Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Another Feather in my Writer's Cap

I am literally sliding out of the year 2013. Today began with some feathery snow that turned to rain. On the drive home from work the rain mixed with ice and walking up the driveway to the house was like walking on shattered glass. As the precipitation dwindles the temperature drops and I am not looking forward to an icy morning. Black ice is predicted. That means a long slow drive back to work tomorrow and some treacherous walking. I will take tiny steps from the car to the school.

But I am taking big solid steps into the new year!

On January 22 I begin a 6 month long course on writing memoir. I've mentioned this before, but we've had the orientation and I am outlining the book now so this is really going to happen soon. I am very excited to get my story down on paper and with the help of Brooke Warner and Linda Joy Myers, getting it to a publishable stage.

I will also be taking an online course through Story Circle Network with Amber Lea Starfire that will teach me how to publish a chapbook on Create Space at amazon.com. I look forward to this class since I have several chapbooks ready to be published and ideas for many more sparking in my mind.

I have submitted my poetry book with some art work to Cherri LaMarr who is designing my book. "I am My Mother's Only Poem" will be available at amazon.com in print and as an e-book some time early next year.

And as this night nestles into its icy end I find a wonderful email message from Spiritual Writers Network. My short story, "Martini with a Twist," won fourth place in their contest. It will be published in an anthology along with the other winners' stories and poems. These writing successes help me believe I am a writer. They validate the heart and soul I put into every story and poem. I am so excited to see this happening.

The fact that the story's title, "Martini with a Twist," is the working title of my memoir-in-progress is a sign that I am on the right track. As I slide into the coming year I will hold my pen in hand and scribe away. The more I write, the more success I will find. I know this is what I am meant to do. But more than what I do, writing is who I am.

Happy holidays to all my readers who are sharing this literary journey with me.

Monday, December 2, 2013

A LITTLE TOO LATE

Six or seven years I ago I read a lot of memoirs since I was writing my own childhood memoir and studying the genre. Then I went back to reading more fiction and poetry. Now, in preparation for writing this new memoir and taking the memoir course in January, I've picked up a few more to read and study. This evening I opened up my kindle, downloaded the memoir "Split" by Suzanne Finnamore, and found a big surprise.

I had been playing around with some different formulaic structures for my memoir and came up with the idea to break it into five sections based on Elizabeth Kubler-Ross's Five Stages of Grief. I thought that was a good idea for a novel about divorce. But Ms. Finnamore beat me to it. Lo and behold, right in the table of contents, I discovered my idea for structuring my own memoir wasn't original after all. Now it's back to brainstorming some other structure ideas.

She also begins her story with a scene that shows her husband downing martinis. Well I have a similar scene, or scenes, in my memoir since it is about my ex-husband's alcoholism. Can't do much about that. It is what it is and I can't remove those scenes or references.

Finnamore's writing is clear and rhythmic. Her style and voice pulled me right in, not to mention the connection I felt with that opening scene. So there you have it. A good book by a good writer and a great lesson in doing your homework when you want to publish a book.

I really need to read a lot more memoirs about divorce and alcoholism to see where my memoir will fit in. How it may be the same or different than other memoirs already on the bookstore shelves or in kindle and nook cyberspace.

Not that I mind doing all that reading. After all, a writer who doesn't obsess over reading can never make it, and it's hard enough as it is.

If my readers have any suggestions about memoirs on these topics please drop a note in the comment section of my blog or visit me on facebook or twitter and clue me in.

Off I go to brainstorm. The ideas are percolating already!

Sunday, December 1, 2013

WRITING OUT THE LAST OF THE YEAR

With Thanksgiving over, leftovers packed in the fridge and freezer, and turkey soup simmering on the stove, it is time to get back to business.

After 5 days of family, fun and food I need to tuck back into reality. That means going back to Weight Watcher meetings and tracking my food again. It means getting back to a routine of working out 4 to 5 times a week no matter how tired I am, or how late it is, when I get home from work. And it means setting myself up to begin the new year in writing stride. I can't believe it will be 2014 in just a few weeks. Busy weeks at that. With the new year will come the start of my "Write Your Memoir in Six Months" course. I've already set up a binder for the course materials and I've begun making some notes about how I want to write this book. A couple steps in the way of launching this journey are easy to take care of.

Number one-- I just received the edits of my poetry manuscript "I am My Mother's Only Poem," from Lorraine. I need to read the whole thing through to see how it sounds. Then I need to revise each poem and choose the final art for the book. Once that's done I will send it back to Lorraine and then speak to the book designer so we can begin to do layouts.

Number two-- I must, and I mean must, set up a writing schedule for myself. I have to be realistic but at the same time push myself to write every night and to spend solid time writing this first draft. I have to give myself a page quota so that if something comes up and I can't write some nights I can make up the number of pages on another day or on the weekend.

Number three-- I have to reorganize my office/writing room so I am distraction free. I have to make sure all I have available on my desks are materials for this book. And I will continue to connect with more writers on facebook, twitter, etc to expand my online presence.

In Brooke Warner's book "What's Your Book," she gives lots of great advice for creating a platform that will set you up to sell your book--first to an agent, then to an editor and then to the book buying public. I always thought writing and submitting were enough but I am understanding now how important it is to have a presence online--not just to sell your books, but to get it into the hands of a publisher in the first place.

I'm looking forward to sliding out of 2013 on a great start and running into 2014 in writing mode!!! Here I come!!