What do I lack? Currently, I feel I lack peace and direction, but I am working on it. I am so reflective that I always know where I am emotionally lacking I just don’t always know how to fix it so I put my head down and focus on the task or obsession that I am engaged in at the moment. Now it is writing. I want to be the best I can be. I read about it. I do it . I try to find mentors to help me IRL or in the pages of books and blogs. I have my Emily P Freeman book about decision making which is helping tremendously.
I do lack directions of what I want to do. The amount of obstacles and out of nowhere hits have been I want to be at home. I want to write all the time. I know it is not a bad thing for a writer to have a day job. I like most of the people I work with and I do like the work that is required in my actual job description. I am reframing it at the moment to get more out of it personally as well. It works for the job aspect but is more fulfilling. I am coaching myself and streamlining my processes to be more consistent and that helps everyone.
I do not lack in love. The relationship I have with my husband is awesome and as perfect as it can be. It really is fairy tale like.
The relationships I have with all my children are unique to them and I love them dearly and would do anything for any of the 4.
The friendships I have IRL and online are strong. I nurture the ones that are mutually life giving and make me happy. I am looking forward to storyaday May next month when there is group writing every day and there is daily interaction with other writers. THAT makes me giddy.
The coffee is brewing and the twinkle lights are on in my office. It is the simple things that are part of my routine that make the day go smoother!
I have already made rounds talking to teachers this morning. I had to follow up with a couple people about videos that were taken of their students before we left for break. I needed to get the reflection forms to them before any more time went by!
Today I want to share a quote that I will be writing about today from one of my FAVORITE short story writers, Kelly Link.
If you have never read Kelly click here for a link to her story, “The Faery Handbag.”
Yesterday I went for a second spring run at the National Dunes Lakeshore. I am lucky to live in Northwest Indiana and to have access to this park. I didn’t visit the park until I was an adult runner even though I have lived here most of my life.
I wandered down trail 9 yesterday. Essentially, I ran the trail backwards from how I normally run it. The “normal” route is to go down trail 10 and then up on the ridge and then down trail 9 back to the parking lot. There were several cars in the Wilson Shelter parking lot due to the beautiful weather yesterday. It was near 70 degrees here. During the week there has been no admission fee which makes me feel like I am getting away with something. On my way out I noticed a man at the entrance booth. hee hee
As I ran trail 9 I noticed to the left of the path the brown leaves are decaying on their own timeline. To my right the ground looked burnt and reminded me of the lava fields of Kona, Hawaii. I assume it was a controlled burn supervised by the park rangers. It was surreal to see and I moved along.
Looking at the black leaves, a smoldering fire, and smoke cloud I thought about how much I like the idea of fire.
Sometimes you need to light a fire.
Sometimes you need to stoke your internal fire and follow your passion.
Sometimes you need to burn a project to the ground and start over.
Gathering ideas are like gathering twigs in the woods. Starting the project is like lighting a fire. Sometimes I start the fire/new project too early because I am excited. I light the kindling, but then I do not have anything else to feed the fire with and it goes out! To avoid this catastrophe, I’m working on gathering my resources and organizing my most recent project so I can start a fire that can burn for a long time.
I was happy to run outside yesterday. I needed to be in nature, it is I way I refuel.
I adore Emily P Freeman and her work. I was honored to be a part of her launch team and have been slowly absorbing the book in small chunks. It makes me think.
On Instagram Emily offers a community encouragement project to lead people through the book. I am not participating on Insta, but will share the graphic and some of my thoughts here.
I pay attention to other people’s reactions and then sometimes base my behavior off this information. It has made me successful in job interviews in the past. I pay attention if I care about you or the outcome.
I pay attention to small details for my writing. I pay attention to how I feel or how something looks so I can write about it later. I pay attention to my reactions to words – written and oral – and then reflect on them later in writing.
I am not consistent about paying attention to the clothes I wear. I used to care a great deal and would be in dresses and heels 95% of the time. My job is different here, but sometimes I feel like my choices of clothing is based only that I need to be covered so I am not arrested for indecent exposure.
There is no real silence.
There are pockets of time where there is LESS noise.
There are always thoughts circulating through my brain. There is always a fan on, or a machine whirring, or a phone ringing.
When the power goes out and everything stops there is MORE silence.
The idea of naming is a concept that seems particular to Emily. On Tsh’s podcast SIMPLE last year it was mentioned that Emily has the knack for naming the un-nameable. This has stuck with me and intrigues me.
Is it real unless you name it? Does IT have to have a label? Like relationships – people ask each other “What are we?” “Where is this going?” “Are you my girl/boy friend?”
In writing – did it really happen if it doesn’t end up on paper? Or on a social media platform?
We all have stories and the way we tell them are our own.
Naming is not explaining. I do think of naming as reframing. The darkness has the ability to suck us into the place where we know no answers. It can cause worry, anxiety, and physical ailments.
When I am upset that a car has cut me off on the highway instead of being sucked into negativity I think “Maybe they have a sick child and are needing to get home.”
When someone gives me a reaction that I am not expecting I think “Maybe they have something else on their mind right now.”
Emily says naming can release new growth and requires specificity. But naming is something I am still figuring out. Any thoughts are appreciated!
Today we are having coffee in my three seasons room. I am having black coffee and just brewed a fresh pot. I have some add ins today for you if you like -some chocolate or some butterscotch. The birds are starting to come out. They do like the trees in the front outside my bedroom window. I haven’t lived in this house in the Spring yet so we shall see which animals come to the backyard.
If we were having coffee I would tell you this past week went super fast. It was a great week filled with “just enough” scheduled events but I am honestly not ready for it to end. I took a lazy day on Friday but something happened that made me angry and sadly it stayed with me a little too long.
If we were having coffee I would tell you I had a great writing week. I wrote with a friend on Monday at a favorite local restaurant. It was nice to meet, talk writing, and write “independently together”. I had a Zoom call with my online group and I also had a one on one session video conference with a writer friend on Thursday. I wrote at the local library yesterday which was a different experience but enjoyable.
If we were having coffee I would tell you I had a good reading week too. I went to Powell’s in Chicago and bought 3 books. I could have purchased more but used restraint. I read essays and short stories and poems everyday.
If we were having coffee I would tell you I am playing with plot structure for my Camp NANOWRIMO stories. Camp NANOWRIMO is a month long community writing event that is more lax than regular National Novel Writing Month. My goal is just over 10,000 words total divided between 4 stories. I am working with the plot structure to hopefully help my writing get better and show me what I am missing in my stories. A couple resources I already have are the Ninja Writer’s plot class that I discovered I already owned, the Eva Deverell’s One page novel formula, and the Save the Cat structure.
If we were having coffee I would tell you I had wonderful meals out this week. We do not go out to eat often. My husband is a great cook for one but also with 4 children it can be an expensive endeavor. We went to a local place in the town we used to live where they have great hot dogs, fries, and steak sandwiches. We also went to a local “stuck in time” steak house. It was divine and a wonderful date night.
If we were having coffee I would tell you I am thinking about decisions. Big ones and little ones. This is partly because Emily P. Freeman’s book The Next Right Thing came out Tuesday, April 2. I have the digital copy, the audio, and the hard copy. I do love the hard cover and have been gravitating towards it.
Do you need a refill on your coffee? Mine needs warmed up. Do you need another napkin, or a glass of water? I am not ready for our conversation to end!
If we were having coffee I would tell you I did not listen to the normal amount of podcasts I do during a typical work week. I did listen while at the gym but did not get through the input I normally consume.
If we were having coffee I would tell you I am still on my Bradbury Trio roll! I DID make a spreadsheet!
If we were having coffee I would tell you that I have been lax in keeping track of my connections for my word of the year. I have been connecting with other writers through the SLACK channel, Twitter, and even in real life which has been fulfilling. I have not attended the writing group however since January. The location had changed the last couple of meetings and it didn’t seem to fall on a good evening. There is a celebration next Wednesday I plan to go to so that is exciting. I have not felt very social lately to be honest. I am trying to figure out why. There is a saying that the 5 people you surround yourself with influence you greatly. I guess friends and connections is part of the decision making we talked about earlier. April tends to be a hard month for me for connection. The month reminds me of grief.
If we were having coffee I would tell you I have been thinking of pulling some coaching materials together in a more formal way. I have started an outline and pulling resources I already have. I have an email partially written to send out next week for my teachers as well to do a mini coaching cycle. We shall see how that goes! I am excited to synthesize some different items together that I have been using for years.
Thank you so much for joining me for coffee! I always enjoy our visits and today was no different. Let’s have coffee again soon!
I offer words to the world and some are rehearsed and some are not.
I offer honest feedback and advice to my friends and coworkers when they ask for it.
I have learned to protect myself as I often do not think as others do. I am “no nonsense” as a colleague put it. I would rather be respected than liked – 360 days out of the year that is.
I recognize people do things different ways and that is ok. I just don’t want them to try to impose their thinking on me if we aren’t friends or I didn’t ask. I do not ask questions I do not want the answers to.
The sun sparkled in the sky yesterday, but the wind was biting.
The gym was the first stop. Car wash was the second. Third was a Greek diner in Hyde Park named Salonica.
The vegetable soup had more veggies than I could name in a Family Feud game. It was delicious and perfect.
The arc of the booth my husband and I sit in covers the faces of the friends that are meeting on the other side. It is the conversation of two friends that have reconnected in their old stomping grounds. One successful and one that doesn’t seem to know what to do with his life. There is polite conversation at first and then the obscenities of familiarity start rolling off the tongues. It a Greek restaurant and a comfortable space for me even though I have never seen this restaurant before today.
My Greek chicken with the secret spices and hint of lemon fills my belly and I am comfortably full this Wednesday afternoon. The half potato was seasoned with something I cannot place but went divinely with the meal. The broccoli was bright green and steamed, the cauliflower tender and firm, and the few slices of zucchini a hint of the season to come.
The man behind the counter spoke staccato English and was loud on the phone. He was squeezed behind a little counter with the olives for sale. There is little space in this city. Even the streets have bumper to bumper parked cars much like the traffic in the afternoon on Lake Shore Drive a stone’s throw away.
The fourth was Powell’s bookstore. I am lost among that stack of the books that smell like the houses of all the spaces they have occupied before settling in this in between space. I look for certain authors: Gaiman, Link, Chekhov, but my eyes wander to others. Then I see the red volume 2 inches thick that is the Bradbury 100.
Just when I think that my heart has swelled with as much book love as Powell’s has to offer I go through a narrow doorway to see a ceiling 8 feet taller with books and shelves reaching to the top of the space. There is a book about Alice in Wonderland and the oddities of Carroll titled The Raven and The Writing Desk. There are cookbooks, poetry , nature writing, and a small section of children’s books. I do not acquire many children’s books anymore. I love them, but they are lonely on my shelves with no eyes and laughter to stain their pages.
My three book purchases will remind me of this day every time I open them. The ride home was quick with the toll road right there.
To think that trips to the city used to be a production full of planning. Chicago was always different than Indy that I knew well. Chicago used to require well planned out directions ahead of time.
I am comfortable in this neighborhood where University of Chicago students wander in and out of buildings. They are always walking somewhere important. There are two bookstores within 4 blocks of each other book ending restaurants, cafes, salons, beautiful homes, and dry cleaners. This is my kind of place!
This post was written for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group where we share our encouragement or insecurities on the first Wednesday of the month, to join the group or find out more clickhere. Welcome to April 2019!
April 3 question: If you could use a wish to help you write just ONE scene/chapter of your book, which one would it be? (examples: fight scene / first kiss scene / death scene / chase scene / first chapter / middle chapter / end chapter, etc.)
My wish today would be to help me write a scene with my character Brooklyn in a fantasy/sci fi story titled Dreams and Hourglasses. I need to have readers connect more emotionally to her in the beginning. I am trying to build the story and not overexplain right away but I am leaving my readers wanting.
Whenever a name or a concept comes to my attention multiple times in a week I know I am supposed to pay attention. The serendipitous concept of the week is Sarah Selecky. Her name has come up on podcasts I listen to as well as her writing school. Then when I was listening to Caroline Donahue’s solo episode for the The Secret Library Podcast she was mentioned again. Sarah teaches a Story Intensive and has guest teachers. Caroline just finished working with a group of students.
Sarah has several resources on her website and a blog. She originally came on my radar when I was looking for a way to organize my short story files in Google Drive. She was the only one that had an in depth articles about it I could find that day. Maybe it was fate. I was then led to her newsletter from there. It is one of the few I read from beginning to end.
Sarah has a novel which I checked out from the library this week as well and started reading. I like her writing style immensely. The book is called Radiant Shimmering Light.
Her twitter feeds are full of great prompts too.
One exercise she talks about is a list prompt. She starts many of her writing practice days and classes with it. This is how it works:
Randomly choose a letter of the alphabet.
Set a timer for 5 minutes. (I like the Insight timer)
Write a list of words with that letter.
After the exercise you can choose some words to use for freewrites.
Choose a handful of words to write a story.
Write whatever came to mind as you were writing the list.
Here is the list of words I came up with last night while I was writing at the library:
The words swarm and simmer and saute stood out to me so I started a kitchen scene with a character.
I participate in the TWOWRITINGTEACHERS.ORG Slice of Life Challenge every Tuesday.
I started the day writing my stories for Camp NaNoWriMo. I am using a plot structure for at least one of the stories and started to flesh it out around the framework I already created. It is going ok but I do not find it as exciting as my normal writing I must admit. I have two other structures I am going to play with as well for this series of stories.
I read my poem, essay, and short story for the day. The short story I listened to from the New Yorker Fiction podcast which was interesting. I liked the commentary afterwards.
I met my writing friend at a local restaurant and we wrote together. I brought a prompt and she brought a prompt. It was great fun and then we talked about what we wrote. It was surprsing what I came up with and it was fulfilling. I have a seed for another short story now.
I had my online group monthly Zoom call. There really wasn’t much talking about writing. We did some sprints. I had already written a lot so I cut out early.