Friday, December 19, 2014

Light in the dark and the return of the sun

Winter solstice is coming... just thought you might be needing a little light at this dark time of year. I know I do.

I had a successful month of writing last month, and have proceeded to be laid up with back problems and now with a cold for the past 3 weeks. Sigh... I'll be back on my feet soon! And back to the keyboard, I hope.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

IWSG: The Post-NaNo blues

It’s time for another group posting of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group! Time to release our fears to the world – or offer encouragement to those who are feeling neurotic. If you’d like to join us, click on the link and sign up. We post the first Wednesday of every month. I encourage everyone to visit at least a dozen new blogs and leave a comment. Your words might be the encouragement someone needs.

I just finished NaNoWriMo... wrote 50,000 words in 30 days. You'd think that would make me proud and happy. And it does, on one level. But my insecurity comes from the knowledge that I have SO much revision work to do to even make those 50,000 words legible! I'm standing at the bottom of Revision Mountain and the climb up looks pretty daunting.

I'm going to put it away for a little while and see how I feel about it after that.

Not to mention I don't know what to do with myself now. I love the NaNo community, but it's so fleeting. 30 days fly by when you have a common purpose with so many others. I already miss all my NaNo friends.

Did any of you do NaNo this year? How did you do?

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Insecure Writers Support Group: NaNoWriMo post

Hi everyone! It's that time again, time for Insecure Writers Support Group. If you don't know what IWSG is, please pop on over to this link for an explanation, and when you realize it's the one thing you've been missing in your writing life, JOIN US!!
So in case anyone is keeping score, I've started off with a bang for NaNoWriMo this year. Killing it! Woot! Of course, it's only day five. And that's why I'm so eager to crush my word count now...because I'm afraid of the slump...the point at which I lose steam, run out of ideas, and let the whole thing fall to pieces.

I'm a pantster by nature. I can't help it. I tried outlining the Camp NaNo project I worked on this summer and it jumped right off the map and made its own direction...and then it fell to pieces. Again.

All these false starts are starting to give me heartburn! I want to finish something, but I keep losing steam and moving on to the next thing, with only the barest sliver of hope that I'll ever return to revise/add to/complete a project.

This current novel has no point at all so far, other than documenting daily life of the main character. I'm waiting to see if something exciting happens, that I can then doctor up in revisions, and hoping that we make it that far.

Anyone else out there doing NaNo this time around?

Friday, October 24, 2014

Check out my editing blog too!

So, Hi readers! It's been a while, I know... I mean, since I've posted for anything besides IWSG. I am still working on inspiration here, and it's been dry recently. I apologize. I'm eternally hopeful that I will begin posting here more soon.

In the meantime, I wanted to invite you over to my editing blog at I write there almost as frequently as I do here (lol). But there I share writing tips, my experiences as an editor, and my deep and evergreen love for Harry Potter. If you think you can handle that, I'd love to see you there, too. And I could use some "followers". It feels a little lonely over there.

I'll still be writing here as regularly as ever, but I thought perhaps some of you might like to share with me over there, as well.

So stop by and say hi! I'd love to hear from you.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Insecure Writer's Support Group: Just Write

If you've never heard of Insecure Writer's Support Group, you're in for a treat! Head on over to the IWSG website, created by the awesome Alex Cavanaugh, and sign up to be part of this amazing network of writers. Then on the first Wednesday of every month, post your insecurities on your blog. It seems counter-intuitive, I know. But instead of being tarred and feathered for being insecure, you'll find you're uplifted and encouraged by others who are in the same boat as you, or who have been there before and can show you the treasure map so you can make your way through to the other side.

This month's post is my submission for the IWSG Guide to Publishing and Beyond, for the category "Writing".

You know, I've been working on this insecurity for a while now, this idea that there are no set "rules" for how to be a writer. You just...write. But that doesn't mean you write every day, always, although maybe you do...It means just what it says: You just write. It doesn't mean that you have books published, or an agent, or that you're in the process of querying everyone in the publishing industry. You just write.

So much of our insecure writers’ lives are spent seeking validation from other people, people we deem to know more about the business of writing than we do. We give them the power to tell us whether our ideas are any good, whether our plots are properly executed, whether we’re allowed to take up space at the next writer’s conference if we don’t know what a query is…when really, what we want them to do is tell us that we belong to this magical group: Writers! And, sadly, there will always be someone who wants to keep other people out, because they’re just as insecure as we are that there won’t be room for them in that group if they let us in.

The truth is, though, that we are the ones with the power to tell our stories. We decide what is good. And by the very act of writing we declare to the world that we belong.

Do you have an outline? Just write. Do you have a first draft? Just write. Do you have five published novels and a contract on a new series? Just write. Do you have the tiniest baby of an idea percolating in your mind? Just write! Write it down. Then guess what? You're a writer!

Elisabeth Kauffman is a freelance editor of fiction and you can find her on the web at

(I give the IWSG Anthology permission to reprint this blog post for their publication "The Insecure Writer's Support Group Guide to Publishing and Beyond)

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

IWSG: Brainstorming my novel

It's time for Insecure Writer's Support Group, the most amazing bloghop you'll ever participate in as a writer. If you need to air your insecurities and find others who share them with you or have amazing, encouraging advice, then you NEED this group. So hop on over to Alex Cavanaugh's blog to learn more and sign up.
I got stuck. I was working on a project for Camp NaNo in that I had half an outline for...and when I got through to the place where my outline ended, I sputtered to a stop. I'm usually a pantster, so this road-block was unprecedented. I spent a few bewildered days trying to get started again, worrying that I wasn't writing anything...

Then I had an idea. What if I spent a few nights brainstorming my novel? So I grabbed my colored sharpies and some blank paper and started scribbling. I wrote down things I already knew, things I'd already written about, and then found a few of the things I didn't know yet. And those led to things I hadn't written yet, but that I knew I wanted to. It was a GREAT experience...and a good reminder that not all Writing is about word count.

I haven't added any more recently to my manuscript, and probably another brainstorming session is due. But I'm looking forward to that now.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Insecure Writer's Support Group: Spending time on something you love

It's time again! Time for Insecure Writer's Support Group, the most awesome group out there on the interwebs, if I must say. You can find the linky list to sign up for IWSG here, and if you're a writer you should DEFINITELY sign up. Giving and receiving monthly encouragement from others in the trenches of writing, creating, publishing, rejection, acceptance--the entire roller coaster that is the life of a writer--you don't want to miss out!

My insecurity this month comes from the list of "shoulds" that hovers around me whenever I sit down to do something like writing (or painting, which I also enjoy). I find myself blocking up and not being able to access my creative muse because all I can see is the pile of dishes in the sink, or the giant tumbleweeds of dust bunnies chasing my cats around the house, or the dwindling bank account sending out an S.O.S. for more freelance editing clients.

Some days it doesn't matter. Some days the muse is prodding me so hard that I have no choice but to write (or paint). And I have a few different lines I use to combat the list of "shoulds", but mostly I just want to go hide under my desk, and then I don't get ANYTHING done, not even anything from the list of "shoulds"!

What do you use to fight back and claim your writing/creative time?

Sunday, July 6, 2014

No Day But Today

I got the creative bug this weekend...Friday morning actually.

I was listening to the Rent soundtrack...well, just one song that I owned's the Finale B (lyrics below), so it's a mash-up of the best parts of the rest of the musical...and I just had to get up and paint! So I did, thinking I'd do one painting and put the lyric that inspired me in it. (Yes I paint, but I'm a writer first, so words can feature large in any form of art I do).

Well, there are no words and there are four paintings and I bought the entire soundtrack. It was a crazy, beautiful, inspired morning.

There is no future
There is no past
Thank God this
Moment's not the last

There's only us
There's only this
Forget, regret or
Life is yours to miss
No other road, no other way
No day but today

I can't control
(Will I lose my dignity)
My destiny
(Will someone care)
I trust my soul
(Will I wake tomorrow)
My only goal
(From this nightmare)

There's only now
There's only here
Give in to love
Or live in fear
No other path, no other way
'Cause I die without you

I die without you
(No day but today)
I die without you
(No day but today)
I die without you
(No day but today)

I die without you
(No day but today)
I die without you
(No day but today)
No day but today

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

IWSG: Camp NaNo edition

Hi everyone! It's time for Insecure Writer's Support Group, hosted by Alex Cavanaugh. Anyone can join, so hop on over to the IWSG page for more information and sign up! You won't regret it. Support, encouragement, we all need that, right?

So I don't really have any complaints this week. Which... is huge... usually there's something nagging at me. But I'm letting it all slide off my back right now because it's July, which means it's time for Camp NaNo!

I've been participating in NaNoWriMo for a few years now, and I have to say I always thought those "Camp" kids were kinda crazy. Why in the world would you need/want to do it again in the middle of the year?

Well, I've been bitten by the Camp NaNoWriMo bug, y'all. I had a good idea and a challenge from my podcasting co-host Merianna, and here I am getting ready for Day 2! (Oh, there's an insecurity... have I ever mentioned on here that I podcast weekly about publishing and writing? Check us out: ThinkingOutLoud)

But I'm no newbie, not anymore. I have an outline, a character sheet, and WriteOrDie to get me to my MODEST goal of 30,000 for the month. Not pushing it, just enjoying it... taking the story from start to finish and leaving the rest for revisions.

And we'll leave the insecurities to the revision process.
How is everyone else this month? Did anyone else even consider Camp NaNo this year, or was that just me?

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Summer Solstice Party

I love California. It's been 9 months now and I still love being back in Cali. One reason why is this lovely group of women that I can share magic moments with... moments like these.

I threw a Summer Solstice Party tonight, and we had a blast! I'm so blessed to be able to share magic, food, and fun with these wonderful ladies.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Insecure Writer's Support Group: Only you can know

Hi! It's time for the Insecure Writer's Support Group, created by Alex Cavanaugh. Seems to be the only blog post I can be reliably certain of writing. Well, that's ok. If you're an insecure writer, like me, and you're dying to find a group that will boost your spirits, this is your lucky day! Hop on over to Alex's blog and sign up, then start posting! We're happy to include you.

Feedback. Reassurance. That's what this group is all about.

Positive feedback is awesome. So is the reassurance that you're good at this... that someone wants to hear your story. That someone else cares the way you do about your characters.

But a lot of times you don't get that kind of encouragement until you're near the end of the project. So what do you do while you're in the middle? In the throes of stress and anxiety, wondering whether you're just a hack who can't even cobble together a basic paragraph...?

Me, I do a lot of avoiding, of hiding from my work and finding anything else to do to make me feel successful, confident, better about myself. On the one hand, that works, because I don't have to feel those horrible crushing feelings that the fear of failure causes in me. But on the other hand... there's still this novel sitting there... waiting to be written. Waiting for me to return to it.

At some point you have to make a decision. You can do this. It's your story. You have to tell it. Is it worth it in the end to go through the pain of self-doubt, to struggle with the fear of inadequacy? Only you can know. Only you can say. Your characters, your story... it's yours. And even if you find that the feedback is less than positive and the reassurance is thin at best, you're the only one who can tell it.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Working stuff out

I've been quiet for a while, I know. I'd offer a better excuse, but really the only reason is that I haven't taken time to sit down here and write anything. That includes creatively as well as blog-related. I hope that I will get back on the wagon, soon. Very soon.

In the meantime, I've been spending lots of time hunting my monsters in different ways... like this one: I ran Bay to Breakers yesterday!

Bay Bridge, Morning, San Francisco.

Don't know who this Jack was, but he was excited. I'm on the right.
Next to the bunny...

Friends! Getting ready to run!

I never thought I was a runner... never thought that one day I would run more than 7 miles and still have any energy at the end of it... Apparently that's only mental! Because after working toward it, training and making myself get out there, even when I was nervous and less than confident in myself, I succeeded!

No I wasn't the best. I didn't WIN the race, but I ran it. I finished it. I finished well. I'm hoping to translate some of the lessons I'm learning through running about myself and my will power to the other areas of my life that I love and care about (like my art and my writing).

I'll go into more detail on some of those lessons later... they'll be worth unpacking here, I think.

What do you challenge yourself to do? What puts you out of your comfort zone and teaches you something about yourself?

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

IWSG: It's never enough

If you've never heard of the Insecure Writer's Support Group, you should check out this great community of writers here! Join and share your insecurities and encouragement with others on the same journey. The amazing Alex Cavanaugh started it all.

I get bogged down, find myself stuck inside my own head trying to convince myself I'm not a writer, or that I'm no good at it so I just shouldn't do it... If I was a writer I'd HAVE to write every day and I don't... or at least I convince myself not to... so I must not be a writer, right?

It's so easy to think of all the reasons that I might not be doing enough, or capable enough to follow my dreams, to succeed as a writer or as a freelance editor.

Well, this week, the fabulous Anne Rice wrote ... almost directly to my insecurities via her Facebook page. Thanks Ms. Rice.

I've often said there are no rules for writers. Let me share the WORST AND MOST HARMFUL ADVICE I was ever given by others. 1) Write what you know. 2)You'll have to polish every sentence you write three or four times. 3)Genius is one tenth talent and nine tenths hard work and 4) You're not a real writer if you don't write every day. --- ALL OF THAT WAS HARMFUL TO ME. ALL OF IT. IT HURT AND IT SET ME BACK. ----- So I say again, there are no rules. It's amazing how willing people are to tell you that you aren't a real writer unless you conform to their cliches and their rules. My advice? Reject rules and critics out of hand. Define yourself. Do it your way. Make yourself the writer of your dreams. Protect your voice, your vision, your characters, your story, your imagination, your dreams.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

IWSG: Finding courage in the midst of failure

It's not easy to fail repeatedly. It's not possible to fail repeatedly if you only try once and let your failure keep you from ever trying again.

I'm having a frustrating experience this week. I used to have a hobby aquarium... 4 years ago before all of my life got put on hold and we moved to Connecticut (I call those the Dark Years, that time in Connecticut...). When I had my aquarium(s) I kept angelfish. They were beautiful and so happy in my tanks that I had two mated pairs and produced a LOT of angelfish fry to trade back to my LFS (Local Fish Store). One might say that for a hobbyist, I was an expert.

So now that we've been back in California for 6 months, I decided to fill up my aquarium again. I spent a month preparing, cycling my tank, doing water tests and changes as needed to get things just right. Then I brought home three BEAUTIFUL little angels to live in my tank happily together.

That was Friday. Today is Wednesday and I am down to one. That's right. TWO of those angels have died in the past five days. I'm mystified. The LFS owner is mystified. I'm crushed and disappointed, too... and doubting my skill/experience. How could this happen??

I find that writing is a lot like fish keeping. There's a fragile, almost mystical balance we're all looking for. When it's good, we find that place where our characters thrive, where our agents think we're brilliant, where our novels touch lives and inspire others to write as well. And when it's bad... woe is us! We might as well give it up!

I'm in that bad place right now... both in writing and in fish keeping... and I keep reminding myself that only by making mistakes can I learn and grow... and that even though the disappointment of not getting it right is physically painful and emotionally crushing... trying again and getting it right is worth the effort. In the matter of fish keeping, I've been there before. In the matter of writing, I am trusting the experience of others.

Does anyone else out there feel this way?

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Riding again

I've been riding for the past 6 months... at least twice a week... for the first time in 3 years. I'm still a beginner. I was when I decided it was time for a break. I didn't find a barn or motivate myself to "get out there" and take lessons or do ANYTHING with horses while we lived in Connecticut.

But now we're back in California where my wonderful amazing barn friends are... and something is different about me and the barn than it was 3 years ago. I guess I needed to hit the reset button. I'm not even going to try to analyze it. I'm just grateful for it.

I ride this cute little morgan mare named Rogue. She's not mine. She belongs to the daughter of another of Debbie's students... the daughter has just gone away to med school, and so someone needs to keep Rogue working. What a deal for me!

She's got just the right amount of sass for me, and we seem to get along (as long as I keep her in treats, that is). Plus, she's just so darn cute!

Yesterday we hit a milestone, Rogue and I. We went over a cross-rail! It's been more than 3 years since my last cross-rail. And we had a blast!

It's baby steps toward a goal of confidence and joy in riding... and I'm hoping that I can transfer it over to other areas of my insecurity and anxiety-ridden life. I'm going to beat those monsters yet!

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Insecure Writer's Support Group: Die Vampire!

Totally ripping this off of the Bloggess today, but it was just too appropriate(ly inappropriate), not to share with you this morning. "You have a story to tell! Pull your novel out of that sock drawer!... Die Vampire Die!"
Thank you for reading this week's edition of the Insecure Writer's Support Group, a monthly group hosted by the ever amazing and talented Alex Cavanaugh. Anyone can join in any time, so please hop over to his blog and sign up! You won't regret it.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Insecure Writer's Support Group: Trying something new

This is Insecure Writer's Support Group, a monthly group hosted by the ever amazing and talented Alex Cavanaugh. Anyone can join in any time, so please hop over to his blog and sign up! You won't regret it.

It is SOOOO easy to get stuck in a rut, but in your writing and in your life how many times do you fall back to the same old thing because it's safe, comfortable, and you know it well? I have this problem a lot... mostly with my life, a little less so with my writing.

Recently, I've felt like my inspiration for characters and plots has been dragging... that I keep rewriting the same thing and I DON'T LIKE IT! I want to write something new for me, something exciting and motivating, something with zest.

So what I've decided to do is try new things in my real life... new activities that get me out of my house and meeting new people, stretching my comfort zone, and honing some skills that are NOT directly related to writing. I'm hoping that these activities will spark my imagination again.

I signed up for a portrait drawing class, found a knitting circle to attend, and scheduled time to attend a student composers concert, all to give my brain and my social skills some exercise. Um... except I'm so intimidated by trying new things! What if I'm not very good at them? What if the people don't like me? Wouldn't it be so much easier just to try these things from the comfort of my own home?

I'm not letting myself cringe and cower, though. I'm going to dive out there, try something new, and maybe fall flat on my face. Who knows? Who cares, though? My characters will never have any real depth if I don't have the courage to try something and risk failing at it as well.

How good are you at trying something new?