organization of a disorganized writer

I was thinking recently that I hadn’t really been here with any updates. Heck, I’ve had so much going on that I haven’t managed to blog much at all. I’m working on changing that. For now, I’ve got a little bit of a Once Upon a Time in Iowa update.

For real time updates, follow me on Twitter.

the notebook collector

You may remember that we moved about 6 months ago. For a myriad of reasons, unpacking has been slow. Yesterday I went searching through boxes for my old resume and any of my awards, certificates, and such that might help me in rewriting my resume and sending it out there into the world.

I’m checking through folders, files, and binders. I even peeked in notebooks for things I may have stashed. That’s great, Tiffany, but what does that have to do with an update about Jesse and Mary? you may be wondering. It’s the notebooks.

I’m a bit of a notebook collector. It’s a writer thing, I’m sure.

Throughout the boxes and bags that I searched, I unearthed an entire stack of Once Upon a Time in Iowa notebooks and loose papers. There’s the binder full of character building, such as some of the interviews I posted here. In that binder is also some of my research and a handful of scenes and stray paragraphs.

There are five –yes count them, FIVE– legal pads full of notes and scenes and research. There’s a composition book. Blue because we always used the black ones for school. It’s full of scenes and thoughts and some random ideas I wanted to research further.

There’s a miniature notebook once kept in a nightstand drawer at the old place, in case I had a sudden idea while hubby was getting ready for bed. It’s full of little tidbits. Some random sentences that make little sense but mention Mary and Jesse by name. This place has a double sink, so I’m no longer waiting for him to finish his turn in the bathroom, so I hadn’t missed it.

There’s also the 5 subject spiral bound notebook. It, too, has character interviews and some rather elaborate scenes as well as whole chapters written in colorful ink. The dividers of those 5 subjects were used to separate out sections of my writing, though I can’t for the life of me figure out what criteria I was using to determine which bits and pieces landed behind which paper wall.

all of these contain important bits of Once Upon a Time in Iowa

Along with all of those notebooks and papers, bits of their story are written in the notes section of my phone. Ideas I want to research are listed in a new note. Another note contains snippets I want to incorporate or snarky little comments I heard one of the characters whispering in my mind.

There’s also the sticky notes on my computer. There I have words I need to research the etymology, and words I want to run through a thesaurus because it just doesn’t seem to quite satisfy the moment. There’s information about wagon rides and terrain that may have slowed them down or sped them up. There’s notes on horses and their gaits.

There’s the you are your own magic notebook I found at the store not too long ago. I loved it for the way it reminded me of the old field notes style notebooks a reporter might have carried in the inside pocket of his duster so long ago (sans magical message of course). That one’s the one I keep in my work bag.

notebooks are great, if you use them

At home, I’ve been working on transcribing my entire manuscript. It was all saved in an older format on my old computer. That creates a read only file here on this computer. It gives me a chance to tweak and edit a little. It also lets me see if I’m on track for where I want to be. Best of all, it allows me to relive some of my favorite scenes.

I got to meet Mary through her acts of courage and love just as the reader will meet her. I smoothed a few of the parts that were a bit jagged and rewrote one particular section that had been under my skin from the moment the words had left my fingertips. I’ve listened in on conversations and lay in the cool grass on a hot summer evening. I’ve felt the tension building and growing between multiple characters. I got to watch them grow and learn all over again.

That’s not to say I haven’t been writing at all. That earlier mentioned you are your own magic field notebook has been finding itself quite useful in the field. And by field I mean at work for those two hours before Monday’s shift that I’m not on the clock but stuck there anyways.

Most recently, I was writing in it on Valentine’s Day. Ironically, that’s the day that Jesse finally kissed Mary! I’d been planning for it, waiting for it, expecting it. Mary was practically coming out of her skin with anticipation.

And then it happened. He kissed her. It wasn’t the kiss I’d been expecting. It wasn’t the kiss I’d been planning. Mary was even more shocked than I was. She just stood there. I ended the scene with all she could do is stare at him dumbfoundedly, or is that me? Then, I kind of railed against myself for not being able to write and took a little break. I let her relish in it, and left her there.

Me, I back tracked a few paces. Took her back to before he kissed her. Before he changed everything. To when she was just longing for a kiss. I wrote a few more pages, but ultimately couldn’t remember if it was skittle or skillet, so I called it a day. My mind just wasn’t wanting to settle down after the unexpected kiss.

tying it all together

My writing process consists of scribbling random thoughts alongside some of the most important paragraphs. I tell myself things I want to elaborate on. I jot down ideas for scenes that might come from the one I’m currently writing, or maybe it doesn’t relate at all. I write scenes in notebooks because they aren’t ready to connect to the last scene I wrote on the computer.

My manuscript is on the computer. Well, it’s in the cloud somewhere. It’s on a USB for backup. It’s here, there, and everywhere. It’s in pieces. They were allover the house, in boxes from the kitchen, the living room, the bedroom.

For now, they’re contained in my bag. A bag that grows heavy with all those words. Eventually, they will probably find themselves scattered throughout the house again. Then those words, those ideas, those thoughts that came to me at random, they won’t escape me anymore.

I’ll gather those words from time to time. I’ll sit down with them and organize them into my manuscript. Each piece intricately woven into the story at just the right time.

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