Sunday, August 4, 2013

ROW80 Sunday time travel and check-in . . .

Inspired by Kim Switzer of Story Dam, I jumped right in and made a writing journal just for Rivers of Stone, the story that's nagging me to get started on research.

My first entry was about Paul Kane (see entry on my travel blog for background), an amazing artist who -- in 1846 -- travelled from Toronto to Fort Vancouver in Washington State, a journey of over 3,000 miles.

I've kept travel journals every time we go on a long trip, for notes and drawings and postcards along the way, but I wanted the cover to be evocative somehow of this new story. So I dug through my collection of postcards and this postcard, "Coastal Strata" by Gloria Loughman (2010), a quilted wall hanging, just appeared. Perfect!

And so the story begins with pictures that don't quite tell me who these characters are, but jottings and ideas are a beginning. And I changed a character name. Feisty Mary Margaret (oh, beyond tedious to type) becomes the more ethnically authentic Catriona -- Cat for short. I don't care if I have to go back and edit the two previous books. Cat, a minor character in Standing Stones, is infinitely more interesting, as she takes on pantaloons and gets hired on as a servant for the Hudson's Bay Company. She may wind up accompanying Paul Kane on his adventures. Don't know yet.

Questions:  Have you kept a 'novel journal'? What was most useful? How did you write it? Organize it? Use it through the writing process? Have you ever changed a character's name well into the story? Why?

Now for that ROW80 Check-in.
1. Write every day. Can't believe it. That commitment to writing 5 sentences led me to find time to write 4 days out of 6 (not counting today) and add 1,000 words. The Novel Notebook also pushed me to begin truly researching instead of thinking about it.
2. Participate in ROW80 and Story Dam. Check in ROW80 x 10. Not so good with this goal. Only 6 other entries read & commented. Persevere with this one. ROW80 is close to being the wind under my wings!
3. Continue exercising for mental health x 3. Really OK here with 2 water aerobics classes + plus a lovely walk in Manito Park of 20 minutes.

With the added care for my daughter, this has been a very intense week. I lost my camera AND a library book. I came home exhausted more nights than I can remember. But the good news is Rachel is a little better every day, and today we have an off day. So I cleaned out the car AND found both the library book and my camera. Hooray!

Kim Switzer on keeping a Novel Notebook and her blog MuseCraft.
My travel blog on Paul Kane.
More about Australian quilter Gloria Loughman
More about A Round of Words in 80 Days


  1. What a great idea! I've never thought about journalling my books as I write them. I might have to give this a try for my mystery novel!

    1. I would not have tried this if I hadn't seen Kim Switzer's article and beautiful cover for her novel-in-progress. She talks this week on her blog about doing too much graphic arts BUT that's another way in. Sometimes we draw what we cannot write. I hope you try the journal. And thanks for commenting.

  2. Oh I do love it when we lose what we lost. It's almost like Christmas :)

    I used to keep a personal journal which catalogued mood and food (I have bipolar disorder). But now I'm much more intuitive about it all. I may have to consider a writing journal though.

    Best of luck with everything next week.

    Shah X

    1. I know when I start losing things that there's a bit too much stress in my life, but the mornings begin with absolute quiet and I still have this little window to write. One good thing about a small writing journal is that it's entirely portable. Now, for me, when I write, the computer is almost invisible, but it's not as easy to carry around. If the journal is pretty visually, it will draw me into story. So doodling is OK. I love reading your blog, Shah. You are so productive that I never would have thought you have your own obstacles to face down. May you have a great week and thanks for visiting.

  3. ah the car - I find cars have keltomanical tendencies:) like the idea of a journal but what - which etc?goes in - journals seem to be different from diaries although when i was young (oh so many decades ago :( the two were almost interchanagable - can any one tell me the difference please:)

    well done on your week - caring adds an extra squeeze on one but you are looking after yourself as well so that's good - all the best for coming week:)

  4. forget last comment - just been over to Kim's page watched the video of her class - understand the journal bit now - like it very much:)

    it should of course be kleptomanical!:(

    1. Thanks so much for visiting, Alberta. I love your energy! I remember diaries as well, those clever little books with a lock we kept as young girls. Day by day .. . we'll persevere!

  5. Glad you found your missing items.

    A novel journal, huh? I might have to consider that. I have a book i want to write (I'm two WIPs away from it) that requires a bit of research and I keep putting that research off. Like you, I think that might give me some incentive. Thanks for sharing about it.

    1. Hi, Gloria. Yes, the journal has helped me get started on reading and thinking about the reading. Now I'm building a timeline (lots of computer files). Not ready to do a true outline, but every day an inch forward. So, a novel journal is novel, yes?

      At the point a WIP is in final edits, I'm more than ready to move ahead. But two? I'm not so sure I could juggle two. May your writing go well!

  6. Hi Beth, and I'm so glad your daughter is feeling better. (And thank goodness you found the camera and library book!)

    I keep a novel journal for warming up each writing session. I write about what I'm going to write about, or what issues I'm having and how I plan to sort them out. That sort of thing.

    I write and plan longhand, so I have a few different notebooks. One for brainstorming "islands" - ideas for vignettes, or scenes, or plot developments. Another for writing up backstory and history of the characters and how plot points work together. And right now I have nother one which I use for warm up and my recent warm ups have given me some great ideas that I'll need to transcribe in one of the other two notebooks now.

    I'm going to take a look at the resources you listed and your Paul Kane blog. (Oh, and Kim Switzer's link actually takes me to your Paul Kane blog, too.)

    All the best, Beth. Hope you have a great week.

    1. Hello, Lisa. Last night we got home at 10pm just really tired, but Rachel is finally coming out of the drug-induced stupor (sounds awful, but I can't think of how else to describe it), and she's dropped one of her pain meds, so we can talk for longer than 3 minutes. What a relief.

      I haven't written longhand for so many years, but my keyboard is nearly invisible to me. Several of your journals I have in different Word files. As you describe, writing longhand slows me down and helps me to explore . . . sometimes even draw. I've been surprised at what drawings (even horrible ones) reveal about the story. Holly Lisle had one exercise where you make a drawing of the storyline WITHOUT lifting your pen from paper. May your writing go well.


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