Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Insecure Writer's Support Group September 2017 Edition

Good morning!

It's SEPTEMBER and I have to tell you, I'm happy to see it. Welcome to the monthly gathering of the Insecure Writer's Support Group. It's the day we writers get together, post about our insecurities or send out a little inspiration into the Internet with the hopes of helping others. This group is the beautiful brain-child of Alex Cavanaugh. The marvelous co-hosts for September are: Tyrean Martinson, Tara Tyler, Raimey Gallant and Beverly Stowe McClure. Make sure you stop by their blogs to say hello and THANK YOU for their hard work and dedication.

Stop by the IWSG website and see what fun our fearless leaders have planned. Our new ANTHOLOGY contest kicks off TODAY and next month is the Show Us Your Writer Insecurity contest.
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SEPTEMBER'S QUESTION: Have you ever surprised yourself with your writing? For example, by trying a new genre you didn't think you'd be comfortable in?

The simple answer to this is, YES! Over the years, I was a confirmed fantasy author. I have a box in an attic in Atlanta that holds over 3,000 pages of a fantasy trilogy to prove it! Over and over again I tried to write about other worlds and magical creatures but nothing stuck. I love fantasy, I argued. I've always wanted my own dragon! I believe in fairies! Still, no good. The writing came across as stale, the plots regurgitated from Tolkien.

Then I took a little walk in the woods and found an overgrown path. I wandered down it and discovered that what I really loved were ghost stories, scary stories. Things that go bump in the night and follow you through the trees stories. So I dabbled in horror. Something clicked and I spat out three short stories and novellas. But...well, they still didn't quite feel right. What could I be missing?

One day I sat down to edit one of those novellas and gave my character a very, VERY Southern voice. Not accent, mind you; dialect is difficult to write in and almost always degrading. No, I had her use slang, idioms and colloquiums I was familiar with, illustrations that anyone from any other region may not be familiar with but would know were distinctly Southern. I put words together in a way that swayed with the pine trees and dredged up red clay.

And suddenly, like those little blocks in a game of Tetris, everything made sense. I realized I'd been fighting my voice for years, for fear of being seen as ignorant or fake or too "down home" and innocent for anyone to take me seriously as a writer. Truth is, I was ashamed of my Southern heritage which was to say I was ashamed of myself. It wasn't until I made peace with that and accepted myself that I was able to weave words together in a way that not only made sense but rang true. And that's when my words leaped off the page and surprised me.

What about you? What have your words done that surprised you? Have you ever had to face yourself in the mirror of your stories in order to make peace with something that was holding you back?

Summer may have fled in terms of calendar but here in the South it's still hot as blazes! Still, I'm back from my blog sabbatical and ready to work. I finished a novel in June and finished editing the first draft in August. I've started rewrites and hope to have a shiny first draft by the end of this month. After that? Well, that's the scary part.

Summer Reading Review

Confession time : Back in January, I made a glorious list of books to read. The list consisted of fiction I'd never read before and re-reading books on the writing craft. Some of the latter I've read before, others I hadn't. I was doing really well. Until Summer.

The reading list got tossed to the breeze while I did a bit of novel writing, editing, and some good, old fashioned summer-ing. We didn't go anywhere. We just spent our weekends about town and at the beach. It's been wonderful. When I have picked up books, they've been of the cozy mystery type (my guilty pleasure). And I've been enjoying every minute of it! Hopefully I can pick the list back up in the next few months, maybe even play catch up, but here's the thing I learned: don't be afraid to let life get in the way. There too many wonderful experiences to enjoy out there that may be lost to lists and plans. Don't give up on dreams, mind you; just be open enough to let life in the door from time to time. Most to-do lists will wait a little bit while you run wild and free!

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I want to apologize for not responding to the comments on my past three posts. My only excuse is that I was swallowed up in Summer and simply let life get in the way. Still, it was rude of me and I hope none of you took the lack of response personally.

That being said, I'm currently taking a class on Wednesday mornings and won't be near my computer until after 1pm. I'll be returning visits and responding to comments after that! Thank you for understanding.

Here's to Autumn, a respite from the heat, new writing adventures and forward motion!


S.A. Larsenッ said...

I love the journey you took to find your true writer self. (Don't ever be ashamed of any aspect of yourself again, okay?😊) I say that, but I do understand where you're coming from.

emaginette said...

I write more to express myself than anything else and can't keep it in. Writing has saved my sanity, enhanced my life and made me a better person. Feeling so lucky. :-)

Anna from elements of emaginette

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

You had to be true to you to find your voice.
Although you're still good at that fantasy stuff.

Jen Chandler said...

Thank you so much! It really is a process, isn't it? I'm sure I'll continue to evolve as a writer. I know I shall as a person :)

Jen Chandler said...

That's something I'm learning to do, Anna: just write for ME, to express myself and get the ideas out of my head. It really doesn't matter if some of my stuff never gets published. Sure, I'd love to see my novel in print one day, but the truth is, I just want to get all these stories out and on the computer screen! They're taking up far too much room in my head :D

Jen Chandler said...

Thank you! And I still LOVE writing fantasy, but I find my freedom when I go a little further to the Dark Side :)

Raimey Gallant said...

Hi Jen! Are you aware that your gravatar is still linked to an old website? I had to click around to find you. I only mention it, because I don't want you to miss out on people returning your comments. :) Oh, yes, I can sympathize with not finding the right genre right away. I wrote a YA contemporary a couple of years ago, and now I'm writing adult thrillers, which I think is a good place for me. :)

Lee Lowery said...

I am surprised at how many of us are glad to see the summer go. I've always felt like a bit of an outlier in that respect, but many of the IWSGers have expressed this sentiment. Genre is a bit tricky - I've dabbled here and there, but seem happiest in the dark halls of mystery/horror. Congrats on getting that first draft finished!

L. Diane Wolfe said...

Southern done right works. I'm reading a manuscript now that is "Southern" but very readable. And enjoyable.

Chrys Fey said...

We should all discover ourselves, who we are, and what we should truly be writing instead of what we always thought we should be writing. Your story is a great example.

Mandy 'n' Justin said...

How awesome that you were able to find your voice through that experience! And what a creative way of doing it too!

I must admit that I had fully intended on reading so many books this year … and yet I've only gotten around to, I think, 8 or so. So much for good intentions! Maybe next year both of us will do better! :)

Roland Clarke said...

That's quite a writing journey - a bit like a travelogue. So how about Travel Fiction ;-) .

Jen Chandler said...

It's a little like coming home, isn't it, when you find that right genre?
Hn. I honestly don't know what the gravatar is from. I'll have to do some digging around. If it's from Google+ it's because I never, ever use that site but I'll double check that and my link from the IWSG page. That's weird. Thank you for letting me know!

Jen Chandler said...

I love summer but I never, ever get any creative work accomplished! I'm always happy when August ends and September begins. A fresh, new slate!
Thank you so much! Now the work of editing begins :)

Jen Chandler said...

It is tricky to get Southern right without having it sound cliche or dumbed down. My challenge is always letting my natural way of talking - and how people I grew up with talk - flow into my writing without using dialects or accents and without making anyone sound "stupid" just because they are Southern.

Jen Chandler said...

Thanks, Chrys! I agree. It's hard sometimes to write what is inside you, especially when it is so very different from what everyone else thinks you write or expects you to write! I've found that to be true. Whenever I tell people I write horror and dark fantasy, they balk. It's kind of funny :)

Jen Chandler said...

Thank you so much!

I've read a good number of books so far this year but I really slipped when summer rolled around. Ah well. Life happens and I'm happy to let it do so. Here's to catching up on those reading lists as the weather cools off :)

Jen Chandler said...

Haha! I love it! I should give it a whirl. I do have several story ideas set in places I've either traveled to in the past or haven't been to yet. Hmmm, I'll have to give travel fiction a fling!