Everything is awesome…

Seriously, the new Lego Movie theme song has been continuously looping through my head for the last day.   YIKES!  So, here I am riding in on that awesomeness wave of optimism to reconnect with my blog.

Alas, lonely little Blog, I’ve been neglectful for far too long.  (Wow,  exactly 100 days to be precise!)

I’m happy to report that even though my blog has been void of words, my writing has not.  I didn’t finish November as a first-time,  National-Novel-Writing-Month(NaNoWriMo) “winner*,” but I did finish the month with a solid, and completed outline and well over 15,000 words “carved” into my current project, SKY, which currently stands at around 27K in words.

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My “Wonder-Mom” Lego keychain figure…

My 2014 writing goal is/was to write everyday, and for the most part I’ve been following through and connecting in some tangible way with writing everyday.   There are a few poems that I’ve been fiddling around with,  that desperately need a lot more thought and time.  I’ve even come up with the very great, yet very naïvely awesome idea to submit to  Writers of the Future (http://www.writersofthefuture.com/) at some point during the year.

In January, I submitted two, equally “awesome” flash-fiction pieces.  So far, I’ve received one rejection, but no word on the other yet, so I’m hopefully and totally awesomely stoked either way.   Why?  Because it means two important things: I’m writing and I’m trying!!!  In the end that’s all I can do–try and put myself out there.

 

How’s the writing year going for you so far?  Awesome, yet?  There’s still time!!!

P.S. I know I used an awful lot of adverbs in this blog post, but really inserting the word “awesome” just seems to require heavy usage of LY-words.  🙂

*I’ll post more on this in October, if I can remember to do so. 😉

 

Last-minute NANO participant…eyeroll at self!!!

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This project will be written entirely in longhand using notebooks(on purpose). Can you guess my favorite color? 😉

I had no intention to sign up for NANO–really!  In the last couple of years, I considered it briefly with the same intrigue someone might consider eating a basket of fried Oreos.   Interesting concept, but probably a really bad idea, that could lead to unpleasant distress.

November is the kick off to the holidays, right?  My kids have five scheduled school days off this month.   There are several birthdays and end-of-season sports parties to plan/attend.  And, let’s not forget the twenty-pound turkey that needs cooking with all the fixings…let alone the Christmas crazy haze that has already began in haste.   Whew!  That’s overwhelming!  But, you get an idea of why November is one of the worst months to immerge oneself into writing 50,000 words.  http://nanowrimo.org/

Unfortunately for me, I often don’t listen to the rational left-hemisphere of my brain.   I’m actually looking at this as an auspicious occurrence that was possibly meant to align at this very moment.  There is a trio of elements that flourished the NANO seed:

  1. The new project that I want to see in rough draft ASAP( https://shermierayne.wordpress.com/2013/10/11/when-the-dogs-bark-listen/  )
  2. I honestly can’t remember, too much coffee does this to me! Darn!  Ha!  How could I forget!  A major age-related milestone is coming up.
  3. A conversation hubby & I had Wednesday afternoon.

Without any doubt, it was that conversation that not only shone brightly on that little seed of NANO consideration, but soaked it until the roots were spreading quickly.   The conversation?  Well, it was the basic we-need-more-money lament.  But, when hubby finished with, “Why don’t you hurry up and finish that book and make us a million dollars?” I felt a belief in his words(maybe for the first time).  Perhaps it was merely desperate, temporary dreaming on his part, perhaps, yet I heard in his voice an undercurrent of hope and belief.  I needed that.  In that moment I knew I would push harder, try harder and struggle more.

I have been treading lightly; my footfalls have barely left an imprint.  I’m committing to the long hours and unrest of struggle, relenting to its beauty.   “Without a struggle, there can be no progress.” Frederick Douglass

There y’aIMG_8786ll go, that’s my “why” in a nutshell.  I don’t plan to blog this month unless something truly remarkable happens(fingers crossed).  If you’re curious enough to want to follow along with my month-long journey, please like my Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/ShermieRayne?ref=hl .  I’ll update my word counts there sporadically throughout the month.

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I hope everyone had a safe and happy Halloween!

When the dogs bark: listen!

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Art sculpture is titled “Muddy Dog” and produced by a local artist that I’m rather fond of.

I started a new writing project last night. I know I had promised myself to stick it out with only one big story at a time–one novel and not to hopscotch around further dividing my limited writing time. But, the water began boiling many days ago. I honestly tried to put a lid on it, or ignore the flash of ideas, yet before I realized it– she had a name and a face and a heart full of pain.

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So when I sat down to declutter the ever-growing paper mess at my writing desk, and casually retrieved a legal pad from the floor, in an instant I knew the only question was whether I’d use pencil or pen. The lid popped off the pot, the steam released.

When I finished the first entry(epistolary format), that pad literally vibrated in my hands. It held me as much as I physically held it. I didn’t want to go to sleep, afraid I’d lose that connection. No worries! In fact, or in spite of spending a rushed day out and about navigating everyday life(including work on a tooth’s crown), I’ve garnered a nice collection of napkins, receipts and Post-its scribbled with written material.

Back to the odd blog title: listen, don’t suppress! (Has anyone ever heard of such a saying before, or did I actually make it up?) Perhaps everything does have its own season and time, and moment of birth.  This could be the very right instant in time to write this one particular story.  I must listen!

A poem called “Shame”

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SHAME 
News reports that I’m trafficked,
my heart denotes that it’s racketed.

Street owns me,
prostrates me,
bends me to knees,
for money that touches my hand, but never reaches my pocket.

Fettered and tethered in invisible chains,
puts me on display—but never seen.
That’s shame.

Mom hooked on crack and reefer,
allowed uncle to become my creeper.
In a haze she turned her gaze.

Wanted to be a teacher,
spent my nights daydreaming in books.
Now looking for a come up from the preacher,
reading street signs and the promise on the cigarette packs.

Easy prey, that’s what I was.
Not enough love at home to lift me up above,
the grip of a pimp.
That’s shame.

Need to escape.
Shooting up liquid heaven, can’t make the evade.
Crisscrossed wrist so scarred in lines,
my signs of dying to live.

I’m a commodity—an item, a purchase.
Change it!
No demand–no supply needed!

But, the Johns drive by.
Buy my time and my pain is your crime.
That’s shame.
 

I entered the above poem in the Library of Virginia’s Dark Side Writing Contest:  I did not win.  And I was OK with that, honestly the poem was a tad indecorous for library walls.  However, I felt the pulling, indignant urge to put it out there into the world nonetheless ( https://shermierayne.wordpress.com/2013/07/29/human-trafficking/ ).

There is now a People’s Choice Award vote, that is ongoing until October 5th for all of the prior contest entries.  So, if you have the time to browse through some fine poems and short fiction pieces, please have a look: http://www.virginiamemory.com/blogs/dark-side/2013/05/31/america-atlantic-ave-virginia-beach-oceanfront-2012/ !!!  Voting is super simple, and requires no login–merely a simple click.  My poem “Shame” is the seventh entry from the top(the photo icons seen in the right corner have entries posted as well).  However, please only vote for me if you’ve read other entries, but still liked my poem–no sympathy votes allowed.  😉

Today I can have a pumpkin frapp, or latte…

IMG_8327Today is fall.  I know we all know this fact, except for those that can profit from the gratuitous and preemptive, pre-extension of holidays.   For the last many weeks, commercially, Halloween, fall and even Christmas have been figuratively pushed down my throat.  Stressed by the almost never-ending list of back-to-school requirements, requests and requisitions of my time:  my mind has mutated this premature “let’s-get-ready-for-the-holidays” mindset into a beast that waits, attempting to insert itself into my already hustled back-to-school month.

So, I vented my rebellious indignation against this unwanted pressure in the only way I could think of:  boycotting.   Did Starbucks notice that I had sworn to not order a pumpkin Frappuccino or latte until fall?  No.  And, a local department store did not take down their Christmas decorations because I openly gawked in incredulous dismay.  For goodness sake,  it was very early September and I was shopping for back-to-school socks!   And yeah, just days ago, that was me shaking my head as I entered the local grocery store–the door was flanked with pumpkins on one side and watermelons on the other.   I bought the watermelon.   After all, I was still wearing flip-flops and it was still technically summer.   My right to enjoy a season or event in its proper time frame is being taken away–it’s being taken away from everyone.

Sometimes it feels like I’m running a marathon, making it to the last mile of the race and the welcome banner is being taken down–and a new race has already started without me.  The week before school and for a few weeks after, days are packed with deadlines, never-ending packets of paperwork, new schedules and myriad of other changes or commitments or demands that need tending to ASAP.   I want to be present for that reality and not be distracted by the impending onslaught of the next busy race.   I mean really, photos of pumpkin “frapps” proudly posted around Facebook the day before my kids even started the school year.

You might be asking, “what the heck does any of this have to do with a writing blog?”  Because I have been struggling, that’s why.   I have not worked on my current novel in over a month.  There I said it.  I feel a mix of shame and regret to admit that, but it is true nonetheless.   I could produce a hugely long list of things I did complete, or have almost completed, but I won’t.  Perhaps venting against the commercial industry is merely a self-soothing way to lessen my guilt at allowing my writing to fall victim to a busy month–or maybe not.

So now it is IMG_8282officially fall.  I can sense a return of “normalcy”(if that even exists).  My kids’ schedules & my volunteering days are plotted, their afterschool events aligned and routine(mostly),  the long back-to-school nights have come and gone, almost all of the paperwork avalanche has been completed and returned to school.  Now, I can return to writing and hopefully get back into a fitness routine, and organize the unorganized  remnants of summer,  but first I must tackle the laundry(yes, this is what just a few days of falling behind looks like)!!!  Oh, and my writing space, yet that is another blog posting  all together!

 

My first interview(kinda)…

Well, I was interviewed once, by a very rural newspaper when I won first place in a recipe contest.   That was cool, but my writing Q & A interview was a surprisingly awesome experience.   Feel free to check it out, there’s a lot of writing tips and ideas included, and perhaps more personal insights than I should have divulged.

http://muffin.wow-womenonwriting.com/2013/09/shermie-rayne-second-place-winner-in.html

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The above books I ordered with some of the winning-prize money!

The naming game…

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Last week my writing hit a wall!  That wall was made of colorful Post-its, pinned to the cork board above my writing desk.   I had come to the point in the story where I could no longer get by with general, generic names–those given out in the initial pursuit of practicality and momentum.

As I introduced my leading character’s sidekick, this became painfully obvious.   The words were stifled and lacking, because an element of liveliness was missing.  My character was ready to live and breathe–yet could not!  Hence, he needed to be named, like all things that are created.  (Actually, he still needs to be named.)

From this fantasy story’s earliest conception, he has been called simply: “Red man”.   (Rest assured that this is not an ethnic reference, more of a literal observation.)  Similarly, other characters had/have temporary pet names, take Yoda-like man for example(short, wise and speaks his mind).  So, I pulled out the baby-naming books and my overflowing “name” file, which holds scraps of papers scribbled with various names and words.  Those names are found(stolen) from books, magazines, movies, the shoe boxes at Kohl’s, name tags of workers and even the yearly unclaimed money/property register.  Names are truly everywhere–you just have to be open to receiving them.  I do, however draw the line at searching the obituaries!

Again, I’m at a standstill.  I need the name.  A solid and strong name, perhaps a name from long ago that can be resurrected and recycled.

I’d love to hear from other writers!  What is your character-naming process like?  I’m especially curious as to the naming process for fantasy and/or other uncommon world genres.

…the difference between a hobby and a calling?

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For the longest time my husband has considered my writing to be a hobby, and has often referred to his enjoyment of fishing as a comparison. This infuriates me, for I perceive it as so much more.  I believe it to be my calling–something I don’t necessarily want to do, but rather it calls out to me, constantly nagging and berating me into its devotion.

Anyway, after recently considering the matter, I’ve realized that perhaps I was the one not fully understanding the comparison.   I took the time to get over my own indignation, and had quite an epiphany. I realized that I was applying my own assumptions or perceptions of what fishing meant to me, yet I failed to understand what his perceptions might be.  So, I thought about it…

He loves the act of throwing a line into stilled water, watching the undulating ripple dissipate, while anxiously awaiting that pull of power from the unknown at the other end of the line. He calls this his time of peace–where the mind is free to roam and relax against the calm embrace of nature.  I get that now, that was the intended comparison.  I was simply hung up on that single word: hobby!  I wanted a more precise and elegant lexicon to acknowledge my efforts.

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Don’t get me wrong!  I do consider writing much more difficult than fishing, of course. I mean–writing is a very internal process, it requires lots of synapses to snap and flick just right, in an often frustrating attempt to conjure up new worlds, and characters that actually think and feel and act in all sorts of crazy ways. It is truly exhausting, and arduous and rarely easy. Whereas, fishing is an external interaction in a living, tangible environment. Yet, in the end, both could or should provide the same result: that Zen-like trance, that feeling of unawareness to all those walls that otherwise enclose us.

Sometimes, I think we all get so hung up on the words and their meanings, and our own (mis)perceptions, that we don’t stop to realize that not everyone shares the same definitions and interpretations.

“Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves.” ~Carl Jung

So, I won my first writing contest…

http://www.wow-womenonwriting.com/57-FE1-Spring13Contest.html
Well, I should say that I won second place. However, it feels like I won the entire contest, because you see, the competition was within myself. I have been intermittently dabbling in writing for the last two years, unsure and uncertain, basically fearful to immerge myself completely. What if I wasn’t good enough? What if I was wasting time that could be more productive elsewhere? Thankfully, the biggest “what if” held steadfast: what if I don’t try?

This spring, after months of abandoning my writing and mentally beating myself up for not writing, I had an honest discussion with myself, which boiled down to one statement: either commit yourself or quit. I could not accept the latter. I just couldn’t let it go(I’m a bit stubborn). I had heard the promised whisper of what should be, which had to come to me when I needed it most. Alas, I was neglecting that purpose–and ultimately me. That had to change. Banishing faithless comments and doubtful looks, both those personally contrived and received by others, to the farthest reaches of comprehension released my productivity.

I also made the dynamic decision to start with just one of my several stories(all in various stages of development) and stick with it until the very end. No more daydreaming between various characters and worlds(unless something just happens to pop in my head). I’d be resolute and dedicated. I have to say, this obvious method is working, much to my chagrin.

Anyway, it was also around this time that I was Googling “writing contest” and happened to stumble upon Women On Writing’s website and their quarterly contest. My inspiration: “The fair nymphs of this isle are in wonderful tribulation…” ~Francis, Lord Rawdon. I had recently heard/read of that famous British Army quote from the Revolutionary War. It bothered me, or more precisely the story behind the quote’s meaning…it angered me. Not because atrocities of that nature didn’t happen, or don’t still happen, but because it had occurred so freely on American soil. I envisioned being a mother with a young daughter to protect, and from that place of desperation, Revolution was born. And, may in fact become a full novel someday.
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Falling off the wagon…

Yes, I have fallen from the novel-writing wagon! It is not such a far fall, really–and is quite easy to accomplish. It only takes a proverbially small bump in the road or a tree blocking the way. I could list a zillion reasons: kids, my first dental crown (ugh!), keeping up with cooking, cleaning and household duties, launching this blog and a Facebook page, other commitments and kids (I know I said that twice). However, in the end these reasons are but glorified excuses.

So, for ten days or more, absolutely nothing has progressed in my novel, Faye. My characters are frozen in time, trapped and awaiting the keystroked words to come and carry them forward. Thankfully, I’ve developed the awesome habit of outlining and with the help of many, many Post-it notes, their story is safe and ready for the telling.

Did I feel a pang of guilt last night when my nightly morsel of Dove dark chocolate was unwrapped to reveal the following message: “Keep the promises you make to yourself”? Yeah, a little, I have/had promised myself to write every single day. But then I have to allow myself to look at those myriad of excuses and realize that I did accomplish something. I even wrote a little poem that I feel a bit proud of, as it relates to an issue I feel strongly for (human trafficking). In the end, I suppose we all have to decide what to do with the time we are given. (Wow, I think I just re-worded my favorite Gandalf quote!)

Today is a new day, and I begin again!

“Man starts over again everyday, in spite of all he knows, against all he knows.” ― Emil Cioran