Let’s Celebrate: An IWSG Post

Good day,
It’s the first Wednesday of August. (Can’t believe we’re in August already.) As such, it’s time for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group post. Alex Cavanaugh, the fearless leader, spearheads this campaign to encourage writers of all levels with stories from our peers. Those who participate either post a story from their experience or answer an optional question provided by the captains. Any questions or to learn more about the group can be found here.

So, let’s chat.

Camp NaNo is in the books for a lot of writers. To those who participated, I hope you made progress with your WIPs, whether you made your word count goal or not. At the end of the day, I believe that’s what it boils down to. I, myself, have never participated in Camp NaNo, so this is pure speculation. But usually during the camp sessions and the real NaNoWriMo, I have my own writing goals. This month, I made two goals: to write every day in July and to write a short story a week. 

Let’s start with the first. To write every day in July. I admit that there was an alterior motive for this goal. I’m a member of the 365 Writing Club Facebook group. And the administrators award badges for certain accomplishments. From the beginning, I set the goal to write every day. And every month, I fell short. (May was the worst.) Then, over the summer, I found a group on Twitter called the Turtle Writers (#turtlewriters, for anyone curious). So while I was getting more familiar with the group, July came around. And the group discussed goals. One member mentioned that she wanted to focus on writing every day. I jumped on board, thinking that this might give me some reward for writing every day for the month. Soon after, another person joined in on the conversation, and soon enough we had an accountability circle.

So July has passed and I am happy to say that I met the goal. This had been a first for me. And certainly, there were days where I didn’t think I would meet this goal, especially considering my daily schedule. But I came to the realization that if I was going to meet this goal, I had to focus. I had to make the time and spur myself to write something, whether it be a journal entry or a blog post or a section of a short story. I had to be more aware on what time was available to me and use it to write. Like I said, it wasn’t easy. But I felt so better getting something down, even if I fell short of my daily word count goal. 

Now, on to the second goal. And like the first one, there’s a reason behind it. I’ve heard it said from numerous sources that a writer should be able to write a story in one sitting. And for the longest time, I held to that belief. But that’s never been my style. Whenever I write stories, it takes, at minimum, a week. There have been few occasions where I complete a story in one sitting. But I went against what a lot of my writer friends deemed old-school thinking when it comes to the length of time to write a story. I decided to play conservative and write a story a week. And not just write contemporary pieces, but challenge myself to write outside the genre. I created a Twitter poll on what genres I should write one of my stories in. 

Sadly I missed this goal by one story. But it’s still worth celebrating. Yes, I wrote my contemporary story, but I wrote two stories outside my “expertise.” I wrote a fantasy and science fiction story. I have to say that both stories took a good amount of time to craft. The reason being that I didn’t trust myself. I sought approval from those more experienced. But I found myself not being happy with them. I had a good amount of false starts. I shared my grievances with a friend on Twitter and she encouraged me with three words: “Go into hyperdrive.” In layman’s terms, it meant let myself be free. Don’t worry so much about the rules. Don’t be afraid to write what I wanted to write. So I did and I felt much better writing them, even if it took longer than what I anticipated. The science fiction story took two weeks to finish. But in the end, I felt better about it.

So I have three stories I wrote in July. I wasn’t going to worry myself overcpolishing them. There are a lot of inconsistencies, but I went into the mindset of just writing them just to say I wrote them. After some consideration, I decided to edit and make new drafts. And there’s the Flash Fiction Hive group on Twitter. They’re starting a new month of challenges. I will certainly take them up and post one or two on my blog.

So, that’s the summary of July. All in all, I did a great job. But I want to hear from you. What goals did you set for the month? Did you meet them? What lessons did you learn from the experience? Feel free to share. We’re all in this together. 

Until next time, take care…

Growing One Follower at a Time

This is indeed a joyous occasion. This week, I reached a milestone. I have 200 followers on my blog. It doesn’t sound like much, but it’s kind of a big deal. I understand if I reached 500, I’d be raising banners or something. But I’ll take it for what it’s worth. 200 followers is something I didn’t think would happen. Hell, I thought I would never reach 100 followers. It’s been a slow process. And I’m sure along the way, I lost some followers.

I don’t really track statistics on my blog. I don’t really pay attention to when I get the most views at a certain time, or think about when is the best day to post something. Or which post has the most views and comments. While it is interesting to see what the stats say, none of that really matters to me. I went into blogging to share what I know about writing and my works. And I’ve been doing this for two years now. And I have to say, I’ve had a lot of fun with these posts.

If I had to pinpoint one contributing factor to this growth, I believe it’s because I am writing more. And one reason I’m being more active is the themed entries from the Weekend Coffee Share and the Insecure Writer’s Support Group. I think these posts have given readers some insight into my life as a person and a writer. And then, there’s the A to Z Blogging Challenge. I did it for two straight years. I didn’t this year because I needed a break. And then there are random posts like this, where I kind of rant and ramble about whatever comes to mind. Those are the most fun because I’m writing stream-of-consciousness. 

I am grateful for the 200 followers I have. I don’t think I would have kept up with this blog if I felt I wasn’t getting any support. I’m definitely looking forward to doing more with this blog, and as such, gain more followers. Regardless, I’m happy to share my passions with all of you. Thank you. 

Until next time, take care…

2017 Midyear Update: An IWSG Post

Good morning,

The first Wednesday of the month has arrived. So, it’s time for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group post. For those unfamiliar with this, bloggers all over post something the first Wednesday of the month, sharing something about their writing journey. The purpose is to encourage writers of all levels. If you want more information, click on the link here.

So, the bloggers of the IWSG have options. We can share something original or can answer a question provided by the group leaders. Today, seeing as we’re midway through the year, I thought I’d share what I’ve been up to thus far.

At the beginning of the year, I kept my goals to myself. I thought there was no need to put my business out there because it meant I wouldn’t be as disappointed if I failed to meet my goals. But three months ago, in another IWSG post, I did. I had to share my goals. I needed encouragement, yes, but I also needed accountability. And I thought that by posting my intentions, people would read it and volunteer to hold me to what I set out to do. I had a few people step up after the post. But I’m always searching for more.

All right, enough of the prelude. I set four goals this year. Here’s the progress report. 

Write a short story outside my genre. I kind of put a halt on this goal. I did write a draft of a science-fiction story, but it’s been only the first draft. I haven’t started the second draft. But I’m looking to start a new story in another genre. Maybe fantasy. Maybe adventure. Haven’t decided yet.

Submit a short story to a magazine or contest. I just about gave up on this goal, but thanks to one of my Twitter friends, Julie, I decided to pick this goal back up. She gave me a website that had a database of contests and magazines I could submit my work to. I’m sure many of you have heard of it, Poets and Writers. I have it bookmarked on all my electronic devices. So I’m still trying to decide on where to send my work. 

Compile stories for a short story series. I have one story written, but am working on more. I almost gave up on this goal as well, especially given my track record. But I’m pushing through. I am bound and determined to make this happen. 

Write a short story a month. Out of the four initial goals, this is one where I haven’t done so well. I’ve lost track on how many stories I’ve done, but I know it’s not where I hoped I would be.

Honestly, I could have done better with the progress of these goals. In between the last update and this one, I about gave up on writing for some dumb reasons. The biggest was that I wasn’t writing every day. I’m part of a writing club on Facebook where you record word counts each day. In the month of May, I recorded more zeroes than in previous months. Some days I recorded back-to-back zeroes. In addition, I felt like I was getting a lot of support in what I was writing: contemporary short stories. And I posted my frustrations on both on social media.

I acknowledge the stupidity of those reasons. And I say stupid because after my rants, I was reminded of the support I have from fellow writers, even though they write works that are different from mine. And it also helped that I followed some friends’ advice to search outside the box, especially on Twitter.

Like I said, I feel like I made some slow progress on the initial four. But I developed some new goals along the way. 

Write a short story a week. This wasn’t something I initially thought about doing. It’s hard enough to write a draft, edit, and compose a polished piece in a month. Doing it all in a week sounds near impossible. And yet, I keep hearing that it’s possible for writers to write a short story in a week. So, I’m going to try it. I have a bunch of prompts I’ve pulled from Pinterest, Twitter, Facebook (thanks to the 365 Writing Club), and searching Google. And the prompts vary in genre. So I am going to pick the four that scream to me to be written. I’ve already started one. Wish me luck on the rest. 

Read a book outside my genre. I wrote a post about this a few weeks ago. To summarize, I regretted not reading more books outside of school requirements and I’m trying to make up for it. Reading more leads to writing more and writing better, as it has been quoted numerous times. And my thought is that if I am to write outside my genre, I need to know some things about those genres that interest me. Research is involved, yes, but I think it’s going to take reading and studying the stories to learn what works and what doesn’t. I got some good suggestions from some fellow bloggers. And I’m on the hunt for more leads. 

Write every day for a month. This sounds generic and highly unlikely. I joined the afore mentioned Facebook club with the intent to write every day. But that May, I lost sight of the purpose of the club: to build a healthy, realistic writing routine. So, this month, I’m going into writing every day with that mindset. And it helps that I have some friends on Twitter that are going to hold me and each other accountable.

Well, that’s where I stand halfway through the year. I want to hear from you, my fellow writers and bloggers. 

Where are you as far as your writing journey goes? Is there anything I can do to encourage you? Do you need an accountability partner? Please let me know in the comments. Whatever you need, I’m here. Let’s help each other.

Until next time, take care…

I Need an Intervention

Good day, my friends. 

I hope you don’t mind, but I felt the need to address something nagging at me earlier today. 

On a Storycrafter chat, hosted by Faye Kirwin, she asked, “Which books have you emotionally connected with more than any other?”. I had no response. I couldn’t think of one book that resonated with me the most. And the more I thought about it, the more I realized a more pressing problem. I haven’t read a lot of books.

That’s right. Don’t misunderstand. It’s not something I’m proud of. Reading so many writers’ profiles and biographies, a common thread is how certain books influence what they write. (I find this especially the case with fantasy writers.) I can’t say that there’s a book that influenced me to write what I write.  I read books that were “required reading.” And that’s it. I didn’t take the initiative to read anything past it. I didn’t explore all that was available. And I regret it to this day.

It’s been said that we have to read if we are to write better. Regardless of genre and format, we need to learn from the past. Study the techniques from authors we admire. Learn what works and what doesn’t. And then, create something unique to us, even if the story’s been told hundreds of times.

The problem is that I’ve consumed so much “visual media.” I let TV and movies give me unrealistic expectations. For example, I expect a story to jump me right into the action, allowing no time for backstory and exposition. Now, this may be frowned upon in books generally, but I developed an extreme intolerance for it. If something doesn’t grab my attention right away, I don’t consider it worth reading. And on that note, I don’t take the time to properly invest in a story and all the aspects. I indulge YouTube, Twitter, whatever social media is out there rather than take the time to let my imagination run wild. 

So, I’m staging an intervention on myself. I need help in developing a healthy taste for reading. I don’t want to be limited to one genre and one format. I know there are classics I’ve never read or heard of. There are modern novels that might be considered classics in the future. There are numerous book series waiting for me to ingest. There’s so much to learn about the world today that stories can tell in their own unique way. And I’m missing out. 

So, for everyone reading this post, I’m asking for your input. I’m tackling this issue with an open and flexible mind. Name a book that has impacted you the most. A book or series of books that you think I should read. 

I will not use genre as an excuse. I will not use format as an excuse. I will not use time as an excuse. And I want you to hold me to these promises. I need this. If I am to be a better writer, I need to read more than I ever had before. 

Thank you in advance for your support. Until next time, take care. 

Book Lovers Tag

Good morning. 

I read a post from Sarah Brentyn, the Lemon Shark. She participated in the Book Lovers tag. It sounds fun, so I’m jumping into the game. Now, I admit that I’m not a voracious reader, but as Stephen King eloquently puts it, “To write a lot, you must read a lot.” So I try to follow that mantra. 

Now, let’s get going…

Do you have a specific place for reading?

I don’t have a room where I can read in peace. My house is so small, so I have no privacy. I have to read during the evening. And I pick a spot where I’m most comfortable. 80 percent of the time, it’s my bedroom. 

Bookmarks or random pieces of paper?

I can never seem to keep up with bookmarks, so I stop buying bookmarks. I’ll tear off a piece of paper, and it does the job. This is especially true when I borrow books from the library. I’ll use the receipt that shows the due date. Besides, if I want a decorative bookmark, I can do it myself. Just don’t ask for any fanciful designs. I don’t have that kind of talent. 

Can you stop anywhere or must it be at the end of a chapter?

I can pretty much stop anywhere. But most of that is due to limited time. I prefer stopping at the end of a chapter, but if I can find a good point in the middle, that suits me just fine. 

Do you eat or drink while reading?

No to either one. I’m too focused on reading to think about eating or drinking anything. 

Music or TV while reading?

Since I’m a visual person, I’m easily distracted by TV. So I turn the TV off while reading. Music is another story. I try to find a playlist that councides with what genre I’m reading. Most of the time, it’s light classical. That mellows me out and gets me in the mood, especially after a long day. 

One book at a time or several?

One book at a time, for sure. I have no skills when it comes to multitasking. So trying to read several pieces at a time is near impossible. 

Do you prefer to read at home or elsewhere?

I say reading at home, but it’s not by choice. I lost books and notebooks at work, so I’m nervous bringing them with me. The fear is too great. I may not have the privacy I want at home for reading, but I have security, and that’s what matters. 

Read out loud or silently?

I can’t imagine reading anything out loud, unless it’s instructions. Besides, most stuff I read are not suitable for younger ears. 

Do you read ahead or skip pages?

I kind of do both. The only time I will skip pages is while I’m reading short story anthologies. I won’t read something like that cover-to-cover. An actual novel is another story. I can’t see myself skipping pages. I want to take in all the details, major and minor. 

Breaking the spine or keeping it like new?

It’s inevitable that the spine will break after reading something a few times. I try to keep anything like new, as impossible as that sounds. 

Do you write in your books?

Absolutely not. This goes along with the previous question. I try to keep things as new as possible. If I need to make notes, I’ll buy Post-It’s. Besides, there is the occasion where someone wants to borrow a book from me. So I want it to be in pristine order when I give it to someone, and expect it in the same order when I get it back. 

Well, that’s the Book Lovers Tag. Instead of tagging specific people/blogs, consider yourself tagged if you’re reading this and want to play along. All I ask is that you insert a link to your blog so as to acknowledge where the tag came from. 

I strongly encourage you guys to play. It’s a lot of fun. 

Until next time, take care. 

Quitting Time: An IWSG Post


Good afternoon.

It’s the first Wednesday of the month, which means it’s time for another post for Insecure Writers Support Group. Bloggers like me write a little something to inspire and encourage fellow writers. We either write an original post, or answer a question provided to us by the group. If you want to know more about the IWSG, click here.

For today’s post, I am going to answer this month’s question:

Did you ever say “I quit”? If so, what happened to make you come back to writing?

This is a topic I covered before on my blog, as well as read on others. It’s one of those things that never gets old in the sense that we’ve all felt like giving up on our writing. The reasons are different, but it doesn’t change the fact that at some point in our writing journey, we wanted to throw in the towel. 

I wanted to quit–and have–on several occasions. One time, I quit because I wasn’t doing anything with my degree. I wasn’t taking that next step in writing a novel. Another time, I quit because I wasn’t writing as often as I “should have.” I took it as I wasn’t serious about writing, even though I had a degree. And even when I decided to take my writing more seriously, I felt like giving up for the reasons I just mentioned. 

I jumped off the wagon too many times to count. Just recently, I wanted to quit because I felt like I wasn’t getting the support I hoped for on social media. It sounds silly, like the afore mentioned “reasons,” but allow me to elaborate.

I’m a member of a few Facebook groups and I follow a lot of writers on Twitter. I say about 90% of the members and writers I follow are writing novels in either science fiction or fantasy. And most of them are geared for young adults. The hashtag games I follow on Twitter feel like it’s skewered toward those genres. Nothing wrong with it, but those are not my interests. I’m set in writing short stories in contemporary fiction. That’s what I know. And it’s been hard finding writers who share my interests in the format and genre of my choice.

To move this subject more towards writing, I dreamed up of writing numerous series of short stories to post on my blog. Recently, I had an idea of writing stories set in a barbershop. But I gave them up because I felt there were too many issues that couldn’t be ignored. I chalked them up to a number of reasons. Not having enough experience in the matter. Not having enough conflict in the stories. Too many characters in the stories. The list can go on and on.

So, as you can see, I have a history on giving up on writing. And until now, I spouted a lot of reasons. But the more I think about it, I’m coming to understand a single trend. Writing, no matter the endeavor, requires two things: passion and commitment. It’s one thing if you’re burnt out. It’s another if you aren’t passionate or committed to push through when the times get tough; when you feel like no one supports you. I haven’t been either committed or passionate. I gave up on my projects way too easy. I wasn’t willing to stick with it. 

So, I have a commitment issue. I have a passion issue. But…I still write. So the question is, what keeps me going, knowing the issues I have? The answer: I love to write. I can’t imagine not writing. I believe it’s in my blood. And no matter how many times I’ve fallen off the horse, I get back on. Why? Because I love it. So maybe it’s not a passion issue in terms of the whole spectrum; just a specific area. And, contrary to my beliefs, I have support. Support from many writing friends on social media. Support from my family. And I have hope. Hope that regardless of what I write, I will find someone who shares my passion and will spur me to write the best damn story I can. That’s what keeps me going. 

I want to hear from you. Have you wanted to quit? Be honest. What keeps you going when you feel the urge? Let me know in the comments, and let’s talk.

Until then, take care…

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.