#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 Question

October 6 question – In your writing, where do you draw the line, with either topics or language?

The awesome co-hosts for the October 6 posting of the IWSG are Jemima Pitt,J Lenni Dorner,Cathrina Constantine,Ronel Janse van Vuuren, and Mary Aalgaard!

In my writing, I do not censor myself for the most part. If I feel it isn’t something to be shared, then I do not. That is up to me as a writer.

There are a couple topics that I feel I cannot write about…yet. Maybe I need to move to another state again to get more distance. I have been thinking a lot about the stories I retell over and over and to write them down. Some things that have happened in my life I feel I would never write about either because I do not want to relive the memories.

This month I am examining some more of my shadow self and try to examine why I do not want to revisit certain topics. I am paying attention to what I read and what appeals to me and what doesn’t.

I am certain it is a fine line.

#happyreading #happywriting

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.

#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

#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 4 question – What is your favorite writing craft book? Think of a book that every time you read it you learn something or you are inspired to write or try the new technique. And why?

The awesome co-hosts for the August 4 posting of the IWSG are PK Hrezo, Cathrina Constantine, PJ Colando, Kim Lajevardi, and Sandra Cox!

There are so many favorite craft books, but the one I go back to over and over again is Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg.

The chapters are short which encourages me to read a bit and then get right to writing. I have noted how her last sentences are zingers as well and most of them are underlined in my stained and water logged copy.

There is a simplicity to this book that is appealing. Most of the advice centers around, “just write” which is helpful for some reason coming from her.

I am inspired by her prompts like, “I remember..” that is referenced in many other writing classes. I love the idea of her Spontaneous Poetry Booth that she sets up at a fair.

Natalie writes alone, with other people, in notebooks, and for publication. She hikes and is a Buddhist. Reading her stories make me want to write my own.

I am looking forward to reading what books appeal to other members today in the group as well!

#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 7th optional question – What would make you quit writing?
The awesome co-hosts for the July 7 posting of the IWSG are Pat Garcia, Victoria Marie Lees, and Louise – Fundy Blue!

First off, how in the world is it July? The pace of the world is certainly different now that the world is opening up more.

There is nothing that could make me quit writing all together. I have tried to take breaks in the past and I always come back to it. It is my default setting. It is how I think and how I figure out what is going on in my brain that has way too many drawers open at once.

When I feel bad I go to the page. When I feel good I come to the page. I start my morning with coffee and writing every day no matter what.

The past few weeks have been rough emotionally for me and also filled with travel so the amount of writing that has been done on the page has been much less. Most days when I am in my regular routine my writing time can range between 1 hour to 4 before I go for my walk. I made sure to write my 10 minutes every morning but I felt like I was in practicing just the physical movement more. The thoughts and ideas were marinating.

I have found that the connection to my husband, my coffee, and my daily walks are vital to my creative life. It has been an interesting reflection period these last few weeks!

June #CoffeeShare

Welcome to Sunday! It is COFFEE TIME! But honestly, when is it not?

#thankyouforsharing

Thank you to Natalie for hosting the link party for all things Weekend Coffee Share!

#lastdays

If we were having coffee, I would tell you my last day of this school year was Thursday. I am relieved to be done. This past year was full of a lot of success but too many pivots.

#BradburyRevisionChallenge.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you for my Bradbury Revision Challenge today I read

Story: https://flashboulevard.wordpress.com/2021/06/12/sherrie-flick-the-bear-and-i/

Poem: https://www.zocalopublicsquare.org/2020/02/28/heid-e-erdrich-i-feel-like-a-fool-do-you/chronicles/poetry/

Essays: The True Secret of Writing by Natalie Goldberg – Schedule

And Not a Novel A Memoir in Pieces Jenny Erpenbeck On “The Old Child”

I am obsessed with Sherrie Flick lately and she had several new stories published yesterday. They are weird ones about bears and I like them a lot. I pay attention to her endings.

The poem I heard about from the How Do You Write? podcast from Rachael Herron and the author was her guest. It was a fascinating interview and I love this. poem.

The NG chapter was about the schedule of silence and readings at a retreat. NG says that you can use the schedule for yourself or a group. I have a retreat document that I need to revisit and revise. I have not deployed it yet but need to plan a day for it.

Would you like a refill? Some water? Something stronger? I feel like talking for a bit longer.

#writing

If we were having coffee, I would tell you I continue to write every day. With more time I am experimenting with some techniques and processes. I use my walks as part of my writing time. I do feel a bit of a transition of schedule as I do every summer. There is a changing of roles and primary responsibility when the schedule changes this much for me.

My plan is not to take any new courses right now. I have taken so many over the past year and need to play with some of the techniques and just write. With my Tuesday PUSH groups I have the opportunity to take my curated learning and share it with other writers. This gathering is a highlight of my week and something I had dreamed of creating for a long time.

Since I am teaching for the Sarah Selecky school this fall, I am reworking through some of the course materials as well to refresh. Having contact with the other teachers in the school will help in this endeavor as well. You can check out the course here. Sign ups are open until June 24th.

——-

Thank you for joining me for a coffee today. I always love when we chat!

I would love to hear what you are working on and what you find inspiring.

I am already looking forward to our chat next week!

June #CoffeeShare

Welcome to Sunday! It is COFFEE TIME! But honestly, when is it not?

#thankyouforsharing

Thank you to Natalie for hosting the link party for all things Weekend Coffee Share!

#lastdays

If we were having coffee, I would tell you my students’ last day was Friday. It was a strange feeling to have two last days since I had cohorts for the last 2 months of school. It didn’t feel real. It was a good last two days actually. Thursday was field day all morning and then Friday we pet baby chicks, made cube models out of marshmallows and toothpicks, had a scavenger hunt with Bomb pops at the end, and had hot dogs for lunch. I have a week of teacher days still but planning for kids is over for this school year. I am tired and burnt out and am looking forward to resting.

#graduation

If we were having coffee, I would tell you this weekend is busy. My two oldest are graduating. I am excited for them and what they are moving forward with in their lives in the fall. It is going to be 90 degree celebrations!

#BradburyRevisionChallenge.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you I would love for you to join me for the Bradbury Challenge this month. I am posting daily what I am reading for revision. I am reading a poem, short story, and essay each day and applying those lens to a story already in my drive.

Would you like a refill? Some water? Something stronger? I feel like talking for a bit longer.

#fabulousflashfiction

If we were having coffee, I would tell you registration is open for a short time longer for my Fabulous Flash Fiction class I am teaching June 9-13th. Slots are already filling up! If you cannot make it but know someone who would be interested please share the link with them! You can find more info here. There is a kick off Zoom meeting that will be recorded if you are unable to attend. The class is asynchronous so you can do it at your own pace and schedule. There are no other live meetings.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you it was a busy weekend. We went to two graduation ceremonies and a graduation party. It was an emotional two days. Honestly, it was a build up so it was more than just a few days.

——-

Thank you for joining me for a coffee today. I always love when we chat!

I would love to hear what you are working on and what you find inspiring.

I am already looking forward to our chat next week!

#IWSG June

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!

June Question


June 2 question – For how long do you shelve your first draft, before reading it and re-drafting? Is this dependent on your writing experience and the number of stories/books under your belt?
The awesome co-hosts for the June 2 posting of the IWSG are J Lenni Dorner, Sarah Foster, Natalie Aguirre, Lee Lowery, and Rachna Chhabria!

Short stories and flash fiction are shelved for at least a month. Honestly, I draft so much that there has to be a reminder of a particular story or when i am searching for something else it appears.

The story has to light me up in order for me to revise it.

I usually go through spurts of being in creation mode or revision mode. I typically draft in the morning and then do revision work in the afternoons or evenings.

To trick myself to revise this June I made a challenge for myself. I am using the self-directed Bradbury MFA idea of reading a poem, short story, and essay each day as a lens for revision. Sometimes it will be a direct craft move from the author to one of my own pieces and other times I am working with the idea that good words in mean good words out.

Over the weekend, I was organizing my drive and found so many unfinished and unpolished flash pieces.

I usually operate under the idea to “just get the words down” and “I can fix it later”. However, later rarely comes because I love drafting and the new so much. One of the reasons I am drawn to writing short fiction is because I get bored easily. In a writing podcast last week I learned of an author who writes 1000 words a day. The next day she rereads her words and cuts and revises. She then writes forward from her favorite sentence.

I have been trying to utilize this technique for the last few days. To reread something I have written to get my eyes on it in small chunks. I have a limiting belief that revisions have to be “serious” and sometimes I set aside large chunks of time for. This is the case in some instances but I can make a lot of progress with just 10 minutes of revision time.

#happyreading #happywriting

#Day31- #StoryadayMay2021

We made it! The last day of the challenge! WHOOT WHOOT!! I wrote a story for 31 days and blogged about the process. GOAL ACCOMPLISHED!

TODAY’S PROMPT

Write a story about someone who has just completed a huge challenge. What have they learned? What did they sacrifice? Was it worth it?

Julie Duffy is the author of this prompt.

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I am not resonating with today’s prompt as a story prompt as strongly today. Yes, my experience is that I did a challenge but it is too close to write a fictional story about it today. I need more distance from real life to story.

I like the idea of using a character named some form of Janus, the Roman God, since he is the symbol for looking forward and looking back. It is where the word January comes from. One of my other prompts is to write an angry letter to an object without cliches….not sure if I will be able to work that in or not.

I watched the Netflix show Midnight Dinner yesterday from a recommendation on a podcast. I am fascinated by food at midnight anyway especially from The Night Circus book. It is in Japanese with subtitles so it is not a relaxing show to watch. This concept influenced my story today.

Janus is walking from his cabin to meet his two friends at the little diner where they chat. One of the friends gives Janus a flight of books from his library that will become important later. At the end of the dinner they part ways but something tragic happens that prevents them from seeing each other for over a year.

anchors: muse fairy, book flight, enchanted gate, visit from a stranger

Happy Writing!

I am imposing a revision challenge to myself in the month of June. [Come back to the blog tomorrow for details and my poem, story, and essay selections.] In the spirit of that intention, I pulled a snippet from my drive from June of 2018 and added it to the story. It took the plot in an unexpected direction which I appreciated! This story is going to have to be a little longer than the first draft. I like it so far! What a pleasant surprise!

What did you write today? How did your challenge go if you participated?

I am teaching a Fabulous Flash Fiction class June 9-13! You won’t want to miss it. You can register here.

#Day30- #StoryadayMay2021 + Reflection

Tomorrow is the last day of May and the Challenge.

How did your month go? Did you find it fueling [with whatever you chose to spend your time on?]

Reflection is an important part of the creative process. One of the reasons I love challenges is because in one sense it is a data collection of my own patterns. If I notice the patterns I can continue the ones that work and let go of the pieces that do not.

I use the same method in teaching.

Sometimes, it is simply asking 1. What is working? and 2. What is not working?

This May I followed the prompts fairly closely. I liked the prompts this year. I do not have to like the prompt to write to it however. I struggled with the happy story prompt but I also had several conversations with writer friends about this one prompt. If I reframed the idea of what was happy for a character then it worked better for me.

I often have a list of story ideas but it is in the form of my lists of 10. On certain days I searched my drive for a specific word or phrase to see if something I had saved popped up. On the spot writing seemed to trigger most of the ideas. I feel this is due to my strong freewriting practice. It is a habit I have cultivated.

I find that other things I do in life – shows I watch, places I visit, my daily walks, writing conversations – all fuel my writing. Sometimes it is more of an adjacent way as an idea will get logged and then used later.

My best time for writing is when I wake up but I can write at other times of day. I do enjoy writing with a small creative group on Zoom as well. The words flow easier in the morning for me.

I work best when I write everyday. This translates into other areas of my life as well. I guess I like the idea of streaks! Writing is fueling to me and is my happy place.

In the morning, I write in bed. I also write on my walks and in between activities at my day job. I always have my notebook with me.

I intended to write 31 stories for the month which I will complete tomorrow. To keep myself accountable I intended to reflect on my progress daily and post it to the blog which I accomplished. I also kept the theme of Everyday Magic. I liked that if I felt stuck I had that thread to come back to every day.

TODAY’S PROMPT

Take a story you wrote earlier this month, and write it again in a different way.

Julie Duffy is the author of this prompt.

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I am not resonating with today’s prompt.

Yesterday, my family and I went to Devil’s Lake park. There was a hotel there that was removed in 1905 that I have become obsessed with. There is little documentation about the hotel and I want to put it into a story. I am thinking a Karen Russell sort of vibe for this story.

Cliff House Hotel

When we were there on one of the rocks that jut out over the treetops I caught the vision of someone sitting on a rock behind me. When I looked there was nothing there. A ghost in a dark blue jacket maybe?

This is the story I am writing today. Mysteries and disappearance of people and buildings from Devil’s Lake. It is a story that I have been wanting to write since we visited last time.

Here is the rock I “saw” him sitting on:

Happy Writing!

What did you write today?

I am teaching a Fabulous Flash Fiction class June 9-13! You won’t want to miss it. You can register here. Space is limited, so don’t wait! Spaces are filling up.