IWSG-May

The first Wednesday of every month is the official Insecure Writer’s Support Group blog hop. We gather together (figuratively, though maybe some of us actually do literally met up, maybe at a coffee shop or something, who knows) to talk about our successes, failures, struggles, and goals. So many great writers (published or otherwise) share advice, ideas, offer support. It really is the best writing group out there. Join us HERE.

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I have spent the last few months editing, rewriting small sections, reading over my (supposedly) completed novels. I know better than to think they will ever really be done, and each time I read through, I find several things that need fixing. With each reading, I wonder how I missed these mistakes the first fifty times through. New eyes see what old eyes miss. I am always grateful for new eyes.

A few weeks back, I asked for some help with the third book, wondering if it was too short to even be considered a novella, if I should add more, or cut something and make it feel more like a short story. The feedback I received was wonderful. Everyone seems to agree it doesn’t need new content and works well as a novella. I am so thankful for their efforts and willingness to take a look at my writing, I owe them each a favor.

As for any WIP, um…

Yeah, I need to do better. I’m not sure what the problem is, or if there is even a problem at all. Beyond the blog (which I’ve been quite faithful at posting to, thank you), I haven’t felt like writing much at all. I have ideas for stories, poems, even an inkling of how to push my failed NaNo projects forward, but when it comes to sitting at the computer and composing, I’m not feeling it. Since this doesn’t feel frustrating and it isn’t making me angry, I’m not sure I’d call it writers block. Then again, I don’t have any idea what to call this particular situation. An extended break, maybe?

I do know I’ve been reading like a crazy person, and have finished as many books in 2017 as I did in all of 2016. Finding a stronger passion for reading has been wonderful. It can only make my writing better.

Speaking of reading. A fantastic book is set for an August release date and I cannot recommend it enough. My Absolute Darling is the first novel by a fantastic new writer, Gabriel Tallent. This novel is among the most difficult, haunting, terrifying, rewarding and hopeful books I have ever read.

Read about it here

And read an excellent review here

 

 

 

A Small Contribution

Yesterday, I was fortunate to enjoy having breakfast with a very good friend. She doesn’t like eggs, but I am willing to look past that. I don’t see her as often as I’d like, which is mostly my fault. I need to do better. We worked at the library together.  We did good things. I love the library. I love librarians. They are among the best people.

I also made plans to meet up with another library friend in the early afternoon. We both share a love for a certain band.  They performed in Salt Lake this past weekend. I got to attend. He didn’t. His young son, also loves this band. I had acquired a clever poster of the band members, and thought his son would enjoy it. It gave me a good reason to get out of the house, go to the main library, which is a place that still means the world to me.

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I worked at the Salt Lake City Public Library for a decade. It was a career I sort of stumbled into, not realizing how much I’d love it, or how deeply the philosophies of librarianship would penetrate my personal, emotional, intellectual life. I made the best of friends, shared hours of conversations and debates with like minded individuals.  The best part was the reference work. Finding the correct information from the best possible resources, seeing someone light up with excitement, was very rewarding. It was important work, it had infinite integrity. I like to think I made a difference in a small way in people’s lives.

I miss it more than I’d like to admit.

Back From

Our family trip to Cancun was, as usual, wonderful. I can never get enough time near the stunning waters of the Gulf of Mexico/Caribbean. I have not stood and stared out at every sea, but I would still argue the water near Cancun is among the most beautiful in the world.IMG_8723

Even before I had ever actually seen one, I was compelled, intoxicated by the thought of the ocean. Incomprehensibly large, powerful, beautiful, my first experiences on the shoreline of the Atlantic Ocean have stayed with me throughout my adult life. I was 19, living in Maine, serving a mission for the LDS church. I stood on the sand of Old Orchard Beach, near dusk, staring out at the retreating tide, the evening sky darkening the water. I was humbled. Nothing has frightened or thrilled me as much as staring out at that vastness.

Most likely because of my affinity for the ocean, our Cancun trips usually consist of a week of sitting on the beach, gazing out at the water. The hum of it is endless. The ocean looks and sounds different as each day progresses. I tried to capture some of it.

At sunrise the sky dominates, and the ocean is a muted turquoise. IMG_8719

By mid morning, the sky pales and the blue green water is nearly impossible for me to look away from.IMG_8722

In the evening, the colors and textures are stunning.

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Under a bright yellow moon, words fail me.

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Last. A slightly edited image (shadows and light to bring out the textures of the clouds, the water) of an approaching storm. IMG_8718

I am glad to be home, back to the usual routines, but I miss the constant sound of the waves, the insistent wind. I’ll have to go back soon.

 

Wordless Wednesday 


Mostly wordless. 

I’m on vacation with the family in Cancun. Limited internet access calls for limited posting. Also, I’m liking being mostly inaccessible. Let’s chat next week. 

IWSG-April

The first Wednesday of each month, the members of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group gather together to discuss our fears, successes, failures, hopes and goals. We are a fun gaggle of goons and you should totally consider joining us. Sign up HERE. We also have a nifty Facebook group that could use your contributions. Our Twitter hashtag is #IWSG

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Last year, I was five posts into the April A to Z Blogging Challenge. I had taken on the month long challenge with no real theme, and was flying by the seat of my pants each day, hoping an idea worth writing (or reading) about would magically appear out of the void. Some days were better than others.

I had two goals- 1. Meet new blogging friends. 2. Find a renewed passion for writing this blog. Success on both fronts.

As I will be in Mexico all next week (and was far too lazy to pre-write blog entries), I am not participating in the challenge this year (and it looks like many of my blogging friends have decided not to participate as well). I have been pondering the difficulties I had last year, which have continued into this year, in solidifying a theme for this crazy blog. Over the past few months, I’ve found myself writing more about, well writing, and the sorts of things that inspire me (family, memory, art). The blog readership hasn’t improved at that much, but my excitement about writing each Wednesday has.

Finally, almost by accident, I may have found what I want this space to be- A representation of the things and people that populate my writing world.

With the emergence of a more concrete theme, I came to another conclusion. I am done posting flash fiction or poetry here. Sharing it rarely felt successful, and I’m questioning my motivation for doing so in the first place.

Asking for a beta reader from time to time is still on the table, and I am always willing and wanting to share the fiction and poetry I write. I hope those of you who visit for IWSG will come back other Wednesdays and share your thoughts and ideas, suggestions on what is being discussed. You’re all such swell folk, and I’d love to get to know you better.

Questions- Is this *theme* a good direction for me to take with Residuals? Is wanting a theme even a good idea? What keeps you coming back to a blog? 

The Third is…

I wrote my first novel in 2013. The first draft was just over 79,000 words. Edits, rewrites and subtractions have left the book hovering around 77,000 words. My second book (2014) came it at just over 120,000. After Edits, rewrites, subtractions it is still at 120,000.

For the third book, I made a conscious choice to keep myself to 50 thousand. I liked the idea of clear writing goals and a word restriction. The second book had a life of its own and refused to be limited. It still does, and while I enjoy the feeling of having written something so long, I wanted to see if I could limit myself, focus the content, make hard choices.

The first completed draft was 43,000 words. Three versions later, I now have a story of 37,501 words. I fear it is becoming too short, but each time I edit, I find more to cut, and have come up empty on ideas of where to expand. Maybe it doesn’t need anything more, and maybe it needs less. Is this really a short story; a novella? I don’t know. I am looking for some brave souls to volunteer as tribute, fearless warriors, willing to offer suggestions, direction. Two would be great, more would be better. There is no rush on feedback as I am not actively trying to sell this to any agent or publisher.

Any takers?

Reply here (or on Facebook or Twitter, for those who don’t like commenting here. Weirdos) and I will send you a lovely .rtf document.

Illegibly

I have some of the worst handwriting in the history of handwriting. It is a family curse. All my siblings (and my father. My mother writes beautifully) create equally atrocious letters. If word processing had never been invented, if I were forced to write everything by hand, it is highly likely I would not be a writer.

Elementary schools used to (maybe they still do) include handwriting in their grading system. My first D’s were earned in handwriting. I remember the teacher’s comment- “Sloppy work. If Ryan were to practice, take his time, his handwriting would improve.” Sorry, Mrs Lindsay, some of us are deficient in our fine motor skills (I’m not allowed near scissors), and all the slowness and patience in the world isn’t going to make things any better.

Still, there is something very appealing to me about handwritten texts (letters, poems, stories). I enjoy going through the stacks of letters sent to me by family and friends over the years, not only to relive old memories, re-discover forgotten moments, but to revel in the intimate connection something handwritten provides. Each smudged letter, crossed out word, is a connection to the moment of composition, a closeness to the expression of thought.

At various points in my life, I’ve kept handwritten journals. Some of these are day to day, what did I do, sorts of writings, while others are sketches- of emotions I’m dealing with, people I’ve encountered or characters I’ve created. I like the difficulty of handwriting, the struggle I have to write legibly. It focuses my efforts, narrows my scope. Sometimes, I don’t bother and just fly through a page, laughing at myself as the ends of words blur into unintelligible squiggles; sentences and paragraphs that barely qualify.

I’ve just spend the last two days reading a journal I wrote when I was between the ages of 19 and 21. Terrible spelling. Every event described was either the most important or most mundane of my existence. Certain phrases repeated themselves on almost every page. As I read, each entry made me guffaw at my strangeness, cringe at my hyperbole. Today, I plan to read a journal from my early years at the community college. I expect to have a similar response.

Every time I go through one of these readings, I am ready to commit myself to writing more often. I’ve managed a page a month for the last two years, but I want more. So much of life gets lost over time, altered or forgotten, and while a handwritten (or typed) account of an event is not free of bias or distortion, it is an honest attempt at telling.

Do any of you keep journals? If so, are they something typed, stored in a file, or are they written out longhand? Is your handwriting like mine?