Failure and An Accomplishment

It was ambitious of me to think that I could write 7 Posts in 7 Days, but I joined the challenge anyway and did very well. I ended up writing 5 posts but I had my reasons for missing Saturday and Sunday.

On Saturday night we had a family game night over at my grandma’s house. My parents and I, my mom’s brothers, sister, their spouses, and my grandma all had dinner together and spent the night playing cards, and tabletop board games. We got lots of snow again that night (because this is the land of the eternal winter) and by the time we got home I was pretty exhausted so I showered and went right to bed.

Sunday I was going to post so that I’d at least have 6 posts in 7 days but I started writing for my book, and I was on a roll and didn’t stop until I fell asleep with my computer in my lap that afternoon. By the time I woke up it was time to head back to church to help coach our Children’s Bible Quizzing team, evening service, and going to a friend’s house after service for snacks and fellowship.

I may have failed the 7 in 7 challenge but I did accomplish something this weekend. I wrote an entire chapter for my book! My first complete chapter! I’m so excited that was finally able to get a chapter finished. I may not have 100 pages under my belt or 100,000 words or even a title that I like but I do have one complete chapter. It may not sound like much but to me this is a pretty big accomplishment for the weekend! I hope you all had a wonderful weekend, and have a great week ahead of you!

Blessings,
Megan

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