#weekendcoffeeshare: Being a Writer is More?

#weekendcoffeeshare: I have Lost my Impulse
Image provided by Dave White
https://www.flickr.com/photos/mrdestructicity/

The Daily Post sponsors the #weekendcoffeeshare. If this is something you’d like to do, whether it be weekly like it’s supposed to be or the way I do it, once a month. You can get the lowdown about it at the link above.

In the past, I have written this post dialogue style as if I was speaking to you face to face. Be that as it may, I began to dispute the intelligence of this format. After all, who am I to presume what you will say or, for that matter, what you think when, in actuality, we have not had the conversation at all.

My ruling is I will write the #weekendcoffeeshare more like most other bloggers write theirs, my thoughts alone and leaving your response for you to fill in down below in the comment section.

§

If we were to have coffee together…

…I would tell you how I feel about the less -spoken-about aspects of being a writer, those tasks I would rather ignore.

Most of the writer’s blogs I read have touched on the many facets of being a writer. I cannot say I have read them all, thinking I do not need to know everything right this minute seeing that I have not published for years. I have defended the belief I need to hone in on the writing itself until I have a final draft to send to an editor for the last time.

A short while ago, maybe five or six weeks, I began to ponder on the thought of me never getting anything published again other than the dribblings in this personal blog. The speculation was disquieting, to say the least. I am pretty sure I can do better, so I proceeded to do just that. That was when I wrote an article for an editor’s blog, Word Bank
Writing & Editing
, owned by Jeri Walker.

Sure, it is just writing still, but it was published on a blog that gets way more traffic than mine does. Additional, it had to meet the approved of an editor I admire.

After that small but significant milestone, I started visiting the social media sites more that I signed up with a long time ago. I cannot say I am enjoying these jaunts but I am trying anyway. This is the more I was hoping to put off for as long as possible. I do not do well with “small talk”. Oftentimes, I find it exceedingly trite and drudging. Yet, according to all those writer’s blogs, I must try to participate to get my name and work known. I know I will have to do launches if I ever get a book published. I know I should be available for book signings. However, this will only happen when a book is published. It is not an ongoing activity.

Another prospect or more I should consider, according to all I have read, is my own domain site. I cringe with detestation and panic at the notion of having to try that again. I had a good host site that even had 24/7 help by phone at no extra cost, yet I ended up with a site that, eventually, would not show up for anyone. I went through so many hours, both day and night, trying to fix it, endlessly speaking to representatives at the host site trying to get it to work. Can I go through that again? I have serious doubts.

An aspect [another more] I have not read about yet but probably will come across it eventually, is public speaking. I have been on stage but it was always with a musical instrument in my hands. It just sounds way too preposterous to me. I cannot imagine anyone wanting me, of all people on this planet, as a speaker for any kind of event. Yet, there have been a couple of writers who advocate this for their readers of their books about writing, exclaiming all writers should be able to speak well in front of an audience. Who are they kidding? Themselves maybe? I know some writers are extroverts. Still, I have a sneaky feeling most of us are introverts, at least to some degree.

When I took that mail course from Writers Digest at the turn of this century, it never entered my head that I would have to do anything out of the realm of writing other than book signings in order to make any progress.

Now it is your turn. What is your response to this? Let me know in the comment section below.

“You need three things to become a successful novelist: talent, luck and discipline. Discipline is the one element of those three things that you can control, and so that is the one that you have to focus on controlling, and you just have to hope and trust in the other two.” ― Michael Chabon

 

Alleviating Email Issues

Alleviating Email Issues
Image provided by Megan Amaral
https://www.flickr.com/photos/mamsy/

I can remember when I used to wish that advertisers would stop sending mail. You know, those things with envelopes. I’d walk to the mail station down the street to retrieve the bills I needed to pay along with, hopefully, a real letter from someone I care about. Lo and behold, my little compartment would be filled with junk mail.

Sure, some of it I’d scan: catalogs, coupons, and local events. Most of it, though, was tosses into the waste paper basket immediately. Even most of the items I glanced at got dumped as well. I lived frugally. I still do.

Now, I have even more junk mail thanks to the internet. It isn’t just the post person dropping garbage off at my home. It’s even coming in through the wires and air! –Depending on if I’m using my PC or laptop.

I guess I could just close my email account. I’d still have the social media sites to bring me news. Most of the blogs I subscribe to are connected to sites where I can read notification at those host sites: WordPress.Com, LiveJournal.Com, and Dreamwidth.Com.

Still, I do love getting email in the morning. I especially love the ones from friends and family. I read as much of it as I can while I drink my first mug of coffee for the day. My email site, Gmail.Com now, tries their best to keep the junk out of my folders. They do a better job at this than Outlook.Com was doing. At least with Gmail, I can rat on the jerks who are sending me spam and know with some certainty something will be done. Outlook says they do this but they need myriads of improvement. The spam problem with Outlook upsets me a great deal. I had hoped Microsoft would have a better handle on this situation in cyber space. I really did want to stay with Outlook. I was trying to limit my use of Google as much as I could because of their determination to become an internet monopoly. I’m totally against that–obviously.

To say the least, I’m sorely disappointed in Microsoft.

Surfing the blogosphere can get rather time-consuming. Having the notifications come by email helps out a little. More often than not, they come trickling in so I can read a few in the morning, a few a lunch, and more after dinner without my inbox getting overloaded. I know that some people get things so organized within their email account that they have all email of one type going to a specific folder found just below the inbox. It does make the account look cleaner, but those people are still seeing how many emails are waiting for them. It can get quite staggering. They better not take a vacation from this daily chore–or a sick day.

Gmail has made it a little easier to organize the inbox. There’s tabs above where the list of emails show, giving me the option to use the ones they provide or add my own. I never have to look at all of the emails in the list at one time. That is except for at the sidebar. Right after the word, Inbox, there the TOTAL number of emails staring at me.

I couldn’t imagine being the only one who feels the anxiety of the large number. After all, there’s only so much storage in these email accounts. Sure, I don’t have to scan each and every email. In fact, I barely glimpse at the ones in the spam folder before I dump them all. Still, the hankering to read each one that makes it to my inbox can keep me glued to my seat. I’m sure there are others who are like me.

With these thoughts in mind, I created a newsletter for my blog. It’ll be delivered to subscribers’ inboxes once a month, the last Friday of each month. There’s a short article you may or may not want to read. The important element of it is the list of posts from the prior four weeks in the sidebar linked to the posts themselves. The people who subscribe will be able to stop the notifications from WordPress.Com, thus lessening the number of emails in their inboxes by a small but significant three per month from yours truly.

True, probably quite trifling in the big scheme of things, but if more bloggers offered this, the email inbox won’t seem to daunting.

Anyway, the sign up is at the top of the page here on the sidebar if you’re so inclined to subscribe to my newsletter.

§

P.S. Jacqui Murray asked about continuing my series of #weekend coffee. Jacqui, one of the posts will be just that. This means one post each month will be a little late so it coincides with Daily Post’s Weekend Coffee Share.

Blogging is great, and I read blogs all day long. However, my goal is really to have a deep, meaningful discussion with people. For some reason, I’m able to accomplish this best via email. —Jason Calacanis

 

Maybe Self-Doubt isn’t Bad

Maybe Self-Doubt isn't Bad
Image provided by Bob Blakley
https://www.flickr.com/photos/blakley/

As of late, I’ve been coming across hoards of articles about how we should feel about ourselves. Writers are telling me in their blog posts about how to somehow feel marvelous when I’m writing, no matter where I am in my WiP, no matter what obstacles I’m facing. Feel-good web sites are giving me advice about how to prepare to feel terrific for the entire day. Some of them read like instructions to put a model together.

I’m not believing a word I’m reading. How can I? Writing is a passion for me. This doesn’t mean I’m going to feel spectacular whenever I sit at the keyboard though. For me, passion means I’d do whatever it takes to be in the process of a WiP, and to hell with how it may be feeling at the time. There are many days when it’s grueling. I’m having to puck each sentence out of my noggin and place it on the page next to the last period, all the while wishing the ideas would flow. And expecting to be happy for the entire day is ludicrous. Especially since I’m a writer with many issues. Life is full of ups and downs. To force myself not to experience all of it is making my life less than what it can be. I just can’t imagine myself going to the dentist with a beaming smile on my face.

One of my “big” feelings is self-doubt. I’m usually in a mode of questioning myself about something. With some, it’s fear that runs them ragged. Others live days in total guilt mode over something they really didn’t have much choice in. Mine is self-doubt.

Self-doubt isn’t reserved just for those of us who write. However, as a group, I’d say we’re the most vocal about this so-called flaw. You may not want to believe it, but executives of such companies like Sony, Microsoft, General Mills, and others have this same lack of confidence and esteem going on inside them. They just don’t tell anyone. Often they aren’t even telling their significant others, whoever they may be. I, as a writer, can feel this thing in me every times I put my fingers on the keyboard. “Should I say it this way?” “Should I say it at all?” “What if I changed things around?” “Would that work or is it just as hideous as it was the other way?”

About a week ago I was thinking about this flaw in me. It came to mind while I was reworking a character profile. I had added in arrogance, narcissism, and hotheadedness for this character’s traits, but I still needed to come up with why she was that way. Any therapist is likely to tell me that the person doesn’t see herself as being terrific, engaging, and righteous. That all those rotten qualities are a facade for what she really feels inside. Her not facing what she feels is what’s wrong with her. Instead, she acts out to avoid the underlying feeling[s].

What if I faced my self-doubt about my capabilities as a writer? What would I find? I’d discover what I already know about me. I’m atrocious with spelling and vocabulary. So much so that I will not write a single word without a dictionary and thesaurus on hand. Often I don’t word sentences, and sometimes whole paragraphs, in the right order. I do a kind of cart-before-the-horse thing in a lot of cases. My attempts to be eloquent are crude. I want my writing to be lyrical, but I know the instant I read it, it’s anything but impassioned. I have a lot to doubt. I, often, wonder why I bother to try to do something in the craft at all.

Yet, it’s these marrings in my skills that make me try to write every day. They’re imperfections I can try to alleviate, if not get rid of all together–at some point in the far future–maybe. Some I’ll never ever rid myself of, and I’ll just have to come to terms with those facts and trudge forward dragging them behind me.

The doubt I wrestle with is what makes me ask the questions that, once dealt with, will improve the process in my projects. Without this uncertainty snaking up, down, and around, entwining with the story that’s in my head, my WiP would, most certainly, end up flat, boring, and completely repulsive.

Of course, I don’t want it to take over my passion. Some of what I write is okay. Sure, not spectacular, maybe not even good, but passable. I dutifully give myself a kudo–not two, just one.

A blogging friend of mine has told me she likes my “no frills” writing. Well, that isn’t anything like lyrical, is it? So be it. I do like the thought of being one of those people who is up front, straight forward, down to earth. The “no frills” thing kind goes along with that. Still, the  apprehension is there, haunting me to do better. Kind words are fine, but what is in me still prevails.

Eventually, I’ll have to push this feeling into a closet somewhere so that I can get a real sense of how I’m doing from others–in particular, an editor, or even a beta reader. Nevertheless, this emotion does have purpose for me.

§

Do you think of self-doubt as way to insure that you strive to be better? Or does it hang you up?

“A modern philosopher who has never once suspected himself of being a charlatan must be such a shallow mind that his work is probably not worth reading.” ― Leszek Kołakowski, Metaphysical Horror

 

The Online Amenities

The Online Amenities
Image provided by Michael D Beckwith
https://www.flickr.com/photos/118118485@N05/

On August 29th, Today’s Author posted a piece asking what are the online resources their readers use in their writing. This is one of the most glorious aspects of the technical age, in my opinion. Money and time are cost to the bone for a writer because of the availability of resources now.

We have talked in the past about important tools for writers such as software or specific kinds of notebooks and pens. Today we’d like to hear what kinds of online resources and tools you find helpful to your writing. Are there specific websites you use for research? Online tools to inspire you to write? What do you find invaluable on the internet when you look at your writing life? [Today’s Author]

As little as twenty years ago, many writers had shelves upon shelves of books in their wring space just for resources and references they’d need at a moment’s notice during their writing sessions. I think this was one of the things that stopped me from taking up writing as a serious venture. I didn’t know where the book fairs were so I could put up the needed knowledge at a lower cost. I’d need to win the lotto to afford what I need for my own private library.

Nowadays, all I have to do is click on my little Firefox, and I zoom to the Internet for the information I need.

Dictionary: Remember that big bulky book you could usually find on a  pedestal at the library? Now I just go to one of the dictionary sites to find out if I’ve spelled a word right or if it’s even the word I thought it was. Sure, many of the word process programs have this built in, but the definitions are often lacking–a lot.

Thesaurus: I could not even attempt to write without this resource. The short-term memory loss I have would do me in before I even got started. Without the thesaurus, I write like the fifth grader–maybe. The paperback of this resource is adequate and affordable. However, because of my right arm and hand not working, trying to keep that small book open and type or write the possible words to use is futile. Again, most word processing programs have this feature too, but the list of synonyms is rather short–puny actually.

Encyclopedia: When I was a kid, some parents bought the Encyclopaedia Britannica for their children’s education. It was a hefty price to pay but it usually included updates to the volumes as information was obtained or changed. Being a fireman’s daughter, this wasn’t an option for me. The closest branch library to my house was eight city blocks away. I’d hoof the hill to it when I had to and when weather would permit. It was either that or wait until I could get to the library at school. Now I just have to decide which encyclopedia I want to use and click to the site.

Editing: I haven’t used this tool yet but I know I will eventually. This, of course, is just for grammar and in-depth spelling. I’m a member at Grammerly.

Writing Groups: I live in a small town in the Tennessee mountains. The closest local writing group I’ve found is in Nashville, two hours away. Someone suggested I start my own here in Crossville. I have yet to find any writers here. I wonder sometime about who is writing the articles in the Crossville Chronicle. Are they writers who don’t feel a need for comradery? And I can’t find them in the white pages. Where do they live? Anyway, because of this dilemma, I belong to two online writing groups. It isn’t as helpful as I was hoping for, but a little is better than none, right?

Blogs: The blogs of writers is one of my main sources of inspiration, motivation, and lessons in the skills of the craft. I probably would have given up long ago on any serious writing without these sites.

Email: I have a couple of close writing friends I email every once in a while. I know I should write letters to them more often, but time slips away from me so quickly sometimes I even forget what day it is. They’re a little farther along on their writing journey than I am. I rely heavily on them for support and hope I’m giving enough to them.

§

According to the post at Today’s Author, I should specify certain sites. I only named one. Preference can differ too much and I’m sure the sites I frequent are so diverse from other writers even though they’re within the same categories. Each to their own. 😛

Do you have other types sites that are useful? Please share in the comment section.

“The difference between the almost right word and the right word is really a large matter. ’tis the difference between the lightning bug and the lightning.” ― Mark Twain, The Wit and Wisdom of Mark Twain

 

Stomping On Hate

Stomping on Hate
Image provided by darwin Bell
https://www.flickr.com/photos/darwinbell/

A few days ago I woke up with a multitude of health problems. Some were easy fixes. I opened the new bottle of Ibuprofen and swallowed two with water. That took care of the headache and the chronic leg pain for a while so that I could come up with some sort of plan to alleviate what else was wrong.

I’m not used to chronic illness. Most of my life has been spent being healthy despite the disability. That’s always been thought of as a constant annoyance instead of a health issue. Now I’m at that place in life where health problems are becoming more frequent. I can tell you right now, I’m not adjusting well to this.

I had been to the doctor just days before. According to all of the blood tests, I’m in great shape for a disabled person who’s entering senior-hood. So why do I have all of these digestive difficulties? Truth be told, I know what part of the problem is. I’m eating food I’m sure are ones I should avoid. But I love these foods and I used to eat them all the time. I’m older now. I know this, yet I want to eat as if I’m just embarking on adulthood. Yes, I’m foolish. The rest of the tummy issues may subside a little once my body doesn’t have food in it that hates me.

Maybe that’s where this other hate I have inside me is coming from.

Since the middle of July, I’ve been trying to work on my WiP. I let this blog slack a little, hoping to create more time being productive with the hope-to-be novel. I made some progress–for a while. Then I hit a big black wall of hate. I found myself hating all of my characters, settings, and how slow it’s going getting from one part of the story to the next. Yet, at the same time, I was certain that these characters were worth this story I long to write. And I knew the settings were working. All contradictions.

So, what has happened? I have a feeling I’ve gone into self-loathness as a writer–at least as a story-teller. Rationally, I know that many writers go through times like this. In my head, I have to admit that this knowledge does help me feel a little better. However, the emotional side of me still wants to delete all my story ideas, all my character sketches, and anything else I have pertaining to serious writing. It all sucks.

The inspiration and motivation had died somewhere within a four-day span.

I went searching for free writing courses online. Although many of them are what I would consider worthless because they’re so elementary, there are some excellent free ones too–just a few though. I found a new one at Creative Writing Now. I’m in the middle of their one free email course, struggling but learning. Through taking this class, I’ve seen how I’m not paying attention to blogs that have good advice. I had become shallow when reading them because, after a while, they were all hitting me the same way. My reaction: I know this already. Move on.

It’s time to read posts as if I’m a brand new writer and see what knowledge I can scrape up from them. I’ve started a digital journal in my OneNote program for all the notes I’m going to take with a new attitude–okay, hopefully a new attitude.

§

There are some blogs that have never hit me as being all that repetitive. I thought it might be good to share them with you.

Blogs that Help Me Write

From WP

Amanda Staley: https://staleybooks.wordpress.com/blog/
Today’s Author: https://todaysauthor.com/
Writerish Ramblings: https://writerishramblings.com/
Sharon Bonin-Pratt’s Ink Flare: https://sharonboninpratt.wordpress.com/
A writer and her adolescent muse: https://awriteradolescentmuse.wordpress.com/
Quintessential Editor: http://quintessentialeditor.com/
WordDreams: https://worddreams.wordpress.com/
Jean’s Writing: https://jeanswriting.com/

Out in Cyberspace

Jami Gold: http://jamigold.com/
Fiction University: http://blog.janicehardy.com/
The Writing Practice: http://thewritepractice.com/
Creative Writing Now: http://www.creative-writing-now.com/

§

From the deepest desires often come the deadliest hate. ~ Socrates