Writing about writing

Posts tagged ‘publication’

Julia Cameron’s Morning Pages

Hi. My name is Polly Watson and I have an addiction. I am addicted to the works of Julia Cameron. I have read everything by her that I can get my hands on and I still have a ways to go. I am currently reading Finding Water, the third in her trifecta The Artist’s Way series. I have completed every writing prompt to the best of my ability as I have been able. I am trying to do the Artist Dates–I’m still not very good at them because I don’t do sitting still very well, but I’m trying. I am not taking the walks because I struggle with walking because of the pain in my back–and because of the summer heat.

I LOVE her idea of Morning Pages–writing 3 full pages on 8-1/2 x 11 paper immediately upon waking every single day. I believe every word Julia writes regarding the value of them and their validity in our lives. I do find myself enjoying the process as well as the simple act of writing–pen scratching across the page–each morning. I didn’t realize that I had so much going on inside my head first thing in the morning until I started writing Morning Pages! Only once or twice this summer have I had days when I simply had to force the words.

For almost 10 years, I have done Morning Pages off and on. I do much better with them in the summer than the school year. The problem during the school year is that I would much rather sleep until the last possible second, get up, and race out the door than to get up at least 45 minutes early to write my Morning Pages–in spite of how much I value them. I have completed them now every single day this summer so far. And I love writing them.

But that is most of the writing I have been doing this summer. I had all these wonderful plans as my school year came to a close of writing a LOT this summer on my memoir–of working diligently on getting it ready for publication–of sending out proposals and working on getting an agent…or getting it ready for self-publication if I changed my mind and decided to go in that direction. But I have not done any of that so far and here we are almost at the end of June.

I LOVE to write. I KNOW that I am supposed to–meant to–publish my story. I have dreamed of sharing it for years now. I even have a solid rough draft. I have my “Joy Regardless” blog that I write related to my memoir. I have enough followers for that to feel validated in following through with publishing.

So why do I continue to stall? What is the holdup? Is it only the act of writing that I love? The process? Sharing my writing is definitely a part of my writing goals, but I make no real effort to do so beyond my blogs and Morning Pages.

Maybe, just maybe, my blogs and my Morning Pages are enough….

…for now.

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Writing without a Net

Over the many years I have been writing, most of it has been for personal use only–journaling, participation in NaNoWriMo without any intentions of doing anything with my novel, blogging, or for school purposes (as an English Instructor, it’s impossible not to write). I have never feared my writing–what I write, how I write, the physical presentation of what I write, and so on. I have always written mostly for myself and in a manner that pleases me, myself, and I–since I had no intentions of publishing anything I wrote.

But in recent months (ok, years), I’ve determined to finish my memoir and publish it. (Still vacillating between self-publishing and going the traditional route.) In doing research on memoirs and the publication of memoirs (because that’s what we’re supposed to do before publishing, right? research the genre to see what else is available?), I have discovered that the memoir genre is wide open for methods in presentations. The memoir genre is currently hot in the world of reading as is evidenced by the fact that we can’t really do a search of any kind on a subject without running across a memoir on that subject.

The good news is that means that my memoir fits right in with the current demand. The bad news is that so many people are writing and publishing their memoirs. That means then that I have to find a way to write my memoir in such a way as to make it stand out from the rest, to make it similar enough to other memoirs so I don’t scare away potential readers, but different enough so that readers don’t toss it aside with a groan because it’s “just another memoir.”

I feel fairly confident that I have found a way to put my memoir together in such a way as to be just different enough to be cutting edge and just similar enough that readers will be glad to pick it up to read.

One idea I have about my memoir that is very different from other memoirs is that I would like to include or publish alongside my memoir a Bible Study. This is where I’m thrown for a loop. While I have read and completed many Bible Studies over the years, I have never even thought of let alone attempted to write one. As I have begun researching how to write (put together) a Bible Study for publication, I have discovered that there is NO information on “how to write [and publish] a Bible Study.” There are dozens if not hundreds of books, websites, etc. about how to write and publish a memoir (or just about any other genre you can name or imagine), but there is NOTHING on writing/putting together a Bible Study!

Considering the fact that I am writing in unchartered territory, I was hoping for at least a little guidance in writing a Bible Study–as I have had over the years when writing fiction or basic non-fiction. But there is NOTHING. At least not anything that I have found at this point.

I have come to the conclusion then that there are no rules or guidelines that are expected to be followed when it comes to writing a Bible Study. I’m sure there are some because obviously writing a Bible Study involves using the Bible itself and must be faith-based, but are there rules or guidelines regarding the expected translation? Are there guidelines regarding physical appearance on the page?

What makes things even more interesting, if you will allow me to use that term, is that I want to write a JOURNALING Bible Study and maybe even include pictures to color!!!! Are there any rules or guidelines regarding journaling Bible Studies or including pictures to color in a Bible Study??

The good news is that no two Bible Studies that I have ever done have ever been exactly the same style or set-up (except those that are published by the same group or organization, but even within the group, the set-up is unique to each). The bad news is that means that I have to “invent” my own style or set-up.

The good news is that this means that I GET to “invent” my own style or set-up for my JOURNALING BIBLE STUDY/Memoir!!!!

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Why I am choosing to do NaNo again this year

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So I’ve decided that I’m going to do NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month—writing 50K words in 30 days) again this year.  I’ve been involved with NaNo one way or another since about 2004.  I have not won (successfully written 50K words in 30 days) every year, but I have won about five times.  Very few people will ever read the full manuscripts for any of the years I attempted NaNo, whether it be the years I won or otherwise.  They simply are not audience-worthy.

They were fun to write and I did share parts of them with others, but as a whole entity, the manuscripts will stay “hidden” on my laptop.

I have not yet once revised a single manuscript over the years, not even for the novels I really enjoyed writing and feel could possibly one day be publishing-worthy.  My serial-killing-teacher novel from 2012 was more fun to write than I can possibly describe—it’s about a teacher (based loosely on me) who kills (with arsenic, mostly) and buries her students under her desk in her office.

NaNo is a lot of fun for me regardless of whether I have as much fun writing the novel as I did in 2012 simply because I LOVE to write.  When I have something to say, 2k words a day is nothing.

The hardest part about NaNo—beyond Revision and/or preparation for publication—is finding the TIME to do it.  While I try to write every day in my journal, when I am really very busy, my journal, sadly, is the thing that suffers.  I might still write in my journal, but my word count will more than likely be far from my daily quota (750 words).  I just have a LOT going on:

  1. I am a Mom to a 13-year old in 8th grade—Middle School (I don’t think I need to explain!)
  2. I am a wife to a Pastor (21 years!)
  3. I teach English full time at a community college—that’s 6 classes (average) per semester with 125 students (average) per semester—and I’ve had a 7th added that begins in the middle of October—you can do the math when every class writes a 2-3 page essay and I have to grade them. I have two online classes as well as two hybrid classes, both of which bring with them their own challenges.  Plus, I am teaching a class that I have never taught before and even if I had, the State of NC has demanded drastic changes to both our Freshman Composition classes which means a lot of new preps for me.
  4. I am on the board for NC CEI (North Carolina Conference of English Instructors) and we have a conference the last weekend of October (just prior to the start of NaNo). I am presenting.
  5. I am now the Club Advisor for the brand new Dr. Who Club at my community college and we’re planning on meeting every two weeks this semester!
  6. Because I’ve had a lot of health problems, I have various doctors’ appointments every few weeks.

And I hope it goes without saying that there are also all the regular day-to-day activities that must be taken care of as well as attempting at least somewhat of a social life in order to function at any level of intelligibility!

I’ve had many people ask me how I have time to read, let alone half of the other things that I have to do—want to do—need to do.

My answer?

We tend to do whatever it is that we REALLY want to do.

When I don’t REALLY want to do something, I don’t do it—whether that be doing the dishes, grading papers, or just going to imagesschool.  (We all need a “Mental Health Day” every once in a while!)

But when I REALLY do want to do something, I find a way to do it.  I find the TIME to do it.  If my sleep suffers, so be it.  I make it up during my afternoon catnap or with a large soft drink or coffee!

NaNo has not made me a successful, published writer—yet, but I thoroughly enjoy participating in the challenge to write 50K words in one month.  I have yet to do Camp NaNo; once a year is all I can afford at this time.  But I keep signing up for it!  I have no idea if I am going to be able to win NaNo this year or even if I’ll make it to the 50K words, but I am going to give it the old college-try and hope for the best.

I have an idea for a story that I’ve been playing around with almost a year.  I have no idea if it’s going to work or not, but I’m excited to give it a try.  It’s about Christian Zombies.  I do not have a title yet nor do I even have a plot beyond an idea, so this year’s NaNo ought to be one of the most interesting yet!!!

In my heart, in spite of how very busy I am, I feel that this is MY year not only to win, but also to write something that will be worthy of revising and eventually publishing!  How will I know if I don’t at least give it a shot?

Here’s to NaNaWriMo!!!!!

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