My Oh My Writers’ Group Experience

Okay, so I did it.  I finally attended my first ever writers’ group.  It was held at my local Barnes and Noble, and we met in the cafe area.  I brought along my daughter-in-law Kayla for moral support(I’m an introvert, so it’s difficult to go to things like this alone).  I was this close to chickening out and saying I don’t feel like going but I wrote about attending in the last blog, to hold myself accountable.  So off I went.

When we arrived, there weren’t too many people there yet.  I looked around anxiously to see who might be involved with the group.  I saw a couple of men sitting alone at tables with an open laptop so I asked one if this was where the writers’ group met and he said yes.  I was relieved I had asked the person who was actually part of the group.  We introduced ourselves and Kayla and I sat waiting for the others.

After some time passing, the rest of the group slowly filtered in and sat at a back table as others pulled a few smaller tables and chairs over to accommodate overflow.  I had seen on the group’s online site that 16 people had signed up to be there that night and I was impressed that we could squeeze so many people in a corner, and impressed with the loyalty of group members to attend.  I wasn’t the only new person, there was one other who had traveled a distance to get there.

As we sat, no one knew who we were, Kayla and I, until they asked if we were with the group and I informed them that, yes, we were new.  They warmly welcomed us over and we sat, a bit cramped, but they were very friendly.  At one point, after noticing the age range of the members, Kayla leaned over and whispered to me, “They’re all old.  Why do you keep taking me to old people stuff?”  She’s 18 and I’m sure anyone over 30 would be old to her.  I’m ancient because I’m on the cusp on 53.  Side story, when my son, Josh, and Kayla were dating, we were at a Chinese buffet restaurant and we had decided that her and I should hang out together.  And the lovely Kayla agreed and said, “Yeah, I love hanging out with old people.”  Ouch.

Anyway, I did not submit a chapter to the group’s site for critique because I wanted to see how everything worked first.  They went around and introduced themselves and then they starting discussing each other’s work.  I noticed that I did not share the same writing that they did.  I am a more modern-day literary or romance writer and have a plethora of short fiction and not novels in the works, though I do have a couple of NaNoWriMo works.  Most wrote historical, or fantasy pieces.  I did find it interesting how they kindly critique each other’s work and I felt confident, after hearing their comments, that I could do this as well.

After two hours, they were finished, and mentioned that normally there was usually a group of three or four that met every two weeks or so.  I have to say they were a very eclectic group.  Wasn’t sure what I was expecting but what I saw I felt comfortable being around, me being an Aspie and an introvert.  My husband asked me later if I was going back and I said yes but maybe only once a month or so.  I am looking forward to the group critiquing some of my work.  There are several published writers in the group and others who just have a life-time love of the written word.

So I survived my first writers’ group experience.  Now I need to work on my grammar since I’ve been told I use too many commas.  Thanks for reading.  Until next time, my friends, happy writing.  Oh, and reading because it was reported on the news this week that those who read live longer lives.  Go books!

 

Off To A Writers’ Group

I am about to embark on a terrifying journey, to a place most introverts would tremble at doing:  meet new people.  In early August I will be attending my first writers’ group at a local Barnes & Noble and I am petrified!  As an Aspie and an introvert, I figured I’ve got two strikes against me already.  A third would be if they all disliked me; one of my biggest fears.  I’m always worrying whether this person or that person likes me.  My younger son thinks I’m silly to be so concerned whether I’m liked or not.  Unfortunately after years of horrible school experiences I’ve developed this irrational fear of being disliked.

Okay, I got to admit I’ve been out of school since 1981 but the embarrassment due to my peer’s rejection still haunt me and keep me from achieving more in life.  And, yes, I know that I should just brush it off and get on with my life.  All well and true.  But this silly fear nags at me and is the reason I don’t get involved in outside activities, even with the other ladies at my church.  I recently had attended a women’s function at church and, as usual, took a seat at an empty table and proceeded to fret if anyone would care to join me.  And alas, no one dared to sit with me at my table.  Maybe I didn’t have a smile on my face, or perhaps my nervousness showed but thankfully a lady at one of the tables next to me invited me to sit at their table and I gladly did.  I wouldn’t want to appear even more standoff-ish by rejecting her generous offer.  It was a church function, you know.

Now that I revealed my bizarre side to you all, I want to convey how important it is for me to join this local group.  I’ve been told to join a writers’ group and have earnestly wanted to find one in the area.  Step One was completed.  I also have a fear of bringing my laptop to the store since I’ve never had to sign in to anyone’s WiFi but my own before.  And I’m not even sure if it’s called that!  I am so not with the program here, people.  I am highly technology-illiterate.  Again not sure if that’s even the proper term.  Silly me.

So do I go days before and figure out how to set up at said store or have one of my darling sons show me how to do it?  I don’t want to look like a fool in front of total strangers.  As a woman, this is one of my greatest fears:  To look like an idiot.  This fear, unfortunately, goes way back to childhood.  But I won’t get into that now.

I truly love to write but it’s done in the safety of my home, in a little room which used to be my younger son’s bedroom.  All my books are neatly(okay, not so neatly) arranged on bookshelves, my desk is in front of the window, and I have a handy two-drawer file cabinet, and a rocking chair that my husband & I found along someone’s curb.  Sometimes I enjoy listening to music while I tap away at the keys; mostly Country but other times I like Classical music.  It doesn’t seem to distract me as much as Country does.

But if I want to make a living, or at least pay off our yearly property taxes, I need to find other like-minded individuals who will help be reach my goals.  Along the way I’m hoping that I will be of some use to them as well.  I write on Wattpad and Scripophile and have this blog but as a writer one needs to, no, must write.  Like air, words on a page are a necessity to a writer.  I am not happy unless I’m writing something.  I feel lost and not fully alive when I’m not tapping away.  Sometimes as an Aspie I struggle with the right words to show how much I love this writing process.  I sink into a depressive state whenever I’m not writing, or even reading about the writing process.  I will push myself to attend the group, probably developing a headache or a stomach ache before heading out the door like a woman off to her death.  Okay, maybe not that dramatic.

I will keep all of you lovely people informed on how it all went in upcoming weeks.  Thanks for allowing me to vent and reveal my fears, as silly as they sound.  Until next time, keep on writing.

The Best of Intentions

In the beginning, when I decided that I wanted to have a blog, my intentions were good.  I had set my heart on posting at least once a week, but, as you probably know, I’ve failed at that attempt.  My heart, though in the right place in wanting to do, can’t do much for keeping my promise to myself.  As a writer, not paid but still always a writer, I feel a lot of guilt over not accomplishing my goal of writing on a daily basis.  I just completed NaNoWriMo last month, which was also my first attempt at the 30-day challenge.  I am glad to say that I did complete the challenge and under the 30-days, by four.  I loved it!  I now realize that I have no excuses not to sit my butt down in a chair at my writing table.  I realized that I can whip words out quite easily, but it is the editing that is a bite in the ass!  Coming up with ideas was not a challenge to me.  My many uncompleted short stories can attest to that.  It is finishing them.  Because I know that when they have been completed, that means that the editing process must begin.  And that scares the hell out of me! 

Writing is my passion, yes, but along with having a great love for words, I have a total fear of rejection.  That’s why I found the 30-day challenge so refreshing.  I didn’t need to worry about editing it.  That will come later, if I so choose to submit it for publication.  I find it frightening to turn around and slice and dice my stories.  One does get attached to one’s imaginary friends.  Or at least I do.  You love them into existence and then you have to massacre the hell out of your manuscript to make it just right.  I struggle with that.  That’s why I am constantly trying to find just the right words, even from the beginning of a new piece.  Maybe that’s part of my fear.  Fear of not having it just right.  Fear of an editor scratching his or her head and wondering why in God’s name did I even submit this piece of junk.  I want them to like it.  I want them to understand where I’m coming from.  Sometimes it is from a happy place, other times it is wrenched out of the darkness from my soul. 

We have those moments as writers.  Please.  Please.  Please.  Be gentle with my characters.  They are fragile.  Just as I am.  I want to know that I have talent.  I want to be able to share this with the world.  I don’t need fame or riches, just the opportunity to share my thoughts, feelings, and voice with the world.  All I’m asking for is a chance to get out there, to be heard.  I love to write.  I love words.  I don’t want to be hurt.  But I also don’t want to live in the constant state of fear of rejection.  Can you relate?

Day 11 — Are we there yet?

Participating in NaNoWriMo month-long endeavor, I’ve become like a mother nursing her sick child back to health, while forsaking her other children in the process. Ever since November 1, I have put all of my other works on hold, focusing all of my attention and energy on this one piece. These 50,000 words that have drawn me into its evil clutches, not allowing me a day’s rest. Which, for this contest, is a good thing.

But along with this comes the fretting: will this novel ever take off? Will other people want to read it? Will it be good enough? Clever enough? Emotional enough? So my other ‘children’ cry out to me from my inbox. Pay attention to us! We’re so lonely! Don’t you care about us anymore? But I do. Very much. The separation is almost painful. I try to dwell on the thoughts and images of my unfinished works. I know that I need to return to them, to nurture them, to love them back into existence.

This narrow focus on one novel takes a lot of energy out of me. Though I have discovered how much I enjoy writing this way. It forces me to write. To produce. To share. To release my imagination out into the world, come what may.

I am happy to announce that I have stuck with it. We have just entered the second week and I am nearing 22,000 words. I believe that this is the most I’ve ever written. So along with the vast amounts of energy it takes to write this novel, I also am left with a sense of pride. Knowing that I am well on the way to completing something I set out to do. Something I normally struggle with. Commitment. Oh, I hear one of my unfinished babies calling out to me. I need to go and see to what they need. Until next time, my friends, keep those fingers flying!

NaNoWriMo Challenge

This is my first endeavor into the wonderful and exciting world of NaNoWriMo.  I’m four days into it and have completed my word count each day so far.  I’m up to 6,919 words.  But I am questioning my novel idea.  I am beginning to hate my two main characters.  Their personalities have gotten away from me.  They’re jerks.  Normally I try to keep my characters positive and people-friendly.  But not these two young men.  They are both alcoholics.  One worse than the other.  Sex-craved, chauvinistic, chest-pounding a-holes.  How did I lose control of them?  Is this a good thing to allow your creative juices to run away with itself? 

But I know this contest is only for a rough draft, and this work is definitely rough.  In more ways than one.  I have added a lot of swearing and sex.  These are two young men who grew up in abusive homes.  In trouble since elementary school.  Into heavy-metal.  Struggling to find jobs, and then trying to hold on to them.  I want to make them as realistic as possible, but being a female trying to delve into the male mind, it’s not an easy task.  But with this challenge, I wanted to go outside of my comfort zone.  I needed to do something different.  Something off-color.  Something that wasn’t a romance.  Those would be easier to write, being a woman with a big imagination, and a love of anything romantic. 

So, four days into it, and not struggling…yet.  I’ve been warned.  It’s coming.  The doubts.  The boredom.  The fretting.  The damn-I-don’t-feel-like-writing-today days.  But this is why I write.  It is not to be in the spotlight.  It’s no longer about achieving the fame and fortune, but about just making a decent living while writing and the extra income it could bring in.  Would I love to be a full-time writer?  Yes.  More than anything, I would.  But I’ve learned something by reading a lot of blog posts, and writing sites that I write because I want to.  Not for fame, not for glory, not for the money, but because I just plain love putting words to paper, or to screen, in a lot of cases nowadays.  I’ve mentioned this before, but it is in my blood.  Since I was a child, I had this intense desire to create.  I’ve tried other creative endeavors which I’ve failed miserably at:  painting, drawing, sewing, knitting, crafts…just don’t have it in me, though that talent does run in my family(somehow it just missed me).  But writing, creative writing, having the ability to create characters, and settings, and stories that can last throughout the generations.  I just want to write.  No.  I need to write.  There is no inner peace when I’m not writing.  I crave that peace, that serenity when I’m creating a new world.  It’s about the desire to share new and interesting heroes and villains, about describing the fight between good and evil, and that, in the end, I want to have my characters make a difference, in their lives as well as the readers’ lives.  Is that too much to ask?

So, each day will be a challenge.  To what extent, I have no idea yet.  To all those writing day after day, with the same fire in their souls that burns within mine, I wish you continued success.  Take it one day at a time.  Writing should never be a chore.  For when it becomes that, the fire slowly diminishes and begins to burn out.  Don’t allow that flame to blow out.  You can do this.  You have the creativity, the drive, and the passion to create.  Let it take you to places in the imagination that you never thought you’d go to.  Achieve your writing dreams.  I know I am.  For this is a challenge to myself to say, I can write 50,000 words in 30 days.  And if I can do that, then there is no excuse for me not getting a short story out in that time.  A little push never hurt anyone.

Until next time, friends, happy writing.

November is Almost Here!

Okay, just to let you all know that yesterday I signed up to compete(well, against myself) in writing a 50,000 word rough-draft novel in just 30 days. NANOWRIMO will be my very first attempt at this. A definite challenge for a writer who has difficulty finding time to write. But I figured I’d challenge myself, and this would definitely be a challenge. A challenge to my excuses, and a challenge to my imagination, and a challenge to my will-power. Can I do this? Will I make the deadline? What am I to write about? Do I go with a novel idea already partially started or with a completely new idea?

Any encouragement would be greatly appreciated. That extra push is always a great motivator. Has anyone done this challenge already? Is anyone out there attempting this one this year, like I am?

The last few days I am going through the Thesaurus and jotting down words to describe walking. Yes, walking. Why? I am trying to be inventive in describing how people in my fiction move. And there a many ways to describe: Stroll, stride, meander, amble…okay, I don’t want to bore anyone. I find it lots of fun, and entertaining, to begin the editing process. I am excited to finish up a piece and getting the chance to submit it. I know that this fear of rejection must be wadded up like used tissue(ick) and tossed into the trash. As writers, we know that fear can suck the creativity right out from underneath us. We cannot let that happen to us. We have a dream we must cling to. Never release it because of fear. Don’t allow anyone else to discourage you either. Do your best and always, always believe in yourself and your abilities. Write on, my fellow creative types. Until next time.

WRITING IS GOOD FOR THE SOUL

Okay.  Okay.  I actually got up at 4:40 this morning and felt psyched and ready to write.  No coffee.  No nothing to help wake me up.  Just me and my thoughts.  So far so good.  I have my laptop fired up, and my works-in-progress ready to go.  My brain is ready to play too.  I meant to write for an hour, but wrote instead for about a half hour.  Better luck next time?  Maybe it’ll take me a few tries at getting up early to finally get moving and my fingers flying over the keys.  But, hey, it’s a start.  And I’ll take it. 

What I’m enjoying now is going on different writing websites and author’s blogs and checking out all the helpful and informative articles and thoughts of fellow bloggers/writers.  What are some of your favorites?  Who are some of your favorite writers?  Me personally, in the romance category they would be:  Lori Foster, Karen Robards, Heather Graham, Kat Martin, and Lora Leigh.  In the thriller category:  Vince Flynn(R.I.P.), Mark Greaney, and Alex Berenson.  But my book collection is vast and diverse.  I’m always looking for new authors to discover and enjoy. 

Writing is good for the soul.  It can lead to self-discovery.  It can help us understand the world around us.  It can also help us temporarily escape the world around us while engrossed within the pages of a fascinating book.  Do I make sense?  Does anyone else out there feel that way too?  Am I going in all sorts of different directions at one time?  Am I even able to gather these thoughts together without them running all over the place?  Be it poetry, fiction, non-fiction; I love it all.  Writing is liberating.  Like throwing off one’s clothes at a nudist colony(okay, maybe that one’s a stretch).   

I am a firm believer that a writer is a voracious reader, always hungry for more thrills, romance, interesting characters and great plot lines.  New worlds out there to discover.  We can be swept up into the past, remain in the here and now, or travel into the future.  I will never grow tired of words.  They are what makes the world go round.  The much-needed form of communication to bring people together.  May we, as writers, continue to strive to set the literary world aflame with our brilliance, our dedication, and our love of the written word.  Happy Writing.