Three Types of Writers Have Trouble Finishing Things. Which One Are You?

A Writer's Path

by Lauren Sapala

I don’t know if it’s that time of year or what, but I’ve been getting a lot of emails from writers lately about finishing things. This is also a topic that comes up frequently in my coaching sessions with writers. Lots and lots of writers out there are terrified that they will never be successful—or even halfway decent—because they have a lot of trouble finishing things.

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New me

I started working on a PhD this year and it has been a revelation. My observation thus far is: a PhD makes you realize that you don’t know what you’re doing. It makes you realize that you are not as clever as you thought you were.

So the new humble me is ferreting out information and trying to fit it into a jigsaw puzzle (my thesis). I hope I can find my way enough to finish this thing. At the back of my mind is the scholarship that should be paid back, with interest, if I don’t complete it. Jô, I don’t have that kind of money. And dying is not an option, if it kills me I can’t leave that debt burden to my family.

The only way to be me is to survive. That has been my motto these past few decades (ahem – yourl know I’m much older than that nê?). So it’s onwards and forwards. At the end of it I hope to walk across a stage swinging a red cape that reaches to my shoes on account of me being so short, with a cute little tassel dangling down the side of my face.

But first, the hard work.

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How to Hold a Writers’ Retreat

A Writer's Path

by ARHuelsenbeck

Have you ever found yourself stranded in Creative Badlands? You know, that parched place where you are just so dry that nothing trickles from your pen? Or what you write is so uninspired that it puts you to sleep?

Sometimes it helps to get away. A writers’ retreat could be just the boost you needed to refresh your writing.

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Make it happen

The Alliance of Independent Authors ALLi has a Code of Standards for both Partner and Author Members.

They also run a Watchdog Desk, headed by John Doppler and Philip Lynch, which produces an annually updated guidebook to the best author services, ALLi best practices and the best self-publishing routes.

By displaying an ALLi membership badge on your website, you are reassuring readers and reviewers that they are in the hands of an independent author who values ethics and excellence.

 

Click on the icon below to join:

Alliance of Independent Authors /

Judge, 25th Annual Writer’s Digest Self-Published Book Awards

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Books are evaluated on a scale of 1 to 5, with 1 meaning “needs improvement” and 5 meaning “outstanding”

Structure, Organization, and Pacing: 4

Spelling, Punctuation, and Grammar: 4

Production Quality and Cover Design: 5

 Plot and Story Appeal: 4

Character Appeal and Development: 4

 Voice and Writing Style: 4

 

Judge’s Commentary*:

 I enjoyed the insight you gave into the different cultures in South Africa. I also thought your use of different ‘voices’ in your stories captured the flavor of the characters you created. I found some of the stories, such as Akere powerful, while the stories Walking School and Belinda left me a bit baffled. They seemed to end abruptly, leaving me wanting more, or at least wanting to understand the theme of the each story. I thought some of the stories could have been rounded out more, such as Stolen and Shadow Kids. Because of your obvious knowledge of South Africa and what has gone on there, your stories have the potential to illustrate and call attention to situations those of us who don’t live there know nothing about, hence the rounding out and expanding on the themes in some of the stories, such as the ones mentioned above. However, having said that, I found your writing evoked powerful images of everyday people, trying their best to find their way in life, dealing with the relationships they are given or seek out.

Winners will be announced soon.

Mother’s rights

 

A story I wrote in Lydia Yuknavitch’s ontologies workshop in May 2017

The hamster runs on the treadmill in her cage, faster and faster. Her body leans into it. She wills the treadmill to take her to a real place, but it doesn’t.

It started innocently enough; she thought they had a good relationship until she read in Megan’s diary that they didn’t get along. Now she was trying to warn her against a boy.

“You don’t tell me what to do. Devon said that you will want to influence me against him. He said that all mother-in-laws are alike.”

“But… he’s bad for you.”

“How would you know? You married a man just like him.”

Megan flounced out, leaving devil mother claustrophobic, clutching at her chest, the yellow feather in her cap wilting. She yearned for Megan’s respect but had the cold knowledge that she had not achieved it.

She was in limbo – permanent blue skies, white clouds and duwweltjies underfoot (round, multi-pronged South African thorns); had arrived there by her desire to please a man who was hostile to all who stretched out a hand towards her.

He went to work, came back, ate, and watched television. Any interference with this routine was the spur for aggressive questioning which had her scurrying to lies to protect herself.

In Megan’s eyes nothing withered a grown-up’s value faster than crying at  a hiding.

“Please don’t do that.” Mother’d been taught to placate a man from a young age, making micro-decisions about the best responses to avoid more punishment.

“Bitch!”

A young girl of 22 killed and burnt by her 27-year-old ex-boyfriend because he loved her. A model killed in a toilet. A woman shot in the back of her head by her police-man husband because she left him. Constant fear for her survival and for Megan’s.

Papa society had tied Mother’s arms to her body. Or had it? Hadn’t she participated in building her cage? She couldn’t reach Megan. All she had learned in 40 years of marriage could not be forwarded for Megan’s benefit. It choked her, this need to tell, to warn. Stay alive!

“And he does work,” Megan shot back, hugging the door. “He has his own business and he’s doing fine.”

If she was alive devil mother would hug her patience. Every morning husband Eric walked Megan’s bag to the taxi, handed it over and headed home to sleep.

The clown rides his bicycle. Up the side of the drum, fast, to gain momentum then upside-down. The crowd says aaaahhh. He reaches where he started, a perfect circle. Over and over he performs his trick. It never gets out-dated.

Megan’s great aunt took over motherly duties. She saw Eric with an old school friend. She aimed to tell Megan but…

“It’s our time now. You had your time so don’t interfere.”

“But-”

“We know what we’re doing. Don’t worry about us, worry about yourself, old, decrepit and still working to support a man.”

Megan’s aunt sighed, the deep sigh of one beaten. Every twenty years or so, a new generation of young ducks pecked at the same seed, their eye on love and romance. The will to believe so strong it overrides reason.

The hamster runs on the treadmill in her cage, faster and faster. Her body leans into it. She wills the treadmill to take her to a real place, but it doesn’t.

The hopeful writer’s grey hair snaked down her back. She wanted to speak to young women. A conference to influence the next generation of mothers. She talked and talked, they clapped and clapped. It was imperative that they absorb her wisdom, she thought.

*

I enjoyed this workshop so much. The best!

 

#MeToo…

Scary statistics

Escaping Elegance

Tarana Burke, wearing a ‘me too’ T-shirt, addresses the March to End Rape Culture in Philadelphia in 2014.

I haven’t posted to social media with a personal #MeToo message before now because I didn’t really see the point. I mean, c’mon! Is it still not obvious to everyone that women everywhere are routinely harassed and assaulted?

No? Really? Okay, let’s simplify things and not even talk about women… let’s just talk about girls.

Here are a few things I experienced before I even reached puberty:

  • A classmate jammed his hand under my skirt, past my panties and into my vagina.
  • I was scared to answer the phone because I received obscene calls a few times a week from an unknown male, who knew my name and what I had worn to school that day.
  • A stranger flashed me and offered me money if I would touch his penis.
  • I was…

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Novel Transcript Reading: Courage the Mouse, by Cornelia Fick

Novel Writing Festival

 

Performed by Laura Kyswaty

 Get to know the writer:

What is your story story about?

Thank you for the opportunity to talk about myself J. This is actually a story about following your destiny.

What genres would you say this story is in?

It’s a children’s story for ages 7-11

How would you describe this story in two words?

Adventure. Playfulness

What movie have you seen the most in your life?

Gone with the wind.

What is your favorite song? (Or, what song have you listened to the most times in your life?)

The greatest love by Whitney Houston

Do you have an all-time favorite novel?

Mice and Men, John Steinberg. Recently The almanac of the dead by Leslie Silko

What motivated you to write this story?

I wrote it for my son and added pictures in water colour. The pictures were not very good because I have…

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Mary Oliver: The Artist’s Task

Wonderful essay on creativity

Vox Populi

It is a silver morning like any other. I am at my desk. Then the phone rings, or someone raps at the door. I am deep in the machinery of my wits. Reluctantly I rise, I answer the phone or I open the door. And the thought which I had in hand, or almost in hand, is gone. Creative work needs solitude. It needs concentration, without interruptions. It needs the whole sky to fly in, and no eye watching until it comes to that certainty which it aspires to, but does not necessarily have at once. Privacy, then. A place apart — to pace, to chew pencils, to scribble and erase and scribble again.

But just as often, if not more often, the interruption comes not from another but from the self itself, or some other self within the self, that whistles and pounds upon the door panels and tosses…

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