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Posts Tagged ‘writing challenges’

unlocked
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me

Just go with it. This is an expression favoured by my 6-year-old son of late. I’m not sure where he picked it up, but he has embraced it fully. He also seems to utter it just when I need to hear it most. I think it’s part of why we make such a good team.

Adults can learn so much from children. Being present. Being in the moment. Not being self-conscious. Appreciating what you’ve got right before you.

As a stage manager, I frequently tell my actors that if they want a lesson in commitment, they need to watch a young child eat an ice cream cone. Especially if it’s hot. Do they care about the ice cream running down their hand, down their arm, to their elbow? Do they care that their face is a mess? No. The mission is clear—eat as much ice cream as possible, minimise loss. Everything else is secondary, inconsequential.

It’s so easy to get caught up, as a grown-up, with inconsequential matters. I do it. You do it. And sometimes, when things aren’t going as planned or as hoped, you have most likely not been presented with an insurmountable problem. It’s helpful to remember life wisdom as seen by a 6-year-old.

Just go with it.

N.B. (added the following morning) Last night, as we were getting ready for bed, my son complained that his nose felt ‘uncomfortable’. I handed him a tissue and suggested he try blowing. He did try, but told me there wasn’t any snot left in it. Then he crawled back into bed and said, ‘I’ll just go with it’.

Oh, he makes me laugh.

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Sisyphus (photo via Yahoo images)

“No, I do it. I do it.” Followed almost immediately by “Mommy, help!”

This is what I’ve been hearing several times a day lately from my three-year-old. Yes, he has reached that age where finding the delicate balance between independence and security is a tricky proposition indeed. And I don’t think we ever really grow out of that stage, do we?

Definitely not if we’re writers!

Writing is a solitary activity when it comes to actually sitting your butt in the chair and writing. But before that time comes, there’s a lot of brainstorming and thinking out loud (listeners optional) and sharing and commenting and revising and encouraging…

I’m glad that I’ve found the ROW80 and blogging friends. The encouragement is so helpful. And at times, when the words won’t come and writing even one. more. sentence. makes it seem like Sisyphus had it easy, knowing I have a group of people in my (virtual) corner definitely makes a difference!

So, in terms of actual writing, not much has happened in the past few days. But there has been a lot of what I like to call percolating happening. I’ve got several story and poem ideas percolating in my brain, words and phrases and images swimming around, jostling for various levels of attention, coming in and out of focus and waiting for that moment when it will just be right to let them out.

When I try to explain the percolating thing to my non-writing friends, they just look at me like I’m crazy. Of course, they do that a lot anyway, so I’m used to it. But I know that you will get it.

And, of course, I’ve been keeping up with the reading a short story every day. I’m still fascinated with Neil Gaiman, but I’ve also recently discovered Lydia Davis. I firmly believe that all this reading is helping with the percolating. And for me, the percolation stage is absolutely vital to my process.

So, while I’ve been relying on the help of  these published writers as well as my virtual community, there will come a time, and I think it will be soon, when I’ll sit down, ready to write, and do it!

Here are the status updates for all the other intrepid  ROW80 writers!

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Well, it’s the first Wednesday of the RoW80 challenge. Which means it’s time for an update.

I think I’ve done pretty well, but given that we’re only three days into the challenge I don’t want to get too cocky.

I have read a story each day. So far I’ve read “Chivalry,” “The Price,” and “Troll Bridge,” all by Neil Gaiman. I’m enjoying his style quite a bit, and it will be hard to start reading something else. But I think it’s good to mix things up a little. Plus, I have quite the stack of anthologies sitting next to my bed and they are feeling a little neglected.

I’ve also done well with posting to this blog. I haven’t posted every day, but that wasn’t my goal. So I’m satisfied there.

I haven’t written a poem yet this week. BUT…I have submitted something! I’m actually pretty darn proud of myself. What is it about hitting that submit button that brings all those doubts to the surface? This isn’t any good. The editors won’t like it. They’ll laugh and throw my piece in the trash. Being a writer takes such a complex and delicate combination of vulnerability and toughness; it’s no wonder we’re all a little nuts!

All in all, though, it’s shaping up to be a pretty successful week. At least in my writing life. The love life is a completely different(pathetic) story. The upside is that it’s given me a couple of story ideas. I don’t think these stories will have happy endings. I’m just warning you now.

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Galahad, by Sir Edward Burne-Jones

One of my goals for RoW80 is to read a short story every day. Today I read “Chivalry” by Neil Gaiman. It’s in his collection Smoke and Mirrors. I read one of his stories yesterday, too. This is my first experience reading Gaiman, and I have to say that I am enjoying his work quite a bit so far. There is a quirkiness and irreverence that I totally appreciate and admire.

Something that definitely appealed to me on a personal level with this story is that he makes reference to an obscure book that the main character finds in a thrift shop, Romance & Legend of Chivalry, by A.R. Hope Moncrieff. That book just happens to be sitting on my own personal bookshelf. I am taking this as a good sign.

In addition to reading the story, I also created two spreadsheets. One to track the stories I read, and the other to track my submissions. I feel so organized and on top of things.

I hope all the other RoW80’ers had good, productive first days, too.

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The Phoenix, like Cate, will rise from the ashes

Okay, I think yesterday’s post was a bit of a downer. But then, I was in a rather down mood yesterday. All the talk about the new year, and new beginnings, blah, blah, blah. It just got to me. I am still nursing a very broken heart, and so the holiday cheer just got on my nerves, I guess. I won’t say that I’m feeling better, but I do have a better perspective.

And I am excited for the start of the challenge. I am so grateful to have found a supportive group with the ROW80 participants. I’m ready to start writing again. I have a feeling that my first attempts will be a bunch of drivel about broken hearts and lost loves and all that sentimental, weepy blech. But I’m expecting it, so I’m prepared for it. And I will get it out of my system and move on to write better things.

This isn’t the first time I’ve been down, and I sure as hell know it won’t be the last. But I shan’t wallow. I shall use these past experiences to become a better, stronger person and writer. I am the Phoenix. I will rise again!

Cue the trumpets blaring in a rousing fanfare, synchronized with a soft golden glow around me, sitting at my desk holding my favorite fountain pen. The glow increases until it is a blinding light encompassing me. The trumpets slowly fade as a single haunting violin note, steady, low, and melancholy, floats the image away as we fade to black.

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A blog hop? Is that like a sock hop, only we bring our keyboards instead of socks?

Okay, I am not technically savvy at all, so I hope I am doing this correctly. I like that this ROW80 challenge gives the opportunity to both support your fellow writers and to receive encouragement from them, too. Who doesn’t benefit from a few kind words now and then?

So this is a blog hop? Here’s the list of those participating.

Best of luck to everyone participating in the challenge!

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Picture from Yahoo Images

I wouldn’t necessarily say I’m a sucker for writing challenges, but I am definitely drawn to them. I gave some serious thought to participating in NaNoWriMo this year, but knew that it just would not have been feasible given all that was going on in my life (then, now, still, always…). But this is what I like about the ROW80 challenge. It’s a challenge that understands that not only do you have a life that can’t be put on hold for the duration of the challenge, it also understands that there is more to writing than just writing. There’s editing. And brainstorming. And research and character development and interviews and, and, and… This challenge is not about simple word counts. It’s quality over quantity. It’s about setting your own goals and then challenging yourself to reach those goals.

I like what this blogger at Challenge Corner has to say about making SMART goals. Goals should be:

Specific
Measurable
Achievable
Realistic
Timed

Since the first Round starts soon (Jan. 3rd), it’s probably about time for me to figure out what my goals will be. I need to pay particular attention to the Realistic part of my goals. I have a tendency to over-extend myself, and then get extremely discouraged when I don’t meet my expectations. I’ve had my share of disappointment and discouragement in my life lately, so I’d like very much to avoid that in my writing if at all possible.

So what shall my goals for this round be? Hmm…

1. Edit “The Adventures of Elliott and Emma.” Hopefully get it in shape to be sent out into the big bad world of potential publication.

2. Submit a poem to a journal or competition at least twice a month. For several months now my goal has been to submit something at least once a month, and I’ve been successful with this. I thought about making this goal to submit once a week. But I know me, and I know there will come a week that it won’t happen, and then I’ll feel like I’ve failed and just give up. So twice a month is my compromise. We’ll see how it goes.

3. Post to this blog on a more regular basis, in a non-poetic way. I’ve mostly been posting poetry, but if I’m going to try to submit said poetry, I need to stop posting them, as most (though not all) journals would consider poems posted here to be previously published.

UPDATE: I realized after publishing this post that “regular” isn’t exactly measurable. So, taking that into account, I’d like to post to this blog at least once a week, and preferrably twice. I think between this blog and the blog I have going for Hugo House and the Words of the Day – not to mention my other goals – this should keep me busy.

4. On a related note, I’d like to write a new poem at least once a week. As evidenced by my attempt in November, writing a new poem every day just won’t happen. But I think one a week is not too much to ask.

5. Read one short story per day. Yes, I said read. But I wholeheartedly believe that it is crucial to immerse yourself in your chosen genre, and in addition to poetry I really, really want to start writing these short stories that have been rolling around in my head. While this is not writing, per se, I view it as a crucial element in my writing life.

So there you have it. Those are my writing goals for Round One. This is probably the closest I will get to making any New Year’s resolutions, since I don’t really believe in those.

Wish me luck!

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