Wednesday, August 29, 2012

The Best Laid Plans


I admit I’m a planner. I like to know what I ‘m doing and where I’m going. Mostly.  Occasionally  I will get a twinges of spontaneity, but mostly I’m a planner, which is fine except that life sometimes has a habit of messing up those plans.

For example recently my husband and I had planned to go to Sydney where our son and daughter and their respective families would gather for celebrate a special family birthday. We try to do this whenever a family member has a birthday. But like this time, it doesn’t always work to plan. Two days before the planned celebration, my husband came down with one of the dreaded viruses going around. Despite prayers for a quick miracle healing, in the end we realised it was not going to happen. As you can imagine we were very disappointed.

It happens in the writing life too. Sometimes we have plans for a character and that character refuses to co-operate, while another character becomes insistent we tell their story instead. Or it may  be that we put  a lot of work into a project only to find health issues keep interrupting it and pulling you down so that no writing is getting done. Yes, I’ve been a victim of that one a bit in the last couple of years. When that happens, we have a choice. We can either give up or put it all in the too hard basket. Or can accept this is the way it has to be for now, but that doesn’t mean giving up. Stubbornness is not a bad attribute for a writer to have. I will get back to my project as soon as the situation changes.

Sometimes your book will not turn out as you hoped. The publisher may produce a cover that does not help the book, or the editing may not be up to scratch and this happens even with traditional publishers these days as editors are overworked. I have recently read some shockers in a couple of books published by a large traditional overseas publishers, like the one which mentioned Jesus turning the wine into water. Really!  That’s not what my bible says.

It may a reviewer who just doesn’t get it and makes comments about the book that leads you to believe they didn’t understand where you were coming from. Reading is such a subjective thing. I’ve just finished reading a children’s book and my initial reaction was that the book was pointless.  Thinking maybe I was missing something, I gave it to someone whose opinion I trust and their reaction was similar to mine.  Both of us could not understand why the publisher had chosen to publish this book at all, especially given the cost involved in publishing a book.  Yet this was from a large and well know publisher. Maybe we are missing something, I don't know.

As well as reviewing on my  Write and Read with Dale blog http://orangedale.livejournal.com/I review books on Goodreads http://www.goodreads.com/and am constantly amazed at how several people can give a book 4 or 5 stars and then someone else comes in and claims it is the most boring book out and gives it 1 star

The writing life is not easy. That’s why it’s important to have writing friends and groups like this where we can support, and encourage each other  and spur each other on when we are feeling down , when the writing is not going well, when life interferes and stops us writing, or when covers or reviews are not as we hoped.
 

 
Streets on a Map, Dale’s latest novel was published by Ark House Press. Prior to that Dale has had seven children’s books and Kaleidoscope a collection of poetry published. Many of the poems in Kaleidoscope have been previously published in Australia’s literary magazines. She has won prizes for her poetry and has been published in several anthologies. She has also written bible studies and Sunday school lessons.More information about Dale can be found at www.daleharcombe.com or on her Write and Read with Dale blog http://www.livejournal.com/users/orangedale/

16 comments:

  1. I agree. The writing life is not easy and often lonely. And yes, groups like this help when hearts need encouragement. Blessings, Dotti :)

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    1. Thanks Dotti. Yes they sure do.

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  2. Been there also, Dale, and a sympathy hug coming at you. About reviews, yes everyone comes from a different viewpoint. Some great, others...enough said! And circumstances throwing us out of kilter become a maker or breaker as far as hanging in there. As the Bible advises, perseverance is the key to everything in our lives.We may get knocked down, but with the Lord's help, up we get again!

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  4. Thanks Rita. With regard to reviews, I've found out a lot depends on where we're are coming from, hence my response to a recent book I reviewed on my Write and read with Dale blog.
    You're sure right about perseverance being needed.

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  5. Thanks for this post Dale.
    I've been trying hard lately to see my writing as a long term project, that even if the quantity of words I get on the page over the course of a week is barely anything - there is a bigger picture than this week, this year etc.
    Though, your words about characters making up their own minds left me with a bit of longing. I'm looking forward to the time when I can pick up one of my larger projects again and follow my characters where they take me for a change.

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    1. Thanks Penny. Yes, we always need to keep the big picture in mind. To everything there is a season as the bible reminds us.I'm sure you'll get back to the larger project and those demanding characters at the right time.

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  6. You are so right Dale. Life has a habit of changing our best laid plans. And yes, as writers we face it too! My one but last personal blog was about this fact.I believe though that God is in the middle of it all - all our hurts, sorrows and disappointments. So He often turns our plans gone wrong into something good. If I realise that whatever happens - both good and bad can be changed into something good for me, as it says in Romans 8:28 - then the battle is won. Disappointments often become His appointments and it's not stubbornness but perseverance that gets us places! :)

    Well done on all the writing you've done, Dale. That's awesome.

    Thanks for sharing,
    Anusha

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    1. Yes, God can use even the bad things - Thankfully. I'm inclined to think stubborness, determination and perseverance are all different aspects of the same quality. Thanks for your comments and encouragement, Anusha.

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  7. Dale, great post! My direction for my fiction writing has taken a different turn over the last few weeks. A rejection I received earlier in the year that was disappointing I now look back on and recognize as a blessing because I wouldn't have taken the path I am on now if circumstances were different. Persistence and patience are important aspects of our writing journeys as we wait on His perfect timing :)

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    1. Thanks for sharing that example with us, Narelle. I love the way God does things like that!

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  8. I enjoyed reading your insights and thoughts about the writing and publishing process. I review books on Goodreads from time to time. I often differ with a lot of people about the books I've read but in general I don't think I've ever given less than 3 stars which for me is a rather boring, ho hum book. I guess some people rate much harder than I do. I wish they would have half stars as there are lots of books that I want to give a half star to. I see that books look like they have half star ratings. How they get it is beyond me since I've yet to find the half star feature. Am I missing something?

    I've recently had an experience like yours with a children's book. I read it and I thought what was the point? What are the children supposed to learn from it. The suggested age level was far too old for the concept involved. At least IMHO.

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    1. You made me feel better, Jopyful.I haven't been able to figure out the half star thing either so usually write it in the review. I wonder if we're talking about the same kids book?

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    2. The book I'm talking about is written in USA about East Africa. I won't say more as I don't want to identify the author ;-)

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  9. I know where you are coming from Dale. There are a lot of ups and downs. I think it's just how you roll that counts. And God always has a purpose. I try to hold onto that.

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  10. Yes, it's just sometimes we don't see that purpose at the time Rose.Often, we do at a later date.

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