Barrett Manor

Julie Barrett is a freelance writer and photographer based in Plano, TX.

Nose, meet grindstone

Fresh (almost) daily from Julie Barrett

Finally, back to the routine. And yes, my desk is still quite clean, save for my camera, which is there to remind me to get the holiday pictures off of the flash card, dang it!

Went to Half Price Books yesterday and dropped off a box of old reference and writing books that I no longer need and - surprise! - picked up more reference and writing books. You may well ask why I don't hold on to every reference and writing book, and the answer is quite simply space. There are a few evergreens that I will keep, such as a Webster's second edition dictionary, long conisdered the authority on US English spelling. Yep, I still crack it open once in a while, along with an 1899 Cyclopedia of Quotations that I'd inherited from my grandmother. It's one of those things that comes in handy for period pieces. Those crazy Victorians would quote anything, even in Latin. And of course, I have my New Cambridge edition of Shakespeare's complete works.

As for writing books, I keep a few classics like Elements of Style, but I find that rotating books keeps me fresh. I picked up one book on novel writing yesterday that started out rather pretentious, but once I got into it I found that I was taking copious notes about my own work in progress. On one hand, a book on this topic has never inspired me like this. On the other, I had picked up my other books in hopes of getting that darn novel started. Now that I have a situation and a few characters in hand, the advice (which boils down to much the same advice I've read before) leaps off the page and begs me to apply it to my current project. So we'll see. I'd love to finish this novel, even if it's to say that I've completed a novel. I seem to do better with short stories, yet I have to admit some admiration and even a tinge of jealously over my friends who crank out a couple of novels a year. One day I may join their ranks. Or not. But at least I'll be able to say that I've completed a novel-length work, and I'm sure that I'll be a better writer for the experience.

And speaking of such, my next task is to completely revise some of my fanfic, particularly the older Ballykissangel stories. I've been taking another look at them lately, and I shudder. They had a beta read, but I caught several very awkward sentenes and homophones ("break" instead of "brake," for example. Yeesh.) I also, perhaps stubbornly, cling to the notion that revising and tweaking them will help me in other projects. It probably is a good thing. One other glaring problem that I notice in some of the stories is a lack of setting. There's the belief that in fanfic everyone should know the setting, but I've come to the conclusion that sometimes it's just lazy writing to not provide a sense of place. I also believe that I can spend a little more time dwelling on character motivation. All this will definitely help in other projects.

Which in a roundabout way leads me to offer up my periodic apology about spelling and grammar in the journal. Often I'm just writing off the top of my head, so I don't take the time to revise - much. I'll proof once it's posted and to back and edit obvious errors. I also don't have any kind of a spell check to pick up on basic errors. This journal application is something that I've written and tweaked over time, and since it resides on a server with limited space a dictionary is not high on my list of priorities. Perhaps I'll find a workaround some day.

Time to get to work. I really do feel good about a fresh start with a nice, clean work area. How long will this last? The betting window is open.

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Filed under: Writing   Fanfic         
1/5/2006 6:17:00 AM
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