Summary Sunday

Hi, friends. Another Sunday on the docket, and here we are. Today is the time for making lists of stuff to do, catch up on, and start. That’s a lot! I skipped a couple things I usually do to give me a more positive take on the day (every day), and I’ve learned I shouldn’t skip those routines. Note to self made. To keep me sane, I need those rituals.

I may have shared here I had a free online presentation by Carol Gino. She is a writer, a nurse who has written many books on how nursing needed changing during the last probably twenty or more years. She was a companion of Mario Puzo, author of The Godfather. He also wrote the screenplays for all three movies, although it seemed he was reluctant to do so. The talk was wonderful! Carol spoke with the East Coast-Italian-New York-Jersey accent we’ve all heard. She was very good.

Some tips I loved were these, between both the book and video: Write to your strength. What does that mean? When Mario told Carol theirs was “A love story.” She was a companion to him, and the nurse in her tended to his needs later in his life. He told her he couldn’t portray her in a book. He couldn’t write from a female point of view. He could only write from a male point of view and speak to the characters he does. He writes to the dark side of human nature. (He said their story was was a Neil Simon comedy, not a Romeo and Juliet tragedy.)

This got me to thinking. Maybe my strength is not what I think it is. In a discussion with my book coach, we discussed if I was most interested in writing a fiction story for pleasure, or do I want to write a story to offer hope to people who need to make dramatic, drastic changes in their lives. I’m pondering that greatly this weekend. If I write stories based on anyone’s overcoming a harsh life, meant to be inspiring, will I be pigeon hole myself as a “self-help writer,” “a writer with a depressing view of the world?” My other projects are:

Grandpa’s Gone,” A true story the loss of a grandparent on Christmas Eve;

Bonus Grandma’s,” A story about a little boy with six grandmas, because of blended families;

What Are You Doing Now, Roxie?” A true story about a little boy and his grandparents’ dog, run over by a car after a stranger left their gate open. It deals with loss, and reminds kids to close gates and doors, not leave them open. I present it with kindness and focuses on love. It explains feelings of grief and why we have them.

Please chime in with your opinion. I need to figure this out. I just don’t want to be an author with a dark cloud over my head all the time.

So back to Mario and Carol. This is my absolute FAVORITE. Too bad you never had a quilting class. Writing is just like quilting. You start with one little patch. You add as many details as you can. Patients, miracles, heroes are where you start. Then you keep rewriting it. Writing is simple, and not easy, which is quite different. Being a quilter, this hits home for me in many, many ways.

Autumn Quilt. A favorite of mine.

As with my autumn quilt, I have selected many, many fabrics for many, many quilts. It is fun to think of each of those as a book, with characters and faults, with well structured writing to hold it all together. This quilt does the same. The characters and their faults are all the beautiful fabrics, each selected for this quilt. The construction is a solid structure that holds it all together. The re-writing is like spending time with a seam ripper. Quilters have to adjust their sewing often for precision. The quilting is the finishing touch, which is like an appropriate title and cover. It the project so much better.

This is where I am right now. The person I’m writing about goes through hell until she learns she has some self worth. Her journey towards that understanding is hard. She makes it. This will have a happy ending, folks. Eventually. You only learn to write by writing and rewriting. Use your own voice. A very timid little girl grows up to have a grownup woman’s voice who learns to value herself. Is that it? Opinions? Feedback? She is not playing a victim here. She is speaking her truth.

Other sage advice from the master? Names are important. Not only how they sound, but how they look on the page. They need to be pretty simple, easy to remember. Expert advice, Mario! You need to have some sympathy even for your worst characters. That could be very hard for the bad guy in the story. Every story has a bad guy or antagonist. Understanding helps immensely there.

I was writing another project, “These Walls DO Talk,” and one character is specifically not a good guy in his life at the point we meet him, in his 60s, a scoundrel and a womanizer. When I began the part about these characters at home, as children, I liked this guy, much to my chagrin. Puzo’s statement about having some sympathy for even your worst characters rang so true. It was a gift to hear that, Carol Gino!

The tension between the moral characters and the amoral ones is fascinating. There you may plant “hooks” to keep your reader reading. Most readers who love reading don’t want to read something boring. There are not enough hours in the day.

Thank you for reading today. If Carol Gino reads this, I’m honored you took the time. I plan to finish reading your book later this afternoon. For the others, I appreciate you going on this journey of writing with me. I will be back tomorrow. See you then! Be Kind, Be Courteous, Be Patient, Be Thoughtful. Be Positive. And don’t forget to get your turkey thawing! Ours is. Have a beautiful afternoon.

Friday’s Session

It’s 10:26, the breakfast dishes are soaking, I made the bed; the dogs are napping, and I’ve just read through another edit of my Chapters Three and Four. I’ve read it’s best to read out loud when doing that. It’s true, you hear some weird things when you do that. I feel pretty confident about the two chapters. I may get bold and share a part of them on the creative FB groups I belong to. And here, as I become braver. I can tell I’m learning, and that’s a good feeling.

The red pencil needs sharpening. I have to laugh at the Pro Writing Aid software I use. I’ve been happy with it, but lately, I see them suggesting to use, say “beat;” and then you correct it, they tell you “beat ” and you could chase your tail all day long. If you turn off the suggestion, you turn it off not just on that one example, but on all occurrences of it until the end of time! Be careful what you wish for. The thing is, don’t totally rely on the software. Sometimes it makes little sense.

Stories. We all have them. We all tell them. We share some; we keep others hidden away and shout others from the rooftops. How do we decide which ones to share? I believe it may work the same when writing a song, and you need the very best of all words for the perfect song. Lennon and McCartney proved that. Brian Wilson lived that. Bruce Springsteen preaches that. Jon Bon Jovi gets that done in fine fashion. They bless us with rich stories of words and sounds of music which tell our stories better than we could have ever hoped to. How do they know?

They know because they have a gift. They’re aware they need to share the gift with others. How generous! We’ve met some wonderful musicians in the past seven or eight years who are local, some are not. We’ve discovered they are very down to earth for all being geniuses. I believe they are. Their messages are always positive, they are all very grateful people, too. You just don’t hear that from a bean counter, you know? There are difficulties, especially now during the Pandemic. Travel and late night gigs are tough on relationships. They make great sacrifices to share their creations with us. How lucky we are.

Writers? I’m finding out how hard it is to write a novel, not just gush words as we do when speaking. When I was a kid, I had a fantasy of being a reporter for our local newspaper. I wanted to see my name in print. My dad worked there my entire life. I was on our school newspaper for a while, and it was cool to see your name in print. That fantasy remained a fantasy. As I got older, the fantasy morphed into writing a children’s book. I have a few manuscripts, I’m looking for a young artist to help me out. I’m contacting her after Christmas and hoping we can work together. She’s very good, and I know children love whimsical artwork in books.

Words, words, words. It’s hard to choose the right ones from time to time. Other times, they flow like a river. Writing against the tide can be difficult. But going with the flow isn’t always the right thing to do. I’m really enjoying the book I’m reading by Carol Gino, “Me and Mario.” It’s about her twenty-year relationship with Mario Puzo, author of The Godfather. Yesterday, as she as describing her learning from him about writing, this phrase struck me: “What you need to learn is the carpentry of writing.” She questioned him further, and he replied, “Writing can’t be taught but it can be learned. Carpentry is the nuts and bolts of writing.” And there you have it. Ms. Gino, if you read this, know I’m fascinated by the advice he gave you. Thank you for sharing it with the world.

One thing our entire family learned from Dad had to do with quality paper. Newsprint has transformed over the years, from 1952 until present day. They have shaved it down, the width is much less than years ago. The thickness of the paper has gone from much thicker to onion skin thin. While the Babe and still took the paper, I remarked the paper itself was so thin you could see through it, making it hard for aging eyes to read. In a bright light, you could see the shadow of the next page interfere with what you were attempting to read. Poor quality.

And don’t get me started about printed books! Oh my gosh, the slick glossy paper is the stuff they make my dreams of. It would be so expensive to have a book printed on that. I’m jealous of the folks that can do that. Maybe someday, I can too. You never know. Thanks, Dad. It’s funny when someone else in our family and I look at a book, we open and feel the pages. “Excellent stuff, Dad would approve.” It’s a warm, wonderful memory. I know, we’re a weird lot.

With that fond memory, it’s time to get back to writing. It’s been a great day so far, and I’m working so it continues. Thank you for reading today, hope you return tomorrow. I’ll be here, as usual. Be Safe. Be Courteous. Be Kind. Be Thoughtful. Let’s all work to make this world a kinder place. Thank you.

For Today

Sometimes, I take on more than I can do. None of you ever do that, do you? I didn’t think so. How do you fit it all in, since it’s all a top ten priority? Beats me. All I know is for today, I have to select THE most urgent things I can do today. And listen to some wonderful music while I do.

First order: The Music. Glen Campbell, “I’ll Be Me” soundtrack. It some really beautiful music, and I think it reflects not only his long career and his musical abilities but also his deepest gratitude for the beautiful life he lived. Yes, his addictions required he deal with them. He resolved them one day at a time, like any other addicted person does.

The music helps me think, eases my mind, and helps me make sound (haha) decisions. There’s no other way to state it. My Second order: Make the list and prioritize.

I’m behind on NaNoWriMo (about 5,250 words behind). If I keep this pace, it’ll take me until January 2, 2021 to finish (2)

Consider if blogging five to seven days’ worth of blogs at once (4); (Have them readied to publish. If a topic becomes more timely than one “in the can,” definitely write the new one, but keep the others ready. Perhaps in entire hours available per day would allow more words written in the novel for NaNoWriMo. Many people do that very thing. It is definitely an option, and it could allow me to return to my beloved hobby of quilting. I haven’t touched hands to fabric in what feels like forever).

I need to publish a blog every day (3);

I need to prep and bake some items for our meals next week (4);

Load the car with the contributions we have for Moving Veterans Forward; (5)

Cleaning up the house (vacuuming, dusting, mopping floors); (6)

Reading a memoir while writing Katie’s story; (7).

The memoir I selected was of Carol Gino, a nurse, author, and twenty-year friend of Mario Puzo. He taught her much about writing. I love reading his advice to her while she was beginning her writing career. He considered his book, “The Godfather” to be a commercial sellout. He hated his writing in it; yet he desperately needed the income for his wife and five children. This was a book I purchased because of Carol Gino’s name. I’ve been Facebook friends with her in a group for years. Never met her, never knew she knew “The Godfather’s” creator. What a cool thing to learn about! Unexpected surprises every day help make life an adventure, no matter how many decades you live.

No, these things don’t sound like very much, but they are time-consuming. And great to accomplish during regular times, much less during busy days. Oh, I’m not finished with the jotted list yet.

Get groceries from Walmart; (2A) This has a timeframe of Noon to 1p.m. I chose that time, so I need to comply. A break in the action always disrupts my progress. Note to self: learn to dig in after interruptions. I had that ability as a Mom, I’m a little rusty now.

Post on Instagram, (Twitter, Facebook (3A): This is not only for my author pages but also for the VFW Post FB, Twitter, Instagram accounts. This is time consuming, since I’m creating content for both entities. I love doing it, be aware, however, it’s a time-warp if you are not careful. It’s quite easy to wander around in those apps and not accomplish what you set out to do.

The Babe is right with me. He needs to complete some work outside before these gale-force winds make it impossible to use the hose attachment of soap to wash the windows. After today, it will be too cold to do that. But Goldie needed some attention and play time. She wins! Kind of like Walmart for me – I’m heading there in a few minutes.

For today, don’t stress over everything. Yes, the list is long. Time is short. You can only do so much. Do What You Can. See you tomorrow!

It’s Complicated

If anyone would have predicted counting the votes from this messy election would turn into a television miniseries, I would have laughed. Yet, here we are. Night three of a saga stranger than fiction. I can’t even imagine the outcome. I think they will elect Biden, and I shudder to think what will happen to many things I don’t want to change. Our retirement. Our Social Security. And especially our Health Insurance. For the very first time since being on Medicare, my supplement has not changed in premium at all. I about fell over when I read the letter. Thank you, Mutual of Omaha retirement benefits!

Had a good session with Sam, my book coach, today. I’m learning and needing more practice doing a lot of things. It’s hard to concentrate on each scene. Nothing else can occur except in the scene at hand. It really is a lot harder than it sounds. Lots to learn and practice. I’m glad to have Sam to work with during this learning curve.

One thing that helps a writer is to read. I am supposed to read a memoir. Sometimes they can be difficult, I read “Eat, Pray, Love” several years ago, and didn’t care for it. I have a memoir, though. It’s called “Me and Mario” by Carol Gino. I’ve been FB friends for a long time with Carol Gino, she is a nurse, teacher, author, and has a long resume. I didn’t know she was a twenty-year companion of Mario Puzo. For those who don’t recognize the name, Mario Puzo wrote the epic family saga, “The Godfather.” It was magnificent and published back in the 1970s. The movie came out later, in 1972.

The thing I’m most interested in learning about Carol Gino’s life through her memoir is the creativity they both must have. The subtitle is, “Love, Power, & Writing with Mario Puzo, author of The Godfather.” What creativity must have been at work for those twenty years. I’m eager to dive in.

Sometimes it’s fun to just fall into a book or another creative endeavor and stay there for a while. Creating always gets my ideas going, my happiness high, and my contentment at the max. Sometimes it’s too hard to read someone else’s creation, and then I have to stop. Do something creative for myself. That is also hard to believe unless you experience it. We will see how tomorrow goes.

In the meantime, turn off the television set. You’ll find out those results quickly enough. Grab a book to lounge with, a paintbrush to plow through some paint, or a tablet to record words on. Create something. Catalog your feelings as these crazy times continue. I pray you all find your way to the peaceful acceptance of whatever happens. We may not like the results. We need to live with them, however.

Let’s meet again tomorrow. Let’s be Kind. And Patient.