Where Dreams Meet the Business of Writing

Posts tagged ‘Writers Zen blog’

There’s Writing and There’s Writing

iwsg

Today I’m writing for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group’s blog hop. The first Wednesday of each month, we write in inspiration to a question posed by the group’s administrators. We don’t need to write in response to the question posed, but I like to use their query as the springboard for the monthly post.

This month we were asked, ‘How do major life events affect your writing? Has writing ever helped you through something?’

open book.jpg

There’s Writing and There’s Writing

First off, we’ll answer the easy one. How do major life events affect my writing? Pretty much, if they don’t merely slow my writing, they usually bring it to a screeching halt. It seems that I have a limited reservoir of energy. I can use it writing – or I can use it dealing with major issues. I don’t always have the resources to do both.

Has writing ever helped me through something? Yes. And, no. There’s two types of writing in my world. Journaling, which is private and therapeutic. And writing for the public eye, such as books, short stories, articles, and blogs.

Journaling helps me through things. But that isn’t writing that I share with anyone else. Now, later on, after that difficult part of life has passed, then I may use some of that for fodder for the public writing. For instance, in 2010 I had a Sudden Cardiac Arrest. My heart stopped beating on an airplane. That incident took me about two weeks to even come to grips with what had happened, let alone dealing with all the associated emotions that arose. Did my journal get a work out that year! Now, once the intensity of the moment subsided and life stabilized back to a routine (and I’m talking a few years here), then I began publicly writing about it. Several times I’ve even excerpted short snippets from my actual journal, but only in short selected sections.

But for me, I need a lot of processing time between the actual event and publicly writing about it. Sometimes I even need this transition period to even be able to talk about it with someone else. But, that’s me. I’m usually a private person and don’t easily show others the open shards of my heart. So I’ll show you some of my writing – the other – that’s tucked away on a shelf to rarely see the light of day. I guess it just goes to show that not all writers are open books.

 

Check out more Insecure Writer’s Support Group posts here.

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No Thank You

iwsg

Today I’m writing for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group’s blog hop. The first Wednesday of each month, we write in inspiration to a question posed by the group’s administrators. We don’t need to write in response to the question posed, but I like to use their query as the springboard for the monthly post.

This month we were asked, ‘What publishing path are you considering/did you take, and why?’

Although I typically go with the proposed question for the month, this month I’m going another route and talking about something else. Rejections.

rejected

No Thank You

Being an insecure writer – which is why I love this group so much – I hate rejections as much as anyone else. Especially on those days where several of them hit your inbox so close together. It can feel crushing and can make me feel inadequate and less confident.

I read another viewpoint of this last week though that is changing how I think of it. The author mentioned that rejections aren’t a reflection on you or your writing. It’s simply a ‘No Thank You.’ They likened it to going to a restaurant. Your heart is set on a certain dish. Perhaps you’ve been craving a nice, juicy steak. The server offers you their special – grilled salmon. Maybe you don’t like fish. Maybe you do, but it’s just not what you want for that meal. So you simply say, “No thank you.”

She asks – does the cook break down in tears because you ‘rejected’ their offering? No. It’s not a rejection of their cooking, their skills, their talents, or their person. It just doesn’t fill a need you have at that moment.

I need to apply this attitude towards the rejections headed my way. It has nothing to do with my talent, my work, my piece, or my person. It’s simply a ‘No thank you. Not right now.’

 

Check out more Insecure Writer’s Support Group posts here.

How Many Sarah’s Can You Have?

iwsg

Today I’m writing for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group’s blog hop. The first Wednesday of each month, we write in inspiration to a question posed by the group’s administrators. We don’t need to write in response to the question posed, but I like to use their query as the springboard for the monthly post.

This month we were asked, ‘What’s harder for you to come up with, book titles or character names?’

names from a hat

How Many Sarah’s Can You Have?

A Sarah here, a Sarah there…how many Sarah’s can an author have? This month’s question for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group was an easy one. Definitely choosing names are more difficult for me. The titles always seem to come with the germination of the book idea itself. And while they many change as I work on and complete the book – that is rare. I almost always go with my first instinct for a title.

But names, that’s where my own personal difficulty lies. I don’t have problems with naming characters, it’s just that I seem to always go to the same names. Sarah and William seem to be particular favorites to me, but I have no idea why. It’s like I have this internal list of ten to twelve favorites that my brain always accesses first. On my short stories spreadsheet, I had to add a column for main character names, so I don’t repeat names.

Another small glitch I find is that I can easily end up with two or three character names that all begin with the same initial. If I don’t consciously watch it, I’ll have Sarah and Sam with a dog named Spot. It must be that alliteration fascination coming back to haunt me.

Alas, if these were the only troubles I had to contend with, I’d be one happy author. Names I can change all day long. Now if fixing plot holes and characterization problems were just as easy.

Check out more Insecure Writer’s Support Group posts here.

 

Deadlines Banish the Cloudy Days

iwsg

Today I’m writing for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group’s blog hop. The first Wednesday of each month, we write in inspiration to a question posed by the group’s administrators. We don’t need to write in response to the question posed, but I like to use their query as the springboard for the monthly post.

This month we were asked, ‘When your writing life is a bit cloudy or filled with rain, what do you do to dig down and keep on writing?’

rainy day

Deadlines Banish the Cloudy Days

I wish I could say that my writing journey is all sunshine and roses. Not a peep of clouds here, thank you very much. Alas, I can’t say that. Truthfully, there are days that I question what I’ve been doing the past three years. I question the wisdom of my choices. I question whether or not to continue. I mull over the options of going back to a full time, punch-the-timeclock job.

What do I do to keep writing? I can’t say that I consciously have a plan in place to keep me moving forward. Sometimes the deluge of the current storm gets me in a funk and I don’t write. Sometimes for a few days. Occasionally the funk period has lasted a whole week. I wallow in the mire and waste away far too many hours playing mindless computer games. One weekend I binge watched a whole sitcom season in three days.

Fortunately I have several pre-committed deadlines already in place. I have a monthly newsletter, Back Story. I have my weekly reader’s newsletter, Trisha’s Tidbits. I’m in a weekly writing group, Tuesday Tales, that writes to a word or picture prompt each week. And, the first Wednesday of each month? I need a blog post ready for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group. So after a few days of inactivity and slothfulness, one of these standing deadlines rears its talon and snatches me back into the writing game. Usually I find once I’ve written the 300-800 words needed for one of these projects, my self-pity party is over and I’ve placed my ‘Writer’ hat back on my head and I’m pounding the keyboard, the fears, insecurities, and doubts vanquished once again.

 

Check out more Insecure Writer’s Support Group posts here.

Third Times a Charm #IWSG #Nano #Nanowrimo

Today I’m writing for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group’s blog hop. The first Wednesday of each month, we write in inspiration to a question posed by the group’s administrators. If we want to. We don’t need to write in response to the question posed, but I like to use their query as the springboard for the monthly post.

This month we were asked, ‘Win or not, do you usually finish your NaNo project? Have any of them gone on to be published?’

iwsg

Third Time’s a Charm

National Novel Writing Month, also known as NaNoWriMo – or NaNo as many call it – descends every November, sending scads of writers into a writing frenzy. Today, the monthly posting day for our IWSG blog, coincides with Nano’s kickoff.

The goal sounds simple. Write 50,000 words in a month. Only a mere 1,667 words per day. You write fast and furious. Banish your inner editor to oblivion for 30 days. Then, after the New Year, take your project and begin the editing and polishing process. For your month long effort, you end up with a nice novella, or a good start on a larger novel.

Only 1,667 words a day. Piece of cake. It’s easy. Right?

It is. Until you try to put it into practice.

Unfortunately the rest of the world doesn’t stop for our writing marathon. Jobs continue. Family life continues. Children and spouses still want fed. They still want clean clothes. Pets still want attention. And then there’s the holidays beginning to edge out all available time. Thanksgiving, with its many family obligations is towards the end of the month and Christmas is breathing down our neck like a demon. We’re trying to write, knowing that we should be buying gifts, addressing cards, and any of the other holiday tasks that multiply like breeding rabbits on steroids.

F&S coverIt took me three times before I completed the goal in 2013 and hit 50,000 words. Or, to be more precise, 50,333 words. My project that year was Fat and Sassy, a story of my grandparents and their six children (one of my mother), mostly set in the early 1940’s. Taking tales of the past – mostly from my mom – and fictionalizing them into this book was very rewarding. It took another three years though before the project was completed and published.

In 2009 I tried Nano for the first time with Three Bags Full. I made it to 19,000 words. In 2012 I tried again with Prissy and Paige and made it to 24,625 words. Yikes! Better, but still not there.

Then…ta-da! In 2013 I finally made it!

I participated for the next three years, and made it each time. In 2014, A Better Life A to Z made it to 50,602. In 2015, My Wildest Dream hit my highest mark at 57,823. In 2016, Peonies & Peppermint reached the goal at 52,087. Alas, a computer crash wiped out A Better Life and My Wildest Dream. Since I had a pre-publication obligation to Amazon to upload My Wildest Dream by a certain date, I frantically wrote for several weeks to try to recreate that book. (Writing more furiously even than I did during Nano!) If I failed to upload the book, I’d lose the ability to offer prepublication deals – for a year I think. So there’s a book there, but I don’t promote it and need to either take it down, or add to it.

This year, starting today, I’m working on another project, Every Day’s a Good Day, which I’ve talked about writing for three years now. It’s time. And I need the kick in the pants that Nano gives us. And I’ll make it again – even if I have to use a dirty little trick. The book is about working in a retail environment and maintaining a positive attitude. ‘Retail’ is a word that will come up often. So, if instead of writing ‘retail’ I write ‘retail-job-that-sucks-the-living-life-out-of-mere-mortals’…I get 11 words instead of 1. That should help me stretch and reach that goal of 50,000 words in nothing flat!

 

Check out more Insecure Writer’s Support Group posts here.

Celebrating the Yes’s and the No’s #ISWG

Today I’m writing for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group’s blog hop. This month we were asked, ‘When rejections feel overwhelming, what do you do to get yourself out of this negative funk?’

Oh no! This morning I wrote my October ISWG blog from a question I’d printed out September 20th. The event page had this question – which I wrote to.

October 4th – IWSG Blog Day — Optional Question: When rejections feel overwhelming, what do you do to get yourself out of this negative funk?

After the blog was written and scheduled, I saw another ISWG blog where that was written to a far different question. Going to the blog hop page, I saw this question – October 4 question – Have you ever slipped any of your personal information into your characters, either by accident or on purpose?

I know all is good. We don’t have to strictly follow the question of the month. But I wanted to clarify so if you read this and see the question I was writing to and then you go visit other blogs on the blog hop and see something totally different – that is why. (And by the way, the answer to the 2nd question is ‘Oh my, YES! But that’s a whole other blog post, so we’ll save that for another time.)

iwsg

Celebrating the Yes’s and the No’s

What I did then and what I do now are vastly different. I’d hope so. I would certainly wish that over the past few years I’ve grown as a writer, developed a thicker skin, and also grown in my personal and spiritual life. Which ultimately means if I’ve grown, I’ve also changed in the way I respond to many various life issues, only one of which is how I respond to rejections.

rejectedWhen I began freelancing several years ago, a single rejection wouldn’t devastate me. I knew it was part of the process – part of a writer’s life. But when I got several – okay, many – rejections in a week, and I think three within 24-hours, I crumbled. I laid on the bed and sobbed until I didn’t have a tear left. I took it personally. That many rejections all at one time meant I probably wasn’t going to pay the bills that month. I felt like a failure. For a week I wallowed in self-doubt and self-pity.

Fast forward a few years and now I’m not derailed like before. Occasionally I’ll still get waylaid for a day or two if the rejection I got was a publication that I greatly desired. But for most of them now, I shrug my shoulders, vow to send out another – or two or three – and I go on about the business of writing.

To keep my spirits up, sometimes I’ll do a search for popular writer’s rejections.

For a few instances, Authors.me, on their post Award-Winning, Best-Selling Authors Who Were Rejected, reported on these popular authors:

Zane Grey’s first experience getting paid for what he scribbled came when he sold a short story for ten dollars in 1902. His first novel, written the following winter, was not as successful, and when every publisher he submitted to rejected the work, his wife paid to have it published. The book did not turn a profit. If Grey was discouraged by this, he luckily got over the discouragement enough to become a prolific and widely-read author. The sales of his 90 or so books have exceeded 40 million copies.

Stephen King sounds downright proud of the number of times he was rejected as a young writer. In his On Writing, he says he pinned every rejection letter he received to his wall with a nail. “By the time I was fourteen,” he continues, “the nail in my wall would no longer support the weight of the rejection slips impaled upon it. I replaced the nail with a spike and went on writing.”

Robert M. Pirsig weathered an amazing 121 rejections before selling Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, a book now considered an American cultural icon.

Kathryn Stockett was turned down by 60 literary agents before she found someone willing to represent The Help. “Three weeks later,” she says, “we sold the book.” The Help later spent 100 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list.

H.G. Wells received a note in which the editor predicted, “I think the verdict would be, ‘Oh, don’t read that horrid book.’” Nevertheless, The War of the Worlds was published in 1898 and has not since gone out of print.

Still not convinced? Here’s a list of 50 authors who received repeated rejections, some over a lengthy period of many years, before they went on to become household names.

It puts it all in perspective. If they got rejections too, then I’m in good company. One little rejection – or two, or ten – doesn’t mean I’m a bad writer. What I submitted or queried simply doesn’t meet their needs for an array of possibilities.

Coincidentally – or serendipitously, as I don’t believe in accidents – I received an email this morning from WOW! Women on Writing. The subject was submissions and rejections. It referenced a column by Chelsey Clammer, and contained links to some of her columns:

Submit ‘Til You Make It, What My Submissions Spreadsheet Teaches Me, Hard-Working Writer Seeks Widely-Read Journal, Rejection Acceptance, Find or Fling? Figuring Out Where to Submit, Caring About Cover Letters, and How to Hold Your Horses, Breathe and Proceed, and Writing Contests: You Have Nothing to Lose.

I didn’t go read all of these yet – after all, I have a blog post to write and post for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group! But I did check out one that intrigued me the most – Rejection Acceptance. Chelsey interviewed author Jac Jemc, who has posted regular blogs since 2008 about her rejections and acceptances. Rejection Collection is a humorous, lighthearted approach to dealing with the downside that exists, whether writing is our career or our hobby.

Jac told Chelsey, “Posting the rejections on the blog really feels like a way of closing the door on the negative responses. Once I make the post, I’ll archive the email or file the letter, and that’s that. I look for a new place to send that story. Keeping the blog has really allowed the progress to become the focus rather than the rejection.”

Now that’s an attitude I endorse.

I may have to borrow her idea and tweak it for my own inspiration. But…hmmm…then I’d have to go back to my spreadsheet and actually count those pesky little critters. We’ll see. But for now, I’m off to read some more posts about how other writers handle rejections – something we all get.

Check out more Insecure Writer’s Support Group posts here.

 

What I Should be Doing Today

typewriter

After a pathetic January, devoid of almost all written word, this is what I should be doing today. Instead i alternate between looking at my massive ‘To-Do’ list sitting on the desk beside my mouse and gazing out the window, as if my thoughts will bring about a warmer day.

All right – I talked myself into it. I’ll wallow in the depths of no writing for the rest of the day. Then tomorrow, bright and early, it’s back to business!

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