Wednesday, September 7, 2011

What Are You Meant to Do?

What are you meant to do? If you could sum up your greatest yearning, in one word, what would that word be?

I have pondered and wondered and been completely stumped by this question for a long time.  But I have finally boiled it down all my ideas and urges into one word:


Now, that word has some negative connotations, at least for me, in the vein of: Don't be a storyteller! (you know, a liar! lol).

I'm trying to re-vamp that in my head.

I tell stories when writing, when drawing, when doing anything creative.  The story I'm telling when working on my home? Cozy.  My story when I'm at the computer in my office? That one's harder.  Vision, maybe. Or even cohesive.  The story changes frequently when I'm in my office because I wear a lot of hats in there!  (yep, it's just me and a big honkin' coat-rack in there, trying to get something done!)

My visual, in trying to change my internal connotation of the word "storyteller," is that of a fireside shaman, relating the stories of her tribe.  There might be feathers in my hair.  I like feathers.  But I am magical, creating stories from words and gestures; using pictures to record memories and lessons.

Here's how I think of it: waaaaaay back in the day (which, according to Dane Cook, was a Wednesday), everyone had a job.  Hunter.  Gatherer.  Medicine Man.  Chief. Council Member.  And later: Seamstress/Tailor.  Tanner.  Blacksmith.  But there's always someone to entertain as well.  To record group memories, to help shape the culture going forward based on the lessons and stories of the ancestors. 

Shaman.  Bard. Poet. Playwright.  Painter. Sculptor. Actor.  Designer.
Nowadays, "creative" will do.  I am constantly telling stories.  Daydreaming.  Writing.  Drawing.  Coloring.  Inking.  Teaching.  Relating an anecdote.  I cannot stop from doing it--it is as natural and second-nature as breathing!  I'm surprised I don't have stories oozing from my pores!

The word "storyteller" immediately put me at ease, made me nod.  Yes, that is my word. 

I am a storyteller.

So, what are YOU meant to do? What's your word?  Tell me!

Sunday, May 1, 2011

The Organized Writer

So I'm often referred to as anal retentive and no where is that more helpful than when I'm writing!  I'm just like anyone else though: if it's too complicated, I'm not going to keep up with it.  So here are the things I'm currently using and some tips to go along.

1. Spreadsheets.  I love excel and making spreadsheets.  So neat and organized and lined.  I use a spreadsheet with lots of tabs for tracking my writing ideas as well as my (meager) writing income from ads, Today's Mama (pay per click), Amazon Associates and Kindle subscriptions.  But the first tab is for post ideas.  This way, as soon as I have an idea, I add it to the list and I'm not wracking my brains later for a topic.  I have lately been sidetracked by graphic design but normally, I like to regularly post on each of my three blogs.  I label each idea with which blog it will go on, what type of post it will be (in order to keep my overall blog subjects focused, I have a list of post types for each of my blogs) and where else I can blurb or advertise that post.  I also note any contacts in relation to a post or article.  I ALSO color code my entries.  They are yellow until I write the post.  I change the color to green if I have written and posted it but still need to put that post somewhere else or need to notify someone that the post is up.  I remove all color so it's white when I am completely done with the post.  

2. Calendar....OK, which I made with excel.  This way if I have a strangely open hour or two and I write feverishly, I can spread out my posts.  I also mark the pub dates of all the books I get from so I know what order to read them in (oldest pub dates first).  Really, this can be so helpful to see at a glance which days you've schedule posts.  I highly recommend it.

3.  Daily schedule.  I have an atrocious habit of doing things as they strike me, so scared am I of forgetting to do something.  I try to work against it by giving myself certain days for writing to certain blogs.  I also designate certain days for cleaning, laundry and grocery shopping.  It helps me to focus on the task at hand---I can tell myself "Yes, there's laundry to do, but laundry day is Monday, today is Saturday, so let's finish up this post."  Sometimes, things get away from me and I find myself not writing in order to do dishes that have been sitting for a few hours, but really (truly!) I get MORE done by following a schedule.  Otherwise, I'm doing dishes, then wiping down counters, then stopping to run something to its rightful place upstairs, then pausing to wipe at that spot on the mirror, etc etc and basically doing everything but BICHOK (butt in chair, hands on keys).  In other words, for me, a general routine helps me to write instead of spin my wheels.  It also means I can work on posts in the morning and my novel in the afternoon. (which I haven't been doing lately!)  Also helpful: I've realized now what is reasonable and what is unreasonable in terms of expectations for my daily time with kids, their nap times and running errands.  For example, I will probably not be writing for Technorati anymore, nor will I be copying and pasting my blog posts into Bloggy Moms---there isn't enough time in my week!

 All in all, you need to do what works for you, what is easiest and what dovetails with your natural inclinations/habits/lifestyle.  But overall, I highly recommend some kind of organizational system, especially if you are a freelancer.


Please also see Kim Harrison's character grid (which is excellent!) and Fiction Writer's Character Chart.  
What do you do to keep organized?  

Thursday, April 28, 2011

More Links, Great Resources, Useful References

Hey all!                                                                                                                     

I have added to and rearranged and tweaked all my links lists, so please have a look!
There is a *NEW* list: Genre Writing, where I weeded out a few things from Resources and References, which is a pretty long list.  I did add a few things to the R&R list as well.  I've added an author or two, completely revamped the Creatives list and added to the Publishing list.  I am thinking about creating a links list for Tools & Software---would you find that helpful?  I would put the two forms I've recently found for characters on there, for example, as well links to writing software and software for artists. 

Also, anyone who has a blog or website themselves (or just one you want to recommend) please do send it along to me and I'll consider it for addition.  You can reply here or find me on Twitter.   Thanks so much!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Book Review: The Art and Craft of Fiction: A Practitioner's Manual

I have just finished The Art & Craft of Fiction: A Practitioner's Manual by Victoria Mixon. 
If you are a writer, this must be on your desk.  Must.  Go. Buy it.  Yes, I mean right now!  Hit that Amazon link and get to clickin'! 
The best way I can describe this is that it is like having a tutor right beside you.  Victoria's voice is clear, funny and informative yet personal at the same time;  it's like she's sitting right beside you, reading your mind, anticipating your questions, voicing things you knew you knew and encouraging you onward!  Every time I paused to read some of Victoria's book, I want to highlight, note and then drop it in favor of writing.  And you know, when I finished, I thought, WAIT how am I going to find that one note I made?  Will I have to go back and scan and scan to find it?  But no, because of course, Ms.Mixon thought of everything: there's an index.  Yay! :)
Topics covered: character, dialog, tension, plot, writing moods, and punctuation and grammar (an invaluable resource!)

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Event: Flannery O'Connor

I received a newsletter from my alma mater, College of Notre Dame of Maryland (soon to be College of Notre Dame University!) and it had some interesting things on the calendar.  The one on Catholic writers that I was really interested in was only 4 days away from the day I received the newsletter, so I was a little annoyed at not having enough time to get things together to attend that!  However, they are also having an exhibit: 

 February 28 to April 23,
Loyola/Notre Dame Library

Here's what the newsletter had to say: 
"Writer Flannery O'Connor holds a special place in the hearts of the Notre Dame community, as the most important female Catholic writer of the 20th century, and as a treasured correspondent of poet and English professor, Maura Eichner, SSND '41." 

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Should "Real Authors" Steer Clear of Self-Publishing?

 A few weeks ago, I wrote a post about self-publishing vs. traditional publishing. I’m not counting traditional publishing out by any means, but I dislike all the brouhaha that is going on which seems to express indignation on the part of the publishers in reference to self-publishers. In short, I thought publishers were coming across as desperate, whiny and immature.

But then I read a blog post by author Jody Hedlund on the subject and she made some valid points. She is definitely pro-traditional publishing, saying, “The truth is, self-publishing marketing is NOT equal to the marketing done by traditional publishers. For all the talk about how ALL authors everywhere have to bear ALL the burden of marketing, it’s just NOT true.” I was initially shocked by that definitive statement and immediately felt rebellious! Lol But I continued to read and I’m glad I did!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

As a Writer, What Fiction Should I Be Reading?

       You know, two of my high school classmates (that I know of…that I’m still friends with…) are writers. When I first started connecting with people online a few years ago, I was stunned and amazed at their pursuit of the writerly profession. A little intimidated. Ok, maybe a tad jealous.

One, I will call E, she writes historical fiction and writes a fabulous blog: professional, thoughtful, intellectual. I wanted to be her. I felt like I was in high school again, striving to be in with the cool kids. She read intellectual fare and I, at first, thought, “Is this what I should be reading? Is this what good writers read?” Shouldn’t I love Faulkner, quote from Yeats, memorize Whitman? (I’ve been reading the poetry issue of O, Magazine!) I’ve never read Austen (although I love “her” movies! Lol), never owned a Sylvia Plath or read Ayn Rand or Tolstoy.....


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