Where have you been, Tara?

Things have been busy here in the Tara Gabriel world — where I was at one time focusing my attention solely on researching and writing my novel, life events have divided my time between my novel and my new venture — developing a content writing business.

In October I moved to a new city, one that has enabled me to put my back burner plans of developing a content writing business front and center. Let’s face it, writing books, especially historical realism novels like mine, take years to research and write. That leaves the question of interim income on the table — one that couldn’t be addressed in my old town due to lack of opportunity, contacts, and bad ju-ju in my former residence.

Now that the house has sold, I am in a place of new beginnings with like minded individuals and I’ve been working on my business for the last six months. I purchased the domain name a few years ago in preparation — I thought my house would sell sooner. It didn’t.

Within a month of moving here, I started sub-contracting for other companies, providing content and learning the ropes.

I may not have been writing this blog, but I’ve ghostwritten over a dozen others over the months.

 

Webpage content, Social Media writing for companies, SEOing website pages and content, alt texting images, writing email campaigns, editing and writing bios, product descriptions, you name it. While things have been quiet at TaraGabriel.com, Tara Gabriel the writer has been busy.

Yes, I’m still working on my novel.

 

That brings me to why I’m writing this blog piece.

When I started this website, I was getting back into writing after a long hiatus, was researching my book, and was about to start writing the first draft of my book. I wrote blog posts on this site covering a variety of personal topics, mainly to put myself out there and get comfortable with my life being a little more of an open book (pardon the pun).

Those who know me in person know that I am not shy about sharing what’s going on in my life — that doesn’t mean it’s easy to put it out on the internet for all to read. This practice was helpful in allowing other eyes to be on content I had written, instead of it staying hidden in my computer for none to see.

Now I find that I will be maintaining this website, plus a new one for my business (currently under construction) and my time has become valuable and in need of focus.

My novel requires my focus.
My content writing business requires my focus.
My children and personal life require my focus.

 

With that in mind, I’ve decided to use this blog as a tool for my novel alone.

When I did NaNoWriMo a few years ago, I wrote the first 50,026 words of my novel. Then I changed my entire plot and threw away about 40,000 of those words (ouch — painful for a writer, but I had to go with my instincts on what the story was suppose to be). That is basically beginning all over again.

I did more research, and I wrote. I did even more research, and I wrote. I went on a research trip to explore all the places my characters lived and went to, as well as got my hands on books and old newspapers not available here, did interviews. And I wrote.

I’m still writing…while I start a business.

 

So it’s not going as quickly as some non-writers think it should. They don’t know that historical novels are some of the longest it takes to write. They don’t know how characters decide to switch things up without the author’s permission. New plot events change the course of a novel. These changes require the writer to go back, edit out previously written references to aspects of a character that no longer exists, fill in the new.

One example: My protagonist changed professions — whether I liked it or not. Now I have to edit all of that content significant to the story, delete every reference to it throughout the 76,000 words written. Instead, she now has a profession I know little to nothing about. This career change fits major portions of my book, which is exciting, and a little freaky, but requires me to learn everything about it from scratch.

Anyone know a metal designer/artist? That would help me out a lot, thanks.

So, back to the blog part of all of this.

With all of the research I have to do, and still desiring to keep up a more frequent writing practice outside of my novel and my business writing, I have decided to blog about some of the interesting items/stories/facts I uncover as I delve deeper into the lore of Ireland and lives of my characters. Some will reflect my life as I am further developing my novel — such as my last three posts about my research trip to Ireland.

They will not be about my business.
They will no longer reflect my personal life.

 

I am at a stage as a writer in which my limited time to write must be constructive — I see blog posts about my writing, novel, and what that entails to be so. I also see it as a way of formulating the information I am learning into concrete form for use in my novel as content or background information required for that content.

It also gives you a peek into what my novel will be about.

I hope you stick around to find out…

The Ireland Series: You’re Driving, Now What?

Today’s blog is going to be short, perhaps the shortest I’ve written. Mainly because it is an addendum to the last post about my foray on the roads of Ireland.

Therefore, I give you the top ten things to know about driving in Ireland (as an American):

10. Be brave. You can do it and it isn’t as difficult as your mind tells you. Yes, it’s driving on the other side of the street, but your brain is an amazing thing — It adjusts quickly. Keep the center line to the driver’s side and you’re golden. Oh, and check out what some of the more funky traffic signs might mean. It’s helpful.

9. Be patient with your terrified passengers. Some fear the bushes and small stone walls that whip alarmingly close to, and sometimes brush, their windows. They may emit a high-pitched squeak with unease. Some don’t trust a GPS and will bring a 15 year old map (I’m being kind) to challenge the authenticity of this “questionable” technology… despite newer roads having been built since the map was published (See Research Assistant #1). Again, be patient. Fun fact: Grasping the steering wheel in a death grip helps you bite your tongue.

8. Tourist buses are out to kill you. I mentioned this in my previous post, but it warrants a second warning. They aren’t messing around and you are a little bug they will squash from the side going 60 miles per hour.

7. I have it on good authority when said buses pass each other these severely narrow roads, they courteously slow their roll and all the inhabitants wave to one another mere inches from each other’s faces, separated by only 2 panes of glass, as they pass. I think it’s mutual appreciation that they have discovered they unexpectedly will live to see another day.

6. The rental cars are magic. When you stop, whether at a stop sign or yielding at a roundabout, the engine stops. Panic that you’ve stalled your car will leap into your chest. Fear not. Shift your foot to the gas petal, it will start back up on its own. No worries, you did not break your rental. They just like to give you the whole Harry Potter experience.

5. Car rental companies that tell you your flat is covered if you buy the extra insurance are lying. *cough* Sixt *cough* Don’t use them.

4. So many roundabouts! Roundabouts that lead into roundabouts that lead into more roundabouts. That’s “rotaries” for many of you here in the U.S.. And if you’re on your way to the Dublin airport, there are stop lights at the roundabouts. Figure that one out. Isn’t the purpose of roundabouts NOT to require stop lights?

3. There is such a thing as “Ireland time” and that force is strong in these ones. Don’t drive like a maniac and risk your life to be on time. They won’t. The good news is, no one cares. It’s refreshing once you get use to it.

2. You will drive past the happiest cows in the world enjoying the absolute best views. Seriously, all other cows would be jealous, or perhaps just pissed off, if they knew. These cows live on cliffs overlooking the Atlantic to the jealousy of all human tourists, hindered only by meager fences (no electricity involved). From what I saw, they have no intention of crossing these suggestions of obstruction. Although it does make me wonder if a cow has accidentally stepped off a cliff, something I never pondered before driving on the Wild Atlantic Way.

1. There is no better way to see Ireland than on your own, exploring little known roads that take your fancy, turning down seaside country lanes on a whim. I’m not one to keep a tight schedule when traveling, preferring to see what the universe puts in my path for me to discover. If you’re like me, or are not and wish to cultivate that side of yourself, Ireland is a safe place to do that. Let the roads lead you… Just make sure you’ve hired from an honest car rental company.

 

 

*Header image credit Nic Freeman

*Cows on Cliffs of Moher photo credit Andrea @ Irishlandscapes.ie