Writing Life: Time Change

I have one particular writing nemesis, and that’s the time change.

Every year at around this time — when it’s getting dark at 7p and earlier — my writing suffers. I write in the evening, after coming home from work, but now, the encroaching darkness tricks my brain into thinking it’s bedtime. I can’t possibly write right now. Not enough time, not enough time…

I think I read somewhere that the cold and the dark are what triggered the idea for NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) to happen in November. Now that Halloween is over, what else are we writers going to do?

Yet as the nights have grown longer in the past few weeks, I’ve noticed a downswing in my productivity. I cannot even imagine trying to drag 300 words out of my brain right now, let alone 1600+. Better to slowly get used to writing after sunset again, until sweet, sweet Daylight Savings Time rolls back around.


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Writing Update: Logo and Short-Stories Goals

Last week, I reached two goals: raising enough funds to commission a logo for Word Nerd Scribbles, and revising/submitting the third of this year’s short-stories.

Logo Goal

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‘Commission a Logo Design’ goal 193% complete

I mentioned in a previous post about how my Ko-Fi goal was to raise $30 in contributions to commission a logo design. The accompanying image, with its whopping 193% completion statistic, may make it seem like I had a torrent of donations come flooding in after putting out the call, but such was not the case.

 

Here’s what happened. In truth, I was recently seized by a fit of reorganizing my home, a particular madness often manifested as a side-effect of writing difficulties, which resulted in my cleaning out my bookshelves (and rearranging them. They look really cute now). At a library sale some years ago, I picked up a textbook workbook for A Biography of the English Language (nerd) for the price of a handful of change and simply never cracked it open. It went into my to-go pile.

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A Workbook to Accompany A Biography of the English Language by C.M. Millward and Mary Hayes

With the box full of books I cleared from my shelves, I could have started up an online bookstore, but I wanted the books gone with no unnecessary clutter in my (small) apartment. Through a Money Pantry article, I discovered Book Scouter, which searches something like twenty vendors for any interested in buying your book, listing from highest to lowest bid. Turned out ValorBooks wanted this workbook for $40! I also sold a bunch to Powell’s Books and I put the proceeds combined toward the logo goal.

So we’re getting a logo! I’ve decided on which artist at Fiverr.com I want to hire, so now I just have to work out a logo concept.

Short-Stories Goal

For the fall equinox, I had a spooky day out with my closest friends for Halloween shopping, but I also submitted the last of my three short-stories to Cosmic Roots and Eldritch Shores for their final quarter reading period. Nothing compares to the high of finally completing a piece, but marking this goal off my 2018 to-do list comes pretty close.

 

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‘Write and Submit 3 Short-Stories’ goal 100% complete

This one I wrote toward the beginning of the year while feeling emotionally down and I hated it very much, thank you. (Regular writing sometimes involves plucking out something that absolutely sucks, but doing the work anyway. Oftentimes it washes out in the revision process, with a lot of elbow grease and anguish.) It then went through two more drafts and rotted within the folders of my computer for most of the year before I sat down the other night and reworked it one more time into something I actually like.

It’s a weird story, which isn’t a surprise, considering the fiction I post on the blog, and it seemed like Cosmic Roots and Eldritch Shores might be its only possible match. Here’s aiming for another letter, rejection or acceptance.


To keep up with future book reviews and read free original short fiction, hit that follow button, subscribe through email, or throw a like on the Word Nerd Scribbles Facebook page.

Writing Life: First Rejection Letter

Rejection Letter

I have had, I would say, the unusual experience of receiving an acceptance letter before getting a rejection letter (as opposed to stunning, echoing silence in response to various queries). Yet you can’t win them all, so here is my first rejection letter, from Dark Regions Press for their Deserted Island contest.

Writers receive piles of these. Stephen King even pontificates on the massive number of his in On Writing. So many writers have brought up their experiences with rejection letters, the meaningfulness, the implication that the struggle continues, that I knew I wouldn’t feel bad when I eventually received mine. There will be more. But you know what that means?

I’m writing. I’m submitting. I’m trying.

Maybe, eventually, there will be another acceptance letter instead. This particular missive is going into a special folder in my file cabinet, then it’s back to work.


To keep up with future book reviews and read free original short fiction, hit that follow button, subscribe through email, or throw a like on the Word Nerd Scribbles Facebook page.

2018 Writing Update: Word Nerd Scribbles Shenanigans

At the beginning of the year, I posted about my writing goals for 2018. As we’re over halfway through the year now, I’m thinking it may be time for an update. 

At the beginning of the year, I posted about my writing goals for 2018 and haven’t made a peep about them since. As we’re over halfway through the year now, I’m thinking it may be time for an update.

Addressing Old Goals

Word Count

In the previously mentioned post, I indicated I wrote 120k words last year. I’ve made that my target word count goal for this year (even though I said I wouldn’t, fickle me), but I haven’t been tracking my word count this year at all. Between seventeen Hopeful Wanderer short-stories, twenty-six Getting to Know You articles for my job, two (three?) fanfictions, four original short-stories, and novel progress, I have no idea how much I’ve written. I figure I’ll tally it all up at the end of the year. Le shrug.

Unfinished Manuscripts

I also said I would finish three manuscripts from last year. I have completed…

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… one (1) of those. But listen, it was pretty impressive that I finished that one at all and I felt like a writing god when I did. For Reasons, I decided to permanently remove one of those manuscripts from my writing list. The third is in progress at this very moment

Secret Projects

I didn’t say this before, but I copied over one of last year’s goals to write and submit three short-stories to this year.

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Though I haven’t submitted that third short-story anywhere yet, I have written it, so this should be completed soon. Now I’m feeling like I want to get that revision done, just so I can check this goal off. So close!

Beyond those three, I did revise and submit a short-story piece from last year. Plus that manuscript I finished in Goal #1 lands somewhere between a short-story and a novelette in length, so words are happening!

On to New Goals

The Hopeful Wanderer

What started out as a throwaway project to maintain online presence has become something that’s gaining an audience. I post micro fiction about The Hopeful Wanderer every Thursday (unless I’m late) and putting more heart into each piece than I originally intended has me liking the series very much myself. I have a secret project idea for this series, about which I will release information later. Subscribing to my Patreon will get you in on details about the project sooner and let you influence the direction it takes.

Patreon

I don’t have a Patreon yet, but I’m planning to start one soon! I want to meet some audience goals before I feel justified in starting one up, but as I mentioned above, I already intend to let supporters influence my Hopeful Wanderer project. Beyond that, it will feature early access to any fiction I post online, as well as to longer works (probably). I will also do coloring pages for my supporters.

Audience goals involve bumping up my subscribers numbers on the blog and the Facebook page just a little more, so if you want to help make this happen, please subscribe with the Follow button to the right on a computer or below this article on a phone/tablet, and/or throw a like on the Word Nerd Scribbles Facebook page (you don’t have to choose just one; you can do both and I’ll still count them. *wink wink*).

Ko-Fi

I’m totally already on Ko-Fi, which lets you ‘buy me a coffee’ for $3, so anytime you feel like throwing support my way in an un-committed fashion, you’ve got this option. I’m using the Ko-Fi to fund a goal for the blog!

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I want to commission an official logo for Word Nerd Scribbles, which I will then use to boost the Facebook page posts, which should bring in more audience, ultimately culminating in justification for that Patreon. As far as online content and projects go, completing this goal ignites a chain reaction of events that will push Word Nerd Scribbles forward.

Thank you from the bottom of my heart to Jenette Baker and ‘Gleepwurp the Eyebiter’ for your early support!

Ultimate Goal

This year, next year, and every year, I aim for the goal of entertaining you, my readers. Thanks so much for hanging around and reading what I write. It’s great to have you here!

Want to talk about your favorite thing about Word Nerd Scribbles so far? Got suggestions for goals that have helped you as a content creator? Let me know in the comments!


To keep up with future updates, writing advice, book reviews and to read free original short fiction, hit that follow button, subscribe through email, or throw a like on the Word Nerd Scribbles Facebook page.

Writing with Anxiety: Be Afraid and Write It Anyway

Anxiety in writing often derives not from a fear of writing itself. In truth, we writers fear audience judgement.

Word Nerd Scribbles Turns 100 Posts Old

We hit the 100 posts mile marker last week with the review for All Systems Red. Such a momentous occasion deserves something special, so today’s 101st post will mark the beginning of the addition of semi-regular Tuesday posts, complementing flash fiction publications on Thursdays and book reviews on Saturdays.

While in search of ideas for a spiffy 101st post topic, I ran across The Writeous Babe’s article 100 Blog Post Ideas and My 100th Post, stuffed full of excellent suggestions. If you writers ever run dry on post ideas, I suggest wandering over there. Two of the suggestions that intrigued me were “Write the story of how and why you got started blogging” and “Post an inspirational quote and what it means to you.”

We will, in a way, cover both as we explore my personal methods for dealing with anxiety as a writer.

Be Afraid and Do It Anyway

As a young person harboring both anxiety and ambition, I had to adopt the mantra of be afraid and do it anyway just to accomplish anything, including my goal of becoming a writer. The phrase echos Susan Jeffers’s book entitled Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway, which may be where I got the idea. I’ve never read her book, but the basic premise of my attitude runs thusly: accept that you are afraid–impossibly afraid, too afraid to ever make the move, submit to the contest, post the article online–and then make it, submit it, post it, even if you do so blind with panic. Being afraid and doing it anyway landed me my first job, got me into (and, when necessary, out of) relationships, and convinced me to start showing readers my written work.

(Disclaimer: I’m fully aware that anxiety is a difficult disorder to deal with, especially when it involves actual panic attacks. When applying this principle, your mileage may vary.)

Anxiety in writing often derives not from a fear of writing itself. We like writing; it’s fun and brings us satisfaction. Lots of writers write just for themselves or trustworthy friends and while this may involve its own sense of anxiety, I myself haven’t experienced such in my own experiments with personal journaling.

In truth, we writers fear audience judgement–how our work will be received by friends and strangers, whether it will be “good enough.” By good enough, I mean entertaining. We hope so much for those likes and kudos and gushing comments, which follow effective entertainment, and fear the lack of them. Yes, yes, we’ve read those remonstrations that writers must develop a thick skin (all true), but anxiety cranks that fear up to eleven. If you write with anxiety, you may never develop that thick skin. May never feel ready to share your work with an audience.

Do it anyway.

Methods for Writing Anyway

Every anxious writer starts somewhere. While my experience may differ from yours, below are my suggestions to get you started writing in spite of anxiety, based on what helped (and helps) me write while afraid.

Because I write fiction, my suggestions live within the realm of crafting story more than in the various aspects of creating non-fiction. Be afraid and do it anyway still applies to all types of writing, as well as to living life in general.

  • Show it to a very trusted friend

Make sure you’re presenting your work to an audience that will be receptive to what you write. So don’t show it to just any friend. If you hand off your piece to your friend who doesn’t read much, you’ll probably get that “it’s nice” response that no artist wants. You stand a better chance of getting useful feedback/a desired response from friends who read, especially if they like the genre you write (i.e. if you write mysteries, hand it to your friend who likes solving puzzles and/or reading mysteries). Matchy-matchy.

I started this (and discovered who my First Reader would become) by offering to write fiction about characters my friends were playing in a tabletop game. People love reading your words about something they made, so you could even offer to write about the original characters your writing friends have created. Just ensure that you do those characters justice.

  • Write (and post) fanfiction

Writing fanfiction has a freeing effect on the anxious writer. Since the characters, backstories, settings, and plots have already been established, have already drawn in what might be a huge audience depending on the franchise’s popularity, you as a writer can capitalize on the readership of fans who like the same thing that you do. They’re hungry for more content and you want to improve your craft, so churn out coffee shop AUs and original plots and everything in between to hone your skills, drawing in enthusiastic readers who expect to be forgiving of amateur work.

I wrote and posted four Fallout 4 fanfictions before I got serious about creating original work. It’s gratifying to watch that views counter rise (in active fandoms) and even receive a kudo or a comment. More importantly, comparing the progression of your works shows you how much your writing has improved with practice. You can take the lessons learned in writing fanfiction and apply them to crafting your own original fiction.

I suggest Archive of Our Own as my favorite fanfiction forum, with Fanfiction.net as a close second. AO3 is much easier to navigate and post stories, but requires a request to join, while FF.net lets you get started immediately, even if the document uploader can be tricky to use. No reason why you can’t sign up for both for more wider audience variety.

  • Put it on your blog

Got a Tumblr? WordPress? Blogger? Reddit? Even if you don’t, it’s not hard to get set up on these websites and start posting your content, be it fanfiction or original work, short-stories or novel snippets. All of this for free with no gatekeepers to turn you away. Consider making your own little writing domain on a more open website like WordPress or Blogger and then crossposting your work to forums you must join like Tumblr. All of these boast an anonymous function if keeping your own name off your work will help you be braver about posting publicly. Liberal use of tags helps readers find you.

Keep in mind that what you post on the internet, most magazines, quarterlies, journals, and contest websites will consider published. It’s great to post original fiction on your blog, but make sure it’s work you’re willing to give away for free. Hold back any pieces you hope to submit or sell.

Word Nerd Scribbles (a blog I had created but rarely used) became a great place to post my profile pieces written about friends and family for a Facebook social project. You can read about how that went here.

  • Write it for you

In the end, the audience member who matters the most is you. Whether you write just for yourself or you want to garner as many appreciative readers as possible, you are the one who has to like what you write. Don’t be too hard on yourself, accept your own criticisms with a grain of salt, and remember to forgive yourself as much as you would forgive another writer.

In On Writing, Stephen King says, “Write with the door closed, rewrite with the door open.” Meaning to help alleviate that anxiety, forget about audience altogether. They don’t matter until you get to the revision stage; your writing is for you.

Do you as an anxious writer have any tricks for powering through that fear and writing anyway? If you’re willing to share, I’d love to hear about them in the comments. Happy 101st Post!


To keep up with future book reviews and read free original short fiction, hit that follow button, subscribe through email, or throw a like on the Word Nerd Scribbles Facebook page.

The Hopeful Wanderer 12 – Artificial Illumination

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Between one town and the next, I spied in the distance twin lanterns casting steady, white light into the night, throwing tree limbs and grass blades into sharp, black relief. One lamp hung above the other, appearing like the eyes in a face cocked sideways. Perhaps in curiosity, perhaps madness. No matter how close my steps drew me to them, I never quite reached the house I thought the beacons must illuminate. No turnoff marked the way to them. Eventually, I passed by, expecting to plunge back into utter darkness.

Yet the path ahead of me remained bright, like the cast of an LED flashlight. My own shadow wandered before me, lengthy and alone. Even the furthest reaches of light should have faded by now.

Two sounds reached me at once: water gurgling against rocks, and a strange, electric hum. I dared not look back, knowing I would see those lamps, one cockeyed above the other, following behind, homing in on me like spotlights. Heat radiated against the back of my neck where they stared. That humming grew louder and louder until it buzzed in my ears and down to my bones.

I broke into a run. With little chance of stumbling on that daylight-bright path, I stretched my legs as far as they would go. Satchel thumping against my back. Metal jangling behind, the hot scent of burning filament in my nose. Closer, closer.

The path dipped and then I was splashing into cool water up to my knees. Mossy rocks rolled beneath my feet and I fell headlong into the shallow river. When I resurfaced, however, gasping and bruised, the lanterns had vanished, replaced with natural moonlight and the hum with the throaty croak of nearby frogs.


I’m always tired, so please consider buying me a coffee to keep me awake while I write the next story.

The Hopeful Wanderer 6 – A Chance of Light Showers

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While passing a farmhouse late one summer evening, I overheard the weather forecast through an open window, the local meteorologist calling for light showers very soon. Though I saw no clouds in the sky, I took shelter beneath an overhang out in the field behind the house, making myself comfortable as the sun finished passing below the horizon. Hands in pockets, parked on a squashy hay bale, satchel at my feet, I would wait out the coming rain in comfort.

From a nearby barn, some farmhands emerged, the weather report blasting from a radio within. One of them turned it down. The farmhouse back door opened and several of the family members crowded onto the porch. They waved at me and I waved back, puzzled at all their expectant faces turned toward the sky.

Then from nowhere fell drops of light.

They arced in ribbons, showering the field with streaks of gold. Pouring almost faster than the eye could detect, slashing across the inky sky and lighting up the field and surrounding woods as bright as day. As each honey-bright gleam hit the ground, it exploded like tiny fireworks, scattering across the grass in a network of shining webs.

I couldn’t help it; I put out my hand. The sparks glancing off my skin felt like warm afternoon sunlight, nothing more. I let the droplets gather within my cupped palm, collecting there like a pool of golden sunwater, weightless as air. But soon the glowing substance destabilized and broke apart, disappearing into invisibility. The flash left sunspots on my vision.

I supposed it didn’t do to keep the sun. Blinking, I lowered my hand, only a little regretful, and witnessed the bright, brief spectacle until the final drop of light fell to the earth.


I’m always tired, so please consider buying me a coffee to keep me awake while I write the next story.