Friday, March 28, 2014

Medical Issues, a Happy Birthday, and Writing

Hey Everyone,

Sorry that it's been a little while.  I've been kind of busy lately.  I'll catch you up with everything that's been going on through this blog, and hopefully I'll do a little better on blogging more often.

First of all, medically speaking I've had a few "issues" lately.  About a month ago, I ended up going to the hospital for heart attack like conditions.  Basically, I had every symptom of a heart attack without actually having one.  They still don't know what happened.  I did panic a little, but I know it wasn't a panic attack due to the fact my symptoms were what caused me to worry (plus, I don't have a history of panic or anxiety attacks, and I was perfectly calm when this happened).  The current guesses are that it could be gall bladder problem or a mitral valve prolapse.  I got an echocardiogram, but so far no results.  The last time I had an irregular heart rate and a bit of difficulty breathing, the guess was that I had a prolapse.  Now, hopefully, I'll find out one way or another.  Long story short, I'm just very glad to be alive and glad that whatever happened wasn't the worse case scenario.

I do want to be healthy again, though.  These allergies are awful this year and have caused fluid to build up in my inner ear, so every now and again I feel dizzy or that my body is pulling in one direction or another.  I'm on allergy pills and special nose drops to fix this problem, but I'm guessing it'll be something I'll have to live with for awhile.  I'm still just so grateful that it isn't something worse.  It would be awful to have heart trouble, and it does run in my family a bit.  So, long story short, becoming dizzy and almost falling down shortly after the hospital trip didn't make me feel much better, but it did still make me even more grateful to be alive.

On March 22nd, I turned thirty two.  I was reflecting on the fact that this has been a very good year.  Despite health scares, I've had a baby (who is about to turn one soon), lost some of the baby weight, have many fun vacations to look forward to (including DragonCon and going to Disney World) and have gotten to be in the top five finalists of a writing competition that, if I won, would change my life for the better and would be my dream job.

I really, really want to win the competition.  I don't know how to describe how bad I want it.  It's rough having a one in five chance of having all of your dreams come true, but knowing that even if you're working as hard as you can, you still might not reach it.  I feel like I have a lot of good ideas to contribute to both Penguin and the Jim Henson Company, but the only way that I can is by winning.  Well, that settles it, I just have to win. (If only it were that easy...)  Either way, I don't regret entering the contest.  It's been a great experience.  Having my work edited by a real editor, learning what the revision process is like, and improving a story that I enjoyed writing in the first place makes me feel like I'm finally not "spinning my wheels."  Also, even if I don't win, I've still won a spot in an e-book with the other finalists, so that is an achievement in and of itself.  

I must be a very strange writer.  Even though I like my characters and I like my story, I don't feel like I'm "murdering my darlings."  People compare editing their work to killing/hurting their children, but I'm looking at it as an opportunity to make my work better.  I have a child, and the thought of hurting her or anything bad happening to her is the most horrific thing in the world, but when I'm working on my story it feels almost liberating to make changes on it.  It feels like I'm making my story better, that I have a challenge to outdo myself from last time and make my characters even more interesting.  I've actually mostly enjoyed making the edits, even if a few of them did make things a little more difficult.  Also, I feel it would be arrogant of me to think that my work can't stand to be improved.  Even though I thought this was one of my better stories, I didn't expect to be part of the top five finalists (I was hoping and praying for it, but I didn't expect it).  

I've worked very hard on the outline this week.  The first draft of it is almost done and things seem to be falling into place.  I've finished the minor edits in the manuscript and have started on the major edits, including changing the gender of one of my characters from male to female.  I've found that I like this character much more as a female, and she's somehow become just as interesting (if not more so) than the main character due to the change.  I think, if I win, she might be the main character of a second book, if it becomes a series.  Oh please, please Jesus let me win...

Oh, things I've learned...don't double space after the end of a sentence.  I'm not sure why, but I think it's an industry thing.  Avoid passive tense (I knew about this one, but it's something I need to improve).  And, in this case, make it more "Gelfling."

I need to try to make sure that I can't just make the characters human and have the plot be the same.  From what I've observed, Gelfling are more gentle than humans and in some ways more naive.  They're much more in tune with their planet in an almost religious way.  (I kind of think of Augra as the avatar of the planet.)  And, they also have a mystical connection to one another.  Making it more "Gelfling" will probably be the most difficult improvement, but I know that I can do it.  Over the years, I've practically memorized the movie, I have access to the website, and I have a vivid imagination.  When I turn in this outline and manuscript, it'll be the best I can do on my own, and if/when I get to do more edits, I'll make it even better.

Well, please wish me luck and pray for me.  I'm going to do my best.  Keep reading and writing!    

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