Blogging from A to Z ~The Letter C


Tuesday April 3, 2018 ~ The Letter C  

 

This month, I write about being a writer, alphabetically.

I’ve written nonfiction, short stories, and poetry. My media has included everything from keyboard to fountain pen to crayon.  And yes, I’m working on a novel.

Please join me each day as I explore this craft and career of playing with words as I participate in the Blogging from A to Z Challenge 2018.

The Letter C

 

Community

 

It’s a Lonely Undertaking

Tapping away at the keyboard to create something awesome can be lonely work. With the exception of screenwriters, our creative process is mostly solitary. And we’re more likely to be introverts than, say, talk show hosts. Despite all that, we should take advantage of opportunities to meet and mingle with others in the industry.

These People May Know Good Stuff

Your epic work may not be quite ready for prime time. Feedback from other writers can help you refine your work and get it ready to be seen by decision-makers. Those informed opinions may identify something that moves your work from good to great. Friends and family may be your biggest cheerleaders, but might also be too kind to mention that your antagonist’s eye color changed twice before the end of the store.

When you connect with other writers, you connect with people who have (or will) shared experiences.  They won’t look perplexed when you obsess about the right cover art.  They’ll share your joy when you get a positive response in a mere four months. And they won’t be bewildered by terms such as Scrivener, ACX, CreateSpace, Kobo, Amazon metadata or IP.  Other writers are on the same page, after all.

Others Help You Keep Current

The publishing industry these days changes faster than I can type. If you’re plugged in to the writing community, you’re likely to hear the most important bits that may affect your career. When someone with experience recommends (or doesn’t) a certain tool or app or service or process or subscription to help you along, well, that’s so much more valuable than a web page advertising “ours is the best”.

Meet a Whole Lot of Industry Insiders All at Once

Writing conferences, retreats, and other events are a great way to get plugged in. Be prepared for information overload, remember you may bump into important people, and, yes as old school as it is, bring your business cards. Do your research – it would be a shame to spend a long weekend surrounded by romance writers when your niche is fantasy.

Easier to Find than You Might Think

How to find all these great opportunities to connect?  Hello, google.  Search for writing groups in your city or state.  Check out your local library to see if they host events.  Social media, Meetup, and the blogs of other writers can be great resources. If you’re brave, you can strike up a conversation with that guy in the grocery line who’s wearing a NaNoWriMo shirt.

 

Collecting

 

Like We Need An Excuse

We writers are collectors.  We collect observations and memories and captivating word combinations. We collect because we cannot possibly remember every single inspiring sound, smell, view or whatever that inspires. Keep  a small notebook (for old-schoolers) or your smart phone at hand. You know you’ll always have it with you.  After all, that conversation that you overhear while waiting in the grocery line may just be the inspiration for your next great novel.  Just don’t be weird about getting that inspiration down

Books Because, Well, Books

Some writers collect books. Okay, who am I kidding? Pretty much all writers collect books, because, well, reading is part of our skill development. If you’ve got a space shortage, periodically go through your shelves and gift a few of those babies to someone who will appreciate them.  Or, consider an appropriate device for e-books.  I know, not the same. I agree. But that little electronic screen holds tons of books, and such a teeny tiny space.

It Isn’t Just Books and Notes…

I know writers who collect media beyond books- photos, music, videos.  These files may be for reference or inspiration, such as a photo of Angelina or Brad because that’s what your protagonist looks like.  Or the media may be for your process.  I’ve met more than a few successful authors who have playlists for each novel they’ve written.  They build the list and play it while working.  Genius.

 

I’ve exceeded my word count.  Therefore, just two words that start with C.

Tomorrow, the letter D …

 

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Blogging from A to Z ~The Letter B

Monday April 2, 2018 ~ The Letter B

 

This month, I write about being a writer, alphabetically.

I’ve written nonfiction, short stories, and poetry. My media has included everything from keyboard to fountain pen to crayon.  And yes, I’m working on a novel.

Please join me each day as I explore this craft and career of playing with words as I participate in the Blogging from A to Z Challenge 2018.

 

The Letter B

Beginning

Each story, each adventure, every journey has a beginning.  When we write fiction, we begin our story with something that draws our readers in immediately.  Adventures often begin with the mundane; someone has to plan that big trip or figure out how best to climb that mountain or figure out where best to park when helping frost cupcakes in a kindergarten classroom.

My journey as a writer began with passion; the stories  forces their way out of my head without mercy. Compulsion drew me in and I wrote for the sheer joy of it. The beginning of my fiction writing career required the mundane part.  I researched and reviewed the business side of being an author these days.  I gave serious consideration to the commitment I was considering.  I carved out time and learned to use Scrivener.  I blocked off time to write regularly.  I set goals.  Thus began my journey as an author.

 

Business

In the past, some of my creative endeavors became jobs.  My focus changed from the art to the business.  And the fun was lost.  At the beginning, when I researched becoming a career writer, I struggled with that; I worried I’d see all the joy sucked out of something I loved.

This is a business after all.  That means keeping track of expenses, keeping to a schedule and plan, and (scary!) marketing myself and may work.  But I found a way to keep the passion and the warm fuzzies and still be a responsible self-employed creator.  And that is the next word…

 

Balance

I still write for pleasure.  I can lose hours at they keyboard, perfecting a sonnet that touches my heart.  I still journal and keep the family lore alive by getting it down on paper.

I also write for work.  Planning and record-keeping and social media and marketing and small business management take up more time than I’d like. But that’s the reality of self-employment.  I knew that going in.  I have learned to gently remind folks that even if I’m at my house or in a coffee shop or maybe the library, that I’m actually working. This is a job, and as such, commitment. I don’t stop for the day until that day’s work is done.

And I’ve learned that the key is balance.. I’d go around the bend if every time I sat at my desk, it was only to work.  Yes, some of my work is fun, but I I keep a (sometimes precarious) balance between work and writing for myself.  They’re separate and they’re each worthy of their own time.  It isn’t always easy, but it keeps me sane and productive. Maintaining that balance will see me through the long haul.

 

Tomorrow, the letter C….

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Blogging from A to Z The Letter A

Sunday, April 1, 2018

Today is Easter Sunday AND April Fool’s Day.  My day will began early with sunrise service.  Someone will peel a chocolate egg to find a grape inside instead.  And the fruit drawer in the fridge contains naked and chilly chocolate eggs. The Easter egg hunt this year features tiny little quail eggs. Ham and potatoes  and fine china will be part of our day.

This month, I write about being a writer, alphabetically.

I’ve written nonfiction, short stories, and poetry. My media has included everything from keyboard to fountain pen to crayon.  And yes, I’m working on a novel.

Please join me each day as I explore this craft and career of playing with words as I participate in the Blogging from A to Z Challenge 2018.

 

The Letter A

 

Art

Writing is art. The medium is words, the product lives in the heads of readers.  Authors aren’t likely to have clay embedded under their nails or turpentine stains on their floor, but they are unquestionably artists.  As in music, practice and technique, form and composition each play a part in skillfully getting a story onto paper. The emotion and beauty and message and passion in our stories is found in our readers’ interpretation.  That subjectivity means that what the reader sees in their head may not be what we envisioned when we put the words down.  Which, of course, we can’t control.  And that doesn’t matter, because it’s art.

Awake

Every writer has their own method to prevent inspiration for disappearing before the story is written. I, like many others, carry a little notebook full of cryptic phrases and ideas that for whatever reason resonated at some time. A quick peek in those pages and I find “nuns on horses”, ‘lawnmower wars”, and “cheese”. But this paragraph is about awake. Inspiration strikes at the most inconvenient times. For me, that’s most often in the hours when last-callers are staggering home and most normal people are fast asleep. I can scribble into my notebook and go back to sleep.  Then I wake up when real morning arrives, but the wow has usually went. So I’ve learned I’m better off just staying awake and hitting the keyboard then and there. And that works for me.

Action

Action is a double bonus word.  Because I must take action if I want to be successful in this career.  It’s a competitive business, intentional action to further my success is mandatory.  So I take classes and attend seminars and conferences to improve my skills. I network.  I listen to the advice and guidance of agents and editors and successful authors.  And I write, and write.  And write. Because the action of practicing daily makes me a better writer.

And now for the bonus – our stories must have action.  It may be a car crash or a kiss or a teen rolling their eyes or an imagined activity. But something has to happen, and each of those happenings must have a reason and a reaction.  And those actions and reactions must drive change, or else the story will be boring.  Nobody wants to write boring fiction.

Ambition

I wrote for money, then I wrote for pleasure.  Now I write for career.  I desire to be successful, to be published and to be paid for my writing. This will take determination and hard work. My ambition is what drives me to plan and learn, and put into place the things that will help me achieve this goal. Don’t let anyone try and convince you that ambition is a bad thing.

 

Concluding…

My ambition is the driving force behind my  blogging nearly every day this month.  The discipline and action of daily practice will improve my craft and cement my dedication.  I’ll allow  myself the intentional flexibility to create my next work of art. And, since my last compelling revelation hit at about three this morning, I sincerely hope that I won’t be awake until a reasonable hour tomorrow.

Next up, it’s all about The Letter B.

 

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Yes, I Will! Blogging A to Z Challenge 2018

Yes, Perhaps I am an April Fool

 

This April looks to be busy.

I’ve got a trip out of state to cheer daughter on.

I’ve got a whole pile of volunteer behind-the scenes tech work to get done.

I’ve got to chase down an errant document for granddad’s estate – been trying to get this one piece of paper for fifteen months now.  Some institutions are challenging to deal with.

I’ve got to get our taxes finished. Usually I file super early, but that annoying missing document is holding me up.

I’ve got plans for four days immersed in craft and business and networking and possibly just a bit of playing around at  Pikes Peak Writers Conference.  I am so looking forward to this fabulous event. If you write, you should consider going – and let me know, we can have a coffee or something in between sessions.

I’ve got contractors to meet and plans to approve and decisions to make as our remodeling gets on its wheels and takes off.

I’ve got time blocked off on my calendar for writing (else it never happens).

I’ve got meetings and hospice visits and writing groups and marketing and all the other ordinary everyday things to to get done.

I’ve got a nagging compulsion to spend at some quality time with husband.

 

So Why Not Commit to Daily Blogging For the Whole Month of April?

This Blogging for A to Z Challenge popped into my social media streams.  Repeatedly.  A friend of mine made the commitment.  Then another.  Then a few more.  Not that I’m competitive or anything, but this now felt like a real challenged to me. So I signed up .

I vow to post a blog every day expect Sundays this April.  Easter, April Fools Day, is an exception, so expect to see a post tomorrow.

In keeping with this challenge, each day will be associated with a letter of the alphabet.  In alphabetical order.  Stop on by later on and see what I’ve come up with!

 

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What Happens When I Finish Something

What Happens When I Finish Something

Insecure Writers Support Group BadgeIt’s the first Wednesday of February, time for my Writing Journey post.  Thank you Insecure Writer’s Support Group for the monthly nudge. You’ll see lots of other fabulous insight by checking out the blogroll on their site here.

This month, the IWSG Day Question is How do you celebrate when you achieve a writing goal or finish a story?

 

First thing first.

You Need a Reason to Celebrate

You can’t celebrate achieving a goal unless you’ve got goals in place.  I’ve been mulling over this for the last week, trying to find a touchpoint that resonated.

I Could Pamper Myself

I could readily pen my thoughts on what to reward myself-  a massage, a couple of hours with a purely entertaining novel and a pot of tea, a nap. An extra walk with the dog.  A cookie.  Some time set aside to play with my fountain pens, or do some genealogy research or bake some bread. Maybe a a weekend retreat someplace with an ocean or a forest full of trails, for a big-deal accomplishment.

But First, Make a Plan!

But I found myself returning to but what about actually setting the goals? I couldn’t let it go. Sometimes my brain can be such a nag.

I work with my calendar, scheduling chunks of time to write, or edit, or research. I give myself deadlines. I set long term goals and break them into smaller, manageable pieces. I’ve been known to give myself word-count goals.

Some things work better than others.

I Wonder What Everyone Else Does?

I wonder what other people do?  I’ve read plenty of accounts online and in various writing magazines. I’ve sat in seminars and listened to panels discuss this very topic. Hours and hours, I’ve given to this topic, especially earlier in my writing journey.  I’ve heard the opinions and suggestions of countless experts.

But I don’t really know any of those people.

So, What About the People I Actually Know?

I recently sat around a table with a group of writers and posed the question. Some I’d met recently, others I’ve known longer.  But at least I could feel a bit of a personal connection, unlike an article, website, or panel of important people up on a stage.

Guess what?  Some of the most prolific wordsmiths I know don’t even give themselves goals. They sit down at the keyboard when they feel like it, and, once they get going, the words just start to flow. Others schedule times and/or places they write. Still others opt for a daily word-count goal.

You do what works for You!

 

And, Then, We Digress…

We broke into simultaneous  animated conversations about what to do with middle-of-the-night inspirations and I never got to ask about celebrating achievements.  Nuts.

My conclusions?

  • Gotta set goals before you can achieve them.
  • I’m still curious how others reward themselves.
  • And I must get writing on what do do with that inconvenient brilliant idea.

We Were Discussing Goals and Rewards…

As far as treating myself – well, the feeling of achievement carries its own warm fuzzies.  I feel good when I can check something off on the list.  I don’t want to get in the habit of tangible attaboys every time I accomplish any little thing.  Despite that, those things I mentioned at the very beginning – the walk, the nap, playing with pens or genealogy, a cup of tea, even a retreat – yes, I use them.  I just make a point to sprinkle them into my plan, rather than pile them on.

 

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