7 Quick Takes: 2/28/14

Tomorrow is March 1st…you’d never know it by looking out my window at the snow, but spring is (finally) in its way! Today is Friday so that means it’s time for another Quick Takes post!

1.) I joined Jen’s 7 in 7 challenge and have actually done a good job keeping up with it each day; you can check out the list of other bloggers that are doing the challenge here.

2.) Spring training has begun, baseball alerts are coming to my phone every day, and opening day is at the end of March….hopefully the snow will be gone by then.

3.) Speaking of snow Michigan is supposed to be getting even more this weekend and at this point we have nowhere to put it. We have drifts that can be measured in feet, and a driveway that gets narrower and narrower each time we shovel…guys, if it snows again I might lose my mind!!

4.) My friend Britt lent me DVDs of The BBC series Robin Hood….I’m hooked! What an awesome show!!

5.) I’m sorry for the brevity of my takes today but I’m writing this post from my phone while sitting down and catching up on Scandal. My grandmother is on her way over here for dinner, we’ve cleaned, baked, set the table, and dinner is in the oven. I’m making this an incredibly quick Quick Takes because she’ll be here in about an hour.

6.) I haven’t mentioned it yet, but read several recaps and wrap up posts…Downton Abbey was great this season! I’m sad to see another season end but it gives me something to look forward to for next season.

7.) Once again, I’m sorry for the brevity…I’m linked up at Conversion Diary as always. Head over there for more Quick Takes!

Have a great weekend!

Blessings,
Megan

Thank You Notes

*Before I begin this post I’d like to mention that it is noon and I am just sitting down at the computer to post this…and it feels pretty amazing! Each of my posts this week were written the night before and scheduled to post early in the morning so that I could get to work. I’m off today…and tomorrow….it is glorious!*

Okay, now to the point of my post. I love mail; writing, sending, and receiving letters, real letters. Sure, e-mail is great too, but it’s instant…sometimes I like to wait for something physical to show up in my mailbox. The envelope in your hand, tearing it open…..sorry, my point is I like to get mail, and I like to write letters, so today I’m going to write a letter.

A thank you letter to my college english professor.

Dear Professor (sorry, I forgot your name),

Thank you for your constant criticism. Thank you for the poor marks I received on that first paper, thank you for calling me out in front of the class for having, in your words “the worst thesis you’d read that year” (my face turned about twenty different shades of red that day, and I had to fight the urge to run out of the room crying…I was a mature college student and stuck around for the rest of the berating)…and thank you for not going easy on me. I didn’t enjoy the unkind words, I really didn’t like it when you called me a quitter (I didn’t quit, you just thought it wasn’t strong enough), but what really got me was when you told me I would never improve as a writer.

You thought that I used tricks like larger margins, bigger font, and too much space between paragraphs to make my paper longer: I DIDN’T. Those pages were written well within the constructs you laid out for us. I didn’t quit when you called me out in front of the class that day….

There was only one time in my life that I did quit writing…I gave up my creative writing the day that you told me I’d never do better. I dumped my notebook in the trash in your room that day. The one with a partial story written, and plot points mapped out. That was the one day that your words really got to me. I believed what you said…that I’d never be good….but by whose standards would I never be good? That’s right, yours. By my standards I was still a decent writer. So now I’m revisiting those characters and their story.

If anything your criticism pushed me to be a better writer. I wouldn’t be where I am today if it wasn’t for you being so incredibly hard on me. So, thank you. Thank you for not going easy on me. Thank you for constantly criticizing my work, and thank you for telling me I’d never be good. You drove me to be a better writer. You made me want to work harder not just in your class but all the time. You made me take a harder look at myself, my writing style, and my ideas. Thank you.

…but really though, did you have to call me out like that in front of the class…

Blessings,
Megan

This post is part of the 7 in 7 challenge I agreed to when Jen posted about it last week. Go check out all of the other bloggers that joined the challenge.

What’s in a Name?

I didn’t realize when I started this week of 7 posts in 7 days that I would (unintentionally) end up with a bit of a theme going on. I’ve hit a wall with my writing this week, I’m planning to introduce a few new characters but for the life of me, I can’t come up with any good names. I know that they have to fit the time period that I’m writing about, but I can’t settle on any that I really like, and (as odd as it may sound) that fit the character. I know, I know; I’m creating the character, can’t I just write it so the character fits the name? The answer is no, I can’t…I tried that already.

My main characters have names; these are names that have been in my head for years, I’ve used these characters before, but this is the first time that I’ve actually liked them…and fortunately their names work with the time period. A few of my important supporting characters have names, and I love them. They are funny, witty, and just all around good people and their names work for them. There are some historical figures; thank goodness I don’t have to make them up!

The biggest trouble I’ve had so far is coming up with good names. I honestly didn’t think it was going to be this hard. Because I’m writing a period piece I thought my biggest issue was going to be research and fact checking but because it is a period I’ve always been interested in, and been reading about for a number of years, that has proven to be quite easy. I’ve had writer’s block before and I can usually overcome it by skipping ahead in the story and filling in the emptiness later, but right now I have a character introducing themselves, and for most of this week they haven’t had a name.

I’m hoping that somewhere in my pages of notes, lists of names, and other bits of information I’ve compiled, I will find the right names that fit the way I’m writing these characters. I can honestly say that throughout this journey I’ve taken (and will continue to take) with my writing, I’ve gained so much more respect for authors; it isn’t just about sitting down and typing, or writing…it is so much more than that. It is emotional, painstaking, and tiring. It is difficult, intense, and sometimes it makes you want to tear your hair out. From all of that however, you are creating a masterpiece. Sure it isn’t a Van Gogh painting or a Bach concerto…it may not be even comparable to those things but it is still a work of art, a piece of your soul, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything!

Blessings,

Megan

This post is part of the 7 in 7 challenge I agreed to when Jen posted about it last week. Go check out all of the other bloggers that joined the challenge.

My Process

I guess it’s more of a routine than a process, but I can only write under the right conditions. I can’t just sit at my computer and have the ideas flow from my head to my fingertips, and out onto the page. In fact, in the writing of this post I had to take a break (read: a few hours) to figure out exactly what I wanted to say here! Here it is, these are the things I need to create the right conditions for writing.

  • A dark room; usually my bedroom with all the light off except one lone desk lamp. 
  • Music…but not just any music; instrumental music. Recently I’ve been using Howard Shore’s soundtracks to the first two Hobbit films. 
  • Night time….not that I can control when night comes, but I usually only write at night. During the day, I carry a small notebook around in my purse and if an idea hits (at least with the novel writing) I’ll take the time to jot it down in the notebook and that night I’ll transfer the ideas from the notebook to the computer. 
That’s it. There isn’t much that I need to create the right environment to write, but if I’m blocked it takes a little more. If I get writer’s block (which seems to be happening very frequently now) I have to busy myself with something. Shoveling snow, vacuuming, cleaning, doing laundry – sometimes one of these tasks will spark an idea, and more often than not that idea means something that I’ve already written will have to be rewritten. Today in fact, I was vacuuming and and idea popped up for a way to add some more length to my story, but also develop my characters a little more. I wrote the idea down, but now I have to figure out not only how to incorporate it, but where.
The one thing that I’ve learned since I started writing again is that I can’t take a break from it. Well, I can but not a five year break like I did last time. Letting it sit for a week or so is about all I can handle. It’s funny though, I don’t regret that I stopped writing, in fact I think it helped me. The time I took gave me a chance to hone my skill, work on my dialog use, and narrative style. I never did revisit that original work, and I don’t have any plans to…I like what I’m working on right now, I love my characters, and the story line is working…for now. We’ll see in a few days after I add to it this week! 
Do you have any tricks for beating writer’s block? A process or routine for when you write? What do you write? I’d love to hear from you!!
This post is part of the 7 in 7 challenge I agreed to when Jen posted about it last week. Go check out all of the other bloggers that joined the challenge. 
Blessings, 
Megan 

7 Posts in 7 Days

Well, I decided to add my link to Jen’s blog for the 7 in 7 link-up. I have never written 7 posts in 7 days since starting this blog a year and a half ago. It seems like it may be a bit ambitious of me, but I’m determined to give it a go…and I’m cheating and counting this as my first of the seven posts!!

I’m hoping that this little challenge is the kick in the pants that I need to get myself to some sort of consistency when it comes to posting here. The fact that I’ll have to write something everyday seems a little challenging and I don’t want to bore anyone so I will try to put a little extra thought into the posts, and hopefully I won’t put you to sleep.

Starting tomorrow I will have a post that is not about the 7 in 7 challenge, and it will actually count as a post!

Blessings…and see you tomorrow!

Megan

7 Quick Takes about Writing, Sherlock, and Crazy Weather

Happy Friday! I’m glad to finally be getting back to the blog….I feel like I’ve been neglecting it for a while, but I have a good reason….that I will tell you all about later : )
Until then, here are my Quick Takes for the week:

1.) Housekeeping note: I took the blog back to it’s original design and layout….the green was getting to be a little to much for me, and honestly this look fits me better, and really fits the content of the blog better. Who knows, I may end up changing it again!

2.) There is something to be said for sensory memory! When I study, I almost always listen to music; for one unit of study (usually 8-10 chapters) I will listen exclusively to one album of all instrumental music. I’m taking online classes, so the studying and reading is all on my own time; I usually sit down with my notes and book and turn on that music for the duration of my study time. When I take my quizzes or exams at the end of units, I’ll turn on that same album in my room while I take my exam and the results cannot lie! I have gotten better results while listening to the music that I studied to than nothing at all! For this last unit it was the soundtracks from the first two Hobbit Movies; last unit it was the soundtracks from Sherlock; this last unit it will likely be the Star Trek (reboot) Soundtracks. This method of using sensory memory has always helped me….and it helps that that’s what we were just talking about in this class so I already knew a lot of the concepts : )

3.) Okay, no more psychology talk today….I posted earlier this week that I’ve been avoiding writing, going so far as to not even turning on the computer. I’ve been fleshing out the ideas for my novel in my head, knowing that once I sat down and pulled up the document I’d be making changes….lots and lots of changes. I was sitting in church Wednesday night waiting for orchestra rehearsal to start, and inspiration struck; I took out my phone and opened up a new note….I proceeded to write almost a full chapter right there in the pew before rehearsal. I knew that I’d have to add those changes to the whole document, and that if I didn’t I’d never be happy with the progression of my story.

The changes I made meant losing about five pages total…so my page count is down by half, but I’m happy with the way the story is moving. Before making the changes I felt that the story was too neat, too perfect. Everything was wrapped up for me in a nice little bow (because I’d written it that way) and I wasn’t happy with it….there needed to be a little chaos, some conflict, something other than this perfect plot progression from A-Z…now if I could just figure my characters out a little better….

Via: tumblr

4.) I write late at night….most nights. I will usually spend an hour or so writing just to get the ideas out of my head. A friend of mine gave me some good advice that has really helped me along, she said “Jump around, don’t write chronologically.” This advice has helped me so much with moving my plot. I have already written some of my major plot points and can work backwards from there to fill it in, and move forward with some kind of resolution. I mentioned writing late at night (of course to me, 10:30 is late….), I also sleep with a pad of paper and pen beside me to write down whatever ideas I come up with when I can’t sleep…I haven’t read them yet to see what I wrote but I have four pages from last night alone….I can’t remember what any of them say, so I may not use any of it but it allows me to get the ideas out of my head before I forget them!

5.)**There may be SPOILERS in this take if you haven’t finished Sherlock S3, you’ve been warned** It’s been nearly three weeks now and I haven’t talked about this yet….I think I needed some time to emotionally prepare myself for this topic…the Sherlock series 3 finale. OH. MY. GOODNESS!! The entire season was pretty amazing, but that finale had to be one of the best episodes they’ve done! I was so pleased with the whole season; the character development, the story lines, and the humor. I thought that they handled his return nicely; the reunion scene still gives me goosebumps….Martin Freeman is spectacular, and the emotion in his performance of the reunion scene was simply amazing. I loved seeing Sherlock carry out his duties as best man in the Sign of Three; giving his speech while also solving a murder was quite comical, but then you have His Last Vow. The Magnussen was a more chilling, terrifying villain than Moriarty because there was no way to stop him. The way they handled John and Mary’s situation (I really don’t want to spoil this if some of you haven’t seen it) was wonderful. John had his moments (months) of anger toward her, but still forgave her for her past….and then…AND. THEN. THE. END!!!! I am very interested to see what becomes of Moriarty’s “return”. Is he really alive (I don’t see how he can be, he clearly should be dead)? I can’t wait to see how that is handled in series 4…..when we eventually get it! 
Via Pinterest 

6.) The weather forecast for today is snow, rain, ice, and possible thunderstorms. Welcome to Michigan! Yesterday it rained, snowed, freezing rained, snowed, and then we even got some thunder and lightening. Some of the snow is melting which means for the first time in MONTHS we are starting, yes only starting, to see some grass. We still have drifts of snow that can be measured in FEET not inches, but spring is slowly making its way here….I am so ready!!! (Just a note: As I’m typing this it’s snowing, and hour ago it was raining)

7.) I’m linking up with Jen for Quick Takes today, and debating whether or not to link up for her 7 posts in 7 days….what do you think??
Enjoy your weekend, and if you live someplace warm: Walk barefoot outside from me, I miss being able to do that! 
Blessings, 
Megan

Why I Avoided Writing

This is the first time all week that I have sat down in front of my computer with the intention to write, sure it’s a blog post, and in no way associated with the novel I started….but hey, at least I’m writing.

The reason I’ve avoided it is because I’ve been fleshing it all out in my head, and I know that the moment I sit down and pull the document up….it’s all going to change. Some chapters have to be rewritten, some deleted all together, and some new details are going to need to be added. I know that if I don’t make the changes, I won’t be happy with my work as it progresses. This is one of the hardest things for me as a writer or a story teller. I thought I had great progression in my story, and I did, but the way that I’ve played it all out in my head (usually late at night, or when I should be working on a paper for school) the changes will make it flow better….I just have to sit down, bite the bullet, and make the changes!

Usually I avoid writing because of writer’s block….not this time! This time I wish I could get the ideas to slow down and stop tormenting me! The document icon is flashing at me, and mocking me. It’s open, I know I should be working on it….the longer I avoid it the harder it will be to write right?!?

Thanks for letting me vent to you for a bit….now, I have some changes to make.

Blessings,
Megan

Housekeeping

I decided to take my blog back to it’s original layout and design. I feel like it seems to fit me a little better now than it did when I began, and quite honestly my eyes were getting a little tired of all that green!

7 Quick Takes: Back in The Saddle

Good morning, and happy Saturday! I’m still here….I really am! I haven’t posted in a while and I know I need to in order to keep my blog current but things are busy, busy, busy around here!!

1.) I’m currently in the middle of my winter semester and the course load keeps me pretty busy, but I know you don’t want to hear about my school schedule : ) I’ll spare you!

2.) Back in the Saddle: No, I’m not doing horseback riding (that will never happen). I’ve started writing again. Not just blogging, actual writing. As a freshman in high school I started writing but got discouraged and stopped. This time feels different though; I have a plot that I like, characters that don’t drive me nuts, and I’m consistently writing a thousand words a day. I’m also consistently re-writing about half of those.

3.) I love that I’m writing again! It’s been so much fun to sit down and do my research, and just type away! I usually write at night before I go to bed. I reserve my day-light hours for work, school, and family but at night in my room I turn on some music and just write!

4.) I stopped writing years ago when I got particularly discouraged because of some criticism fro a professor. She didn’t like my writing, any of it. I never had to write creatively for her class though (and by that I mean, I never had to write an original story concept). I found myself having to work harder, and write more in order to try and please this professor, nothing I wrote was up to her standards though and she didn’t hesitate to call me out on it….in front of the class. That was when I stopped. I was a freshman in college with half a notebook of story planning. I threw it out after that. I started to believe that my writing was terrible, that I’d never be able to write something worth reading.

5.) I was so down on myself for so long…after those harsh words from my professor I didn’t want to write. I was afraid that my writing would never be good enough. Well, I’m getting back on the horse! I have a couple of chapters already written and I’m really excited about my progress!!

6.) Publishing is so far down the road that I’m not thinking about it at this point but it would be cool to see my name in a bookstore some day!

7.) On a completely different note, Sunday night is the finale of Sherlock Series 3 and it’s back to hiatus for the fans. This season has been pretty different from the first two, but we’ve seen so much development of story and characters and I LOVE it!! The only thing I don’t love is that it’s almost over….I hate hiatus!!

I’m linked up with Jen as always!

Blessings,
Megan