Tuesday, July 3, 2018

IWSG: Clearing Clutter, Changing Goals, and D&D


Time for another posting with the Insecure Writer’s Support Group, where writers can share their insecurities and encourage one another. IWSG was founded by Alex J. Cavanaugh. We usually share our posts the first Wednesday of the month, but since the U.S. Fourth of July holiday is on Wednesday this year, we are posting on Tuesday. July’s optional question is: What are your ultimate writing goals, and how have they changed over time (if at all)?

June went a little better than May for me, but I still have a lot of catching up to do in nearly every area of my life. It seems as though I will not be able to fully concentrate on my writing until I start clearing away the clutter around me. Not just concrete things like clothes and desk supplies (although those are on the list), but also digital clutter with emails and organizing files, and clearing my head of distractions and negativity. It has been a long, difficult process, and I feel as though circumstances keep trying to pull me backwards, but I must keep moving forward.


As for my goals, they have adjusted themselves over time. I still would like to write my non-fiction “quiet book” someday, but organizing those thoughts and ideas into meaningful words has proved harder than I thought it would be. I feel like I would have to change to a better, less stressful day job in order to give that project the attention it requires. I have recently grown fond of writing short stories and even a little flash fiction. I hope to get a short story published within the next few years. I have been tweaking and adding to my fantasy story entry from the 2016 IWSG anthology contest. My friend and her husband inadvertently helped me with it a couple weeks ago. ~ Warning: The next sentence will reveal just how much of a nerd I truly am. ~ They started a sort of Dungeons and Dragons role-playing story and invited me to join, so I decided to use one of my fantasy story characters. We are not following the typical D&D rules, but I think this will be an entertaining verbal storytelling experience. I highly recommend it for fantasy writers!

I guess I distracted myself from the initial question. My ultimate goal, under my current circumstances, is to publish at least one book. If I ever manage to obtain my dream job of being a stay-at-home wife and mother, I may be able to publish more (maybe). Under better day job circumstances, another goal of mine would be to write weekly devotional blog posts similar to the ones I used to write when I started this blog. So, to better my writing, I need to broaden my search to find a better job, or get married (lol 😄).



To my United States followers: Happy Independence Day!

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

IWSG: Place Generic Title Here


Time for another posting with the Insecure Writer’s Support Group, where writers can share their insecurities and encourage one another. IWSG was founded by Alex J. Cavanaugh and we share our posts the first Wednesday of the month.

May was a rough month for me. My dad had surgery to remove cancer from his prostate on May 4, and then ended up in the hospital for an extra week due to various issues. So, for eight out of the ten days he was there, I was driving back and forth with my mom, who can’t drive herself, to the hospital (70 miles away from home). By the grace of God and the prayers of many friends from church, we survived that ordeal. It was a relief to finally get settled back at home, but half the month was gone and I was exhausted. Going back to work after all that was very difficult for me, especially since there have been some changes with staff and scheduling the last few weeks. Needless to say, writing was not on the agenda last month. Although, I did write a rather lengthy letter to a friend, but I have not sent it yet because I felt like it needed some editing. So, it’s good to know my writer's brain is still working.☺

Sorry that I don’t have much to say related to writing; I’ve been too tired to be insecure. I do have some thoughts on the optional question this month, which is: What's harder for you to come up with, book titles or character names?

Without a doubt, titles are my weakness. I usually struggle with finding titles for my blog posts and short stories. I don’t even like the title of this blog, but after all these years, I can’t seem to come up with anything to change it to! That’s why I just use my name for my Facebook page and Twitter. I probably overthink it. I feel like the title needs to be something all-encompassing, witty, and meaningful, all in a handful of words. Most of the time, when I spend too long thinking about it, I end up giving up and picking something that feels generic. There are only a few titles I’ve used that I thought were clever, and the rest were rather lame. Character names are a bit easier. I sometimes have trouble initially, but I usually find a name that works. I feel like most of my characters embody their names very well. 

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

May IWSG


Time for another posting with the Insecure Writer’s Support Group, where writers can share their insecurities and encourage one another. IWSG was founded by Alex J. Cavanaugh and we share our posts the first Wednesday of the month.

The question for May 2 is: It's spring! Does this season inspire you to write more than others, or not?

            My answer is no, not really. I have a harder time concentrating in the warmer months during spring and summer. There seem to be more distractions and I cannot sit still for more than ten minutes at a time. In the winter, or other cold days, it is easier for me to stay still and focus on one thing for a while. I enjoy a warm blanket and a cat on my lap (which, in my opinion, is one of the most comfortable writing positions) as I write, and that does not work very well once it starts getting warmer. I do tend to gather more ideas during spring and summer. I usually try to keep a notebook, or at least my iPhone notes, on hand to take down any interesting interactions I observe as people and animals take part in various outdoor activities.



            Spring also tends to put me in a spring cleaning mode, which adds to my lack of concentration because I’m constantly going over my to-do list in my head. Really, it seems that spring and summer are busier because there are more activities going on as people find their way back outside. Personally, I enjoy the outdoors better in the winter when there are fewer bugs and a chance of snow. I guess I’m getting a bit off-topic discussing my weather preferences. Back to my writing, I cannot believe April is already over! I don’t know where it went. I think I spent most of the month (when I wasn’t stuck at work) reading, listening to audiobooks, or working on online courses. So, that counts as writing research, right? 😉

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

IWSG: Ups and Downs in Writing


Time for another posting with the Insecure Writer’s Support Group, where writers can share their insecurities and encourage one another. IWSG was founded by Alex J. Cavanaugh and we share our posts the first Wednesday of the month.

The question for April 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 went through a lot of cloudy days with my writing (also in other areas of my life) in 2017. I had a few better months from December to February, but the momentum has been fading again. What has worked for me before is signing up for something fun or challenging (or both) with a deadline or specific post date. I’ve done blog hops, the A to Z Challenge, the IWSG Anthology Contest, and most recently, the W.E.P. Challenge. I have enjoyed every single one of those writing experiences, and I hope to continue participating in more contests, blog hops, and challenges. As you can see, I’m skipping the A to Z again this year. As fun as it is, it is very difficult to keep up with my fellow bloggers throughout the challenge. I do hope to utilize some of my A to Z ideas at some point in the future, but this was not the year for me.

Anyway, looking back at my answer to the IWSG question, deadlines usually help me actually do things. As funny as that sounds, it has been true for me most of my adult life. I am not very good at sticking to my goals unless there is an outside force that holds me accountable. I have started a number of email and video courses (i.e. Reedsy or The Great Courses) and I have not finished one of them, but when I took college classes, I finished my work because I was held accountable by my professors and grades. For better or worse, I also tend to thrive as a procrastinator. I have probably written more words the week before something was due than I have at any other time in my life.

A problem I have with this method of writing motivation is getting myself to sign up in the first place. I am still working on balancing out my schedule and energy levels, and sometimes I have to take shelter from the rain and storms for a while. Sometimes, I do have force some writing out of myself, whether I feel like it or not. That is part of the reason I participate in the monthly IWSG posts. It is a great way to hold myself accountable, reflect on my writing, and check on how the balancing act is going each month.


Wednesday, March 7, 2018

IWSG: Break or Flow


Time for another posting with the Insecure Writer’s Support Group, where writers can share their insecurities and encourage one another. IWSG was founded by Alex J. Cavanaugh and we share our posts the first Wednesday of the month.

The question for March 7 is: How do you celebrate when you achieve a writing goal/ finish a story?

I suppose it depends on whether or not the writing project had a deadline. If I’m working to get something finished in time, I will usually procrastinate and then exhaust myself. Like when I participated in the Blogging From A to Z Challenge and I was writing posts the night before (I do not recommend that method if you are thinking of participating this year). Or when I wrote most of my 3000+ word fantasy story in two weeks for the IWSG anthology contest in 2016. When I procrastinate my writing, no matter how much I may have enjoyed the process, I usually celebrate with a break from writing. When I was not working my day job, I watched too much Netflix, listened to music, played hours of video games, and spent time reading during these extended breaks. The problem with this is that I often have a hard time getting back into writing after the break.

Something that has worked far better for my writing is when I get into a writing flow. If I write regularly enough, I find that it is a lot easier to come up with ideas for stories. It does feel good when the ideas are streaming through my head faster than I can write them down. That is what happened with my most recent accomplishment. I participated in last month’s Write…Edit…Publish Challenge and shared a flash fiction story on my blog for the first time. (You can read it by clicking here). Even though it is only published on my blog, it was still nice to share something new, and the wonderful comments people had were thoughtful and encouraging. I am glad that I participated and I’m hoping to get an idea going for the next one. Writing things like that actually inspire me to celebrate by writing more, which is a better way to celebrate by far.

Along the lines of inspiration, I have been particularly inspired by a piece of music a few times this month. It is the 2nd Movement of Beethoven’s 7th Symphony in A Major. I would definitely put this on my top ten classical music pieces list if I had one. I hope it helps inspire your writing as well if you choose to listen. 

Here's the direct link if the embedded video does not work: https://youtu.be/J12zprD7V1k 
Isn't Leonard Bernstein an amazing conductor?

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

WEP: In Too Deep

                I have been watching the Write…Edit…Publish blog hop challenge from the sidelines for the last year or so. I had an idea for one last summer but never wrote it out. This story flowed so easily from my mind last month after seeing the theme, and I really wanted to share it. So, I am finally off the bench and joining in, yet I still somehow managed to sign up at the last minute because I’m a perpetual procrastinator. I think it is worth mentioning that this is the first time, as far as I can remember, that I am sharing a fictional story publically. It seems only fitting that this is also my 200th blog post. 




The Depth of the Ocean

                When Bonnie saw the ocean for the first time at age seven, she was astounded. The waves were so big and the water so cold. She was afraid to get too close at first, but her friend, Max took her hand and led her to the edge. They collected seashells together and played in the shallows for hours on end. Had she realized then that she would not see the ocean again for twelve long years, she may have enjoyed those days with Max a little more.

                Scott came along when Bonnie was nineteen. He seemed charming and sweet, and he brought her back to the ocean again. “It’s about time!” She thought because she had been dreaming of the ocean for years now and she deeply longed to not only go back, but to go out further in the water. Why had she been so afraid as a child? When she watched others who had been out in the deep blue, they never seemed afraid. Scott slowly and gently led Bonnie through the sand. She stepped timidly into the water and it was just as icy cold as she remembered, but she liked this easy pace as they let the water edge its way further up their bodies. It was nice until they were shoulder deep and suddenly, Bonnie was afraid again. “Will Scott really be able to help me navigate these waters when it’s too deep to touch bottom?” She wondered as she let go of Scott’s hand and swam back to shore.

                Then, there was Ethan, and he was so fun! Bonnie was always pleased to be around him and they even talked of the ocean one time. But, when she went out to the ocean again, Ethan was nowhere to be found and she realized that he never really wanted to go there with her.

                The years went on, and Bonnie was now in her late twenties having never gone out in the deep, as she watched so many others experience it before her. She was frustrated and desperately searching for the one to go with her. She thought she found him when she got to know Trevor. He was an all-around good guy; he would definitely be able to protect her from drowning. She would sit at the water’s edge and dream of going out with him. It came to a point when she was tired of waiting and dreaming, and she attempted to go out on her own, hoping Trevor would catch up eventually. She was neck deep when the tide started to pull her under. Bonnie nearly drowned that day. As she breathlessly crawled to the shore, she caught a glimpse of Trevor going in with someone else, and Bonnie realized he had never wanted to swim with her in the first place. It had all been a fantasy in her head. The waters became a much darker place after that.

                A few years later, Bonnie had formed a habit of taking sad strolls along the sand. She still liked to gaze at the ocean, but she dared not to enter it again. She sat and stared at the waters until she saw something out of the corner of her eye. There was someone else down the beach doing the same thing she was. He looked up and suddenly the sun started to rise creating a beautiful, shimmering glow over the smooth waters. He approached her and spoke of how he had always dreamed of going out where the water goes above your head. She enthusiastically told him she shared the same sentiment. Before she knew what was happening, they were walking hand in hand out into the clear, blue waters. It went from their ankles, to their knees, to their waists, shoulders, necks, and then it was the furthest point Bonnie had ever been. They plunged into the deep, no longer touching bottom, and it was the most freeing sensation Bonnie had ever experienced in her life. She felt as though they could swim all day and all night and never drown.

Word Count: 680, FCA
Photo is my own taken in Cape Canaveral, Florida

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

February IWSG

                  

      Time for another posting with the Insecure Writer’s Support Group, where writers can share their insecurities and encourage one another. IWSG was founded by Alex J. Cavanaugh and we share our posts the first Wednesday of the month.

            On Saturday, I was catching up on email and was surprised to find my picture in the IWSG email newsletter. There was a little blurb about me in the member spotlight box and some encouraging words. It makes me feel special and slightly humbled to be included there. Thank you, admins, for the reminder to not give up!

Here’s the question IWSG posed for February 7: What do you love about the genre you write in most often?

In fiction, I have been experimenting with a handful of different genres. So, I would say that I write nonfiction most often. Particularly, I tend to write a lot of reflections and what I hope are inspirational posts. Something I like the most about this style of writing, even in personal journaling, is to use metaphors. I tend to think in abstracts and sometimes a feeling or a concept can be hard to describe without some sort of example. I enjoy coming up with concrete ways to explain some of those ideas and thoughts swirling in my head. When I word it that way, I might as well just say that I enjoy the art of writing. :)

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