I was living independently. When my roommate and I get settled from our temporary move, I need to set a schedule and just start writing. Maybe I should see if I could use a vacant room a couple of days a week.
If that doesn’t work, there are two other topics I could write about. One is about living in a nursing home. I haven’t decided whether or not to use pictures for that. Getting photos of different things that the residents have painted or made would be great. Also getting photos of residents doing certain activities would be excellent. I had thought about having residents write poems and have them published. The reality is that some of that has been done already. However, writing about being a resident has not been done. I know I can’t use real names so I would have to make up names for people. Certain behavior is found among several patients in most nursing. I could easily make composite patients and still have a terrific story.
The other topic is homelessness. There are so many ways to approach that one. I could fictionalize the story. I have actually had some ideas about characters but it was hard to decide how the book would end. Do I make it a happy ending, a cliff hanger, or more realistic ending? To make it realistic would probably mean that the person remained on the streets by choice or do to circumstances. I have known a few people get off the streets with the help of people from church. We then would lose contact with them. I could make it a photo book of different locations in the Dallas area. there is a homeless shelter near downtown Dallas that I could get pictures and maybe a couple of stories out of the residents there. Then there are the statistics that need to be added to that to get an overall picture of the real homeless situation. Of course, part of my royalties would go to that shelter if that is what I decide to do.
The thing is that I am not at a lack of ideas for books. It is a matter of getting me in the habit of sitting down and writing. Of course, I usually put pencil to paper when I write but I don’t to blog. Maybe I can start typing my stories. Novel concept, like why hadn’t I thought about that.
There is a verse in the Bible that talks about God being the potter and his creations being the clay. I always loved the analogy. I got the message that He was trying to mold us to be what we needed to be. It made me feel special because he molds me different then he molds other people. Each one of us is unique.
Then I became a potter. I had the opportunity to play with the clay, to make the clay do what I wanted it to do. Sometimes I got the clay to do what I wanted and sometimes I didn’t. The more I worked with the clay, the more I got the clay to act in a certain way. It took a lot of practice to get it to do what I wanted to do. But eventually the clay and I worked as one.
I have made a lot of kinds of pots. I have made mugs, bowls, platters, face masks, gargoyles, rattles, coaster, Incense burners, and pinch pots. Two of my more favorite things to make, though are native american vases including wedding vases and Face Jugs. The face jugs take a lot of practice. It requires layering of clay on clay. I don’t know how many times I have had parts of the face on the jug pop off during firing. It makes it hard to get a good pot. Over the course of time those pieces didn’t pop off nearly as frequently.
My Native American pots are often decorated with leather and feathers or rabbit fur. They look authentic because they are. I remember taking a class where some of my pots were being critiqued by another student. He stated he liked those pieces. When asked by the instructor why he liked them, the student stated it was because of the decorations. The point was that I had actually gone and bought the feathers and leather straps. I also had made the beads that I used to decorate the pots. All of this was done before I made the pot. In other words, I knew what I was going to do before I started making the pots. This was something the instructor had been trying to get his newer students to understand and they finally got it during the final exam. That was kind of sad.
It is ironic to me that when I want to put pen or pencil to paper and actually write, songs come to mind. Lately it has been the theme song to LOVE STORY. Where do I begin to tell the story of how great my life could be. Then there is nothing.
So what I have been thinking of doing is writing down inspiration sentences. The only thing that came up was a dream I had several years back. It was one of those dreams that seemed so real, as if it were happening all night long. I dreamed I was eating food from a particular restaurant that I loved. About 4 or 5 in the morning I woke up to go to the bathroom. Before I went back to bed, I made sure that I had not done what I believed I had. So I checked the trash can for the to go containers. There was nothing. I checked the refrigerator and there was no containers there either. I started to breathe a little easier when I had a horrible thought that I took the containers to the dumpster. I finally told myself that it was just a very vivid dream and to relax.
The reason this was such an alarming dream for me is that I had weight loss surgery revision about 10 days before. I was on liquids at that point and some how eating jalapeno poppers, fried mushrooms, mozzarella cheese, brownies and/or cheesecake all night was not a great thing to be doing. I was craving food so bad that it was invading my sleep world. How do I write about that with some interest? Do I described the senses – smell, taste, etc?
Okay, so what I will do is write one sentence that could begin a paragraph. One dream sentence to remind me what to write about. Then I can come back and write from there later. I do not have to do the whole thing perfectly, just one awesome sentence.
I completed a 12 week book called the Artist Way. It required daily morning pages. I spent a lot of time writing about what I wanted to write books on. I came up with at least three pretty solid topics. The great part of writing the morning pages is getting in the habit of writing every day. I bring this up because I had not written for the last four days. It almost drove me crazy. So I did my morning pages this morning. It did not make the day 100% better but it certainly was better than not writing at all.
Journaling, for me, is great. I can put down what is going on with me. I can put my problems down on paper and give them over to my higher power. I can dream, make commitments, explore ideas, gripe about people who are stressing me out. It puts my life in focus for me. Most importantly, it gives me the opportunity to clear my mind so I can write on my novels.
One suggestion I was given was to write a motivational sentence every day for my novel. If I can’t write anything else on my novel, write that one sentence. See, writing a novel is new for me. I don’t have an approved outline of exactly how to write MY novel. I can read a lot of books, and I do. I have looked at how they begin. I haven’t found that first intro so I figured that writing these sentences everyday will help me get started. Now comes the fun part. Writing those sentences.
I tend to procrastinate. This is not necessarily a good thing. I do, fortunately, have a goal. I plan on having a completed manuscript by the end of the year. It will not be perfect. I am expecting some editing. Okay, maybe a lot of editing. But At least I have a goal.
Write On my fellow writers, authors, songwriters.