What Fuels the Muse?

Click on image for link to the DIY MFA Book!

 

A thought-provoking question!  For Gabriela Pereira, author of the DIY MFA Book, she doesn’t believe in waiting on your muse to inspire your writing.

“I firmly believe that creativity isn’t something random that may or may not happen to us. I don’t believe in an uncooperative muse. Instead, I believe inspiration is something we make happen. Yes, there is something magical about creativity, but it’s also something we can harness, channel, even manipulate.”

So, how do I usually jump-start my muse whenever I need her?

*Music

*Walking/Exercise

*Daydreaming

Sometimes, I even do all three at once!  If I’m looking for a particular mood, I’ll select the type of music (via You Tube or Pandora) that fits the bill.  When I’m “blocked,” music or some form of exercise almost always work for me.  Other times if none of the above are successful, I’d take a short break and binge-watch a TV show in the genre I’m attempting to write.

What about you?  What fuels your creativity?

 

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How I Became a Writer

 

***Would you like to join in this virtual Book Club?  Click here.

 

Becoming a writer (for me) didn’t happen overnight; but, the seeds were planted at an early age.  As a young kid, I felt different, acted different, and was treated different.  Why? Because of my inability to communicate with the world around me.  In fact, my Kindergarten teacher approached my parents to have me pulled from school as I was deemed as “unteachable.”

This all occurred during the mid-1970s in rural upstate New York.  My parents had just spent two years taking me to various specialists all across the state as well as Vermont; but, no one could definitively find what was wrong with me.  In the end, they told my parents that I had behavioral issues which should be directed at a psychiatrist.

Faced with one school unable to teach me, they decided to have an audiologist, Aubrey, to check me out as a second opinion.  She discovered that I had moderate hearing loss in both ears (over 65% loss) due to nerve damage.

After being fitted with hearing aids, I spent the next two years attending speech therapy in an effort to get me “caught up” as I was quite behind in speech development.   School was still a challenge not just in learning; but with having friends.  As a loner with maybe one or two good friends, I spent much of my free time with imaginary friends and creating various scenarios and settings for myself.   The only thing these tend to get me in trouble; one time it actually landed me in the ER!

In 5th grade, a classmate challenged a bunch of us to a contest to see who could write the scariest story.  I concocted one about a girl going into an old house and discovering a decapitated head in a fridge.   Everyone seemed truly unnerved by that one.  🙂

Just watching everyone’s reaction to my story made me feel good about myself for once; like I was actually good at something.  I also found that writing enabled me to bring the stuff I had in my head to life on a piece of paper.  Not to mention that it was much safer!

This one experience planted the seed within me to become the writer I am today.

 

What about you?  How did you become a writer?

 

#IWSG Best Ways To Start a First Draft?

Click on the image to access this group’s official page

This month’s question: What steps have you taken to put a schedule in place for your writing and publishing?

 

For the past few years I’ve managed to keep a schedule of some kind for blogging.  This year, since I desire to convert a screenplay into a novel, I feel I need to set up a schedule for that as well.  Just figuring out the how part.

I joined a Facebook group, Finish Your Novel, a project really that’s dedicated to doing just that-finishing a novel.  It’s my hope that this group will help keep me accountable and moving forward throughout the year with my book.   I’ve been a writer for a number of years with short works published;  I’m ready to take the next leap to being a published author.

I think about setting aside three days each week to devote solely to writing the first draft.  Will probably do it chapter by chapter.  The challenge will be how to best incorporate the flash-back scenes since they will take place throughout the novel.  Also to keep me going forward, I plan to set a daily (or maybe a weekly one instead) word count goal that I can track via Word as well as a spreadsheet.

Now, the next question is–should I start by planning out the book (character development, outlining the story line/subplots, etc.) or just jump right in and start rewriting the story from the screenplay?

Hmm…

 

 

Another Year Is Ending

 

In review…

Now that’s Christmas is over it’s time to focus on the New Year.   2017 was a fairly good year overall both personally and as a writer.

I saw a few of my writings published:

The Hungry Chimera Literary Journal (two poems)

Doll Hospital Journal  (essay)

Motionpoems, Inc (film credit/interviewed both poet & film-maker)

Piker Press (poem)

 

I took on a role as a moderator (in a team of four) for Tuesday Serial; as well as a moderator for the weekly THURSDAY TALK SHOP over at Facebook with We PAW Bloggers (of which I plan to step down to a lesser role for the coming year).  I’ve created and am trying to grow (hopefully to add a few volunteers to help) Serial Fiction Digest (Twitter, Facebook, blog).

Looking ahead…

2018 is looking to be a year of crossroads for me as a writer.  I plan to work on a romance (clean) novel as well as continue to plan out another.  In the past, I’ve focused mainly on flash fiction, poetry and serial fiction.  I will continue with these forms, but gradually shifting some of my attention/time to writing a book-length story.  My goal is to be not just a writer, but an author.

I will be taking on a role as a citizen journalist for The Crossover Alliance (a Christian publishing company) of which I am very excited about.

 

What about you?  How was 2017 for you as a writer?  Have any specific goals for the new year?

(for each comment, I will stop by and read your most recent blog post! 🙂 )

 

Writing: Would You Do Things Differently If You Could Go Back In Time?

Click on the image to access this group’s official page

 

This month IWSG question is: if you could backtrack and do things differently as a writer, would you? 

 

Wow, this is a loaded question.  One I have pondered on and wondered about from time to time.  Who hasn’t?  Especially now that I’m in my mid (ish) 40s, this question keeps popping up in my mind.

My first inclination is to say “Yes!”

I’d have attended SUNY Potsdam (only) majoring in Journalism instead of bouncing around at least six different colleges and ending up with a degree in Physical Education (which I barely used).

As a journalist, I would have traveled the world.  In this reality, I’ve only visited one other country…Canada.

Perhaps I’d even started my own magazine or newspaper company.  Or, maybe even branched off into the publishing industry and became an editor or something.

And just perhaps I’d ended up living in Boston (one of my fave cities) where I’d pen my first and break-through novel that landed me on the New York Times’ Bestselling List.

If I’d done all the above, I wouldn’t be the person I am today.

As a writer.  As a poet.

A mother.

A wife.

Living on a small farmstead in eastern North Dakota of all places 🙂  Writing full-time at home.

I’m richly blessed.  I don’t think I would give this life up to relive it as a different person.  It’s nice to dream about it, but that’s it, just a dream.

I like this reality better.

What about you?  If you had the opportunity to go back and do anything differently as a writer, would you do it?

 

 

 

Thankful Tuesday

 

Hard to believe that it’s nearly Thanksgiving (US).  Where has the year gone?  Since I may go “quiet” here for the next few days, I’d like to list some of the things I’m thankful for.

First, the usual:

*Family

*Faith

*Friends/Community

Without any of these, I would not be where I am today.

 

Next, the more contemplative ones 🙂

  1. I am so grateful to be living in the rural country now instead of the city.  Here, my anxiety level has dropped dramatically, and I feel that my life has been more enriched and healthier.  I love seeing my son reveling in the freedom to play outside and not worry about various dangers.
  2. Here I can immerse myself in nature and the seasons which all fertilize my imagination, and allow me to create more abundantly.  No booming rap music next door.  No noisy traffic outside our front door.  No fighting neighbors over POA regulations.  Just peace and quiet.

Also…

 

My struggles fuel my writing.   They enable me to be a more compassionate and empathetic person.  To be more thoughtful of others.  They also help in creating more realistic characters.

In other words,

 


 

The next chapter of the interactive story will post on Friday!

December 1st!

Here are the two previous chapters:

A Snowy Reunion  (chapter one)
A Catch-Up Affair  (chapter two)

 

Thursday Thoughts: On Writing Life

 

Back when I worked full-time in the Banking industry, I used to complain how I never had enough time to write.  I’d get up each weekday morning by 4am to get myself ready first, and then get hubby and son up before hitting the road by 5:45am for over an hour’s drive (in 35 miles) into downtown Raleigh.  I’d work 7am till 6pm (most days).  By the time dinner and homework are done, it’s easily 9pm and by that point, I’m ready to crawl in bed.   Weekends were usually reserved for catch-ups, house chores, and errands.  I’d managed maybe an hour of writing time each week.

Now?

With being “retired’ from the work force (am only 46) due to disabilities, I have loads of free time on my hands.   I’ve discovered, though, I waste a lot of time doing pretty much “nothing.”

Nothing being spending way too much time on social media, and watching internet-stream tv shows and movies.  Well, these were what I was doing for the past year and a half before depression hit me hard.

Or, perhaps mid-life crisis?

I found myself looking back, and wondering what did I have to show for being here on this world?  I really didn’t find a career I enjoyed (long story) so ended up in the Banking industry for the last 15 years of my working life basically as a glorified paper-shuffler.

Family put aside, I had nothing tangible.

I wanted more.  I desired to leave a legacy.

At this point, I’ve published several short stories, essays, and poems; but 99.9% are online magazines.

I now want more.

Something solid, concrete.  Something I can hold in my hands.  And smell.

This means I need to get serious, and smart with my time management.  I figure a way to start doing that is by tracking every word I write.

Daily.

This means less time with social media and other forms of entertainment.

I value my writing gift, and feel I have at least one book within me, enough so that I need to start valuing my time more than I’ve done in the past.

So, this is where I’m at in my writing life.  At a cross-road, and I’ve decided on the path to take.  Now, let’s see where it takes me.

Got to love adventures, eh?  🙂

What about you?  Where are you at in your writing life?  Are you happy with it?  If not, what changes could you make?

 

I Fear I’ll Never Publish a Book

Click on the image to access this group’s official page

 

This month’s question:  Win or not, do you usually finish your NaNo project? Have any of them gone on to be published?

 

 

I’ve participated in NaNo nearly every year since 2008, and I will do so again this year.   I won twice, first time in 2008, which was the most complete first (and only) draft I’ve written.   It’s an apocalypse-science fiction story I titled Hope Falls.  It’s to be the first book in a series.  I believe it has promise only that…

It’s still sitting on my hard drive (have a binder with printed pages as well–somewhere).

I love to see it published.

Why haven’t I done it yet?  I mean, it’s only been NINE years.

Honestly, the editing/revision part scares the crap out of me.

Shorter works I can handle.  Just not sure how I’d handle a book-length editing process.

I feel like a wuss.

A coward.

And I’m worried.  Really worried.  If I’m this frighten over one manuscript why would it be any different with another?

Am I a lost cause?  Can I break this rut I’m in?

I’m a published writer in that I have short fiction and poetry published in multiple zines (both online and print).  My next goal is to be a published author.

I fear that dream may never come true.

 

 

Difficult Writing Process (Poll Results)

 

The other day I posted a poll (both here and on Twitter) asking which part of the writing process was the most difficult.

Here are the results.

Twitter:

Marketing 51%

Rev/Edit 21%

Writing the story 21%

Coming up w/ idea 7%

 

Blog:

Marketing 56%

Rev/Edit 22%

Coming up w/ idea 11%

Writing the story 11%

Overwhelmingly, marketing seems to be the most difficult for writers.  The reasons?  There could be many.

One could be that the writer is an introvert, and finds the social media intimidating.  And speaking of social media, there are thousands and thousands of writers and authors on them trying to get their books and stories out in the world.  With all that noise, how does one writer or author find a way to stand out and be noticed?

What’s even more frustrating is that it doesn’t matter if you’re traditional or self-published, you’re still expected to do most of the marketing.

How does one even start?

Here’s an article I found that offered some insights: Marketing Your Books

 

According to these results, coming up with a story idea doesn’t seems to be that big of an issue for most writers.  I suppose what could be problematic is choosing which idea to use.  Which one will readers want to read?  Which one will I want to write a book-length manuscript, and not get bored half-way through?

For me personally, at this point in my writing career, the editing/revision is the most difficult part.  It’s like trying to get a donkey to do something it really doesn’t want to do.  Yeah, I can be that kind of a donkey.

Next!

The NaNoWriMo Debate: Are You “For” or “Against” It?

Take part in a debate and voice your opinion as a writer!

 

 

 

Click on link below to enter your post:
https://www.linkytools.com/basic_linky_include.aspx?id=282069

or

Post your post’s link in the comment section below (same rule applies-one with the most likes, wins).

 

 

 

Writing: Finishing a Draft Dilemma

 

October.

This means that fall’s foliage is at its’ peak, and the sugar beet harvest is in full swing up here in the Red River Valley of North Dakota.

I woke up this morning to the ground covered in a thin layer of frost.  Even had to turn on the heat briefly.  With the warm air blowing through the vents, I counted at least four of my ten indoor cats huddled on top of them.

Darn, should have snapped a pic.

Next time.

October is also the month to prepare for NaNoWriMo (aka National Novel Writing Month) so I’m taking a month-long course with Beth and Ezra Barany to help me plan a novel idea I have.

 

Like I said in a previous post, I have little problem with finishing short pieces, but a book-length?  It IS like running a marathon (I’ve ran 5-ks in the past so I can only imagine what 20-plus miles would be like!) where I almost always fizzle out by the middle, and that’s it.

Finito.

I either lose interest, or life gets in the way, or writer’s block sets it.

Excuses…excuses.

Excuses won’t get the book written.

I need to really look at why I’m not finishing.

Am I meant to be just a short story writer?

A poet?

I’m unable to accept that.

I can’t.

I won’t.

I may never be a prolific novelist like Stephen King or Nora Roberts, and that’s okay.   I just believe that I have at least one book in me that I must write.  And this what’s been driving me to try again and again.

A quote by Maya Angelou keeps haunting me:

“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.”

Now that I’m middle-aged, I have this growing fear of dying before I’m able to complete the kind of writing I was meant to do.

It’s a horrible feeling.

One that’s growing worse by the day.

The only one book-length manuscript I managed came during the 2008 NaNoWriMo, and that’s because of my curiosity to see if I could actually write at least 50,000 words.

Since then, all my attempts to write another book have failed.

I think it may be because those stories were not meaningful to me.  They were just stories that I had a vague interest in, but as I laid down word after word, I lost interest.

I find that I can’t devote hours and days to something I have no real passion for.  Life is just too short.

In my heart, I’ve always wanted to write a story that revolved around fatherhood and daughters.  This desire…no, need have grown exponentially since my Daddy’s death in September 2014.

Three weeks ago, I saw a particular news article that gave birth to a story idea for such a book.   In taking the above course, I’m working to develop this idea, flesh out the plot/subplots as well as create my two main characters.  I plan to use NaNoWriMo as a jump-start to write as many words as I can, but the goal isn’t to win, but to ultimately have a finished first draft by the end of the year.

I believe I have found the reason and motivation to drive me to be successful this time.

Stay tuned for more later.

 

 

 

 

Writing: How Much Of “Me” Actually Goes in the Stories?

Click on the image to access this group’s official page

 

This month’s question: “Have you ever slipped any of your personal information into your characters, either by accident or on purpose?”

 

 

Hmm, an intriguing question posed by IWSG.  “Personal” could mean just about anything in my mind so I’d have to answer this honestly with a YES.

Many of my main characters have pieces of me injected in them which make the stories I write personal and meaningful to me.   They entice me to finish each story so not to leave them incomplete which borders tragic in my mind.

The characters may have some of my physical attributes, but mostly I inject events and emotions that I’ve experienced in hope to make the stories more dramatic and real to the reader.

Granted, majority of the stories I write are short so it’s relatively easy to finish.  Writing a book-length story is a different matter in that I’ve yet to complete a full first draft since 2008 (my first and only full draft from NaNoWriMo which still sits on my hard-drive).    However, this year I hope to change that.   I will post more about this later this week.

 

What about you?  How much of yourself do you include in your writing?

Book Review: Storytelling for Pantsers: How to Write and Revise Your Novel Without an Outline

Available October 1, 2017. Click on image to purchase book.

Annalisa Parent, teaching extraordinaire and editor of Chair & Pen: Musings on Writing and the Writing Life, has come out with a new book called, Storytelling for Pantsers: How to Write and Revise Your Novel Without an Outline.

If you’re someone who tends to write on “the fly,” but always seems to have a problem either finishing or figuring out where the story’s going, this book is for you.

Annalisa, a Pantser herself, understands how other fellow Pantsers tend to lose their way when they write a book because of the unorganized fashion of their creativity.  This book aims to help them–you— find your way through the “muddle” quicker.

How?

By finding the patterns (or theme) in the story, and then build upon them.

This book is not your typical how-to-write book.  The instructions and examples are not in your usual cut-and-dry and formal format.  This is nothing like an ordinary book about writing.  Did I say that Annalisa is a teaching extraordinaire?  Well, she proves it in this gem.  Her presentations throughout the book are personable, easy to grasp, and her witty sense of humor and uncanny culture references make for a truly enjoyable learning experience.

Annalisa believes in taking the whole writer in account and not just about providing knowledge.  For the first part of the book, she turns her attention solely to the writer.

You.

Knowing and accepting yourself for who you are as a writer is half the battle in your journey to becoming a published author.  She talks about brains, and how Pantsers are who they are because of the way their brains are wired.  She talks about how we tend to limit ourselves by giving in to our fears, and how the wrong kinds of feedback could damage our future as writers indefinitely.  Annalisa shows us how to turn all of this around.  How to manage the fears and find the right kind of feedback needed to move our writing forward instead of backward.

Annalisa firmly believes that having the right mindset coupled with positive support could mean the difference between having a publishable or an unpublishable book.

The focus of the second half of the book is on the writing craft as she breaks down various parts such as character development, plot structure, conflict, setting, pacing…all geared for Pantsers.  She provides tips and exercises on how to take what you have and improve upon them rather than change everything.   Annalisa is a firm believer in NOT interrupting the creative flow as you create your story; but to take what you have created later on and make them better, interweaving them together so they become connected as part of one seamless story.

Annalisa truly understands you as the writer, and takes a holistic approach to helping you reach your goal-having a complete and publishable book.  This book is unique and a joy to read.  You learn more about yourself as a writer, gain the confidence needed to move forward while enjoying the journey.

 

#ThursdayThoughts: What IS Success?

 

Many writers feel that touching even one life is success.  Not by how many books one published, or by how many awards one garnered; although these are VERY nice to have.

For some writers, writing goes much deeper than any physical items or accolades.   It’s about using their gifts as storytellers,  healers, change-makers for the sake of others.

Success is based on the number of lives impacted.

What about you?  How do you view success as a writer?

You Tube Tuesday: Writing and You Tube

 

(*YouTube Tuesday idea originally came from the Martians Attack blog)

 

Not too long ago, I used Pandora (Film Scores station) while I wrote.  Now, it’s You Tube.  It’s full of choices including Epic Music World, The Guild of Ambience, The Prime Cronus, The Soundtrack Beast, and on and on.   Some of my favorites though are Fesliyan Studios, Vadim KiselevTaylor Davis, and Audiomachine.

 

What about you?  What/who do you listen to as you write?

 

If you’d like to participate in YouTube Tuesday, post something from YouTube that you enjoyed and tell us a bit about it.  Don’t forget to include the link to this post in yours so I can check it out.  Also, if you’re on Twitter, tweet about it using the hashtag #YouTubeTuesday.

 

Writer’s Life: Back Home!

Just returned from a 12-day trip to the East Coast.  It was a whirlwind.

We drove from North Dakota to North Carolina in less than 30 hours (we did spend one night at a hotel near the border of West Virginia).  We went on to spend three days with my mother (NC), and then three days with hubby’s aunt and uncle in MD (just outside of Annapolis), and then two days with hubby’s side of family in western New York before driving back home.

Home sweet home.

Will take today to recuperate before diving back into writing/blogging tomorrow.  For now, here’s one of my favorite quotes by Hans Zimmer:

#ThursdayThoughts – August 24th, 2017

 

Writing is always a process of discovery. I never know the end, or even the events on the next page, until they happen. There’s a constant interplay between the imagining and shaping of the story.-Kim Edwards

 

Writing is a struggle against silence.-Carlos Fuentes

 

Write the kind of story you would like to read. People will give you all sorts of advice about writing, but if you are not writing something you like, no one else will like it either.-Meg Cabot

 

 

Writing and Energy (Poll)

What If My Writing Isn’t Good Enough?

Click on the image to access this group’s official page

 

This month’s question:  What if my writing isn’t good enough?

 

This group (also endearingly known as IWSG) is all about insecurities; and gosh, I have a boat-load of them!

 

Where even to begin?

 

I’ve battled with insecurities all my life, and they’ve filtered over in to my writing life.

 

You’ll never be good enough. 

You’re worthless.

Don’t bother even trying.

 

There are so many ideas running through my head.  And I have written many of them…but, they usually die (or get placed in the trash).

I have published several items (all short ones) so that is something, I suppose.

 

But…

 

I keep feeling like I’m missing something.

Or, there is a story somewhere within that needs to be written and then released to the world.

 

But…

 

In the past, in my previous work life, I had this nasty habit of self-sabotaging myself.

Not allowing myself to experience success of any kind.

And this is quite prevalent in my life as it is in my writing life.

It’s like I feel like I don’t deserve it.

 

You’ll never be good enough.

You’re worthless.

Don’t bother even trying.

 

 

A lot of this stem from childhood abuse.  Others from a progressive disability.

Excuses, I suppose.

But they’re the Goliath in my life, and I’m the puny boy with no sling-shot or weapon of any kind.

Just a pen.

 

 

I’ve heard that a pen holds power.  I just don’t have any faith in the holder of this particular pen.

 

Am I good enough?

Will I ever be?

Do I even bother trying?