The Impossible Dream?

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.

Our Twitter handle is @TheIWSG and hashtag is #IWSG.

The awesome co-hosts for the November 2 posting of the IWSG are Diedre Knight, Douglas Thomas Greening, Nick Wilford, and Diane Burton!

November 2 question – November is National Novel Writing Month. Have you ever participated? If not, why not?

***

I have participated in National Novel Writing Month several times. My results range from bailing mid-month to completing the word count challenge. This year, in addition to the word count goal, I am trying to incorporate more “writer-y” type activities into my life—things like reading craft books or listening to writing podcasts. I do those kinds of things now, but I don’t do them with any regularity. By the time NaNoWriMo ends, I hope my routines will have changed enough that my thoughts will default to things like “Hey, you have time to bust out some paragraphs! Woot!” or “Check out that blog on commas while you’re waiting on the dentist.”

So November’s goals are super easy—just 50,000 words and a new outlook on life. No big deal.

A girl can dream, right?

Good luck with your November goals everyone.

Have a great month!

Lori

P.S. I’d love to hear about your favorite books/blogs/podcasts. Feel free to post your suggestions in the comments.

Epistolary for the Win!

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.

The awesome co-hosts for the October 5th posting are:  Tonja Drecker, Victoria Marie Lees, Mary Aalgaard, and Sandra Cox!

October Question: What do you consider the best characteristics of your favorite genre? If you want to read a variety of different responses, then hop around to the different blogs. 

~~~

Epistolary novels are fun to read and write because you get perspective from each character. There are other ways to approach that (the omniscient viewpoints), but the structure of a series of letters, journal entries, etc. is more fun sometimes.

When someone writes a letter, they provide the overall story with some important details. There is less description of surroundings and less “‘Let’s go to the mall,’ said Robin” type prose. That can make for a more fast-paced story.

Epistolary form can also provide a way to contrast a character’s reactions to a situation. For example, the main character will respond to an insulting email from a customer in one way, but will text her real feelings of outrage to her best friend. You get an extra layer of character development with one scenario!*

Epistolary novels are cool!  

I hope everyone has a great weekend. Try not to be sad that summer is over. Yeah, fall is awesome, whatever, but I am already missing the warm weather.

Peace and love!

*This happens in real life, too. I am writing in my blog how much I love epistolary novels, but later I will be writing “Is this a stupid idea?” in the margins of my work in progress! I’m kidding. (A bit.)

To: Crazy Person (or Current Resident)

I bought my house from a crazy person.

Ok, that might not be entirely accurate. Yes, I do frequently wonder what the previous owner was thinking, but at some point, doesn’t everyone question the sanity of the person who had lived there before? I have moved a bunch of times and it seems like there was something crazy at each place. Some examples:

–Two houses with carpeting on the stairs only. I assume it is a safety thing. It’s not likely to have been a fad since the houses were built about thirty years apart.

–A house with a sump pump that didn’t kick on until there was two feet of water in the crawl space.

–A house built with the laundry room in a shed in the carport. By the time I moved in the laundry hookups had been moved into the house and the shed was just a shed with weird plumbing remnants, but it was still a weird idea to do laundry in the driveway.

–A different house with the laundry room outside. It was attached to the house, but you had to go outside to get to it. Why?

–Two consecutive houses with doors installed to isolate the dining rooms. Did I follow the same person from house to house, or does everyone do this to their dining rooms now?

–A house where all the addresses on the street (it was new construction) had been flipped sometime between when the addresses were assigned and when people moved in. Everyone in the complex had to exchange mail for a few weeks, and we kept inadvertently canceling each other’s cable installation.

–A house with a baby nursery. This doesn’t seem bad at first, does it? My son’s bunk bed, dresser, and toy box all fit in it, with enough room left over for a play space. It had its own window. You could only get to his room via his sister’s bedroom, but otherwise a nice little room, right? Wrong. At some point in the preceding fifty years, someone had put a small clothes bar in one corner. So now my son likes to get all “Cupboard Under the Stairs” about it and complain that we made him live in a closet. Why did someone hang that clothes bar? A dresser isn’t good enough for a baby?*

Of course, it might not have been the immediate previous occupants who did all of those things. The crazy person might have been three occupants past. Some of the decisions could even be blamed on landlords, architects, or bureaucrats.

This is not to say that I’m innocent in this—I’m part of the crazy, too. By now, someone must have discovered that their baseboards were stuck to the walls with poster putty.** Someone else had to wonder why there was an old–fashioned schoolroom pencil sharpener mounted in the garage.***

I haven’t gotten around to doing anything crazy in this house yet—I’m still dealing with unusual decisions the previous occupant made. This time it’s the flooring in the dining room. It’s a large vinyl sheet that doesn’t reach the walls in one corner of the room. Because of that it is curling up. I considered just putting a piece of furniture over it and forgetting about it—who doesn’t need another bookshelf, right? But there’s another problem; when the heat pump comes on the air from the vent blows under the vinyl, lifting it several inches. It looks as if something is trying to break into this dimension through the dining room floor.  Are vinyl sheets supposed to be glued down? I don’t know. But I’m tired of heating the space between worlds, and if I have to pull the vinyl up to fix that, I might as well put down flooring that fits the room better. The internet assures me that even I, Queen Sort of Good at Home Repairs, can handle this.

It didn’t get off to a great start. Five minutes after I brought the boxes of flooring in, I realized that I had stacked them on the floor that I needed to tear up. As I was dragging the boxes to another room it hit me–this project needs a bingo card! It will be good for my morale when I inevitably screw something else up. Also, why work on a project when you can write about it instead? (This is the opposite of what usually happens. Usually, I plan on writing then suddenly find the need to do something else entirely.)

My list for the bingo squares:

  • Avoid an injury
  • Wonder why I have so many books–likely to happen while I am moving them out of the room and then back in. The sad part is that the bookshelf has been in there less than a month. Planning is clearly not my strong suit (see: stacking boxes, above).
  • Discover some other crazy thing about the house–I suspect this will involve finding out that half the vinyl is glued down and I’ll have trouble pulling it off of the floor.
  • Fit all of the old flooring in the trash bin
  • Make fewer than three trips to Lowe’s during the project
  • Get “help” from dogs–they tend to think they are supervisors.
  • Stop to dance when a good song comes on
  • Finish
  • Not break anything–damage is always a possibility. I broke a lamp moving the bookshelf to the dining room.
  • Question my sanity about starting such a project–I could check this box already, but the project hasn’t technically started yet, so I’ll wait.
  • Search the internet for help
  • Talk to myself about my shortcomings
  • Have enough flooring
  • Finish in three days or less
  • Work after midnight
  • Experience project rage–yell, cuss, etc.

It’s a mixture of things that will likely happen no matter what; things I will try to make happen; and things that I might not want to happen, but I won’t be too sad if they do since they will help me get to bingo.

Send good vibes. I’ll need them!

~~~

UPDATE: Two weeks later

I intended to publish the above before I started the project, and then post the bingo results afterwards. But the writing was taking longer than I anticipated (no surprise) so I set it aside to get the floor finished before my vacation was over.  Hey, at least you get the bingo results immediately!

Items in blue are the things that happened. Bingo! Yay!

Notes on results:

–I cut my finger. Nothing major, but it did bleed so it qualifies as an injury.

–While moving the books back, I decided I probably did have too many, so I added some to the donate pile.

–I had plenty of flooring—not because I’m efficient (I wasted about a box) but because I bought a lot. I’m fine with that. Queen Sort of Good knows her limitations.

–The surprise was a random piece of metal screwed into the floor. It was where a door used to be, so it might have been a threshold, though that seems odd for an interior door. Also, the metal strip was under wooden flooring, so it wasn’t helping keep the door closed. Maybe it was just part of the frame? Whatever it was, it took forever to remove it because the walls on either side had been built over it. I ended up cutting it with tin snips. The entire situation was insane, and it contributed significantly to project rage.  A bingo two-fer!

–I got all the flooring down in two days, but the project isn’t finished because I still have to do the trim. That requires at least one trip to Lowes, so I left that box blank too, just in case.

Though I still have some work to do, I am happy with the results. The floor looks nice and I’m no longer paying to heat/cool the alternate dimension under the dining room. I even have space on my bookshelf for some new books! It’s an all-around win.

I recommend you make a bingo card for your next project around the house. It might help you feel less crazy!

Lori

* My kids are insisting it was a walk-in closet with a window. They have no explanation as to why there were no shelves and only one small clothes bar, but fine, whatever—I made my son live in a gigantic closet for a few months. Can’t wait for his Hogwarts letter to get here. Also, now I have to question the crazy person who took down all the shelves and clothes hanging bars.

**There was disagreement about the baseboards, so we used poster putty as a temporary fix, then moved away before remembering we had never attached them permanently.

***I like pencils, ok? And you have to attach those sharpeners to a wall stud, so the garage seemed like a perfect place.

Picture of dog
My supervisor

Have you ever doubted the sanity of the person who lived in your place before you? Have you ever been the crazy one, leaving the results of questionable decisions behind when you moved? Let me know in the comments.

I’ll stick with my strengths

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.

The awesome co-hosts for the September 7 posting of the IWSG are Kim Lajevardi, Cathrina Constantine, Natalie Aguirre, Olga Godim, Michelle Wallace, and Louise – Fundy Blue!

September 7 question – What genre would be the worst one for you to tackle and why?

Horror is the genre I’d have the most trouble with.  I haven’t read a horror book since high school. It wasn’t required reading of course, but a group of us went through a phase of reading Stephen King and Dean Koontz. I guess some of those are classified as thrillers, but I wouldn’t be any good at writing thrillers either. I don’t remember how horror/thriller books work, and even if I did, I just don’t have the writing skills to maintain that level of suspense.

Supernatural is cool though—just not the “vengeful demon ripping out throats and entrails” type. I’m currently trying to write a ghost story, but the ghost is mainly annoyed and sarcastic. For some reason I don’t seem to have much trouble with sarcasm.  ( __ <— This space for your shock.)

Peace and love (and sarcasm!)

Lori

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?

***

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!