Monthly Archives: March 2013

Added PRIDE’S CHILDREN – Chapter 2, Scene 1.2.2

New scene posted.

PRIDE’S CHILDREN, Chapter 2 – Daughter of Jairus, Scene 2

Please let me know if a link didn’t work as you expected it to.

Many thanks for suggestions and corrections.

Leave a comment – or email me privately [abehrhardt at gmail].

Comments?


Copyright Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt 2013.

A bliss of one’s own – writing in spite of CFS

Having lived with ME/CFS/CFIDS for 23 years now, and having lost to it so many of the things that I valued about myself: hiking, research physics, sightseeing and travel, among others, but especially having a quick mind, that you’d think I wouldn’t want additional burdens. True, daily self-care (now that the kids are gone), and keeping some kind of handle on house and paperwork, easily seems to take all that I have left, which is roughly the equivalent of three hours worth of usable energy. For a 16-to-18 hour day.

However, too often I talk to people with CFS and find that they have let ‘what has to be done’ take ALL their time and energy, and I would like to advocate for something different.

When I ask the question ‘what do you do for YOU?’ the response too often is a blank stare. And a sense of hopelessness. Continue reading

Added PRIDE’S CHILDREN – Chapter 2, Scene 1.2.1

New scene posted.

PRIDE’S CHILDREN, Chapter 2 – Daughter of Jairus, Scene 1

Please let me know if a link didn’t work as you expected.

I will be grateful for suggestions and corrections.

Feel free to leave a comment or email me privately [abehrhardt at gmail].

Comments?


Copyright Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt 2013.

Letting computers help you write and edit

Thanks to Lily White LeFevre for asking about editing programs.

If there are computer tools available, for a reasonable price, that help remove some of the drudgery associated with providing clean prose, it is, to me, an odd choice not to use them. Word processors, online dictionaries, and programs such as Scrivener which organize research as well as text are in the arsenal of most writers.

Computers are incredibly fast, incredibly stupid, incredibly literal – they do EXACTLY what you actually told them to do, within their instruction set, rather than what you THINK you told them to do – and, most importantly of all, they don’t get bored.

That last one is very important, because humans DO get bored. Especially after they’ve had to repeat the same thing many times. Continue reading

Added PRIDE’S CHILDREN – Scene 1.1.5

New scene posted.

PRIDE’S CHILDREN, Chapter 1 – To ride the fickle horse of fame, Scene 5

Please let me know if a link didn’t work as you expected. I will be grateful for suggestions and corrections.

Feel free to leave a comment or email me privately [abehrhardt at gmail] with your suggestion for improvement or your analysis of what’s wrong. Please put PC or Pride’s Children in the Subject line. I will read carefully, and may incorporate your suggestion/change what you think is wrong (if I do so, your name, if you wish, will end up on the acknowledgments page – so leave me information where I can ask you for permission). It would help a lot if you also tell me what you DO like to read and any general information about yourself you care to share: your tastes and opinions help me evaluate your comments.

Comments?


Copyright Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt 2013.

Stretching your writing mind with experience

I have been coping all morning with the side effects of yesterday, not being able to write, nor even look at my notes for, the current scene under revision in the WIP.

And yet, I am not unhappy.

With the limitations of CFS, I live a tiny life: I try not to leave the house more than 2-3 times a week, I say no to almost everything, and I have worked hard to create a schedule that puts the writing first (Get up. Grab First Diet Coke. Block internet for 2 hours. Write. Take First Nap. Get up. Grab Second Coke, protein breakfast shake. Block internet for 2 hours. Write. Take Second Nap. Phew – most of day is now gone.).

My house is, understandably, a disaster area. The bills get done when I am either forced to or have a functional period after the writing. Taxes, end of year deductions, holidays, occasional trips – all interrupt the flow, and take a week to recover from – and get back on schedule from. They are necessary, so I pay the price and don’t worry about it too much. If there’s energy, I write – I don’t spend it on housekeeping.

It leaves little time for the ‘life experiences’ writers need to grow – a Hobson’s choice.

But for ten years I made space for a weekly singing lesson (even though the teacher said I should practice an hour every day – and it was a rare week when I had any energy for doing anything other than singing if I had to drive myself somewhere that week). Up to 8 times a year I go to a Folk Sing on a Friday night. And a year ago, when they were soliciting new members for the tiny choir that sings at the Princeton University chapel for the 4:30 Sunday Mass I attend when classes are in session, and knowing that they practiced before Mass (rather than having a separate choir practice night, which would have been an additional outing every week), I volunteered. With the caveat that it might not be something I could continue doing.

For those who sing, I needn’t explain the joy of learning something in four-part harmony every week, however short. For those who don’t, just know that I am treated as if it’s obvious that I CAN, and that’s enough.

After a year, which I survived, we were challenged to take turns as Cantor (it’s an erratic crew due to school and other commitments, and we were down to two or three who had cantored – yesterday all but one couldn’t come). One additional training session required – I can do this: I said yes.

Yesterday was My First Time – and, minor bobbles aside, it was glorious, and made up for the loss of Saturday (preparation), Sunday (warmup, practice, Mass!), and today, Monday (can’t seem to get it together, and it’s 4:34pm). Let me say it this way: there is nothing to compare to the experience of opening your mouth and pouring sound into a properly-designed nave and choir in a stone cathedral. It is a living thing that feeds back the sound and amplifies your voice enough to fill the whole. I prayed – went for it. The feeling is a shock, the feedback amazing. The first notes of the a capella Kyrie (which I may have been a third low for – but it doesn’t matter, as the cantor sets the note, and all the rest are relative – the organist had told me not to worry, to just go for it and with it, rather than get a note from him) – me, alone, for a few seconds, and then the rest of us joined in – was an experience that is not available for money. Nor should it be. It is only available for love – and without fear.

The same for the first verse of the meditation, followed by all of us singing what we have been singing throughout Lent.

My point? That even in a life circumscribed by circumstances beyond control, there are still times when it is necessary – and possible – to say ‘Yes!’

Comments? Please share.

Added PRIDE’S CHILDREN – Scene 1.1.4

New scene posted.

PRIDE’S CHILDREN, Chapter 1 – To ride the fickle horse of fame, Scene 4

Please let me know if a link didn’t work as you expected. I will be grateful for suggestions and corrections.

Feel free to leave a comment or email me privately [abehrhardt at gmail] with your suggestion for improvement or your analysis of what’s wrong. [It will help if you put PC or Pride’s Children in the Subject line.] I will read carefully, and may incorporate your suggestion/change what you think is wrong (if I do so, your name, if you wish, will end up on the acknowledgments page – so leave me information where I can ask you for permission). It would help a lot if you also tell me what you DO like to read and any general information about yourself you care to share: your tastes and opinions help me evaluate your comments.

Comments?


Copyright Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt 2013.

Writing multiple points of view: siding with the character

The WIP (Pride’s Children – see navigation menu) is written in a close third-person point of view, with three characters taking turns, one per scene. It takes me several days to write or revise each scene. Once I’m finished with it for the time being, I find myself seeing the whole world of the story very solidly from that character’s point of view. We all self-justify constantly, and characters are no different. Since ‘truth’ in a story is an invention of the author, and relative, and I need to become the character to have the words flow, I am now completely on his or her side!

The problem is that I have deliberately arranged it to tell the whole story, the ‘truth,’ from the randomly rotating points of view of the three main characters – who I’ve specifically made very different from each other – Duh! – for the purpose of creating the conflict that is the story engine. [I do have a few scenes where something other than the point of view character changes, but not many.]

It might have made more sense to finish one strand of the story – writing – or especially editing – all the scenes for each character before switching to the next character – but where’s the fun in that?

And the STORY needs to maintain continuity.

So I do a few things to switch whose head I’m in:

I examine very carefully WHY I’m switching to WHICH other character. Sometimes I make the decision to use a character other than the one I’d originally planned to use.

I read the text and the notes I’ve made and scribble new notes until I AGREE again that THIS scene requires THIS character. When this is the ‘difficult’ character, it takes longer, not because I don’t like writing this character, but because he/she gets more of the difficult parts of myself, the parts I usually suppress best, so I have to actively decide to let those parts of me get some air time. It doesn’t seem to get easier.

I ask myself, if this character wasn’t in the previous scene, what this character was doing while the previous scene was happening.

Then I go back to the last scene or two written from this character’s pov, and read for mood: each character’s internal monologue/self-talk has a different flavor.

By this time I’m beginning to switch to the current character, and to lose the previous one.

I dig into why this is the best character to be, the one whom I’ve given my now favorite parts of myself, tell myself why this character is right and should ‘win.’

Now I can afford to go to my structure (what is going to happen in this scene), read my notes and the current draft if there is one, and see where THIS character drives the action, and proceed with the whole process of creating or editing.

I check the first lines of the scene to make sure the transition to THIS character is a smooth and painless as I can make it for the reader, that there’s no confusion whose head they’re now in.

Then, after the choreography of who does what when in the scene is complete, and all the other editing for setting, dialogue, etc., I finish by checking the internal monologue to make sure it’s all self-consistent with the version of the character I’ve now slipped back into being, and check that, if it’s the difficult character, I haven’t let completely loose of the reins – and said too much.

And make sure the end of the scene gives the character the last word.

I’m writing this to record my ‘process,’ hoping to make it faster by understanding it, and it sounds crazy. And it’s probably the reason I’m so slow.

I wonder how other people do it.

Comments?