Writing is a Gift

We had our first overnight guests (they brought gifts!) and watched our first sunset from our new beach which is maybe ten minutes away. This new place is so much more laid back than St. Pete and we love our house. When we booked the date with our friends, I told them I had my Zoom writers next day at noon and they were fine with that. Al was home so they hung out on the lanai while I worked. My writing friend and I are both having a problem pushing ourselves to finish our current WIPS. We decided on a simple weekly check in, how many pages, how many days. If for nobody else, then for each other.

Today is the first day. I talked it over with Al and have finally let go of the dream of sipping coffee and talking in the morning. He likes to check in with the market first thing so me writing first thing will help his plan. Our house is 99% finished and now it’s time to get back to work. Instead of 5 or 10 pages a month, I will try for 5 pages a day, or however many come out of a scene or sequence.

I noted that my writing has gotten a bit rusty, or maybe I didn’t revise enough, but I saw some plot holes in yesterday’s submission. So did my writing partners. They were very kind about it. Both of them saw the same problem and it was with the beat with which I was trying to wow them. Not there yet. I’m going to push on regardless. I have their notes and I know what I want to do there. I’ll come back to it. Now I’m pushing through to a finished first draft. I’ll let you know how it goes.

Not So Social Media

Last week, almost on a whim, I deactivated my Facebook account. I was just going to quit the one, but then they make it difficult to quit a personal page without also quitting the business page. I did a few things that are supposed to help you keep the business and toss the personal but nothing worked so I thought about it for two seconds and deleted both accounts.

The reasons for letting Facebook go are different for each of my pages. On the personal one, I left a goodbye note up for 24 hours and then when I saw people asking why I said “Trying to simplify my life.” Which is true. But also as much as I tried to block people who said plain crazy things, or horrible racist or homophobic things, it finally came down to people I care about very much saying these things. Not that I don’t think they have the right. Free speech, I get it. But every time someone I cared about wrote crap that was just so wrong it felt like a punch in the gut.

Getting punched in the gut on a daily basis is not fun. It’s only going to get worse as we ratchet up to 2020. I have plenty of friends who I agree to disagree with over politics and religion. We’ve had the conversations. It’s the more personal stuff, the plain hateful stuff, I can’t stomach. Also, some people are just a pain. Slightly annoying. So simplifying was a way to just get out of that town. It felt (and feels) great. But what about the business page?

I have had a lot of advice and help in my writing career that has served me well. One thing almost all the gurus say is You Must Have Social Media. You Must Have An Online Presence. Well, okay, but it doesn’t have to be Facebook. I still have Instagram. I had it BEFORE Facebook bought them. I still have Twitter and Pinterest and I have this blog. So I am still here, just not in that one crowded corner. On Twitter, I don’t hear from the haters. It’s like a little universe so it’s easy to stay in your own lane. Pinterest? I’m crap at that but maybe I’ll get better now. Bottom line: I don’t think my Facebook business page sold many books.

I’m not even on social media to sell books. I’m here because I am a writer who works alone all day and this is where I meet others who do the same strange thing I do. I meet lots of those people on Twitter and some of them from the Word Press thingy where you see a little capsule of every blog WP posts. I want to read more blogs. I miss my blog roll, where every morning I’d read blogs like they were my newspaper. Somehow reading other writer’s blogs got crowded out by all the other stuff. After I quit Facebook I realized I could go back to reading blogs. Just that simple!

Ten Terrific Storytellers

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Until I joined a writer’s group, I didn’t have a friend in the world who was as obsessed as I was with words. I felt kinda strange scribbling poetry and journals, like what the heck was my problem that I wasn’t like other teenagers? In my mid-twenties I finally took a creative writing class and found my tribe in a group sponsored by the professor.

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Since that first group, I’ve taken many courses, attended scores of workshops, and met hundreds of writers. Writing groups and writer friends are precious links for those of us in this mostly solitary endeavor. My current writer’s organization has introduced me to so many fine writers including published poets, novelists, and journalists.

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Cindy LaFerle

Today I’m featuring books I love from a writing group I have been a part of since 2008,  Detroit Working Writers. I am often asked for  reading suggestions, so these are that, but would also make fine Christmas gifts. If you’re looking for Michigan settings and themes, or just an excellent read to lose yourself in, I highly recommend every one of them!

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Veronica Dale

Special Star Veronica Dale’s book of short stories Night Cruiser will thrill and chill readers who want something deliciously dark. Cindy Hampel’s self-help book Its Not Personal offers hope and advice for those of us dealing with difficult people.

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Award-winning Cindy LaFerle was my first friend in DWW and her book of personal essays Writing Home remains a favorite. Debut novelist Linda Sienkiewicz knocked me out with In the Context of Love her novel of love and loss. Iris Underwood works her lavender farm and writes with equal grace. Growing Lavender is a lush adventure in verse.

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Diane DeCillis

Poet Diane DeCillis’s exquisite images and fierce emotion make her collection Strings Attached an amazing achievement. Elizabeth Buzzelli is a master of Michigan mystery who pens comic and clever plots from the northern part of our state. Her Emily Kincaid series cracks me up.

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Elizabeth Buzzelli

Speaking of “up north” C. S. Gordon’s literary novel  The Heart & Horn gives the U.P. a fresh look. Christian Belz sleuths closer to home with the Ken Knoll series featuring an architect as seemingly hapless but actually adept amateur sleuth. And Linda Anger, DWW’s immediate past president, compiled the beguiling collection Sweeping the Floors at the Full Crumb Cafe that includes poetry, fiction and non-fiction.

The DWW website features these and other Michigan authors (whose books I have yet to read). It also gives info on our 2016 writer’s conference and how you might become a member of our group. I’d love for you to join us.

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collage courtesy of Linda K. Sienkiewicz