Monthly Archives: May 2017

Memory: A Trip From the Depths of the Closet

Happy Memorial Day, everyone!!! Hope you’re enjoying the three-day weekend.

I spent most of my weekend cleaning out my closet. I knew I had a lot crammed in there, but I didn’t realize how much stuff. There were things I’d completely forgotten about, like yearbooks…from elementary school. (Yikes! Time to get rid of those.)

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Wasn’t I adorable?

Two of the things I unburied reminded me how long I’ve been writing. They’re two books: one poetry and one essays from high school. These books were the published works of all the finalists and winners for the Northeastern United States high school poetry and essay contests.

I was a finalist in both, and I thought it’d be fun to share a sonnet written during my years of teenage angst.

Wondering

What lies beyond the stars high above us?

The glowing fire that consumes my soul lost,

bright burning fires expand my want and lust.

New life born from the bitter black is just?

Long lost places shrouded in mysteries deep,

long lost souls that I must keep hidden clear,

great nightmares of destruction in my sleep,

I see all this and wait to shed a tear.

Up floating high, no I’m afraid to fly,

wait, do we fly or remain down inside?

Inside is cold and dark and black, oh my!

Loved ones, are you happy or sad, I’ve cried.

I sit wondering for what holds the key;

one day long into the future I’ll see.

That poem was courtesy of ninth grade. Funny thing is that as I re-read that poem, I clearly pictured what I’d intended it to be about. Memory is fascinating: how you can remember so vividly something you’d forgotten about when a touchstone presents itself. My touchstone was the poetry book.

Do you have any long lost writing?

(Photo courtesy of myself.)

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Easy and Simple Aren’t the Same for Motivation

Recently someone asked me how she could motivate herself more. That’s not a rare question. Many people ask themselves how they can be more motivated to lose weight, run faster, eat better, get that job promotion, finish a novel… I’ve asked myself countless times how I can be better motivated.8078194256_db53b66f8d_k

Lately, something I’ve struggled with is going through beta reader feedback and editing. I keep finding other things to do. I realize that I’m making excuses, but even though I acknowledge this, I can’t bring myself to focus on editing.

That’s unusual for me, so when someone asked me how to improve motivation, I thought about what I’d want to hear. Better yet, what words would work to motivate me?

I’ve never been the type to seek out motivational quotes. More often than not, I roll my eyes at inspirational sayings. They seem cheesy and hollow. They don’t resonate, and when something doesn’t resonate, how can it inspire?

I started searching for the right way to answer the question of motivation. How could I inspire this person?

There wasn’t a correct answer. Each solution was personal. I couldn’t give that individual what she wanted. Because I could talk and talk and talk to her about inspiration and do anything and everything I could to motivate her, but the bottom was that she had to find what worked for her.

All I could tell her was the words that inspired me:

“When you get into a tight space and everything goes against you, till it seems as though you could not hang on a minute longer, never give up then, for that is just the place and time that the tide will turn.”

— Harriet Beecher Stowe

Life isn’t usually easy, but think of the things you’re proudest of. Were they easy accomplishments? Or did you struggle and persevere?

Was the effort worth it?

(Photo courtesy of Luke Kondor.)

Should Authors Rate Their Own Books?

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Being a reader and a writer my opinion started off mixed. Even my gut reaction couldn’t make up its mind! First, no. Then, yes. And then back to no and so on.

However, after some thought, and some searching through book reviews on Goodreads, I noticed more and more how authors rate their own books. Probably unsurprisingly, they rate their writing five stars.

It seemed weird and a bit tacky. It started to bug me. Why would an author give his novel anything less than five stars? Now, with books that contain thousands of reviews, one rating may be mitigated. But what about novels with less ratings? How can readers take reviews and ratings seriously, if authors are able to review their own work?

Authors can’t be impartial when it comes to their work. They’ve slaved over their novel. Worked their butts off to make their book happen. Whenever I see that an author has rated his own work, I feel turned off. The writer loses credibility to me, regardless of how interested I’d initially been in the book’s premise. I ask myself, “Did the author rate his own novel because he thinks his writing is the best out there, or because he’s desperate to make his book look good?”

Most writers don’t have the luxury of writing full time and living solely off their writing. Most have to work very hard to get their books noticed, and that’s after they’ve written, revised, been beta read, rewritten, and edited some more. Writers deserve breaks, especially when they’ve got a fantastic book on their hands. But nearly every writer will tell readers their book is the next big thing—it’s all about self-promotion and many authors—most people—aren’t good judges of themselves.

For myself, my work has had plot holes and unrealistic character reactions that would have gone unnoticed if my writing hadn’t been workshopped. I edit novels, and most times, there are significant flaws with those books. This all occurs before being published, but the principle remains the same. Authors are too close to their own work. They see their work through rose-colored glasses, and while those glasses may be flattering, they’re not always honest.

What do you think? Should authors rate their own books?

(Photo courtesy of Zach Dischner.)

Hand Cramp! Turning Writing Pain into Gain

Hey everyone!! This is a short post because I’m visiting an absolutely phenomenal friend for the week. Here it goes:

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Remember that moment when you wrote so fast that your hand cramped? I do, and when your groove is flowing and the story is whipping out of you, your hands hurting are the last things you want.

So what do you do?

The biggest, and probably best, option is to stop writing. But that risks losing your flow. Taking a few minutes to stretch out your wrists and fingers is another idea. It might give your brain some time to digest what you’ve written and get your creative juices more organized. Then again, pausing for a minute or two could also hinder your creativity.

This circles back to the question: what do you do?

An old coach had a saying, “Susie Suffering and Donna Discomfort are your friends.” While my coach was talking about cross-country running, I’ve applied this philosophy to many situations. After all, everyone has moments where there’s pain. Maybe it’s running. Maybe cancer. Maybe writing. The worst thing we can do is give up.

It might be that your hands are so bad that you can’t type one more word. Look for an alternative solution. How about an oral recording? You can write out what you said later, when your hands are in better shape.

If we make Susie Suffering and Donna Discomfort our friends, we can accomplish anything.

(Photo courtesy of Pedro Mendes.)

Frozen in Silk: A Trip Down Poetry Lane

I’m trying something different today. Something that I haven’t dabbled much in. Something that, when I’ve attempted it, has thoroughly kicked my butt. I’m posting a poem I wrote.

Yikes!

While I’ve studied poetry, I never had too much interest in writing it. Those times I’ve had to for class, I struggled to put words together to create a dense, but flowing story, a story that was supposed to sound like music, but always seemed to clatter loudly.

This poem came together by piecemeal. After many edits, my fingers are crossed that the image and message I want to convey is received. Let me know what you think!

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Frozen in Silk

My love,

 

Do you dare shout?

Do you dare sing?

Do you dare breathe?

 

Or are you forever holding your breath,

staring straight ahead,

a living statue.

 

Do you ever dance?

Do you ever laugh?

Do you ever see me?

 

Or do you stare through me,

never seeing what I hold in my hands,

a heart that beats less and less,

a breath that is turning cold;

I am freezing with you.

 

Soon we will be together,

two statues, a Romeo and a Juliet,

frozen just before their time-shattering deaths.

 

Living, breathing,

encased in ice made of satin and silk.

One day the ice may break, and

we may be free to walk hand-in-hand.

 

But for now we wait,

sleeping an endless sleep.

 

(Photo courtesy of Shutter Runner.)