Friday, April 09, 2010

 

Friday Speak Out!: Why to be a Writer, Guest Post by Amy O'Neil

‘Why’ to be a Writer

by Amy O'Neil

Look on the internet and you will find a million different sites talking about ‘how to draw’, but how many of them discuss the all important question of why to draw? The same goes for writing.


I found myself asking this question today, right before I was about to embark on a commission for four large drawings.


I found a few vague answers, such as “We draw to express our creativity and expose it to the world”.


But today these answers didn't really satisfy. What is your creativity, why do you want to expose it, and why does the world need to be exposed to it? What does it ultimately achieve?

Is this just a stock phrase that merely sounds like it could be answering the question, or is it the truth of why to draw?

In our present times we have access to people’s talents, skills, stories and creations in the billions over the internet. We are literally swamped with exceptional and puzzling works of the mind, and not always in a good way. Can your work really contribute anything meaningful? Is the reason to create really ‘to add something to the world’? Or is it to feel like your existence is necessary?

It's a hard pill to swallow when you consider that the world would be okay if you weren't here, that literature would still be great and that art would continue to shock and delight. Films would still be moving and extraordinary, food would still be delicious, music would still sound wonderful, the earth would still spin.

So is it important that you draw, or write?

For me, today, the truth was no.

Is it essential for our already overwhelming culture?
Chances are slim.

So why do it? It's the same question as why bother existing. We exist because we exist. Existence is not necessary but it's a gift.

To be able to be here and taste delicious food, and read wonderful books, and watch breathtaking films and have complicated relationships is a one-hundred percent bonus.

Why draw or write? It is part of the gift. You do it because you can, because you're here and you have thoughts and opinions and were born into this tiny slither of time and place that nobody else was. And for some reason you fell into it; it happened, like when a flash of colour catches your eye.

So when you sit down to do that very important piece of writing today, or that ‘essential’ work of art, remember why you’re doing it. I mean, why you're really doing it.

Perhaps it’s because when you were a child you had an idea, and you decided to put it on paper because it seemed fun and natural, not because you were driven by adult fantasies of self-importance.

It is a gift. All you need to do is relish it.

Photograph courtesy of D. Sharon Pruitt.

* * *


Amy O'Neil has a BA in Fine Art from Chelsea College of Art and Design, which she completed in 2007. Since then she has been taking private commissions for drawings from photographs, but has found her interests have turned more towards short fiction writing. Her stories have been placed in several small competitions, as well as being recently short-listed for the Fish Short Story Prize. You can contact her at amygraceATgooglemailDOTcom.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Would you like to participate in Friday "Speak Out!"? Email your short posts (under 500 words) about women and writing to: marcia[at]wow-womenonwriting[dot]com for consideration. We look forward to hearing from you!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Labels: , ,

Friday, April 02, 2010

 

Friday Speak Out!: "The Write Life," Guest Post by Sherri Kuhn

The Write Life

by Sherri Kuhn

I have always considered myself a writer, even when everything I wrote remained in my head. Of course, I would never have called myself a writer to anyone else. This was more of an imagined second life, nestled in my head along with the grocery list, shoes sizes for my kids, and phone numbers of my next of kin. Words have always intrigued me, especially those twisted around to create sarcastic humor and wit.

Several years ago, I decided that to actually call myself a writer, well, I would have to write. I signed up for a fiction writing class at the local community college. The eclectic group that attended this night class would have made the basis for a great short story, except I was too busy trying to read the assigned books and do the assigned writing to write it. By the end of the course, I had learned a lot about writing fiction, successfully kept from breaking into tears at the constructive criticism, and written my first real short story (which, I might add, had a surprise ending that even the professor didn’t see coming). I still, however, would not refer to myself as a writer.

Fast forward several more years, during which I did little to no writing at all. Then one day while I was working in the yard, a story just came to me so clearly that I just had to write it down. It felt so good to feel the words flow! After some editing and re-reading, I sent my essay to the local newspaper for their reader submissions column. When I heard back that my story was chosen, I was so surprised! A few months later, another story came to me and I frantically wrote it, edited it, and sent it off to the newspaper again. I got an almost immediate response from the features editor that she loved it. I still didn’t quite feel like a “real” writer, but I was getting the idea.

Now with two mini successes under my belt, I started to wonder if I could really let the writer inside me live in my daily life. Would we get along, or would she be fighting for my time? Would the other parts of my life suffer when the writing part took over? How many of “me” can there be? Would my family resent her?

I decided to start slowly. As long as I did something related to writing each day, I was making progress on merging my second life with my first. I became a fan of writing pages on Facebook. I found a few writing blogs and started following them. Since having a blog requires you to actually write, I started my own blog. I read information on writing contests, online workshops, conferences, and self-publishing. I submitted an essay to a publisher.

Now I am a writer. But then again, I always was.

* * *

Sherri Kuhn works with at-risk elementary school students, nags her two children, loves her husband, exercises once in a while, and is a newbie blogger. She has had several personal essays featured in the Contra Costa Times. Follow her observations about everyday life on her blog at http://oldtweener.blogspot.com/

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Would you like to participate in Friday "Speak Out!"? Email your short posts (under 500 words) about women and writing to: marcia[at]wow-womenonwriting[dot]com for consideration. We look forward to hearing from you!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Labels: , ,

Friday, March 19, 2010

 

Friday Speak Out!: "Where Do Writers Go For Inspiration?" Guest Post by Anna Miller


Where Do Writers Go For Inspiration?

by Anna Miller

Writing has been my profession for a while now, but it has always been a passion for as long as I can remember. From school essays to writing short stories and poems for the school magazine and local book club, I would take part in all of them with an enthusiasm that my friends considered somewhat unnatural – they were not the bookish kind and did not understand the intensity I showed towards my paperback friends. I was never at a loss for words when asked to write, I always had something to write about, and long or short, I always loved the result of my creative expression. In short, I was my biggest fan and I had never heard of writer’s block let alone experienced it.

Well, that sure changed when I started writing for a living--I found that in a few years’ time, there were many times when I became disillusioned with writing and other times when I just could not pen a single sentence without hating it. In the old days, it would have been the equivalent of crumpled sheets of paper lying strewn around my writing table, but today, it’s more a case of banging the keyboard when you’re frustrated at the words not flowing freely. Every writer has faced this situation more than once during their careers – they’re stuck in a rut and short of inspiration, and cannot write even though they want to. So where do they go for inspiration?

In my experience, I’ve found that the following things work when you’re looking to rejuvenate your creativity and breathe a whiff of fresh air into your writing:

Broadening your horizons: When you expand your repertoire of activities, you grow as a writer because you learn much more about life than when confined to your desk and computer all day long. The first time I felt a mental block, I took a break from work and went out to sign up for tennis lessons. A few hours of this game every day, and I felt like a new person. I didn’t switch on my notebook for a week, not until I felt I was ready to write again. This time, the words were at my command and ready to do my bidding. So when you feel you need inspiration, just look around for other things that interest you. You’ll be back in the saddle sooner than you think.

Write about something else: If inspiration is what is lacking, try changing the subject you normally write about. If technology is your cup of tea, switch to coffee for a change and take on health or education or anything else you feel passionate or know about. Alternatively, start a personal blog where you can write about anything and everything that interests you. The point is that you must not write for your career’s sake; instead, you must write for your own. When you feel your confidence returning after a few well-written pieces, you’re ready to get back to writing as a profession.

Take time off: And finally, it’s best to just take time off from work to go do your own thing when you feel the dearth of inspiration. You’re probably just overworked and your brain is too tired to think anymore. So what you really need is some rest and rejuvenation, after which you’ll be good to go once again.

Image courtesy of http://www.bmpl.lib.me.us/writer.jpg

* * *

Anna Miller is a staff writer for degree online . A native Houstonian, deep in the heart of Texas, she brings a friendliness and informality to her writing that makes it accessible to individuals of diverse backgrounds. With a background in print journalism she enjoys bringing her loyal readers innovative articles and resources which are both rigorously researched but informally presented. She welcomes your comments at her email id: anna.miller009@gmail.com.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Would you like to participate in Friday "Speak Out!"? Email your short posts (under 500 words) about women and writing to: marcia[at]wow-womenonwriting[dot]com for consideration. We look forward to hearing from you!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Labels: , ,

Friday, March 12, 2010

 

Friday Speak Out!: "From Almost Famous . . . To the Cutting-room Floor," Guest Post by Dallas Nicole Woodburn

FROM ALMOST FAMOUS . . . TO THE CUTTING-ROOM FLOOR

by Dallas Nicole Woodburn

Soon, my face will be on that big screen, I thought, as the plush theater seats steadily filled around me for the red-carpet premiere. I’ll be famous!

Okay, almost famous. Or, maybe, recognizable. Possibly. Around campus.

“Why are you here, dear?” asked the Versace-dressed woman beside me in the center-aisle VIP second-row seats.

I tried, but failed, to hide my smile. “I’m in The Movie,” I said, excitement overwhelming any small dose of humility I possessed.

Okay, so maybe movie isn’t the right word. It was more of a short film; a documentary to celebrate the 125th anniversary of the University of Southern California, where I was a freshman majoring in Creative Writing. As a student with two published books to my name (first editions still available!) they interviewed me twice, for more than an hour each time, asking all sorts of questions: Why did you choose USC? Do you like the writing program? If you see Pete Carroll, will you get his autograph for me?

I spoke about the energy and school spirit on campus, how President Sample (who had come across my second book) wrote me a personal letter welcoming me to the university, and I mentioned I was looking forward to having T.C. Boyle, one of my favorite authors, as a professor in upcoming years. I was thoughtful, I was eloquent, I was charming. “You’re a natural,” the cameraman told me.

Now. The lights went down. I patiently fidgeted through each big-screen interview, until suddenly my face appeared, as huge as Dan Brown’s advance check.

“I’m sooooo excited about having T.C. Boyle as a professor!” On-Screen Me gushed.

The camera cut to Professor Boyle, looking as Hollywood as ever in his trademark red Converse high-tops, a suit-jacket over a black T-shirt, and sunglasses hanging from a bead Zen-like necklace. “I think I provide an inspiration for them,” he said. He paused, then added the punchline – and punch to my stomach: “Because they think, if he can do it, anybody can!”

He laughed.

I cringed.

I waited for the film to return to me – this time Calm Me, regaining face with a more poised comment – but soon the closing music swelled, the credits rolled, the lights came up, and it was Over. Finished. My starring role was reduced to a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it line that made me seem like a teeny-bopper with a crush. Meanwhile, my two hours – minus eight seconds – of brilliant interview lay on the digital-age equivalent of the cutting room floor. I might be “a natural,” but I decided, then and there, to stick with screenwriting.

* * *

“If you're writing screenplays, STOP IT!” Ray Bradbury exclaimed, his voice filling the packed auditorium. “Hollywood’s full of $#*&!”

The audience roared, but his words made me shrink. If the great Ray Bradbury has trouble selling scripts, surely I’m full of $#*& for thinking I can.

And yet, here I was nine months later at the Santa Barbara Writers Conference, teaching a workshop for young writers – and also slipping into the highly acclaimed Walter Dallenbach’s screenwriting workshop whenever I got a chance. Here, I joined a group of two-dozen other Hollywood hopefuls to read our screenplays aloud for “flow,” all of us dreaming that our script will become the next Sundance surprise.

“I was walking in downtown L.A. last week,” Walter told us, “and I randomly asked ten people what problem they were having with their screenplay. Of those ten people, only two gave me strange looks and said they weren’t working on a screenplay – the remaining eight of them launched into detailed descriptions of their plot holes and character troubles.” A few people laughed. “I’m not joking,” Walter insisted. “Hollywood’s full of $#*&&% screenwriters!”

* * *

The final night of the Santa Barbara conference, T.C. Boyle – wearing his trademark ensemble of red high-top Converse sneakers and T-shirt/suit jacket – read a sneak snippet from his latest book. Incredibly, the guy still doesn’t know who I am, even aft er I sent him a copy of my book, introduced myself at the L.A. Times Festival of Books, and cornered him in the English department elevator, where I lamely stammered “Y-y-yes” when he asked what floor I wanted.

Even though a number of his novels have been made into feature films, Boyle echoed Bradbury’s comments, saying: “I don’t fool around with screenplays. I sell the rights and let Hollywood deal with it.”

Later, T.C. – who had been introduced by his full name, Thomas Coraghessan Boyle – signed books. I joined the long line of eager fans, hoping he hadn’t yet gotten a restraining order against me for stalking. Fifteen minutes later, I was staring at my nervous reflection in Boyle’s mirrored sunglasses, while he read my name from the sticky-note placed on the book’s title page to speed up the process. “Dallas . . .” he said, the syllables rolling slowly off his tongue, as if perhaps I was indeed vaguely familiar, then noticed my “Young Writers Program Faculty” name-tag. “How were the kids?” he asked, gesturing to it with his pen.

“I had a lit agent talk to them yesterday,” I said, trying to coolly, and finally, make a memorable impression. “He told the class he’s interested in anything – fiction, nonfiction, thrillers, romance. Anything except science fiction or fantasy. Then, he went around the room and asked each kid, one by one, what kind of book they’re working on, and, one by one, they told him, ‘Fantasy. Science fiction. Fantasy. . .’ Nothing but science fiction and fantasy, all twenty-four of them!”

The moment stretched seemingly as long as a Peter Jackson movie, and then . . . he laughed. Thomas Coraghessan Boyle laughed.

“You’re a natural,” T.C. said. I beamed, even though I knew the compliment was pure Hollywood: full of $#*&.

* * *

Dallas Woodburn, 22, is the author of two collections of short stories and a forthcoming novel. Her short fiction has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and has appeared in the literary magazines Monkeybicycle, Arcadia Journal, Cicada, The Newport Review, and flashquake, among others. She has also written articles for Family Circle, Writer's Digest, Motherwords, and The Los Angeles Times. Find out more about her nonprofit literacy foundation and youth publishing company at www.writeonbooks.org and http://dallaswoodburn.blogspot.com/

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Would you like to participate in Friday "Speak Out!"? Email your short posts (under 500 words) about women and writing to: marcia[at]wow-womenonwriting[dot]com for consideration. We look forward to hearing from you!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Labels: , , , , , , ,

Friday, February 26, 2010

 

Friday Speak Out!: "Voice," Guest Post by Jodie Gonzalez

Voice

by Jodie Gonzalez

I have always been a writer. Letters, diaries, speeches, To Do lists. I love words. And the feel of ink on a clean sheet of paper. But recently, I have become a different kind of writer. A conscious writer. I have begun to study craft, read mountains of books on the subject of writing, taken a class, started a blog.

Through these experiences I have become aware of voice. As a speaker, this was obvious. Years of communication courses, business presentations, teaching public speaking to teens, I was always conscious of my voice. But in my writing…I didn't seem to make the connection. It has only been through my study that I've come to appreciate the value of an authentic voice. And though not as strong as the sound from my lips, I am beginning to stand shakily on writer's legs.

Through our writing, we are invited to explore our true selves, and from that journey emerges a new voice. One wise with tales from the road, a bit ragged from unexpected bumps along the way. And it propels us forward, further on our quest for authenticity. Through my writing I offer myself, my individual perspective—as a woman, a social worker, sister, wife, a resilient soul in search of connection. To do this, I must be vulnerable, honest, open to possibility in my writing.

Each of us writes for a different reason, from a myriad of perspectives, with a symphony of voices. It is this unique piece of ourselves which we offer to the world, it is this that gives our words power.

* * *
Jodie is a medical social worker and newbie blogger. Check out her adventures in art/writing at http://jodiekim.blogspot.com.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Would you like to participate in Friday "Speak Out!"? Email your short posts (under 500 words) about women and writing to: marcia[at]wow-womenonwriting[dot]com for consideration. We look forward to hearing from you!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Labels: , , ,

Friday, February 19, 2010

 

Friday Speak Out!: "Three Easy Steps to Getting Back on Track," Guest Post by Connie Hebert

Three Easy Steps to Getting Back on Track

by Connie Hebert

Who are your "Side-trackers?" You know, the experts at derailing your creative goals. The detractors who create storm centers and disrupt the focus of creative beings like yourself.

Often long on problems and short on answers, many of these rabble-rousers are famous or frustrated artists themselves. In the wake of your Side-tracker's latest drama, your creative work gets placed on the back-burner...again.

Don't let these trouble makers get the best of you. It's springtime––a time for new beginnings. Here are three easy steps to help anyone get back on track.

First, learn to recognize Side-trackers. Here are some specific behaviors common to this group:

~ Disrespect for your reality i.e. calling with a problem even
though you have a deadline of some kind, and they know it.

~ Break agreements by being late (or too early) and demanding
allowances which wreck havoc with your schedule

~ Spend your money and/or time by needing to be rescued,
often in the middle of a workday

~ Blame others (you) when something goes wrong

~ Go ballistic if someone points out one more broken promise

~ Deny they are Side-trackers

Second, learn how to diffuse Side-trackers.

~ Admit you are involved with one. Denial only prolongs
the agony.

~ Be brutally honest. Why are you entangled? Are you getting
anything out of it? Does your Side-tracker enable your
procrastination? Are you afraid of failure?

~ Accept that keeping them around is self-destructive.

~ Ask yourself what creative work you'd be doing if not involved
with your detractor.

~ Stop dancing to the Side-tracker's tune. If you can't, get help
such as counseling or support from friends who've been
through the process.

~ Keep in mind the consequences of putting your needs
aside such as cheating your of your birthright, devaluing
yourself and your talents, holding back your Gift to a world
badly in need of it, and losing out on the richness of an
existence filled with peace and the joy of self-expression
and self-fulfillment.

Finally realize it's your choice. Choose wisely. Your creative life depends on it.

* * *
Connie Hebert, MSW, is the owner and author of her "True Inklings" website. (See link below.) Retired from a successful career in psychotherapy, education, and seminar training on human behavior, she now writes full-time. Her current work in progress is a nonfiction novel with the working title of "Converting the Maiden; a Memoir of Surrender." She's also published short pieces in trade magainzes and in "The Shine Journal," an online publication.

Follow "Connie's Blog" on her website: www.trueinklings.com
Connie can be reached at: conniehebert@me.com



~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Would you like to participate in Friday "Speak Out!"? Email your short posts (under 500 words) about women and writing to: marcia[at]wow-womenonwriting[dot]com for consideration. We look forward to hearing from you!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Labels: , ,

Friday, February 12, 2010

 

Friday Speak Out: Why I Write, Guest Post by Susan Remson

Why I Write

by Susan Remson

I never really retired. I just stopped working. After forty-five years of work, including all the years while raising my family, I was ready. Over those years, my jobs ranged from my first as a Christmas gift wrapper to Operations Manager of a clinical laboratory. A few years ago, when my husband’s work took him to different cities for extended periods, I decided to accompany him. I quit my job, and except for the lack of income and the social life work had always provided me, I was not sorry. But what would I do with my time?

It was about then that I heard a speaker ask folks on the verge of retiring, who were dealing with the same “what will I do” question that I was, “What did you like to do when you were a child? What gave you pleasure when you were eleven or twelve years old?” The speaker went on to suggest that whatever that activity was, retirement might be the time to go back to it.

When I was a child, I loved to write.

So I began writing again. I had written in my professional life, but that writing was all technical. I journaled, too, but I began to write essays and short stories. I wrote fiction and non-fiction. I wrote poetry. I took classes. I went to workshops. I spent hours reading writers website. I read books about and by writers. But when people asked me what I was doing now that I wasn’t working, I couldn’t yet say, “I am a writer”. I didn’t feel like a writer; I felt like a wannabe.

When I finally got up the courage to read at a writer’s conference, I was terrified. I know my voice was shaking when I read my brief essay. In my piece, I compared my son’s life with an afghan my mother had made for him, and told how his life, filled with substance abuse and antisocial behavior, and the afghan were both unraveling. I pondered whether either of them would ever be whole again. When I finished reading, the room was silent. I remember thinking to myself, “Well, Susan, so much for being a writer”.

But I was wrong. I later learned the room was silent because of the impact of my words. Afterwards, several women came up to tell me how they could relate to what I was saying. Their words delighted me, and saddened me, too, because it meant that others were dealing with the same issues that I had been only a few years earlier. Still, if I could touch someone with my words, I was happy.

Their comments also made it possible for me to say, “I am a writer.”

Since that time, I have shared, in writing, other experiences, including stories about my mother and her knitting, my son and his struggles, and my daughter and the year planning her wedding. I write two blogs. In one, I am sharing my thoughts on being 64 years old and “muddling through to Medicare”. I also have thick file of short stories and essays, and two half-written novels.

These days, I have no problem calling myself a writer. I still love to write, now more than ever.

* * *
Susan Remson is retired from a career in health care and biotechnology and now devotes herself to her writing. She lives on the shore of Lake Michigan in Kenosha Wisconsin . where she writes two blogs. In Great Lakes Views (www.greatlakesviews.blogspot.com) she comments on environmental, political and cultural issues of the Great Lakes . When I’m 64 (www.whenim64-susan.blogspot.com) she is documenting what it is like to be a woman of a “certain age”.


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Would you like to participate in Friday "Speak Out!"? Email your short posts (under 500 words) about women and writing to: marcia[at]wow-womenonwriting[dot]com for consideration. We look forward to hearing from you!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Labels: , ,

Friday, February 05, 2010

 

Friday Speak Out: Bookmaking—For You, For Me!, Guest Post by Patricia A. McGoldrick

Bookmaking—For You, For Me!

by Patricia A. McGoldrick

I have to confess that bookmaking has become a bit of an obsession to me. Not cooking the books or becoming a bookie, but actually constructing and compiling books.

Right now, you might be dismissing this new-for-me activity as somewhat of a childish hobby in which to be engaged; however, as a poet writer, I assure you that it is a worthwhile one, one that has not only captured my imagination but that of other visual and word artists. They have, as I will discuss, inspired me to publish my poetry and stories in book form, of all shapes and sizes —creatively and sustainably.

As a bookmaking newcomer, I have been positively inspired to make books by visual and word artist, Susan Kapuscinski Gaylord at http://www.makingbooks.com/. On her website, in free, PDF file format, plus a You Tube link, Susan provides user-friendly instructions for making these small books. As a poet, one of my favorite Gaylord titles, available for purchase, is Homes for Poems: Making Books for Poetry. This “home” concept for my writing appeals to me.

I am not the only one who has been drawn to Gaylord’s popular, informative, website. Poet, Kay Day, mentions it in an article "Publish your poetry; there are more options than ever," as she urges writers to publish their work in these small venues in order to promote and share their words. Day is an encouraging voice in tough times.


Making small books is an opportunity not only to share one’s writing creatively. It is also a means of practicing sustainability by reusing resources that are often right in front of us. This is clearly a focus at Gaylord’s website and it is also a focus of Jill Magi, a poet with a visual flare for reusing paper and other goods for publishing her works. This wordsmith urges readers to "Make a Tiny Book" in the 2010 January/February issue of Poets & Writers. As a web search reveals, the creative Magi, with her sustainable use of materials, is a tremendous source of inspiration for making those homes for your words as gifts to others, recorded memories, a library of your own works.

Last year, I wrote, designed and published several books (See Figure 1): two memorial books, one posted on my blog at http://pmpoetwriter.blogspot.com/; an easy-to-carry book for Poetry-in-your-Pocket month; gift books about my Mother, a little child, spring, basketball, and our puppy, Cody (Figure 3); a chapbook of my completed Poetry Month venture to write a poem-a-day based on some literary prompts during April (Figure 2). Covered with a navy sheet of cover-stock paper and spine trimmed with burgundy ribbon, this chapbook now sits in my writing area for inspiration to persevere.


Figure 1
















Figure 2
















Figure 3













I would like to conclude by assuring you that these books are not difficult to make. For inspiration, I recommend checking out the websites I have listed; then, gather some colorful paper, yarn, glue, pictures plus your words. Make a book!

The sense of accomplishment is wonderful as you see your words being published in a book, designed by you! National Poetry Month is coming up soon—you might want to give bookmaking a try—that’s my plan!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Patricia A. McGoldrick writes poems, essays and reviews about history, nature, books, social justice, events and people. Most recently, non-fiction article "'Now Boards'Give Life to Dreams" was published online; Poems published at Sleet; Irish American Post; Chapter And Verse; Cyclamens and Swords; League of Canadian Poets; Contributions are in: leaf press, Frost and Foliage; Voices Israel Anthology 2009; Ice: New Writing on Hockey; Love & Longing in the Near North; The Changing Image,2008,1994; The Grand Table Anthology. Patricia is a member of The Ontario Poetry Society (TOPS).

WEB: http://sites.google.com/site/pmpoetwriter/
BLOGS: http://pmpoetwriter.blogspot.com/ ; PM27's Blog

*****************

Do you want to reach WOW’s audience? We welcome short posts (500 words or less) from writers just like you! You can include your bio, pic, and links to your website/blog for promotion. Our only requirement is that your post be about women and writing. Send your Friday “Speak Out!” post to: marcia[at]wow-womenonwriting[dot]com for consideration.

****************

Labels: , , ,

Friday, January 29, 2010

 

Friday Speak Out: Use Your Intuition to Reach Your Subconscious Mind, Guest Post by Kelly L. Stone

Use Your Intuition to Reach Your Subconscious Mind

by Kelly L. Stone

"Women’s intuition” can be a useful tool for aspiring women writers because it’s a link to your inner resources of creativity and wisdom. Intuition is your subconscious mind attempting to communicate with you and get creative material or guidance into your conscious mind. You might experience hunches, flashes of insight, or feel you should take some action. Your dreams may give you characters, plot ideas, or entire stories. Some people get a “gut” feeling. You may be guided to do something unusual. The late photographer Dorothea Lange got a gut feeling that she should turn down a deserted road in California while driving home from work one day. Even though she was exhausted, Lange yielded to her intuition and discovered a starving woman and children whose haunting photo became the face of the Great Depression.

Intuition springs from your subconscious mind, and there are several ways to connect to this part of yourself that often goes unheeded and unexplored. You can direct your subconscious mind to give you a dream solution when you find yourself in a spell of writer’s block. Keep a notebook by your bed and tell your subconscious mind before you fall asleep to allow you to dream about the next section of your story. Don’t be surprised if you wake up in the middle of the night with a sudden burst of inspiration. That’s what the notebook is for.

You can also induce the hypnagogic state to get in touch with your subconscious resources. The hypnagogic state is a naturally occurring phase of sleep that is characterized by altered consciousness; some people hear their name being called, others see flashes of light. What’s important for writers is that ideas that are not normally connected are seen as associated in this state. It’s a time fertile with creativity. To access it, lie down and hold one arm straight up while you attempt to doze. The tension in your arm required to hold it up will keep you on the verge of wakefulness even as your mind slips into an alpha state, which is conducive to creativity. Again, write down in your notebook any ideas or insights that come to you.

Stream of consciousness writing is a good way to access your subconscious mind. I used it while writing my novel, Grave Secret (Mundania Press, Sept 2007). One day, after a period of several difficult writing days, the character of Billy Powers simply walked on to the page. This character was not known to my conscious mind; he sprang from my subconscious. As it turned out, he was so integral to the plot that his appearance saved the story.

Heed your intuition because it is the golden key that opens the gate to your vast subconscious mind. Your writing will thank you for it.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Kelly L Stone (www.KellyLStone.com) is a licensed mental health counselor and the author of three books, including TIME TO WRITE: More Than 100 Professional Writers Reveal How to Fit Writing Into Your Busy Life (Adams Media, January 2008) and THINKING WRITE: The Secret To Freeing Your Creative Mind (Adams Media, October 2009). Her third book for writers, LIVING WRITE: Creative Strategies for Maintaining Your Enthusiasm, Motivation, and Dedication to Your Writing Goals, will be released in Fall 2010.

*****************

Do you want to reach WOW’s audience? We welcome short posts (500 words or less) from writers just like you! You can include your bio, pic, and links to your website/blog for promotion. Our only requirement is that your post be about women and writing. Send your Friday “Speak Out!” post to: marcia[at]wow-womenonwriting[dot]com for consideration.

****************

Labels: , , , ,

Friday, January 22, 2010

 

Friday Speak Out: 10 x 12, Guest Post by by Tami Richards

10X12

by Tami Richards

There’s a nook off my kitchen that I’ve been trying to claim for myself for over twenty years now. While raising four children, I’d shared that ten by twelve foot space with kids doing homework, playing video games, making Lego masterpieces, and searching the Internet. I thought I’d properly and fully claimed it last summer when my youngest child reached adulthood and I felt that I was free to do as I wished with the house. My husband and I replaced the two windows and laid down beautiful new blonde bamboo flooring. I happily painted the walls, and moved my bookshelves in, loading them up to bursting. I was bubbling over with excitement as I was finally able to organize my own space.

Instead of using a writing desk for the main furniture, I decided to build a heavy-duty craft table for my grandchildren and I to share. The table was a big mistake. I was no longer making the room my own, the craft table made the room everybody’s. I invalidated my own needs. After the room’s completion, I did not spend much time writing in my new office for I’d done the unforgivable and I knew it; I’d forsaken myself.

By the time that I’d finally figured out my error and came to understand that for me to be happy and creative, my office needed to be my own office not a shared craft room, I lost ground on possession. My adult daughter hit a rough spot in her life and she moved back home, bringing my granddaughters with her. Being that they were moving from a fully furnished three-bedroom house it was impossible to find space in our small home for all of their belongings. A barrage of housewares, clothes, games and toys took up the entire floor space of my office.

Being the consummate adjuster that I am, the person who arranges the needs of others to a place above her own, I carried my laptop into our bedroom and set up office on an old desk that I’d set up in front of our dresser. This worked out for me for several months until my husband was switched from swing shift to night shift. Because he needs to sleep before work, my time alone in my bedroom had gone out the window. At this time, I had nowhere else to go but to remove the long ago boxed and stored treasures of my children’s childhood from the storage loft above the garage and hoist my daughter’s and granddaughter’s belongings up in their stead.

Then began the internal battle of the mature and wise woman with the self-sacrificing and meek grandmother. What I have is a war between “why should I move and store all her stuff for her,” and “she’s going through a tough adjustment, my grandchildren need their things.” The bottom line, if I allowed myself to reach it, was that I needed to reclaim that space for my own well being and I needed to take action to get it. I’ve been moving and adjusting things in that ten by twelve foot space for over twenty years in futile attempts to claim it as my own. Having accomplished that, I needed to maintain it and start putting my own needs above those of others.

Yes, I’d brought it on myself. I’d allowed it to happen by not being insistent enough, by not explaining my needs, my rights, my value. The fault lies squarely with me. It became time for me to clean up that room and claim my space. It took a lot of time and energy that I didn’t think that I could muster, but I am typing these words while sitting in my own space.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Tami Richards is a writer of articles and essays concerning women's history, health and social issues. Visit her blog at http://tamilkrueger.blogspot.com/

*****************

Do you want to reach WOW’s audience? We welcome short posts (500 words or less) from writers just like you! You can include your bio, pic, and links to your website/blog for promotion. Our only requirement is that your post be about women and writing. Send your Friday “Speak Out!” post to: marcia[at]wow-womenonwriting[dot]com for consideration.

****************

Labels: , ,

Friday, January 15, 2010

 

Friday Speakout: Surely You Just, Guest Post by Michelle Dwyer

Surely You Just (Cheesy, I know)

by Michelle Dwyer

Okay so, I recently received my contest critique for the WOW! Summer 2009 Flash Fiction Contest. Not too shabby I must say. I guess the past critiques have allowed me to refine those blunders called adverbs. Toning down these dust mites (as I now call them), has taken effort. But seeing less green (you know, the highlighted adverbs) in my critique is worth it.

Why was I using adverbs ALL the time? I was addicted to making a point—a point I never had to make.

I thought using “punch” words such as just, always, really, very, and some quantified my thoughts, made them more tangible for the reader to measure. For example, “I just got a request for a partial!” (That hasn’t happened. Just let me have my moment), is no more intense than, “I got a request for a partial!” They express the same joy. The “just” adds no value to the excitement that hopefully one day I will experience.

I took me a while to get it. In my mind, the reader had to know what had just happened, or what simply had to be a certain way. It made the stakes higher. Made those words very, very important, right? No. It just made me look like an amateur.

But I’m hard-headed (really, really hard-headed), so I’m still learning to give up the dust. Sometimes I leave particles in my stories. And guess what? Adverbs in moderation can actually add depth when done right; however I’ve learned that overall, readers don’t need to know that a car can go super fast or that my protagonist is immensely hot.

I can be defiant, refusing to let tried-and-true principles trump my need to be right. I needed proof, beyond a reasonable doubt, that most adverbs are in vain.

I opened the file belonging to my 113,000 word manuscript. Blindly, I searched for and deleted every just, always, really, some, and very. I didn’t care about sentence structure or meaning. After this, I re-read the story.

What do you think happened? I put a handful of these words back into the story because the impact legitimately called for them. The remaining adverbs were never seen again because they’d added no value and would never be missed. I now have a leaner, meaner manuscript.

How cluttered had my manuscript been before the changes? In other words, how many adverbs didn’t make the cut?

2,497.

Pretty, very, really, amazing…don’t you think?

Wait. Start over.

Amazing, right?

---


Michelle studied writing in high school and longed to become an author. But circumstances arose, causing her to join the military instead. However, she never gave up. She enrolled in writing school, finished her first crime novel, and will achieve her MBA this fall. She writes as Krymzen Hall at http://www.helium.com/users/421563/show_articles


*****************

Do you want to reach WOW’s audience? We welcome short posts (500 words or less) from writers just like you! You can include your bio, pic, and links to your website/blog for promotion. Our only requirement is that your post be about women and writing. Send your Friday “Speak Out!” post to: marcia[at]wow-womenonwriting[dot]com for consideration.

****************



~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Labels: , , , ,

Friday, January 08, 2010

 

Friday Speak Out: "From Block to Blog (in 0-60 minutes)," Guest Post by Lisa Ricard Claro

From Block to Blog (in 0-60 minutes)

by Lisa Ricard Claro

“Sabbatical from Writing” is the lofty label I plastered on any period of time during which the most imaginative thing I wrote was a grocery list.

I was delusional, of course.

Writer’s block is more akin to a death-hungry dragon that must be slain using words as a fiery sword!

Or. . .you could start a blog. Blogging is a great way to overcome that dragon beast and turns the compulsion to write into a reason to write.

Consider:

• Most blogs have a theme. Choose something about which you are passionate (child rearing, embroidery, Johnny Depp). Writing about something that matters to you makes it easier to banish the block.

• Loyal readers. It doesn’t matter if your first blog followers are your mom and Aunt Gladys. The more you blog the wider your circle of readers will become. Readers = motivation. Really.

• No pressure. You are the boss of your blog. There are no rejection letters. Just write.

Blogging is fun, but it will help you with other important aspects of writing as well. Some things to keep in mind:

• Brevity is a virtue. Keep your posts to 500 words or less. Short posts are, by necessity, sharp and focused.

• Post as if submitting to an editor. Pay attention to grammar, spelling, and punctuation. Treating your posts as professional pieces encourages solid editing.

• Commit to frequent posts. This requires discipline, creativity, attention to deadline, and increased readership. And if readers = motivation, then motivation = banished block!

• Internet presence. In this electronic age, an internet presence is not a suggestion but a necessary tool in every writer’s kit. A blog is an easy way to get started.

There are a number of websites that offer easy, free blogging. MSN and Google are two with high visibility. In less than an hour your blog can be up and running. It is this simple: Choose a theme about which you love to write and get started; then send the link to everyone on your email list.

Some contend that blogging is detrimental because it leeches creativity away from other, more important writing pursuits. But if you’re already being burned alive by the block dragon’s fire, you aren’t writing anyway. Blogging may be the jump start you need.

In 1295 Dante Alighieri wrote: “It seemed to me that I had undertaken too lofty a theme for my powers, so much so that I was afraid to enter upon it; and so I remained for several days desiring to write and afraid to begin.”

Seven hundred years later not much has changed. Too bad Dante didn’t have a blog option. But you do. Start now and be ready to write in less than an hour. You will zoom from block to blog in 0 to 60 minutes.

Now go slay that beast.

---

Lisa Ricard Claro is a freelance writer whose humor columns and stories have been published on-line, in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, and in anthologies Chicken Soup for Beach Lovers and Cup of Comfort for Dog Lovers. (Watch for her story, “Angels Afoot”, in Cup of Comfort for a Better World, due on shelves March 2010.)

For more of Lisa’s writing, please visit her blog, Writing in the Buff: www.writinginthebuff.net.


*****************

Do you want to reach WOW’s audience? We welcome short posts (500 words or less) from writers just like you! You can include your bio, pic, and links to your website/blog for promotion. Our only requirement is that your post be about women and writing. Send your Friday “Speak Out!” post to: marcia[at]wow-womenonwriting[dot]com for consideration.

****************

Labels: , ,

Friday, December 18, 2009

 

Friday Speak Out: "After Nano: Rewrites Can be (Sorta) Fun," Guest Post by Cathy C. Hall

After Nano: Rewrites Can be (Sorta) Fun

by Cathy C. Hall

At my last writer's group meeting, one of my friends was shocked when I related my National Novel Writing Month experience. Not the part about me writing almost 40,000 words. Oh, no. He couldn’t believe I’d actually do a rewrite!

I guess I’m what you’d call the bust-it-out writer in the group. I’m always rushing essays or short stories or queries out into the world. But that doesn’t mean I’m a write-it-once, then send-it gal. I wish I had that kind of talent. But the truth is, whether I’m writing 40,000 words or 400 words, I revise, edit, and rewrite.

I’m not gonna lie. I am not one of those writers who love the rewrite
process. So, I have a few tricks I use to make this part of the writing process
fun. (Not fun as in barrel-of-monkey fun; more like that-wasn’t-so-bad fun.)

1. The first draft is my bust-it-out piece. It’s almost always too long and a bit on the rambling side. That’s okay. The idea is to get ‘er done.

2. The second draft is where I work on the rambling, and get the piece where
I want it to go. I accomplish this by asking a simple question: “What do I
want to say?” Any spot in the piece where I’ve veered off from what I
want to say has to go. No matter how prettily I’ve said it.

3. Next, I let the writing sit awhile. Even if it’s just 20 minutes for a
lunch break, I need time so that I can come back to the piece with fresh
eyes.

4. I’m always surprised at the little things I’ve missed on the second draft.
Usually, I’ve left out a word or punctuation. It’s much easier to catch
these errors when I read the piece out loud. Then, the third draft is
corrected and ready to make its way out into the world.

My novel is hanging around now, the get ‘er done stage behind me. I’ll tackle the next step come January. Because that’s one heck of an edit, and honestly, I’m in shock, thinking about the rewrite!

---

Cathy C. Hall is a writer and humor columnist who lives in the metro Atlanta area. When she's not writing about the funny real stuff in her life, she's making up wild stories for adults as well as children. Find out where she's been published lately by visiting her website at www.cathy-c-hall.com. Or drop in at her blog at www.cathychall.blogspot.com.

*****************

Do you want to reach WOW’s audience? We welcome short posts (500 words or less) from writers just like you! You can include your bio, pic, and links to your website/blog for promotion. Our only requirement is that your post be about women and writing. Send your Friday “Speak Out!” post to: marcia[at]wow-womenonwriting[dot]com for consideration.

****************

Labels: , , ,

Friday, November 27, 2009

 

Friday Speak Out: "Some Thoughts on Writing," Guest Post by Jayne Martin

Some Thoughts on Writing

by Jayne Martin

At 60 years old, I finally know what I want to be when I grow up. A writer.

This is actually the second time in my life I have realized this. The first was when I was in my 20’s struggling to be an actress despite my extreme discomfort in actually standing up in front of anyone and performing. This was about the same time that Sylvester Stallone was achieving his “overnight” success as writer and star of the first “Rocky.” I naively figured if he could write, how hard could it be and I started writing scenes for my acting class. To my great surprise, they were very well-received and I suddenly went from being the worst actress in the class to someone regarded with a certain amount of respect, it felt good.

While earning my living typing the screenplays of others, I became exposed to literally hundreds of scripts – some exceptionally good, like those by Alvin Sargent and Fay Kanin, and some exceptionally bad by writers never to be heard from again. I learned from all of them. My forté became the realm of the TV-Movie. I would either pitch an original idea or I would get an assignment to write a script from someone else’s idea, or from a true-life story, or adapt a book. The great thing about working on assignment or from a pitch is I got paid whether the movie got made or not and if it did get made, I actually get a bonus payment. My career as a TV writer spanned almost two decades and I was fortunate to have several of my scripts made into movies.

I wrote my last movie in 2004 and for the longest time I felt no creative drive to write anything. Until recently. It started with the discovery of a few new authors and the re-discovery of some old favorites, and their voices inspired me. So with the encouragement of some friends, I started a blog, injaynesworld, and darned if people didn’t start showing up, although where they got the idea there’d be refreshments served I have no idea. Oh, yeah, I might have said something about that in my shameless effort to lure readers. Most importantly, my creative juices are flowing again and I’m meeting and making friends with some wonderful writers.

Since I am no longer completely dependent on writing for a living, I am once again free to write for the pure pleasure and love of it, and I had forgotten how much I truly do love it. Not that I would turn money down. I’d love to get a paycheck for writing again and maybe I will. In the meantime, it’s such a joy to write directly for an audience and get that immediate feedback. A writer needs an audience. Because if a tree falls in the forest and there’s no one around, it really doesn’t make a sound.

Jayne Martin is an unapologetic, bleeding-heart liberal who loves good horses, good friends, and good wine. A TV-writer in a former life, her credits include "Big Spender," for Animal Planet, and "A Child Too Many," "Cradle of Conspiracy," and "Deceived By Trust" for Lifetime. Visit her blog, injaynesworld.

*****************

Do you want to reach WOW’s audience? We welcome short posts (500 words or less) from writers just like you! You can include your bio, pic, and links to your website/blog for promotion. Our only requirement is that your post be about women and writing. Send your Friday “Speak Out!” post to: marcia[at]wow-womenonwriting[dot]com for consideration.

****************

Labels: , , ,

Friday, November 20, 2009

 

Friday Speak Out: I Wish I Were A Packrat, Guest Post by Rebecca Gomez Farrell

I Wish I Were A Packrat

by Rebecca Gomez Farrell

I lost six years of my life. Okay, I’m being a tad dramatic. I lost six years’ worth of word processor documents. They’re gone. They left for the great recycling bin icon in the sky and some jerk emptied it. I’m the jerk.

A few years ago, I decided the old college laptop had to go. It had been wacky since my roommate borrowed it for a night of feverish essay typing and spilled a mug of coffee on it. The keys sank down like molasses when you pressed them and came up 1. . . 2 . . .3 seconds later with a loud click. The down arrow key would possess the cursor, sending it on a race down the monitor, which no control-alt-delete combination could halt.

My new laptop came, with its shiny casing and fancy Windows XP. I installed the software, then made a cup coaster out of the AOL trial CD-ROM.

“Honey,” I asked my fiance when I finished, “we already backed up my files to the server, right?”

“Yep, they’re under Becca’s documents,” he assured me. “You click on the icon for My Network and—”

“Yeah, yeah, I know,” I cut him off. I may not be a computer genius, but I thought I knew that much.

Stop! Check the files! The alarm bells go off in my head now, but they didn’t then.

A few months after that fateful day, I clicked through row after row of pixilated manila folders, hoping, in between my wedding guest list and hotel reservations, to catch a glimpse of Mr. Palen’s tan jacket as he held my hand while walking me the school office when I was 10. He was my teacher when my father died and I had written about him in a piece that I wanted to revise.

I still haven’t found him. Nor have I find my friend Ruth. I did a character sketch based on her once. When someone pissed her off, she would catch my eye and trace a checkmark in the air with her pointer finger. Then, she’d mime killing him or her, perhaps by pulling back a crossbow wire and releasing it. My personal favorite was her duck, roll, and rifle shoot. Her blonde ponytail would bounce with each trigger pull.

It’s most painful to accept the loss of my college papers. How many sleepless nights’ work are now gone? I’d tangled with Twain’s inner demons, battled the titan of Homeric verse, and analyzed depictions of African American manhood from slavery to OJ. Yes, I still have my degree, but none of the work that earned it.

In my dreams, I catch a glimpse of that lost folder of Word documents, just beyond my Excel spreadsheets and resume versions. It beckons me to double-click it, like a ghostly guide pointing toward a cave of treasure. If I just keep my eyes closed long enough . . .

Rebecca Gomez Farrell, a Californian with a bad case of wanderlust, migrated to the East Coast after college, thinking to improve her writing by gaining more life experiences. She presently writes, edits, and blogs from Durham, NC. Under the pseudonym, The Gourmez, she writes reviews of restaurants, cocktails, and wines as well as a weekly column on her lifelong obsession, General Hospital. She also writes modern short fiction, creative nonfiction, and is working on a fantasy novel.

You can view Becca’s work at http://blog.thegourmez.com/, http://eyeonsoaps.net/, and http://carpedurham.com/.



*****************

Do you want to reach WOW’s audience? We welcome short posts (500 words or less) from writers just like you! You can include your bio, pic, and links to your website/blog for promotion. Our only requirement is that your post be about women and writing. Send your Friday “Speak Out!” post to: marcia[at]wow-womenonwriting[dot]com for consideration.

****************

Labels: , ,

Friday, October 30, 2009

 

Friday Speak Out: A Revelation!, Guest Post by Jennifer Flaten

A Revelation!

by Jennifer Flaten

A few days ago, I finished my usual day of writing. I was proud of myself I completed almost all of my to-do items. This is a big deal for a procrastinator like me.

One item scratched off my list, a short profile piece on Patsy Cline.

As I clicked send on the piece, I realized I really enjoyed writing it. Not only did I learn about Patsy, but also I thought I managed to make the profile interesting, not dry.

It was fun and I looked forward to doing another one.

Later as I was telling my husband about my day and talking animatedly about my work, I realized just how much I liked what I did.

It was a wonderful feeling. Too bad, it had been missing for so long.

Prior to writing, full time I worked as an office manager/administrative assistant.

I loved what I did. My heart went pitter-patter at the thought of spending the day wrestling bank statements into submission and making journal entries.

I knew I was good at what I did I always came home with sense of accomplishment.

Then one day I was laid off. In an instant both my job and identity vanished along with my steady paycheck.

I turned to my writing which up until that time, was a little sideline that I did for fun and spending money. Now I was trying to turn my writing into my full time job.

I spent a lot of time building relationships with clients, looking for gigs and writing pieces that paid money but I wasn’t enjoying myself.

There was this little voice was whispering in my ear that I wasn’t a “real” writer. I worried about “making” it, about being a “real” writer and being good so I could get more work.

I wasn’t having fun. Each day I just worked away with no sense of love or feelings of accomplishment.

Even publication didn’t lessen my feelings. If I was published I still worried it wasn’t good enough. I wondered would a real writer read it and think Pffft who gave this woman a keyboard.

I couldn‘t shake the worry. I was drowning in what ifs-what if this isn’t good enough, what if this leads nowhere.

I still felt like I was pretending to be a writer.

Then came that fateful day, when I finished a piece that I really had fun writing that I knew was good piece.

I realized that-Hey, I am pretty good at this and I like it.

This came in the same week that I had some other small, yet exciting, offers come my way.

All of sudden I knew that I really liked what I was doing. I wasn’t just pretending to be a writer I was a writer.

Jennifer lives with her husband, twin daughters and son in Wisconsin. She is a freelance writer. She has found the kids provide and endless source of amusing and not so amusing topics. When she is not in front of the computer, she and the kids can be found baking, cooking or playing outside. Read her work at Baby Chapters, Life123.com, Examiner, and Grubstreet.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Do you want to reach WOW’s audience? We welcome short posts (500 words or less) from writers just like you! You can include your bio, pic, and links to your website/blog for promotion. Our only requirement is that your post be about women and writing. Send your Friday “Speak Out!” post to: marcia[at]wow-womenonwriting[dot]com for consideration.


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Labels: , ,

Friday, October 23, 2009

 

Friday Speak Out: The Value of Critiques, Guest Post by Kim Smith

The Value of Critiques

by Kim Smith

I recently entered a writing competition that offered a critique of my entry by no less than three judges. Excitement filled my heart. In the absence of any literary professionals in my life, ie: teachers or editors or authors, I'm not always sure of what is working, and what isn't.

Sure, I've entered various online critique groups, but I've never taken them that seriously. After all, these are other novice writers, like myself, and the critiques offered usually contain only vague words of praise. While some writing peers do offer helpful advice as to what they think is awkward, or wordy, or redundant, what I really crave is a nuts and bolts analysis of grammar, sentence structure, and punctuation.

So, I awaited this particular critique with bated breath. When the envelope arrived, I ripped it open on the spot, ignoring the slight drizzle that misted the cool air. All three judges praised my fourth-place entry, pointed out what they loved, and said I was an excellent writer.

Disappointment flooded through me. I was hoping for little red notations all over my story. I wanted to know WHY I didn't take first place, and what I could have done to improve my writing. I wanted to know what I'd done wrong, as well as what I'd done right.

The only point of contention involved the title of my story. Two hated it; one loved it. I thought to myself, "This is it?" However, after rereading the three critiques and calming down in the process, I realized that I still appreciated the time and effort the judges put in for this contest. They would have read hundreds of entries, and it would be too time-consuming to nitpick their way through all of them.

Will I opt to receive another critique? Of course I will! The critiques did bolster my writing self-esteem, which can always use elevating. Each one did say, after all, that I was a good writer, and who doesn't like to hear that? I will continue to take advantage of critiques where they are offered, because any nugget of concrete advice, no matter how small, is invaluable. And frankly, the anticipation of receiving opinions/compliments on my writing is an irresistible lure!



Kim lives in the country with one needy dog, three perfect cats, one long-suffering husband, and far too many chickens. She tries to write on a regular basis after a suffering a writer's block of thirty years.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Do you want to reach WOW’s audience? We welcome short posts (500 words or less) from writers just like you! You can include your bio, pic, and links to your website/blog for promotion. Our only requirement is that your post be about women and writing. Send your Friday “Speak Out!” post to: marcia[at]wow-womenonwriting[dot]com for consideration.


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Labels: , ,

Friday, September 25, 2009

 

Friday Speak Out: "A Walk in the Park," Guest Post by Julie Bloss Kelsey

A Walk in the Park

by Julie Bloss Kelsey

“What is it?” she snaps. Impeccably dressed in a three-tiered suit, she looks like a walking wedding cake. Make that an angry walking wedding cake. I try not to laugh.

“We need to talk,” I say. “About your writing.”

At this, she pauses and absently picks invisible lint from her suit. “I don’t write. Not any more.” She picks up her pace.

"Yes, you do,” I say. I block her path. “Remember last night? You described the riders on the subway in that letter to your mother.”

She smiles. With her stride broken, I tug at her shoulder pad and point at the closest park bench. “Sit!”

She dutifully sits, but her legs soon lace tight. She crosses her arms. “I should get back to work,” she hisses in my direction.

“The work will wait,” I remind her. I use the same gentle tone of voice that I used the day before, and the day before that. “Stay with me awhile,” I whisper. “You’ll have fun.”

For a moment, I have her. She starts to point at the swaying leaves. Look at that! I think she’s going for the notebook!

She murmurs under her breath, “Look at that!”

But then she withdraws her hand. Into her pocket it goes. Out pops the day planner.

I hate that thing. This one is a tiny version of the monster that occupies her desk at work. Her office is a disaster: so much paperwork overflowing with writing, but none of it really matters. I wish I could convince her of that.

She is busy finding just the right tab in the day planner. “Accounts payable meeting at 2 pm.” She checks her watch. “I have to go.”

I grab at her sleeve, but I am no match for her when she’s like this.

“Look at the trees!” I shout at her retreating back. A passerby stares in my direction. I try again, focusing more intently on her. “Look at the trees. Don’t the leaves look like giant eyeballs?”

She stops mid-stride and casts a glance back at the park bench, wearing a curious smile. She checks her watch again. “Maybe there’s time,” she murmurs.

I heave a sigh of relief as she sits down, puts the planner away, and pulls out a ragged notebook and a ball-point pen.

“Now, where were we?” she asks.

I snuggle close. “We were looking at the eyeballs in the trees.” The aspens quake as if on cue.

She holds the pen over paper, so close that I can almost move the nib. My hand hovers over hers.

Curious trees
tap on my shoulder
gaze at my heart
watch my every move
remind me of what’s important.

We sit next to each other on the park bench for a long time, not talking, not writing, just enjoying each other’s company: a girl and her muse.


When not chasing after her three kids, Julie Bloss Kelsey enjoys writing poetry, creative nonfiction, magazine articles, and stories for children. Her work has appeared online at Absolute Write, FundsforWriters, and Writing-World.com. Visit her on the web at Mama Joules (http://www.mamajoules.blogspot.com), her family-friendly science blog.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Do you want to reach WOW’s audience? We welcome short posts (500 words or less) from writers just like you! You can include your bio, pic, and links to your website/blog for promotion. Our only requirement is that your post be about women and writing. Send your Friday “Speak Out!” post to: marcia[at]wow-womenonwriting[dot]com for consideration.


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Labels: , , , ,

Friday, September 11, 2009

 

Friday Speak Out: My Ultimate Inspiration, Guest Post by Kim Smith

My Ultimate Inspiration

by Kim Smith

Like many writers, I often hit a stumbling block, or ten, when it comes to making time to sit down and write. Either I lose interest in my current project, or I am too busy or tired, or most likely, I just can't think of anything interesting to say.

However, there is something that happens, albeit infrequently, in my life that is guaranteed to spur me to write pages upon pages of inspired words, and this headiness usually lasts for a few months.

I'm talking about placing in, or glory be, actually winning a creative writing competition. In recent weeks I was lucky enough (dare I say talented enough?) to place second and fourth in two well-known provincial writing competitions. I think my screams of joy were probably heard well into the next town.

After those first dizzying days of recognition, I came to several realizations. One: I could finally admit to myself that I am a good writer (and oh, it's so difficult to say that) and that my skills as such are real, and not merely some weird cosmic fluke. Two: Winning makes me want to write MORE! Of this, I have no doubt.

All sorts of ideas and visions are jostling about in my head; I'm jotting down dozens of potential story plots. I've enrolled in an online writing class AND an online critique group. I've pulled every book on writing from the bookshelves, and am scouring the pages for information, tips, and advice, anything that will improve my writing skills. And I'm even, gasp, considering writing an anthology of short stories. To this end, I've taken the plunge and signed up for NaNoWriMo, something I would never have considered a few short months ago.

For me, this is nothing short of amazing. Only a few weeks ago I was suffering from the "I'm not very good. I'll never get anywhere with this," mentality, and had retreated to a large stack of novels and an equally large stash of chocolate. Little did I know that I was soon to receive those two fateful emails titled, "Congratulations!"

Such is the adrenalin rush of being recognized as a 'real' writer. It doesn't happen often, and even if it never happens again, I will still plug along and write my stories. But while the thrill lasts, I'm making the most of it, and perhaps I'll churn out a first-place story this time - you never know!


Kim lives in the country with one needy dog, three perfect cats, one long-suffering husband, and far too many chickens. She tries to write on a regular basis after a suffering a writer's block of thirty years.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Do you want to reach WOW’s audience? We welcome short posts (500 words or less) from writers just like you! You can include your bio, pic, and links to your website/blog for promotion. Our only requirement is that your post be about women and writing. Send your Friday “Speak Out!” post to: marcia[at]wow-womenonwriting[dot]com for consideration.


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Labels: , , ,

Friday, August 21, 2009

 

Friday Speakout: To Be or Not To Be, Guest Post by Michelle Dwyer

To Be or Not To Be

by Michelle Dwyer

Like most college students, I had to take upper-level, intensive writing classes to graduate. And I dare say that most upper-level, intensive writing professors hate the dreaded “be” verbs. Those short words that provide the oxygen needed to breathe—the words that seem impossible to erase from our prose (am, I, are, was, were, be, being, been). So like many who have come before me, and who will come later, I worked hard to avoid such unwelcomed words in order to walk across the stage with a decent grade point average.

Abstaining from these words proved difficult enough. I didn’t need a professor who would take the term pet-peeve to a new level.

But that’s exactly what I got.

He docked an entire letter grade for every “be” verb he found in a student’s work. That’s right! Five “be” verbs on an assignment equaled a failing grade. He felt too many “be” verbs made papers too passive. (My guess is that some editors feel this way as well.) Needless to say I put in many hours of time and effort, many more of search and replace, and even more of total revisions.

I aced the class. I deserved to. And for the classes that followed, my papers carried a sharp, crisp, tight flow. My education definitely made me a better writer.

However something happened to me when I graduated. I got lazy and started writing extremely passive when delving into my fiction work. Fiction evokes passions, makes writing fun. Why cloud it with such a thing as attention to detail, right? I mean, c’mon. I have to work at creating stories? Are you serious?

Yes.

I didn’t figure this out until my contest entries and articles failed to make the cut with everyone. For a while, instead of humbling myself enough to find out what I was lacking, I simply chalked it up to “the industry” and continued. I knew my writings had the merit to win contests and/or get published. But they weren’t great. It wasn’t until I took advantage of WOW!’s critique service did my articles and stories pop.

I began applying the advice (write with a more active voice) from the critiques to all of my work; hence, I have reverted back to catching those “bees”. I’ve since sold one nonfiction article, won my first writing contest, and placed as a runner-up in the most recent flash fiction contest with WOW!.

*And if anybody remembers from my last post, nonfiction doesn’t like me very much. So selling nonfiction is validation for sure.*

Now for the moral: I’m sure somebody can read this article and find some “be” verbs. I haven’t discovered perfection. I may never. Sometimes I’m too wordy, other times too fluffy. Sometimes I just need use “be” verbs. We all do, even accomplished authors. But every day I learn to respect the craft of writing a little more.

Embracing criticism doesn’t make a writer weak. It makes a writer write.


Michelle studied writing in high school and longed to become an author. But circumstances arose, causing her to join the military instead. However, she never gave up. She enrolled in writing school, finished her first crime novel, and will achieve her MBA this fall. She writes as Krymzen Hall at http://www.helium.com/users/421563/show_articles



~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Do you want to reach WOW’s audience? We welcome short posts (500 words or less) from writers just like you! You can include your bio, pic, and links to your website/blog for promotion. Our only requirement is that your post be about women and writing. Send your Friday “Speak Out!” post to: marcia[at]wow-womenonwriting[dot]com for consideration.


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Labels: , , ,

Friday, August 14, 2009

 

Guest Post: An Unexpected Reaction, by Kim Smith

An Unexpected Reaction

by Kim Smith

I recently had an article published on Friday's Speak Out. Naturally, I was thrilled, and promptly fired off the link to sundry friends and family. All of the reactions were positive (oh, I love those strokes!) with one notable exception.

My father.

When I didn't hear from him, I phoned and asked him what he thought of the article. After a brief pause he said in an unenthusiastic tone, "It was great."

That wasn't enough for me. "Did you like it?"

"Well, I learned something about you that I didn't know before."

Expecting some sort of positive remark, I asked, "What's that?"

"I didn't know you were unhappy all your life." He sounded angry, and I immediately felt terribly small. I know he said more, but I blanked out and can't remember his exact words. I tried to laugh it off and change the topic, but when I hung up the phone, a flood of anxiety washed over me.

You see, I worked for my dad all my life. He hired me first as an office assistant, and eventually I became the bookkeeper for our small retail business. In my article, I wrote that I was unfulfilled all those years, and that I felt trapped. Not because of work or any external factors; it was an internal battle I was fighting.

Does my dad think that I'm not grateful? Does he feel resentful or annoyed? Or is he merely surprised to learn that I wasn't happy? I don't know what my dad actually feels; I am afraid to ask. The worst part about this conversation was that it made me doubt myself. I reread the article, berating myself for writing it in the first place, and for not anticipating every possible scenario.

His reaction, then, was unexpected and rather upsetting. In an ideal world, everyone would love every word I wrote, but alas, there is no such world. I never stopped to wonder how he, or anyone else, would interpret this particular story - I thought it was obvious what I meant - and I thought wrong. As with all experiences, good and bad, I walked away the wiser for it. I know that other writers must have similar experiences, and I wonder how they react.

Several people have commented that my stories are too dark/sad/depressing and have advised me to write 'happy' stuff. I never know how to react, so I just bite my tongue, though I feel that their advice akin to telling Tim McGraw he should sing pop. My husband, to my chagrin, is from this camp. While he enjoys my (very few) humorous writings, he dislikes many of my stories because of their serious content. Tactful man that he is, and keenly aware of my sensitive nature, his reviews usually sound like this: "You're a fantastic writer, honey, but I didn't really like it. Why don't you write a funny piece, for a change?"

Regardless of others' opinions, I do encourage them to point out awkward or confusing sentences; I've often taken their advice and made corrections. I especially am grateful when some alert soul points out grammatical errors, especially if it's a story I'm about to submit to a contest or for publication.

Then there are the writers who bare it all in their memoirs. How do they do it? I wonder. Do they prepare their family and friends ahead of time, or do they just fling it out there, daring to face the wrath of one or many? How many rifts are formed, permanently or otherwise? It is one thing to reveal one's less than stellar thoughts and actions, quite another to reveal another's. I doubt that I shall cross that particular bridge in this lifetime, so my family may rest easy.

My family and friends have been hugely supportive of my writing endeavors, and I value their support. Else why would I offer up my few published stories and wait eagerly for their responses? I realize that I have to accept certain comments at face value, and know that they are usually well intended, and to realize that I can't please everyone. Sometimes, I just need to remind myself: this is who I am, this is what I'm writing, this is what makes me happy.


Kim lives in the country with one needy dog, three perfect cats, one long-suffering husband, and far too many chickens. She tries to write on a regular basis after a suffering a writer's block of thirty years.


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Would you like to participate in Friday "Speak Out!"? Email your short posts (under 500 words) about women and writing to: marcia[at]wow-womenonwriting[dot]com for consideration. We look forward to hearing from you!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Labels: , , , ,

Friday, August 07, 2009

 

Friday Speak Out: Got Blog?, Guest Post by Pat Wahler

Got Blog?

by Pat Wahler

For a long time I resisted the idea of launching a blog. After all, I’d only started to dabble in creative writing a few years ago. How in the world could a beginner like me entertain others? Besides, I’m a tech-know-not. Setting up a blog certainly must require expertise that I did not possess.

But soon after a writer friend launched her blog, I decided to explore the concept by visiting Blogspot.com. The step by step instructions demonstrated that even I, the most inept of computer users, could publish a pretty darn professional looking blog. Best of all, the site didn’t charge a dime to participate, so why not? My favorite topic, animals, seemed the perfect platform for me, so on November 15, 2008, I launched Critter Alley into the seemingly infinite blogmosphere. Here are a few things I’ve learned since.

Blogging is a wonderful writing exercise. I don’t journal, but now practice the discipline of producing an interesting (I hope!) critter-related story each weekday. The thought of writing for others gives me incentive, and knowing that literally anyone in the world might read my words is an empowering feeling. And since daily stories require material aplenty, I’ve learned to observe life a new way, from a writer’s point of view.

When you report factual information, research is critical. People will be quick to let you know if something you’ve written isn’t quite right. For example, when I blogged about Jim the Wonder Dog, a reader emailed me. He claimed that Jim should have been described as a setter, not a spaniel. I verified his comment and made the correction. Although locating reliable sources and supporting material without violating copyright protection can be a challenge, it’s a habit worth acquiring for your next writing project.

Most of us don’t have publicists. Writers must market themselves. Getting your name out for others to see can only help when the time comes to sell that first novel. After posting a favorable review on a critter related book, I emailed the author to let him know. He not only mentioned my review on his blog, but posted a link to mine. Pretty cool stuff for a novice like me!

Perhaps one of the best things about regular blog posting is witnessing the evolution of your own work. Successful authors preach over and over that the best way to improve skills is to write consistently. My commitment to Critter Alley forces me to write daily. At best, my work turns out to be something noteworthy or thought provoking. On a not so great day, I’ve written coherent sentences with a beginning, middle, and end. Both help make me a better writer.

In short, anyone who expends the effort to blog will learn from it. If you’re a writer and haven’t taken the leap yet, don’t make more excuses. Get yourself to that keyboard and create your opus.

What have you got to lose?


Pat Wahler is a multi-published freelance writer. She lives with her husband, dog, and cat in Missouri where it is not unknown for them to entertain a guest critter…or two…or three. She writes about all things animal on her blog, Critter Alley. http://critteralley.blogspot.com/

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Would you like to participate in Friday "Speak Out!"? Email your short posts (under 500 words) about women and writing to: marcia[at]wow-womenonwriting[dot]com for consideration. We look forward to hearing from you!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Labels: , , ,

Friday, July 24, 2009

 

Friday Speak Out: Writing - It’s There When I Need It, Guest Post by Marci Mangham

Writing - It’s There When I Need It

by Marci Mangham

My life took what you might call a turn for the worse about a year and a half ago. My physical and emotional health suffered, and I’m still trying to put myself back together. One of the things I left behind was my writing. It wasn’t by choice or planned; it simply fell by the wayside, along with many other things that made me happy and healthy. I was advised to put my feelings in writing, which made perfect sense. Even if I didn’t have any fictional tales brewing inside of me, at least I could write about my pain. No one ever had to see it, but it would be cathartic. Writing as therapy. But I couldn’t even bring myself to do that.

As I slowly began to emerge from the darkness, I started to wonder about myself. How could I call myself “a writer” if I didn’t turn to writing during the dark times? How could I be “a writer” if it didn’t come naturally to me, if I didn’t NEED it? I read about so many other writers who need to write to feel whole. They would write on the sidewalk in chalk if pen, paper and computers ceased to exist.

Years ago I wrote a novel that in the end I decided was terrible, and I threw it in a Dumpster. I didn’t write for a few years after that. When I started again it wasn’t really a decision. I just began, and it felt natural. Eventually I realized that I had enough short stories to put together a collection, and I published it. It seemed so easy at the time: write stories, enter contests, publish book.

A few months ago I suddenly felt that I needed to end the dry spell. I entered a 24-hour short story contest; I felt the challenge of having 24 hours to finish, and the starting point of a prompt was just the right recipe. I was right. After a slow start, the words began to flow again…naturally. What was wrong with me those preceding months?

I got an honorable mention for that entry, but the real accomplishment was getting my perspective back. Sure, it feels good to have gone a few rounds my nemesis writers block and won. But most of all I realized that I don’t control my writing; it controls me. I know I can’t force it, and I can’t keep away from it when I need it. While I may envy those who spend hours every day, writing any and every chance they get, I realize that I am not like them. Writing means different things to all of us, serves different needs at different times and durations.

Whether I spend every day of the next three years finishing the novels I’ve started, or if I don’t eke out another short story for five years, I will embrace the process of writing, and the end result, whenever it graces me with its presence.


Marci has been writing (when the mood strikes!) for 29 years. Her short story collection, "Both Ends Burning," was published in 2007. She lives in Dallas, Texas with her neurotic dog, Charlie. For more information, visit www.marcimangham.com


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Would you like to participate in Friday "Speak Out!"? Email your short posts (under 500 words) about women and writing to: marcia[at]wow-womenonwriting[dot]com for consideration. We look forward to hearing from you!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Labels: , , ,