You’re going to love it here

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 help 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

Thanks to our awesome co-hosts for this month:

 J Lenni Dorner, Janet Alcorn, PJ Colando, Jenni Enzor, and Diane Burton!

July 6 question – If you could live in any book world, which one would you choose?

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If you read by my previous blog posts, you’d probably guess I’d want to live in a country house in an Agatha Christie novel—cocktails on the lawn, walks around the estate (I still want to see a ha-ha), and entire rooms dedicated to books! I could say, “I’ll be in the library if anyone needs me,” and it would be an actual library! In my house! I’d definitely get some writing done there. (Ha!)

It does sound relaxing. Maybe I can spend my weekends there. But if I were looking for a good place to work I’d pick the world of the “Thursday Next” series by Jasper Fforde. Thursday Next technically lives in (a version of) Great Britain. But within that world is Book World, a sort of meta-book land where books are made and maintained. I could get a job in Jurisfiction and spend my time fighting the mispeling vyrus and the verbivores. There are mysteries, too—who sabotaged Miss Havisham’s hot rod?

Best.job.ever.

You could make an argument that this is sort of like wishing for more wishes, because in Book World you can travel to almost any book. (Jurisfiction agents lead group therapy in Wuthering Heights, for example.) But I’m making my own world here so I have approved it. Leisure time will be in Agatha Christie land and work will be in Book World with Thursday.

I will meet you for lunch (or cocktails!) in either one.

It’s not a completely terrible way to pass the time

IWSG time!

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!

The awesome co-hosts for the May 4 posting of the IWSG are Kim Elliott, Melissa Maygrove,  Chemist Ken, Lee Lowery, and Nancy Gideon!

Check it out here!

May 4 question – It’s the best of times; it’s the worst of times. What are your writer highs (the good times)? And what are your writer lows (the crappy times)?

***

One of the best parts of writing is when a piece I’ve been having trouble with suddenly makes sense. The perfect angle on an idea fights its way out of my brain, and I finally know how to rewrite and rearrange all the paragraphs I’ve been working on. Euphoria!

Some of the low parts are my usual “who will ever read this” thoughts and my feeble “end the story” skills. (I feel like I am not good at endings. Maybe I can take a seminar: “Endings: the complete how to guide for wrapping it up already.”)

A specific instance of “it was the best of times; it was the worst of times” was when I was first published. It was before the internet was the all-encompassing everything it is now. I submitted a silly column-type item to the local newspaper, but I didn’t tell anyone because, you know, insecure.

Weeks went by without a response. Then a friend called and asked, “Did you know that you are in the paper?”

No, I did not know! Woohoo! My writing was out in public for the first time—how exciting! People (unprompted!) congratulated me and told me they liked the column. I couldn’t believe it was happening.

I was so excited that I even mentioned it to a few people that lived elsewhere. “Check me out! I was published in the local paper!”

My poor first-time-published feelings were crushed when one of those people responded, “Big deal. Newspapers always publish letters to the editor.”

Cue a low part of writing. Sigh.

It did discourage me for a while. I gave myself mental pep talks, pointing out that even small weekly papers don’t publish every submission. I’d also remind myself that my piece was not a letter to the editor—I had a byline! I even said “A byline!” out loud a few times.

Eventually I recovered, but trying to ignore the killjoys (especially the ones in my own mind) is still difficult sometimes. I just try to remember the most important things about writing: it’s cool and I don’t 100% suck at it. A bit of both the high and the low there, but as philosophies go it’s pretty good.

Peace and love!

Lori

Reading is for Losers

It’s 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. Include your answer to the question in your IWSG post or let it inspire your post if you are struggling with something to say. 

Check it out here!

Remember, the question is optional!

April 6 question – Have any of your books been made into audio books? If so, what is the main challenge in producing an audiobook?

***

My brother law is never going to read the books I write. He’s not anti-book. He’s not even anti-me. He’s anti-reading. Hold a book? Turn pages? Not for him. He plays audiobooks on the car radio while driving back and forth to work. “Reading is for losers,” he says. “Put that in your blog.”

While I commend the word play, I obviously would never say that reading is for losers. Reading is cool!

In conversation, I think listening to a book and reading a book would be considered the same thing, but my brother-in-law got me thinking; if you say listening to a book is not reading, what would you call it instead? (What can I say? This is what my brain does for fun.)

I considered “consume books” for a while because it played into my “30 day, buy only consumables” goal. (I can buy books! Yay!) I decided against consume* because it reminds me of fires, and who wants to think about burning books? No one! Burning books really is for losers.

Apprehend books? Seems like part of a criminal enterprise. Take in books? Sounds vaguely digestive. (So does consume, really.) Hear books? I mean yeah, people are hearing the books, but it doesn’t work, does it? For comparison, consider that people who read don’t say “I stayed up late seeing a book.”

 In the end, I wasn’t able to come up with a phrase better than “listening to audiobooks.” It’s doesn’t have much literary flair, but it does have the advantage of being clear. Boring, but effective.

So, for lack of a more fun term, “listening to audiobooks” is how I’d describe my brother-in-law’s choice for enjoying literature.

I know that he’s a fan of audiobooks, so you’d think I would have thought about the possibility of audio versions of my books. Of course, none of my drafts have been made into actual books yet, so maybe it’s not that surprising that the audio option hadn’t occurred to me. Once I get the books published, I will have to look into audio versions, especially if I want my brother-in-law’s opinion of my writing. (He doesn’t read blogs either. If he asks, tell him that he is the hero of this month’s post.)

Let me know if you have any fun ideas for what to call “listening to audiobooks.”

Peace and love!

*Though I didn’t classify books as consumable, I did exempt them from the spending goal. Goals are supposed to be realistic, right?

Writing Makes Everything Better

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!

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!

January 5 question – What’s the one thing about your writing career you regret the most? Were you able to overcome it?

The awesome co-hosts for the January 5 posting of the IWSG are Erika Beebe, Olga Godim, Sandra Cox, Sarah Foster, and Chemist Ken!

You can get more details (and join!) here: IWSG

I am surprised at my reaction to this. At first I joked with friends that I would say “I regret I didn’t try harder. The End. Love, Lori.”

The regret part is still true, but when I started examining some of the reasons I quit trying—things that people did or said that I let affect me—my mood changed from joking to aggravated.  Those writing memories brought up other memories, blah, blah, blah. Before long, my mood escalated to “inordinately angry with all concerned, especially myself.” I had to fight the urge to write a manifesto titled,

“POOR LIFE CHOICES”*

No worries. I’m not going to subject you to a manifesto. I probably won’t even write one, though I’m sure it would improve my mood if I did.

That brings me to the second part of the prompt: Was I able to overcome it?  Maybe? Sort of? I didn’t even think about trying to be published for over twenty years, so technically overcoming that regret is still a work in progress. But writing did help me deal with other difficult times in my life, so I’m going to give myself an “A” in the Writing/Overcoming category.

Thanks to the IWSG for prompting a self-therapy session this month!

Peace and love,

Lori

*Capital letters intended because it’s a manifesto. Some style rules must be adhered to.

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!

***

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.