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One would think that writing would be as simple as opening a word processor page or flipping open a notebook and well, writing. For me it isn't. Take this week. I've picked up journaling again and, in another notebook, created a writing journal with a grid/calendar in it so that I can cross off the blocks of 100 words. That's so that I can feel like I am accomplishing something. I read a short book by an author about how he writes, imported his template into Scrivener to try, gathered highlighters and pens, ordered a new refillable highlighter...

Are you seeing what is missing? Yes, actual writing.

I opened the page once and it was so blank! It's ridiculous for a blank page to cause panic and yet, it does.

Also? Still blank.

Haha! Not any longer. I've made a start!

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A few years ago, I became convinced that if I could only find the right software for writing, I would be able to write my novel and so I went merrily off on another detour, namely a quest to find the perfect writing tool. (Yes, instead of writing.) I tried out several on free trials and even bought one that I thought would do before I discovered *drum roll* Scrivener.

The search was over.

At that time it was only for Macs but now runs on PCs as well. There are so many things I like about it and it has gotten even better over the years. For one thing, it has a handy name generator for those moments when you are whizzing along and a new character suddenly jumps into the scene and things grind to a halt because you can't think of a name. It is those little touches that make Scrivener so good.

Scrivener allows the author to jump around from scene to scene and then reorder them as necessary. It has a research pane where pictures and notes and background material can be stashed and easily accessed. There are several different templates, too, so that I use it for writing articles and blog posts for work and well as my attempts at fiction.

Although it is possible to jump right in with Scrivener, I'd suggest watching some of the tutorial videos about it that are available on Literature and Latte's website or on YouTube. Two ebooks have recently been published about using Scrivener. Take Control of Scrivener 2 by Kirk McElhearn and Writing a Novel with Scrivener by David Hewson. 

Don't take my word for it, check it out for yourselves. A very generous free trial is available.

DW Blog

15/5/11 17:00
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I have had a hard time trying to figure out what to do with this blog and have decided that I'm going to write about my trials and tribulations with writing. So... it's a writing blog. Yay! Mostly I fear that it will be a writing blog about not writing with info about the different computer software and hardware reviews thrown in. I've explored a lot of them in an attempt to avoid writing while feeling like I'm getting ready to write. Sadly, learning about tools for writing is something I consider soothing while the actual writing, not so much.

Procrastination in my world is something like a balrog.

Feel free to bail on this account. This is something that I'm doing for me.
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The digitalized funeral program collection just won a state award for the library system! They called me today. Yay! They want me to come to a ceremony at the state archives. I hope that will convince everyone of the value of continuing to develop our own resources.

My next idea is for an early 20th century theater exhibit. I'd like other institutions to contribute and help develop it so that it is an example of cross institution co-operation..
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Started picking the tomatoes today and I've had a good time naming them. There's John Sheppard, who is well out in front of the rest, somewhat flawed and on a suicide mission. Teyla is petite and perfect and Ronon is a big hulking tomato, quite beautiful. Rodney has a glaring flaw and his "arms" are standing up like he is flapping them in frustration. It's a little too much to hope they will all go together in a team salad. :-)
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I read a book recently where a character was hung up on One Tragic Event that ruled his life. The scarred Viet Nam vet, the woman who had a child die, the cop who lost a partner seems to be a staple in story characters. There motivation after that is ruled by that one event. Sometimes they crawl in a bottle, sometimes they withdraw from life, sometimes they limp along through life. They are emotional cripples.

I'm not making fun of that concept because I think there are a lot of people who have a tragic event that dominates their lives, be it a death of divorce or accident. Or am I wrong about that? Do people heal from it? How do they do that? In books, it is often that they save another child or a new partner, isn't it? How do people get stuck on one event in their lives while other people do not? I've been reading some series in which in every single book the main character gets tortured or hurt, emotionally and/or physically and it has become a problem to read it because I start thinking if all that had happened to me, I'd be afraid to get out of bed at the very least or in a mental institution.

But back to the One Tragic Event. Is there another way to deal with this other than the redemptive event?
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Today has been A Day as my mother used to say. It started off badly. I heard someone having hysterics outside and it was the neighbor's daughter (the don't live together). She had arrived at her mom's house find the garage, the car door, the door to the house and refrigerator door all wide open with her mother lying on the floor cold and dead. She said earlier the alarm had gone off and the company said they had dispatched someone but they couldn't have checked on her because everyone figures she was lying there for well over an hour. She came over because her mom wasn't answering her phone and had not shown up for work. My mistake was not going to check for myself. I just stayed to console the daughter and wave the police down. They ran inside, the EMT showed up and they got my neighbor breathing again. Not dead even though a policeman told me he thought she was dead too. So they hauled her off to the hospital.

Next I went off to get another (I'm calling my last because it makes me feel better) crown. That wasn't fun either.
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In my dream last night, I was on a large brand new space station that had been designed as a luxurious city in space. It was getting progressively colder w/frost, there didn't seem to be anyone in charge and I was attempting to convince people who had just moved in that something was very wrong and they should board a spaceship with me and leave. No, I didn't have very many takers. I finally just made an announcement that I was leaving in 15 minutes and if you were on board by then, good, otherwise good luck.

I think it was a cross between the last Dr. Who I saw and Atlantis.

Today's project was to put a bird feeder and a hummingbird feeder up in the yard. Done! Where are the birds?

Update: There are no birds because Little Dog is on the job of keeping vermin out of the yard. How do I convince him that birds aren't vermin?
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Before when I was overworked my fantasy was to go to a very (am resisting the impulse to write v. which is what I've been doing lately) civilized coffeehouse and drink coffee while composing the great American novel. Now my fantasy is to inherit millions (from someone I never knew), move to Europe (the country doesn't seem to matter) and sit in an outdoor cafe sipping wine, screw the writing. Try as I might, the fantasy stops with me getting pleasantly sloshed while The World walks by. My brain just freezes right there. It's a nice red by the way.

New plan for this week: Go to the health food store and buy "sides" because I will continue to be too tired to cook for the next three weeks at least. We open the library in less than two weeks. It looks like the public and staff furniture and the end caps to the stacks (not to mention a lot of the stacks themselves) won't make it on time and it will be touch and go about the public computers too. I have tagged a WW II metal desk for myself because it is every man and woman for themselves as far as furnishing your area goes. I am using a much coveted (I am not kidding, I've had three people try to snag it from me) small end table for a computer desk now and a low stool I stole from the children's department but it isn't a good long term solution. I've got the copier on a - I don't really know what it is and I've got a few old tables coming for the public. It is going to look like a rummage sale.
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A sweet banana pepper plant joined the garden denizens yesterday. Two plants aren't doing very well due to me and the dog playing with the water. He likes to bite the water when it jets out and I'm afraid I wasn't as careful as I should be about where I was pointing the powerful stream. It's hilarious when he attacks the water though. So fierce! And wet there any other smell quite like it?

In my continuing quest to find a robot to do the house cleaning for me, I've acquired an electric sweeper that promises to make my broom and dustpan obsolete. So far it really works, especially on the dog hair. I'm thinking of a steam cleaner for hardwood/tile floors next. The big question is will I actually *continue* to use any of these things?

I've realized something about myself. If I feel I need to get organized, I buy a new computer program, if I feel I need to clean more and am overwhelmed by the job, I buy a new cleaning product. It is more fun that actually doing it.
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Whee! I discovered a course on Roman architecture today from Yale on iTunes, downloaded the audio and man, it was wonderful! And interesting! only she kept referring to the pictures that she was showing and okay, long story short, there is video of each lecture and I'm going to download them from now on. :-)
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It's been a busy week. The director finally saw fit to tell the staff when the old library will close and it was only 5 days after he'd issued a press release about it. One of my daughters was in a car accident (she is okay, sore, and her car was totaled) and I've been to the dentist twice. Once because I chipped a tooth and sliced off the back of another (don't try biting candy in two with your front teeth), once because it was check up time.

Other than that, I replanted the parsley and marjoram. I think that I will try a different type of tomato this year, put it in a big self-watering container and buy one of those tomato fence things. It is time to Get Serious about tomatoes.

And a word about the young hygienist... apparently I have reached the age where they start saying things like "Wow! Your teeth are in really good shape for your age." Meaning "I'm surprised you still have them."
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What's with LJ? It is a little better today but it has been taking forever to load. I don't like it.

Everyone has been asking me if I'm going to buy an iPad (it's because I'm such a Mac fan) and the answer is not yet. If I traveled a lot, I'd get one but I don't and my online life has shrunk a great deal. My fault.

Just read Bangkok Eight by John Burdett and it is excellent. How nice to find a new series to dive into about an area of the world (Thailand) and an industry (sex) that I know next to nothing about. I'll follow the mystery by one set in Athens. I'm armchair traveling this spring.

If anyone has must-have suggestions for new mothers and babies, please pass them along. I spent the weekend looking at baby stuff - we all did - and realizing how long it has been since I had much to do with babies. I don't know what is considered a necessity anymore. When I was having babies, swings with wind up handles were something I couldn't have lived without. Has anything replaced it?
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I listened to a podcast with Merlin Mann today

and at one point he nailed me - absolutely nailed me! He started talking about people who feel like if they could just get the right organizational tools or the ones they have set up perfectly, then they would be able to write. They just never get to that point. And that's me. I keep thinking I need more or better organizational tools and I really enjoy learning how to set them up and use them but they just never organize me enough so that I can write. And the advice that everyone gives is to just write. Don't worry about the right place to start, just start wherever and leap around if you need to.

I read The Gigolog Murder by Mehmet Murat Somer, which is a mystery with a beautiful drag queen in Istanbul as the sleuth. She is also a computer specialist and skilled inTai kickboxing. This is a very light and funny read and I hope the author keeps writing. It is a wonderful glimpse at a world I know nothing about.
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I just discovered there is a program called "Start Writing Fiction" from the Open University on iTunes.

In iTunes U, there are a number of audiobooks, classics like Hamlet and A Tale of Two Cities, that are available for free and there are beginning language courses, too, and courses about music and technology. It seems like a good resource to explore.
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Just a bit of a warning for those who switch to a front loading washer.

I'm revisiting the "soap for sensitive skin" issue because as it turned out, bath soap wasn't my real problem. It all stemmed from getting a new front loading washing machine. I think I was using too much soap while running the short cycle which wasn't completely rinsing the suds out. Plus I started adding a liquid fabric softener with a dyer softener sheet too. Even tho I was using 7th Generation (but the fabric softener sheet was Downy) something in there, or a combination, gave me problems.

Right now I'm trying to figure out what I can use. I rewashed all my underwear on the long cycle, warm water, minimal soap and they seem fine. I think I will buy HE soap for sensitive skin for the washer. If anyone has any recommendations for that, I'd appreciate it.
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Okay now that the initial shiny has worn off the new car, I will admit that it is noisier and the ride is rougher than the old big car. I kept telling myself that I was getting the same thing, only smaller and that isn't true. Smaller, in this case, means more noise and less of the riding down the road on a big fat feather pillow kind of feeling. ;-) But that's okay. Think of the gas milage! I'm saving the earth and besides, everyone tells me that it is very cute.

The kids are thrilled to get my old car and will pick it up at Easter. His parents could not be more relieved. Everyone in both families had been worried about the baby riding in The Death Trap as S-I-L's car is not so fondly known. I suggested they could now GET RID OF IT, I mean, it is hard for me to believe anyone but a scrapyard would take it and I was taken aback when I found out he wants to keep it because he thinks it may be hard to find the right buyer. No kidding!

As for writing, I've been working my way through Stephen King's book (it's taking me forever I know) and it seems he starts with a Good Idea, add some Interesting Characters and then lets them write the story for him. I've got the good idea, I think, and one interesting character but I don't think I have a good handle on the other protagonist, who is unfortunately the main character. Or supposed to be. I think I am getting what Mr. King is saying, that the characters have to be real to you or otherwise they become cardboard characters that you just move around a stage.
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I'm busy knocking down the amounts I have to spend for the new library and was congratulating myself on nearly spending all of the audiobook money when I was suddenly given another $5,000! Gah! It is kind of like a bad dream. You get to the end (you think) and then more magically appear in the never ending cycle.

I finished the Percy Jackson YA series and it was great fun. I highly recommend them. Not as literary as J. K. Rowlings series but good solid YA anyway. I don't know the nationality of Rick Riordan but it strikes me that the differences between the two series is the difference between British and American expectations of YA books, perhaps. On the one hand the British expect the children to read thick books with complex sentences and ideas and on the other, American publishers seem to expect YA books to be short and simple. Those are generalities with plenty of exceptions, of course.

I also read A Touch of Dead by Charlaine Harris. I do like her heroine Sookie Stackhouse, especially in one of the short stories, One Word Answer.
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I am trying my client out for posting. Yesterday, thinking this one wouldn't work, I bought a new client. It turns out that this one works and the other I paid money for doesn't. I can't figure out why yet. So, in case anyone is interested iJournal works very well for Macs and it is free. I don't know how to make it cross post, but no doubt I'll figure it out.

It was a really long work week and here it is the weekend and I'm tired. I wonder if this is a permanent thing or if, once the new library is open, I won't have quite the work load I have now. I am very grateful for a job though.

Libraries - where are they going? )
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Hello, there, DW peeps! :)

I've got a little better journal style/colors now so that it is easier to read. I'm fluffing the nest. And now I can't think of anything to say!