#ROW80 check-ins, dose of inspiration, personal journeys, simple living

Digging Deeper, in Life and Art

Mountains and Clouds in January

One of the most magical years of my life was spent living on a farm in rural Southwest Virginia. I’d rise in the morning and, before it was too hot, work in the large garden I tended. Afterward I’d sit on the porch, read poetry, work on my master’s thesis, write poetry—I even tried my hand at making jewelry.

It was a creative time in my life, one full of possibilities. Surrounded by mountains and forest, with the New River just down the hill, I was connected to nature and spirit in a way I hadn’t been in a very long time.

Though life has since moved me into town, I still strive to remain close to nature. The photo above is from Monday’s afternoon walk with my dog Leo. Though I live in a townhouse, I’m blessed to have a park filled with walking trails just steps from my backdoor, and we walk there daily.

During Monday’s walk, Leo and I were walking the hills. I paused to admire the way the clouds hung close to the brow of the mountains. I breathed in cool air, aware that cold air was soon to follow, perhaps bringing with it a dusting of snow.

This is digging deep. It’s savoring these precious everyday moments. It’s listening to the flow of things and being present. It is only when we’re connected to the flow that we can live both simply and creatively.

I returned home, where I curled up with a cup of tea and my laptop and put the finishing touches on my novella. It is officially query-ready. I’m still waiting for some feedback on my synopsis, and once that’s revised, I will be sending Oak-Bound off to editors, in hopes of finding a home for a story that began whispering to me five years ago. I wasn’t ready to tell it then, but last summer, I realized it was time.

I’ve done several drafts, each time listening intently to my characters and their reactions. Each time letting my world unfold on the page, helping the story to shine.

This is the creative process. This is why revision is so vital. Too often I’ve dreaded revision, but when I think of it not as the dreaded chore of revising but instead as the magic of digging deeper, it becomes less of a chore and more of an adventure.

With any luck, 2018 will be a year of digging deeper into my life and my art. On the home front, I’m paring away the excess, parting with objects that no longer serve me to create the sort of home I’ve always wanted: cozy, soothing, tidy—with a touch whimsy and a hint of magic. On the writing front, I’m listening intently to my stories, allowing them to unfold in their own way, not forcing them into prescribed criteria but instead letting them happen organically.

I’m a firm believer that we must envision the life we want and then find ways, slowly but surely, to bring that vision into being. What’s that saying? That goals are dreams with deadlines? Sure, maybe sometimes. But I think, perhaps, that goals are dreams made tangible. It’s not so much that we need a deadline (although sometimes, for us writers, that helps) as it is that we need a way to help dreams take root and find form.

Digging deeper allows us to pare away the excess to find the authenticity that lies beneath. Too often, our lives are buried under the stuff we own, the trappings we carry that no longer serve us. To dig deeper in our lives, we must work toward a vision of what we truly want to make of our “one wild and precious life.” To dig deeper in our storytelling, we must listen to our characters, make them and their worlds come to life.

I’ll leave you with an excerpt from my newly completed novella, Oak-Bound.

He landed hard against cold, damp earth. The smells of rich, fertile soil mixed with moss and mushrooms tickled his nose.

The light was diffused gray here—wherever here was. Tendrils of silvery-white mist snaked along the ground as though they were living, sentient things. One began to crawl up his leg, wrapping him like a boa constrictor. Nick took a few quick steps back.

What are you? The mist seemed to whisper in a thick, raspy voice.

He is not from here, another, higher voice hissed.

Human? The first voice.

“Yes,” Nick answered, the single word laced with uncertainty.

Ah. Welcome to The Crossroads.

“The Crossroads?” He furrowed his brow. “The place between life and death?”

High-pitched laughter met his ear.

This place is so much more. Here the roots of every tree, every plant, the energy of every living thing weave together to create a tapestry of life. The dead pass through here on occasion, but this place is not death, young one. Not at all.

Something inside Nick relaxed, a coil of fear inside his belly easing slightly. Not for himself, but for Cassie. He still had time.

What about you? How are you digging deeper into life and creativity? I’d love to hear from you!

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#ROW80 check-ins, creativity, dose of inspiration, simple living, the writer's journey

Seeking Magic and Whimsy in 2018

dreamstime_xxl_83011944 creative commons stock photo Dreamstime.jpg
Creative Commons Stock Photo | Dreamstime.com

By now the glitz and glitter of the holiday season are behind us, a time of brightly colored packages tied up with ribbons—but also a time of harried running around for many of us.

Perhaps, now, we can pause. We can catch our breath.

And we can look forward to another year on the calendar. We’re still deep in the belly of winter. For Pagans, we’ll mark Imbolc on February 1, a celebration of the slightest quickening of the earth, of impending spring. And it’s still a long march forward to Ostara, the spring equinox, when daffodils trumpet the season and robins sing their merry tunes.

No, those of us in the northern, colder climes can look forward to trudging through snowdrifts and returning home to curl up under a blanket with a cup of steaming tea and a good book.

But there is a gift in these colder months. Winter is a time of stillness, of reflection, of rest. We can renew ourselves and look forward to the year ahead. We can plan our goals for the year just as we would plan our gardens.

Too many times, we sally forth without a clear vision. I am called, again and again lately, to Mary Oliver’s lovely phrase in her poem “The Summer Day”:

Tell me, what is it you plan to do

with your one wild and precious life?

I spent much of 2017 scattered, and through that scattered energy, I found a renewed call to my purpose: to live a life that blends simplicity with whimsy, the everyday with the magical, creativity with calling. Above all, I am a storyteller. I took on too many things in 2017, trying to be and do too much, trying to make everyone happy, trying to live a life that satisfied other people’s definitions. I was exhausted. On the day before Yule, I woke up feeling awful, burnt out and stressed. It was a wake-up call to focus on what mattered, to return to my creative center. Out of that scattered chaos I found renewed purpose. To eat healthier. To care for my body, my mind, and my soul. To focus on my creative gifts. To simply be. To create from my center, my heart.

My goals for 2018 are to revise and polish several of my manuscripts and send them off on submission. As far as the first quarter–or “round”–of the year goes, I have several upcoming, self-imposed deadlines. My deadline for submitting Oak-Bound is January 8. My deadline for submitting Spellfire’s Kiss is March 3.

I’d also like to finish a draft of another story finished by the end of March–possibly Riverspell, the sequel to Spellfire’s Kiss, or one of my unfinished novellas, such as Fates Entangled or Silver’s Stray. Both of these have drafts finished but aren’t ready to be submitted yet. I’d like to get a draft of either finished, but Riverspell somehow feels more pressing.

On the home front, I’d like to continue various projects in our townhouse and continue my massive decluttering project. If I can tackle one project per month related to this goal, I’ll be satisfied with that.

I’ll also continue teaching English as a Second Language and, perhaps, branch out to animal rescue and take in a foster dog or two.

Magic. Simplicity. Creativity. Whimsy. These are what I strive for as I move forward.

The winter solstice has passed. The days are growing longer.

Perhaps, the signs of quickening are here. Even in the cold, short days of winter, the promise of spring remains. One need only look to the evergreens to remind us of the sleeping promise of the earth.

What about you? What are your plans for 2018? What are some of the words you’d use to define your “purpose?”

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#ROW80 check-ins, creativity, dose of inspiration, personal journeys, the writer's journey

Round 4: Intentions

IMG_4996
Triberg waterfall, in the Black Forest region of Germany. Photo by my husband, Ryan Spoon, August 2017.

Since my return from my trip to Germany in August, I’ve entered a period of quiet introspection. What direction do I want to go in my life? Am I on an authentic path that will allow me to drink from the wellspring of creativity? How do I define success, and how have I internalized society’s definition of success?

My head spinning with such questions, the universe brought Tami Lynn Kent’s book Wild Creative into my life. I didn’t devour the book. I read it intently, studying some passages over and over and taking my time with the prescribed exercises. A few of my favorite quotes from Wild Creative:

“Most of our current work and life structures have been devised to emphasize production and how much we can accomplish rather than the nurturing of the soul. This routinely takes us away from our natural inclinations and the flow of our energy field.”

“Taking ownership of one’s creative life force is a conscious act to change the focus from exclusively monetary values to modes that value life.”

“Though we may tend to take note of visibly productive years where we have ‘something to show’ for our work, the less visible years are equally important and essential to the overall creative journey.”

Too often as writers, we’re obsessed with word counts. There’s the #1k1hr hashtag. There’s NaNoWriMo, in which we’re given the daunting task of writing 50,000 words in a month. There’s the infamous 1-millionth word we pen. And there are countless prescriptions out there for how many words we should write in a day.

Naturally, wanting to “succeed,” I followed such models, only to find myself burnt out. The wellspring of creativity was dry. I would write in short bursts when inspiration struck, or force myself through a revision, only to grow burnt out and exhausted once more.

So 2017 will not shape up to be a year of epic word counts. Instead, I believe, it is a year of introspection, of peering deep inside myself and trying to ascertain the life I truly want.

That life is authentic. It is imperfect. It is one of individually defined success. It is sometimes messy, often beautiful, filled with countless moments of joy. Watching Leo chew on sticks in the yard while I sip my coffee and read a book. Enjoying the color of the rose bushes as they bloom. Cooking a simple meal. Making my own home products—so far this year, I’ve discovered recipes for laundry detergent, dishwasher detergent, and lavender goat’s milk soap. Owning less and living more. Travel as a form of discovering self and connecting with the world around me. And, of course, creating art, stories that, if I do my job, will enchant and inspire.

My latest work in progress, Oak-Bound, is one that came to me five years ago. I wasn’t ready to write it then, and it came out flat and forced. I tried again a year ago. Same result. Back in July, I stopped and I listened. Like a tree, I stretched my roots deep into the loamy soil of inspiration, and I soaked up what I found.

I am finally ready to give form to this story, a novella-length work about loss, grief, trauma, and healing, and the human relation with the divine and nature. I want to tell stories that spring from my heart, stories that are vibrant and authentic, and Cassie and Nick’s story feels like one of those stories. I very much hope to share it with you one day.

Thus, I have no “goals” for the last quarter of 2017. Instead, I share with you my intentions for the rest of the year:

  1. Finish a draft of Oak-Bound.
  2. Revise Spellfire’s Kiss, once I receive feedback from my kind and helpful beta reader.
  3. Participate in one or two community events each month.
  4. Meditate or do yoga twice a week.
  5. Continue paring away the excess in our home and making the townhouse our own.

As the Wheel turns toward Samhain and the seasons cycle toward winter, I will continue to dig deep, to listen closely, to spend time in nature, and to move toward authenticity.

What about you? What are your intentions for the rest of 2017? Have you read Wild Creative? Do any of the quotes above resonate with you?

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#ROW80 check-ins, dose of inspiration

Sunday Summary: The Passion Test

I recently watched an interview with Janet Attwood, author of “The Passion Test: The Effortless Path to Discovering Your Life Purpose.” In the interview, she cited a study that looked at a number of highly successful individuals in a search for common threads. And one that emerged was passion—all of these people were living their top five passions. Not surprisingly, the purpose of “The Passion Test” is to help people uncover their top five and create markers to determine how well they’re doing at living those passions.

It reminded me of a similar article I read about Warren Buffett and setting life goals. He instructed someone to make a list of twenty-five things he’d like to accomplish in his life, and then whittle it down to the five most important ones. And then Buffett instructed the man to pour all of his energy and focus into those five.

I’ve known for a long time that writing is one of my top five passions. I feel called to be a storyteller, as I think many writers do. But lately I realized I’ve been too focused on that passion. I need some balance in my life, and that’s where my other passions come in. I’m trying to listen to music while I do daily chores, thus fueling my creativity and supporting fellow artists. I’m aiming to do yoga, tai chi, or guided meditations a few days a week, thus reconnecting to my spiritual side.

And I know I want to get out into the world and do more community service. I think art is a way of changing the world and bringing enlightenment, hope, and joy to people’s lives, but there are other ways to contribute that I don’t want to overlook. I’m trying to nurture my spiritual side as well as my creative side, and to push myself to get out into the world and make a difference.

What about you? What are some of your top five passions? And what could you use more of in your life?

Lastly, an ROW80 check-in…

Writing

1.) Make measurable progress on one of my WIPs. Started a character voice journal for the Cabot Sisters series. Wrote a rough synopsis of a short story, “Under the Mistletoe’s Spell.” Wrote 3,607 words, mostly in novelette “Stolen by Magic,” some of it in a short story, “Under the Mistletoe’s Spell.”

2.) Read three books on the craft/business of writing. Two of three books read. Started reading “Write. Publish. Repeat.” by Sean Platt and Johnny B. Truant.

Social media goals:

1.) Check in on Twitter or Facebook daily. Met for every day except Thursday.

2.) Blog twice a week. Goal met!

3.) Comment on three to five blogs per day, Monday-Thursday. Met for three of four days.

A Round of Words in 80 Days is the writing challenge that knows you have a life. Click here to cheer on fellow participants.denise signature

#ROW80 check-ins, dose of inspiration

Why I write–and read–fantasy

Sometimes the world is so full of darkness that we need an escape–even if there’s a touch of darkness in that world we find ourselves drawn into. It’s especially nice to read a story in which characters overcome great odds, save the day, and live happily ever after. As J.R.R. Tolkien once said

“Fantasy is escapist, and that is its glory. If a soldier is imprisoned by the enemy, don’t we consider it his duty to escape?. . .If we value the freedom of mind and soul, if we’re partisans of liberty, then it’s our plain duty to escape, and to take as many people with us as we can!”

photo by Janet Boyer, WANA Commons
photo by Janet Boyer, WANA Commons

Or, as Dr. Seuss puts it

“Fantasy is a necessary ingredient in living. It’s a way of looking at life through the wrong end of a telescope. Which is what I do, and that enables you to laugh at life’s realities.”

Fantasy offers us a wonderful opportunity not only for escape but also to learn about ourselves and see our world in a different light. Our villains are our fears personified. Our heroes inspire us to greatness. We can enter a world of magic, of elves, of witches, of dragons, of … well, if you can dream it up, it can exist in the pages of a fantasy story. When it comes to writing fantasy, not even the sky is the limit.

Now, more than ever, I believe the world needs fantasy literature. I’m glad to see how many conferences there are devoted to the subject—because works of fantasy deserve to be parsed, analyzed, and explored. I’m glad to see how many writers have created worlds for readers to lose themselves in, whether it’s embarking on a journey through Middle Earth, attending a school of witchcraft and wizardry, or seeing a fairy tale reimagined.

Sometimes we just need to get away. It not only recharges us, it can also heal us, it can also enlighten. I’m grateful that stories of the fantastic speak to me. If I had my pick of genres, this is the one I would come to, again and again. But I often don’t feel that I chose fantasy literature. I feel like these stories have chosen me.

There’s magic in this world—inside of all of us. And fantasy brings that to the forefront. So go ahead. Pour yourself a cup of tea, pick up a good book, and lose yourself for an afternoon or an evening. You need it. We all need it.

Or, as Terry Pratchett said

“Humans need fantasy to be human. To be the place where the falling angel meets the rising ape.”

I leave you with the words of Robin McKinley:

“The great thing about fantasy is that you can drag dreams and longings and hopes and fears and strivings out of your subconscious and call them ‘magic’ or ‘dragons’ or ‘faeries’ and get to know them better. But then I write the stuff. Obviously I’m prejudiced.

Obviously, so am I.

Lastly, an ROW80 check-in…

Writing goals:

1.) New goal: Work on steampunk story, tentatively titled “The Clockwork in the Stars.” Wrote a detailed synopsis and tracked down photos of most of my main characters. Also did a lot of background work on world-building.

2.) Finish a first draft of novella/novelette “Haunted Kisses.” On hold.

3.) Finish a second draft of novelette “Called by Magic.” Started revising the first chapter and read through the comments I’ve received so far.

4.) Do a read-through of “Good Old-Fashioned Magic,” make necessary edits, and send to critique partners. On hold.

5.) Read three books on the craft/business of writing. Continued reading “Writing the Breakout Novel” by Donald Maass.

Social media goals:

1.) Check in on Twitter or Facebook daily. Every day except Friday.

2.) Blog twice a week. Blogged three times this week.

3.) Comment on three to five blogs per day, Monday-Thursday. Goal met.

A Round of Words in 80 Days is the writing challenge that knows you have a life. It’s also a blog hop! Click here to cheer on fellow participants.

What about you? Are you a fan or writer of fantasy? If so, what draws you to this genre? What draws you to your favorite genre?

#ROW80 check-ins, dose of inspiration, feed your muse

5 inspirational writing quotes

I thought I’d kick off a new week—or end an old one—with a list of some of my favorite writing quotes. Feel free to add your favorites in the comments section. (Quote images made at Quozio.)

The-artist-deals-with Ursula Le Guin quote

Its-like-driving-a-car E.L. Doctorow

 

Love-Fall-in-love-and Ray Bradbury

Dont-tell-me-the-moon-is Anton Chekhov

 

 

Writing-practice-brings Natalie Goldberg

Sunday ROW80 check-in:

Writing:

  • Finish a second draft of my novella “Good Old-Fashioned Magic.” Finished!
  • Write a first draft of another novella Currently titled “Called by Magic.” Finished! Did a read-through this week and made some minor changes—tying up loose ends/answering unanswered questions, fixing typos, smoothing out awkward phrasing, etc.
  • Start a third project. Started a second novelette. Wrote 3,318 words. Created a plot outline and did index cards, so this story is mostly mapped out.
  • Read a minimum of four books on the business or craft of writing. On book five, “Manuscript Makeover” by Elizabeth Lyon.

Social media:

  • Check in on Twitter or Facebook daily. Met for Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday, not for Wednesday or Friday.
  • Blog two times per week. Blogged Sunday, not Wednesday.
  • Comment on three to five blogs per day, Monday-Thursday. Met for three of four days. Skipped Wednesday.

A Round of Words in 80 Days is the writing challenge that knows you have a life. Click here to cheer on fellow participants.

What are some of your favorite writing quotes?

#ROW80 check-ins, creativity, dose of inspiration

Sunday ROW80 check-in

Over the years, I’ve come to accept that feelings like fear, anxiety, and doubt are part of the creative process. Fear of success, fear of failure, fear of sharing our work with others…All of these feelings come and go. I recently discovered a great YouTube video about fear in our writing careers that I thought I’d share.

In her talk, “Facing Your Fears in Indie Publishing,” Susan Kaye Quinn addresses the different types of fear we face in our writing careers and how we can overcome them. Her video is geared toward indie authors, but it’s helpful regardless of what publishing path we’re taking.

ROW80 check-in

Writing:

  • Finish a second draft of my novella “Good Old-Fashioned Magic.” Revised two chapters this week.
  • Write a first draft of another novella. Wrote a rough outline and part of a new scene.
  • Read a minimum of four books on the business or craft of writing. Two of four books read. Finished reading “Write Your Novel from the Middle” by James Scott Bell.

Social media:

  • Check in on Twitter or Facebook daily. Met for Tuesday-Thursday, not Monday or Friday.
  • Blog two times per week. Goal met.
  • Comment on three to five blogs per day, Monday-Thursday. Met for all days except Monday.

A Round of Words in 80 Days is the writing challenge that knows you have a life. It’s also a blog hop!

What types of fear have you faced in your writing career? How did you overcome that fear and keep writing?

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#ROW80 check-ins, creativity, dose of inspiration

A letter to myself as a fledgling writer

photo by Sarah Brabazon, WANA Commons
photo by Sarah Brabazon, WANA Commons

Dear fledgling writer-self,

What words of “wisdom” can I impart to you, now that I’m a bit further down the writer’s road?

Perhaps, these…

Read voraciously. Read like you did when you were a kid, devouring every book in sight like a ravenous werewolf.

Have adventures—both on and off the page—because without adventure there’s no fuel for the creative spirit. Seriously, adventure is as good for your creative spirit as calcium is for your bones. Also: Drink more milk.

Don’t worry too much about “finding yourself.” The self is like a kaleidoscope; one slight twist and the shapes and colors rearrange themselves. In time you will find that the self isn’t discovered, but created through meaningful action.

Don’t worry too much, either, about how many words you’re writing, how that stacks up against how many words other writers are writing or even how many words you wrote last week, last month, or last year. Everyone is different, and you will change and shift and grow beyond old methods. Let that change happen. Just like adventure, it’s necessary and good for you.

Learn patience, and accept that publication is only one part of the journey—it’s not the destination, just one milestone on the writer’s road. Be kind to yourself, and be patient as your process develops. Remember this quote: “It doesn’t matter how slowly you go, so long as you do not stop.”

Write. Words will fall like raindrops from your pen. Some days a fine mist of words, other days a steady beat like summer rain on a tin roof. Still other days will bring a downpour of words crashing down by the bucketful, so quickly you’ll wonder how you’ll ever keep up.

Other times, it will be a slow process, tediously slow, and you’ll wonder if it’s ever going to rain again. During these times, be kind to yourself. Have an adventure. Pick up a paintbrush. Go bird-watching. Dance to “Walking on Sunshine.” Read a picture book. Gaze at the stars; write the moon a love letter. The words will return, but they need a little space sometimes—and so do you.

Disregard those myths you hear about writers. We are all at our most productive when we are happy, healthy, and well-nourished—body, mind, and soul. Everyone has something to contribute to the myth of the artist—that they’re drunks, addicts, insane, unhappy, broke, struggling, flaky, etc. Ignore it. Put as much emphasis as you can on your own well-being and your art will flourish. Remember that where the artist flourishes, so, too, does the art.

Most of all, remember that it takes time to discover your voice and to master the craft of storytelling. Don’t feel rushed by people who expect your first manuscript to be published a year after it’s written. The reality is that establishing your path will take years, but you have to believe that it’s worth it. Your art and the drive to create it are more than a mere dream; the writer’s road is a calling, a blessing, a gift.

Oh, and did I mention the importance of learning patience?

Signed,

Slightly older, slightly more patient writer-self

***

ROW80 midweek check-in

ROW80Logocopy1.) Writing:

  • Finish the second draft of the novella I finished in Round 1, Good Old-Fashioned Magic. Working my way through a “quick read,” reading the manuscript on my Kindle and taking notes.

2.) Read 4 books on the craft/business of writing. Finished Cathy Yardley’s “Rock Your Revisions.” Going to continue reading Stephen King’s “On Writing.”

3.) Social media:

  • Check in on Twitter daily. On target.
  • Comment on 3-5 blogs per day, Monday-Thursday. On target.
  • Blog 2 times a week. On target.

A Round of Words in 80 Days is the writing challenge that knows you have a life. It’s also a blog hop!

What would you tell yourself if you came face-to-face with yourself as a new writer? What has most surprised you on the writer’s road? What would your letter say? How are your goals for this week coming along?

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#ROW80 check-ins, dose of inspiration, spirituality

The Promise of Spring & ROW80 Check-In

Has spring arrived in your neck of the woods yet? Here, the daffodils are in full bloom and the buds are bursting on the trees.

Spring holds the promise of renewal and rebirth, of transformation and new beginnings. And with that promise comes a sense of connection to the world around us, and to the inner self that is called to the world’s magic the way a seedling is coaxed out of the ground by sunshine and spring rain.

In honor of the promise of spring, here’s a lovely little tune I’d like to share, “Bird Song,” by The Wailin’ Jennys. A sample of the lyrics is below. Enjoy, and happy spring.

 

I smell the flowers blooming, opening for spring
I’d like to be those flowers, open to everything

I feel the seasons change, the leaves, the snow and sun
I’d like to be those seasons, made up and undone

I taste the living earth, the seeds that grow within
I’d like to be that earth, a home where life begins

–The Wailin’ Jennys, “Bird Song”

ROW80 check-in

ROW80Logocopy1.) Writing:

  • Work on revising Made of Shadows, a paranormal romance novel. I set this story aside for a while so I could get some distance, but I think I’m ready to return to it with a fresh perspective. Finish short story/novelette that I just started. Wrote 3,679 words in this project. I’m still working on a title.
  • Finish the second draft of the novella I finished in Round 1, Good, Old-Fashioned Magic. On hold until I finish the short story I started. Planning on starting the second draft in May.

2.) Read 4 books on the craft/business of writing. Currently reading “On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft” by Stephen King.

3.) Social media:

  • Check in on Twitter daily. Goal met for Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, not for Monday or Friday.
  • Comment on 3-5 blogs per day, Monday-Thursday. Target met all days except Monday.
  • Blog 3 times a week with new blog schedule. Blogged twice this week. I’m thinking of changing this back to two times per week instead of three, since that schedule seemed to work better.

A Round of Words in 80 Days is the writing challenge that knows you have a life. It’s also a blog hop!

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#ROW80 check-ins, dose of inspiration, the writer's journey

Approaching the finish line!

I’m closing in on the home stretch of my WIP, “Good, Old-Fashioned Magic.” In fact, I’m hoping to finish it this afternoon! It looks like the story will weigh in at around 33-34K—a little longer than my original estimate of 30K, but not by much.

Since I’m up to my eyeballs in story work, I’ll leave you with these words of inspiration. Earlier this week, I was really struggling with my WIP. Now that I’m writing full time, there’s a pressure, an urgency to get my work out into the world that wasn’t there when I had a steady paycheck.

I realized I needed to step back, and that’s why I wrote myself this reminder of why I write. I’m sharing it now in hopes that it will be useful to someone out there:

Remember that you’re writing not to serve your own ego, but to serve a higher purpose. Your books are not for you; they’re not even from you. They flow through you. Your stories are a gift, not for you but for the world, and it’s up to you to use this gift in a way that’s of service to others.

Approach the page daily with a spirit of humility, gratitude, and service.

ROW80 check-in

ROW80Logocopy1.) Finish a draft of “Good, Old-Fashioned Magic.” Wrote 2,558 words. Almost there. Hooray!

2.) Read to hone my craft. Finished reading Julia Cameron’s “Walking in this World.” I recommend it, though I would also recommend reading her book “The Artist’s Way” first. I also read a chapter in “The Fire in Fiction.”

3.) Blog at least two times a week, on Wednesdays and Sundays. So far, so good.

4.) Check in on Twitter daily and on WANA Tribe at least once/week. On track.

5.) Comment on 5-6 blogs per day, Monday-Thursday. On track to meet this goal.

6.) Super-secret project: Write two articles/posts each week for that project. Nada, but I should have time later in the week once the novella is done.

This is a blog hop!

One week to go! How are your goals coming along?