Shifting my focus

The Victorinox Cybertool.
The Victorinox Cybertool. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It’s that time once again—it happens every year—when my focus shifts from daily routines of tasks around the house and writing regularly each morning to getting ready for another summer at the cottage up in Michigan. And now that we’ve had an uninterrupted string of beautiful warm spring weather, I’m finding it very difficult to stay focused on my writing duties, as much as I need and want to. I have no doubt that I will be able to pick back up once things are settled at the cottage, the pier is in place, the pontoon securely moored, and that first  gray and rainy day comes along.

The winter just passed (finally!) was very productive in the writing skills development department, I must say. For example, February and March were devoted to learning Scrivener, that powerful Swiss Army Knife of writing tools created by the good folks at Literature & Latte! And it all came about rather unexpectedly.

 I had completed a 50,000+ novel in Word during November’s NaNoWriMo event, something I jumped into for the fun of it and to actually be “forced” to have some kind of rough draft of a novel on hand at the end of the month. That was a challenge, though, as the month unwound, with all of the many November “interruptions” (Thanksgiving, guests, travel, etc.). Through it all, though, I exceeded the required word count of 50,000 and was more than pleased with what I’d created. For better or worse, I had something to work with in the months ahead.

It was during the conclusion and word count verification process in NaNoWriMo when I first heard of Scrivener. I learned that, because I was a NaNoWriMo “winner,” I could get the program for half price, about $22, following a 30-day Free Trial period. Being an old guy who has always loved learning how to use technology (I even taught those various things for many years), and since it’s been a while since I’ve really gone beyond the “basics” of Word, I jumped at the opportunity to give Scrivener a try.

It wasn’t long before I had the Free Trial up and running, and I figured the Tutorial that comes with the program would clarify everything I needed to know about using Scrivener. And, I must say, it’s a very good Tutorial, but I wanted more, and that’s where Gwen Hernandez rode in on her white steed and really opened the floodgates to understanding the program.

It wasn’t hard to come upon ads for a book Gwen had written, titled Scrivener for Dummies. Having loved all previous “Dummies” books, I once again jumped—leaped, actually—at the chance to purchase the book that I knew would be a wonderful guide through Scrivener and all its various parts. After all, my just-completed NaNoWriMo novel was resting and waiting for me to take it to the next steps, and my plan was to do so in Scrivener. So there it was, my winter project, something I could look forward to and feel that my growth as a writer would be something to make it all worthwhile.

Right about this time, I also discovered that Gwen offered online classes in Scrivener for Mac, the next one to begin in late February. Perfect! I not only leaped but did a double-back flip at the opportunity to enroll and be part of a “live” class. I don’t have time or space at this writing to list all of the wonderful positives that came from my six weeks spent in working through Gwen’s class. I’m sure there’s a post or two down the road where I will really be able to devote the time and space to extolling the positives that came from the class, her book, and an immersion in Scrivener.

So by the time April rolled around, work continued (it still does) on my novel The Bet. Meanwhile, I jaunted off into the world of publishing to Amazon. A couple of short stories (“Pinewood Farm” and “Hobo Willie”) which have been stowing away with me for a long time, were thrown into Scrivener and made ready for formatting as .mobi eBooks for Kindle. It’s a process that is pretty straightforward and simple—thanks to Scrivener! Long story short, in less than an hour, I had them on Amazon, ready for public consumption. I’ve actually sold a number of copies of those two short stories, something I smile at—appreciatively,

English: Norley - footpaths from Delamere Fore...
 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

that is!

So now, back to my need to step back for a short time. Those cold and gray winter mornings allowed me time and space to get lots accomplished—writing and learning—but now it will be time spent packing, doing outdoor stuff here as needed, and checking into the cottage Memorial Day Weekend. But that’s not cause for concern, since my first book—Black Wolf Lodge—was written over the course of several summers on the wonderful screened front porch of that cottage, an ancient lady who turns 100 this summer. And the beauty of it is, Scrivener will be right there along with me as we watch the lake go by and the summer days grab my focus….CortlandWriter

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