Insecure Writer’s Support Group: Writing Beautiful Music Again

I don’t know about you, but I’m sick of making New Year’s Resolutions…

Lose weight, eat healthier, save money, blah, blah, blah…

I’m sick of the “New Year, New Me” status updates on Facebook…

Starting at 12:01 AM, January 1, 2018, things will be different. I’m making big changes, people, BIG. And they’re gonna be huge (“h” is silent). 

I’m sick of setting goals I’ll forget about by February…

Write at least 10,000 words a week, post on my blog every day, publish my book, start a business, take morning jogs, drink 2 gallons of water, lose twenty pounds, adopt a furry, four-legged child, own a home, get married, find a cure for AIDS, solve world hunger…  

For the past two years, I’ve been running around like a chicken with her cut off, worrying about career goals, life goals, accomplishments; comparing myself to former colleagues, former classmates, even kids younger than me who all seem to be doing better; questioning if I truly have support from my family and friends or if all they really care about is money; stressing over income, how to make a living, whether or not I can truly survive in this big, bad world on my own as an adult without mommy always having to hold my hand; feeling crowded because I put everyone else’s opinions and aspirations above myself.

I’m done. Stick a fork in me–I am cooked!

I miss who I was in 2015, when the memory of college was still fresh on my brain; when walking into the office on Monday mornings didn’t slowly kill my soul; when I could sit in front of that computer, or notebook, pen in hand, and the story flowed seamlessly, like I wasn’t even writing it, just listening and following along; when I was prolific in my writing; when I was submitting poetry and fiction to magazines on a daily basis; when the pressure of being “good enough” to get published occasionally arose but didn’t completely weigh me down to the point where I couldn’t write, when my dreams of being a published writer weren’t bogged down by thoughts of “How can I make a living being a published writer?”; when all I did was write instead of think, over-analyze, start on new project after new project to “get rich quick,” lose focus on my first love because I was busy doing so many other things…

In 2018, I want to go backwards, remind myself why I started this blog in the first place. It’ll be four years next Tuesday. Back then, writing was simple. I didn’t care who was reading; I didn’t even care if they liked it. The only thing I cared about was whether or not I liked it. And if it spoke to me, if it sang to me, if it soared above the clouds and made beautiful music to my ears, I hit that publish button.

That’s what the Countdown series did for me these past several weeks. That’s what Love Poetry did for me in 2015, Black Poetry Writing Month in February of 2016, and 26 Husbands–26 Unusual Deaths that April, before my meltdown and the subsequent on-again, off-again battle with writer’s block.

So for 2018, my goal is simply to relax. To go back to writing beautiful music to my ears and sharing it with the world when it’s ready. To stop putting so much pressure on myself to be better than the year before, or to be better than or just as good as the next person, which has only led to anxiety, sleepless nights, and stress-eating. To stop worrying about “plans” and to simply enjoy life; not to let the year get away from me like that last two have. To take a vacation every once in a while, treat myself, read a book, read more books. To remember to take things one step at a time; not to force something ahead of it’s time, but only when I’m ready for it. To learn to say no, I just can’t do that. To put myself first—if I lose even a minute of sleep over it, I know it’s not for me. To figure out what is most important to me, and to do that and only that.

The last time I talked about goals, I had seven of them, but one shouts to me the loudest right now…

CHILL THE FUCK OUT!

Tune out the rest of the world. Find a happy place. Read. Journal. Write. Write some more.

Nortina


This post was written for Insecure Writer’s Support Group. This month’s optional question is: What steps have you taken or plan to take to put a schedule in place for your writing and publishing?

Getting Rid of August To-Do Lists

I’ll admit . . . I’m still on vacation. My brain stayed behind in Alaska while the rest of my body returned home. It’s been a struggle getting back into the swing of things, especially when all I can think about are bright blue glaciers, mountain goats and black bears, sea lions, whales, salmon, sharks if you can believe it, the jagged edges of mountain sides, the calming teal color of sediment-enriched glacial melt, hiking through the Alaskan rainforest, conoeing towards mighty rivers of ice, making bids at art auctions, buying too much jewelry, being rocked to and fro by the waves of the Pacific ocean, meeting the literal man of my dreams and not having the courage to talk to him. Oh, Alaska! I want to go back!

But it’s time to get back to business. I’ve kept you waiting long enough. I know you’re dying for an update on the Love Poetry novella, so here it is . . .

I’ll be completely transparent with you. I don’t want to say I fizzled out . . . but the second half of July got very busy very fast, and while on vacation, I decided to say “Screw it!” with all my self-imposed deadlines. I didn’t come on a week-long cruise to Alaska to be camped behind a computer the whole time. So I tossed my laptop to the 40mph catabatic glacier winds (not literally—my entire life is on that thing!) and decided to enjoy my once in a lifetime (hopefully not) luxury vacation.

Oh, by the way, I’ve decided I want to move to Alaska. I don’t know how bad winters are in that part of the last frontier, but the summers are amazing!

Anyway, getting back to what’s on the agenda for August. Right now, I am currently purging myself of the things that have taken me away from my writing for much too long. By the end of August I hope to have the majority of those burdensome projects off my plate.

Camp NaNoWriMo 2.0 is definitely a go because I am determined to finish this novella once and for all! Basically, I’m just gonna pick up where I left of and keep writing until I’m finished (and nip this problem on never finishing what I start in the bud) like it’s still July. I’ll try to post excerpts here, if nothing else, to keep myself accountable.

Other posts you’ll see from me this month: Monday’s One-Minute Fiction will be returning, and for the next several weeks, they’ll all be Alaska themed (because as I said earlier, my brain is still there). Also coming back is Throwback Thursdays—quickly becoming a staple for my Thursday posts.

But, because I promised to be transparent, I’ll admit you really won’t see much from me in August. My #1 goal for this month is to de-clutter my overcrowded to-do list. I always seem to have so much to do and never enough time to do it. It’s times like this when I often consider quitting my day job, or at least picking up some part time work so I can dedicate more time to my writing, but then bills . . .

Seriously, I don’t know why I always do this to myself. Clearly I’m not superwoman. And if I’m being honest, having a day job isn’t what’s holding me back, because what’s my excuse for the weekends? And while I sleep (or try to sleep) eight hours a day and work another eight hours, why are those last eight hours of the day never enough? I’m not good at managing my time. Which is sad, because my goal for this year is to get better organized, and with more than half of 2017 gone, I fear I’ve gotten worse. I’ve been back from Alaska a full two weeks now, and I still haven’t put up my suitcase, or folded my washed laundry from the trip (drastic temperature differences prevents me from just wearing them to get rid of the pile).

But I will hold onto the hope that purging myself of the weight of time-consuming projects I no longer have a passion for will finally free me up to do what I love . . . and clean my room.

On another note, I’m revamping the Lovely Curses blog. I wouldn’t call it an overhaul per se, but since reading this very insightful article, I’m finally going to do what I should’ve done over a year ago—back when I first had my writer’s meltdown—and that is create a blog content plan.

This is another reason why I’ll be relatively absent for the month of August— because I’m busy writing posts for the next six months! What types of posts will I be focusing on? The typical fiction and poetry of course, as well as more 1MinFiction prompts, frightful Friday ghost stories, serials, throwbacks, and more!

What I’m really learning now, is to write shorter posts. Sticking to flash fiction, which I’m come to enjoy, between 100-300 words. On those days when the inspiration bug really hits me, I know I will more than likely go over, but the whole point of keeping it short and sweet is so I can have more time to write outside of this blog. Because, you know, my publication list is getting kind of dusty, and I know you all are waiting for that damn book! Plus I want to be totally free to write and just write, worrying about nothing else, this November when I participate in NaNoWriMo.

So enough chit chat! I only stopped by to let you know I haven’t disappeared again. (Don’t send out a search party!) I’m nearly done with the first purge, I can almost taste it! Camp NaNoWriMo 2.0 is underway. I’m already thinking up six new posts to get started on my blog plan for the rest of the year, and . . .  that’s it? That’s it. Don’t want to do too much. I am trying to trim down my to-do list, after all!

July Treats While I’m on Retreat

Have we reached the end of June already? Wow, this month just flew by, and with everything I’m preparing to embark on in July, it’s a wonder if I’ll ever see the sun again before mid-August. But I don’t want to bite off more than I can chew, because these last three months I’ve been on a roll. Still, my epic meltdown was only a year ago, so I’m going to rein myself in just a little for July.

I’m Going Camping!

No, not outside. We all know I hate bugs. I’m talking about Camp NaNoWriMo. My decision to join Camp NaNoWriMo started in May. While participating in Short Story A Day, I was able to bring back to life some characters I let go dormant in 2015.

They’ve been revived, and my desire to finish their story has been revived too! What story am I talking about? Love Poetry, of course! This is a story I’ve been working on since November of 2014, when I first attempted the NaNoWriMo challenge. Back then, I only made it to a little over 5,500 words before giving up. This year, I want to get up to 30,000 words (about 968 words a day), and I want to FINISH! While it seems like a lot, many of the short stories I wrote in May were well over 1,000 words, and I wrote every day, so I have no excuse, especially since I have a plan going into this challenge.

I feel 100 times more prepared this round. First, I have lots of material right here on this blog to help inspire me, including my 2015 A to Z Challenge, and my recent epigraph poems that will remind me what’s supposed to happen in each new chapter. Then of course I still have the unfinished version from 2014 saved on my computer, which will help me get started, since I’m opening the novella with that same scene. Finally, I have my plot, which will tell me where the story’s going. Although it’s still a rough outline scribbled down on scrap notebook paper, it’s a rough outline of a completed story—something I didn’t have the first time.

While I’m away at camp, I obviously can’t dedicate the time I want to this blog, but fret not; I’m not abandoning you again. All July, I’ll be re-posting my 2015 A to Z Challenge. So for those of you who’ve never read it, you can get familiar with the story and the characters, and for those of you who’ve been with me since the beginning, this will serve as a refreshing treat. Although a lot of the story has changed since the A to Z Challenge (and I’ll tell which parts I’ve taken out, added to, etc.), it is still relatively the same story, so I think you will really enjoy this month-long trip down memory lane.

I’ll try to post Camp excerpts from time to time, mostly to keep myself accountable and to stay on track. 

What About My June Goals? Did I Meet Them All?

Before you ask, no, I still haven’t written that damn short story. But I do have an outline prepared, which is more than what I had at the end of May, so maybe by August I’ll have something new to submit to magazines.

Monday’s One Minute Fiction, was a success, if only just for me. It’s always good to have something to motivate me to write on a sluggish Monday morning, so I think I will bring it back in August. I truly love writing flash fiction. It has helped me so much in polishing my writing, making it clear and precise.

I love going back into my archives every Throwback Thursday and rediscovering posts I haven’t seen in a while. And you guys seem to love them too. I hate thinking that after something is posted, no one ever looks at it again. Throwback Thursday will definitely be back in August, and I’ll go even further back (which is really only three years), back when I first started this blog and had no idea what I was doing, just that I wanted to write and share my passion. Maybe I’ll even go back to those stories and poems that never made it online. Like that poem about the woman who strangles her husband while he’s eating a steak—my first “love poem.” 😀 Would you be interested?

I still want to do more Fright Night Friday stories. Conveniently, I haven’t been able to think of any scary good ideas lately, but I’m definitely bringing this series back after Camp NaNoWriMo, because I’m not me without posting at least one ghost story every week. I might even include a frightful badge! 😉

I’m re-reading some of my favorite books I read during my hiatus in 2016, so new book reviews will come soon, but let’s reserve those for September for the time being, just to give me some time to catch up.

And finally, what will be my next serial story? Well, it came down to a three way tie between Widow, For the Sake of Humanity, and Dry Spell—all my favorites! In terms of ranks, For the Sake of Humanity won out, so I will start with that one first, but I might end up doing all three at the same time, giving each series a designated day out the week. But that won’t come until August, because first I have a novella to write! Until next time!

June Writing Bug: What’s Next on the Agenda?

We did it! Yay! ¡Lo Hicimos! 

Now that I’ve shown my age ( 😉 ), let’s talk about writing, and writing A LOT.

After wallowing in my own self-pity for many months due to the incessant beast that is writer’s block, I’m happy to announce that I’ve caught the writing bug! For the last two months I’ve been writing nonstop, posting almost every day for April’s A to Z Challenge and May’s Short Story a Day Challenge, and during the first week of May, I also participated in the poetry challenge, #fapalywo. My followers have slowly started to come back to visit, now that I’ve assured them I won’t disappear again. It feels good to be back to form.

But now it’s June, and I don’t want to wear myself down by committing to another month-long writing challenge. I could already feel it starting to become a burden toward the end May. I was reaching for good short story ideas. The last week and a half of prompts weren’t all that inspiring, so I really had to force myself to write something. The ironic thing is the stories I posted in the last week of May seemed to have been the most popular. That is truly a confidence boost, so thank you. (You really like me!)

One of my goals for May was to write a new short story to submit to literary magazines. I haven’t had anything published since 2015, mainly because I haven’t written anything. For the second half of this year, it is my hope to change that. Unfortunately, that will have to wait at least another month, because I didn’t get to write the story yet. I have an idea for what could be a strong story. To give you the basic premise, it’s a redemptive tale about a wayward woman who wanders into a church service one Sunday morning and has a life-changing experience. I’m still working out the details in my head, but while that story is still in progress, another rose to the surface while I was deep in the trenches of Short Story A Day May.

In short story #10, “I Can’t Stay,” I was exploring a story that came to me in a dream a few years ago about a woman who is running from her current boyfriend and has a “chance encounter” with her ex/the one who got away. I brought it back and expanded a little more with short story #31, “To Rewind Time,” and I think short story #26, “A Mother Still,” will also be a part of that story arc. So I will spend this month further developing the story and bringing it all together, and hopefully by July, I’ll be back to submitting to magazines and receiving more rejection letters than acceptance notices. (Hey, you gotta laugh at these things sometimes).

One portion of the Short Story A Day May Challenge that I really enjoyed was novel week. It not only gave me the opportunity to do some further sketching for my NaNoWriMo novel, Lost Boy, but I also got to revisit some characters I haven’t looked at in two years: Jessica, Whitmore, and Bruce, from my 2015 A to Z Challenge melodrama, Love PoetryAnd it gave me a wonderful idea—Why not write this novella (which I should have finished in 2015) for Camp NaNoWriMo in July? Camp isn’t as strenuous as the real deal in November; at least here we can choose our own writing goals, so if I don’t make it to 50,000 words, I won’t be a total failure. Camp will also prepare me for writing (and hopefully finishing) my first novel, Lost Boy, for NaNoWriMo in November. (My heart is pounding just thinking about it!)

So I took fifteen minutes to sketch out a quick outline for Love Poetry, which is slightly different from what I posted back in April 2015 but not too much, and for July (so you don’t think I’ve disappeared again), I’ll be taking a chapter out of fellow blogger, Marquessa’s, book (I hope she doesn’t mind), and while all my focus will be on completing Love Poetry for Camp NaNoWriMo (what’s ironic is that I first attempted to write this novel back in 2014 for, you guessed it, NaNoWriMo 😀 ), I’ll be re-posting my 2015 A to Z Challenge, along with other Whitmore and Jessica related stories (because I have more than a month’s worth). If you’re a new follower since May 2015, you’ll be getting a treat, and for those of you who’ve been here a while, a blast from the past!

Getting back to June, I have a few ideas on where I want to take this blog moving forward, but I need your help.

First, I am overdue for another serial story. If you want to check out previous (completed) serial stories, read the Buried Series from the beginning here, and my 2016 A to Z novella, 26 Husbands—26 Unusual Deaths here. I thought my next series would be Oceanview, but while attempting to write Part 3 for one of the Short Story a Day prompts, I went completely blank. So that story goes back to the drawing board for now. However, I did write a few stories that are a little more developed and could possibly be expanded into a series. Below are the links to those stories. Which one do you think I should turn into a series? Vote in the poll, and I’ll reveal the winner next week!

For the Sake of Humanity

Widow

Dreams are Real

One Night Stand (from the “White Jesus” story line)

Dry Spell

 

Was there a story not included above that you would like to see in a series? Not a problem. Let me know in the comments, and I’ll consider it in the voting too.

Also in June I’m doing a test trial for a new Flash Fiction writing challenge. Last year, I hosted a short-lived challenge, Moral Mondays, which was fun, but too much of a commitment for me at the time. I may be shooting myself in the foot here, but I’m bringing back the Monday challenge, because we all need a little Monday motivation, right? This challenge will be One-Minute Fiction. As the title suggests, you’ll be challenged to write a flash story in one minute, no more no less, based on the prompt (a word, a phrase, a photo, whatever I’m feeling for that week). Sound promising? It should really light a fire under your bum and set you up for a whole week of writing! If it’s a success, I’ll keep it going; if not it’ll end June 26. (womp, womp )

Other June personal blogging ideas:

  • Throwback Thursday – Share a post (fiction or poetry) from the past.
  • Fright Night Friday – Post a frightful (thriller, suspense, paranormal, etc.) story or poem every Friday night. (You already know I love a good ghost story.)
  • Book Reviews – I have a lot of book reviews in my arsenal. I think I might reserve these posts for Saturdays.

So what do you think? Are you excited for June? Do you think writer’s block is plotting its revenge? Would you be interested in purchasing Love Poetry if I were to self-publish it? Do you plan to participate in the one-minute fiction challenge? Are you looking forward to the next serialized story? Or maybe you’re waiting for me to mention the one left unfinished…I’m being really secretive about it.

You’ll see why in due time… 😉

By the way, are you enjoying these beginning of the month goal setting posts? They’re my way of holding myself accountable, but sometimes I think I’m just talking to myself. Prove me wrong and leave a comment!