Dawn Colclasure's Blog

Author and poet Dawn Colclasure

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Taking notes

As a writer, I make it a point to write about the unusual circumstances that I go through, so that I can record something "as-is" to use for a later time. The events I write about are as mundane as what happened after i burned toast (I recorded the smell, the sight and the feel of the charred toast) or something as major as the time I sprained my foot (I can still remember writing, "It feels like my foot is on fire!"). Of course, there are times I CAN'T write about things. Months went by after 9/11 before I could write about it, because I was so numb with shock and grief. But when I CAN write about things, to capture them, then I will do so. It also really helps to add more "realness" to it if I use something like that in a story.

That said, I try to capture that moment, that feeling, as suddenly and as perfectly as possible. I'll record the sights, the smells, the sounds people describe and what something feels like. If I hold a gun for the first time, I'll note how heavy it is (like a gallon of milk, with one gun I've held) or, with something such as the time I was spitting up blood, how I knew right away that I had blood in my mouth to spit out just from the salty taste of it.

So the other day, when I had to get up to get Jennifer ready and dropped off to school, I had something happen that has never happened with me before: I awoke after only 3 hours of sleep. Well, I didn't really..."awaken." The alarm woke me up. If it hadn't, I would've kept sleeping! Anyway, during the time I only got 4 hours of sleep a night when the baby was a newborn, there WAS one time I only got about 3 1/2 hours of sleep. And amazingly made it through the day okay. But I wondered what it would be like to only get 3 hours of sleep. This morning, I found out!

After I took Jennifer to school, I sat down to write about this in my notebook:

"I only got 3 hours of sleep last night. My eyelids feel so heavy. Even as I try to write this. If I lied down or sat down, the temptation to fall back asleep is too great. I almost fell asleep while tying my shoes. I do what i have to do without focusing on it or being aware of it. Make coffee. Make Jen's lunch. Drive her to school. I am in shock I was able to drive. But I did it, but not being aware of it. It was all like mechanical. Even now it is hard for me to hold my pen and write this all down. I can't think straight. As I stand, I feel like I am going to fall. When I was talking, I lost my thoughts and ended up saying, "My brain is not fun-fun-functioning!" Haha. I decided after that not to talk so much. Everything is bright, too. The sun coming through my windshield was too bright. It was blinding. I had a few sips of coffee but it was no help. I am thinking, 'screw checking email! If I can, I am going back to sleep when I get home!'"

That whole "fun-fun-functioning" thing is hilarious, now that I reflect on it. LOL! Just call me Max Headroom. Oh, but I don't have a fun brain. Boo-hoo!

I did end up checking one email account after I got home. Thankfully, no new emails screaming for my attention RIGHT NOW. I have emails there but I could not answer them right then and there. I just couldn't think. What I'd written in my notebook was barely legible and had a lot of mess-ups, as it is. So I just went back to sleep and slept for a couple of hours. Boy, did THAT help! And I'm grateful the baby slept in, too.

Well, now I know what it's like trying to fun-fun-function on only 3 hours of sleep!


Saturday, April 12, 2008

10 Reasons why I LOVE writing MG

1. The chapters are short. I've written chapters while waiting for hubby to join me for a movie, while my daughter watches a TV program, while waiting for the baby to fall asleep (or the water on the stove to boil), etc. I've also found I don't need a HUGE, GIANT chunk of time to write when writing one of the chapters!

2. I get to keep the writing simple. (The plot and structure, too! Yay! None of that pesky symbolism, plot devices, etc., to worry about! Meh!)

3. I get to be a kid again. :)

4. The WHOLE manuscript is SHORT! I was able to write the first draft of my latest in a spiral notebook, with LOTS of paper left over!

5. I don't have to deal with grown-up stuff and grown-up issues like I do in my grown-up novels (addiction, abuse, relationship issues, etc.).

6. There ARE real monsters, but they're not as gory or as scary as they would be in a grown-up novel. (Actually, they're just ghosts...)

7. It puts my writing skills to the test. With the reminder that kids in that age group are more focused outward, and not inward, I have to constantly change passages to keep everything that way. I have to really be creative with how to keep the story interesting and keep the kids wanting to keep turning the pages to read more. It doesn't harm the writing, the characters or the story at all. In fact, I have found that my writing is MUCH more better compared to my other, non-MG stories. In essence, it's definitely sharpening my writing skills.

8. I get to write good stories that emphasize things like friendship, trust, kindness, helping others, etc. (That's a GREAT feeling!!)

9. I get to write stories that introduce paranormal research tools and issues to kids in a way THEY can understand.

10. The next story is an even bigger adventure than the last. :)

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