Discovering My Suomi Roots

 

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ME : THE QUESTION

I remember staring at the screen and reading the question one more time. It was short and sweet. Easy for me to answer, but my mind stalled for what seemed like an eternity stubbornly refusing to process the implications.

I was like some dyslexic schoolchild. My thought-processing faculties struggled to get going and it was as if time, itself, had come to a complete standstill. I was completely flummoxed. This was unexpected. It was like when you have a conversation with someone and suddenly they switch to a completely unrelated subject without warning. No continuity, equals confusion often for me. Maybe I’m just not as sharp as I used to be? Or can I blame advancing years and loss of brain cells as the perfect excuse?

Confusion lifted as my brain, without warning, clicked into gear. What threw me initially was how I had overlooked it? I looked at the date again. The message had dropped into my inbox over four months ago! I was truly mystified. I was meticulous when it came to computer housekeeping. Always reviewing my email inbox, as well as old files and folders, on my computer. I had been the same when I was working. I endeavoured to be organised, clearing the clutter. It was key to working in a hectic environment. There was so much work to do and too few hours to do it in.

It was the simplest of questions. But who was asking the question and why? The name was not familiar to me. But maybe it should be? More to the point how did they know me? I was confused. So many years had passed.

Susan was sat with her feet up on the settee reading a book on her kindle. Probably another Tom Clancy thriller. Although, these days, she was trying out different authors from the seemingly unlimited supply of free ebooks offered by the growing number of self-published authors. She must of looked up and seen the puzzled expression on my face.

“What are you looking at?” she asked, tilting her head to one side, as she lay her kindle down.

“Come over here and I’ll show you,” I remember saying.

Curiosity got the better of her, as she quickly rose from the comfort of the settee without any further comment, and sat alongside me on the seat I was perched on. She looked at the screen. She was deep in thought and I knew she was going through the same stilted-thought process I had just a few moments earlier.

“Who’s it from?” she asked finally.

“No idea,” I responded. “I was just looking through my messages and noticed this one was marked as unread. The funny thing is I received this over four months ago and never noticed. I can’t understand how I missed it.”

“So are you going to reply to it?” she asked looking at me.

“I don’t know … I really don’t know,” I said staring at the screen.

All I could think about over the next couple of hours was the message despite my best efforts to find another distraction. Picking up a book, or channel-hopping with the television remote, did not retain my attention span for long. I kept wondering who had sent the message and why? I knew I would have to respond to it. I needed to find out more. My curiosity was well and truly piqued. I imagined the sender had probably given up all hope of a reply, by now, given the weeks which had elapsed.

I opened the lid on my laptop rousing it from it’s sleep mode. I had left the browser open on the window displaying the message. Slowly and deliberately, I typed out my response. I hesitated momentarily, before pressing ENTER. There, it was done. Little did I know then, that action would change the whole course of my life and take me on a journey of self-discovery. I would ask countless questions over the weeks ahead. Everything which had gone before, I would challenge and come to view differently.

Before I continue, I need to take you on a journey with me starting from my childhood. This will help you understand my roots and the reasons for my hesitant response to the question I had just answered. Some of the events I can remember quite clearly, others are more faded with the passage of time.

First Revision Completed … Almost!

All set up and ready to go!

I am nearing the end of the first revision of Discovering My Suomi Roots. It has taken almost six weeks with some distractions along the way. I have found this process satisfying as I have something to work with, unlike the first draft stage, where all you have is a blank sheet of paper or computer screen!

So how has this stage in the process gone? Not bad at all. Briefly :

  • Some of the initial drafting was good and detailed – I kept much of the content,  adding bits here and there. Some content I deleted entirely. Other areas of the drafting were “bare bones”and I spent most of my time here redrafting.
  • The structure of this particular memoir is starting to come together. Whilst there is some necessary plotting deviation, hopefully it is all held together by a common thread.  At least I hope that is what the reader will find!
  • The number of chapters have increased as I have remodelled the structure of the draft so that each chapter flows logically into the next.
  • I had chapter headings in the initial draft more as a point of reference for me. I have revised and renamed most of these to fit in with the finalised chapter content.
  • I have done a small amount of obvious punctuation and grammar fault-finding although most of this I will pick up in the final revision stages.

Finally, I need to complete this process over the next couple of weeks and then leave it until the New Year to pick it up again for a third revision. This allows me to take a fresh look at the writing and hopefully assists before loading onto a kindle for a final polish of the work from me.

Afterwards I have some readers lined up to give me their thoughts and honest opinions before preparation for release which I hope will be in the first quarter of 2017 … a little later than anticipated but hopefully better for it.

First Draft Complete – Now The Real Work Begins!

Finally I finished the first draft of Discovering My Suomi Roots on time (by a couple of days!). Now the real work begins!

The first draft I always find hard work. I’m more of a plotter than a pantser that’s for sure. But, despite all the  planning at the outset, I still find it hard working my way through to completion. Somehow I manage to plod along convincing myself it will all be worth it in the end.

My planned structure and content for a writing project always has to be flexible. As I am writing I find other detail I have overlooked for inclusion. Or ideas on how I might tell the story differently suddenly strike me. So there has to be some flex in your plan.

It is very tempting to look back and start rewriting parts of your writing that you know will have to be rewritten. Avoid this! Your focus needs to be aimed at completing the initial draft. Revision comes later!

Once completed, for me, the enjoyable part comes next. I find the revision process much easier. You have something tangible to work with even if you are working with a very rough first draft. My words and thoughts flow easier. I am much more relaxed as the story starts to come to life and take shape.

But without that first draft there can be no revision process!

 

 

 

My Thoughts On Scrivener IOS

 

I use Scrivener on my MacBook Pro for my writing projects and have done for almost 12 months now. I probably don’t use it to it’s full capacity but I use the bits I need to help me organise my writing.

When I heard that Scrivener IOS was finally coming out I got really excited. At last I would have a copy of my favourite writing application running on my iPad. But how would it run? Would it be anywhere near as functional as the Mac version? What about the screen size?

I suppose the main reason for wanting a version of Scrivener on my iPad was for when I was away from home on holiday. I always leave my laptop behind and travel with my lighter iPad. At last I would have a seamless process to continue or start a writing project without having to manually swap files to Scrivener on my laptop whenever I came back home.

As it happens the IOS version was released just before I embarked on my Austrian summer holiday. So just in time to test out and as it happens I have started another writing project. I’ve brought my 9.7 inch iPad Pro with me together with an Apple Magic Keyboard that I use with my Mini Mac at home. It’s a nice keyboard and a much cheaper option than buying the proprietary keyboard that goes with the Pro.

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All set up and ready to go!

I’d just thought I’d give you a few impressions of the new IOS version. This is by no means a review as there are plenty good, detailed reviews out there – just a few thoughts.

  • Syncing through Dropbox I have found to be straightforward. Before I went on holiday I set up the structure of the project file on my laptop, added research files, etc and saved to Dropbox. With the app on my iPad I was able to pick up the file and sync everything perfectly to my iPad. I tested this a few times with different variations and found my laptop and iPad syncing without any issues. So for me, a trouble free easy process.
  • Screen size is not an issue at all. The screen certainly doesn’t look cluttered and I have found it a pleasant experience. In two weeks I am 10k+ words through my project which is on target with the word count I set. I think that alone is testament to the practicability of the set up I am using and the ease of use of the IOS release.
  • I like the fact that you can have your notes easily accessible on the left hand side of the screen without having to switch to another screen and therefore interrupting your creative flow.
  • Referring to recently accessed documents/chapters/research/etc is easily undertaken with the relevant menu button at the top of the screen. You can then use the same button to flick back to the document you’re working on.
  • Session word count against your target is available just like the laptop versions. The total word count of your particular writing project is also displayed.
  • Cork board is very user friendly and easy to use. I have found no issues with that.

I have explored all the various functions but, as with the laptop versions, you can customise the display screens, fonts, etc.

In summary I am enjoying using the iPad version. It really has been a godsend and I am sure I will use it even when I get back home. The price may be off-putting for some put I consider it to be well worth the money.

The developers have done a first class job with the level of functionality of this application. So don’t delay if you want the flexibility of writing on the move!

Discovering My Suomi Roots

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I’m presently on holiday in Austria and staying in St Johann in Tirol. The apartment we’re staying at, we’ve stayed at a couple of times before and the view from the balcony is just perfect. Apart, from enjoying a quiet meal and a glass of wine on an evening, it is an ideal location to make a start on the first draft of my next memoir.

My laptop is not to hand (left at home) but an iPad and keyboard are more than up to the task. It also gives me the chance to try out the new Scrivener IOS writing software. This is the same application that I use on my laptop for writing projects. As the laptop and iPad application sync through Dropbox, it means I pick up either device to continue a particular writing project at any time.

After a slow start I made some good progress today. Hopefully I’ll make progress in the early mornings or evenings in the days ahead. The days will be kept free for sight-seeing and walking.

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All set up and ready to go!

Bargain Books – Amazon .co.uk

My two titles are on sale at Amazon.co.uk from tomorrow at 0.99p each for one week only. After that they are back to their normal price of £1.99.

So hurry, get them at this special discount while you can!

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Living with Timmy

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