Fresh Start to 2013

Image of a modern fountain pen writing in curs...

Image of a modern fountain pen writing in cursive script. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Here’s hoping 2013 will be a better year. I’m recharged and planning to leave the past in the past. I’m ready to make a fresh start in 2013. This will mean some changes, so please be patient with me.

I will be playing around with my blog a little(already changed the theme today). Just trying some new things out. Will take some time till I get things comfortable and sorted out. It’s like rearranging furniture.

I’m trying to motivate myself as well, so I guess creating some goals are the way to go. I’ve given this some thought. I did try to make sure I have realistic goals, so I don’t set myself up for failure. A big part of being realistic is knowing I have a bit of a chaotic life most of the time. Without further adieu, here are the goals…

Writing Goals for 2013 :
(will be doing more writing than this, but it’s a start)
1. Blog twice a week(continued from 2012-failed last year 😦 )

2. Read 2 books per month

3. Complete the 100k in 100 days Challenge(read more about over at Quiller’s Place or 100k in 100 days facebook group)

4. Find and join a local writer’s group

5. Finish poetry book

6. Work on revamping blog a bit

Feel free to share your thoughts and maybe some of your goals for 2013… 🙂

Writing Habits and Music ~ ♪

Music guitar

Music guitar (Photo credit: @Doug88888)

Everyone who writes has their favorite writing spots and habits. There are different things that work for different people. We just each have to find out what it is that helps our drive to write and encourages the flow of words. I’ve taken to being more observant about many things in life, including my writing habits. Even about ourselves, I don’t know that we always realize things right away. I thought I’d share a bit about my writing habits I’ve discovered and share some music.

I write anytime an idea strikes in my head on whatever is available. Notebooks abound in my home and I usually carry one with me. If a notebook isn’t readily available to grab, then I have written on the back of random receipts found in my purse or snatched the magnetic paper shopping list from the fridge. Sometimes I’ll start typing away directly on the computer, but most often I’ll type things into the computer after writing them on paper. The main thing is to write something down before I forget it!

My favorite planned time to write is first thing in the morning. I’m not an early riser, but I am usually up by about seven. Mornings work for me, because I can be quiet with my thoughts without interruption.  My family usually doesn’t get up and get moving till later in the morning, sometimes as late as ten or ten thirty. This means I can easily get two or three undisturbed hours to write.

Being quiet with my thoughts, doesn’t mean silence for me though. I like to be alone without anyone talking to me or needing anything from me, but I’m not so wild about silence. Music helps to settle my mind. It puts me more at ease for thoughts to freely flow and my fingers to write or type. Sometimes I just have one of my favorite music CDs playing, but often I’ll have one of my YouTube playlist playing in the background on the computer.  Making a music playlist on YouTube is something new I learned this year from a blogger whose blog is now no longer in existence, but I am grateful none the less.

This year I’ve also been exposed to a wider variety of music and found quite a bit I actually really like, including some songs from my daughter. Typically I have been a country and bluegrass music kind of gal. Those types of music still have a place in my heart, but I’ve been listening to the other music lately, some of which I’m not even sure what categories they really are. I just know I like the songs. Here’s a playlist of my favorite songs I like to write by : Soothing Music Playlist.

It’s been a productive morning, though now it’s lunch time. Besides this blog post, I also managed to write a little over 2,000 words on my next memoir. As I wrote, I enjoyed a nice hot cup of earl grey tea too. Another one of my habits. I like to have either a nice cup of hot tea or a glass of sweet iced tea as I write. I encourage you to take a look at your writing habits. Notice what works and notice if there are some tweaks you think may need made so you can write more productively or peacefully.

Share your thoughts? What have you found helps you to write?… 🙂

Memoir Bits

Writing journal

Writing journal (Photo credit: avrdreamer)

Just a short little post tonight, but had a couple of things about memoirs I thought were worth sharing. The first is a cartoon I thought was a very apt description at how readers, including myself, pick out memoirs to read : Roz Chast’s Memoir Spectrum.  There are some memoirs, though they may be well written and interesting to some, which I will never read unless nothing else was available(like on an island with one book).  I have to flip through a book a little and be able to connect to it on some level.

The second thing I discovered tonight was Scoop.it from a posting on facebook.  I haven’t had much of a chance to play with it, but the little I did, it looks like another social media thing much like Pinterest.  I was really excited, because the links posted on facebook to Scoop.it were on Memoir Writing.  There was oodles of information on memoir.  I had to contain myself as I can get a little click happy.  I’m usually pretty good, but it can be a struggle to make sure I do not overdo my time with social media.

Well, I have to work tomorrow at my paying job, so I’d best be cutting it short and get off the computer.  I’m going to go write a little.  I’ve been in a poetry mood lately, but am beginning to write another memoir as well.  Memoir is truly one of my favorite forms of writing.  I think everyone should write their stories, even if it is for yourself or to pass on to a family member one day.

Good News and Writers’ Notebooks

Selena and her Bird Housing Development Photo

Selena and her Bird Housing Development Photo

Yesterday was a good day and we’ve been needing some good days around our house.  My daughter had entered three of her photographs this past weekend in the Autumn Arts 2012 Art Show held at Vance-Granville Community College.  We went last night to see how the judging went and found she received an honorable mention for her photo “Bird Housing Development”.  She was thrilled.

Bird Housing Development

Bird Housing Development

After returning home, I checked my email and found I had good news as well.  I  had an email with the subject line “congratulations”.  Yes!  I was so excited.  Something I wrote got accepted rather than rejected.  I’ve been accumulating quite a pile of those(rejections that is).

My piece, “Diagnoses : An Unwanted Collection”, was submitted to The Barefoot Review and will be published in the winter issue, which will be public December 21st.  Thankfully December is right around the corner, so it won’t be a long wait.  I’ll try to remember to post a link to it then.

Just a little side note about writers’ notebooks since it seems I keep tripping on information about them.  Most writers, it seems, keep a writer’s notebook or several of them to jot down ideas as they strike or work on chosen pieces of writing.  Everyone has their preference from fancy to basic spiral bound notebooks.

I usually have at least two notebooks in constant use and prefer “pretty” spiral bound notebooks.  My notebooks tend to be a random accumulation, though lately I have taken to trying to keep one strictly poetry related and the other for everything else writing related.  Occasionally I sit down going through my notebooks to see if there is anything I need to refer back to like a list of writing ideas or a poem I haven’t yet typed into the computer.

My normal method to track those stray pages that need dealt with, but are strewn through various spots in assorted notebooks, is to put a post-it flag on the page so it sticks out.  The post-it flag is removed after I transcribe the information on the page into the computer.  The downside to this method is it can be time consuming and every so often a post-it flag accidentally falls out.  Here is a blog post I read yesterday about writers’ notebooks, which had an interesting idea I’m thinking of trying.  It was simply to number the pages in your notebook.  I don’t think it’d take long to write a number on each page corner and maybe it’d be easier to find stuff.

My "Pretty" Writer's Notebooks and Journal(center)

My “Pretty” Writer’s Notebooks and Journal(center)

Memoir Writing…Completion to Resources for Writing Your Memoir

I’ve finished doing a self-edit of my memoir.  I did it on a copy I had printed out and forgot page numbers…whoops…yes, those could be important.  🙂 After going back and fixing a few things I found, I have officially printed out my first good copy of my memoir.  It is done.  Feels good to say that for more than one reason.

My memoir is done because I feel the story is done being told.  Though I know I said I wasn’t worried about word count, and I’m not, I think it’s still neat to know it ended up 32, 317 words.  It is 94 pages long, but 98 if the extra pages are included.  The extras are a dedication page, resource page, and a couple of pages of poetry.

My Memoir

My Memoir

My Memoir

My Memoir

The next step, and I am taking baby steps, is to turn my baby lose cautiously.  I need to let a few other people read it to get some feedback.  I know I sound like I’m obsessing a bit calling it my baby, but it is.  This is the first book I’ve ever written and the story is a part of me.

The best thing about being done and the story being written is this wonderful feeling of release.  There is a freedom in having some of my most painful experiences in life out of me and into words.  For me it’s actually been easier to find the written words than it would have been trying to speak them.

We all have stories in us and I would highly recommend writing a memoir to anyone.  I think it can especially be part of the healing process if there is something difficult you are dealing with in your life.  Reading memoirs written by others is a good place to get started learning about writing stories from life.  Here are a few other books and a blog I’ve found helpful as I’ve learned more about memoir writing :

Writing Our Stories

Broken Heart

Broken Heart (Photo credit: Gabriela Camerotti)

If you’ve read through some of my previous posts, you’ve probably noticed I have a leaning towards personal types of writing.  I love essays, journaling, and memoirs.  Our lives are stories and everyone has a story to tell.  My life is so overflowing that right now this is where my heart can find release to pour things out.  I have to write it down.

As with any form of writing you choose to partake, it’s said one of the best steps to do is read the form of writing you want to write.  I’ve been working on a memoir, so I’ve been reading memoirs.  Two memoirs I really enjoyed reading were Falling Apart in One Piece by Stacy Morrison and Eat, Pray, and Love by Elizabeth Gilbert.  The memoir I’m currently reading is The Victoria’s Secret Catalog Never Stops Coming by Jennie Nash.  It is about her journey through breast cancer, which my step mother is currently having to face.

I’ll read anything if it strikes me right, but I tend to read memoirs written by women about their lives.  Either the book’s description or a brief flip through has to catch my eye with something I can relate to on some level.  I do have the book On Writing : A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King on my wish list to read.  I love reading about writers’ lives.  Another memoir I have read was Literary Life by Larry McMurtry.  Unfortunately, it did not top my list for enjoyable memoirs.  It seemed to have a bit much pomp and a little too over factual for my tastes, but that’s just me.

One of my absolute favorite bloggers is Kat Collins.  She has a wealth of writing information and resource links on her blog.  She is also doing something I had never heard of before, but is an interesting idea.  She is blogging a memoir book she is writing :  The Good Wife.  She has some guest blogs on the topic of blogging a book at her Kat Collins blog, then you can go to the other blog to read her book thus far.

If you’ve ever been hesitant to write, maybe you’ll decide the truth is easier than fiction.  I’ve found my life is so unreal at times it seems, it’s just easier to write about it than try to make things up.  You can start small.  Start keeping a journal about your life or choose to write one story or blog post till you have enough for a book.  Two good organizations to learn more about writing memoirs are National Association of Memoir Writers and Story Circle Network.  Happy writing… 🙂

P.S. – I forgot another memoir I recently finished and thought was well written was If I Am Missing or Dead by Janine Latus.  Warning is it’s sad and a tragic story of abuse.  It’s a story I think many women need to read.

Weeding Through Freelance Writing Resources

MSI laptop computer

MSI laptop computer (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’m still working on one day being able to earn more money through my writing, but it hasn’t happened yet.  I’m not giving up and it is a work in progress, but at least I’m learning along the way and I’m enjoying writing.  This week my plan is to go at submitting some more of my work with renewed vigor as well as continue working on my memoir.

I thought I’d share some of my experiences so far with certain freelance writing resources.  Time is valuable and I like to make the most of it.  I spend enough time keeping up with email and social media(facebook and pinterest), so I don’t want to spend more of my valuable time uselessly searching for freelance jobs in difficult to find places.  I’d rather spend my time writing.

Please keep in mind these are just my opinions based on my personal experiences.  Without further adieu,here are the lists :

Favorites

  • Yahoo! Contributor Network – This is one of the first places I started submitting my writing to and is still one of my favorites.  You can choose assignments from the site, but I’ve had more success writing about my own topics.  I’ve earned between $3 to a little over $4 per article.
  • www.newpages.com – I love this site.  It has listings for literary magagzines, calls for submissions, and writing contests.
  • www.freelancewritinggigs.com – I check this site every weekday.  It has listings for freelance writing and blogging jobs.  I like the fact that if it’s available, it will have listed beside the job if can telecommute.
  • www.pw.org – Much information is available on the website, however, I receive Poets & Writers magazine monthly on my kindle.  It’s very affordable at only $1.25 per monthly issue.  It has helpful articles, calls for manuscripts, writing contests, and more.
  • www.fundsforwriters.com – I receive two of the free newsletters, Funds for Writers and FFA Small Markets, weekly in my email box.  The newsletters have articles, paying markets, and contest information.
  • www.writersweekly.com – I receive this weekly free newsletter on Wednesdays in my email box.  This newsletter has articles, paying markets, and freelance job listings.

Not Worth My Time

  • www.freelancer.com – I signed up and created a profile.  This site has a 30 day free trial and afterwards it is $4.95 per month.  I canceled before my trial period was up.
  • www.craigslist.com – I’ve used this site to successfully find furniture and farm animals in my area, but have not had any luck finding writing jobs.  Some of the other freelance resources above already list freelance jobs found on craigslist, so it’s also a case of why duplicate work.
  • www.textbroker.com – I found a suggestion for this site in an eBook a freelancer wrote, but have been sorely disappointed.  It took a bit of doing to get started with the site including submitting a copy of my driver’s license.  I’ve also been checking the jobs daily and have found nothing of interest in the writing assignments.  Most of the available topics would bore me out of my skull and I’d rather take my chances elsewhere.

Hidden Words, Hidden Works

Hidden canyon5

Hidden canyon5 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As I’ve been trying to find homes for some of my writing, I’ve had to take into consideration which pieces I feel comfortable sharing.  There are some things, which may only ever be shared with select people in my life or may never see the light of day unless I was to die.  There are some things I’ve written that I know in my heart I want to share one day, but some time will probably have to pass first.

There is not much I hesitate to write about as I’ve spent too much of my life being quiet.  Too many days not speaking my mind and saying my peace.  Writing gives me the freedom to get things out, even if it’s not shared.  There are some things I’ve written, which I keep hidden so no one will find and read.

Even though I write about most things, there are still things I’m afraid to write about.  I don’t think it’s really the things themselves are scary, but rather I think it’s like Natalie Goldberg points out in her book Old Friend from Far Away : The Practice of Writing Memoir, we’re afraid of what others will think.  Most all of us have either secrets in our lives or things we hope for, but don’t want others to know.

In a section of her book I love she emphasizes, “You have a right to write it.  Throw it out, rip it up, swallow it down.  Build up a capacity to bear up–don’t let fear run your writing life.  Hide your notebook in a good place.”  In other words never let fear stop you from writing.  I like the freedom to be able to say and write things.  Write things even if you have to burn it after you wrote it or hide it.

Kind of a side track here, but wanted to share.  There are two other great resources I’ve found for finding homes for writing when you’re ready to share something.  Duotrope has market listings, response time stats, and you can even do a specific search to find the right place for a piece you’ve written.  NewPages.com has information on magazines, publishers, calls for submissions, writing contests, and many other useful things.

 

Tips and Markets for Personal Essays

The last couple of weeks have been very productive and I am starting to feel more comfortable writing queries and making submissions to magazines.  Not so comfortable that I don’t want my resource books near for guidance, but more comfortable none the less.  I’ve been submitting personal essays and poetry.  Made a couple of mistakes, but I’m learning still.

One mistake was easily remedied with a quick phone call.  Not a major mistake, but accidentally left the SASE out of a submission.  Luckily just wasted one stamp.  Found out just needed to reprint my submission, pop it in an envelope with the SASE, and mail everything out again.  The other mistake was one of those lost in electronic translation ones.  A place I was submitting to needed the file in .rtf instead of .doc.  I submitted it after reviewing it looked right on my end, but found out upon opening it after it was sent that the spacing in a couple of places was off.

Thought I would share a few resources with you I’ve found useful as I’m learning about personal essays and narratives.  I’ve found I really enjoy this kind of writing and for me it flows so much more easily than fiction.  I found an article, Profitable Personal Essays by Dawn Goldsmith at Writers Weekly ezine, which includes a list of the authors five favorite places to submit personal essays.  Another useful article was Tips to Help You Publish Your Personal Essays at Writer’s Digest.  The site Writing to Heal, Writing to Grow has a great list of Paying Markets for Personal Essays.

Quick Tips for Submissions :

  • Visit the actual magazine website to make sure it is still in existence and accepting submissions
  • It is preferable to become familiar with the magazine before attempting to submit to it; some will provide a sample issue for a fee and many have links to published works on their websites
  • Check if submissions are accepted year round or there is a specific submission period
  • Read and follow submission instructions closely, may accept via postal mail and/or electronic submissions
  • Remember to include SASE if requested
  • Check if accepts simultaneous submissions; if your work gets accepted by one magazine, then politely notify the other magazine

As I’ve been researching in books and online to find homes for some of my writing, I’ve been keeping a list of places to possibly make submissions.  May be a personal opinion, but I would also say to make sure the possible future home for some of your writing is a place you feel is compatible with your values prior to submitting your work.  Here’s my list of places to makes submissions to :

Do you have a favorite writing tip you’ve learned along the way?…


Reassessing Goals

Goal setting: creates a future

Goal setting: creates a future (Photo credit: lululemon athletica)

Every now and then it can be a good thing to reassess goals.  See if the original goals you have set are being met, if the goals need changed, or if the goals need totally removed from your list.  I have decided since things have changed in my life it is time for me to reassess the goals I set regarding my writing.

Originally when I first started this blog I was completely unemployed and attempting to begin freelance writing.  Recently I have been able to find a job, which is nice as I feel some of the pressure is removed from writing to make sure it earns money.  This is a two edged sword per se and may also be a bad point.  Either way, I guess the main point is at least I am still motivated to write and still working on freelance writing.  Temporarily I also have another side freelance job I am working on from home.  It is not writing, however, but is internet research.

I love to read, so the goal I set of reading two books a month is one I think I’ll keep.  Though I haven’t kept up with the goal of two blog posts a week, I still think it is a goal that can be met, life has just kind of got in the way.  Another goal I want to add is to start submitting my writing, which I still have yet to do and I have several things ready.  Just need to try to find homes for them.  The article writing goal is one I am deleting from my list as my priorities have changed and two articles per day was too much with the other projects.  I’m still writing articles, but have also expanded to working on other things.  Poetry, personal essays, and a few books are the writing projects topping my list these days.

Any good tips for reassessing your goals or helping to meet the goals you have set?

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