Wednesday, November 6, 2013

NaNoWriMo

November is here, which means it's National Novel Writing Month.

This is my ninth consecutive year participating and my fifth year as municipal liaison for the Lawrence region.

Ehem. Now that I have all of that boring information out of the way.

I can always count on NaNo to get me back into writing, no matter how long I've been away from it. Although I haven't taken a break for nearly as long as it's been since my last blog post here. I have continued to contribute - albeit sporadically - to the Confabulator Cafe, which was equal parts writing a random flash fiction and rehashing old stories.

I also participated in a 24-hour writing contest put on by Writer's Weekly and won an honorable mention for it. Which just goes to show...why is it that I am always just like, mediocre?

I tied three different ways for first for the Story in a Bag contest, I tied with 25 other people for 4th, I made it through the first round of Penumbra's process but not the second, I was accepted for a publication that then got bought out so now it looks like I won't even get that publishing credit. I'm not saying I'm giving up, I'm just realizing where my writing stands next to others.

I will never be as good as the best writers. I'm not saying I'm a bad writer. I'm just realizing I am a mediocre writer and that I am going to have to fight for every inch I get. I just have to decide if that's what I want. Some days, it's not. Some days I'm content just to drabble here and there, and get the small recognition I've gotten.

But of course, there's that self-absorbed part of myself that will always wish for part of the big spotlight. Rich and famous from something I've written.

Anyway. I digress. I was planning on talking about NaNo. But I won't. I will be posting every Friday at the Confabulator Cafe to talk about my NaNo experience. Let's just say I wrote this blog because it's been six months and I felt it was time for an update.

The biggest updates I've already mentioned: winning honorable mention for the 24-hour story contest and despairing that my short story won't actually be published next month.

 A couple of other updates as far as the editing side of my projected career:

I am almost finished my editing certificate. I have two more assignments and the final exam, and then come December, as long as I pass, I will have all the classes to earn the certificate. No idea what I will do with it after that, but I'll have it and I know I'm taking a damn break from school for at least a semester. Maybe I'll write. Maybe I'll edit one or two of my novels.

I applied for a writing internship back in September, and got the position. I wrote a total of three articles for them, and then they switched me from writer to editor. When all is said and done, I will have three months worth of editing health articles for online publication under my belt.

Again, I will not talk about NaNo. I'm writing. That's enough.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Spring Update

It's finally spring in Kansas (which means there are some nice days and some days that feel like summer). Amazingly, this seems to have cured most of my ailments.

I've been suffering from one illness or ailment after another for the last five months, everything from colds to flu to bronchitis to sinus infections to dental and mouth surgeries. I've been to the doctor and the dentist and I've been on inhalers and steroids and antibiotics and my own array of herbal supplements. It figures what finally cured me was just time and a change in the weather.

The other ailment the weather seems to be slowly curing is writer's block. I'm starting to feel creative energies flowing again, and I actually have an idea or two percolating. I think it helps that my head isn't as full of snot or pain and that my seasonal depression is fading.

At any rate, I haven't started actually writing yet, but I have written a few wine blogs (you can check them out at Red Wine Reminiscence), and now I'm writing a blog here. I've poked around some short story markets on Duotrope. I finally read my NaNo novel from last year, and decided it wasn't the pile of trash I originally thought it was. It's a start. A small start, but it's something.

This weekend is ConQuest, and the boyfriend and I are going all three days. I will write a story for Story in a Bag - the contest I won last year (well, three way tied for first). I will listen to writers and publishers and editors and artists talk. I will write down a thousand book recommendations. And I will relax with my man on his birthday weekend. I've taken several days off work, so I am going to rest, relax, read, and hopefully write.

The third course in my editing certificate starts tomorrow. I earned a B+ in both the first and the second courses, have learned a ton, and am looking forward to the next class. Just two left until I am done with the sequence. I just finished copyediting a friend's manuscript (my first paid gig).

I am making slow and steady progress towards my goals again. The post-NaNo blues took me down hard this year, and I wandered aimlessly for a long time. But I'm taking it back now. I'm ready to reclaim my writer title. I know I never really lose it, but sometimes I put it away for awhile. During those times, I always worry I'll never get it back out, but as all of my writing friends remind me, it will always find me again, even if I can't find it.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Baby Steps Forward

As I mentioned last week, January brings crippling bouts of writer's block and a wide range of insecurities and depression. My writing always suffers.

It's a familiar cycle, although it's still painful every year. I am trying to take comfort right now in the fact that I have, on record, the last two painful Januarys, and I survived them both. I have learned not to push myself too hard or expect too much and be very proud of myself for any forward motion.

And so, I applaud myself this week. I was struck with sudden inspiration and managed to write my next two Confabulator Cafe assignments, including a not-so-flash-fiction retelling of a fairytale. That will go up next week. It's a twisted tale, of course, because I put all my pain and misery into my writing, but I am happy with how it turned out. So you should go read it. I'll try to remember to advertise here when it goes live.

Not only did I get those things written, I started poking around Duotrope (which, I'm sad to say, is no longer free - but for $50 a year, I decided it was an investment in my writing career), which culminated in me sending out all of the stories that had come back rejected at the end of last year. I even found another market to submit my novella to, once I clean it up a bit more (it needs about 1000 more words in the revision), I'll send that out, as well.

Lastly, my next class in the professional editing sequence started this week. Even after the trauma of my grammar class last semester, I am geeky-excited about it right now. I'm sure I'll complain about it plenty down the line, but I'm excited now. I wrote all of my reading assignments out on sticky notes and put them in my textbooks. I was the first person to introduce myself on the forum. Looking over the syllabus, I think this class may be a little more fun and a little more in line with what I was hoping this certificate would be like. I'm allowing myself to be hopeful right now, because I start having panic attacks if I think about how miserable I was during the grammar class.

Even though it seems like the rest of my life is in chaos, at least I'm still making steps towards my writing and editing goals. I just have to keep holding on (tightly) to that.

Friday, January 11, 2013

January Desolation

January is always a tough month for me, writing-wise. I tend to suffer from seasonal affective disorder, so I'm always bummed out, I still feel burned out from writing frantically for the entire month of November, and I'm exhausted from the holidays. And lazy from the holidays. I always take a lot of time off to do nothing with family and friends, so when January hits, it's all I can do to get myself back into my responsibilities as an adult, and to get back to work.

This year is just like every other. The only difference is work is overwhelming me right now - we're down a staff member and my boss is going on vacation next week - so when I get home at the end of the day, all I want to do is watch TV and go to bed early.

Combine that with another botched job in my mouth by my dentist, and my motivation to work towards my writing career is nil.

I have to keep reminding myself that I go through this every year. I make a lot of goals at the beginning of each year and get down on myself for not immediately working on them, but January is a brutal month. I can forgive myself for slacking in January. Or at least not get too down on myself for slacking in January.

Which basically means I have nothing to report, as far as my personal writing career progress.

You should go check out the Confabulator Cafe, though. It's still going strong. We have a new member, new topics, and a new look for this year. For any new material from me, that's where you'll have to go to find it for now. I post every Tuesday.


Tuesday, January 1, 2013

The Third Year

My second year on my quest to become a published author has passed, and the third year is upon us.

And, amazingly enough, I actually am a published author, now. I've had one short story published in a horror anthology, another story will come out in a magazine in December 2013, I've been shortlisted for a professional paying publication, and I've been a contributor every week for the past year at the Confabulator Cafe.

Short stories weren’t really the direction I had planned on going last year, but I think it worked out for the best. I had some success, and it's helped me hone my craft as a writer.

Last year I had planned on doing some rewriting and editing, but never managed to get very far with that. This year, though, I'm working on my editing certificate through UC Berkeley's online extension program, so I feel like I'm finally ready to shift gears and edit.

As I mentioned last year, I know I can write. I've written several novels, one even full-length. Now I know I can write short stories - anywhere from 20k to 1k. And I can write essays in response to prompts. I am a versatile writer, and I’ve sharpened my skills.

So, now, this is the year of editing.

But the rest won’t stop. No. I will continue to write – both novel length works as well as short stories. I invested in a year subscription to Duotrope so I will continue to submit my short stories. I will keep writing for the Café. I will hopefully complete the editing certificate by the end of the year so I will keep learning and submitting assignments for that.

But on top of all of that, I will work on editing at least one of the two novels I wrote in 2011.
And, depending on where I am after all of that, I might start querying said novels.

Patience and timing are important as a writer. So are hard work, determination, and not letting rejection get us down. Yes, two years have passed so I only have eight left to reach my publishing goal. But as far as I’ve come in the past two years, I’m confident that by the time I turn forty, I will be exactly where I want to be as far as my writing career.

So, to reiterate, here are my 2013 writing goals:
  • In January, finish writing 2012 Nano novel.
  • Submit at least one short story a month.
  • Edit Online Dating for Demons (write a clean first draft and then have people beta read)
  • Keep writing – attempt short stories outside of the Café, and attempt to write a novel outside of November.
  • Blogs – Café every Tuesday, Prospective Writer every Friday, and Red Wine Reminiscence every Sunday. Post something on FB author page at least once a week, as well.

I think that’s plenty to keep me busy next year. Help keep me honest and accountable, folks. That’s why I created this blog. I need my readers.

One last thing: to celebrate our one-year anniversary, the Confabulator Cafe got a makeover! Come check out our new look, and take a minute to check out our fresh content every week.