Round 1

Midweek #ROW80 Check-In

It’s a NEW MONTH!  Are all those New Year’s resolutions holding out or do you need to make some adjustments to your goals?  Nothing wrong with that.  Just update them in your check-in post!

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True Confessions by Beth Camp

I’ve Always Wanted To Be A Writer. And Always Denied It

I remember staring at my bookcase crammed with books when I was in my 20s, and crying in despair because I knew that I would never write a book of my own. After a decade of working odd jobs through school, I found a career as an international banker. In my late 30s, I fell in love truly and married a man with light feet, a big heart, and absolute belief in me. We traveled. Once we had our cherished child, I returned to school for my masters and taught English at a community college. I loved working with these students – their journeys as convoluted as mine; their clear visions inspired me. I wrote between my commitments to others and during summers. Poetry. Flash fiction. Some published. Some not. A novel that yet lives in a drawer.
Why was that first novel so important? Because it showed me that I could truly tell a story. Those characters also helped me confront and exorcise something very painful – my childhood as the daughter of an alcoholic.
And then somehow, when I wondered if I would ever retire, my husband and I went on sabbatical, a glorious six-month trip to as many countries. I returned to work to discover my department had saved several noxious projects because, as they put it, nodding their heads as we sat in a tiny boardroom, that I completed projects like these so well. In that moment, I knew it was time to retire. What would I do – used to 70 hour weeks as a routine? Perhaps I would write.

So I took a creative writing class. The teacher, a little intimidated by my presence in the class, stood up on that first day to say she accepted any kind of a story except those that ran with gore. I was dismayed, for I had hoped to work on my not-yet-completed novel, Mothers Don’t Die. Well, I thought, I might as well write about mermaids. And so I did. Over the course of the next ten weeks, ten stories emerged, teaching me anew that creativity is not limited by subject. After the class was over, one of those stories lost the mermaid and morphed into my first book, Standing Stones, and led to a two month research trip to Scotland.

I’m now immersed in that delightful process that sometimes seems unending for Book 3 in the current series: Write, research, write, edit, write, research, edit, and write again. Send out to beta readers, then write and edit and, finally, publish. My characters and their struggles in the middle of the 19thCentury are endlessly fascinating.
Why am I telling you this story? To say that dreams do not go away when you turn 40, or 50, or older.
Dreams shape who we are. And, we know we are writers – even when we cannot see quite how to achieve our dreams. I began writing seriously the year I turned 64. That was 8 years ago, and I haven’t stopped. Writing shapes each morning and anchors the rest of my life. Sometimes I wonder how long I will be able to write, if my muse will decide that SHE wants to retire. Or I worry that this story I’m working on will never be finished. But in the morning, the keyboard calls, and I write.
The lesson I hope to share with you? That we writers, albeit very, very different, need to pursue a commitment to our dreams in a very tangible way. Yep, butt in chair. We each will find our own path, writing journals, story boards, NaNoWriMo, or simply writing every day, or 5 days out of 7.
Participating in this wonderful online community of ROW80, offers us another way to support our writing through a process of setting and committing to very specific goals — and reporting our progress. We are accountable to ourselves and, in a rather unique way, to each other.
May 2016 be the year you write that project that emerges from your deepest heart.
~*~

The True Meaning of Words by Gloria Weber

As writers we all know the power of words.  However, some words get certain connotations and we make presumptions.  For example, odorous.  I hear that and I hold my breath, because I assume that the odorous house smells nasty.  However, the actual definition of the word is “having or giving off a smell.”  So roses or freshly baked cookies are odorous.

When I started writing, I had certain preconceived notions about some words.  For example, routine meant the same as rut.  Rut means “a habit or pattern of behavior that has become dull and unproductive but is hard to change.” Ruts aren’t very good for writing.  However, routine means “a sequence of actions regularly followed.”  There’s nothing wrong with that, is there?

I unintentionally started developing writing routines even when I tried shunning them.  I’d always come to the computer with a beverage.  I’d play music or make sure everything was quiet (depended on my mood).  I opened my writing program.  These were (in fact, they still are) the signals that let my writer brain know, “It’s time to shine!”

But this is not a rut!  Things change. It isn’t always the same drink (time of year and what’s in the house colors my choice).  My music (or even “silence”) preference depends on the task and my attention span for the day.  Sometimes I will the writing program and then go get my drink.  And some days none of that happens at all.

Routine isn’t rigid like rut.  Unlike rut, routine is good for my writing.  Heck, routine, I’ve come to find, is quite comforting.

Routine wasn’t the only word I got wrong.  I used to be a pantser because “plotting made everything boring.”  Plotting means “devise the sequence of events in (a play, novel, movie, or similar work).”  It doesn’t mean know every word and minute detail involved.

It’s like knowing you’ll drive down the highway, but there are no promises.  There could be an accident that slows you down.  Maybe you get hungry and stop to buy some nachos.  Just because you know the path it doesn’t mean you know the entire journey.

So, I invite you to look at some words you’ve shunned or feared. Do they mean what you thought they meant?  Could you look at them another way?  Could they help you?

~*~

Gloria Weber