Inspiration

Round 1 1st Wednesday Check-in

As always, the first check-in of a round can feel a bit… well, pointless might be a good word.  It’s not as if we’ve had time to make serious strides on our goals, nor have we had a chance to see what is working or what isn’t yet… not really.

Thing is, it is important to take stock regularly.  Everyday can be perfect for some people.  Others manage just fine with a once-a-week or monthly schedule.  It’s the consistency that matters.  And…  it also helps to not wait too long before the first review.  The sooner the first chance you take to check in on yourself, the sooner you can see if things are working or not.

The sooner you can figure out if the path you’re on will get you where you are trying to go, or if you’ll have to backtrack a mile or more to find the right exit on the expressway.

Not that missing a turn is always a bad thing either.  Sometimes there are new and fascinating discoveries to be made.

Even then, it helps to know where you were intending to go and how far afield you might be.

So here it is, the first check-in and first linky of a new year.  May you be exactly where you want to be, whether you’re right on target or meandering peacefully for a moment or two.

Oh, and here is a lovely advice/opinion piece a fellow writer from the Facebook iWriteNetwork group posted with an eye to the journey and what it means to be a writer…    Roxanne Gay: Advice to Aspiring Dreamers

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Sponsor Post: Are You Ready?

(A gracious thank you to our sponsor Beth Camp for helping us welcome the new year:

Writers: “Ready for 2018?”

By Beth Camp

For writers, each year ends and begins with reflection, and that’s good. For sometimes we feel used up and are uncertain how to reconnect with our writing. Sometimes ideas for stories come so fast, we cannot get them down on paper.

Even if we are immersed in drafting or revision, or floundering a bit between projects, we may question our writing, want to change our writing process, or set new goals to improve our productivity.

Does it matter when we write?
Or how or what?
Do I pack my journal with my lunch,
a physical reminder to write?

You might feel, “I can only write in the morning, when my mind is clear.” But what if the only time in your cluttered day is late at night? What if work and family commitments leave no time for writing at all? How do we ‘schedule’ down time – not just at the end of the day when we are exhausted from all we have managed to accomplish.

  • One strategy is to find pleasure each day in small things. I remember laughing out loud when I read somewhere that even washing dishes can be a meditation. I learned this is true when my grandmother’s lovely Desert Rose dishes were gifted to me, the meandering flowers a reminder of my childhood.
  • We can set boundaries. Perhaps we say ‘yes’ too often. We know it takes courage in the moment to act with intention. Focus on priorities. With many possibilities before us, trust yourself to know, truly, what is best for you.
  • Take time to analyze, list, reflect, and choose. Follow up by asking ‘How am I doing?’ as we check in with A Round of Words in 80 Days.
  • Try out a ‘do it different’ day. Can you write at a coffee shop? Write by hand instead of on the computer? Write late at night instead of in the morning? Set aside one day a week for those projects that have languished all week? Read a writing craft magazine (like The Writer or Writer’s Digest) for professional development? Challenge yourself by scheduling something new each quarter — Join a new writer’s group? Support other writers by writing a review? Teach a workshop? Go on a writing retreat – formally with others or on your very own? Attend a writing conference?
  • Celebrate your successes. Every step takes you closer to reaching your ‘big picture’ writing goal. Recognize that sometimes nurturing yourself may mean taking a break from writing, letting those projects lie fallow. Or maybe, just maybe you want a new pair of winter boots.

And the morning begins
anew, each day, each season, another round,
even as we change.

How do we begin? Meditation? Morning thoughts? An intuitive scrawl that brings our stories to life? Sometimes we are inspired by writing prompts that take us in unexpected directions.

Or, we might pursue a programmed approach: Step 1: Draft the story concept. Step 2: Block that story into scenes. Step 3: Flesh out characters.

No matter what writing process we use, from inspiration, to drafting, to revision, at the end, we are surprised at what we’ve written. Whether we write by hand, draft on the computer, or dictate into our phones, we write. The story takes over; its meaning unfolds as we write.

What really do I need?
A notebook, a pen, my laptop.
Some place separate.
Perhaps a room of my own.

Some writers like to think about inspiration that comes from a muse, as if she were someone separate, a guest somewhat whimsical, who may or may not appear, and certainly who chooses not to appear on demand.

Or perhaps we write on schedule, the blank sheet (real or on screen), a dumping of words on paper, almost an invisible chain from the mind that seeks its own journey to a story unfolding.

Whether we write with a plan or without, we still build our story word by word, layer by layer. ending with often unexpected resolutions and insights about the human condition. That is our condition, regardless of setting. The story is what connects us to others, that creates a community of readers and writers.

Somewhere a door closes,
and another opens.
Each decade we live presents new challenges.

Does it matter how old we were when we began to write? Or how old we are now? The reality is that writing is a chimera, a dream world we create with words, a space and time that we build (and that only exists for us), until we share our words with others.

Perhaps just now, we have young children whose energetic needs pull at that time we have for writing until another week has passed, and we feel bereft at what we lose, even at the same moment, we cherish these little souls who begin their own journey. What gift do we give those who are close to us when we show them that we respect our inner lives? That a parent, aunt, or sister paints, or writes, or does just about anything with creativity, passion, and a snitch of abandon?

Some seasons are cold,
but even the moon rimmed with blue hints at change.

The end of a year invites us to consider: What can I celebrate this year? What would I like to write? What ideas draw me to write?

When I begin a story, something intrigues me. I have no idea, really, what length it will be. Flash or novel. It’s not so much that I think about finishing (though, trust me, I really want to tidy up and finish several floating projects), but a new story grows with each writing session, scene upon scene, some days slower than others. I write about relationships, conflict, setting, those pinch-pins of history that hold the story to a certain place and time, each element tightening that essential line of plot-conflict-resolution. Some stories, like some lives, end in tragedy as I attempt to work out why this character in this particular time and place acted in this way and what this means to us today.

Because I write historical fiction, if one part of the story isn’t working, I can switch to another part, fall back on research, or write more character studies. Alas, my writing style is recursive, circular, and there’s always revision. One thing, though, I’ve finally learned. I can squeeze in an occasional article or poem, but, unlike others, I cannot work on more than one major writing project at a time.

Now that I’m a septuagenarian, I can ask: How long did it take for me to say – without flinching – that I’m a writer? Somewhere between writing that second and third novel, I stopped hesitating when people asked me what I do. All those years of working, teaching, parenting, and yearning for my own writing life, of writing short stories and the occasional poem, and of reading and studying – and yes, living – prepared me for what I do now: I write, and I cannot imagine not writing.

Listen to your heart.
Listen to your mind.
Then write those unique words
that are yours alone.


Beth Camp travels with laptop and writes historical fiction and poetry. Her novel, Standing Stones, set in Scotland during the time of the Clearances, won an award at the Pacific Northwest Writers Association literary contest (2010). In Years of Stone, Book 2, Mac McDonnell is transported to Van Diemen’s Land in the 1840s (Australia). Rivers of Stone, Book 3, tells the story of Catriona McDonnell, as she crosses Canada disguised as a boy during the fur trade era. Her poetry and stories have appeared in Camroc Press Review, Fickle Muses, Celebrating Spokane Authors, and on her blog:  http://bethandwriting.blogspot.com

 

 

 

Round 4 Check-in 23

Congrats!

Wow…  A whole year of words!  Who would have believed it?

All of you with that little thought bouncing in the back of your head with the piping voice crying “Me! Me!  I knew it would happen!” should be patting yourselves on the back.  It’s that faith in yourself that will keep you moving forward, in writing and everything else you choose to do.

For those of you who now looking back at all you’ve accomplished with a slight glaze in your eyes, as you realize what an amazing year for your productivity it was despite all the delays and distractions and well, Life… you should pat yourselves on the back too.  You persevered in the face of doubts and misgivings.  You faced up to distractions, and you wrote.

For those of you looking at the years with regrets though…  don’t.  Pat yourselves on the back as well.  Comfort yourself in the truth that Life Happens, things is out of control sometimes and whether we wish to or not, we can get lost in the constantly shifting tides of “busy” that hover around us, waiting for a moment to draw our attention.  Did you write at all last year?  Then build on that.

A new year and a new round of words are both just around the corner.

For now, here’s the linky. Feel free to post your check-in blog post at it, or if you just want to quick update us, a comment on this post or at our FB page works fine too.

Remember, Wednesday is the last day of this round and the final check-in of 2017.  Sunday I will be posting the “goals post” where you can make your plans for the next round.

Round 4 Check-in 9

For some, today is National Chocolate Hangover Day…  also known as the day after Halloween.  It’s known to those following certain religious faiths, it’s known as All Saint’s Day, a celebration of all saints and for remembering the dead.   To others, it is Samhain, one of the four “quarter days” of the year set between the equinoxes and solstices.

Really… but you’ve got to ‘do’, not just ‘try’

For many writers, it is the first official day of the (inter)National Novel Writing Month challenge.  Yes, I know we’re already challenging ourselves, but for those of you who have decided to add NaNoWriMo into your Round4 goals….  here’s a cheer and a smile.

And here’s a linky….  Go get those words and create some dreams.

Round 3 Wednesday Check-in 11

Are you inspired?

Today, I was reading about two topics that all artists (even writers) hold dear.  I wasn’t reading about them in a book about writing or creativity.  The book, which is filled with a lot of scientific data on how we work, is called Ungifted, Intelligence Redefined, and it inspired this post, particularly Chapter 6, which deals with inspiration and passion. 😀

Did you know that inspiration does a spiraling dance with goal progress?  I do now.  And you can dance upward toward the stars almost as easily as you slowly sink into the earth…  almost!  Of course, there are more variables at play here.  But inspiration the way it’s described in Ungifted is not merely the act of being inspired by something but also the acting on that inspiration.  Inspiration is active, it is doing…  it is creating.

So…  are you inspired?  Tell all at the linky or our FB page (or both, if you’d like):

Round 3 Sunday Check-in 9

Today, instead of making the long drive to Syracuse for daytrip to the NY State Fair, we decided to check out downtown Troy for a bit of time in their Makerspace, the Tech Valley Center of Gravity, and the Troy Farmers Market.  A great choice!  While it lacked some of the attractions (no Midway or animal shows), the atmosphere was festive, the smells delightful, and there were plenty of quiet spots to relax and watch performers, crowd and even the fountains by the Hudson River.   It was pretty much the ideal end-of-season outing…  especially for me, as I was fighting a migraine most of the day.

It was also a perfect case where “Less is more,” which is how this relates to writing (beyond the obvious, everything is fodder for our stories).  We all have a set of memories that can be evoked by the right smell, the right flash of an image or even the right combination of words.  You don’t need to wear yourself out to find a scene that works.  A weekly streetfair might just do the trick…  and you can bring home some fresh produce and gourmet cheese too.  😉

Wherever you’ve traveled, whatever news you have to share, here’s our linky for you to share it at:

Or, if you’d prefer, we also have a great crew at our Facebook page and you can connect with us there too.

Round 3 Sunday Check-in 7

Selamat Siang Temanku!  Apa Kabar?

Hi!  Friday, while waiting for my son to finish his time in adventure camp at Bosquet Mt., I decided to try Enso, a local “Asian Bistro” for lunch and to satisfy a bit of a tamago sushi craving (tamago is the sweet egg omelette that is sometimes used in mixed rolls like Futo Maki or sliced into strips and served on its own—very yummy).  I had a very yummy meal, but even more enjoyable was meeting Andy, my waiter.  He comes from Indonesian (I confess, I didn’t get the name of which island down well enough to feel comfortable writing it.

But I did learn a few basic Bahasa Indonesian phrases, including those above which mean “Hello, my friend(s)! How are you?”*

Why do I mention this?  Because chance encounters like these are the backbones of our stories (and for a richer life, imho) one can find.  From Andy’s polite question about whether I was working (sort of, I was taking notes on my phone about James Agee’s book Let Us Praise Famous Men) developed a wonderful discussion about our families (his wife has recently returned to Indonesia because she doesn’t like it in the US, which, when he mentioned this, of course became fodder for a much longer conversation).  Little windows into perspective…

I hope, the next time you head out for lunch, or are stuck waiting for a time, you are blessed as I was.  Good food and good conversation with a stranger.

If you’ve had such an experience, or if you just want to share how your writing has gone, tell us all at the linky:

  • An interesting fact about Indonesian is that it doesn’t seem to have a plural version for most words.  You either double a word or just use it alone and let context take over.   As in the initial phrase, it could also be said as Selamat datang teman-teman saya which would be closer to “Welcome, my friends”. 

 

Round 3 Wednesday Check-in 7

Writing… it’s been around a while.

The tools we’ve used to share stories have changed a bit over the course of human existence, but the need for us to share information and inspiration in written form seems to have only increased.  I spent most of the morning today at the Berkshire Museum, enjoying paintings and skeletons, as well as taxidermy and gem displays.  In the (aptly, but oddly named) Curiosity Corner (it wasn’t a corner at all), there was a wonderful segment about language.  It was small, dense even, with examples of ancient and modern writing, maps where various language groups are prevalent, and even an interactive station where someone could touch a location on map-screen and listen to speakers from a region through headphones.

I liked these tablets.  The biggest one is only the size of my palm, and if you click on the image (I uploaded a full copy so you could zoom in if needed), you can see how deliberate and detailed the writing is on it.  To imagine the care needed to effectively engrave one’s thoughts into what was wet clay at the time…  Amazing!

It shows exactly how determined human beings have been to record their thoughts and experiences in a written form.

So we at the ROW80 are carrying a very noble and enduring human experience.  We have so much to share with readers, now and in the future.  It is pretty darned amazing.  At least I think so.  Hope you do too.

Tell us all at the linky or on our FB page