Too Many Thats

I have been making more of an effort to edit Collecting Humanity. The main reason that I’ve been having trouble doing so is because I’ll edit some and then go a long stretch without looking at it. This means that I forget what I was doing, why I was doing, and at what point in the story I’m actually in.

So, a few weeks ago I decided to focus on one specific project that needed work. I tackled the word that.

this-that-these-and-those

What does that mean? Well, I had the pleasure of being able to take a creative writing summer session at WKU.These summer sessions were (and are?) on a rotation of poetry, fiction, and nonfiction.

Time for  A Tangent

In 2011, I took the Visiting Writer Summer Workshop (Eng 467). I was worried that I wouldn’t have another opportunity to take it during my college career while fiction was being taught and everything I’d heard about this opportunity made it sound like something I couldn’t miss. So I signed up to learn some fiction from Professor Robert Olmstead. During this four-week course, we studied fiction by reading some great published works along with writing and editing each others short stories.

In the end, I had three new short stories to continue edit, some lessons on fiction writing, and, more importantly, I met some amazing writers who I still maintain some contact with. One lovely lady even introduced me to Doctor Who later on!

Back to That

One lesson, in particular, that has, for some reason, really stuck in my brain is the lesson on the word “that.”

Olmstead told us that, in many cases, the word “that” is superfluous. If you do a search of the word in your writing (I like using the cheat ctrl + f), you can easily determine whether or not the word is needed in a sentence. Sometimes, of course, the decision isn’t very easy. And, there are also times when the word is needed.

When you are trying to determine this, first read it as you have originally written it. Then, read the same sentence without the word “that”. You can even use your finger to cover the word if that makes it easier.

Here’s an example from Collecting Humanity:

But all his nose was picking up was the fruity bathroom soap that Suzy had picked out.

Read the sentence with and without the word “that.” Technically, the word can remain there, but it isn’t needed.

Now, to me, this is more of a style type rule and maybe even something that I wouldn’t actually call a rule. If you like that that, then you keep that that. But, in this stage of my writing career, I’ve decided to get rid of that that.

That in My Novel

When I set out to write my NaNoWriMo novel, I decided that I was going to try my damnedest to finish this year. That’s part of why this novel needs so much editing.

I try to be more self-conscious about my use of the word that, but as I was writing Collecting Humanity, I wanted to get as many words as possible. This mean that I didn’t care about using the word “that”, and that I probably sprinkled in a few extra where I might not have usually.

After I went through and eliminated the thats that I didn’t want to keep, my word count went from over 53,000 to its current 49,728 word count.

That’s kind of sad, isn’t it? But I still have a Word document that’s over 100 pages long, which is something that I hadn’t accomplished before last year.

Due to its length, it took me several weeks to go through all of thats and decide which ones I wanted to cut. But I’m glad that I’ve finally finished editing at least some portion of my novel.

Slacking

Obviously, I haven’t been on here as often as I would like to be for the past couple of weeks or so. I’d love to say it’s because I’ve been editing Collecting Humanity or working on some other sort of writing project, but no such luck.

9788867323135_350I did do a tiny bit of editing last night and I have been keeping up with my planner/journal every day. I’ve also been trying to write at least one or two poems every week. I know that isn’t going to get me my poem a day goal, but it’s progress compared to last year.

It’s as if I haven’t been able to get really plugged in lately.

But maybe it’s more that I’ve been too plugged into some things instead of what I should be. Besides my writing and brief bouts of social media, I should probably try to stay off of the internet. It wouldn’t be a bad idea for me to uninstall or at least move my Facebook app that I have on my phone either.

Something else that I would consider an achievement so far is that I’ve been reading more. I used to read all of the time, but I stopped that at some point last year or the year before for some reason. I’m currently working on David Baldacci’s Saving Faith that a patient, where I work, actually let me borrow. And, before that, I read Horns by Joe Hill; I haven’t watched the movie yet, but a friend of mine said that he liked it.

But I haven’t been blogging as regularly as I’d like and I haven’t been editing my novel in a way that will help me to finish it. My husband actually told me last night that he was happy I was working on it, that he would make me sit down and work on it if he could.

I’m planning on setting aside at least one night a week to focus solely on tackling the beastly project that is editing. And I’m going to try to post at least twice a week here and on No Penny Required.

Writing Goals for 2015

I know that there are a couple of days left in this year, but I felt like the beginning of the week would be just as good a place to put this post as any.

Looking back at the goals that I made for 2014, the only thing off of that list that I actually accomplished was finishing the novel I started for NaNoWriMo 2013. As you know, I did this by completely rewriting it for NaNoWriMo 2014. And, while I’m disappointed in myself for not having completed any of the other goals, I do think that the fact that I completed the big one, so to speak, is pretty exciting.

So, here are some of the writing goals that I have for myself for this upcoming year.

  1. This year’s “big” goal is that I want to finish editing my novel, Collecting Humanity.
  2. Another main goal for me is that I want to try my hand at freelance writing again.
  3. I’m also planning on blogging regularly both here and at No Penny Required. I made a commitment to both these blogs when I decided to purchase their domain names. I’m also playing with the idea of once again trying to create some sort of author website using Wix.
  4. You may have noticed in the sidebar that I’m going to give myself the poem a day challenge again as well. Even if it’s winds up being something I can’t use, I want to get something down.
  5. The same applies to short stories. I want to try to write as many of those as I can during the year as well, and the Story Pieces series that I’ve started doing here should help.
  6. I would also like to submit my work to different literary magazines,
  7. attempt to find a literary agent once my novel is complete,
  8. and get some professional head shots made for the web and also for, one day, the inside cover of my novels.

There are so many things to see and do and learn in 2015. What are some of your life and writing goals?

Citations

I know, I can’t bring another Story Piece today, but I can find time to give you two posts in one day instead? We already knew that I was strange.

I recently realized that I haven’t been citing from the book that I’ve been using to find quotes from. And, because I think it’s important for you to use citations in work, it must also be important for me to use citations in my work. This posts is simply giving you a head up that whenever you see some words in magenta at the end of one of my posts, that is a citation from Son of Citation Machine.

ExampleofMagentaCitation

Above is a better example of the magenta that will be happening. I know that it looks pink, but if you have a WordPress account, you can look at your color options and this one is, in fact, known as magenta.

Anyways, I’m going to go through the other few Weekly Quotes that I have and make sure that I have MLA citations for each of them.

QuotationaryThe book that I was referring to is the Quotationary put together by Leonard Roy Frank. This is a wonderful book that I’m pretty sure my grandma found for me somewhere at some point some years ago–it’s been a while. It’s also a book that I think you should make a part of your collection because it is wonderful and also because it is apparently only $0.98 on Amazon.

I’ve always found quotes to be fun to look at it and they can also be an inspiration for your writing. I find that it’s a great way to spark poetry, in particular.

And this book is designed wonderfully. For one thing, it’s huge! It’s filled to the brim with so many wonderfully easy to read and find quotes.

Frank did a great job when he decided to separate the quotes by subject, making it easy to flip through your ABCs until you find the type of quote you might be looking for. The index is also broken up into topic and author, making it even easier to find what you’re looking for. Each quote has the speaker of said quote along with what they might have said it in, be it a novel or speech or letter. There are even some classic, anonymous quotes at the end of each section.

Procrastination

Know the true value of time; snatch, seize, and enjoy every moment of it. No idleness, no laziness, no procrastination, never put off till tomorrow what you can do today.

Lord Chesterfield

Believe it or not, I didn’t intentionally pick another Lord Chesterfield quote! I actually didn’t even realize that it was until I was glancing back at last week’s quote to see how I had formatted the post.

The reason I picked this quote is because it really applies to how I should be looking at life. This past year, I’ve discovered the art of laziness and I’ve been working on slapping myself out of it. Hopefully, this adventure away from laziness with continue on into the next year.

This quote also has a lot to do with writing. You have to “snatch, seize, and enjoy every moment” of writing that you’re able to get your hands on because sometimes a few moments might be all you get in day to let your creativity flow.

And when you do get your hands on it, you need to dig in with all of your focus.

I.e. it probably isn’t the best idea to write while watching Guy Fieri‘s Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives. Which is not what I am currently doing. At all.

Frank, Leonard Roy. Random House Webster’s Quotationary. New York: Random House, 1999. Print.

Lord Chesterfield

Take care of the minutes, for the hours will take care of themselves.

I feel like this quote by Lord Chesterfield, a man who was born in 1694, really applies to what I’ve been talking about these past couple of weeks. I’ve always had a bit of a problem with time management, and focusing on what I’m going to do for a couple of minutes instead of the stretching hours, days, years ahead makes it much easier to focus and get things done.

This is something that I learned during NaNoWriMo because of my success in focusing on the 1,667 words every day instead of the 50,000 words that I ultimately had to have written.

Frank, Leonard Roy. Random House Webster’s Quotationary. New York: Random House, 1999. Print.

Taking a Break

I know that I’ve said I’m going to start blogging again time and time again, and this promise keeps falling through. The funny thing is that it isn’t because I don’t want to blog–I very much do.

And, despite the fact that I haven’t been present here, I very much have still been writing.

I recently finished a short story that I’d been working on. Well, it’s more “finished” than actually finished because I’m pretty sure I’m going to need to rip the thing apart and rewrite it. But, my shitty first draft is done! I’ve also written some random poems and dabbled a little bit with my novel, and I started a new project yesterday.

Said project is going to be a number of retellings of different stories in the hands of a feminist. I’m still trying to figure out how I want to write these–I’m leaning towards short stories at the moment. I’m hoping this project will be one that sticks.

I’ve also handwritten some posts for No Penny Required, I just need to stop being lazy and get the things posted.

I think the main reason that I haven’t been as present here is because I’m feeling inadequate. What right do I have to try to help others with their writing when I am still learning myself? But…isn’t that the point? Aren’t we all always learning? Maybe if I learn to grasp that, open myself up the idea, I’ll once again feel like I’m able to contribute.

And so, the point of this rambling post is that I’ve decided to take a temporary break from this blog I love. I’ll never stop writing, but I feel that I need to take a step back from IBW and reevaluate what it is I’m doing here.

As always, your thoughts are welcome. Happy writing!