In Writing-Nothing in Technology is Full Proof

In my last post I shared my disappointment with missing another self-imposed deadline for July. But I concluded that post with a declaration of getting back to writing. And that’s just what I did. Since that last post, I have writing and revising my manuscript according to new detail that I realized needed to be included in the storyline. Everything was going well until I opened up my Google document and noticed that the last paragraph I added earlier that day had someone duplicated itself into multiple areas of the document!

WTF!

It was late in then evening. I thought my eyes were deceiving me. So I sat up on my bed and immediately notice that my page count had gone form 200-something to 360.

HUH! Another WTF!

I literally had no idea how this happened. And the worst part is that the platform wouldn’t even allow me to select any part of the chapter to delete it.

My heart sunk! My mind flashed back to a issue I encountered when using the Scrivener software when I started writing this novel. I was nearly done with the first draft when all of sudden that file wouldn’t open! Seriously wouldn’t open. I later learned that I had neglected to update the software for the current version of my MacBook.

I thought working in Google Docs would prevent any craziness from occurring during my writing process but clearly no technology is void of potential problems.

The good thing about Google Docs, however, is that every version of your document is saved soooooo all was not lost–except the 778 words that I had added earlier that day. It wasn’t that hard to retype another what I had already written once I got over the annoyance of having to retype it. Arrgh!

Now, since that foolishness occurred when using a work computer, I have avoided using that computer since. And now, more than ever, I’m closing out Docs and signing out of Google each time I use it. Hopefully, nothing like this happens again.

If you’ve had anything like that happen to you, please share how you dealt with it.

SideNote: As much as I was enjoying using Scrivener, I haven’t used it since. I had no way of knowing when the software was no longer compatible with my Mac so I won’t chance it again.

Another Month, Another Deadline

I know I’m wasn’t alone in my sadness when it was time to flip the calendar from July to August. After all, August is the official last month of summer. And, particularly, in the Midwest, where I live, it means that hot days, the kind where I can where shorts, tank-tops, and flip-flops are short-lived. As a writer with, yet another self-imposed deadline to finish developmental edits for a novel I’m writing, flipping the calendar was beyond sad, closer to depressing. If you follow my blog, you’ll know I started working on these edits a year ago when I left my job of 23 years. For the first time in my adult life, I was off for the summer. Suddenly having that much free time while adjusting to this major life change, it goes without saying that I wasn’t in the headspace to give my writing the necessary attention. So when the following July came, a complete year since I left the job and I still hadn’t finished the edits, I declared, “Enough is enough! Time to stop playing with this novel!” Then, I declared I would finish this work by July 31st!

I set out with this goal WITHOUT a strategy for how I would make this happen. I didn’t sit down and look at my schedule to determine what days and hours I would have time to write. For instance, there was a Friday that I was not scheduled to work, and would have written on that day, but I had to drive my son up to Michigan State University for a week he was spending there. And then, that following Friday, when I was off of work, I had to pick him up. It’s only an hour drive from our house, but dealing with kids and colleges is unpredictable. It can be a lot, physically and mentally.

My first MSU alum with my future 2nd MSU alum

Then, the last three days of the month, I travelled to New York to help my friend celebrate her 40th birthday.

Arriving in New York after 7 hr delay in airport. We still managed to smile!

Furthermore, I didn’t even look through the manuscript to determine how many chapters were left to edit, how many I would need to work through per writing session to finish by the deadline. I didn’t think about doing that until the middle of the month. That was also right about the time when I made a major change to the protagonist, which then, sent me back to beginning of the novel to infuse those changes into the story. I knew then that my deadline was out the window, but it was doomed from the start without proper planning.

I don’t like to say this about myself, but the proof is in the pudding. I have never done well with self-accountability. Not with diets, exercise schedules, or writing. I’m too quick to give myself passes when something gets hard. I rationalize the hell of stuff.

“Life is too short to not indulge these bagels and donuts that management was so kind to bring into work,” I’ve been known to say when I’m supposed to avoiding carbs.

“Is this flabby stomach really preventing you from living a fulfilling life?” I have asked myself when I was on day 4 of a 30 day ab challenge.

“You’re not a full-time writer. You can’t expect yourself to write like you are. Your daughter needs to talk to you. You’re a new grandmother. You’re nurturing a new relationship.” I comfort myself when I find myself breaking a scheduled writing session when any of the important people in my life call. I feel such guilt when I put them on DND (do not disturb).

Sometimes I curse the day I decided to write a book. Even more so the day when I declared I actually wanted success as an author–the kind of success in which I could actually make money and support myself. Even knowing that it’s only a small percentage of writers who are privileged to live that life, I’m not ready to give up on the dream of me being one of them. In the meantime, I will continue to do better. Create some accountability partners, no matter how terrifying that is to me.

Now back to these edits…

Who Are They Series? Lydia Love

She’s an oldie but goodie! The one who started it all! If you read Unfinished Business, you’re very familiar with this lady right here. That silly, lost woman who kicked a good man to the curb to backslide into an old relationship with a man who has only broken her heart.

In the current story, Lydia is the supporting friend to Kania. She isn’t nearly as silly as she was in the first book, making herself available to a man who means her no good. No good at all! Instead, as a happily married woman, she is one of the main voices of reason to Kania, much like Kania was to her in Unfinished Business.

She’s still ultra independent, though she’s married to Roy, a man who adores her and can more than take care of both of them and their child as the owner of a successful local chain of auto supply stores.

Interesting Things to Know About Lydia:

She’s an only child.

Her favorite workout class has changed from Kickboxing to Barre.

She loves to cook. Her recent thing is making pasta from scratch.

Her favorite movie is Imitation of Life.

Her favorite activity with her husband Roy is taking long, scenic drives

She’s low-key resentful of Kania’s budding friendship with Pastor Yolanda but she’d never let on to Kania

Who Are They Series?–Kania

Kania LyShay Johnson

I named my current main character so many years ago(1996) that when I started writing her story (2017), it wasn’t even an option to give her a name with any significance to her story. Kania LyShay Johnson was created as a supporting character in my debut novel, Unfinished Business. In that book, the main character had two best friends that were on the sideline of her journey to closing the revolving door she had with her first love. I was twenty-one years old when I started that novel so my point of reference for friends had been my own. Kania’s name is so similar to one of friend’s actual name that when I speak about the actual character or say her name in my head, I actually come close to saying my actual friend’s name. But it’s not just the name of my character that’s similar to my friend. Their physical features and personalities were similar too. Petite, shapely frame, curious brown eyes, smooth dark brown skin. She’s a smart, often thinking she knows more than everyone else, sassy, and no-nonsense. She’s the calm and cool friend of the trio, always having her friends back and setting them straight when necessary.

That was the gist of the character development in that first novel, created waaaayyy back in the late 90’s. Fast forward to the 21st century, Kania, being written by 40-something L.A. Jefferson, has evolved into a complex, flawed woman, walking backwards on the right path. She’s bumping into stuff, falling backwards and forwards trying to do the right thing, the wrong way. I could not fathom my real friend, who has chosen to literally unfriend me in recent months, experiencing the dilemma that today’s Kania is living in.

At the onset of writing this novel, I enjoyed paying homage to my friend with this character that mirrored her friendship in my life. Not so much lately.

Nevertheless, I’m excited to bring you Kania’s story. Stay tuned!

Naturally Yours,

LA

The Writing Continues: 3rd Novel Loading

The story of Kania Johnson, the third and final friend introduced in my debut novel Unfinished Business, is loading for publishing in the early fall of 2022. I started writing her story sometime in 2017, maybe 2016, when I realized she needed a story. Her character evolved from the friend getting married in Unfinished Business, to the friend who transformed from being career driven to mom driven in my second book, Reconciliation to Hell. Her relationship and marriage appeared perfect, untouchable from the vantage point of her friends. But no marriage is safe from strife and temptation. Kania, and her husband, Kenneth, are no different.

So the question,then, became, what should this well-put together, loving couple encounter to test their marriage? How about a threesome partner, a pastor, and a family secret? Sound juicy? I hope so!

I was having a ball creating this story in the writing software, Scrivener, and just when I decided to a do a copy and paste from that software to Google docs, the software crashed! YIKES!

Let me tell y’all..I was thanking God for the spirit that led me to back up my work or else I would have been starting from scratch. But here I am 3 years later, in the rewrite stage following a developmental edit of the book last summer.

Just to give you a snippet of what it’s like to rewrite based on a developmental edits, here ya go:

But at this mid-point of January, I’m trudging along making progress everyday. I’ve set a had goal to get through the edits by March 1st. I’ll definitely keep you posted.

Naturally Yours,

LA

Question of the Summer: What are you doing?

Writing and enjoying the summer sun

My least favorite question to be asked since I left my job on July 9, 2021 is: What are you doing?

Working a 9-5 job for the last 23 years, that question was easy to answer because eight hours of my day was spent in one place. Now that I’m home and not working for a particular company, the answer is more complicated. Or maybe that’s just my perspective.

I’ve been so used to writing and building my social media platform being things I did on the side of my day job, it’s a challenge to retrain my brain to think of consider this being my full-time work right now. But that’s exactly what it is.

My days consist of a litany of activities:

Writing: I’m working on the developmental edit of my upcoming novel, the final spinoff from Unfinished Business, and working on my memoir and a holiday romance novella.

School work: I’m in my last course for my library science master’s degree program. So I’ve got school work for the class and the work to do for the graduate assessment project required for graduation.

Editing–I’ve started editing the works of other writers, including stories for my daughter’s anthology project Dear Sarah, on sale now.

Social media content- Blogging, building content on for IG and FB, trying to do reels

Podcasting: I’m co-host of the podcast Conversations Between Widows and I’m managing the blog for that as well. The podcast has created so many unexpected opportunities. We’ve been getting all kind of invitations to be the guest on other podcasters’ shows. I see branching off into my own podcast soon, but not yet. I’ve got to manage what’s already on my plate.

I’m doing so much more in a day than what I did on my day job. The only thing that’s missing is the money! LOL. Seriously, there’s a lot that goes into building your non-traditional career before the money starts coming in but I know that payoff is on the way.

Now all I have to do is structure my days for maximum production!

Got tip to make the most of my time without a day job? Share them in the comments below. When January 2022 rolls around, I want to be boasting about the books I finished writing!

Naturally Yours,

L.A.

Detaching From what you Love

The month of April was as busy I expected it to be. Two final papers for the two graduate courses I was enrolled in, both of my children’s birthdays, nearly weekly bowling tournaments for my son, and just regular life stuff. And then in the midst of all that, I had to two speaking engagements promoting within the same week!

Can you say stressed?

When it was all said and done, I was in need of a break. Break from writing. Break from posting. Break from thinking about writing. Break from thinking about posting–book related stuff, at least. I just needed to decompress.

However, I didn’t really know how. Writing and promoting my writing has become so infused into my daily life, I nearly didn’t know how to get through the day without pulling out my laptop or phone to write or create a post for social media.

But I knew the detachment was necessary for my mental well-being.

“But, you’re a writer. This is what you love. How can you be stressed doing something you love?” You may be asking.

Easy. When you do what you love, and you begin sharing it with others, it becomes work. No matter how much I may like what I’m writing, I still have to consider my readers in the process. I once read a quote that went something like, “When writers begin losing interest in their writing project, it’s because the real work of writing has begun.”

I still love creating stories and following my characters on their journeys or crafting my life experiences for readers to learn from or identify with. But when I’ve been doing it for a certain length of time, there comes of time to take a break.

It just so happens that when my graduate coursework was coming to an end, God created an opportunity for me to have a couple of weeks off work. I took that time to enjoy sleeping in, watching a couple of movies, and reading a great collection of stories from an author in one of writing group’s that I’m in.

I can’t believe that I went 10 days without opening my laptop. My mind said, “Thank you, sis. We needed that.”

Have you recently taken a mental break from something you love to do? Share in the comments.

Naturally Yours,

L.A.

Why I Write: The Page

The Page

Keeper of my secrets

Stories from the depths of my soul

Sometimes true;

Sometimes from the scenes of my imagination;

My dreams

My nightmares

My deepest fears

The crisp white on a notebook page

Or the grainy white of the computer screen,

Never turn me away

Never ignore my pleas

Not afraid of my tears

Not expecting me to be strong

Rather wanting all that I have to give,

to share, to dare

To say.

I can be who I am

I can be who I want to be

I can be who I’m afraid to be

In the open world

There is no judgement on that page;

On that screen

I…AM…FREE

Why I Write? Positively Impacting Other

I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember. Letters to Santa Claus. Love letters to boyfriends. Entries to my diaries in my adolescent and teen years. Entries in my journals throughout my adults years.

I went FB Live on Saturday after I moved myself to tears writing a story I plan to submit to Chicken Soup for the Soul. I wrote about my experience of having a stroke, at 44 years old, with no preexisting risk factors. I wrote about the natural inclination to ask God, “Why me? Haven’t I been through enough?”

I ended on the note of gratefulness that the stroke was just one more thing that God has brought me through. His Word doesn’t say bad things won’t happen to bad people. In fact, it says, “In this world you will have trouble.” Following that text says, “but, Fear not, I will be with you.” How comforting is that?

By the time I finished the piece, I knew that, whenever it is published, it will be a blessing to whoever reads it.

Naturally Yours,

L.A.

Why I Write: The Makings of a Story

Where do the ideas for your books? This is a common question asked of authors by readers and aspiring writers. The answers vary. For myself, the subjects that I’ve addressed in my novels have been retrieved for the pages of my life. The stories aren’t biographical by any means, but they’ve been sparked by things I experienced.

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