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…

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…

2016 NaNo Rebel Wrap-Up

It’s December 1st. November felt like it flew by. Having said that, another NaNoWriMo is in the books. Congratulations to everyone who participated, whether you accomplished churning out 50,000 words or not. Your efforts deserve commendation. As for NaNo Rebels like myself, I hope the month was just as productive. 

I set out to write three short stories during NaNo. I failed. I finished two stories. I think what hindered me was getting the writing time I want. Family and jobs took up most of my time. Gathering the energy to write was challenging. And there were days where I was in no mood to write. I thought about quitting on one occasion.

From this, though, I learned to take advantage of the free time I had to write something. As such, I couldn’t spend time editing while writing. So, I forced myself to use my spiral notebook, a.k.a. my draft book. It would have been easier to put it on my iPhone, but I wouldn’t have gotten as far. The temptation to edit would’ve been enormous. Writing it out in a notebook propelled me to get the words out, set the groundwork for my story. Only when I was finished could I edit and revise. That was not an easy process, but one I relished. This will be a new process for my stories. 

Even though I didn’t participate in NaNo,  I think this month was my best month writing-wise. I pushed myself to do something I hadn’t thought possible. And while I came close, I take comfort in knowing I have the capability to meet the goals I set.

So, where do I go from here? Right now, I am working on a new short story for Christmas. I’m pulling characters from a story I posted on my blog at the beginning of the year, putting them in a new situation. I’m in the rough draft stage right now, but hope to have a full-fledged story typed up before Christmas. I’m debating whether to post it here, but I’ll cross that bridge later. In the meantime, if anyone wants to know about and read the two stories I wrote during NaNo, feel free to let me know in the comments. We’ll work something out. 

Until next time…

Month in Review: August

Hello again.

I don’t know why, but it feels like it’s been months since I’ve written in this blog. I know I posted about breaking my glasses and how disappointed I was not being able to attend the Atlanta Writers Club meeting. I don’t always have a Saturday off of work, but this month I had all Saturdays off, except this past Saturday. Getting a Saturday off that isn’t requested is rare. At my work, they kind of frown upon it, especially with all the major holidays around the corner. Continue reading “Month in Review: August”

Month in Review: July

The dog days are summer almost done, thank goodness. At least where I’m at, parents and kids are buying school supplies–which is the equivalent of Christmas to a writer. Normally I would be buying composition books and pens, particularly one type of pen. But I’ve staved the urge this year. Continue reading “Month in Review: July”

Project Blacklight: Goals Review

Good day, everyone!

Can’t believe we’re halfway through the year. I think time tends to go faster the older we get. But maybe that’s just me. Anyway, I figured I’d take the time to reflect on what I’ve done so far and review my goals. Sometimes, I go through my journals, reading the entries, reflecting on my thought processes. I don’t think I could ever create a book based on my entries alone. I don’t have stacks of journals I’ve collected over the years. And now, with a journal app on my iPhone, it kind of makes buying composition books obsolete. (Truth be told, I got tired of my daughter scribbling in my journal. It’s my fault.) So, let’s look back and evaluate where we are so far. Continue reading “Project Blacklight: Goals Review”

The Man in the Mirror

When you look in a mirror, do you like what you see? Are you happy? Or, do you wish you were different? Are there certain things that you want to change? There comes a time when you have to take a good, long look at yourself, stop lying, assess what you have, and figure out what you want. Some people call this a “‘Come to Jesus’ moment.” My moment is here.

It came to my attention that I haven’t been forthcoming and honest about myself and what I want to do with my writing and this blog to my audience. It’s nice that I get thumbs up and comments, that my Twitter followers respond to my tweets, and I get likes on Facebook when I post. The feedback is nice and positive, but I know real life is not all roses and sunshine. There are people who do not understand what or why I write. There will be cynics that will slash anything and everything I do.

I experienced such a moment where someone close to me questioned my last post, a short story I wrote about what happened after a wedding took place. The person didn’t understand what the story was about. I had to explain the plot and why I wrote it. It then became a question of why I write and who I am. At first, I felt hurt and betrayed. I felt like shit. I felt like this person who was supposed to be friend stabbed me in the heart, twisted the knife, and left me to bleed out. But I pulled out said proverbial knife, and took some time to think about the conversation we had. It still stings, but I understood what the person was saying. I wasn’t being truthful in my writing. I wasn’t being truthful to myself. This person was the only one to call me out on it.

So, I am writing this post to show my audience my reflection, to show what I see in myself, and to be completely honest with myself and to those who follow me. Here goes.

I am an African-American male who loves writing. I took Creative Writing courses in college and graduated with a Creative Writing degree, but haven’t consistently wrote in years. A year ago, I made the decision to truly pursue this career. But I was unaware that the game has evolved. I need classes to catch up and evolve myself as a writer. I don’t have a group or person outside of Twitter or Facebook to look at my work and give me an honest critique. I don’t have a mentor to guide me through the writing process. I have no ideas in writing a novel or craft a really good short story. I have no experience in marketing a book, finding an agent, or whatever else is needed. I feel lost in this writing world, and need people to steer me in the right direction, or at least lend me a compass. But I want to become a better writer, and just call myself a “writer” just because I post something on a blog or write something that will never see the light of day. I want to write because I have a passion for it, and I want others to experience what I feel in my heart.

And while I’m on the subject of being real, here are some other things I want to share. This is hard, but I want people to know the real me. For starters, I have bipolar disorder, Type I. I was diagnosed with the condition in 2005. I tried different methods and medications, but found a combination that works. I see a therapist once a month, a consistent one in over two years. Second, I work a full-time job at a national retail chain selling cell phones, TVs, video games, and other electronics. I like my job, and I’m writing stories based on those experiences. Third, I like playing video games in my spare time. I know, I should be writing, but I enjoy times of controlling other peoples’ fate, as it is. Fourth, I am a husband and a father to two wonderful kids. I don’t always enjoy being around them, especially when they’re screaming at the top of their lungs. Outside of that, I love them. Fifth, I am a Christian, though I really haven’t been putting it into practice. I don’t read and pray as often as I should. It’s not a way of life, but I am working on it. And I think what’s important is that I’m working on the things that matter, like being a better father, being a better husband, not letting my diagnosis dictate who I am, finding things that make me reasonably happy.

Well, this is me. Good side, bad side. We all have both. I feel like I unloaded weights off my shoulder and dumped a lot in front of my audience. Whether this post will be received with praise or with venom is not up to me. I did what I set to accomplish. I hope that my audience will appreciate what I’ve done. If not, so be it.