Where Dreams Meet the Business of Writing

Posts tagged ‘writing’

Only Five?

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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 Co-Hosts this month are: J.H. Moncrieff, Tonja Drecker , Patsy Collins, and Chrys Fey!

This month the OPTIONAL IWSG Day Question is: What are five objects we’d find in your writing space?

Only Five?

Oh goodness, Insecure Writer’s Support Group (IWSG) – you ask about five objects you’d find in my writing space? Only five? Since my writing room doubles as a crafting room also, I could list more like five hundred objects. Although I could see where most people would either quit reading or fall asleep – at least by item Number 47. So perhaps five is a nicer number to play with. Besides, after so many notebooks, paperclips, pens and staplers we’d all be snoozing, including myself. Many writers will probably have what I’ve listed first, but probably not the other four writing accessories.

IMG_0685[1].JPGStack of query and submission ideas

Many writers will have this item, a supply of possibilities to send query letters or essays to, or other publishing options to pursue. Although many may have a more organized approach, I am a pile kind of person. I have a notebook – two of them – that are supposed to hold these possible markets. Three years later the notebooks are gathering dust in a corner and the pile system is entrenched in place. And growing. I think for every one market I query or submit to, three or four other markets replace the one that’s gone.

IMG_0687[1].JPGA bunch of carrots

A few years ago, after I’d started writing in earnest, I had a dream. I was in the backyard with bushel baskets standing in front of four small garden plots. I was harvesting carrots. Two of the plots had a meager harvest, one had decent harvest, and one plot produced a bountiful carrot harvest. The bushel baskets on that one were overflowing with produce. I realized that with my writing I’m planting carrots. I’m planting the seeds of future harvest. Some seeds may not grow very well, giving me few carrots. Other crops may produce abundant supplies of the golden vegetable. I purchased some carrots from the local craft store to remind me that my words are simply planting seeds for future crops. I may not see immediate results. And the results will vary from scanty to plentiful. I just need to keep planting my carrots.

IMG_0686[1].JPGPieces of the past

Shopping malls don’t tempt me. Not in the least. I can live the rest of my life without going to another one. But antique stores…they’re my catnip. I adore pieces from the past and my home is filled with many family heirlooms and treasures gleaned from visiting antique stores in many different states. The ‘curtain’ in the window in front of my desk is a 1930’s quilt top, completely hand stitched and picked up for a pittance at a yard sale – the same one where I bought a set of 30 1934 quilt squares that I’ve since taken to a museum in Iowa. Handstitched dish clothes from the same era, vintage books, antique pottery, Depression glass, vintage bottles…they’re in here too, adoring the shelves along with books filling five book cases.

Wind chimes

Yes, wind chimes. A whole window full of them. Hey, if I put them outside I’d rarely see them. I spend much more time at my desk now than I do in the garden. So I installed a dowel in front of the window and hung a dozen wind chimes.

IMG_E0602[1].JPGTator Tot

Tator Tot is the newest addition to my writing space. My writing/craft room used to be (notice the used to part?) the only cat-free room in the house. We’d been watching one of the feral kittens outside for several weeks. One was extremely lethargic and listless. It got worse. We picked it up one day and its gums were so pale they were white. A month ago we made an appointment at the vets and brought it inside. Not knowing if it was sick or not, we couldn’t have it in the main part of the house with the others. So in my room it came. Tator Tot turned out to be a little boy and was extremely anemic, had roundworms, and was severely underweight. (1 pound when he should have been 2-2 ½ pounds) The vet said he probably wouldn’t have lasted another few days, and was doubtful if he’d even make it now. He made it and a month later is a little demon, never still until he wears himself out and plops down, now exhausted from hours of play instead of simply no energy.

So if my writing’s slowed down a bit over the past month, I’ll blame it all on Tator Tot. But I wouldn’t have it any other way. I’ll still keep him for Item Number Five in my writing space. Now…if I can only figure out how to have him help me harvest a few carrots.

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There’s Writing and There’s Writing

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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?’

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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.

Surprise, Surprise, Surprise #IWSG

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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, ‘Have you ever surprised yourself with your writing?’

 

Surprise, Surprise, Surprise!

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I’d love to share a story about when I surprised myself by perfectly writing a first draft – something lyrical and magical that flowed from my fingertips and required not a bit of editing. (Yeah, that would be a surprise, wouldn’t it?)

Instead, today I write of another type of surprise. But, it turns out not to be as bad as I initially thought.

A few weeks ago, I submitted a query about a guest post for another author’s blog – an author I respect greatly and look up to as a role model. She accepted the proposed blog (Yay!) and proceeded to ask a question about a particular magazine that I’d been published in. For the sake of anonymity, let’s call it Magazine XYZ. She was considering submitting a piece to them and was curious about how they were to work with.

I pulled out my spreadsheet and checked dates. I replied with the dates I submitted the article, when it was accepted, and when I was paid. There wasn’t any back and forth about the piece. It was a simple acceptance, I cashed the check and was happy. All was easy and effortless.

And then the next question appeared in my inbox. How much did they edit what I’d sent?

Hmmmm – good question. I had no idea.

When I first started my writing career, I often compared what I sent with the final product. I wanted to see where edits had been made and how they improved the story. It gave me a good feel for weak points I could improve upon and ways to strengthen future stories.

Several years earlier, what prompted me to compare versions was when I read a short children’s story and I knew that I hadn’t written those particular words. When the story posted, I went to read it, anxious to see my work online. I forget the short phrase that was used, but it was something so foreign to me I knew I’d never even thought this particular phrase, let alone wrote it. Sure enough, a whole paragraph had been added – all completely new with not a spec of my own words in it. But, that was okay. I still happily transferred the small amount of money that appeared in my PayPal account and went on writing.

Now, curious about Magazine XYZ, I pulled out my complimentary print copy and reread the final product. All appeared well. Nothing seemed too foreign or out of place.

Then…I opened up the document I’d submitted to the Editor. Expecting to find some minor changes, words added or words deleted, I felt very confused as I began reading the original copy. Nothing was matching up. Oh, some paragraphs and wording was the same but was in nowhere near the same order it had been sent. Huge major portions appeared in the final cut that didn’t show up anywhere on my submitted piece. It was familiar copy to me. It didn’t seem out of place. It turned out the additional information on the subject was taken from my blog.

Looking at the two side by side, I barely recognized the published article as what I’d sent.

Now, don’t get me wrong. The final article was far superior to what I’d sent. In fact, when I looked at what I’d so proudly sent off, I cringed in embarrassment. When I examined what I wrote, I shook my head in amazement – or should I say surprise?

I’m happy they did such an intensive editing job on that particular article. There is no argument whatsoever that what they printed was a top-notch quality product. It was far better than the words I’d labored over for so many days.

I had two surprises that day. The first was my astonishment when I realized the extensive amount of editing that had happened. And while I won’t be showing anyone the original piece, I’m happy to say that the second surprise was realizing how much my writing has improved in the last two years. No, I’m still not capable of writing that elusive, perfect first draft. There’s still a lot of room to learn and improve more. But for today, while honoring the insecure writer in myself, I will embrace the recognition that my craft is improving. I’m better than I was yesterday. I’m better than I was last week. And, I’m certainly better than I was two years ago!

 

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

When Dreams Almost Disappear #IWSG

This post is part of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group blog hop. The first Wednesday of every month is Insecure Writer’s Support Group day. Post your thoughts on your own blog. Talk about your doubts and the fears you have conquered. Discuss your struggles and triumphs. Offer a word of encouragement for others who are struggling.

The question for June is:
Did you ever say “I quit”? If so, what happened to make you come back to writing?

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I don’t know if “I quit” were the words that formed in my brain one June afternoon two years ago. I think the exact words were more along the lines of “I’ve failed, I’m a big fat loser, and I have to give up on my dream.”

I’d been working towards quitting my retail job to write full time. It had taken some time, and I thought I was prepared. We paid off the house the year before, so the monthly expenses I needed to pay for were lower than they’d ever been. While I didn’t have a huge amount in the savings account, it would cover three months of bills, should I need it. Additionally, the vacation and time accrued from my employer would cover several more months.

build itBesides, on the premise of the movie, Field of Dreams, I was going to build it and they’d come.

The first major obstacle hit me full force before I’d gotten out of the building. Following my final punch-out, carrying an armload of goodbye goodies from my coworkers, I stopped in my manager’s office to say goodbye. And then, in this moment when it was too late to change anything, he informed me that I’d get my vacation hours…but I wouldn’t get any of the PPTO time accrued. He’d had three weeks to let me know this and hadn’t thought to mention it?

I was livid. I was so angry I couldn’t start the car and drive right away. I had to sit there and cool my raging boil to a simmer. That was a thousand dollars I’d kissed goodbye. Two and a half months of bill money. Poof! Disappeared. Never to be seen again.

That’s all right. I’ll make it. This is just one setback.

And then, in April, the car died. That small savings account? Now, it too was gone.

By May I knew that I’d ‘built it’…but they weren’t coming.

Oh, I’d gotten a few small acceptances here and there. But it wasn’t enough to give me the freedom to sit at home and spend my days following my writing dream.

I started looking for a part time job. Without any success. When I saw that my eye doctor was hiring – for full time – I applied. I didn’t want to. I didn’t want to work full time, especially there. I’d been in that office. I’d seen the office girls in action. I knew that at the rate they ran, and with the days that stretched to seven o’clock in the evening, I’d come home exhausted and wouldn’t have the energy to write.

When the office called me to come in and work a two-day trial period, which they were doing with all the applicants, to see who would be the best fit for the office…I lost it.

I threw myself across the bed and bawled. And kept bawling.

I’d tried. I’d failed. I saw this as the total loss of my dream.

What was worse was this brain of mine wouldn’t allow me to only view this one instance that I was seeing as a failure. It had to bring up every single failure it could remember – from my lifetime! I hadn’t just tried one thing and failed. I was a failure. I was a loser. I couldn’t do anything right.

I sobbed until I was drained. Then, I fed the cats and went to bed early.

The next morning I got up. What do writers do? Even loser-writers? We write about it. I sat in front of my laptop and poured my heart out. For hours. I typed and pounded the keyboard. I should have just slashed a vein and let it run on the computer. It would have been easier.

Now, two years later, I look back and almost laugh at myself.

I worked two days for my eye doctor and came home with $140 check. I didn’t end up getting the job. (Whew! Thank you, Lord!) And I kept going. I did end up getting a part-time job, which I still have. I work for ‘them’ in the morning, which pays the bills, and I come home and work ‘for me’ in the afternoon as I build my dream.

I didn’t officially quit. But it was close. I was so close to that quitting edge that I felt like I’d fall off the precipice and never return. Until I reminded myself that some days I’m my own worst enemy and I shoved that negative, whiny creature back in a time-out box so I could carry on about my business – that of following my dream.

 

You can find Trisha Faye here:

Trisha Faye Facebook Author Page

Writer’s Zen Facebook Page

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What I Should be Doing Today

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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!

Writing Humor

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I’m not sure who to credit for this, other than SJS. Thank you for the laugh!

Three Sites with an Abundance of Writing Tips

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Here are three sites with great resources of writing tips. They’ll keep you busy. Or scan the lists for some of the sites that are most helpful to you.

Writing Tips – The Best Writing Tips for Writers

Do you need tips to help you become a more productive writer? Do you need tips to help you write that next viral article? Below are some of the best writing tips on this blog.

  1. 10 Productivity Tips for Writers
  2. 9 Lessons I Learned in 8 Months of Writing for Income
  3. How to Write Great Content when You Don’t Feel Like It
  4. Two Ingredients of Awesome: Content and Metaphor
  5. How to Write Content that Gets Read

 

How to Write Your Memoir

“… 99.9 percent of people lead boring lives. But every single one of them is trying to make some sense out of his or her existence, to find some meaning in the world, and therein lies the value and opportunity of memoir. It’s therapeutic for the writer, and it eventually even helps his or her descendants understand themselves better.”

 

Tips From the Masters

You will find pearls of writing wisdom in these pithy lists by 21 masters of their craft, such as: Andrew Motion: 10 Techniques to Spark the Writing – Expert writing tips, Annie Proulx: 5 Techniques for Good Craftsmanship – Expert writing tips, or Billy Wilder: 10 Screenwriting Tips

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