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IWSG – July 2019

-The soundtrack for today’s writing session provided by the Beach Boys

Welcome to the monthly IWSG blog hop. Check us out HERE, sign up and play along with the best bunch of writers out there.

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For any who are wondering about my ongoing heath saga (see last months post), I’m improving, figuring out how to exercise, eat, function with the side effects of my medicine and my illness. My mental health is improving, and I’m starting to feel that writing urge. The blank pages still scare me, but I was able to hand write a few journal entries recently. Getting words on paper helps.

The optional question for the month of July is-  What personal traits have you written into your character(s)?

Looking back at the history of my writing, almost every character/protagonist I created when I was in my late teens and early 20’s was a mash up of my good and bad traits. I don’t think I was ready or able to write outside of myself or at least what I thought about myself. These characters were idealized versions of me (both positive and negatively), and they were also heavy with hyperbole. Looking back, reading the stories makes me a little uncomfortable. The protagonists all shared my political ideology and world view. They looked like me, talked like me, desired the same things out of life. Every love affair was the most important love affair. Each conflict, the ultimate conflict. Any emotional crisis…

Well, you get the point.

I’ve gotten less pretentious, I hope, less judgmental, and hopefully that means better able to write authentic characters. They may still be infused with my personality traits, ones I find interesting or complicated, but I hope I’ve grown enough as a writer to add elements outside of my little world.

 

 

 

 

 

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IWSG – April 2019

The first Wednesday of the month (and apparently my entire blog) is reserved for The Insecure Writer’s Support Group blog hop. Check us out HERE and sign up.

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The optional monthly question for April is- If you could use a wish to help you write just ONE scene/chapter of your book, which one would it be? (examples: fight scene / first kiss scene / death scene / chase scene / first chapter / middle chapter / end chapter, etc.)

When I finally summoned up the courage to start writing a novel, the first five pages came very easy. I’d already written, and rewritten the introductory moments at least ten times, thinking it would end up as part of a novella or short story. But when I embarked on the insanity of composing a novel length work, the idea crumbled and I found myself stuck, stopped mid sentence, looking at the screen, hands over the keyboard with no idea where to go or how to get out of the hole I’d dug for myself.

So I put the chapter aside, stopped writing, let myself be frustrated.

Two years later, I was going through some old files, hoping to find a fragment I could use to create something new. I like doing that, finding one or two discarded ideas and seeing if I’m ready to finally write them. I read the five pages, liked the feel of it, and in a flash, saw the way out of the scene.

Not only that, but I realized I’d been approaching the concept of the novel from the wrong angle. I wrote the rest of the chapter, pleased with myself, then sat down to write a prologue, which later became chapter one.

I adore the book, mostly. The ending is brilliant, and I especially love the prologue. What I don’t love, and what I would use a magic wish to make right, is those initial 5 pages, that chapter that stifled me once, and then gave me the insight to compose the novel. It is by far the weakest part of the novel, likely because the writing was initially unfocused, and then later, good enough to get the job done.

I should just rewrite it from scratch, see where I end up. At the same time, I’m not sure I should be pushing myself on this particular novel anymore. It was my first, and like most first novels, it suffers from my lack of ability. Still, whenever I read it, I don’t feel like it’s a throwaway book. At some point though, I have to move on and focus on the next project, which is finally (FINALLY) starting to take shape. I’m excited about that project more than revisiting an old one, and I’ve learned it is best to go where the excitement takes me.

 

 

IWSG-March 2019

I’m sitting at my lovely desk, typing on my super groovy laptop, listening to New Order as a spring rain drizzles outside. I’m warm and comfortable. I have a mug of coffee. I have Girl Scout cookies and three bars of fine chocolate. It is hard to ask for anything more.

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Also, it’s the first Wednesday of the month, which is Insecure Writer’s Support Group blog hop day (and apparently the only time I ever blog anymore. Do better, Ryan). Check us out HERE. Sign up and play along.

This morning, before the rains fell, I took the Athena to the dog park. The place was empty. Apparently, most owners feared the water and decided to stay home rather than embrace the wonderfulness that is the dog park in sketchy weather. My German shepherd was full of energy and with no dogs to play with, made the best of it by running ahead of me as I walked laps around the three acres that make up the park.

Usually, we both prefer the place to be filled with happy, looking for fun, dogs, but I have to admit, I quite enjoyed having the place to ourselves this morning. The cool wind made my cheeks numb, and the occasional moments of light rain stained my glasses, but being outdoors with my dog is among my favorite things in the world. She is always joyful, often mischievous,  and infinitely curious. Her sadness is always temporary. Chasing a leaf, or scrap of paper thrills her. The very prospect of going anywhere causes her body to shake with anticipation. She reminds me to pay attention to the little things, and I needed that today.

I’ve been ungrateful and wasteful lately .

I have so many opportunities to write and create that I allow to slip into empty unused hours. I spend way too much time consumed with the dull and the mundane. I make millions of excuses. I’m letting my life stagnate and that should be unacceptable. Days like this one, when I actually do write, when I share and communicate with others should be the norm, not the exception. It’s time to carry today’s momentum into tomorrow.

Dogs are awesome, aren’t they.

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IWSG – January 2019

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Hey gang! It’s the first Insecure Writer’s Support Group post of the year. Check us out HERE and start 2019 by joining the best writer’s group there is.

Happy New Year!

I hope your holiday season was as filled with love and happiness as mine. I was fortunate to spend a great deal of time with my family, and I have to admit, I feel a bit spoiled. Today is the first day since before Christmas where I am pretty much alone in the house and I am feeling the heaviness. It was difficult watching Sheryl head back to work, and seeing my son heading back for college. The other son is working today, then will spend the rest of his time hanging with friends. This leaves me and the dog. I love the dog. The dog is excellent company, but I had become accustomed to the noise of a full house. I’m sure soon enough the routine will feel normal again and I’ll settle right in to things.

I’ve been pondering my writing goals for 2019, and while I refuse to set numbers as far as stories or works completed, contests entered, items submitted, I do want to spend more time creating new things, taking more risks, finding some much needed confidence in what I write. I’d really like to see something published this year, maybe several things. Funny enough (and maybe I say this every January), I feel ready to work hard and make that happen. I’m sure the usual insecurities will rear up, making me question every decision, but with the support of family, friends, and my IWSG blogging buddies, I will persevere.

One specific goal I’ve set, and I think it is an important one, is to compose more things by hand this year. I’ve a journal of sorts, something I’ve worked on since 1997 (I’ve three volumes completed so far) but the more I use digital software, the less I’ve used paper. I’m committed to 2 entries each week, and man, I hope writing this here helps me keep that commitment. I enjoy each revisit to those journals and every time I wish there were more to read. It’s time to make more a reality.

So tell me about your plans, goals, writing stuff for 2019. Let’s pretend this whole new year thing isn’t just an arbitrary time to make empty promises and really try to improve.

IWSG- December 2018

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The first Wednesday of every month is set aside for The Insecure Writer’s Support Group blog hop. If you don’t have a clue what IWSG is, you are ridiculously new to to my blog. Check us out HERE.

I’ve met some of the most awesome writers and people by being a member of this group. Also, they almost always have great advice on getting you through any writing troubles. Sign up. Play along.

The optional question for December is- What are five objects we’d find in your writing space?

My writing space lives in the basement of my home. I’ve filled it with all sorts of things that inspire creativity in me. It is a comfortable place, perhaps my favorite in the entire house. IMG_2314.jpgIMG_2313.jpg

I feel lucky to have such an awesome space devoted to creative thought and action.

Clearly there are more than five objects in this space, but there are five you would always find in any personal space I’ve set aside for writing.

  1. A quality laptop- I used to write everything by hand, but my handwriting is atrocious and often when I go back to read or edit, even I can’t make out some of the words. Writing software has made everything so much easier. Editing alone is exponentially easier on a laptop vs a handwritten text.
  2.  A device for playing music- I learned years ago that I am more relaxed, better able to write when I’m listening to music. I’ve tried writing in quieter spaces and it just doesn’t work for me. In fact, I’m more distracted by a quiet room than a noisy one. In my current writing space, I listen to both vinyl LPs and compact discs. I have used digital music before, and will if I’m out at a coffee shop or library, but I’m a collector of things (books, music) and like the tangibility of objects, so my preference is for a physical copy of whatever I’m about to listen to.
  3. A mug of coffee- I don’t do this for the caffeine, but for the sensation of consuming a warm beverage. Honestly, it is among the most crucial aspects of writing for me, something to hold between my hands, something to sip at during a moment if indecision or when more thought is needed.
  4. A comfy chair- In this case, it is a mid-century modern, red leather, armless chair with a matching ottoman. Every writing space needs a place to sit and ponder before writing, during writing, or after a session is complete. It is also a good space for enjoying music or reading.
  5. A nice wide desk- I recently bought the desk in the picture after my old one decided it no longer wanted to stand. My new writing desk is huge, awesome, and has loads of space for me to pile papers (I hid them for this photo) or other objects that might be necessary. Also, it’s surprising how many coffee mugs, books, pens, etc. can pile up and clutter the area. The bigger the desk, the longer it takes for the stacks to becomes cumbersome.

    Well, that’s it for me. I’d love to hear about what I’d find in your writing space. In fact, I think I’ll go read all the IWSG blogs and find out right now.

IWSG – November 2018

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Hey look at that. It’s time once again for the monthly installment of The Insecure Writer’s Support Group! Take some time, look here. Decide you want to join in all the fun and sign up. All writing insecurities are welcome.

Also, there is another Twitter pitch party coming up on January 15th, 2109. IWSGPit 2019

Get your pitches ready. I’ve had some small successes in these events and am hopeful this time the usual nibbles will instead be huge bites.

I’m still in flux when it comes to the direction of this blog. I like the idea of it focusing on the creative aspects of my life, but I’m still unsure how that will look. I used to share flash fiction here, bits of poetry, but even though I was proud of those pieces, I always felt the interest in those blogs was limited. Also, it is very hard to comment on short fictions and (especially) poetry. I wanted my blog to be a place of engagement, and I’m not sure posting that way inspired that sort of interaction.

What sorts of writing blogs do you all find useful and interesting? I don’t want to copy anyone else, but I am interested in the sorts of topics that bring each of you back to any particular blog. Any input or advice I can get will be most welcome.

Alright, enough about that for now, On to the next-

The optional IWSG question this month looks something like this- How has your creativity in life evolved since you began writing?

Okay, so it looks exactly like that.

I love this question, and I’d wager for most of us, the answer is very similar. I’ve always seen myself as creative, as far back as I can remember. My mother tells stories of me as a small boy, under the age of 4, making up adventures with my toys, creating odd songs, walking around the apartment singing them.

I was constantly shifting from one idea to the next, and sometimes felt unable to express all the awesome things floating about in my head.

By the time I was 11, I’d started writing short stories, certain they were already among the most awesome things ever written (they weren’t, I promise). I loved the creative process, which I naively thought was pretty easy. There was always something new to think about, write about, and I was completely convinced I would be a professional writer when I grew up.

Funny how easily life becomes a self created stumbling block. I still haven’t quit on that dream, but it has taken way longer than I ever expected.

Like every writer, I’ve gone through periods of hyper creativity and also had times when the distance between ideas felt like crossing a never ending desert. But as I’ve concentrated on improving my writing, my creativity has become more focused. I find ideas don’t come at me in impossible to navigate waves any longer. I don’t get overwhelmed by the need to take on twenty stories at once, and I don’t get bogged down or depressed when it feels like there will never be another idea ever again.

It’s all part of the same process, right?

 

IWSG- October 2018

The Insecure Writer’s Support Group is a mighty fine group of people. If you haven’t already signed up, joined in the fun, I’m not sure I can do much to help you anymore.

Check us out and sign up here– 

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This months optional question is-

How do major life events affect your writing? Has writing ever helped you through something?
Major life events can affect my writing in many different ways. When I was younger, I often didn’t understand my own reactions to events until I wrote about them, which I tended to do during any big live change. Even then it would often take months for me to make sense of what I was writing about and how it related to whatever life event had taken place. I was always grateful for the moment of understanding that came after I was ready, when the writing finally made sense to me.
As I’ve grown (in age and as a writer) I’ve found that when I am in the middle of an event, I really can’t sit down and write about it, or even write about other things besides that event. If the event is a catastrophic one, it might be months until I am ready to sit down and write anything again.
Writing has been very helpful in getting me through unexpected things. The untimely death of a friend for instance pushed me into a different kind of writing. I wanted to leave behind a lot of the more abstract stuff I’d been working on and really get at something concrete, bare and bold. A few months after this friends passing, I started trying to define the experience through poetry, and had to resist the temptation to be vague. I no longer wanted to dance around hard issues or sugar coat them. I missed my friend a great deal and wanted everyone who read my work to have little doubt about that emotion, where it came from, what this friend meant to me.
On another topic, I’m extremely unsatisfied with the direction of this blog and am in the process of evaluating new and different directions. Hopefully I’ll have this figured out soon and my weekly post will return better than the recent stretch of fairly uninteresting entries.
Love and light to you all.