Writing Challenge!

What a week it has been. I am intellectually exhausted and drained after the election on Tuesday, from doing my best to be level-headed and understanding, all the while trying to comprehend why social issues aren’t more important to everyone. But that is simply because they are so very important to me personally. And that is all I will say about that.

In other news, I’m doing a writing challenge for the month of November! NaNoWriMo was a bit daunting for me and then a fellow writing friend, Necole Ryse, popped up with a different challenge! So I am participating in that – 500 words per day! (You should definitely go check out Necole’s site and various social media accounts – and duh, her books!)

By participating, I’m really being faced with how much I let life get in the way of my writing goals. There have been a few days where I wrote nothing, and multiple where I wrote just over 200, or 400. I have gotten away from making writing a priority, and that simply sucks!

I’m doing my best to stay dedicated, though. I made up for some of it by writing over 800 words today and plan to do that for a few more days to try to make up for all of the slacking. I do have the rest of the month, so I’m sure I’ll be fine. I’m just trying to nip the habit in the bud before it’s the end of the challenge and I’m CRAZY far behind!

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Notebooks & Books On Writing

Apparently I’ve been missing out, not knowing about this book. It seems that many high school English classes use it, but mine definitely did not. The book is “Writing Down the Bones: Freeing the Writer Within” by Natalie Goldberg.

I’m only a few chapters in, but I’m already loving it. There are so many prompts and ideas and I’m finding it all to be quite inspiring. I read a chapter or two and I have to stop because there’s something that I want to write down before I forget!

I’ve also decided to follow in Natalie Goldberg’s footsteps and start using just plain, single subject, spiral-bound notebooks for my writing practice. I’m a little bit obsessed with office supplies, notebooks included, so I find myself constantly buying new ones, different ones. I’ll buy a large 300 page notebook and then before I’ve even filled 5 pages, I buy a pretty composition book style notebook. And another, and then a fun journal that I liked because it opened flat. Before I know it, I have 6 or 7 empty notebooks lying around, only 25% filled in total! It’s like I’m spending more time worrying about the notebooks and which one to write in than I am actually writing. And how silly is that?!

I figure that if I take the guesswork out of it and give myself that “routine” of using regular single subject notebooks, it will enable me to be more productive.

Basically, I should know by now that I work best with a routine set in place. At the very least, organized chaos. 🙂

An Encouraging Rejection

I have discussed previously how as writers we are often our own worst critics. There is a very real insecurity where our work is concerned, yet at the same time we obviously believe that our story is worth telling or we wouldn’t have written it. We are overly confident in the fact that we think our voice is special or should be heard, but there is always that voice saying, “Nope, nobody cares! Nobody wants to hear your story! Your writing is terrible and not special at all!”

At least, that is the case for me personally. Of course it won’t be the same for everyone, but I’ve heard an alarming number of other writers express the same thing.

Since I started sending out query letters to agents, my confidence has definitely taken some hits. It has been something of an uphill battle to keep believing in my own future success. I frequently remind myself that so many amazing writers were rejected dozens of times before finally getting that, “yes.” J.K. Rowling in particular was rejected something like 75 times, and she ended up writing one of the most successful, well-received book series ever!

Overall though, the rejection letters I have received have honestly been so polite and diplomatic that they haven’t been too difficult to swallow. Last week I received probably the most uplifting one yet. The agent stated, “I found your story to be very strong, and it drew me in right away. You have talent, but unfortunately, I didn’t fall completely in love with it. […] I do want you to know that it was very hard for me to pass on this project, and I’m certain that if it hasn’t already found a home, it will soon.”

How can I be that upset about such a “rejection”? 🙂 Of course I don’t require validation from others where my writing is concerned–even without it I would continue to write, because it is what I love to do and it fulfills my soul in a very unique way–but god it still feels great to read those words!

Workshopaholic

I’m searching for writing workshops I can attend (that don’t cost an arm & a leg) that are local, and I haven’t been having any luck!

For some reason I’m really craving a writing workshop. Maybe I’m feeling nostalgic for my college classes, or the summer workshops I would attend in middle and high school. School, but only involving writing. I could do that all day!

However, earlier last week I came across a few helpful websites!

http://writing.shawguides.com/index.cfm?action=search&fSearch=arizona&fSiteID=6&fSearchPointer=1&subaction=doSearch

http://www.azauthors.com/event_calendar.html

I’m pretty interested in a few of them–hoping I’ll be able to attend! I don’t mind conferences, but I’d really like a genuine workshop more than anything. Something that feels like I’m back in the classroom.

In other news, I have been severely slacking in the October Writing Challenge…! I’ll forget for a couple days then catch up a little, then forget again. I just feel like I need a “boost” with my writing lately. Not feeling motivated. Last night I randomly got inspired/motivated to work on my book some more, so that was good. I’ve decided to change quite a few things. There are more elements of mythology I want to add, after reading up on it more. It’s funny how these mythological elements keep popping up, matching what I already have in the story. I love it!

Write In Order to Heal

It amazes me that more people don’t utilize writing as a therapeutic tool. There are few things in life more cathartic than writing down your struggles, stresses, painful experiences, and emotional turmoil. So many of the issues I’ve faced have been worked out on the page.

Studies have shown that there are obvious benefits to it, as a matter of fact. I am in complete agreement. It’s the same concept as talking out a problem–either with a friend or in actual therapy. Simply telling your story can help release some of the pain and hurt from a situation. I definitely attribute a lot of my emotional strength to my love for writing. I’ve been journaling since about second grade and while I have never tried writing poetry to be published (nor am I sure I ever would), I use poetry quite often to tell a story about something that I’ve gone through, or some emotion I’ve felt.

For me telling my stories (even just to myself in my own journals) essentially gets them off my chest. If I’m stressing about something writing it down makes it possible for me to move on from it; leave it behind me rather than hold it inside and let it fester.

This is why it has become a dream of mine to start some sort of writing program for high school kids. Life goals!

Freelance Resources of a Spoiled Generation

The Internet makes life so much easier, doesn’t it? I’ve come across various online resources for my freelance business, and it makes me wonder what people did before the Internet. We are so spoiled. HaHa! One resource I really like, though I haven’t used it all that much yet, is Elance.com. I use it to search for writing and editing gigs, and it seems like there are tons of options. So far I just haven’t really cracked down, but as I mentioned in my previous post I am working on changing that! I would definitely suggest checking it out if you are a freelancer yourself. There are posts from all over the globe, really. For all kinds of projects–personal, corporate, educational, etc. They were pretty thorough in the whole profile verification process, too. You have to schedule a Skype call where an Elance employee takes a photo of you to verify your identity, based on your display photo, I believe. I hope everyone is having a fabulously productive Tuesday! It’s gloomy & rainy here in normally sunny Phoenix. Makes for a nice change of pace, but I must admit that I miss the sunshine!

Time for An Excerpt!

I essentially have zero brain cells to spare for writing a semi-thoughtful/interesting blog post today… so it looks like it’s time for another excerpt from my book! 😀

Eleven

 

            The instant Mom’s old Buick was parked in the driveway I shot out the door and into the house. I didn’t take the time to notice that Nikos’ car wasn’t there, so I was frustrated to not find him in the house.

            I decided that I had to talk to someone before I gave myself a panic attack. As I peeked out the back door in the dining room I saw Alex’s bedroom light on, and made my way to his window. The crickets were still out, though there were audibly fewer than in the warmer months. The world was winding down, preparing for the freezing cold to come.

            Alex let me in seconds after I rapped on his window, lending me a hand as my gangly limbs tried getting through.

            “Hey. I thought you were hanging out at Emma’s tonight. Girl’s night or whatever.”

            “I was. It got cut short, though.”

            He closed the book he’d been reading at his desk. It was a thick hardcover, no doubt some kind of history book. Alex couldn’t get enough of history, though he tried to keep it quiet. I’d always known he was kind of a geek. It was part of his charm, I told him. I knew I had his attention when he closed the book and leaned forward, his elbows on his knees.

            “An old man at the mall died today.”

            “Okay?”

            “I was at the mall, Alex! I saw him! I talked to him! I handed him his bag of candy that Emma rudely knocked out of his hand! And then, he DIED!” I was shouting.

            “Jeeze, Thana! Keep it down! Unless you want the entire neighborhood to think you’ve officially lost it!”

            I knew he was right. So I grabbed a pillow from his bed and screamed into it as loudly as I possibly could. The release of frustration did make me feel more relaxed. I plopped onto the bean bag in the corner and let out a sigh.

            “Alright. So how old was this guy? Ancient? Maybe this really was just a coincidence.”

            “He was pretty old, but he wasn’t like, decrepit or anything. He was so happy, Alex. Just sitting there eating a bag of gummi bears. Jesus, I can’t go anywhere!”

            “Did you touch him?”

            “No. I touched his bag of candy, but that’s it. He must’ve died the second I walked away. I didn’t wait because, well I didn’t think he was going to die!”

            “Are there any similarities between him and the others?”

            “Mr. Graham was old, too. But Mr. Graham had also just been hit by a car. Everyone else had been majorly injured. This guy was fine.”

            “And they’ve all been in very different places… yeah, I don’t know. I still think this might be a coincidence.”

            “Maybe you’re right. Maybe I’m just freaking out. Overreacting.”

            “Just go home and eat—relax. I’m sure it’s no big deal.”He had me convinced that I was being silly, so I retreated back to my house for the night. What could I do other than worry myself into a frenzy?

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