Steps In Between

Celaine Charles ~ My journey as a writer ~ Author site:

January Writing: Wrapped-up Renewal

jan cocoon butterfly

January has wrapped me up, and instead of snuggling down for my typical renewal time (see:, it feels as if I’m spinning round and round in constant motion. This year’s cocoon isn’t for rest; it’s for growth.

I happened upon a book from Priscilla Long, The Writer’s Portable Mentor, a while back (see: and recently began diving into her words of wisdom. At the same time, I signed up for a writing class through the Pacific Northwest Writer’s Association. As a teacher, I’ve taken several writing classes, although never have I invested in a class for me and the writing of my novel. I’ve longed to, though honestly never found the time.

Well… with or without life’s ticking clock, these opportunities for learning have found me. And I’m giving myself permission to be swept away.

jan cocoon art girl writing

My mind is reeling from new and renewed knowledge, and I’ve only just begun. The parts that spark the most? Long’s book has me collecting and meditating on words; the pure beauty of language. My class instructor isn’t squandering one second of our weekly three-hour class. We dove into our stories the first night. Now I’m working on pages for my assignments, consciously considering each word, with the goal they will ultimately be put to use inside my novel.

jan cocoon life long learning

I’ve been working on my novel, Seam Keepers, for YEARS now. I’ve completed it twice, though keep revising. A year ago, I decided it needed a full rewrite (even though several of my beta readers disagreed). The more I learn about the world of writing, the more I want to improve my story. I suppose that’s the problem when the writer’s a teacher as well. Life-long learning is the seed I hope to plant in all my students. It’s what’s led me to where I am today. But it’s also held me back.

The truth is, I need a deadline filled with faith. That’s my intentional hope in reading Long’s book and taking the PNWA writing class; a timeline in which to get things structured, and enough faith to trust the universe’s acceptance of my efforts.

Is there a class for that?

jan cocoon done

I will continue sharing as I cocoon and grow. Hopefully, this is a sign of the writer I’m to become; a writer who can one day, eventually say, “done.”

Writing Advice: Layering

earth layers i Painting by Selina Rodriguez; earth layers i Art Print for sale

I’m learning about layering my work. I write a page, then I write another one in a separate way, or slightly altered angle. For example, the opening of your book. If you’re like me, you’ve worked really hard revising that first page more times than you can count. But it’s always been that page. What if you had several pages to weave together into a glorious one?

How to achieve this?

Put your characters in different starts of your story. Maybe your story needs to begin two hours before you began it. Would it be intriguing to start just ten minutes later? You won’t know until you write it.

These pages can be warm-up’s, really. If you write with an uninvested mindset, ideas spill out easier. At first, when I tried this myself, I felt immobilized. I didn’t want to change what I had already written about my characters. It took me several days to get more than a paragraph down. But let me tell you, once I allowed myself to go down a different path (reminding myself the actual first page was still securely saved on my computer), the possibilities blossomed. I played with language, and contemplated words with new vision. I got to know my characters in brand new ways. When I put them in different places in my story, they were forced to react. By writing about their reactions, new traits surfaced about who they really were.

I can use this information. I can go back to my first page and work in some of that language or those character traits I may have initially missed. Or maybe… as I feel the case may be with me… I might write a whole new and improved opening scene based on the various new insights I now know.

jan cocoon gift

For me, layering is “learning and renewal” all bound together like a gift. Slowly I pull the ribbon and rip the paper. Maybe there’s a box inside a box, teasingly tempting me along to the treasure inside. I know what I’ll find, I giftwrapped it myself back when my journey began. But it’s been up on the shelf for so long, I feel butterflies about opening it. Does everything look like I remember? Or has it grown into something more beautiful?

jan cocoon renewal

I hope you take some time to experiment with your work. It’s easy to get stuck, gripping what you already have for dear life. But, with January’s renewal comes a leap of faith. Try it on for size, wrap up in the layers and then later, you can weave it all into the perfect piece you’ve been waiting for.

Happy Writing!

By Celaine Charles, January 13, 2019

photo cartoon pic 2

Image Links: (art cocoon wrapped butterfly girl) (Pacific Northwest Writer’s Association) (The Writer’s Portable Mentor) (writing art) (life-long learning) (getting things done) (Earth Layers painting, by Selina Rodriguez) (renewal) (wrapped gift)

Categories: Thoughts on writing...

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