Maybe I Won’t Retire, After All….

Writing used to come easily for me. I wrote one of my best novels, The Unicorn’s Daughter, in four months. Final Hours took six weeks. It was almost too easy, which is why I was surprised that The Unicorn’s Daughter required almost no editing from Berkley and became, along with Chasing the Wind, one of my best-reviewed novels.


As I’ve gotten older, though, I’ve found it more and more difficult to finish a project. I asked my neurologist if I might be in the early stages of Alzheimer’s. “No. You’re way too sharp for that,” she assured me. Okay. If not that, what about epilepsy? I was first diagnosed as a teenager, and due to my own stupidity, was off the anti-seizure meds for a long time (I don’t have convulsive seizures, so I assumed–incorrectly–that I wasn’t having seizures at all). Again, the answer was no. My previous neurologist told me I was just distracted. ADHD, maybe?


My eyesight is not what it used to be–not that it was ever all that good. Arthritis has been an issue, so writing first drafts in longhand, as I’ve done throughout most of my career, was no longer possible. It was also a problem in using a computer, tablet or smartphone–especially the latter two, since I had to hold the devices at an angle close enough to be able to see the screens. I’ve joked here about my “Kindle elbow.”

dictate-your-book


I’d tried dictation, but that was also a struggle–until I found this book.

Dictate Your Book: How to Write Your Book Better, Faster and Smarter by Monica Leonelle is a gem. Really. She points out that, like learning to type and use a computer are skills that require training and practice, dictation isn’t something you just do. Her book is short, concise and gives you all you need to learn to dictate your books, screenplays, short stories, etc. Collin is even considering it for doing his classwork, time being a big factor for him.

 

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It’s Time to Move On…Forward…Ahead? Or Is It?

Have any of you ever seen the movie Bruce Almighty

brucealmightyposter

In it, a frustrated Bruce Nolan (Jim Carrey), a TV reporter dealing with career setbacks–as he sees them–and being passed over for an anchor desk position in favor of a pompous co-worker (Steve Carrel), takes a swipe at God for “smiting” him. In one scene, he asks for a sign from God and gets this:

I read somewhere, a long time ago, that God communicates with us in the manner in which we’re most likely to notice–whether it’s nature, another person, a song, a story–once, years ago, I was talking to a man I didn’t really know while waiting at a bus stop. He told me a story–out of the blue, actually–about a group of climbers trying to reach the summit of Mount Everest. They gave up, later discovering they had done so only a short distance from their destination. He ended the story with a question: “How would you feel if you had traveled that far and turned back just as everything was about to turn around?” That conversation led me to take a chance I’d been resisting for some time–and indeed, everything did turn around.


Recently, I’ve been thinking about taking another risk–a big one, I think. In one week, I got two very similar messages from two completely different sources:

Am I nuts to act on this? Maybe. But if I don’t, I’ll never know if it was meant to be.


For years, I’ve wanted to be a screenwriter. At first, I resisted because it’s an even harder career to break into than novel writing. And even if you sell a script, odds are by the time the film gets made–if it gets made–you won’t likely recognize your own work. But I’ve mellowed in my old age–not as determined to not have my work changed in any way–and the market for screenplays, like novels, has many more options available than writers had twenty years ago. And I have a writing partner. Collin isn’t much of a reader. He never has been. But he does love movies and TV. He’s enthusiastic about a possible course correction.


Collin and I may not read much anymore, but we watch a lot of movies. When I write, I write as if it’s a movie. When I was initially pitching Chasing the Wind to agents and publishers, I was told, “This isn’t a novel, it’s a movie.”


So maybe I am a screenwriter. It’s worth a try. And if it doesn’t pan out, I can always go back to novels, right?


Right?