#last100days

This post started out as one for Five Minute Friday, but now it is Saturday. Every Friday Kate posts a word and invites writers to compose for 5 minutes and share.

Today I care that there are 99 days left in 2021. I have thought about several different #last100days2021 projects and cannot find the lists I made. Today I wrote about the things I don’t care about in my notebook but I won’t share them here.

This morning I spent several hours writing. One of the rituals I have is to first write about my dreams if I remember them or have any. Then I write down the prompts that I am thinking about for the day.

Everyday I use the Sarah Selecky prompt which if you follow me at all know that I write to everyday. This month I have been recording the Storyaday prompt and the #septembersentences prompt from Caroline Donahue.

Next month there will be a prompt to write a poem a day.

In the past my 100 day project have been writing prompts, one sentence that turned into a story after the challenge was over, and the 100 rejections that morphed into 100 submissions. The 100 submissions project yielded a collection I published.

I am thinking about tarot and writing which I explore daily as well. I just received the Natalie Goldberg Writing Down the Bones cards and may use that as a 100 day project. I am having trouble committing to a project.

What Else I Have Been Thinking About

Last year I applied for an MFA. There are loads of reasons and I want to be a better writer but not sure that is the path to take. I came late the idea of an MFA to begin with and I have a bit of a feeling that I missed out on something.

I have also come to know that I have cultivated a writing life and looks like a self-directed MFA.

In a traditional MFA you cannot choose the cohort you are with. Hopefully, the selection committee pays attention to this personality piece but I am not sure how that works. I have found in larger writing classes you cannot chose the cohort either. Sometimes you mesh and sometimes you don’t.

I have cultivated my own tribe of writers across several groups. There are different purposes for different groups. Some are writing in general, critique and study groups.

Exercises and close reading are learnings I participate in often. As an educator, I have given myself assignments. Actually, even before then I was! On my bookshelves, paper and digital, there are more writing craft books than I want to count. The fiction collections and novels are mentor texts.

I could go on and on about this topic. Nicole Rivera from Stop Writing Alone did a podcast episode about her thoughts around MFA’s and made the point that she is of the generation that when you wanted to learn something, you got a degree in it. I am of the same generation. I do take workshops and classes and am contemplating if that is enough.

Which leads me to a long winding path to the #100dayMFA. I am toying with this idea and writing out what I do on a daily basis to cultivate the writing life I live now. There are many components that include, but not limited to:

  1. Close reading with lists
  2. Craft talks/readings/podcasts (learning)
  3. Community
  4. Writing schedule
  5. Projects
  6. Immersion days
  7. List of exercises/assignments
  8. How and what to share (blog?newsletter?)

The bottom line is I have not exactly decided what I want to do with these last 100 days even though I had the countdown in my Passion Planner.

I would love to hear your thoughts about my 100 day project ideas or your own project!

Welcome Fall!

Photo by rikka ameboshi on Pexels.com

I feel like the welcoming committee to the new season this year. I happily am kicking summer out of the guest room and welcoming my friend Autumn into the house with her red hair and flowing burnt leaf colored clothing. She smells of coffee, pumpkin, spice, and cider and glows in a way no one else does.

It has been a disorienting last couple of weeks for me and I am happy for the transition of a new season on the tail of a full moon.

On Tuesday I wrote about ten delights of Fall. You can read that here.

I am ushering in today with writing, reading, and people watching. I am reading The Butterfly Lampshade by Aimee Bender and have been inspired by her sentences. It has been a long while since I had a novel that I could crawl in to and absorb the magic.

This novel strikes me in a way that makes me think of other connections I have and want to write about them. It is a novel I keep wanting to come back to. It is on my kindle so I have been reading it on my phone which is not always ideal for me. I love her writing and weirdness but there are so many triggers for me to write coming from the ideas and the language and how she puts sentences together. I have this notion to rewrite all the highlights so I can feel where the magic is coming from inside her construction. I haven’t felt this drawn to a book in a long time. The Night Circus is really the only fiction book that comes to mind.

Anyone else get this feeling from an author or a book?

I need to find some good Autumn poems to read. I have been enjoying my Paris Review email with poems. Ada Limon is the new host of the podcast The Slowdown. She leads with a reflection of her own and then reads a poem. It has been delightful.

I am looking forward to using my Writing Down the Bones cards that will come in the mail today! I adore Natalie Goldberg.

I have been doing much reflection over the past week and coming to some truths about my life and the perception of it!

I welcome the warmth and the hygge of the season for sure!

Ten on Tuesday #SOL21

On most Tuesdays I blog and post to the Two Writing Teacher Blog . Teacher writers read and then comment on at least three others posts.

Tomorrow is the first day of fall and I am thrilled.

Here are ten delights about AUTUMN:

  1. twinkle lights
  2. cozy blankets
  3. coffee, but sometimes hot cider
  4. crows
  5. candles
  6. thick stew with crusty bread
  7. thick Irish wool sweaters
  8. reading the book In November to my students
  9. layers of clothes
  10. the crisp breeze flowing through colorful leaves on my walks

I would love to hear what fall means to you in the comments.

Still Trying #SOL21

On most Tuesdays I blog and post to the Two Writing Teacher Blog . Teacher writers read and then comment on at least three others posts.

For the first time in at least a month, I began my day with an hour of writing. The plan was to sleep a little later and then write before work. The plans were changed a bit.

I wrote with my coffee and then we went on a short walk.

I have been back to work for a month and have still not found a new rhythm that feels right. I had to change rooms last week which threw me off. The longer early morning and afternoon walks seem to wear on me. It takes the whole weekend to recover. I know the experts say you cannot make up sleep, but that is what I seem to be doing. Focus and certain details seem to be lost.

This fall seems different than others in the past. I am doing many of the same things as the past: I write, I work, I walk, I learn but it all seems off somehow. I am hoping there will be some cooler weather that will come and stay.

The students have been in classrooms since September 1st and working with them has been wonderful. The teachers are lovely as well of course!

This situation is one where I wonder if I have to let go or try to manipulate it more. I know there needs to be more flexibility to the coaching job and schedules can change on a whim depending on student and teacher needs.

Hopefully, getting my room in a little more order will help today too!

Have you found your new rhythm?

I would love to hear in the comments.

Holiday Weekend Coffee Share

Thank you for joining me for a coffee chat today.

If we were having coffee I would tell you I had to look back at my calendar to even recall all that happened. Such a contrast from the quarantine weeks. The thought of the individual and the collective have been on my mind and what this will mean as we move forward into the world. COVID is not over, several countries are in lock down again and there is a contrast to many people who have gone back to their normal life. It gives me a headache sometimes.

If we were having coffee I would tell you I had the open house at my new school. It was great to see students in the building walking slowly with their backpacks so excited to come to school. It was a late night however and that seems to zap my energy more than in the past.

If we were having coffee I would tell you my PUSH group started Week 1 last Wednesday. It is a great group of people and the conversation was life giving. They are the weekly hour long meetings that are the heartbeat of my community. There is so much joy and energy each week.

If we were having coffee I would tell you writing challenges started on Wednesday: Storyaday and September Sentences. I continue freewriting with my Sarah Selecky prompts. I am teaching with the Intensive this fall and that has been an amazing experience so far. We are in the middle of week 2 now.

If we were having coffee I would tell you I was glad for the holiday weekend and the extra day off. We went to a Brewer’s game yesterday. There is a roof and it was drizzling so it was closed sadly. The food at ball park is not even close to the caliber of White Sox park so that is disappointing.

If we were having coffee I would tell you I submitted a piece of writing this weekend. The last time I submitted it was May! I have not been in the same space to share my writing lately, and that is ok but worth examining.

If we were having coffee I would tell you I have a touch of dread moving into this week. I am not sure where it is coming from. The full blown school schedule will be activated which means later evenings a couple days a week. I walked Wednesday though Sunday last week. I will continue walking each day this week but will have to move the times around. It is quite dark at 4:45am. Tomorrow is a new moon so I imagine it will be darker than last week too!

I hope your week was amazing and full of things that bring you joy!

September Story Challenges

September means the Storyaday challenge I have been doing for years. This year is also means #septembersentences hosted by Caroline Donahue, and the continuation of daily Sarah Selecky’s freewrites.

Potentially, this could mean a lot of writing.

Caroline Donahue is posting prompts for her challenge of writing two sentences each day for September. Her prompts are shared on IG.

Sarah Selecky’s prompts are shared through her community CENTERED. You can find that link here.

For the Storyaday challenge, Julie reuses the prompts from May, so I have been diving into the Google file and revising those stories from 4 months ago. This is the first time I have done this. Usually I write a brand new story and add to the words and drafts in my drive. The prompts from May did resonate with me this year, and I was happy with most of the stories I wrote.

I have been thinking a lot lately about the amount of words and the quality of words I am producing and what to do with them afterwards [if anything.] The revision aspect seems to be working – these first couple of days anyway.

This morning while writing in my notebook I remembered that I had publicly reflected on the challenge!

Here was my agenda for May’s Challenge: If you would like to read my reflections from Day 4 in May click here

  • Reflect about how I approached the prompt – Did it resonate with me? Did I use it? Did I use something else or combine it with something else?
  • Write the story and analyze if it different as an outcome than what I expected when I started.
  • Would I use this prompt again?
  • Reflect if the writing surprised me.
  • Did I learn anything?

Today’s prompt is an ending line from my friend Neha. You can read the whole prompt here and find links to her work.

The story I wrote involved a character who emerged as a Mother Nature like figure and the story involves a magical gate.

Starting with an ending line leads you to where you are going.

Anchors for my May Day 4 story: gate, splinter, time, dark

Are you participating in any September writing challenges? I am certain we will be discussing them in my PUSH group. You should join us. This month we are using The Artist’s Way to drive our discussion. We meet every Wednesday evening at 7:30p.m. Central time.

#FMF City

Each Friday Kate shares a one word prompt for you to write for 5 minutes.

City

Chicago is a city full of hidden gems that people are either trying to find or to keep secret. 

Chicago is a place I have run, visited, shopped, attended field trips and each time I discover something new. I have seen the Harry Potter exhibit at Science and Industry, Monet at the Art Institute, had dinner at fancy restaurants, been to Second City and the Chicago Symphony. 

I have ridden rented bikes on the streets, got lost and carried the bike up three flights of stairs from lower Wacker trying to get back to where I started. I felt like I would be wandering forever.

I ran the Chicago marathon during an anniversary year when I vowed I never would. I should have stuck to my guns in that case.  It was a terrible race for me. I had to walk so many miles just to get back to my car and my stuff. 

I have taken Ubers, driven my own car,  and walked the concerte. I have eaten at Ed Debavacs, which is no longer there in physical space; only memories. I ate at Beard Award winning chef restaurants with friends. I have shopped the magnificent mile and frequented the Hard Rock Cafe. 

In what feels like another life, I saw Wicked, Grease and several other productions. I have taken pictures with the Bean but never ice skated. I have eaten Giordannos pizza.

My first half marathon was in the city. It was the Rock and Roll Half and the pictures only show me having fun, not racing yet. I would take it more serious after that when I got the taste of the thrill.

There is more to explore with each visit. The last trip we ate outside, found a hidden Tiki bar and stayed at a hotel that used to be the Playboy Club.

There is more history to find there and sparks to inspire my writing.

#IWSG September

Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!
Posting: The first Wednesday of every month is officially Insecure Writer’s Support Group day. Post your thoughts on your own blog. Talk about your doubts and the fears you have conquered. Discuss your struggles and triumphs. Offer a word of encouragement for others who are struggling. Visit others in the group and connect with your fellow writer – aim for a dozen new people each time – and return comments. This group is all about connecting!

September Question


September 1 question – How do you define success as a writer? Is it holding your book in your hand? Having a short story published? Making a certain amount of income from your writing?
The awesome co-hosts for the September 1 posting of the IWSG are Rebecca Douglass, T. Powell Coltrin @Journaling Woman, Natalie Aguirre, Karen Lynn, and C. Lee McKenzie!

Over the years, the definition of success has been layered for me. At first, it was just to write and finish stories. Then it became about being published and I began my 100 submissions project. Then it became about teaching and sharing what I have learned.

Now it seems I am back to just the writing. It is what is fueling to me and always what it comes down to. The idea of what constitutes finished is different now though. I have to find a time that I will stick to revision. The ways of the past do not motivate me lately.

I think I bridge revision with submissions and sharing. I am not motivated by sharing my work at the present moment. Even a strict schedule I used to keep for the blog has fallen to the side and that is ok.

If I write, I am a writer and that fact will always be true.

#happyreading #happywriting

Weekend Coffee Share

Thank you for joining me for our weekly coffee chat today.

If we were having a beverage I would tell you I am loving my Wayhome Tarot deck. I learned about it from the Healing Thru Tarot podcast. The host is a Clinical Psychologist and I find her perspective smart.

If we were having a beverage I would tell you I am absorbing that my summer is now over. With the new position I am starting Monday so my summer was cut short by a week. I am thankful for the time before teachers and students come back into the building but an adjustment nevertheless. I have to pack up the books and items from my classroom and move it to my new office. Ugh, another move. I hope this is the last one.

If we were having a beverage I would tell you I am learning patience and how to transition back to regular life. I am welcoming new inspiration into my life like art and fashion design. It has been fueling for my writing and creative life.

If we were having a beverage I would tell you I am rewatching the Harry Potter movies! I loved the books and read them as they came out. I have watched them all in order in one weekend which was an interesting experience!

If we were having a beverage I would tell you I am writing a story based on a tarot and writing class I am in and also with the DIYMFA Scriblandia prompts. It has been an interesting story with a hotel setting. I am struggling with the idea of having things more plotted out than normal. I always find a bit of resistance.

If we were having a beverage I would tell you I am reading which was also recommended by Healing Thru Tarot. I am also reading different short stories and poems of course.

If we were having a beverage I would tell you I have kept up with my walking. The schedule will change next week due to work. The plan is to walk in the morning and when I come home.

If we were having a beverage I would tell you that I am examining the schedule in relationship to my PUSH groups. They are the weekly hour long meetings that are the heartbeat of my community. There is so much joy and energy in these meetings. We are looking at freewrites and what to do with them this month. Next month, we are starting The Artist’s Way. It will bring a great framework to the conversations.

I hope your week was amazing and full of things that bring you joy!

#FMF Accountability

accountability

There are 141 days left in 2021.

Do you have a plan?

The amount of accountability professionally raises on Monday for me. This is the first wave and then on the 23rd another professional wave of the writing variety is added. I am excited for both of these opportunities and I predict many changes in the next coming weeks and months.

I am accountable to myself more so than anything else. I have strong intrinsic motivation, but also am a rebel if you follow Gretchen Rubin’s 4 tendencies research. I sometimes do not even follow my own plan. I have learned to listen more to my intuition and follow what lights me up. I have found this summer that means NOT doing something rather than forcing myself.

If I say I am going to do something, then I typically do it. There are cases where modifications need to be made in order for a better outcome of course.

I use a lot of lists and two planners. One planner is paper and the other digital. There is delight is checking items off a list and seeing the progress.

I keep myself accountable in writing by having a daily practice. I also give myself challenges that I have been sharing more in the last year. Almost every month has a theme in order to keep me on track and moving forward. I will be planning a 100 days project for the remainder of 2021 and am still contemplating what I want to pursue this time.

I do have to be careful to now get caught up in only wanting to check off items rather than being all in to a project. This happened with counting how many books I read in a year. I was just reading to check them off and not enjoying or immersing myself in them.

There is a small group of people I am accountable to because I respect them.