Exploring and Reflecting Through Writing

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Last week I met with my writer’s group and they gave me some food for thought about my writing.

Because there were so few of us and we didn’t have much new to share, I read a few things I’d written in the past year and put on my Yahoo! Voices page.  One member told me that she thought, “people like your writing because you’re so honest.”  Another member mentioned that he felt I hold back in reading to the group.  He’s right, it’s much harder to read things for people face to face than what I post under the slight anonymity of a pen name.  Both comments drew me to think about the honesty in my writing.

Honest is something I certainly try to be in life.  In my writing it has to do with seeking the truth of the situation, whether it’s fiction or memoir.  I think that the more honest I am about events and my feelings, the more someone else can connect with it and use the experience.  I’ve always wanted to help people with my writing, if only to feel less alone.  I think the connection that writing and reading can bring, dispelling the illusion of our distance and loneliness, could be one of my most important contributions.  It’s all about the ripples.

I write for others, but even more so, I write for myself.  I explore ideas and situations, exorcise demons.  I particularly love end of the year writing – getting some last licks in before the year changes over.  There’s something reflective and magical about it.  It’s full of anticipation and potential energy.  We may reflect on the past year, think about where we want to go and chart a course.

I’ve definitely been thinking about the novel I want to finish.  I see it going through a lot of changes, giving it layers and depth.  I’m anticipating the day when I feel it’s ready to strike out on it’s own, to present it to people for the reading.

I’m excited about writing in the coming year.  Are you?

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Writing Goals Met and Voided

Did I blink?  The Weeping Angels didn’t get me but the year sure went by in a flash and here we are at the end.  It’s funny, in looking back over my writing blog and my Yahoo! Contributor Network page, I can see that I haven’t been sitting still.  I’ve accomplished a good little bit.  (I put up 9 new pieces just this month!)  I “won” Camp NaNoWriMo and National Novel Writing Month by writing over 50,000 words a month in August and November.  But it’s largely not the things I put on my “Writing Goals” list last December.

Was I distracted?  Perhaps, but perhaps I was taking advantage of opportunities.  There are things I really wish I had done so I will have to carry them over to my list for this year.  This past year has also brought some clarity about what I want to do with my writing so there are some things I will take off the list.  Here’s what I wrote last year for goals –

  1. Read Writing the Breakout Novel by Donald Maass and use ideas in writing and editing.
  2. Edit middle grade mystery novel.
  3. Write more and edit mainstream novel.
  4. Show both books to writer’s group for feedback.
  5. Choose agents and editors to submit to.
  6. Keep track of expenses. (Treat writing as a business.)
  7. Write an essay monthly and submit it to the Yahoo Contributor Network.
  8. Write an entry weekly for Melora Johnson’s Muse.
  9. Write an entry weekly for http://storymusing.blogspot.com.
  10. Write short stories as ideas come up.
  11. Read, read, read
  12. Consider paying for a professional copy editor to give me feedback
  13. Keep submitting.

#1 – I did read it and I think I incorporated some aspects into my writing.  It was very informative.

#2 – Nope.  Now, I don’t think I will at this point.  Children’s Lit just isn’t where I want to put my efforts at this point in my writing career.

#3 – I’ve definitely written a lot more in 2012 than in 2011 and I did write most of Biomalware.  I just need to finish it and then edit, edit, edit.

#4 – Kinda.  I did share a lot with the writer’s group but didn’t finish the novel so I didn’t show it to them.

#5 – I still have an agency in mind to submit to first..

#6 – No, I didn’t keep track of expenses.  We’ll see what tax season does to me.  I did make enough from Yahoo! that I’ll have to declare it so I’m just hoping I won’t have to start paying quarterly taxes.

#7 – Well, I can’t say I submitted something every single month, but I submitted so many in some months, that I added about 50 pieces of writing this year.  I’d call that solid work.

#8 – There were a few weeks I skipped but I did add an entry most weeks.

#9 – Ditto for #9.

#10 – Yep, I wrote several short stories this year and submitted some to contests and online.

#11 – Well, definitely not as much reading as I would have liked but I did spend more time listening to books on CD in the car this year and that has been fun.  I’m reading the latest Harry Dresden novel by Jim Butcher in hard copy right now and loving it.

#12 – Yes and no.  I have been submitting, just not a novel yet.

I think my overarching goals this year were to write regularly and to make some money off my writing.  I definitely accomplished that.  In 2013 I will finish Biomalware and start submitting it.  I’m just not sure how long that’s going to take.  Eventually, I’d like to say I WILL make a living at my writing but I’m afraid I’m still at HOPE right now.

What were your goals this year?  Did you accomplish them all or in part?  What are your goals for your writing next year?

Ready for a Nap but Still Writing

We had a writer’s group meeting this week and there was a lot of theoretical what if-ing going on, always fun. We had two people returning or new to our group that night. It’s interesting how shifting membership of a group can bring different things to the table and fresh energy.

I continue to urge people to find or start a writer’s group. Even if you don’t all write the same style or genre, you can help each other. Some people will say, “well, I don’t write that type of writing so how can I offer anything useful?” Most often, people can pick out what doesn’t sound right and, with practice, they can say why it doesn’t sound right. I’ve heard it called beta reading instead of editing. It is still very useful to a writer.

Our group read one of the short stories I had created during NaNoWriMo and gave me some feedback so I can finish it up then offer it to Yahoo! Voices. For a prompt, I had a note to myself to start a story with someone walking into an elevator and saying, “I know you’re all wondering why I’ve called you here today.”

It turned out the person had four envelopes for the people in the elevator telling them to be at a certain place that night. I was a little surprised where it went, sort of playing on my enjoyment of mystery and the unexplained in life. One of my favorite thoughts from the Doctor Who series is when The Doctor, as played by Tom Baker, says, “Nothing is inexplicable, only unexplained.” And yet, so much can remain unexplained for our entire lives, even generations. This story plays with that notion.

I’ve picked up several very short writing assignments from Yahoo! since NaNo ended and enjoyed writing them, both because I enjoy the challenge of writing something of interest in a very short form, and because it really helps my motivation to simply finish something. (You can see my latest at http://contributor.yahoo.com/user/1202123/melora_johnson.html )

I’m trying to combat the down time after NaNoWriMo where I don’t particularly feel like working on the project I started during November. I’ve got so much I started that I still need to work on but I’m taking it one piece at a time.

One of these days, I’m just going to take a nap.