Category Archives: Writing

Shooting Stars and the Promise of Hope

starI saw a shooting star when I was out running this dark, early morning. That’s exciting for many reasons, but primarily because 1) I was out running this dark, early morning, and 2) I saw a shooting star!

That bright solitary shooter lifted my mood in the way shooting stars do, and it helped me finish a tough run with unexpected oomph.  It also reminded me that the Geminid Meteor Shower is this week, Thursday and Friday.  I’ll be out there watching, bundled up against the cold, mug of hot chocolate in hand, perhaps something harder.  I’ll take the quiet time as a chance to look at the past year.

2012.  It’s been a dilly and it’s not over yet  There’s the Geminid this week, the end of the world on the 21st (as if!), Christmas on the 25th, and a New Year’s Eve 5K run on the 31st. It’s a busy few days wrapping up a busy year.

In Madame Bovary, Gustav Flaubert wrote of Emma:

She did not believe that things could remain the same in different places, and since the portion of her life that lay behind her had been bad, no doubt that which remained to be lived would be better.

If you know much about Emma Bovary, you know things didn’t turn out to be better for her.  But I’m going to ignore her end for now and think about her hope instead, especially as the new year approaches. For me, 2012 was manic.  Heart-pumping highs, heart-breaking lows.  As 2013 gets ready to chime in, remnants of the highs and lows linger. It’s going to be a year of decisions and changes. I’m not a fan of decisions and changes.  I like static; it’s easier.  But new years hold the promise of new hope, new oomph, new excitement. Even after welcoming in 50 of them, I still feel that way.

So, with a wit more wisdom and a smidge less naivete than Madame Bovary, I’m keeping the promise of hope and looking forward to 2013 with the thought that no doubt that which remains to be lived will be better. Not that it’s been all bad. It certainly hasn’t. I’ve enjoyed far more than my share of heart-pumping highs and I’m going to do my part to make sure that continues. I’m going to keep running, I’m going to keep writing, and I’m going to keep looking for shooting stars.

PS: Happy birthday, Gustav Flaubert

Monday Motivator: A Writer’s Essential To-Do List

The Monday Motivator, as it says down at the bottom there, is a quote posted on Mondays to encourage, inspire, and motivate writers. Today’s quote is a little different. It’s a long quote, very, very, very long.  More than 2,500 words long. But motivate? Encourage? Inspire?  Oh yes, it most definitely does.

25 THINGS WRITERS SHOULD START DOING (ASAFP) is from TerribleMinds.com, the blog of writer Chuck Wendig. His “About” page warns that the site is unmercifully profane. I don’t know that I’d call it unmerciful, but he is a little saucy with the language, so if  your delicate sensibilities can’t take it, don’t visit.  If, however, you want to read a fantastic list that goes far beyond the perfunctory Writer’s Digest pats on the head and gentle nudges, you must click over and see what Mr. Wendig has to say.

♦ ♦ ♦

The Monday Motivator is a quote posted on Mondays to encourage, inspire, and motivate writers of all skill levels and across genres.  If you have a favorite quote you’d like to share, let me know and I’ll post it here.  Click here to see past Monday Motivators.

A Thousand Words: Simple

Today’s prompt is “reblogged” from Simply Olivia. Some rights reserved.

A Thousand Words is a photo prompt posted on Sunday.  Maybe the image will inspire you to write a short story, a poem, or a blog post.  Whatever your response, I hope the picture inspires you to some sort of creative zen.

If you write something based on the image, feel free to share a link in the comments section.   Also feel free to use the photo on your blog, just be sure to give proper credit, which I will always include in the post or the caption.

SOPA/PIPA and John Milton’s Areopagitica

After much research, I decided to join yesterday’s Internet-wide protest of SOPA/PIPA.

On the surface, SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) and PIPA (Protect IP) are anti-piracy bills. Antipiracy is a good thing; it’s necessary, and when administered properly it protects artists, writers, musicians, etc. The problem with these bills is that they are so broadly written they go too far and allow for abusive control and censorship — not good things.

SOPA was shelved before yesterday’s protest, but it’s not dead yet. PIPA goes to vote on Tuesday, but support is fading fast. We do need antipiracy laws in place. We most certainly do, but not at the expense of free speech.

As I researched SOPA/PIPA, I remembered a post I did back in June 2010 on Areopagitica, John Milton’s passionate essay on the right to freedom of speech and expression.  I thought it was worth repeating:

Enjoy Freedom of Speech? Thank John Milton

For more details on SOPA or PIPA, this video from Fight for the Future does a great job explaining it.

Silent Writers goes Oprah!

The February 2012 issue of O, The Oprah Magazine includes an A to Z feature titled “Express Yourself,” an alphabetical roundup of possibilities for showing the world who you are. Listed under Q for “Quiet” is … drumroll, please. The Silent Writers Collective!

Thank you to Rachel Bertsche for including us and writing such a nice piece. If you haven’t seen the full article, it’s definitely worth reading. And while you’re at the bookstore, pick up Rachel’s new book, MWF Seeking BFF, her hilarious and touching memoir about the tough, sometimes awkward, and ultimately rewarding experience of making new friends as an adult.

Making the Time to be Quiet and Write

You write by sitting down
and writing.
Bernard Malamud

Sounds easy enough, but those of us who write know there’s more to it than that.  Endless distractions can pull us away from our writing.  Then a few days, turn into weeks, months, or more of not writing, and our initial excitement turns to dread.

The only way to break that cycle is to follow Mr. Malamud’s advice:

Sit down and write.

If you have a hard time motivating yourself to do that, join The Silent Writer’s Collective for a Silent Write-In, a weekly online writing retreat that helps writers put aside distractions and write.

By committing to a group effort, (think Weight Watchers or NaNoWriMo) many writers find it’s easier to stay motivated and reach goals.  Writing, as we’ve heard ad nauseum, is a solitary endeavor, but sharing our efforts with a group makes it easier, and can help us reach our writing goals.

Our next retreat is tomorrow night, Tuesday, January 17, at 9 PM EST (US), if there’s interest, we’ll also meet at 9 PM PST.  We start on time with a minute or two of hellos, then the “buzzer” sounds and we start writing.  You can work on your own writing project, or use one of the provided writing prompts or exercises to get started.

We meet via Twitter using the hashtag #SilentWriters. If you aren’t on Twitter, we have a group on Facebook. If you don’t have either, just join in on your own at 9, and know you’re not working out there on your own.

For more information, check out the SWC FAQs.

Monday Motivator: Philip Roth

“I turn sentences around.
That’s my life. I write a sentence and then I turn it around.
Then I look at it and turn it around again…”

— E.I. Lonoff
in “The Ghost Writer” by Philip Roth

That’s the glamorous life of a writer.  Writing, revising, repeating.  It’s also what I’ve been caught up in for the past five or so months … turning sentences around, then around again.  I like to think I’m making  progress, but sometimes I  wonder.  That’s another part of the glamorous life of a writer: Uncertainty.

The Monday Motivator is meant to motivate and inspire, but my commentary doesn’t seem very inspiring does it.  In fact, it feels pretty negative.  Maybe that’s why I turned to my blog today for the first time in months.  This writer is in need of some blogosphere love.   How about it folks?  Lay it on me! Share a tip or trick you use to keep going when the words have turned you inside, outside and upside down?

♦ ♦ ♦

The Monday Motivator is a quote posted on Mondays to encourage, inspire, and motivate writers of all skill levels and across genres.  If you have a favorite quote you’d like to share, let me know and I’ll post it here.  Click here to see past Monday Motivators.

 

Getting Ready for an Hour of Silent Writing

If you’re a writer finding it difficult to make time for writing, think about joining the Silent Writers Collective tonight for its weekly online writing retreat.  All writers are welcome to join in at 9 EST  and commit an hour (or more) to their craft.  Starting tonight, the sessions will be unmoderated.

You can work on your own project or use one of the exercises provided below.

  1. From PW.org:Fiction and Poetry prompts
  2. From Verbal VerbosityThe 100 Words Challenge Prompt
  3. From me: A photo prompt, “Totally Wow”
  4. From Mama’s Losin’ ItFive Writing Prompts
  5. From @Selorian on Twitter:#storystarters
  6. From Plinky: Quickie questions to ponder

For more information on tonight’s retreat, visit the Silent Writers Collective.

Resources: The Daily Post

A Thousand Words: Totally Wow!

Creative Commons image by Ben Ferenchak on Flickr. Some rights reserved.

A Thousand Words is a photo prompt posted every Sunday.  Maybe the image will inspire you to write a short story, a poem, or a blog post.  Maybe it will inspire you to get happy and excited, really, really excited about something. Whatever your response, I hope the picture inspires you to some sort of creative zen, and that you enjoy the hell out of it.

If you write something based on the image, feel free to share a link in the comments section.   Also feel free to use the photo on your blog, just be sure to give proper credit, which I will always include in the post or the caption.

Resources: Creative Commons, Flickr, The Daily Post

Baths, Books, Rules: Authors Share Their Inspiration

Writers Recommend is an online exclusive at Poets & Writers that asks authors:

“What Inspires You?”

For Heather Sellers, author of “You Don’t Look Like Anyone I Know” (Riverhead Books, 2010), it’s a bath, a pile of magazines, lavender oil, and as much time as she needs.

Aimee Bender, author of “The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake” (Doubleday, 2010) says, “Rules. I’m a big believer in structure, and the idea that creativity loosens up when constrained a bit.

Stuart O’Nan, author of 14 novels, reads pages from his favorite book.

With responses from more than 100 authors, the answers are as varied as these three examples, yet there are a lot of similarities, too.  To read all the responses, and find some inspiration of your own, read  Writers Recommend from Poets & Writers.

Resources: Poets & Writers, The Daily Post.