Wednesday, December 16, 2009

True confessions and Sisterhoods

Congrats to Carla Gade - you have won a copy of Tuesday Night at the Blue Moon. Please email us your snail mail address.

The 12 Days of Christmas Book Giveaway Contest

We're ringing in the 12 Days of Christmas on Novel Matters. (For complete contest rules, click the link.) The winner of Lying on Sunday and A Heavenly Christmas in Hometown will be announced Thursday afternoon.

On the 11th day of Christmas my true love gave to me ...

11 Pipers Piping

I love the women here at Novel Matters. Love and respect them tremendously. When I consider the gifts the Lord has given me this past year, they're among the dearest. They're talented, compassionate, funny, supportive. They're my prayer partners, critique partners, my friends. I've never been part of what I'd call a sisterhood --- till now. And in this sisterhood I have access to women who really know their stuff when it comes to writing. I've learned and will continue to learn so much from each of them.
Debbie's post on Monday about journaling is just one example. She's drawn on her journal entries time and again to recapture the details and emotions of one event or another to infuse into her writing, and it's served her well. Like Debbie, I had several diaries in my early to mid-teens. I got them as gifts mostly, and I loved them. Loved the pretty covers and the tiny satin-ribboned key, loved the smell of them, loved the lined pages, loved the idea of keeping a diary. (And speaking of lined pages, here's a bit of trivia about myself. I'd do just about anything to avoid shopping, and I mean anything. I. HATE. IT. But I could spend an entire day in Staples poring over pens, paper, Post-It notes, you name it. For me, there's nothing like a stationery store.)
But while I loved my diaries, did I fill those lines with my deepest secrets or longings? Not so much. The truth is I've never been one to journal. With one exception. Two and a half years ago when we lost our son, a very close friend who had lost her husband only three months before gave me a journal and said, "Do this. Really." And I have. I've journaled extensively in all things related to losing Brian.
So no, for the most part I'm not a journaler, but I am a jotter. When I'm working on a novel -- which is always -- consciously and subconsciously I'm ever in the story. I walk side by side with my protagonist day and night, through every ordeal she suffers. I listen when she speaks to me, I take note of scene ideas as they come, and I write it all down. Rarely is the material not used, so I've learned to trust the voices I hear. I used to keep stacks of scribbled notes by my computer where I write, things I would jot down on scraps of paper, on napkins, on ticket stubs, whatever was at hand, then search through them for just the right note as I wrote one scene or another. While I still have scribbled notes at my work station -- which is the ONE messy place in my house, this stack of organized chaos (Hmm. Maybe I'll ask Santa for a a stack of 5x7 note cards and a little box to keep them in. Yes, indeed.) -- I've begun the practice of entering my notes at the very bottom of my WIP document so I no longer run the risk of losing them. Yeah, I still have to sift through the notes as I write, but at least I know they're safe and secure. Unless my computer crashes.
Do I wish I had a journal from my days as a 15-year-old runaway in 1968, living on Haight-Ashbury? Or from the moment I felt the first flutter of life in my womb four months into my pregnancy with Brian? Or when I stood at my brother's gravesite listening to Taps? You bet. All I can do now is draw on memory for the things I failed to write about, but I do believe I'll take this journaling thing more seriously, thanks to Debbie.
And as we soon draw this first year of Novel Matters to a close, I want to say Thank You from the bottom of my heart to Bonnie, Debbie, Katy, Latayne and Patti for all the ways you've enriched my life. I look forward to the fun things we have planned for 2010. And I want to thank you, our readers, for spending some of your precious time with us. I hope we bless you as much as you bless us.
So whether you're a writer or not, do you journal? And if you are a writer, how do you keep track of the ideas that come to you? If you're organized, please SHARE! You know we love to hear from you.


Carla Gade said...

Do we get to use "eleven" spelled out instead of 11 for the contest?

Debbie Fuller Thomas said...

Thanks for this post, Sharon. It's amazing how therapeutic it is to write down our feelings. I seriously don't understand how it works, but I'm glad for it. I now carry a blank journal with me when I'm working on a new book so I can write down those snippets of dialog and ideas that come to me. I even added little section tabs like characters, story, and setting. It's helped to keep me organized. (hooray for Staples!)

Debbie Fuller Thomas said...

Carla - yes, you can spell out 11.
BTW, check it out - you won a book!

Patti Hill said...

Sharon, this is a delightful sisterhood that is deep and frivolous at the same time. I love you all. Consider the household that would have raised us together. Wow!

I am also an office supply store junkie. My heart races as I enter Office Depot.

I have an "everything" journal that I keep on me. I write everything I want to remember or use or read get the idea. I only have one place to look. But thanks to Debbie, the next everything notebook will definitely have tabs.

Carla Gade said...

Well, look at that, I won! Thank you so much!

I'm an organized chaos person, too. I'm also a jotter. You don't know how refreshing it is to know that I am not alone in that regard. I am trying to type most of my notes in wordpad now so at least they are in one location. I jot as I go along, then they turn into notebooks full of mishmosh. Now I have to dissect them all and put them into some assemblance of organization.

And Sharon, I pray you continue to be comforted in God's love concerning your losses. You may not have journaled every thing, but He has all your tears in his bottle.

Thank you all for a great year at Novel Matters!

Pat Jeanne Davis said...

Thank you, Sharon, for this heartfelt posting. I've received many blessings from checking in to NM periodically and reading the
insightful postings and comments. I'm glad you have such a lovely sisterhood. I'm more of a jotter than a journaling writer. God bless.

Lori Benton said...

Confessions of another note jotter here. I had a pile about twelve inches high by the time I finished my last novel. Before I typed THE END I went through them all because... what if there was something buried in there I meant to add to the story, but didn't?

I have a pile going for my new novel. It looks so small and innocuous. Not even a half-inch high. Yet. I get inspired while reading, so I use folded paper or a 5x7 card as bookmarks. That way I have something handy to dash off a note about my work while reading. I think the system's too ingrained to change now.

I am warmed by the sisterhood I get to witness here. Lovely post, Sharon.

Kathleen Popa said...

Carla, Lori, and all our other readers, you are all a very special part of the relationships that make Novel Matters what it is. Thank you, thank you for sharing with us your love of great writing.

You may have noticed that Sharon has not stopped in to answer your comments today. I just learned why. Don't worry - it's a minor matter easily fixed I think, but Sharon is in the hospital, knitting an afghan and fervently praying she'll be out in time for Christmas.

I know she'd appreciate your prayers. If you'd like to send her your well-wishes or an e-card, please direct it to

Kathleen Popa said...

PS: I'll announce the winner of the 11th day of Christmas tomorrow afternoon.

Bonnie Grove said...

Sharon, I've been reflecting on 2009 this month, and without a doubt the gift of you five woman is at the top of my thankful list. In addition, because of Novel Matters, I've been introduced to wonderful people - writers and readers alike who comment and have become so dear to me.

It's been an extraordinary year for me - beginning with the start of this blog (can't believe it's been nearly a year!) - and the publication of my first two books.

All of these amazing things are in my journal - but I love how my journal is the net for capturing not just the events of my life, but my reaction, hopes, emotions, tiredness, laughter, and all hidden thoughts.

Thank you for this wonderful post.