Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving

Amazing how the busiest week of this term coincides with Thanksgiving. Oh, and finals week? That just happens to fall on the same week as Christmas. Perhaps there's a group of professors sitting around remembering when they were forced to work during the holidays and think everyone should do the same. You know, build character and all that. When I'm a professor, I'll make sure to give light loads during the holidays. Unless my students are punks. Then vengeance shall be sweet.

In other news, we're hosting Thanksgiving at the Manor tomorrow. I've never hosted Thanksgiving but I've wanted to forever. This should be fun. We're having family and friends over, nice mix of personalities. Our town does a tree lighting on Main Street every year on Thanksgiving night so we'll all troop over to Ye Olde Tree Lighting Ceremony, sip hot chocolate and then mosey (Yes, in Hampton we mosey. Not walk, stroll, or canter. Mosey.) back to the Manor for turkey, dressing and all the other fabulous dishes that make up a Thanksgiving feast. It will definitely be writeable about.

I wish you all a fantabulous Thanksgiving. Blessings upon you and yours. May your homes and bellies be full and may you survive Black Friday shopping with little to no permanent scaring.

Gobble, gobble!
Jen

PS: Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU to everyone who has continued reading my measly little posts. I'm really looking forward to my two week break next month. Perhaps then I can catch up on some much needed blog visiting!!!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Write Ugly

Don't hide behind your words, behind perfectly constructed sentences and polished prose.

Let it all out.

Scream if you have to.

Be real.

Face your fears.

Confront demons.

Be fallible.

Make mistakes.

Your readers will love you for it.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

No-NaNo-November and a bit o' fun!

I've officially dubbed this month "No-NaNo-November" *cue confetti*. Huzzah! Instead of writing frantically all month with the world cheering me on to victory, I'm writing frantically all month with only a professor cheering me on to victory. And I'm finding the encouragement from said professor far more moving than an entire world of NaNoers. That's saying something! If you've ever participated in the great NaNo, you know that having all those people behind you (even if it's just the knowledge that thousands of people are doing exactly what you're doing at the same time you're doing) is awe inspiring. It makes you want to write. It makes you want to finish.

But to have someone who is doing what I want to do (teach Creative Writing at a college level, making a living and a life with words) to tell me "WOW! You've got some great stuff here!" really urges me on to my desk even when my fingers are callused and the last thing I want to do is stare at the computer screen for one...more...day.

All you Nanoers out there, write on!! I'm cheering for you from my little nook in Georgia while I pound out my first ever writer's portfolio, write nonsense daily for a stream of consciousness exercise, research Poe's life in relation to the House of Usher falling and dredging up some shorts for my portfolio and a writer's competition at the school. What you're doing is amazing, astounding and I miss being in the thick of a 50,000 word mad dash with you this year!

As for that bit of fun, I bought one of those cinnamon brooms last night. I love cinnamon brooms. I think it must be some magic spell they cast on these spindly little witches implements that makes them smell like home for sixty two days or more. And speaking of witches and magic and spells and all that fun stuff (that by no means is put away in our house after Halloween) I give you this:


"Nimbus 2011 *holiday edition*"

Yes, friends, I bought that from Diagon Alley last night and I can't wait to take it for a spin.

Ok. So it was Ingles, but a girl can dream, can't she? Besides, it looks fun tacked to our random post in the middle of the floor:



Have a wonderful week, enjoy yourselves, rock that NaNo and remember to be fabulous!
Jen

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Writing from Life

Quick updates:
- NaNo is a no-go this year. My creative writing class has me blissfully writing everyday and, unless a collection of "stream of consciousness" writings count towards a 50,000 word novel, there will be no NaNo.
- I'm actually ok with not participating in NaNo this year. Really.
- I have a new addiction. Reuben sandwiches. I had my first one this weekend, which is odd considering my father LOVED them and my mom eats them every chance she gets. I think the whole sauerkraut thing scare me. Facing your fears can be tasty!

Something my creative writing professor said last week has really stuck with me. "Creative writers write from life". This goes back to that old, terribly over spoken phrase "Write what you know". I used to balk at this, thinking, "but I don't want to write about growing up in suburbia with a dog and a rabbit that attacked my cousin." I have learned through this class that this isn't exactly what that phrase means.

One of our exercises last week was to list at least five things about ourselves that was unique, that we could dive deeper into and write about. I found myself thinking about my ancestors, how they came from Ireland and settled in the south. I wondered about my grandfather's grandparents who came over the Appalachian mountains in a covered wagon to settle in north Georgia. The Appalachian region has been haunting me lately, which explains my sudden craving for bluegrass music and black eyed peas. I wonder where this could lead?

The point is not that I'm strange, but that we all have things in our past that make up a delicious soup of awesome. One we can all ladle up and write about. I've been thinking more and more about researching my family history to dig up some stories. Turn up that old soil and see what's there. We all have so much holding us up, so many people who have gone before us. What were their stories? How do their stories translate into our own lives?

What about you? What do you know? Where did you come from? How can you turn your past, maybe even a past you don't know, into stories that speak to the here and now?
Trust me when I tell you this exercise is very, very enlightening! Have fun! Be bold!

And be FABULOUS!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Insecure Writer's Support Group



Am I insecure?

You betcha. Not in the actual writing. No, I love writing. It's the idea of showing anyone else what I'm writing. And this fear prevents me from writing at all. I am afraid of not measuring up. Measuring up to what? Someones idea of me? Their idea of what I should be? The more I contemplate this, the sillier it becomes.

Really. Think about it. We are writers. It's what we do. We didn't choose this vocation. Good Lord, why would ANYONE choose to be a writer? No, this calling came to us. And we accepted because to NOT accept would drive us crazier than accepting. Yes, writer's, you're doomed either way. But smile! Madness is contagious! We're all mad here.

So why AM I insecure about sending forth my writing into the great unknown? Judgement? Or the dreaded Rejection Letter? No. I think it's the fear of never making it. The thought of putting my whole life on hold in order to write, to study writing; to read the writing of others when I could be outside exploring. Or writing stories when I should be out there in the sunlight living stories instead. It is a fear of looking back in years to come and having nothing in terms of publication to show for it.

Is there a cure for this fear? Yes. Writing and submitting and letting go. The letting go is the hardest part. Write your hardest, actually send it out to those who could make your writing dreams come true, and let it go. It might get published. It might not. You might be the next JK Rowling. You may never ever see your work in print. So why keep writing? Why keep playing roulette? Because we have to. Because writing is supposed to be fun, expressive, and freeing.

I write because I have to. I write to explore what I'm afraid of. I write to be free of these fears. If that is all I accomplish in my life, shouldn't that be enough?

Yes. I think it should. What about you?

(Learn more about the Insecure Writer's Support Group and see all of the posts at Alex Cavanaugh's blog!)

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Dear NaNoWriMo,

So you're here already, huh? How did you sneak up on me. I had every intention of diving in, pounding out 50,000 words in a month's time. And then...school started back. More exactly, my next term started and shot me two classes that have, in two days, proved to be quite the handful. Not bad; just a handful.

Class number one: Info Technology. Yes, I have to spend 8 weeks "learning" what LAN, WAN and HTML stand for and how to properly format a Word document. Stuff I could have Googled on my own. Ah, the joys of college.

Class number two: Creative Writing. My first in an upcoming year and a half of creative writing and literature classes. Huzzah! Major classes at last. Do you know how long I've waited to hit MAJOR classes, IE: classes that actually lead to a degree in a specific major? Let's just say I've been in and out of school now for sixteen years. Yes. That long.

So.

NaNo.

Not so sure where you fit in. But I'll do my best to visit. I'm already having to spit out 5 story ideas this week on top of the stream of consciousness assignments for no less than three out of seven days. Maybe I'll use those. Stream of Consciousness every day for a month. Could I get 50,000 words out of it? Would they even make sense together if I did? No, but it would make for an interesting, Mad Hatter of an essay collection!

NaNo, we are going to have an interesting relationship this year. Go easy on me and I'll do my best to complete you!

Most sincerely yours,
Jen