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Archive for the ‘Writing’ Category

Book Giveaway!

Due to an error with Amazon, I landed myself with two copies of Stardancer. I’ve never done a book giveaway before, but I’d love to see the book get some extra publicity. I’m not a crazy fan of most book giveaways: typically you’re asked to RT, “like”, and sign up for a million things. I think you should have the chance to decide to do that  after you’ve gotten to know the author, read some stuff or paid a little attention to them.

So all you have to do for me is leave a comment or tweet telling me your favorite holiday song. I will randomly select someone on December 5, 2014 on 9pm EST.  And if you feel so inspired, check out Kelly Sedinger on twitter, his blog, and the book’s official website!

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NaNoWriMo is over. I ended just under 20k, but a solid understanding of what I need to do next and WHY did I wait so long to get scrivner? Locally, our ML’s asked for volunteer pep talks, which I thought was a neat way to get the group connected. Here is mine:

The world doesn’t need my novel. Let me say that again: the world doesn’t need my novel. I have no delusions of grandeur. I won’t be writing the next Harry Potter (or insert whatever book/series in your genre that fits). I don’t think I’ll be writing a game-changing novel.

So why do NaNoWriMo at all? Good question, particularly since I’ve yet to “win”, heck I have yet to finish any of the writing ideas I’ve started.

It’s simple really. I need my novel. I need the outlet. I need the story. I need the characters I live with to come out onto the page so I can re-read about them whenever I want. I need the story that I wish someone else would write. I am my primary audience. I need this.

Doing NaNo gives me a chance to refocus. There are so many authors, self or traditional published, who dismiss the event all together. If we really wanted to write we’d do it all the time. We’re not trying hard enough to make time. No novel is ever truly complete in a month. (To that last one I say, no duh. This month is about writing, not fixing and editing.) But to the other comments? I think the statements are unfair. Life gets in the way sometimes. We move, we have jobs and bills, and families. We experience creative drain. Illness. Stress. Or sometimes we just can’t write. Personally I had a few life events that took significant time and energy away from every other aspect of my life. My marriage was falling apart, I was unemployed and struggling with severe depression and a loss of a family member. It was too much all at once. I couldn’t make myself write, read, heck, I could hardly form sentences some days. The truth is, sometimes we just can’t write and hearing we aren’t trying hard enough is unhelpful. Take the break and come back later. And if you’re like me, re-read your old writings for a good laugh.

Doing NaNo allows me to try. Even better, I can do it knowing that there’s a whole world of people also trying. It’s less lonely. There’s a nice satisfaction to adding to my word count and our region’s word count. I can refocus my ideas, have a place to update my stats, complain, and get inspired with other people doing the same thing. I get a touch of healthy, encouraging pressure by participating. I’m reminded that I need this. I can practice leaving all the things that have previously held me from writing.

The world doesn’t need my novel.

But I do.

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For awhile many aspects of my fantasy book remained stuck. I couldn’t get inside people’s heads, I couldn’t see what the course of tension was, or what the backstory was, in order to move the right events forward. Finally I caved and allowed myself some distractions: movies, readings, working on other projects around the apartment. Naturally that’s when things began to reveal themselves to me. Not in full, but I certainly had those “aha!” moments that I was lacking. Things are starting to solidify and that allows me to write better characters and interactions because I’ve finally begun to understand where everyone is coming from and how things work. I was writing blindly before, with a general idea of the plot arc but that was it.

But this morning I work up with a completely different story in my head. I’ve often thought about writing what I know, which is higher ed, being a grad student, being a college instructor. My life experiences have been challenging, humorous, and sometimes just overbearing.  I’ve never dared to write about those experiences as it’s felt too raw, too personal, too open for judgment. This morning it was clear that I could write about that, and maintain a fiction element. Not everything that happened needs to happen to me, and I don’t need to make it all true to my life. In fact the lead characters were obvious, standing in front of me as if they just knew I was going to tell their story. I love those moments. Graduate school, that first teaching gig, the bullshit politics, and of course my romantic elements as well. What if I gave the alternative “me” a happier ending to those few years?

Of course this means I’ve got 3 stories going now, with multiple “essay” ideas. And I might end up hating where this goes. Writing is writing, and it’s all good practice, right?

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Technically, technically, I am a writer. I write. I always have. But recently, (the last year or so), I wanted that writing to be something more. Because I was still teaching full time, (I’m “just” part time now), I joined some online academic writing groups. I am not really doing academic writing, but I liked that people understood my job constraints and I had a place to be accountable.

These last few rounds of writing groups–summer, fall, and the on going on now–haven’t been of much service. I’m still teaching but have been trying to leave that for a while. If I could find other part time work that is more local, instead of an hour commute, then I’d gladly take it. However, when I go for job interviews I’m told “you’ll probably quit this job when you get a full time teaching job,” and no matter what I say, I can’t convince people otherwise. While I want to leave the option to teach one class here and there always open, I no longer wish to teach full time. As a result, I’ve deliberately stopped paying attention to certain blogs, news feeds, topics, that previously held my attention and time. This also means that some of the conversation in these writing groups isn’t applicable to me at all. I’m not writing a dissertation or research paper. I’m not analyzing data. I’m not wasting my time with excessive prep work or grading for classes because when you’re being paid a very limited salary, you make different decisions about what your time is worth. I’m not doing any service to the college work. I’m alright with all of that, but it also means I’m just out of the loop in these writing groups.

I feel further out on my own when the type of writing is so vastly different. Writing for journals or conferences or dissertations is a completely different beast than the essays, short stories and fantasy fiction I’m working on. So I don’t have a place in that group to ask questions about my specific writing struggles. Originally, the first few group sessions were hosted by people who acknowledged all types of writing. The topics of the week for applicable to all writing projects and the topics really made me think about how I write and how I approach writing. Since then, more academic-only focused people have been hosting the writing groups, making the group very insular. This last week’s check-in has me considering quitting the group all together. I just don’t fit.

I tried writing for a publication that wasn’t academic thinking I’d fit there Finally I could NOT write about education all the time. But as I found the publication, (sorry no links, I can’t in good faith give the place more traffic), wrote some reprehensible pieces that lacked basic critical thinking and good question asking skills, I realize I might be more of an academic than I thought. But I don’t belong in academic writing groups. And I need some accountability and hand-holding to keep me going. I just don’t know where I belong when it comes to that. I have a lot of doubts, a lot of things I want to write about/talk about/work through, but other than writing here, I haven’t found my “home” yet.

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Holding back

Despite knowing the rules of the internet, I’ve neglected this space. I’ve neglected a number of spaces actually.  I’m pretty good at getting in my own way. Some of the things I want are in my control and yet I block myself.  I’ll make excuses, I’ll procrastinate. I won’t event try.  Maybe it’s the perfectionism. Maybe it’s the depression–even though I tell my husband “You have to fight it every day,” I don’t fight it myself.

Mind you, I’m out of  the worst gloom. Finally. Events from a year ago brought me to a brink I had never neem to before, meaning that getting out was equally uncharted. Different than previous depressive episodes, and so dark that there was no “oh I need to reach out now,” moment. I never used to give weight to the idea that one action, one decision, could touch everything. I do now.

Now I am in more familiar waters: sleep troubles, vivid dreams, inability to focus, foggy, lack of motivation combined with being unable to drop a pointless task to pursue something related to my goals. As I said, getting in my own way.

I’m great at external goals. Student work gets graded because I know the students count on it. When I full-time college instructor I was all in; I overworked myself really. As an adjunct I go all in on my classes. I can even use those goals/tasks to get in my way: For years I would work myself to death but really had nothing for myself to use to recharge or refill. It was work or nothing. By 2008, even a “summer break” wasn’t enough to help me reset for the next year. I entered a dark period where I entertained the idea of planning my own death. I can through the other side of that better able to recognize when the dark thoughts were starting, an important step in stopping the rest of that cycle. This last year was an exception as I encoutered situations I never dreamed would impact me, and I feel like I’m re-learning that skill. I feel like I’m still trying to find away to talk about it.

I need to add to my skills this time. I need to stop getting in my way. I worry. I’m afraid of not being successful, so if I don’t try I never fail. Technically. I worry people will attack me or not like me. (Don’t I sound like I’m 16? I swear I’m not. I just have an awful history of picking the wrong friends or being in the middle of controversial topics I didn’t plan on being in.) I want to be liked and by that I mean you don’t have to agree with me, you just need to not be a jerk. I don’t handle miscommunication well; I shut down. I began studying communication because I wanted to fix miscommunication issues but 13 years later I’ve learned you can’t make people slow down, listen, be mindful, ask good questions, consider facts. Not if they aren’t interested–regardless of whether they say they are. Actions are more than your words.

I imagine some friends and family telling me to toughen up right now. Just do it, whatever that “it” is. Take some meds, get over yourself, not everyone will like you. I’ve heard it all before. That stoicism, I believe, plays a major role in my depression. If I could just be like everyone else and shut down these feelings, and not verbalize them, then it’d all be O.K. Lack of honesty about emotions, their impact, lack of honesty about who I am, combined with suppressing character traits that are natural to me just so I can fit in with my less emotional family and peers hasn’t paid off. That suppression has kept me from asking for helping during some dark times. It’s an easy path to self hate from there, and it’s pretty well paved from where I’m standing.

I am trying to take steps forward. I am trying to get out of my way. To be vulnerable. To share about my depression and about being married to a spouse who has it as well. To be comfortable with who I am instead of being ashamed of it. Channelling Brene Brown. Hold my hand?

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I’m trying to do NaNoWriMo this month. I’m not entirely following the rules. For one I didn’t tell everyone and their brother about it. It’s supposed to help motivate you, but I’m not motivated by that. The more people ask the less I want to talk about it–this is my baby and I don’t want to hear other people’s…well anything. Not yet anyway. I had made the mistake once of telling some people only to get tons of story “advice” on what should happen and how. Um..no thanks, if that’s the story you want then you should write that, not me.

I also read somewhere you aren’t supposed to use a project you already had started, that it’s supposed to be it’s own novel. Yup. Breaking that one too–I’m working on one I started and put  away, that already has 20k words. Don’t worry, I’m not lying on my word count, I’m only counting the words I write this month. I know you’re only supposed to write, write, write and edit later but I find that taking old sections and revising them, (which largely means adding to them), helps me. (more…)

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The first post…

I’m desperately in need of content. Please stay tuned while I look for it. Thanks.

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