Nature, Viable Paradise, Writing

Autumn Begins

changing colorWelcome to fall. I’m not sure about you, but I can’t quite wrap my head around the fact that it is indeed fall. Already. I haven’t accomplished half the things I meant to this summer, and yet it’s been a good summer, mostly.

goatsignLast week, friends came from Germany to visit. I went with them to Sandy Hook, which  had been closed when hubby and I tried to visit earlier. There I saw this, which just made me laugh:

Unfortunately, we saw no goats, but we did see the fence, and the poison ivy. We were careful to touch neither, but we wondered if the electric fence also carried poison ivy oils, and if the electrical current would insert it into the body, carrying it past the skin barrier, the way some physical therapies use electrodes to carry steroids to inflamed tissues? Eww. Imagine explaining that to you doctor.

Before they came, I went walking on the beach at low tide. There was a shining line of sparkling things, like softened diamonds, at the line each wave left behind. It didn’t stink, and it was soft, and a little sticky. And when fatter waves washed the shore, the water was thick with jello-like bits,  like a soup. Eww! It felt weird, and looked weird, but it was easy to determine what it was: moon jellyfish bits, all shredded up and cast ashore. Here and there, a larger piece or even a whole one lay, like the one I photographed. It really was beautiful, for all that it/they were dead.

jellyfoot jelly

As the counter shows, it’s now less than three weeks to VP. I’m writing away, trying to distract myself from the coming mayhem of travel, nerves and such. It seems to be working. So far, at least. And the really good news is that my daily word-count is higher than ever. See what anxiety is good for! 😉

Just keep writing! That’s my mantra for the time-being. So, how’s it going for you?

goals, Viable Paradise, Writing

Only a Month!?!

The astronomical clockUtter giddiness–since I’m traveling a day before the first day of class, there’s now only 1 month until I leave for Martha’s Vineyard and Viable Paradise. I’m pinching myself right now, and I can report that it hurts, so this must be real.


When I got the acceptance, I was blissed out, shocked and amazed. Then I got to work, reading everything I could about VP and past attendees’ experiences (again! I’d read them  during the wait, of course), and outlining my summer reading of the instructor’s works. Let me tell you, that’s a lot of words. A lot of really good words.

Now time is winding down, and the reality of the situation is beginning to sink in: in one month, I will be sitting down with these instructors, and with 23 other students, in order to learn/eat/sleep/talk/live writing. I will really be doing this. (The hairs on my arms are standing on end, and I can feel each unique patch of skin around every single hair.)

I don’t know about you, but I’m a bit (my hubby is choking on his spit at that understatement) of an introvert. Idle chit-chat doesn’t come easily to me. So naturally the social situation there is a wee bit intimidating. But, then again, most writers I’ve met are a bit introverted, so we’ll all be relieved to know we’re all in the same boat, right? Those “big names” have just learned to put on good game faces for the crowds. I can learn this, too (not for crowds, mind you, but just for getting in there. Oh, crap, you know what I mean. I hope. See why I’m not the best chit-chatter?!?).

And then there’s the end-result, and the whole reason for going, which is to focus on writing. My writing will take center stage for a whole week of my time. I’m thinking up what, exactly, I want to ask the various instructors. About their work, about my work, about how to make my work more professional, like their work. About the writing life, and the business end, and all that. And I’m dreaming of the euphoria of pinching myself while I’m there, at VP, and discovering that, yes, it hurts, so it must be real.

These last weeks are going to both fly, and drag. Fortunately, “real” life is keeping me busy during most of it. The last week, I’ll have time to pack and re-pack my bags, endlessly if I must, in order to keep my nerves at bay, and that’s about it. Until then, I have high hopes of finishing first drafts of 2 stories, and doing edits to one or two more. Fortunately, writing never ends. It keeps me sane. Most of the time.

Time to go write.

Quote of the Week, Writing Workshops

Quote of the Week

If you wait for tomorrow, tomorrow comes. 
If you don’t wait for tomorrow, tomorrow comes.
~Senegalese Proverb

Yeah, this one’s a gimme. I’m trying not to wait for tomorrow, knowing that all the anticipation in the world won’t change the outcome of my Clarion/Clarion West/Odyssey dreams. Those thoughts still drift into the corners, but I’m filling my days with writing, and this week with editing. After all, going to these workshops is supposed to help my writing, and not writing doesn’t support that…so, back to writing I go.

If you’ve applied, good luck! If you’ve been accepted, congratulations! And if you’re not going this year, I hope you’ll keep your chin up, your fingers busy typing, and try again next year.

Clarion, Clarion West, Odyssey, plain silliness, Writing Workshops

Playing the Waiting Game Again

MP900341439The Clarions application deadlines are over, and now the waiting for results is driving the applicants (like me) a bit crazy. Or crazier, as the case may be. (Odyssey doesn’t give their results until later, so that isn’t hanging over my head the same way as the Clarions are right now.) It’s the worry that is always in the back of my mind: will I get in? When will I hear? And oh, do I fear acceptance or rejection more?

Like I said on one of the CW forums, with non-writers, it’s like trying to ignore the dancing elephant in your living room because only you can see it. I look out my window at all the snow that fell today (yes, snow, despite the forecast calling for 52F tomorrow, there’s over an inch of snow melting off the ground right now!!! Oh, wait, now I’m veering into a parenthetical weather-rant. Sorry.) and I think about Clarion. I open the fridge to see what’s for dinner tonight and I think about Clarion. It seems like some strange form of OCD (Clarion). And I’ve just about concluded that there’s no hope for me this year, no way that I’ll be accepted…and yet, I can’t quite bring myself to make other plans yet, either. *sigh*

So, that’s been my week. Worry. And, oh yeah. I managed to get to my writing this week. After the last 2.5 weeks being complete wash-outs, writing wise, I was ready to kick butt and take names! And I did. I started, completed and submitted to the Shock Totem Flash Fiction contest, and I finished two other stories started before/during the move. Woo-hoo! This feels so awesome! Good distraction, too.

So now I get to go look in the Clarion and see what’s for Clarion. (My poor hubby!)

Magic of the Everyday, Nature

Scratching My Head and Hoping for the Best

I took a walk today, in the woods along the river where I like to walk. A man leaving as I was entering the woods told me the deer were really active today, that rut had obviously begun. I smiled, anticipating seeing deer everywhere, maybe even seeing a couple bucks facing off. How cool would that be?

I wasn’t surprised when I saw no deer right away; the entry area is well-traversed by humans and dogs. I fully expected to have to wait ’til further along my path, on the tiny footpath at the river’s edge instead of on the bridle trail, to see ‘interesting animals.’ So I walked, and I walked. I walked softly, letting no step crack sticks or swish leaves, and I kept my head up and swiveling about, checking for movement.

I saw squirrels, and chipmunks, bluejays and woodpeckers and finches galore. I saw prints of deer and opossum, humans and dogs, horses and bikes. But I saw no fish, no deer, no interesting wildlife of any type or variety. Heck, I didn’t even see unusual flora!

Hey, I never said it wasn’t ‘pretty,’ just that it wasn’t ‘unusual’ in any way!

As I returned to my car, I pondered this strange development. Nothing unusual or overtly interesting. Hmm. No “otter-grams” of any sort. (Yes, I still chuckle at that!) By this point I’m sure I was smiling like a maniac, ’cause I’m taking this as Mother Nature’s way of saying “Look, no rejections for a bit, okay? Relax.” Which is really nice, since I just sent another story out into the world yesterday, bringing my current submissions out to seven. 🙂

In other, non-forest-related news:  Cast of Wonders has said my story will be up ‘soon.’ Yay! (I can’t wait to hear this podcast.) I had ‘issues’ with PayPal, but now their payment has come through (double-yay!).

publication, Writing

Catching Up is Hard to Do

My “Writing Partner” for a day

For the past few days, I’ve been away on a self-styled ‘writing retreat.’ I go off by myself  and write, write, write. Or, in this case, edit, edit, edit. I worked this year on editing the two stories that came out of the Write-a-thon, and a bit on writing another story.

One story was a joy to edit. I loved what I wrote, but knew it needed polishing, cutting, layering of detail and image and metaphor — all that stuff I’m trying so hard to learn and incorporate. I think it’s close now. We’ll see–it’s going to my writers’ group later this month (gulp!).

The next story was a real struggle. There was a great underlying idea, but the story as written just wasn’t working. I fought to make it work as it was, but it would not fit into the image I saw in my head. Finally, I resorted to reading about writing and lo and behold, I found the exact right things to help me along. So, after much twisting and playing with the entire story structure and plot, I found what I think will work and am attempting to make it right. Now I’m excited about this story, too, and can’t wait to see how it will turn out in the end.

And finally, I wrote new words on a short story that had gone onto the back burner. I’d thought the story was lost to me, honestly; that I’d messed it up utterly and should probably have to abandon it. To my surprise, when I re-read what I’d written, I found myself caught up in the tale, saw the exact way to weave the beginning into the ending to make a satisfying conclusion…and I wondered how I’d thought this was so bad. I guess I just got too caught up in my Wolf story and then in the novella, and the re-write of the Witch story, etc., etc..

Why the sudden rush of editing? Why not new tales told? Well, all stories need editing, of course. And…are you ready??…my submissions are down to three. Why, you ask? Well, because I’ve gotten three acceptances!

I wrote some time ago about sending out more “ships,” and hoping for replies to come back nicely staggered, but usually what has happened is that rejections come flooding in, three in two or three days. Painful! But this time what’s happened is truly delightful– three acceptances in four weeks! Who could ask for anything better?

Oh! I almost forgot–my newest acceptance is at Every Day Fiction, for the story “I Promised You a Miracle.” It’s a flash fiction SF-romance; not my everyday domain…but I do have a soft heart. As soon as the date for my story is announced, I’ll post it here! As for the other story, well, that’s the mystery story. Until the acceptance is confirmed with the contract I’m holding off on announcing it, but I’m bouncing with anticipation, bubbly with the news that I want to spill.

Until then, I’m off to write, and edit!

Magic of the Everyday, Writing

Waiting Mode

Keeping-Me-Honest Update

I finished my second story in March (hurray! Goal met for March-check!), and I still have six ships at sea (although this almost feels like cheating, since they’re the same six…sigh). One finished for this month, and one yet to go. (Yay! But ugh, it’s beginning to feel like a roller coaster here!)

And the Rest…

I’m in “waiting mode.” And I hate waiting. Don’t you?

In the doctor’s office waiting room, I read a book that I bring along (if I can tune out the blasted daytime TV inanities, that is!). In a grocery store line, I plot stories, or play with ideas. Walking in the woods, I tune in to the vibrancy around me, let it fill me and soon I’m tossing ideas for stories around like dandelions toss seeds into the breeze.

This is all good, all filling of otherwise ‘wasted’ time with things important to me. But waiting on story submissions?

Waiting for comment — any comment — on a submitted story is like waiting for fingernails to finish scratching down a chalkboard (yeah, I’m old enough to know that sound!). After awhile, even a rejection is a relief. It means I’ve heard something, after all. My submission, hard-written and edited to the best of my abilities, wasn’t lost in the ether, or ignored in the slush. Actual comments are wonderful! A real human read this, had enough opinion on it to write a few words– weeeee! And an acceptance is wonderful, like discovering AIR has a flavor, and that flavor is happiness.

Oh, but the wait. And waiting on six is worse than waiting on one. I assume that the wait on one will be long, and dreary. But with six? Well, golly-gee, I gotta hear something every week, right? After all, the odds are that at least one of ‘em will be kicked out of the running, or something, every so often. Maybe, once every six weeks?

But no.

So I wait. And I write more, of course. But my heart is divided. I long to comfort those stories still out there, those ships sailing the seas for me. “I haven’t forgotten you. I haven’t given up on you,” I’d like to tell them. But the new stories, they clamor for my attention. And rightly so. Without my full attention, these new things forming under my care will never take shape, will never find life or a voice. They’ll wither alone in the dark, undernourished and starved of my attention. Then I’ll have no new stories to send out, just tattered shreds of what-might-have-been.

If I stop writing and just wait, I also stop growing. Each time I write a story, my ability to increase a story’s complexity grows. Each time I finish a new story and edit it, I see how I’ve grown and matured. Sure, there’s always a story that just doesn’t gel, that can’t quite get its feet under it. But most find a shape and a form that please me (at least after a month in the closet and a few dozen edits). And the ‘closet’ is filling up, the editing folder expanding.

Soon, the number of my ships at sea will expand. I’ll have grown as a writer, and my confidence will grow, too. I know this, and I believe that some of my stories will find publication light-of-day. Oh, the joy!

But until then, I wait. And write on in the dark.

Moving, Writing

The Longest Wait

Hello all Clarion and Clarion West applicants (and yes, acceptees, since I’m sure some of you have gotten good news by now! And congrats to you!). My stats have shown a huge spike since the forums at CW opened, so I’m assuming a good portion of that is fellow applicants scoping out ‘the competition’ and just getting to know other applicants. I know I’ve been doing the same. I’ve also checked out previous years’ forum threads and checked out those applicants’ blogs. (Some wonderful stuff there. If you haven’t done it yet, I suggest you do.)

Yes, I’ve got a massive case of the waiting-jitters. I haunt the forums in spare minutes, looking for signs of life, for the blaring news of acceptances (yay!) or rejections (oh, no!). How can I stop thinking about something so momentous? Honestly, I don’t really want to, either. I want to glory in the uncertainty, the shared tension. The adrenaline-surge speaks to me of life and hope and a future, all of which seem especially precious now.

Of course, I’m still writing. I started a new story today, inspired by a strange coincidence of thoughts about St. Patrick’s Day and SF. Hmm. Since I’m a seat-of-the-pants kind of writer, we’ll see where it goes.

I also put in words on another story, one I had just started when I got news of my sister’s death. It was hard to go back to that story. It’s mind-set is like that from when I was a girl growing up in small-town Ohio — when my sister was still very much a part of my life. It brings up memories, which often make me sad. So it’s going slower than normal, but I refuse to give up on it. I know Deb wouldn’t want me to. Even if it never sees publication, I’ll finish it, and be glad I did.

In completely non-writing related news, my home no longer looks like a squatters’ cardboard-box village. The place is still jumbled, but our belongings are finding permanent homes instead of being shuffled from room to room and pile to pile. I’m still forced to leave home to write (otherwise I’d rearrange piles instead of writing), but I can actually sit at my desk now! Soon, I’ll be writing from home. Until then, keep looking for me at my new favorite coffee shop, tapping away at the keys.

And good luck to Clarion SD and W applicants! Don’t be afraid to say hello.

And keep writing!