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Wednesday, April 7, 2021

Risky Business? IWSG April 2021

 

It's IWSG Day. The goal of this blog hop is to share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds. IWSG is the brainchild of  Alex Cavanaugh. To find links to other IWSG contributors, click here. Thanks to our awesome co-hosts for the April posting of the IWSG: PK Hrezo, Pat Garcia, SE White, Lisa Buie Collard, and Diane Burton

April’s optional question: Are you a risk-taker when writing? Do you try something radically differing in style/POV/etc. or add controversial topics to your work?

I’m about the least controversial person you know, so eliminate the last clause right off. As for trying a radically different style, lately, I find myself more likely to do that when writing a poem, rather than fiction. You can always play games with poems, spacing, tone, voice, wording rhythm. I cut and paste, delete and repeat all over the place until finally, whatever the form, I get what's in my heart onto the page.

Perhaps I need to transfer some of that creativity to my other writing. With my recent novels, I’ve written in third-person POV, but dangling out there in a risky-for-me kind of dream, are two projects I began in first-person. One is a draft novel I wrote a several years ago I ponder giving a total overhaul. The other is the first twenty-pages of a maybe-novel for which I have yet to grasp the story.

Neither is what you’d call radically different, but in both cases, when I go back and read those samples of first person POV, I experience a “Wow, I wrote that?” kind of revelation. My challenge will be to sustain that voice. I’m a little worried I can’t, but I’m happy for this IWSG question, because it’s reminded me to go back sometime and give it a try.

 What’s the most radically different style or controversial topic tried with your writing?

 

Wednesday, March 3, 2021

Never Too Late

 

It's IWSG Day. The goal of this blog hop is to share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds. IWSG is the brainchild of  Alex Cavanaugh. To find links to other IWSG contributors, click here. Thank you to the March co-hosts: Sarah - The Faux Fountain Pen Jacqui Murray, Chemist Ken, Victoria Marie Lees, Natalie Aguirre, and JQ Rose

I have a quote typed on a piece of paper, which may be, but probably isn’t by George Eliot, sitting on my bureau where I see it every morning

“It’s never too late to be what you might have been.”

I read it recently while pondering my changed status in life. Now that I’m not what I used to be, what is it I want to be? —other than what I used to be, but that’s a never-ending loop. That day, clear as crystal, the quote reminded me of one big want that hasn’t changed. I want to see my name on the spine of a book.

Those of you who visit here regularly will understand why sending out queries slowed to a dry-stream trickle these last long months. But the quote reminded me. There can still be forward progress in my life. To that end, I made a goal to get one or two query letters out every weekend for the foreseeable future. I want to think it’s a numbers game. If (note I underlined that word), my writing is good enough, eventually I’ll find the right agent for it. That won’t happen if I am not sending out queries.

The fact is, I have two completed books. One for which I’ve sent out something like seventy queries over the course of a few years (even stopping the querying and working with an editor to perform an  overhaul in the middle of it). I received requests for partial and full manuscripts, but sadly, nothing more happened and I let the querying drift away while working on another book.

Now that I am researching agents for the second book (while writing yet another), I seem to be finding more agents who would be interested in the first one, which I’m not ready to toss aside. So, last weekend, once I challenged myself to get back into full query mode, I sent out three for the first book, and two for the second. I don’t advise doing it like this. Anyone who has queried knows it’s not an easy task. My brain was churning. But still, on we go.

The quote, which George Eliot may or may not have authored, says so very much. Regardless of where we are in life, we can move forward. We can set goals and we can chase them. It’s never too late. All it takes is a willing heart— and in my case, a fair bit of brain-scramble.

What goals have you put on hold? What are your plans for re-energizing them?

Wednesday, February 3, 2021

Gratitude, Kindness and Connections - IWSG February 2021

 

It's IWSG Day. The goal of this blog hop is to share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds. IWSG is the brainchild of Alex Cavanaugh. To find links to other IWSG contributors, click here. Thank you to co-hosts for the February's IWSG: Louise - Fundy Blue , Jennifer Lane, Mary Aalgaard, Patsy Collins at Womagwriter, and Nancy Gideon!

This month's optional question: Blogging is often more than just sharing stories. It’s often the start of special friendships and relationships. Have you made any friends through the blogosphere?

Middle Passages bears witness to my blossoming—me becoming who I was always supposed to be. But beyond how it has shaped me as a writer, I’ve experienced such support, starting with the relationships with my first two critique partners. Although neither blogs regularly anymore, Anne Gallagher and Bridgette Chicoine were key in getting me to trust my writing self. This blog also led to my first magazine-writing gigs. My boss at the time put a few of my posts in front of an editor he knew, and the next thing I knew, I was writing full-page spreads.

Then came IWSG. Oh Alex! Did you imagine what would follow when you started this blog hop all those years ago? Monthly posts, a newsletter, anthologies, Twitter pitches and a wealth of writer resources! It’s amazing what it has grown into—a demonstration of collaboration and giving and idea exchange for which I am thankful.

To be honest, if it weren’t for this monthly essay, perhaps, I too, would have faded from the blogosphere. When other writing is poop, a reminder pops up of an IWSG post due, requiring me to sit down and get to it. Some pieces come out better than others to be sure, but more often than not completing this essay each month primes the pump.

Aside from that, nowadays, when I can go through 24-hour blocks during which I speak to no one but myself (it’s scary how often I respond), IWSG feels like a lifeline. The comments you all have left on my posts speak to my heart. I am grateful for the kindness here— “kindness” now a word I can’t even type without mentioning Natalie Aguirre, (Literary Rambles)  who I “met” here on IWSG.  Over the last several months, Natalie made it her mission to make sure I am managing through the recent grief that has so altered my life. Such giving. If anything, her posts and practices epitomize all that blogging should be.

What is blogging, after all? A reaching out. Offering up ourselves and encountering engagement, response, caring, validation and compassion. Interacting with people we may never physically meet but whom become a part of our lives.

Sometimes, I wonder what my legacy will be, long after I’ve left this world. I suppose if a future someone reads my old posts and feels empathy with an essay or a poem, is calmed or inspired by a photograph—or recognizes an infinitesimal bit of the growing, yearning, joy and grief I’ve poured into these online pages, then I’ll live on through Middle Passages.

If anything, I hope my blog affirms the blessings of connection.