Archive for August, 2011

Hurricane, Schmurricane! 

This area is supposed to get hammered with 100mph winds, rain and thunderstorms.  I am hoping I do not lose electricity.  My laptop is fully charged and ready to go if I do.  So, if I do lose electricity, I can get a bit of writing done.  Because there won’t be much else to do apart from sitting in the walk-in closet between my bedroom and bathroom.

I have food, flashlights, candles, matches, ice and a nice bottle of wine.  I am set!

Oh yeah! Goals…I think I am only going to work on novel this weekend.  No more short stories rolling around in my head right now.  Plus, I really  need to just finish this.

Cheers everyone and stay safe!


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Last night was my weekly meeting with the Arlington Writer’s Group.  I met them several years ago through Meetup.com.   My first meeting, the group was small.  It apparently had only been around about 4 or 5 months.  There were only 4-5 people other than me at he meeting. 
The Meetup.com site seemed pretty organized and I have to admit, I was a bit intimidated the first time I went.  I hadn’t shared any or my writings outside of my family or a couple of friends and I was a bit nervous.  I met the de-facto and now actual leader of the group and a couple of other members.  We met in the upstairs of a loud and smoky coffee house, called Murky’s, which sadly no longer exists.  Or at least, closed down and was eventually transmogrified into Northside Social.  Not the trendy, earthy, granola-y, local coffee shop of yester-month, but still pretty cool in its own right. 
The group was doing a workshop on how to write an action sequence.  The leader provided a passage from an action book requested everyone write the next scene.
I did not do the assignment, but I did bring a sample of my writing and read it out loud to the group.  I was so nervous.  They listened patiently and were very supportive.  Nonetheless, they hit me with very kind but very honest feedback and critiques of my work.  Up to this point, sharing with friends and family, all I had heard was soaring praise and encouragement.  While it is nice to hear wonderful things about your writing, it is more useful to hear how to make it better!  Let’s face it, Hemingway, I’m not.  I might be able to weave a compelling story or amuse my friends with my witty reportage, but my fairy godmother did not wave her magic wand and make me the world’s greatest author. 
Writing a novel was going to be work.  I knew that.  And I sought out a writing group to help me develop the tools to actually finish my novel and see it through to publication.  And with this group, I think I found that. 
They listened to my writing sample and I was amazed by the feedback.  They poked holes and asked questions that I hoped to have answered later in the novel.  They questioned every assumption I had about the novel and encouraged me to research and learn.  And most of all write!  After the meeting, the organizer encouraged me to return the next week.  I was hooked.
The group was small, but the people were energetic.  There is something about the act of creating art that is very satisfying and exciting.  Sharing that energy with like minded people is infectious.  It is probably that infectiousness that keeps me going and has grown the group from a few intrepid would-be writers to a membership roll of over 200 people.  We often have meetings with 20-30 people in attendance. 
Anyway, last night we had a social event.  Our group meets every week.  We read and critique each other’s work, have free writing sessions, organized prompted writing sessions and workshops on different topics.  We do this all year long.  Every so often, we just use the time to go out and have fun.  We did that last night.  We went to a pizza joint in Clarendon.  We pretty much took over a large part of their dining area.  More people tend to show up for the social events than the writing events.  Twenty people RSVP’d to the event.  We probably had closer to 30 at one point. 
We love Pete’s Pizza Haven.  The food is so good.  They have gluten-free pizza and vegan cheese, which is a plus.  And they will pretty much make whatever you want.  They sell pizza by the slice and they sell Italian sodas that are made with all natural ingredients.  So yummy. 
Apart from the food, it is nice to just get together and talk.  Like I said, more people show up for the social events, so I was able talk to several people whom I haven’t seen in a while. 
I definitely recommend that if you plan to write, join a writer’s group.  Find one where you share a love of the craft and true commeraderie and kinship with the members.  It doesn’t have to be a large group.  And it doesn’t have to be a group of professional writers, although it is helpful to have knowledgeable writers in your group.  Most of all, you should find a goup that helps you feel inspired and excited about writing. 
I always leave the meetings energized and excited to continue writing.  I am glad I joined.

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I just entered a short story in the Glimmertrain new writer’s August contest.  Wish me luck!  πŸ™‚

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OK, first thing’s first.
Yes, I completed my writing goals this weekend!  Yay me.
I wrote one short story, started another and did a chapter in my novel.  I even found a short story contest.  /pat-on-back.
Second…yes, I survived the great DC earthquake of 2011. 
Seriously, the earthquake was not that big a deal.  It was startling, yes.  It felt like the building I work in jumped and then swayed a little.  By the time I jumped up and said, “What the heck was that?” it was over. 
Of course my boss, who is from California, said, “Oh that’s an earthquake.  It’s fine.”  He shrugged it off and was completely nonplused.
Just so you know, Mr. Man, people here on the east coast have NEVER uttered that sentence.  Not once.  We don’t prepare for it.  We don’t build our buildings with earthquakes in mind.  And we don’t know what to do when one happens.  Why?  Because we don’t ever have one!!!
Here’s somethings you might hear from east coasters…
“Oh that’s just a little snow. It’s fine.”
“Oh that’s just a pothole.  It’s fine.”
“Lake effect?  No problem.”
“Hurricane?  pffft!”
So, when it snows, which it will because it snows every year–even here in DC where they like to pretend it is the deep south and act surprised every time it snows like its the first time it snowed here since the last earthquake…er I mean last year–I don’t expect to hear any whining and want you at your desk all day every day on time.  So there!
Seriously, though.  The earthquake wasn’t that bad.  The building maintenance people in our building were the real source of my stress. 
Twenty minutes after the earthquake, they evacuated my building.  Fortunately, I only work on the 5th floor.  I had to walk down 5 flights of stairs.  Fortunately, I did not have to walk back up them.  We stood around outside for about a half an hour.  Then they decided to let us back in to retrieve our belongings, but told us they were going to close the building down.  A co-worker offered to ride me home, but getting out of the parking lot was pandamonium because everyone was leaving at the same time.
While we were waiting to leave, they announced over the very loud PA system that the building would remain open.  I was actually relieved because the traffic outside was already at a standstill.  We parked the car and went back upstairs to my office.  By this time, I was exhausted.  Fortunately, we were not busy at work after the earthquake, so the rest of the day was actually kind of relaxing.  Came home from work and passed out.
Glad everyone is safe.
Hurricane news after the jump…

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OK, I have one of my weekend goals done.  I finished a short story.  I feel kind of lame, like I haven’t done enough.

Next stop…novel chapters…that goal is definitely more challenging.

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I am setting some writing goals for myself this weekend. I have two more short stories I am trying to finish up. I want to research a couple of contests. And of course, I have my ongoing novel project.

I wanted to be finished with my novel by the end of August. That is two weeks away. Still possible. I only have a few chapters left. I am right at the apex of the novel. I have the last couple of chapters outlined. I just need to actually sit down and do the dirty work of writing them. I really need to buckle down and finish the first draft. If I don’t get it done by the end of August, it pushes my deadline off until middle of September. Still not bad, but not where I wanted to be. I just don’t want to lose focus and push it off until Christmas. I am hoping to be able to begin the editing process by then. We shall see.

So, let me define my weekend writing goals a bit.

1. Finish at least one of the short stories that I started.

2. Write a couple more chapters of my book.

3. Research contests for short stories.

OK, the last one is actually a bit of a lame goal, since I already have an idea of which writing contests I want to consider, but that will hopefully leave more time for actually writing. πŸ™‚

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So, people in my writer’s group have been asking me…do you blog? do you have a blog? why don’t you blog? you know, you should really blog.

Turns out, I have a blog!

I barely remember starting it, but I’m glad I did. So, I guess I will be doing some blogging here. Hopefully, I can remain focused enough to do it a couple of times a week.

What’s new in my writing world, you ask?

Well, I have a short story up for review with AWG. I have many more in my back pocket. I hope to have them edited and ready to go by year’s end. I might submit one or two to a contest, but I think I am going to put most of them together as an ebook and sell them on line. Maybe I’ll just give the ebook out for free for a while to build an audience. We’ll see.

I am nearly done writing my first novel. Once I am done, I will need to reorganize it and do a full read. Then I’ll need to begin the editing process. FUN.

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