I said it out loud-it must be official!

It’s time for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group blog post!

Purpose: 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!

You can join the IWSG Here. Give it a try!

Every month, we announce a question that members can answer in their IWSG post. These questions may prompt you to share advice, insight, a personal experience or story. Include your answer to the question in your IWSG post or let it inspire your post if you are struggling with something to say. 

Remember, the question is optional!

December 1 question – In your writing, what stresses you the most? What delights you?

The awesome co-hosts for the December 1 posting of the IWSG are PJ Colando, Diane Burton, Louise – Fundy Blue, Natalie Aguirre, and Jacqui Murray!

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Lately, the thing that stresses me the most is wondering if there is any point to what I am writing. I have learned to deal with my inner critic/perfectionist/nag. That inner person is always there, but it’s easier these days to tell it to not be so uptight. On the other hand, the voice saying, “There is not a person in the world that is interested in what you have to say, Lori,” is much harder to ignore. When that voice gets to me, I quit writing whatever I am working on and try to find a more interesting idea. But in most cases I go back to the project. I figure that no one is making people read what I write. People are welcome to click the red x and put me on ignore. I hope not everyone does though. I’d hate to prove that voice right!

Just saying “I am a writer,” out loud is fabulous. My brain seems to be wired for writing, but until recently I rarely said, “I’m a writer,” to people. Now I do (in appropriate circumstances of course. I don’t just announce it to rooms at large), and I have to say that it feels pretty cool.

Peace and love (and sometimes sarcasm!)

Lori

The To-Do List Time Capsule

I recently found a personal time capsule. It wasn’t a typical time capsule created to be opened at a specific time in the future. This time capsule was more like Pompeii—unintentional preservation of a particular moment in time (though obviously not quite as catastrophic as a volcanic eruption).

I didn’t realize it was a time capsule at first. It was just a bag of random stuff that had been sitting in the corner since I moved into this house. It had been over a year since I moved, so I decided it was time to quit being a slacker and to do something about the bag.

The general guideline about this sort of thing is if you hadn’t needed anything in the bag for a year then you should just throw it out without even looking in it. But just throwing it away was too anxiety inducing.  There could be an old book of checks in there! Also, I thought my missing toll transponder might be in the bag. Not that I had a pressing need for a toll transponder. I purchased it in error while trying to pay missed tolls. But I didn’t want to just throw it away—I was pretty sure I still had $18.00 on it.  What if toll transponders become the next bitcoin? I could be throwing away a fortune!

With all those potential bad possibilities I couldn’t just throw the bag away, so I went through it. Of course, there were no books of checks or papers with confidential information in it. That made me a little grumbly, but it wasn’t a complete waste of time because I did find the toll transponder. Yay! I also found the time capsule item: a page of lists.

Most lists are boring and don’t say much about what was going on in your life at the time. Grocery lists generally vary only by season. To-do lists (or even Kick Ass Bingo) are pretty much the same week to week as well. The lists I found in the bag are not like that. Those lists are a time capsule from the last time I moved.  

The first section is titled, “Reasons why this will be ok.” The second section is “Reasons it’s not the worst house ever.”

Yikes. That hurt. I even said “Dang” out loud after reading it. It’s not that the lists themselves are that bad. It was remembering the “list behind the lists”—the reasons I had been trying to cheer myself up—that caused the stomachache:

  • I didn’t want to move. I was moving only because the terms of my divorce required it.
  • It had taken several months to find an affordable place to live.
  • I was convinced I’d made a horrible choice. I had spent many nights pacing and crying, asking myself “what have I done?”
  • Lengthy sub-list involving ex-husband, the main feature of which was his spying on me while I was moving (When I first heard about the spying, I taped some of our wedding pictures to the windows to give him and his girlfriend something extra to look at. What? He’s the only one that can be immature? Consider it an attempt at stress relief.)

Time capsules suck. Who needs them? The lists that were designed to cheer me up were having the opposite effect a year later. I set the paper aside and continued going through the bag.

I found another list. After the previous one, I wouldn’t blame you if you assumed the second list contained “double up on therapy appointments” or “leave town to open a shaved ice business in Key West.” Both would have been great ideas, but no. The second list is of writing goals such as “start a blog” and “enter a writing contest.” The final item is “quit pretending to be a writer.”

Wow. That list seems a bit harsh, too.

At first, I thought it was like any other random list—no specific time frame indicated, no time capsule-esque connotation.  But after thinking a minute, I realized that the second list is older—I started my blog before I moved.  No big deal until I also realized that though the list was older, I had accomplished most of the writing goals after I moved. Not only had I survived moving, but I had also upped my writing game! Moving hadn’t turned out to be the all-encompassing disaster I had been anticipating.

The only thing on the list that I hadn’t completed was “quit pretending to be a writer.” I can’t remember if I was saying “Quit pretending to be a writer because you will never be one” or “Quit pretending to be a writer and be one already.” I’m in the mood for perky, so let’s say it’s the latter. With that goal accomplished (I write, ergo, I’m a writer) I can cross off that last item—the list is finished. Cheers!

I’m still over time capsules, though.

**Many thanks to all the people who supported me during the “dreary list” times. I wouldn’t have made it through it all without you!

I Have No Titles

November 3 question – What’s harder to do, coming up with your book title or writing the blurb?

I think it is harder to come up with a title than a blurb.

I have a jar full of slips of paper that, in theory anyway, are ideas for future projects. Some of the slips have the bare minimum of information, such as “The war with the squirrels.”  But others have what amounts to at least the essence of a blurb, “Nervous woman applies for passport, but doesn’t realize what she’s getting herself into.” It shouldn’t be too hard to create a blurb from that.

I do not have a jar full of titles. Not even one of those tiny jars that people use for gifts of homemade jelly. 

One year, the declared title of my NaNoWriMo project was “Book.” That is also what it is called on my computer. Other projects have working titles, (being a bit of a geek, I am always tempted to call one Blue Harvest), but I rarely end up using those titles.

While writing this blog entry, I realized that I don’t even create a title for a post until I am finished with it and ready to publish it. For some reason, I don’t want to officially name things until they are almost complete. It could be a wish for grand final flourish, or it could be due to some weird superstition. Who knows?

Whatever the reason for waiting, I’m not usually overjoyed with the choice anyway and end up wanting to change it. Hey, that could be why I have trouble choosing—fear of committing to something so concrete. I should add “psychological issue” as a possible third reason for my lack of titles!

Can’t wait to see what others say. Maybe I’ll finally get inspired to name something!

You can join the Insecure Writer’s Support Group here: https://www.insecurewriterssupportgroup.com/p/iwsg-sign-up.html

Hope to see you there!

Lori

“That would be so much more fun to work on…”

It’s the first Wednesday of the month, so time for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group post.

Purpose: 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!
Posting: The first Wednesday of every month is officially Insecure Writer’s Support Group day.

You can join here: https://www.insecurewriterssupportgroup.com/p/iwsg-sign-up.html

October 6 question – In your writing, where do you draw the line, with either topics or language?

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I don’t have a lot to say on that subject, so I’m going to write about tangent projects and haiku.

While working on another project, I had an idea for a silly haiku book. You know how it is—your work in progress has hit a point where you are just unimpressed, and then some tangent projects start poking your brain. “Hey! This chapter is going nowhere. How about you write a book of haiku? It’ll be great!” My brain convinced me it would be fun, so I set aside my novel (again) and worked on the haiku book.

I did rein myself in after a few days and got back to the novel. (What a mature writer moment. Who saw that coming?) The haiku book idea is filed away for future use. I don’t foresee there being a big market for it, so it’s just going to be a “look at this fun thing I did” project.

I read once that the goal of haiku is to illustrate a particular moment, preferably something in nature. I came across that bit of information about 30 years after being taught the 5-7-5 format, so my brain has never been hard wired to that “moment in nature” philosophy. (Haiku philosophy! So cool!) My haiku tend to be on the less “artistic” side, but I don’t let that get in the way of haiku fun.

Though I love the challenge of finding those perfect 17 syllables, I read recently that the 5-7-5 format isn’t as important as capturing the essence of the moment/idea, so you can be flexible with structure as well as content. Poetry is subjective, ideas evolve, etc. so you do you in your haiku.

(Note: I was proofreading this and realized that last bit in the previous sentence has seven syllables. My haiku senses are tingling! I will probably have a new haiku to post tomorrow.)

I wrote the haiku below years ago after spending two days making up haiku for just about everything that was happening. I think it started as a friendly haiku challenge and then I could not stop. I don’t remember the exact details, but I seem to remember someone saying, “Are you going to do this forever?”

Help! I’m trapped in a

Haiku factory and I

Can’t find the exit!

It’s one of my favorites. Very meta.

Anyone else get distracted by tangent projects?  Any other haiku lovers?

The Philosophy of Success

This post is for the monthly Insecure Writer’s Support Group day. Every month, we announce a question that members can answer in their IWSG post. These questions may prompt you to share advice, insight, a personal experience or story.

You can check out more details here: https://www.insecurewriterssupportgroup.com/p/iwsg-sign-up

September 1 question – How do you define success as a writer? Is it holding your book in your hand? Having a short story published? Making a certain amount of income from your writing?

***

Ooooh- being invited to philosophize about word meanings! The universe is shining on me today!

Success is all about the mindset, right?

When I was about twelve, inspired by an author interview, I found the place in the library stacks where my future book would be shelved. For ages, that was my view of writing success—a book in the school library. I had no plan, but I didn’t worry about it. It didn’t even occur to me that I might need a plan. My book being on a library shelf was just a thing that was going to happen. Success, baby!

I’m not sure when that version of success faded, (though now that I am reminded of it, it would be pretty cool to have a book in a library) but these days success is as simple as being able to write a few hundred words a day, or even coming up with a perfect synonym. Woohoo!

It would be nice to say that this modest version of success is due to my new, zen-like outlook on life, but I doubt that’s the case. Though I am measurably more chill lately, I suspect the new definition of success is more due to lowering my expectations. What can I say? Life pressures wore me down.

It’s not a really a problem, though. Recognizing the day-to-day successes keeps me from getting so discouraged that I give up writing altogether. I could recycle the library book version of success as a long-term goal, but it might make more sense to just shoot to finish that first draft. (This should be a no-brainer, but my sixth-grade brain is in control right now. Don’t judge.) I’ll have to think about it. In the meantime, I’m going to celebrate the opportunity to be philosophical about definitions. I’m feeling like a winner already!

Writing Craft Book

Purpose: 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! You can sign up here: https://www.insecurewriterssupportgroup.com/p/iwsg-sign-up.html

August 4 question – What is your favorite writing craft book? Think of a book that every time you read it you learn something or you are inspired to write or try the new technique. And why?

I am currently reading “Story Genius” by Lisa Cron. The exercises have helped me develop a different way to think about what I’m writing. I’ve also learned new ways to observe how elements relate to the overall story.

I am not exaggerating when I say that I had an “my novel makes sense now!” moment. Of course the moment didn’t last, and I do still sometimes wonder if it’s even worth it to continue with my work in progress. But the book did help me create a sort of philosophy to get back to when I get lost writing.

It’s also a fun read. The tone is friendly and has a “you’re not the only one thinking this sucks” attitude. (The author probably didn’t use that exact language.)

I did have to rein myself in a bit and remind myself that none of it is an assignment — I am allowed to stray from the lessons if I need to. Almost made myself MORE insecure there for a minute!

Other books have been helpful in general ways, but this one is giving me the exact help I need at this time. It’s been great. I highly recommend it.

I am looking forward to reading other people’s favorites and picking out the next additions to my “to be read” pile.

It’ll Never Work

It’s the first Wednesday of the month, so time for the ISWG!

Purpose: 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!

It’s fun! Join here: https://www.insecurewriterssupportgroup.com/p/iwsg-sign-up.html

July 7 question – What would make you quit writing?

The only thing that could make me quit writing is if someone came up with a version of Extreme Meditation.* Extreme Meditation would give me the ability to make my brain quit thinking things like “Hey that would be a great name for a character,” or “Sure, you’re irritated now, but won’t this make a great story?”

But really, even if someone did come up with Extreme Meditating, I’d be much more likely to use it to make my brain leave me alone about things other than writing. No more obsessing about whether I bought the wrong house or if I talked too much in that one meeting. There are a lot of things to quit thinking about. Writing/being a writer would be way down on that list.

Peace and love!

*Philosophical question- is Extreme Meditation a paradox?  I’m pretty sure it is. (Do you see what I’m dealing with here? While I’m writing, my brain is already thinking of other things to write about. Even meditating to the extreme probably can’t fix that.** I’m doomed to be a writer forever.***)

**Especially if I make ‘comma’ my mantra. “Commmmmaaaaa.”

***I don’t have a problem with this.

Leave a comment with your completely unhelpful mantra!

Lori

Scheduling “space” from your writing project

The Insecure Writer’s Support Group:

Purpose: 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!

Check it out here: https://www.insecurewriterssupportgroup.com/p/iwsg-sign-up.html

June 2 question – For how long do you shelve your first draft, before reading it and re-drafting? Is this dependent on your writing experience and the number of stories/books under your belt?

I don’t think I’ve made conscious, consistent choices with this. Usually by the time something is “finished” (I am using that term loosely) I’m so over it that I don’t bother going back to it for months, if ever. That is probably because I rarely have a strict timeline in mind. Mainly I just want to get what is in my head on paper (Ok, screen, but I still think of writing as “getting it on paper”. Who doesn’t love paper?) and then get on with the next thing. Or just go back to slacking. Whichever.

This downtime will be something to keep in mind now that I’m trying to write with more specific goals. I’ll have to build some “lock it in the cabinet and don’t look at it” time into my writing schedule. I guess the length of the piece is probably a factor? Also how long I’ve been working on it? Seems like a day or two break wouldn’t be long enough for a novel, but it would probably be sufficient for a blog post.

I look forward to reading how other people plan this.

PS- I can’t help picturing going back for the rewrite and having to explain to the work in progress, “WE WERE ON A BREAK!”

***

A Pleasant Surprise for My Writing

It’s time for IWSG!

Purpose: 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!


Posting: The first Wednesday of every month is officially Insecure Writer’s Support Group day.

This month’s question is about reader reactions — have any responses been unexpected or surprising?

I haven’t put much of my writing out in the world yet. Response to my blog has been positive, but being an insecure writer, I naturally attribute that to my blog being read (mostly) by people that love me. My family and friends wouldn’t criticize my writing in public — right?

Occasionally the number of views is higher than I expect. Originally I expected about four views, so it doesn’t exactly require a viral response to beat the expectations, but it is still a pleasant surprise every time.

I was shocked the first time there was a view from another country. Naturally, the insecure part of my brain immediately reminded me that proxy servers are a thing. It simultaneously reminded me that I’m hardly important enough that someone would have to hide that they’re reading my blog. Insecurity wise, those thoughts balanced each other out and became the general “Hey, people I don’t know are reading my blog! Who saw that coming?”

I use all that information in feeble attempts to psyche myself up: “Even people that love me wouldn’t read something they hate”, and “They can’t all be hackers”. Surprisingly, those miniature pep talks do motivate me to write more often.

The feedback from the IWSG has been great for my morale as well — other writers reading my work! I never expected that! Many thanks to all of them.

If anyone is interested in joining in ISWG, you can find the information here: https://www.insecurewriterssupportgroup.com/p/iwsg-sign-up

Check it out and get your motivation on!

There’s more than one way to write a book

This is my first post as part of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group blog hop. You can check it out (and join!) here: https://www.insecurewriterssupportgroup.com/p/iwsg-sign-up.html.

I’ve been checking out the IWSG blogs for a while, but have never felt confident enough to sign up. But this month’s prompt is about reading preferences and writing, and guess what? I have reading preferences and I like to write. I might be able to do this!

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I have always loved reading mysteries. Encyclopedia Brown was fun. I read my Trixie Belden books so much I wore out the covers. But as much as I enjoyed them, neither of those affected me the way Agatha Christie books did. Once I discovered her my whole worldview changed. I couldn’t wait to grow up and have a house in the English countryside. I’d have friends that entered the house through the windows just like the characters in Ms. Christie’s books did. I didn’t realize that when Ms. Christie said someone came in at the window, she was actually referring to patio doors. I really thought the characters climbed up into the windows, and I could not wait to have friends like that. We’d have weekend parties and only use doors when we were dressed for our formal dinners every night.

I didn’t imagine solving murders though. No one ever died when I imagined my country house. No one even sprained an ankle exiting via the window. Sometimes I thought there might be some amnesia type mystery, but never a murder.

I eventually quit thinking that people climbed in windows, but I never did get inspired to write a murder mystery. I get a vicarious thrill when I see how an author handled a clue – “Ooooh, it must have felt good when you put that subtle mayonnaise reference back in chapter three. Excellent.”- but I have no idea how to go about doing that myself.

I am currently working on an epistolary novel, so these days the closest my brain would get to a murder mystery would be along the lines of, “Dear Maude. The vicar was shot. There is a person here investigating it.” I could probably keep up the suspense for three pages if I threw in a description of the ha-ha. (I’m still dreaming about that house in the countryside). The big reveal would probably be, “So it turned out the gardener killed the vicar because of the tea set. Oh right. Just realized I forgot to tell you that the vicar had a tea set that belonged to the Romanovs. Sorry about that. Anyway, they arrested the gardener. Please give the puppy a kiss for me. Love, Victoria.” Not Hercule Poirot-esque at all.

That’s not to say that my reading hasn’t influenced my writing. “Up the Down Staircase” by Bel Kaufman was the first epistolary(ish) book I ever read. It was the first time I noticed “how” a book was written. I remember thinking, “An entire book in letters/memos/etc? Is that even allowed?”

It also seemed like it must have been fun to write. I know now that might not have been entirely the case. Writing is not always fun. But the idea that writing could be fun was an exciting idea I had not considered up to that point. That one fun book in an unusual format captured my imagination in a way that all those murder mysteries had not.

Hang on-a fun book in whatever format I want? Sounds great. I will definitely finish writing that soon.

~

I’m always interested in an epistolary book, so If you have any recommendations please let me know. Murder mystery recommendations are also always welcome.