#IWSG December

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!

December 2 question – Are there months or times of the year that you are more productive with your writing than other months, and why? The awesome co-hosts for the December 2 posting of the IWSG are Pat Garcia,Sylvia Ney,Liesbet @ Roaming AboutCathrina Constantine, and Natalie Aguirre!

There are two seasons of writing for me that I have recognized. NICOLE GULOTTA talks about seasons of writing in her book Wild Words. My seasons are creation and revision. I will create until I pile up enough words that I feel that I have to do something with it. It is a system based on feeling.

I am inspired all the time but I have set up my writing life for me to be open to ideas to flow to me. Lines get added to the everything notebook and the notes app all the time. I feel like I have a writing antennae that is always on alert. I read and use other’s words to fuel my own. The children I come in contact during the week also get my brain moving because they see patterns others don’t. I also seek out poems. My inbox is also set up for me to be productive. I subscribe to poem of the day newsletters so there is always quality items to read there. Yesterday I got the alert that my issue of The Paris Review was ready to download and was thrilled to read in-between obligations.

At first I thought deadlines made me more productive but it is the routines I have set up in my writing practice. I decided to write every day. I decided I will post to my blog every Tuesday and the first Wednesday of the new month. So I do.

I have a writing community I am responsible to so I write and produce when I need to share. This has made me a better writer for sure.

Last summer I had an ideal writing schedule set up. I would write, walk, nap and then write again. The move and the pandemic required me to adjust this schedule. I am now back in a new routine where I am writing over 2750 words a day across the projects and I am happy and moving in the right direction!

#IWSG November

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!

November 4 question – Albert Camus once said, “The purpose of a writer is to keep civilization from destroying itself.” Flannery O’Conner said, “I write to discover what I know.” Authors across time and distance have had many reasons to write.

Why do you write what you write?


The awesome co-hosts for the November 4 posting of the IWSG are Jemi Fraser,Kim Lajevardi,L.G Keltner,Tyrean Martinson, and Rachna Chhabria!

I have asked myself this question many times and it has been asked of me.

The short answer is I am compelled to write. I write stories of hope and being lost. I write about darkness and every day magic. I write what I hope to see in the world.

I write to be a better teacher of writing now because I desperately wanted a writing instructor as a child, and honestly, and as adult now I wish for the same thing. I seek out my own teachers of course. I also believe this is why I am obsessed with MFA programs. There is a lovely podcast where an MFA student interviews other students from various programs. They talk about writing and craft and then about the program itself. It is an escape I look forward to every time a new episode comes out.

With my writing, I hope to have an impact on others. So many author’s stories have stuck with me and I come back to them over and over. I want one of my stories to be as influential to someone else.

Being a writer helps me pay closer attention. I am always looking for things to write down on my lists of 10. I am listening to conversations and the way children phrase things. I write down what they think is funny.

Lately, I have felt like I want to be immersed in language. To read and write and talk about the process. I am trying to construct my life in this fashion. There are interruptions of course – sometimes from my own thoughts.

Interacting with my writing community is one of the daily delights! It is a close second to the writing itself. I learn from these people who are the best friends I have and most I have never met in person. It is a blessing that does not go unnoticed in my writing life.

For now my plan is to show up to the page every day. I write, I learn, I read, I submit, I publish.

It is a good process.

#IWSG October

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!

October 7 question – When you think of the term working writer, what does that look like to you? What do you think it is supposed to look like? Do you see yourself as a working writer or aspiring or hobbyist, and if latter two, what does that look like? The awesome co-hosts for the October 7 posting of the IWSG are Jemima Pett,Beth Camp,Beverly Stowe McClure, and Gwen Gardner!

It is interesting to. me that this is the question posed for this month’s ISWG because it has been on mind.

I was doing an exercise examing the big negative energy depleters in my life and the idea of my “paycheck” work vs “fun” work came up. By day, I am a teacher and I love the aspects of the students and the actual teaching. The skills I have acquired through this career serves me well in all the other areas. I am a professonal writer.

I have been obsessed with the idea of an MFA for quite a while. I waver back and forth about how I feel about it in the vein of “do I need it”. I don’t and I know it. But what I do need is immersion in reading and writing and the community tied to those two things.

The shelter in place time allowed me to sustain a writers schedule. Now I have my schedule dictated to me and the transition has been tough.

A friend pointed out to me I have an MFA in experience and self guided study. I have created a community of trusted writers.

There is no choosing your cohort when you attend an MFA program. You have no idea if you are going to mesh creatively with these people.

I have attempted to find a place where all my writing needs are met and cannot seem to find the perfect fit. I think maybe that means I have to create my own!

I am modeling my working writer career after Nina LaCour right now and have been binge listening to all the podcasts she has been on and her own. She does a nice job of unpacking her own process. She also is an emotional writer which is an area I am currently working on.

#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 2 question – If you could choose one author, living or dead, to be your beta partner, who would it be and why?
The awesome co-hosts for the September 2 posting of the IWSG are PJ Colando,J Lenni Dorner,Deniz Bevan,Kim Lajevardi,Natalie Aguirre, and Louise – Fundy Blue!

The schedule feels new for the month of September. In the Northern Hemisphere it is time for school. Labor Day marks the beginning of time that feels different. Summer days fade and all the color seems different. Nature begins to shift.

The day for me always begins with writing and coffee. Sometimes it is 15 minutes of writing and gulping down hot liquid because now I am bound by the clock more than my natural rhythms. Today it is more than two hours because I am up early. Lots of words and coffee both.

My initial instinct for this question are my go to favorite authors. Neil Gaiman and Kelly Link start the list. I am not sure I could sit with them and talk writing and not be intimidated. I am sure they are lovely people. I have seen them both speak. One of the best times I have seen Neil speak is with a video call with V.E. Schwab. The mutual admiration was adorable.

I have tried to locate all the talks Kelly has given online. I hope one day to travel to her bookstore in the East.

Another author I would like to sit down with is Amber Sparks. In these pandemic times I have been able to hear her speak on several panels about writing. I admire her writing and her style. Sitting across a table talking about how stories get onto the page would be thrilling.

In all honesty, sitting down with any writer who writes and talking about technique and how words get on the page is thrilling to me. I love that conversation almost as much as the writing itself.

For my writing class I have to prepare a short story show and tell. This title is perfect for September, isn’t it? I take a favorite story and examine the craft. How it is put together from my perspective. I am looking forward to this exercise. Taking time to look at a story line by line is like having a conversation with the piece itself. There is no way to know what the exact intent is of the author but I can have this experience with the story. It is a different type of experience I can sink into.

As an educator, one of the reasons I like to hear authors speak is to get the nugget about writing the story no one knows. It is why I love podcasts. I heard David Shannon, the children’s author speak many years ago and learned he always puts his little white Scottie dog somewhere in the illustrations of his books. When I told my students this information there was a “Where’s Waldo?” hunt for the little dog. It is fun and makes you feel like you are in an inner circle of writers.

The inner circle is a great place to be.

Happy Writing!

I would love to hear what your favorite short story is….

IWSG August

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!

August 5 question – Quote: “Although I have written a short story collection, the form found me and not the other way around. Don’t write short stories, novels or poems. Just write your truth and your stories will mold into the shapes they need to be.”
Have you ever written a piece that became a form, or even a genre, you hadn’t planned on writing in? Or do you choose a form/genre in advance?

I have always been a writer but through my narrow writer experience I thought I had to write a novel. I had tried many times before finally figuring out flash and short stories were my favorite medium. I finally listened to the right podcast and found my tribe!

This summer the phrase, “Truth is always the best story.” keeps coming up. It has surfaced so many times I know to pay attention. As a fiction writer many of the stories I write are based in truth with the reality skewed a little. The characters feel my feelings similar to spaces I have been in. The settings are places I have been with the details changed to bend to my will. Why is it always the places we have been (and not currently in) are so much easier to write?

One of the reasons I love short stories is because I am able to play with the form. I have written stories in the form of job postings, mad libs, and recipes. I have written Twitter length stories and ones comprised of random sentences over time. No writing is wasted I have learned and many lines I have come back to that have marinated over time.

I never get bored writing or reading short stories.

There is magic in an author taking a story and weaving magic in a few 100 words. I have many models of great writing and I study them. I do not read in the same way anymore. There is pleasure but always intention to learn something new now.

One of my favorite things about writing is that it surprises me. I swear by freewriting for everything. If I do not know what I am thinking about a situation in my life I freewrite. It opens my eyes and helps me get out of my own way. I have learned to write and let it flow without censoring. Often a line or a word will appear on the page without conscious thought and it is a delight! When a description comes out in a unique way or a memory is triggered it is a delightful writing sessions. There are also those moments where I write a short piece and know I have another one that will go with it perfectly in the drive.

Short stories have a sense of mystery and uncertainty. Kelly Link is the master of short stories that do not answer all your questions. You are left wondering. A great short story is the one that stays with me and I keep wrangling with it to figure it out in a satisfying way.

As a writer this is part of my service to my readers – to make them think and feel something different than before they read my piece. I am always striving to do it better.

IWSG July

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!

July 1 question – There have been many industry changes in the last decade, so what are some changes you would like to see happen in the next decade? 

The awesome co-hosts for the July 1 posting of the IWSG are Jenni Enzor, Beth Camp, Liesbet, Tyrean Martinson, and Sandra Cox!

What comes to mind when I read the question above for this month’s IWSG post is the changes associated with the mindset about indie publishing and traditional. I had a writing conversation about what is next for me yesterday. I am participating in a 4 month writing program starting at the end of August. My outcome is to be a much better writer by the time December gets here. One of my goals for 2020 is to finally get my e-book onto Amazon. I had mentioned yesterday to put it off until after the workshop is over. Learning how to do it now would still be valuable however.

Several years ago the idea of publishing my own book of short stories would have not been possible – at least not as easily as it is now. I publish on Medium and here on this blog, but it isn’t the same.

There is still magic and status in my mind that comes along with traditional publishing. If a publisher came to me about any of my writing I wouldn’t tell them no. There is still validation in someone saying they see you and want to spread the joy of your writing.

There is no telling what reading and writing will look like in the next 10 years. I am sure the technology will make it even easier. With so many people at home now due to the new sheltering protocols I bet it will move even faster.

What changes do you anticipate?

IWSG May

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!

May 6 question –

Do you have any rituals that you use when you need help getting into the ZONE? 

As a writer, I like rhythm and routine. I start the day with my coffee and my writing. It is always the first thing I do in the morning. Some days are better than others, but the writing always gets done. The words have to get on the page.

I most often start with a prompt but free-writing allows whatever is on my mind to get into the notebook. Sometimes it is reflection, but many times it is fiction. Yesterday when I woke I wrote a story based on the dream I had just came from. I often am in the middle of a challenge. This month I am participating in Storyaday where I write a complete story every day. It does not have to be good or long, just finished. There is power in the act of finishing and learning from that process.

During the day I listen to podcasts and read. I have to make sure there is input. I have had to change some of the venues because of the sheltering in place. I have found I miss the overheard conversations from life before COVID. I take advantage of the writing communities I belong to and have conversations with other writers.

If I am having trouble with ideas and flow, I will switch from handwriting to typing or vise versa. If I am thinking out a story then handwriting often works best. It is slower and my thoughts can trickle out with the pen drawing the letters. If the idea is hot then typing is faster and the ideas do not get tripped up before I can get the scene out.

Walking or running is also another solution to being stuck.

Since I have a list of actions that work for me, I choose the one that seems to solve the problem at hand.

What works for you?

#IWSG April

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!

April 1 question — The IWSG’s focus is on our writers. Each month, from all over the globe, we are a united group sharing our insecurities, our troubles, and our pain. So, in this time when our world is in crisis with the COVID-19 pandemic, our optional question this month is: how are things in your world?

Over the last several years I have structured my life to center around more of what is essential to me. As I have come to know myself this means to be around less people. I recently changed jobs where I was split between two schools as a coach working with elementary teachers. There was a lot of travel and juggling of people and materials. I had three offices — four if you count the car. There were a lot of advantages to this work but one large downfall was the compensation.

My husband and I have a long term goal to be in a cabin in a lake. I am a step closer to that with a move north. There is a running path just outside my door. My new space is airy and bright.

Being told to stay at home is fairly close to my ideal life. I have been using this time as a gift to read, write, study and evaluate. The dreams are starting to get darker though and my past is trying to visit. I am running again which is great and I feel more myself than I have in a long while. I am lucky I can still get outside. I have friends where this time is limited to them.

I am safe and people I love are safe…for now.

I have several support systems in place with my writing communities so I do not feel alone. I am more connected to them through Zoom, Slack, and email than normal. There are important people I would rather see in person now but that cannot happen so I must wait.

The air of uncertainty is in the back of my mind. It is always looming, but I have been in a liminal space for quite a while with other issues in my life. I feel the obstacles of my past are helping me not panic in the state we are in now. So I will deal with what is right in front of me when I need to and otherwise enjoy the time.

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#IWSG March

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!

The awesome co-hosts for the March 4 posting of the IWSG are Jacqui Murray, Lisa Buie-Collard, Sarah Foster, Natalie Aguirre, and Shannon Lawrence!

March 4 optional question — Other than the obvious holiday traditions, have you ever included any personal or family traditions/customs in your stories?

I think my own life sneaks its way into my stories. I enjoy using snippets of my life and then spinning them. Some of my closest friends recognize some events.

I find “ordinary” things that happen interesting. Even as a young girl I was fascinated with asking my pen pals the way their family did things. Birthdays, weddings, etc.

I’m in Charge of Celebrations is a book by Byrd Baylor I read in college. We had to write about a normal activity we did that we could make a celebration as a writing extension for the read-aloud. I wrote about letter writing. I have been an avid letter writer during my childhood and it was always joyous when envelopes came in the mail.

Christmas Eve was a magical time hosted by my maternal grandmother. She made every day things special. Lunches, hot chocolate, cookouts outside — everything. Those elements often end up in stories. Dinner at my grandmother’s was a regular Sunday occurrence. The dinners in my stories are based on those memories. The places I have gone with my grandparents also become starters for descriptions of setting.

But it is part of who I am and therefore it comes through in my stories.

#IWSG FEB!

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!


The awesome co-hosts for the The awesome co-hosts for the January 8 posting of the IWSG are T. Powell Coltrin,Victoria Marie Lees,Stephen Tremp,Renee Scattergood, and J.H. Moncrieff!

February 5 question – Has a single photo or work of art ever inspired a story? What was it and did you finish it?

I have used pieces of art or photos several times over the past several years as a springboard for my writing.

In Storyaday May and September Julie Duffy has used pieces of fine art as the inspirational prompts.

The most recent piece I used was Van Gogh’s Starry Night in a Skillshare Class from Kathy Fish. I like the piece from Kathy’s class. It has more movement in it than some of the other pieces. During the exercise I was also focusing on unexpected descriptions so it was fun to write.

Maybe someday soon you will see that piece published somewhere.