June 6, 2010

That One Sentence

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I have a box full of note cards – on it are quotes from books, movies, and tv shows that I liked. Usually it is something that I found touching, inspiring or simply poignant. Somewhere is a box or notebook full of little sheets of paper with my own ‘inspirational’ quotes. I used to write them down thinking they were the beginning of a poem. Every now and then I found that box and I am inspired – there are some good lines there. And sometimes they stand alone. This is another one of those reasons I take down the lines that I like in movies and such – the lines stand alone and they spark something in me.

Often while I am driving – I think of a line, a sentence that has a place in a story of mine and I always feel like it is something that I have to remember to write down as soon as possible. These are not poetry or inspirational thoughts – these are often lines for a story – and not always one I am working on. Lines like this are the type of phrase that I often use as an opening sentence for a story. I wonder if there are many out there who will build a story around that one sentence. If I like it enough – it is the beginning of the story and sometimes I have to let the story tell itself and build off that one sentence – other times there is a story that has been roaming around in my head and trying to figure out how to start – this line might be just the start that I am looking for.

Are there others out there who pay attention to that one line that pops in your mind? what is it that you do with them?


August 10, 2009

Welcome the Pen

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I have been very disappointed in myself with writing the blog as of late. I am trying to get back into more of pattern that will challenge me to post more often. I am in these two newsgroups and have recently loved the challenges that one of them is bringing to me. There is a woman who is trying to get more interaction on the newsgroup going – she is posting questions about writing and people are responding. So far they have been very interesting: What are you reading? How do you write (pen and paper or computer), roll call and getting to know your characters.

Some of these are ones I have blogged about in the past, like the character development. The one that really provoked me to do a lot of thinking was the one on how do you write. I always thought that I was being ‘less productive’ and not keeping up with the times because I tend to write – pen to paper. It’ll happen in the most unusual times and places as well – and I will write on whatever I can find that will work as paper and welcome the pen that I am using.

I have tried typing my initial story on the computer – but always seem to fail because either I am distracted or just get tired of sitting at the computer and typing. When I look at the short stories I have written – everyone completed one of them was written first from pen to paper. So it got me thinking about why I do this and I wonder if it has to do with the whole editing portion of the computer. I think I try and edit as I write when I am typing, but when it is pen to paper – it just keeps coming out with a speed and focus that I can’t seem to get on the computer. Though I am a much faster at typing on the computer than I am writing by hand.

So now that I have identified this, that offers a new challenge – either get writing more with pen and paper or learn to write without editing on the computer – one would be faster than the other. Both have just as many inconvenient steps as they do convenient ones. The pen and paper route really allows for me to write just about anywhere – that means I have to carry paper with me wherever I go. Pen and paper is slow for me to transfer to the computer – seems to be my first edit. The computer is just faster and it is right there for me to edit after I finish; however, doesn’t seem to be something that I do well at doing (although I do seem to be able to do it in my blogs).

Any thoughts?

July 20, 2009

Back on the horse – or lessons in editing?

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I have made some major changes in my life and they appear to be more routine than I had initially believed they would be. They are affecting many areas of my life and I like it. I have started exercising regularly. I am in a contest with friends to lose weight – we have been doing this for going on 3 years, I think. With little success, so this year I created a much bigger challenge for all of us who wanted to participate which is building a savings account for a trip. Only those who lose 10% of their weight in 10 months are able to go with the monies saved. I have every intention of being one of those people and so I stepped it up. I was not doing well for the first half of the challenge – so I looked at my weight and the things I have done for most of my adult life and what has worked and what has not. I want this to be the last time I am focused on losing weight. The main thing was exercise. So I started with ½ hour a day and it is working. In the first 15 days, I lost something like 7 inches of fat. So I am keeping it up, along with a journal focus of my weight loss and the activities I am trying and doing.

I did not realize how much more energized I would feel. It has helped in keeping me more motivated and active. Now, the bummer is that I have spent less time at the computer actually writing. This is not okay. I am really frustrated by this.

I have to admit that some of my struggles are coming in the form of editing. Even when I get the stuff down and on paper, I review and edit, review and edit to the point that I believe it is ready to start submitting. A few months ago, I submitted a story of mine that I thought was ready to go. A friend is helping with the editor position for stories to be read on a radio station, and I found one that I had writing which could be read online. It had been published in a literary journal and at an online journal. I thought cool – this is the one to go with. When I first read it to my writers group – I was complimented on the voice and the story. There were a few changes that I now realize I had not made before submitting it, but overall the story was enjoyed by my peers. This friend was one of those peers – the story was returned to me and edited as a ‘favor’. I honestly do see it as a favor as it she was trying to be very helpful in what needs to be in place before submitting. I admit to feeling crushed – there were so many marks the original story was hard to find. Now there were some actual errors that I was glad to have pointed out to me, but then there were things that I don’t agree with. Which is alright as well – everyone is entitled to their opinion – yet, I wondered, how did it get accepted at these other places if there were so many errors. I am still a little confused by this. I have not looked at it for awhile because I honestly found it a little depressing.

Now I am trying to edit a couple of my stories for submission – one of which I think has a really good change at this on-line magazine which accepts some horror stories – and even though there is no truly gory details, it is violent. I am now not confident in my editing skills and am worried that I am letting one persons edit affect my own editing. It took me awhile to realize this, so I think I am going to simply do it the way I know how and submit. I am, however, looking for options – 1. Who do you get to edit your pieces before submitting? 2. How do you know when you have edited too much?

June 15, 2009

No Change Yet…

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So far I am not doing so well on the 15 minutes a day. I am beginning to think that more than one change at a time, sets me up for failure. Initially, I was thinking I could carry over minutes – so if I didn’t get my 15 minutes done yesterday I could owe 30 today. I am now up to 1.25 hours. That is not going to work, if I can’t get the 15 done – why would I add more. It’s Monday and I tend to do better when I start on a good beginning of the week kind of day. So today will be the first day of my 15 minutes of writing per day. I have the time in my schedule today, so there should be no excuses.

June 10, 2009

My Interests…

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…lately have not been so good with this blog. I have been wondering what to write. My focus has been on this experiment I am doing to make changes in my life for exercise and for a healthier lifestyle. So far today is the end of that first 24 days and it was overall pretty successful. Feel free to follow or check out my experiment at my other blog: 24 Days to Habit? Or Once Again – Not Enough?

I am looking to make this chnage in other areas of my life as well. My writing has only been half-assed lately. I have a screenplay that I am playing around in my mind. I have been recording and writing down different parts of it, but not knowing how to really write a screenplay has made it somewhat difficult. However, last night I was playing around with something I could be doing and that is writing it out as I know how to write – since much of it is in dialogue at this point, it should be easy enough to do and then I can go back and fix it in screenplay style.

I think part of me has been struggling with it because it is also a gay-themed story, my writer’s group – as good as they are – I do not believe would be that receptive to critiquing it, but you never know. I am thinking that I also know a few screenwriters who would be willing to review it for me, so we will see.

In the mindframe of my writing every day and how do I incorporate my 24 days to habit thinking? I think I need to start smaller – I have been trying to set aside at least an hour a day to write. I believe that I am going to start with at least 15 minutes a day writing with the intention of adding 15 minutes at each 24 hour cycle. I am not going to post on this daily, like I am on my exercise, but I will try and add it to my weekly post.

November 3, 2008

Back to Writing

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A few weeks ago, I went on my second writer’s retreat with the people in my writing group. We had cabins out at Mahoney State Park. It was a great week for writing, there were times that were so peaceful. I did a little writing and editing. I worked on some new stuff, but mostly refined pieces I had written and transferred handwritten pieces onto the computer. That really seems to hold me up since I seem to do so much better with handwriting my stories first, yet I type so much faster? (I am going to check out a pen that Target has on sale that supposedly keeps track of what you have written and will send it to your computer – worth checking out in my mind).

I had a story that I was considering while I was at the writer’s retreat, but every time I worked on it – I only got as far as what I had already completed. I am proud to say that last week I was able to write it – pen to paper. Normally, it can take months (years) before I then get it transferred to the computer, now I feel good enough about this story, I plan on getting it into the computer this week. I am even thinking of considering entry into the next Writer’s Digest contest, but I might not as I want to start submitting it. I am actually very pleased with it, so we shall see.

October 14, 2008

The Circle of Life

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This has turned out to be an interesting weekend. I took Friday off from work so I could get out to Mahoney Park on time for our writer’s retreat. I have been looking forward to this for months – jotting notes of things to work on, making sure I brought things that I had hand-written to be able to transfer to the computer and as few distractions as possible. The evening before, I received a call from an old friend who was going to be in town so I set up a lunch to meet and catch up.

I had a great time catching up with him. His life might be going through some changes, I wish him the best. I am glad that it seems to mean as much to him to remain in contact with me as it does for me to maintain that contact with him. He was another friend from work whom I enjoyed working with and developing a friendship.

I arrived to the cabins later than expected – just in time for dinner. It didn’t go as I had expected and I was a little grumpy (plus I think I was fighting a migraine). There was a lot of sharing and then some reading and critiquing – the reading/critiquing was nice, but the sharing was a little frustrating as I had so many plans to write. It was a relaxing weekend though and I woke early and stuck around the cabin. I worked on a short story I have been working on and got two chapters of one of my novels – transfered to the computer. I felt really productive. I went up to the main conference area and joined in on a critiquing session and then lunch. The afternoon was filled with more writing, watching a reading of a script and another critiquing session. I read this time – short chapter from my book – it was well received. I really appreciated this. One of the benefits of getting some of this stuff transfered from the page to the computer, is that I found a bunch of notes that help me in the direction of this story.

I actually got more done once we went back to the cabin and then joined everyone for more reading/critiquing and eating together. There was a lot of story-telling and talking, but it was okay since this was supposed to be game time anyway. I read again (which I think surprised some since it has been awhile since I have read – I need to get better about that). I stepped a little outside of the box and took a couple of my blog posts and attempted to convert them to an essay. It was again well received but told that it was too long – I did get some good direction on this though, so hopefully I will get that done soon.

Each night I received a call from my mom’s home but when I had called, she said it hadn’t been her – that it was probably my sister notifying me that the parent of several of my sibs friends had passed away. It seems to be the month. In the past 3 weeks I have attended the wakes and/or funerals of two of my friends parents and while I did not know this family enough to attend – it’s a lot of grief. I did not return the call to my mothers as it was late in the night before I noticed it and figured it was either and accident or something that could wait and this is why no message was left.

We left the retreat Sunday morning and I really did feel that I accomplished a lot. Shortly after getting home, I received a call from my mother and learned that my great uncle had passed away. My Uncle Wayne was a great man who had a strong influence in my life. He owned the farm that I worked on for a couple of summers when I was in high school and was a wonderful man. The last several years has been hard on his family as he has suffered from Alzheimer’s. I am sad, even though he had no real idea who I was the last couple of times I saw him – and wasn’t even around the last two times I visited the farm – death is hard.An hour later I was checking up on all my pets and learn that one of my turtles has passed.

It was probably a good thing that I had today off for the holiday because I have been having many ‘moments of self’ as another friend has said in the past. I’m not sure I would have been a nice person to be around. Today was a bit of healing and prayer. I received a call from my cousin and good friend and talked with him for awhile – both left that conversation thinking we need to be better about getting to gether. I miss him. Then I received an email from a friend whose lovable canine companion of 15 years passed away on Saturday as well.

If I look at Saturday, October 11th, it has such importance for me. It was my grandfather’s birthday, a cousin’s birthday, now my uncle’s passing day, and the loss of two pets. On top of this, it was National Coming Out Day. I am not even sure what to think about all of this.

To end this odd note of the sorrow. I have to admit that none of these things this weekend brought me to tears, until I received a note from another cousin and learned that she had given birth to her third child on October 10, 2008. I was brought to tears as I thought of the old thought that as one life ends another begins.

September 23, 2008

WOW – Time Flies

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It has been a full couple of weeks. Not only has my schedule been a little full and out of control, my duties at home have been a little overwhelming themselves. I am still in the process of moving over from Blogger – right now all the posts have been moved (except the one saying that I am moving, lol) and I just need to move the sites I am reading. I haven’t figured out the easy way to do that, but it’s not enough of a reason to hold off anymore on posting.

In my writing, I have been excited. I have this great writing group in which I have learned a lot. They have this peer partner program which in the past, I have not participated. For one, I wasn’t writing enough and for another, no one seemed to write in my, uhm, genre(s). This last year a woman who had been a prior member returned to the group – turns out both of us write thrillers, horror, fiction shorts and children’s books – she posted that she was interested in a peer partner. I responded. It is exciting that we have a deadline to turn something over to the other. I think this will help me to get stuff done.

I write a lot, but finishing is a problem – I also don’t tend to stay on one story before moving to the next. That is one of the focuses I am going to try and get more in tune. One of my stories, I have actually taken the time to outline (which is uncommon for me) and it should be easy to sit down and write the chapters as I know what is going to happen. I am hoping this writing partner thing keeps me more on track. I have started and outlined several shorts that have recently been developing (in my mind – I have been outlining them just soo I don’t forgot the story.)

Later I plan to share some of my thoughts on this year’s  (downtown) Omaha Litfest – which was very enjoyable.

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