Writing Reflections- Day 24

Continuing on this blog are re-postings of my last year’s responses to the Writer Mama’s Back-to-School Giveaway prompts. My response for this year can be read on the Writer Mama blog: http://bit.ly/hIFJn

September 24- I’m proud to say that my parents raised me to be a free thinker. To always challenge old assumptions, and synthesize new ones that work for me. Does that mean I flaunt rules? Far from it! It is only the conventions that I question. Perhaps it’s the rebellious streak in me, but I only need to hear the words “everyone does it this way”, to set me off searching for a new and better way to approach a task. In the world that I inhabit, individuality, creativity and initiative are traits to be lauded, and one size most definitely does not fit all!

I attended a wonderfully inspirational talk this past weekend, where the speaker addressed a room full of breast cancer survivors and co-survivors. In it, she asked rhetorically how many people ever got to the end of their life, and thought “Gosh, I wish I’d been more of a sheep?” Her remark was greeted with appreciative laughter. I can’t help but think that the most successful people in life in general are the movers and shakers, the ones willing to step out of the mold and blaze the way. Count me in as a renegade writer!

Writing Reflections- Day 23

Continuing on this blog are re-postings of my last year’s responses to the Writer Mama’s Back-to-School Giveaway prompts. My response for this year can be read on the Writer Mama blog: http://bit.ly/2wryGz

September 23, 2008- Only 200 words, huh? Okay then, I’ll pick three: set goals, prioritize and multitask. This past summer, my sister and I were faced with the daunting task of emptying our parents’ house in three weeks. At first it seemed impossible, but here’s how we attacked it. We broke down the task into manageable pieces, and set daily goals for achieving our end. That was step one.

Each day, we had to re-examine our goals, and prioritize the individual tasks, so if we didn’t quite make it to the end of our list that day, at least the key items got done. This works for writing too. The pieces with deadlines looming the soonest shoot right to the top of my daily to-do list, while the “would be nice, but not absolutely essential” items often get jettisoned, in the interests of time.

And finally, (and I learned this one from my computer architect husband!) I’ve learned to perform multiple tasks in parallel. I might brainstorm my next work while washing the dishes, or help my son with his homework, while listening to his favorite rap tune with him, packing his lunchbox, and Google chatting with my sister in England!

Writing Reflections- Day 22

Continuing on this blog are re-postings of my last year’s responses to the Writer Mama’s Back-to-School Giveaway prompts. My response for this year can be read on the Writer Mama blog: http://bit.ly/7wRA9

September 22, 2008- Once upon a time, I believed that to become a best selling author, you simply needed to write a book with best selling potential. I am not so naïve anymore. Breaking into the mysterious world of agents, editors and publishers it seems, is no different from any other endeavor in life. It’s all about who you know, and how you market yourself. Networking is as fundamental to a writer, as the writing process itself. Is that fair? As my dad was wont to comment, “Who says life is fair?”

And just how do I feel about that? It’s simply the way the world works. If I need to market myself, along with my writings, then so be it. It’s not all negative though. Through networking and keeping my pulse on the writing world by means of the internet, intensive reading, and talking with more people than I can acknowledge, I’ve enriched myself as a person, as well as an aspiring author. So like most things in life, platform building can be turned to your own advantage!

Writing Reflections- Day 21

Continuing on this blog are re-postings of my last year’s responses to the Writer Mama’s Back-to-School Giveaway prompts. My response for this year can be read on the Writer Mama blog: http://bit.ly/DgJHu

September 21, 2008- My very first submission was a letter to the editor, which was published intact, the very next day. Flush with success, I fired off a fiction story to a writing contest, only to be met with my first rejection letter. I guess I should have saved it for posterity, so that someday when my pieces are getting accepted on a regular basis, I can look back on it and laugh. Alas, I did not have foresight, and that letter was a victim of the shredder.

More recently, I have experienced mixed success with my submissions. My acceptance ratio is hovering somewhere around .315, which if I was a major league ball player would be considered pretty good I guess, and it’s increasing all the time. Does that mean I have become a better writer? Well, I hope it’s a little of that, but also, I think I have become far more savvy about matching my writings to my intended market! If I learned one thing from listening to Samantha Ducloux Waltz speak today, it is that rejection is part of the process. That’s good to know!

Writing Reflections- Day 20

Continuing on this blog are re-postings of my last year’s responses to the Writer Mama’s Back-to-School Giveaway prompts. My response for this year can be read on the Writer Mama blog: http://bit.ly/zO8e

[In response to how I would spend $500K if I wrote a best selling novel.]

Only $500K? Hmm, hardly enough to touch even the tiniest, most rundown bit of real estate in the Bay Area. So I guess I’m staying put for now. Still…

I would apply (and be accepted, of course!) to be a Stegner Fellow in the Stanford Creative Writing Program. With their stipend and my $500K, I would rent a lovely house (even dreams have to be grounded in reality, don’t they?) in Portola Valley or Los Trancos Woods, and for two blissful years, live the life of Riley. Then I would come home, completely rejuvenated and crank out a best seller every few years, each one in a totally different genre. I would blow the critics away.

Over the years, I would attend writing retreats and workshops all over the world… wait, I’ll be leading them I’m so successful now! The money is just rolling in at this point, so I’m not limited to my mere $500K. My husband and I retire down somewhere in California, perhaps Carmel or just good old Palo Alto, I generously endow a chair at Stanford, and maybe even get my name on a building. As long as we’re dreaming, why not go for broke…

Over the Top

Thanks to Holly, Avra, Jeff, Tom, Emilie, Robert, Myra and John for helping push my thermometer over the top!!! I’ve raised $427 for Komen so far, and still climbing. Though I’ve reached my personal fundraising goal, let’s help Portland Komen achieve their $1,141,000. goal. They’re an astounding 77% of the way there already! Keep those contributions coming! http://bit.ly/44NlY

Writing Reflections- Day 19

Continuing on this blog are re-postings of my last year’s responses to the Writer Mama’s Back-to-School Giveaway prompts. My response for this year can be read on the Writer Mama blog:  http://bit.ly/1wEDeb

September 19, 2008- Well, I’ve thought of writing a novel, and that’s as far as I’ve gotten. In my fantasy, I don’t need a specific time frame for completion. My dream novel would just write itself.

I think I’m just not at the point in my life though, where I’m ready to tackle one, in 30 days or otherwise.

The last two years have thrown many great personal challenges at me, from my own diagnosis of cancer to guiding both my parents through the final months of their lives earlier this year. Personal reflections essays and slice-of-life stories are my way of working through things, and creating hope. This form of writing comes to me as naturally as breathing. One day, I would like to craft a novel that is truly creative and compelling, but honest. I am not there yet.