Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Stringing Pearls

I am busy stringing pearls. Truthfully they are more like cheap plastic beads, but it still takes time and thought to string them properly. My problem is that I am finding it difficult to 'string' them in a cohesive manner. I have many pearls I wish to string but I want the overall effect to be creative and attractive. Right now it is as if all my pearls are being stored in separate little boxes and I look at them and can not imagine how they are to come together to create one piece.

I have large pearls, small pearls, black pearls and white pearls. How should I arrange them?

My 'pearls' are my stories, my memories of the time we spent in the jungle. Stories of my life which I have written and kept in journals across the years. I need to string them all together to create a beautiful necklace. A necklace of memories I can share with everyone.

I find the task to be daunting and must admit to having strung them in many different designs and patterns but have not been satisfied with the finished product. Sometimes the design looks very amateurish, like the necklaces my children used to make for me. It's beautiful to me but probably not to others, so I undo it and start anew. I have had a few interesting arrangements but often this calls for me to leave out certain pearls that don't seem to fit the overall design. I love each and every pearl! How can I leave one off of the string?

I need to come up with a unique design. A beautiful pattern which looks as if it naturally occurred to the pearls to align themselves upon the string in just such a manner. Right now they are all a jumble, rolling to and fro and when I try and collect them, some seem to slip through my fingers and cause me to be frustrated because I know there is a beautiful string of pearls in there somewhere!

It is discouraging but I shall overcome!

Any suggestions for an aspiring author?


Brooke said...

Start from the beginning, write what you want and get an editor to put it all together in a coherent fashion!

You don't want to distract yourself with logistical details.

Miss Footloose said...

I like how you describe your attempt at stringing your pearls into a necklace. I know exactly what you mean.

I have finished my necklace: My book about my (mis)adventures living the expat life, and now it is on safari looking for a publisher.

This is how I did it:

I started keeping a journal about my daily experiences as an expat years ago, while I was still only writing fiction (Harlequin romance novels, w/a Karen van der Zee.)

Much of what I wrote in the journals did not seem interesting or useful at the time, but I could not always predict what I could use as material for stories later on. So I just kept collecting the material. Small observations, bits and pieces of all sorts.

AFter some time I could see how some of the material in different parts of the journals could fit together as a theme or subject for a chapter in my book. It was like piecing together a quilt, really. Some themes were about eating, or shopping, or repairmen, or local customs.

I put the story-chapters in chronological order (with a couple of exceptions). Then I knotted them together with "transition" pieces so that they flowed together into a whole.

What you read on my blog are some of the stories "unknotted" again so they can stand on their own as a blog post.

I don't know if this is helpful. It is interesting for me to think about how I actually did it.

One conscious decision I made concerned the tone of my book: I wanted it light and humorous. I wanted to give my readers the understanding that not all is death and disaster in strange foreign countries.

Writing this non-fiction book was very different than writing the fictional romances, but knowing story writing technique was extremely helpful, of course.

Sorry this is so long!

Keep stringing!

Miss Footloose
Tales of the Globetrotting Life

Anonymous said...

Rita, no author here but an idea..I missed the part in first reading that this was of your jungle experiences..I thought it was real pearls and what came to mind was to make a beautiful necklace designed leaving the less beautiful ones out then putting those together in a bracelet/translated design your book with all the beautiful ones and then write a second book say like "short stores of the jungle". You may be susprized how GOD puts them all together in a totally beautiful way...OH by the way I WANT a copy when you publish !!!!!! Don

Betty said...

Sorry no suggestions here. But I just know you can do it! Don´t give up. I love the analogy of the pearls. So fitting for your life story!

Pam said...

Well, I enjoyed reading this. Beautiful simily!

I feel sort of the same in a smaller fashion of course, as I'm trying to put dad's life together in a short film. I'm wanting to include some narrating and title pages. I may be writing you for some advice!

John_n_Tascha_Piatt said...

I don't know all about writing, but I enjoy it.

I think Brooke's idea is a good one - but you would have to find an editor that understands the essence you are trying to capture with these pearls. Also, I like what anonymous said with having the beautiful pearls make the "necklace" and the less attractive ones make the "bracelet - but I would modify that idea to have chapters made up chronologically or with the "beautiful pearls" - however that translates to you... and then use the "misfit" stories/pearls and make them "chapter breaks" - a page or 2 between more cohesive chapters that tell a brief story, not necessarily in the chronology of the rest of what you have written (I'm not sure I know what makes some of them less desirable - but if they are important to you, they are most likely important to your story!) I hope this idea is a help to inspire you with more ideas!! :)

My husband says I'm a better editor than idea person :P and I must admit that I truly enjoy taking something someone else wrote... learning what drove them to write it... and helping it become the absolute best it can be - from correcting grammar to articulating ideas that have become jumbled... it is a gift from my Lord that I try to use to help His people. I love words and finding the best way to say things...

I pray that you find the string fit for your pearls!!

Kathy said...

I'm so glad you are working on your pearls! You're not in a rush, so just take your time and oen day it will fall into place! I'm looking forward to it! :)

Ken, Christie, Camille, Caroline said...

Hey Rita this is Ken,
I was a Master Jeweler in what now seems to be another life. Using your analogy, when we strung genuine pearls we would start by surgically cleaning our hands(bathe your project in prayer) then thoroughly clean the gems to be used(this may mean re-writes to edit length and promote cohesion). Then we would separate them carefully from their current arrangement placing them on a pearl stringing board(pull each anecdote from its journal to stand alone possibly in chronological order). After this we would; with the aide of a brightly lit room and white card stock, begin to re-arrange the pearls in an order associating them according to color(maybe sectioning them in topical format to begin with). Finally the fun would begin. In the case of genuine pearls they can damage each other if not separated by a hand tied knot. Thats right a hand tied knot between each pearl(maybe you could select a series format to utilize more of your material using one grand topic as the glue for each volume ie:God heals). The only concern from here is to know in advance if the customer wanted to add or take length from the necklace(you may have to leave a few stories out of one volume or add a running story line to tie them together). No matter I know that you will finish with nothing less than something spectacular. I want to pre-order now hahaha!

redneck preacher said...

A book is sort of like teaching children. You have to start with something that will make them sit up and listen (large pearl). As you teach them every few minutes you have to make a large move or loud noise that gathers their eyes or gets a laugh.

Placed in a book about your victories and tears and weird occurrences in the jungle it should be no problem to see a coherent necklace appear.


Brenda said...

I don't know much about writing, but it sounds like you need a good editor. Lacking that, let someone else read it who can make suggestions.

I wish I could discipline myself to write!

MightyMom said...

use a design wall much like a quilter does.

take an enormous bullentin board or a wall and tape/tack each individual story to the wall randomly. be sure and put a title at the top of the story in large letters so you can read it from far off.

now, leave them up there for a couple weeks. as you pass by them each time one or two will catch your eye as being out of place and you'll rearrange as they strike you.

after awhile you'll stop rearranging and realize that you have them in the order that suits them best.

then leave them another few days just to solidify the pattern in your head.

I'm serious. try it and I promise it'll help you. you can't string beads on a necklace in a pleasing pattern unless you can SEE ALL THE BEADS AT THE SAME TIME to know how they look next to each other.

same is true for quilts but I stuck with your analogy.

Jungle Mom said...

I have some proofreaders and editors lined up but I am reluctant to let go of the control for the form.

Miss Footloose,
Very helpful! Thank you so much. It seems I may need to give up my pearls and trade them for quilt squares. Any advice from a published author is always most welcome.

I am so glad you continue to read and leave me comments. I think you are on to something with the smaller pearls standing alone.

Thank you for your support!

I bet you are working hard on that!

I may need to take you up on the offer of editing.

I feel honored you shared this with me! The hand tied knots has given me an idea.

Redneck preacher,
You are so right about the need for tension and conflict and triumph to be spread through out the story. Sounds like you have done a bit of teaching or perhaps preaching!

I need a very patient editor. I know they will have a lot to fix in the way of mechanics! It's very hard to let go and move to the next step. It takes a new level of commitment and is sort of scary!

You know, I just set up a notebook much in this way. I have dividers and possible chapter ideas. I am placing stories in each chapter and every day reading through it and moving things around! Maybe I do need to put it up on the wall!

Always On Watch said...

The writing can be episodic, with stand-along chapters. But each chapter will need a good title -- and maybe a transition blurb in italics.

Another idea....

Recently, Michael J. Fox organized his memoir Always Looking Up by four section and put the anecdotes under the appropriate heading. I don't recall all the four sections, but do remember that one was entitled "Faith." He didn't organize sections into chapters.

Pat said...

Morning, my friend:

If you need a unique design for pearls, send them here to the states and we will make you something special!!(and ship them back soon!FREE OF CHARGE!!)

You may want to start your story at the time God saved you and laid it on your heart to be amissionary, and then can intersperse your marriage and calling for you and Clint and then language school and survey trips.....just a thought.

Love n hugs!!

Steve n Vickie said...

I'm sure you've had quite some adventures. It would be fun to read them.

T. Anne said...

I love that analogy! I guess I'm stringing pearls right along side you today as i map out my new WIP. It's a third in a series but I need to know the plot well before I begin.