Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Blogiversary! And a little writer's retreat

Today is my blogiversary! Three years and counting.

My first post on Travels with Books was April 11, 2009, about going through some of my mom's things. Within a week, I started talking about this book I wanted to write about my ancestors in Ireland.

I think I started writing the book in November 2008 during National Novel Writing Month — 50,000 mediocre (at best) words in 30 days! I got back to my busy life, but managed to travel back to Ireland for more information in October 2009. I didn't have time to organize the research because another nanowrimo started as soon as I got home. I added about 23,000 more words, trying to fill in some of the missing pieces in my 100-year-long, multi-generational saga.

The following year (2010), thanks to my new writer buddies, I kept at it. I ended up with this monster draft in a three-ring binder, some of it in longhand. (By the way, I took a break and worked on other stories during nanowrimo 2010 and 2011.)

I'm still progressing at excrutiatingly slow speed. Earlier this year, I decided that my monster child might actually be triplets — I mean, a trilogy. I re-outlined the first book and put headers and notes into Scrivener. I'm now typing my draft into Scrivener, revising as I go.

Last weekend, I had my first free Saturday in aeons and decided to give myself a little writing retreat. Nothing organized, just a Saturday at home with priority on writing.

I put the nice lace pillows on the bed and laid out the guest towels, just for me! I slept in, but not too late. Cooked breakfast. Spent more than an hour trying to add those little "share" icons you see at the bottom of this post, as part of the April Platform Challenge (I've enjoyed the daily tasks, but that one caused some problems).

I finally started on my story after 10 a.m. Stopped to check a child character's birth date on my old desktop computer. Pulled up photos of the actual Irish manor house so I could add a few scene details. Then I went on a book and internet search to find the 17th-century word for "diaper." (Another historical writer uses "clout," but I couldn't find any sources for that, and "nappy" came later.) Considered focusing my blog on 17th-century Irish social history because there's such a dearth of information. Ordered a book online from interlibrary loan.

During lunch, I read my May/June Writer's Digest that had just arrived in the mail. Lisa See talked about organizing historical research. Wish I'd read her ideas a couple of years ago!

Back to the book. By the time I quit to make an afternoon grocery run, I'd written about 771 words. Pitiful, I know, especially for a day dedicated to writing. So let me add some accomplishments:
- Transition to the next scene.
- Added Sarah, the third child in the scene, for historical accuracy. Corrected George from a baby to a toddler.
- Added details, including relative directions for the stairs and hall, type of floorboards, and the toddler's trundle bed.

The next time I get a day off, I may use some tips in this article about a Mini-Writing Retreat. Two things will get this book to publication: God's help, and sheer stubbornness.

The challenge is that I'm not just writing, I'm revising. That means stopping to look things up, checking facts, deciding on consistent names for servants and other supporting characters. If anybody has any tips on how to keep flowing while doing all that, please share!

Writing Magazines  <-- May/June issue as pdf file


Gerry said...


Came across your Twitter name via the platform challenge and visited your blog. I so relate to where you are--revising a book, juggling it all. I made my first blog post in 2009, too, but I've not kept it up. I've resolved as a result of Robert's exercises to "get better."

Will follow you on Twitter, and I will re-visit the blog.

Elizabeth Saunders said...

Thanks for visiting, Gerry. I'm enjoying the platform challenges. Between blogging, revising, social media, etc., we'll have to prioritize what's most important.

Monique Liddle said...

Congratulations on your blogiversary! Did you tell the MNINB grp? If not, we would have loved to have heard of this important milestone of yours. If you did, I'm sorry I missed it.

I have a general question about your blog. Can I follow it through email - by getting email reminders when a new post is released? I'm not very good about checking my blogger Reader.

Thanks for a great post and look forward to reading others.

Elizabeth Saunders said...

Thanks, Monique! I mentioned it, but probably late at night. I've been behind on the challenges this weekend and haven't read all the comments at MNINB.

Funny you should ask! ;-)
Thanks to today's platform challenge, you can follow by e-mail.