Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Off To A Special Writer's Conference

Image may contain: sky, tree, plant, outdoor, nature and water
Dawn Over The Potomac River

I received the photo above this morning from the husband of the woman who moderates my online writing group. Charlie and Joyce drove from their home in South Carolina to Sterling, VA, just outside Washington, DC to get our group's writing conference ready to go. This is their first morning at Algonkian Regional Park.

A few are arriving today at the regional state park where we hold our conferences. We're in the woods along the Potomac in a dozen nice cabins of various sizes. We're a small group--not like the huge writer's conferences held in major cities in huge hotels. We usually have in the neighborhood of 25 women and maybe 3 husbands who are of great help doing errands and whatever else is asked of them.

We're called Writers and Critters and described as an International Women's Writing Group. Three are coming from Japan, two from Toronto, Ontario Canada, and the rest from various areas of the USA. We have members who cannot attend that live in the USA, Netherlands, Norway, and Australia. Former members from England and Ireland keep in touch, as well.

Most of us will arrive on Thursday, myself included. We'll have an opening dinner that evening in the large sessions cabin. Our cook is an angel in disguise who hails from Mississippi. She is also a computer expert who gives a good session on some computer topic at each conference. She does this for no pay, just out of the goodness of her heart. There will be wine and soft drinks, good food, and nonstop conversation.

On Friday, the sessions begin and go on all day, again on Saturday and Sunday with more good food and conversation every evening. The topics vary at each conference and most are given by members with an occasional outside speaker. I have no doubt that the sessions will be worthwhile as the women presenting are not beginners but published and experienced writers. We should all come home with new knowledge and plenty of inspiration.

I will be traveling on Thursday and returning on the following Monday. The blog post schedule will be a little different than normal during those days. I'll post if and when I'm able to do so. We have Wi-Fi out there in the woods but never sure how reliable it is. In the past, it's been quite good. I've been to several of our other conferences which makes me eager to go again. Twice, however, I've had to cancel. The very first conference we had was in the spring and storms cancelled my connecting flight out of Chicago. I was stranded there for two days with no luggage. Happily, I was able to stay with family who live there but it was too late to go on to the conference. Last year, I had paid for everything, including flight, then ended far too ill to travel so had to cancel once more. Consequently, I'm looking forward to this conference and willing my travel plans to go smoothly.

When I return, I hope to have some good tips and encouragement to pass on to you.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Time--The Enemy of So Many

Most of us moan and groan, whine and wail, about not having time to do what we'd like to do. Grousing about it is the easy part. We have that down pat. Doing something about it is quite another thing.

We've all read articles about ways to give yourself more time. We read them, then go right back to moaning etc. If you really want to have more time for your favorite pastime, in my case, that is writing, then you need to create time. It's not going to work unless your desire to pursue your writing--or anything else you want to do--is greater than your need to give yourself an excuse.

Harsh? Perhaps, or maybe it is just facing reality. I wanted to write for the majority of my life but I didn't do it. I convinced myself I was too busy and that other things in my life needed to take precedence. I must have done a good job as I didn't begin writing until well into my mid-fifties.

Finally, something lacking in my life triggered my writing journey. I stepped onto that path and have stayed on it ever since. I lead a busy life but I do make time to pursue my passion for writing. It's different for those who make a living writing. They have definite job hours but for hobbyist writers like me, we have to make the time or take the time.

I'm a social person who belongs to many women's groups--bridge clubs, a woman's group that promotes education for women, church groups, book club among them. As much as I love them and the people I mingle with in each group, they take away from my writing time. I still benefit from this social part of my life; I even find inspiration for writing from speakers I hear, conversations across the bridge table and more.

Instead of cutting back on all those social events, I cut out other things. I watch very little tv. I do have certain shows that I look forward to each week and football and basketball games, when the teams playing are ones I follow. I spend many evenings, or parts of them, at the computer.

Because of some physical limitations, I don't exercise much which gives me that chunk of time.
I am an early riser which gives me a little more time than Sleepy Susie who doesn't get up until I am midway into my morning.

If I am deep into a writing project, I might give up a social event now and then. I have to weigh the decision carefully, looking to see which one pulls me more.

I'm often writing mentally when I'm cooking or doing housework or grocery shopping. I am sometimes jotting story ideas on a notepad while waiting in the dentist's office or the beauty salon (my hairdresser is rarely on time!) When I'm unloading the dishwasher, I might be working out a better ending for an essay. Multitasking works for writers. Even those writers who are staring out a window might be working like mad in their mind.

Mothers who carpool have time to jot down writing notes while they wait for their kids to get out of school. Same with those who must get kids to a game early and then sit on the bleachers and wait for the game to actually begin. There are many bits and pieces of time that a writer can use to advantage.

The one hint often given in an article on creating time is to get up an hour early or go to bed an hour later. Sounds good to have a whole hour, doesn't it? But that doesn't work for all people. Those who are not morning people don't function very well if they get up sooner than they are ready. And night owls who had yet another hour could be pretty grouchy when the alarm clock goes off at 6 or 7 a.m.

Read those articles about making time but adapt them to your own lifestyle. You know you better than anyone else. If your writer friend cuts out all social events, that doesn't mean you should do it, too. Consider small ways to gain more time in your writing life. Try them. Continue with what works and dump the others. In this respect, as in most all others, we are individuals. Do what works for you.

Monday, March 27, 2017

A Stormy Photo Prompt

These two pictures both depict storms, one a storm at sea and the other, an aftermath of a snowstorm. Choose one, or both, and write a story or just a few paragraphs. When doing a photo prompt, always study the photo to let your mind begin to question and perceive what is happening. Then, start writing. Note that are people in each photo. Include them in your story.

Image result for free storm picture

Image result for free storm picture

Friday, March 24, 2017

Not Every Writer Pens Books

Ever have anyone ask you Is your book finished? Or What books have you written? Repeatedly? I once told a man who asked me what I was working on that I had a juvenile novel and several other short pieces. Every time I saw him, he'd ask Is the book published? I had to give a negative answer because I was still writing, still revising, still editing it. But I had been writing and publishing shorter works. He didn't care a twit about that. In his mind, if you're a writer, you write a book.

Of course, many writers do write books but a great many writers spend years writing and never write a book, not even a first draft. They concentrate on other kinds of writing including short stories, personal essays, critical essays, factual articles for magazines and newspapers, tv writing, screenwriting, poetry, short stories for kids, nonfiction for kids in the form of articles in children's magazines, technical writing, writing manuals for manufacturers and more. They are still writers and can be proud of their accomplishments. You do not have to write books to be a writer.

Don't ever feel less of a writer because you do not write 500 page novels. I'm willing to bet, however, that a good many writers of shorter works have an inner desire to write a book someday. That's fine. Maybe down the road, you'll do it. But if you never write that novel, only publish other kinds of writing, don't have one twinge of regret. If you are meant to write a novel, it will happen. If you need to let go and stay with your special kind of writing, be satisfied. 

Many freelance writers make a steady income writing short pieces. They work just as hard as a novelist--maybe harder in some instances. They have to come up with new ideas on a constant basis. They often have short deadlines to meet. They deal with myriad editors, not just one.

We each choose the kind of writing that appeals to us and where we have had some success; perhaps it is the kind of writing in which we excel. I hope we can all reach a point where we can accept our writing and stop worrying about those people who keep asking if your book has been published yet. Face it--they have no clue what it takes to write a book and many of them never consider that all those short stories and articles are actually written by a human being. 

Feel comfortable with your writing but remember that you can always look forward to trying something new at some time. Maybe you do have a book hiding deep inside you. All those short stories you wrote are practice for a longer project. And maybe someday, I will decide my novel has been edited enough that it is time to try marketing or epublishing it. 

Thursday, March 23, 2017

One Space Or Two?

I shared an article on facebook regarding the argument over whether to use one or two spaces after a period (or question mark or exclamation mark). And yes, there does seem to be an argument over this.

There are numerous people who claim it was the way they were taught and that's what they will do. Even some English teachers who learned to use two spaces years ago insist upon teaching it that way to students of today. One person on my facebook page commented Who cares? I think those in the writing world do care. Or should.

Take a look at the article giving reasons for using one space. And yet another. If you google the topic, you'll find a slew of articles addressing the one space or two subject.

We humans don't like change but change we must or the world will move on without us. Back in 1997, I was still writing on an electric typewriter. I decided that it was time to get a computer and join the technology movement. I knew nothing at all about using a computer but I learned through trial and error.

Later, I read an article an editor had written begging writers who submitted to use only one space after the end of a sentence. What? That was my response because my typing teacher had drilled the two spaces rule into her students. Face it, we are definitely creatures of habit and it's not easy to break a long-instilled one.

Because I didn't want my submissions to be cast aside by not following the guidelines, I broke the habit. Yes, I had to think consciously each time I came to the end of a sentence for awhile. Finally, using one space became my new habit.

I will honestly say that I have not read guidelines for submission that threaten writers who use two spaces but I have seen guidelines that recommend using a certain style that is used in something like the Chicago Manual or another one.

It may seem a small thing but sometimes it's the little things that count in life. Are you willing to put your submissions in jeopardy because you stubbornly cling to your preferred method?

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Ever Hear of Joe Beernink?

I like what Joe Beernink, author, says here. His name was not familiar to me so I googled and found his facebook author page. Guess what? He was an unpublished author until very recently but that doesn't make a bit of difference in the substance of his quote.

If you look at his author page, you'll find that Mr. Beernink has listed his unpublished novels. Good for him. I think few others would do this for all the world to see. The good news is that one of them has been published a few months ago. Read a review of Nowhere Wild written for older kids. The author writes YA and science fiction. Reading the review made me think I'd like to read his book.

But he is not a full time writer. He works in software development by day and writes novels and short stories in his spare time. The fact that he has a full-time job and still has been able to write and get a novel published should be, at the least, encouraging for other part-time writers and motivational for us, as well.

It appears that Mr. Beernink did not set out to write for fame and money. Instead, his love of writing led him on a path that has allowed him to sell a book and perhaps let him wrap himself in a cape of fame, or at least the beginning of fame. It usually takes more than one novel to become what we term 'famous.' Even so, he is the envy of every writer who has unpublished work sitting in files and in their hearts.

This author has given us some good advice. Passion for writing is key to finding your way to published works. Pursue what you love and good things wait along your writing journey even though it may take a lot longer than you'd like.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

I Tried Something New, How About You?

Image result for Look of a Sign Clip Art

Blogger nudged me to try a new theme for Writer Granny's World, so I experimented by previewing several. I found two that I liked and that seemed very spring-like. Back and forth. Which one should I choose. I finally settled on the one you see here today. A new look. Let me know if you like it.

In our writing life, we could sometimes use a new look, too. It's all too easy to stay in a comfortable spot, to keep on with the routine that has worked for you. Maybe it becomes a wee bit too comfortable, so much so that you begin to fear trying other ways to write, to submit, to edit, to market and more.

Trying new ways means you are going to have to expend some effort. You're not going to be able to slip into your favored mode which feels so right, so good, so--you. You're probably thinking If it ain't broke, don't fix it. Or maybe I'm too old to change my ways now.  Or What if I make changes and I get nowhere?

All those thoughts have some validity but they also say that you would rather stay right where you are. We talk about our Writing Journey and our Writing Path. Both of those terms indicate that we move, that we don't land in one spot and stay there. The only way you will advance on that trip is to try new things occasionally.

Note that I said occasionally. I wouldn't suggest that you go back to the beginning and change everything about your writing life. That's fodder for a nervous breakdown! Start with one thing, even something very small. Stay with it until you decide if it was a good change or one that you want to scratch. Trial and error comes into play when we change our ways. Some work and some do not.

Changing something in your writing routine can give you a real lift in spirit and even be motivation to keep writing. Even this small change I made today, with the different theme for the blog, has made me feel good.

Consider what you might change and give it a try. If you hate it, you can slide right back into that comfort zone again.