dreams

August in Review

Lynette M Burrows, image of sunflower, goodbye august

August wasn’t like any other August I’ve experienced. We’ve had mild and wet weather in Kansas. There was the spectacular solar eclipse, a visiting writer, a wet basement—twice, and a family crisis. Goals were met and goals were . . . not met.

Writing Goals

  1. Get at least half-way through Act 3. NOT MET *Sigh* I wrote 3 of 5 chapters. I fixed a big timeline issue which took a ridiculous amount of time.
  2. Write 4 new blog posts. MET
  3. Send out reader questionnaires for a new blog series I’d like to do. MET though I would love to get more completed questionnaires.

House Goals

  1. Finish the exercise room. NOT MET
  2. Get estimates for repairs to the house. MET
  3. Finish the bathroom project. NOT MET

Day Job

  1. Keep the number of times I must use a day off to complete those hours to just two days. MET

Other Goals

  1. Research, Learning, Reading – ONGOING
  2. Continue researching book promotion. MET
  3. Continue listening to podcasts when I’m able. MET
  4. Choose a new fiction book and begin reading. READING
  5. View the solar eclipse, Monday, August 21. AWESOME EXPERIENCE – MET
  6. Attend the Seven Deadly First-Page Sins by Tex Thompson on August 21. ENTERTAINING AND EDUCATIONAL—MET

Unexpected Events

Basement flooded—Twice! Once at the beginning of the month and once near the end of the month. No serious damage but it required an unplanned expenditure of time to clean up. My wet basement was nothing compared those who will be cleaning and rebuilding after Harvey. My heart goes out to them!

A seriously illness (family member), who was hospitalized for a week. I had very little sleep during that week which meant those were completely unproductive days.

Things I Learned

A line or two expressing what your character expects for his/her future can be all the ‘before’ you need in your story beginning.

Study folklore — it’s how we express our fears.

For an emotionally powerful scene, include one small contrasting detail.

Watching an eclipse is AWESOME!

From Tex Thompson: “Find the easiest, laziest, most obvious choice you could make – and then do something else.”

From Dean Wesley Smith: “The only Failure in writing is not writing.” And “All Writing is practice.”

From Science Friday: Tatoos can damage sweat glands. People with full body tatoos can have difficulty dealing with heat.

Where you were born dictates how many sweat glands you have though living in AC can subvert this.

From Writing Excuses Podcast: A short story should focus on one idea. Strip all but dialog then add only what is necessary. Be as specific as possible. To make it work you must have targeted stakes for the character. Consider, what are the consequences of failure?

From Writing Excuses Podcast: For inspiration in creating titles look through the online Shakespeare database. And “Monsters are best when they subvert the status quo and remind us we’re not at the top of the food chain.”

From Writers Helping Writers Podcast: Mentor characters are a touchstone for the thematic truth. The interaction between the mentor and protagonist shouldn’t be easy. Mentor characters should be flawed, unique. The mentor shouldn’t ‘save’ the character except with severe consequences.

“Failure isn’t Forever!” Angela Lee Duckworth Thank you, Angela! 

Final thoughts for August

August was a challenging month in all the areas that interrupt or stop my writing. I have also changed where I sit to write. This change has affected my ability to focus and get things done. It is not something I can change back anytime soon, so I will continue to work on finding ways to focus.

I don’t remember which blogger said that she tracks the things she learns each week. I thought I’d try it for a month. I love it!  Reviewing all of the tidbits of new information at the end of the month is invigorating and reinforces the learning.

I didn’t accomplish what I wanted to in August, but September is a new month and a new slate.

September Goals

Writing

Write 4 Chapters minimum.

Write 4 new blog posts, post reader questionnaire results on Fridays.

House

Finish bathroom project.

Get gutters replaced. (The source of my wet basement problem.)

Day Job

I will have to be flexible this month.

Other Goals

Continue to listen and learn via podcasts.

Dedicate at least 2 hours per week for reading.

Finish revising website.

Going Forward

I hope the month of September will have fewer challenges for us all!

Thanks for reading!

I am ever so grateful you’ve taken the time to read my scribbles. If you’ve taken the time to comment, I’m delighted and honored.

image courtesy of PicturesCafe.

Set Yourself on Fire for 2013

It’s a new year and many of you have set ambitious goals or resolutions. Here are some thoughts on how you might actually meet those goals this year.

The first and most important step toward success is the feeling that we can succeed. – Nelson Boswell

creative commons image of lightbulb from flickr by Diesel Demon

Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up. – Thomas Edison

Put your boots on and keep on working!

creative commons image of workboots by David Vincent Johnson from flickr

Have you worked-like-a-demon on your story? -Tom Peters

creative commons image by mkevin747 on flickr

Success is not the result of spontaneous combustion. You must set yourself on fire.

 – Reggie Leach

creative commons image by CPSutcliffe from flickr

What do you do to set yourself on fire?  To keep yourself motivated and moving forward?

Take a moment to share and we’ll cheer you onward!

Images above are all creative commons licensed and available on flickr:
Lightbulb by DieselDemon, Workboots by David Vincent Johnson, Attacking Demon by mkevin747, and Bonfire by CPSutcliffe.

The Hero of Your Story

I have spread my dreams beneath your feet.
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.    –W.B. Yeats

A few years back, I decided I would make my living as a writer and would teach a ‘How to Write Fiction’ class at a local community center.

I prepared an introduction to myself and the course, a syllabus, ten lessons, in-class and at home exercises for each lesson, and reading assignments.  I rehearsed and rehearsed.  I was ready!

Finally, the day arrived.  Eight students, ranging from a high schooler to a gray-haired woman of undetermined age, waited for me.  I took a deep breath and stepped in front of the class.  I welcomed them to the class, introduced myself by name and declared “I am a professional writer.” A hand raised.  A question already?

“When did you start calling yourself a professional writer?” the student asked.  Intellectually, I had prepared an answer to that question, but emotionally prepared?  Not so much.  I couldn’t even admit to myself that I had just said it for the first time.  Instead I answered with the information I’d prepared, that I had been a professional writer since I began writing with the intent to sell what I wrote.  I think I even quoted the definition of professional to the class.

I was being truthful. My answer fit the definition of professional and my approach to writing fiction.  But, as truthful as that answer was, I had never believed it enough to say it aloud until that night.  Still, the answer seemed to satisfy the questioner.  And despite my anxiety, I got through the rest of that evening.

Fact is, I had nearly 100% attendance for all ten classes.  I ended up teaching in that community center for a couple of years.  My classes grew in size and I taught my students skills they could use to improve their writing.  I know I learned a lot.

Life happened.  I made other things a priority while my writing took a backseat to the traumas and banalities of life.

I’ve had to relearn the most important lesson I learned when teaching at that community center course: how to stand up and be who I am.

Watching the Olympics this week I am awed by the dreams we are watching. The athletes proclaim their dream with every trial, every race, every practice. Many of them are fortunate enough to have the support of their loved ones.  But most of all, they NEVER let go of their dreams.  To my mind, each Olympic athlete is a hero of his or her story.

Everyone has a dream  Maybe your dream is to be an Olympic athlete, a writer, a chef, or a plumber.  No matter what the dream is, sometimes it is hard to hang onto your dream.  You may have a hard time believing in yourself.  Your parents or your partner may be the person who belittles your dream.   It could be they call your dream cute, or a hobby, or  your ‘little’ stories.  You excuse them because it’s not really _bad_ stuff they’re saying.  Yes. It.  Is.  Stop the negative energy.

Believe in yourself.  Believe in your dream. Make it a mantra:  Mine is “I am a writer.”  Repeat it as many times a day as you need it. Declare it.  Own it.  Be your own champion. Be the hero of your own story.

Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined.          —  Henry David Thoreau

Won’t you take a moment to share your story with me and my readers? Who or what challenges your belief in yourself? Tell us about your dream. Shout it out. We’ll cheer you onward.