Monthly Goals for March

Monthly Goals for March

A new month has begun. How is it March already?! Here in the DC area March is practically spring, though yesterday and today have been bitterly cold. Next week should be better, and hopefully from there, as they said in the new Mary Poppins movie, there’s nowhere to go but up.

I have a few goals for the month of March. I hope to accomplish them in the next twenty-six days. It’s a reasonable request, but we’ll see. I’ll try not to beat myself up about it if I don’t accomplish them all.

This month, I’m going to try to blog five days a week. I’m shooting for Monday-Friday. I’ve noticed that when I sit down, determined to create, I typically do, almost prolifically. Writing leads to more writing, which leads to more content.

I’m also going to catch up on my journal entries. As a busy woman, I have a habit of typing my journal entries, promising myself to write them out in the paper-and-ink journal soon after. You can imagine how well this has gone lately, I’m sure. I just checked, and my last written entry is from September 14, 2018. I don’t journal daily, perhaps on average weekly, but it has been a few weeks since that one in mid-September.

I am going to finish the two library books that I checked out and mentioned in a previous post, and get more, and finish them too. Along that line, I am also going to read more blogs, a habit I have never truly had, but probably should begin.

Lastly, at least for this list, I’m going to begin working out at least three times a week again. I’ll work my way up to five days. I don’t care how long it takes. I need to exercise, for my physical, mental, and emotional health. I do exercise at work, where I regularly walk a few miles while lifting ten or more pounds over my head. But work doesn’t supply me with as many hours as I need to exercise.

These are some of my March goals. Do you have any monthly goals? Let me know how they’re going in the comments!

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Update – 24 January 2019

I’ve slowly been working on the novel, still as yet untitled. One day I wrote five pages in half an hour, and the next I wrote a half a page in an hour. But I am doing it. I am writing.

I’ve changed my main character’s name again. Cora didn’t quite fit. She’s Sofia now, and it feels right. Anyone who’s written may understand the struggle of a difficult character. Still, I love her for it, and I love her lots. She already feels like a friend.

I’ve written a lot in the past two weeks. I’m not sure I’m going to keep all of what I’ve written. I may condense it. The scene I’m thinking of specifically is nonessential to the story. It is, however, essential to the characters and their relationships, and leads to smaller conflicts between characters. So, in a way, I guess it is essential. Plus, there’s the fact that I don’t plan on going as in-depth as I have on the building of this relationship throughout the rest of the story.

I think the action I’m going to take regarding this is no action at all. I’ll keep what I’ve written, for now, and just keep writing. If I feel the need to add or edit, I’ll do it later. God knows I have a problem with going back to what I’ve written and editing or adding to it, so there’s no need to worry that the scene in question will be forgotten, because it most definitely won’t be.

Reading

In addition to rewriting the book I started, I’ve been doing a lot of reading. Some of it, unfortunately, has been rereading. But, sometimes you just need the company of an old friend. Mine are Rilla Blythe and Harry Potter.

The new books I’ve been reading (or, at least, new to me) are Tony’s Wife by my favorite contemporary author, Adriana Trigiani; An American Marriage by Tayari Jones; and Georgia, by Dawn Tripp. So far I’m enjoying them all. I’m the furthest along in An American Marriage, but I imagine Tony’s Wife will soon catch up to it.

Another book I was previously reading and will soon pick up again is Tuesday Nights in 1980 by Molly Prentiss, which interested me mostly because one of the three main characters has synesthesia. I cannot express how much I love to read about characters with synesthesia. It is one of the reasons I have realized that representation in general, whether based on gender, race, sexuality, religion, or anything else, is so important. I love to be represented, and others should experience the same joy.

But I digress. Like I said, I have been reading. Reading is good, but I feel it is a little bit of a cop-out for me. “But I’m reading! That counts for writing!” The truth is, writing counts for writing, and I can’t call myself a writer without doing that activity. Reading is essential to the process, but writing is more so.

What are you reading? Leave a comment down below!

Walking the Walk

Walking the Walk

Well, I do a really good job of talking the talk. I’m trying to actually walk the walk.

Yes, you guessed it. I’m writing.

Well, I do write every day. But, I bounce around projects as I am inspired to write them. Sometimes I create even more projects for myself, which is silly, since I already have so many going. Regardless, I do write every day, and that writing is important, make no mistake. It keeps the conversation with myself going, and the creative juices flowing. It is practice, and practice is essential in any art. But still, careening from project to project, finishing and beginning and making progress on any number of them, is definitely not the most productive use of my time.

The book that I’ve been working on for about a year had eluded me for awhile. I’d write it in bursts, and stalled out with about forty pages written. While bursts are certainly better than nothing, if I truly want to be a writer, they aren’t a sustainable way of making a living. I signed up for NaNoWriMo, but I haven’t yet begun anything and I am now so far behind I don’t know if I’d ever catch up to where I should be by now. But, I still think I’ll try. I finally have an idea for it, at least.

I’ve also been reading fiction again, an excellent way to study how to write. I’m currently reading Tuesday Nights in 1980 by Molly Prentiss, The Brightest Star in the Sky by Marian Keyes, and Big Stone Gap by my favorite contemporary author, Adriana Trigiani. I had been reading all nonfiction, and while that was fine, my body ached for a story – a storybook, fiction. So I sold some old books that I don’t need in my future library and picked up a few new novels. I am enjoying them immensely.

But I digress. I’ve been trying to work every day on the novel I’ve begun, the one starring Vivien. I am, I am happy to report, on the forty-sixth page. Vivien lives!

Happy writing, all!

 

Unintelligible

Unintelligible

Since I got to UNCG, I’ve intended to submit some writing or photography to the Coraddi, the on-campus student-run literary and art magazine. I picked one up at the festival on Tate street this past weekend, and just sat down and raced my way through it. But now that I’ve consumed the whole thing, I’m rethinking the submission.

Almost all the art in the magazine was excellent, whether copies of student-made paintings, drawings, sculpture, photography, or what-have-you. Much of the writing chosen to publish was in the form of poems. Note that I used that phrase, rather than the loaded word “poetry.” I don’t wish for anyone to mistake my meaning.

Now, let me preface this by saying there is some fine work in the magazine I just finished perusing. There is a story depicting dementia that is touching without being cheesy, interesting without being exploitative, and accurate, as accurate as is possible. My favorite writer who was featured in the magazine, whom I cannot locate online but to whom I would like to give a shoutout, had two pieces in this fall 2016 edition. Because I do not have this person’s permission to use their name, I will just name the titles of the pieces: “Young American Dragons,” and “Young Women Grow like Weeds.” They were sparse in the amount of words, but each word was clearly carefully chosen. The imagery was gorgeous, the subjects appropriate for a college student writer beginning to think not more deeply about things, but to take ownership of these deeper themes and ingratiate them into the self.

However, these three instances were outliers, as I was not impressed with most of the written work in this edition. As I said before, the vast majority of the published written submissions were poems, but this does not mean they were poetry. Now, before you accuse me of being a purist, an old-fashioned English major snob, let me inform you that some of my favorite poetry in the world is free-verse, or at least does not rhyme. Much of the poetry in the first issue of the 119th volume of the Coraddi was free verse, but this was not the problem. The problem was that it was mostly composed of phrases, completely unrelated not only to each other, but also from descriptor to object. This is fine when done well, and/or for a purpose. But it seemed in the majority of these cases that these poems were attempts to seem artistic or brilliant or innovative, when they were, truly, none of the above. They were chaotic and unintelligible.

Of course, there were simple grammatical and spelling errors, easily found and easy to fix. I can’t imagine why any existed, as the magazine is published only twice a year. It would seem to me that would be plenty of time to correct grammatical and spelling errors, especially when it comes to the names of the authors or artists. Hopefully this is now much less of an issue, as the Coraddi is no longer published in print, but rather is entirely online.

What do you think? Should I submit to the on-campus literary and art magazine? Would it help me professionally? Leave a comment down below!

 

The Elusive Muse

The Elusive Muse

Sometimes – or, if you’re me, oftentimes – your muse has abandoned you. I don’t care if it’s writing, drawing, music, or anything else. My muse is an elusive creature; either she’s incredibly shy or she hates me. There are methods many people use in order to entice their muses. These are the ones that have worked for me and continue to work for me.

 

Get inspired.

Consume something similar to what you want to create. If you’re a writer trying to write, read. If you’re an artist trying to draw or paint or anything else, look at some art. If you’re a musician trying to compose, listen to music. There is nothing new under the sun; everything is a retelling of the same few old stories. Drawing inspiration from someone else is what every creator has done after the creation of the earth, so do not be afraid.

 

Ask questions.

There’s the classic question: “What if . . .?” But my favorite question is, “What would I like to read?” It’s easy to replace the word “read” with “see” or “hear” or anything else. What would you like to see in the world? What is missing from the world that you can contribute? Find the answer, and create it.

 

Create anyway.

Even when nothing is coming, sit down and write something, words or music, or draw, or whatever it is you do – do it. My boyfriend told me something that really struck me recently: Keep ideas flowing. “The bad ideas have to flow too, or you’ll never get to the good ones.” The most important thing is to create, even if it’s bad, even if you destroy it later. You’ll have created something. You’ll have done something. And that, is something.

The Block and the Sludge and the Muse

The Block and the Sludge and the Muse

The block is coming.

The writer’s block.

I know what needs to be written, for the most part. The thing to do is to write through this less-inspired moment until I reach inspiration again. The only way to reach inspiration is not to rest and expect the mountain to come to Mohammed. Resting is all well and good and can help on the journey, but it won’t get you anywhere in and of itself. The only way to reach an inspired place again is to work through the sludge. To write anyway. To write and write and write, even if it’s trash, to write even though you hate every word, to write.

Like I’ve said before, the only way to do the thing is to do the thing. Even when you don’t want to do it. Even when you feel like trash and everything you’re writing is trash and why are you doing this and maybe you should wait until you’re blessed by the muse once more.

Except, the muse won’t work unless you do. While a benevolent deity, she won’t bless a lazy writer. She won’t bless the writer who isn’t already actively trying on his own. She sees the effort, she appreciates it, and then she nudges the writer along to keep the work going. An object in motion tends to stay in motion, but something has to be the first mover.

I am the first mover.

Excuse me, I’m going to go write.