Advice on Writing and a YTD Self-Assessment, in Honor of NaNoWriMo

Writing Fuel

Sugar: Breakfast, lunch, and dinner of writing champions everywhere. (!Eek!)

It’s Friday. You know that that means. Time to retreat into your shell and hope school is back in session soon. Er, no. I mean, time to pile up those leaves and disappear into their crunchy kingdom–forever! [Insert Vincent Price “Thriller” laughter here, as appropriate.]

Only kidding.

In honor of NaNoWriMo, Six Word Memoirs/SMITH magazine (no relation) held an “advice on writing” 6-word special that ended, oh, about an hour ago.

But there’s absolutely no reason the party show that is freelance writing shouldn’t go on. Perpetually. (Thank you for the memories, Mr. Bulsara/Mercury.)

I penned some writing advice earlier in the week. See what you think; share your own; laugh; enjoy. Repeat tomorrow.

1. Sit down, shut mouth, shine on.
2. Sit down, shut off, shine down.
3. Shut mouth. Open mind. Listen. Write.
4. The 3 R’s: Re-Create, Revise, Re-Submit.
5. Reduce adjectives, repurpose words, recycle mind-matter.
6. Plant butt. Cultivate creativity. Repeat daily.
7. Live. Love. Laugh. Think. Sit. Write.

#BestAdviceinSix

And now, for something not so completely different. A brief YTD note/assessment on the state of my writing endeavors, in case you’re curious. This way, you can see I’m entirely worthy of dispensing said writing advice (snark mode engaged).

Anyway, just this year, I started keeping an Excel file so that I could see submissions in an orderly fashion, as well as the results. It appeals to the “statistician” inside my noggin.

Yearly Manuscript Run-Down

  • Writing submissions (includes anthologies, contests, and magazines; some print, some online, some both; includes many genres, but usually either literary fiction or speculative fiction): YEAR-TO-DATE, from March 2015 through November 6, 2015: 25 submissions
  • REJECTIONS (or, how I learned to stop worrying and just love the times I bomb): 18
  • OUTSTANDING MSS: Keep in mind that a few of these were submitted in the last week: 7
  • UNKNOWN: A subnote. One of the 7 outstanding manuscripts, I’m not sure if I’ll ever hear back from, as the publisher seems to be defunct (although I’ve never seen it as such on Duotrope).

I could break down the rejections further. There have been a handful that have offered some critique to me other than the catch-all “does not fit what we are looking for.” But I think it’s fruitful to look back on these things as we drive forward, regardless of whether we’re involved in NaNoWriMo or not. (This year, I have opted out of the festivities, as it were.) Not as a discouragement kind of thing, but rather an honest self-assessment and noticing any areas that are in obvious need of improvement.

But that’s my spiel. What about y’all: any writing advice? Doing NaNoWriMo? Enjoying your November? But, most crucially, if you’re him and he’s him and he’s him and you’re him, am I still me . . . and is anyone eating this chicken? 🙂

Bunnies with Bombs: A Year (and Then Some) of Writing Dangerously

Bunnies with bombs_rotated

“Bunnies with bombs,” she says; I say: like a good book!

I write rough. And judging by the spate of rejections in the last 8 months, quite rough.

But this post is not about that. It’s my 100th post—pop the literary corks, y’all—and I’m reflecting on the past year and five months that I’ve been blogging on WordPress.

First and foremost, I thank you all again for being here.

Suffice it to say, I never expected to get to this destination. This writing-and-sharing-my-angst depot is a surprise, but a welcome one.

I never expected you wonderful 200-odd folks to trip the lines, occasionally fantastic, along with me, from my first few tenuous, nonfiction baby-blogging steps into full-blown fiction and what turned out to be a serial novella, called “Undelivered Valentines.”

My nebulous goal, I can safely say—to write more regularly and, moreover, to take gut-twisting chances with my fiction (and the occasional poem or nonfiction piece), including submitting it to applicable publications and contests—has been achieved, gang-busters.

Spooling through my Submittable account (one of the leaders in content-submission systems for fiction and poetry writers—hint, hint—along with others like the up-and-coming publishing platform Medium), which nevertheless doesn’t embrace all the legwork that I’ve done, I see I’ve submitted to at least 10 publications and/or contests since late November 2014, which exceeds what I’ve been able to do in the past, working within only a wedge of part-time. Several times, I’ve tried the same market; I haven’t pitched the same piece each time, but I have re-submitted. You know what they say about not succeeding the first time . . .

Speaking of submissions and rejections: if you are a writer, are you making time to resubmit your work? See Damyanti’s provocatively titled “Do You Submit Like a Man?” for inspiration.

That said, I have even had the good graces to not submit a piece but be approached to have a poem appear (titled “Bivalve’s Love Song”) in a literary magazine. This time, it was in Grammar Ghoul Press’ spring 2015 issue of The Ghouls’ Review.

Along the way, I have received numerous and invaluable feedback moments from editors, guest readers, beta readers, and many among you. I have also done a good deal of reading, although a person can never do enough of that! How does a writerly gal get so lucky?

toasting-image-blogiversary

Yep, I’ve left it all on the page and now am hollow. Time for a story re-fill!

In short, my year-and-almost-a-half blogging has been “bunnies with bombs,” a phrase suggested by my thoughtful and funny daughter (who has not, by the way, seen “Monty Python and the Holy Grail” or its rabbit of Caerbannog). I suppose it’s fitting, as my Chinese astrological sign is that of the {presumed creative} rabbit. (All in good fun, my fellow STEAM-loving friends!) So, something agile and prolific linked to something painful, life-changing, and even lethal, making for quite a novel combination. Yep, that pretty much sums up what writing fiction and nonfiction (and drama and poetry, for that matter) require. Blood on the keyboard, tornadoes in the brain, tears on the cheeks, and vim, vinegar, and perseverance in the veins.

And so, a final toast: here’s to many more years, friends.

Let’s do what you fear most,/That from which you recoil/but which still makes your eyes moist.–attributed to Lou Reed

Share Your World: Week 32, The Supermoon Edition

Share Your World bannerI thought it might be nice, for a change, to blog about me, assuming I’m nice, which of course is a big assumption. So, in the absence of protests to the contrary, here goes with Cee’s weekly Share Your World (SYW) challenge, with an ultimately far-out flavor to it . . .

  1. Do you prefer ketchup or mustard? Um, I have a near-addiction to light agave syrup, as well as the myriad of spices used in Indian, Greek, and Middle-Eastern foods. That said, it depends on what’s being eaten, as to what needs to be covered. I still remember — and am wholly guilty of the food crime mentioned in — that childhood ditty “don’t drown your food.”
  2. If someone made a movie of your life would it be a drama, a comedy, a romantic-comedy, action film, or science fiction? Yes. At one time or another, all of the aforementioned, with documentary, spoof, fantasy, horror flick, B-movie, and musical thrown in for good measure.
  3. If you could be given any gift what would it be? A tough one! Can I wiggle out of it and say je ne sais quoi? No? Okay, then: Foresight, which would likely turn out to be a Trojan horse. Failing that, a supply of self-confidence to not be unwarrantedly cocky yet to still leave the world a better place than when I entered it.
  4. For potlucks or parties do you cook it yourself, buy from a grocery store, or pay for catering? I’ve never given a big or formal party myself, so I’ve never done catering (in the event I could afford it!). Sorry to qualify all these questions, but it really depends on the context. The better I know the people and their preferences and/or allergies or food adventuresomeness, probably the more likely I am to make something of my own rather than grocery-store it. I have a great Indian-inspired spaghetti bread I’m dying to perfect and share with the world, but more accessible dishes are my sausage-stuffing muffins (for those who AREN’T watching their diets, who do have a “cheat day,” and/or who are NOT vegans or vegetarians) or my Greek-based orzo & spinach salad.
  5. Bonus question:  What are you grateful for from last week, and what are you looking forward to in the week coming up? I know I used this in a previous SYW, so it’s an oldie, but it’s also a good goodie. I’m grateful to still be experiencing life, warts and all. I’ve been doing some writing, but on the main it’s been pretty angry stuff (for reasons I won’t bore you with, August is overall a historically cruddy month for me personally); this creative famine follows on the heels — wish I could say heals, Freudian key-slip style — of the feast of a couple weeks ago when I had three or more posts in a single week. Today’s SYW post floats and then gently sets me down at 61. Poet extraordinaire Vic Briggs nomenclatures this ebb-and-flow creative process in terms of “the storm passes, the energy . . . recedes.” (Well-said, my friend!) Honestly, as to looking forward, there are several things in the aether I’m grabbing at: visiting with my friend, who herself is journeying into town from Arizona; writing a joy list, à la Chris Donner’s fabulous open-ended post on “Joy Is . . .”; exiting the draggin’ wagon in terms of blog- and other reading and commenting (like for my BBC Book Club); school starting for one of the kidlets (I love the “youngins,” but I also know they need time away from me to gain independence and so forth); catching up on some weeding and yardwork; doing some un-angry writing; and tackling some technical things like setting up a Facebook page and re-doing or adding a page here on the blog to purtify it. 🙂

And now, something else to be grateful for, some far-out supermoon stuff (wouldn’t mega-moon sound better? it alliteratively appeals to my sometimes tinny ear) . . .

DragonEye Supermoon

Image by me — & Photoshopped, unexpertly, to sharpen, bring out contrast, & brighten — of the Aug. 10, 2014, #supermoon. Really wish I were a better photographer & had better night exposure ability. Dumbly, I also didn’t use a tripod, other than my knees. The exposure is about 5 seconds. Had hoped you could see how the moon looks (to me, anyway) like a dragon’s eye & all the altocumulus clouds (I’m guessing, but please correct me, meteorologists)  looked like individual scales around the dragon’s eye. Anyway, it was cool to see an astronomical phenomenon like the supermoon, & I am grateful for that. For more on the supermoon (thank goodness it’s not dubbed the perigean moon supersized, for acronymization!), EarthSky is one great resource.

 

 

 

Haiku: Examined Lives

We Night Birds

We hollow-boned preen

by day, ’til Night feathers nests

and opens pent souls.

Open and Read, If You Dare

Here lie life’s pages

not flitt’ry on the gurney

but splint’ring the eye.

Image from the "As Eye See It" photography blog by Herb Paynter

Image from the “The Way Eye Sees It” photography blog by Herb Paynter.

 

Mama Maelstrom

Dreams pelt swift these days,

open holes in mind-windows,

gouge out doughy hopes.

 

 

Life’s Sentences

I once knew a man

so open-minded, the book

submerged, and tabloid rose.

 With Nothing But Writing to Guide Me

Carry me across

divided worlds, burned bridges

minds, eyes, hearts — o, pen.


Haiku crafted especially for Week 17 of Haiku Horizons, with the prompt this time being “open.”

 

 

The Unbearable Density of Confidence

Self-Confidence Ahem. Over here. See me? I’m that invisible girl in the corner. I’m the joists, nails, and boards just behind the wallflower.

Long gone are the days when “talks too much” and “finishes work early and distracts classmates” were written on my report card.

That said, I began this blog—if neither a writecraft chiseler nor an editorial bonesaw—to trephine something consequential from me and put it on the ephemeral e-page. Given that some of my writing here has smacked of semi-autobiography (either that or it’s been flattened by the semi wheels of autobiography), this self-exposure has not always been a lingering tiptoe through two-lipped prose. Rather, it has at times been a steeltrap bandolier across the throat and chest. The clink of a prison door closing, a book’s cover shut with the bite force of a saltwater crocodile. But I hyperbolize!

This blog represents the confidence I’d like to wrest from the jaws of stoicism and regret, my willingness to kill my prose darlings and invite you to silver bullet them, too.

In life, Jacob Marley was . . . Erm, in my real life, I’m a more or less ordinary uniquity: mom, wife, reader, writer, editor, jogger/runner, gardener, Nature-lover, musician wannabe, eater of delicious Indian dals and Greek delicacies (among many other favorites), overindulger of chocolates and sweets and herbal teas, introvert, and fellow passenger on Spaceship Earth. With the vagaries, confidences, anxieties, plans, and scars most other people possess.

“I am large, I contain multitudes.”

I can’t claim those lines. Poet Walt Whitman wrote them in “Song of Myself.” But, thanks to Chris Donner’s clarion call to self-expression, I get to wax philosophical on myself, which evokes a certain amount of existential discomfort. But if this blog is to be a creative expression, as much as I shy away from confessionals, then this post is the full flowering of that unease. It is an experiment in creative confidence as much as i-want-confidence-kitten-lionself-confidence. (Read more about creative confidence here.)

Let this blog and, moreover, this post be the opening keystrokes to bringing that anxious, frightened girl out of her lonely corner. And into your world. I’m ever-grateful that you invited her (okay, me!) in for a spell.