Fellow Writers’ Blog Hop | Inspiration
(via Gladiator’s Pen)
Click on the image above to visit more great blogs in the Hop or add your own and join in the fun.
This month’s blog hop is all about Inspiration. So here I have posted inspiration vision boards of all the essential elements in life that inspire who I am, how I write and how I see the world.
I have also included one of my poems about poetry because for me poetry is the ultimate inspiration. It is raw, emotional, passionate, free and naked. It holds all of my truths.
Inspiration is A snapped twig in the dark
Inspiration is sometimes loud and jarring. But sometimes it is that one snapped twig in the dark forest. There is an eery silence and you believe you are all alone and then very faintly you hear a distinctive snap: someone is walking there. Suddenly you are not alone.
Today I heard the snapped twig in the dark forests of my imagination. It is the foot tread of a story. It moves quickly and quietly through the forest. Is it following me or am I following it? I still my thoughts and listen. The dark silence is almost deafening. Nothing.
Out of the corner of my eye I catch a glimmer of movement. There is a shadow behind the tree. My heart beats violently struggling to maintain its home in my chest.
I feel watched.
Places, pursuits, pasttimes and pieces that inspire me
Quotations that inspire me
My muse is the Dragonfly… the Dragonfly is one of the few creatures comfortable in air,water and land; it is also beautiful and ethereal in a surreal way. To me the Dragonfly is the perfect symbol of an artist of creativity. Like creativity it skims the surface of the deeper waters of the inner soul. It is a symbol of change, power, speed, purity and living life in the moment.
If writing words are the Bare Bones of me,
then Poeme` is the ephemeral Soul of me
Bones are formed from dust
flesh out the form of my shadow
Poeme` the intangible core of my being
the breath of life to my shadow
Without the breath divinely inspired
I am but a lost thing having no heart, no core, no soul
My soul is not anchored in my flesh
but soars within the cage of my earthly body
This too is the beautiful tragedy of Poeme`
Flesh pulls the oxygen from the air
my core pulls divine inspiration into streaming flight
~ the uncaged bird is set free ~
I can no more cage this poeme`
to trap my soul in earthly realms hollows my flesh
Poeme` is life fleshed into my Bones
A place where the intangible is material
A window through which the tears of God
break open the unseen cracks in a heart
A Love divine and Light surreal
is my heart free, my soul uncaged
the Bird of Poeme` soaring into the heavenly realms.
© All Rights Reserved Kim Koning
Seek after Inspiration
& drink of its winds,
Noun 1 a structure or place made or chosen by a bird for laying eggs and sheltering its young.• a place where an animal or insect breeds or shelters : an ants’ nest.• a person’s snug or secluded retreat or shelter.• a bowl-shaped object likened to a bird’s nest : arrange in nests of lettuce leaves.• .2 a set of similar objects of graduated sizes, made so that each smaller one fits into the next in size for storage : a nest of tables.
Verb [ intrans. ] (of a bird or other animal) use or build a nest : the owls often nest in barns | [as adj. ] ( nesting) do not disturb nesting birds.
DERIVATIVES nestful |-ˌfoŏl| |ˈnɛs(t)ˈfʊl| noun ( pl. -fuls).nestlike |-ˌlīk| |ˈnɛs(t)ˈlaɪk| adjectiveORIGIN Old English nest, of Germanic origin; related to Latin nidus, from the Indo-European bases of nether (meaning [down] ) and sit .
Nesting is a vital part of both a bird’s, a mother’s and a writer’s life. Nesting is the signal that there is going to be an act of creation. To foster that creation or creativity, birds, mothers and writers all need to be very comfortable in their personal space. There are very vital ingredients that are needed to create the perfect nest. Birds need just the right twigs and grass, mothers need a nursery and baby clothes, writers need a desk and a chair.
I run a weekly interview called Warrior Wednesdays on my Dragonfly Scrolls blog where I talk to writers about their writing. One of the questions I ask all the writers is to describe their writing space for me. Every writer is different. As one would expect. But the one thing that unifies us all is that we all have that very private, personal writing space where we do our own form of nesting. Just like birds have eggs, mothers have babies….writers also create and give birth. Our eggs, our babies are our stories.
Why is a writing space, let me call it a Writer’s nest so important to the creative process? There are the obvious reasons:
- We need a place to keep all our many books so that they don’t become trip hazards for others.
- We need a place to hide our secret hoard of stationery – notebooks, journals, sticky notes, pens, highlighters.
But most of all:
- We need a place that is just our own personal writing space.
- We need a place that has a door that closes the rest of the world out so that we can focus on the noise from the character chatter in our heads alternating with the “writing” playlists blasting out of our iPods.
- We need a place where we can hold conversations (behind closed doors) with our muses and our characters.
- We need a place where we can cry with tears of joy and frustration, bite our nails as we wait to hear the all important news someone loves our book, be entirely one with the weirdness of being a writer without people thinking we are weird.
For me, it is nesting time again. My 5 essential ingredients to making my nest super-comfortable and cozy:
- My Macbook.
- My favourite pen: (Oh I have the secret stash of many pens but this one is special.) I was given it for a 21st birthday gift and was told by the giver that this would be the pen that would help me write my stories. It is a 18ct gold Parker ball point with black ink. It has not let me down yet. When I am battling with a story or a character, I pull out this pen and something magical happens…suddenly I come unstuck.)
- My notebooks: I have an ideas notebook and a WIP notebook. At the start of every WIP, I buy myself a new set of moleskine notebooks. (If I am honest, I will confess to having many beautiful notebooks that I buy, other than my Moleskine, just because I am a notebook/journal junkie.)
- My chair: Ah, I love my chair. It is a black leather swivel/rocking chair that is ergonomically designed to fit your spine’s natural sitting posture. I love the ergonomic stuff but the swivel/rocking is what sold me on this one. This chair is priceless to me.
- A desk: For years, this has changed and been upgraded depending on how much space I had for my writing space. But for years the desk has just been a desk. Nothing special. You see I had not found the one I wanted. I knew what I wanted, searched for it for years but this object remained elusive. I saw ones like the one I wanted but they were always not quite the right size, the right wood grain or way out of my price range.
No matter how lovely the rest of my writing space looked, there was always something missing. Nobody else would have seen anything wrong but I always knew. So I kept on looking and kept on dreaming about my perfect desk. The desk that would make my writing space sing in perfect harmony. I have been Goldilocks. The perfect desk kept on eluding me. Until today. Today I found my perfect desk and amazingly it was in my budget. This one is the perfect size. It is the perfect wood grain. In a few short days when it gets delivered, it will finally be mine. So to bring on ahs and oohs from all my writer friends, who I know totally get the point of this post, I am posting two pictures of my new desk – the one I have been dreaming of for so many years.
Solid white oak with a dark veneer.
Unlike so much of modern furniture, this is a custom-made piece with dovetailed joinery and not a piece that is glued and nailed.
Isn’t it just gorgeous? This is the desk I have been dreaming of.
The dream was worth waiting for.
Next week I will be posting pictures of my new writers nest. I am busy moving house and will soon have a cozy writing space of my own again. New season, new house, new writing space and most important just like Goldilocks…finally the perfect desk, the one meant for this writer….all just in time for the creation of the new WIP.
The writer has to force himself to work. He has to make his own hours and if he doesn’t go to his desk at all there is nobody to scold him.
Now I have THE desk to go to. Some people dream of fast cars, others of big houses but mine was the perfect Oak Rolltop Desk. Each to their own, as the saying goes.
What 5 essential ingredients do you need for your perfect Writer’s nest?
Writers tend to belong to one of two main story structure camps:
Plotting vs Pantsing
There are of course those writers who are hybrids and use the best of both worlds. For myself, I am for the most part, Pantsing is the camp I align myself to. But there are benefits of plotting. Sometimes when you get to a midway point, pantsing can simply run out of steam.
At the beginning of the year I signed up to a class offered by Savvy Authors. I found it incredibly useful for that midway point in a WIP when my pantsing just runs out of steam. The class offered a number of questions that basically help you flesh out a synopsis/plot line.
So if you are more of a panster but sometimes could use some form of plotting, this may help you. These 12 questions really helped solidify my story line for me and helped me flesh out a synopsis. Try it out. Afterall, you have nothing to lose. You may just find those elusive last pieces of your WIP puzzle.
- What’s my idea?
Without an idea, there is no foundation, and the idea has to have some solidity to it.
- Where does my story take place?
This sets the tone and mood of the story, an old dilapidated Victorian mansion gives one connotation while a skyscraper gives another and a space station quite another.
- When does my story take place?
You need to establish a time period. Is your story contemporary, historical, a few years back, a few years forward, etc.
- What is the timeline?
If you leave this to chance, you might find yourself a hundred pages into a story and still be on the first day of the story. This is great if that was your plan, but if you’re writing a generational novel, you’re in trrrrrrroooooouubbble!
- Why is this happening?
There are only so many ideas and stories out there that can be told, you need to know your particular bent or twist that will make your story stand apart from all the others.
Who are my characters?
- What’s my point of view?
You need to know who will be telling the story. First, decide if it is in first person, third person, objective, or omniscient and then decide if it is multi-perception or told by just one character. Even if told in first person, you can switch POV by placing a character’s name at the beginning of a scene.
- Who are my characters?
Protagonist – main character(s)
Antagonist – villain(s)
Secondary characters – (all others)
At this point you don’t need to know the fine points of your character, or even their name, but you do need to have a sense of them, male or female, strong or weak, their impact on the story.
- How will I begin my story?
The beginning Introduces the protagonist/s and tells the reason the story.
- What is my plot?
This is the basic structure of the story. For example, boy meets girl, girl hates boy, boy doesn’t give up, girl begins to respond, her dog bites boy, boy sues, and then falls in love with his lawyer and drops the girl and the lawsuit, girl opens a kennel for wayward dogs, and they all live happily ever after.
- What is my complication?
The wrench in the story. It is what moves the story along and aids the plot. Like nails in a coffin. The corpse might pop out if ya don’t nail the lid down.
- What is my climax?
The climax is the point of the story where everything comes together. This is it, the moment when Indiana Jones picks up the Holy Grail while the Gestapo stands by to claim it , when Scarlett realizes she’s in love with Rhett and he already walked out the door, when Dorothy presents the witch’s broom to the Wizard and he says come back later. It’s not the conclusion. It’s not the end. It’s the high point, and the point when the protagonist could lose it all.
- What is my resolution and anti-climax?
This is when the main character/s solve the problem and the story winds down. It comes quickly after the climax and you must resolve all the issues, untie the knots , bring home the bacon, put away the horse, bring in the hay….
Questions courtesy of Savvy Authors.
- Time To Get It Done (ekcarmel.wordpress.com)
- Writers Tip #62: It’s Not What Happens. It’s Your Character’s Reaction That Matters (worddreams.wordpress.com)
- Plot, and how not to panic about it from Level 1 GM (gmgeldar.wordpress.com)
- Thinking Ahead… Revisions (susansheehey.wordpress.com)
- After my latest “What if” session… (ckgarner.wordpress.com)
- Plotting (madgeniusclub.com)
- When It Clicks (modicumoftalent.com)
- Help me plot a novel I don’t even have an idea for! (ask.metafilter.com)
- Pantsing (blametheweatherman.wordpress.com)
- Directed Plots, Undirected Narrative, and Stuff That Just Happens (campaignmastery.com)
Sometimes in our lives we all have pain
We all have sorrow
But if we are wise
We know that there’s always tomorrow
Lean on me, when you’re not strong
And I’ll be your friend
I’ll help you carry on
For it won’t be long
‘Til I’m gonna need
Somebody to lean on
Please swallow your pride
If I have things you need to borrow
For no one can fill those of your needs
That you don’t let show
Lean on me, when you’re not strong
And I’ll be your friend
I’ll help you carry on
For it won’t be long
‘Til I’m gonna need
Somebody to lean on
If there is a load you have to bear
That you can’t carry
I’m right up the road
I’ll share your load
If you just call me
So just call on me brother, when you need a hand
We all need somebody to lean on
I just might have a problem that you’d understand
We all need somebody to lean on
Lean on me when you’re not strong
And I’ll be your friend
I’ll help you carry on
For it won’t be long
Till I’m gonna need
Somebody to lean on
Lean on me…
~ Bill Withers | 1972
Writing is the best and worst job. Like any job or calling, writing has its pros and cons:
- You are doing something you love.
- It is not just a job.
- It nurtures your creativity.
- Your words may just touch someone, may even change them.
- You can choose to do this “job” alongside a normal 9-5 job.
- It is one of the misunderstood job descriptions – most people put it in the “hobby” category.
- It is an activity that can insulate you from your loved ones and/or a social life.
- It can be very lonely.
- It is a world in your head and your characters are often your only colleagues in this work space.
Over the last year I have “met” many writers online in social networks and different writers’ communities. I have learnt a lot from many of these new friendships. I am very fortunate in that I have a family who stands behind me 100% with any of my writing dreams. I know not all writers or creative people have that fortune. But as much as I love my family and their support it is important to have support from people in the same field as you. This support from fellow writers is especially essential if you are just starting out on the writing road. This is where you can gain critique partners, beta readers or even mentors/coaches through these connections.
It is impossible to discourage the real writers – they don’t give a damn what you say, they’re going to write. ~Sinclair Lewis
But what happens when these fellow writers, people who know what you do and understand what you do because they are in the same boat, turn on you? What happens when you trust a fellow writer and they attack you rather than bolster you? I am not talking constructive criticism. That is after all what we need our fellow writers for. No. I am talking about writers being unsupportive of you.
“There are three rules for writing the novel. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are.”
It is hard enough when your friends and your family don’t support you or maybe don’t “get” your writing and subtly (tongue-in-cheek) point you in another direction. Even if it stings you can write off their disapproval because they don’t write. But when a fellow writer attacks your writing style then it is quite a different story. It stings.
But you have to look at the underlying reasons that a fellow writer may be attacking you. Perhaps they really don’t understand your style of writing because it is different from their’s. Perhaps they are fearful your writing style is actually better than their’s. Perhaps they are nit-picking aspects of your writing to make you doubt yourself or leave your manuscript. Perhaps they have a degree in English Literature and you don’t. Perhaps they are pursuing the Big 6 publishers in NY and you are going the indie route. Do any of these reasons make you less of a writer than they are? No. None of these reasons do.
But this does not stop these sorts of attacks from writers on other writers happening.
A word is not the same with one writer as with another. One tears it from his guts. The other pulls it out of his overcoat pocket. ~Charles Peguy
That saddens me. After all aren’t we all in the same boat? Aren’t we all chasing the same dream? Did we really start writing purely for publication and competition with other writers? Maybe you did. I cannot talk for every writer. But for the most part, the writers I do know and respect started writing and kept at writing because they love writing. It is something that flows within your veins. Yes you can learn more of the writing craft. You can polish your grammar skills. You can learn all the “publishing” lingo. You can learn more about the publishing industry. But in the end that is all semantics.
To be a writer you need to write. This means you need to follow the path you feel is right for you. I can guarantee you criticism along this path. I can guarantee you judgement. I guarantee that some people are going to hate your writing and others are going to love it. I guarantee you that you will get every piece of advice, solicited and unsolicited, thrown at you from both your writing networks and your social/personal networks. But sometimes you will get asked advice from other writers. Your opinion will be seeked. All I ask you in these times is to be gentle in your wording. Think before you speak. Remember that when a fellow writer trusts you enough to ask you to read/critique their work it is a huge step of trust. They are standing on a fragile precipice at this point.
And by the way, everything in life is writable about if you have the outgoing guts to do it, and the imagination to improvise. The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt. ~Sylvia Plath
Writing like any other creative pursuit is challenging and difficult enough without suffering the arrows of contention thrown by fellow creatives. As fellow writers we should be each other’s greatest support. At the top of this post I pasted the lyrics to a very well-known song. Keep these lyrics in mind when you are reading/critiquing another’s art, another’s work. It takes courage to write. It takes more courage to keep on writing. It takes even more courage to show someone your writing. Bolster that courage. Be honest but be gentle. Irregardless of whether they are pursuing a different form of publishing than you are, it does not make their endeavours any less worthy. There are more than enough critics in the literary world. There is still room for more support and community.
“Writing is the only thing that, when I do it, I don’t feel I should be doing something else.” Gloria Steinem
Most of all, irregardless of the arrows: Keep on Writing. Don’t give up. If this is something you want to do, love to do, need to do: don’t let anyone – in the industry or not – stand in your way. Rejection is par for the course in the creative realm. But courage and persistence is also par for the course. So if you have had bad advice or a bad critique experience, take heed. Take a deep breath. Count to 10. Then continue with the piece you are writing or start something new. But WRITE. At the end of the day everything else is semantics. To be a writer you need to Keep Writing. Write in spite of the arrows of contention. Write because this is your path and nobody can dictate its direction but you.
“You fail only if you stop writing.” Ray Bradbury
Do you ever have the feeling that you don’t want to write The End?
“Books are never finished, they are merely abandoned.”
I am nearing the end of my 3rd and final draft of my WIP. I am finding every excuse to drag this out. I have spent 6 months with these characters and this story. I am not sure that I am ready for that relationship to come to an end. Thankfully I am working towards a deadline otherwise I would procrastinate by working on character arcs and story arcs for another 6 months. These last 6 months I have disappeared into the world of this story. I know the end is coming and I have already seen it in my mind’s eye. This does not make it any easier to accept. In fact it makes it worse. That is also why I am dragging out these last few thousand words. I know what is coming. I know I must write it this way because everything has been leading me to this point.
“The great art of writing is knowing when to stop.” – Josh Billings
I have tried numerous alternate endings to this story. Why you ask? The ending that this story has been written before the story even began. If I change the ending, I may as well start over. I am dreading this ending though because even if I know how this story turns out, it will still be difficult to write.
“Finishing a book is just like you took a child out in the back yard and shot it.”
Sometimes with some stories you have to get ruthless with your characters. This is one of those stories. As I have been re-reading the last part of this WIP, I am quite shocked at my own cruelty. I am not cruel by nature. But writing just shows you that everyone has the ability and aptitude for both the good and the bad in life. In this story, I have had to bring out the ruthless and the cruel. It breaks my heart to end this story simply because I know the worst is yet to come. I almost want to send out a distress message to my characters to warn them.
“If you focus on the humanity of your stories, your characters, then the horror will be stronger, scarier. Without the humanity, the horror becomes nothing more than a tawdry parlor trick. All flash and no magic, and worst of all, no heart.”
— Don Roff
Why is it so difficult to make your characters hurt? For all the characters I have created, hurt and pain are integral parts to their growth and resolution. This sounds logical in theory but in reality when I am writing these scenes that I know will cause great hurt there is a macabre sense about the words. It is almost the same feeling you get when you drive past an accident or hear about a terrible incident. You don’t want to listen but you can’t help but listen. I think writing difficult scenes especially endings are in the same vein.
“I try to create sympathy for my characters, then turn the monsters loose.”
So this brings me to this week and bringing this story to its final resolution: its final resting place. I will bring this story to an end this week. I will more than likely shed tears and rant and rave at the ending. But everything in this story has been leading to this point. I cannot put it off any longer.
“If you start with a bang, you won’t end with a whimper.”
T. S. Eliot
So this next week will be dedicated to finishing this story. Then writing the full synopsis for it. The drum roll…..Submission time!
“Writing a book is an adventure. To begin with it is a toy and amusement. Then it becomes a mistress, then it becomes a master, then it becomes a tyrant. The last phase is that just as you are about to be reconciled to your servitude, you kill the monster and fling him out to the public.”
- Subconscious Hauntings… (dragonflyscrolls.wordpress.com)
- Synopsis: Are you in or out of Sync? (dragonflyscrolls.wordpress.com)
- There’s A Story Behind Every Character (lissawrites.wordpress.com)
- For Novelists Who Hate Outlining (advancedfictionwriting.com)
- Writing Beautiful and Unique Snowflakes (writeanything.wordpress.com)
- 13 Questions with Steve Merrifield (horroraddicts.wordpress.com)
Distraction and Procrastination are 2 of the largest bug-bears in the Writer’s World. Procrastination is a daily battle that needs to be fought aggressively but is purely up to the Writer for success. Distraction however is something that can happen if you use the computer for your writing.
Any occurrence requiring undivided attention will be accompanied by a compelling distraction. ~ Robert Bloch
Thankfully there are some amazing programs out there that allow us writers to work in a distraction free focus environment.
If you are a WordPress user, you will now see that the lovely developers at WP have made our blogging environment distraction free too. They have now added a full-screen option to both HTML and VISUAL writing modes. I am busy writing in the full-screen right now. I love it. It is clean: Just my words and I on a pale gray background which is uncluttered and distraction free.
I have been using WP for just short of a year now. It is my blogging environment of choice. I have had very few instances of problems. When I started blogging, I had no clue as to what environment was the best so I trialled a couple. Of all the ones I tried, which included Blogger, WP covered all the options I needed. It catches all my spam with Akismet. It is easy to post a page/post. My 2 favourite options is: 1) that it keeps a subscription page of all my favourite WP sites so that my inbox does not need to be cluttered up with subscriptions. 2) it is simple for readers to comment on any part of my blog, no annoying hieroglyphics Capture phrases to enter in, unlike many other blogging platforms. Now I can add a 3rd favourite option: The Full-Screen Option. If you don’t use WP already, it might be time to make the change.
What programs do you use for a better focused, distraction free writing environment?
My favourite is OmmWriter Dana II. I have been using this amazing program for about 6 months and can sum up my experience with two words: LOVE and ZEN.
“Be master of mind rather than mastered by mind” ~ Zen Proverb
OmmWriter is software that was initially designed for Mac users and then adapted for PC users. It is a simple txt edit program that allows you to write in a full-screen mode. Mmmhhh… Sounds like a lot of other software out there, doesn’t it? What makes OmmWriter unique is that the developers have put the focus on creativity. There are 8 different full screen backgrounds you can choose from. All of them either improve your creative focus with colours that are easy on the eyes and decrease eye-strain or they boost your focus with subliminal creative messages that are put there to inspire you. Another great tool in OmmWriter is the 8 different soundtracks. These range from classical music to the sound of a simulated womb environment with added heart beat. Prefer working around the sound of people. Try the library environment option: this simulates the sounds of a library. Now you can write in whatever room you want in your own house/office but Omm puts you in a library. If you still need convincing, the best advice I can give you: Try it for yourself!
What helps you keep a distraction free writing environment?
“Never put off until tomorrow what you can do the day after tomorrow.” ~Mark Twain
Now as for the other bug-bear: Procrastination. The best advice I can give you here is the simplest.
B.I.C (Butt in Chair)
Just Write“The art of writing is the art of applying the seat of the pants to the seat of the chair.”
~ Mary Heaton Vorse
Overcoming procrastination in your professional life (agentgenius.com)
The Really Simple Way to Get Work Done (zenhabits.net)
Your Ideas for Writing with More Focus (lisarivero.com)
The Little Guide to Un-Procrastination (zenhabits.net)
6 Minimal, Full-Screen Writing Apps for Mac (appreaders.com)
WPCandy previews WordPress distraction-free editor (thenextweb.com)
Writer’s block (tiaden.wordpress.com)
How to cure writer’s distractions… (mjtwrites.wordpress.com)
Six Useful Tools To Create Distraction Free Writing Environment (mt-soft.com.ar)
Now More Than Ever: Just Write – WordPress.com (en.blog.wordpress.com)
Thursday Tip ~ Stop Time Takers (dragonflyscrolls.wordpress.com)
Distraction-free writing? I didn’t think that was possible! (6ftover.wordpress.com)
What is the most expensive commodity in today’s fast paced and increasingly digital world?
If you answered any of the above, you would be incorrect. The most expensive and the most priceless commodity in today’s world is:
Time is the one commodity that nobody can afford. No amount of gold, money or property will buy you extra time in a day, week, month or year. No amount of gold, money or property will allow you to repeat time that has passed. Every individual in every culture and every socio-economic class in the world has the same 60 seconds in every minute; the same 60 minutes in every hour; the same 24 hours in every day; the same 7 days in every week and the same 52 weeks in every year.
“Yesterday is a canceled check; tomorrow is a promissory note; today is the only cash you have – so spend it wisely.” – Kay Lyons
How important than is it for us to cherish time? Use it not abuse it.
Time is one of the reasons I decided to go full-time writing. I found I was squeezing in every morsel of time after my EDJ (Evil Day Job) to devote to my writing. However, this left little time for the basics in life like eating and sleeping. This all left very little time to spend with the people who I love. I found that to continue writing alongside a full-time job in management I was stretching myself very thin and the candle was becoming nothing more than a wick. I ended up resenting my EDJ for not allowing me more time to write. Sometimes, much to my chagrin, I also resented my urge and need to write because it did not allow much else in my life.
The Writing Muse is a jealous lover. He resents your time away from the blank page. He interrupts you at the most inopportune moments. For myself, it was usually in the crisis point of a meeting or disciplinary with a staff member. Very seldom did he interrupt with his inspiration and ideas at a time when I had a notebook open and ready. No, when I did have a notebook open and ready he then stubbornly kept quiet or worse went off on another tangent for another story and not the story I had in front of me.
“Writers live twice. They go along with their regular life, are as fast as anyone in the grocery store, crossing the street, getting dressed for work in the morning. But there’s another part of them that they have been training. The one that lives everything a second time. That sits down and sees their life again and goes over it. Looks at the texture and detail.” – Natalie Goldberg
In November I took part in NaNoWriMo. I was very fortunate to be on annual leave from the EDJ for the first 2 weeks of NaNoWriMo. I was in bliss. I could write for a solid 8 – 10 hours without interruption. It left me time to catch up with my friends and family. With that bliss of uninterrupted time for writing in my mind, I forged ahead to prepare to do this full-time.
Now I am in the place that I have longed to be for so long. Do not get me wrong. I am not telling you to just quit your EDJ and go writing full-time and you will make millions. I did not take this step lightly. I have prepared for it for over a year. I have saved money and now have a good cache to dip into for daily living expenses until I do start making money from my writing. I also have the most important element: support and encouragement from a loving family and an amazing group of friends. In this group of friends I am quick to add my writing friends who have really been behind me every step of the way over the last year.
Now I have the commodity I longed for: Time. But every gift can be a curse. The trick is to use time not abuse it. This means that though I may not have an EDJ to answer to I now answer to myself. I am very serious about writing full-time. This is more important Work to me then any other job I have ever had. Therefore I am treating this full-time writing like any other job. I have read many blogs and posts on what other writers do with their time. The most important aspect I have seen is that they get up and have the same starting time for writing – their new work – every day. They clock in with this job just like you would with an EDJ.
“We must use time as a tool, not as a couch.” – John F Kennedy
In reading and listening to many posts of advice on full-time writing, I have come up with a short list that I am going to use to make sure I am Using Time not abusing time.
- Have a separate writing space/office from the rest of the house.
- Get dressed/groomed every day, even if pjs seem comfortable, I am a professional and as such need to dress the part just as I would for any job.
- Clock in every day at 10am in the morning.
- Write until 6pm every day, breaking for lunch and tea.
- In this 8 hour work day: Keep at least 1 hour free for editing the previous day’s work and at least 1 hour free for research if needed.
- Turn off the internet/email unless internet is needed for research.
- During the hours of work/writing, turn the mobile phone onto silent.
- Have a whole day free from writing every week. (This will be Sunday.)
- All emailing/internet/blogging/errands/general housekeeping/gym to be done in the morning before starting the day’s writing.
- The evening should be left alone for time spent with family and friends – it is vital you maintain their support, so you need to spend some time with them to show them how much you appreciate their support.
These are going to be the 10 points that I am going to schedule my writing job to. My mind needs to know that even though I am not leaving the house to go to a EDJ, I am still in work mode. They say it takes 7 days to form a habit and 28 days to break a habit. So it is time to start training my mind into a daily writing-for-work schedule.
“Don’t count every hour in the day, make every hour in the day count.” – Anon
This is my Blogging journal where I will be journalling down the adventures and experiences I have in the world of Full Time Writing.
Many of you will already be following my blogging on Dragonfly Scrolls. Not to worry I will still be blogging from the Dragonfly Scrolls studio but I will be doing mainly my popular Warrior Wednesdays Interviews as well as reviews and other writing related blogging news.
This blog will be where the blogging about writing will move to.
After 16 years of working in a day job and doing my writing after hours which meant that I worked two full-time jobs – the EDJ (Evil Day Job) and Writing – I have now decided to get serious with my writing and put my money (and all my bills and other living expenses) where my mouth is and go Full Time Writing.
So as of Friday, 13th May 2011, I have now become self-employed as a Full Time Writer. This means that I will now be committing most of my time to writing for publication, whether this be Poetry, Short Stories, Flash Fiction or the Holy Grail of being a published Fiction Novelist.
So join me in my journey with my pen as I share my adventures and experiences as a full-time writer. There will be comedy. There will be drama. There might even be some spooky signs along the route. But above it all, there will be writing and all things writing-related. So if you are writing full-time, dream of writing full-time or just curious about us strange and wonderful people who decide to throw all caution to the wind to write full time…then join me on my journey here.
Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover. – Mark Twain
Anything’s possible if you’ve got enough nerve. – JK Rowling
Aside – Spooky Signs from the Universe
“Perhaps you know this, but, if not, it will be my gift for you to take with you into this new life.
In many traditions, Jewish, Muslim, Native American to name a few, 13 is the number of transformation and healing. Exactly what you are doing. Native Americans believe the dragonfly leads the swan into the dream. The swan is a transformer. It begins life black and molts into a lovely white creature. As you learn to be a fulltime writer, you will heal parts of you that felt unfulfilled. Eventually, the fulltime artist emerges. Blessings on your journey.
If you wish to read more, try Jamie Sams “Dancing the Dream”, pg 94.
– This comment was just posted on my latest Dragonfly Scrolls post from a friend and fellow writer, Robin Yaklin. Remember that I promised you some spooky signs…well this is one the Universe has just shown me. Thank you Robin for that amazing symbolism. –
“Time takes it all whether you want it to or not, time takes it all. Time bares it away, and in the end there is only darkness. Sometimes we find others in that darkness, and sometimes we lose them there again.” – ~ Stephen King
MMmmhh time for confessions.
I am hard at work on my final and third draft of my WIP – Betwixt & Between….but…
One of my lovely CPs put me onto an amazing video slide show creator that allowed me to create my promotional video for Betwixt & Between.
Here is the video I created for my current WIP – Betwixt & Between.
Betwixt & Between (Video on my Author Website)
Do you find that sometimes you can be caught up in a lot of behind the “writing” tasks that can get in the way of your writing? Are these the ultimate procrastination tools or necessary to promoting your WIP or building your online presence?
I admit I am guilty of loving anything that allows me to be creative: whether this be Website Design / Video Creation / Poetry Creation/Blogging/Writers Groups/Social Networking. But sometimes I have to insert a large
So as much as I love these Time Takers….alas I must return to my WIP.
So these Time Takers are being put aside for a moment. Don’t get me wrong. I don’t see these tasks that have distracted me as “bad” but the key word here is “distracting”. So it is Time to get back to my WIP…
So how do I plan on getting back to focusing on the WIP. Yes I could unplug the internet but if you don’t have that option?
I use a great program called OmmWriter Dana 11 brought to you by the team at OmmWriter. This is an amazing frills free/distraction free writing program that allows you to switch off from the worldwideweb for a moment and inspires creativity. I have done a complete review on this program here.
Another tool I use is Focus Booster. This is a simple timer that you can download and place on your desktop to boost your focus while working. This is a great tool if you fear large chunks of time but want a way to have creative spurts in manageable bites of time. This is also a great tool for Word Wars.
What are your Time Takers?
© All Rights Reserved Kim Koning.
There is a lot of talk in the world of writing and publishing about the shape of Traditional Publishing vs Indie Publishing and Print Publishing vs E-Book Publishing. Many writers are adamant on which side of these particular fences they sit. But there are still some who are caught between a rock and a hard place. This could be because they do not know enough about the newer industries of Indie Publishing (Independant or Small Press Publishers) or E-books. Perhaps you have already made up your mind about which side of the fence you are on but if you do have questions and want to know more then this is the interview you want to sit in on.
Today I am talking E-books, Indie Publishing, Editing and Writing with Susan Landis-Steward: Writer, Editor, Publisher.
So take a seat and get comfortable. Time to be informed by a lady who knows the different sides of the publishing debate. She also has the unique position of being both a writer and publisher.
Welcome Susan. Thank you for joining us here today.
girl with a quill: Tell us a bit about yourself. Who is Susan Landis-Steward?
Susan: I’m an almost 60-year-old woman with way too much education and way too many ideas. I fully expect to die at my desk with my slippers half on (just as they are right now) doing something involved with editing, publishing, or writing. But not for another 20 years or so. I am a lesbian mom in a very long-term relationship. We have three stupendous daughters and are relieved that the youngest just got her own apartment. We do not suffer from empty nest syndrome, but maybe that’s because we both have such interesting lives of our own. We also have four amazing grandkids, ranging in age from 13 years to three weeks. I’ve spent my working years doing things like computer systems analyst, journalist, editor, child welfare worker, teacher, professor, and even did a brief stint as a call center minion. Probably the most interesting thing to other people is that I am brain injured. I died during minor surgery, caught a jump-start from a passing surgeon, and was shouted back to life by a small elderly nurse who spent the better part of a day yelling at me to breathe. I ended up with some minor brain damage and fibromyalgia. Blessing and curse. The blessing being that I can no longer work for someone else as I need frequent naps. The curse is obvious, I think.
girl with a quill: When did you decide that you wanted to be a Writer?
Susan: I started writing at the age of four and never looked back. I always enjoyed writing, but it wasn’t until I was in my 20s that I realized I’d like to actually write something for people to read. I didn’t get the courage until I was in my 30s and went to work as a reporter. Having thousands of people reading my work was terrifying. I tried to resist my first byline, preferring anonymity. But I got over it. After a couple of decades of journalism, I wanted to try my hand at fiction. Here’s another blessing of the brain injury. There is a women’s writers group that meets at the local community college on Wednesday afternoons. With no job, I was free to join. I started my first novel, Blind Leading the Blind, and it was just published in March 2011. I’m currently working on the sequel, Blind Spot. They are lesbian mysteries featuring a former detective and a blind therapist. Love, sex, action, horses, motorcycles, belly dancers, crime: what more could a girl want?
girl with a quill: How long have you been writing?
Susan: Well, that involves math, but I’m 59 now and I was four then so 55 years? Is that right? But professionally, I’ve been writing for 27 years as a journalist, freelance writer, academic, professional writer for the State of Oregon, and many other tasks. I’ve made my living as a freelancer exclusively by the pen for the past five or six years.
Susan: Wow. I bought a Nook Color last fall because my eyes can no longer be sufficiently corrected to allow me to read most trade paperbacks without removing my glasses, covering one eye to keep the astigmatism at bay, holding the book two inches from my face, and squinting. With my Nook, I can bump up the size, change the font, and make the background a comfortable color. Great adaptive technology for the baby boom. So, on January 2nd, we went to a party. It was the fifth party that week and I actually tried to get out of it. But my partner insisted, so I took my Nook. That’s what introverts do; we make sure we always have a book along in case we need a breather from the clamoring crowd. So, when I got tired of socializing, I went and sat in a quiet room with a friend, CONTACT _Con-3B5146219 Renee LaChance, and we started talking about e-books. Renee was the founder and publisher of Just Out newsmagazine, Oregon’s gay rag, and was itching to get back into publishing. I was a bit at loose ends myself, one regular editing gig having ended, and pretty soon the conversation went from “Why isn’t anyone doing this?” to “Why aren’t we doing this?” Within a week we were on our way. We published our first flush of books in March and our second group of nine books is coming out soon. We are having the time of our lives.
girl with a quill: Do you take control of the editing process like traditional publishers or do writers self-publish through your company?
Susan: We are not a vanity press. We call ourselves an indie press because we’re small, but we function like a traditional publisher in terms of acquisitions, editing, art, and all that rigmarole. Even my own book was submitted to the entire process. Our readers read it without knowing it was mine. One of my books got a no, so it’s due for some serious rewriting if I ever have the time.
girl with a quill: For those of us in the dark about e-book publishing, explain to us the process of submitting and publishing a book through your company?
Susan: When we are accepting submissions, ask that books be sent as Word documents with a short bio and a synopsis. Right now we’re looking for books by lesbians and women of color—it’s a small group, but we don’t want to be swamped with submissions. Others will get their chance. We publish all genres. We do expect submissions to be well-written, tell a good story, and be carefully edited. I’m a bit of a grammar and spelling Nazi and won’t waste my time on something with lots of errors. I’ve quit reading many traditionally published bestsellers because they are so poorly written and edited. The books are then sent to readers who tell us if they think we should proceed with the project. Usually we go with their recommendations, although we do take another look if they say no and we think the project still has merit. Once contracts are signed, we (meaning I) do the first editing pass, looking for obvious structural problems and glaring writing problems. I take notes, send the book back to the writer, and work with the author to make it the best it can be. Meanwhile, Renee starts working with illustrators and other sub-contractors. Once the book is up to my standards, Renee, who is a masterful copy-editor, goes through it with a fine-tooth comb and catches all the picky stuff I might have missed. Renee and I are a good match. I’m a good editor, while she’s got a business brain like no other. So she handles the contracts, the sub-contractors, the money, the traditional marketing, and all the parts I hate to do. I do work with the authors around social marketing because I enjoy that part. Renee also does the formatting for POD. Finally, we format the book, load it at all the usual suspects, and celebrate. The e-book goes up as soon as the book is ready. POD follows a few weeks later. Oh, and we pay better than average royalties and have the luxury of working with great new writers. It’s so fun!
girl with a quill: This is an e-book Publisher. What do you believe is the future for e-books and more publishers like yourself taking advantage of the wave?
Susan: I hear people all the time who say, “I’ll never get an e-reader. I love ‘real’ books too much.” Most of them are younger folks. I said the same thing until I realized I hadn’t read anything for fun for a few years. I used to read between 200 and 300 books a year. Suddenly, I was barely getting through three. My eyes just couldn’t handle it. I did a few rounds with my eye doctor and finally gave up. Then, bang! e-readers. I’m reading like a maniac again. So older folks are snatching them up because you can read anything on an e-reader. Kids love them. My grandkids grew up on computers so the e-book is an easy transition for them. And studies show that kids are reading more with e-books. Even my 30-year-old daughter bought one because she wants to be able to carry several books in one compact space, and the new apps for the Nook Color make the thing a small computer that fits in a purse. Lots of servicemen and women are buying e-readers because they fit in a uniform pocket and can hold hundreds of books. The traditional publishers have been slow to change and are going the way of the dinosaur. With books by indies costing only a few dollars, more and more people can afford to buy a book. And I love being able to check books out of the library without leaving my house. I don’t think books are going away any time soon, but the Big 6 and the brick and mortar stores need to enter the 21st century if they want to compete. I also see a lot of writers who still want a “traditional” deal, even though it’s not in their best interest. Why spend years scrabbling for an agent, waiting for the agent to shop the book, then wait another year for the book to come out? All for 7.5 percent royalties. And, if your book doesn’t sell well, it’s on the shelves for 3 months before being remaindered, and you still haven’t earned your advance back. No wonder writers don’t make any money. An e-book is for sale forever. Writers are finding that they can either self-publish or go with the smaller e-presses like Puddletown and have their books on sale in weeks instead of years. The royalties are better, the quality is often better, and you can still have print copies for POD. There are still some problems to be worked out, like the inconsistent quality of self-published books, but I think the market will take care of that over the next few years. Overall, I see e-books continuing to take a larger and larger share of the market. They’re cheap in a poor economy, they’re green in a society that should be worried about that, and they’re technology that Americans have shown they adore. Barring major solar flares knocking out the grid or the end of the world, I think even dyed-in-the-wool book lovers will be reading e-books with some regularity.
girl with a quill: Why have you chosen to do predominantly only e-book publishing? Is it a personal preference? Why?
Susan: It’s a fairly wide open market, it’s environmentally friendly, and it’s better for the writer in the long run. We also are committed to a “green” workplace and you don’t get much greener than this.
girl with a quill: Many people in 9-5 jobs have a water-cooler space where they go to talk with their colleagues about work issues. Do you have a “water-cooler” group for your writing life?
Susan: I’m an introvert so I like being alone. With Dropbox, I can see my business partner and our subcontractors working away at their homes. (Dropbox alerts you when other folks access the files.) I have my dog and some cats, so I’m happy. I also belong to several Facebook groups that I visit throughout the day. Renee and I also talk on the phone almost daily, and we meet once a week to go over the endless list.
girl with a quill: Who or what is the greatest influence on you as a writer? and Why?
Susan: Without a doubt, Madeleine L’Engle. She’s been my favorite since I was a child and got A Wrinkle in Time for Christmas the year it came out. Her writing and her liberal perspective on faith have both influenced me greatly over the years. I was fortunate to study with her for a short time.
girl with a quill: If your life story were a novel, what genre would it be and what would be the story-arc up to this point?
Susan: Is there a genre called crazy-as-hell? My life has been a roller coaster with all the usual events: marriage, family, work, taxes. But there’s been a huge element of surprise as well: house burned down, floods, and we’ve got two more horsemen yet to come. I’ve died and lived to tell about it, started several new businesses and driven them to success. If I told you everything, you probably wouldn’t believe me. Sometimes, I think I’m trying to work out several lifetimes of karma in one.
girl with a quill: Tell us about the place that you write? What do you fill that space with?
Susan: I have a room of my own in our home, lined floor to ceiling with books, and a desk that is cluttered beyond belief. I need a big monitor so I have a 32” flat screen TV I can blow everything up to 200 percent on. I have several computers, usually a couple of cats lounging around, and a lot of outsider art and photos of family and friends. There are also a lot of art supplies as I like to dink around with other creative forms. I’m primarily a fiber artist in my spare time. Like Gandhi, I believe we could have world peace if everyone would just spin their own yarn.
girl with a quill: Tell us about your writing process from that magical moment when the story’s idea / character voice interrupts your thoughts…what happens next?
Susan: I mull. I gestate. I listen to voices in my head. Finally, when I can stand it no longer, I sit down and start writing. It’s almost like mental illness.
girl with a quill: Are you a plotter, a pantster or a little of both?
Susan: A pantster, for sure. I tried plotting but could never get the whole thing done. Finally, I sat down and started writing. Sometimes I have no idea what’s coming next, so I get surprised.
girl with a quill: What genre do you write in now?
Susan: I love mysteries so I write mysteries. I’m also working on a couple of theology projects (I trained as a theologian), and one book that combines theology with mystery.
girl with a quill: If you could try your pen at another genre, which genre would you choose?
Susan: Probably fantasy or science fiction. With lesbian protagonists. I like women’s voices and there’s not enough good lesbian literature out there.
girl with a quill: Are you working on any WIP now? Can you tell us a bit about it?
Susan: I’m writing two sequels to my first book. The first is Blind Spot and the second is Blind Faith. The first three are all in the POV of the detective who is neurotic as hell but can see. The fourth book will be Blind Leading the Blind and will be in the POV of the blind therapist. That will be a challenge.
girl with a quill: Why do you write?
Susan: Because it’s what I do. If I’m not writing books, I’m writing articles, or sermons, or blog posts, or…
girl with a quill: Do you have a common theme or Omni-Premise that threads its way through all your writing? If so, what is it?
Susan: Hmm. I guess the combination of lesbian and liberal theologian makes me most interested in the ideas of inclusion and diversity over all other themes. I want to write things that normalize all the differences for my readers. Like the idea that lesbians can just be normal folks or that a blind person can lead a rich, rewarding, and creative life. Or that one can be spiritual, even religious, without leaving your brain behind.
girl with a quill: If you found a golden lamp with a genie and he told you he could either make one of your stories come true or that you could become a character for a short time in another author’s book, which option would you choose and why?
Susan: Oh! I’d be Meg Murray in Madeleine L’Engle’s books. Or I’d be Anna Pigeon in Nevada Barr’s books. I like Meg because she’s an awkward kid and so was I. I like Anna because she gets to work in the National Parks.
girl with a quill: What is more important to you: Story or Character? Why?
Susan: I like character driven books best. If you have a good character, one that I can get to know and care about, I’ll probably forgive minor issues with the story. I’m not as forgiving about great stories with flat or stereotypical characters.
girl with a quill: Who is your favourite character that you have created and why?
Susan: I’d have to say Erik Walton (short for Erika) in my Blind series. She’s smart, tough, smart-assed, and neurotic as hell. Her weaknesses and tenderness shine through all her bluster. Her inner dialogue is pretty true to my own life.
girl with a quill: Who is your favourite character in the literary world and why?
Susan: Marvin in Dr. Seuss’s Marvin K. Mooney. He cracks me up.
girl with a quill: If you could throw a dinner party and invite 5 famous creative people, who would they be and why?
Susan: Madeleine L’Engle. Well, duh. Nevada Barr, because she writes gripping books with great female characters. Rita Nakashima Brock, one of my favorite feminist theologians. Mozart, because I’d want him to play for us after dinner, and he was a crazy child prodigy. Willa Cather, because she’s one of the few writers who can take my breath away, and I can’t figure out if it’s the story or the writing that did it. An amazing thing when that happens.
girl with a quill: If you could throw a dinner party and invite 5 of your favourite fictional characters, who would they be and why?
Susan: Anna Pigeon, because I love her adventures in the wilderness. God as portrayed in Gospel by Wilhelm Barnhardt, because he’s laugh-out-loud funny as hell, doesn’t take him/herself seriously, and is much like God as I imagine him/her. Alex Delaware, from the mysteries by Jonathon Kellerman, because I could use a good guitar-playing shrink. Stephanie Plum, Janet Evanovich’s bounty hunter, because she makes me laugh and she’s the kind of person I like to hang out with. Rina Lazarus from the books by Faye Kellerman, because I want to know everything about her faith.
girl with a quill: If you could give yourself one piece of advice at the beginning of your writing career, what would it be?
Susan: Just write. Don’t wait for it to be perfect. Just write.
girl with a quill: What is the one piece of writing advice you could give your future self, 10 years from now?
Susan: Just write. Don’t wait for it to be perfect. Just write. And publish it.
girl with a quill: What do you want your lasting legacy, as a writer, to be?
Susan: Mostly I think about my kids and grandkids. I want them to be proud of my body of work. Even though I don’t want the grandkids reading some of it until they’re older. I think explicit sex, even if fairly tame, has no place in the hands of kids under 15 or 16 or so.
girl with a quill: Finally where can we find on the web?
Answer: HYPERLINK “mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org”email@example.com
Facebook: HYPERLINK “http://www.facebook.com/PuddletownGroup”http://www.facebook.com/PuddletownGroup
Blogs: HYPERLINK “http://puddletown.wordpress.com/”http://puddletown.wordpress.com
Twitter: HYPERLINK “http://www.twitter.com/susanls”http://www.twitter.com/susanls
Pushed for inspiration in May. Why not try “Story A Day in May”?
I have just signed up. This is a great opportunity to get writing and get creating in the short story format.
Every day this website posts a writing prompt for your short stories. The aim of the challenge is to write a short story every day for may or write 31 short stories.
Stretch yourself and take up the challenge.
My user name on the site is: lastlines
Look forward to seeing you there.
- Short,Sweet & To The Point (dragonflyscrolls.wordpress.com)
- Vouched Is Celebrating Short Story Month (vouchedbooks.com)
- Short Story Month 2011 – The Plan Here at the EWN (emergingwriters.typepad.com)
- National Short Story Month – Others Are Playing Along Too (emergingwriters.typepad.com)
So you would know from a few posts this year that I am on a Short Story roll right now. I am loving turning an idea into a short story. At the moment I have so many ideas flying around in the Aether of my imagination that I am hard pressed to capture them all. So instead of turning all of them into potential full length fiction, I am turning some of them into short stories.
Above is the link to a wonderful short story competition about Magic. The contest will start from today, and run until May 31st, which should give you plenty of time to plan and get your submissions in.
Contest Part 1 – Create a magic system, using roughly the format outlined here. 2,000 words is the goal.
Contest Part 2 – Use that magic system to write a 5,000 to 10,000 word short story, and submit both it and the magic system to L.M. Stull. She’ll blind them and pass them on to the judges, and we’ll pick which ones are the winners.
Prizes – And the part I’m sure you’re all wondering about. We’ve got a $50 Amazon gift card for the first place winner, and a $25 card for second place.
So not only do you get a chance to practice your short story writing skills but you get to play with a new magic system that you have created. On the original contest link you will find a series of posts on magic systems and what they can consist of.
So let’s weave some story magic and tell a tale that is short, magical and entertaining. Win yourself an Amazon gift voucher.