Posted in a bit of seriousness, Muse, writers, Writing and Poetry

Procrastinating…and the details


Writer's Stop
Writer’s Stop (Photo credit: Stephh922)

 

Procrastinating…and the details

 

Traci Kenworth

 

 

 

Procrastination has been a serious wrench in my editing/rewriting as of late. Doubts sometimes creep in when we’re working on a project and this was no exception. Not misgivings about the story, but, well, me as a writer. Around me, I’ve watched others moving on with their books, getting published, receiving awards etc. while I’m still in the same place. Although, really, I’m not. In the same place. I’ve been learning, growing, coming to terms with things. I think it’s a path a lot of writers take in their journey, sort of losing that momentum, falling behind. The truth is, we need that to happen in order to re-focus on why we’re doing this, who we are, and to realize everything will fall into place when the time’s ready.

 

This is the time when some writers fall by the wayside, lose hope, and walk away. What’s more, I’m sure from what I’ve read on other author’s experiences, that it won’t be the last time something like this happens. You’ve got to decide whether you’re going to let circumstances make you or break you. I’ve decided to persevere. It hasn’t been my time yet, but one day, it will be. Since last fall, my writing has slid to a crawl in pace. Slowly, now, I’m picking up speed. It didn’t happen overnight. I’ve had to fight to get there but Spring is dawning. There is hope. Reading over my wip, I realize, I have something here. I have only to open myself up to the possibilities.

 

Ideas are brimming, popping up when least expected. Avenues that make sense, that excite the story. One day, I hope to be able to write as fast as I used to, but for now, I’m taking it one day at a time, knowing that I’m headed in the right direction. I may not get there as fast as I wanted to, but I’ll get there. How about you? Do you feel like giving up or have you walked away in the past, only to return anew? Hold on. You’ll reach where you’re going, it just takes time. I know that’s a pulling teeth answer, but it’s the truth. Juggling this life is tough in itself. That’s why we need each other’s support in this. Cheer your fellow authors on because in doing so, you’ll lift yourself up to the next level and soon, it’ll be your turn.

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in a bit of seriousness, writers, Writing and Poetry

Some changes…


Tennessee barn
Tennessee barn (Photo credit: knitgrrldotcom)

 

What do you think of the new blog design? I like the simpleness and the misty setting reminds me of where my books are set: in the fictional Akara Mountains in Tennessee. The bridge is an image that particularly jumps out at me because it’s important in my stories. Hint: the dead ones often walk there, waiting for unsuspecting trespassers. I’ve updated my “About Me” page and added a new one with members of YAFF links and other writerly ones. I will still be posting book reviews and updates/writer advice hopefully on Tuesdays and Thursdays still. Although this schedule may take a hit until the new year gets in swing. The only thing that may change about it is that I may post every other week. Although I LOVE blogging and keeping in touch with all of you, it’s getting harder to find topics that aren’t covered elsewhere. Another big issue: I need writing/editing time and a lot of times that’s pushed out of the way in favor of the blog. If I don’t work on my books, I won’t be able to strive to reach my goal of publication. I’ve been torn in this reality for half of this year, now I’m making a choice: my stories need to come first. I’m sure you all understand how hard it is to find time as it is to do this thing I love. Life gets in the way. I’ll slowly be backing off a lot of social media sites as well. They just occupy too much of our hours. Not that I don’t enjoy them, but the time just whittles away so fast and nothing’s left for storytelling. I know this may sound a little like “a goodbye” but it’s not. It’s just a pause to refocus on my creativity. Until my next post, take care, and God bless!!

 

Posted in a bit of seriousness, contests, humor & fun, Muse, Reading, writers

Random Act of Kindness Blitz Tour!!


A smile. An encouraging word. A thoughtful gesture. Each day people interact with us, help, and make our day a bit brighter and full. This is especially true in the Writing Community.

Take a second to think about writers you know, like the critique partner who works with you to improve your manuscript. The writing friend who listens, supports and keeps you strong when times are tough. The author who generously offers council, advice and inspiration when asked.

So many people take the time to make us feel special, don’t they? They comment on our blogs, re-tweet our posts, chat with us on forums and wish us Happy Birthday on Facebook.

Kindness ROCKS!

To commemorate the release of their book The Emotion Thesaurus, Becca and Angela at The Bookshelf Muse are hosting a TITANIC Random Act Of Kindness BLITZ. And because I think KINDNESS is contagious, I’m participating too!

**I am picking Shen Hart, my adult critique partner who has been invaluable in helping with my western. For her support, encouragement, and totally awesomeness, I’m offering to do a beta read of her story. **
Do you know someone special that you’d like to randomly acknowledge? Don’t be shy–come join us and celebrate! Send them an email, give them a shout out, or show your appreciation in another way. Kindness makes the world go round. 🙂

Becca and Angela have a special RAOK gift waiting for you as well, so hop on over to The Bookshelf Muse to pick it up.

Have you ever participated in or been the recipient of a Random Act Of Kindness?  Let me know in the comments!

The Emotion Thesaurus

The Bookshelf Muse

Posted in a bit of seriousness, writers, Writing and Poetry

When Life Gets in the Way…


young life
young life (Photo credit: lorenzo cuppini verducci)

When Life Gets in the Way

Traci Kenworth

 

You’re going along strong, every word is falling into place, every scene playing off of each other when *boom* something in life happens. It can be a car accident, the birth of another/or your first child, or as often happens, health problems. What do you do when any of these events happen? Do you give up? Put your writing away for a while? Struggle through?

For me, the keeping on seems to not only help but to get me over the hill and coasting along again. I won’t say it’s easy. In fact, sometimes, it’s a downright rough but things can and do turn around. How? Brainstorming. Jotting down anything and everything that comes to mind on a story helps get the creative juices flowing.

So, too, does pressing forward on a piece. Maybe you only get two lines down, that’s still an accomplishment. It’s setting you up for the next move, and the next one after that. Just keep pushing the boundaries and you’ll find yourself getting further immersed in your wip again. And before you know it, “the end,” will come along.

Any tips on how to keep going when things get tough? I’m sure we all have our own way of pounding on those keys and making our book open up to us again. I’ve found when life throws serious situations my way, to turn back to my writing, it’ll pull me through. And often, when the scare is over, I not only faced it to the best of my ability, I also have a lot to show for my efforts. How about you?

 

Posted in a bit of seriousness, writers, Writing and Poetry

Do You Have to Force Your Writing?


Have desk, will write
Image by Bright Meadow via Flickr

Do You Have to Force Your Writing?

Traci Kenworth

 

Do you wait for inspiration to strike? Or do you get to work despite the lack of it, determined to put something down on the paper even if it turns up to be only crud? When I was a newer writer I admit to the former. I would wait and wait for days, weeks, even months to be inspired by something I’d read, watched, or heard about. Sometimes even a song. Those days led to bursts of writing, but they were just that: sketches of what might be, a painting half-finished. Because you truly can’t finish something unless you keep at it.

As I grew in my craft, I heard over and over the advice to plant your butt in the chair and write. It was the only way to go. And you know what? They were right. The more you sit there, trying to create something from scratch, forcing yourself to put one word down at a time, works. I’m not saying that these sentences will shine. Heck, they may not even be needed, or make it into the final draft. But they mean, you’ve accomplished something today and that’s a plus.

When I begin writing for the day, I often go back and read out loud the chapter I’m working on. I listen for mistakes, something that throws me off, an area where I could’ve expanded or let go. These actions get me ready to work. Because as I’m reviewing yesterday or this morning’s work, I get back into the mood I had when writing/creating it. It becomes a stepping stone from one place to another.

I know it’s not easy. If everyone could do it, they would. But the gift is down there, inside of you, why not bring it forth and polish it? A bit of no getting up from the chair until you move forward never hurt anybody. The seed you planted when you began the story, the what if needs to be watered, nurtured for further growth. If you wait for the sun to shine, you’re not giving it your all. You have to get in there and build a greenhouse. Take it from the first step, to the next, and the next after that until you have a tomato. Tomato equals the results of all your hard work.

So after I read through aloud, I look at what I’ve outlined to happen in this scene. Who the main character in this one is? What are the points I want to get across? What is the inciting incident? And something I’ve recently learned about and which we work towards in a story during the first 25-50 pages, the catalyst (or the turning point in the story, at which the character has to make a major decision and there is no turning back from that action/s.). All this should help get the story to proceed for me. After all, I know where I’m headed and what has to fall into place in order to get there.

Each scene works together to build toward that climax, that end of all ends. And you can get there with a little solid faith in yourself. You’re a writer. What writers do is write. If you’re still waiting for inspiration to strike, it’s going to hold you back from your dreams. You need to sit down, take your craft firmly in hand, and push through the mental block until the words flow and the magic happens. There’s no getting away from being firm on this point with yourself. You’ll see if you follow this advice, your writing will grow in leaps and bounds.

And isn’t that something we all want to happen? To finally write that book that’s inside us? To hold it in our hands? To go on to the next? And the next? Our journey is never easy but it’s definitely worth it. The joy that bubbles up inside you when your characters’ spring to life, how it makes you cry alongside them, quake in fear, keeps you on the edge of your seat until the last page, will help strengthen you for what lies ahead. Since I let go of the waiting, I’ve written eight books (nine counting the one I’m working on at the moment). Each a step across the pond. When I reach that final step to publishing I’ll know, it wasn’t inspiration that brought me to it, but good old-fashioned hard work.

Posted in a bit of seriousness, humor & fun, writers, Writing and Poetry

Starting Again


Books in the Douglasville, Georgia Borders store.
Image via Wikipedia

Starting Again

Traci Kenworth

 

One of the hardest things to do, at first, is to concentrate on another book while the first’s out being subbed. Your attention span is centered on the former to the point of giving you little freeze episodes when you attempt to begin the next. But you have to push through that until the excitement of the new takes over and you can almost forget you have one out there.

I do this by picking out my cast. Seeing and focusing on each character involved in the new work helps to ignite the excitement of the quest to do it again, only better. Yes, it’s true. Finishing the first book is a great triumph. Most people don’t get that far. So pat yourself on the back. But the truth is, if you want to be published, and become an author, you have to write, write, write.

Your story has to become part of you. It has to enter your thoughts while your washing dishes, doing the laundry, running errands. You have to jot notes down on it while running through the day. Think of it while tuning into your favorite TV shows. Dream of it at night, even when you’re exhausted. In short, it has to become a part of you.

The more you write, the more experience you gain, the better your book gets. The material starts to flow, to pick up rhythm. Soon, it will gain that center place in your thoughts and help you ease through the waiting on the first. So, you see, that’s why the writing community (agents, editors, etc.) advices to begin a new work, because not only does it help buffer you from any rejections you receive, it feeds you with a new hope, a new chance to beat the odds. It also gives you something else to offer should an agent ask, “What else do you have?”

So get to work on your next book while subbing. It will only help you grow on your journey through a writer’s life. After all, you want this to be a career, right? So, make sure you dig into the next step with everything you’ve learned, everything you are learning right now, and you will go far in your career.

What are some of your tips to focus on a new book while the others out to agents? Editors?

Posted in a bit of seriousness, writers, Writing and Poetry

Synopsis Stress


books
Image by roboppy via Flickr

Synopsis Stress

Traci Kenworth

 

It’s my least favorite part of querying: the dread synopsis, but I understand why they’re a necessity. It gives the agent a chance to see the broad-strokes of your novel. I start by going through my manuscript and writing a chapter-by-chapter summary. Four or five lines for each are good, I find. Once this is done, I go back and pick the best pieces of what the story is about from the first three chaps, then the next three chaps, and on. This usually narrows it down to a 3-5 page outline of the story. This is a good choice for the longer synopsis some agencies want to see. Lastly, I go back and glean the most important parts of the 3-5 pages down into a one-page synopsis. I figure this way, I’ll be set if an agent wants just the bare (but greatest plot points) of the work.

And there you have it, how I deal with the synopsis card. What are some of your tips when writing one? Do you break it down like above? Or wait to reduce it from long form to shorter form when needed?

Posted in a bit of seriousness, humor & fun, Muse, writers, Writing and Poetry

AreWriters Born or Made?


I am a writer.

Are Writers Born or Made?

Traci Kenworth

I think the truth is: both. Writers are born with a passion, a creative-streak that manifests in their lives somehow. Art. Music. Acting. These are some other professions that seem to rumble from the soul to the outside at some point. I know that I’ve always had to have an outlet for my creativity, especially before I decided to become a writer. I got into stamps (no, not the post office kind. Lol.) creating my own Christmas, birthday, and all-occasion cards. As a kid, I knew I had this driving force in my life.

I wrote A LOT. The trouble was, no one told me I could be a writer. It wasn’t something listed on the job fair tickets back then. In fact, most job programs geared toward the youth didn’t care for the creative type because we were too hard to pin down. It wasn’t till I watched a movie where the star pursues a writing career that the idea was planted down in me. After that, I couldn’t keep the pen from the paper.

Until life and kids distracted me for a while. Somehow, though, I always came back to the muse. That sense of accomplishment, wonder, triumph at finishing a piece and holding it in your hands—outside the joy of holding your child in your arms for the first time—just takes root and drives you forward. It carried me through times when I thought I would break from the sheer pressure of life around me. By God’s grace, it lifted me when I fell.

Three-and-a-half years ago, I finally came to terms with what I wanted to do with my life and haven’t looked back. This is where the part about a writer being made comes in. Even though I thought the scribbles I did were genius when I first started out, the truth was, they were awful. All first efforts are. It wasn’t until I started studying my craft, reaching out to other writers, getting into critique partnerships, that I began to learn what it takes to succeed as a writer. Perseverance for one. Drive (something I already had. J). And the ability to tell a story so gut-wrenching, so—true—that readers laugh, cry, and weep alongside the characters. You can learn the first and the last, but the push has to come from within.

You have to want this with all your heart. There are days when you want to tear your hair out, days when you think you’ll never write another word, and days when you realize the awesome result of what you’ve suffered through is all worth it. Love it and hate it, there are two sides to every sword. Fortunately, for me, I love it more. That’s the real test to whether you’re a writer. Do you just love the idea of having your name on a book? Or do you want readers to experience the full spectrum of emotions your characters did? The quest to right the wrong.

So, there you have it. I believe a writer is both born and made. Born with the muse inside them, ready to sprout their wings, and made by study, practice, and faith in themselves and their work. What are your thoughts? Will you encourage your own child should they show the talent and desire to write? Or wish upon them a structured career? It’s a shame that the arts aren’t supported more by those around us. Maybe you can be the first.