The Year in Review… Paula’s perspective


End of summer


Paula’s Post #45 – Hey, wait a sec. Something is just plain wrong here. Post #45? That can’t be right. No way!  Silk just posted yesterday and, if I’m not mistaken, her post was labelled “Post #51”.  I know I’ve been MIA for a few weeks during my move but, crikey… has it really been that long? Have I fallen that far behind?

Time flies when you’re having fun.

Except I can’t say there’s been much fun in my life this summer. When I last posted, (way back in mid-July), I confessed to being in full retreat from the writing life. Admittedly, I’d ‘checked out’:

At least until my house-hunting quest comes to an end. Six weeks to go until we move and still no destination in sight. So, while others haul out their manuscripts and start their edits, my days are spent hunched over my laptop, checking out each new listing that hits MLS (Plan A) and trolling through Craigslist in search of a rental house that is both, 1) bigger than a breadbox and 2) not shared with bedbugs and cockroaches (Plan B).

Okay, so maybe it isn’t that bad, but it seems that way as tick, tick tick….every day brings us closer to our late August moving date.

Characters? Plot? Pacing? Forget it, baby. I’m sorry to say these are not the thoughts foremost in my mind.

No, I’m staring in my very own mystery novel. The one entitled: Where are we going to live next!

For those of you curious about how this mystery turned out, I can only say, ‘Plan A’ is a distant memory, ‘Plan B’ our default strategy, now the reality. As the dog days of August dwindled to a close with no new home in sight, we panicked.  We bit the bullet and rented what I now affectionately refer to as the ‘Postage Stamp’ a rather luxe apartment, sans bed bugs and cockroaches, but alas, not much bigger than a bread box.

Since we moved into our new digs a week or so ago, my days have been filled with playing the moving equivalent of ‘musical chairs’, except in this game, all the chairs are boxes. Boxes we an never find a place to put, no matter how hard we try. Our tiny, elegant pied a terre resembling nothing so much as a home from an episode of Hoarders Hoarder.

I admit it. We’ve reached critical mass.

Time to give up and admit defeat.

But there’s a delicious silver-lining to ‘surrender’ to the inevitable.  Now that I’ve abandoned my war against ‘stuff’, I’m actually beginning to think I may be entering a new phase in my life. A metaphysical ‘space’ where I feel settled enough to actually get back to writing.

For many of us, September is a time of renewal. A time when Labor Day rolls around, (or “Labour Day”, for those north of the border) a time when we turn away from the pleasures and past-times of summer and get back to more serious pursuits of school and work.

And writing.

In her post of yesterday, Silk reflected on what her 5writers journey has been like, what she has accomplished, and what she has learned. I really enjoyed and appreciated her candor. I’m sure our readers did too. So, following Silk’s lead, here are my ‘two cents’ on the year in review:

Accomplishment #1 – We’re still together.

Did you see the photo Silk posted yesterday? Five smiling 5writers, five fingers, splayed in unison, our symbolic tribute to the powerful bond we share. Skeptics take note. Amongst our small community of writers, this bond has never been stronger. And while I may have been a wee bit green with jealousy as Helga floated around northern Europe on her swanky cruise ship and Silk glided through the peaceful waters of the Northwest Coast on her sailboat and Joe communed with nature in the forests of beautiful British Columbia, while I packed box after box after box….

…. oops. I’m getting off track again.

The point is that while our lives at times can seem very different, our core values as writers are remarkably similar. We strive to be encouraging. We strive to be respectful. We strive to be honest and never pull our punches. Too honest, perhaps for some. We are not the kind of group to say something’s good when it is, well, not to put to fine a point on it, utter crap. But we are dedicated to supporting one another, to learning as much as we can from one another, -all in the quest of trying to master this very difficult craft and becoming, (we hop)e, better writers than we were last year. In this, our core values unite us, and for that I am grateful.

Accomplishment #2 – OMG we’re actually blogging. I’ve done my mea culpa for dropping off the face of the earth this past August, but now I’m back and happy to be here.

Surprisingly, little empirical statistical research has been published on the phenomenon of blogs and blogging. Our blog is hosted on WordPress, according to Forbes the most popular blogging system in the world, powering over 60 million websites worldwide. Yet the statistics I’ve seen seem to suggest most people who start blogs, quit within the first three months. What blogger Judy Lee Dunn calls, The Princess Syndrome.

Well, we’ve learned we’re not quitters. We are, apparently, also not “Princesses”, which may come as a huge relief to Joe.

Accomplishment #3 – over 323,064 words and counting

Okay, maybe I didn’t add to that total over the summer. But I got my licks in early and I’m back on track now. I’m going to add to that total very soon. And that brings me to the last of Silk’s headings:

My big, fat, life lesson.

Time for another mea culpa. While I was one of the two 5writers to actually complete a novel in 5 months, I’ve now let that novel ‘percolate’ on the back burner for a few months. Result? I’ve got to confess, I’m not wild about my novel.

My fast-paced young adult thriller was a lot of fun to write, but now that I’ve stopped and caught my breath, I have to admit that I’m reluctant to go back, pick that manuscript up and put in the grunt work necessary to polish it to the stage where I can even start thinking about the query process.

Ironically, part of my ambivalence arises from my ever so painful moving experience. One of the dilemma’s I faced was what to do with the huge stacks of paper I’ve accumulated over the years as a writer of fiction. Like many of you, I’ve kept most of my writing on my computer. (Thank goodness for digital). But inevitably, I’ve also squirrelled away a ton of paper: hard-copies of partial manuscripts (my preferred medium for rewrites and sharing with beta readers, manucscript mark ups from my critique group, hand outs and articles and…. well, an avalanche of paper, spilling from file cabinets, boxes and drawers.


But during my aborted effort at downsizing, I realized I liked some of those stories a lot more than my current 5writers YA manuscript. I’m not going to beat myself up about it, if your heart is not in it, your heart is not in it. That’s why, when I do start writing again, and I hope it will be soon, I’ll be picking up and dusting off a different manuscript, most likely my noir mystery novel set in pre-war Honolulu. Or maybe the culinary-mystery-with-a-twist set in Napa. Haven’t decided yet, but I’ll let you know when I do. I promise.

At the end of yesterday’s post, Silk wrote:

My “5writers year” has been endless. That is to say, I’ve not yet typed “the end” in the story I began on September 5, 2012. When I do, I can make a new beginning.

Hopefully by then I’ll be wiser about what kind of writer I am.

I may have already experienced the joy of typing ‘the end’ on the last page of my original 5writers story that I began on September 5th, 2012, but like Silk, I think I’ll be making a ‘new beginning’.

Maybe I’m already a bit wiser about what the kind of writer I am.

4 thoughts on “The Year in Review… Paula’s perspective

  1. Welcome back to Tuesdays With Paula! Please, please do pick up one of your fabulous unfinished manuscripts … They’re too good to leave on the shelf. You already know my fave. If you don’t finish the Hawaii story, I will.!

  2. And I recall there is an even earlier manuscript (before Hawaii) that deserves resurrection! The one with all that delicious food…

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