Cherries and Apples!

Hello friends in the blogging world. It’s great to be writing this post! ๐Ÿ™‚

Now that I have a working laptop (a MacBook, a gift to myself for having delivered a baby boy. A gift I am enjoying immensely) I have begun thinking about my novel that I was working on before baby was born. I am in the final stages of that novel, and I have been informally drawing a list in my mind of what is left to be done to it. On my way to my laptop I stopped off to wash a bowl of cherries – and voila, I had a post.

It’s cherry season! One my favourite times of the year! Summer, but normally not too hot, most of the humidity passed. August coolness waving in. I associate ย cherries with my children, as they were all born around this season. Myself, in a pyjama, newborn on my lap, a giant bowl of cherries. My son and daughter, their lips stained with the crimson juice once they became old enough to eat them. Now, the baby 2 months old, watches us gobble down the cherries, his eyes wide wide, his brow furrows, and we fight over who had the most and who gets the last one. Inevitably my middle child wins.

As I washed my cherries, I considered how much I enjoy this season, and I realize that this is what caused me to make a large mistake in my novel. I do not write with a first draft with an outline. I cannot. It blocks the story from me. The outline comes after I have the story written. In my novel, the story spans a period of 10 months. It begins in spring and ends in summer. hmmmm. Something wrong there. I laughed at myself when I was done my first draft and saw what I had done. I plotted it all out, and then tracked the season change. This is most likely the largest task that awaits me in this novel, adjusting the scenes to the seasons.

Do you find that your own preferences can influence your writing in such a way? How do you go about curbing these odd tendencies?

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26 thoughts on “Cherries and Apples!

  1. Why would you want to “curb these odd tendencies”? Isn’t that what makes your writing unique? And why do you consider incorporating your personality in your writing as odd?

    Gee, did I totally misunderstand your question? ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. Hi LInda ๐Ÿ™‚ good to see you here!

      well, perhaps I have confused my question. I agree with you correctly about that these odd tendencies making us unique, but even when they play against us? I wrote a story that spans 10 months but only 3 months passed because of my love of the spring / cooler summer months, while I even bypassed all those heavy humid days of intense heat. That’s when I think that my personal preferences need to be kept in check! do you agree?

      1. Well, no, of course you can’t allow your preferences to let you write nonsense. ๐Ÿ™‚

        I knew from the beginning in writing my last novel that timing would be a problem to keep track of, so as I wrote, I kept a scene list that indicated exactly what day of the week and month it was, as well as what day in the relationship between the two characters. But you know what? I sort of summarized the winter months! So I guess I love the warm weather best too. ๐Ÿ˜€

        Okay, I admit, I’m envious of all you writers with Macs.

      2. Ohhh those warm months catch us all I suppose, Linda. Yet, I have read canadian novels with snow abound – I just don’t want to go there when I write! lol.

  2. Hi Jennifer, Welcome back! It’s nice to see you pop up in my reader. ๐Ÿ™‚

    I also write without an outline and return in the second draft to provide that structure. It’s a great insight that the first draft reveals personal preferences — and I also ended up recently with a seasonal issue. The first week of spring spanned 3 months!

    Enjoy your lovely Mac. I adore my Mac laptop and, for me, it adds to the physical pleasure of writing — sounds weird, but true.

    1. It’s great to be here, Cathryn! Thanks to mac for enabling me ๐Ÿ™‚ wow, what a difference. I completely relate!
      Spring caught you in the same way it caught me – funny!
      When I realized what I had done, well, I then thought about the holidays that fit in during those months I had avoided. I decided no holidays will make an appearance, but it’s amazing how in writing the stream of thought is endless.

  3. Nice to see you blogging ๐Ÿ™‚

    I have had the same issues with timelines as well – which I am sure was down to the fact I don’t outline when I first draft either (well, never used to, thats slowly changing). I always find it amusing to go back to first drafts and spot all the flaws! ๐Ÿ˜‰

    1. Thanks JC, it’s great to be here! And you – amazing!!!
      I love first drafting, it’s where I immerse myself in my imagination with no barriers of any sort. The work follows the play. Gratefully I love to work ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. Hi Jennifer, nice to see you back.
    It’s easy enough to get carried away in the moment when writing. I guess for me the important thing is to get it down on paper (or screen). Those little tendencies can always be fixed.

    1. HI Sharon! Glad to hear all is well with you – can’t believe you are 34 weeks already! How quickly that seemed to pass on my side….I remember my first, how long those 9 months felt – I wonder if it is the same for you? Are you able to write still?

      I think for me the difficultly, or rather my anxiety, is not always seeing those tendencies that I have and incorporate into my writing. I suppose that’s one of the benefits of stepping away from one’s own work, and also receiving feedback.

  5. The only novel I ever got anywhere with was the one where I made a timeline spanning eight weeks, wrote short scene summaries on index cards and arranged the cards on the time line. That meant that I knew the exact day when everything happened. I also wasted a lot of time doing “research” where I worked out what the phases of the moon were, what the weather was like and what flowers were in bloom during that period.

    Having that structure from the beginning really worked for me although next time I’ll probably leave the meterological and horticultural research till the final draft.

    1. Wow, Helen! And how true to that original layout did the final story end up? Amazing the different processes we all take to write. Just thinking of it like that makes me get all nervous! lol. When I think about what I’m writing (rather than actually writing) I wish I could do what you do – see the whole thing laid out in front of me like a map. Hasn’t happened to me yet….but it might ๐Ÿ™‚

      Yes, I too learned about doing too much research in the early faze….

      1. It stayed true to the originial layout, the only problem was that I didn’t finish writing it! I think I began to doubt how good it was and whether it was worth finishing. Another advantage (for me anyway) of planning like that is that you can write scenes in whatever order you feel like rather than writing the whole novel in a linear fashion.

        There’s a photograph on my blog here

        http://helencaldwell.wordpress.com/2008/11/04/plot/

        of all my index cards layed out.

      2. love that photo, Helen!
        A friend of writes in the same way, she says if she’s not feeling a scene she moves on to another and comes back to it.
        no room for doubt, Helen. No room.

  6. Welcome back, Jennifer! It’s funny–just yesterday I wrote a scene for what I’m working on and I had a character looking out a window. Since I don’t know how it’s all going to work out together yet, I just added brackets in red that said [what season is it?]

    And I love my mac!

    1. Thanks, Cynthia! Amazing how a goof laptop actually simplifies things…it’s liberating!
      My work is littered with exactly that – brackets and notes of things to look up or add in.

  7. Hi, Jennifer. Welcome back.

    Yes, I think initial preferences can adversely prevent a story from unfolding. I don’t fully understand why – maybe they act as a kind of block – but I’ve found that most of the structural problems in my two novels resulted from my original preferences.

    Hope your baby’s doing well and hope you can get back into your novel.

    Best wishes,

    Lawrence

  8. Now I get to visit your blog–what fun! You’re a busy lady! Congratulations on a new baby AND for getting back to writing (a new computer does make it so much more inviting, doesn’t it?).

    I loved this post–would you believe I wrote a post a few months ago on picking cherries and revisions? No joke! My husband and I used to have a sour cherry tree in our old backyard and boy do I miss those little wonders…

    Timing ALWAYS gets me when I write–I find myself constantly going back to readjust settings and other details when I realize I’ve lost track of, well, time. I often think outlines would solve this problem for me, but I can’t seem to make them stick.

    1. Hi Erika! Thanks for coming by – how funny about the post coincidence! Yum…a cherry tree in your backyard!

      It seems some writers live by outlines, and others, well not! lol. I wrote my outline after writing the first draft of this novel, and I readjusted it so many times with regards to the seasons and the passing of time. I am certain it will change some more, but at the moment I am happy with the final production of the outline at my last run.

  9. I also love cherries. I picked some up last week.

    I have a strong love for autumn and spring, although I’m inclined to think that autumn would win out. I think it is because, all my life, I have spent more time outdoors in the fall. It reminds me of the first day of school. I like writing about the season. I couldn’t imagine not doing so. Yes, it is easy to loose track of the time when we write. A time line sometimes works well.

    Congratulations on you new arrival!!! I hope you will be able to post more often. Such a busy time!

    1. The first day of school was always such a stressful time for me, Laura, when I was kid. Only when I hit cegept did that really change. I too love the fall, I always thought it was my favourite season, but I notice how the birth of my children shifted my focus to their season instead of mine (I’m a fall baby). I realize that in my own mind the story passes so quickly, even if I work on it for years, it’s difficult for me to keep aware of the time passing for my characters. Odd, isn’t it? Always something new to learn about oneself!

  10. Ohh cherries yumm ๐Ÿ™‚ Iโ€™m a huge fan of outlining, it help me write without the fear of โ€œwait- whatโ€™s gonna happen next?โ€ and helps me to stay on track. That said, the short story Iโ€™m writing specifically for my blog (the Story Mondays) I didnโ€™t outline. I write a new part for it every week, not knowing whatโ€™s going to happen next and thatโ€™s been really fun to try as well. But a novels, Iโ€™m an outliner all the way ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. HI Lua and thanks for coming by! I have never written an outline before writing. I have had an outline in my mind for shorts, but I don’t think that’s quite the same. I like that you utilize different methods for different pieces. I don’t like locking myself into any one method, so when the thought of an outline scares I get irritated at myself. Change is growth.

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