Too Soon

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pure white petals
dust summer leaves
gone too soon

 

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Dedicated to my friend Laureen (a.k.a. VBarkley). You left us much too soon, but there is comfort in knowing you are no longer in pain. Thank you for being such a wonderful friend. You are already deeply missed. ❤

Photo: Tree Blossom, c.b.w. 2016

Words: haiku, c.b.w. 2016

A Weird Writing Dilemma

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For the last few days, I’ve been busy pulling some really old writing files, (see Getting All Nostalgic for the reason why). Some of the files I had to track down date back a full decade! The fact that I even found them was truly astonishing (thank goodness for an archaic laptop that didn’t succumb to a virus), but it turns out that was only a fraction of the battle that was ahead.

First, ten-year-old files don’t like transferring to updated versions of software. Especially when those old files are part of a program that basically no longer exists. Back in the day, I was still playing around on a PC. PCs often came with a free abbreviated version of Word called Microsoft Works. Almost every post I wrote for my threads on The Office message boards was drafted in this program.

Transfering-files-and-folders

I’ve since evolved to a Mac in which I run the full Microsoft Office software. It turns out none of the files I pulled off my old PC would open on my Mac. Ugh. Are you kidding me? After a few minutes of crafty thinking, I realized I could probably upload the files to google docs on the off chance they would magically convert to that format.

I was close! Google Docs prompted me to convert my files using CloudConvert. I didn’t have to download anything, but rather my files could be converted to .docx in the magical realm known as the cloud. Once converted they were sent back to my google docs account all shiny and new. From there, I downloaded them to a USB.

Voila! My files opened and all my hard work was saved. There are some formatting issues, but the text is all there and that is what matters!

This is when I thought the hard part was over. Silly, silly me. The hard part began when I opened those files and started reading. Ten years is a long time in the life and evolution of a writer. I’ve come a long way since then and its almost painful to see words I so badly want to fix.

proofreading-tips

While it would be easy to go in and make all sorts of improvements, herein lies the problem: Do I really want to alter something that so many readers have already enjoyed? The whole point of this nostalgic project was to find a new online home for message board posts that currently are no longer available, (the message board is now defunct). The reader who requested them loved them they way they were and so did many other readers.

As a writer, I find myself in an odd place. I know I could rewrite those posts and make them better in terms of style, flow, and organization. At the same time, I don’t want to mess with something that is a perfect snapshot of a wonderful time in my life where I was rediscovering myself as writer. Nor do I want to mess with what is a perfect preservation of fandom memories for readers and myself.

Ultimately, I decided to do limited revisions. One of my trademark flaws is leaving out entire words because my brain moves faster than my typing fingers. I’m doing my best to fill in the missing words. I’m also fixing punctuation issues such as commas, semicolons, and hyphens to help with reading flow. Other than that, I’m leaving the original posts as original as I can. It’s painful, but I think it’s the right think to do considering their newfound purpose.

I never thought I’d find myself in this position, but I suppose this is how published novelists feel about their work. There really is no such thing as a final draft, but sometimes you just have to let things go.

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c.b.w. 2016

Getting All Nostalgic

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Nostalgia seems to be the theme of my life this week. Between restoring vintage Barbie dolls and sewing with vintage fabric, an email popped up in my inbox from an old acquaintance. She was a reader of some writing I did a long time ago and wanted to know if she could post it on her website. It sounds simple enough, but the story behind the writing it is somewhat unconventional.

Years ago, I was part of an online fan community for the television show The Office (U.S.). Under the screen name “scrantonbranch” I played on various threads of a message board for episode discussion, trivia, and general geeking out over a show we all loved, (loved is actually not a strong enough word for how we felt about the show – it was soul consuming passion).

theoffice

Part of what made The Office so special was the relationship between Jim and Pam. After the jaw dropping events of the Season 2 finale, I became full-blown obsessed with these characters. As an outlet for this obsession, I started writing incredibly detailed analyses of every episode on threads that became known as The Pam Dichotomy and The Jim Paradox.

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Oh, this moment! The fandom collective nearly exploded from excitement.

Throughout Seasons 3 and 4, I analyzed every word, facial tic, and story development of Jim and Pam. My threads gained quite a following and incited some amazing discussion and fan camaraderie. At one point I was getting upwards of 1000 hits a day. The threads were so popular, I found myself surrounded by fans at the 2007 Office Convention, (as an introvert, I was mortified, but also completely and totally blown away).

By the time Season 5 rolled around, Jim and Pam (or JAM) were together and there wasn’t much left to analyze (until Season 9, but the community was long gone by then). I stopped writing the threads by the end of 2008. I still watched the show like rabid fan, but there was no longer a need for the PD and JP (that’s what we called my threads for short).

It was sad to let it go, but at the same time I was ready to move on to something new. I always valued the entire experience because it got me writing again after a really long dry spell. It’s why I’m here on this blog, why I wrote two novels, and why I started writing poetry again. It’s actually pretty amazing how one TV show could inspire so much and have such a lasting impact on someone.

So here we are in 2016. It’s been eight years since I wrote the PD And JP. The Office stopped airing in 2013 (I won’t get into how devastating it was to watch it all end), and the message board community was taken offline. All good things come to an end, right? Life had moved on so far, far away from the PD and JP, I’d all but forgotten about it.

Then, that email showed up. I recognized the screen name immediately as one of my old PD/JP readers. She now runs a fanfic/JAM fansite that was around when the show aired (I was a frequent visitor of the site, too!). In the email, she asked if it was possible to repost the writing I did for the PD and JP as it is no longer available online. I was shocked that anyone even cared about either of my threads after such a long time. Of course, I said yes … as soon as I find the writing.

I’m in the process of trying to find all my old files. I’ve gone through three laptops since I started writing both threads back in 2006, so they could be hidden in a number of places. There is an online archive that did a snapshot of the old message boards, so I’m hoping I can salvage some of the original posts.

I’ve managed to locate about half of my original posts, which is pretty good considering how much time has passed. I never thought to save my posts in an organized fashion because I never thought I’d need them again. Boy, was I wrong!

So why does all this matter? I’ve learned a few really important things:

  • Save your writing! All of it. Save every file and keep it organized
  • What you write is important. Regardless of what it is, it matters. Even if its something that seems stupid (like analyzing a TV show to a ridiculous degree) it pushes you forward in the writing process.
  • Readers are out there and they are loyal. Keep writing for those people and remember how important they are to you as a writer.

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c.b.w. 2016