Writing into the Light…

Finding my way with words…

What if Scarlet O’Hara Decided to Write a Book?


Since I retired 10 years ago I have managed to become afflicted with Scarlett O’Hara Syndrome.  While I’d like to tell you that refers to her 18 inch waist, it doesn’t.  It refers to the quote, “Tomorrow is another day.”  Read that, I now live totally in my right brain and all of the years of living with my Stephen Covey organizational methods that made me a highly successful person have been traded for a red dress and I’ve gone to the ball!

Meeting self imposed deadlines has become a thing of the past.  It took me 2 years to paint my kitchen and dining area.  First I had to find the right color, decide how I was going to organize colors and decorating, then I had to motivate myself to go buy the paint and architectural details, then there was the motivation to get up and decide “today is the day” rather than “tomorrow is another day.”  Finally, I had to gather the ladder, the cans of paint, the brushes, the edgers, the paint tape, and the wet and dry paper towels for when I start painting the floor or myself.  I’ve had no problem going from someone who had every minute of the day organized and working a 60 hour week to sending the left/organizational side of my brain on permanent vacation.

I have been researching and mentally organizing and processing a YA book for about 20 years now.  I have tons of research, but keep running into stone walls.  Each time I hit a wall, I sit back with frustration and say, “Tomorrow is another day.”  In an attempt to kick start this project again, I attended a Women’s History Month program in Washington tracing African American women from the Civil War to Civil Rights.  Fascinating workshop.  Got me motivated.

I also registered for a workshop on Writing Children’s Books which requires me to produce at least one chapter.  I created the annotated chapter outline.  I then did a first draft (which was actually about 53 drafts) of Chapter 1.  Parts are good, parts are very good, parts have no right to be on paper.  “Tomorrow is another day.”  Well, I’m running out of tomorrows (deadline for submission is June 1st) and I feel like I am throwing darts at a dartboard while blindfolded to find an approach to the story that is natural and flowing, not painful and contrived.  There is a correct framework for this story, all I need to do is to find it, then rewrite Chapter 1 by June 1st.

While this post (blast of frustration) will never be my best work… I am a good writer.  That being said, writing a book for publication is a far different thing than my professional writing or writing the results of research, writing a report, or writing a blog, or writing a letter, or writing a note on a card.

Writing a book requires just the right narrator, just the right concept, just the right dialect in dialogue, just the right pacing in unfolding the story, enough information yet not too much information, enough description so that the reader feels like they are there involving all of their senses, and do all of this while stimulating a reader to keep turning the page…

Before Miss Scarlett lets loose with another “Tomorrow is another day”  and I lose all chance of meeting my deadline, could some of my writer friends out there offer some suggestions to slow down this overactive brain and tell it to shut up so that I can write…

I’d love to hear your thoughts…

Author: Carol R Craley

I am a former Philadelphia suburbanite who moved to Maine in 2002 ~ a former art educator ~ former school administrator ~former college and graduate school instructor ~ a writer ~an artist ~ and a photographer. I am currently mom to two Cavalier King Charles Spaniels named Emma and Sara and a rescued kitty from Georgia ~ so that is her name. I am inspired by nature, great music, art and great literature ~ that's what inspires me. I have recently made move the coast of Maine to the coast of South Carolina. I am intrigued by the differences in the history and culture of the south in America. I am learning much, and excited by all I still have to learn.

12 thoughts on “What if Scarlet O’Hara Decided to Write a Book?

  1. Wish I could help, but a) I am not a writer and b) I am also afflicted with SOS. I’ll be watching hopefully to see if you come up with a treatment! I am excited to hear about your future book, though.

    • Thanks Leon! Being fortunate to be surrounded by creative people like you does help the process. Despite your 3000 mile move I know you’ll be there through the writing and rewriting!

  2. I’ve learned that if you keep doing what you’ve always done you’ll keep getting what you’ve always gotten. Set aside a specific time every day to harness the creative energy. Don’t deviate from that portal. This includes “no potty breaks”. There is nothing more stimulating than the pressure of relieving oneself at our age to encourage completion of a task in order to take care of natures call. You have the skill, the knowledge, and the research that will undoubtably produce a quality piece of writing. Forget about yourself and do it for the potential readers that will get pleasure and perhaps inspiration from your writing. There is a whole world out there that is waiting for you. There’s a knock at the door, answer it.

    • Thank you for your undying faith, dear brother. I would argue that the “no potty breaks” approach at my age would be cruel and unusual punishment ~ besides I have cloth seats on the chair pulled up to my laptop! Perhaps a “no snack” break might be better suited to motivate. Good advice. I’ll try to schedule my left brain and write toward those potential readers.

  3. When we get to the point that we don’t want to write, or that we keep putting off writing, it is often because we no longer see it as fulfilling or fun. We see it as work — work that must be perfect, and soon the pursuit of perfection begins to smother the passion we have for writing, but if every story were perfect, reading would become irritatingly predictable. It is the writer’s passion that wills a reader to turn the page, not literary perfection. You are a good writer. Trust yourself. Just write the story.
    Once you have it on paper, place it in the hands of a child of the appropriate age, and watch as they read it. Pay close attention to the places where they stop reading for no apparent reason. Keep notes. Ask they what they did or didn’t like about that section of the story, because for some reason these passages lost their attention and may need to be changed. If they read the entire chapter through, however, stopping only for necessary breaks (bathroom, dinner, and bedtime); you have succeeded in producing a good story, even if it doesn’t have just the right amount of everything.
    You can do this. Get writing, Miss Scarlett. Just remember it’s supposed to be fun.

    • How fortunate I am to have wise LiteraryChicks watching over me!! You hit the issues right on the head, as well as the results. I have been writing from a set of preconceived self-imposed expectations rather than my passion, which is the basis of all of my other “types” of writing. Thank you for putting my feet back on the trail!
      I think I will print out your sentence, “It is the writer’s passion that wills a reader to turn the page, not literary perfection.” and tape it to my laptop!!
      Thank you, thank you, thank you for your time, attention and wisdom… not to mention the kick in the pants!!

  4. I expect you have identified the chunk of day that is your best writing time. I only write for my blog, but my most creative time is first thing in the morning. I put everything else aside (except breakfast) and peck away at the keyboard until I complete the task I’ve set for myself. Self imposed deadlines – it is the only way I ever finish something!

    • Thanks Margie! I am grateful that your “creative time” is first thing in the morning. It is obvious in your writing and photography. You are able to provide me (and your other readers) with a view of the world, to be honest, I often sleep through. I would hate to think I would miss those literary and visual images!
      My creative time, fortunately or unfortunately, is after 11 PM and as far through the night as it takes. Perhaps my brain needs the rest of the world to be asleep so that there is never a feeling that “I’m missing something” by checking out to write. Even the dog is asleep at that hour so she doesn’t have to go out, want food or have a desire to play. It is a bit life disrupted though.
      Thanks for your response Margie. I obviously need to do a better job of identifying and forcing myself into left brain attention to bring both sides of my brain to work! If I can start work at 5:30 AM with a 1 hour commute I can handle this, especially during the months when I am not working!

  5. Hi Carol, I found you through Spectra. Here’s a hug. You’re in the terrible throes of “Perfection.” I wrote one novel, thinking only what would happen from scene to scene. My 2nd novel had key points as my guide. My 3rd novel had a great outline. The first and second one never got published, but the 3rd was fun and fairly quick because I knew where I was going each time I sat down to write and I was excited to get there. (And will be published next year)
    So I would definitely recommend creating a good outline then whack it out on paper. I also don’t edit as I go. I find editing turns on my “Perfection” filter. And I don’t want that muse-squasher released until I’m almost done.
    I, too, work late at night when there are no interruptions and I can’t see my dirty house and feel the need to get out the vacuum. But heavens. If you’re starting your day at 4am…maybe, you’re simply slap worn-out. I’ve looked through your blog. You tell great stories. Treat yourself to some chocolate and keep those stories coming..

    • Barb, Thank you so much for stopping by and offering your sage advise (which makes you wise, not old). I think you’ve hit the issue on the head. I’ve spent too many years organizing the book in my head and it has created a log jam that won’t let it flow onto paper!
      I am now 2 narrators past where I was when I wrote this blog, but the stories are finally flowing (as they should). Shutting off the “edit” button will be a more difficult hurdle to get over, but I will work on that. I really appreciate that you stopped by and offered assistance. Congratulations on you “almost published” book!

      • If that doesn’t work, have a slug of that tequila that cat fella is hawking over at Spectra’s

      • Actually all of the animal rescue groups are having their spring “Kitten Showers” to gather supplies and remind people to adopt… I was thinking that cat fella would do far better at enticing women to adopt a cute little kitten!

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