IWSG: New Job

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Today is the first Wednesday of the month, and that means IWSG Day! It’s a chance for writers to talk about our insecurities, triumphs, and momentary hurdles on the way to triumph.

This month, the main thing going on in my life is that I’ve finally broken down and very quickly (it all happened so fast I’m still like … how did this happen?) gotten a part-time job – working at a library, so this is probably my ideal job like ever. Seriously, I’m thinking of what job could be better and my brain thinks – bookstore? – but no, then I’d have to *sell* books, which is not as good for my emotional state. So, I’m good here.

Writing wise, I’m working on this crazy project right now, so involved, so little hope of success that I suspect it’s at least 50% of the reason I decided to take a job that does not involve sitting in front of a computer all day. Typing. There’s only so much my eyes and fingers can take. But, I love it. But, writing can be exhausting at times.

Hope you have a great June! Happy writing – and reading.

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IWSG: Breaking Writers Blocks!

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It’s April already, the first Wednesday in April, and that means <drum roll> IWSG Day!

This month’s optional question is: When your writing life is a bit cloudy or filled with rain, what do you do to dig down and keep on writing?

I have three tricks I use in those down moments, and I’d like to share them today.

1. Write Something Every Day.

I don’t believe in writer’s block! When you’re writing for money, there’s no such thing as “I don’t feel inspired.” (I also don’t entirely trust the high of “feeling inspired,” because I’m not always as brilliant as I think am.)  Every day, I write *something*. Even if that means taking ten seconds to write something like, “I am totally uninspired today and why am I even bothering to write this down?” I occasionally vent to my journal. A lot.

In my copywriting life, when I’m feeling really down I’ll sometimes take super easy, super low-paying jobs just to do something with Minimal Pressure. Better to get a few bucks for a few minutes of my time than zero for nothing right? I find that those tiny gestures are often all I need to get myself out of that slump.

2. Read Something Every Day.

I firmly believe in reading different kinds of books to get inspired and keep my brain limber. You never know what ideas you’ll discover in unexpected places. I recently discovered the Jaine Austen series, which I picked up on a whim because of the name. This series follows a freelance writer who is also a sometime amateur detective and reading along has helped me to laugh at some of my own silliness! I also recently read Stephen Hawking’s Illustrated Brief History of Time. The world has lost a great light with his death. If authors like Hawking and Neil deGrasse Tyson can make theoretical physics sound interesting, then (almost) anything is possible. Maybe even time travel?

3. Have a Support Network.

Last but not least, I think we all need people (like the awesome peeps in IWSG!) we can talk to and who can keep us accountable. We’ve all hit that slump where you realize you haven’t written anything, not even a sad little note to yourself in weeks. We’re all human. We get it. Right?

What about you? How do you deal with writer’s block?

Happy IWSG Day and Happy April!

IWSG: New Improved Resolutions

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Happy New Year and Happy IWSG Day!

Hard to believe 2018 is here. Not sure about everyone else but here in the Northeast U.S. it’s been super cold and now they’re throwing out scary words like “bomb” to describe the weather. Fortunately, I’m not on the coast but the cold has made getting out of bed and working more difficult.

Not that I really need an excuse.

My main resolution this year is to treat writing like a real job with real hours. I got this idea from a Great Courses lecture I listened to called How to Read and Write About Any Subject. I feel like I’ve made a habit of setting unreasonable goals in terms of deadlines I know I can’t possibly meet, so – for now – more attainable goals in terms of hours a day seem better. That way I force myself to do something while (hopefully) setting up a pattern of success.

Another resolution I’m making now is to more regularly blog. I’m going to say once a week and not just on IWSG Day. Maybe one flash fiction a week. I’ll have to think about that – but I will resolve to do it. Because I have so been neglecting this blog. Okay and true confession I had to take a long break away from social media following a certain presidential election. Because there’s still a part of me that feels like – if not for Facebook and Twitter…. But I need to bounce back. The Internet needs positive voices more now than ever. If not mine, then definitely others. Fight the power and all that.

For now, I’ve been doing a lot of ghost copywriting and also writing romance under Not My Real Name. The idea of putting myself out there is scary. I guess, because I am an Insecure Writer!

How is 2018 going so far? Any resolutions? Any assessment and re-assessment of prior resolutions?

HAPPY 2018!!!

 

IWSG: A Writer’s Many Hats

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Hard to believe that February is here. This year the first falls on a Wednesday, which means IWSG Day is here super early! True confessions, I was planning to skip this month due to working several personal deadlines and being busy and stressed. Then I saw this month’s question and thought I can write something real quick on that which also speaks to what’s taking up a lot of my time. Namely, reading. Lots of reading.

This month’s question is “How has being a writer changed your experience as a reader?”

As a writer, I read a lot. I read to discover different genres, to see what is going on with my chosen genres, to research. I read books about writing,  including a fascinating little treatise called Letters to a Young Novelist, where writing is called a parasitic infection.

We’re like people walking around with this bug inside us, feeding on our life experiences. For example, I know this is true, I can be across the world in a gorgeous, once-in-a-lifetime historical locale. And I’ll basically think okay here’s why I’m really here: how could I use this in a story? And after a heated, door-slamming argument, I’ll be telling myself well, that’s food for writing drama.

When I read, no matter what I read, but especially works in my chosen genre, there is always a part of me that’s thinking things like – hm, interesting stylistic device, that could help me with that problem I was having. Occasionally, I feel like  I’m actually reading as a reader would – but then again wait – I’m thinking *like a writer* that I’m actually reading as a reader. And how meta is that?

Okay, enough of that.

What about you? If you’re a writer, does this affect your reading? What do you think about the analogy between writing and a parasitic infection? Does it “bug”  you? 😉

Celebrate the Small Things

Wow, so it’s Friday again. This week was a slow week in some ways and that’s probably because I got a lot of (boring – yawn) work done.

  1. Sold quite a few business writing pieces, enough so I feel almost like an actual writer. Even though I really love fiction, it gives me this happy feeling inside to know my writing is helping someone somehow. Also the money helps!
  2. I got a lot of yard work done, including some pruning of tree branches which I’m really proud of myself for because it’s kind of scary. Also, a little over a year into this new home I’m finally starting to figure out where everything is.
  3. Got my regular cardio in, including a trip to local Wildwood Park and gym trips on cloudy/rainy days. Weather has been so awesome here. I wish it could be like this forever! But I know Winter Is Coming.th
  4. Oh yes, I’m actually reading Game of Thrones and am on the second book now. I actually started reading it over a year ago and was totally thrown by the fact that, after the creepy ghost zombie prologue, the main story starts with a beheading – and I’m supposed to like the guy who does the beheading. Yes. Indeed. And now, okay, I am loving the series.
  5. I’m working on this short story which I don’t even actually want to talk about right now. I sort of hate it, but in this way where I’m not sure if that’s because it is bad or if that’s because the subject matter cuts so close to the bone for me – which could mean it’s actually really good. All I know is I want to finish a rough draft and then walk away from it for a few days while I catch my breath and quietly hate on the bad guys and do other things. But first I have to finish a draft.

How was your week? Okay time for lunch and then back to work! Life is good.

IWSG: Ready or Not

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This is my monthly post for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group, and I have to confess that this month’s question is really apropos for me. The question is: “When do you know your story is ready?”

Honestly, I usually can’t tell, not on my own, because I’ve found I have no clue if a story is good or bad or finished or not. I guess that is why feedback is so helpful and necessary. Because I only see what I expect to see and I rarely am able to see the big picture.

So I suppose that is my answer. I know a story is ready when people tell me that having read it they got something out of it, in other words that the story really works, even if it’s maybe not their cup of tea. Or on the other hand if the “story” is still just a crazy jumble or boring or <insert crazily obvious to anyone else error I’m too close to see>. There have been times I thought this story sucks when the problems were minor and vice versa.

How about you? When do you know your story is ready?

Happy October and (to those who celebrate it)…

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IWSG: Show Don’t Tell – Evoke

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First, Happy IWSG Day! This is the first Wednesday of the month and that means it is time for Insecure Writer’s Support Group Day, where once a month we gather to share our fears, insecurities and encouragement as we walk down this winding writerly road.

This month, the question of the month is how we make time to write when we’re busy. I’m literally writing on the road, on my way back from a long trip out west which turned out longer than I planned but that’s okay. I can answer the question honestly by saying I’m always honing my craft.

On my way across two countries, I got to experience so many amazing things and meet so many amazing people and occasionally write by hand in farflung places like the Rockies of Canada and Yellowstone National Park. I’ve also been listening to some great audiobooks from authors who inspire me, like Larry Niven, who I got to see speak at this year’s Worldcon, and Ernest Cline, whose nostalgia-inspired Ready Player One is a book I could listen to forever.

Worldcon panel with Niven giving my phone somewhat a doofy look while I take my fangirl pic (loved the hat!):

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Funny enough, considering I’m presently writing in Iowa home of the prestigious Iowa Writers’ Workshop, I’ve also been listening to Professor James Hynes, former workshop prof, a lecture entitled “Writing Great Fiction.”

What Haynes has to say about evocation is opening my eyes to lapses in my own fiction. True confession: I have a Bachelor in English, Creative Writing, and that means I’ve taken Creative Writing seminars. We were told show don’t tell but until this moment I don’t think I ever understood what that meant. I thought show don’t tell meant (for example) – don’t tell the reader the character is angry. Show them slamming their hands on the desk, shouting, throwing things.

Evocation is more than that. Evocation means creating magic, poetry, using metaphor and sounds that evoke the image. In other words show the reader the character smacking the desk like stamping out an already-dying fire, stoking the flames of resentment.

Have you ever learned something new, something you already thought you knew, but started to see in a whole new light?

I am exhausted and still a long way from home, but so glad for the chances to catch my breath. I’m still hopeful one day I’ll be a “real writer” – whatever that means.

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