IWSG—Slowly getting back in the swing

InsecureWritersSupportGroup

It’s time again for The Insecure Writer’s Support Group, which meets the first Wednesday of every month to commiserate over worries, fears, doubts, and struggles.

I didn’t get even to the halfway point in JuNoWriMo, and there were a few days I wrote zero words (since Shabbos ends so late this time of year, and I never use the computer then), but I’m fairly satisfied with this wordcount. Writing often feels more rewarding when we’re working very hard on it instead of effortlessly pouring out words.

Besides creative non-fiction, my primary focus was my radical rewrite of the book formerly known as The Very Last. I began JuNoWriMo deep in a longer than expected new chapter. About 6,000 words in, I began doubting its necessity, and moved it into a file of discards. But after I thought awhile and remembered why that weekend in Wilmington was important to Cinni’s development and character arc, I brought it back.

To tighten it up, I kept Max and Harry behind in Rehoboth Beach with their original host family during the unusually early polio scare, and axed a sprawling subplot that would’ve kept the girls in Wilmington through Tuesday.

I also wrote a new chapter, starting with a few pages I wrote last year but moved into the discards file, and finished up another new chapter I began during April Camp NaNo. Much of the material in these chapters, as in the Wilmington chapter, was discarded and only kept in the JuNoWriMo master wordcount file.

I’m glad I had to edit the working table of contents and realign the chapter order yet again, since I discovered a few were misnumbered during previous edits. Worse yet, there was an extra chapter that would’ve thrown off my even number of fifty. Serendipitously, I uncovered these embarrassing mistakes because I needed to delete a chapter heading and, as originally planned, include the celebration of Russian Orthodox Pentecost in a chapter about June’s various religious and secular celebrations. 

Now I’m back to working on a chapter I began last year, also a new addition.

Russian ikon depicting the first Pentecost, ca. 1850–1900; Copyright Хомелка (Khomelka)

This is such a beautiful example of hashgacha pratit (Divine Providence), since had I continued my rewrite in 2015, I never would’ve realized I needed to add a lot of new chapters and junk even more than I’d originally cut. Not only that, it would’ve remained a primarily episodic story, and Cinni would’ve stayed a rather static character instead of someone slowly undergoing more and more maturation and shifted priorities.

Plus, I hadn’t written the final drafts of The Very First and The Very Next in 2015 either. E.g., in TVN, Cinni goes to a marvellous bazaar in the neighborhood’s Bohemian Quarter, and this plants a bug in her ear about switching to her school’s progressive track and pursuing a different kind of life for herself. Also in TVN, Cinni attends Tisha B’Av evening services with Sparky’s family, and is so personally affected by the depressing images in Lamentations, she’s inspired to observe a semi-fast herself (being too young to fast for 24 hours) and follow all the other mourning customs. This nudges along her nascent pull towards Judaism.

I’m proud of all the wisdom and experience I’ve accrued over my lifetime, much of which naturally extends into my writing. Being over the age of 40 really isn’t as bad as I used to fear (esp. since no one ever guesses my age as anywhere close to that).

Author: Carrie-Anne

Writer of historical fiction sagas and series, with elements of women's fiction, romance, and Bildungsroman. Born in the wrong generation on several fronts.

9 thoughts on “IWSG—Slowly getting back in the swing”

  1. I like reading about your writing life, adding scenes, setting them aside, then bringing them back. We do gain wisdom and experience the longer we live! I’m over 50, and it’s not so bad, either.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Sometimes our new novel needs for us to grow into the writer we need to be to do it justice. Writing for me is hard now since the workload doesn’t let up due to Covid. Stay well.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Such a good point, Roland! [about writing and growth]

      I am feeling you about the workload.

      I liked your post about Selling Books for the Holidays.

      [we do make a lot of our purchasing and publishing decisions around the feasts and fasts and festivals].

      [and next Thursday… #bastilleday].

      Like

  3. Being over 40 definitely wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be, and being over 50 is pretty cool too. My body doesn’t look or work like it used to, but I’m a lot more comfortable in my own skin and willing to prioritize myself over whatever mold other people want to shove me into.

    I enjoyed this glimpse into your writing process. I take chapters out, put them back, move stuff around, forget why I put something in, take it out, then remember and put it back in. I’m envious of writers who can create a detailed outline, write from it, do some line edits, and be done. My brain just doesn’t work that way.

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  4. Well, thank you Providence!

    Think about what Cinni is doing when she is 40 and well over a hundred [she comes into our century ultimately] – if you are a master plan person.

    Seems you really did follow through when it came to the June holidays [at least in the book].

    “This is such a beautiful example of hashgacha pratit (Divine Providence), since had I continued my rewrite in 2015, I never would’ve realized I needed to add a lot of new chapters and junk even more than I’d originally cut. Not only that, it would’ve remained a primarily episodic story, and Cinni would’ve stayed a rather static character instead of someone slowly undergoing more and more maturation and shifted priorities.

    Plus, I hadn’t written the final drafts of The Very First and The Very Next in 2015 either. E.g., in TVN, Cinni goes to a marvellous bazaar in the neighborhood’s Bohemian Quarter, and this plants a bug in her ear about switching to her school’s progressive track and pursuing a different kind of life for herself. Also in TVN, Cinni attends Tisha B’Av evening services with Sparky’s family, and is so personally affected by the depressing images in Lamentations, she’s inspired to observe a semi-fast herself (being too young to fast for 24 hours) and follow all the other mourning customs. This nudges along her nascent pull towards Judaism.

    I’m proud of all the wisdom and experience I’ve accrued over my lifetime, much of which naturally extends into my writing. Being over the age of 40 really isn’t as bad as I used to fear (esp. since no one ever guesses my age as anywhere close to that).

    Sounds like an exciting plot and character change – the Bohemian Quarter.

    And THIS is how Cinni became a Jew.

    I had wondered what people who were too young to fast did, instead of waiting until they were older and/or more committed to their faith.

    My own big fear about being forty-plus was developing younger-onset dementia or related memory and cognitive impairment. In as far as memory being a facet of writing this was nearly fatal.

    Or losing a sense of imagination and wonder.

    [to think you were mostly only 36 and 37 during the 2015 rewrites – well, 36 apart from the second last week of December in the Gregorian calendar].

    [and now I see the 50 and 60 year olds I had known in the 1980s and 1990s as 20 and 30 year olds, for instance].

    Glad you followed through on that Eastern Orthodox Pentecost plan.

    [I wonder if another character will go through a spiritual transformation?]

    Like

  5. Delaware has a really nice welcome center rest stop. Sounds like you did some good writing and editing.
    For the IWSG July prompt asking which book world I would live in, I narrowed it down to three choices.
    One is a short-story I published. One is from a popular series. And one is better known from television, but there are books. It’s all on my blog.
    “Someone is sitting in the shade today because someone planted a tree a long time ago.” – Warren Buffett
    Over at Operation Awesome, our Pass or Pages query contest is open this week with July’s family saga genre. Know any writers who might want to enter?

    J Lenni Dorner (he/him 👨🏽 or 🧑🏽 they/them) ~ Co-host of the #AtoZchallenge, OperationAwesome6 Debut Author Interviewer, Reference& Speculative Fiction Author

    Like

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