Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Thanks to all the writerly-types in the virtual world.

I used to think writing was a solitary activity. A picture of a lone person in a dimly lit room, surrounded by leather-bound books, wielding a fountain pen comes to mind when I think of an author. A cigarette might rest forgotten in an ashtray; an undefined drink rests half-full on the corner of the desk. Perhaps a dog might be curled up on an old rag-rug that covers the imperfections of the hardwood floor. I wonder how many other people hold this image of a writer in their heads.

I can’t write like that. The silence deadens my creativity and dim lights kill my eyes. I don’t smoke, and the drink on the corner of my desk can be recognized as Smirnoff Ice or even just a coffee. There is often a dog curled up at my feet – but she’s on bare linoleum and usually begging for the munchies I have close at hand. I can’t even remember the last time I held a fountain pen in my hand, or any other writing instrument, for that matter.

The more distractions I have, the more productive I seem to be. My music of choice can be anything from light acoustical guitar sounds to raunchy, hardcore punk ruckus. In addition to Word being open on my laptop, Facebook, Twitter, Authonomy, Blogspot and GoodReads can all be found waiting at my fingertips. They easily provide a minute or two of distraction between plot points, bits of dialogue or lengthy descriptive paragraphs. Is this writing ADD?

I don’t write on a schedule, if I try, nothing comes out. I just sit and stare blankly at the screen. However, when I know the house is a mess and my parents are due to visit within the hour, the story demands to be written and just can’t wait. When my children need dinner or help with their homework, my characters insist on being heard. When it’s the wee hours of the morning and my body should be sleeping, my brain decides to wake up and be productive.

The best part about being a writer in today’s world is the constant interaction with other writers. I think I would go crazy without it. They understand that your characters are giving you trouble and refuse to be written they way you intended; they fully grasp the importance of using a semi-colon over a comma or a full-stop. Most importantly, they are encouraging, supportive and always offering up words of wisdom from their own stockpile of writerly experience.

So – thanks to all of you who make writing the adventure it’s meant to be. It’s comforting to know that writing isn’t meant to be a solitary practice after all.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Editing with Audio

Editing has to be one of the most difficult and tedious aspects of writing. Would I be a complete nerd if I admitted to liking it? Taking that rough, unpolished piece of writing and transforming it into the art it was meant to be gives me a bit of a thrill. Especially when I am able to smooth out the stubborn kinks I had difficulty addressing during the first rough drafts.

There are so many different ways to go about editing your document. Creating timelines and lists to ensure plot and character development; creating spreadsheets to maintain continuity and keep track of small details; or just reading the work through, over and over and over. The thing is: how do you know when your work is really ready for that final print version?

The answer for me is simple. Record it.

For the past month, I have been recording Remember Newvember with Irondog Studio. I thought creating an audio book would be a fun way to get a bit more exposure and offer another media for those who commute to work or don’t like to read, but enjoy listening. In my naivety, I thought the recording would only take as long as it would to read the book – about five or six hours, total. I had no idea what I was getting myself into.

To start with, one hour and twenty minutes of recorded material took over six hours to record. That was the first day. I was nervous, and uncomfortable. Mr. Zee insisted I wear headphones so I could clearly hear what he was hearing. I don’t like to listen to my voice under normal circumstances; can you imagine how it felt to hear it in stereo? The experience was a little creepy and took some time to get used to.

As I got more comfortable, found my own reading cadence and rhythm, I realized what a great tool this experience was for editing. I had thought my book was pretty much print-ready. I had already released it as an e-book, knowing that if necessary I could make corrections easily enough, but I had honestly thought it was well-polished and error-free. Reading the book aloud, slowly, to an audience of one, proved otherwise.

While I read, I found minor typos, a few grammar issues and awkward wording. Most importantly, I was able to figure out where the words flowed well, and where they just sounded weird. Mr. Zee was excellent at pointing out too many sounds that were similar; or highlighting sections that just didn’t make any sense. In all, the entire experience turned into one huge editing adventure, and not just the audio recording I had anticipated.

At this point, there remains one more session to complete the voice recording. In total, I think the recording aspect will take about twenty hours of studio time. Then, Mr. Zee will work his mixing, editing and audio magic so that we have a lovely finished product. I know there’s more to it than that – but that will have to wait for another blog.

Remember Newvember by Jennifer Bogart Audio Cover Draft

Even if you don’t use the services of a recording studio, taking the time to read your work out loud to your dog, cat, spouse, child or neighbour (offer them whatever it takes to get them to sit and listen for twenty-plus hours), really does help with that final bit of polishing to make your work really shine. 

Friday, July 1, 2011

Freedom to me is probably taken for granted . . .

The Concise Oxford Dictionary (the only one I actually own because I won it as part of a literary award when I was in grade 8) definition of freedom is as follows: 
  1. Personal liberty, non-slavery; civil liberty, independence; liberty of action, right to do; power of self-determination, independence of fate or necessity.
  2. Frankness, outspokenness, undue familiarity; facility or ease in action; boldness of conception.

I live in Canada, so I have never had to contemplate what freedom might actually mean to me. On a small scale, it means sleeping in on holidays and Saturday mornings, it means sinking into a good book at my leisure and not keeping a clean and tidy house at all times.

On a mediocre scale it means I get to choose which language I educate my children in (we chose both French & English), what activities they indulge in (hockey, fencing, swimming, diving, biking, fishing) and whether or not I should stay in my current job (actually, I don’t have a job – I’m a full-time mom & writer).

On a larger scale it means I walk down the street in relative safety. I say what I want to who I want and the only real consequence is how my moral consciousness deals with whatever tumbles out.  I have choices galore. I get to vote for members of parliament, the mayor, the local school commissioner, and express my opinions about all things political through which ever venue I choose (Facebook, Twitter, Blogger, local journals, national newspapers, or even a television station) without worrying about any type of negative back-lash.

In all, we have it pretty good here and I wouldn’t trade my home for anything. Our winters are harsh and our summers are scorching, but our social environment is a rare gem so it all makes it worthwhile in the end.

This post is in conjunction with the Blog-A-Licious Blog Tour a fantastic blog hop that brings together bloggers of all genres, backgrounds and locations. In today's hop, the blog featured before Remember Newvember is Holes in my Soles. The blog featured after mine is Life Through Lucylastica’s Lense. Please stop by and say hello plus some are having giveaways and contests. Enjoy! 

Other blogs in this tour include:

1. Sonia Rumzi -