Ready, set, go (panic)

Dragon boats racing

Karalee’s Post #1 — A week and a half has slid by already. I paddle on a dragon boat team and was committed to the regatta in Penticton, B.C. During the five hour drive there and the three days of the regatta I took the opportunity to think about my characters and plot and pray inspiration would seek me out amongst the 1,700 paddlers on the Skaha Lake.

I have to create new characters in a new setting with a new plot. Maybe I should write in first person? That would be a new and huge challenge for me.

Saturday morning the regatta went smoothly with hopefuls racing twenty to a boat, each paddling for an all-out 2.5 minute sprint (give or take) from the start line to the finish 500 meters later. No prize money, only camaraderie and a possible medal pushing every one to perform their best. The weather stayed hot with the wind gradually building under a changing mix of thick and thin clouds clearing to blue sky. I felt it matched my moods that kept swinging from being calm one moment, to euphoric excitement at taking on this writing challenge, only to feel my stomach lurch with terror at the realization of the commitment I’ve made to myself and my writing group.

High winds made the officials cancel the Saturday afternoon races. I took the opportunity to drive around the Okanagan taking pictures and hoping ideas would come to me. Of course, I expected my new characters would start talking.

My characters always talk to me. Don’t yours?

Possibilities started to emerge and tumble together as I kept asking “What if?” That is such an inspiring question. Thank-you to Donald Maass.

To-date I’ve written murder mysteries and short stories. Curiosity took me by the Royal Canadian Mounted (RCMP) office to check it out, but they were only open Monday to Friday. Don’t commit a crime on the weekends in Penticton I guess.

My to-do list started taking shape, the research I’d need to do piling up. TOO much to do!

Karalee on a dragon boat

Sunday’s dragon boat racing stayed on time and I was on the highway back to Vancouver by mid-afternoon with my van full of fellow paddlers. I’ve spent this week clearing my slate of late summer chores. I’m an avid gardener with fruit and vegetables spilling over everywhere on my small city lot. Harvest time can’t wait.

That done, my office was next. In order to write a new project, it meant a serious cleaning out and putting away all the paper, books and pictures that I had collected for my present project. I’m an organic writer and like to have physical references such as to-do notes, character/plot/setting descriptions, and pictures staring at me from the walls. I took time to surf writersdigest.com and collected some information to help me:

  • 10 Ways to Harness Fear and Fuel Your Writing
  • The 10 Commandments of How to Write a Thriller
  • Writing the Stand-Alone Book as a Series Pilot

I’ve also pulled out reference books:

  • Donald Maass’s book Writing the Breakout Novel
  • James Scott Bell’s book on Plot & Structure
  • Helen Palmer’s book on The Enneagram
  • Bob Mayer’s book The Novel Writer’s Toolkit
  • Hallie Ephron’s book Writing and Selling Your Mystery Novel

The real cool thing is that I’ve met nearly all these authors at the Surrey International Writer’s Conference. It’s like having another support group with me 24/7.

And, I can’t let THEM down, can I?

9 thoughts on “Ready, set, go (panic)

  1. The best advice I was given by a writer was not direct, exactly. He simply said that one of his expenses was replacing his key board- he wears out three a year! So perhaps the motto should be “Don’t get it right, get it written” Incidentally, Jim Eldridge is a hugely successful writer- but you won’t have heard of him as he mainly writes for British TV and radio! Good luck!

  2. Panic! What an excellent word choice Karalee! A reaction I think all 5 of us are feeling right now. To be honest, from what I’ve heard, not one of us have actually started by setting down on paper the very first word in our respective first chapters. Gulp. Tick, tick, tick…..

  3. Way to go, K!! Nice photo of you paddling. Reminds me of the good ol’ days down on False Creek when the team first got started in 1999. I recognize those two old birds flanking you, too! Good luck with your 555 challenge. On the one hand I feel some definite pity for what lies ahead. On the other, I’m jealous because of all that fabulous writing adrenalin in your immediate future. While I’m *learning* to love revisions, my favourite part is still the beginning. Tell Paula I love ‘outlining’ better than anything if she has questions. That goes for anybody else in your group, if you need to bend an ear. I’ll be sure to keep up with your posts and comment when I can.

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