#Jaye’s Journal… week 28

Jaye's Journal x12

 

Beaten by a Tree!

 

I failed to rescue the oak sapling.

 

 

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The oak sapling!

 

I tried my best but as I hacked away at the weeds surrounding it, it became apparent that it would not be an easy task.

We had always called it a sapling for it was only a foot high, completely forgetting how many times it had been cut back over the years.

I discovered that the base of this tree was very large and mostly rotten. It was also growing so close to the wall and I suspected the roots would be entangled in the brickwork.

But was I disheartened?

Not even a little bit. This is where being stubborn can pay dividends, but whether this would be a good day for stubbornness remained to be seen.

I dug a trench around the tree, severing several rather large tap roots in the process.  These would not be needed if I succeeded in creating a bonsai out of it. Tap roots are mainly for stability, and it’s the fine fibrous roots you need to protect.

When I tried to lever the root ball out of the hole with my trusty garden fork, it wouldn’t budge. Doubt began to sink in, nudging my determination to one side, so I tried to tug at it with all my strength, just to see some kind of movement. Anything to justify digging deeper.

This is when my determination failed, and I knew I wouldn’t be able to save this tree. It had been there too long and probably had tap roots in Australia.

I felt very sad at this point, for the tree would have to removed somehow, probably in pieces before it brought the wall down. But if my detemination pays another visit, I may have another go!

The wall in question was probably as old as our house, built in 1887 so saving it was more important than anything I wanted to do with the oak. (at least, that’s what common sense was telling me!)

******

Todays disapointment reminded me of another one of my failures, one even sadder that happened several years ago. I tried to rescue a beautiful red acer from a demolition site. I couldn’t bear the thought of it being mown down by a bulldozer, so asked the builder in charge if he minded my removing it.  I knew it would be difficult, for whoever planted it had built a rockery around it, creating quite a lovely Chinese garden.

But before I could get started, the helpful builder took it upon himself to rip it up and present it to me, so proud of his handy work.

It hung there in his hand, already limp, the roots bare and damaged and I knew he had probably just killed it.

I did my best for that tree, carefully planted it in the best soil. I kept it in the shade and misted the leaves regularly to help it recover. Gradually, despite my efforts, I watched it die and all my prayers and efforts came to nothing.

I think a little piece of me died that day too…

AAA (2)

#Jaye’s Journal ~ week 26

Jaye's Journal x12

 

As I get closer to the end of editing PayBack, my WIP, I keep thinking about the strange visitor I had just before Christmas. The man who appeared out of nowhere and literally put his finger on what was slowing down the plot in my writing.

Remember him?

You can read that post HERE

Back then he had been so insightful about the lead character in my book, something I greatly appreciated at the time. Then, this morning he had strolled back into my office as if it was the most natural thing in the world. I had no idea where he had come from or even if he was real, but what was he doing here now?

I had a good look at him while his attention was caught by something on my monitor. He wasn’t from this world, for his clothing was old fashioned. The resemblance to Mark Twain was striking, every inch the famous writer and riverboat captain.

I have long been a fan of his wisdom and sense of humour, so if this was indeed him, who better to mentor me and speak to me about my writing.

But how could I tell him he had wasted his journey, as the book was all but finished. I didn’t need his help now. I had to say something but didn’t want to seem ungrateful or rude, but had to say something, didn’t I?

His kindly eyes twinkled as he looked at me and to my relief, I knew he would speak first.

“I see the masterpiece is almost finished, ma’am and I presume from the satisfied look on your face that you think the hard work is done?”

I didn’t know what to say. I mean, what can you say to someone who is probably just the figment of an overtired brain?

“Yes, the book is almost complete, and I am reasonably happy with it.” I waited, wondering what he would say next, but he didn’t seem in any hurry to divulge the reason for his visit. He strolled around the office looking at my collection of books. The computer kept drawing his gaze, but it didn’t warrant a comment.

“I have been thinking about you and how you plan to market the book. Do you actually have a plan?

His question surprised me, mainly because I hadn’t given much thought to how writers managed to sell their books back in his time. I knew his books were popular, but how did they get that way? By all accounts, Mark Twain wasn’t a very good businessman and bankrupt at one point due to bad investments.

So how could I ask his advice about the right way to promote my book?

I heard a chuckle and turned to find him smiling at me.

“I assume by your lack of an answer, that you don’t have much of a plan and by the puzzled look on your face I can also assume that you don’t think I am qualified to offer any advice on the subject?”

He had just succeeded in making me feel both rude and stupid, but he had hit the nail on the head.

“That was wrong of me and I apologise, but your turning up like this is a little unnerving you know. Just how did your books become bestsellers?”

He tweaked his snow-white moustache between his fingers as he thought about my question. “I made many mistakes back then, but I also learned something very important.  The most important lesson was to stop trying to sell my product and sell myself instead. You see, if you can make people like you, they will want to buy your book. It really is that simple.”

My mind was racing. Was this why most of the articles I read always stress the importance of communication?

When I looked up to thank him, the room was empty. He had vanished as suddenly as he arrived, and I wondered if I would ever see him again…

AAA (2)

 

Jaye’s Journal ~ week 25

Jaye's Journal x12

 

“I have not failed; I have just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”

 

My mind has attempted to narrow my field of worry this week. I know all my problems are still there, but I am doing my best to ignore them and carry on as if I don’t have a care in the world. But apart from what will happen on Friday morning, all I can concentrate on is finishing my WIP.

I thought I was almost there, only to discover several sections that need a rewrite; a character that really should be killed off and then deal with the subsequent effect on the rest of the cast. There is also the question of length. Just how long are novels these days?

I still have what I call the ‘pretty edit’, the final polish or gloss coat for all the characters, their emotions and settings. Making sure the whole thing is as good as I can possibly make it. Only then will I be finished with it. At bloody last!

To avoid thinking about Friday morning and my eye surgery, my mind keeps drifting to the marketing and how I intend to manage it. With having only one good eye at any given time over the next few weeks, this should be interesting.

Previous attempts at promoting my novels didn’t exactly set the publishing world alight, but what with the state of said world, I am beginning to wonder if my efforts will be worth the bother anyway! And before you jump all over me, I know that it really is!

Just two more days to go!

This makes it sound as though I am looking forward to it and I can assure you I’m not!

My nerves are beginning to make an appearance, despite keeping myself busy.  The weather chose today to be kind. Glorious blue skies, masses of sunshine and it actually felt warm. It was too good an opportunity to miss, so I abandoned the editing and left the office. I spent the afternoon in the garden. First, I tended my bonsai who had grown like crazy with all the rain. Then a walk around the garden to see what has been happening in my absence.

Then I noticed the beast.

This is the 40-foot-long, 4-foot-wide, and 6-foot-high hedge that separates our garden from the neighbours. All the rain has caused it to grow alarmingly high. The lovely neat outline I created last autumn now just a memory. Just get the trimmer out, I hear you saying. Well, I could, but if there are any nesting birds in it, they wouldn’t like it. I had a quick check and there were two sparrow nests full of babies about halfway down the hedge. So, the most I could do was trim the end that was trying to block the path. The rest will have to wait until the nests are empty.

I thoroughly enjoyed my time in the sun. My back is killing me, but I didn’t think about Friday once!

AAA (2)

 

 

#Jaye’s Journal ~ Week 24 (a bit late)

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The letter from the hospital arrived yesterday and the first of my cataracts will be removed next week and I have a pre op appointment tomorrow to check me out. I wonder what happened to the ten weeks wait I was told to expect.

We left early to get to the hospital for we can never judge what the car parking will be like and arrived far too early. The hospital was busy, but we managed to find out where we were supposed to be. The Eye department is one of the oldest parts of the hospital and didn’t have any of the iced water machines that I like so much, and my mouth was as dry as a bone.

By the time we sat down in the waiting room, there was still half an hour to wait, so was very surprised when my name was called. A kind and pleasant male nurse welcomed me, proceeded to check me over and then explained what would be happening to me. Though I was a little perturbed when he said I wouldn’t feel a thing, and then calmly said that a nurse would be holding my hand, so I could squeeze it if I felt anything. Not very reassuring!

I appreciated this more than you know, for the last time I was there, I was subjected to a pompous, short tempered consultant who clearly thought I was wasting his time. My treatment today was very different.

I just know that the next six days are going to be awful…

###

There was me thinking I would have plenty of time to finish the WIP and make a few inroads into the marketing, but this unexpected news has literally knocked me for six. Mainly, I hope, because I wasn’t expecting it. Not that I am worried about them slicing bits of my eyes. Well, maybe just a little…

The thought of all this disruption is having a weird effect on me. Instead of getting a move on and pressing the panic button, I seem to be doing the opposite and moving around as though up to my neck in treacle. Almost everything is far too much trouble and I cannot be asked to do anything.

It is affecting the weather too, and it hasn’t stopped raining for days. Absolutely no chance of doing any gardening either then.

Thinking is becoming more difficult too, is it because I am facing the Unknown?

Two days of inertia later, I have managed to scrape together some enthusiasm. Guilt will always work, don’t you find?

After making such good progress last week with the new PC and Word, several peculiar wrinkles decide to make an appearance, completely undermining my confidence again. Needless to say, I didn’t need this.

I have been struggling to do so many things, things I had no trouble doing before.  I have the feeling I am out of my depth with technology, a feeling I haven’t had since the early days.

What do you do when you have misplaced your enthusiasm?

I know that when you get to my age, you begin to run out of things, like patience, common sense, memory and a simple thing like joy. Then there are the knees that no longer want to work anymore and a back that starts to ache even before you get up in the morning.

Add to that several weeks months of only having one usable eye and the next part of my life is going to be interesting.

Just don’t call me Cyclops!

Anita has just said something that made me smile. She said ‘Don’t forget, in the Kingdom of the blind, the one eyed is King…’

AAA (2)

 

Jaye’s Journal – Week 22

Jaye's Journal x12

 

After much searching, comparing and pulling my hair out, I finally found a PC that has everything I wanted at a price I could almost afford. I have this problem with shopping online, as I never seem to end up liking what I buy. Never been any good choosing anything and always get it wrong.

It arrived yesterday, and my old friend nagging doubt turned up with it.

Much smaller than I thought it would be, although I believe this is the new trend, and still managed to look pretty scary. Immediately, I found a possible problem. The activation label clearly said Windows 7, even though I thought I ordered Windows 10.

So, I might have done it again and chosen the wrong one.

Because of the Bank Holiday, I had to wait until Tuesday to telephone the company, for there was no way I would start switching over until they reassure me.

Switching over PCs is not something I enjoy or am any good at, as my tech skills are dismal at best, so at this stage I was still asking myself why I had actually volunteered to do this.

One of the reviews stated enthusiastically that all I had to do is take it out of the box, plug in all the cables and then switch it on.

That I just cannot believe.

The way things are going though, I may never get that far to find out.

 

While I waited, it was business as usual on my old less than faithful pc, despite the frequent crashing, freezing and crazy spelling games it plays. But it gave me a nasty moment this morning.

I switched it on, and instead of my pretty screensaver, the screen was plain blue. There was no icons and no wifi. I feared the worst. Had it beaten me to the punch?

That would be ironic, wouldn’t it?

A brand new PC that I don’t want to install and my old one commits Hara Kiri on me!

After a reboot, everything was fine again, at least for the moment…

Moving swiftly on to the designated torture day…

I had been dreading this day for so long, and was one of the reasons I delayed doing anything about it. I heard so many bad reports about Windows 10, and was more than happy with my old faithful Windows 7, but as they say, all good things have to come to an end.

The new computer came with it already installed, so I had no choice but to hunt for my thinking cap, put it on and see what, if anything I could do with it. There was quite a long wait for the new pc to load or whatever it had to do. They said it would take time, but wasn’t expecting three hours of thumb twiddling!

What followed was one of the worst moments of my life. I stared at the alien screen, trying not to feel as sick as a parrot by the sheer enormity of what I had done. (and still had to do!) And what was rapidly turning into what I might not be able to do.

I retired wounded for the day, not having mastered any of it.

I have a book, aptly called Windows 10 for Seniors, so I spent the evening going further into the depths of insanity, reading anything that sounded helpful. But in reality, none of made any sense to me.

The following day, inspired by my refusal to quit, I switched the offending machine back on and played around, pressing everything in sight and seeing what happened. I found help screens that weren’t very, then tried to connect using my Microsoft account password.

You don’t want to know how long that took.

One day on, and I have surprised myself. Things are magically beginning to work!

There have been a pile of things I had to fix, one of them involved the speakers, which for some reason didn’t want to work. The sound, when I found  out how to turn it on, came out of the tower thingy and sounded as though there was an idiot trapped in there.

Basically, and this really hurts to admit, I think I like my new computer and can foresee a bright future. A very poor future, for along with the cost of the thing, I had to cough up for a brand new Microsoft Word too…

Off to start uploading thousands of my images and files, so not going anywhere this weekend.

I hope everyone else has a good one though…

AAA (2)

11111

 

 

 

 

 

Jaye’s Journal Week 21

 

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Have you ever had one of those weeks when everything you touch turns into a nightmare?

This has been one of those weeks, full of mini-disasters and nasty complications, starting with my WIP, PayBack. Half way through the second edit, you know the one, where you trawl for all your howling grammatical errors. Removing all the words you have used far too often, along with the ones you shouldn’t have used in the first place. Everything was going well, when I became uncomfortable with the lead character. I had written him in the first person, but it didn’t fit him somehow.

I had a quick look at other crime writers, and almost all of them prefer the third person POV.

I experimented with a chapter, fully expecting to dislike it, but I didn’t. This meant a ton of work needed to be done and right when I thought the end was in sight. Ho Hum.

I was also having more problems with the pc, and then my camera started making weird noises. I thought new batteries would help, but no. I have been saving up for a new pc, so there was no way I could stump up for a camera too. Then I remembered that my borrowed iPad had a built-in camera. I tried it out and was pleasantly surprised to find the quality excellent, so photographs can still be taken, as and when I need to. (Until I win the lottery!)

Have any of you tried to choose a new PC lately?

Not being related to Rockefeller, I have to settle for a refurbished model, but there were so many to choose from and seeing as how I have serious trouble making up my mind at the best of times, it was a nightmare. I have made some really stupid mistakes in the past, so I am caution personified these days. As they say, ‘When in doubt, do nowt.’

But that kind of thinking won’t get the baby a new bonnet, or me a pc that actually does what it says on the tin.

Then something quite remarkable happened.

Something else had been going on in my head, lately.  I have always been a craft person, if you know what I mean, and one of my passions are those lovely beaded bonsai trees.

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It is all Pinterest’s fault really; they keep sending me images of these wonderful trees. The desire to make one is never far away, but the idea was blossoming, and I knew if I didn’t start now, it might never happen.

My eyesight is a major problem when it comes to craft work, and it isn’t  getting any better. On Friday I will find out what they intend to do about it, if anything.

So, going by another old maxim, ‘All work and no play, makes Jack a dull boy,’ I am going to reschedule my time to make way for things other than PC related work.

Working with my hands always frees up my mind to wander where it will, something that just doesn’t happen when wrestling with demonic computers!

So I am hoping for some magic while I am busy creating!

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Jaye’s Journal # Week 20

Jaye's Journal x12

 

So far, this has been a good week, no major disasters or tinkering malfunctions. Apart from the new email format on BT, that is!

This is still driving me nuts, but I have discovered that the problem might be due to an ageing Windows 7 that will be discontinued at the end of the year. I have been warned to expect more of this kind of problem.

Which means I have a decision to make, one that will cost money, so I am dragging my heels a while longer. Quite apart from coughing up for a new pc, it means I will have to tackle Windows 10, not something I am looking forward to frankly.

ON THE EDITING FRONT

The editing of PayBack is progressing well, and the first two rounds are done and dusted. Next, I will run through each of the characters chapters. This is an excellent way to ensure that the story of each character runs true, with no yawning great holes or continuity errors. I love this edit, as it gives me the opportunity to get up close and personal with my favourite people and make sure I have presented them in the best possible light.

AND NOW FOR SOMETHING DIFFERENT

It seems like a long time since I had a really crazy moment. Just as I was thinking I was getting too old for crazy, one trotted up and tapped me on the shoulder.

I will explain if you promise not to call the people with the straitjackets.

Last month, I had my hair cut. To cut a rant short, I wasn’t happy with it. At all.

I have been patient, trying to decide what to do about it.

I usually prefer my hair to be on the short side as it is fine, wispy, and a bit curly, with a mind of its own. It usually prefers to do its own thing and resists any attempt to make it behave. Which most of the time is okay with me.

It grew quite long, and I have been wearing it pinned up, simply because I cannot stand it wrapped around my neck like a scarf.

Out of the blue (and this took me by surprise too) I grabbed a pair of scissors in one hand and chunks of hair in the other and chopped away. I had seen this done on films and must have secretly wanted to have a go.

Well, my hair is no longer hanging around my neck but is a tiny bit shorter than I wanted it to be. But I dare say it will grow again…

watermark xjj

 

 

Jaye’s Journal ~ week 17

 

Jaye's Journal x12

 

For so many reasons this week has been a nightmare.

I received a letter from the hospital summoning me for another look at my cataracts. This has imposed a deadline on my editing, for after that date, I may not be able to see what I’m doing, depending on when or if they decide to do something this time.

Seriously though, I am getting really fed up with not being able to see properly. Everything is blurred, and print is so small.  And don’t get me started on the headaches!

Having a deadline is one hell of a way to buck my ideas up, that’s for sure.

Just when I was feeling positive about everything and things were moving  along swimmingly, BT decided to upgrade their email site, resulting in the most awful balls up. If this is what passes as ‘better’, I must be a monkey’s uncle!

Not only is it poorly arranged, but the layout sucks, AND it keeps going wrong! I mean, I don’t ask for much, just that things work the way they’re supposed to.

Moving on to what I’m supposed to be doing, the editing of PayBack. Right in the middle of thinking I was doing a brilliant job, I realised that somehow I was out of my depth. This turned into what the hell did I think I was doing, so everything crashed right there!

I am beginning to think my brain has finally decided to be old and past it after all. All without consulting me, I might add. I keep forgetting where I am in the process of editing, and what I’m supposed to be doing. I spread all these chapters on my desk, trying to make sure the plot was running smoothly. I found myself staring at them, with absolutely no clue. My head was empty, and I had never felt so lost in my life.

I don’t understand what is happening, for I usually breeze through editing. Hell, I was an editor long before I became a writer and love doing it. The chance to polish your story until it shines is a glorious part of writing, and here I was, unable to organise a piss up in a brewery.

Editing, as you know, is a series of systematically checking everything. You must be methodical and do things in the right order, something I seemed to have forgotten how to do.

For the first time in my writing career, I might need an independent edit…  Something I never thought I would ever say…

And if all of this wasn’t bad enough, I have eaten all the chocolate!

watermark xjj

 

 

Jaye’s Journal ~ week 16

Jaye's Journal x12

 

Every now and then, we get a wake up call, a wonderful moment when a magic light bulb illuminates an area in our brain. This usually heralds a brilliant idea, something ground breaking or so incredibly sensible, you wonder why it took so long to surface.

Then there are the other kind. The ones accompanied by that awful stomach churning, as you realise how stupid you are or have been.

Today, I had one of these, and it has done absolutely nothing good to my self confidence. I was re checking the enormous pile of helpful notes (I use this term advisedly) when the realisation hit me between the eyes.

We make all these lists of things to do, things to remember or try. Then we get a sense of achievement when we actually cross something off. Today, it was brought home to me, just how stupid that is.

I had been watching a trailers someone had made using a company called Animoto. That name rang a bell, but the memory didn’t follow on. Had  I already checked them out? And if  I did, what did I find?

Those of you with fantastic memories will not need the advice I am about to share, but I suspect quite a few of you, like me, will find it useful.

When we read something that needs checking out, we should have a place to record our findings. Either a page in a notebook or an index card in our follow up box. Write a simple assessment, was it good/rubbish/too expensive/unsuitable…and if you logged on to the site, record the URL and your password.

I have no idea why this has never occurred to me before, as I seem to spend my life revisiting sites, only to realise I had been there before. It will be so helpful to be able to see at a glance all the info.

Just think of the time saved!

P S:  Editing of PayBack is progressing very well!

 

 

Jaye’s Journal ~ week 15

Jaye's Journal x12

 

Are there days when you cannot cope with your chosen occupation?

I have had many jobs in my time and hated quite a few of them, but never thought I would ever feel less than love for writing.

Lately, I have been having days when things seem to be slipping, a digital carrying-on that can plague anyone who switches on a computer.

This week, I had more than one day like this. A fatal mixture of an old and feeble person trying to use an equally old and feeble computer.

The overall tone of the week surprised me, seeing as I had just typed those magic words at the end of my WIP, I should be happy or at least relieved, or optimistic reaching the end of what has turned out to be a fascinating if complicated story.

Secretly though, I knew why I wasn’t jumping around like an idiot. I am an idiot (most of the time), but that wasn’t the reason.

I was secretly terrified that, having written this unusual and complicated story, that I wasn’t competent enough to present it in the best possible light.

This is a story that I didn’t know much about initially, or how to write it. It has been one hell of a learning curve. The research alone took almost as long as writing it.

 

Something strange happened today.

I have recently changed the header image on our website, and that is what I expected to see when I logged on, but the picture I saw was not mine and one I had never seen before.

How was this even possible?

Also, the new header image had vanished. It wasn’t saved with all the other old headers, so whoever had changed it had run off with my new one.

Surely, this couldn’t happen, could it?

Perhaps it was a message from my muse, for I wasn’t happy with my choice, so maybe she wasn’t either…

watermark xjj