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. :)

Friday, January 26, 2018

Winter Poetry

            Occasionally, on the last Friday of the month, I do a Flashback Friday post. I suppose this post would fit into that category because I am sharing some things I've written in the past, although I have never shared these on my blog before. I'm sharing two short poems I wrote about winter. The first was written when I was 17 for my Junior English class portfolio. The second was written in 2013 as a response to someone on Facebook who wrote a poem about how she disliked winter.

Change

The winter winds are starting to blow.
Blowing the orange and red leaves to the ground.
The ground is covered with an icy dew.
Dew that makes the grass crunch with each step.
Step-by-step, the season is changing.
Changing as snowflakes begin falling from the sky.
The sky is a pale blue without much light.
Light comes from the bright, white blanket of snow.
Snow that glistens with beauty.
Beauty surrounds you in the snow and ice.
Ice covers the ponds and trees.
Trees are now bare, in the beginning of the winter.


In Defense of Winter

Would you like it with a good book,
or how about cuddled in a nook?
Would you like it nestled by a fire?
That should satisfy your warmth desire.
Would you like it with boots and a sweater?
Those certainly make the best of the weather!
Not even in the fresh, fallen snow
with beautiful whiteness all aglow?
I love the cold! Please don't wish it away.
It's much more pleasant than a hot summer day!


I know there are many people who do not share my sentiments of winter. Which season is your favorite? Have you ever written about it?

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

IWSG: Plan? What Plan?


Happy New Year! It’s time for the first post of 2018 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 on the first Wednesday of the month. We are given an optional question to answer each month, and this is the question for January:

What steps have you taken to put a schedule in place for your writing and publishing?

            That is a very convicting question. What steps have I taken? What plans have I made for writing? I certainly did not have a schedule or plans in place last year, and I haven’t gotten very far with my writing. I’ll be honest, there are many moments when I don’t feel like much of a writer at all. I rarely have the energy or the patience to sit down and write most days. As an introvert working in an extroverted environment, I usually feel so drained at the end of each day. I can’t concentrate. I can’t recall my ideas. I can’t write. Believe me, I have contemplated quitting my job and diving into an entrepreneurial lifestyle many, many times. I stay because I’m scared of losing my financial security. Other part-time writers somehow manage to balance their time, and I do not know how they do it. I have tried different methods and nothing seems to stick, except journaling. I do tend to write out my thoughts, prayers, and feelings on a regular basis. The problem is that those journal writings are deeply personal, and I’m not comfortable sharing most of them. But, at least I have been getting some writing done.

            As the New Year was approaching, I was thinking about my current works in progress. My “quiet book” is still on hold right now. I have a handful of short stories that I have started, and one story I would like to fix up. I also have some non-fiction writing and poetry I could work on. It’s not the ideas that I’m lacking. It’s more of a lack of motivation to sort through it all and get those ideas in a presentable form. What are some methods you use to motivate yourself when you lack the energy to write?


“May your coming year be filled with magic and dreams and good madness. I hope you read some fine books and kiss someone who thinks you're wonderful, and don't forget to make some art -- write or draw or build or sing or live as only you can. And I hope, somewhere in the next year, you surprise yourself.” –Neil Gaiman

“If you have other things in your life—family, friends, good productive day work—these can interact with your writing and the sum will be all the richer.” – David Brin

Friday, December 29, 2017

Flashback Friday: When the Magic Fades

           **I have not done a Flashback Friday post for a while, but I was thinking about this subject while I was at work the day after Christmas. Then, I realized I had already written a post about it before, so I thought it was worth a reshare.**


When the Magic Fades (Originally published on December 31, 2012)

         Christmas can be a magical time of year. Children are excited, the weather changes (for some), beautiful lights and decorations flood the stores and streets, and many people seem to be in a merrier mood. Of course, this isn't always the case. Some people do not enjoy this time of year-and to them I say bah humbug!  For those of us who are Christians, we have an even greater reason to celebrate. I know we have all heard this a lot, but it is important to set aside time to remember how God sent His Son to earth to take on an earthly body as a little baby boy, knowing He would one day sacrifice that Son to save us.
This year brought an amazing Christmas Day for my family. After a fairly hectic month with work, doctor appointments, and crowded shopping, that day was so peaceful. My brother and I took charge of making the dinner, and he even ground up the turkey and stuffing so my mom could enjoy it since her jaw isn't fully healed. We enjoyed gifts and filming the cats (our children) with their new toys. Then, as my dad was reading about the nativity, it started snowing! It was a great day that we did not want to end.


Christmas Day 2012

         After such a wonderful day, I was deeply saddened as I started at work the following day. Despite the weather, many people decided to take advantage of the clearance sales, so the store was crowded. But I expected that. What really got to me is that after such a magical day, everyone was carrying on business as usual. Customers were frantic and impatient. Drivers on the slick roads were the same. My coworkers were discussing grievances about the job. It was like time was frozen in the snow that one Christmas Day, and then it unfroze and life forgot it. It seems that the music, lights, joyful spirits, and goodwill all faded in an instant. Why do people allow themselves to forget so quickly?  Why do we change back to our normal glum selves when the family goes home and the decorations come down?  Shouldn't we have those joyful feelings and kindhearted nature all the time?  And what about those who don't feel that way even on Christmas?  I don't believe God meant for us to get so caught up in our day to day busyness that we become grumpy, depressed, stressed-out, or inconsiderate.  We need to not only look at Christmas through the eyes of a child; we also need to find that childlike faith all year long.  So, as we enter a new year, don't allow the Christmas spirit and its true meaning to fizzle out. If you are too busy to reflect on the joys of each day, then you are too busy!  Let us not forget the things God has blessed us with. As my pastor says, if God doesn't bless you beyond your salvation, you still have a reason to thank Him. And if you are not saved, please consider God's gift, it's the best Christmas present of all! 

“But Jesus called the children to him and said, ‘Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.  I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.’”   Luke 18:16-17 (NIV)
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