Weekend Coffee Share: Questioning My Writing

Good afternoon,

Welcome to the house. Glad you can make it. I have plenty of San Francisco Bay K-cups. So help yourself. My wife likes this brand a lot. I also have almond coffee creamer. Kind of a nice alternative. So let me know what you want. I’ll wait. 

… …

Okay. Let’s talk. 

I don’t have too much to share about this week. We’ve been counting down the days until Zoe finishes kindergarten. We’re so proud of her. In the meantime, we’re making plans on what to do over the summer.

I wanted to talk about my writing. Rather, my writing woes. I’m in a slump. I’m not writing as much as I had in the past few months. I haven’t written in my journal as much. I don’t have any ideas for my next story. And I lost interest in finding a contest/magazine to submit my barbershop story. It’s just been a flat month thus far. I can count it up to being burnt out. But that’s not much of an excuse, even though it happens. I’m not “inspired” to write these days.

But the more frustrating thing about writing is that I wonder if social media is right for me. The writers and hashtag games I follow on Twitter. The Facebook groups I joined. The multitude of writing prompts I collect on the Internet. I feel like they focus on writing novels in the sci-fi/fantasy genre for young adults. Don’t misunderstand. They’re wonderful genres. And that’s the trend these days. I’m just wondering if there’s room for the kind of fiction I write: short stories in Mainstream Fiction. 

I expressed my grievances on Twitter and Facebook. About me not writing as much and about the lack of support for my genre and format. I even tweeted a call to find short story writers. I received random statements of encouragement from both platforms. Someone asked on Twitter why I put the call out for short story writers. I just know they’re out there. And I understand that short stories are a hard sell. Even the anthologies, as good as they are, don’t translate to best sellers. I feel chided and shunned, but I can’t be the only one that feels that way.

But regardless, this is the path I’ve chosen. This is what I believe my calling is. And I love the short story format. So make fun of me all you want. I don’t care. 

Sorry for the ranting. That’s what I’ve thought about this week. Maybe next week, I’ll have more to talk about.

What about you? How was your week? Anything exciting planned? Let me know in the comments. 

Until next time, take care.

An IWSG Post: What Motivates You?


Good day.

It’s the first Wednesday of the month, which means it’s time for the The Insecure Writer’s Support Group post. The first Wednesday of every month, bloggers from all around write posts designed to encourage writers of all levels. We share our progress throughout this writing journey. We express our fears and share our joys. If you wish to join in the fun, click on the link here.

The A to Z Challenge wrapped up a couple of days ago. This year, I declined to participate. There are a few reasons. One, in the two years prior, I was disappointed in the lack of responses. I felt like no one cared about what I had to say. Two, coming up with random topics for two years was challenging. Brainstorming a new set of topics was near impossible. Three, my experience was limited, at best, about certain topics. I feared what I wrote would be taken out of context. And four, with all that’s going on now in my daily life, it wouldn’t be easy to set aside a set time to write and post something. Valid reasons, all of them. But the truth is, my heart wasn’t into it this year. I didn’t have the motivation to take the time out of my schedule to write anything. 

This got me thinking about what motivates us to do what we do. We set goals in every facet of our our lives. Career, financial, relationships, whatever.  I believe motivation—the reason(s) behind what we do—determines whether we succeed or fail. And many ideals factor in what motivates us: morals, lifestyle, finances, etc. 

For example, many writers, including myself, have a goal to write a novel. Here’s where motivation kicks in. If I say I want to write a novel because I want to be published, that’s fine. But if I write a novel just because I want to make money as a best-selling novelist, chances are I will be disappointed. Having a novel published are slim because everyone has the same goal in mind. Even with putting in the marketing work, researching trends, and receiving reviews, odds are still unlikely that hordes of readers will run to bookstores just to buy my book. And what if my book is not a bestseller? What if I don’t receive positive reviews? What if I’m too late latching onto the trend? Then what? What will motivate me to write another book? Possible answer: nothing, if my motivation is to make money. 

On the other hand, if I want to write a book because I want to tell a story. If I want to share an experience or address an issue through the written word, then more rewards are possible. It’s more likely I will be satisfied with what I wrote. It’s possible that I will enjoy and appreciate the process, not matter how long it took to write. It’s possible sales and reviews will not be the driving force—not saying that they’re not important. Bottom line, there’s a greater feeling of satisfaction, even if it’s the only book I write.

Now these situations are hypothetical. Everyone’s writing journey is different. Some writers might not want to write a novel; they feel more comfortable writing short stories or memoirs. Some might not go into writing looking for a big payday; they want to write as a hobby or an opportunity to challenge themselves creatively. Regardless, the motivation behind writing will determine whether or not your journey is worth the hard work. Now this is not meant to sway your thoughts on why you write. What I will suggest is to take some time to learn about your motivation, especially if you’re feel disconnected with your writing.

What say you? What motivates you to do what you do, writing or otherwise? Feel free to comment. 

Until next time…

Cutting Edge: An IWSG Follow-Up

Good afternoon,

I want to share a little something about what I’m writing right now. In my last IWSG post, I evaluated some goals for this year. One is to start a short story series. I tried the past couple of years to get the ball rolling, but I hit dead ends. Regardless of reasons, I failed to meet this goal. But this year, I believe I am on the verge of something. 

It started with a dare. My wife challenged me to write a light-hearted story set in a barbershop. I laughed it off, but wrote it anyway, thinking it was a waste. But I showed it to her and one of my writing friends on Facebook. They enjoyed it, much to my surprise.

I wrote the first draft three weeks ago. I’m on the fourth draft now. It’s much different than the first draft, including a new title (still temporary). I’m on the fence on whether or not to post this story on my blog. I’m a perfectionist when it comes to writing, so I want everything to be perfect. (I’m working on purging that mentality from my thought process.)

While writing drafts on this story, I thought about this as the first of a short story series. If I do post this story on my blog, the series will be exclusive. I have a title for the series, Cutting Edge. (The idea came from the name of a barbershop I visited when I was younger.) I’m brainstorming characters and storylines. I created a Pinterest board for the series, pinning hairstyles, models, and barbershops of course. (It’s a secret board for the time being.) And I spoke to a couple of friends on their experiences with the barbershop institution. I gained a lot of insight from the conversations. Insights that can lead to potential conflicts in and out the barbershop.

As I mentioned in the IWSG post, I am particularly passionate about this goal. I hear it’s better not to share your progress on a project. I know this to be true because I shared goals on this blog before and I felt disappointed when I failed to meet those goals. Too much pressure on myself, I suppose. But I learned another way to look at it. I believe seeing my goals on my blog gives me something to strive for. And, if other people see my goals, it can lead to accountability. So I’m taking a chance.

Until next time…

My Writing Journey So Far: An IWSG Post

Here is my latest post for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group. Every first Wednesday of the month, I and many other bloggers publish posts in the hopes to encourage writers of all levels. 

Today, I am assessing my writing goals for the first three months.

I didn’t announce all my goals in previous posts for fear that I would be a failure if I didn’t accomplish said goals. That being said, I think it’s about time I bring these goals to light. It’s like losing weight. You need an idea of where you want to be. And you need a plan to reach that “finish line,” whatever that may be. Equally as important is having people to hold you accountable, to spur you on when you feel like quitting and give you a swift kick in the rear when they see you’re waning. I’ve been lucky enough to find some writing buddies that I can pass my work along and will be honest with me. I need that in many facets of my life. 

Okay, on to the assessment…

Goal #1: Write a short story outside my genre. For those who don’t know already, I write Mainstream Fiction. It’s what I “know.” But I want to try other genres to give myself a challenge, especially in the short story category. I hear writing in genres to a hardcore degree is difficult. But a writer seeks to push himself; to not limit himself to one genre. Out of the genres and subgenres out there, I chose Science Fiction because it’s a genre that fascinates me above all else. I have a rough draft, but nothing past that point. I’m going over it and realize there’s more I need to add to the story. That’s what a rough draft is for, obviously. For now, I’m putting it on the shelf until I can work out the details better. 

Goal #2:  Compile short stories for a series. I’m focusing on this goal more than the others. And this is a goal I sought after last year, but failed. I think the big reason was that there weren’t enough stories to build on. But now, I believe I have legitimate stories I can build serials on. One idea came from a story I wrote on a dare; a story set in a barbershop. I wrote it thinking I wasn’t going to like it. But the more I invested, the more it grew on me. So now I’m brainstorming ideas for stories in this barbershop setting.

The second idea, again from a story, is a series of stories set in transit stations. Bus stops, subway stations, wherever. I shared the “first” story to a writing friend. She said it has potential. That’s something to go on. Juggling between these two will be hard to do, but I believe it can be done. 

Goal #3: Submit a story for publication. This is another work in progress, but this is more about overcoming the mental blocks I’ve put up over the years. I follow one blogger who posts writing contests once a month. I read them and make note of entry fees, deadlines, rewards, and so forth. And a friend on Twitter sent me an email with links to writing magazines. I’m researching them, too. And I receive emails from two websites always looking for submissions.

Despite these resources, I have yet to follow through on any of them. Why? Because I fear rejection. The last time I had a story published was Freshman year of college. Taking classes on Creative Writing and reading stories from my peers reinforced my fears. Obviously not intentional, but I kept comparing their works to mine, like it was second nature. I doubted myself then, and doubt myself now. I’m working on overcoming those doubts and taking the plunge. Being on a deadline helps. 

And finally…

Goal #4: Write a short story a month. It’s been said that a writer should be able to write a short story a week. The same blogger I follow posts a story a week on her blog. I’ve never been a person to write that fast. But I can, if I apply myself. I cite schedules, duties to family, lack of energy, not having enough ideas. You get the point. But all that’s false; all I’m doing is making up excuses.

There are three reasons I can churn out a story. One, I don’t have to be on a laptop to get words down. I have a notebook. I have a smartphone with Google Docs. Two, I can make time to write. I can “sacrifice” free time to write scenes out. And three, after I read a post on a writing blog, I realized I’ve been approaching short story writing wrong. There’s a formula that breaks down the steps to writing a short story. So within my goal of writing a story a month, I shall attempt to write a story a week. 

Rising From the Grave: An IWSG Post


Once again, it’s time for a post from the Insecure Writers Support Group. I have to say that I enjoy writing these posts, and this is only the third post I’ve done. 

I had a couple of ideas for original posts, but they couldn’t wait until today. So, I’ll take on this month’s question. 

Have you ever pulled out a really old story and reworked it? Did it work out?

Any writer will tell you that there’s at least one story that he wishes he could do over, regardless of its success. It’s just part of the process. I have such a story. It was published in a local college literary magazine. It was one of my first stories. I wrote it out like a journal. Looking back on it years later (I still have a copy of the magazine), I realize there are so many flaws in it. Too many to mention here. 

One year, I thought about pulling it out and reworking it. Unfortunately, it didn’t go very well. I think the musevwas telling me that it wasn’t necessary to rewrite it. That I needed it to chalk it up to learning experience. 

I think I am a better writer than when I wrote it years ago. At least, I think I am. I haven’t submitted anything since that story. But that’s something I’m going to remedy this year. 

Would You Rather? Writer’s Edition

Hello there.

So I was reading through my WordPress feed when I came across an interesting post. A blogging game from Rachel, a fellow blogger, called “Would You Rather?”.  Basically, she created a series of questions and answered them. No one was tagged, but she encouraged bloggers to play and that bloggers would link back to her. I read the Reader’s Edition, which contained a link to the Writer’s Edition. (The Writers’ Edition she posted last month.)  If you want to participate, here’s the post.

So, here goes.

Would you rather go on a writing retreat in the middle of nowhere with no wi-fi or be in your own home being interrupted every so often by friends and family?

Tough question right out the gate. I say go on a writing retreat. As much as I enjoy the company of friends and family, it’s hard to make the time for writing. Recently, I made a trip to North Georgia where Internet connectivity was extremely limited and the GPS was not a lot of help. But along the way, we spotted some pretty fancy houses that would make for good places to house a weekend writing excursion.

Would you rather publish one best selling novel and never write again or multiple novels that don’t sell well or have average sales?

I’m going to the latter on this one. No doubt writing a novel is hard work and I want to have a best seller. But the thought of not writing another book is preposterous. So I may not have that best seller. So it may not reach a national audience. But I think I’d have more joy with people close to me read my book. Besides, there are so many ideas, I can’t imagine not being able to write them. 

Would you rather be a best seller with your real name and have people stopping you everywhere you go or a pen name where no one knows who you are?

I heard an interview with Nora Roberts, a romance novelist, on NPR on how she used a pen name to publish thrillers. It makes sense using a pen name, especially if you don’t want to be tied to one specific genre. But people have a way of figuring out who you really are, so I don’t see the point in a pen name. But that’s me.

Would you rather teach English/Creative Writing classes in high school or college?

I say high school. Quick story. Before I took up writing as a degree, I wanted to be a teacher. I thought elementary school, at first. Then I took Creative Writing classes and thought I could teach high school students the same thing. Also, one of the things I regret is not nurturing the writing bug when I was younger. I think Creative Writing in high school gives students an opportunity to express themselves in a constructive way. 

Would you rather only be able to write during the NaNoWriMo months (April, July, November) or only write five days per month?

Tough one. Writing five days per month suits me better because I don’t do well with writing every day. Add to the pressure of meeting a word count goal and I would shut down. Either situation presents opportunity to brainstorm and outline. But having the choice of which days to write suits me better. 

So that’s it for the Writer’s Edition. Next week, I’ll play the Reader’s Edition. And if you want to play, please do. And don’t forget to link back to me. I want to read your answers.

Until next time…

How Writing Has Shaped How I Read: An #IWSG Post

Hey there, readers and bloggers.

In case you don’t know, I’m one of many bloggers who write for the Insecure Writers Support Group. We post on the first Wednesday of every month, imparting our wisdom and offering support to fellow writers. I don’t have a particular topic for this month’s post, so I’m going to respond to this month’s question.

How has being a writer changed your experience as a reader?

Before I started writing, I read simply for entertainment, even though I didn’t read that much. Then, as I went through school, I learned about how stories are broken down. There’s the five-act structure, of course. And there are other aspects like symbolism, point of view, style, dialect, theme, and so on. It was simpler back then. 

When I started writing stories, I learned to go beyond the simplistic. I learned that some research is necessary to make a story as authentic as possible. I learned the age-old adage of “show, not tell.” I learned to delve deeper into characters; that their motives aren’t always black and white. But I think the biggest thing I learned from being a writer is how stories can break the “traditional” and redefine what society deems as “normal,” no matter the genre.

Being a writer has changed how I read. It has taught me to be a critic, dissecting stories and judging whether the author has applied the techniques well. But it’s kind of a double-edged sword. On one hand, learning about how an author writes is useful when I discovered my voice and style. There are plenty of references, thus many styles to learn about. As such, I’ve taken what I learned and applied certain characteristics to develop my own style. In doing so, I discovered my voice. On the other hand, I’ve become more critical of myself, especially when I try to emulate someone else’s style and voice. Writers are unique. Their style and voice are unique. Therefore, it’s impossible to emulate one writer completely. It’s only going to lead to depression and failure. And that’s a lesson I’m still working on applying.

So, that’s my two cents on how writing has changed how I read. I would like to know how writing has changed you. Feel free to respond in the comments. Until next time…