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Wednesday, January 5, 2022

No Regrets - IWSG January 2022

 

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 the amazing and generous  Alex Cavanaugh. Thank you to this month’s co-hosts: Erika Beebe, Olga Godim, Sandra Cox, Sarah Foster, and Chemist Ken!

Optional question for January: What's the one thing about your writing career you regret the most? Were you able to overcome it?

As I’ve stated here before, writing brings out my truest self—so I’m not sure that I can associate the word “regret” with the process at all. That said, in the spirit of this month’s question, I’ll admit to a certain wistfulness that I’d started writing in earnest soonerbut try not to give it much counter space. My focus on writing arose out of a specific need when it was most welcomed. Since then, it’s never subsided.

Looking back, it's easy to recognize words have always lurked inside me. As a sixth grader I lay on my bedroom floor for hours, working on a writing assignment for Miss Markey’s English class because I was having too much fun to finish it. The A+ I received triggered the realization that if you love what you are doing, it feels easy.

As I grew older, I kept diaries and wrote long-winded letters to distant friends (admittedly never receiving anything comparable in response). In college I took journalism and poetry classes. I submitted my works to the campus newspaper and literary magazine. As an English major, I wrote paper after paper. Clearly, reading and writing were my gig. But when it came time to find employment, it didn’t dawn on me to seek a position in my “field.” Who made money as a writer? Rent was rent. A job was a job. I took the first one I was offered which put me on an HR path —a good fit, I suppose, as I wrote employment ads, policy and procedure documents, emails, and memos as a matter of course. Looking back, the “not-in-my-job-description” newsletters, relocation manuals and training documents I wrote while at my "helping-to-pay-the-mortgage" job were enough to keep the blinders on, to stop me from seeing what I really wanted to do. But finally, cracks appeared in my facade. I began writing and submitting essays for publication. I won a little contest and had a couple of pieces published. 

Not long after, my job was unexpectedly eliminated and less than twenty-four hours later, I wrote my first blog post. After that, I was all in. Committed. It was as if someone yanked up a room darkening shade one afternoon and I could view what had been circling me all along. Whatever the heck I did next, I’d write. Since then, I’ve tailored things such that, one way or another, writing has a firm place and priority.

So now, seemingly a lifetime since that first blog post, perhaps I’m wistful, but mainly, I’m pleased and aware. For a huge portion of my life, I let words sneak in unobserved because I figured I didn't have the wherewithal to be a writer. These days, I understand I’ve always been one.

What are your regrets about your writing career? How have you overcome them?

Wednesday, December 1, 2021

Stress and Delight - IWSG December 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 the amazing and generous  Alex Cavanaugh. Thank you to this month’s co-hosts: PJ Colando, Diane Burton, Louise – Fundy Blue, Natalie Aguirre, and Jacqui Murray! To find links to other IWSG contributors, click here.

This month’s optional question: In your writing, what stresses you the most? What delights you?

Querying and all that goes with causes me the most stress lately. It's challenging and time-consuming to research agents and it seems more often than not, even those who seem like an absolute fit respond with something like: “Intriguing premise and solid writing, but but I'm focusing on _______ (fill in the blank) at this time.” I play mind games with myself before I send a query, rereading my letter a million times for typo’s then waiting until the computer clock lands on a number I like before pressing send. Even-numbers are good. Digits that correspond to important dates are better (say, 7:22 for my birthday). Sometimes I simply wait for a number I like, say 4:56 or 2:22. When it comes to querying, nothing replaces a good story and strong writing, but timing and luck can’t hurt. We’ve all heard tales of agents who turned down a particular project for whatever reason, only to have it end up as a best seller, right? (Woe to those who rejected Harry Potter back in the day!) So, in that vein, I play as many odds as I can. Maybe 4:44 pm is exactly the time all the good juju in the world will land on a particular agent and they’ll fall in love with one of my novels. Okay. It's a stretch, but it isn't hurting anyone!

As for what delights me, well, the writing of course. There’s nothing better than landing in that zone where ideas and words collide and find their way to the page. How grateful I am for the days I sit down to edit a line and look up hours later having lost myself in my story. I suppose the soul-defeating nature of querying is a small price to pay for something that brings such joy.

What causes you stress in writing these days?

Wednesday, November 3, 2021

Writing Power - IWSG November 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 the amazing and generous  Alex Cavanaugh. To find links to other IWSG contributors, click here. Thank you to co-hosts for November's IWSG: Kim Lajevardi, Victoria Marie Lees, Joylene Nowell Butler, Erika Beebe, and Lee Lowery!

 

As I draft this post, (five days before you'll read it) we are 72-hours into a power failure after a devastating nor’easter. My entire town has lost electricity. These days, I’ve got a full-house generator which we arranged to put in when my husband was sick. Ironically, it wasn’t fully operational until a few weeks after we lost him, but my daughter and I are blessed with it now. There is not much worse than sitting for days in a freezing house praying for the power to go on, but this time we've got heat, hot water and lights. No cable or WiFi, but still, it’s all good.

In more irony, I was supposed to have four, hundred-foot pine trees taken down the day before the storm but the tree guy was delayed. We live in a pine grove and for various reasons, trees have been dropping like matchsticks over the past several years. My four are now exposed. Two of the four were struck by lightning this summer and while they remain(ed) standing, the damage forced me to pull the trigger. I’ve been waiting over two months for their removal and now, I’m a day late and a dollar short, as they say. One of the lightening-struck trees snapped in Tuesday’s wind and its top is now decorates my yard. An oak that never worried me also cracked.The damaged crown, still attached, dangles over the generator in what they call a "widow-maker." Ugh, yes. But while all this is a worry, I have to put it into perspective. Down the street, a tree rests on the shattered windshield of a neighbor’s car. Elsewhere, uprooted trees landed on several houses. Those with severe damage take priority of course, so now it's time to cultivate patience. Given the tree devastation around here, who knows when the tree guy will make it back to me.

So, what has my storm experience to do with writing? Not much, really. Only, this is my first significant storm with a full-house generator. I'm not used to having access to anything electrical during power outages so it didn’t dawn on me until earlier today I can fire up the laptop, edit my WIP and create this blog post. (Fingers crossed on actually being able to publish it!)

Today is a day to count blessings. My daughter was with me through one of the loudest, longest and scariest storms I have ever experienced. We have light and warmth. A fuel company delivered more propane to the generator today. And once I figured out I have the power to open the laptop and write my IWSG post, this 500 hundred word vent helped things feel a smidge more normal.

Update: Power restored. Undying gratitude offered to the multitude of power workers who descended on us from places as far away as Alabama, North Carolina and Canada to repair our electric grid.