Blogging, editing, writing process

Finding My Niche

Last year at HP

I had been out of the publishing business a long time when my friend, Mary, invited me to my first writer’s retreat at the Hemingway-Pfeiffer Educational Center in Piggott several years ago.  That experience connected me with other writers and triggered a gradual evolution from retirement to casual dabbling and eventually to more serious writing endeavors.

This year I’ve been trying to clarify my focus. An invitation to jump on a blog hop about My Writing Process seemed the perfect opportunity to refine those thoughts.

Thank you, Stephanie Vanderslice for tagging me. Here’s where I find myself today.

What Am I Working On?

I have a novel (about three-quarters done) that languishes between writing retreats at HP and the Writers’ Colony at Dairy Hollow. When I’m home, I seem to focus on shorter pieces or this blog, which I love, and I’ve been concentrating on inspirational writing in 2014.


Sunday, we’re heading down to Navarre Beach for a couple of weeks where I’ll be working on that book. It’s the perfect place to write without interruptions. 

Our Favorite Getaway Spot

I confess I’m shy about submitting my work. But this year, I’ve sent several devotionals, poems and a story to some faith-based publications. I recently learned that five of my devotionals will be included on a new website that will launch in the near future, which is exciting. I’ll keep you posted on that. Still, I remind myself that my work won’t appeal to everyone. I just hope to find an audience that connects with it.

How Does My Work Differ From Others in my Genre?

I don’t really know. My book is about a young man’s journey from despair to faith. I hope to present the Christian component without being preachy. I’d like to appeal to a broad audience while remaining true to what I believe.

Why Do I Write What I Do?

My writing reflects my life. I’ve lived my own redemption story, plus I have a teacher’s heart. I see spiritual applications in everything. Life is full of writing prompts.

How Does My Writing Process Work?

I start my day by reading something inspirational and then spend time reflecting and praying. Some days my writing springs from what I read, but just as often, an idea that’s been percolating begins to take shape. It may start with a single line of poetry, or an outline might unfold almost like a lesson plan. I try to capture these thoughts in a journal, which usually becomes a first draft.



 
My favorite reference book

As I type the copy into my computer, the editing begins. Maybe because I worked as an editor, I actually enjoy the process. Trimming away the nonessential, trading a phrase for the best word to convey a thought brings me great satisfaction. If I let it get cold for a few hours or overnight, I always see more ways to tighten it and make it better when I go back to it.

Like any creative endeavor, my writing is part of me, which can make me overly attached to every thought, line and word. I remind myself to get over it and edit more. If it doesn’t contribute to the central thought, I save it for something else.

Who’s Next in My Blog Hop?

Kayla Dean: Kayla works as a Student Development Specialist at Arkansas State University – Beebe. She is also a wife and the mother of a sixteen-month-old son. She must be amazingly organized because she still finds time to write. She beat me to the post! Read about her writing process at K.I. Dean Around.

Gayle Glass: In addition to being a mother, grandmother, great-grandmother (she looks too young for that!), Gayle is a working woman who still finds the time to write and pursue a liberal arts degree. She has lots of writing experience. Check out her blog The Looking Glass.

At time of publication, I didn’t have a third writer for this blog hop, so if you’re interested, jump on the My Writing Processblog hop. Just tell me in the comments. I recommend it. It’s been an enlightening exercise for me.

  A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver.
Proverbs 25:11
Authenticity, Blogging, courage, Encouragement, Individuality, Support

THE POWER OF THREE

Timmy, Max & Lucy are poster children for competing and comparing at dinnertime.

Anytime I read or hear something three times, I stop and take note, which is one of the reasons my experience at the 2013 Arkansas Women Bloggers Unplugged Conference was so meaningful.
Arkansas Women Bloggers


Although the offerings and speakers varied, each person, in her own unique way, presented some of the same principles I’ve been hearing at gatherings of writers over the past year. Each AWB speaker confirmed the advice of a previous mentor. Which takes me back my Rule of Three: Pay attention to the truth of a repeated message.

Here are some of the things I’ve heard again and again over past twelve months.

Don’t Compare!    Don’t Compete!     Don’t Compromise!

Wait a minute! If we’re going for the gold or a big scholarship, we’d be foolish not to compare our performance with others seeking the same thing. How can you break a record if you don’t know how you line up with your competition?

It’s a given that no one wants to lose that tennis game or play on a noncompetitive team. But that will happen if we don’t compete. Right?

And anyone who has been in a close relationship knows that compromise is important when family, colleagues or friends disagree. It’s a sign of maturity not to always demand your way. Maybe their way is better.

If Competition, Comparison and Compromise are such important components of our culture and obviously a part of human DNA, why don’t they belong in the world of writing?

Perhaps it’s partly because the creative arts are subjective. They can’t be evaluated by a stopwatch, scoreboard or test key. Even though there are guidelines in writing, we’ve all read things that appeal to us that aren’t the norm. Throw out a topic and take note of how differently individuals approach it.

I’m blessed to be in a critique group that meets once a  month to discuss one another’s writing. For the most part, our group focuses on the positive, but we also challenge each other to do our best work. Otherwise, why meet? It has stretched me at times, but my writing is better for  it. And we’ve formed friendships because our work is done in a spirit of encouragement, not comparison and competition.

Recognizing our natural tendencies to compete and compare is the first step in creating a healthy support group. If we don’t, the Three Cs will separate and reduce us both individually and collectively. As with much of life, these challenges are intertwined, so the answers to them overlap.

Here are just a few of the things I heard at AWB and other gatherings this year that resounded with me. Most can be applied to other facets of our lives, too. 

DON’T COMPARE

It’s Okay to Be Who You Are!

To find my voice, I must Be Relentlessly Authentic.

To be Truly Authentic, I must write from my Own Experiences.

The answer to “Who am I to blog?” is:
I am a Person with Stories.

We’re all on Individual Journeys, but they all involve the same Universal Truths.

Don’t look at numbers, just write what’s on your heart.

Your message Won’t Appeal to everyone, but Your Audience Will Find You.

Authenticity is a Powerful Force.

DON’T COMPETE


I lost track of the number times we were reminded to look for ways to encourage and promote one another at AWBU. In this dog-eat-dog world, it doesn’t come naturally. But when you realize the other person is pulling for you, it’s easier to do the same.

Don’t be a Blog Snob, Promote Others.

         Invite people to Guest Post.

Find blogs that Nourish Your Soul. Read. Comment. Interact.

 DON’T COMPROMISE

It’s so important that I’m going to say it again:

It’s Okay for Us to Be Who We Are!

That involves accepting ourselves – the good, the bad and the ugly.

Just find the middle ground. Don’t blast your readers with a daily dose of angst, complaints or too much information.

Be Fearless.

Stop doing what the other guy is doing.

Ask yourself: What is my passion?

What do I know to be true

                                                                                       Curly Girl (Leigh Standley) is my inspiration


Remember that accepting and owning your own individual strengths, weaknesses and experiences makes you unique.

Don’t discount the power of your voice.

There was enough wisdom dispensed at AWBU to fill several posts. The bottom line for me is that I felt empowered by the support and encouragement of the women I met and the speakers I heard that weekend. I’m encouraging my blogging friends to join Arkansas Women Bloggers www.arkansaswomenbloggers.com and to attend the 2014 AWBU with me! 
 
We need each other. We’re more powerful when we band together.


I have to express special appreciation to my friend, Talya Boerner, for prodding me to start a blog, helping me set it up, holding my hand all along the way and for telling me, “You need to join Arkansas Women Bloggers. You need to go to this conference.” 
Talya is the perfect role model for this wonderful organization!

If you haven’t read her blog http://gracegritsgarden.com, I hope you will today.

T, You’re the best! I love you!

And thanks to all my friends who take time to read, like, share and comment on my blog. You are Wonderful!

Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing. I Cor. 5:11



 

 


 

 

Blogging, Writing

Why the Blog?

Recently a friend asked me, “Why the blog?”

My answer involves a question.

Is there anything that makes your heart sing – an interest or activity that excites you, makes you happy to wake up each day?

The process of writing does that for me. Finding just the right words to express a thought or capture a moment gives me great pleasure.

That satisfaction is what gave even this timid woman the courage to launch out into cyberspace. (Admittedly, I was pushed forward by the recognition that anyone who wants to be published has to establish an online presence.)

This “curly girl” plaque by Leigh Standley captured my feelings after I made some important life changes last year. So I bought it for myself as a reminder to listen for my heart.

I blog because it makes my heart sing! 

What brings music to your world?

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
My heart is like a singing bird. Christine Rossetti