Writing Buddies

Silly title, I know.

I’ve heard it said that writing is a lonely business and in a sense, it is. You shut yourself off from the world to focus on this project. You’re in the zone. (I applaud those who can co-write with someone, although I don’t understand it. I have to be in control of everything.) You’re on your own. With that all being said, its beneficial to connect with other writers. I did my own thing for the longest time, hiding my work from all except for those chosen few I asked to read it (mostly family members), and kept to myself. But my writing became stagnant; I didn’t learn anything new and I didn’t grow. I made the same mistakes over and over again; I didn’t know any better. Only when I started connecting with other writers did my efforts in writing begin to really pay off.

Not only have I made some wonderful friends, these fellow writers are facing the same struggle that I am facing. We’re all in the same boat together, trying to navigate through the treacherous waters of pre-publication. We’ve all failed, we’ve all had our hearts broken, we’ve all been on the verge of throwing in the towel. Your family and friends will support you as much as they can as you pursue your dream, but its your writing buddies that can comprehend your frustrations. They’re the ones you can bounce ideas off of and they’re the ones who will tell you what works artistically or not. You can send your manuscripts to them and they can catch your bad grammar and misspellings; then when you send it in to an editor, you don’t look as foolish.

When you’re having a 3am panic attack about how so-and-so has had their fifth best seller published and your WIP is burning a hole on your hard drive, they’re the ones who can talk you down because they’ve been there. Heck, maybe you’ve even calmed them down.

Get a writing buddy. Or buddies. Every writer has their own strengths and weaknesses, having a group of writing buddies can help shape you into the best writer you can be. Have someone you can lean on, someone you can laugh with over your goofs, someone you can share experiences with. Writing might be a competitive business and your fellow writers might also be your competitors, but it doesn’t have to be survival of the fittest out there. Sometimes its your writing buddy who can help you get your foot in the door.

So, who is your writing buddy?

Advertisements

Keep a Diary

“Keep a diary, and someday it’ll keep you.”- Mae West

That’s one of my favorite quotes and one I have taken to heart. Off and on in my life, I’ve kept diaries and journals. In the beginning they were more crayon colored pictures and simple sentences about loving my dogs or my favorite toys. In elementary school we were encouraged to record our thoughts and opinions. Then for my twelfth birthday, I received The Diary of Anne Frank as a present and it inspired to me keep a real diary. Over the years I’ve written about a variety of occurrences in my life, from birthday parties to crushes to deaths of loved ones. Many years have passed, and now my closet is full of old journals that I can’t bare to part with.

Silly and immature as it may be, I still keep a diary. One day, I’ll be gone and those journals will outlive me. Everyone views you a certain way, but only a diary can keep the real you alive.

What is my point to all of this rambling about diaries and journals?

I think its helpful and necessary for a writer to keep a journal. Its been said that its good for a writer to write every day, to keep the creative juices flowing. Journaling counts. You can record your thoughts, fears, achievements, failures, etc in your journal. Journaling can help you organize your ideas, plans, and writing projects. To write my stories and essays and whatnot, I first I have to organize my thoughts on paper to “see” my vision more clearly. Maybe that sounds like artistic nonsense, but it helps me make sense of it all.

Give a try. Then after a while, look back and reread your old entries, you’ll be amazed by how you evolve as a writer.

What do you think? Do you keep a diary/journal? Would you ever consider it?

Writing is Hard

writing-is-hard

 

I’m sure some of you have seen this meme bouncing around the internet. And it’s true: writing is hard. But publication is harder.

I am often on the verge of tearing my hair out, fretting that I will never be published again. You never know, really. Writing/Publishing is a subjective business. What works for one magazine or publication won’t work for another. I’ve had editors tell me that they really liked and enjoyed my stories, but that they just didn’t cut the mustard. They loved it, but they weren’t “in love” with it. It’s not personal; it’s never personal. Yet we always take it personally.

One story I wrote, “Saving Grace” was originally written way back in 2013 and didn’t appear in print until 2015. That’s two years.

“A Grave Discovery,” my little murder mystery, had been written in October of 2015 and was accepted by New Zenith Magazine in June 2016. Eight months and I was just about to throw in the towel. Sadly, that magazine has since ceased publication. (I am determined to get this one published again though.)

“An Agoraphobic in Europe,” was written in September of 2015 and wasn’t published until over a year later.

“The Sweetest Thing,” a mini little romance had been written in October 2016 but didn’t appear in print until March 2017.

Another murder mystery that I wrote in September of 2016 wasn’t accepted until July of this year. More on that later.

Another interesting fact: 90% of what I write, I write with one publication in mind. However, rarely does that publication ever accept or publish what I have written. I can’t tell you how many times I have submitted stories to Guideposts, Highlights, Chicken Soup for the Soul, and Reader’s Digest, only to have my stories accepted elsewhere.

Manic obsession and perseverance is the only real advice I can give about writing or publication. You receive twenty rejections for a story, submit it again. Submission twenty-one could be it. Don’t take “no” for an answer.

Until next time!

Family Stories

It’s been forever since I’ve updated. Life tends to get away from me sometimes, but I’ll try to do better.

Today’s post is about family stories. No, I’m not going to air any dirty laundry. But I am going to confess to something. I have been known to use old family stories to incorporate into my writing projections. When I was a teenager, I was obsessed with genealogy, particularly with one family story about a great-great aunt who died near my age, and spent a few years writing her story in fictional form. Nothing ever came of that venture; the story has been on that proverbial shelf for almost fifteen years. And now I’ve come up with another idea, inspired from an incident in my great-grandmother’s life. My family has always been very understanding about my habit of “borrowing” from our family lore. They actually encourage it, by sharing other stories and assisting in research. Whether this new story pans out or not, time will tell. I took break from writing novels in 2017, opting to focus on shorter pieces, and am eager to return to working on a major WIP for 2018.

But I’m curious: how many of you delve into your family history and used it for writing projects? Does your family notice? What do they think?

Banned Books Week

There is something delicious about reading a book that has been banned. I’ve read a number of them… of course, thank the Lord, they are no longer officially banned. But I always feel a surge of smug satisfaction when I have a formerly banned book in my hands. That I’m holding something that was once forbidden, that was once frowned upon. That for whatever the reason, this particular book was off-limits to the masses. I have a favorite too, one that I can read again and again and it will never grow old.

 

pic1

 

Growing up, the movie adaptation was a family favorite. We watched it whenever it came on TCM. My parents wanted us to understand two things though: that that was how life was in the South in the 1930s. And that when they were growing up (1950s and 1960s), our home state of Indiana wasn’t that different. That prejudice and racism was entrenched in our past too. I first read the book though in 2010, on the fiftieth anniversary of its publication, and I think I’ve reread it every year since.

A layered book, its lessons are heartfelt and far-reaching. I think I learn something new whenever I read it. You really do learn to walk around in someone else’s skin and see the world through their eyes.

What is your favorite banned book and why?