Thursday, March 11, 2010

Update: A Move

 Well, this blog is going to be phased out over this month.  But it isn't going away entirely.  I simply feel it is too cluttered, and so I am splitting its contents up amongst other blogs.  This way I can focus my fiction in one place, my writing tips and motivations in another place, and my somewhat personal writing experiments and my speech disorder blog elsewhere entirely.

This should be the last post on this blog.  It was fun all, but I hope it will be even better in the near future at the following addresses:


Monday, February 15, 2010

A Snow Day

Sorry, this isn't a true Monday post.  You can say I'm taking a snow-day :-)  But I'm trying to get a handle on some changes I want for the Motivational Monday posts and other features of the blog.

Monday, February 8, 2010

You Are Never Too Old For Snow Days

You Are Never Too Old For Snow Days

Snow On Trees

Do you remember how excited you got when school was cancelled due to snow?  No school, no homework, plenty of fun, and snow!  Well, last month I had a snow day, literally and metaphorically.  You see, lately my job has required a lot of overtime.  I clocked about 15 hours per week in January, and this schedule will not change much for the next few months.  Overtime had become routine, until one day late in January I had a Saturday off.  Not because I got snowed in, not because I got caught up on my work, but because the computer program I use was down.  That really put things in perspective.  When all you see is what you have left to do, you never get a chance to see what you have done.  How stressful!

savanaandmom01brSo what did I do?  Well, that is where the coincidental snow comes in.  The last time I had fun in the snow was not long before I was hired, about a year ago.  On that day, my young cousin, my mother, and I all got together and built a giant "snow worm", our most creative and memorable snow-day ever.  The snow wasn't deep enough this time, but you know what?  We got together that weekend.   We played in the snow anyway.  I took pictures.  I had fun.  And I didn't do a lick of work, writing or otherwise, that weekend.  Because I called in a snow-day.

How wasteful, right?  Nothing had been done on my work or my writing, and things needed to be done.  There are so many pages left to write on my Victorianesque vampire novel.  There is so much paperwork left to process and sort through at my job.  "So many".  "So much."  And all negative.  My perspective was dangerously narrow and it took a day off to remove the blinders.    After all, "so much" may be left to do, but "so much" had been accomplished--and I had forgotten until I had a day off.  Now I remembered that while there may be so much left to write on my novel, I had developed so many exciting ideas on so many areas on that series.  And while there may be so much work to do at my job, I had processed so many requirements and as a result so many parts were being made or in the process thereof.  Not wasteful at all!
When we were children, the snow-day itself was the reward.  But as writers we can use that day to get excited about all we have done and become motivated about our day-to-day routine again.  So whether time finds you or better yet you find the time, take a long break and do something unrelated to writing that you really want to do.  And do it.  Watch a movie.  Take a walk.  Read a book.  Listen to music while soaking in the tub.  Just don't fill this time with chores to do or extra time at work.  Rather, go play in the snow.  Writers need snow-days too.



The same thing that happened to me can happen in any writer's life.  Are you busy writing toward a goal that you don't think you can reach?  Is the only thing you can see is how much work is left to do?  Well, Bonnie Goldberg, in her book Beyond the Words, has some good advice on that topic.  She says, "[S]ometimes for all the good reasons there are to write daily, there as many equally good reasons not to write daily. [...] Not writing allows time for percolation to take place, gives your creativity time to replenish, and gives you the distance from your writing to gain perspective on it."  The thing is, it shouldn't take circumstances beyond your control to give you the chance to do just that in your life.  Don't wait for the snow to call in a snow-day.

Need some suggestions on how to do just that?  Click here.

Monday, February 1, 2010



Christian motivational speaker, Joel Osteen, had an interesting sermon on Jan 24.  Don't name your future by the bad or unwanted circumstances of your present.  In the week since that sermon, that message has really hit home.  You see, I recently started a fantasy writing critique or "crit" group and posted a piece for review.  And I got crits, ones that reminded me of why I have a love/hate relationship with crit groups.  It never fails, where ever I go, I receive crits about a lack of clarity on basic prose.  I receive crits on sentences that are weird.  I receive crits on convoluted sentence structures.  I receive crits that readers cannot understand what I wrote. 

Before last week, I couldn't understand why my writing didn't make sense to others, when it did to me.  Before last week, I thought my unusual sentences was my style.  Before last week, I knew it was a problem, but not why can't ever fix it.  Then, in that week that followed Joel Osteen's Sunday sermon, I listened to another podcast I had downloaded and on it a comment came up about a guest speaker, a writer, having a writing style similar to how she speaks, and something finally clicked:  people often write how they speak. 

You see, I have uncommon speech disorder.  As a two or three year old, I was told that I "spoke too fast".  The disorder was not named and it was masked by a more obvious disorder in which I could only say about 30% of my letters.  Speech classes fixed that obvious speech disorder; the other went unchecked.  Until now. 

I discovered what I have through online research.  It is called cluttering, a fluency disorder, and the best description of it comes from Wikipedia:

"It feels like 1) about twenty thoughts explode on my mind all at once, and I need to express them all, 2) that when I'm trying to make a point, that I just remembered something that I was supposed to say, so the person can understand, and I need to interrupt myself to say something that I should have said before, and 3) that I need to constantly revise the sentences that I'm working on, to get it out right."

Cluttering affects writing abilities.  Cluttering affects reading abilities.  Cluttering affects listening abilities.  And most people don't realize they have a problem at all; others around them do. 

Now, I am aware of the problem and I am aware that it affects many aspects of communication.  But that is not the only thing I discovered.  You see, currently my writing is defined by this disorder, but in the future, it doesn't have to be.  Currently, I am defined by this disorder, but in the future, I don't have to be.  My past experiences with speech disorders proves this.  My ability to write nonfiction that is readable proves this.  That is what I discovered through Joel Osteen's message.  Don't decide what your future will be by what is happening now.  I have the knowledge of what is wrong, and I have the will to find ways to fix it and change my future.  Starting now.  How about you?


Every writer has some obstacle that is present now.  Perhaps it is the economy, and no one is buying.  Perhaps there is some imperfection in your writing that is holding you back.  Perhaps you have the will to write, but no time.  Perhaps you have the desire, but the words won't come.  But that is all happening "now".  What are you doing to make sure that is not your future?  Need some tips?  To check out the companion piece to this blog post, click here.


It is such a relief to discover what is wrong so you may begin fixing it.  Since I "came out", the thing I have been most inspired to do is start a community for writers with disabilities.  And I did it.  Right now it is just me and a blog, just me and my journey to improve my communication abilities and stay motivated.  Who knows, this community may continue to consist of just me, and that is ok.  If I can help even one reader of that blog feel better about his own disability and how it affects his writing dreams, then I have reached my goal.  But I invite others to join and become "authors" on that blog, and if that happens, who knows how many people we can reach.  Please check it out by clicking here.

Monday, January 25, 2010



One of the last posts before I went blog-silent was on minimizing my goals due to less free time.  It was about cutting back.  In these times, with this economy, who doesn't know about cutting back?  You cut out splurge items.  You make do with what you have; you make it last longer or you buy a cheap substitute.  You save by eliminating wants and pleasure items.  And you feel the loss.  I felt it when I cut my writing goals, and part of me rebelled at the loss:  I haven't done a thing toward my writing goals that were left. 

You see, that was because I was focusing on the loss, not the gains, I was focusing on something out of my control affecting what I wanted to control.  What I need is a shift in my thinking.  I can't change my situation, but I can change my perspective.  Instead of just cutting down on my dreams, I am going to change them. 

I had wanted to write weekly articles to help my fellow writers and learn a new craft.  After my work situation changed, I decided the amount of articles had to be far fewer.  But with a shift in focus, instead of less, I can do more . . .  of a different kind.  After all, motivational podcasts are helping me get through this high stress period with a smile on my face.  Why not share what I gain from them by writing my own motivations for writers?

I had wanted to fill my Thursdays and Fridays with Test Drives and Book Learning sessions.  Things changed and I decided I couldn't do anything more than dissect a single novel in a six month period.  And what about going through a whole reference book and creating a course of study based off it?  Forget about it.  But with a shift of focus, I can find things to analyze--like the TV show I hate to miss each week.  I can create lessons--based off a single technique a book talks about, a book I am reading snippets from anyway.

I had wanted to finish and submit an entire novel to a literary agency; then I decided I better focus on just completing a draft.  But what if I chose not to write less this year, but focus on writing more.  More of what I want to write, not what I should write.  Forget the trends and market, focus on fiction that satisfies my creative urges while keeping my skills sharp.  The results can still be shared--as free fiction, a traditionally marketable item, or a self-published work.

Basically, instead of focusing on what to cut back, what I have to lose due to circumstances beyond my control, I am focusing on what I can change for the better.  The way I see it, I'm not losing anything--I'm gaining so much more.


Reveille is a wake up call.  It means "to awaken, to wake up", but it ultimately derives from Latin meaning "be awake, keep watch".  Let inspiration awake something inside you, and then be vigilant on what you are doing with your new awareness.  In this case, we are in the month of goal setting for so many writers and so often life interferes with your best laid plans.  What are you doing to keep the heart of your writing goals intact even if life changes?  Need some more advice?  Check out the companion piece to this very article, now posted to my webpage.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Changes, They Are Here

I may be starting small, but I hope I am building up to something big.  I'm starting with Mondays.  Why?  It harkens back to when I was little and a school-mate polled the class for an assignment.  She asked, "What is your favorite day?"  I, and I alone, said Wednesday.  Why?  Because Wednesdays mean the week is half over, and to me, the week started and still starts to this day on Monday.  More so now than ever when I only have one full day off a week.  So to make it through the week, Mondays need to borrow a little something from hump-day Wednesdays or gratitude-inspiring Fridays.  For me, that is motivational pieces.  Starting tomorrow, I will post my own inspirational pieces for writers, trying to turn the dreaded Monday into a motivated one.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Changes, They Are A' Coming

For the next week or two, this blog is undergoing renovation.  I've been stung by the inspiration-bug (again) and I hoping as a result of this downtime this blog and my website will come back stronger than ever.

Thank you for your patience.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Bad News, Good News

The Good News, I definitely have job security for about half the year for sure.  Someone went out on maternity leave about a month or two early, and so I'm going to have to do about 15 hours overtime a week until a temp comes in helps alleviate the situation a little.  Which will get worse before it gets better, since we have to train the temp too.

The Bad News, that means basically my writing and blogging life is going to be cut down to the bare minimum.  I thought about it, and until I get back to my normal schedule of 40 hours a week, this blog will have to be a little more sporadic.  First off, Test Drives are suspended until further notice and in a way, it's a good thing.  I have different ideas for Test Drives, one idea being a way to make it not so time consuming, and so when it comes back, I'm starting fresh.

Second, Monday Link posts may not be every Monday, but I am aiming for at least two Mondays a month.

Wednesdays I planned on posting snippets, progress, or exercises or explorations with my characters and novels.  That will still happen, but instead of every Wednesday, it will likely be a random Wednesday, when the mood hits or I have a really cool snippet to post.

Thursdays will still be my fiction reading and deconstruction schedule, but it will be at much slower pace.

And writing?  Well, I had plans on writing a lot fiction, as you can see from the New Year's post.  Well, now that has changed.  My main goal is to get one novel submitted and some shorter length fiction done.  Articles will be also much more scarce.

But keeping my Thursday and some semblance of my writing goals is needed for my sanity.

Well, that's it so far.  Wish me luck over the next few months, I'll need it.

Book Learning #1: Novel Choice

Yesterday, I posted about my intention to start a fiction reading and learning program for myself.  I said I'd pick a book by today.  So, what is the book I picked?

Well, since I have been into writing vampire fiction of late, why not have vampires for reading as well.  So, the novel up for Book Learning, Session #1, is Quenched by Mary Ann Mitchell.

I have already begun reading.  Where am I currently?  Well, I'm done with chapter two.  I'll post about my opinions thus far on this book on Thursday, Jan 7th.

New Years Goals

This year, I want to get things written.  Towards that end, I joined a Rejection/Acceptance Contest.

My New Year's Goals are thus:

  • Submit one novel to agents.
  • Finish four short stories this year.
  • Post twelve writing articles this year to my website.
  • Read and deconstruct three novels this year--more about that in another post.
  • Complete three Test Drives--see this post.

Let's see how well that works out.

So, what are your writing goals for this year?

Monday, January 4, 2010

Book Learning

I'm a firm believer in continuing education.  When you can't afford writing workshops or programs, you do it yourself.  Some of the best advice I heard was to read a book and learn how the author made it work.  So, that is exactly what I am going to do.  Not only will it get me reading fiction regularly, but I will be learning at the same time.

My plan is to read the book with minimal stopping for note taking.  Then I go back, chapter by chapter and analyze the book.  Discover how it works.  In doing so, however, my posts will be rather spoiler-heavy, I am afraid.

These posts I plan to keep on Thursdays.  Today or tomorrow, I'll post my book choice and on the 7th, I'll give an update on my progress.  I welcome your responses to the book, as well.

Link-a-Week: Steampunk, Part I

Link-a-Day Mondays have changed.   Now there is a monthly theme.  This month?  Steampunk. What is steampunk? Well Wikipedia classifies it as fiction
"set in an era or world where steam power is still widely used—usually the 19th century, and often Victorian era England—but with prominent elements of either science fiction or fantasy, such as fictional technological inventions like those found in the works of H. G. Wells and Jules Verne, or real technological developments like the computer occurring at an earlier date."

Interesting, huh?

Anyway, the first steampunk links this month are are blogs:


Friday, January 1, 2010

Hiatus Continued

Due to some unexpected delays, Chiaroscuro House blog will return on Monday, Jan 4 instead of today. Sorry about that.