Tuesday, October 09, 2007

QOTD: Tools of the Trade

To-do Tuesday is on temporary hold while I master this whole mothering business. But, the other night while I was wondering if nursing will ever get easier, I remembered a time when I was convinced I would never learn to touch type. Several typing classes in high school, typing software, and a fair amount of hunting and pecking, and still . . . nothing. But, then one day, there I was typing away. It turned out that all I needed was motivation--and college plus e-mail was plenty of motivation. I felt the same way about Word and other software. As much as I despaired at the time, I still managed to master each obstacle.

I want to know about what writing related skills did NOT come naturally to you. Did you learn to type in order to write your first MS? Conquer the computer? What skills are you still trying to master?


Alice Sharpe said...

Yea, Wavy, good to hear from you!

(First off, nursing didn't come easy to me, either. Plus I had a doctor who insisted I was "starving" my baby. Plus I was barely twenty and had never seen a nursing baby before. But I had read and I knew what the doctor wanted me to do would sabotage any chances I might have at making nursing work, and so I persevered and eventually it all fell into place, just like your ah-ha at typing. So hang in there -- I nursed that kid for eighteen wonderful months.)

I still do not know how to type! But I have typed so many words over the year, I have more or less taught myself where all the letters are so I can type very fast with two fingers. This precludes me copying something from printed page to computer screen, of course (I have to look at my hands as I type), so thank heavens for computers.

I think you are right on the money when it comes to some skills taking longer than others to master. The hardest trouble I have with actual craft is writing descriptions. I struggle with what a building looks like, etc... So I write those scenes short and then go back and jazz them up later so it all works.

Nice to have you back in whatever capacity.

Paty Jager said...

Hang in there, Wavy! This is where you need to use that yoga. Relax. The nursing will get easier.

I started writing on a typewriter and when I inherited some money I bought my first computer and helped at the grade school to learn how to use it! I love computers for writing, but I get frustrated when they don't do what I want.

As for the craft of writing- I still am working at lengthening and adding more description. I tend to go heavy on action and characterization and minimal on description.

Good to have you back!

Karen Duvall said...

Good to "see" you, Wavy! 8^) The nursing thing is a challenge, but you'll get the hang of it. I nursed all 3 of mine and it was great. Saved a bundle by not having to buy formula. And none of them developed any food allergies, which I understand can happen with bottle-fed babies. All 3 were slender babies, not underweight, and remained slim into adulthood. My son grew up to be 6'3" and 225 pounds of pure muscle. I look at him now at it astounds me to imagine him as a tiny, helpless nursing baby. They grow up so fast. Enjoy every minute of this time that you can!

Okay, typing. I loved to type as a kid and taught myself on my mom's old Underwood manual typewriter. By high school I was typing 90 words a minute. I thought it was fun. I type all the time now and don't even think about where my fingers go. Must be like learning sign language. It becomes automatic after a while.

As for my writing, I'm still working on deepening my characters' emotions. I often struggle at translating their feelings onto the page.

Anonymous said...

Oh Wavy, I'm just still so happy for you and the fact that you're a mommy now! Nursing takes time to get used to and it's well worth the practice. I nursed all five of my little darlings and it bonded us together like nothing else could. I hated the pain of it, but I loved that I was providing something so essential for them all by my little ol' self. It was truly a gift. :)

Writing skills that don't come naturally to me...

1. Detailed description of surroundings and what people are wearing. Ugh! Hate that part.

2. Learning how to use Word for my Mac. Total pain in the butt.

3. Mastering setting aside writing time and then writing whether I'm in the mood or not.

I'm sure there are others that will pop into my head at 2:00 a.m.

Things that come easy, not that you asked, but...

1. Typing. Been doing that since 7th grade. No problem there.

2. Research. Love this. Learning new stuff is awesome.

3. Reading in the genre that I want to write. Easy peasy. ;)

You're a very smart woman Wavy. I believe you can figure out and conquer anything you put your mind to. I'm really glad you're a part of the MWVRWA chapter and that you're a friend. :)

Anonymous said...

Alice-- The doctor that said you were "starving" your baby is the exact reason I stay clear of doctors and had my last baby at home without their "expertise". :)

I can imagine that all he did was upset you by saying such a thing. New mommy's can lose their faith in themselves so easily when their first learning to be a mommy and someone like him comes and tells you you're doing it all wrong. UGH! Butt-heads! Sorry you had to go through that. Oh, and I'm glad you're finally feeling better! :)

Elisabeth Naughton said...

So good to "see" you here again, Wavy. We've been missing you :)

Okay, I'm going to be the evil one. I nursed my kids too. Progressively shorter with each one though. I love them dearly but nursing isn't for everyone. I have a lot of friends for which it didn't work and the stress of working so hard was worse than doing what was right for everyone (sometimes it was bottles, sometimes it was to keep nursing). As someone who has recently been through the whole bottle vs breast feeding debate (and was plagued with guilt over certain issues), I get riled up when people push their "you must do this" views on new mothers. (Not that anyone's doing that here. I'm simply riding the proverbial fence - yay for breast feeding! Yay for bottles! ROFL) You're a go-to girl, so I'm sure you'll get the whole breast feeding thing worked out. But on the outside chance you don't, don't stress over it. Formula never killed anyone (my youngest survived quite nicely on it. ;)

Okay, off my soap box.

Typing...my high school typing teacher was about 4'9" tall who wore 5" heels and made us type on manual typwriters with a clicking time clock in the background and music we had to type to (don't ask...she was a little strange). I was scared of her, so I learned to type quickly so I didn't have to retake that class.

As for writing...what didn't come naturally? (Shh...I don't want to hear anything from Alice): POV. Took me forever to get this straight. In addition to that, dialogue tags (I had a penchant for double tags), and assuming readers knew what my characters were thinking because I never used internals. But in my defense, when I finally figured this all out, I haven't screwed them up since (at least, not much).

Things I continue to work on: um...I seem to have gone the other way. *sigh* I often forget to use dialogue tags now and realize you can't tell who's speaking; I find myself reading other work and getting upset when POV shifts - even when it's smooth and completely called for; and I now use waaaay too many internals and was recently told by my agent to "cut the head time".

*sigh* So much for figuring everything out.

Great blog, Wavy! And I'm so glad you're here!

Lori Barber said...

Wavy, Like with writing, nursing comes with practice, practice, practice. It will become comfortable and second nature.

I learned to type in high school from a male teacher who loved to put his arms around the girls and tuck our arms in, which he called 'chicken wings', while he rubbed his stubble against your face. I wish I could say I became a fast typer to avoid his unwanted attention, but I broke my left arm twice and that left wing always wants to flare out. Plus I have small hands and my little fingers are short. I'm always stretching my right little finger to reach the 'p' and I can forget about reaching the delete key which I use constantly. So, I'm a slow typer.

I struggle with POV, deep, or otherwise. Sometimes I go totally blank, stare at the page I've written and ask myself, "Can I do that?" I also struggle with making every scene count. Sometimes my characters yak on and on. I like description, but sometimes I over-describe one thing and ignore something else begging for some description. I'm still searching for the balance in it all. With my left chicken wing maybe my balance will always be a little cockeyed.