Compliment Collage

We sit back, in hard times, and wonder – why do I do this?

Most of us write because we’re driven to by the tales and characters percolating over in our brains. We might go absolutely mad if we didn’t let it out somehow!

Compliments are rare in this line of work. Sometimes people will say they liked the book or give a good review, but it’s really very nice to receive an email like this:

“I also wanted to say that your story is very beautifully written and so impactful. I’m grateful to have read it.”

Isn’t that beautiful? Thank you. Thank you.

And, then today,

By the way, I really liked your story. It had an Edgar Allen Poe vibe.”

Woo hoo! Anyone who knows me understands that I am a Poe fan! I’ve written about, lectured on, and have done my own Poe – Cation

This particular story has not been released yet. “Ghost in Her Room” will be published in Dreamers this summer.

Hold on to those compliments, ladies and gentlemen! I think we need to post them, highlight them, make a giant collage and put it next to our desks for when motivation escapes us.

Summer Goals

I know we make new year’s goals, some of which we keep. This year, however, I decided to make summer goals.

Write everyday

Draw everyday

More yoga

Get out more – now that we’re out of quarantine

Start my back burner projects

I’m sure there’s more, but that’s a good start.

SMART Goals need to be specific, so I learned in the Psychology of Motivation class I took last semester. I’ll work on specificity as well as the other things noted in the YouTube video.

I would love to hear other people’s goals!

Welcome to the world of participation trophies, self publishing, and mediocrity.

I saw a post in one of the writers’ groups. It read something like, “Editing is so expensive, is it really that important?”

Welcome to the world of participation trophies, self publishing, and mediocrity.

I have NOTHING against self publishing (or even participation trophies); however, there are many people who point to these as the problem creating people who don’t try, who don’t work for what they want, who don’t even try to shine.

Yes, there are published books, even from the big 5 publishers, with errors, and author’s cringe because authors work at their craft. They spend weeks and months reading over their WIP thousands of times. Their beta readers read it. Their editors edited it. They rewrote, and edited, edited, and edited for it to be letter perfect. At no time, do any of the authors I know, sit back and say, “eh, does the editing really matter?”

That’s where the real work takes place. That’s writing. Putting words on paper is only the very first part of the job.

The short answer is “yes, editing matters!” Do it yourself or spend the money.

There is far too much crap out there to sift through. If it is not something you feel will shine, win awards, of which you can be proud, put it in your bottom drawer. You can still tell people you’re a writer and your opus is in progress.

Character (and human) Motivation

Learn How to Find the Motivation Within to Succeed | Inc.com

Recently someone did something for me. I did not ask, she volunteered. I was apathetic for a few reasons: I didn’t know her very well; when someone does something for us – there are usually invisible strings that will sway our way at some point.

Many of us operate on societal, cultural, and sometimes puritan programming that is mostly unconscious. Expectations seem ingrained in our very being.

What she expected in return was for me to behave a certain way given her grace. When I did not, she claimed to be hurt and upset, frustrated, why had she bothered?

She was entitled to a “Thank you,” which she received. But she was not entitled to control or to judge. She didn’t understand this. She didn’t realize (and denied) she was making judgements based on her own expectations. If her motivation was to “help,” she had accomplished her goal. But, then, why was she upset?

As writers, I think we see things more clearly. Maybe differently. We are observers of human behaviors. If we’re good, we’re looking for motivation.

This person, like our character, didn’t understand her own unconscious motivations and was, therefore, disappointed by the outcome. It is a rare character who can see their own faults, analyze their misguided or unclear motivations before they act. It’s only with reflection, and maybe help from their besties, that our characters grow to understand themselves and their own actions, motivations, and goals.

Time for a good book burning?

What do you do with all those old notebooks? journals? piles of notes?

How long should we keep them? forever?

I guess, there’s different things here. My old notes and notebooks full of ideas are floating in various places, saved for that some day I might mine them for good ideas.

Yet, there are other types of journals and notebooks – our personal ones. Does anyone every throw those away? burn them?

One woman told me she was sorry she threw hers away. She’d like other people to see them, read them, understand they weren’t alone in their thoughts and feelings.

Certainly, that is why I write. However, that is not why I keep a journal. And those journals, over the years, have piled up. I have nightmare images of my daughters reading them after I’ve passed, wondering if they should have committed me.

There’s probably some good mining that could go on in them, but I don’t want to reread them. They are the past, dark things best left there – aren’t they? Or do I use them, dredge things up, use them to add authenticity to my writing?

There’s plenty of me in my writing, my fiction. Need I add more? Or do I destroy the evidence?

Writing Life

I called a friend out of the blue today. I updated her on the weirdness that is my life. People showing up, others moving away, the strange, the wild, the fantastical. Every one, a true story, replayed for my friend.

She commented, you always have so much going on.

I reflected, not by choice. But, doesn’t she? doesn’t everyone?

Maybe the way we talk about our lives is the way we write stories.

Her stories are gentle, calm, always well paced. Her imagination is vast, but her writing is serene, as if you were reading a swan.

My stories are varied. One day I’m writing about someone finding a gold tooth and the next I’m writing about Poe’s hauntings. Mine work at different paces. They surf from one side of the galaxy to the next. My readers are sometimes intrigued, sometimes put off. They like the story of a girl falling in love with a dog, but not the story of a girl talking to mirrors.

One reader wrote, “Who is Noreen Lace?” He’d read Eddy, then ordered How to Throw a Psychic a Surprise Party.

I guess this is me. There’s a lot going on. Remember what they used to say about the quiet ones? Still waters run deep. I’m not very quiet, not very still. I am the river that rushes around the corner and is calmed by the expanse. In some places, I’m deep enough to fall in and drown and, in others, I’m skimming over rocks, just slick enough to pass.

I can’t contain it. I can’t limit it. I can’t label it. And I won’t.

I like ’em short

I’ve been reading and writing novel length works lately. I belong to a few online book groups and people are always posting great reviews of this book or that. Sometimes I pick them up, sometimes I like them. It’s hard for me to find that book that hits the sweet spot – the perfect mix of good writing and a good story.

I love the exceptional use of language. That’s a talent.

In my literature and writing classes, I use Best American Short Stories. I chanced upon an old copy the other day. I read half of the first story and felt engaged, awakened!

Picking up the book of short stories immediately energized me with ideas for short fiction.

The joy of reading a short story happens because they’re tight, no nonsense needed, straight to the point, well written and excellently executed niblets of fiction.

The joy of writing a short story is the challenge. The point, the characters, the setting all expertly set up in concise wording in a small period of time. The use of language is easier to control, the beauty and rhythm easier to accomplish.

I once belonged to a short story group. It was so gratifying to read the short fiction. If you didn’t like what someone chose, you could still read the ten or twenty pages and talk about it. It’s not 300 pages of silently cursing your book group.

So… I’m going to recommend some books of short fiction. Of course, I recommend the Best American Short Story Series. Wonderful writing by newbies and scholars alike!

And mine: But also – I’m a huge fan of Jo Rousseau and Ron Terranova.

Jo Rousseau and Ron Terranova also have websites/blog. Stop by and check them out!

Where do you write?

I stumbled upon an article about writing space that I wanted to share.

I used to write, quite successfully, at my dining room table. I love the early morning light that comes through the window, not too bright until right after lunch – sometimes, I’m still writing and I have to draw the blinds.

From my dining room table, I can also view of what happens in front of my house. It’s minimal distraction. But just distracting enough for when I need to look up from any painfully blank pages. A neighbor walking a dog. A child riding a bike. My neighbor searching through the recycling bin.

I have a cafe style table. Far too big for my little space. A little taller than average. But it works when I get tired of sitting, I can stand.

The chair got hard to sit on. Back pain. Hip pain. The minimal cushion became even more minimal after so many days and hours and years sitting there.

I’ve thought about getting a little table. A table built for two – me and my computer – and set it right near the window – even closer than I am now. But would it be big enough for my tea? my snack? my stack of junk mail?

I changed my writing space to a proper desk. Big. Wooden. Dark. A drawer filled with paper, pens, stapler, and the like – whatever I might need. A nearby printer. A proper chair.

Yet, reading this article, I realized I’m nowhere near as productive as I used to be.

Starting tomorrow – it’s back to my table!

Where do you write?

Recharge, Recover, Release.

Recharge, Recover, Release

There are all kinds of tired. Some of which I sleep well, some of which I do not.

Sometimes I’m physically tired. I worked out. I hiked. I did enough manual labor to make my body exhausted. I sleep well on these nights.

There’s mentally tired. My brain wore out from working facts and figures into some sort of rhythmic sense in my world. Sometimes, on these nights, I do not sleep well. I’m disturbed, wondering if it formed into a smooth shape of being.

Then there’s emotionally tired. Dealing with people – angry, upset, unhappy, or even large groups of chaotic masses wear me out. I do not sleep well on these nights. I toss and turn, trying to work out the ugly aura left around me.

But – I never get any of those types of tired from writing. Writing is recharging, recovering, releasing. I let go of the day, the facts and figures, the angry masses, the physical exhaustion, and I’m able to create something that is life giving, soul soothing, and has meaning.

Writing is a way of living free from outside infections.

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