Spotlight on Writing

Last we left off, I was just finishing up with my edits on The Price of Pandemonium, and I’m pleased to say that since then, I have ferried it off via email to Ashley. It is now her turn to become editor, and I have the task of beginning book number three: Darkness, Set Us Free.

All went swimmingly well, at first. After a brief battle through the first chapter, I have now forged on to the third of my chapters (though not in chronological order, Ashley will at some point fill in the blanks). The third of my chapters introduces a new character, whose name shall remain a mystery—I don’t want to insert any accidental spoilers in here!

Question marks overlaying a lurid, watercolor background

I know what he looks like, and what his history is. I know his internal conflicts and his hopes for the future, and I know what path he will take as the series continues. This is a character who we dreamt up years ago when we first started the series, though recently we have made some fundamental changes to his psyche, which is possibly why I have been struggling. Characters don’t like being forced to change, and, it soon became apparent that this guy was a totally new character…the old one had walked off the set a long time ago and he’d been recast. Anyhow, as I stared at the blank page, he remained stubbornly elusive. His voice just kept slipping away from me.

So, I turned to a method that I have recently added to my arsenal of weapons against writer’s block, a method that is proving itself invaluable: I interviewed him.

This method is a gem I came across in a book; The Complete Handbook of Novel Writing: Everything You Need To Know About Creating and Selling Your Work by Writers Digest. It was an ‘in-passing’ reference that stuck solidly in my mind and I decided to try it out.

In rather strange in the way it does make you feel like you’re going crazy. After all, I am literally sitting down and conversing with myself (on paper. It would be too odd, even for me, to do it out loud). I usually take the role of therapist or God and ask questions to the character, starting with whatever situation has me stumped. Usually, this is enough to start the ball rolling, and whatever response the character gives me in return stimulates more questions. This time, because my character was being particularly stubborn and annoying, I took a high-handed approach to remind him of his creator:

“Hello. I am the God of your world, and I’d like to get to know you a bit better. How would you describe yourself?”

Laugh if you want, but I am now at least a third of the way through the chapter. Works like a charm.

Personal Update
Close up shot of the title of the textbook "Brunner and Suddarth's Canadian Textbook of Medical-Surgical Nursing

On my personal update, I thought it might be time to tell you all why I seem to have so much time on my hands for writing, blogging, looking after a website and keeping the social media in ship-shape.

Currently I am attempting to get Canadian Nursing Registration with CARNA (College and Association of Registered Nurses of Alberta). This has been underway for coming up two years now, and it is an incredibly slow and arduous process. 

The first year my degree was assessed by NNAS (National Nursing Assessment Service), who then forwarded a report to CARNA. It took a whole year to get to through NNAS. CARNA then did their own assessment and determined I needed to take three courses in order to get my knowledge up to scratch. Unfortunately, these courses are only available during specific times. So far, I have completed one out of three of these courses, and the second begins in January, the third in May. I will have completed these courses by September, after which point I then have to take a registration exam (additional to the exams I am taking as part of the courses).

But, this is the reality of transferring a healthcare degree. I’m under no illusions. Stories from Filipino healthcare assistants in New Zealand are much the same; many of them were fully registered nurses in the Philippines before coming to New Zealand, and await lucrative places on transfer programs to become New Zealand Registered Nurses. The difficulty of transferring a healthcare degree is not unique to Canada. The irony is that many people take nursing because they have been told it’s ‘so transferable’. Supposedly you can go anywhere in the world with it. From my experience, this is a lie. It’s true that nurses are highly sought after, but, if you plan to travel there are certainly easier ways. Not to mention less expensive ways, too. So far it’s cost us approximately $4000 CAD, this doesn’t include the exam fee I will inevitably end up paying, or the registration fee either.

So why go through all of this? Because, I meant what I said all those years ago on my application to be accepted into nursing. I want to help people. It might sound grandiose and a little cliche, but it’s true. It is a rare privilege to walk into a stranger’s life, and in one short conversation have developed a bond that allows you to look into their eyes and assure them that you will do everything in your power to make things better for them; whether better means something as simple as getting a blanket from the warming cabinet, or as complex as being part of a team that will save their life.

Fortunately for me, the reality is also that I have a loving, supportive husband, who makes enough that I am able to fully devote myself to studying, and of course to my other true passion; writing.