Tag Archives: Online writing group

Writing Prompt for Tonight’s Silent Writers’ Retreat

William Faulkner's Underwood Universal Portabl...

Image via Wikipedia

Tonight at 9 EST and PST, the Silent Writers Collective holds its weekly online writing retreat.  All writers are welcome to join in and be quiet.

You can work on your own project or use the writing exercise provided below.  For those participating in the WordPress.com Post A Day challenge, it’s a great time to stockpile a post or two.  For those who aren’t sure what they want to work on, here is an interesting exercise from Poets & Writers’ new series, “The Time is Now.”

This exercise may be more writing than you can fit into one hour, but if you’re inspired to keep writing, that’s the whole idea!

As J-Lo would say, I’m “Waiting for Tonight!”

Resources: Post A Day, Silent Writers Collective, PW.org

Time Machine Visits #FridayFlash Intro

Time machine to late September 2009 …

Spinning Optical IllusionIt’s a quiet Friday afternoon, and I’m trying to learn my way around Twitter.  A steady stream of tweets with the odd looking designation of “#FridayFlash” keeps catching my eye.  Easily distracted and always looking for an excuse to put off my writing, I’m drawn in.

“What could zees be?” I ask out loud.  (My alter ego always has a French accent.)

Curiosity gets the best of me.  I click one of the tweets and enter into a world I never knew existed.  It’s a world of horror and humor, intrigue and romance. Action, adventure, heartbreak and suspense.  I’ve entered the surrealistic wonder world of #FridayFlash.

What is this wonder world, you ask?  According to creator Jon Strother, #FridayFlash is an Internet meme designed to increase your visibility as a fiction writer.   According to me and most of the writers who participate each week, it is so much more than that.

Since entering that world over a year ago, I’ve met some wonderfully supportive and encouraging people, I’ve read some remarkable stories, and my writing has come a long way.  Finding #FridayFlash was like falling through a trapdoor into a hidden fantasy land, and it’s a land open to all; writers and readers, alike.

Icy Sedgwick offers more insight in this Fuel Your Writing interview posted this week:  #FridayFlash — Interview with Jon Strother.

There’s so much more to say about #FridayFlash, but the important information is covered in the interview and in the links I’ve included.  Now I need to hurry and publish this post, because that time-machine-depicting optical illusion up there is freaking me out.  It really is not moving.  Is it?

Resources: Post A Day, Flash Fiction by Olivia Tejeda

Monday Motivator: Elizabeth Barrett Browning

“Light tomorrow
with today!”

— Elizabeth Barrett Browning

◊ ◊ ◊

On December 10, 1845, Robert Browning wrote a letter Elizabeth Barrett, a well-known poet who had praised the younger writer’s work in print.

The letter opens with Mr. Browning’s gushing praise. “I love your verses with all my heart, dear Miss Barrett — and this is no off-hand complimentary letter that I shall write.”

The gushing continues.  “I do, as I say, love these books with all my heart — and I love you too.”

Cheeky!

Writers today might call security over that last line, but the next day, Miss Barrett, who was bedridden with respiratory illness and six years older than Mr. Browning, wrote to a friend, saying Browning’s letter “threw me into ecstasies.”

That’s how England’s greatest literary love affair began and we are all richer for it.  Although Barrett’s tyrannical father refused to allow any of his 12 children to marry, Elizabeth and Robert carried out their romance in secret and eloped four years later.  Her father refused to see her again.

During their secret courtship, Elizabeth wrote “Sonnets from the Portuguese,” which includes the now practically cliched line, “How do I love thee, let me count the ways.”

If you haven’t had the good fortune to read the most famous love poem of all time, here it is.  Enjoy.

Sonnets from the Portuguese, XLII
How do I love thee?  Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
For the ends of Being and ideal Grace.
I love thee to the level of everyday’s
Most quiet need, by sun and candlelight.
I love thee freely, as men strive for Right;
I love thee purely, as they turn from Praise.
I love thee with the passion put to use
In my old griefs, and with my childhood’s faith.
I love thee with a love I seemed to lose
With my lost saints,—I love thee with the breath,
Smiles, tears, of all my life!—and, if God choose,
I shall but love thee better after death.
— Elizabeth Barrett Browning

The Monday Motivator is a weekly quote posted to encourage, inspire, and motivate writers of all skill levels and across genres.  I’d love suggestions if you have a favorite quote to share.  Click here to see past Monday Motivators.

Resources:  The Brownings,Robert Browning’s letter, Sonnets from the Portuguese (free download all e-book formats), PostADay2011

An Aha Moment Ends Reign of Old Excuses

The new NFL logo went into use at the 2008 draft.

Image via Wikipedia

It’s a big football weekend, and we’re in the middle of Day 2 of the NFL being broadcast (loud and clear) across our living room.  I’m not a big sports fan in general, but I do get caught up in the excitement of playoff season, regardless of the sport.   To be completely honest, I get excited over any excuse to make cocktail meatballs and pigs in a blanket, which is what Hon and I are feasting on today.

Speaking of sports, I was overwhelmed by the response to the YouTube link I posted yesterday.   I found Matt Scott’s Nike commercial incredibly inspiring, and I was so happy to learn that many of you did, as well.

Last night when Hon and I were talking about it, he said he thought it would be motivating to have the list of excuses that Matt Scott runs through.  I think that’s a great idea.  It’s a tangible example of the countless reasons we come up with to stop us from doing what we could be doing.  And it ends with a stunning “Aha Moment” that showed me excuses are just that … excuses.

So here is the script, as transcribed by me, of Warhawk Matt Scott in Nike’s No Excuses commercial:

I’m too weak
Too slow
Too big
I ate too much for breakfast
I’ve got a headache
It’s raining
My dog is sick
I can’t right now
I’m not inspired
Makes me smell bad
I’m allergic to stuff
I’m fat
I’m thin
It’s too hot
I’m not right
I’ve got shin splints
A headache
I’m distracted
I’m exerting myself too much
I’d love to really, but I can’t, I just can’t
My favorite show is on
I’ve got a case of the Mondays
… the Tuesdays,
… the Wednesdays
I don’t wanna do this
I wanna do something else
After New Years
Next Week
Might make a mistake
I got homework
I feel bloated
I have gas
I got a hot date
My coach hates me
My mom won’t let me
I bruise easily
It’s too dark
It’s too cold
My blister hurts
This is dangerous
Ugh
Sorry, I don’t have a bike
I didn’t get enough sleep
My tummy hurts
It’s not in my genes
I don’t wanna  look all tired out
I need a better coach
I don’t like getting tackled
I have a stomachache
I’m not the athletic type
I don’t wanna get sweaty
I have better things to do
I don’t want to slow you down
Do I have to do this?
As soon as I get a promotion
I think I’ll sit this one out
And my feet hurt.

I’ve thought of a few of my own excuses, as I’m sure you could too, but now I’ve had that Aha Moment, and that will make it harder to fall back on old excuses.  Thanks, Mike!

Resources: Daily Post

Poets & Writers Say, “The Time Is Now”

Way back on December 31, 2010, (six days ago) I accepted the WordPress.com Post A Day challenge to post on my blog every day for a year.  WordPress helps out by posting a daily prompt on their Post A Day blog to keep participants inspired.  I’m on Day 5.  So far so good.

Now Poets and Writers, has kicked off The Time Is Now, a series of weekly prompts and exercises to inspire writers of poetry and prose to stay committed to their writing all year long.

“The most important and underrated factor in a writer’s success is discipline. Talent and luck always help, but having a consistent writing practice is often the difference
between aspiring writers and published writers.”
— PW.Org

Every Monday PW will post for poetry, and every Thursday for fiction.  The first installment for poetry is posted now.  The fiction prompt goes up tomorrow.  To have the prompts sent directly to your email, you can sign up at The Time is Now Signup.

If you’re a writer and you’re not familiar with PW, I urge you to GET familiar with them.   As the nation’s largest nonprofit literary organization, they are an incredible and reliable resource for information on competitions, workshops, techniques, agents, and publishers.  What I’ve found most through their site and their magazine is a sense of community and encouragement.  In the announcement introducing The Time is Now, PW.org says, “the most important and underrated factor in a writer’s success is discipline.”  That’s certainly true, but the camaraderie I’ve found at PW, goes a long way.

Resources: Poets & Writers, The Daily Post

Introducing “The Monday Motivator”

Like Bob Geldof and The Boomtown Rats, I don’t like Mondays.  I find it hard to get motivated, and even though I write every day, sometimes I’m just not in the mood on Monday morning and it feels like a drag.

To beat the Monday blues, I’m going to start posting a weekly quote, called The Monday Motivator.  These posts will be part of The Writer’s Devotional series, and have the same objective … to encourage, inspire, and motivate writers of all skill levels and across genres.

Pearl Buck, Pulitzer Prize-winning American author

Image via Wikipedia

We’ll start with a quote from Pearl S. Buck, Pulitzer Prize winning author of “The Good Earth,” and the first American woman to receive the Nobel Prize for Literature.  I think it’s a great starting quote and a lesson I need to learn on an almost daily basis.

“I don’t wait for moods.
You accomplish nothing if you do that.
Your mind must know
it has got to get down to work.”

— Pearl S. Buck

Resources: Pearl S. Buck Birthplace, The Daily Post, I Don’t Like Mondays by Bob Geldof and the Boomtown Rats, The Writer’s Devotional.

 

Opening Credits: The Intrigue of Book Dedications

When British author C.P. Snow received the American edition of his novel, “A Coat of Varnish,” he was surprised and confused by the dedication:

“For Kate Marsh.”

Lord Snow, author of more than 25 books of fiction and non-fiction, didn’t like to dedicate his books to anyone, and he didn’t know anyone named Kate Marsh.

It turns out that the British printers delivered a copy of Snow’s manuscript to his London literary agent with a cover note, “For Kate Marsh,” the agent’s assistant.  The note was not removed before the manuscript was shipped and the American printer assumed it was the dedication.  Once the mystery was solved, everyone involved had a good laugh, but Lord Snow and his wife didn’t find it very funny.

Book dedications always interest me.  If they are included at all, they are right after the title page, and that’s where I turn first when I pick up a new book.  If I don’t see that page, filled mostly with white space and just a line or two of text, I feel disappointed (1) that I don’t get to indulge my voyeuristic bent, and (2) that the author isn’t an appreciative type.  Surely there must be someone who helped, someone who inspired!  No?

I like reading the acknowledgments, too, but I find dedications so much more fascinating and heartfelt.  Acknowledgments can feel like an obligatory listing of thank yous and who’s who.   Of course, it’s important to give credit where it’s due, but book dedications give credit in a different way.

They are often like little mini-stories filled with intrigue or romance.  Sometimes they offer a glimpse into the author’s personality, such as Charles Bukowski’s dedication in his novel “Post Office.”

“This book is presented as a work of fiction and dedicated to nobody.”

That’s so Bukowski.

Other times they are cryptic and mysterious, like the dedication in “Peyton Place” by Grace Metalious.

“To George—for all the reasons he knows so well.”

That inscription was so intriguing it prompted Marlene Wagman-Geller to do some research.  She found out that George was Matalious’ husband, and “the reasons”  were that he was endlessly supportive, not just of her writing, but of her rebellious, non-conformist nature.

After learning that, Wagman-Geller was hooked.  Her research led to “Once Again To Zelda:  The Stories Behind Literature’s Most Intriguing Dedications.

“Once Again To Zelda” isn’t a scholarly study; of the 50 books included, only 11 don’t list Wikipedia as a source.  It sometimes reads like a supermarket tabloid filled with gossip and hearsay, but if you’re a book nerd like me, it’s riveting.

As I work toward the completion of my novel, I’ve already spent time thinking about my dedication. I wonder, my writing friends, how many of you have your dedication written?

This post inspired by: The Daily Post