Wednesday, March 30, 2011

On Manuscripts and First Impressions

Reading and re-reading of my manuscript of The Sidewalker, has taken up many of the past several days. This morning before getting down to business, I read a post by Writer Beware, dealing with an author who took great exception to a reviewer's opinion of her self-published book. ( I'm mentioning no one's names here.) If I ever thought (which I don't) that proofreading more than twice is not necessary, silly me, this article alone would make me think several times. Reading this, for me, was more than a word to the wise. Anyway, I'm nearly done with the 4th reading of my manuscript, and have found---how did I miss them, 3 times?---several missing commas, two missing quotation marks, and a paragraph that wasn't indented. In the final 4 chapters, how many more errors will I find? I will have to do another reading to see what else is there. My-oh-my. Well, better me, now, and some more, than the public, later. Once the manuscript goes out, it will have to stand on its own. There's only, ever, one first impression. Everyone knows that. It's a good thing I really like the world that is in this book. Going into it again each time is fun. Seriously. The manuscript began its journey to publishing houses more than a month and a half ago. It is in New York. It's good to keep busy while waiting. Obviously, I am. Eventually there will be either a request to see more of the book, or I'll get a rejection notice. In case of rejection I'll immediately send it out to the next name on my list. And keep busy some more. For as long as it takes. I have a lot of names. An outside chore that I was going to do today, has been eliminated by the Dept. of Public Works. Hearing machines outside near the street, I found sidewalk sweepers, the street sweeper, and some other kind of sweeper that cleans the strip of grass between. My lovebirds were thrilled, as they love noise and new sights. Also they love a good mess. The happenings outside, qualified in all ways. Really, the amount of sand and debris on that grass strip, was larger than I've ever seen. Well, we DID get an extra foot of snow here, this year---a drop in the bucket, compared to some places in this country, I know. I was going to rake (and rake and rake) it all into the gutter and hope that was all right to do. From what I saw, it surely is. That's good to remember for the time when possibly the town budget might be cut. There hasn't been anything said about that here, in any way, but I don't mind being ready for ANYTHING. Just Be Ready, have a plan and an alternate plan, is my motto. Today, after I go through a couple more chapters, the alternate plan is: Grab the chance to take my small spaniel, Scarlett, for an extra walk in the sunshine. On Friday we're getting Snow. Here on the coast, we may only get half a foot as we'll be getting rain as well. The farmers have always called snow White Fertilizer. I'll try to look at it that way. :))

Friday, March 18, 2011

Spring Fever At Therapeutic Riding Facility

Spring fever has hit the riding community. Students and volunteers at therapeutic riding facilities aren't immune. Today there was a neat post on my Facebook page from one of the facilities I have become acquainted with when doing some research. Titled "Driveway Trail Ride," the 4 photos were posted by Riding To the Top, located in Windham, and show well-bundled-up mounted students and their sidewalkers traveling up and down the long, straight driveway which is still snow covered. RTT is a ways inland from here. We at the coast got rain on Tuesday. They got about 3 inches of snow. I loved seeing this fun-on-horseback, and am sure the students have spent a long, long winter looking forward to the day they could again meet up with a good four-legged friend---and they do indeed form very strong bonds with their horses---and with their volunteers as well.

Today, with temperatures in the low 60's, and 2-inch-high daffodil sprouts in my back yard,we know spring is on the way, even though tomorrow it again will not look that way. The cold will be back for awhile yet. Who cares? We have today. Actually, all we ever have, anyway, is today. Each day is a new Today. Each has something good to offer. Might have to search, some days, but something good is there somewhere.

It won't be long before the screens are again put up, on the screened porch. I won't say I can't wait. Of course I can. Now's the time to complete all possible projects here in the house, and make a list of what I'd like to accomplish, in all ways, once the really nice weather arrives. So, be glad for a little more Inside Time. Look out at the grassy (muddy-grassy?) yard, still too wet to think about raking. Go out and pick up some little branches torn from the maples and the spruce, by the winds of winter. Write to my relatives. Do my volunteer work. Take my little spaniel for a walk on those nice, dry sidewalks she's been waiting for. And aim my mind toward the summer projects that must be planned and finished before the end of September, so my booth at Fryeburg Fair will look as though it has something going for it. That's half the battle.

Somewhere in the middle of all that, there's bound to be time to walk on a beach or two somewhere; to visit a couple of local working harbors with their lobster boats. And put my camera and sketchbook to good use.

Are you forming plans for the summer? For now, do have the best of all possible days.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

First Drafts Are Providing Inspiration

First drafts are providing inspiration today, for what has to come later. And what is that? Two good-size barn paintings, two equine drawings to complete, and an outline and proposal for a nonfiction book about my Great-uncle Byron's farm.

The outline and proposal would come first if I weren't at a loss as to how to begin. What stopped me? The stories of my first horses---all of them---that have clamored for years to be written. There they've been, somewhere in my mind, almost surfacing every time I attempt a new beginning with other material. So. Yesterday I finished an 8 page draft about Chief, the Appaloosa, and began the piece on Rajah, the iron grey Arabian. And, who would guess---early yesterday morning I turned on the bedside lamp, grabbed pen and paper, and the ideas for the beginning of the farm book are down on paper. Funny how that works, isn't it.....

Also funny; here I am---the one who always says a sunny day always makes me ambitious--- tearing up the keyboard, getting all of this stuff down and now really itching to get to some artwork before it just bursts out and goes---where? Mm. Here I am, happy with what got written, on a day when there's nothing but rain.

Well, as I told someone, I'll think about all of it, and think some more, until eventually I can't stand it anymore and out it will all come, and that's exactly what happened. Now, on to the next project. It's best to grab the chance now. Tomorrow is a day of work away from home; can't do any more with anything creative until Friday.

When are you the most energetic? Inspired to finish projects?

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

I See Real Ground Out There!

Yes, I do; some DRY ground, even! The last time I took a good walk around the neighborhood, only one sidewalk was usable. What I thought would be a fast walk---like everyone else, I really needed a Fast Walk after the way this winter has been---turned into more of an endurance hike than anything else. Well, it all worked out after awhile, with no broken bones to speak of. Really, NO broken bones. I have to joke, because although the footing looked pretty good when I drove up my street in the car, and that's what got me so determined and cheerful (deluded, really) about a Fast Walk in the first place, by the time I was on foot it was a whole other story. Hummocks and peaks of ice, then just enough solid ground to keep a person unaware of the little slick spots that came next. Can't call it black ice, as the sidewalk is brick. So is it red ice? Absolutely.

Today is a whole other story. The driving rains on Sunday night into Monday morning, got rid of all the sidewalk treachery. It's enough to make anyone start their blog. Again. This time I'll keep it going. The middle grade novel is finished and beginning its rounds of publishers. Notes for another are sitting in a little stack right here. Artwork projects are nearly finished, then I can start some new ones, including illustrations. The sun is warmer, higher in the sky, and ambition is getting completely out of hand. I'm grabbing it right now and aiming it in the right direction. Toward this spring and summer's goals.

How did the winter treat you? What are your goals now that nice weather is on the way?