A Garden of Delights

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A whole month of 2018 down and once again it is time for

Another

2018 ROW80 Check-in IWSG WWW Wednesday Post

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(click below an image to go to the specific section you want if you don’t want to read the whole post)

As one of my ROW80 goals was to blog more consistently and as I want to become more active in the IWSG (Insecure Writers Support Group) and as I am reading (a lot of late) and wish to share my pleasure… this trio of hops has become a “thing”.

First things last and last things first, WWW Wednesday: where, according to the rules of the bloghop, I need to answer three main questions:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Currently? I am still plowing slowly through Cathedrals of England by Sir Nicholas Pevsner (a very information dense book, and as we’re going to England again this fall, also personal research).  In Like Flynn is the Molly Murphy mystery du jour, though I find the intrusive authorial voice very distracting…  (the books are set in 1st person POV, but Molly’s voice floats between her present and past, and often she knows things I cannot imagine her knowing…  and sometimes she doesn’t know things that seem quite impossible for her to not know!)  The historical detail is nice, but Bowen doesn’t hold as much to the history of the times, or at least I don’t feel as immersed in the period as much as I do with Thompson’s Gaslight series.  (The first book of the series was delightful, however!)

Recently? I have finished all but the last of the Gaslight Mysteries (so far…), as our local library system doesn’t have the newest book yet.  That’s okay.  Plenty of other reading to do.  I also finished my ARC of To Woo a Wicked Widow and posted my review to Goodreads.

Next? I still have plenty of Molly Murphys to go through, and a handful of other reads.  This past week wasn’t the binge session I’d planned.  It’s good I can renew the books.  A bunch are due today, and we’re nearly snowed in already.


Secondly, we have the Insecure Writers Support Group where writers share their doubts and concerns and just express how things may/may not be going in their writing careers. Optionally, there is a question we can answer, which presently fits a lot of my recent doubts and fears:

February 7 question – What do you love about the genre you write in most often?

Hmmm,  need some background for this, I think, as much because it’s not something I’d considered before.  I used to think I wanted to write science fiction, stories that would make readers think and question the way we are moving in society and political thinking.  The magic of fantasy however, with its touches of childhood fairy tales and themes of history and grand epics, fast out-paced my desire to “teach” the world anything.  The story was what mattered to me…  it was the bit that held me in my play as a child and drew me to explore new places (and look at old ones in a new light).

But writing fantasy, at least for me, always fell short somehow.  As my characters became more real, they stopped being the mythical heroes of yore, stopped becoming archetypes in a bardic yarn.  And they didn’t fit…  the setting might still be fantasy, the situations are often fantastic, but they were much more about people living in this world I saw in my head.  People who lived emotional, full and often romantic lives.  And the happiness in those romantic moments constantly drew me (as well as the conflicts that often revolved around those romantic moments). It seemed pretty obvious once one of my local writing group friends pointed out the elements, that I was already writing romances…  just romances in a fantasy-based world.

So…  the genre is fantasy romance, stories built on a world of magic (and some machinery, though that’s not always apparent) of grand wars, political upheavals, and brave-hearted people (I wouldn’t call them heroes, since they wouldn’t call themselves that either) who are just trying to find some joy in the midst of the upheaval and do the right thing for those they love and care about.

I love how convoluted that can get.  Even when we think we’re all on the same side…  how we achieve a goal (and how we want to achieve it) is usually not the same as the people we are working with.

As for hopes and fears….

Well, I hope now that I’m feeling this reading binge coming to a close, that I will soon find myself filling pages with all the ideas that I’ve tossed about.  Better the page than my dreams…  because I haven’t been sleeping well.  My characters have been talking up storms (nothing they’ve told me to write yet, drat them!) these past few nights.  It’s time for the bunch of us to start earning our tea and biscuits.


And lastly, but not least, here is the ROW80 check-in (which has been somewhat answered by the prior two sections). For those who didn’t see my goals for the upcoming 12-weeks of ROWing, you can see them here. And you can find our very supportive and helpful group here, if you want to know more about the ROW80 in general.

I haven’t been writing much at all.  There have been space issues and then there was being sick and there was the reading obsession…  None of these helped my head to be all that creative when it came to output.  But I did keep up with my blogging, and I have found sparks of inspiration and feeling a need to jot ideas down here and there.  More sense of setting and place…  my characters are stubbornly turning aside and whispering when they think I might be listening in on their conversations.  Maybe they don’t want to talk with the characters from the books I’ve read?

As far as sponsor posts and visits, I’m keeping up…  though I really do need to get on the ball and start changing the ROW80 website.  I’d hoped to get together this week with Shan Jeniah to talk design and layout a bit.  The weather isn’t cooperating at the moment however, and with a very whuffly Boodle home from school today, I don’t know if it’ll happen all week.

One of these days!  Until then…  time to read some more people’s works and see what comes to me when I set a pen to paper (well, stylus to phone).  750 words… today

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Another Wednesday…

Time for another…

2018 ROW80 Check-in WWW Wednesday

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(click below an image to go to the specific section you want if you don’t want to read the whole post)

You can see I am making serious progress on that old consistency thing…

First things last and last things first, let’s go with WWW Wednesday where, according to the rules of the bloghop, I need to answer three main questions:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Currently? I’m still slowly plowing through Gun, Germs, and Steel by Jared Diamond.  I appreciate Diamond’s intelligence, and I enjoy the actual subject matter, but…  maybe my head just isn’t in it at the moment.  Sometimes I really just want to dive into escapism and mystery, and I have a lot of that on my reading list of late.  I’m also reading Haunt Couture and Ghosts Galore by Rose Pressey.  I can’t even say why to be honest.  I read the first two books of the series and liked them “enough”, but didn’t feel I loved them.  But here I am reading #3.  It’s kind of like the Charlie Plato books, I think.  I like just-enough-to-keep-going in them.

Recently? I finished Thursdays at Eight by Debbie Macomber.  It was a revelation.  I totally understand now about how she became a bestselling author.  It’s called a romance, and it is…  but the love interest was Life Itself.  A tale of four women and life…  I really enjoyed it.  Also, I decided to surrender to my inner mule and read that second book in Margaret Chittenden’s Charlie Plato mysteries: Dean Men Don’t Dance.  It was hard to get into, but I guess the heroine, Charlie, is growing on me.  And Monday evening, I finished The Chocolate Cat Caper by JoAnna Carla, a cozy with lots of chocolate trivia interspersed between the covers.  Oh, and a very gorgeous cat named Yonkers…

Next?  It’s pretty sad.  I can repeat my last week list because I moved a bunch of new books into their places: still have the next Molly Murphy mystery Death of Riley, Dear Life by Alice Munro, and the other eight books waiting for me at the library.  Never made it there.  First the weather didn’t hold out, and then I got sick.  It’s where I’m heading as soon as this gets posted.

*Update…  there were eleven books waiting for me, two of which were 600+ page books by Caleb Carr.  Yeah…  I’ve got some reading to do.


Now as far as my ROW80 progress is going…  pretty much good stuff.  Not a lot of new fiction…  I’m actually going to have a problem writing a WIPpet Wednesday post on Many Worlds because I’ve written so little except mind-dumping into 750words.  I didn’t write there on Monday and only wrote 600 of the words yesterday, but in all, more days than not came with some words.

The words weren’t story related, but I do see places where I might eventually evolve the feelings and ideas into characters or their reactions.  My husband and I have also been having some wonderful discussions about characters in shows we like to watch and some books we’ve traded.  It’s interesting to see how his perception of an event and mine differ and how what we believe is “normal” sometimes seems way off from what the writers seem to think it should be.

I’m starting to see why I used to get critiques that said “Why would she do that?  No one would do that!”; all the while I was thinking…  I have, or that I knew someone who did.

World-building…

And that is a topic for another day.  Saturday, to be exact, since our local RWA Chapter is hosting a World Building discussion at the East Greenbush library.  Hoping I can go, but it depends..  my son is participating in Future City at his school, and the local competition is happening this Saturday morning until late afternoon.  There’s a future city idea…  a way to safely clone one’s self just long enough to be in two places at one time and not harm the clone person in the returning of the mind/memories to the original person.  I have a feeling that idea is a long time in coming.

If you could design your perfect futuristic self, what would one thing you could do then be?

It may be that it’s a new year.  Or it may be just because I’ve been gradually finding my flow back into writing more consistently anyway and now I wish to take a new step forward….  Either way, I’m starting some new things today.


Welcome to my first…

2018 ROW80 Check-in IWSG WWW Wednesday Post

Post

(click below an image to go to the specific section you want if you don’t want to read the whole post)

Since one of my new ROW80 goals was to start blogging more consistently and since I’ve wanted to become more active in the IWSG (Insecure Writers Support Group)  and since I have read a lot and wished I had a way to share my recent pleasure…  this seemed like a great place (and great time) to start.

First things last and last things first, let’s go with WWW Wednesday where, according to the rules of the bloghop, I need to answer three main questions:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Currently?  I’m reading Thursdays at Eight by Debbie Macomber and enjoying it as a break from my usual.  Also recently started, Guns Germs & Steel by Jared Diamond, but I am finding myself frustrated by his voice and absolutism in the face of research that has come out since the book’s publication.

Recently? I finished Dying to Sing by Margaret Chittenden, Murder on St. Mark’s Place by Victoria Thompson (The Gaslight Mysteries) and Murphy’s Law by Rhys Bowen (the Molly Murphy Mysteries).  I cannot say enough good things about the second two books (my library has huge orders for the next books in those two series).  The first?  I can’t say I hated it, but I didn’t find myself connecting with Chittenden’s characters in this book quite the way I did with her romance Double Take (read it in November).  And while I have the next book in the series waiting, I’m just not sure I care now.

Next? I’ve got the next Molly Murphy mystery Life of Riley waiting in the wings, Dear Life by Alice Munro (started this then staggered with the holiday chaos), and another eight books waiting for me at the library.  Guess where I’ll be visiting tomorrow if the weather holds out?  😀


Secondly, we have the Insecure Writers Support Group where writers share their doubts and concerns and just express how things may/may not be going in their writing careers.  Optionally, there is a question we can answer, which presently fits a lot of my recent doubts and fears:

What steps have you taken or plan to take to put a schedule in place for your writing and publishing?

Oh, boy…  doubts and fears.  Got plenty of those going these days.  I’d like to say it’s just the post holiday exhaustion, but really, writing has become hard in …  well, not the actual work, but way my head seems to no longer connect with words.  I used to be able to focus.  Lately, unless I’m in that “perfect for me” place, my mind cannot absorb much of anything I write or see on the screen.  A blank page is more than terrifying…  it’s like a slippery snow bank that my eyes just slide right off.

It’s not so much a too much technology thing or even a distraction thing…  oddly enough, writing into my phone (the joys of an S-Pen and a Note5) is much easier these days than on my PC or laptop (a paper notebook itself is still somewhat better).  My best thinking seems to happen in chaotic places like Dave & Busters or lunch time at Panera (it has to be crowded enough [and loud enough]  for me to close inward and focus).

The answers seem simple…  go someplace busy and write.  They are simple really.  Of course, I can’t live in D&B (or afford food there that often) or Panera.  It’s well over a 20 mile drive to either one.  And they don’t keep the hours my (lately) rare bursts of inspiration seem to come by.

So… in answer to the question above, I’m trying other options.  I used to use Coffitivity when I worked the overnight shift as a network admin.  And now there is MyNoise for other styles of background chatter to try.  Music…  always music.  And while I can’t watch a show and write (even if I don’t like it, I find myself unable to stop trying to follow the storyline), having sports on in the background seems to be very cathartic.  An added boon…  my son has recently become quite interested in soccer.

I am still trying to figure out how to be “here” for my family and “here” for my characters at the same time…  my brain never worked well that way, and age seems to be bringing out all of its quirks.  My poor husband mentioned the other day that he’s grown used to my “vanishing” in a second if my attention shifts and focuses on something.

He’s a saint.


And lastly, but not least there is the ROW80 check-in (which has been somewhat answered by the prior two sections).  For those who didn’t see my goals for the upcoming 12-weeks of ROWing, you can see them here.  And you can find our very supportive and helpful group here, if you want to know more about the ROW80 in general.

The biggest “failure” of this check-in is that I missed typing my 750 words on Monday.  Not really a big issue in the grand scheme of things.

Successes?  Pretty much everything else.  I even got in a social media bonus of participating in the RWA Kiss of Death weekly #1lineWed meme (here), posted a WIPpet (here), and researched ways to setup an official website that would combine this blog with my other one.  And I even had the ROW80 blog setup and the linky posted early yesterday (as well as some backdrop maintenance done).

It’s a good start.  I still need to corral the ROW80 sponsor stuff into a neat pile (many thanks to those who ARE sponsoring!).  It’s a process though, and I’m making some steps through the mire.

First day of a new year…  well, if you follow the Georgian Calendar at least.  A lot of people are making resolutions, committing to personal improvement and other “good things” with all the best intentions.  There will be successes and failures, lots of small gains and a (hopefully) few losses.

Me?  I’m just setting short-term goals, mostly because the calendar I seem to be following most of the time these days is the schedule of The Round of Words in 80 Days.  So, this being also the first day of the new Round 1 of 2018, I probably should set my goals for the upcoming 12 weeks.  This way I will have some sort of update to post on Wednesday for the first official check-in of the Round.

😀

Actually, these are my goals solely for the next few weeks.  Until January 12th, I’m going low-key.  It’s a…  thing.  I’ll update my main goals then,

For now, my goals are…

  • 750words.com every single day
  • posting consistent check-ins for the ROW80 site
  • checking in once a week at each of my blogs
  • participating in the WIPpet, SoCS, and WeWriWa writing challenges
  • bring back the #FirstFridayPhoto meme…  I miss it
  • find a way for to combine and connect this blog with Many Worlds Many Minds

That’s it.  A good start, I think…

It’s nearing the end of the year.  Almost the end of another Round of Words in 80Days (a writing challenge I help host), as that ends on Wednesday.

As I look both forward and back, I’m struck by the resistance I’ve developed to blogging in general.  Maybe it’s that I handle three blogs now (the ROW80, here, and my “writing blog” Many Worlds from Many Minds)…  Maybe it’s the fear that nothing I have to post is really that interesting, or the knowledge that there are so very many voices out there already, that mine just doesn’t matter.

Thing is, I love to create…  stories, art, impressions.  And just because I grew up hearing “Hush, no one needs to hear your mouth run”, doesn’t mean there is nothing worth hearing in what I have to say.  I’ve been slowly learning to accept that my voice matters and that really…  there are people who really enjoy it.

But it’s been a slow process.  Part of the problem is the simple truth that there are so many other voices out there, speaking at the same time.  It’s no one’s fault.  We all deserve to be heard, but because it gets hard to rise out of the cacophony, failure can seem so absolute… so inevitable.  And truth be told, we’re not taught in all the lessons on how to promote ourselves effectively to actually promote ourselves effectively.  Yes, being the squeaky wheel does work well for some, but despite having the nickname of Mouse (actually the Mouse that Roared) for many years, I would rather not be known for how loud I can be… or the lengths I might go to make myself heard.

At least, if I feel I need to scream aloud, I want to know that no one has gotten sick of listening.  😛

What does all this have to do with blogging?  Or my resistance to it?

Well, I realize after a few years of trying to keep up with social media, trying to be that voice of so many, calling out in the wilderness, that the frantic scrambling for my pie of internet pie just felt… wrong.  No criticism to those who do it and enjoy it.  Some people out there have amazing social skills and just rock online interaction.

I’m just not one of them.

What I am is a person who needs to have a plan in place and follow it religiously.  If I don’t follow it religiously, my inner sloth takes over and lets all the squirrels in (actually, I think she just doesn’t get to the door in time).  And best if I am doing something for someone else.  When I need to do things for myself, it’s easy to let them slide…  tomorrow is fine.  Or maybe next week, next year.

If I know someone else needs something though…  I’ll jump.  If my teachers during my school years had only made it clear to me how much they needed me to study and do my homework, instead of suggesting that it was all for me, I’d probably be on my second PhD and developing some world-changing discovery in a secret laboratory somewhere now. (Though…  would you really know if I wasn’t?)

So instead of blogging less, I suspect, I need to blog more.  Certainly more consistently…  I need to participate in the mutual exchange of comments and challenges.  Not just the ROW80, but the IWSG (Insecure Writers Support Group) and post to bloghops like the WeWriWa and WIPpet via Many Worlds.  I just need to set my schedule clearly without trying to be always “out there”.  A solitary post per month on schedule is far better than a binge of posts followed by a dearth of them, which has been my recent pattern.

Next week will be the ROW80 “goals post”, and the half-formed plan I have for the future should be more-fully developed by then, so I’ll post it then.  The consistency of the ROW80 has been very good for my creative side, even when I’m not always prompt with my posts.  I intend to make even better use of my check-ins…  though I suspect I’ll be streamlining the process in certain ways.

For this week, I’m clearing some books from my TBR list.  I just finished a bag fill of mysteries, procedurals and romances that partly tweaked my interest, partly needed to be read for writing research.  I’m slogging my way through the new opening of Courting in the Swan Song Series.  It almost feels harder because of what is at stake here…  my membership change in the RWA and a Golden Heart entry. The holidays aren’t helping…  this year is coming with its own emotional burdens, but I haven’t dealt well with this season.  Too many personal losses….

Still…  plugging away.

 

 

This post is just a ROW80 check-in.  It’s not that things haven’t been happening in my life of late; it’s that life have been so very rich that there’s no attempting to “catch up” without losing pace with all the upcoming things we have planned here at Chez Mabee.

It’s one hell of a place to be.  😉

What has been suffering is the progress I hoped to make on my ROW80 goals.  I’ve been mostly keeping up with the Big Four I posted back in July (the writing has suffered, sadly, but I think as much because my brain has been in a refill-mode as opposed to a pouring-mode…  I’ve read a lot as well as discovering cool new shows to watch).  However, I have not posted here to add any secondary-goals or maintained any tracking of my progress…  or (worst of all), I have not actually visited any of my fellow ROWers.

So, time to get my propel progress beyond my inner life and out into the real world where accountability is key.  To boot, I’m adding a secondary goal of processing 10 photos in my archive drive, because I’ve decided that I’m going enter some into art shows next year, and I need to start figuring out which photos I want to use and how to best prepare and present them.

Exciting times!  Hope you’re all looking forward to new adventures too.

April 16th seven years ago in a city called Troy

Last week I didn’t quite fulfill my initial goal I’d set for myself.  To recap, this is what I set for myself:

So, at least for this week (the nice thing about goals is that they can be adjusted), I have ONE goal:

Make a list of  ten things I dream of doing and prioritize them by how much I want them, how long they will take to achieve and what steps I will need to follow to meet each one.  And one caveat here…  no “pay bills” goals here.

We’ll see where that gets me (What Am I Doing? 4/3/17)

Last week, I bemoaned the fact that Shiny was more than just an adjective but also a state of mind as I tried to describe the cause of my failure.  I can’t say I am better off now.  The ‘new and shiny’ is still demanding more of me than I suspected.  I knew it would be hard to narrow down the list, but…  yeesh.

Still, I think I have come up with something that works as a decent starting point.  Ten things I dream of doing and how I intend to get there… and after that, new goal: to take dream from the list and start working on achieving it.

  1. I want to do something that will help others without causing hassles for the people I love.  This may seem like an odd thing for a dream.  It’s clearly not a S.M.A.R.T. goal.  It’s vague, has no defined times, and…  attainable and specific ran right off the cliff here.  But this is who I am.  I like to help, to do things that make peoples’ lives easier…  and I get into all sorts of fluff because of it.  Starting now, I want to figure out better ways to help without also becoming a problem.  Sometimes it will mean saying “No” more.  I bet sometimes I will have to say “Yes” more too.  This is not something that can be given a one-size-fits-all-(or even most) solution, but…  I can dream, can’t I?
  2. April 15th, four years ago on a road called Lower Flatrock

    The storyworld that exists in my head needs to be realized in more than one ‘permanent’ format.  I don’t want to just work on the writing—I need to get through that part, but I also want to develop the skills to also give it form in other expressions, preferably drawing or painting since I have at least half a chance of achieving it there.  I would like to someday make an animation of some of the stories, but that’s not as high a priority as more basic art.  To that goal, I need to dedicate more time to drawing and trying out how to use other artistic media.  I may start joining some of the Boodle’s art classes, as they’ve been wonderful for helping him learn how to use the different tools to achieve his artistic visions.

  3. I want to travel because, while the internet has made the world much more accessible, there is a limit to the depth of experience one can garner from 360°images, webinars, and descriptive text passages.  This is a dream in some ways…  my husband is very much a home-body.  It is also a goal that I can meet in limited forms.  Next week I will be on an airplane, heading across The Pond with the Boodle to spend a few weeks exploring England and meeting some fellow writers.
  4. I dream about living in one of those homes that is part retreat, part library, part museum and antique shop.  Sometimes this dream wobbles a bit and I actually am living in an antique shop, one that specializes in old books.  Sometimes the dream involves running a Bed & Breakfast that would have some of these elements.  Clearly I need to refine this a lot more…
  5. Sharing things that I find beautiful with others brings me exponential happiness… I need, in a visceral way, to do this. Since art and beauty are subjective, this isn’t always as easy as I would like, but generally, I have good luck with this.  I just want to keep doing it…. and maybe increase my ‘out-reach’.
  6. I know I am not taking the best care of my body that I can at the moment (as much as it likes to remind me of that fact, I am not giving up my green tea lattes from Starbuck’s though).  So I have other dreams/goals involving fitness and health…  one of them is to run again and do another 5K race, running the thing this time.  Why?  Because I had a dear friend, almost a brother, who loved to run in 5 & 10K races, and he died before we could run together.
  7. I’m putting this a bit further down the list because…  really it’s not up to me, so to speak—it is his life, and he will make these decisions on his own—, but I really want to be able to help my son discover what gives him joy and a sense of fulfillment.
  8. In little things as well as big things, I want to keep a sense of wonder.
  9. I dream of worlds where contact between two people meeting is not abrasive, but soothing.  I want people to be comforted by my presence, and to be comfortable in theirs…  I’d like to find my ‘tribe’.
  10. If we’re talking dreams…  I dream about helping grow our local homeschooling community center into a more self-sustaining resource that involves the community at large in some ways.  I know what I would do if I suddenly had a lot of money… or the skills to help operate such a place.

The Boodle and his Great-uncle measuring fish fry, 2 years ago April 16h

There it is…  I suspect this list isn’t The List. It just is The List For Now.  Seems to me, this is a process that I would benefit from participating in regularly.  So…  to Round 2 for this goal, and onto the goals for the rest of this round, starting with the new goal of ‘the week’.

A Sense of Wonder

Why?  Because it’s the goal I am in the best position to work on now and it opens so many of the other goals.


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