The writing process

I go through seasons... and i don't think that i am the only one. It starts with beginning projects. You know, looking to develop interests and hobbies - agreeing to take on more things for work/church/friends. Then, as the projects pile up a sense of being overwhelmed. Then, a purging so to speak - where you allow the plates to crash to the ground. Then a general retreat into the "countryside" to isolate and recover. I am in the "gathering" phase so to speak... i really do try and regulate myself on how much i take on, but i am not very good at it. Especially since i am an involved father and husband, so there are times when "additional duties" are assigned to me. Well, recently i tossed my "kabuto" into the ring of a writing contest. It's not a big deal, no prizes (that i know of), and it's only for a maximum of 5k words, but the handicap is that it is due on the 30th... while all of the other contestants have had a month and a half head start. I am not concerned about my chances of winning, i would just like to get some constructive criticism from a new source. My main concern right now is that a book that i've been using to try and self teach myself has received a pretty harsh critique from a source i am not all that familiar with. Being such a noob/outsider to writing i am concerned that i am steering myself wrong. Aside from the harsh review of Strunk & White's The Elements of Style, i find myself struggling with the very basics of English. Things like verbs, adverbs, adjectives... i honestly could not dissect a sentence if my life depended on it. I have submitted a few small pieces to various sources for critique and in general i receive favorable reviews and some helpful remarks, but i don't have a mentor. Nor could i afford a tutor, or to go back to take a college course. So, in the meantime i will plug alone and self-teach myself as best i can. If anyone can suggest a ground level, basic English grammar and structure book... i would be indebted to you - thank you in advance. Another "plate" i've started spinning is a nearby battlefield tour of Sharpsburg will be taking place on May 2nd. My 'problem' is that i have already encouraged my beloved to take a day and go out and be with her friends that day. Now, i am not trying to shirk my responsibilities of being a father, but i've never had a professional tour of any battlefield and it's been something i have longed to do. With the opportunity of going and spending the day with some old army buddies, touring the Sharpsburg battlefield i have been trying to find some friends of my kids who might be interested in having a sleep over. Coming back to the topic of writing... i think i would need the following basic reference materials... 1) A basic grammar reference. You know, to teach me about things like verbs, adjectives, punctuation, etc. 2) I could really use a citing reference. Something that would help illustrate how you are supposed to reference titles of books, articles, magazines, movies, etc. I am most definitely clueless on this. 3) Last but not least, a beginners reference to writing style. Maybe something that helps me know what kind of sentence structures to avoid... something to help me know about passive, present tense. Perhaps something that would help me improve upon my subject references so that who/what i am talking about in my writing doesn't get lost. Again, thank you in advance for any helpful references... Well, i have more to ramble on about... but i am out of time for today...

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