Changes — In My Posting Schedule and in Technology

Today was the day I planned to make my first travel post, describing my accessibility experiences in Madrid Spain.

But I still need to go back through the books I bought during my trip. I wouldn't want to identify people and places incorrectly. I do want to research accessibility laws in Spain. Teaser: I was impressed, and I want to look into whether the standards are as consistent as they seemed.

Why haven't I done the above in the two weeks since my last post? Because I have a job outside of writing. Okay, okay, also, there were times in the last two weeks when I could have researched instead of watching TV. I chose TV.

Regardless of the reasons, my travel post wasn’t ready today. Yet, as you can see, I posted. This is a cheat post. It comes with a treat though. I'm way into this 60 Minutes segment. It's about technological research and development going on at MIT. Several of the projects highlighted could benefit people with disabilities.

Scott Pelley goes to MIT's Media Lab where crazy ideas become reality Subscribe to the "60 Minutes" Channel HERE: http://bit.ly/1S7CLRu Watch Full Episodes of "60 Minutes" HERE: http://cbsn.ws/1Qkjo1F Get more "60 Minutes" from "60 Minutes: Overtime" HERE: http://cbsn.ws/1KG3sdr Relive past episodies and interviews with "60 Rewind" HERE: http://cbsn.ws/1PlZiGI Follow "60 Minutes" on Instagram HERE: http://bit.ly/23Xv8Ry Like "60 Minutes" on Facebook HERE: http://on.fb.me/1Xb1Dao Follow "60 Minutes" on Twitter HERE: http://bit.ly/1KxUsqX Follow "60 Minutes" on Google+ HERE: http://bit.ly/1KxUvmG Get unlimited ad-free viewing of the latest stories plus access to classic 60 Minutes archives, 60 Overtime, and exclusive extras.

Have thoughts about this segment? I'd love to hear them. Why not comment below?

In my other two posts, this is where I wrote, “See you in two weeks." This time will be different. From now on, I plan to post here monthly, so that when I have a travel post in the works. I have more time to give it depth. I also need to spend more time revising my novel manuscript. Since I started this blog, the time I would have spent on my novel, I've spent on drafting, designing, and posting on this page.

I'm going to keep this blog going. If you're reading this, I'm assuming you want to read what I write. This blog lets me give you content regularly. It also gives me another opportunity to connect with you. The downside is, while I'm hanging out here, you can't read a novel I haven't released, or a short story. I haven't written. So expect another post from me on May 26th. I'm excited to tell you more and to unveil a new banner design. In the meantime, if you haven't done so already, subscribe to my blog using the form in the right-hand sidebar.

 

What Fuels My Creativity

History

In my last post, I wrote that history sparks my imagination. When I was in elementary school, I used my imagination to engage with the stars of history -- think the Lincolns.

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These days, I’m inspired by history’s extras. The spark for my novel-in-progress came from a rumor in a biography. Census records and math don’t allow for the rumor to have been true, so I took the story and gave it to fictional people.

I’ve also gotten prompts from the following places:

StoryADay

On this site, Julie Duffy offers a podcast and blog posts about navigating the writing life. Among her posts are also weekly writing prompts. But what helps me most about this site is the event it’s named for.  It challenges participants to write a story a day in May and September. There are no word count requirements for the stories. They can be six words long or 6,000. The idea is to get to the end of the story, even if, to get there, you make a note to “flesh this out later” and move on to the ending. I challenged myself to follow the traditional goal last May. Taking on the challenge taught me that I could write a story a day. Why? Because a rough draft doesn’t need to be good. It just needs to be written.  Revision can wait for the next month.

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I was invested enough in two of my products from StoryADay that I came back to them over the summer and fall. After weeks of polishing them, I sent them to online magazines, where they were published. Now they're here, too.

In September, I did something else Julie Duffy encourages. I created my own challenge. I was in the middle of drafting my novel, so I aimed to write a scene a day. While I didn’t meet this goal, I wrote every day, and writing every day made writing easier.

SWAGR

The heading above this sentence isn't a massive misspelling. The StoryADay site also hosts the Serious Writers Accountability Group (SWAGR). On the first of each month, Julie Duffy invites StoryADay subscribers to post their monthly writing goals. It’s free to subscribe, and posting here has done so much to keep me tuned in to writing.

Promptuarium

This blog features character, dialogue, and picture prompts. These are tagged for horror and fantasy writers, but I've used a few of them to develop non-speculative stories.

Writing Challenge

This is an app available for Android and Apple devices. It suggests an object, a character, or a situation. The challenge is to start a story with whatever the app has given. You have  a short time to begin the story. When time runs out, the generates another object, character, or situation you may want to include.

Writing Challenge got me started on “Neighbors.” It told me to write a story involving a bicycle. From there, I wanted to write a story about perceptions.  The bicycle and this motivation brought the story to life.

I could list so many resources here, but I have to stop somewhere. So I decided to focus on what I’ve gotten results from. Where do you turn for creative fuel? I hope you’ll share in the comment space below.

See you in two weeks.

How I Became a Writer

Wow! You’re reading this. That means it's April tomorrow, and I’ve finally done something I intended to do in January. I’ve posted a response to a blog prompt from DIYMFA.com.

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DIY MFA is a place for writers to take online courses, to connect with other writers, and to get guidance about writing, publication, and marketing.

Gabriella Pereira, the founder of DIY MFA, wrote a book to go with her website. At the start of 2018, she hosted the online club inspired by the book. As a member of the club, I received two blog prompts each week in my email.

I began to respond to the prompts, then chickened out about publishing what I wrote. I’m going to blame this prompt for freezing my posting hand.

The question you see at the top of the post doesn’t make me squirm too much. It’s asking about the process that led me to become a writer. It asks “how” not “when.” My struggle began because the full prompt, while beginning with the question above, later introduces the concept of a “zero moment”—the moment a person decides to become a writer.

The "zero moment" concept trips me up.

 Photo by  Matt Briney  on  Unsplash

Photo by Matt Briney on Unsplash

I can’t pinpoint one moment when I decided to become a writer. I remember imagining that historical figures stood at the foot of my bed. They told me about whatever aspects of their lives would interest a five, six, or seven-year-old. I’m throwing ages into cyberspace because my earliest memory of these nighttime imaginings must have been before I moved out of commuting distance from Washington DC. Before the move, my parents used to take me to the Smithsonian museums on weekends. These trips sparked my imagination.

My life with cerebral palsy did, too. When I was five, six, or seven I also made up stories about a girl with a cerebral palsy. I didn’t write the any of these down. They were a way of coping with my increasing awareness that I was different than other kids my age. It must have been awesome to imagine someone like me being called to adventures.

I was seven when we moved from the DC area. My new elementary school in Iowa had a writer’s club that met in the library before school. I know that I wrote during club meetings. So, if the definition of a writer is someone who writes narratives down, then using a notebook and a pencil at writer’s club made me a writer.

Yet a creative writer does so much more than put words on a page. She tells stories—or gives herself over to stories that want to be told. By giving herself over to a story, she leads multiple lives — multiple“real” ones. My stories are real long before I ever write them down. I was a storyteller before I was a writer.

Being a writer and being a storyteller are not the same. Some writers write instruction manuals. These writers have to lay out steps, objectively and simply. (Shout-out to those who do. I always say that the next time I get a new gadget, I’m going to read its instructions before I try to use it.)

Unlike technical writers, storytellers aren’t objective. Storytelling is about making a unique experience universal. (I’m getting this definition of storytelling from somewhere, but I don’t remember where. Thanks to whoever said or wrote it first.) Making a unique experience universal requires the storyteller to interpret events, to uncover their emotional meaning, and to share that meaning with someone else. Sometimes that someone is characters and an audience. Other times, there is no audience, only characters. The story forms in the storyteller because she was inspired to give her beliefs, dreams, and experiences new meaning through the journeys of characters. When a storyteller shares an experience with a character and records that sharing, she becomes a creative writer. I did — in writer's club. Writer’s club took me from a storyteller to creative writer.

See you back here in two weeks.