Friday, August 12, 2022

Writers Need to Face Their Fears

 




Are writers a bunch of scaredy cats? Yes and no. The fear of failure lurks in the back of nearly every writer's mind. There are a few egomaniacs who never have these feelings, who think they will be winners every time they write something new. Oh, how the rest of us envy them!

There is more than one kind of fear that writers face. Some are all-encompassing and debilitating. Everything that person writes gives them moments of agony over how good their writing is, if it's publishable, if any editor will even get past the first two paragraphs. This kind of fear should tell the writer that maybe writing is not for them. 

Then, there is the bits and flits of fear that we all experience. Work hard on an essay, revise and edit, polish until you thnk it's ready, but you suddenly begin to question whether your essay is polished enough to be submitted or not. 

Is it ready to be sent to your writing group for critique? Is it ready to be sent to a publication?  If you to ahead and send it, it's not an unreasonable fear. By submitting, you're in control and can overcome those little fears you have. Keep in mind that you are in charge. 

The fact that you are in control of your writing life is an important one. It can only be helpful in overcoming any small fears you might have. 

Even seasoned writers who've had several books published deal with fears. Read a biography about a famous author, and you'll find elements of fear in their writing life, too. Many wonder if this new book will be as good as the last ones. Will the public clamor to purchase, or will the sales be dismal? It doesn't matter what stage of writing you are in, there are niggling fears to be dealt with.

If you find yourself facing a fear in your writing life, face it head on. Don't merely try to push it away. Think about it. Ask yourself why you have the fear and then what you can do to move it out of your life? Some soul searching will be needed. Talking with another writer can be helpful, too. Stepping away from writing for a short time could have some benefit. A lot depends on how big or how small that fear happens to be.

Ask yourself why you have this fear. Then, think about ways to overcome it. You might need to give yourself a pep talk, listing your successes.  My take is to always accentuate the positive in any situation. Don't let the negatives pull you under.  

Our poster today tells us to keep our goals in mind over the things we fear. Good advice. I would add that we should meet our fears head-on and work on them a little at a time. 

Thursday, August 11, 2022

What's a WRITE-A-THON?

 


My online writing group, writersandcritters, is in the midst of a WRITE-A-THON  for the full month of August. We did this last year, and it was a great success, so onward again in 2022. 

Normally, we are each committed to sending in two submissions per month and four critiques. At least, we aim for that. Life and what it delivers sometimes makes it less than that or more, depending the circumstances. But for August, we do not need to sub or crit, unless we want to. What we are doing is writing something every single day. No length requirements, no time limits. A prompt is given which can help some members get started, but it is not necessary to use.

We head each email to the group with something like Nancy's THON #11, which means it is my offereing for the 11th day of August. We shortened the full name which works just fine.

It has been interesting to read what other members have sent. Sometimes, it is a poem. It can be a paragraph, or a full page. It's whatever the writer wants to do. I've never had a problem finding a topic. 

A few have selected a theme to follow. One member is traveling through Germany with her husband and daughter, so she writes every day about their travels. Another is writing about culture differences. One is writing about how she met her husband in a continuing story. One is writing childhood memories. Some have no theme at all, something different each day. That's my category, although many of mine have been memory pieces. 

It's nice to do this with a group, but you can do it on your own, as well. You can start tomorrow on August 11 and go through September 10. A full month. Or wait until September 1st and run through that 30 day period. There are no real rules. The direction is to write something every day. Write with abandon. Write with passion. Most of all, don't worry about time limits or deadlines or commitments. The WRITE-A-THON is for you. Just write and enjoy!

I have already found a few of my daily THON offerings that could be expanded into a personal essay. I am keeping each day's writing in file folder, so that I can go back later and work on the ones that seem of interest. 

So how about it? Will any of you accept my challenge to participate in your own WRITE-A-THON? If you belong to any kind of writing group, draft the members to do this with you. If not, do it yourself. You might be surprised at how much comes from this. The pieces often start with fluff, and then the good stuff starts coming forth. 


Wednesday, August 10, 2022

Book Review: Peach Blossom Spring

 


Recently, I read Peach Blossom Spring by Melissa Fu, her debut novel published in 2022. I was mesmerized by this generational family saga novel. 

The story opens in 1938 when a young wife, Meilin, and her 4 year old son, Renshu, live in luxury in a family compound in China. Her husband and brother-in-law are away fighting with the Chinese army as the Japanese forces begin their march across China. When her husband is killed, her brother-in-law returns home directing his wife and two daughters and Meilin and Renshu to pack what they can as they must flee for their lives. Meilin packs only necessities but also includes an ancient silk scroll that becomes more and more treasured as the family makes their way by train, boat, and finally on their feet. Meilin entertains her tiny son with stories from the scroll. Stories that give them strength to go on. The journey is fraught with problems and loss. Meilin and Renshu eventually set out on their own away from the family. They finally land in Shanghai, and when China becomes a Communist country, they escape to Taiwan. Life is hard for mother and son, but they survive with the help of friends. 

Renshu finishes high school and college and is awarded a chance to do his graduate studies in America. He ends up staying there, marrying an American Caucasian girl. They have one child, Lily. Around age 10, Lily begins to question her heritage, asking her father many times about his life in China and Taiwan. He refuses to talk about any of it. Meilin comes for a visit, and Lily and she bond, despite the language barrier. When her grandmother returns to Taiwan, Lily is more determined to learn about her father's childhood and family. The rest of the story focuses on Lily's long quest to learn about her heritage.

There is, of course, much more to this story of three generations covering the years 1938-2000. We see the strength of Meilin, the love Renshu, turned Henry in America, has for his mother. The pull of family as Meilin's brother-in-law shows up in her life once again. The history we see of both the Chinese and Taiwanese people is a large part of the story. With the conflict between the two today, it was enlightening to learn the past history. The silk scroll and Meilin's stories that tell of life and how we meet its tragedies and difficulties are also an excellent part of the book. 

Besides a very fine story, the prose itself was beautiful. Other reviewers used descriptive words like: magical, powerful, beautifully rendered, richly described, deeply compassionate, a brilliant multigenerational tale. Reviewers gave the book 4 1/2 to 5 stars, mostly 5. I will also give it 5 stars. 

There are books that leave us as soon as we close the cover after reading the final page. Others stay with us, keep popping up in our mind as the days go on. This is what Peach Blossom Spring has done for me. 

Tuesday, August 9, 2022

Thoughts on Personal Narrative

 


Writers often give other writers a helping hand. My helping hand today is Marlene Cullen who gives us some interesting suggestions gleaned from a workshop she attended. Yes, one writer helps another. 

Thoughts Personal Narrative by Marlene Cullen

I attended a writing workshop where the teacher, Susan Bono, talked about personal narrative as documents of transformation.

She talked about writing the big story, then take one small action or decision that altered things. 

Another way to look at this: Something happened and the narrator was not the same after. 

It might take years to understand and realize what happened. Sometimes we need the perspective of distance to figure out that we were forever changed after an event.

How to get that place in your writing . . . where you write about the pivotal moment your life was changed.

One way is to write about the event and drill down to the precise moment, or inciting catalyst that changed you

You can also use this method to flesh out your fictional characters.

An example is my Texas Parking Lot story in “The Write Spot: Writing as a Path to Healing.”

I wrote about our family cross-country car trip. I narrowed that trip down to an incident that happened in a motel parking lot in Texas. 

Then I drilled down and focused on an argument in that parking lot.

Then I drilled further down to something my mother said. 

It took years to discover the epiphany. She was not capable of emotionally caring for her daughters. She could no longer be the mother who had admirably raised her daughters without the support of a husband.

Your writing prompt: Write about an emotionally charged situation.

Look at the scene as if you are hovering in the air, looking down. Then focus closer, telescope in to see the fine details.

Details to help see this scene and remember what took place:

Who is in this scene?

Describe what people were wearing.

Describe the scenery if outdoors, or the room if indoors. 

What was the weather like? 

Was there food or drink involved?

What happened immediately prior to this scene? What happened after?

For perspective:

Write from the point of view of years later. Write what you remember.

What happened to the people in this scene?

Start with one scene and go from there. Just write!

Marlene Cullen is a writing workshop facilitator. She hosts The Write Spot Blog and Writers Forum, treasure chests of inspirational gems for writers.

The Write Spot anthologies, edited by Marlene, are collections of short stories, poems, and vignettes that entertain, with prompts to inspire writing.

The Write Spot: https://www.thewritespot.us/ 




Monday, August 8, 2022

Submit Poetry to This Anthology

 


Dragonflies and Fairies published by the Southern Arizona Press is available for free as a pdf download. You can download the book of poems, along with an earlier one titled The Stars and Moon in the Evening Sky. My poem, Fairy Kisses, is included in the newest anthology. Go to  http://www.southernarizonapress.com/downloads/. to get your free copy. 

There are two more anthologies by this press in the works. The paragraph below gives you information for submitting:

We thank you again for your submissions and hope that you will continue to consider submitting works for future anthologies. Our next anthology is a Halloween edition titled Ghostly Ghouls and Haunted Happenings and a very special project anthology for 11 November titled The Poppy: A Symbol of Remembrance. For more information on these upcoming anthologies, visit the Current Submissions page of our website - http://www.southernarizonapress.com/current-submissions/ 

Perhaps you have a poem in your files that would work for one of these upcoming books of poetry. Or try writing a new poem geared to either theme. The poet gets his/her poem published, and a photo and bio which will be printed above the poem(s). I noted that some people had more than one poem accepted. There were a few poems that had been previously published.

As for me, when I saw the theme of Dragonflies and Fairies, I immediately thought of a poem I wrote quite a few years ago, meant for a children's magazine. Somehow, I never did anything with it, but suddenly, there was a place to send it. 

There is no payment, nor do you receive a print copy of the book, although print copies are for sale. 

I plan to write a poem for the book on The Poppy:  A Symbol of Remembrance. Maybe you can, too.

My simpe little poem in the latest Souther Arizona Press book is below:

Fairy Kisses 

Fairy kisses float

on soft summer air.

Tiny little folk send

them soaring high.

Catch one feather light.

Drop it in a glass jar.

Save it for another day

when you feel a bit blue.

Remove it, treasure the love

a fairy’s kiss will bring.

Then send it on its way.

(C)            ...Nancy Julien Kopp

Friday, August 5, 2022

Strength Through Writing Exercises


  

Today's poster shows some young, limber person exercising. There was a time I could do this, but not now. Instead, I choose writing exercises which strengthen my writing abilities. 

A couple weeks ago, I attended a writing workshop moderated by Marlene Cullen. ( www.thewritespot.us) She lives in California, and I live in Kansas, but thanks to the miracle of zoom, I was able to join her group. Marlene is the lady of writing prompts. She has ever so many good ones. 

That evening, she gave those who attended one prompt that I particularly liked. We all spent a few minutes writing whatever popped into our minds when we were given the prompt. Then, several read their efforts. One prompt, but all wrote about something different. That's the beauty of writing to a prompt. 

I have three writing prompts for you today. With the weekend upon us, perhaps you can set aside a little time to respond to them. Note that I didn't say that you might find a little time. Instead, I asked that you set aside some time. Two different things, aren't they? 

Now to the prompts:  (# 1 is the one Marlene gave us)

Prompt #1:  My mother told me...

Prompt #2:  My father told me...

Prompt #3:  My teacher told me...

Use the freewrite method. Look at the prompt, then start writing and don't stop to think. Let the words flow until you run out. Or set a timer for 10 or 15 minutes and stop when time is up. 

Physical exercise is aimed at muscles and flexibility. Writing exercises work on your writing muscles and flexibility. Do both kinds, and you'll be a sensation!

Thursday, August 4, 2022

My August Hopes for Writers

 


I am a little late to welcome August, but it's only the fourth day of this eighth month of the year. Besides the Hello August greeting, the poster says 'To All Those Who Are Reading This, I really Hope Something Good Happens For You This Month.'

I will second that sentiment. I have hopes for you, too. A list of my hopes for you this month follows:

A.  I hope you find joy in writing.

B.  I hope you will submit at least two pieces of writing to a publication.

C.  I hope you will do one writing exercise at least three days a week.

D.  I hope you are inspired to write.

E.  I hope you attend one writer's meeting, either in person or via zoom.

F.  I hope you work on the negatives in your writing life.

G.  I hope you have at least one conversation with another writer.

H.  I hope you can overcome any fears you have about writing. 

I.  I hope you get one acceptance from a publisher this month.

J.  I hope you will share my blog posts with other writers.

K.  I hope you will consider joining a writing group of some kind.

L.  I hope you writing becomes stronger day by day.

M.  I hope you can use a rejection as a learning experience.

N.  I hope this is a topnotch month of writing for you.

This is a long list, and not every one of my hopes will come true for you, but perhaps some will. One way to make sure is to give writing everything you've got this month. No slacking, no excuses, and no whining. I truly hope August is a very satisfying month for each and every one of you. 

Writers Need to Face Their Fears

  Are writers a bunch of scaredy cats? Yes and no. The fear of failure lurks in the back of nearly every writer's mind. There are a few ...