Day 11 – Decluttering

This brings back memories from last summer. My husband had been unemployed since the previous fall, and the finances had just gotten too difficult. We decided to accept my family’s invitation to come stay at their home across the country until my husband was able to find work. What that required though was a massive decluttering since we would not need any household goods until he was working. So, we started going through an entire 1900 sq ft house and seeing what things meant the most to us. Those things which meant the most were packed up and placed in a storage area while the others were sold and given away. It was a painful process, but one that was necessary.

In the months since that time, I have realized that there are other areas of my life that need the same decluttering–one of which is my writing life. Today’s challenge is to clean my writing area and to lose all the extra verbiage in my writing. I’m still learning about how that works, but if it makes my writing more accessible, it is something I need to do, and something that is necessary.

 

Until next time, be real!!!!!

Day 10 – Sharing Others’ Work

This challenge is starting to remind of the times I did NaNoWriMo in 2010 and 2011. For a whole month, I was able to stick with something and actually finish it out even with the turmoil I had going on at the time. I have finally decided to do that in my writing during the entire year, and the schedule I set up this past weekend should assist me in that endeavor.

Now, onto what the challenge is. Today, Jeff Goins wants us to share someone else’s work and not to tell them–like giving a gift. Since I have particiapted in the writers’ track of a festival very recently, I have several good candidates, but first let me tell you about my experience at the festival. It was the first year of Alabama’s Phoenix Festival, and as in all first years, the attendance was fairly moderate. (People were estimating 1500 by Sunday morning.) What that did for me though was enable me to be up close and personal with some great writers who were also fairly decent people. There were a few of us that hung out around the writers’ table, and I don’t know the last time I laughed and had so much fun talking about things that I was passionate about. I even had a writer/publisher take the time to help me refine what genre I was working in. (Allan Gilbreath)  Since I had been confused up to that point, that was tremendously helpful. He and another lady also helped me document my experience at the festival with my phone camera since I had come by myself.

In the weeks since the festival, I have finished one of the authors’ books, and my son is working on another book. First, the book that I have finished was called Burnout by Stephanie Osborn. It would be classified in the realm of hard science fiction, and I was unable to put it down. She worked for NASA for twenty years in the mission control field and helped to train one of the astronauts who was lost in the 2003 Columbia disaster. I say all that so you would know that she knew what she was talking about. Not only could I not wait to get to the end of the book where the mystery was solved, so to speak, I learned alot about how shuttle missions were conducted and the terms used in such shuttle missions. I would heartily recommend it to anyone who was interested in hard science fiction.

The book that my son is reading is called A Prophecy Forgotten by M.B. Weston. It is the first book of a series called The Elysian Chronicles. Her biography states that she is an award winning fantasy, young adult, and paranormal author. When she stated in one of her panels to think of her writing as having similar qualities to Lord of the Rings, I knew that my son would enjoy it and purchased it for him. He is working on reading it now, and thinks that it is fantastic. (Well, he is 15 and said it was good, but that is actually code for that he really, really liked it.) Of course, the true test will be when he is finished with the book. If he is interested in ordering the second book of the series, I’ll know he really liked it.

Feel free to share any other authors you have come across lately in the comments.

Unti next time, be real!!!!!

Day 9 – Great Writers Connect with Others

Well, we’re to the ninth day of this challenge, and I’ve already received so much helpful advice and have met people that I would have never known otherwise. I guess that’s all part of this community that Jeff Goins has been talking about. Today he talks about connectiing with others as a writer and that there are three different categories–1) friends 2) fans 3) patrons. And the challenge is to connect with one of each.  I think the friend part I’ve already gotten down. A friend is someone who writes, who is doing the same thing I am. Connecting with the local writer’s group in my community has really helped with that. I’ve already sent someone from that group a message asking if she wanted to do lunch when she comes back from the writer’s convention she is at, and she said yes. I can’t wait. She is already published (short story), and she is working on shopping her novel around. Since she is further along in the process than I am, I know she will have many useful things to say to me.

The second kind of person he wants us to reach out to are fans. I wonder if the visitors that come to his blog can be counted as that. I know, for right now, most of you that are reading this are also writers, but I guess you keep coming back because you’re interested in what I have to say. At least, I hope so. 🙂  He says that to find a fan I should figure out why I want people to listen to me and say what I want to say.  If I say it boldly enough, it will start to resonate, and fans will come. That reminds me of yesterday’s entry where I talked about wanting to be able to give better feedback to others. If I take time to listen to others’ writing and what they’re saying, I know that can only help me become a better writer so that is my goal for gaining more fans.

Finally, the third type of person he wants us to reach out to are called patrons who are leaders and influencers in the industry. Wow, that is the scary part because these are the people who are approached constantly to the point where I think they might become jaded sometimes. It is hard to get past the mind set of not feeling worthy of talking to these people. Jeff does give some ideas of earning this privilege.

“You have to earn it:

  • By demonstrating your competencies.
  • By serving someone else first.
  • By making a big ask.”

I guess I don’t think I’ve demonstrated my competencies yet.  And I don’t know why. I met some terrific people at the sci-fi/fantasy convention I went to a few weeks ago, and I think any of them would be suitable. Guess it’s just me and my own hang-ups. Any of you that come over from Jeff Goins’ blog, please feel free to give me a kick in the teeth on that thinking, okay??

 

Until next time, be real!!!!!

Day 8 – The Difference Between Starting and Building (feedback/editing)

Today, the assignment from Jeff Goins is to finish something in thirty minutes. Ready, set, go.  When I got up this morning, I checked my email and found a reply from someone who I had met on his site yesterday. We had agreed to be critical feedback partners and had exchanged pieces. She had returned my piece with her notes. She also stated that she wished I had answered a few other questions on her pieces. Whoa, I still have a lot to learn about giving feedback and thought I would use this post today to put some of my learning into practice. (Thanks, Tannis!)

First, here are the questions she asked.

    1) Did I give enough or too much of a description of something?

     2) Was the content in a suitable order?

     3) Did I tell too little or too much?

I don’t know why I didn’t give feedback on those things. I guess I am still in a proofreading mode when I think of giving feedback. I can correct punctuation, misspellings, word order, wrong words or phrases with the best of them, but doing other kinds of feedback is difficult because I don’t know if that’s the way the person meant it to sound. Does that make sense? I also have this same difficulty in my local writer’s group. I have read at two of the meetings and have gotten some wonderful feedback. But, I haven’t given a lot of feedback myself for some of those same reasons. I’m seriously thinking of passing on reading anything at the next meeting because I would really like to improve on the other skills. Part of this improvement, I think, would be to learn what kinds of editing there actually are. This is where that handy Internet research comes in. I found these types of editing and their definitions on the mseditoronline.com website.

1) substantive or developmental editing – The most intensive form of editing is substantive editing. The document is evaluated as a whole and problems of structure, organization, coherence, and logical consistency are corrected. Sentences may be removed or added. Paragraphs may be rewritten, condensed, or expanded. Blocks of text may be moved from one section to another.

2) copy editing – The editor corrects problems of grammar, style, repetition, word usage, and jargon.

3) proofreading -Proofreading is the lightest form of editing. Minor errors are corrected which include:

  • errors of grammar and style (e.g., verb tense, units such as ml, use of numerals and words such as “5” or “five”)
  • errors of capitalization, punctuation (e.g., the use of commas, semicolons, colons, periods, dashes, apostrophes)
  • errors of spelling and word usage (e.g., to/too, affect/effect)

So, those are the kinds of editing. Now, how do you edit or give feedback on something you might not know a whole lot about? Do you think about how the piece sounds to you and go at it from that angle. Do you think about what makes sense and what doesn’t? What about clarifying and putting more description in a particular section? As you can see, I am still learning about this. Please feel free to answer these questions or any other questions about feedback or editing you can think of in the comments.

Until next time, be real!!!!!!!

                        

Day 7 – The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Of course I know that you’re supposed to revise after you finish a first draft, but the challenge from Jeff Goins today is to purposefully realize that the first time you put something out it’s going to be ugly. That’s a hard thing to think about something that so much effort has been put into. Maybe the trick is to think that when you’ve finished a first draft that there are improvements that can be made. I used that line of thought when I was reading a portion of the book I’m working on to my local writer’s group. Low and behold, because of my lack of knowledge of the military, what I was portraying wasn’t correct, and I was able to fix it without changing what I thought the story should look like. My hope is that I have the chance to help someone like I was helped. I like this community that Jeff is helping us build, the chance to be honest and real, because it fits into the direction I want my life to go in.

Until next time, be real!!

Day 6 – Great Artists (and Writers) Steal

I used this quote on my first ever post for this blog, and I’m going to use it today because of the Day 6 challenge from Jeff Goins.

“If you don’t make mistakes, you’re doing it wrong. If you don’t correct those mistakes, you’re doing it really wrong. If you can’t accept that you’re mistaken, you’re not doing it at all.”  (credited to I fucking love science’s photo that was posted on May 26, 2012)

This quote reflects the newfound confidence in myself that I have found this year through everything that has happened me to me and my family since the fall of 2010. I used to be scared of putting myself out there because I was afraid—afraid of being rejected, afraid of not being able to stand up for myself. Not that I had any illusions of being perfect, not by a long shot. But I was afraid of opening up and letting people see the deepest parts of me–the parts that hurt and my dreams for the future. I didn’t understand that even if those things were diminished by someone else, it didn’t make them any less real to me. I don’t feel that way anymore though. I am a writer, and what I want more than anything else is to affect the world with my writing—the writing of a person who is not perfect, who makes mistakes, who I would say is perfectly normal. 🙂

 

Until next time, be real!!!!!!

Day 5 – How Great Writers Prepare for Big Projects

How Great Writers Prepare for Big Projects—that is the title of Jeff Goins’ Day 5 challenge entry today. He talks about four things we should be doing to get our project out to where people can look at it. These things are: 1) Ship something. (what that means is to put something out there no matter how bad it is) 2) Get Feedback. 3) Make it better. 4) Repeat untiI project is ready to launch. I

I’ve done some of these things. My local writing group has critiqued a few pages, and they helped me to fix some military related things which I wasn’t aware of. I also have had a writing buddy read the complete first chapter, and he has given me some helpful feedback. What I’m curious about is whether putting it out there while I’m still working on it is helpful, or would it be better to do that when the first draft is done? I just went back and read the entry, and he says to put out a portion of it. Guess I have a decision to make. Thinking…..thinking….thinking—-okay here’s the link to chapter 1.  https://docs.google.com/document/d/11RDTwbKHbfWNJW_MsFGA0tY1-J8qQcGtWI7daRBUtOs/edit

Let me know if you can see the link and what you think if you’re so inclined. Thanks.

Until next time, be real!!!!!

Day 4 – Practice in Public and Reflections

I’m doing a lot reflecting today. My boys and I have finished homeschooling for the 2011-12 school year, and our family’s lives have changed tremendously since September. When we started, we had just come to our new town because my husband had been offered a job after being unemployed for almost a year. Since we had only been given a week’s notice to drive across the country, we moved into a corporate apartment and started school while trying to get used to a brand-new town where we knew no one except for one homeschooling friend who I had met over the Internet. Some of our early adventures included: going to the library and applying for library cards, going to homeschool events, throwing the baseball on the large grassy field which was next to where the mailboxes were, and walking to the mall which we were living right behind. We were happy for the new adventure, but sad times came the following month when I miscarried before even knowing that I was pregnant. I detailed the happenings of that day in my first post for this blog, but needless to say, we were all thrown into a talespin. I knew though that I had to keep going for my boys. We were finally able to move into our current apartment in December, and that was a wonderful birthday and Christmas present. It is very peaceful here, and I know that helped a lot with the healing. The other thing that helped me was beginning to participate in our local writing club. Finding people that were just as interested in writing as I was was a great motivator as the days passed, and I felt myself growing stronger and healing.

This naturally segues into the fourth day of Jeff Goins’ challenge. He challenged us to practice our writing in public, and one of the things he suggested was to share something we’ve never shared before. That is what I’m going to do now. One of the things I’ve always struggled with is not standing up to or being direct with certain people in my life. Because of this struggle, I made the decision not to say anything about my miscarriage to those people because I didn’t feel strong enough to hear comments such as, “It was for the best.” or “You really shouldn’t have another child.” I also didn’t feel strong enough to be direct and shut down the comments when I felt they were inappropriate so I just didn’t do anything. Now though, I feel differently. I am stronger for what I’ve been through. I know I’ve changed because of things I’ve done in the past few weeks that I would have never done before which include going to a sci-fi/fantasy/comic book festival and being an active participant in the wrtiers’ panels. I have come out of my shell in a major way, and my sense of self-confidence has grown to an amazing level. I look forward to the future now—as a writer, a wife, a mother, and a homeschool teacher.

 

Until next time, be real!!!!!

Day 3 – A Great Writer Takes Initiative

Yes, that was the title of Jeff Goins’ post this morning–the morning of the third day of the challenge. Yesterday, he challenged us to get up two hours earlier this morning and just write with no other distractions. I didn’t make two hours, but I did manage to get up over an hour earlier and get a solid hour of writing in, finishing a chapter of the book I’m working on. It was wonderful!! The quietness of the morning really helped me to focus on what I was trying to do. After I finished writing, I exercised and ate breakfast and was done with all of that before my children got up. I don’t know if I’ll get up that early every morning to write, but I know that if I want to accomplish my goals for this summer and get a good schedule in place before the new school year begins, I will need to get up earlier. The discpline of getting up earlier will not only help me with my writing, but should spill over to the other areas of my life. I’m very excited about this new focus and can’t wait to see where it takes me. Day 4, here I come.

Until next time, be real!!!!!

Day 2

I can see it’s going to get more challenging as the days go on. Jeff wants us to get up two hours earlier tomorrow and just write. No checking email or getting distracted by anything else on the Internet. That’s a challenge for me because when I get stuck on my writing, I tend to do just that. I told my husband last night that I was going to have to plan my schedule out for the summer so I get everything accomplished that I want to accomplish. That includes time with the kids, taking care of the house, my physical fitness time, planning time for our next homeschool year, reading good books (That’s important for us writers, you know), and MY WRITING TIME. I think, for me, having a specific writing time will help me to accomplish my goals. I don’t know if early morning is the time I will write continuously, but I will get up earlier tomorrow to get started with my day and see if early morning works for me to write.

Until next time, be real!!!!!