I’ve spent a little time reading inspiring blog posts this morning and found a few that supported my view of New Year resolutions.
Most of these have to do with writing but I’m sure the advice works in different areas of one’s life.
First, the post from author K.L Krane who writes “New Resolution for 2019: No Resolutions.” She details her exhausting reading and writing goals for 2018 (which left me way tired) and compares this to a new perspective. Check out her blog post.
This drawing from the talented Debbie Ridpath Ohi illustrates what many of us writers do to ourselves. The wisdom given by historical fantasy novelist Juliet Marillier is well said.
In 2018, author K. E. Garland began a new way to create resolutions. She resolved to remember five concepts.
After formulating what she intended to focus on she typed out the ideas on paper and stuck them to her mirror where she’d recite them daily.
Wow, simple, doable, and placed in an area she knew she’d be every morning and evening. I like her idea and am planning to adopt her method and post on my mirror and on my laptop.
Myself? I’m a fan of focus words and intentions. More about that process here.
Whatever you resolve, intend, or conceptualize for yourself this year, believe in your process and I hope you have many happy adventures.
Once in a while, one of my mom’s stories gets a hold of me and begs to be written. A few months ago, she told me of an experience she had. She saw spirits.
I wrote a blog post about it, but her story was more than seeing ghosts. It’s what the story meant to her which begged for a longer look.
The idea of life and death, the spirit realm, and Mexican culture inspired me to create a short story about Mom’s experience.
A couple of months ago I read about a call for submissions for fiction, non-fiction, and poetry entries from a debuting literary magazine, Palabritas out of Harvard. There was no submission fee and the post said that an editor would assist in the rewrites. What did I have to lose, except another ‘no’ response? And from Harvard!
One of my writing goals is to submit stories for publication, once a year. My main goal is to submit my manuscripts. To date, my manuscripts have been ‘liked’ but not ‘loved’ enough for a lit agent to take a risk of offering their representation.
Writing a book is a horrible, exhausting struggle, like a long bout with some painful illness. One would never undertake such a thing if one were not driven on by some demon whom one can neither resist nor understand.
So, submitting short stories are something I do to develop my writing skills and to keep up my motivation. Published short stories add to my writing portfolio and that’s a good thing. To date, I’ve had three short stories published.
Short stories are a good way to write within a framework of an established work count, learn how to trim the fat and I do love receiving free feedback from an editor.
I took a chance and rewrote the blog post about Mom seeing ghosts and developed it into a short story. Lucky was born.
On the day I posted, on a couple of Facebook groups I belong too, about how bad I felt from rejections of my manuscript, along came an acceptance letter for Lucky.
The letter pulled me out of the doldrums and reinvigorated me. The editor requested revisions (twice) and the story was accepted. Last week the anthology was published.
Yes, my story published, in a book, very nicely formatted and with a cover as you can see up there at the top.
I’m so excited to be in this anthology alongside excellent poets and writers. It is these events that keep me going-and writing- for the long haul.
One of these days, one of my novels will be published. And I’ll celebrate and take a picture of that cover too.
Sometimes you need a push, a big one, not a nudge.
After a week of online writing classes, two (what was I thinking?), I felt drained, ready to throw the pen, shut the laptop down.
I needed to get still for a day, shut out the noise on the TV and my head.
If you’re lucky, it’s in those times when the universe, sends you messages and you listen.
The first message was a quote from Stephen King:
I shared the quote on the closed Facebook group for the writers online class. If I felt like I couldn’t go on, I was sure others might feel that way, too. Many did.
The second quote came from a manifesto written by Courtney E. Martin. I read this article today, by Maria Popova, in her weekly Sunday newsletter, the wonderful Brain Pickings. Go to her site to read her inspiring post.
The poster is available through Etsy with proceeds benefiting Hedgebrook, a writers residency program. On Popova’s site, there are three different illustrations with links to purchase a framed poster.
Do you ever want to throw your work in progress away? Chuck the manuscript you’ve worked on for years?
If you’re a writer, you’ve been there and done that.
The last few months I’ve taken writing classes with an editor, Toni Lopopolo and her assistant, Lisa Angle. We’re a small group of writers who brave the weekly sessions with Toni and Lisa so we can become better writers.
I’ve learned I must swing a machete through a draft to become a better writer.
Machete-wielding is a dirty job. You must be merciless. This will hurt, but it’s for your own good.
These tips will help you murder your draft:
Pluck out backstory in the first pages.
Delete the flowery prose that serves no purpose. This includes adverbs and -ing words.
Hack out the ‘terrible 20‘ words that result in the passive voice.
I’m writing a story about a twenty-one-year-old young woman. In the midst of writing it, I think damn she’s making a lot of mistakes and I begin to edit some of the stuff out until it dawns on me the character is twenty-one.
I have this ‘thing,’ in my writing, I’ll admit it. I try to protect my main character.
This happens in the first draft. When I re-read the chapter, I realize I’ve made worse mistakes than the character I’m writing about and I lived another day.
I’ve been soft on the main character. I haven’t pushed her.
So I have to quit the coddling the protagonist because I’m being a helicopter writer. (Same as helicopter parent but with an imaginary child). And that never turns out well.
From my own experience, here are some of the signs of a hovering writer:
Boring writing: The writer is afraid to look beyond and beneath the surface. They are afraid to dig and go deeper into the mind of the main character. What will they do with all that emotion? The story then becomes dull. Good fiction has to entertain you, arouse your curiosity and get you into the story.
No character growth: If the writer doesn’t allow the character to fail, what does she learn? This is like with parenting and allowing our kids to fail which helps them to learn from their mistakes.
Nothing bad happens: A reader stops reading. Facebook, Instagram, and the kitties on YouTube are more interesting.
No drama: might as well turn on the television and watch a telenovela.
The character is two-dimensional: She speaks, she acts but she doesn’t feel. There are no emotional wounds and consequently, we feel nothing for the character.
Back to my 21-year-old protagonist. She thinks mistakes are the end of the world. And they are, at least the end of her world as she knows it. She thinks no one else can relate and doesn’t let anyone help her. Remember the arrogance of youth?
This is the point where a writer can push the character and ask the what if questions.
What if the character takes the situation into her own hands? Her depressed, angry, shaky hands.
But if I hover and don’t let her take the situation into her own hands how will the reader know that her struggle allows her to grow? By allowing her to do dumb stuff, like when she tries to control what’s going on, she finds that things don’t turn out like she wanted them to. Life gets worse.
This time in-between where we think our mistakes are the end of the world is the story I’m trying to tell. The space between happiness and misery.
If the character didn’t make the mistakes, what’s the point of the story? If I coddle her, how will I or the reader know how far she’ll go to get what she wants?
Will she realize that she can move past the crappiness of the mistake? Can she move forward, poco a poco? Little by little?
A helicopter writer won’t discover this for their character if they keep hovering. The character won’t be pushed to make a hard choice or be challenged. Neither will the writer.
Worse, the writer will find they just wasted hundreds of hours writing a story that went nowhere.
Take a look at this quiz from Fiction University, about suffering from Nice Writer Syndrome. This is another form of helicopter writing.
Writing characters can be similar to parenting your children. A dose of tough love can help them develop character, uniqueness, and growth.