Archive for category Inspiration

The One Story Workshops

IMG_1762Shortly after the WFWA workshop ended, I started the first of three One Story workshops. The first, Write a Short Story with Hannah Tinti presented a method to write a complete short story in a few days. It was fun, although I think it might have worked better if you had characters or a situation in mind before you started. I did end up with a complete but short piece, although I’m not sure how much I really like it.

For me, the platform the class used  was a bit overwhelming. I have no idea how many people were taking this class. People  posted the new bits of their story and others commented, but this seemed to be a jumble, with so many storylines and so many people, it was hard to keep track whose character was in which story. Eventually I more or less randomly chose a few participants to focus on. If others were kind enough to  comment on my submissions, I returned the favor. This soon narrowed the number of people I was following to a more reasonable number, although it was still a jumble with no real flow that I could determine.

I did figure out a few other “tricks.” To get your submission to appear near the top of the list, it was good to comment on everyone’s comment, even if only to thank them. Eventually I also figure out there was a way to mark all the comments you had read so you could see what was new. And of course, the best way to get others to comment was to comment on their submissions.

The next class was Become Your Own Best Editor where the participants read an initial submission, subsequent editorial comments and the changes the author made to the piece up through the final printed version. There were probably fewer participants in this class and in this case it wasn’t quite as necessary to keep the continuity with who said what where. My personal take-away was I really don’t want to be an editor because I was bored rereading the same story over and over. Hannah Tinti and the other editor involved  both made insightful comments that apply to most any story rewrite. This workshop has been offered using a different story published in One Story  with a different editor so could be taken a second time.

From Character to Story:A Craft Intensive with Editor Patrick Ryan also offered some useful tips. By this time I was familiar with a number of the other participants and it was easy to look for them and read their comments.

The next offering from One Story starts on March 11, My Evil Twin is an Editor, or What the Soaps Taught Me About Writing.

These classes have varied in their helpfulness, but are good for connecting with other writers. Probably which class you’d find most insightful would depend on where you are in your writing career. It should be noted that many known names and people with much success enroll in these courses as well as people who have not written much.

I’m not wild about the platform and the number of participants, but if chaos doesn’t bother you or you don’t want to interact, these may work equally well for you. For some people the amount of work/number of lessons in a short period of time can be difficult, too.

 

 

 

 

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A Visual Assist For All Sorts of Things.

Photo of actual snowflake by Kathryn Taylor.

There are times in writing and in regular life when you need to make a choice and can’t decide. A friend recently posted a tribute to her mother, and the mechanism presented leads me to an idea for picking pseudonyms, book titles, characters’ names, etc. If you click on the link below, which is from something called The Book of Everyone,  you can try your hand at seeing a visual representation of names/words of interest.

http://snowflake.thebookofeveryone.com/specials/make-your-snowflake/

My observation is that the shorter and simpler, the prettier. You can easily and quickly play around with this feature yourself. It’s easy and fun!

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Why Do You Blog?

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Last week it was suggested to me that maybe I spend too much time working on my blog. It is true that one measly blog a week eats into my writing time, and I’m not getting much accomplished as far as creating new material. It is also true that I have at least temporarily abandoned the manuscript this blog was named for. So why do I continue? The readership for my blog is small, if not close to nonexistent, but so is the readership for my novels (manuscripts.) I like to think that the number of readers of my shorter work is a bit larger since there are all those  readers and editors who reject the stories, as well as a few actual readers for those which have been accepted and published.

If the blog is eating into my time, what exactly am I losing if I continue it? I find the blog keeps me searching for new ideas, often through reading the Times and articles on line. I enjoy making connections and coming to conclusions I might not have realized if I wasn’t trying to produce and shape a piece weekly. And even if each post is short, and has taken longer than it should have to produce, it gives me a feeling of accomplishment and purpose. Occasionally someone responds to a post and a new friend, or someone to follow, appears. Who is to say where these new contacts might lead?

I suspect that I will continue to keep my self-imposed deadline. I will keep posting short pieces even if few people read. I welcome readers, and I love comments, especially those that present a different side to my thoughts. I relish the interchange of ideas and know that if I kept those ideas to myself as typed pieces on my computer or in a leather bound journal, the chances of exchanging thoughts with another are greatly reduced, probably approaching zero.

And if no one reads any of my words? Is it that different than taking photographs? Not many see the ones we take, yet most of us keep taking them, if only for our own learning process, to see what we can produce, or more succinctly, for our own enjoyment.

If you blog, why? And is it worth it?

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No, No, Nano: Why November Doesn’t Work for Me.

Reasons November is not a good month for NaNoWriMO

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  1. Thanksgiving,
  2. Especially if you are hosting a dinner
  3. Or have company for the weekend,
  4. And even worse if you are traveling.
  5. Volleyball is still going, including Selection Sunday
  6. Basketball gears upvolleyball_clipart_5
  7. Really bad if you have men’s and women’s ticketsbaketball-ball
  8. And if you’re one of those crazies who also has football tickets? Exactly when would you have time to write?football-ball
  9. And there’s NFL games, NBA games, and hockey, too. At least I think that last is true.
  10. Some Nanoers gather to write, and probably eat, but since the month is bracketed by Halloween candy and Thanksgiving, that in itself might not be a good idea.
  11. There’re all those craft shows for holiday giving, and
  12. That day after Thanksgiving where so many shop.
  13. Start of Christmas cookie baking.food-clip-art-clipart-4nTEryGiA
  14. Other holiday planning and doing.
  15. And it’s close to the end of the semester for many schools.

There are plenty of good reasons to take the challenge. For instance, this site lists 14 published books written during Nano. There are sites that give you ideas of how to make this month productive, as well as this blog by WFWA and RMFW member, Jamie Raintree, with ways to convert this month into a productive year.

Even with evidence that this month truly does work, I’m not participating. When I’ve attempted this exercise in the past, I’ve ended up with a mess. I did “win,” but I’m still trying to untangle the knots from four years ago.

My writing group has tried some alternate “months of writing.” We’ve picked a month with the idea of writing a story a week. Each week one of us emailed prompts. Although I haven’t checked with the others, I know at least two of the stories I produced have either been published or are slated to come out soon. This shorter, more focused exercise works better for me.

Are you Nanoing? How has the process worked for you in the past?

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How Becky Hammon, Ground-breaking NBA basketball Assistant Coach, Can Inspire Writers, too!

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I started attending women’s basketball games at Colorado State University more than two decades ago. Early on in the 95-96 season,  I remember saying, “Where’s that little girl? We need her on the court.” That little girl was 5’6″ Becky Hammon, who was recently named the first full-time female assistant coach for an NBA team.

Today is the first day of the Women’s Fiction Writers Association Women’s Fiction Week 2014 workshop. It features presentations from many  names in women’s fiction. While reading through the introductory messages from other participants, I found myself getting depressed. They were almost all published or had novels circulating with requests to read. While at the opening luncheon for the 2014-15 season of CSU Ram’s basketball yesterday, another fan alerted me to a recent video with Robin Roberts interviewing Becky. It was just what I needed.

http://espn.go.com/video/clip?id=11582796

Some of her encouraging words: Keep perspective, have an unwavering belief. She mentions figuring out how she can make herself better (workshops/conferences), as well as how can she make those next to her better. (critiquing/writing group)

Advice to young girls: bring passion to everything you do. Have an excitement and enthusiasm to your work and work as hard as you can.

The take away? Becky is on the short side, from South Dakota. She was under recruited to college, which is why Colorado State was able to snag her. She did have a great teammate in Katie Cronin. Probably both of them helped and encouraged each other to be better. I suspect Katie, along with Becky’s family, was a big supporter of her progress when she–again–wasn’t recruited out of college into the fledgling WNBA.

I was at another pre-season basketball picnic before Becky’s junior year. She was walking around and introducing herself to the fans, saying, “Hi, I’m Becky Hammon.” It was funny because, of course, we all knew who she was. To the list of qualities she listed for young girls to strive for, I would add humility. Also obvious in the video, but not something she mentions directly, is the support and belief from others who are important to you. In this case, her family always showed support. Her parents made the drive from Rapid City to Fort Collins for all her games, and although I’m no longer in touch with either Becky or her family, I’m sure they continue to show her support. Actually, I did talk to another one of her former teammates at that luncheon yesterday and she mentioned that Katie and another teammate where making a video to send to Becky. She also said all the teammates sent words of congratulations and support as well.

Now after watching her inspiring video, I need to tackle that workshop again and look at it as an opportunity to get better so that I, too, can be one of those published writers one day.

Is there a sports figure or someone from another field of endeavor who has words to inspire you?

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